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Greens challenge Govt: drop crippling road policy

9th June 2008

Greens challenge Govt: drop crippling road policy

The Government urgently needs to shift funding from new motorways into better public transport, says Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons. "With the recent record increase in the price of oil, the Green Party's Public Transport Funding Bill is desperately needed to fund practical solutions to massive petrol price increases and the Government's crippling roading policy," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"I challenge the Government to pick our Bill up and get it to select committee before the election so we can make practical and much-needed progress. "The Government must acknowledge that its motorways-at-any-cost mentality is forcing people into a mode of travel that they simply cannot afford. "My private members bill says that two thirds of the National Land Transport Fund should go to public transport, walking and cycling, rail, coastal shipping and travel demand management.

"This will help people and companies take up sustainable and affordable alternatives to private vehicle use and will decrease pressure on the roads."

April 2008 saw public transport patronage surge by 28 percent in Auckland compared to the same month last year, with ridership on the Northern Busway up 131 percent.

"If we provide alternatives, people will use them and the bill for road maintenance and new motorways will be less. Transport related CO2 emissions will also go down.

"The Government's approach to transport is inconsistent, and counter-productive. On one hand, they say high petrol prices are causing a reduction in private vehicle use, but on the other hand, they are about to spend $2 billion on a short motorway tunnel in Auckland, and $1 billion on a new motorway in Wellington.

"Neither of these will be needed in an oil-scarce world, but better public transport and rail will.

"The demand is there, but by funding these extraordinary motorway projects at the expense of reliable, comfortable, and cheap public transport, people will continue to feel they have no real option to driving, and in many cases, they will be right."

ENDS

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