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Mode change will unlock Wellington’s potential

The biggest challenge is the massive investment required in rail infrastructure and new trains, including the replacement of aging Wairarapa and Capital Connection trains by 2027-28.

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The biggest challenge is the massive investment required in rail infrastructure and new trains, including the replacement of aging Wairarapa and Capital Connection trains by 2027-28.

Roger Blakeley is chair of the transport committee of the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

OPINION: Before we can answer the question: “What type of transport system do we want in the city/region of Wellington?” we must first ask ourselves: “What kind of city/region do we want to live in? “. My answer would be a livable city/region; fair, safe and healthy; a place of opportunity; green; low carbon; well connected; beautiful; dynamic and culturally rich. Changing the way we travel will bring us closer to that.

Wellington has an urban transport structure formed in the 1960s when “the car was king”. Today, we see cities differently. The Danish architectural firm of Jan Gehl recently presented a report for Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM). His book Cities for People envisioned cities less dominated by cars: “A city’s public realm – its streets, squares and parks – is the stage where people meet.

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There is now a worldwide trend to make cities and regions more user-friendly, with fewer cars, less congestion, less automobile pollution and greener and more attractive public spaces. This can be achieved through “mode switching”, by increasing the number of people switching from their cars to public transport and active modes such as walking, cycling and electric scooters.

“We need to make public transport more attractive than car use through more affordable fares and faster transit times through bus-only priority lanes,” says Roger Blakeley.

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“We need to make public transport more attractive than car use through more affordable fares and faster transit times through bus-only priority lanes,” says Roger Blakeley.

Climate change is a major factor. Greenhouse gas emissions from cities account for more than 60% of the global total. The April 2022 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that our global greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2025, and decline sharply thereafter, if we want to limit global warming to no more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial times. In the Wellington region, transport emissions account for 39% of total greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing them is key to achieving the goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 in the Zero Carbon Act.

Wellington Region City and District Councils, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and KiwiRail have agreed in 2021 on a modal shift target of 40% from car to public transport , walking and cycling by 2030, as in the Wellington Regional Ground Transportation Plan 2021-31. This is bolder than the target of the government’s recently published emissions reduction plan, which calls for a 20% reduction in vehicle-kilometres traveled by 2035 for the country.

So how are we going to achieve our mode shift goal? There are three main ways:

Initially compact urban form: We have to increase housing density near train stations and major bus hubs, and along the routes of future rapid transit and mass transit corridors. Wellington’s Regional Growth Framework, which gives effect to the National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacitywill apply to the entire region.

Second, make public transport and active modes more attractive: We need to improve the reliability, frequency and coverage of all bus and train services. A key enabler will solve the current driver shortage (made worse by driver illness under Covid-19), building on the work Metlink has already done to improve bus driver wages and conditions. In addition, we need to make public transport more attractive than car use through more affordable fares and shorter transit times through bus priority lanes. Technology will contribute to integrated e-ticketing, expansion of Metlink’s ‘public transport on demand’ trial, electrification of the bus fleet by 2030 and rapid transit.

We must accelerate programs to improve city streets, including better and safer infrastructure for walking and cycling.

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We must accelerate programs to improve city streets, including better and safer infrastructure for walking and cycling.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is the massive investment required in rail infrastructure and new trains, including the replacement of aging Wairarapa and Capital Connection trains by 2027-28. To have a more active and vibrant city, we must accelerate LGWM programs for improving city streets, including better and safer infrastructure for walking and cycling. This supports Wellington City Council’s 10-year Paneke Pōneke bicycle network plan, including e-bikes and e-scooters.

Third, influence travel demand and transport choices: We need to accelerate the LGWM’s investigation into a congestion charge and parking charge, and greater use of lower fares to incentivize travel between peak and off-peak hours. The use of technology and apps will enable people to create seamless travel bookings by integrating various modes of travel into one journey (e.g. ‘on-demand public transport’, train and e-scooter), referred to as ‘on-demand mobility’. as a service”.

Roger Blakeley: “We are driven to make the city/region of Wellington the kind of place we all want to live.

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Roger Blakeley: “We are driven to make the city/region of Wellington the kind of place we all want to live.

We have a bold target for mode share change by 2030. Can we do it? Yes, absolutely we can. We have the vision, the plan, the mechanisms to fund and deliver. And we have the drive to make the city/region of Wellington the kind of place we all want to live.