One-eyed transport plan taking New Zealand down wrong road
29 August 2012 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press release – Generation Zero
Youth organisation Generation Zero says the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) 2012-15 released today confirms the Government is pushing ahead with its Roads of National Significance (RoNS) at all costs and continuing its severely unbalanced transport spending.
"With the enormous funding imbalance and completely unfair and unlevel playing field for the RoNS versus everything else, we think the Government's transport plan is both one-eyed and short-sighted," said Generation Zero spokesperson Paul Young.
The NLTP will see the Government borrowing $100 million and increasing fuel taxes and road user charges in order to afford the $3 billion earmarked for the RoNS, despite static state highway traffic volumes since 2005.
Meanwhile, Generation Zero's analysis shows that there will be less central government funding made available for public transport in real terms than in the prior NLTP, despite a 7% increase in public transport boardings since 2009.
Mr Young said it is local councils that are footing the bill to keep up with growing demand.
"Despite how the figures might be spun, the central government funding allocation for public transport has increased less than inflation. To compensate, the amount that local councils are set to invest is up 17%."
The Government and the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) emphasise that investments are focused on ensuring value for money, but rather than applying a rational and consistent approach they have adopted very different philosophies for the RoNS versus public and active transport and rail freight.
On the NZTA's website, it states that in order to ensure value for money from public transport, "existing services need to be optimised before we invest in new services".
However the RoNS are described as a "lead infrastructure" approach, "investing in infrastructure now to encourage future economic growth rather than wait until the strain on the network becomes a handbrake on progress".
Mr Young said, "Speaking of strain on the network, let’s look at Kiwirail right now - without a cash injection they'll be forced to cut track renewals in half and lay off 200 track workers, close lines and slow train speeds."
"Talk about a handbrake on progress."
Last Friday, Generation Zero launched an online petition to Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee calling for an immediate review of the RoNS programme, and a shift in investment towards alternatives such as Auckland’s City Rail Link, high quality cycleways, and a strong and efficient rail network.
By Wednesday more than 1,500 people had signed, and an accompanying video had been viewed 1,150 times on Youtube.
"We just want to see a level playing field where smart, future-proofed transport solutions are given a fair go rather than being squeezed out by a blind commitment to these costly new motorways,” said Mr Young.
“The Government’s current plans don’t stack up, and they’re a missed opportunity to invest in the smart, low-carbon future we want and need. They are taking New Zealand down the wrong road.”