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Rail electrification not more urban sprawl

Rail electrification not more urban sprawl in Auckland

Green Media Release 23rd April 2007

The Greens are urging Auckland councils to hold the line against property developers’ calls for more urban sprawl, and instead keep pushing central Government for the funds for the electrification of the Auckland rail network with the associated increase in urban densities along the rail corridors, in response to the issues of housing supply in Auckland raised in the report released today by the Centre for Housing Research.

“Property developers are constantly pushing for more urban sprawl in Auckland by allowing urban development beyond the metropolitan urban limit, but this will only make the problem of liveability in Auckland worse and will provide at best temporary relief to the problem of housing affordability,” says Green Party Co-Leader and Economics Spokesperson Russel Norman.

“A much better answer is the electrification of the Auckland rail network which will create the opportunity to increase urban densities along the rail routes because the electric rail units will be cleaner, quieter and more frequent than the current diesel units. This project is of national economic significance and we need central government to make the final commitment to the electrification project.

“The Auckland Regional Transport Authority has estimated that by 2016 around 440,000 people will be within 800m walk of a railway station and over one million within 5kms, which creates an opportunity to use electrified rail as the backbone of a mass transit system with greater urban densities around the rail corridors.

“Maintaining the metropolitan urban limit makes tremendous sense for Auckland and shouldn’t be abandoned under pressure from property developers to allow further urban sprawl.

“Urban sprawl will make Auckland less and less liveable as it creates long car commutes through congested roads for people from living on the urban fringe to work elsewhere in the city. These commutes will become increasingly difficult because it is simply not possible to keep building more roads in the region, as reported by the Auckland Transport Strategic Alignment Project Steering Group on Friday.

“Furthermore rising oil prices will make sprawl increasingly unsustainable. A recent study into the impact of rising oil prices by Canterbury University researchers for Land Transport New Zealand (Energy Risk to Activity Systems as a Function of Urban Form) showed that urban forms with higher densities and better public transport, as opposed to urban sprawl, are best able to cope with escalating oil prices.

“And it should be added that housing affordability is not just an issue of housing supply, there is also a housing asset bubble being driven by the massive international flow of credit into the housing market taking advantage of high interest rates and the tax breaks around investment housing. And that needs to be addressed with tax changes and the provision of much more income related public housing.”

ENDS


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