Road lobby over-reacting - Greens
5 July 2002
The joint response by the AA, the Road Transport Federation and Business New Zealand to the draft New Zealand Transport strategy is an extreme over-reaction to the first attempt to introduce a more balanced, sustainable transport strategy for New Zealand, Green Transport spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today.
"The new transport strategy was developed by the Greens and the Government working in partnership, and took a moderate, balanced approach that would be considered conservative in Europe," Ms Kedgley said.
"New Zealand has had such an unbalanced transport strategy for so long, with more than 90 per cent of transport funding going into roads, that the first attempt to introduce some sort of balance between roads and other modes of transport is seen by the road lobby as extreme.
"We need to tackle the social and environmental problems caused by the present system rather than just raise taxes to fund projects that make problems worse."
Ms Kedgley said the rail infrastructure in New Zealand was so run down in many parts of New Zealand it posed a serious safety risk.
"Urgent investment in our rail infrastructure is needed, and the strategy allows for serious and long overdue investment in our rail infrastructure, for the first time in decades," she said.
Ms Kedgley said that while the new strategy allows for a modest increase in expenditure on public transport, cycling and walking, the vast bulk of funding was still going to roading.
Ms Kedgley said the AA and the Road Users Association appeared to acknowledge that road transport imposes huge social and environmental costs, and then expresses horror at the idea of road users paying for some of those costs, such as pollution.
Ms Kedgley said a report released earlier this year estimated that air pollution from vehicles kills as many people as crashes do.
"This is a huge social and environmental cost that we urgently need to address, and we cannot put our head in the sand over it, as these road user groups appear to want to do."