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The Government’s announcement that it will spend billions on roads, but only a comparatively small amount on public transport, shows that its ideas for economic growth and transport come straight out of the 1950s, Greenpeace New Zealand says.
“The consequence of the Government’s plans will have a negative impact on the economy, resulting in increased household fuel costs, and a burgeoning emissions burden,” says Greenpeace Climate Campaigner Steve Abel.
The money is to be spent over the next 10 years, as detailed in the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport Funding, released today by Transport Minister Steven Joyce.
“The Government talks about roads creating economic growth. But all that will grow as a result of this plan is road congestion, vehicle emissions, and household petrol costs,” says Abel.
Meanwhile rail - with its huge potential to free up our roads and meet transport needs, while reducing New Zealand’s oil dependency – is being starved at the margins.
“This budget is straight out of the 1950s, when naive transport planners began destroying our diverse and effective transport network in the name of roads, roads, and more roads,” says Abel.
“Real growth comes from smart thinking, and real growth is only going to come from making the transition to a clean economy. An efficient transport network is a vital part of that.
“Distributing the billions allocated to new roads instead to projects like the CBD rail loop for Auckland, and by providing seed money for our best cleantech entrepreneurs, would yield far better returns.
“New Zealand’s future doesn’t lie in increasing our reliance on fossil fuels.
“The numbers of people using rail in Auckland has recently jumped by 20 per cent, to over eight million trips. People are voting with their feet for public transport yet Joyce refuses to unlock the Auckland network with the urgently needed CBD rail loop,” Abel says.
One of the ‘Roads of National Significance’ mentioned in the plan is the Puhoi to Wellsford ‘Holiday Highway.’ A CDB rail loop was preferred over the Holiday Highway by the vast majority of respondents in a recent NZ Herald Digipoll.