This car hating government

I was listening to Andrew Dickens (Newstalk ZB) at lunchtime on Thursday. He was telling everyone how he took the bus to work that day. It cost $1.95. After work, he was going to walk to his chosen Japanese restaurant, walk from there to the opera by 7.15 and then get an Uber home. All of this, he reckoned, would cost less than a day’s parking while he was at work. So he was extolling the virtues of public transport. He was also saying that it was a ‘choice’ and that no one was forcing anyone out of their cars.

First of all, it is clear that Andrew lives very close to central Auckland, if the bus fare is only $1.95. Not many people are privileged to live that close to a central city where they can walk from work to their entertainment and then catch an Uber home, all for about $15. Public transport may be a cheap alternative for him, but it is not a cheap alternative for everyone. It wouldn’t be a cheap alternative for him either, if he lived in Orewa or Onehunga, as many people do… or if he lived in Wellington, where the buses may or may not turn up, depending on… well, who knows?

For those of us who have little or no choice but to use the car, it is becoming clearer by the day that this government hates cars. Mike Hosking in particular can see what is coming.

The real trick to political success is to get the people to go along with you.

Sometimes it’s easy, the argument is common sense, it appeals to a majority, so there is no real scrap or push back.

But in the case of speed limits and open roads, you are dealing with a complex layer of issues. Not least of which is this country’s love of cars and driving.

It really isn’t just that, Mike. For many people, the car is a necessity. How else do you drop the kids off at school, go to work, get the groceries at lunchtime and then take the kids to sport after school? How could you do all that on a bus? Or on a bike, for that matter.

Whether this Government likes it or not, this is a nation of car owners. There are almost four million cars in this country.

The current Government hate all this, and are doing their best to change it. Through agencies, like Auckland Transport and the NZ Transport Agency, they are making being a car owner harder and harder.
But here’s the bit they don’t understand – and the bit that makes the dream delusional -they are not taking us with them. And reducing speed on open roads under the guise of some wacky tool is not going to change a thing.

We smell an agenda a mile off. This is Julie Anne Genter and her cronies at large. From the bus lanes, the bike lanes, the lack of parking, the reduction of speed, the taxes on petrol, you will note to this point, all of it has been unsuccessful.

It has been very successful, from a tax revenue perspective, and parking is a real issue in just about every city nowadays. It won’t make any difference though. For too many people, there is no real alternative to the car.

At a time when the car has never been under greater attack by the zealots, it is not only holding its own, but prospering.

So what you have, metaphorical speaking, is battle lines drawn.

And this is where ultimately the Genters and co will lose – they are not taking us with them. Their arguments lack logic, the bits that were supposed to make things better haven’t, the buses don’t turn up, the bus lanes are empty, they built the cycle lanes and they didn’t come.

In other words the opening stanzas that were supposed to sway the curious and neutral failed, so now it’s open warfare and speed limits are the next trick.

A newspaper.

At this stage, the government says it has no intention of dropping speed limits, despite apparent evidence from NZTA that speed limits on 87% of our roads are too high for the conditions. We all know where this is heading though. We know that speed is not the only factor causing accidents, but it is the only one in the government’s sights. Prepare yourself for lower open road speed limits, guys. And let’s hope Mike is right. If the majority of voters are not with this move and would prefer that some of our hard earned tax money is used to improve roads, then maybe we will find ourselves with a new government late next year. We can only hope so.