Roads are key
Transport is a massive issue for Tauranga, and according to the Acorn Foundation's Vital Signs research, it is one of the biggest priorities for the region.
A fact driven home by the 1891 submissions to the Regional Council on its proposed Land Transport Plan.
The bottom line is that our roading system is failing.
I believe that under-investment (over many years), blind ideology (roads bad - trains/buses/cycling/walking good) and irrelevant benchmarking (comparing Tauranga with Copenhagen) has left us with a road network that even TCC management describes as fragile.
Currently the "average speed across key parts of the transport network is 23 km/hr".
And if there is any problem (accident/breakdown/work) on the roading network, there is insufficient 'redundancy' (spare capacity) on alternative routes to cope.
It is clear that Tauranga has made the same mistakes as Auckland in terms of planning, sequencing, funding and land-use - and this needs to change.
The latest 'solution', proposed by SmartGrowth (a body designed to address planning, sequencing, funding and land-use) is to form a sub-committee!
Former Mayor, Stuart Crosby, blames paralysis by analysis - yet advocates coma by committee.
The answer lies with Councillors providing clear direction via the CEO to staff that Tauranga's infrastructure must be a priority, and that the underinvestment in the road network must be addrressed.
Which is not to ignore other transport modes.
Both Stuart Crosby and former Regional Council Chair, John Cronin, have spoken in the past about the potential positive impact of free school buses.
I support an urgent analysis of the idea, and if viable (as I believe analysis will prove it to be), its rapid implementation.
And, in closing this section, I have not forgotten funding.
One source that we must look to is the Regional Council.
The Regional Council has proposed increasing its average rates to Tauranga residents by 67% over the next three years - largely due to its proposal to remove the 'subsidy' on the bus network.
Yet I would wager that the Tauranga ratepayer is subsidising the Regional Council - by carrying the significant costs the port imposes on the city while the Regional Council collects the port's profits.
It is time for the Tauranga ratepayers' subsidy of the Regional Council to stop - and for the Regional Council to compensate the city.
Auckland was paid a $51.3 million dividend by its port last year - Tauranga, home of NZ's "largest and most efficient" port, got nothing.
- As someone who has built a 'green' house, and bought an electric car for the city, I am certain that an effective and efficient roading system is much greener than one that is congested and failing.
- A 2016 report on Auckland, "Transport Solutions for a Growing City", provides an instructive insight into the impact of neglecting roading infrastructure - see: https://infrastructure.org.nz/resources/Documents/Reports/NZCID%20Transport%20Solutions%20for%20a%20Growing%20City%20Report.pdf