A major concern in Rodney and all around New Zealand is the decline in the state of the roading network, especially rural roads. But earlier this year, all the National-led government could offer was $115 million for roading projects in just three regions of the country – Gisborne, Marlborough and Taranaki. This after removing rural road funding for the last seven years.
What about Rodney, the northern part of New Zealand’s supposed Super City? Many of our rural roads are now in a sad state because the National government stopped its funding in real terms in 2009. At the same time, many of our roads are under huge pressure from increased numbers of large trucks – and the government wants to allow even bigger trucks. Nor is any account being taken of increased population as housing pressures in Auckland start to increase the number of daily commuters from further and further away.
But last week, Auckland Transport (AT) came up with a brilliant offer for local residents. You can pay for your own road maintenance and they, very kindly, will help you do so! “The new policy would allow residents to fund the capital costs of sealing their road, including project design, consenting and construction. Mr McCartney says the work will need to be done to AT standards as the organisation would pick up future maintenance and replacement costs.”
Do you get a rates reduction for that? Now I don’t want to pick on AT as I can see that they are merely trying to work under the reduced funding they have been provided with by this National Government. Nor do I wish to take away from the fact that our councillor, Penny Webster, has done all she can over the past six years to try and get our rural roads to the top of someone’s priority list, but this cannot be the answer Rodney deserves.
However, AT has another National Government created funding disaster about to take hold on July 1. With the National government capping free off-peak travel for SuperGold Cardholders in Auckland from July 1 and demanding cash for fares if seniors don’t have a new smart card, chaos is being predicted. Only this week, the Tramways Union has instructed their drivers to ignore the requirement for a HOP card to accompany the SuperGold Card. Their drivers have agreed they will not turf SuperGold holders off their buses. Quite frankly, AT and the government have bungled the switchover from the SuperGold card to a smart HOP card but the fault lies with the National government who made the directive. The SuperGold Card is legal tender for an off-peak ride and they have no right to make holders pay cash.
There are people standing in queues, being told to go away and come back with ID and when Rodney residents have to travel to Albany in the first place this is ridiculous. There is misinformation and confusion all over the city. The government should let Auckland Transport off the hook, honour the agreement with our seniors and abandon the switch to smart cards.