Round up of transport news

I’ve been whipping around the country a lot lately visiting students at Orientation. So I haven’t had a chance to post much.

But here’s a bit of a round up of the big transport stories of the last few weeks and my reaction.

More funds for rail upgrades in Wellington. The government has announced an additional $88.4 million of funding to renew the Wellington rail system. This is great and long overdue as the Wellington rail network has major reliability issues. A newer signalling system should help to resolve this.

Cuts to public transport subsidies. The Sunday Star Times picked up some research I did around the cuts to the rate of public transport subsidies the government has just bought in.

These cuts will have major negative impacts on the ability of councils like Hamilton and Auckland to provide quality services. Their only options really are to cut services, raise fares or raise rates. This is such short sighted thinking from the government – especially when public transport patronage is soaring and vehicle traffic on our state highways is dropping.

The release of the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport which allocated $36 billion of funds over the next 10 years. I’ll be writing several more blog posts about this because it’s so important. For now, let’s just say it puts a ridiculously large amount of money into uneconomic and unnecessary state highways and far too little into improving our public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure. You can see more of my reaction to the government’s tragically unbalanced transport funding policies in this¬† TVNZ interview.

Nikki Kaye comes out in support of trams for central Auckland. Despite various critical responses to this, I think it’s great to see a National MP supporting smarter transport solutions. However, like Jacinda Ardern, I am a little dubious about whether Nikki’s own government would pay for this proposal.

I’m also doubtful about whether it’s wise to call for a tram system without doing a proper cost-benefit analysis of whether it is the best option for this area. I’d like to see a study which compared the costs of a tram versus a better bus service.

It might be possible for us to get say 80% of the benefits of a tram service just from upgrading the bus service at one fifth of the cost. So I’d support Nikki in calling for a study to find out what the best solution for the area is. I’d also like the study to consider whether this should really be a transport priority for Auckland region. There may be other areas that are more in need.

The driving age has risen from 15 to 16 years old, a change that I support as it will mean safer roads for us all.

Finally, I’m co-hosting with Shane Jones the first ever Smart Transport for NZ conference in Parliament on the 19th of August. This should be awesome – I’m excited as we’ll be having some amazing keynote speakers like Dr. Paul Mees, a leading Australasian authority on smart transport. Register online if you’re interested.

10 thoughts on “Round up of transport news

  1. Rather of the subject I know but, in your exhaustive tour of tertiary institutions during orientation, have you found anywhere to study when your gap year is over in November and you are, like the rest of the Green MPs, out of Parliament?

  2. Its great that the Govt. is finally taking public transport seriously, as an alternative to roads & more roads.. but will Joe/Jo citizen actually get out from behind his/her steering wheel & ‘lower’ themself to riding on buses, trains etc ? I take buses regularly & the majority are less than half full.. occassionally I’m the only passenger onboard ! We also need a change of mindset too.
    Kia-ora

  3. any chance you might answer the questions/concerns raised by yr dance of the seven veils in ohariu-belmont..against dunne..?

    (frog told us you were on holiday..and unable to answer before…

    ..are you back now..?..able to answer..?)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  4. While we need more investment in public transport, it would be silly to spend a fortune building a system that only gets fully utilised once every 24 years, when there are other ways of working around it.

  5. How many people realize that the reason for shifting the school terms for the RWC (at great inconvenience to schools and those sitting NCEA exams) was to enable access to more buses due to the inadequacies of our public transport systems. I have heard from someone involved in transport logistics that New Zealand will barely cope with this event and unless there is much greater investment in public transport it will probably be the last time we can host a large sporting event.

  6. I am rather afraid that a Tolley bus would be a means of getting lost rather than getting where one wanted to go.

    :-)

  7. You haven’t mentioned the utterly wasteful and damaging plans to build more motorways in Wellington, at a cost of hundreds of millions in order to shave a few minutes off the journey to the airport (the 2nd shortest in Australasia, incidentally).

    There are so many alternatives: for zero capital cost, we could have an express bus that doesn’t tour the suburbs between the city and airport, saving at least 5 minutes.

    For less than a million, we could have more bus priority and a simple footbridge for cyclists and pedestrians.

    For a few tens of millions, we could have busways.

    For a positive cash return, we could have a congestion charge and convert inner city streets into pedestrian primacy spaces.

    I don’t hear much leadership from our “green” mayor. Ceremonially riding a pushbike while acquiescing to NACTs motorway plans isn’t why we voted for her.

  8. Rather than choosing between trams and conventional buses, would tolley buses be a cost-effective compromise? They have more flexibility than trams, but are powered from the grid rather than the fossil fuels that power conventional buses.

    Trevor.

  9. I was surprised at the way they raised the driving age. I had expected that they would have imposed a cut-off date for a year, say 1 August, 1996 and said that you can’t get a driving licence unless you were born before this date. That would have avoided the mad scramble to try to get a licence before the imposition of the 16 year old limit.

    Trevor.

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