Thursday, April 7, 2022

Make ‘rapid, deep and immediate’ emission cuts with free public transport

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report calls for ‘rapid, deep and immediate’ cuts in carbon dioxide emissions. The time to act for climate justice  is now or never” says Urs Signer, spokesperson for Climate Justice Taranaki.

Transport contributes to over a fifth of New Zealand’s emissions and is the sector with the fastest rise in emissions. Since 1990, transport emissions here have doubled.

“Taking cars off the roads is the number one thing to do if we are serious about reducing transport emissions. With the introduction of half-price fares for public transport this week, local anecdotal evidence suggests a significant increase in the use of our Taranaki buses.”

“There are now well over 400 members of the ‘I Love Public Transport, Taranaki’ online group and a recent contributor commented that The Connector bus, which links Hāwera and New Plymouth, was so full that three people had to stand. The time is right for free public transport across Aotearoa to reduce our CO2 emissions and ensure people who can no longer afford a car or petrol can still get from A to B and C.” 

“In the French city of Dunkirk, not much bigger than New Plymouth, residents have enjoyed free public transport since 2018 with buses running every 10 minutes. Eight months after abolishing fares, patronage had increased by 65% during the week and by 125% during the weekend.” 

“We are calling on the government to use this year’s Budget to announce free public transport for all and work together with the Taranaki Regional Council (TRC) to upgrade Taranaki’s public transport network by significantly increasing the number of bus runs on each route. A bus every 15 minutes during the day and services in the evening and weekends have got to be implemented urgently to decarbonise our transport needs. What we are currently lacking is political will by the government and TRC councillors to make public transport a viable climate solution.”

“If we want to be serious about transitioning off fossil fuels and private vehicles then we need to get serious about public transport. Making it free helps those who are most vulnerable to climate change. We demand free public transport now” concludes Urs Signer.

Published by Climate Justice Taranaki - a group dedicated to justice, resistance, education and positive actions at the front lines of climate change.