Banks On Where He Stands
The speculation follows transport minister Steven Joyce warning Auckland mayoral candidates that there was no point in campaigning for transport schemes such as airport rail which had no hope of getting government funding in the near future.
Since the minister’s comments, commentators have wondered if John Banks has retreated a bit from his enthusiasm for projects, such as the CBD rail loop.
So I asked him. He says that he still “absolutely believes in and is promoting transport initiatives.
“But big projects take careful management – and they have to be done as funding can be sourced.
“We can’t land the ratepayers of the new Auckland with a huge debt, so initiatives like the CBD rail loop must be looked at with a realistic timeframe and cost in mind. We will definitely keep promoting and pushing for it.
“Also, Auckland is more than just a CBD and surrounding suburbs. The people of Rodney and Franklin, plus the less intensively developed areas out East and the North West need proper roading for their commuting and freight. It’s just not practical to promise rail in two decades time as the solution for their congestion – they have well developed projects now that need help.
“Major projects such as the AMETI, Penlink, Puhoi-Wellsford, SH18, improvements in the North West etc. Rail is not a realistic prospect for them anytime soon.
“Public transport initiatives are absolutely the best way of dealing with Auckland City, Waitakere and southern Manukau issues. Ferries are a hugely untapped resource for dealing with Northern and Eastern commuter traffic too, plus that will open up our harbour for tourism opportunities.
“Lastly, the project which has a huge prospect of making big differences is integrated ticketing. We need to build on the integrated public transport we will get next year and apply to on and off street parking, plus use this as an opportunity to boost park and ride.”