Economic growth will help Auckland's transport funding shortfall - Simon Bridges
With Auckland's clogged roads holding an extra 800 cars every week, the Government and Auckland Council have finally made a move towards implementing congestion charges.
The smarter road pricing project will report back on options for road pricing that could keep more vehicles off the roads at peak times. The first stage is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges acknowledges the investigation isn't solving any immediate traffic problems in Auckland.
"We are making progress. What you've got to do first is you've got to make sure before you have the pricing you've got the viable alternatives," he told The Nation on Saturday.
"The pricing is a more medium-term project but I think it is important that we come to a decision, because it could be... a really big part of the answer to these questions."
On June 3, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff told The Nation Auckland Council's transport funding was $7 billion short, because of higher than predicted population growth.
Mr Bridges says the Government is confident that economic growth will cover the shortfall.
"Through the Budget, also through other processes, we've got $32.5 billion of capital investment coming," he says.
He did not comment on the possibility of the city selling assets to make money.
"I think that's absolutely for the Mayor and his council. They have got a range of options: They've just passed another budget, I don't have the details of that, I'm very interested to see that. My sense is though they are investing more in transport, that's really pleasing.
"I think it's really not a matter of saying 'this in and that out' but it is a matter of saying in principle - as we do a lot more, we also want to see that strong response from council."
But former Spinoff Auckland editor and panelist on The Nation Simon Wilson says the focus on roading is disappointing.
"Waterview Tunnel's about to open, the east-west link - there's still this extraordinary focus on motorways. They're not addressing the ways in which Auckland's appalling transport situation needs to be fixed.