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National's road toll policy would punish the poor

25 August 2008
National's road toll policy would punish the poor

Auckland Green Party MP Keith Locke says National transport spokesperson Maurice Williamson's proposal for high tolls on new motorways would only hurt poor people in the absence of adequate public transport alternatives.

Mr Williamson was reported today as advocating $3 to $5 tolls, or up to a $50 per week bill per commuter, although Bill English has now pulled Mr Williamson back a bit - saying the tolls would be more like $2.

"Road tolls can be useful to encourage people out of their cars, but first we need much better public transport alternatives, otherwise we are further punishing the less well-off Aucklanders," Mr Locke, the Party's Spokesperson on Auckland Transport Issues, says.

"Yes, motorway traffic might ease up a bit, but only because poorer people have been forced to stay at home, not being able to pay a toll on top of the higher petrol prices.

"Mr Williamson is too fixated on expensive new motorway projects, like the $1.9 billion Waterview Connection, when the urgent need is for better train and bus services.

"If some of these new motorway projects were put much further back in the queue it would free up the money to get our rail and bus system humming, without the need for the public-private roading partnerships that National is so keen on.

"Public private partnerships are not a good deal for taxpayers. Overseas experience shows they can be more expensive in the long run, partly because the state can always borrow money cheaper than a private firm can."


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