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Increasing spending on roading projects during a global oil crisis is like attempting to put out a fire with petrol, says the car buyers’ Dog & Lemon Guide.
Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson said today: “All the experts agree: the cheap oil is gone and isn’t coming back, yet our government is acting as if nothing has changed.”
The Government intends to increase spending on new state highways but cut or freeze funding for alternatives like rail or public transport. 1
Matthew-Wilson believes that the government’s roading plans are largely driven by the trucking industry, which was a major contributor to political parties at the last election, but pays nothing towards the cost of building new roads. 2
“Investing in road instead of rail during a global energy crisis is simply insane. The government’s own figures show that transporting goods by rail is over five times more efficient than transporting goods by truck.” 3
Matthew-Wilson doubts that new roads will solve traffic congestion.
“For the last three decades governments have been building new roads in order to solve traffic congestion, and in most cases the congestion has only become worse.”
“We need to rethink the whole process of transportation instead of trying to patch a sinking ship. The government’s own figures show that the current road-based transport system is unsustainable, yet the government wants to expand this system.” 4
“We need to start using cars and trucks for the tasks they are best at: making special trips on empty roads. The rest of our transport needs are best met in other ways. In a world of high oil prices, the government’s current strategy is a recipe for disaster.”
1 The Government intends to increase spending on new state highways but cut or effectively freeze funding in all but one other area of transport spending, according to the draft version of the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport Funding 2012, in which the Transport Minister proposes higher limits for spending on new state highways – $1.3 billion by the 2014-15 financial year and $1.7 billion by 2021.
Funding would be cut in four areas, including road user safety, while funding for public transport infrastructure, road policing and local roads would be kept at current levels.
The draft document also tags four highways as possible future roads of national significance.
They are Hamilton to Tauranga, Cambridge to Taupo, further development of the Hawke’s Bay expressway and improvements north and south of Christchurch on State Highway 1.
2 The Road Transport Forum was a major donor to political parties at the last election, contributing nearly $100,000 to Labour, National and also to individual MPs.
3 In 2000, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) calculated that transporting goods by road used 3.1 million units of energy to move one ton of goods one kilometre. By comparison, moving the same goods by rail used only 0.61 1 million units of energy, even allowing for the energy used when the trucks picked up the goods at the railway station.
4 “Transport consumes 219.5 PJ (44%) of energy used nationally. Freight accounts for approximately 43% of New Zealand’s transport energy use, and passenger transport 57%. In 2006 transport was responsible for 14.5 Mt of greenhouse gas emissions or 43% of New Zealand’s annual greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector. Unless action is taken, emissions from this sector are set to grow by 35% by 2030. Such an outcome is economically and environmentally unacceptable.”
Source: Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) report 2007.