Free Buses Take Off
Free Buses Take Off
Alternative to Labour's unfree roads
by GRANT MORGAN
RAM's free buses campaign is taking off in greater Auckland.
Manukau City's transport committee recently voted to back our free buses petition. This important decision has attracted lots of media interest.
Manukau mayor Sir Barry Curtis wants the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) to give free buses a large-scale trial in the three suburbs of Mangere, Otara and Manurewa.
He's asked the region's other councils to support RAM's petition in principle.
The mayor reports "all sorts of calls from all sorts of people" endorsing his support for free buses.
RAM has been invited to present our case at this month's meeting of the ARTA board.
We're calling for 3,000 new fare-free buses to fix the region's traffic gridlock and fumey air.
Funding would come from a major shift of government cash from highway construction to free buses.
Our petition has been personally endorsed by close to 200 top academics, community figures, prominent artists, Maori leaders, environmental activists, sports stars, union officials, ethnic representatives and other respected locals.
It's been institutionally endorsed by organisations as varied as Clean Air Auckland, Mangere Community Board and Poverty Action Coalition.
When the petition has been taken to big sports and cultural events, it's been greeted with enthusiasm. Often 90% of passersby will sign.
Only this groundswell of support for RAM's bold and realistic vision can change the politics of transport.
And it badly needs changing. The Labour government is moving to bring in "road pricing" which would commercialise our roads.
RAM's free buses is a challenge to Labour's unfree roads.
Labour's agenda would take roads out of the public domain for the first time since the birth of capitalism in Europe over 200 years ago.
Working families would be hardest hit, as business passed on road tolls to consumers.
Unless we offer positive alternatives to Labour's plan for unfree roads, this market extremism is likely to win by default.
Such an alternative is RAM's plan for free buses. It's starting to excite public imagination.
We will soon be running big advertisements in the print media to build on our successes and expand grassroots support for free buses.