This is a cross post from Generation Zero whose Wellington team were perhaps felling a little left out our Congestion Free Network

By now you will hopefully have heard about the alternative transport vision for Auckland we’re pushing alongside the Auckland Transport Blog team; the Congestion Free Network. Quite a few people have asked, “when are you gonna do one for Wellington?”. Well guys, with the local government elections looming, the time has come.

Before I write any more words, allow me to drop the map.

It might sound clichéd, but Wellington is really at a transport crossroads. It’s on the cusp of a massive motorway expansion all the way from Levin to Wellington Airport, in the form of the Wellington Northern Corridor – one of the Government’s fabled “Roads of National Significance” (RoNS). The ramifications for the climate, our economy, and the special character of the “coolest little capital in the world” are pretty huge.

You might have heard John Key a few months ago announce that “Wellington is dying and we don’t know how to turn it around”. Apparently, the best answer is to spend well over $3 billion on some big new roads and tunnels through the heart of the city and region, to widen those state highway arteries. Surely this will get the blood pumping again!

The thing with a major roading operation like this, though, is it can have serious side-effects. In this case: “choking”, on all the extra cars it will bring into the city.

Capital will choke on new highways – Dominion Post 2/9/13 

Gridlock is predicted to worsen across the Wellington region after Transmission Gully and the Kapiti Expressway are built.

Hardest hit will be Wellington city, as people from Porirua and the Kapiti Coast ditch public transport in favour of a faster, cheaper journey into the capital on the new four-lane highways.

The predictions are contained in a report commissioned by Greater Wellington Regional Council, which warns that local roads could struggle to handle the additional tens of thousands of cars hopping off State Highway 1.

There is some alternative therapy being offered in the form of the Public Transport Spine Study. This was supposed to tell us the best option for a high quality public transport solution along the city’s “growth spine” (Johnsonville – CBD – Newtown – Kilbirnie), particularly addressing the major bus congestion in the CBD that makes the current service slow and unreliable.

But, unfortunately, the Spine Study has problems of its own. It seems to have made an unfair and simply incorrect assessment of the light rail option, rendering the cost huge ($904m) and the benefits low (we’ll have a lot more to say about that). Even in the study’s best case option, Bus Rapid Transit, it projects the number of public transport trips in 2030 will only just claw back the lost ground as a result of the motorway building binge. And now the official line is that we can’t deliver this for at least nine years – five years after the International Energy Agency says global emissions should peak to be on a path to keep warming below 2°C.

We think Wellington deserves better. We see more and more cities around the world forging ahead fast with smart transport systems that help free us from dependence on oil and cars. These cities will be the ones prospering in the 21st century.

Wellington can’t afford a lapse back into the past – it’s time for a fresh, forward-looking transport vision. That’s why we’ve worked with some independent experts to develop…

It’s a holistic plan that we think builds on Wellington’s strengths to deliver better transport, a better economy and a better city. And it would cost much less than the planned motorway spend.

Over the coming weeks we’ll unveil and discuss more about Fast Forward Wellington. For now, I’ll just say a bit about the main components, shown in the map above.

1. A high quality “congestion free” public transport network

This means giving people the choice of reliable, high frequency PT services physically separated from traffic congestion, just like we’re pushing for in Auckland.

The first step would be building light rail on our alternative spine route from the Railway Station to Newtown then on to Kilbirnie over Constable St. We project this would cost less than $400 million and could be completed by 2020 by moving fast. Over future years the network can then be extended outwards – to the airport, Miramar, Island Bay and Karori. In the meantime these lines could be bus-only lanes connecting to the rail spine for transfers and some through services. Some routes like Brooklyn would probably remain as peak-hour bus only lanes.

Light Rail Pic

2. A comprehensive Copenhagen-style cycleway network

This means giving people the choice of a safe and pleasant trip by bike with protected bike-only corridors.

Our proposed network would see about 150 km of segregated cycleways built throughout Wellington, Porirua and the Hutt Cities. This would be in conjunction with more on-road cycleways and traffic-calming measures to make the streets safer. With adequate funding of around $20 per resident each year, matched by central government, this could all be completed within a decade.

Cycleway Pic

3. A city- or region-wide car share system

This means giving people an option of not owning a car but still having the service available for those occasions when they need one.

How does car sharing work? People pay a subscription plus a per-use fee, and can rent a car for minutes, hours or days at a time with little notice required. Systems are in operation in many cities around the world withZipcar. A company called CityHop has a small network in Auckland plus a couple of cars in Wellington and Christchurch.

Our proposal would see upwards of 200 vehicles rolled out across greater Wellington, making it a world-leader in car sharing. And for a cherry on top, how about making half of these full electric vehicles, with the rest plug-in hybrids or other high fuel efficiency vehicles?


There are some other components to the vision too. You might have also noticed on the map some new pedestrian zones or low-speed “shared spaces” on Lambton Quay, Courtenay Place and in the Newtown and Kilbirnie shopping areas.

And of course, there’s one pretty big point – Wellington doesn’t stop at the Railway Station. In fact about half of the Greater Wellington population live north of it. So, what could be done for those people?

We’re lucky to have some really good rail infrastructure to the north already, but there are a range of ways we can make it better – further electrification and double-tracking, building new stations, more cycle lockers and park & ride facilities, and much more.

And here’s one vital aspect: by building light rail in Wellington City and physically integrating this with the Railway Station, we unlock the potential for tram-train services from the north running through the CBD – rather than terminating at the edge. That means if you live in Johnsonville and work at the hospital, say, you could get there in one continuous train trip. A full public transport spine for Wellington, rather than a broken one.

In addition to this the cycleway network and car-share system would extend out, and we’d have separated bus lanes for Porirua (all day) and Wainuiomata (peak-hour only) connecting to the rail network.

So that’s the overview, and that’s probably more than enough for one post. We’ll have more coming over the days and weeks ahead as we work to push this vision onto the table in Wellington’s local elections, as well as putting out a quick submission form for Public Transport Spine Study consultation closing on September 30th.

Stay tuned, and we’d love to hear your feedback and ideas on the Fast Forward Wellington vision.

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    1. My take on tram-trains are that they are essentially a heavy rail train re-styled and engineered to function at a street level in a manner approximating a true tram or light rail vehicle. The key technical question I’d be asking is how quickly such a beast can stop. If it can stop in an equivalent timeframe to a true tram or a bus, then it is possible it could co-exist with other street traffic. If not, then any scope for potential co-existence on a shared corridor would have to be limited. At a fundamental safety level, when a tram-train crashes into the back of a bus, it is going to make a much bigger mess of that bus than a much lighter true tram……

      This safety consideration is quite apart from additional costs relative to a true tram due to extra complexity, customisation etc. It may be that these sorts of technical, cost and safety issues can be resolved – but don’t bank your entire CFN strategy on tram-trains.

