A transport forum held in Mount Maunganui yesterday, is aiming to create public discourse around current transport systems in the city.
The Bay of Plenty Smart Transport forum was hosted by the Sustainable Business Network with the support of Priority One, the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce, Smart Growth and members from both regional and city councils.
Sustainable Business Network Bay of Plenty regional coordinator, Glen Crowther says the forum was a great opportunity to hear from locals.
“The sustainable business network wanted to get the conversation going, we see this as a beginning.
“Our view is that there's some good work going on around transport in this area but what's been missing up until now is a good community engagement around it.
“We've had discussions with Tauranga City Council over the last year and as a result they have come up with a really top quality cycle action plan that is happening right now.
“So that's the kind of thing that we're looking for,” says Glen. “We think if they could do what they're doing with the cycle action plan for all their transport planning we think that's a really great model for how to actually get some really good thinking happening.
“We wanted to get people thinking about our transport challenges and feed those thoughts into the council's transport plan.”
“I think that the council has done really well at setting up the Transport Committee and the City Transformation Committee because those two groups, you can engage with directly and actually put forward ideas.”
Some of the top ranking questions heard from members of public were issues regarding how the current transport system caters to the demands of a growing city.
“I had a lot of feedback from attendees who were saying they thought the forum was interesting, worthwhile and that people do want to stay involved in the discussion.
“It's not so much about transport it's about the type of city we want and how we actually lay out the city and move around it.
“The councils have got this smart growth of developing out past Papamoa and the Te Tumu area, but not really any kind of plan to move people around the city from there, other than a default option of jumping in their cars.
“We're building infrastructure that will be a legacy for the future, so we have to be thoughtful because we're in such a fast changing world where there's electric cars and autonomous vehicles – we don't want to build things that will be last century.”
Around 180 people attended the event which saw a range of national and international transport ‘experts' who shared their experiences around transport in their cities.
These speakers included Patrick Reynolds from transport advocacy group Greater Auckland, Darren David from Auckland City Council and Canadian engineer Tyler Golly.
“A lot of people thought it was interesting to hear about their experience and the key issues that they had to deal with,” says Glen.
“I think this was quite instructive, for people to realise that there are thoughtful ways of going about changing some of these issues that can also get some pretty quick results.”
“At the moment there are concerns from council whether people really will get out of their cars.
“We probably do have to take a bit of a risk and invest in a really good bus system and then hopefully that will be the start of a really good transport system that works a lot better.”
He says the forum has highlighted a need for ongoing consultation and communication with public.
“My understanding is that TCC are keen to hear feedback and if they find out people are wanting them to go in a different direction to what they've started to head towards, then they will respond to that and they'll have to set up future engagement processes to find out what people to want.”
“There are a lot of people who have very similar views and they know that we do need to change what we are doing, and we do need to provide a better transport system.”