Greens push to replace older buses
Sue Kedgley called Paul Swain ‘‘sneering and supercilious’’ at a Wellington Regional Council meeting on February 25, only to give him her wholehearted support shortly afterwards.
The remark earned her a rebuke from council chairwoman Fran Wilde.
Kedgley and fellow Green Party councillor Paul Bruce had both moved to improve bus services.
Kedgley said 45 per cent of Wellington’s diesel bus fleet pre-dated the Euro-3 emission standards due to be introduced from mid2017 and she wanted them to be replaced earlier.
The Government has changed the way bus services are contracted by councils to allow more operators and greater competition, and NZ Transport Agency has stipulated that Euro-3 will be the minimum standard for Wellington and Euro 2 for the region’s other urban centres.
Kedgley also wanted the older vehicles used on school bus runs taken out of service.
The council had invested massively in trains, but nothing in buses other than real-time information displays, she said.
‘‘It’s not surprising that bus patronage has flatlined,’’ she said.
Trolley buses had been canned so there would be an increase in emissions from buses unless the diesel fleet was upgraded, she said.
‘‘It would be scandalous, in my view, if we got rid of 60 nonpolluting trolley buses and didn’t get rid of our dirty diesel buses.’’
Swain, the council’s public transport portfolio leader, said Kedgley and the council wanted the same thing and the only difference was the timeline.
‘‘The biggest contribution we can make [environmentally] is to get people out of their cars and on to buses,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re all trying to achieve the same thing. We all want a cleaner better bus service across the Wellington region.’’
Accelerating the plan would be costly to ratepayers and in terms of officers’ time, he said.
Kedgley found an ally in Judith Aitken.
‘‘ Issues relating to public health, particularly for children, are not just timing issues,’’ Aitken said.
Bruce wanted a three-month trial of free buses on Saturdays in Wellington City using a surplus generated by train services.
In a separate motion he called for a six-month trial of free bus transfers for electronic card users in Wellington city.
In Hamilton a similar trial had resulted in 6 per cent more offpeak weekday trips and a 16 per cent rise in weekends.
Swain poured cold water on the proposal, saying one person’s benefit was another’s tax.
‘‘ What about Hutt Valley passengers?’’ he asked, provoking Kedgley’s comment.
None of the bus motions succeeded, but when Swain later asked the regional council to withdraw its submission to the Local Government Commission calling for council amalgamations, Kedgley supported him.
Jim Chipp reples:
Sue Kedgley: Seeking more investment in buses.