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Soaring car sales show transport choices stunted

17 May 2004

Soaring car sales show transport choices are stunted

Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says reports of "soaring" car sales show both the Government and society need to make a more serious commitment to public transport.

Sales of imported used vehicles rose to an all time high of 18,462 cars in March, compared to peaks of only 11,000 to 12,000 a month two years ago.

"People on limited incomes should have access to the services and opportunities they need to fully participate in our society," said Ms Fitzsimons, the Green Party Transport Spokesperson, "but New Zealand's lack of a first-world public transport system and the absence of community services in many areas means many people are forced to choose cars as their everyday transport.

"So the problem is not simply the increasing numbers of cars in New Zealand, but how much more they are now being used.

"A history of cheap oil means our society is organised so that cars are more convenient than walking, cycling or public transport for some situations. The damage cars do to the environment, their high running cost in financial and energy terms and the various safety issues all mean motor vehicles should be used as conscientiously as possible.

"People commuting to work alone by car and families running two or three vehicles should be encouraged to choose more sustainable alternatives. The fairest way of doing that is to provide cheap and accessible public transport, better walking and cycling facilities, and more services and facilities in local communities. Then the most convenient transport choice, be it walking or public transport, will also be the best option socially and environmentally.

"New Zealand's increasing car dependency should also be viewed in the context of the imminent end of cheap oil. The world is soon going to reach a point where the amount of energy needed to extract the remaining oil starts to seriously weigh against the total energy that can be extracted from that oil. New Zealand should therefore be building public transport infrastructure now before the financial and energy costs of its construction make an easy-to-use network unattainable," said Ms Fitzsimons.


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