A significant plan to change the way people move around the Western Bay of Plenty has been revealed.
Tauranga City Council said in a statement today there would be improvements to bus services and routes, new cycling and walking routes, a shift from road to rail for freight and upgrades of key road corridors to cater for the growing population over the next 30 years.
The united approach to improving the Western Bay's transport system, announced at SmartGrowth this week, is being led by an independent team on behalf of local partner councils and transport organisations.
Independent chairman Dean Kimpton said the new Western Bay of Plenty Transport System Plan (TSP) identified the right transport investments to support urban and rural development and provide people with better travel choices.
"On the back of the Urban Form and Transport Initiative and Connected Centres programme, which was endorsed by Cabinet and the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Board in August, we are planning a transport system that supports future 'up and out' development and connects urban centres in a way that makes it easy to move around to work, learn and play," he said.
"Our work to date tells us something everyone already knows – the transport system in Tauranga is under pressure from increased demand for travel. This has arisen from under-investment, a steadily increasing population and lack of feasible transport choices.
"The TSP helps us make sure we're putting the right modes of transport in the right places, supporting smarter investments and providing a robust, repeatable plan that can be adapted over time as things change, such as government policy or local priorities."
The TSP is focused on generating a noticeable shift from cars onto public transport, improving safety, providing reliable travel times including freight journeys, and creating better walking and cycling connections.
"Crash statistics, population and employment projections, transport modelling, vehicle emissions and mode conflicts have all been analysed to identify key pinch points in the network.
"Both infrastructure and non-infrastructure options (such as policies and travel demand) have been tested to decide which projects will have the greatest benefit to the community and businesses."
Kimpton said due to the huge growth projections and likely scale of investment required, it would take "a considerable amount of time" to address the transport system investments needed.
"There are no quick fixes, and the next few years will focus on delivery of already committed significant transport investments, including major public transport and mode shift initiatives.
"Planning, business cases and design for the next generation of major investments and larger projects is also expected to commence."
Funding is yet to be determined and the recommended programme of investment will be considered by elected members of Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council and Tauranga City Council for inclusion in a joint sub-regional submission to the Regional Land Transport Plan later this month.
Final decisions will require community consultation and funding through local council's Long Term Plans, and the Regional and National Land Transport Plans.
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What's in the plan?
Some of the proposed investments include short term enhancements of the bus service and infrastructure that gives priority to public transport, continuing the development of safe and accessible walking and cycling routes, and implementing the enabling works to unlock growth in Pāpāmoa East and the Western Corridor.
At the same time, planning for future larger investments is proposed to look at the best ways to tackle current and future constraints on the transport system including Hewletts Rd and access to the Port of Tauranga, multi-modal improvements on 15th Ave and Turret Rd, and longer term improvements on SH29 to support growth in Tauriko West.
A public transport business case would look at how more frequent and reliable bus services can get more people using buses in the medium and long term and take pressure off the already strained transport system.
This would include park and ride facilities, transport hubs as well as network improvements and potentially new infrastructure with public transport priority.
These new activities are in addition to the $1.2 billion of committed transport investment in the western Bay over the next eight years which includes Takitimu North Link, Cameron Rd Multi Modal Upgrade, Omokoroa Rd Urban Upgrade, and Rangiuru Business Park.
The TSP has been developed by Tauranga City Council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Tangata Whenua, Port of Tauranga, Priority One and KiwiRail.
Together they are working on a united approach to tackle housing, transport, infrastructure, economic and environmental issues so the best possible decisions can be made with everyone – and everything – in mind.
The 30-year TSP supports the Urban Form and Transport Initiative and its Connected Centres programme which sets out a programme of how best to cater for urban growth and move around the western Bay of Plenty over the next 30-70 years.
The TSP caters for a projected population of 258,000 residents and 34,000 new homes, resulting in more than one million extra transport movements every day by 2050.
It looks at transport including roads, rail, public transport, freight, walking and cycling. The TSP also considers other factors like parking and public transport fees and a commitment to carbon emission reduction.