Open letter to the Minister of Transport

Published on 3/12/2021 at 11:18 pm.

4 November 2021

Dear Minister of Transport, the Honorable Michael Wood

We, the undersigned, write to you highlighting our concerns regarding insufficient investment in public transport in the regions and our wishes for Budget 2022.

As representatives of the provincial heart of Aotearoa New Zealand, we want to be part of a better future where we have user-friendly, affordable and convenient public transport so we stay connected without costing the earth. The Emissions Reduction Plan discussion document highlights the concerns many of us hold about the impact of climate change on our planet and the place of mode shift in transport as key to significantly reducing emissions.

New Zealanders in smaller cities and towns need more bus services so we can get out of our cars while maintaining independence and connections to others. We also need massive improvements in rail and protected cycleways, and other non-transport solutions for climate change too, but improving our buses right now is fundamental as we face being left behind our largest cities.

While regional councils are responsible for public transport, we need your support as Minister of Transport to increase the National Land Transport Fund allocation for public transport. Even though the Government Policy Statement says direction has changed, the majority of investment is still in other priorities. Increasing investment in public transport is a tangible way to meet the carbon reduction targets we need to hit.

We seek low fares for all and an expansion of free transport for community services and gold card holders, students and apprentices. We want increased route frequency and hours of operation so it is easier for people to choose the bus without having to coordinate a timetable with long wait times, services that stop at 6pm or that don't operate on weekends. We want the option to take buses, both within and between our provincial towns and rural communities, and to connect to our large cities. In the past, many of our towns had rail services to fulfil these roles. They should again. But where that is not possible in the short term, we need convenient and affordable bus services as soon as possible.

We can't do it alone – councils can't afford to fund public transport expansion in these difficult Covid times plus it is slow, difficult and frustrating to make changes working only within current limitations. Waka Kotahi has significant project budgets for highways or funds tied up in land holdings while we need relatively small amounts of new operational funds to make public transport more attractive to people living in the regions. We ask for your help in Budget 2022.

We need the Government to set an ambitious public transport vision so all our communities have workable services, and most importantly because action on climate change is needed now and our reliance on private vehicles increases emissions significantly.

There are other challenges we recognise, including fair pay and conditions for drivers, more electric buses, increased rail capacity,and trials of innovative on-demand services*,* which will help underpin the future we need to thrive. But right now we are asking for an immediate and significant injection of new funds in Budget 2022 to get more people onto buses in the regions.

There is no silver bullet for climate but more funding for increased bus route frequency, coverage and reduced fares will make a substantial difference to our carbon footprint at a time we most need it – right now.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent and critical issue.

Nicola Patrick

On behalf of the following signatories, in their capacity as individuals

Copy to: Minister for Climate Change James Shaw; Chief Executive of Waka Kotahi Nicole Rosie


  • Northland Regional Council:
  • Cr Jack Craw


  • Waitematā Local Board - Julie Sandilands
  • Albert-Eden Local Board - Julia Maskill
  • Upper Harbour Local Board - Nicholas Mayne; Anna Atkinson
  • Whau Local Board - Jessica Rose
  • Waitakere Ranges Local Board - Saffron Toms
  • Maungakiekie Tāmaki Local Board - Peter McGlashan


  • Waikato Regional Council:

    • Cr Denis Tegg
    • Cr Jennifer Nickel
    • Cr Angela Strange
  • Hamilton City Council:

    • Mayor Paula Southgate
    • Cr Sarah Thomson

Bay of Plenty

  • Whakatāne District Council:
  • Cr Nándor Tánczos
  • Mayor Judy Turner
  • Cr Victor Luca
  • Whakatane-Ohope Community Board - Carolyn Hamill, Jennifer Manning

Hawkes Bay

  • Hawkes Bay Regional Council:
  • Cr Hinewai Ormsby
  • Cr Martin Williams


  • Taranaki Regional Council:

  • Cr Charlotte Littlewood

  • Cr Elvisa Van Der Leden

  • Cr Michael Joyce

  • New Plymouth District Council:

    • Cr Amanda Clinton-Gohdes
    • Cr Richard Handley
    • Mayor Neil Holdom
  • South Taranaki District Council:

    • Mayor Phil Nixon


  • Horizons Regional Council:

    • Chair Rachel Keedwell
    • Cr Sam Ferguson
    • Cr Nicola Patrick
    • Cr Emma Clarke
    • Cr Allan Benbow
    • Cr Fiona Gordon
  • Whanganui District Council:

    • Passenger transport rep Anthonie Tonnon
    • Cr James Barron
    • Mayor Hamish McDouall
  • Wanganui Grey Power Association president Ross Fallen

  • Palmerston North City Council:

    • Cr Brent Barrett
    • Cr Renee Dingwall
  • Rangitikei District Council:

    • Mayor Andy Watson
    • Cr Angus Gordon
  • Tararua District Council:

    • Mayor Tracey Collis
    • Deputy Mayor Erana Peeti-Weber
    • Cr Carole Isaacson
    • Cr Kerry Sutherland
    • Cr Sharon Wards
    • Cr Alison Franklin
    • Cr Peter Johns
    • Cr Shirley Hull
    • Cr Raylene Treder


  • Wellington Regional Council:

    • Cr Thomas Nash
  • Wellington City Council:

    • Deputy Mayor Sarah Free
    • Cr Laurie Foon
    • Cr Iona Pannett
  • Masterton District Council:

    • Cr Chris Peterson
  • Kapiti Coast District Council:

    • Cr Gwynn Compton


  • Nelson City Council:

    • Cr Rachel Sanson
    • Cr Matt Lawrey
    • Cr Kate Fulton
    • Cr Rohan O'Neill-Stevens
  • Tasman District Council:

    • Cr Dana Wensley


  • Canterbury Regional Council:

    • Cr Vicky Southworth
    • Cr Lan Pham
  • Selwyn District Council:

    • Cr Sophie McInnes
  • Christchurch City Council:

    • Cr Sara Templeton
    • Cr Mike Davidson
    • Cr Celeste Donovan
    • Mayor Lianne Dalziel
  • Timaru District Council:

    • Mayor Nigel Bowen
    • Cr Sally Parker
  • Lincoln University Students' Association, president Gregory Fleming

  • University of Canterbury Students' Association, tumuaki/president Kim Fowler

West Coast

  • Inangahua Community Board - Cory Aitken

  • Grey District Council:

    • Mayor Tania Gibson
  • Buller District Council:

    • Cr Joanne Howard


  • Otago Regional Council:

    • Cr Alexa Forbes
  • Queenstown Lakes District Council:

    • Cr Esther Whitehead
    • Cr Niki Gladding


  • Bluff Community Board - Noel Peterson

National organisations:

  • Grey Power New Zealand Federation Inc Vice President Peter Matcham
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