With the Regional Fuel Tax set to end on June 30, Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown warns that several transport projects could be on the chopping block. 1News takes a look at the major road and public transport projects which could be affected.
The fourth and final stage of the Eastern Busway, work to progress the proposed Airport-Botany Busway, and planned improvements to major roads on the North Shore could all be threatened when the Government cancels the Regional Fuel Tax later this year, Wayne Brown said.
The Regional Fuel Tax (RFT), introduced in 2018, saw Aucklanders paying an additional 11.5 cents per litre for fuel, with the purpose of funding transport projects that would otherwise be delayed or not funded.
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and Transport Minister Simeon Brown announced on Thursday that the RFT would end on June 30, fulfilling a pledge of the coalition Government’s 100-day plan.
Luxon said that the end of the fuel tax would ease cost of living pressures, while Simeon Brown described fuel tax as “an increasingly regressive form of taxation” that disproportionately affects people on lower incomes with less fuel-efficient vehicles.
However, Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown said the cancellation of the RFT will leave a shortfall in transport funding for Auckland of $1.2b over the next four years.
“While I acknowledge that the National Party campaigned to repeal the RFT, and they are making good on their election promise, this decision will have unintended consequences unless the Government is prepared to foot the bill for upcoming transport projects.”
Around $350m of unspent money from the scheme remains, which Brown said will only be enough to complete the next stage of the Eastern Busway (including the Reeves Rd flyover) and fund the purchase of electric rail units for the City Rail Link.
“Auckland Council will have no choice but to pause any further work on projects funded by the RFT, including those already contracted, to see how we can fund them in the long-term plan.”
Brown said that as a direct consequence some of these projects “may very well be cancelled altogether”.
Transport Minister’s ‘key priorities’ for Auckland
Transport Minister Simeon Brown said that key priorities for public transport in Auckland would be the completion of the City Rail Link and Eastern Busway, followed by the Northwest Transit Corridor and Airport to Botany Busway.
He also confirmed that the Government would “prioritise the delivery of key infrastructure projects aimed at alleviating congestion, enhancing productivity, and building a transport network that is not only more reliable, but also resilient”.
“To make this happen, I am currently writing a new draft Government Policy Statement (GPS) on Land transport as part of our 100-day plan.”
Brown said this will refocus NZTA on what he describes as “the basics”, building and maintaining the roading network to support economic growth, reliable public transport, and delivering a safe network.
He also said that the previous Government’s proposal for a Waitemata Harbour Crossing was “unaffordable, unrealistic, and unfunded.”
“We’ll be looking at pursuing options that help enhance the Northern Busway, and overall harbour connectivity and resilience.
“I’m committed to working with Auckland Council on delivering a transport network in Auckland that represents value for money, enables strong economic growth and productivity, and delivers better connectivity and resilience.
“I look forward to having constructive conversations with Mayor Wayne Brown on these issues.”
So, according to the Mayor’s office, which major road and public transport projects are at risk of being cancelled?
Stage 4, the final stage of the $1.4 billion Eastern Busway, begins on Tī Rākau Dr, continuing along the northern edge of Guys Reserve and Whaka Maumahara, connecting to Te Irirangi Dr where a new station will be built at Botany. A new signalised intersection would be installed, diverting buses onto a two-lane road that would bypass the Ti Rākau Dr/Te Irirangi Dr intersection — one of Auckland’s busiest junctions. The location of the future Botany Station is yet to be determined. The new station will act as an interchange for the Eastern Busway, local school bus services, and future Airport to Botany rapid bus services. Stage 4 will connect to Stages 2 and 3, currently approved for construction and in-progress.
Road corridor improvements
Glenvar Rd/East Coast Rd Intersection and Corridor
The Glenvar Rd and East Coast Rd project in Torbay is designed to improve safety and provide better travel options. The corridor includes 1km of East Coast Rd (between Oteha Valley Rd and Lonely Track Rd) and 2.1km of Glenvar Rd (between East Coast Rd and Ian Sage Ave). Proposed improvements included 2 signal-controlled intersections, separated cycleways, shared paths, transit lanes, and traffic calming measures.
Lake Rd/Esmonde Rd Improvements
The sole arterial roads in and out of the Devonport peninsula, Lake Rd and Esmonde Rd, serve as the main connection to the rest of the North Shore and Auckland. Proposed improvements include new transit lanes targeting congested sections, upgrading existing Lake Rd cycle lanes to be safer, implementing new cycle lanes on Bayswater Ave and through Belmont Town Centre, upgrading the environment and public spaces at Belmont centre, safer and more efficient intersections, and new technology like electronic roadside signs with up-to-date travel information.
