• Jenny Shipley
Prime Minister

The Government has offered Jeff Todd as a mediator to help Auckland local bodies and Tranz Rail to identify the best way forward for Auckland's passenger transport problems, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley said today in response to a request from Mayoral Forum Chairman Phil Warren.

Mrs Shipley said the Government also expected to increase funding for new transport projects in the Auckland region the near future.

She made the comments during the launch of the Auckland Regional Growth Strategy, and related plans for Auckland's infrastructure development.

"The Growth Strategy does not provide all the answers to Auckland's urban sprawl and transport problems but it represents great progress by local authorities in the Auckland region.

"I think Aucklanders will be happy with the way their local bodies have co-operated in the development of the strategy."

Mrs Shipley said the local authorities would now have to engage the people of Auckland to turn the vision into a reality.

She said the local authorities would also have to use a range of other tools, not included in the strategy, to solve some of Auckland's transport problems.

"Might I be so bold to suggest that perhaps the Government's Better Transport, Better Roads document contains some of the tools needed to achieve the full vision.

"The most significant tool will be the ability for roading authorities to anticipate demand for roads rather than continuing to lag behind.

"I am also talking about lifting roading issues to a regional level, which is at the heart of the strategies we are looking at today. For the Government's part, we are committed to making decisions on these proposals next year.

"In the interim, the Auckland Regional Land Transport Strategy lays out a range of transport projects that will focus on key pressure points within the region in the next few years, for which the Government is providing $195 million.

"The Auckland region will receive 33 per cent of Transfund's total allocated new construction budget and 47 per cent of Transfund's passenger transport funding, this financial year.

"This pattern of substantial Government support for new regional projects and public transport is expected to increase sharply within the framework established by the Regional Land Transport Strategy."

The Prime Minister also announced that the Government had offered Jeff Todd to assist Auckland local bodies and Tranz Rail to find a way forward in solving Auckland's passenger transport problem.

Mr Todd, a former managing partner of Price Waterhouse, has extensive experience in many business areas and knowledge of Government policy.

"Mr Todd's appointment should help the parties resolve their differences so that improvements can be made to key parts of Auckland's passenger transport system sooner rather than later," Mrs Shipley said.