Mayor Wayne Brown has now formally requested that Auckland Transport immediately stop work on projects funded by the Regional Fuel Tax (RFT).
On Tuesday, Mayor Brown wrote to the Chair of Auckland Transport, confirming that the Government’s decision to cancel the RFT on July 1, 2024, will have an impact on funding for Auckland Transport.
“Auckland Transport must not assume that RFT funding will simply be replaced by higher council rates or debt,” Mayor Brown says.
Auckland Council is in the final stages of approving a consultation document for the Long-term Plan (LTP). The LTP sets a strategic direction and work programme for Auckland Council over the next ten years.
In December, Mayor Brown released a proposal outlining his vision and priorities for the LTP. The proposal included a $14 billion capital investment programme for Auckland Transport. However, revenue from the RFT, at least for another 2 years, was critical to support the programme.
“The government’s announcement therefore creates significant funding uncertainty for a large portion of Auckland Transport’s capital programme,” Mayor Brown says.
The Governing Body will need to take time to understand the impact of the government’s announcement and council’s options for addressing the shortfall.
As a result of this uncertainty, Mayor Brown has requested that Auckland Transport take the following immediate steps to avoid incurring unfunded costs:
Pause work on programmes and projects that are earmarked to be partially RFT funded where construction contracts have not been executed, including consultant or contractor spend. This includes, for instance, the Great North Road cycleway, other projects in the safety and cycleway programme, as well as Glenvar and Lake Road improvements. In some cases, programmes or projects may be able to be scaled back to avoid unfunded costs, and this may be the appropriate response.
Review all RFT-funded projects where construction contracts have been executed to assess options for, and costs of, deferring, cancelling, or rescoping these projects. This includes, for instance, the Eastern Busway Stages 2 and 3 (including the Reeves Road Flyover).
“Auckland Transport should use this opportunity to reconsider how it can do things better, faster, and cheaper,” Mayor Brown says.
While the RFT was being used to fund public transport and much-needed road upgrades, Mayor Brown has acknowledged concerns that some of the money had been earmarked for low-value cycleways and raised pedestrian crossings. These projects were made a priority under funding requirements set by the previous government, and many of these projects had already been defunded in the Mayor’s budget proposal.
“I agree that we need to stop wasting money on things that Aucklanders don’t want or need. But the government is also turning the tap off to fund the many things we do need,” he says.
“All of this again highlights one of my core messages: Aucklanders need to have a greater say over the region’s transport programme. We are the only council in the country that cannot set its own transport plan, and that is just ridiculous. I am hopeful the Government will fix this.”