Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Zealand - Residents Action Movement Grows

Road toll idiocy should be rejected outright

"National and Labour are showing themselves to be political twins when it comes to transport policy. Both parties want more extravagant motorways, and to pay for them they want to inflict road tolls on city drivers," said Roger Fowler, RAM's transport spokesperson.

National MP Maurice Williamson's "exuberant" clammer for $50 a week toll charges, with support from Auckland mayor John Banks, has revealed National's real intentions: to build more roads and tunnels, and shove the cost onto road users.

Labour's transport minister Annette King fully supports road tolls. Her only quibble is that the toll might be set "so high that people won't use the road".

"This is a bit of a dilemma when you're embarking on a grand plan to spend over $7 billion on a maze of new motorways, bridges and tunnels in the Auckland region, as Labour is," said Roger Fowler.

"The push for tolls from both Labour and National flies in the face of public opinion. Aucklanders have overwhelmingly rejected road tolls in all public opinion surveys."

"Working families are already struggling to pay the bills. This toll madness will put them under intolerable pressure."

"And it's double madness because of the seriousness of the climate change threat. All our energies should be going into reducing vehicle emissions, a major contributor to global warming."

"Rather than piling idiocy on idiocy, we need immediate and bold political action on the twin problems of traffic gridlock and climate change," said Roger Fowler.

RAM's common sense solution is for government cash earmarked for motorway expansion to be diverted into funding new networks of free and frequent public transport in main cities. This move, coupled with a carbon-offset charge on airport arrivals and hotel bookings, will be a major step towards rolling back carbon pollution and tackling global warming.

This achievable and innovative action will catch the attention of other countries and could spark world-wide efforts to slash traffic congestion, oil consumption and vehicle emissions.

At the start of this month the Thai government introduced free buses and trains in Bangkok for a six month trial to help low-income earners. (More info in backgrounder below.)

"If a third world country like Thailand can afford free public transport, why can't New Zealand?" asked Roger Fowler.

Free and frequent public transport in our main cities is one of RAM's "Ten Commandments" that will be the focus of RAM's election campaign.

Backed by the enrolment of 3,000 new RAM members over the last few months, RAM is standing a substantial party list in the upcoming election as well a number of electoral candidates across the country.

For more info, contact Roger Fowler:
021 2999491
mangere.east.access@paradise.net.nz

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