GWRC Annual Plan hearing, fares, light rail

Many thanks to all submitters for the huge support at the annual plan hearing on 25th May 2016 

There were 179 submissions overall covering a wide range of subjects.
119 were pro forma against fluoridation.  Excluding those left 60 on everything else, not that many, but 22 out of the remaining 60 submissions argued for retention of trolleys and forward planning for light rail, with none commenting positively on BRT and double decker buses   So that was very positive.
I followed up on the transport related submissions with a proposal to protect overhead trolley wiring for 5 years, and a reassessment of BRT and its ability to provide adequate capacity five and ten years after its introduction.
$12 million budgeted for the removal of the overhead wiring is in the long term plan, so will not be considered until next year’s annual plan.  We hope that we will have councillors around the table more willing to reconsider protection of this asset, until we can trolleys back online.
It now appears that BRT can be reconsidered within Let’s Get Wellington Moving programme, a very positive development.
Officers comments:
“The N2A programme (Let’s Get Wellington Moving) is re-looking at the transport issues in central Wellington and will assess a wide range of options to deliver improved transport and urban outcomes. Rapid bus is an agreed approach but will be re-tested as part of this programme through the development of a Detailed Business Case and through the integrated planning and assessment process, including the development of a new integrated transport model. 

…. Several of the submitters, noted that this might best be served by retaining the trolley buses. One submitter questioned the information decisions are based on and requests a review be undertaken of the trolley buses” 
 
Actually 22 submitters asked for retaining trolleys, and 21 that light rail be developed. 
 
“The decision to notrenew the trolley bus contract has been well debated and took into account the state of the assets involved (buses, overhead network, power supply), the ability of trolley buses to meet the requirements of the new network (which is designed to grow patronage), health and environmental factors, bus technologies and the investment required.  The real gains in emission reduction will be made from getting more people onto public transport. “

We do not agree that the decision  to renew the trolley network has been well debated. Councillors have not been provided with accurate information on the cost of upgrading the trolley network, nor the cost benefit of extending it. 

Utilising overhead wiring for powering public transport, is still regarded as the most cost effective investment over the life time of an investment. 

Battery buses have their uses, but have major disadvantages of having to carry around the extra weight of battery,  allow space for the battery, and then have to renew them at regular intervals…. according to MacKinger, frequent fast charging can result in new battery sets every 2 or 3 years 
 
Fare packages
We put forward a number of public transport initiatives last year, which included bringing forward free transfers, and a free CBD fare on Saturdays, but these were not supported by Council.
An interim fare package will be announced the end of this June, which will allow free transfers on buses from end of 2017 to coincide with introduction of new bus routes, but will not include off peak fares, capped fares, and free transfers between trains and buses. People using Johnsonville trains, for example, will continue to have to pay another fare to get to Courtney place, whereas those using the bus won’t!
The full Monty integrated ticketing package has been delayed to 2018/19, possibly even longer!
Living Streets comments about poor pedestrian connectivity at a number of stations and bus interchanges, will be followed up with officers.
 

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