Call for greater equity in regional transport

Interconnected regional transport is needed to address equity issues in Otago and Southland’s transport network.

That was the main focus of discussion as the joint Otago and Southland Regional Transport Committee signed off its Otago Southland Regional Land Transport Plan in Dunedin yesterday.

It followed deliberations of 35 public submissions to the plan, which sets the vision of transport services and infrastructure across the two regions every six years.

Committee chairwoman and Otago regional councillor Alexa Forbes said there were clear messages from the public around transport equity and inclusion.

“There has been a lot of angst about difficulties in the transport network.”

Rural communities in particular, including Balclutha and Milton, needed better transport systems, she said.

Environment Southland councillor Allan Baird said he felt empathy for people living in smaller regional towns without cars who were isolated.

Their concerns were echoed by Waka Kotahi chief adviser Ian Duncan, who said communities would be worried about their resilience.

Changes were made to the plan as a result of the consultation process, including a reference to the need for interconnected transport options both within and across regional boundaries.

The draft plan said that Otago and Southland transport networks should serve important community places, schools, town centres and tourist attractions, and provide for freight, general traffic and tourism.

An additional sentence in the final plan says that the networks only provided the base infrastructure for those connections, and alternative modes of transport between major centres were not available to many communities.

‘‘This introduces inequities across the community that are not currently being addressed in the development of work programmes or transport options,’’ the new plan says.

During the meeting, Otago regional councillor Kate Wilson said the plan was a “hell of lot improved” compared to the previous one.

The committee approved the updated regional land transport plan.


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