The Government's Gift to the Next Generation.
The Sunday Times printed an interesting article about the dropping numbers of teenage driving licenses in New Zealand. Since 2008 there has been a 10% decrease in 19 year olds holding a licence, almost 20% for 18 year olds, about 25% for 17 year olds and 50% for 16 year olds. It is very clear that there is a steadily growing increase in young people not wanting to drive.
When I was young most of my peers had their driver's licence by the age of 16 and when I was a second year university student I owned my first car. Both of my children have Learners Licenses, yet they have had little interest in following through to get their Restricted. My son is now 20 and my daughter is 18, both are attending university in Wellington and find walking and public transport works well for them.
Many reasons are given for not having a drivers licence: the tests are much harder than before; the responsibility of driving is perceived to be much greater; the cost of owning and running a car are seen to be prohibitive (when many are lumbered with student loans); the efficiency of public transport is improving; some have even decided not to drive for environmental reasons. The fact that young people can now communicate using diverse social media has also changed the need to use cars to connect up with friends.
Traffic volumes have leveled off over the past 10 years and the demand for public transport in our largest city is growing steadily. One would assume that with fewer people wanting to drive cars and no increase in traffic volumes, that a substantial investment in new motorways is nonsensical and yet that is exactly what this current Government is determined to do. $12 billion worth of bitumen based on deliberately skewed analysis. This Government's major investment and gift to the next generations is a whole lot of unnecessary roads.
That $12 billion would make a huge difference to the housing shortage, child poverty, education, health... instead we get some roads. What a sad legacy!