Greens push to re­place older buses

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By JIM CHIPP

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.

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