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Wgtn public transport crying out for funds

Wgtn public transport crying out for funds

30 June 2005

Wgtn's creaking public transport crying out for more funding

Green Wellington Transport Spokesperson Sue Kedgley has welcomed extra funding for the capital's public transport systems in the National Land Transport Programme released today, but says it is not nearly enough.

"I'm pleased that the Government and the Greens working together has seen Wellington public transport spending increase by 20 percent to $31 million a year," Ms Kedgley says. "But much more investment is needed to bring our ageing, dilapidated public transport infrastructure up to scratch after decades of neglect.

"The lack of investment in Wellington's rail network in the national transport programme is a particular concern. It is not clear how much of the long-overdue upgrade of commuter rail is actually getting funded.

"No investigation is proposed into how we can get more freight off our roads and onto rail: much of the freight that currently gets carried into Wellington by trucks on the coast road ought to be going by train. This programme fails completely to address that."

Ms Kedgley said she was very worried that funding for the Wellington region seemed to be focused on roading.

"Our city's future lies with a clean, electric public transport system, yet the region remains preoccupied with roads. Wellington needs to stop squabbling about which big road to build and invest in public transport and excellent walking and cycling facilities."

The pointless Inner City Bypass continued to be a drain on transport funding for the Wellington region, Ms Kedgley says.

"The Bypass' $38.9 million price tag is more than the total amount spent on Wellington public transport. This is money that could and should have been spent on upgrading the Johnsonville line, buying new rail rolling stock or upgrading the trolley buses."

Ms Kedgley says she is also concerned that no money is allocated in the programme for walking and cycling projects.

"Wellington region's local authorities have failed to propose adequate walking and cycling projects for government funding. This is very disappointing."

Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said the National Land Transport Programme's concentration on building more roads, promoted by National and pursued by Labour, was dangerous, short-term thinking.

"Oil prices are rising inexorably, touching US$60 a barrel, yet we are still building roads like there is no tomorrow. Far more money needs to be diverted into expanding public transport, rail and coastal shipping so people and business have viable alternatives as the end of cheap oil beckons and the costs of climate change start to bite.

"We are now spending the same amount on building new roads as on maintaining current ones. This begs the question of how the Government plans to maintain all these new roads in the future. And given that we have known since the 1930s that building more roads encourages more car use, we must ask what the purpose of most of the new roads is when they're certainly not going to help with gridlock."

ENDS

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