      True trams or light-rail on their own will be an ambitious and worthwhile goal for the spine network south of Wellington station in their own right. And, it may be that long term, Johnsonville rail may better suit light rail as the Matangi fleet augments capacity elsewhere on the network.

      The most important thing to me is that Wellington doesn’t build Transmission Gully and the Basin Reserve flyover, both of which will be substantially detrimental to all the things that make Wellington good.

      1. “The most important thing to me is that Wellington doesn’t build Transmission Gully and the Basin Reserve flyover, both of which will be substantially detrimental to all the things that make Wellington good.”

        Exactly. Unfortunately because our government is so unsophisticated about place in general and cities in particular, as well as so captured by the over-simplifications of the road lobby it is completely beyond their understanding that road building can be destructive and lead to negative outcomes. Yet it is clear that the billions they are throwing away in the Wellington region will be just that.

        1. Agreed. Frustrating though it is that joined-up public transport in Wellington is so slow to materialise, there is really no urgency to rush into a particular option at this stage. The real urgency is to stop the RoNS, before $14 billion gets poured down the drain, never to be seen again. Once this happens, I suspect there will be nothing left for public transport for decades. And the crazy part about it is that the alleged benefits of most of these roads are utterly illusory. Once these projects are fully committed, the die is cast for New Zealand to have a millstone slung around its neck worse than that of Muldoon’s “think big”.

    2. I asked Brent Efford to comment on this as he’s a lot more knowledgeable than me:

      “Tram-trains can be any track gauge, as are trams and trains. Our mainline track gauge of 1067 mm is close to the metre gauge (1000 mm, of course) which is used for many tram and passenger rail systems around the world. A number of them, such as at Alicante in Spain, are in fact tram-train. Historically, many narrow gauge railways in Europe were essentially tram-train in operation.

      Features required for tram-train, such as automatic train protection (to minimise the risk of collisions – being installed now in Auckland), traction systems to enable 100 km/h running, harmonisation of platform heights, etc, etc are not gauge-related. It has not been “ruled out” for any technical reason but because the governments of the day (1990s in Auckland and Wellington) were no more enthused than the current one about investing in rail transit.”

  1. 1. The number 1 improvement in Welly is changing Welly station from a terminus to a through station.
    1. The other number 1 improvement in Welly is widespread and coherent Copenhagen style cycle lanes.
    1. The other number 1 improvement in Welly is some yellow paint to control on street parking on every road.
    2. I can’t get excited about car share. Why car share, and not bike share?
    3. Why not embrace cable technology, such as aerial gondolas, which are perfectly suited for Wellington’s hills? Has the Gen-0 peeps considered that at all.

    And I see the comments on the Gen-0 page about considering the Welly-Palmy corridor as a whole. I’d vote for 6 electric trains a day each way.with a single track spur in Palmy up the median of Rangiktikei Street to a station at the Square.

    1. On the car share – I get pretty excited by the evidence from overseas.

      This study found for every car sharing vehicle put in place, between 9 and 13 vehicles are dropped by owners in the area. 80% of that was households becoming car-free, resulting in higher active transport and PT ridership. Plus the vehicles tend to be much higher fuel efficiency than the average (especially if EVs were used as we’re suggesting). Seems a great way to liberate parking space for other uses such as cycleways and PT lanes, and less money spent on importing and maintaining cars = great for local economy.

      Gondolas, cool idea – we’ll look into it. My personal dream is to have a flying fox from the top of Mount Victoria down to the Railway Station. I’d go out of my way to use that!

      1. I’m informed by Tom Pettit (one of the main architects behind this plan by the way) that gondolas are questionable as they’re limited to days under 90 km/h wind, with anything approaching that pretty hairy! Tom says some years in Welly you’ll get 100 days above that.

        1. I had a quick look. MDG (Mono detachable gondolas) operate up to 70 km/hr and 3S (3 wired) up to 80 km/hr.

          Wellington has an average of 22 days per year with mean wind speeds over 63 km/h (40 knots). Or in other words it has 343 days when it doesn’t.

          And there are cable propelled technologies that are bottom supported and hence unaffected by wind.. The Wellington Cable Car for instance. To see the state of the art in cable cars see the Hungerburgbahn at or to see some very simple historic cable lifts in Valparaiso,

          There are going to be a few places around Wellington suited to some forms of CPT.

          1. Yup! And i’m not at all saying gondolas aren’t a great way to travel. They would just have to be built in relatively protected areas(over to Karori from the Railway station might be a practical one for example) with this in mind. The main point was the occasional year with 50 or more days of gale force winds would be irritating.

    2. Quick question: what I’m seeing in Florence and Nice – is that tram-train? They haven’t wow’d me much. Kinda like big bendy buses on tracks, though I did get the feeling they’d be a different beast away from people and traffic.

        1. Ok – was on the mobile and didn’t have enough time to check it out myself. The vehicles themselves look similar, I’m guessing the point of difference is that they can run on both tram and dedicated rail lines. Makes sense I guess.

          1. Konrad: the point of tram-trains is that they run on ordinary railway lines, rather than dedicated ones, as well as tram lines. The best examples are Karlsruhe and Kassel, where what look like ordinary trams share tracks with high-speed ICEs, freight trains – even steam trains.

            Florence and Nice are both ordinary trams, but tram-trains don’t look that much different.

          2. tram-trains may share the same tracks, but do they operate high frequency in combination with other modes?
            In most cases they are used to extend an urban tram-network onto the surrounding lightly used heavy rail lines.
            However they do not mix with metro services running at 5 minute plus frequencies.

          3. Luke C: since tram-trains on railway lines operate just like any other trains, there’s no reason why they can’t operate at high frequencies.

            And tram-trains operate on the main railway line up the Rhine through Germany towards Switzerland, one of the busiest main lines in Europe.

            On street, t-ts operate just like trams; on railways, they operate just like trains. Simple!

  2. I would question the practicality of relying on cycling as a large scale option in windy, hilly Wellington.

    All those government and council vehicles in a relatively small area though should provide an excellent jumping off point for electric vehicle infrastructure – hills are the enemy of range in electric vehicles but in little Wellington that shouldn’t be a problem.

    Ultimately, Wellington and it’s ‘burbs seem to me to be a near perfect size and shape for the application of a tram/light rail network.

