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Public Transport Alone Will Not Fix Rd Congestion

Public Transport Alone Will Not Fix Road Congestion

Manukau mayor Sir Barry Curtis says he is disturbed by continued claims through the media that more buses and trains alone are all that's needed to solve the Auckland region's growing transport problems.

"It is just nonsense. We need more roads, and better roads, as well as better public transport. That is exactly what the councils are planning for - a balance of modes. It's also the same approach being followed around the world. "We are not turning our back on what is happening elsewhere and it is completely untrue to claim that roads are no longer being built in other nations.

"The Auckland region is thinly-populated, very spread out and people often have to travel huge distances to get to their destination.

"There is a role for public transport in the region but it is not a silver bullet. The way the critics talk, you'd think we were ignoring public transport, which is not the case. We are already planning better bus, ferry and train services as well as more cycle tracks and walkways, and spending $250 million on improving our train services.

"We must face facts. The use of public transport in similar cities overseas is about the same as we are expecting here - 15% in the wider urban areas and much higher rates in inner city areas, as I found myself on a recent study trip to examine best practice worldwide. In Brisbane, a very close parallel to our region, they have the same passenger transport usage rate as we do now - 9% - but the city is also spending huge amounts on new roads.

"Only in high-density cities such as London and New York can you expect the majority of residents to travel mostly by public transport. Even then they may prefer to use their car if they had the chance.

"In Singapore, 66% of residents use public transport but most live in high density, high rise apartments with large concentrations of people, whereas most Aucklanders live in single-story homes spaced over a wide area. Singaporean car owners are also heavily taxed. "It is often said that Aucklanders are wedded to their cars and it's true, for good reason. Cars add enormously to their quality of life. Nothing comes close for comfort, convenience and efficiency in meeting the demands of busy lives, having to juggle school pickups with shopping and moving around the region quickly for business or pleasure.

"For the critics living close to the centre of Auckland City to say to other people in far-flung areas of the region that they don't need a car is ludicrous. It's the modern equivalent of saying "let them eat cake."

"Nowadays people often live far from their workplace or leisure destination and for the majority a car is the only practical form of transport.

"Also, many people don't go directly to work then straight home. Parents have multi purpose journeys in which they take the kids to sport, go to the supermarket, and then somewhere else. All in one trip. It's impossible to do that without a car.

"But there are also sensible changes we can and should make to our driving habits, and we need to improved traffic management, through a range of mechanisms such as tolls and congestion charging. "It makes sense to try to reduce the number of trips by drivers simply going to and from work alone, for example, and we must also consider options such as car pooling and more flexible working hours to allow off-peak commuting."

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