Private sector funding key to solve Auckland transport woes?

Published: Fri 8 Mar 2019 03:02 PM
An inadequate transport funding model is at the heart of Auckland’s slow pace of action to build a modern, safe roading infrastructure able to cope with the city’s fast growth, says Auckland Business Forum chair Michael Barnett.
Yet it is a problem that can be easily fixed.
Over the past 20 years we have relied solely on central and local government funding to carry out the transport task, but both local and international evidence shows that the pay-as-you-go model funded by taxes and rates is not up to the task – it doesn’t bring in enough money and projects are dragged out over decades when they could be built far sooner.
About half the projects in the United Kingdom’s current transport infrastructure pipeline are now financed and delivered by the private sector. In Sydney, almost the entire motorway system has been funded privately. New South Wales uses the model extensively and is currently investing one billion a month in the 2018/19 budget on road and rail projects – mostly privately financed.
Meanwhile in Auckland there’s scarcely a strategic road being built and the sector remains largely untouched by private finance. This is despite the large sums of private investment going into Auckland’s many business-led growth and development opportunities.
Unveiling the Forum’s 2019 Priority Transport Investment Package (see below), Barnett noted that the list included critically needed ‘ready to go’ improvements to long-standing over-congested parts of the city’s transport network in south Auckland and the North Shore.
“We see an opportunity to make 2019 a turnaround year for transport investment in Auckland,” says Barnett. “A change of attitude to use private finance to fast-track action to deliver critically needed transport infrastructure would go a long way to fixing Auckland.”
Leveraging an accelerated “catch-up” pipeline of private sector investment opportunities in the transport sector is an area the Auckland Business Forum can assist.
If Auckland is to get on top of the city’s chronic traffic congestion challenges and stay an attractive and globally competitive city, it must increase the role for private capital in transport infrastructure development – without this shared agenda Auckland will stay on the back-foot and underperforming.

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