New Zealanders want public transport to be available, but most of us hardly ever use it. Just 5% of our travelling time is spent on buses and trains - compared with 80% spent driving or as a passenger in cars. There are good reasons for these statistics. Public transport is more likely to be used if the services are frequent, reliable, safe, and comfortable, and if the time it takes to arrive at the destination is similar to using a car. In many areas of New Zealand this is not the case.
Use of public transport is highest in busy urban areas. Wellington, with its compact layout and population, is well-served by a convenient bus and train network, and has the highest use of public transport in the country. In rural and provincial New Zealand, public transport is often non-existent and uneconomic to provide, with greater travelling distances and few customers.
Did you know?
- 80% of New Zealanders' travelling time is spent driving or as a passenger in cars (52% driving, 28% as a passenger).
- 5% of New Zealanders' travelling time is spent on public transport.
Public transport is convenient for some trips, but not all of the time. The bus may be handy for commuting to and from work or school, but less so for other trips that involve carrying things, for example supermarket shopping.
It is very difficult to replace the versatility and load carrying capacity offered by the car.
AA speaking up for motorists
The AA supports the mobility of Members, whose interests extend beyond just cars and roads - AA Members are also cyclists, walkers and users of public transport.
A balanced transport system that preserves freedom of mobility
AA Members want a balanced transport system, including public transport, which preserves their freedom of mobility, and is safe, responsive, reasonably priced and economically and environmentally sustainable. The transport network can be improved through better integration of road, rail and sea links together with improved public transport services. Integrated ticketing, where one ticket is transferable to rail and bus services, is a good example of making public transport more user- friendly.
The transport needs of each region are different and solutions will vary. Local communities need to be involved in deciding the most appropriate solution for their region.
Increased funding for smart public transport options
The AA supports increased funding for public transport if it provides value for money and services people will actually use. We would like to see core services funded by the government as a social service. Often the very large set-up costs for public transport can't be met by local government alone.
To fund big public transport projects, we support an inter-generational approach where costs are spread over time, rather than being completely carried by the taxpayers of the day. This typically means that debt rather than cash is used to fund major projects.
The cost to significantly develop New Zealand's public transport system is potentially huge. We believe it is unfair for government to impose taxes and levies on motorists as the major source of funding. The under-investment in public transport infrastructure has occurred over decades, and new government money is required.
Support for 'park and ride' car parks
The AA supports 'park and ride' parking facilities as one practical way of helping motorists make greater use of public transport.
What AA Members are saying
A survey of 1,057 AA Members sought to measure the impact of the 2008 fuel price spike on transport choices. The biggest change was people walking more (29%). Public transport (15%) was the next most popular option, ahead of car-pooling (11%) and cycling (7%). In the AA's 2006 survey about public transport usage, more than half of all respondents replied that public transport is not practical for them, or that there's no service.