Rapid transit won't 'do a damn thing' for Auckland - Collins

Judith Collins has defended her party's record on transport, taking credit for Auckland's City Rail Link project despite years of opposition to it.

The Government earlier this week announced funding boosts for public transport and rapid transit, partly funded by increasing fuel taxes.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford told The AM Show on Friday it was time to "get on and fix this problem", calling Auckland the "transport basketcase of New Zealand".

"We're going to build a modern transport system that has rapid transit and public transport that gets cars off our roads so the roads can continue to move freely."

Phil Twyford.
Phil Twyford. Photo credit: The AM Show

Numerous surveys and reports have found Auckland has some of the worst traffic in the world, despite a relatively small population compared to other international cities.

The AM Show host Duncan Garner asked Ms Collins if her party had neglected Auckland's transport problems while in Government. Ms Collins said they did "an awful lot", citing the amount of roadworks around the city.

"We also put the City Rail Link in, which is going to be absolutely crucial for speeding up the railways and making it much more user-friendly."

The City Rail Link is a 3.5km long tunnel beneath Auckland's CBD which will double the number of trains that can operate on the network. National originally opposed its construction. Steven Joyce once said funding it would be "pouring money down a hole", and Gerry Brownlee compared it to the monorail built by conman Lyle Lanley in classic Simpsons episode 'Marge vs the Monorail'.

"I would consider hiring Lyle Lanley and associates to do a scoping study for us on the City Rail Link," he told Parliament in 2012, answering a question from Mr Twyford.

In 2013 the National-led Government changed its mind and said it would back the City Rail Link.

The fuel tax

The regional fuel tax, expected to start July 1, will contribute $170 million a year - but Mr Twyford says that's only "down payment" equivalent to about 5 to 10 percent of what's needed.

That tax, expected to be implemented by Auckland Council, will be on top of a nationwide increase in the fuel tax of between 9 and 12 cents.

Judith Collins.
Judith Collins. Photo credit: The AM Show

"This is an absolute tax on people, the poorest people," said Ms Collins.

"In my electorate in Papakura, it's these people who are going to pay the most because they live the furtherest out from Auckland. They have to in many cases work shift work when trains and rapid transport or whatever are not actually working. They're the ones who will have to pay."

She said only wealthy people can afford to avoid the hiked fuel tax by purchasing an electric vehicle, and a rapid transit system 10 years down the track is "not going to do a damn thing".

Mr Twyford said with a decent public transport network, people won't have to drive at all - petrol or electric.

"The worst thing for low-income families and workers who have to drive across town to get to work is the lack of a decent public transport system forces them to choose the most expensive transport option - that is to run a car. There are families in my electorate (Te Atatu, west Auckland) where it's not uncommon to see five or six cars parked outside their house because people have no choice."

Mr Twyford wouldn't promise to resign if Labour's plans fail to fix Auckland's gridlock.


Contact Newshub with your story tips: