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Finding solutions to Tauranga transport woes


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Finding solutions to Tauranga transport woes
Thursday 11 September 2003

Tauranga should take heed of Auckland’s history of “bias towards the automobile” and look at developing a truly integrated solution for its transport problems, says Environment Bay of Plenty councillor Athole Herbert.

Mr Herbert says he found “much food for thought” in a research paper that examined the history of transport planning in Auckland from the 1950s until today. Written by the University of Melbourne’s Paul Mees and Jago Dodson in 2001, it was considered by the council’s regional land transport committee recently.

According to the study, the public’s love affair with cars is not to blame for Auckland’s major transport issues. Rather, the problem is that the city consistently planned for a road-based future. “Auckland always had a pro-transport policy. It planned for cars – so it got cars,” says Mr Herbert, chairman of both the regional land transport committee and Environment Bay of Plenty’s regional development committee.

Mr Herbert does not want Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty to go down the same path. “Clearly current transport strategies must integrate new roads with cycling and walking, passenger transport and options for travel demand management. “Though work has been done, the links are still not clear enough. If we are to avoid becoming like Auckland, we must learn to think in a different way. ”

The research paper explains how Auckland’s transport planning followed “the most extreme pro-car American models” far more closely than was the case in Australian or Canadian cities, or even many cities in the United States. Auckland’s transport system was centred on motorways, one of the major reasons for the extremely low usage of public transport.

By the 1990s, the paper says, pro-automobile policies had become entrenched, “both institutionally and intellectually”, and total automobile dominance was seen as the “normal” policy option.

It concluded that an improvement in Auckland’s transport situation was being prevented not by low densities, dispersed employment or the public’s “irrational love-affair with cars” but instead by a mindset which had been established over the last half century.

“Our contention is that the current transport policy debates in Auckland remain trapped in a series of paradigms and proposals that have been inherited form past policies and administrative arrangements. “

The paper was titled “The American Heresy: Half a century of transport planning in Auckland” and was originally presented to the Third Joint Conference of the New Zealand Geographical Society and the Institute of Australian Geographers.


ENDS

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