Exclusive with David Shearer
Labour could still kill off ExpresswayExclusive report by Alan Tristram
Labour leader David Shearer says his party still opposes building the Kāpiti Expressway and will ‘mothball it’ if it gets the chance.
In an exclusive interview with the Kāpiti Independent, David Shearer says Labour’s preference is for the Western Link Road rather than the Expressway.
WLR ‘cheaper and better’
“The Western (Link) Road is cheaper and has got a better cost/benefit ratio,” he says.
“There are a number of factors against the Expressway, and going back to the drawing board will mean continuing to develop State Highway One (SH1).”
And he says he sympathises with those residents who bought houses, thinking they were going to be in a quiet suburb, suddenly having a major road right through the middle of their community.
On the question of whether cancellation is feasible, Mr Shearer says: “I guess it depends on what stage it’s in when we come to power.
“If it’s able to be mothballed and we can move back, then obviously we’ll look at that.”
When pressed on what Labour would do immediately if elected in 2014,Mr Shearer says: “I don’t exactly know where it will be up to at that point – and if they’ve let contracts, and there are a whole bunch of issues, it might be too far gone.”
“But if this is not so, we would want to take a very close look at it.”
Public transport and the Capital Connection
On commuter services and the Capital Connection, Mr Shearer says he recognises the key place of both for Kāpiti.
“We favour getting behind KiwiRail and making it a going concern,” he says,”It’s an essential part of our future as a country.”
He says he wants the Capital Connection service retained. “My own belief on public transport is that you do have to subsidise it to some degree.”
Figures he has seen show that, with a further 20,000 passengers a year using it, the Capital Connection would break even.
“Now if we are able to offer a good service, more people take it, and the more people take it, then obviously it gets closer and closer to profitability,” he says.
“But if we leave it, 170,000 rides a year won’t take place, they will be on the road instead.”
He says this would be a backward step, causing many problems, including more congestion and more pollution.
The Labour Leader stressed that Government has to calculate all the costs in making transport choice.
“And that means the costs (falling) on the roads as a result of large trucks cutting up the roads versus rail.”
And, he says, this isn’t being done at present.
Over the next week or so, the Kāpiti Independent plans to bring you further excerpts from this interview with Mr Shearer. The next instalment deals with Labour’s plans for competing with National in the Ōtaki electorate.