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‘Massive lack of funding’: Auckland Council stuck on how to keep buses running

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RNZ

29 March 2024, 7:09 PM

‘Massive lack of funding’: Auckland Council stuck on how to keep buses runningBuses and planes in Auckland sit parked during the covid-19 ouutbreak. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Auckland Council is rushing through decisions that align with revised policy statements from central government, leaving councillors and committee members concerned and frustrated with the "truncated" process.


The council's transport and infrastructure committee met Wednesday to review the government's new draft policy statement on land transport, which first went out for review last August.





Councillor Wayne Walker commented that Auckland faces significant rises in rail network costs, but there was a "massive lack of funding".


"We don't think there's enough [government] money to match what council has set aside," Walker said.


Auckland Transport (AT) chief financial officer Mark Laing said that if government funding did not support AT projects, the city could see both significant fare increases and services being cut.


"What concerns us most is our ability to keep buses running on July 1," Laing said.


Howick councillor Maurice Williamson told the council: "This is impossible."


He revealed that councillors had only received updated documents about an hour before the 10am meeting.


"This is a massive amount of material that needs to researched. There's numbers in here that I think are wrong and to get this at 8.37 on the morning of a meeting like this is just hopeless," Williamson said.


Auckland council building. Photo: LDR


Committee chairperson John Watson responded that Auckland Council was disappointed with the short timeframe for the draft transport policy statement.


The draft's focus is how $20 billion of the national land transport fund will be allocated over the next three years.


But Auckland Council is concerned the draft does not outline funding needed for Auckland's complex transport system.


When asked by councillor Christine Fletcher about the difficulty in getting the presentation across the line in a short timeframe, transport strategy manager Robert Simpson said the team spent "many late nights and early mornings" to pull the information together.


"It was very challenging to get this together in a short time frame," Simpson said.


LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.