Thursday, February 05, 2009

More roads?

During the election campaign, the message was clear: National would build more roads and "step up" investment to pay for them. Now they're in government, they're doing the opposite. Canterbury's annual roading budget has just been cut by 85%, leaving a $210 million annual shortfall. So, people in Christchurch won't be getting their new bus terminal, or a motorway extension.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce says that these projects will be dealt with "as part of the Government's ongoing priorities". In other words, they will be queued up behind other "high impact" projects and doled out by Ministerial fiat. A transparent system of regional funding has been destroyed in favour of one which makes every large project a special favour from Wellington allocated according to electoral impact rather than need. So much for long-term planning...

I don't like roads that much, and would rather the government spent the money on hauling public transport out of its "no service / no demand" catch-22 by building world-class services. But this is simply no way to run a transport system.