Transport spending policy 'stuck in 50s time warp'

By Mathew Dearnaley

Heftier spending on state highways and less for public transport risked damaging economic development, Auckland transport politicians warned a senior government funding official yesterday.

Chris Darby, North Shore City's representative on the Regional Transport Committee, acknowledged that a 34 per cent Government increase in highway construction funding over the next three years may give the country a short-term economic development boost.

That followed advice to the committee from the Ministry of Transport's acting manager of land transport funding, Marian Wilberg, that a revised Government policy statement was aimed at delivering short-term growth in line with a strong political mandate.

Ms Wilberg cited a resilient transport system, with improved journey time reliability and an easing of congestion, as important for economic growth and productivity.

But Mr Darby condemned the policy statement, which Auckland Regional Council officers have estimated will require 76 per cent of land transport funds to be spent on roads, as "an absolute time warp to the 1950s."

He said it failed to provide against dwindling oil supplies and risked leaving future Aucklanders with redundant roading infrastructure and inadequate public transport to make do with less fuel.

"It will be a long-time liability - what we are seeing here really lacks imagination and I am convinced it lacks examination," he said.

Fellow committee member Kathleen Ryan said she feared the greater emphasis on roading would prove unsustainable and undermine potential economic growth of the region.

- NZ Herald

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