Weekly column by Kāpiti's Greater Wellington Regional Council representative Penny Gaylor.
In my second instalment on GWRC's Long Term Plan consultation, it's time to tackle transport emissions — quite literally.
Thankfully climate change is no longer the elephant in the room.
That's a far cry from when I was first elected as a councillor on KCDC four terms ago.
GWRC's Long Term Plan takes it head on, making recommendations on how we will minimise our emissions and get to climate positivity by 2035, when our regional forests will remove more carbon than our organisation emits.
The key to achieving this is knocking back public transport emissions.
Emissions from buses currently make up 70 per cent of Metlink's carbon footprint, or 35 per cent of Greater Wellington's footprint, so reducing them is a no brainer.
Regional council is looking at decarbonisation, which means moving to electricity to power all of our buses, and eventually, trains. So far, we have 98 electric buses in the fleet and more on order.
But we need to make a step change to meet out climate goals.
Our favoured proposal in the LTP is that all existing and additional buses (bar a few for emergencies) be replaced with, or converted to, battery electric power when contracts with bus service providers are renewed in 2027 and 2030.
We also want to move to all-electric trains in Wairarapa and to replace the ageing diesel Capital Connection over the next decade.
This will cost something like $1.1 billion over 10 years, though this figure will include significant government investment and will be further refined.
Key items of expenditure in this areas include: electrification of Metlink buses; rail station infrastructure and upgrades; continued investment in Let's Get Wellington Moving; development of integrates fares and ticketing solution.
The outcome for regional rates in the first year is a rise on average per week of $1.25 (incl. GST) for residential ratepayers, and $4.78 (excl. GST) for the business ratepayer and an increase of $1.83 per week (excl. GST) for the rural ratepayer region-wide.
We acknowledge that it's always a difficult time to raise rates.
We've therefore confined the plan to the things we believe must be done for the wellbeing of the people of the region.
There are no nice to haves here, and we believe that what we are delivering will offer long term value for money and real benefits for the region.
Consultation on Greater Wellington's 2021-2031 Long Term Plan runs until May 2. Make your voice is heard through Have Your Say at https://haveyoursay.gw.govt.nz/