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Public transport on a ride to nowhere under Cullen

14 June 2006

Public transport on a ride to nowhere under Cullen

The admission this morning by Finance Minister Michael Cullen that Government spending on public transport infrastructure is now set to decline markedly, only serves to underline the head in the sand approach the Government continues to take towards traffic congestion and energy efficiency, Green Party Co-Leader Jeannette Fitzsimons says.

"Michael Cullen told me under questioning before the Finance and Expenditure committee that the current spike in spending on public transport cannot be expected to continue, and that those funds will decline markedly once the $400 million for double tracking the western rail line in Auckland is spent.

" The decline is dramatic. Government and Land Transport New Zealand funding of public transport is now set to decline from 21% in 08/09 to 10.2% in 2014/15, while roading's share increases from 74% to 84.5% of the total budget.

"In effect, Dr. Cullen's mindset also sounds the death knell for the electrification of the Auckland commuter rail system, and for the tunnel to connect Britomart and the Western line, without which rail can develop no further in Auckland.

"What will it take to convince Dr Cullen that he is turning his back on addressing Auckland pressing traffic problems in a co-ordinated way, and that he is underfunding the public transport solution that Aucklanders have said they want.

"On the evidence, the people of Auckland understand far better than Dr Cullen does, the impacts that fuel prices are having on how we live and work these days," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"Dr. Cullen also stated that as passenger numbers rise, the system of patronage funding would automatically increase public transport funding, thus enabling operators to invest in new buses and rail carriages.

"In fact, what happens is that regional councils expect to pay a lower subsidy for services as patronage increases, which has the unfortunate effect of discouraging operators from investing further."


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