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No Way Should They Toll Highways

11.2.05

No Way Should They Toll Highways

"No way has Auckland Regional Council any citizen's mandate to promote tolls and congestion charges on our free roads," said Elaine West of RAM - Residents Action Movement.

"And no way will we allow our free roads to be turned into profit-making roads."

Ms West was rejecting a reported suggestion by Joel Cayford, Chair of the ARC's Transport Committee, that congestion charges on highways leading into Auckland City's business zone between 7.30am and 8.30am would encourage motorists to use alternative routes, public transport and car pools and travel outside peak hours.

"Cr Cayford should be advocating a law change to return Auckland's bus service to public ownership. At the moment, Stagecoach only does what's profitable for its offshore owners. Stagecoach is using its near-monopoly to block the government-funded introduction of thousands of extra buses which alone can quickly fix Auckland's gridlock."

"Bus commercialisation has allowed gridlock to spiral out of control, and now Cr Cayford appears to be suggesting road commercialisation as a way of tackling the problem."

"He should be advocating the reversal of bus commercialisation so that thousands of extra buses can be introduced to break gridlock, instead of hitting citizens with another round of commercialisation that will strip them of free roads."

"He should be saying that our free roads cater for all New Zealanders, and are already paid for through taxation."

"Cr Cayford should be saying that tolls would transform our free roads into commercialised roads which only benefit profit-taking corporates."

"Mr Cayford was elected as an ARC councillor on the back of the Rates Revolt. He led people to believe that he was on the side of ordinary people. To remain true to his election promises, he should be saying that tolls and congestion charges are a tax attack on ordinary people which will remove roads from the public domain."

Ms West concluded: "On behalf of RAM, I challenge Cr Cayford and road pricing advocates to a public debate on road commercialisation."

ENDS

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