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Uncertainty over new fuel-tax legislation is forcing Auckland Regional Council to prepare for a possible public transport future without electric trains.
Councillors reluctantly approved an annual transport budget yesterday with no allowance for the Auckland Regional Transport Authority to start ordering a fleet of 35 electric trains for $495 million by the end of this year.
Even some proposed service boosts for existing trains, buses and ferries may have to be delayed, despite modest gains on other fronts from an 11 per cent increase in the authority's operating budget, to $222.6 million.
Delayed projects are likely to include a review of West Auckland bus services, to the dismay of council transport chairwoman Christine Rose, who bemoaned the loss of a chance to make savings from efficiency gains.
The authority's operating budget - almost $96 million of which will come from regional ratepayers and $100.7 million from Land Transport New Zealand - is being stretched to meet fuel price rises which are boosting costs as well as increasing Aucklanders' appetite for public transport.
It will also receive $83.5 million from the council for capital investment, as a draw-down from Auckland Regional Holdings funds.
Although the council still hopes the Land Transport Management Bill will be passed in time to allow an early request for bids from international rail suppliers, chief executive Peter Winder said it had to "cut its cloth" against the possibility of not being able to reap revenue through a fuel tax.
For the full story, go to:
The New Zealand Herald
Friday June 13, 2008
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