Britomart opening, former CPO, Queen St, Auckland

  • Paul Swain
Transport

Greetings to: the Mayor of Auckland; Auckland Regional Mayors; the ARC; Parliamentary Colleagues; the Britomart Projects group.

This beautiful old Chief Post Office building has a lot of symbolism for transport.

Not only is this on the site of the first Auckland Railway Station in 1885, but the first major service to be located in the CPO after it opened in 1912 was a radio wireless on the roof to contact ships at sea.

When the CPO opened, the Auckland District Engineer and Traffic Manager had offices on the first floor. This building has a lot of transport history.

And New Zealand's first municipal carpark also opened on the Britomart site in 1958 - Aucklanders love affair with the car was obviously well-established then, as on the first day of business the 465 carparks were full by 10.30am.

PASSENGER TRANSPORT

Central Government is committed to passenger transport in NZ and Auckland, because overcoming the limits of transport infrastructure is a key part of achieving our goal of returning New Zealand to the top half of the OECD.

It also fits in with the broad vision of the New Zealand Transport Strategy released in December, which was the first time a government strategy recognised all modes and users of transport.

Britomart is a watershed for Auckland - offering an integrated public transport system across all those modes.

The Auckland motorway system was never completed and that has created the problems we face today. However the Government is not only putting more money in, it is also working with Mayor Banks and others, on other solutions.

However sorting out Auckland is not just about sorting out the roads. There are other initiatives underway that your region has had the courage to confront.

To get people out of cars, public transport has to be safe, reliable, cost effective and comfortable. We are working on this collectively.

The Transfund National Land Transport Programme released on 30 June - 8.5 per cent of funding dedicated to passenger transport - the highest percentage of total land transport spend it has ever received.

Since 2000, public transport funding has doubled. The number of journeys taken on all forms of public transport has increased by 25 per cent.

The Government purchase of the Auckland rail corridor was finalised in May 2002, for $81 million.

Your region has before it the so-called "heroic" target of 25 million train journeys a year by 2015, about ten times current patronage. This is a fantastic goal, and we will help you push for this.

The NLTP programme also has implications for Britomart in two of its funding categories - Passenger Transport and Alternatives to Roading.

Passenger Transport category: Auckland receives $60m - almost double that of last year. Nearly $32 million is for the ARC, with a large part of this to cover anticipated patronage growth, as more people use rail following the opening of Britomart.

The rest of the funding covers projects like refurbishment of rail carriages, design work for the North Shore Busway, increased bus services on congested routes like East Coast Bays, New North Rd and Sandringham Rd, and other initiatives like bus shelters and bus priority lanes.

Alternatives to Roading category: there is a final contribution of $2 million towards construction of the Britomart interchange, following $18 million in the past two financial years.

And there is more work going on. We have to make it easy for people to use public transport. Transfund also has before it an indicative bid from Auckland for funding for an integrated ticketing service.

This would would enable a commuter to travel across the city on all transport modes using only one ticket. A person could catch the bus from Takapuna to Devonport, where they could hop on the ferry to the bottom of Queen St, then catch a train from Britomart to South Auckland.

And there are ongoing discussions regarding Tranz Rail to protect the rail network.

FUNDING GAP

We have much more to do.

In February 2002 government boosted total land transport funding by $227 million.

$356 million is earmarked for land transport funding in the Auckland region in the 2003/04 NLTP.

But the government is aware that this is not enough to fund the transport package promoted by Auckland mayors, and Wellington and Auckland are working closely together to look at alternative sources.

Cabinet will soon consider the proposed work streams for this Joint Officials Group so I can't go into too much detail about those here.

We want to take an holistic approach and are also conscious of the need to address public concerns about environmental, social and economic impacts of major transport projects.

The Britomart project is a fantastic example of this, environmentally sympathetic, cost effective, it will take some of the pressure off.

Central and local Government are agreed - more people must be encouraged to leave their cars at home where possible. I salute your courage and leadership on this project.

Britomart is the product of a continuing partnership with government, Auckland City Council, Auckland Regional Council, Infrastructure Auckland, and the Auckland Territorial Local Authorities through ARTNL.

The Government wants to continue working in partnership with Auckland.

CONCLUSION

Congratulations to Auckland, the Britomart Project Team, architects and consultants and all those who have played a role in getting this project to where it is today. Also congratulations are due to the public of Auckland who had their say in the design of the project.

You can be proud of this world class facility and the contribution it will make to improving passenger transport in Auckland.

It is a milestone, a catalyst for future passenger transport improvements, part of a solution to Auckland's traffic woes.

The opening of Britomart is the first time in 70 years that there will be such a direct rail connection between downtown Auckland and downtown Wellington - this may help Auckland and Wellington to work together even more closely in the future.