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Hutt candidates face off over train bike ban

Nov 23rd, 2011 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News

WHETHER people should be able to take bikes on the new trains has sparked political debate in the Hutt South electorate.

Green representative Holly Walker (left) wants bike racks added to the Matangi trains, but National’s Paul Quinn (right) says it’s not an issue.

Ms Walker sent a letter to the Hutt News advocating bike racks ahead of Monday’s announcement of the Greens’ transport plan.

Mr Quinn says community members he has spoken to are satisfied with the new system, which allows limited numbers of bikes on the old trains, but only fold-up ones on the new ones.

He says the Greens’ new transport plan is all rhetoric and not relevant to Hutt South.

A key promise is to fund up to 100% of public transport, cycling and walking projects which are approved by the New Zealand Transport Agency.

The plan seeks to champion alternatives to spending on roads.

Ms Walker uses her bicycle to get around Lower Hutt, but says she stopped taking it on the train because of the peak-hour bike bans from April 1.

She says getting on board the older trains is an unreliable option because of increased demand by other cyclists, and she has no plans to use the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s subsidy to buy a folding bicycle.

“You know, that would be cool in an ideal world, but I already have two useful bikes that I love. I don’t want to buy another one.”

She would like to see a cycleway between Petone and Ngauranga, and a light rail system similar to mayor Celia Wade-Brown’s plan for central Wellington established between the Lower Hutt railway station and the centre of town.

“The central business district of Lower Hutt is not well-served by the rail line,” she says.

Party leader Dr Russel Norman said in the Dominion Post progressing the Greens’ transport plans under a National-led government would be a struggle.

Ms Walker agrees: “Ultimately for us, reprioritising what we see as very wasteful, uneconomic spending on roading by National is the main thing.”

The Greens would prefer to work with a Labour-led government as their priorities line up more closely.

Community support for the Greens is strong in Lower Hutt, Ms Walker says.

“A lot of people have been saying, ‘I’ve never voted Green before, but I’m thinking about voting Green this election.’”

Mr Quinn says in his view, none of the announcements that Russel Norman made about the transport plan have anything to do with the Hutt.

He says Ms Walker’s issues with getting her bike on board the trains do not reflect what he has been hearing from the community, and people are happy with the current arrangement.

He dismissed the Greens’ light rail idea for Lower Hutt as unnecessary: “That’s the problem they’ve got in terms of making a potpourri of an uncoordinated wish list.

“Having an inner-city rail link actually doesn’t do anything for the Hutt.”

Mr Quinn says the cycleway from Petone to Ngauranga has already been actioned by the government, and he would like to see it further extended to Eastbourne.

“I do more than support it, it’s actually happening,” he says of the cycleway. “There’s nothing new in that regard.”

 

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