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Western Corridor's future lies in public transport

20 April 2005

Western Corridor's future lies in public transport

The best way to get people from Wellington to the Kapiti Coast more safely and efficiently is to invest now in public transport and demand management, the Green Party says.

Transit and the Greater Wellington Regional Council have this afternoon released their Western Corridor Transportation Study, identifying six options for improving transport options for those travelling between Wellington and the Kapiti Coast.

"The region's first priority must be to urgently implement the proposed $400 million public transport upgrade package," Green Co-Leader and Transport Spokesperson Jeanette Fitzsimons said.

"It is over ten years since the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment called for an upgrade of public transport in the Western Corridor before looking at more roading. We need to get on and do it!

"Double-tracking rail would make it much more attractive for both passengers and freight and, together with other proposed improvements, is a much more sustainable option than major roading such as Transmission Gully."

The Greens also propose that the public transport and travel demand management package in the study is accompanied by urgent safety improvements on Centennial Highway.

"Before we spend up to $2 billion on building new roads, we need to try to encourage people out of cars and into buses and trains so that congestion can be eased in the most cost-effective, environmentally-effective way possible," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"Travel demand management could include working with schools, polytechs and work groups to encourage more people to opt for buses or car-pooling rather than travelling alone in cars. International experience suggests that, on a corridor like this, it would be possible to significantly improve reliability and reduce congestion through such transport demand management.

"By contrast, massive roading does not deliver value for money. Transmission Gully would cost $1 billion, the four-lane coastal highway would cost $600 million, and you'd need several hundred million more for a range of other projects.

"If we really do have $2 billion to spend on improving the region's transport systems, it could provide a massive expansion of public transport throughout the whole region - for example, light rail for the whole region, servicing the airport and other key destinations. Given the looming challenges of climate change and the end of cheap oil, this would be a much more prudent and sustainable way to spend the money."

ENDS

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