Free public transport and more govt action called for

Dunedin's bus Hub. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Dunedin's bus Hub. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Free public transport should be trialled in New Zealand cities as part of urgent measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions, Prof Sir Alan Mark says.

"A lot can be done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport," he said yesterday.

Transport had a crucial role to play, and he urged "more promotion of public transport, with introduction of "free city transport offered by local governments, paid by ratepayers, at least as a trial exercise".

Some fare-free public transport had been offered in Auckland and he would like to see this extended and offered elsewhere.

Sir Alan is a University of Otago botanist and chairman of the Wise Response Society, a group that promotes sustainable approaches and a "wise response" to climate change challenges.

There was "no substitute for reducing emissions", rather than simply trying to capture carbon through extensive exotic tree planting, he said yesterday.

Such emission cuts required promotion, policies and regulations by central and local governments.

And cuts were vital "in effectively addressing global warming and associated climate disruption", he added.

The Government could also help with promotion of electric vehicles and regulation on the transport of goods, with less road transport and more rail and sea, he said.

He had outlined his concerns about the Government's billion trees programme in his earlier submission to the Zero Carbon Bill.

"We believe the billion trees programme needs urgent review, particularly the use of commercial plantations of exotic conifers with their relatively short rotations.

"Permanent forests, exotic or native, would be more effective in sequestering carbon, " he said.

 - This story is part of the Otago Daily Times contribution to Covering Climate Now, an international campaign by more than 170 media organisations to draw attention to the issue of climate change ahead of a United Nations summit on September 23. To read more of our coverage, go to


Every doom-gloom long term climate forecast made in the last 30 years has been wrong. Why should we listen to these same wrong forecasters now. Stop printing this agiprop.

Prof Sir Alan Mark should stay within his area of expertise.
Rate payers, pay more than enough to inefficient councils, as it is.
Before public transport will work in NZ we need higher populations density within our cities. That’s is where government and councils need to start.
As for regulating freight to rail and shipping, has he learnt nothing from the past !
What a comedy show, all these ‘experts’ that are paid from the public purse put on.
Time to climb out of your ivory towers and mix with the real people, instead of your elitist friends.



Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter