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'Transit out of control' says tolls opponent

RAM media release 11.8.05

'Transit out of control' says RAM tolls opponent and campaigner

"Transit is a corporation that is out of control," said Elaine West, tolls opponent and campaigner for RAM - Residents Action Movement.

Elaine West was referring to Transit's announcement that Auckland's roads are likely to be randomly taxed in the form of tolls - to raise billions of dollars for rampant road-building projects. If road users refuse such road taxes, they are told that they will suffer the consequences.

"Transit and government threats to charge Auckland drivers billions of dollars in road taxes is no more than a cruel public set-up based on an alliance between state officials and big business interests intending to rake in money out of a car-trapped-and-weary public," said Elaine West.

The only available research on the social and economic impact of tolls in Auckland - and New Zealand - predicts that tolls on roads will likely harm society's most vulnerable citizens: - families, middle income earners with overheads, low income earners, the elderly, students, the disabled, workers who travel by car as public transport is not available to them, and so on.

"The Transit road tax announcement is unjustified, unnecessary and attacks the quality of life that New Zealanders hold dear."

"Transit's absurd position on massive road building schemes and associated road taxes springs from past injustices," said Elaine West. She gave these examples:

* public transportation services such as buses and trains were officially sold-off and usually dismembered by the private sector;

* car numbers were built up over time so that the tolling of roads would profit government and big business interests; and

* government spends a pittance on re-establishing public transportation because it would undermine the car industry and associated businesses.

"It's not surprising that a prime minister in electioneering mode is promoting road building. But if Helen Clark thinks the Auckland public will accept unwarranted road building, then she needs to think again."

Elaine West challenged road building supporters - such as Transit, the prime minister, the transport minister, the chief executive of the Ministry of Transport and big business interests - to a public debate on tolls.

"This debate should be held as soon as possible," she said. "RAM is ready to debate. But will the advocates of tolls front up?"

ENDS

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