Wellington commuters paying twice for transport upgrades
The 'Let's Get Wellington Moving' transport package unveiled by the Government today is a disappointment to business and commuters who have waited so long for a proper plan to solve congestion across the city, says the Wellington Chamber of Commerce.
"This drawn-out, partially funded series of projects announced by Transport Minister Phil Twyford today shows the price Wellington is paying for the Government stripping $5 billion out of the state highway budget last year," says Chief Executive John Milford.
"The business community has loudly supported a comprehensive, long-term transport plan for Wellington incorporating road, public transport and cycling upgrades. We also recognised the need for some local funding. But this plan falls short.
"We are pleased to see the commitment to improving public transport connections to the south of the city and airport. Trackless trams are an interesting concept and it is worth exploring innovative solutions to move more commuters around the city.
"But, public transport improvements are not binary. They must go hand-in-hand with urgently required roading upgrades.
"Today’s announcement pushes a second Terrace tunnel, a second Mt Victoria tunnel, and trenching of the inner-city bypass into future decades. In addition, the Government is refusing to properly fund it despite Wellingtonians paying their fair share of fuel excise taxes, which fund transport projects.
"Wellington's economy desperately needs infrastructure investment to unclog our roads and let freight and commuters move more freely around our city.
"Our successful airport is growing quickly, yet a four-lane road servicing it is over 20 years away. At certain times of the day it’s quicker to fly from Auckland than drive the final six kilometres into town.
"Today's announcement follows last month's bad news when NZTA postponed indefinitely both the Petone to Grenada Link Road and Melling Interchange improvements on SH2.
"Unanswered funding questions remain. Are councillors actually willing to pay for the government's shortfall? And if so, how will local councils raise the money required, given they are already financially stretched?
"Transport Minister Phil Twyford must rethink the strategy for Wellington and commit to a comprehensive and properly funded set of transport projects."