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Motorists forced to share roads with more trucks

18 September 2008

Motorists forced to share roads with more trucks: Greens

The Government predicts a 75 percent increase in the amount of freight carried through New Zealand, but is not considering increasing rail or shipping capabilities, even though ETS legislation has just been passed to reduce climate changing carbon emissions.

A new report, released today, says there will be a 75 percent increase in freight over the next 25 years but predicts little - if any - difference in the way freight is moved around: 70 percent on roads, 15 percent on rail, and 15 percent on coastal shipping.

"Without a substantial re-prioritisation in the way Government spends our transport budget, the number of trucks clogging our roads will nearly double," Green Party Co-Leader Russel Norman warns.

"The study recommends four-laning of much of our state highway network but this will have little impact on the resulting increases in congestion. Where we'll find the space for all this additional roading is also unclear.

"Nowhere does this study refer to the Ministry's own Surface Transport Costs and Charges study which showed that trucks were only paying 56 percent of their costs while rail freight paid 82 percent. The Government has done nothing to reverse the perverse incentives that have led 70 percent of our freight to be moved on our roads.

"Until we get our freight onto rail and ships - away from oil-intensive, greenhouse gas emitting modes - we'll never shift our economy onto a more sustainable footing.

"Neither the report nor the Government is offering us any solutions except more of the same commitment to building more roads.

"However, the report does concede that freight forwarders have little choices at present for changing modes.

"Investing in public transport to move the discretionary trips commuters make off the roads would be one easy solution to clear the roads more for trucks. Investing more in inland ports for transfer of freight to rail is another solution," Dr Norman says.

"This kind of approach may suit roading and freight lobby groups such as the Road Transport Forum, but is not good for the rest of us."

ENDS

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