The Government’s withdrawal of its twin track Auckland Light Rail project is to be congratulated, Road Transport Forum (RTF) chief executive Nick Leggett says.

“It’s a gutsy move, but it’s the right one, and I congratulate the Government on this decision,” Leggett says.

“The estimated cost of $6 billion, if not more, for this project means the country cannot afford it. We are calling for this figure to now be transferred to more mainstream roading capacity improvements around Auckland. Roading projects can have a more immediate impact on reducing congestion and improve safety.

“Auckland is our largest regional economy and the rest of New Zealand requires it to be as productive as possible. Traffic gridlock costs time and money for all Aucklanders. Freight stopped in traffic adds to the cost of everybody’s shopping bill.

“Unfortunately, Auckland Light Rail has proven hard to roll out and costs are always underestimated as the current City Rail Link debacle shows.

“The RTF has always been sceptical that the project cancelled today would provide the level of service that would transfer enough people from their cars to markedly reduce congestion in Auckland.

“Two of the Government parties clearly wish to pursue this and will be able to put it to the electorate at the September general election,” Leggett says.

Given today’s announcement, Leggett suggested the Government should actively consider the funding of Auckland’s East-West Link, which was missed out of the $12 billion infrastructure package announced by the Government earlier this year.

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