Better cleaner, cheaper buses submission guide for 2015/16 GWRC Annual Plan Greater Wellington Regional Councillors
Paul Bruce , Sue Kedgley The Green Party is urging Wellingtonians to send in submissions to Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) during the Annual Plan consultation period 16March to 20th April requesting adoptation of our better, cleaner, cheaper buses Plan for Wellington now.
Greater Wellington Regional Council completed a Hutt Valley bus review 9 years ago, which brought about an 80% increase in patronage on some routes. On the other hand, a bus review for Wellington city has not been implemented for over twenty years. Yet, current bus services continue to be plagued with unreliability problems, expensive journeys plus using many older polluting and health threatening diesel buses.
The Wellington bus review begun over 5 years ago, will not be implemented until after the completion of the new bus tender round in 2017, and perhaps not even then, due to the difficulty of adopting a Bus Rapid Transit system with bendy and/or double decker hybrid buses. The scrapping of our trolley bus services are only likely to add to the delays. The Green Party are thus calling for an earlier “better buses” 5 point plan ahead of the implementation of the new tenders:
- Zero fare Saturday bus 3 month trial in Wellington city
- Free bus transfers within Wellington city
- Half price student fares region wide
- Cleaning up the bus fleet
- Safer school buses
Annual and long term plan consultation takes place through to 21 April
WCC : http://wellington.govt.nz/have-your-say/consultations – For detailed information click on links at the end of each item, or contact
Regional Councillors Paul Bruce 021 027 19370 and Sue Kedgley 021 270 9088,
or Wellington City Councillor Iona Pannett 021 227 8509
1. Zero fare Saturday buses trail in Wellington city
The Green Party is proposing a 3 month trial of zero fare buses on Saturdays In Wellington city to reduce Saturday congestion, parking hassles, and improve local retail sales. Wellington city has already included a month trial of capped fares ($2) in their draft annual plan.
Weekend traffic congestion has grown significantly in recent years and utilizing the half-empty buses on Saturdays through providing a zero fare would help reduce congestion and give Wellingtonians the incentive to hop on the bus to get to town or sports. Many other cities provide similar incentives.
A three month zero fare trial would cost $750,000, and WCC has budgeted $200,000 for a one month trial of fares capped at $2 outside the CBD and $1 within the CBD. This can be compared with the $1.4m allocated to free weekend parking. Zero or capped fares would boost local retailers who would see customers hopping off a bus and into a shop rather than driving around looking for a park.
A recent research study focusing on Tory Street precinct, showed that the greatest contribution to the local economy came from those who do not require on-street parking. There are also problems in other regional shopping centres, and a post trial assessment will look at the potential for zero fare buses in other cities as well.
Retail NZ is keen to explore the concept – for full background information see: http://www.paulbruce.co.nz/zero-fare-saturday-buses/
2. Free transfers through the week.
The Green Party is also proposing a six month trial of free public transport transfers in Wellington city in this 2016/17 financial year. Free transfers are proposed ahead of integrated ticketing package. This will assist public transport users to transfer now on routes within Wellington city with a minimum of fuss and cost.
At the moment a customer is penalized, if he or she switches between companies to get to their destination. Free transfers could lead to fewer cars clogging the inner city streets, a friendlier cityscape, with more people coming shopping or visiting cafes, and more retail sales. This would also mean a student could access Victoria University with just one ticket.
The Valley Flyer already has free transfers in the Hutt Valley and Go Wellington could do exactly the same thing for Wellington City commuters by taking this common sense step, facilitating the implementation of bus route changes recommended in the Wellington Bus Review.
Full background details:
3. Half price student bus fares
The Green Party supports the proposal from the Victoria University Students Association for half price student fares region wide. Students are often living in financial hardship and are in many cases dependent on public transport to get to work or study. Discounted fares, as offered in Auckland would help students financially and reduce vehicle traffic and congestion on our roads.
Free or discounted fares are already offered to other groups in society and for an estimated cost of $2 million the region could help its students to use public transport. Wellington City Council has already met the challenge put by the Regional Council to help fund this initiative. Support this move through through their Long Term Plans.
4. Cleaning up the bus fleet
The Green Party want to see clean, modern, low pollution buses on our streets. Reducing pollution from buses is good for the liveability of our city – both in terms of reducing the negative health effects of particulate pollution and making our streets nicer places to be.
The Green Party is proposing to require bus operators to comply with new national emissions standards for buses, and to remove all dirty diesel buses that do not meet a minimum Euro 3 emissions standard over the next two years.
Currently the Wellington bus fleet includes 206 buses that do not meet the national standard or the Euro 3 standard for pollution. 41 of those don’t meet any emissions standard at all. Additional the Green Party supports keeping Wellingtons clean electric trolley buses in service, and used as a transition to zero emission electric battery buses.
5. Safer school buses
The Green Party believes children and parents have a right to know that the bus their children take to school and back is safe and not endangering their health.
Currently older buses with low pollution standards that are 20 years, and no longer allowed to be used by operators to carry adults, are used as school runs, putting kids at greater risks from particulate pollution from the older, dirtier diesel engines.
The Green Party is proposing bus operators are required to remove all buses that are more than 20 years old from the school bus fleet; and upgrade all school buses to a minimum Euro 3 emissions standard over the next two years.
See Sue Kedgley¹s article in the Dompost: