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Cullen's roading spend-up resoundingly rejected

16 July 2006

Cullen's roading spend-up resoundingly rejected by public

The Government's massive $1.5 billion Budget spend-up on roading has been dealt a major rebuke in a Consumerlink survey released today by the Green Party, with 75 percent of respondents saying that at least half of the money should have been spent on public transport instead.

"These survey results underline, for instance, that the public clearly understands the causes and the solutions of Auckland's traffic crisis, even if

Dr, Cullen, just as clearly does not.The city's residents have learned from bitter experience that traffic congestion is not solved by spending megabucks to help get more cars onto the streets," Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

"A vast gap has opened up between the Government's perception, and what people are clearly saying they want. Nearly 40% of people wanted all or most of the $1.5 billion in question to be spent on improving public transport. The Government is also abandoning its core support. Of the small minority who do support the "more roads" solutions that the Government seems hellbent on funding, 56% of them are National voters, and only 29 percent are Labour voters. Significantly, over 80 percent of women feel that at least half of the money allocated should have been spent on improving public transport.

"This is not a buses vs cars argument. Better public transport will deliver fewer cars better able to get where they're going, with fewer emissions and less need for new roads," Ms Fitzsimons says.

Auckland needs a rail connection out of Britomart to the Western line; a rail link to the airport; electrification and signalling upgrades so the trains can run at greater frequency; a busway to the east. None of these are funded at the moment, and it cannot all be done out of rates.

".Dr Cullen is fond of arguing that while people may say that they want spending on public transport, they will not, at crunch, get out of their cars to actually use it. Well, reality is contradicting him on that point as well. Just this month, the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) reported a 32.5 percent increase during the year to June in patronage of the city's rail network. Much of that growth is occurring among new train users, who are reportedly using word of mouth to recruit even more passengers.

" The Greens say that investment in public transport is sensible, since the double whammy of rising oil prices and climate change will steadily turn the private car into a luxury that needs to be driven less, and used in tandem with public transport.

"As yet, national planning remains out of step with this reality. Public transport receives only 18% of total transport funding, and that will decline to 10% by 2014. As this survey indicates, it is time for Government to stop pouring money into more roading - a dead end solution to the problems we face."

ENDS

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