    1. Around the world rain is the most consistent barrier to everyday cycling uptake. Wellington doesn’t have any more or less than the rest of the country, but it is frequently accompanied by the other factors you mention. The important thing is to facilitate it where it’s likely to see uptake within the Wellington region – which is particularly in the southern coastal suburbs, near Porirua centre, and Hutt Valley. That’s still more than half the population of the region.

      I wonder if greater wind and rain protection could be built into cycle routes in Wellington – perhaps even approaching this standard once the basics have been covered:

      1. Actually there’s a whole lot of evidence on what the biggest barrier to everyday cycling is because its a fascinating worldwide topic – including evidence from New Zealand. Near-universal consensus indicates that to a cyclist, by far the most important thing to them is safety. That’s an important thing to remember, particularly in a place like wellington that has too much car parking(door danger) and narrow streets (car danger). Without infrastructure, Welly will never see meaningful cycling numbers.

        1. Yeah exactly Tom – I dont know where you are getting that data from George.

          If rain was such a deterrent why would the Netherlands and Denamrk be the best cycle countries in the world? And in North America the best large cycle cities are Minneapolis, Montreal, Portland, Vancouver, Toronto and Seattle. Hardly known for their dry climate.

          As Tom says it is a feeling of safety that encourages people to cycle – preferably dedicated, separate cycle infrastructure. That is why the Netherlands has a 40% cycle rate – not its balmy, dry climate!

        2. One thing though Tom – narrow streets are not a deterrent to cycling. If anything the Dutch have shown that narrowing streets adds to the sense of safety as wide streets just invite high speeds. The Dutch purposely narrow streets to increase the feeling of safety for cyclists and to confuse motorists – who then slow down. Removing centre lines is another effective strategy.

          Counter intuitive I know, but a lot of cycle safety is. This is a great video showing what makes streets safe for cyclists:

          1. Note the segregated cycleways in the areas without blockades. I don’t see Welly implementing car-annoyance policies like blockades and the like, but if they did it’d be fine to go without the lanes. 🙂

          2. Yeah absolutely. Where you dont calm the traffic and force cars to share priority with cycles, mainly on arterial roads, you definitely need separated cycle paths.

            Cycle Action Auckland is hoping to get more of this kind of traffic calming on non-arterial roads in Auckland and ultimately 30km/h speed limits. No reason why Wellington shouldnt aim for the same.

  3. There’s one thing they could do right now to help matters – hike the offpeak rail frequencies. Half an hour is simply too long for most people to wait for a train, and a fifteen-minute frequency for rail would, /by itself/, do a lot to improve offpeak rail use. Gen-Zero are right in wanting bus priorities as a short-term placeholder for light rail, because (from what I saw in Amsterdam) going from one congestion-free network to another (rail to light rail in their case), did not impose much of a transfer penalty. Wellington’s CFN going to its congested bus service is another matter.

    1. Yes, Yes, Yes! And the problem of poor off-peak trainfrequencies is even worse in the late evenings (hourly). For several years between the mid 1990/’s and 2004, weekday evening off peak trains ran half-hourly right up to midnight (with even later services on Friday and Saturday nights). However in 2004 these were slashed to hourly, with the last departure from town around 11pm. Overnight the late evening patronage plummeted as this effectively killed the usability of the train service for an evening out. The reason given at the time for these cuts was staff shortages, and it is true that in the weeks leading up to this, the evening service did become unreliable with frequent cancellations. The staffing problem was a temporary thing, but the cuts to the trains persist to this day. Unfortunately there seems to be no interest or vision within Greater Wellington regional Council for doing anything to innovate new services.

  4. Good work! Great to see another group doing the thinking that our agencies are failing to do; coherent integrated planning for our cities. These are exactly the kinds of changes Wellington needs to deploy now.

    Good map, like the logo too [contemporary with a nice retro cassette deck vibe].

    Three urgent projects observed from my fairly frequent trips there:

    1. Like Auckland that city edge Terminus needs to be extended and linked through with better Transit RoWs and services; Modern Tram would be the ideal for at least one flagship route, highly visible and transformative way to do it. Unsure about train/tram as opposed to just transfer as there is still likely to be a lot of change over at the station and the capex is likely to be considerably lower and the system less compromised by trying to do two separate things…? Are you suggesting that just the J-Line is tram/train or the whole existing network?

    2. And the CBD has so much road space for a high quality and low cost proper cycle network. City centre streets with often dedicated lanes for every turn and angle parking can surely be put on a very gentle diet to yield a much better environment for riding; and the CBD is completely flat! Flatter than Auckland.

    3. Easiest of all: Just give the poor pedestrians a turn! I have never stood for so long on the side of the road waiting for the right to cross as on Wellington City Streets; in fact I almost always give up and cross anyway as the wait becomes interminable. Especially as from an Aucklanders point of view there really isn’t much traffic, although what there is is often encouraged to go far too fast for the city environment. Improve those ped cycles!

    I love the compact centre and varied geography of Welly and it has intensified and improved a lot over recent years and now it is time to double down and fight to stay ahead of the pack…. better look out or Auckland might usurp your claim to being NZ most urbane city….!

    In general NZ cities seem to be dividing into two groups, interesting:

    growing more Urban: Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin
    growing more Suburban: Christchurch, Hamilton, Tauranga

    1. Patrick, I like the idea of running trams along Jackson St, Petone, then on the train tacks to the station then on tram tracks to the hospital and to Kilbirnie. I’d also look at trams on the J’ville line through running. The Kapiti, Hutt, Wairarapa and Palmy trains I’d terminate at the station. (They’re generally longer trains, so for capacity reasons they need the Matangis). I’d also have frequent extra trams from Welly station to the hospital to match demand, for when the Kapiti and Hutt trains disgorge.

        1. Another advantage of a Jackson St tram is that then Hutt trains needn’t necessarily stop at Ngauranga making it express from Petone into town. Plus build a new station between Petone and Ngauranga and put an aerial gondola up the hill to Newlands, and then another suburb is on a rail line. (My scholarly assessment is that Newlands buses suck getting caught in the gorge traffic jams). Also with the trams stopping at Ngauranga I think some waterfront development could happen there, kind of a mini CBD.

          1. I like the idea of an aerial gondola!

            I wonder what capacity per hour would be. Given Wellington’s hilly nature, I think there is potential for some good synergies between maybe several aerial gondolas and a valley-floor rapid transit spine network. A rejuvenated Ngauranga interchange with an aerial gondola up into Newlands sounds like a great case study for further investigation.

          2. The whole Newlands area could be served by extending the Johnsonville line up there. Old wgtn trams climbed the Brooklyn hill, so they must be able to climb to Newlands heights.

            Also could the Melling line be extended across the river into the cengtre of Lower Hutt city?

          3. I can’t really see the J’ville line being extended because of the topography etc, etc. nor extended northwards (it originally ran where the J’ville on ramp is).

