Faster Action Needed To Reduce Congestion On Roads
2 March 2004
FASTER ACTION NEEDED TO REDUCE CONGESTION ON ROADS
Manukau mayor Sir Barry Curtis is calling for stepped-up traffic modification measures to get vehicles off the region's roads and reduce congestion.
He says building new roads and completing the motorway network will take a long time and it will be years before most projects are finished. "These are not quick fixes but fast action is needed. We require a raft of urgent measures to prevent road congestion getting worse.
"First we must target education-related congestion because 40% of vehicle trips in the Auckland region are to take students to and from schools, university and polytech. Unlike in previous generations, few children today ride bikes, walk or take a bus to school. That's due to parents' concerns about safety, real or imagined. Even university students are more likely to take a car than a bus.
"This all contributes to the logjams on motorways and elsewhere. What's needed is an alternative to get that traffic off those roads, including a decent school bus service and more walking buses. Parents need to be persuaded to send their kids to school by bus. This would also help with preventing obesity in children, which is undoubtedly a growing problem due to lack of daily exercise.
"But to do that, parents must be assured that roads are safe. So we require improvements to pedestrian crossings for example. Also, children should not be expected to have to carry heavy bags full of books, so there should be storage lockers available at every school.
The use of public transport has increased 10% over the past year but Sir Barry says there are many ways of making it a more attractive option such as:
- having more buses, more often, to more places
- express buses on motorways and main routes that are fast, direct and frequent
- better park-n-ride facilities and better connections to train stations
- ensuring scheduled train services are more reliable and run on time most of the time
- reducing bus travel times through measures to give priority in traffic
- making bus and train stations more attractive through better landscaping.
Upgrades of many rail stations are already underway and Sir Barry says it's about time. "Most train stations are bleak and scungy and not pleasant places to be. Why not have cafes are certain stations so that passengers can get a coffee before they catch their train or bus. And why not have music playing at stations?"
"Unfortunately, most of our public transport is focused on downtown Auckland. That is hopeless for Manukau. Only ten percent of our residents work in the CBD, the others work elsewhere but can't get buses or trains to where they want to go. That must change. "
Sir Barry says the number of cars travelling on motorways with just one person is also a large factor in congestion.
"Fundamentally, car drivers have to ask themselves whether they have an inherent right to travel anywhere they want at high speed at peak times during the working week. We can't maintain that, given the size of the Auckland region and the number of other vehicles jammed into just a few key roads.
"I am certain that a large percentage of this traffic can be encouraged to use other means of transport to work provided there was a quick, comfortable alternative."