Climate package to boost public transport

Numerous local bus routes are set to be upgraded under an Auckland Council initiative. Times file photo Wayne Martin

Bus users are set to benefit if Auckland Council’s proposed climate action package receives support as part of this year’s annual budget.

In the Howick ward the proposed climate action package, if voted for by the city’s councillors, will fund service-level upgrades to all bus routes north of Botany, as well as the frequent routes from Botany to East Tamaki, Papatoetoe and Mangere, and from Botany to Ormiston and Manukau.

It will also enable the existing 314 bus route to be extended to Ormiston Rise.

Mayor Phil Goff says the climate action package will help reduce carbon emissions by encouraging more people to use public transport.

It will also make it safer and easier to walk and cycle around the city, and enable almost 15,000 large native trees to be planted across Auckland, he says.

“Auckland Council voted unanimously to declare a climate emergency in 2019,” Goff says.

“A recent progress report on our climate action plan stated Auckland’s emissions are not remotely tracking in line with our target of a 50 per cent reduction by 2030.”

Goff says one of the most effective ways the city can reduce emissions is by encouraging people to use public transport.

The best way to do that is by providing services that are fast, frequent and reliable, he says.

“The climate action package includes a more than half-billion-dollar boost to deliver new and frequent bus services throughout the city, which will see more than a million Aucklanders living within 500 metres of an improved bus route.

“The package will also provide for 79 new electric or hydrogen buses, new low-emission ferries and infrastructure upgrades, increased funding for cycling and walking infrastructure and urban ngahere (forest).”

Howick ward councillor Paul Young says the upgraded services will make getting around the area by bus faster and easier, and help Auckland to achieve its climate goals.

“Residents of east Auckland know all too well the consequences of short-term planning.

“Projects like the Eastern Busway and Auckland Airport to Botany rapid transit [project] are under way to address historic underinvestment in transport in our area.

“We can’t make the same mistake with climate action.”

Young says if the package is passed it will enable further improvements that will make Auckland’s public transport system a more attractive and convenient alternative to driving a private vehicle.

“Every additional journey taken by public transport means less carbon in our atmosphere contributing to global warming and frees up space on the road for those who need to drive.

“If Aucklanders have access to a high quality and reliable public transport network they will use it.”

The climate action package will be funded by a climate action targeted rate of about $1.12 per week for ratepayers with a median-value property as well as co-funding from Government and fares from increased public transport patronage.

Consultation on the council’s annual budget, including the climate action targeted rate, is open until March 28.

Go online to www.akhaveyoursay.nz to find out more and share your view.