The latest figures from the New Zealand Transport Agency and ARTA show that even the recent fall in petrol prices has not been enough to encourage commuters back into their cars.
Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says with the trend to greater use of public transport and more sparing use of cars now bedding in, it is more important than ever to heed the advice of the NZTA’s Managing transport challenges when oil prices rise research report. It advises to invest now in providing enough alternative transport for those wanting to leave their cars at home.
“Funding for upgrading public transport is not a problem – releasing some of the billions planned for new motorways makes obvious sense when traffic volumes are falling.
“It is significant that road traffic has reduced across all main centres, showing that this is not just an Auckland phenomenon. The Green Party believes the Transport Agency should set a minimum standard for public transport services in all urban areas, so as many people as possible have real options when the price of petrol goes up again, as it most certainly will.
“If 63 percent of peak hour traffic is commuters travelling one per car, then other traffic like goods delivery and tradespeople will have plenty of space on the road if commuters are well catered for by public transport.
“The other encouraging sign from these figures is they show that when public transport improves, people use it. In Auckland, punctuality has improved on the rail services, and patronage has grown. It has grown most where the service has improved most – West Auckland and the North Shore.
“People are already responding sensibly to the end of cheap oil, and in the process are reducing climate change impacts from transport. It is time for Government to shift its funding priorities into sustainable transport solutions.”
* To access the NZTA report, go to http://www.landtransport.govt.nz/research/reports/357.pdf