            The Melling Line used to run further north too.It used to be the main line to Upper Hutt. Again not much reason to extend it north, except maybe as an express line to Manor Park and Upper Hutt (but why not just run express through the stations on the Hutt line if that was your choice) or as a freight line so not as many freight trains went through the Lower Hutt suburbs, but there isn’t that much freight on the line.

            In either case I think benefits would be as much as cost.

        2. I liked the idea of through running the Johnsonville line. In fact I liked it so much I tried crunching the numbers and found myself having to admit it really wasn’t so feasible after all…

          Currently the line has a maximum possible frequency of a train every 13 minutes dictated by being single track with passing loops which don’t permit a higher frequency to run. Four car Matangi trains operate on the line in the peak with a capacity to carry 554 passengers per train. These trains are 86m long. 
In a tram train scenario these trains will operate on street and be limited in length to significantly less than a four car Matangi. If we take Portland for example their newest and longest Seimens S70′s which operate on street are configured into trains of a maximum length of 57.97m with a capacity for 344 passengers.

          So to carry the same number of passengers twice as many trains will be required. Instead of a Matangi every 13 minutes a tram train would be required every say 7 minutes which is well above what can be operated on a single track line even with extra passing loops added. This means double tracking would be required at significant expense. 
Given the nature of the terrain double tracking would be a pretty prohibitive exercise.

          Tram trains also run into some similar peak capacity issues on the Hutt and Waikanae lines when converting to lower capacity vehicles that can operate in an on street environment compared with the capacity of the current Matangi trains.

          The Karlsruhe tram train model is brilliant but not really up to the peak demands of a CBD with 70,000 odd workers. Hamiton, Dunedin and Tauranga however would be a perfect fit.

    2. One small point in Wellington’s case. Within the CBD, the bulk of the jobs are within a ten-minute walk of the railway station, including to its north, and the great bulk within a fifteen-minute walk. So, while the station is at the edge of the CBD in perhaps the way that the old Auckland railway station was, most of the jobs are nearby. My observation is that 15 minutes’ walk is a noticeable time penalty; ten minutes (for rail, anyway), not really, but I realise others may think differently.

      Also, the amount of commuting /across/ the CBD (eg Johnsonville to the Hospital) is not that great. This is because of the city’s distribution of employment: the great bulk of the jobs in Wellington City proper are in the CBD anyway, and the use made of public transport to get to work in the CBD from the bus catchment, was (when I looked) about as high as what it is from the rail catchment.

      Finally, here’s an idea that was recently getting attention:

      1. In terms of fixing up the access between Courtenay Place and the railway station. One very simple thing which could be done, would be to run free shuttle buses from about Taranaki St or Tory St up to the station – no stops. These would time-wise be about as fast as any of the light rail options, and if frequent enough would get over some of the transfer/mode penalties.

        1. Given the quantity of buses along the Golden Mile, this effectively already exists. There’s generally a bus every minute or two. The problem is that they crawl along so slowly that the benefit over walking is pretty marginal, which is a problem that’s going to be common to any type of bus or light rail system running on-street, even with separate lanes.

          1. That is exactly Ross’s point. Bus services down the Golden Mile are often pathetically slow. In part this is because of the confused objectives of the Golden Mile. Is meant to provide pedestrian ambience, or a high-density PT artery? At present it does neither very well. A limited-stop bus service providing easy connectivity to and from every train should run directly down the quays to Courtenay place or beyond. It should either be free-of-charge to all, or at least to those holding train tickets. It would act as a precursor to extension of rail services and could be implemented immediately.

        2. Dave B – yes, buses run along Customhouse Quay is exactly what I was thinking of. Years ago, I did an exercise one night of getting a cab at rush hour from Courtenay Place to the railway station; it went along the quays and took less than ten minutes.

      2. @ Ross Clark: “Also, the amount of commuting /across/ the CBD (eg Johnsonville to the Hospital) is not that great.”
        Ross, you are falling for the same misinformation which invalidated the Spine Study. Put simply, if there is no decent public transport option for travel from the Northern suburbs to the Southern CBD and beyond, then of course the number of people making this journey today will be small. Just as prior to the building of Auckland’s Harbour Bridge, few people made the journey over to the North Shore. But build the facility where there is latent demand and watch the punters come! In Wellington’s case, the latent demand is such that the Govt deems it worth spending a billion dollars on flyovers and duplicate tunnelling in the same corridor, to augment the road “spine” that by-and-large functions already. But the “broken (public transport) spine” in Wellington represents a huge impediment to public transport use, and if it were properly fixed would revolutionise regional transport patterns. Unfortunately it is going to take more than some fancy new buses or a toy tram from the Station to Kilbirnie to achieve this.

        1. Specifically there are around 8000 through-cbd trips from the north per peak via the spine study. 20k trips a day bidirectionally(and that excludes the trips from south to north) is no joke!

          1. Thatnx for clarifying that the number of through-cbd journey-to-work trips is around 8,000. The problem is where those people work; I suspect that the proportion of that market within *convenient* range of the proposed light rail line(s) wouldn’t be all that high. If the market is heavily dispersed, no amount of investment will make a difference.

        2. @Dave B: You are absolutely correct. The Wellington Growth Spine runs from Johnsonville to the CBD to Kilbirnie. The Growth Spine clearly described as such in the 2008 Airport to Ngauranga Corridor Plan (of which the Spine Study is supposedly part). Residential growth to the north of the railway station will be higher than growth to the south but none of options considered in the Spine Study will actually improve PTs service along the northern part of the Growth Spine . . . in fact services from North Wellington City will get worse !

          Ignoring the provision of rapid transit to the north of the Railway Station in the Spine Study options considered is the second biggest gap in the study. This gap is not the fault of the Spine Study consultants, Aecom, but due to the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) transport planners. The GWRC wrote into the original Spine Study Terms of Reference (March 2011) that any change to the Johnsonville Line was to be excluded from the scope of Spine Study (see last sentence noting the new Jville trains are expected to last until 2040):

          “However it is anticipated that the study will include consideration of how a high quality public transport spine could best support the Wellington City Growth Spine. This would include consideration of links to Kilbirnie and Wellington Airport, and links to Johnsonville (taking into account the findings of previous studies of this corridor and the recent upgrade of the line to accommodate the new Matangi trains). Any options that impact on existing PT infrastructure will only be considered as longer-term options beyond the life of any recently upgraded infrastructure.”

          So the consultants were not permitted to consider PT options that did not include keeping the Jville rail line . . . and you can see this when you read the study’s commentary on services to the north.

