The National Government is spending its Land Transport Fund primarily on carbon-polluting transport infrastructure, rather than building a clean, balanced and efficient system for the 21st century, the Green Party said today.
“The National Government could use the Land Transport Fund future-proof our transport system. Instead, National has chosen to continue spending over a billion dollars per year on a few carbon-polluting motorways that haven’t even passed a business case test,” said Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter.
Ms Genter was referring to the announcement of spending for the next three years from the Land Transport Fund. Spending from this fund will total $10.5 billion over 3 years, almost half of which will be spent on a few state highway projects.
“We commend the increase in funding for urban cycleways, which the Green Party has long campaigned for, but National is still missing the opportunities to invest in a smart, low-carbon future.
“This Government has a foolish and unjustified policy of not funding rail infrastructure from the National Land Transport Fund, even though rail is obviously a form of land transport.
“So while National throws billions at state highways with poor business cases that will carry a tiny proportion of freight and traffic, KiwiRail has to beg the Treasury for a few hundred million every year to keep our rail network viable to meet growing freight volumes.
“For the price of one expensive motorway, we could electrify the entire North Island rail network and purchase new electric trains, but instead KiwiRail looks set to replace the existing fleet of electric freight trains with carbon-polluting diesel trains.
“No other country in the world is going backwards and replacing its clean electric trains with carbon-polluting diesel trains.
“National also refuses to use the transport budget to invest in bus and rail infrastructure in our cities, which would make it much easier for people to get to work and school, while cutting pollution.
“Auckland’s public transport system is at a breaking point, with people crammed into buses and trains at peak time, and yet National refuses to start building the urgently needed City Rail Link (CRL).
“The Government is choosing to build a few uneconomic motorways at the expense of New Zealanders’ quality of life, and at the expense of an affordable, climate-friendly future.
“While National's transport budget concentrates on expensive motorways to the neglect of all else, the Green Party would complete the CRL in Auckland by 2021, invest in smart busway and rail improvements around the country, and preserve and grow our fleet of electric freight trains,” said Ms Genter.