Labour pledges funding for controversial Auckland Skypath

In Labour's latest major transport pledge, spokesman Michael Wood has promised the party would fund up to $30 million of the controversial Skypath project.

The party says it would fund the shared cycling and walking path across the Auckland Harbour Bridge as part of its wider walking and cycling programmes.

The party says it will renew the $100m Urban Cycleways Fund for a further three years and establish a new Active Neighbourhoods Fund to encourage walking and cycling at the local level.

A public private partnership between council and investment company HRL Morrison & Co's has suffered several delays and setbacks.

When the project gained resource consent back in July 2015 then Auckland councillor Cameron Brewer warned proposed covered pathway under Auckland Harbour Bridge could result in unforeseen costs for ratepayers if usage of the tolled route falls short.

"I'm all for the private sector funding new capital projects but the worry with SkyPath is that ratepayers could be liable for any operational shortfalls if ambitious patronage targets are not met," Mr Brewers says.

Labour’s existing policy for Auckland transport has included an extra $2.1 billion to be met by new funding sources. The party proposed a regional fuel tax forecast to raise $160 million a year at 10c a litre. The party wants to build light rail from the CBD to the airport, add a new bus route from Howick to the airport, add cross-town priority routes and invest in more electric trains.

The party has also said it will create a "golden triangle" rapid rail network to cater for the growing population in the Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga region.

To support the first stage of its plan, Labour is committing $10 million of capital funding, with an additional $10 million of operational funding to be allocated over five years.

A second and third stage of the plan could be on the cards too if it is justified by demand. If so, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says the party would deliver passenger and freight services travelling up to 160km/h throughout the regions and south to Rotorua.

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