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National would undermine public transport

7 June 2005

National would undermine public transport and clog roads

The National Party's approach to transport policy is outdated and would dramatically worsen congestion, air pollution and public health, the Green Party says.

"National has been erecting billboards claiming it would pour all petrol tax into building more roads," Green Party Co-Leader and Transport Spokesperson Jeanette Fitzsimons said.

"At the moment some of that money helps support the bus and rail services in our cities that allow many people to leave their cars at home. Robbing these services of funding would devastate public transport systems and lead to much greater congestion on Wellington and Auckland roads.

"Some of that same petrol tax money also helps meet the hundreds of millions of dollars in health-related costs associated with pollution from cars and trucks. National would have to either cut these health services or raise taxes to replace this funding."

Ms Fitzsimons and Transport Minister Pete Hodgson combined in Parliamentary Question Time this afternoon to expose National's half-truths on transport.

"Mr Hodgson presented figures showing that spending on land transport in Auckland is now almost twice as high as it was in the last year of the last National Government and that public transport spending has quadrupled in that time. For the past three years Labour and the Greens have worked together closely on transport and Kiwis are starting to feel the benefits of our approach.

"Putting it simply, tackling congestion by building new roads is like tackling obesity by letting your belt out. National plans for Auckland would substantially worsen traffic congestion in the city centre and the southern and western motorways. Don Brash's first round of motorway building would mean the bulldozing of about 8,000 homes and the displacement of over 20,000 people to the edge of the city, where they couldn't move without a car.

"Common sense and international experience show that the most effective strategy is to work on travel demand management, public transport, better walking and cycling options, and only then look at new roading.

"Even National used to admit this was a sensible approach. As former Transport Minister Maurice Williamson said in the late 1990s: 'Throwing dollars at the problems of roads is not the answer ... Building more and more roads in congested areas on many occasions results in more congestion - more traffic jams, more time and money wasted and more pollution'."


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