Signs of progress in regional land transport strategy report
The first annual monitoring report 2021, which charts progress against the Wellington Regional Land Transport Plan 2011, was presented to Greater Wellington’s Regional Transport Committee today.
“Despite the impact of Covid-19 over the period, we’re seeing encouraging trends in a changing world,” says Regional Transport Committee chair Cr Adrienne Staples.
“Given the impact of Covid-19 over the past two years, and the general level of uncertainty being experienced by our communities, it’s difficult to pick whether the emerging travel patterns we’re seeing will be temporary or a new normal”
The report uses a new framework focusing on three headline targets, which are the main performance indicators of progress towards the regional programme’s ambitious objectives and outcomes.
These are increasing mode share for public transport and active travel, reducing deaths and serious injuries on regional roads, and reducing land transport generated carbon emissions.
“We’re pleased by the rigour of the monitoring process, which will ensure we tailor our long term programmes to get people out of vehicles, keep them safe on the roads and deal to transport emissions.
“This report shows the impact of how Covid-19 has dramatically influenced how we live our lives and, in particular, the transport choices we’ve made at different alert levels in recent years.
“While it is difficult to understand if Covid-19 has caused permanent long-term changes in our travel behaviours, there were some positive changes in the headline targets during the reporting period.”
Performance against the target to increase active travel and public transport mode share by 40 per cent to 2040 shows that mode share had increased by four per cent from 2019 to 34 per cent, including a 3 per cent increase in walking to 26 per cent and cycling by 1 per cent to 2 per cent.
Covid-19 affected, however, the mode share of public transport patronage for 2020-21, which sat at 19.5 million passengers, down 14.6 per cent on 2019, though public transport patronage has rebounded to 86 per cent of numbers under Covid-19 Alert-Level 1.
The target for deaths and serious injuries on the region’s roads is a reduction of 40 per cent by 2030. They dropped for the third consecutive year, with figures for 2020 again lower, most likely due to less road traffic under Covid-19 restrictions.
The plan also targets a 35 per cent reduction in transport-generated emissions by 2030 to lower the impact of transport and travel on the environment. While overall carbon dioxide emissions have risen by four per cent over the last five years compared to 2019, per capita emissions show a three per cent decline over the last five years.
“While the impact of Covid-19 is yet to be fully understood, there are some green shoots sprouting through the monitoring,” say’s Cr Staples
“Better bus network services have reduced average journey times since 2017, electric and hybrid vehicle registrations has risen to 18 per cent of the private vehicle fleet, 98 new EV buses are joining the Metlink fleet in 2022, increasing the proportion of EVs to 18 per cent of the fleet. Since 2017 levels of nitrogen dioxide across the region, except in Wairarapa, have decreased by nine per cent.
“These are all positive signs, but real measurement against our objectives won’t be possible until the prominent influence of Covid-19 on our use of transport and its impact on us significantly reduces.
“We will be looking forward to seeing the impact of some our major investment programmes such as Let’s Get Wellington Moving, improvements to our public transport network and the roll-out of cycleways across the region.
“One this is sure, however. While we will learn how to manage and mitigate Covid-19, the most pressing issue facing us is climate change. I hope that future monitoring reports record a posit8ve response to its challenge by showing increasing mode shift to public and active transport and therefore lower damaging carbon emissions,” says Cr Staples