Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Off The Buses

Use public transport.
Unclog the roads.
Save the environment.
Oh yea…now we’re putting the prices up!
Public transport users: gird your loins for rising costs. The govt’s cutting $17m from next year’s public transport budget, reducing financial assistance to councils. Regional councils will have to find more money to run bus and train services, meaning local councils will either up the prices, or cut back services. The big losers will be the growing numbers of conscientious public transport users.
Green Party transport spokesman Gareth Hughes: "NZers are looking for affordable transport options and the govt instead is doing the opposite, increasing funding for new state highways to over $1b a year for the next decade, while everything else suffers."
Campaign for Better Transport convener Cameron Pitches agrees: "At the moment the national road transport fund, a petrol tax and road-user charges, is $2.8b a year. Of that, 1.8% is spent on public transport infrastructure. But the govt is seeking to cut that back to 0.7%. What it says is, with public transport, the ratepayers are going to have to pay it [almost] entirely themselves."
While I’m a believer in “user pays” (and by extension, if you don’t use it, then you shouldn’t have to pay for it), it's logical for taxpayer money to subsidise public transport - lowering road densities, accidents, fuel consumption, while also reducing road repair expenditure. It seems a “win-win”, so the cut in the public transport budget makes no sense to me…have I missed something fundamental? The pending price rises are certainly a disincentive for “doing the right thing”!

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