We made submissions to the Regional Public Transport Plan consultation processes in both Waikato and the Bay of Plenty. Given we were satisfied that Waikato’s plan was already aligned to our proposals, we declined to present verbal evidence so that others could take the slots available.
Even though James Llewellyn was in the UK at the time, he joined me to present to the BoP Regional Council Hearing on their draft Public Transport Plan and our concept of Making Rail Work by Zoom.
We were pleased to inform the committee about the recently announced parliamentary Inquiry into the future of inter-regional passenger rail in New Zealand. Taking them through the Terms of reference, we encouraged them to participate in the process.
Advising that we fully support the draft RPTP policy, we noted that clear actions and resources associated with its implementation around rail needed to be in place. Giving an overview of the co-operative approach we noted that a clear pathway of feasibility business case, design and implementation activities would be required.
We strongly suggested BoPRC take a more pro-active role in engaging with the rail sector. Further we requested that the RPTP formally acknowledges community aspirations to establish a rail co-operative for Golden Triangle passenger rail services. As such we suggested a policy to outline in-principle support for investigation and potential establishment of a rail co-operative with a commitment from BoPRC to participate if feasibility and viability is established. In that respect we asked that they include funding for business case work in the next Regional Land Transport Plan. As an adjunct agreement to provide in-kind staff resource from BoPRC transport planning was suggested as a means of possible support.
We noted that leadership promoting future passenger rail at both political and senior officer level was required. We respectfully pointed out leadership at BoPRC is behind that being demonstrated in the Waikato region. Messaging that work should be undertaken with Waikato Regional Council to jointly promote passenger rail improvements, we noted that BoPRC should produce its own passenger rail strategy. This should lead to the next RLTP clearly articulating a passenger rail strategy that outlines funding proposals to develop passenger rail business plans. We emphasised a need to get in now to future proof passenger rail with the inquiry representing an opportunity to do this.
Finally, we suggested that the future Regional Spatial Strategy should thoroughly investigate policies, plans and delivery strategies which cluster development around rail stations to deliver sustainable solutions that truly Makes Rail Work for the Bay or Plenty.
We were both heartened by the warm response we received and look forward to the next steps in the engagement process that delivers truly sustainable inter-regional passenger rail to the region.