Funding for Manurewa's Te Mahia train station in the spotlight
Local body politicians are butting heads over who should fund improvements to a train station.
Manurewa-Papakura ward councillor Calum Penrose has criticised the Manurewa Local Board's decision to spend $1.5 million on a covered walkway from Southmall shopping centre to Manurewa railway station rather than investing in the Te Mahia train station.
Local board chairwoman Angela Dalton and member George Hawkins have publicly expressed their frustration (Manukau Courier, March 29) at what they say is a lack of action by Auckland Transport to improve Te Mahia station. Their main concerns are around lighting and security at the facility.
Penrose says the local board campaigned on making Te Mahia a top priority and "throwing money at it".
"The board has $2.5m unspent in its Regional Land Transport Programme budget.
"I can't understand why they're making it a priority to build a covered walkway which is on private land. They should go to Auckland Transport and say 'we will put some skin in the game and put $1m into improving it [Te Mahia]'.
"But they want Auckland Transport to do everything."
Penrose says Te Mahia has low patronage numbers and is therefore not as high a priority for upgrades as busier stations with more pressing security issues.
Lighting has been installed at Te Mahia and he's working with the Manukau Beautification Trust to "tidy it up".
"I would have thought Te Mahia would be the board's priority. That's what they campaigned on. They put something in, AT puts something in, it's a win-win."
Penrose says the station is covered by monitored CCTV cameras, its platform is lit to AT's standards and the facility is patrolled by security guards.
"It has a public address system through which AT's control room can speak directly to people on the platform. AT also liaises daily with police through its operations centre, assessing threats and managing issues on the network.
"Lights are being installed in the walkway that runs from Ferguson St to the station and contractors are still confirming details of the lighting that will be installed in the walkway that runs from Great South Rd."
Manurewa Local Board chairwoman Angela Dalton says the Manurewa Action Team campaigned to keep Te Mahia train station open in 2013 as it was then under threat of closure.
"That immediate threat has now passed but that doesn't preclude Auckland Transport from funding improvements, particularly given that residential ratepayers in Greenmeadows are being charged a $114 per year transport levy courtesy of a 9.5 per cent rate increase councillor Penrose voted for."
Dalton says it is not the board's responsibility to "back-fund" Auckland Transport's and Auckland Council's "neglect of core public services".
"AT's publicly stated priority is to improve public safety at its suburban train stations. Councillor Penrose campaigned on a platform to improve public safety.
"Until he and AT ensure a meaningful regional investment in Te Mahia station, such assurances are worthless."
Dalton says her board does not have discretionary access to the Regional Land Transport Programme budget, as Penrose suggests, and nor does it have $2.5 million that could be spent on Te Mahia.
"Councillor Penrose should firstly read the local board plan, meeting agendas and minutes before speculating on its priorities and available budgets.
"Secondly, he should ensure the budget cuts to Te Mahia station adopted by Auckland Transport are reversed immediately."