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Public transport key to improving Auckland air

5 June 2009

Better public transport key to improving Auckland’s poor air quality

Giving people better public transport options is the answer to improving Auckland’s increasingly polluted air quality, Green Party Co-Leader Dr Russel Norman said today.

“Today is World Environment Day and the Auckland City Council’s Our Changing Environment report shows that air quality has become poorer. This is a disgrace that needs urgent attention.”

Dr Norman said the Government needs to urgently deal with Auckland’s much-needed public transport improvements such as rail electrification, railway station upgrades, integrated ticketing and new ferry terminals.

“Electrifying Auckland’s rail network is vital and the Government needs to commit an alternative funding plan to replace the regional fuel tax it ditched.

“Investing in better public transport is critical as fuel prices are set to increase. We need some certainty over funding and we need it quick smart.”

Dr Norman said increasing walking and cycling are other important components to getting more cars off the road and it’s vital to protect these vulnerable groups from road dangers by providing more cycle lanes and pedestrian-friendly urban design.

“Auckland is a beautiful city that ranked fourth-equal with Vancouver in a recent international quality of living survey. But delays caused by our congested roads cost the economy about $900 million dollars a year. And our poor air quality is a health threat that needs urgent attention.

“Air in Auckland is currently so bad that health authorities won’t approve new childcare centres within 150 metres of a motorway or 60 metres of a main arterial road. Yet the Government is planning more motorways…

“We need to reclaim our streets to make them safe for walkers and cyclists and totally change our car-driven mindset and provide reliable and efficient public transport options if Auckland is to prosper and go forward.”

ENDS

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