Sunday, September 04, 2005

This election is critical for rail users

It's remarkable that as petrol and diesel prices near record levels, worries rise about the extent of oil resources left in the world and Auckland's pollution problems become chokingly obvious to anyone walking or cycling around the city, National this week officially launches its transport policy -and it's all about roads, more roads and more SUVs.
It's stupid, appalling and future generations will pay for it in all sorts of bad ways including through their health. Sure we need more roading but as petrol rises, public transport will become even more important. But SUV-loving National continue to wipe rail completely out of the equation for Auckland insisting only nutters and poor people would be calling for it.
We've seen from the New Orleans hurricane footage, how the rich and powerful don't care about the poor's welfare. But rail is not just for those who can not afford cars. The carriages are full of suits and people with laptops, Ipods and other expensive devices. Look at that guy on the right in the photo sitting with his laptop. These are people who care about the environment and choose to support public transport, despite all its frustrations.
Labour is to be thanked and congratulated for its announcement last week that Auckland's congested western railway line should have duplicate tracks a year earlier than planned - by 2008 - under a simplified funding policy. With that problem solved by the government, now it is up to the regional authorities to actually make their plans for an electrified system happen.
And despicable is the only word for the National-looking pamphlet put in our letter boxes warning that the Greens would spend "money on uneconomic and novel public transport schemes." If National thinks rail is uneconomical, it's a bad sign that they can be trusted to manage our economy.
Transport is a big issue this election for Auckland voters. Vote wisely.
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