Regions missing out to Auckland - council

Last updated 12:00 05/08/2014
Auckland mayor Len Brown on a double-decker bus in 2013
TRANSPORT: Auckland Mayor Len Brown on a double-decker bus in 2013.

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Regions, cyclists, pedestrians and buses are still not getting their share of national transport spending, the Palmerston North City Council will tell the Ministry of Transport.

The council's planning and policy committee yesterday approved making a submission on the government policy statement on land transport that will guide spending priorities for the next nine years.

Road planning team leader David Lane said the statement was an improvement on past policies for provincial New Zealand.

As the programme for improving roads of national significance advanced, there were opportunities opening up for more regional issues to be considered.

But Lane said the policy still overstated the importance of the Auckland economy at the expense of regions that were leading economic growth and needed stronger transport links.

He said there should also be more emphasis to supporting public transport, cycling and walking to relieve congestion on the roads and encourage people to depend less on their cars.

Cr Chris Teo-Sherrell said the point should be made strongly that roading improvements that encouraged people to drive around with no passengers was inefficient.

Investing in bus services, cycling and pedestrian facilities would provide better value for money.

And he said cyclists and pedestrians needed different things.

It would be a good start, he said, if the Government would subsidise the provision and maintenance of footpaths.

Lane said Palmerston North, in particular, had difficulty attracting government subsidies for roading works because its congestion and safety problems were not bad enough.

"Government's approach is primarily problem based."

Palmerston North did not want to wait until there were problems before acting to maintain and improve its roads.

"In our experience, the costs associated with roading improvements increase significantly if delayed.

"Timely investment in network improvements that have been appropriately planned offer the best potential value for money," he said.

A case in point had been the "crippling congestion" that dogged Fitzherbert Ave, the main link to Massey University, Linton and the Crown Research Institutes, in the 1980s and early 1990s, as the city waited for government help to increase its capacity.

A current trouble spot was Ruahine St near Palmerston North Hospital, a key freight and lifeline route, which experienced bottlenecks at peak times.

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- Manawatu Standard

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