Groundbreaking Changes Under Consideration for Public Transportation in the Waikato Area

Big changes to the way public transport is planned and delivered could be on the way, after receiving support from Waikato regional councillors.

At the late April meeting, a report to council said timely public transport change was limited due to “overly complex structures for funding and decision-making”.

This effectiveness has been further affected by a lack of coordination with investments in supporting infrastructure such as bus stops and shelters, transport policies regarding things like parking, and decisions regarding land use and urban form, according to the report.

To examine these issues, an independent study was commissioned by the council to assess the current performance of its public transport company and to develop a set of prioritized, practical and achievable recommendations.

Waikato Regional Council Chairman Russ Rimmington said: “To be an attractive alternative to single occupancy vehicles, public transport must be accessible, efficient, comfortable and reliable. In addition, the urban form must be conducive to the efficient provision of public transport services.

“But clearly there are challenges that make it really difficult to introduce improvements in public transport, and that needs to change to meet the needs of our communities,” said Cr Rimmington.

Following the review, an implementation strategy presented to the board identified four actions to improve public transport in the region, starting with working with Future Proof partners towards a sub-regional entity to govern, plan, fund and deliver an aligned program of public transport services. .

The other three actions concern:

  • co-design a consistent regional funding model with all volunteer local authorities
  • work with territorial authorities outside the Future Proof sub-region to explore opportunities to improve public transport engagement
  • be more proactive in public transport and integrated transport/land planning
  • Clarify key public transportation performance and infrastructure expectations through the Waikato Regional Public Transportation Plan.

Regional Connections Committee Chair Angela Strange said: “These changes could be revolutionary, but necessary if we are to provide the services people need to make public transport a more attractive travel option.

“There is a lot of detailed planning that now needs to be done, and some of that will need to be confirmed with partner advice. But it is expected that most of the work will be undertaken to enable implementation through the long-term plan 2024-2034.

“The Regional Connections Committee will continue to play an important role in this process, engaging with territorial authorities on public transport and being a clearinghouse for advice on next steps,” said Cr Strange.

The strategy presented to the advisors had been informed by benchmarking the current performance of public transport against a range of New Zealand and international comparators, a series of workshops with technical staff, executives and governance representatives Waikato Regional Council and Hamilton City Council, as well as written comments. most of the local authorities in the region and several other actors.

The Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has allocated funds for the review of the Waikato Regional Public Transport Plan, which has been identified as a good starting point for aligning planning between partners. The review of the plan is underway and will be subject to public consultation this year.

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