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Greens Welcome Major Shift In Transport Approach

28 February 2002

Greens Welcome Major Shift In Approach To Transport

Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today welcomed the new transport funding package as a major strategic shift in the approach to land transport.

Ms Fitzsimons said the Greens had been negotiating with the Government over the makeup of the package over the last three months and said the allocations of the extra revenue would at last begin to balance the demands for roads with the need for sustained investment in public transport, rail and alternatives to roading.

In the package, funding for roading has increased by around eight per cent while funding for passenger transport has increased over 50 per cent, alternatives to roading has increased over 200 per cent, a new output of $30 million for regional development assistance (not restricted to roading) has been created and $3 million for walking and cycling has been allocated as part of the roading budget.

"The Greens acknowledge that some of the revenue raised will be spent on new roading. However public transport and alternatives to roading - traditionally neglected by previous Governments - have done very well under this Green tinged package," said Ms Fitzsimons.

Ms Fitzsimons said other than the funding allocations, the Greens were particularly pleased with agreements:

* That the New Zealand Land Transport Strategy, as implemented by Transit and Transfund, commit to the principles of sustainability and integration and have, as strategic objectives, a commitment to social and environmental sustainability and protecting public health; * That Transit and Transfund, within one year, be required to review all currently planned major projects, review them against the new strategic objectives and remove any projects which fail to meet these objectives; * To ensure that incentives work to encourage heavy freight to be moved by rail; * To ensure that new roading investments should favour projects with high community support and little or no risk of induced traffic; * That the Government will develop a national cycling strategy which will be taken into account in the allocation of funds.

"One of the key developments in this package is the agreement to make legislative changes to the land transport funding framework - Transit and Transfund - to broaden the focus away from solely building more roads towards land transport, including public transport, rail and alternatives to roading," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"With this broadening in focus to incorporate public transport, alternatives to roading and provision for pedestrians and cycling will also be a commitment for the Transit and Transfund to reflect the principles of social and environmental responsibility.

"The new requirements for Transit and Transfund to review all planned projects in light of the new strategic objectives and principles, and for preference for new roading investment to go to those projects with high community support will give those communities which have been fighting against the likes of the Wellington Inner City Bypass cause for much new hope," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"What we have here is a massive and long overdue change in the strategic direction of land transport in New Zealand. The new funding in this package combined with new legislative changes for our transport agencies will ensure a much more appropriate split between roading investment and public transport, rail, land passenger services and provision for cyclists and pedestrians."

Ms Fitzsimons said the Greens had long been concerned at the lack of direction and strategic vision going into the transport sector and the ongoing run-down of public transport. The Greens had used negotiations with the Government to push for a more sustainable and future driven approach.

"We are pleased with the result of these negotiations. The age-old imbalance between public transport and roads has started to be addressed and, for the first time, the principle of environmental sustainability is being applied to transport policy."

Ends


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