Proposed Auckland motorway “an act of insanity” – expert

The government’s proposed new motorway is an act of insanity, says the car buyers’ Dog & Lemon Guide.

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson said today,

“For the last three decades governments have been building motorways in order to solve Auckland’s traffic congestion, and the congestion has only become worse.”

“Building more roads will simply encourage further use of cars at a time of high oil prices and global warming. It will also worsen the country’s trade deficit as we import more cars and more fuel to power them.”

“Cars are the perfect transport for empty roads and the worst form of transport for busy roads, and Auckland’s roads are always busy.”

“Michael Cullen clearly believes in a 1950s dream world where endless suburbs are linked by endless motorways filled with happy car drivers. The reality around the world is high oil prices, global warming, and endless gridlock that gets worse each year.”

“If the money the government is planning to spend on the new motorway went into an overhead railway instead, then Auckland could solve its transport needs in five years. As things stand, the new motorway will be a multi-billion dollar traffic jam that will probably leave the city worse off than when it started.”

“It’s no wonder so many Aucklanders won’t use buses: Auckland doesn’t have public transport, it has cattle transport. The buses are slow and cumbersome, the drivers are rude and the trains are frequently late. Passengers are treated like cattle and expected to like it. Worst of all, there’s no coordination between services – you can spend a day getting from one side of Auckland to the other.”

“Aucklanders often drive to work because they have no choice. Until the government gives them a choice, very little will change.”

Matthew-Wilson added that car pooling was a far more efficient way of solving Auckland’s immediate gridlock.

“Carpool lanes are highly effective and cost peanuts. “We are told that Auckland needs toll roads in order to avoid gridlock, yet you could get rid of three quarters of the cars on Auckland’s roads instantly if people shared instead of driving alone.”

“All of Auckland’s motorway plans assume a country without real public transport, where millions of motorists drive to and from work every day. In a world of oil shortages and overcrowding, this is not only impractical, but irresponsible.”

Matthew-Wilson also questioned the economics behind the public-private toll road:

“There’s no way that private enterprise can build roads as cheaply as a government: Both governments and private companies will hire the same engineers and the same road builders. However, governments can borrow money at cheaper rates, and don’t need to make a profit on the road.”

“By comparison, private companies are going to want a hefty profit from buildling any road. Worse, while the government is scared of charging taxes for a new road, the tolls on a private road are actually a tax, except that it will be charged by a private company and the toll will inevitably be higher than if the government were doing the charging.”