Growth-related transport infrastructure
Several proposed projects in growing areas of the city, including Drury, the Northwest, Wainui and Redhills, involve multi-mode roads, paths, and intersections. Upgrades were also proposed to support Kainga Ora housing developments.
Bus priority improvements
Rosedale bus station
A multi-storey bus station at Rosedale, intended to connect the Northern Busway and local bus services, is scheduled to begin construction this year. The design of the station integrates cycling and walking facilities and aims to improve traffic flows along Rosedale Rd by building dedicated bus lanes. More than 4000 people are expected to use the new station daily when it is scheduled to be completed in 2026.
Sylvia Park Bus Improvements
Improvements at Sylvia Park were to be focused on improving cycling and walking connections, access to public transport including the train station, and improved bus connections through the area to address access, growing bus frequency and demand, as well as housing intensification in the area.
A bus accessibility programme also involves minor changes to bus shelters and bus route mitigations.
City centre bus infrastructure
A suite of improvements to city centre bus infrastructure is proposed by Auckland Transport, including bus priority lanes and cycleways at Albert and Vincent St. The Downtown Crossover Bus projects include bus priority on Customs and Beach streets and a new off-street bus layover at Quay Park, bus priority works on Lower Hobson, Sturdee and Fanshawe streets and a new bus layover at Wynyard, plus upgrades and new bus charging infrastructure at Quay Park. Midtown bus improvements include street upgrades, bus facilities and bus lanes on Wellesley St, both between Queen St and Albert St and from Albert St to Victoria Park.
Improving airport access
Airport to Botany Stage 2 Bus Improvements
The rapid transit route will travel from Auckland Airport, along State Highway 20B and Puhinui Rd to the upgraded Puhinui Station interchange. From here, the rapid transit corridor continues along Puhinui Rd and Lambie Dr and through the Manukau centre via Manukau Station Rd, Davies Ave and Ronwood Ave. It then travels via Great South Rd and Te Irirangi Dr to a new interchange at Botany, where it will connect with the Eastern Busway. New major station interchanges will be implemented in Manukau and Botany to support the new rapid transit line, as well as rapid transit stations along the route. However, Transport Minister Simeon Brown said the airport to Botany busway was a key public transport priority.
Māngere West Cycleway
Proposed cycling improvements aim to provide safer access to existing cycling routes across Māngere, linking the new pedestrian bridge to the airport. Lower speeds are proposed along key sections of Kiwi Esplanade, Woodward Ave, and Taylor Rd. A two-way cycleway is proposed along sections of Coronation Rd, McKenzie Rd and Bader Dr, with four new crossings and six bus stops upgraded to include bus shelters.
Improvements to the Matiatia area on Waiheke Island are proposed as part of the Matiatia Landside project, focusing on enhancing facilities for multiple modes of transportation. The Park and Ride programme involves general upgrades to existing facilities and expansions where practical to improve overall accessibility.
Electric trains and stabling
To prepare for the opening of the City Rail Link, additional electrical units are being acquired as part of the EMU Rolling Stock Tranche, while upgrades and expansions to stabling and depot facilities are underway to accommodate the increased fleet. Simeon Brown said there was money from the RFT for CRL electric trains and stabling.
Ferry network improvements
A world-first contract to supply a megawatt-level charging system for incoming electric ferries has been awarded to ABB, a Swedish-Swiss technology company. Chargers capable of supplying over three megawatts of power will allow the ferries to top up as passengers board between journeys. The new ferries are expected to help Auckland Transport reduce CO2-equivalent emissions by 4000 metric tonnes a year.
Various projects aim to enhance road safety and community infrastructure through small-scale projects such as traffic lights, crossings and traffic calming. Cutting deaths and serious injuries on Auckland roads by improving safety for vulnerable road users, pedestrians, cyclists and high-risk intersections is key, while the Safe Speeds programme aims to cut vehicle speeds near schools.
A series of projects aim to enhance active transport across Auckland.
The Marae and Papakainga safety programme has a similar approach to the Road Safety Programme. A project aims to improvement streets adjacent the two new entrances to the new City Rail Link station at Karanga-a-hape. Lower-cost cycleways to encourage cycling, improve safety and travel options and reduce emissions are proposed under the Cycleways Programme. The Meadowbank Kohimarama Connectivity Project aims to create a pathway to connect Gowing Dr with the Glenn Innes to Tamaki Shared Path and Kohimarama (including rail underpass). New cycleways and other bus priority infrastructure is proposed on Great North Rd.
Network capacity and performance improvement
Under the Freight Network Improvements Initiative, projects like HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes would be implemented. The Intelligent Transport Systems scheme would introduce more live traffic management, CCTV, and video analytics. Network optimisation itself involves minor changes such as dynamic lanes, special vehicle lanes, sensors, timing, and smart technology to improve overall network performance.
Additional reporting by Jess Rayner