Future of regional public transport confirmed

Horizons Regional Council has adopted their Regional Public Transport Plan 2022-32 at their council meeting today.

Regional Passenger Transport Committee chair Sam Ferguson says the Plan sets the framework for how Horizons plans and delivers public transport services and infrastructure across the region over the next 10 years.

“Earlier this year we went out to the community to find out what they thought about the vision and targets included in the Plan,” says Cr Ferguson.

“We received 123 submissions from a range of the community on topics including support for the Capital Connection passenger rail service and requests for development of more passenger rail services across the region. Other requests included having more regional services in smaller areas and for better inter-regional services between neighbouring regions such as Taranaki and Hawke’s Bay.

“A number of submitters also attended hearings to speak to their submission and answer any follow up questions the hearing committee had. The hearing committee then deliberated on the feedback received, updated the proposed Plan, and recommended it be approved by the Passenger Transport Committee and adopted by the full Council, who followed through on that today.”

Cr Ferguson says the final Plan hasn’t changed too drastically to what was originally proposed, however the committee made some updates based on submissions.

“Key changes made to the Plan in response to submissions include:

- An increased focus on passenger rail opportunities, with additional wording and policy direction to reflect the strong desire for frequent and reliable passenger rail services to return to our region;
- Provision for public transport connections with the Wairarapa, Waikato and Taranaki regions;
- Incorporation of feedback from the Manawatū community about enhanced rural services and square to square connections with Palmerston North;
- Raising our target for public transport patronage by 2032 by an increase of 300 per cent
- Strengthening of our approach to undertake a region-wide investigation of public transport needs and opportunities;
- Providing for more bike and micro-mobility integration with our public transport network; and
- Ensuring comfort is a key part of delivering public transport services.
“Our vision to provide an attractive, integrated and convenient public transport system that connects communities, enhances their wellbeing and environment, and becomes the preferred mode of transport in and between urban areas has remained. As have our ambitious targets to reduce emissions and ensure customer and community satisfaction as many submitters indicated support for these.

“Of course there were always people who wanted us to do more, so we have done our best to strike the right balance between being aspirational and ensuring we can achieve what we have set out to do. On behalf of the committee I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to share their thoughts with us. We’re excited to see the outcomes of the Plan and hope people take up the public transport opportunities it provides.”

The full Regional Public Transport Plan 2022-32 is available to view online, and hard copies will also be available at libraries and Horizons’ offices.

The Regional Passenger Committee is made up of six Regional Councillors and advisory members from each of the region’s city and district councils.

Public transport services in the Horizons Region include; urban and commuter bus services that operate across city, towns and inter-regionally; the Capital Connection commuter rail service that runs on week days between Palmerston North and Wellington; Total Mobility which is a subsidised private transport option for people with disabilities; and health shuttles and community vans that assist access to services in smaller towns.

Services are funded by rates, Waka Kotahi, SuperGold funding, passenger fares, third party contributions and advertising.