Monday, June 09, 2008

Perhaps the simplest mistake the Greens make on transport

There are so many, but best seen in this post condemning Labour spending on motorways (which in these two particular cases, I actually agree with the Greens on, because they are well over the top from what is needed):

"they are about to spend $2 billion on a short motorway tunnel in Auckland, and $1 billion on a new motorway in Wellington. Neither of these will be needed in an oil-scarce world, but better public transport and rail will"

Does anyone truly believe that with a history of around eighty years of ever increasing private mobility with the private car, that a change in fuel will see people wanting to plan most of their trips around schedules, waiting, sharing vehicles with others? Public transport will always have a role, for those who can't afford a park, who are travelling on busy corridors where large numbers of people start and finish at similar destinations, and it can offer a speed advantage because it has a good corridor. It works for those without cars. However, it wont replace most trips - it never will.

The idea that more roads or road improvements wont be needed when oil isn't the primary source of motive fuel for road vehicles, is banal. They may be an interruption, a short period of transition if, and it is a big if, the future is not oil - but something else (I wont guess, since so many want to guess and get the government to pick winners). However, people LIKE cars, people LIKE driving, they love the freedom it brings. In busy cities, alternatives make sense because space is precious, putting up the cost of parking and creating congestion (or in the right cities putting up the price for roads) -but that is it. Those alternatives make sense in certain circumstances and at certain times.

Collective transport is chosen as second best, by almost everyone.

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