Tauranga's transport challenges are of no surprise to the people in the running for the city's mayoralty, but what exactly do candidates plan to do to help alleviate those traffic problems? Reporter Kiri Gillespie finds out what each candidate's priorities will be - if they are successful in their bid to become mayor, how they plan to make it happen, and how their responses stack up compared to already fighting for better transport choices in Tauranga.
The answers to Tauranga's transport woes lie in better roads, rail, smaller buses and connected cycleways, say the city's mayoral candidates.
But they are divided on which of these options deserves priority.
The Bay of Plenty Times put questions to each candidate, asking what would they do to secure central Government funding for local transport projects and what solutions would they - as mayor - promote to reduce congestion and increase transport options.
Nearly all candidates were united in saying they would push for a better relationship with central Government in a bid for more funding - something current mayor Greg Brownless says he has already put a lot of work into.
Murray Guy was more specific, saying instead of "squandering millions on white elephant project investigations and outcomes" such as the Greerton Village upgrade, he would also invest $13m to $30m into the Bayfair underpass which "would buy many kilometres of safe off-road infrastructure" and subsidise bus use.
Guy was keen to bring in park-and-ride options and prioritised off-road cycling facilities.
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He was joined by Andrew Hollis in saying they would focus on four-laning Cameron Rd, Greerton Village and Turret Rd. Les Wallen indicated he would do likewise by "decongesting roads that had been deliberately narrowed".
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Wallen said he would replace the city's large buses - which are managed by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council - with smaller vehicles "more suited to our city" and establish fast rail corridors to Pāpāmoa and Mount Maunganui.
Jos Nagels was the only candidate to not specifically promise more relationship work with central Government. His focus was to "imminently confirm a strategic new plan for passenger rail" and "shelve expensive, dubious monstrosities". He said it was "insane" to have four-lane highways next to existing rail corridors.
In addition to four-laning roads, Hollis was keen to replace Hairini and Maungatapu bridges, plus invest in the Totara St and Hewletts Rd intersection, with help from the Port of Tauranga.
Brownless insisted transport was the number-one priority for Tauranga.
"Rather than the current confusing situation of Tauranga City Council and the regional council sharing public transport responsibilities, it should be operated by one council," he said.
Clout echoed this in his response, saying the council should take over the running of the public bus network. Completing the city's pathways for walking, cycling and electric alternatives was also key, as was pushing central Government to make school buses free again.
Powell said while a functional relationship with central Government was essential, so was introducing practical multi-modal solutions that included buses "that actually carry passengers", cycleways that are connected "and footpaths that enable our seniors and our youth to use mobility scooters and electric scooters safely".
* Mayoral candidates John Robson, RangiMarie Kingi and Chris Stokes did not respond to these questions.
What are the answers, according to Tauranga's transport advocates
Glen Crowther, Sustainable Business Network:
"There's no one single, stand out problem that we need to address. We've got a transport system and we need a simultaneous approach to it. We need to sort out our key congestion areas and the roading network. We need to significantly improve our bus network and we need to fast track safe separated cycleways to get more children and older people riding their bikes. We also need to future-proof our system. We are fast-growing, ageing population.
"We have to be really thoughtful about how we spend our money. If you get some improved cycling [facilities], I think people will use it. It will probably take quite a bit of effort and a bit of money upfront, but it will be worthwhile. We just have to grit our teeth and in a few years look back and see it was worth doing."
Stuart Crosby, Bay of Plenty Regional Council:
"The number one issue (in Tauranga) is the gradual disconnect from transport through to growth. This can be remedied by integrating a full transport system, and what I mean by that is that this is the work being done now by UFTI (Urban Form and Transport Initiative). A transport system that takes into account road, rail and various forms of public transport and how they work together.
"There's still a very strong need for not just Tauranga city but the Western Bay to work together ... [taking] into account where we place new developments and transport linkages around them. The rail network is critical. This does require assistance from the Government."
Kevin Kerr, Bike Tauranga:
"We need leaders that can take a more long-term visionary perspective and build a city infrastructure different from the past; a multi-modal transport network that allows people to choose how they want to travel (by bike, bus, car or on foot).
"Cycling, both commuter and recreational, is experiencing huge growth and cyclists see themselves as an integral part of solving the city's traffic problems. However, it needs to start at the beginning by bringing groups like ours into the planning and consultative process.
"Bike Tauranga is an advocacy group that wants to work with councils across the Western Bay in order to promote the development of a cycling environment that is convenient, pleasant, accessible, safe, well-connected and constructed to international best practice standards. More people on bikes more often makes for a better city."