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Toll roads are highway robbery

April 21, 2005
Toll roads are highway robbery

The proposal to toll the Orewa to Puhoi extension of the motorway north of Auckland (ALPURT 2B) is “highway robbery”, the Alliance says.

Transport spokesperson John Shaw says the new toll road will set a precedent for subsequent large construction schemes and is the first step on the road to privatisation.

“Surely if ALPURT B2 goes ahead as a toll road, the case is made for the tolling of all non-urban State Highways? This appears to be part of a Government strategy to privatise road planning, construction and management.

“Will urban construction projects be next on the list? Is the ultimate goal to off-load governmental responsibility onto the private sector through Public Private Partnerships (PPP)?”

In its document “The Case for ALPURT 2B as a Toll Road”, Transit NZ justifies the use of tolls as “an important first step in changing attitude around how we pay for roads in anticipation of travel demand”.

The Alliance Party rejects tolling as a means of financing road construction. Tolls are merely another tax bearing disproportionately on those with the least ability to pay, Mr Shaw says.

“The fairest way to spread the cost of roading is through the collection of taxes, including petrol taxes. In this case, local commuters will end up paying most of the tolls for a road being built to ease traffic congestion when Aucklanders go north on holiday.”

Mr Shaw says the excuse that the scheme would not be started now unless it was tolled is not a sound justification.

“The toll income on ALPURT B2 is not even expected to cover the debt charges at their present proposed level.”

Although this project is not a Public Private Partnership, Mr Shaw says it creates the climate for these in the future. The Alliance strongly opposes Public Private Partnerships.

“Handing over the management and control of highways to the private sector for 30-35 years is anti-democratic and a wanton disregard of the public’s expectations of their elected government.”

He questions the “important first step” of tolling ALPURT B2 as a stairway to where?

“More and more tolling at higher and higher levels and the takeover of the public highway by the private sector?”

ENDS

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