          Of course GWRC would claim that the 2006 North Wellington Public Transport Study (NWPTS) has already confirmed preservation of the Johnsonville Line as the best PT option for North Wellington PT services to the CBD. But back in 2006 they also restricted the options in the NWPTS study to those that benefit areas north of the Railway station. As stated in the study report:

          “The study is confined to the area bounded by Churton Park and Grenada to the north, Woodridge and Newlands to the east, Johnsonville to the west. It will also follow the Johnsonville rail line south towards the Wellington Central Business District (CBD) as far as Kaiwharawhara, including Ngaio Khandallah and Crofton Downs.”

          So the GWRC made sure Wellington will never get a study of PT options for rapid transit along the length of the Growth Spine. That the major break in PT services at the Railway Station will continue is not a matter addressed by any study, it has been planned it that way by GWRC who are supposed to be responsible for improving Wellingtons PT service !

          1. @ Tony Randle
            “That the major break in PT services at the Railway Station will continue is not a matter addressed by any study..”
            This is not quite true, in that the Spine Study did look at Heavy Rail Extension, which of course OUGHT TO provide the much-needed north-south continuity. However the study treated HRE just as if it were BRT or LRT – that is, as a self-contained system, separate from the existing rail. In other words, not a true “extension”. Of course this piece of idiocy immediately negated the major benefit of extending the reach of the present system through enabling existing trains to travel further.

            How AECOM were duped into putting their professional name on this worthless study mystifies me.

          2. So Dave- I’m just asking philosophically. Would you have an issue with an LRT system built to hitch up to the existing heavy rails that had some of the services as through services to the airport? Buy a few dual-voltage trains(rather than the whole fleet) and somewhat like an express system, you’d have the flexibility to run as many trains south of the railway station as you want. Initially start with 2-3 from jville at set times(say :00, :30) and maybe have two from waikanae(:15,:45) and two from upper hutt(:10,:40) per hour?

            The travel time difference between the two would be 15 min to the airport(once that extension is built) for light rail versus 10 min for heavy.

            So would you in theory have a problem with 1 hour from upper hutt to the airport instead of 55 minutes? This would cut the service time for the railway to the airport from the 33 minutes provided by the airport flyer to around 15.

            Just asking.

          3. Tom, probably not really a matter of philosophy so much as a matter of geometry and capacity. Functionally extending the reach of rail south with LRV’s has a lot of appeal. However there is a basic matter of the reduced vehicle length that can run on street to consider. In the peak each Matangi train needs to be replaced with as many as two or three tram trains. This is an issue for the J’Ville line where headway is limited to a max of one train every 13 minutes. On the two main lines the extra tram trains required run into train path issues. Only so many local stopping and express trains that can be pathed on a single line. All solvable by double tracking J’ville and quad tracking the two main lines. But the costs of all this probably start to make a metro rail extension look cost effective by comparison.

          4. Tim I kindly suggest reading some Jarret Walker of, or his book Human Transit.
            Excellent point of view, and very well thought out.
            Great points about frequency and transfers. Much better to have high frequency and a few more transfers than low frequency and no transfers.
            Matangi’s should be running at every 15 mins off peak from Wellington to Hutt and Porirua/Kapiti. Add if freights and their really is no room for an occasional tram-train, and no point.
            Agree with light-rail for southern suburbs to railway station, but for comparatively small numbers (yes 8000 is small in the scheme of things) much better to have frequent services that with free and easy interchanges.

    3. Cheers Patrick!

      Certainly not suggesting the whole network convert to tram-train. J-ville would be the lead contender. A Porirua service and a Lower Hutt circuit have also been suggested before. The short-term answer is definitely transfers, so the LRT system should be built to make that as efficient and convenient as possible while allowing for tram-train options in the future (operating into the railway station at current platform level ideal). With the big purchase of new Matangis tram-train would only become an option if/when services are expanded on other lines to create demand for new units.

  5. I like the proposal in general.

    I think by having a map fot each stage rather than one colour-coded map it would be easier to make some important aspects clear – e.g. at first glance it looks as though you’d have to transfer at Kilbirnie to get to Mirimar or at Newtown to get to Island Bay, which wouldn’t be the case with the completed network.

    Also the graphic could show the benefits of the tram-trains, showing the Johnsonville line and perhaps the melling line extending through the CBD. It’s best if people can understand these benefits by looking at the graphics without needing to read the acxompanying text.

    But all in all great job!

  6. Easy. Fund through ticket sales. Also reign in the RoNS. Cancel Transmission Gully. Put toll gantries on the SH1 and SH2.
    It’s easy to fund a balanced transport mix if you don’t fund an unbalanced transport mix.

  7. One thing that I think would be a nice halfway (or at least the start of a mode change) for both sides of the argument, would be a park & BIKE on the seaward side at the SH1 / SH2 interchange (where there is currently a campervan septic tank dump).

    Peoples’ biggest complaints about not biking IN to Wellington is (a) Ngauranga Gorge; and (b) the pathethic cycle path along SH2 (and braving the traffic on SH2 because of it). This will be even more important once *shudder* Transmission Gully is in full effect, as the interchange will become THE bottleneck in the system.

    If people could drive halfway, park at the bottom of the Gorge and then bike into town, this would take a MASSIVE strain off both the inner CBD’s roads and the old Hutt Motorway, thus being able to afford more space to add new and/or improve existing cycle lanes. This will have a compounding effect, as the more attractive biking to the CBD becomes, the more people will want to do it.

    It would be (relatively) cheap; it will remove cars coming from the north from the CBD, hence making the CBD better for bikes and pedestrians; it will encourage more people into cycling (incl. health benefits). Where are the negatives?

    Also, has anyone who is suggesting gondolas from Newlands, actually visited it is where they are proposing them? There is little point to it as there is no handy park & ride terminus there. You will have to traverse over a lot of terrain to actually get out down to the interchange. And from there, where? Are they going to walk along the Old Hutt Motorway? There would just not be enough population density or achievable capacity to make the numbers stack up.

    1. After walking or biking to the top station(s) at Newlands, and then riding down in an aerial gondola (seats 6, takes wheelchairs and bikes), they’d bike along the Great Harbour Way or get a tram at Ngauranga Station to take them to the city, Newtown or Jackson St, Petone. It would also act as a way to get cyclists up the hill and a potential link from the Hutt to J’Ville. Density/shmensity. It is about supporting and encouraging active transport and public transport modal share. The question of the minimum number of riders a day to economically support a line is one that I don’t know the answer to, but I’d hazard a guess by the numbers standing next to a bus stop on Newlands Road on a morning those numbers could easily be reached.

