Region's emissions growing, monitoring report shows
While there are more people taking public transport across the Wellington region than ever before, transport-generated emissions continue to grow, a Greater Wellington Regional Council report says.
Today the Regional Transport Committee, chaired by Greater Wellington councillor Adrienne Staples, received the 2019 Annual Monitoring Report on the Wellington Regional Land Transport Plan 2015-2025.
"It is fantastic to see patronage on Metlink buses and trains continuing to grow year on year. There has been a 5.7 per cent increase in rail users over the last year to June 2019. Similarly, bus boardings have jumped 4 per cent in the same time frame.
"However, the long term trend in transport generated CO2 emissions shows a gradual increase in emissions per person and a steady increase in absolute emissions," Cr Staples says.
The report shows a 7.5 per cent growth in regional population between 2013 and 2018. Whilst still the lowest in the country, vehicle ownership rates across the region have also increased.
The net result is around 12 per cent increase in transport generated emissions over the last five years, which is a 5 per cent increase in transport generated CO2 emissions per person.
"The main drivers of this increase are population growth, and a growing economy that has in particular generated a significant increase in freight trips and heavy vehicle traffic. Population growth has been higher outside of Wellington City, in places where people tend to rely more on cars.
"This side of Christmas we will see the opening of new Park and Ride facilities at Waterloo and Paremata train stations. We need to continue to encourage residents outside of the CBD to become regular users of public transport."
Another step Greater Wellington will be taking to combat rising emissions is making the move to a zero carbon bus fleet, Cr Staples explains.
"There are some things in this report which are outside of the regional council's control, but what we can control is a cleaner, greener public transport system. We have already seen a significant reduction in bus-related emissions thanks to our new bus fleet.
"We have a vision to be the first region in New Zealand to have a full battery electric bus fleet, which we began last year with the introduction of 10 fully-electric double decker buses.
"This action will be followed by a further 22 by July 2021, with a total of 83 within the next few years. Our plan is to have a fully electric fleet by at least 2040," Cr Staples says.
Another concerning statistic in the annual report was the increase in fatal and serious road accidents across the region.
"The average number of deaths and serious injuries have increased on our regional roads for the third year running now. Last year there were 249 deaths or serious injuries on our roads, which includes one fatal injury and 66 serious injuries involving pedestrians and cyclists.
"The benefit of having a Regional Transport Committee is the ability to bring the region's mayors and leaders together to take collective action against alarming trends and on issues such as road safety.
"It is my view that we should be taking immediate action, and this report will inform how we put together the updated Regional Land Transport Plan for 2021," Cr Staples says.
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