It was great to hear from dozens of residents about their pressing transport issues when I held a public meeting at the Orewa Community Centre Hall recently. Earlier I had taken a ferry ride from downtown Auckland to Gulf Harbour and that service is a great example of how we are fixing Auckland’s congestion issues by growing public transport.
In the last financial year, Auckland’s various ferry services are up 8.3 percent in the number of trips taken – but get this, Gulf Harbour services are up 115 percent. Sure it’s from a low base but Gulf Harbour is a great story all round. We have seen a huge rise in patronage for the ferry service since we increased the number of sailings from four to 12 a day, a year ago.
Issues raised at the public meeting included a new harbour crossing, potential rail to the North Shore and Penlink. I appreciate that Penlink is taking time but there is progress. A four-member hearings panel has heard submissions on whether the designation for a two-lane highway and three-lane bridge issued in 2001will be extended for 20 years.
The really big progress on the transport front is that the Government has agreed to my call for a transport accord with Auckland Council (HM September 2) which means Penlink and other big issues like the harbour crossing can now be put on the table. The terms of reference the Minister of Transport, Simon Bridges, and I signed is for a 12-month piece of work that will basically allow us to nail an agreed programme to deliver on Aucklander’s transport expectations and demands. Years of bickering, posturing and obstruction will be behind us. The foot will well and truly be off the brake. We will be exclusively focused on what actually matters – kick-starting projects and getting Auckland moving.
I’m hopeful that this will lead to agreement with government that the Penlink project will get done in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) and that projects like the Curley Ave extension into Silverdale Village and the widening of Whangaparaoa Rd could be brought forward in priority. Penlink remains an ideal candidate for a PPP to deliver real value for money and better outcomes for both Whangaparaoa residents and Auckland ratepayers. It’s been a long time coming. Now we have finally cut through most of the politics, we can focus on getting things done and on delivering on your expectations.