        1. Yes they are a part of the London transport mix but are a pure gimmick set up for the Olympics. They are neither cheap, fast or of convenient use to the majority of London’s population. They can be seen as the London equivalent of the tank farm tram.

          1. Martin, You should see what they are doing with them in Caracas or Medellin or in Algeria. They are cheap (cheaper than light rail). They are fast (faster than congestion at street level) and convenient (walk up service). They are also good at crossing barriers such as rivers, height differences, roads, ravines, etc They’re only a gimmick when set up as tourist attractions, but they can and do have many transport uses.

  8. I suggest the maps show that there is also a ferry from Eastbourne to Wellington City. Some of these carless passengers would easily feed on to the Wellington line spine to places like the hospital at Newtown – better than driving all the way around the harbour.

  9. Generation Zero do fantastic work.

    Nonetheless, I’d question the merits of using this opinion article ( as evidence to support investment in LRT, rather than BRT. Two of the more questionable statements in that article:

    “There is reliable international data that shows costs for light rail tend to overrun by an average of 2 per cent because it is a known quantity, while costs for bus rapid transit overrun by an average of 35 per cent for varied reasons.” I’ve not seen that data. Bent Flyvbjerg’s research suggests “For rail, average cost escalation is 45% (SD=38), for fixed links (tunnels and bridges) it is 34% (62) and for roads 20%(30)”, You can read the article here: (he investigates the causes of cost overruns here:

    “International evidence also indicates that Bus Rapid Transit may reduce land values.” I’ve also not seen that evidence. In contrast, Eric Jaffe in the Atlantic ( suggests the positive effects of BRT have been conclusively demonstrated, but the same is not true for streetcars (more or less LRT in American parlance).

    Personally I suspect both LRT and BRT have positive effects on land values. There’s no real need to beat up on BRT in order to argue for LRT. Most evidence I’ve seen suggests that BRT is effective in terms of its transport, land use, and economic effects. That does not mean there’s no space for LRT – we just need to think quite carefully about where LRT is best suited.

    I would suggest the key benefits of LRT:
    1. More suited to heavy pedestrian environments; and
    2. More readily integrated into narrow corridors/tunnels; and
    3. Can deliver higher capacity than BRT, especially in narrow corridors.

    IMO the network shown above probably over-estimates the potential role of LRT in Wellington, but that’s just my personal intuition. Nothing wrong with aiming high …

    1. I see BRT as a Trojan horse to get PT in place.

      Because it is on wheels and uses roads it tricks the road lobby people into thinking it is OK – much like a cuckoo with its egg. Remember pro-road people tend to be quite easily dazzled and distracted by bright shiny engines – electric conveyance however fails to draw their attention from inhaling petrol fumes.

      Once the capacity of BRT is reached and the average punter is hooked, the LRT bursts forth like the Phoenix (as it would be a rebirth of trams in NZ) and before the pro-road people know what is going on there are tracks and electric power lines everywhere and no cars. Victory!

      Some mixed metaphors there and I may have been watching too many Attenborough documentaries, but you get the idea.

        1. Yeah of course – I meant to say “I see BRT as a Trojan horse to get LRT/rail in place”. Tongue was firmly in cheek there.

          But the basic point is that BRT is a great way to get things started. The Northern Busway has shown the lie of “Aucklanders wont use PT” or “Aucklanders love their cars”. No, Aucklanders, and Wellingtonians and Cantabrians, will use whatever means of transport is convenient and effective.

          Right now that is overwhelmingly cars and we are reaping the whirlwind of that in congestion and a crappy urban structure.

          1. completely agree – BRT is a great way to get our PT revolution started. In many places it may be the final solution. LRT is also great; I’m a fan. It may well be the best solution in heavily pedestrianised corridors.

            I’m just fairly sceptical whenever people suggest that it’s cheap, mainly because 1) LRT vehicles are expensive; 2) LRT infrastructure is expensive; and 3) LRT operations are expensive per vehicle-km (less so per seat-km).

            Anyway, I don’t want to “de-rail” this thread … Generation Zero have done some fantastic work.

    2. Thanks Stu.

      I’ll leave it to Tom to respond to those specific critiques (but I know he’s very busy right now writing up his research on the PT Spine Study!).

      It’s certainly a complex issue. When I started looking into the whole thing I was agnostic and if anything pro-BRT based on what I had seen. We’re not attached to trains, just interested in the best long-term solution. Probably the clincher for me was that BRT as proposed (it’s really BRT-lite because there just isn’t space in Wellington for the real deal without it being very destructive) is actually over capacity from day one. As you say with the key benefits, LRT offers much greater capacity so it seems the logical choice if we’re thinking long-term and providing for significant PT ridership growth. True, we could do it in stages starting with BRT. But if we’re over capacity from day one, and LRT isn’t going to get any cheaper, why wait?

      The other factor that turned me around was the potential for integration with the northern rail services. Having continuous through-services for people living in Johnsonville (part of the growth spine) etc does seem quite important for maximising the attraction of PT. I think the Spine Study dismissed this issue on very dubious grounds.

      Yeah, whether some of those proposed LRT extensions would be better left as bus is certainly an open question and would obviously need more detailed assessment closer to the time.

      Great to get the comments, keep em coming.

    3. Cheers Stu!

      I just wanted to say that cost overrun evaluation is a great find! I can’t believe I hadn’t come across that. It’s more comprehensive than the one I’d found on USA new start projects(which the numbers I’d noted before are from), so I stand corrected. That said, the same overrun number applied to the needlessly inflated costs of the spine study would still result in a number that is far too high to be considered reasonable. They’re starting from such a high base that the absolute increase is silly, even if the percentage is on. That said, I want to emphasize that I stand corrected on that note.

      As for the BRT property values – that Atlantic article seems a bitl skewed, considering it includes the Portland factoid at the end but dismisses it. But yeah, there are examples of BRT working. However Debrezion et al.’s study show a different story when 50+ rail and BRT installs are compared side-by-side: It shows both a weaker positive effect for BRT and even potential for reduction(thus the “may”). Note that this is the only study I know of that compares multiple installations of both side-by-side – much the same as the one above does a better job of – rather than cherrypicking good outcomes. But more importantly, bringing it home to the Wellington context, many of these studies imply that full-featured BRTs – which require a ton of space – are the ones with these benefits. The one proposed for Wellington isn’t full-featured at all, but a half-measure.

      In either case – you’re right! BRT is definitely PT and I’m pretty mode-agnostic. That said, LRT is higher capacity, more effective, offers more economic benefits, and really not that much more expensive(keeping in mind that the PTSS was way overspecified). And if you make the spine LRT, you might as well extend it to the airport and other suburbs and limit transfers as much as possible.

