The transport policy war between two alternative visions of commuting people by roads or rail has extended beyond the boundaries of Auckland metropolitan area and reached to the regions.
The Labour Party has come up with a regional road rail policy on transport after National Party’s $10.5 billion plan for ten new major high ways announcement earlier on Sunday.
"Labour will invest in a rapid rail network connecting Auckland, Hamilton, and Tauranga, and double funding to help complete important regional roading projects," Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern says.
Earlier on Sunday, August 20, Prime Minister Bill English announced National Party’s plan for 10 major highways around the country, if it returns to power after September 23.
The star attraction of the National’s road project was new Road of National Significance will run between Wellsford and Whangarei.
Many commentators see this project as a softener for New Zealand First’s Winston Peters, who stands from Whangarei, in the post election negotiations.
The major attraction of the Labour’s transport policy is the proposal to connect three main urban centres of North Island with rail.
“The ‘Golden Triangle’ of Auckland, Hamilton, and Tauranga contains half our population and economy. In the next 25 years, it is projected to gain another 800,000 people – three-quarters of national population growth.
It’s time this growing region had a modern, rapid rail service,” Ms Ardern said.
Both National and the Labour were quick to despise each other’s plan on transport as ill-thought and poorly planned.
Labour party is saying that National’s are rattled by polls (where Labours at 37 per cent have come at a striking distance with National at 40 per cent).
“There is a complete lack of any answers in National’s plan to build 10 new roads of National Significance (RONs). They want to spend $10.5 billion on these new RONs without a business case,” said Michael Wood, Labour’s Transport spokesperson.
“It looks to me that this a gambit based on the latest polls and short-term political advantage rather than any proper planning,” Mr Wood said.
The National Party is saying that adoption of the passenger rail ideas for Waikato and the Bay of Plenty of the Auckland public transport lobby is unrealistic and would be a waste of public money.
National Party Transport spokesperson Simon Bridges says “The Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga rail line is our busiest freight route and simply doesn’t have the capacity to also be a commuter rail line.”
"The only way you could use it for both would be to double track large sections of the line, and Labour doesn’t have any plan to invest for that.
“Labour would kick economy-fuelling freight off this important line and replace it with empty commuter carriages.
It is clear that currently, both major parties are eyeing on the regions as an effort to shore up their respective voters.