Have your say on the future of Auckland transport

Press Release – Auckland Regional Council

Aucklanders are invited to have their say on how $47 billion is spent on transport across the region over the next 30 years. The Regional Transport Committee (RTC) today launched its draft strategy on the future of Auckland’s transport for public …
Have your say on the future of Auckland’s transport
30 October 2009

Aucklanders are invited to have their say on how $47 billion is spent on transport across the region over the next 30 years.

The Regional Transport Committee (RTC) today launched its draft strategy on the future of Auckland’s transport for public consultation.

“We want to hear what people want out of Auckland’s transport network. We all have ideas on how things could be improved and now is the time to speak up,” says Cr Christine Rose, Chair of the RTC.

Cr Rose says the draft strategy seeks a balanced approach to transport investment, that is providing for public transport, walking and cycling as well as roads.

“Auckland needs to start making better use of the existing transport network. This means upgrading rail and bus services, increasing cycleways and encouraging more walking for short distance trips,” she says.

“We need to complete the western ring route to provide an alternative to State Highway 1, but we can’t continue to build new roads to overcome our transport challenge – it is prohibitively expensive and unsustainable.”

The draft Regional Land Transport Strategy 2010-2040 makes a reasonable estimate on how much funding will be available for transport in Auckland over the next 30 years, and advises how that money should be invested.

The draft strategy recommends a mix of investment to complete the strategic road network; improvement in public transport, including ferry, bus and rail; and introducing more travel demand management measures.

“We must build on the successes of the past decade. Bus and rail patronage has reached record highs thanks to improved frequency and priority measures, and walking school buses have seen unprecedented growth,” says Cr Rose.

Transport interest groups, community groups, organisations and members of the public are invited to have their say on the draft Regional Land Transport Strategy by:

* visiting www.arc.govt.nz/rlts
* emailing rlts@arc.govt.nz
* requesting hard copies of the strategy or summary by calling 09 366 2000
* visiting your local library or council service centres across the region.

Consultation closes on 18 December 2009 and submission hearings will take place in February 2010. Submitters have the opportunity to speak at these hearings.

Speech notes of Cr Christine Rose
Regional Land Transport Strategy launch

30 October 2009

The Auckland region is the economic powerhouse of the country. It is the home to a third of the country’s people, but covers only 2 per cent of its landmass. It has one of the highest car ownership rates per capita of anywhere in the world, and congestion costs us all an estimated billion dollars a year.

Gridlock hinders the city-region’s ability to move goods and freight, and people, every day, affecting productivity, quality of life and environmental values. Aucklanders spend more than 4 per cent of their household incomes on transport energy costs per annum, reflecting both a time and economic cost.

We are also facing significant forces of change over the life of the next Regional Land Transport Strategy – population growth will bring another million people to the region by 2035, climate change issues, resource scarcity, and urban sprawl require us to serve Auckland with a range of transport options better than we have done in the past.

These are the challenges facing the Regional Transport Committee and dedicated transport planning staff from around the region in the last couple of years, and as we developed the latest draft Regional Land Transport Strategy which we are here to release for consultation today.

The 25 members of the Regional Transport Committee have represented diverse interests from the economy, mobility sectors and the environment. We’re strongly represented by freight and heavy haul companies, the AA, environmental, walking and cycling advocates, all councils in the region and the ARC. Members have spent the last couple of years applying options for best providing Auckland’s transport future – modelling, analysing, scrutinising and rigorously debating the way forward.

Ironically members of the RTC and objective modelling, have found the need for more public transport solutions when there’s less money for public transport from central government. The draft strategy recognises that funding across modes needs to be made fairer and clearer for a sustainable future for Auckland.

It’s not all gloomy challenge though. Auckland has shown the ability to develop and support landmark transport infrastructure.

Huge progress has been made in the past decade to deliver an integrated, safe and affordable transport system here in Auckland. The rail upgrade project has brought the ease of train travel to many Aucklanders, with 7.7 million rail trips in the last year alone.

The opening of Britomart in 2003 marked a turning point in the revival of the region’s public transport. This station sets the standard for the rest of the transport network and will be echoed in the Newmarket Train Station currently being developed and due to open early next year, and subsequently in the New Lynn rail station and transit oriented development.

The phenomenal success of the Northern Busway since its opening last year is another example of a successful initiative focusing on moving people quicker and more reliably.

The Central Motorway Junction enhanced efficient motorway links and unscrambled an incomplete network which we now take for granted. The north-western cycleway is another great example of infrastructure that is well supported by Auckland’s public with a 31 per cent increase in use over the last year – it offers additional choice, active transport options, integrates well with other cycling links as well as rail, and takes more cars off the road, freeing-up capacity for freight and high priority travel.

We have made great strides towards enhancing Auckland’s transport network and improving travel choices over the last decade.

And now, this draft Regional Land Transport Strategy sets the direction for the region’s transport for the next 30 years.

It builds on existing momentum and is led by investment in public transport. History shows us that where there is investment in public transport there is growth. And, where there is growth there is economic development and jobs created.

Additionally where walking and cycling opportunities are enhanced, people choose healthier travel options, especially for short or local trips, leading to economic stimulus, better community cohesion, and healthier societies.

For the first time the Regional Land Transport Strategy is able to identify activities of regional significance and this draft strategy highlights the importance of building an underground rail loop under the CBD. The rail loop will mean more than 200,000 people will be living and working within 30 minutes of the CBD. It will transform Britomart from a terminal into a through station. The benefits for all are more frequent trains, quicker journeys, and a possible rail link to the airport, and therefore, enhanced roading capacity.

The strategy suggests a balanced approach to transport investment, offering more choice, enhanced multi-modal travel opportunities and a more efficient and economically resilient society despite its population pressures.

Balanced investment includes integrating transport with urban development to create a denser city, with more mixed use commercial and residential centres meaning people spend less time and money travelling to and from work each day, leading to better quality of life, healthier people, a healthier economy, a healthier environment and a better society.

The strategy looks at the environmental impact of a challenged transport system. Heavy metals accumulate in our harbours, and our air quality sometimes exceeds National Air Quality Standards. This pollution must be addressed if we are to live up to domestic and international expectations, and maintain the environmental and social qualities that put us among the top countries in the world for quality of life.

Given that transport impacts on the movement and health of Auckland’s current 1.3 million people it is vital that the Regional Land Transport Strategy not only identify what is needed for our transport system to cope with our existing citizens, but also to accommodate population growth, but also to endure the changing economic environment.

We need a transport system that meets the needs of all users, all sections of society, all segments of the economy.

We need a transport system that gets workers to work on time, freight deliveries to meet “just-in-time” expectations, inter-regional goods and services through to their destinations quickly and efficiently.

We need to break through the log jam that Auckland’s geography and car culture currently present; impeding traffic and freight, clogging community streets, dominating the urban form, polluting our harbours and air, and inflicting injuries and untimely death upon network users.

We need to roll out a balanced range of roading, public transport and walking and cycling initiatives if we are to move forward into, and move, in the future.

We need to work on urban form that avoids the need to drive through congested roads across the city to get to work. We need to move people and goods safely in the face of population and travel demand growth. This is our challenge.

We share this challenge with all Aucklanders, present and future, and we on the Regional Transport Committee welcome comments and feedback from the public and stakeholders on the direction and priorities contained in this strategy, on the way forward, before it is formally adopted in April 2010.

ENDS

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