The National Land Transport Fund must remain a ring-fenced user-pays fund that is reinvested back from where it came from, says Road Transport Forum chief executive Ken Shirley.
“The future integrity of the fund is again under threat if Labour’s Mt Albert candidate Jacinda Ardern’s is to be believed,” says Shirley.
“During this morning’s [22 February] by-election debate on Radio NZ Ms Ardern proposed to use the National Land Transport Fund to help pay for the costs associated with other transport modes.
“While we all acknowledge that Auckland’s transport issues will not solely be solved by more roads, dipping into the National Land Transport Fund to pay for the cost of other modes destroys the basic integrity of the fund.”
That National Land Transport Fund is ring-fenced for roading projects and paid for by road users through petrol excise and road user charges.
“The reason why motorists and transport operators accept the high level of fuel excise and road user charges is due to the direct relationship the fund has to the provision and maintenance of our roading network. As soon as you start siphoning it off to pay for other transport modes, the fund’s integrity is ruined.
“If, however, a future government wished to expand the National Land Transport Fund to rail, then the concept of rail operators contributing by paying ‘rail user charges’ is something that should be looked at. Rail user charges would allow the fund to be used to maintain and develop the rail network while maintaining the overall integrity of the fund,” says Shirley.