Government misses the bus with transport bias

The Government’s “flagship” transport plan ignores the opportunities to adopt smart transport solutions while developing a stronger nationwide road network that can help bolster public transport solutions, says National’s Transport spokesperson David Bennett.

“It fails to invest in the infrastructure required for an economy in a Covid pandemic. The Government is still focused on niche projects – not connectivity, productivity and growth on a national scale.

“We need to embrace clean energy sources for cars, and strive for greater efficiency of bus networks. This includes a faster transition to electric cars and buses. Roads are key to ongoing growth and the adaption of modern technologies.

“Instead, all the Government has offered is an anti-road transport plan with a disproportionate amount of money spent on walking and cycling lanes that have cost more than $2 million per kilometre. 

“The public has already rejected niche and expensive follies in the soon-to-be defunct Auckland Harbour Bridge crossing. Everyday Kiwis know what’s best for their travel plans, and this transport plan continues the Government’s fixation with out-of-touch, nice-to-have projects, rather than what is actually needed.”

Key issues in the plan are:

  • The introduction of a track user charge on rail – essentially a new tax

  • The relegation of Auckland Light Rail to planning and design, with no prospect of construction

  • The Eastern Busway left in limbo

  • Hyped-up maintenance funding that will barely cover cost increases and the extra kilometres of roads included in this category

  • Speed limit reductions on 16,500km of roads

  • Millions spent on cycleways while motorists remain stuck in queues

  • Some regions are  effectively ignored, for example, Canterbury and Waikato making up nearly a quarter of New Zealand’s population but only getting an eighth of the transport budget

  • A $2 billion loan given just to plug the financials without plans for interest and repayment

“This is not a transport plan for the future,” says Mr Bennett. “It fails to take into account technological changes in transport modes. It’s fixated with a Government bias. It’s like putting a Boeing 777 jet on a regional route and a turbo-prop on a main city route. It doesn’t make commercial sense and misses a golden opportunity to invest in our productive sectors.”