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Big Questions Hang Over Gully Decision

12 April 2006

Big Questions Hang Over Gully Decision

Yesterday's Regional Land Transport Committee decision to include Transmission Gully in the Western Corridor Plan is an “ad hoc decision driven by short-term politics rather than by the needs of Wellington” says Option3.

Option3 spokesperson Karl Baker said that everything he heard at yesterday’s meeting suggests that Transmission Gully is both unworkable and unaffordable.

“This is turning into a farce – motorists are being asked to pay both tolls and extra petrol tax, essential public transport investment has been scrapped to pay for the road, and no-one knows if it will take 10 or 15 years to build. Meanwhile petrol is heading for $2/litre and public transport struggles with growing demand.”

At yesterday’s meeting Wellington City Council called support for Transmission “political rather than logical”, citing concerns over increased traffic , urban sprawl, affects on public transport patronage and climate change.

Land Transport NZ stated that although all transport projects must meet 17 separate criteria, the present plan only meets one.

Option3 has consistently pointed out that upgraded rail can start to deliver relief for motorists and commuters within a few years. “Within five years we could have a 45 minute express service into town from Paraparaumu, and peak hour trains running every 10 minutes. We could have a fifteen minute peak service within months.”

Option3 said that the Committee's decision to endorse building over-capacity in the Western Corridor, despite the arguments posed by its own members, showed that decision makers had ceased listening to rational argument.

“It's a decision that still has a lot of ifs and buts attached” said Option3 spokesperson, Karl Baker. “The decision was rushed through to try and influence Transit and Land Transport New Zealand but the result is simply a mess.”

Option3’s analysis shows the new plan is full of contradictions. The Council’s own strategy says projects should have a benefit cost ratio greater than one while Transmission Gully’s BCR is only 0.2. And the predicted 20% traffic growth due to the new road is inconsistent with the Council's own Traffic Demand Management Strategy which aims for zero traffic growth.

Option 3 will continue to promote its vision for a faster and cheaper solution on the Western Corridor. “Wellington deserves a world class balanced transport system based around better public transport, smart planning assisted by fast telecommunications infrastructure and incentives for walking and cycling on the Western Corridor.

“For less than the cost of Transmission Gully we can have a high quality electrically powered rapid rail service from Wellington to Waikanae and fast cheap broadband in every home – making working from home, internet shopping and teleconferences a reality. That’s real choice and real progress” said Mr Baker.


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