Reliance on cars threatens Auckland’s emissions target

May 9, 2023

Reliance on cars threatens Auckland’s emissions target

Buses and cars battle it out across Auckland’s CBD, but our carbon emissions are the only real loser. Photo: Sophie Watson.

Growing car dependency among commuters in Auckland could spell trouble for carbon emissions, according to experts.

The jump back into cars has been prompted by months of late and cancelled public transport lines, primarily caused by a bus driver shortage.

Generation Zero UOA member Cameron Woods says the lack of accessible and reliable public transport could be driving an increase in car usage.

Road transport is one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Emissions Reduction Plan.

Woods says that public transport plays a huge role in reducing these emissions.

“It’s never going to get to zero, but it would be great to reduce it drastically via more public transport.”

Woods also says that more reachable public transport would minimize road congestion and reduce additional emissions.

“If people do have to take cars, they’ll be less likely to be sitting in traffic, using petrol, and creating carbon emissions.”

Waitematā local board member Alexandra Bonham has hope that despite an increasing reliance on cars, fully operating public transport services will triumph.

“It is possible that people will start to get into the habit of just using their cars instead, but on the other hand, if people do get into their cars, the congestion is going to be so vile that once they sort out the buses and the buses are pegging it past you… you’ll start to think ‘I’m going to take the bus, it’s faster!’”

Bonham says Aotearoa’s climate change goals are achievable and it may be down to future generations to make it happen.

“If you are young, take your dad out on an e-bike. Take your dad out on the bus. Just advocate to our parent’s generation who love the car… bring your parents along with us!”

Woods also says Gen-Z is far less car-dependent.

“I know a lot of people that don’t have their license because either they grew up in Wellington or Auckland and haven’t had a need to.”

Auckland Transport metro services manager Darek Koper says AT’s priority is to make public transport “accessible, reliable, and frequent” by recruiting more drivers and introducing more electric buses into the fleet.

“I can confidently say that by the end of September, things will return to normal for bus services.”

Koper says public transport is “very important” to reducing carbon emissions and hopes zero-emissions buses will be a big draw for commuters.

“Overall, whether it’s an electric bus or the current diesel bus, by promoting [public transport] we’re not only reducing Auckland's emissions but also reducing kilometres travelled by car – and this is one of our key objectives.”

AT has 78 zero-emission buses running in Auckland and plans on launching another 56 over the next 6 months, with a long-term goal of 1360 buses by 2035.

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