32 Ways To Fix Tauranga’s Traffic Congestion

What can we do as individuals to reduce traffic congestion?

  1. Travel on a different route
    • Is there another road you can take?
  2. Travel at a different time
    • Can you shift your departure 30 mins earlier or later? Or 60 mins?
    • Even just 1 day a week?
  3. Travel by a different mode
    • Can you take a different form of transport? Walk, cycle, bus, e-scooter, car share?
    • Even 1 day a week?
    • An electric bike costs $2500+ but can get you to your destination as fast as a car, takes you door-to-door, costs nothing to park, you don’t have to break a sweat on the way in, and provides pleasant scenery if you choose such a route
  4. Try ride-sharing systems
    • You input your typical trips and you are matched with people traveling at similar times with similar origins and destinations
    • Eg: SmartTravel.org.nz Bay of Plenty
  5. Hitch-hike to work once a week
    • Make a sign at home with the name of your destination
    • Stand outside your house with a smile on your face, the sign on your chest, and your thumb in the air

What can our Organisations (of all sizes) do to reduce traffic congestion?

  1. Create a transport plan for your staff
    • The purpose is to reduce single-occupant vehicle commutes by creating scarcity of parking, and by encouraging walking, cycling, bus usage and car sharing
  2. Financially reward employees who cycle to work with a daily allowance (eg $5-$10/day)
    • As part of a health and well-being programme (because of the health benefits of cycling)
    • Provide an additional bonus if individuals make 200 trips in a year
  3. Offer employees flexible hours and the option to work from home a few days a week/month
  4. Offer a “Guaranteed Lift Home‟ scheme to car sharers in case they need to get somewhere in an emergency
    • The organisation will then arrange and pay for a lift home, normally in the form of a taxi/uber
    • Organisations who have made this offer have found it does serve as a great motivator to get people car sharing, and the offer is rarely used so costs are very low
  5. Consider maintaining a small fleet of pool vehicles (cars, electric cars, e-bikes, e-scooters) for employees who have to run work-based and personal errands
  6. Provide showering facilities (or partner with a nearby gym) for cyclists who ride greater distances on non-e-bikes
  7. Encourage car sharing by providing priority car-parks and/or free-parking for car-sharing vehicles

What can the councils do to reduce traffic congestion?

  1. Prioritise walk-ability at the street level
    • Increase comfort and convenience by:
    • Reducing vehicle speed to increase pedestrian safety with lane width, parking options, turning options, curb cuts, flow direction, traffic lights, road geometry, pedestrian crossings, footpath width
  2. Prioritise cycling at the street level
    • Welcome cyclists with:
    • Wider shared footpaths
    • Cycle lanes feeding into the CBD
    • Convenient bike stands
      • To visually indicate that priorities have shifted and bikes are welcome
    • Did you know: That 10 bikes fit in one car parking spot so that’s 10 commuters instead of 1 in the same space?
  3. Invite bicycle-for-hire / bicycle-sharing / e-scooter companies into the CBD
    • When people have this option for short trips, they are less likely to bring their car with them everyday incase they need it
    • Let the company set a monthly membership fee or provide the bikes / e-scooters free with sponsorship, or partly subsidise them
  4. Upgrade existing footpaths with wider, shared walking/cycleways that are seperate from vehicles
  5. Install pro-cycling billboards beside the most heavily congested roads
    • Eg “Stuck in traffic? Try e-cycling. Even just 1 sunny day per week”
  6. Improve the bus service to increase patronage:
    • Increase frequency (every 10-15 mins so you don’t need to check timetables)
    • Increase hours (earlier in the morning, later at night, same service levels 7 days a week)
    • Improve the routes (deeper penetration into the suburbs, more direct paths back to the CBD)
    • Set a price that attracts patronage (rather than making a car journey a better choice)
    • Provide real-time bus location information (DONE!)
    • Install bicycle racks on the front (DONE!)
    • Add “please let me in” signs at the back of the buses to remind drivers to be courteous
    • Schedule free-bus-day’s every 3 months to enable non-users to try the bus service out
    • Wondering how to we fund these improvements? Ideas below
    • Did you know that Bay of Plenty Regional Council runs our buses?
      • On your rates invoice you’ll see an amount that is sent to BOPRC for our buses
  7. Be slow to add road lanes
    • Have you heard of “Induced Demand”? When it’s easier to drive, more people do it. Adding capacity by adding lanes to roads makes driving more attractive, that’s why congestion returns in a few months
  8. Establish dedicated bus lanes
    • If you do have space for additional lanes, instead of providing them for cars, dedicate these lanes to buses to increase the advantages bus travel provides over car travel
    • Did you know that a typical traffic lane can carry approximately 3,000 people in 2,000 cars each hour, but an express bus lane can carry over 30,000 people in 700 buses during that same time period? That’s 10 times the number of people with a single lane [Source]
  9. Allow vehicles with 2 or more occupants to use the bus lanes
    • New bus lanes often go through a period where they are underutilised. During this time (which may be years), allow vehicles with 2 or more occupants.
    • Did you know these are commonly called Transit Lanes? A “T2” lane means that cars with 2 passengers can ride in the lane, a “T3” lane means the car needs to have 3 passengers to ride in the lane
  10. Encourage organisations and schools to create transport plans
    • Provide templates and case-studies
    • Use “gamification” to create competition between organisations and schools that provides prizes for the highest reductions in employee kms travelled
    • Celebrate and publicise the winners and awards through the media and with award ceremonies held in public
  11. Assist road freight and commercial traffic companies to shift their operations to off-peak times (if they haven’t already)
  12. Be slow to improve costs, convenience and availability of parking to all-day parkers (it’s this group that clog up the city, and the city fringe, and take parks from shoppers and residents)
  13. Be slow to add parking capacity
    • Did you know that a single parking spot in a carparking building costs approximately $40k to build each? [Source]
      • At $10/day and 100% occupancy that’s about 30 years to reach break-even point
  14. Price carparks to discourage all-day parking
    • Variable parking pricing during peak periods encourages turnover and provides spaces for retail consumers
  15. Make it easier to find a park for shoppers
    • Did you know that 30% of CBD congestion is drivers circling as they look for a park?
    • A competition with a prize offered could be held for technology hobby groups who would attach inexpensive sensors onto a few blocks of carparks as a trial, and create simple find-a-park smartphone apps to help drivers find the vacant parks. The group with the most usage wins
  16. Invite an app-based, electric car-rental service
    • Users leave their own car at home and can book these zero-emission cars for errands
  17. Encourage the supply of inner-city, high density housing in the CBD
    • This way, a greater proportion of the population will have the option of living close to where they work
  18. Apply electronic tolling to any new expressways
    • Tolling is an effective way to pay for capital costs, maintenance costs
    • It draws away heavy traffic from the alternative paths because they immediately benefit from the time savings of the new route
    • It delays congestion on the new road because drivers weigh up the costs and benefits
  19. Lobby central government for a regional fuel tax
    • Channel these funds into the bus service
  20. Lobby central government to change the law to allow children to ride on the footpath
    • Although the footpath still has some risks, those risks are less than riding on the road. This change could encourage more children to cycle to school

