Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Transport Politics - Right V Left?

Regular eCouncillor readers know that I am no great fan of the Lord Mayor nor she a fan of mine. But I will give fair credit when appropriate. This is one of those moments. I am a strong transport reform advocate acknowledging that if we don't willingly reform our city transport systems and the active transport mix, it will eventually be forced upon us by the market. Right wing supporters may take a deep breath and argue that eCouncillor is yet again advocating regulations. Governments either lead transport reforms or the market will force it upon us much more painfully and perhaps after we reach the point of no return regarding environmental damage. The market I refer to is the rising costs of fuel and real environmental impacts of spiralling private vehicle ownership. The City of Sydney is approaching a major transport crisis. Investment by Labor in public transport has all but stalled, rail is unreliable and aging and buses continue to run later and later in aging buses. Meanwhile road grid lock continues as motorists avoid the excessive tollway systems. The City has conducted sound research on a new Light Rail system (read it here) and I am a full supporter of that proposal.
Clover Moore issued the release below and I couldn't agree more:

Sydney's car reliance reaches the end of the road
26 September 2005
Lord Mayor, Clover Moore MP today said: "People have had enough of traffic congestion and high petrol prices. We've become too car-dependent - and we're now paying the price. Motorists are being held hostage by high petrol prices and toll roads, because they just don't have any real alternatives".
"Sydney is a world class city and we need a world class transport system. Building more toll-roads is not the answer to Sydney's transport problems. It's time to invest in a major upgrade of our entire transport system.
"All the major cities overseas are seeing a revival of public transport and major re-investment in rail and light rail - even in the car-dependent US! The overseas experience shows that people will happily shift from cars to public transport if it is convenient, comfortable and fast. The potential economic, social and environmental benefits are enormous.
"Sydney urgently needs a range of new transport solutions to move people around far more quickly and efficiently - an integrated network of rail, light rail, buses and cycleways."


Meanwhile the left and right continued to bait each other over 4X4 vehicles. From the Sydney Morning Herald today and emailed around the city by the Pedestrian Council and others with a sense of self justification that played yet again into the divisive agenda on both sides of the argument.

They're big, aggressive beasts - and that's just the drivers

By Damien MurphySeptember 27, 2005

No contest Â… Mosman mother of three Chris Rooney with son Jack, 4, in their BMW X5. Ms Rooney says she chooses to drive a 4WD because she believes it's the safest option for her family.Photo: Steven Siewert
The apparent victory of the giant four-wheel-drive in the urban jungle has prompted much road outrage, but now a profile of city off-roader owners confirms many prejudices, revealing them as aggressive, obese people who dislike gays and Aborigines.
And that's just the men.
The Australia Institute study found women who own luxury 4WDs were markedly different from the 40-to-50-year-old blokes: They're younger, wealthier and, while they worry about weight (their own), they couldn't care less about conspicuous consumption.
"People say, what about the environment?" declared Mosman mother of three, Chris Rooney, who drove a Range Rover for years but has swapped to a BMW X5. "For me, my children's safety is more important."
Read more here.

And so 'shock and horror' the right (or right of me anyway) take the bait or throw more bait in fact and we get high profile Australian media commentator and blogger Tim Blair with more provocation against the left anti-car movement. The tit-for-tat polarisation of the issue continues and both sides are to blame.

Own a 4WD? You a
bad person:

A new study has found that city owners of large four-wheel-drive vehicles are less community minded than other drivers, less charitable, more likely to be homophobic and have a low opinion of indigenous culture.The study, crafted by the leftoid Australia Institute, ...... In related news, 100% of Australia Institute studies are composed by idiots.
Read more here.

More level heads need to prevail. The concept that vehicle ownership denotes some philosophical political divide is a false, negative and dangerous development (see my blog earlier on this issue here) as potentially destructive and disproportionate in influence as the NRA in USA politics. Vested interests in toll ways, fuel, car sales and advertising related revenues are gaining a serious political foothold across the western world. Not a healthy outcome for a sustainable transport future.

No comments: