National’s transport priorities messed up

Today, the Government announced a $13.9 billion plan to invest very heavily in road transport. Such announcements are rare in terms of the amount of funding that is made available and the scope over which that funding can be used. There was one when National first came to office that laid down the idea of R.O.N.S. But, despite New Zealand First’s best attempts, no one covered the announcement by N.Z.F. Member of Parliament Denis O’Rourke that N.Z.F. had conceived an alternative rail-based policy.

This plan is simply daft in so many different ways, not least because it shows a HUGE bias in favour of road transport. It is also biased in that it seems to promote an unhealthy reliance on a road network that is constrained in ways National simply refuse to recognize in terms of physical geography and the population distribution of New Zealand.

How many of these so called roads of national significance do we actually need? I wonder somedays whether ressurrecting a rail link between Nelson and Picton would not be better. Or one down to Westport that can take passengers and freight. How much could it take off the road? Could it assist the Port of Nelson?

I flat refuse to support this. It is hugely messed up and in terms of spending priorities we should be:

  • Vastly expanding the merchant marine – we are a maritime nation and should be taking maximum advantage of what this means for transport
  • Invest in sustainable fuel options for merchant marine; buses and trains
  • Assist any Port that has plans for heavy dry docking facilities so that when ships are in need of maintenance and/or repair, they do not have to travel thousands of kilometres for it to be done
  • Investigating the feasibility or either a rail link connecting Nelson with the main trunk line or feeding into the West Coast line; restoring Napier-Gisborne line and/or investigate feasbility of a route to Whakatane
  • Restoring the Southerner rail service between Invercargill and Christchurch as a daily or weekday service; restoring equivalent service in North Island if necessary
  • Ending R.O.N.S. (Roads of national significance), and replacing it with R.O.N.I. (railways of national importance); redirecting the remaining road funding to roads of regional significance – roads have a role, but it is not as significant as National claims
  • Investigate feasibility of nation wide biofuel programme for road based transport
  • Look at measures to get school aged children out of cars and onto bikes/foot/scooter – the number of people who would let their children walk to school if stranger danger could be contained is surprising
  • Engage with disabled/special needs/elderly about how they can go about their lives without being shut out of the transport system

Righto. If anyone can come up with an alternative and/or better set of proposals, they are welcome to put them here.


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