3 Ideas I do NOT support:

1. Park-and-ride at BayPark

  • I do not support this idea because I don’t think it offers a viable alternative to driving solo in a car
  • The idea is that people who live in Papamoa, will drive their cars to BayPark, park in the huge carpark which is vacant during normal workhours, hop onto a waiting bus that will leave at a specific time (eg 8am), that bus then joins rush-hour traffic either towards Welcome Bay or through BayFair.
  • Through BayFair, we first have to pretend the overpass is complete, so the bus, still in rush-hour traffic needs to get to the bus lane on Hewletts Rd before it can make progress past other vehicles, which it rejoins again 1.2km later for a slow crawl over the bridge.
  • Or the Welcome Bay path, the bus is inside the rush-hour traffic the entire journey.
  • In either case the only advantage for riders is “I don’t have to pay for parking today”, but they lose the comfort of their own vehicle and the stress of arriving at the BayPark carpark at a specific time

2. Light rail down Cameron Road

  • I have ridden the tubes in London and New York, rail is a magnificent way to travel. But I do not support this idea for Tauranga because of the cost to the ratepayer for track installation, the trams (at $5M each), and the ongoing costs
  • Did you know that light rail track costs $50k-$100k per metre to install?
    • Eg Auckland Airport to CBD = 20km @ $1B = $50k/metre  Source
  • Perhaps when our population reaches 200k we can talk about this, but we are at 137k right now and we cannot afford to lay down track at a cost of $50k per metre. That’s $1 from every rate payer for every metre

3. “Hurry up and add another car lane to fix congestion!”

  • I do not support this idea because numerous studies have shown that this does not work as a solution
  • It causes “induced demand” which means the new lane attracts users from other time slots, from other transport modes (switch from bike, back to car again), and from other routes (“this path is better than the current one I’m using”)
  • It moves the bottleneck elsewhere

My goals when I’m elected onto council

  1. Increase walking-to-school and cycle-to-school trips by 50% within 18 months
  2. Establish transport plans with 80% of schools and 80% of large employers within 18 months
  3. Reduce single occupant car journeys in Tauranga by 5% within 18 months
    • Did you know that the tipping point from free-flowing traffic to congested is only a few percent?
    • For these routes:
      • Bethlehem to CBD
      • Mount to CBD
      • Greerton to CBD
      • Welcome Bay to CBD
      • Papamoa to CBD
  4. Increase cycling-to-work commuting by 50% within 18 months
    • Benchmark from Census 2013: 4.9% of BOP residents walk-to-work, 2.8% cycle-to-work

A glimpse into the future

Imagine the year 2028 when we no longer own our own cars. Instead we have monthly subscriptions to a self-driving car service. When we need one, we summon it with verbal command to our smart-phones. The car arrives within moments, takes us to our destination and carry’s on to serve it’s next passenger. There are no traffic lights, no give way signs, because the car broadcasts its position and knows the position of all the other vehicles in it’s vicinity. The traffic flows like water. Bumper to bumper. Smooth and soundless thanks to the electric engines. Inner-city parking is no longer required because the vehicles don’t sit still. Those spaces are freed up for greenery, pleasant outdoor spaces, seating, walking spaces, and cycling paths.

Useful resources

I need your help

This report is an example of how I approach things. I’m not afraid to take on complicated issues. My process is to:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Read reports to learn from other peoples successes and failures
  3. Seek out expert advice
  4. Present a solution
  5. Get buy-in from stakeholders into the way forward

Vote me on to council and I’ll get to work.