Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Greens want $10 billion public transport spend

Russel Norman, right, wants a $10 billion spend on public transport projects. Photos / NZ Herald
Russel Norman, right, wants a $10 billion spend on public transport projects. Photos / NZ Herald

Greens want to spend more than $10 billion on public transport and rail projects over the next decade, allowing buses and trains to run every few minutes at rush hour.

Of this total, $2.2 billion would go towards seven key projects in Auckland including immediate construction of the City Rail Link, toward which 60 per cent of a recently-revised cost of $2.38 billion would be state-funded.

Read more: Greens plan student card for free public transport

Co-leader Russel Norman, announcing the policy at Britomart in Auckland this morning, said the massive increase in public transport investment would be at the expense of highways which increased congestion and pollution and made commuters vulnerable to rising petrol prices.

"We will switch from wasteful motorway spending and invest instead in trains and buses, and we will build infrastructure so people can safely walk and cycle to work or school," he said in a statement.

Under the Green transport plan, spending on cycling and walking infrastructure would increase by 300 per cent.

A contestable pool of $1.2 billion would be created for regional transport projects. And a Student Green Card - revealed on Tuesday - would give tertiary students free trips on public transport at off-peak hours.

The spending in Auckland would go towards the City Rail Link, a rail extension to Mt Roskill, electrifying rail from Papakura to Pukekohe, a new bus lane on state highway 16, extending the Northern Busway, a new bus service in the upper harbour and extending the AMETI busway.

Dr Norman said the ten-year plan would cost less than Government's corresponding plan for this next decade.

National has allocated around 11 per cent of a $36.6 billion land transport plan over the next decade to public transport and, walking and cycling. Much of the funding will go towards construction of the Roads of National Significance, including the Puhoi-Wellsford "holiday highway".

Greens' plan for a slightly lower $36.4 billion spend would be at the expense of these motorways, which Dr Norman said only catered for 5 per cent of vehicle trips and had poor cost-benefit ratios.

But motorways would not be completely neglected under a Green Government.

Dr Norman said: "We will also invest in making roads safer by upgrading our state highways. Over ten years we plan to spend $3 billion on projects to improve state highways, making safety the number one priority."

His party's transport spokeswoman, Julie Anne Genter, said the Greens would spend no less than National on maintaining highways and local roads.

Labour also supports bringing forward the construction of the City Rail Link., .
National has scheduled the work to begin in 2020, unless rail patronage numbers and CBD jobs dramatically increase.

- NZ Herald

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