Stronger focus on public transport and mode shift sought by Greater Wellington
A significant shift in policies, institutional arrangements and planned investment is required to accelerate the change needed to reduce transport emissions, says Greater Wellington in its submission to the Government on Hīkina te Kohupara – Kia mauri ora ai te iwi - Transport Emissions: Pathways to Net Zero by 2050
“We strongly support the Government’s zero emission by 2050 target,” says Climate Committee chair Cr Thomas Nash, “we need to end the era of dependence on fossil fuels and introduce more options for how we move ourselves and our goods around.”
“Let’s open up our streets to more people, allocate public road space more equitably and break the cycle of car dependence.”
Greater Wellington believes that a shift to electric vehicles by itself will not be sufficient and that mode shift, rather than electrification of private vehicles, should be the government’s main transport priority.
“We need a step change in transport, rather than simply replacing the current fossil fuel fleet with an electric fleet. Of course we need to transition to electric vehicles, but focusing on this as a priority risks undermining the urgent mode shift required away from investment in motorways and towards energy efficient transport infrastructure that will actually carry the number of people we need to carry.
“Instead, we should focus on giving people more options to move around in ways that will meet the needs of our rapidly growing cities and are consistent with our climate targets. This means providing walking and cycling infrastructure, much better, cheaper, accessible and more frequent public transport.
“We need to design our transport systems within the basic geographic constraints of our cities as well as the planetary boundaries of climate and the social needs of all of us, in particular people not currently well served by transport system including people with disabilities and people who are less well off.”
“Greater Wellington recommends the inclusion in Hīkina te Kohupara of bold national and regional targets for mode share shift”, says Cr Roger Blakeley, chair of Greater Wellington’s Transport Committee. “For example, Greater Wellington’s Regional Land Transport Plan includes a target of ‘40 percent increase in active travel and public transport mode share by 2030’ ”.
Cr Blakeley said that Greater Wellington has developed scenarios to meet the regional target based on census data for Jouney to Work trips to the Wellington CBD, which have mode share changes by 2030 of: walking trips to the central city would increase by 60%, cycling trips by 130%, public transport trips would increase by 45%, and car trips would reduce by 60%.
“A precondition for mode share shift programmes, such as congestion charging and parking policies, would be the provision of safe, reliable, frequent and convenient alternatives to cars.
“Significant investment is required in public and sustainable transport, from further decarbonisation of our buses and electrification of the rail fleet for services on the Manawatu and Wairarapa lines, through to the development of overdue cycling and pedestrian infrastructure,”
“Unfortunately, as three quarters of the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) is already allocated for the decade ahead, a review of the NLTF’s scope and priorities as well as additional funding will be required to redirect investment towards public transport.
“That’s where the big gains will be made both for our climate and ultimately our way of life.”