Thursday, September 26, 2013

Generation Zero gives Len Brown's big new motorway an A grade

Len Brown, 'the singing mayor' has a new anthem for gridlocked Aucklanders:  "..six days on the road, and I'm gonna make it home tonight..."

By Mana's mayoral candidate John Minto - 'The Daily Blog', September 26, 2013 / 1 Comment

Auckland doesn’t need these new roads. No city has ever tarsealed its way out of traffic congestion.

It’s difficult to take Generation Zero seriously when it gives Auckland’s incumbent Mayor Len Brown an A rating around issues of public transport and climate change.

Last year public transport patronage in Auckland dropped by more than 3% after falling the previous year as well.

That’s a poor record for the environment. When people get out of buses and trains and go back to cars we have the worst of all worlds with greater congestion on our roads, more greenhouse gas emissions, higher productivity losses and increased demand for more roads.

Auckland Transport is battling to improve efficiency and reliability of public transport services but the public transport system, with nine separate private contracts for bus services, is fragmented, incoherent and difficult to manage.

We don’t need more of this unreliable, high-priced service run by profit-hungry private bus contractors.

The answer is to bring the system together in a single coherent whole and provide free buses and trains at less than half the cost of the big new roading projects which we won’t need in the foreseeable future. Unfortunately none of this is on Len Brown’s agenda. Our “smile and wave” mayor will not confront the free-market failure in provision of Auckland public transport.

Free public transport will dramatically reverse the current decline in public transport use and give Auckland less congestion, big savings for businesses (an increase in productivity of $1.25 billion each year) and families (the savings on petrol and transport fares) and the start of a truly liveable city.

The losers from our policy will be the big oil companies and car manufacturers but we don’t need to lose any sleep over that…

To make matters worse Len Brown is a strong supporter of the government’s proposed new multi-billion dollar roading projects for Auckland which will increase car dependency, increase greenhouse gas emissions and even after they are built we will have worse traffic congestion than now.

The mayor tells us we will have to pay an additional $400 million per year for the next 30 years to pay for these roads. He suggests congestion charges, road tolls, extra fuel taxes, network charges, higher rates and higher public transport fares. None of us need any of these options which disproportionately affect families on low incomes.

Perhaps worst of all the Mayor and Generation Zero have remained silent on the council’s plans for a big new 1.5 billion project which includes a proposed motorway to bulldoze through hundreds of homes of low-income families in Mangere and Otahuhu while tunnelling under Kings College to save the school’s cricket pitch from the tarseal addicts.

We might have hoped Generation Zero would stand with the local community to stop this outrage against the community and the environment instead of offering Len an ingratiating A grade.

Auckland doesn’t need these new roads. No city has ever tarsealed its way out of traffic congestion.

The greenest policy Auckland could adopt would be free public transport. It’s sad to see young New Zealanders not supporting this.

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