Sam Somers has plans for the Regional Council

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by Sam Somers
I am Sam Somers and in the upcoming local body elections, I am standing in the Poneke/Wellington Constituency for the Greater Wellington Regional Council, under the political affiliation, Sam the Man with the Plan.

My aim in being elected to Regional Council is to shift it to a solution focused council instead of one that is either creating problems or putting their heads in the sand when a problem arises. Our bus network being a prime example, where concentrating bus route capacity and introducing hubs has led to many people having their average travel time double while the existing council points to other improvements in the network.

The changes have also cut off many of our low income and disabled communities who relied routes that used to exist to connect to them to community services and the CBD. They are now forced to transfer and when full buses arrive, resulting in them being left waiting in the weather while waiting for a bus to arrive that is able to fit them on the bus. My solutions to the bus network include changing the way bus service operates: bus routes that go to better locations and spreading the capacity across areas instead of forcing users to use one corridor then transferring at a hub to another fully loaded bus.

My solutions would be creating an alternative spine route from West to the East, connecting western suburbs Northland, Mairangi and Karori to eastern suburbs Miramar, Strathmore Park and Seatoun, also allowing them to get to Victoria University and reconnecting them to Wellington Hospital. My aim would also be reconnecting the removal of services that went to some of our Wellington Social Housing locations, as this is where a number of people with disabilities live and many of these people living in these places took their unit based on the services available under old bus network. My first action, when elected, is to reconnect the WCC City Housing Rintoul Street location to the bus network, by having the 29 service take a minor detour via Herald, Rintoul and Lavaud Streets.

Other solutions include introducing Snapper to the Johnsonville Train Line enabling users of the $150 bus pass also has the option to use the train and vice-versa. This can be done by introducing a stepping stone system where you can use your snapper card to print out a paper ticket and also reintroduces off peak fares to the Johnsonville line which were removed in the July 15 2018 changes. The reason for doing this is that every other line has the option of a train monthly pass plus (bus and train) option while Johnsonville Line users are currently excluded.

I am also keen to try something new to tackle traffic congestion by introducing free weekend public transport between starting and finishing in Zone 1 to Zone 3 including the Johnsonville Line. The cost to ratepayers to introduce free weekend public transport is $1.61 per week per household – which is less than the fare for a 1 zone bus journey regardless of whether paid by cash or Snapper.

Other policies include a goal to enable 4,400 residential houses and 100 farms to convert to renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and home domestic windmill systems every year for 10 years. Repayable grants similar to the insulation scheme could start from $5000 + GST and go up to $15,000 +GST with the farming option of $30,000 + GST and be paid back through a targeted rate over 15 years. This is one practical solution to climate change, to electricity generation and also help properties that are rented or owned by low income homeowners to get onto renewable energy solutions.

I will be advocating for a rewrite of the Public Transport Operating Model legislation. I will advocate for the reform of this legislation to include wages and conditions for drivers in addition to advocating for double tracking the railway line from Paekakariki to Pukerua Bay, and high speed rail for the railway lines to both Palmerston North and Masterton. High speed rail on these lines is possible as they both have large, long sections of straight tracks after getting past the Electrification. High Speed rail should also be considered for freight in able to reduce the number of trucks on NZ roads.

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