      Appreciate the challenges though, good to have!

      1. That said, if I were to do this massive cost evaluation study again, I’d throw out the top 10% and bottom 10% of samples as outliers – particularly those 200%+ examples that are included. Those will each increase the average by 1%+ so will throw off your average from a practicable value.

        1. Tom – I can happily show you a tram scheme which started off with the intention that it would deliver 11 miles of route for $NZ1.1 bn. It’s now turned into eight miles of route costing $NZ1.55 bn, or roughly $NZ200m per mile. “Outliers” concentrate the mind wonderfully!

          1. Well yeah, and one can also point to the “Big Dig” in boston that overran by 300%. But those are usually politically-driven overruns or criminal mismanagement. The flipside is the perth railway that was built for $17m AUD/km and is 72km long. Neither the ultra-low or ultra-high end cost packages and cost overruns are particularly useful as a generalized estimation tool.

  10. And like Queen St in Auckland, I see no reason why private cars, or any vehicles for that matter (emergency and delivery aside) should have access to Lambton Quay. Pedestrianisation. This would be a great, sweeping boulevard with some of those Pohutakawas down the middle.

  11. I’m not overly familiar with the landscape there but what would the best route/method for getting a line between Thorndon and Karori?

  12. Thanks to Generation Zero for getting the debate onto a higher level, and expanding from the smaller circle of enthusiasts (myself included!). Light rail is absolutely essential for reliability of Wellington city’s public transport system during peak hours when it really matters. Timetables are totally inadequate when every hill top suburb feeds a service through the CBD. The Wellington Bus Review has tried to create a more efficient network, but push back from current users, prevented the number of buses only allowed the number of buses to be reduced from 140 to 100 or so per hour along the golden mile lane. This is not good enough, but something that high capacity light rail would easily fix, and also get public support when the logic was clearly explained to them. Generation Zero is helping create a new dynamic.

    Other important light rail benefits come from providing future capacity along the Adelaide Road growth spine, connections through to the eastern (the airport) suburbs, and through Wellington Railway station to the north, with increased land value bringing access to another source of finance.

    Generation Zero is going for the Constable Street route to Kilbirnie. A new PT and cycle/walk tunnel Zoo to Coutts Street provides a much more direct route
    and easier access to the existing tunnel under the airport, but at the cost of building a new tunnel.

    1. I like that tunnel idea Paul. Run the LRT over Constable Street/Crawford Road with a long term plan of financing the tunnel. Good idea.

    2. Wellington airport’s master plan enlarges the existing tunnel under the runway from Coutts St to provide internal vehicle access between the two sides of the runway, so it wouldn’t be that much of an ask to enlarge it a bit more for electric PT too, then extend the network from the airport to Miramar/Seatoun/Strathmore.

  13. It should not be forgotten that the Public Transport Spine Study aslo looked at a HEAVY RAIL EXTENSION (HRE), and ruled this out on grounds just as invalid as those for light rail. And yet a compelling case for extension of “what we already have” has been around since the 1960’s, yet somehow ignored by just about everybody since the mid-1970’s. The objection most often cited is the “eye-watering cost”, but this is invariably a knee-jerk reaction without any basis on actual costings of actual options, not all of which necessarily involve top-end prices. Being able to extend the reach of the excellent new Matangi units to more than just the legacy lines would carry huge potential benefits. Being able to board a train in Upper Hutt or Waikanae and continue on that same train beyond where everything currently stops, would bring major and immediate benefits to all rail-served parts of the region. I would venture that the $2.4 billion tentatively earmarked for the Levin-Airport motorway, if applied to an HRE, could see it reach the airport with change left over. Instead of summarily ruling it out as too expensive, it should be recognised as the highly desirable option that it is, and then investigated innovatively for ways by which it might be achieved. Unfortunately the PT Spine Study treated it very unintelligently, in a way that set it up to be ruled out. But Wellington would be remiss in failing to give proper consideration to a spinal transport option that in the 1960’s was seen as a no-brainer. Just like Auckland’s CRL.

  14. I felt the biggest problem for rail was the station being about 1km north of where it needs to be – but I wonder if a series of moving footways/travelators might be the best solution – under cover and with breaks in them every 100m or so. The reality is that for a lot of pax, it is not that they aren’t fit enough or don’t need the exercise, just that it is too long a walk, and this would reduce the time taken.

    I have no idea what they cost per metre but when you see the problems in places like airports that they solve, could be worth considering. Welly’s topography is similar to Hong Kong’s and the Mid Levels escalator link is a good example of improving walking, rather than using vehicle-based transport.

  15. And what do London and Barcelona have? Population density…
    Time-wise, there is no way that cycle-gondola-cycle/tram will beat car.
    I suggest you take some time and look at topography between Newlands and Ngauranga (Google Earth). There are two stonking great hills between them; the only place I could see for a terminus is the Salford St playground, but who’s going to want to bike UP there.

    Now a mid-tunnel dropshaft Kapiti line station – there’s some vision! Gow/Fitzpatrick/Quigley intersection anyone? =)
    Patrick, sadly yes. But when it comes to PT, it’s an uphill battle (unless Julie Anne Genter somehow becomes Transport Minister).

  16. Enjoyed this, good to get the ball rolling.

    LRT is an option for Wellington that should be explored, as I expect going for an underground heavy rail extension from Wellington station southwards would be very expensive.

      1. Yes, I expect that a CRL – style treatment wouldn’t stack up for a smaller city like Wellington. Also I doubt that Wellington will face capacity problems to the same extent that Auckland will, given that there are more than two tracks and ample platforms.

  17. Great to see a post on Wellington. They really need the CBT-treatment too! Is there an appetite for a Wellington Transport Blog along similar lines, a pressure group – or even a sub-area of the existing blog?

    Light rail as per the map has to be the way forward.

    I think the Melling line (with extension into LH city) is ripe for a takeover, with parallel running to the rail line – interchange at Petone and both Kaiwharawhara/Ngauranga as light rail only. Would quicken up trains a bit.

    I would if light rail to Wainuiomata could be a long term aim, or to the ‘East Bay’. But yes, ferries should be made clearer, with bold colour coded lines as per the rest.

  18. Wellington’s transport system has a reasonably unique problem It has an airport that can be affected by fog during easterlies and as the airport has approaches at both end of the single runway over water, category III landing aids cannot be installed, therefore the airport can be closed for up to two days at a stretch. it is New Zealand’s busiest airport. Other weather conditions such as strong cross-winds can also close Wellington airport.
    Palmerston North Airport is usually open when Wellington Airport is closed. The North Island Main Trunk Rail line is only a few hundred metres from the Palmerston North airport terminal and a spur line to the PN airport terminal would be a relatively simple connection.

