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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 9 (January 1, 1930)

Where are Wheels Taking Us?

Where are Wheels Taking Us?

If, during the year, the outside world has not taught how to cure unemployment, has it any lesson in the control of modern traffic? The British Government has brought down a Transport Bill that sets up, for the licensing and control of public service vehicles, eighteen traffic area authorities, instead of about a thousand local authorities. New Zealand still has a local authority licensing system; but in the opinion of the British Royal Commission, on whose investigations and report the Bill is based, such a system is archaic and chaotic. According to the Commission's recommendations, the new licensing authorities, subject to the British Ministry of Transport, should be empowered to fix routes and fares, eliminate unnecessary road services, and establish a “controlled monopoly.” Although this report is made to a Labour Government, it is by no means a Labour Commission, and those who swear by “controlled monopoly” are by no means composed of men who bow the knee to State socialism. So the report indicates how far along the road of public control of private services even the greatest individualists are nowadays forced to go. The Commission recommends abolition of speed limit except for certain heavy vehicles whose speed must be limited to protect the roads; for the protection of road-users it is proposed to rely on prosecutions for “dangerous driving” not for breach of speed limit. The report and the Bill contain many things that ought to provoke thought. Not by any means so clear-cut is the evidence provided by Australia's two greatest cities on the perplexing subject of car-parking. Melbourne City Council has a by-law under which it allots parking space to motorists on payment of a fee ranging from 1/- a day to about £10 a year; in short, it sells public space, and employs men to supervise parking. But Sydney cabled under date 9th December that “owing to severe congestion of Sydney's narrow streets, the police department has prohibited car-parking in the chief thoroughfares.” In New Zealand the municipalities seem to be puzzled as to what to do about parking, and the New Zealand Town Planner again asks for limitation of height of buildings to prevent the streets being completely deadlocked.

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