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M'way To Be Resurrected As Billion-Dollar Busway

Tuesday 16 May 2006

Eastern Motorway To Be Resurrected As Billion-Dollar Busway

An unholy alliance of C&R Now and Finance Minister Michael Cullen appears set to resurrect the controversial Eastern Motorway across Hobson Bay as a billion-dollar busway, Action Hobson councillors on the Auckland City Council, Christine Caughey and Richard Simpson, warned today.

“Hobson voters thought we had voted to stop the motorway across out front yard, but it is increasingly clear that C&R Now and Dr Cullen plan to revive it as a billion-dollar busway,” the councillors said.

“Last week, C&R Now strongly opposed our initiative to remove the road transport designation from the eastern transport corridor, arguing Hobson Bay may need to be tarmacked for buses or other road uses.

“Now Dr Cullen has indicated he believes that improving the city’s train services by electrifying rail is not needed – and that Auckland’s transport woes can be solved by roads and buses alone.

“Worse, Dr Cullen wants massive hikes in regional rates of more than 60% over the next ten years to pay for his new roads and busways, despite Auckland already being denied our fair share of national transport taxes.

“Action Hobson and Hobson voters will no more support a billion-dollar busway across our bay than we did John Banks’ plan for a billion-dollar motorway, and we will oppose any breach of the proposed 5 percent annual cap on regional rates to pay for such foolishness.

“Action Hobson is pressing ahead with our plans to have the road transport designation from the eastern corridor removed. The Hobson Community Board will vote on this matter at 6:30 pm tonight at Jubilee Building in Parnell and the matter will then be considered by a special meeting of the Transport and Urban Linkages Committee on 29 May at 5:00pm.

“C&R Now’s opposition to changing the designation reveals they are obsessed with getting a motorway of some kind built across Hobson Bay and a change in designation is the only way to stop them.”

The Action Hobson councillors also called on central and local government leaders to start thinking boldly about solving Auckland’s transport crisis.

“If Dr Cullen and his colleagues think Auckland’s transport crisis can be solved with a road here and a busway there, they are mistaken,” they said.

“All central and local government leaders from across the political spectrum need to lift their horizons and understand that Auckland must have the kind of world-class rapid transit systems that almost all other million-plus cities in the Asia Pacific region take for granted.

“In tomorrow’s Budget, the Government will no doubt throw a few more hundred million dollars at Auckland roads that will end up being counterproductive by simply bringing more cars into the city. The Opposition will no doubt call for a few hundred million dollars more.

“What is needed is a genuine commitment by central and local government to use intergenerational financing to finally deliver a world-class, rail-based system to Auckland.

“Our country does not have a national debt problem. It has an infrastructure problem. Our ability to continue being a first-world economy depends on us investing the necessary billions to deliver a first-world transport infrastructure to Auckland.”

ENDS

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