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Catch the train now or miss the bus: Greens

16 June 2008

Catch the train now or miss the bus: Greens

The Government should underwrite the funding stream for the electrification of the Auckland rail system so new electric trains can be ordered now, the Green Party says.

"It is deeply ironic that rapidly rising petrol prices are preventing the very solution everyone wants - a fast, frequent, reliable electric rail service in Auckland," Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

"If the Government can underwrite the fuel supply for a thermal power station - as they did a few years ago for the Huntly E3P gas fired power station, which increased our greenhouse emissions - surely they can do the same for a rail service that will reduce them.

"It is very disappointing that other political parties will not support the funding proposal already agreed between Auckland Region and Government, after extensive public consultation by the ARC supported this option. But we should not let that stand in the way of a public transport system Aucklanders are crying out for.

"It is also deeply ironic that there is no such threat to the $2 billion proposal to build a new motorway tunnel through Waterview, even though traffic volumes are already levelling off with the higher petrol prices.

"With the price of oil set to continue rising because supply just can't keep up with rising demand, every new motorway will be a white elephant. They will also commit us to higher maintenance costs in the long term without the funding base to provide for that.

"If a parliamentary majority can't be obtained for the legislation, money should be diverted promptly from the new road building budget to public transport, including Auckland's electric rail.

"The simple fact is, with higher fuel prices there is increased demand for public transport and less demand for new roads. Government should listen to that.

"It is time to pull out all the stops to create an improved public transport system in all our cities. The Greens have been calling for that for many years and if we had been heeded many people would have better travel options today. Successive Governments' failure to see the oil price rise coming and provide better public transport have condemned us to higher transport costs, higher greenhouse emissions, and a higher balance of payments deficit."


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