Last week’s Tuesday Club was a wonderful example of sensible discussion about a matter of great public importance. Public transport.
Kim Fowler, President of the student’s association at Canterbury University presented a well thought through argument about the advantage for both students and our community for discounted fares for students at Canterbury’s tertiary institutions.
The discussion started there. It then moved to if us pensioners can get free transport with our gold cards why stop there? What about all children had free bus transport to get to school? Just as rural pupils, quite rightly, get free buses to get them to school.
The conversation darted back and forth, and we ended up inviting Professor Simon Kingham to speak to us on how we can submit sensibly on transportation options for our country.
I have got to the point, as a complete petrol head who struggles to leave his old car in the garage, that we need to take a bold step about transportation. We need to make all public transport free. People need an incentive to get out of our cars. Free transport will be a big, bold step. We can then face the world and say that we are serious about global warming.
I can just hear the doubters. How much will this cost us, they will cry? Well, the Government will spend around $800m this year toward the roads and infrastructure of New Zealand over and above road user charges, according to my reading of a graph supplied by Waka Kotahi. What percentage of this would it take to transfer over to free public transport?
I would like to thank Kim who has done an outstanding job lining up support to present to Ecan last Thursday. You stimulated a great discussion on public transport and for that we thank you.
Associated with this discussion I was reading the Guardian last week and came across this long interview with Greta Thunberg https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2021/sep/25/greta-thunberg-i-really-see-the-value-of-friendship-apart-from-the-climate-almost-nothing-else-matters
The article said:
She says she can’t think of a single politician who has impressed her. “Nobody has surprised me.” What about, say, New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern, who said that the climate crisis was a matter of “life or death” at the June launch of her new roadmap to control global heating? She looks sceptical. “It’s funny that people believe Jacinda Ardern and people like that are climate leaders. That just tells you how little people know about the climate crisis.” Why? “Obviously the emissions haven’t fallen. It goes without saying that these people are not doing anything.” In April, it was revealed that New Zealand’s greenhouse-gas emissions had increased by 2% in 2019.
Here, Jacinda Ardern and your cabinet, is your chance to do something significant. Make public transport free in New Zealand in the next budget.