Minister cautions on integrated ticketing blowout

Potential for cost escalation 'viewed nervously' by all participants, says Joyce

Minister of Transport Steven Joyce has cautioned Parliament about possible budget blowouts in the Auckland integrated ticketing system project.

Joyce told Parliament last Thursday that the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) are "working together on developing a sensible integrated ticketing system that balances the needs and conveniences of commuters with what is affordable".

"I commend their cautious approach, and I note that the sums of money involved and the potential for cost escalation have been viewed nervously by all participants."

He also indicated funding from the NZTA, which had delayed its approval pending a review, would be forthcoming.

"The New Zealand Transport Agency will provide financial assistance at the same rate as for other public transport projects," he said, in answer to a question from fellow government MP Nikki Kaye.

Earlier, Labour list MP Phil Twyford asked Joyce what guarantees he could give that the information technology component of the project would be kept under control. "Personally, none," he replied, later clarifying that if there are any funds to be contributed, "and there will be", they would be contributed by NZTA. Funds for the project, which would allow passengers to travel across Auckland using multiple modes of public transport on a single ticket, have been stalled while NZTA reviewed the procurement process used by ARTA and other requirements. That review is now complete and the Auckland Regional Council has come back with an amended plan, trimming the original cost of the project.

Similar projects in Australia and elsewhere have run into serious trouble and been delayed for years with large cost overruns.

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