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Public Transport Responding To Travel Demand In 2009

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Public Transport Responding To Travel Demand In 2009

Providing people with an affordable, convenient and safe public passenger transport system will be a key policy objective for Environment Canterbury in 2009.

The Regional Environment Report, released earlier this month, identified the council's successes in land transport but also highlighted a number of challenges.

Robert Woods, Programme Manager Transport, said that while public transport patronage is increasing, motor vehicles remain the main mode of travel throughout the region. In addition, increased congestion in urban areas and declining levels of walking and cycling as a proportion of all travel are also of significant concern.

"The increase in motor vehicle activity is the result of population and economic growth in the region, however the adverse effects need to be managed and avoided where possible. Increasing congestion and emissions, declining road safety and growing oil dependency are things we should be concerned about - but there are solutions."

Environment Canterbury, along with the New Zealand Transport Authority and the local councils, is working towards reversing these trends through documents such as the Christchurch Metro Strategy, the Timaru Public Passenger Transport Strategy, the Canterbury Regional Land Transport Strategy and the Canterbury Regional Policy Statement.

"2008 was a strong year for Metro public transport use in Christchurch. Over 16.5 million trips were made throughout Greater Christchurch and Environment Canterbury remains focused on achieving its target of 25 million passenger trips per year by 2015/16," said Mr Woods.

"This requires investment in new and improved public transport services and technology by the regional council. It also requires substantial investment in infrastructure by territorial authorities, in particular Christchurch City, for facilities such as the bus exchange and bus priority lanes."

Mr Woods says that Environment Canterbury is also working with its Urban Development Strategy (UDS) partners - Christchurch City Council, Selwyn and Waimakariri district councils and the New Zealand Transport Authority - in the greater Christchurch area to ensure future land use development complements public transport services, as well as walking and cycling. Achieving this through the implementation of a proposed change to the Regional Policy Statement is a key focus for the council in the coming year.

"Sensible land use planning is now essential to effectively manage the growth expected in travel demand over the next 35 years. The proposed changes to the Regional Policy Statement are crucial to ensure the UDS partners can move toward providing a safer, more effective, healthy and sustainable transport system over that time. If we can achieve that then we have the spring board for a world class system further into the future," said Mr Woods.

"Within the proposed change to the Regional Policy Statement, we are working to ensure that urban development is consistent with the Regional Land Transport Strategy so that growth takes place close to or within established urban areas and minimises additional travel demands. This will allow us to deliver new and improved public transport services that are affordable and attractive, enabling more people to meet their every day needs on foot and by bike and rely less on motor vehicles for their transport."

"Through integrated land use and transport planning, the measures needed to achieve our regional and national transport targets can be put in place. There are challenges that lie ahead as identified in the Regional Environment Report; however the objective for 2009 and beyond is to plan for and deliver a transport system that is efficient and sustainable and that supports healthy lifestyles and an enhanced environment."

The Regional Environment Report has been published in the same year that Environment Canterbury and other local authorities are preparing their Long-Term Council Community Plans, which will help support public consultation and debate about where councils should be putting their efforts over the next ten years.


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