'Very annoying' light rail money will probably be spent on roads - James Shaw

Climate Change Minister James Shaw says it's "very annoying" money allocated for Auckland's light rail project will probably end up being spent on roads.

The Government's promise of light rail from the CBD to Mt Roskill, expected to cost $463 million, has been put on hold until at least 2021 - the original date Labour said it would be completed. 

"It should have moved faster than it was, and I think that the frustrations that our Transport Ministers have had with, you know, agencies and other factors in getting that over the line sooner is pretty evident," Green Party co-leader Shaw told Newshub Nation on Saturday.

NZTA wants nearly three-quarters of the money to now be spent on highways instead. National Party transport spokesperson Chris Bishop said it "can't happen quickly enough", saying the decision to allocate money to light rail has seen roading projects around the country stall. 

NZTA can reallocate funding from rapid transit to something else as long as it doesn't breach funding limits set out in the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport.

"Well, it is very annoying, because we think that there is a solution there," Shaw told Newshub Nation host Simon Shepherd. 

He said it shouldn't dent voters' confidence in the Government's ability to deliver better transport solutions for the famously traffic-clogged city.

"We are going to deliver on it. And actually if you look at what we've done is we've diverted $14.5 billion over the course of the next years into light rail, heavy rail, walking, cycling, public transport and so on.

"And so I think whilst the machine was very set up just to deliver these astonishingly expensive but very short motorways, actually creating a holistic integrated multi-modal transport system is a big challenge when everything that the last Government did was just build motorways. And so there's a lot of retooling the system that needs to happen in order to get the shift that we need."

Auckland's transport woes have been a major theme in the mayoral campaign, with one candidate suggesting a monorail and another a double-decker harbour bridge.



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