Carless challenge for council

Could Tauranga City centre become carless? Photo: File

Tauranga City councillor Terry Molloy received an unexpected answer when he asked Jo Wills how the city council could encourage people to use public transport instead of their cars.

“It's not an answer you are going to like, but limit the amount of car parks that buildings, commercial premises and retail premises are allowed to have,” says Jo, who is chair of SmartGrowth's environment and sustainability forum.

“Make parking more expensive. Don't allow for free parking. Parking takes up so much space.

“Cars take up so much space, whether they are driving on the road or whether they are parking. That space is valuable. It could be valuable retail space. It is also valuable cycling and pedestrian space.

“It's the same with residential developments. We just need to be stronger and bolder, saying we will have to actually transition away from car dependency and that means taking the allocation of parking down – or set some targets to reduce it.

“It's what's happening everywhere else in the world.”

Jo was speaking at the public forum section of a recent city transformation committee meeting where she expressed the forum's concern about the car-dependent transport planning going into the new city centres at Te Tumu and Tauriko West.

Terry asked how the council could encourage people to use public transport when many of the city's commercial centres – Bayfair, Fashion Island, Bethlehem, Fraser Cove, The Lakes – and the supermarkets are saying ‘bring us your cars'.

“Apart from ‘build it and they will come', like having decent cycle ways, walkways and a bus transport system that will work, what other mechanisms can we use to encourage people to get on public transport?

“Because I can see it as being incredibly difficult with Kiwis, especially my vintage, getting them out of their cars. Have you got any ideas about encouraging people out of their cars and to use public transport?”

Frequency and reliability are two key factors that a public transport system needs to be able to provide, says Jo.

“I think also from a council perspective we are getting more events happening in the city. We have got a pretty good stadium which is attracting key events, and we have got some nationally recognised events here.”

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