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Serious commitment to a better transport system

Serious commitment to a better transport system

Bay of Plenty local government and roading agencies are making a serious commitment to getting better use of the region’s roads in a revised strategy for regional land transport.

The new draft of the strategy, which opens for submissions on Monday 26 August, sets realistic targets for increasing people’s use of public transport, cycling and walking. They will be achieved via a package of actions. They range from providing more travel choices, such as better bus services, to discouraging inner city car trips by raising parking charges.

The first Regional Land Transport Strategy was adopted in September 2004. It is a key guiding document for regional, city and district councils, Land Transport NZ, Transit NZ and other organisations. It also flags future funding needs to Land Transport NZ’s National Land Transport Programme.

“We had to finalise the strategy urgently,” recalls Environment Bay of Plenty councillor Athole Herbert, chairman of the regional land transport committee. “We needed it to show Land Transport NZ our transport requirements – and it worked well for us. We were the first in the country to finish a regional strategy, and we received a great funding boost because of it.”

However, the tight deadlines meant some aspects still needed work, including the demand management section, he adds.

Demand management involves providing people with options for travel other than simply constructing more roads. “It’s very wide ranging,” Mr Herbert explains. “It can include everything from putting in bike lanes to workplace travel plans to designing the larger new developments so people can walk or cycle to work.”

This time around, the Regional Land Transport Strategy needed to include some demand management targets for the region. The strategy proposes modal shift targets for Rotorua and Tauranga. For example, Rotorua’s target is that 15% of people will use buses, cycle and walk to get to work by 2011. At the moment, about 10% fit into this category. Tauranga City Council’s target is for 14.5% in 2011. It is currently 8.4%.

Mr Herbert says the new targets are realistic ones. “It’s a huge challenge but we know that, if we follow the plan, we can achieve them.”

The strategy encompasses all forms of land transport, including roads, rail, public transport, cycling and walking. It focuses not just on roads but on transport ‘corridors’ where transport needs are balanced.

The draft Regional Land Transport Strategy was adopted on Friday 11 August. It will be open for submissions from Monday 26 August to Friday 29 September. Call Environment Bay of Plenty on 0800 ENV BOP (368 267) for more information or go to www.envbop.govt.nz.

Ends

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