Waikato Regional Council has decided against rating for Hamilton-Auckland passenger rail in its 2012-22 Long Term Plan but is keeping its options open for the future should circumstances change.
At a council meeting today, councillors accepted a staff report that said central and local government partners had formally advised they weren’t yet ready to contribute to a service. There was also an absence of NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) funding. This meant ratepayers would bear too much of the cost if it went ahead now. At this stage, neither Auckland, Hamilton City, Waikato District or Waipa District Councils, as well as NZTA, are prepared to put in funding.
However, councillors agreed to a recommendation that staff keep the situation under close review in case circumstances changed and there was a fresh opportunity to re-examine the idea of the regional council rating for a service in future.
The council’s decision and the reasons for it will be included in the draft 2012-22 Long Term Plan (LTP), providing opportunity for the public to comment.
The original recommendation to council suggested the council decline public consultation on the issue through the 2012-2022 LTP. However, Cr Russ Rimmington, seconded by Cr Lois Livingston, asked the wording be changed to simply say that funding was declined.
Cr Rimmington said the Greens, who favoured public transport, could be part of the next Government or at least have a significant influence on decisions and, therefore, it would be wise for the council to be open in the short-term to the possibility of looking at rating for a service again.
The council also recommended that the idea of passenger rail be included in the Regional Land Transport Programme as an unfunded project at this stage.