Gridlock
The Bay of Plenty Times last week launched Gridlock – Tauranga's No 1 issue, a series examining what's gone wrong, the chokepoints and how bad they have become and the impact on people, businesses and the wider city.

Dylan Thorne gives his opinion on what needs to be done to address the issue.

Comment:

Over the past week our series, Gridlock – Tauranga's No 1 issue, has looked into the impact of the city's increasing traffic congestion.

The series has highlighted the complexity of the problem facing our city in finding long-term solutions to ease traffic jams during peak hours on our roads.

It's clear that the city's overloaded traffic network has not kept pace with the rapid population growth in the region — more houses, more people and more cars on the road.

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Experts and city leaders have offered their thoughts on what needs to be done to tackle the problem.

Without a doubt, the Government, the NZ Transport Agency and local authorities need to work together to provide a cohesive plan urgently.

To date, a stoush between the city's leading roading authorities – Tauranga City Council and the NZ Transport Association – has left the city in limbo.

Traffic on Totara St. Photo / Andrew Warner
Traffic on Totara St. Photo / Andrew Warner

The transport agency says the council is focusing too much on providing for cars.

The council disputes this, saying the agency was part of the plans. The result is a stalemate – the agency refuses to fund or consider the council's current transportation plan; the council refuses to continue new roading projects.

Hopefully that this ongoing dispute might be resolved through the newly formed Urban Form and Transport Initiative.

The group is described as "focusing on supporting liveable community outcomes" and "finding answers for housing capacity".

The group's chairman says they will look to rejuvenate investment and progress on critical projects but cautions that cities that have done well at managing congestion have invested significantly in travel choices that provide a balanced transport network.

This point has been supported by almost everyone who has offered an opinion on the subject - building more roads alone will not solve this problem.

We also need to get more people out of their cars and on to bikes or public transport. For this to happen, we need a reliable public transport service that provides an incentive to encourage people to use it - more direct routes and quicker trips through the use of bus lanes.

We can all play a part in easing the burden on our traffic network.

A mindset shift is needed so that people consider alternative forms of transport rather than defaulting to their car.

Maybe then we can lose the unenviable title of being the most car-reliant city in the country.