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Public transport commitment a bad joke

February 2 2005

Public transport commitment a bad joke

Public transport is the loser in a recently announced $225 million transport Government package for Wellington. Alliance transport spokesperson John Shaw says the majority of the package is earmarked to increase road capacity. Of the remainder, most merely covers years of deferred essential maintenance for rail.

"To allocate just $30 million spread over ten years for new public transport initiatives is a bad joke. There needs to be a balance between public and private transport, but trains and buses are getting only token support." Mr Shaw says the focus on supporting more and more private cars makes little sense when petrol prices are predicted to continue rising. Quality public transport is going to become increasingly important over the the next decades. The public transport expenditure includes refurbishing and replacing rail carriages that are at at the end of their lifespan.

Mr Shaw says while this is necessary, it does nothing to increase services. "The regional council is promising increased fares -- hardly the way to encourage use of public transport." The Alliance supports increased subsidies for buses and trains to encourage motorists to leave their cars at home. But the Alliance says these essential services should be returned to public ownership and operated as a public service. Mr Shaw says the plan to buy new rail carriages also highlights the flaws in so-called public-private partnerships.

"The people of New Zealand have to pay for the carriages, but the profit made from them goes overseas to private company Toll Holdings." He says public-private partnerships merely add cost with little tangible gain to the public purse.

ENDS

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