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Commuters wait while Cullen is stuck in slow lane

23 May 2006

Commuters wait while Cullen is stuck in the slow lane

New Zealanders are being driven down a road to nowhere with Finance Minister Michael Cullen at the wheel of transport policy without a map or a clue about where he is going, the Green Party says.

"Dr Cullen seems to be stuck in the slow lane with a nearly empty tank when it comes to understanding New Zealand's transport needs," Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

"He argued today in the House that we need more roads for buses, trucks and trades people, but the reason there is peak time traffic congestion in the major centres is because commuters are taking one car each to work as public transport services are not good enough.

"If each of those centres had a fast, efficient, frequent, safe public transport network, many more commuters would leave their cars at home and the roads would be adequate for everyone else," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"Aucklanders confirmed this last year in an Auckland Regional Council survey that showed that 87 percent of respondents agreed that better public transport would make it easier to get around that city, while only 46 percent more roads would.

"However, instead of having a forward-thinking attitude and investing in public transport for now and in the future, this Government is actually planning to proportionally decrease the amount of money it devotes to it from 18 percent to 10 percent over the next eight years. Over that time roading expenditure is planned to rise from 76 percent to 84 percent and that's before we count the new $1.5 billion for roads.

"With the cost of petrol increasing to around $1.70 a litre, motorists are already voting with their feet. A recent Transit study showed that there were 5000 fewer trips made in April on each of the downtown Auckland motorways. Yet public transport use is rising in both Auckland and Wellington.

"With oil prices continuing to rise, devoting more than a billion dollars to new roading projects at this time just lacks commonsense.

"Dr Cullen seems to have a hatred of trains. He has twice told the House that there will never be a metropolitan rail network in Auckland as there is in Perth, because there are only two lines. The reason Perth has one is that their elected representatives chose to build it. We could do the same and the Auckland Regional Council already has maps showing how and where," Ms Fitzsimons says.

ENDS

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