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The following notes cover the meeting Michael Barnett and John Rankin had with Paul Swain.

  1. The new hybrid buses, intended to be in double decker form, will be part of the solution for our transition out of the trolley buses. They are the subject of negotiations with incumbent operators as part of our move in to new bus operating contracts under the PTOM. Tenders for the new PTOM contracts will be issued in April 2016 with the commencement of the new contracts in late 2017. The new contracts have been driven by the requirement of central government, though the opportunity to tender and enter into new contracts for PT services is welcomed by GWRC.  Contracting will proceed and is no longer subject to negotiation. PTOM contracts will extend for nine years (with some at 12 years) which takes these through to 2026. There is no provision in the contracts for introducing light rail. In relation to BRT, Paul acknowledges that it will not be a Bus Rapid Transit system similar to many overseas models and he prefers to refer to it as a bus priority system
  2. The current GW ten year plan will be updated in 2018. Light rail is not expected to be revisited in the review of the Long Term Plan, but route options for buses will be decided that don’t preclude the consideration and introduction of light rail sometime in the future. Paul stressed the limited resources of the GW transport team and the fact that there is no funding for investigation of light rail.
  3. Michael informed Paul that while FIT’s prime focus is on public transport, walking and cycling in Wellington City, we recognise that public transport is a regional issue and that the different regional authorities probably have different priorities and issues. Paul acknowledged this and stated that for many in the region the issue is faster access to the airport along the N2A corridor.   
  4. Regional public transport is the responsibility and focus of Greater Wellington. However, there is growing recognition that urban form is taking on significance. The Basin Reserve Flyover and subsequent legal decisions has required a rethink on the part of NZTA, WCC and GW and community discussions will soon to take place in forums to be led by an independent Programme Director. Paul sees these discussions taking on a broader focus than just the Basin Reserve and will cover the broader transport issues and the desired urban form. This will provide FIT and other interested parties an opportunity to provide input and introduce ideas.
  5. Paul was initially unsure whether FIT was just another light rail advocacy group or whether we had a broader vision. We informed him that we considered that light rail to be part of the solution mix for Wellington City, but it was by no means the sole answer. We also reiterated that we saw ourselves as a consultant rather than an advocacy group, providing expertise and input into the broader transport and urban design issues.
  6. Funding is an issue that cannot be ignored. We say that light rail from Wellington Rail station to the airport could be built for $450m, including vehicles. Paul expressed doubt about this estimate, but even if it is correct there would be no funding from NZTA, GW would have to foot the bill, which won’t happen because it’s not GW policy. It doesn’t compare with the cost of the bus priority scheme proposed, which sits in the region of $80 million (without the cost of vehicles). For a light rail proposal to be considered seriously, there needs to be an authoritative cost estimate and how it would be funded. At present, central government and GW have no appetite for contributing any money to fund light rail for Wellington.
  7. Paul acknowledges that there are conflicting objectives between government intentions to construct the roads of national significance and the increased traffic that will be generated and the desire to get people out of their cars and onto public transport. GW want to boost rail patronage generally, particularly on the Waikanae line and its rail funding is dedicated to the Matangi trains, improving the reliability of the service and keeping fare structures down. Reliability and frequency of service are key issues, also off peak services and how patronage can be increased.
  8. Paul agrees that public transport is about choice. How do we convince people to leave their car at home and use public transport, walk or cycle? GW is competing with the motorist for its share of custom.
  9. Paul stated that there are discussions going on about the future NZTA funding model, but in the meantime the current assessment criteria are strategic fit with agreed transport strategies, efficiency (BCR) and effectiveness in achieving desired outcomes.
  10. GW wants to be the first region in NZ to have an all-electric bus fleet. Paul sees the best way to reduce the region’s transport carbon footprint over time is to encourage large numbers of commuters out of their cars and onto public transport, through access to high quality trains, harbour ferries and low emission and electric buses.
Page last modified 04 February 2016 at 07:36 PM