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  • Ethan Rogacion

One, Two, Buckle Your Shoes—Getting Around Gets Tougher

ETHAN ROGACION (He/HIM)


The Government released its draft policy statement on transport last week and the news is bleak for anyone who wants to go anywhere other than their flat and the dairy down the road. Funding for public transport, walking, and cycling has been significantly slashed by the latest policy, down $1 billion from the initial allocation set by the prior Labour government. 


In addition, while money has been allocated for some roading projects, the draft policy statement has said that none of the funding for local roads is to be used on “multi-modal improvements” like bus or cycle lanes, and that “there will be reduced funding for traffic calming measures, such as speed bumps.”


This isn’t just bad news for woke lefties who cycle to their coffee dates wearing vintage Green Party jumpers or whatever, either! The latest announcement hits hard at blokey-blokes who hoon their modded Honda Civic down The Terrace at 11pm—road user charges (RUCs) are set to be introduced for all cars, and the cost of getting a rego is set to increase over the coming years.


“The whole idea of driving an electric vehicle was that not having RUCs would be a major incentive to get them, so putting it on electric vehicles AND petrol vehicles will just incentivise people to drive diesel vehicles again,” said one second-year management student who had a shocking amount of things to say to Salient about road user charges, adding “[i]t just seems like a money making scheme!”


Criticism has come swiftly from the opposition: the Greens’ Julie Anne Genter labelled the policy “pathetic,” stating it “will condemn kids to being stuck in the back of cars rather than having the freedom to get around their neighbourhoods and to school by walking or biking.”


“People living on low incomes already have to spend a far higher share of their income on transport. Forcing them to own and operate a car to get around, or to pay more for public transport, is not going to reduce cost of living.”


All of these policy changes from central government follow a vote by the Greater Wellington Regional Council to increase fares on Metlink services by 10%, and to scrap the Community Connect concession for under-25s. 


Metlink group manager Samantha Gain told Salient that, “A report before council estimated that without a fares increase, a rates rise of 3.3 percent would be needed to cover public transport costs, expected to climb by 19 percent in the next financial year. Approximately third of Metlink funding comes from fares, the rest from government and regional council rates.”


Better dust off them running shoes … it seems like they may soon become the best option.


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