Public support lifts public transport and cycling up priority list for transport improvements in the Wellington region
Public transport and cycling are big winners in a new transport plan for the Wellington region approved today by the Regional Transport Committee but some major strategic roading initiatives will also put some muscle into economic growth, Committee Chair Fran Wilde says.
Ms Wilde said the committee had made a significant number of changes to the Regional Land Transport Plan 2015 following public consultation, notably raising cycling targets, but that it also recognised there had been under-investment in the region's strategic roading network over the last few decades that had to be remedied.
"Investment in roading and freight networks will help unlock the region's growth potential but importantly this plan also addresses strong public support for new cycleways and better public transport," she says.
"We're building on the work we've done with rail in recent years and ramping up our focus on the bus network and making sure this is all integrated.
"Cycle commuting is an increasingly popular option for people in the Wellington region, particularly those who work in Wellington City. To reflect this, and encourage cycling as a healthy, environmentally friendly and efficient mode of transport, the plan aims to increase the proportion of journeys to work by bike to 4.6% by 2025.
"In the draft plan we had a figure of 3.7% but submitters convinced us this target needed to be more ambitious. It may sound like a small percentage but we are aiming to have one in every 20 journeys to work made by bike by 2025 - this is an increase of around 75% in actual cycle trip numbers."
More than 570 submissions were received on the plan, which sets out the long-term direction for each of the region's main transport corridors and contains plans for the public transport, roading and freight networks.
As a result of public consultation, a new cycleway between Wellington and Hutt Valley was moved up from tenth place to fifth in the plan's list of 20 significant activities the region wants central government funding for. This is an important project to address a strategic gap in the cycling network and if the wider seaward cycle way option is chosen will also reduce the impact of things like storms and sea level rise on the rail line, State Highway 2 and the main water supply pipe.
Four other significant activities were also added to the list: improvements to Adelaide Road; Eastern Bays Roading Protection; Wainuiomata Hill Cycling Facilities; and the Wellington City Road Space Reallocation programme, which will assess how dedicated bus lanes and cycle lanes can be provided along key corridors and also accommodate vehicles, pedestrians and parking.
Other major projects for which funding is sought include 15 minute peak hour train services on the Kāpiti and Hutt Valley lines and double tracking the line between Trentham and Upper Hutt; a Bus Rapid Transit system through central Wellington; a new public transport fares system that includes a single electronic payment system; safety improvements on the Rimutaka Hill road; a second Mt Victoria tunnel; a range of improvements along SH2 between Ngauranga and Upper Hutt; changes to local Kāpiti roads to improve traffic flows to and from the new Kāpiti expressway; and a new road from Petone to Grenada.
Ms Wilde says the plan also includes a commitment to seek central government law changes that would enable road pricing and demand management to be considered as viable options for future transport planning.
"International research and experience shows that measures such as road user charges and restrictions on parking supply in major CBDs are highly effective means of reducing congestion and associated pollution by getting people out of cars and onto public transport," she says. "We intend to work with Auckland Council to encourage the Government to bring these options into law so they can be used when necessary."
The plan will go to the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) to be considered for formal adoption tomorrow (Wednesday 29 April). It will then be submitted to the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) by 30 April for its consideration when developing the National Land Transport Programme.
Wellington Regional Land Transport Plan 2015 (PDF 11 MB)
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