Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wellington Councillors want free buses to combat climate change

Congratulations for those Councillors advocating free buses for Wellington!

This visionary proposal, with improved services, would have a great impact on dramatically reducing traffic congestion and exhaust pollution, as commuters leave their cars at home and get about the city with ease.

A report from today's 'Capital Times' newspaper follows:

Free rider

THERE should be free buses in inner Wellington.
This is a suggestion from Greater Wellington Regional Councillor, Paul Bruce, who would like to see the move incorporated into the Wellington City Council’s 2010 climate change action plan.
Submissions closed last week on the plan and Bruce, deputy chairperson of the Regional Sustainability Committee, says it provides an opportunity to make real change in the city.
He says free weekend parking brings shoppers into the city, but costs $400,000 in forgone parking revenue and all those cars contribute to unwanted climate change.
Downtown space is at a premium and free transport and fewer cars would enhance the village atmosphere, he says.
WCC councillor Celia Wade-Brown says the climate change action plan “lacks urgency”.
She wants free public transport on the ‘golden mile’ on Sundays as a start, and changes should be staggered so not to anger retailers or force customers to other shopping centres.
“We have to take people with us otherwise we will get thrown out.”
Wade-Brown also wants the council to fund a feasibility study into light-rail.
WCC Transport & Urban Development Leader Andy Foster’s view is that the extensive work being done on the whole public transport system by the GWRC could allow for some free public transport in the future.
“There are already a large number of buses going through the city which are not full, and having more effective feeder services from places like Karori and Island Bay would free up the city.”
If a more effective ‘hub and spoke’ system were in place, says Foster, a free city circular route might be feasible.
“These could be very important changes to public transport and [the hub and spoke] approach would make light rail work well.”
Foster adds that free parking would be a delicate balancing act, as not having it would be a competitive disadvantage to city retailers.
He points out that transport is key part of a response to climate change, but it is only one of many approaches.
“We are making a lot of progress in the context of a government, which if anything is hostile to sustainable transport. We’re not anti-car, but people want to drive and park anywhere. That’s not sustainable,” says Foster.

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