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Commuter buses and more rail in region’s future

Commuter buses and more rail in region’s future

Commuter bus services and rail transport will now have a stronger role in the future of land transport in the Bay of Plenty.

Environment Bay of Plenty’s regional land transport committee has made “significant changes” to the region’s Draft Regional Land Transport Strategy after receiving more than 140 submissions on it. The submissions came from a wide range of interest groups, mostly from the western Bay of Plenty.

The strategy, which will be a key guiding document for the region, was recommended for adoption when the committee met last week. It will be officially adopted at the full council meeting on Thursday 23 September.

The strategy encompasses all forms of land transport, including road, rail, passenger transport, cycling and walking. It also specifies the region’s strategic transport projects and estimates how much they will cost over the next 10 years.

Regional land transport committee chairman Athole Herbert says the strategy is “critically important” to the future funding of essential roading and other transport needs because transport requirements are signalled through it to Transfund’s National Land Transport Programme.

Transfund, Transit NZ, city and district councils and other groups have been closely involved in its development, he explains.

After the close of submissions and two days of hearings, Mr Herbert says significant changes have been made to the strategy.

They include: Stronger emphasis on rail, including a commitment to investigate an alternative crossing of the Tauranga Harbour. A shift in policy position from providing bus services for the transport disadvantaged to providing a much more extensive commuter service Fairy Springs four-laning replaces 3 Mile Hill realignment in the list of roading projects to be started before 2006. A bypass at Pyes Pa has now been added to that list. A bypass at Tauriko and the four-laning of State Highway Two between Te Maunga and Domain Rd (the Papamoa turn-off) are now on the strategy’s 10-year list of projects.

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