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Greater Wellington Regional Council Provides Blueprint For Regional Public Transport In Response To Climate Emergency

Greater Wellington Regional Council's Transport Committee today endorsed the proposed draft Wellington Regional Public Transport Plan 2021-31, which will be consulted with the public.

"The draft Plan has been built around the strategic priority of an efficient, accessible and low carbon public transport network, achieved through mode shift, decarbonisation of the public transport fleet and improving customer experience", says Greater Wellington Transport Committee Chair Cr Roger Blakeley.

"The draft Plan could not be more timely given the Government's Declaration of a Climate Emergency yesterday", says Cr Blakeley. "Decarbonisation of the public transport fleet in the Wellington Region will be a key contributor to reducing Greater Wellington's carbon footprint. Public transport contributes 50% of Greater Wellington's carbon footprint, with 37% from buses and 13% from rail".

Cr Blakeley says "The draft plan includes the previously announced increase of the number of electric buses by 98 to 108, which will be progressively delivered from mid-2021 and take the proportion of e-buses in the fleet to around 21%, which is high by international standards.

“Investment on this scale is driving us towards meeting the draft plan’s goal to 'accelerate the implementation of an electric bus fleet in the region by 2030', in particular through retiring diesel buses and replacement with electric buses when the operator contracts come up for renewal in 2027.

"The draft Plan also includes additional rolling stock on the Wellington Metro Rail Network, and planned new rolling stock on both the Palmerston North and Masterton train lines, including investigating the option of battery-electric trains.

Positive moves are also being made towards decarbonisation of the harbour, with investment by East by West Ferries, our harbour ferry operator, in the development of an electric ferry which will be commissioned in 2021. The draft Plan envisages further exploration of decarbonisation of the ferry fleet".

Cr Blakeley says that another strong feature of the draft Plan is a target of 40% increase of mode share of public transport, walking, cycling and micro-mobility by 2030.

This will be achieved by working together with Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency and local councils on initiatives such as accelerating 'Let's Get Wellington Moving' projects of Mass Rapid Transit and Bus Priority Action, increasing urban development density near public transport hubs, improving walking and cycling facilities.

“Mode shift will contribute to reduced carbon emissions and reduced congestion, by making public transport, walking and cycling an attractive alternative to private cars.

"Under the draft Plan, the National Integrated Ticketing System, enhanced Real Time Information and improved digital technology will positively increase customer experience and deliver our objective of a truly integrated and connected transport network.

"The draft plan has been developed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that experience shapes our planning for the next 10 years. Since coming out of lockdown, we've seen public transport patronage recover to over 80% of pre-COVID levels, higher than any other city in New Zealand. That is an indicator of the confidence and value our residents place in the public transport network, and the draft Plan aims to deliver on those high expectations", says Cr Blakeley.

Greater Wellington will be discussing the draft Plan initially with its strategic partners, and public consultation is scheduled to occur from 15 February to 19 March 2021.

© Scoop Media

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