'The Daily Blog' October 1, 2013 / 25 Comments
Generation Zero are lovely people. They are committed to seeing a lower carbon future and the reality of global warming makes their activism more necessary than ever. That said, I had a brief run in on social media with a few of them over the weekend and I wanted to point out exactly what my problem with their plan for a Congestion Free Auckland is.
I am all in favor of building up the existing public transport infrastructure that they envisage. My beef however is that this simply seems to be a means of pumping public money into public transport infrastructure so that the middle classes can transition more comfortably from their cars to public transport than any wider social concerns.
Auckland is a SuperCity of poverty, those who ride public transport by necessity, not choice, are given nothing in this plan. The students, beneficiaries and working poor would benefit by having greatly reduced fares or free public transport and that is simply not part of this plan. I believe climate change is a serious threat, and that a rebuild of public transport infrastructure combined with a vast reduction in cost if not free public transport is the kind of radical solutions we need to adopt to give people the incentives to travel more by public transport.
For those who claim we can’t give the poor free public transport, I point at the Gold Card that older NZers have to travel for free and note that hypocrisy just highlights another glaring example of how we short change young people, the working poor and beneficiaries in this country.
Listening to one of Generation Zero’s leaders shrug off my criticisms that traveling by bus is already cheaper than maintaing a car suggests a middle class echo chamber out of touch with the grim reality that poverty is already causing many.
I support the work Generation Zero have provided, but cannot support their exclusion of the poor in the values they espouse. Free public transport or cheap public transport would do more for those at the bottom of the heap than merely building more public transport infrastructure so the middle classes can transition away from their addiction to cars.