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Auckland's transport planners are the most extreme motorway-lovers in the world and should lose their jobs, says Australian expert Dr Paul Mees.
Planners are still trying to implement a 50-year-old, "hate-filled" plan against public transport and are incapable of changing old habits, the Melbourne University urban and transport planning senior lecturer said in Auckland yesterday.
Dr Mees was in the city as a guest of the Stop the Eastern Motorway (Stem) lobby group to address a public meeting at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell last night.
He said the region's transport blueprint, the Regional Land Transport Strategy, was a continuation of a motorway agenda set in 1955 with dollops of political correctness for public transport.
The latest strategy contained bureaucratic spin at the front but was full of roading projects at the back.
Dr Mees said Aucklanders had been conditioned to think that the transport debate was between all motorways and no public transport or mainly motorways and a bit of public transport.
Elsewhere the debate was between all public transport and no motorways and equal shares of motorways and public transport.
Dr Mees told the meeting that Aucklanders needed to ask what kind of city they wanted - a car-dominated city such as Detroit or a public transport-dominated city such as Zurich.
The $4 billion cost of the eastern highway was "truly spooky" and could build Auckland the best public transport system in the world.
Perth was spending $1.4 billion to add 70km of new rail lines, a tunnel under the city centre, extend two existing rail lines and provide 24 new trains to increase annual patronage from 35 million to 60 million passengers by 2011, Dr Mees said.
The meeting was organised by the Hobson Bay Residents Network, which has been needling local pro-highway councillors and community board members to stop the destruction of the bay.
More than 11,000 leaflets with a computer-generated image of the proposed highway along Tamaki Drive were delivered in Parnell, Remuera, Meadowbank and Orakei to advertise the meeting, attended by about 750 people.
Network co-ordinator Christine Caughey said it was time councillors were given a conscience vote on this "motorway madness".
The pro-highway Auckland Citizens & Ratepayers Now council ticket are due to block-vote today to approve $2.9 million towards a $6.17 million bill to plan the first stage of the project in the Glen Innes, Panmure and Pakuranga areas.
This is on top of the $14 million already committed to the project by Auckland and Manukau councils and Transit New Zealand.
One transport plan promoted last night was a proposal by the urban issues group of Auckland's Institute of Architects. It advocated the completion of a western ring route to take traffic away from an upgraded Spaghetti Junction, fixing the Mt Wellington/Panmure bottleneck, developing a new link from the Southern Motorway to East Tamaki, improved east-west busways and fast, modern trains from Panmure and Glen Innes to the central city.
Stem executive officer Richard Lewis said that plan was a truly integrated roading and public transport solution with no need for a four-lane motorway from Panmure to the city.
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