Communities to have their say on bringing bus infrastructure back into public ownership
Greater Wellington agreed at a Council meeting today to consult with communities on bringing bus infrastructure back into public ownership as part of its upcoming Long Term Plan process in 2024.
Currently, key public transport assets such as depots, buses and charging infrastructure are privately owned and operated as part of existing service contracts. However, Greater Wellington has plans to increase control over these assets to enable faster and more integrated investment in bus services across the region.
Chair of Greater Wellington, Daran Ponter, highlighted the importance of communities having their say on the future of the region’s bus network.
“As communities will know, public transport plays an incredibly important role in connecting people and places, as well as a pivotal role in mitigating the impacts of climate change.
“The more people we can move with the fewest vehicles, the better, and to be able to do that we need the right infrastructure in the right place. To enable rapid growth to both the size and frequency of our network we need certainty over critical transport infrastructure and their timely investment,” adds Cr Ponter.
Thomas, Nash, Chair of Greater Wellington’s Transport Committee says when it comes to scaling up public transport and cutting transport emissions, communities need to be thinking 10, 15 and 20 years into the future and making investment decisions now to enable sustained growth into the future.
“When key bus assets, in particular bus depots, are owned across multiple private companies with fixed term contracts, developing an integrated and longer-term investment strategy for critical infrastructure can be challenging.
“We need to ensure that key assets remain available for public transport use, and we need to work with various partners so critical electricity infrastructure is in place as we continue to electrify our bus fleet and prepare the ground for mass transit in the future.
“The land we have secured in Lyall Bay for public transport operations is a step in this direction and we are looking forward to consulting with the public on the use of that land and our ownership of public transport assets more broadly,” says Cr Nash.
Greater Wellington will be encouraged by the Government’s Draft Transport Policy Statement announcement last Thursday, which indicated a 50% increase in funding for public transport services and a 46% increase for public transport infrastructure over the next three years.
Greater Wellington and Metlink would prioritise increased control of bus depots in the short to medium term and are not currently looking to run the day-to-day operations themselves,” says Samantha Gain, Group Manager for Metlink.
“Metlink is proud to work with our bus operators in partnership. We recognise that there are benefits from public transport continuing to be operated under contract by experienced and motivated service providers,” says Samantha Gain.
Communities will be able to have their say on bus infrastructure ownership, and a range of other topics key to the work of Greater Wellington across the region, as part of the public consultation on its Long Term Plan. LTP consultation is currently scheduled for the first quarter of 2024.
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