Posted by: Gregory | May 1, 2015

Greater Wellington Regional Land Transport Plan

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%.

Screenshot 2015-04-30 17.41.10

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.

TN24 vehicles destination Wellington

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.

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Responses

  1. I would like to reply to Greg’s question on operational costs of improving the bus fleet, but also take the opportunity to expand on the various funding of activity classes.

    Operational costs are easy to calculate for our train services, as we own the assets and employ Kiwi rail to run the service. Bus services are on the other hand, fully contracted out with operational costs and capital return included in the contract price. These are separated out in order to determine farebox recovery as recommended by a NZTA formulae. The operational cost should not include costs around procurement of a new fleet, creating public transport corridors, improved interchange facilities, associated with the implementation of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.

    New contracts will be let over the next two years. Given that transport companies are unlikely to tender bids including purchase of expensive hybrid buses of a limited life time and as yet to be determined bendy or double deckers variety for a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, it is likely that GWRC will own and lease the buses to the operator. This will make operational costs even more transparent, but with the associated risks of the Council being left with a fleet powered by an out of date technology.

    The hearing committee report maintains that the most accurate representation of the 10 year forecast expenditure should include all of the activity classes (listed in Figure 60 in the draft RLTP, including maintenance, operation and renewals)

    The Generation Zero graph just reflected the forecast expenditure in the next 10 years (Figure 60 of the draft RLTP) for new infrastructure activity classes and comes to a higher roading expenditure. The figure did not include road renewals and maintenance, public transport services, transport planning road, and safety promotion. However, submitters comments were explicitly referring to the top ranked investment projects in the table provided. In the case of cycling, forecast expenditure will increase by approximately 75% from that shown in the draft RLTP, as a result of new funding available from the Urban Cycleway Fund, and this is very welcome. But that would still only bring the percentage to 2.4% of the total expenditure, and much of that funding will only be an upgrade of existing roads to include a safe cycle way, rather than new infrastructure similar to new highways being constructed.

    Similarly, it does not include the operation costs of private vehicles that are incurred in order to take advantage of new roads, and could be avoided if a suitable public transport and cycle way network were available for use through Wellington and south to the Hospital and Airport.

    Crown funded elements of public transport infrastructure in the Wellington region, including the government rail package ($88million) and future funding expected to be required to implement the Regional Rail Improvements RS1 ($50million) are also not included.

    It should be noted that Wellington does not have a complete network of high quality public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure. There are sections of single rail track to the north of Wellington being addressed in the Land Transport Plan. The broken link to the south, where the rail track terminates north of Wellington CBD to unreliable buses with a poorly designed interchange is not. The major cycling expenditure of the Petone to Wellington cycle/walk way now has assigned funding. However, the detailed network of safe cycleways along arterial routes within the cities of the region has yet to be completed.

    Funding for local roads, public transport, walking and cycling is provided from a wide set of sources. The NLTF provides funding for around 50% of the costs of approved activities, with the balance being made up from a combination of local council rates, user charges (i.e. public transport fares), and other funding sources such as development contributions and the Urban Cycleway Fund.

  2. Reblogged this on Cyclechallenge’s Weblog.


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