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Transit bypassing the truth:

3 June, 2004

Transit bypassing the truth: bypass only saves 1½ minutes

Green MP Sue Kedgley has accused Transit New Zealand of conducting an orchestrated campaign of misinformation and number-fudging to try to exaggerate the time savings for Wellington motorists from the proposed inner-city bypass.

Ms Kedgley, Associate Transport spokesperson, has received answers to Parliamentary written questions from transport minister Pete Hodgson that confirm that the bypass will only shave '1.7 minutes' off the average morning rush-hour journey.

This contradicts the widely reported claims that Transit has made that the bypass will save motorists seven to nine minutes of travel time at peak times. Transit had based these inflated figures on a hypothetical busiest-possible super-congested hour in the future - not what Wellington motorists could expect on any given day.

"The Minister has confirmed what the Green Party and anti-bypass campaigners have been saying since this bypass scheme was hatched," said Ms Kedgley. "That it will save only 90 seconds in time at peak traffic time on average when volumes are at their worst - nowhere near nine minute savings."

"These 90 seconds of time-savings could easily be lost if drivers have to stop at one of six traffic lights which will remain along Vivian Street. Given this, one has to question whether it is worth the huge cost to taxpayers of $40 million and the destruction of the historic Te Aro precinct.

"It's outrageous that Transit have been allowed to get away with their claims for so long. Transit has been deliberately misleading and confusing the media, with the result that many Wellingtonians genuinely believe the myth that the bypass will bring time savings of seven to nine minutes.

"The reality is that the time saving are pitiful, and motorists will feel cheated and angry if the motorway goes ahead and they find it has done nothing to solve Wellington's congestion problems," she said.

Ms Kedgley also refuted Transit and Transfund's assertions that the economic benefits will increase over time as traffic adjusts to new capacity provided by the bypass. "The only adjustment that traffic ever makes when a new road is built is that more cars will use that road. That makes it inevitable that it will only add to and worsen congestion, not alleviate it.

"The only way to reduce congestion is to reduce the number of cars and to do this we need better public transport, flexible working hours, telecommuting and other modern solutions," she said.

Transport will be a major topic of discussion at this weekend's Green Party conference in Wellington. Conference delegates and media are invited to participate in the "Path of Destruction" guided tour of the bypass route through the historic Aro Valley this Sunday, 2pm.

ENDS

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