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Take A Detour Towards More Public Transport

Media Release – August 5 2008

The Social Justice Commissioner of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

Time To Take A Detour Towards More Public Transport

Social Justice Commissioner of the Anglican Church, Anthony Dancer, has issued a challenge to politicians to give higher priority to public transport as a sustainable and affordable means of transport for the future.

“As things stand I seriously question the advice that is coming to the Government from Land Transport New Zealand (LTNZ). Their recommendations are undermining public transport in favour of putting capital into roading. It seems pretty obvious that as a result roading is being overcapitalised. If this continues, we are unlikely to have the right transport infrastructure mix for our economy in the future” says Dr Dancer.

“The Government are spending 6 dollars on roads for every 1 dollar they spend on public transport. Where is the logic in that when oil prices are set to continue to rise? This seems to be a backwards looking action, and one that discriminates against public transport. This sends out the wrong message that cars come before things like cycling and walking, particularly in urban areas. ”

Minister of Transport Annette King has said Land Transport New Zealand’s evaluation procedures do not contain predictions for the future price of oil. She also says that LTNZ’s evaluation procedures use 2002 values and adjust for CPI.

“That’s simply not good enough. LTNZ seem to be grossly under pricing the rapidly rising cost of oil. The era of $1 a litre petrol is well and truly over. Government decisions need to be based upon realistic projections. Our dependence upon roads has been lubricated by cheap oil.”

In making recommendations to the Government about roading, LTNZ also consider the time wasted by the public when they are stuck in traffic. In their calculations the wasted time of car drivers is valued as 66% more important than that of users of public transport.

“This creates the wrong picture of public transport and the people who use it. It discriminates against some of the most vulnerable in our society, for example the elderly, youth, disabled people and those people who cannot afford to drive. It also strangely discriminates against people who actively choose not to drive,” says Dr Dancer.

Dr Dancer asserts that LTNZ is failing to meet two of the five statutory objectives of the NZ Transport Strategy, namely “protecting and promoting public health” and “ensuring environmental sustainability”.

“The world of the future is going to be a very different place to the world we live in right now. We need just transport policies that take this seriously. The Government needs to deliver them” says Dr Dancer.


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