New Zealand First MP
Tauranga needs urgent action on public transport, to head off becoming a mini-Auckland of traffic chaos in the very near future.
Two weeks ago I spent my entire Friday on the buses, to see for myself how easy it really is to go car-less in Tauranga. I met locals who use the buses exclusively, tourists trying to get around to the sights of our great city, and students heading home from school.
The general descriptions of our local services ran from ‘not bad' or ‘adequate' through to ‘pretty good'. Personally I had a great day, but I did have to spend a few days leading up to Friday planning out my day very strategically to make sure I could get to all of my meetings.
But shouldn't we expect better than ‘adequate' or even ‘pretty good' from our city.
In one conversation a local lady told me that the buses have recently started running about 10 minutes behind schedule, “because of all the extra traffic on the road now.” And this idea did come up more than once. We might be ‘not bad' today, but with current population growth at ‘the-population-of-Te-Puke' between 2013 and 2015 – not even counting the surge in the last 12 months – traffic will only increase, and the buses will struggle even more.
I met with Auckland Transport earlier this year, and asked them what they would do differently if they could go back 30 years. Their response was, they would allocate dedicated inter-modal spines for future public transport routes. We have the opportunity to learn from Auckland's challenges and plan for our future today.
‘Adequate' public transport today will not help us meet the challenges of the next 30 years. We, at New Zealand First are calling for an inquiry into the future mobility of Tauranga and the Western Bay, including light rail, trams, buses, cycleways, and of course heavy rail, before hyper-immigration and intensification drive some options out of our reach.