On his personal blog, GW Councillor Paul Bruce offers his views on the Regional Land Transport Plan.
On the positive side, fellow regional councillors rejected the Takapu link road in a Petone to Grenada report preceeding the consideration of the full Plan.
However, Council voted for the Regional Land Transport Plan exactly as updated following the hearing of submissions.
As the DomPost reported, several cycling projects were bumped back up the priority list by the hearing committee, though Nguaranga to Petone Cycleway remained one step below its position in 2013′s RLTP plan, and proposed cycling expenditure is also still only 1.3% of proposed new investment.
The sections of the Plan on cycling and walking are particularly well written. Resilient transport networks are discussed. However, there are no recommendations on fixing the the broken link at Wellington Railway station, where an extension to the south through the CBD to Newtown and Kilbirnie, would provide real utility. There are many contradictions between stated vision, policy and proposed expenditure, and no attempt to moderate roading expenditure in response to submissions which overwhelmingly requesting a shift in investment towards public transport and active modes.
There has been a disconnect between the aspirational mode-share targets and what gets implemented. We’ve had the Wellington Bus Review, but implementation was delayed. We’re still waiting on integrated ticketing that allows hopping between trains, buses, ferries and the cable car. In the meantime, RoNS projects are well into construction phase already and set to reduce patronage on our public transport network, diminishing viability of the service, and we’re approving more of them as we go.
The $2.4 billion being spent on large new RoNs roads in the Wellington region, now including the Petone to Grenada link road plus cross Hutt Valley link and various new interchanges is massive, but largely ignored by our media. The hearing committee report includes pie graphs to illustrate proposed new investment, including provision and operation of public transport services and the contribution this makes to enhancing public transport (e.g. through new and enhanced services and improving bus fleet quality). Thus, by lumping capital and operating expenditure together, the apparent new and improved infrastructure on local and state highway roads costs is reduced to 68.2% of total, and public transport increases to 29.2%.
I’d like to hear back from Paul about the operational costs of improving the bus fleet. I would have expected the operators to wear that cost fully as a capital cost instead of claiming a subsidy on it.
The 2012 OPUS/ARUP study concluded that the RoNs projects would lead to 13,000 extra vehicles into Wellington city atv peak by 2031 and a 3% decline in rail passengers. I have been trying to find out what exact contribution the proposed Petone to Grenada link road would make to vehicle traffic.
However, GWRC officers were directed to calculate supposed time savings, but not the number of new cars flooding into the city, that would compete with under utilised public transport, and destroy further the walkability of our city streets.
There’s a long-standing issue here. Whether the highway network can handle traffic volumes at peak time is completely independent of the ability of the destinations, mostly Wellington, to absorb the vehicles. Encouraging sprawling suburbs and enticing commuters from public transit onto the roads means that more cars will need to be accommodated at the end of the journey, which means more parking and more capacity within the local road network. The geography of the city isn’t going to allow for much lateral expansion where it’s needed and the geometry of the streets aren’t overly conducive to loosening the belt on the roads. Something will eventually give.