Public transport the winner in regional plan review
Public transport, walking and cycling and resilience have been prioritised in the mid-term update of the 2015 Regional Land Transport Plan, which has just been endorsed by Greater Wellington Regional Council.
“We’re pleased to say that planned expenditure on public transport is now almost level pegging with state highways, a shift which reaffirms Wellington as the nation’s capital of public transport,” says Wellington Regional Transport Committee chair Cr Barbara Donaldson.
While the mid-term update largely reaffirmed the plan’s long term strategic framework, it also marked a shift in priority towards a focus on public transport, resilience and sustainable transport, including walking and cycling.
The strategy contains proposals from 11 organisations relating to 111 activities and programmes of which 31 are significant new activities, with a total value of $990 million (excluding Let’s Get Wellington Moving for which costs are yet to be determined). Bids for funding will be considered by the NZ Transport Agency for inclusion in the National Land Transport Programme.
“We’ve reaffirmed the long term strategy remains fit for delivering a safe, effective and efficient land transport network that sustainably supports the region’s economic prosperity,” says Cr Donaldson.
“But the big news is that, for the first time, we can now apply for funding through the National Land Transport Fund for rail network upgrades.
“A new transitional rail activity class has been introduced by the Government to support urban and inter-regional rail services to help passengers access major employment and housing areas. That opens the potential for making real progress on upgrading our rail infrastructure and improving region-wide services.”
The Wairarapa Line, in particular, stands to benefit with investment in upgraded rail tracks and new flexible electro-diesel rolling stock that will improve both service and capacity for commuters to Wellington and the Hutt Valley.
“We’re also focused on increasing patronage by unlocking network capacity through projects such as double tracking Trentham to Upper Hutt. This will help deliver a service that meets customers’ needs” says Cr Donaldson.
“Access to ongoing funding may be the game changer we need to make a step change in how we deliver passenger rail services throughout the region.”
There are also a number of important projects that will deliver significantly improved resilience for the region including the Ngauranga to Petone cycleway/walkway, Petone to Grenada Link Road and the Cross Valley Link.
“Resilience is a key issue for the Wellington region in view of its recent history of earthquake and slip damage to transport routes and predictions of more volatile weather with climate change,” says Cr Donaldson.
Resolving the transport issues through the Wellington CBD and to the airport remains a feature of the regional plan, with the Let’s Get Wellington Moving programme a key priority in unlocking traffic.
The NZ Transport Agency will make decisions weighting Wellington’s priorities against those of the rest of the country for inclusion in the National Land Transport Programme by 31 August.