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Congestion the bitter harvest of poor urban planning

Cover of report

An extraordinary reaction to the ‘Funding Auckland’s Transport Future’ report, published in April 2013 shows the cluelessness of policy-makers.

Auckland’s ‘Consensus Building Group’ today published a report setting out two options for raising the twelve billion dollars allegedly required for future transport funding there.  Two options are set out-

  1. Higher rates, fuel taxes and a regional fuel tax
  2. Road pricing (like London’s congestion charge)

Remarkably, presiding National Party transport minister Gerry Brownlee immediately insisted in a statement that congestion caused by excess car use and under-controlled urban sprawl is not to be questioned or challenged.

According to Radio NZ, ‘Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee, who hasn’t read the report, said a regional fuel tax, congestion charges and road tolls as they stand would never be agreed to.  Mr Brownlee said New Zealanders ‘won’t be paying twice for roads’ when money has been generated through their excise duty or road user charges, while a congestion charge would not be appropriate on government-owned roads.’  Have motorists even paid once for these roads? Or does he expect the rest of us to support motorists’ expensive habits?

Fairfax Media reports, ‘A group of Auckland’s business and community leaders, convened by mayor Len Brown to give its view on funding projects to solve the city’s transport crisis, is today calling for public feedback on two funding options.  Group chairman Stewart Milne says Auckland faces a $12 billion transport funding shortfall by 2041 if nothing is done.  Employers and Manufacturers Association chief executive Kim Campbell says the city will suffer if nothing happens: “Finally when the place comes to a grinding halt, that’s when people leave.  We don’t think that’s a responsible view.”

“Our population is projected to grow by as much as 1 million, with around 60 per cent of that coming from our existing populace”, says Brown.

The public is being asked to submit feedback on the group’s proposals before it makes its recommendations to Auckland Council in July.’ (Scott Morgan, Stuff.co.nz, 2013- April 29th)

This the same day that John Key was wheeled out for a conference of petroleum industry representatives in Auckland to tout oil exploration by ‘large oil companies’ in off-shore claim areas.  Hmmmm…

I’m not up to date with the issues but it certainly seems remarkable that  funding challenges of up to $12 billion can be discussed by senior Government members without reference to the Unitary Plan, denser urban planning, and the concepts of reducing transport needs from unnecessary car trips.

And looking beyond this current spat, it looks like some of the problems arising from virulent car-dependent sprawl are coming home to roost.

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