    A rail link to Wellington airport from the Wellington railway station is feasible.

    This would involve:

    Cut and cover tunnel up Waterloo and Jervois Quay and Wakefield Street, with an underground Courtney Place station. Hard-rock drilled tunnel under Mount Victoria with a Haitaitai station underground and line emerging between Overtoun Terrace and Evans Bay Parade to run down Cobham Drive as an elevated line. This line would drop to go under the airport at Jean Batten Place in a hard-rock tunnel emerging on Calabar Road with a possible terminal station on the soon to be closed Miramar School grounds. Alternative station locations could be under the Wellington Airport buildings.

    Such a rail connection would make passenger delays during bad weather at Wellington Airport into a minor headache as passengers could be put onto a direct Palmerston North train and could be boarding their plane in Palmerston North within 90 minutes, rather than camping in the Wellington Airport terminal for two days.. This assumes the line from the Wellington airport to the PN airport would be fully electrified as part of the package and that a train timetable with a regular service is set up on the line.

    Money to help pay for this link could come from not building the Basin flyover, and the Transmission Gulley Road, The airport connection would take traffic off both those roads. The cut and cover down the quays could be used to build a Tsunami protection bund for the Thorndon area inland from the line. Maybe Air New Zealand could operate the route as a part of their air network.

    1. I am a rail supporter for economic reasons and I just dont see how Wellington could live without Jervois Quay for several years during construction. The traffic influences would be (arguably) catastrophic. Plus from a resilience perspective how would you deal with sea level rise towards the end of the century?

      1. Jervois Quay has long been proposed for traffic-reduction and “boulevard-ising”. This was meant to be part of the package with building the Inner City Bypass. Also the principle of “reversed induced traffic” needs to be considered, whereby a reduction in road-capacity (shock, horror) results in people adjusting their behaviour away from the they previously did and finding other ways to manage.

        Regarding resilience against sea-level rise, the section along Jervois Quay need not be full-depth cut-and-cover. It could be at-grade (or partially-sunk), covered-over with a concrete box then landscaped over. Combined with traffic reduction or complete traffic-removal along this road, that long-desired city-to-sea connectivity could be simply attained.

        Wellington MUST consider such alternatives before pushing madly for an entirely separate light rail system, or else counting on “Tram Train”-style interoperability being easily achieveable at some unspecified stage in the future, which is by no means certain.

  19. The concept of having trams from the train station is a great idea. This would replicate Amsterdam where the Centraal station is to the north and the trams leave from the station throughout the city. Obviously the fantastic bike lanes and having right away makes it very easy to get around the great city.

    1. For me, Amsterdam proved that a ‘break’ (going from one CFN to another) can work. The hierarchy at Centraal is clear enough: the national railway system (which is what serves Schiphol), the light metro subway system, the trams and then the buses. Good interchanges remove some of the transfer penalty; Wellington’s Lambton rail/bus interchange doesn’t work all that well.

  20. This has been obviously been designed around Wellington City. Lower Hutt Central (Queensgate) is actually a big generator of PT traffic – you would need to extend the Wainuiomata bus line to Queensgate, and have another one from Queensgate via Hutt Hospital and Taita to Stokes Valley entrance.

  21. Whilst the concept of having light rail in Wellington a good idea but in reality, it is an expensive exercise.

    What makes Wellington different to any other city in new Zealand its location it an arrive point only city not a flow through city like Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch, Dunedin, etc plus Wellington has natural boundaries like hills and reclaim land that dictates how the city functions.

    Wellington is a compact city, great for walking, where you can walk from the railway station to Courtney Place in 25-35 minutes. I agree with some posts, that most people who commute by rail from Hutt Vally and the Kapiti Coast work within 10 minutes from the railway station.

    Wellington already has a good PT system that needs needs to some fine tuning and making sure that the transport operators keep their vehicles up to standard instead of being ordered of the road.

    Wellington railway station is a central point of PT system going back to the horse trams and that is not going to change.

    Government has paid for bulk of the Wellington suburban upgrade, with new rail infrastructure and EMU’s. Sure there a teething problem but that has been a major investment (well overdue) of the suburban rail network since the late 1950’s.

    For Wellington to move forward, is get more people using PT by having integrated ‘tap n go’ payment system and fares to suit incomes.

    In the Wellington City area, there 4 major bus routes from the rail station, being Rail to Miramar, Rail to Seatoun, Rail to Island Bay, Rail to Lyall Bay (Hungerford Road) and Rail to Kingston all operated by trolley buses and are deemed to be high density routes.

    The only high density bus route that does not go to the railway station, is the Lyall Bay (Hungerford Road) to Karori route operated by trolley buses.

    With regards to PT services to the airport, that is Route 91 – the Airport Flyer services that operates regular services from the station to the airport (not funded by the Wellington Regional Council) and with services from Queensgate in the Hutt Valley to the railway station and onto the airport. There use to be Upper Hutt to the airport bus service but was terminated due to low passenger numbers.

    PT services where rail being the major passenger mover in the Hutt valley and along the Kapiti coast have bus/rail interchanges and park n ride locations on each of the lines.

    So what needs to be change? beside some more dollars to upgrade bus/rail interchanges and park n ride locations.

    With regards to light rail how is this going to happen without demolishing half of Wellington railway station, expensive cut and cover along Jervois and Customhouse Quays and drilling a tunnel through Mt Victoria.

    There has been alot of talk about the light rail from railway station to the Hospital and onto Kilbirnie and to the airport. What will be the cost to widen Constable Street and Crawford Road (which was built for the trams)? Where will the route go from Kilbirnie to the Airport? Along Coutts Street (an the old tram route), under the airport with an under ground station at the airport or along Kilbirnie Crescent, Cobham Drive around the northern end of the airport and down Calabar Road to the airport?

    Then there has been talk about light rail from Johnsonville to the station, hospital and the airport.What would be the cost and logistics of getting a light rail out of the Wellington rail yards to Customhouse Quay and onto the hospital and the airport? The only option would have used tram-train but that is history for at least another 30 years, until the Matangis are due for replacement, so lets forget it, as Wellington or the greater will region has the population density unlike Auckland to justify the cost.

    I do agree with Transmission Gully as a second north west road outlet from the city and electrify the rail sector between Waikanae and Palmerston North and maybe electrify the rail sector from Upper Hutt to Masterton.

    Wellington already has good PT system, as the city has grown around it but with a little more realistic thought into fine tuning it, would make it one of the best PT systems in New Zealand.

    1. It’s a simple equation Kris. Currently there is great rail service north of Wellington Railway Station. But a whole lot of people live to the south, east and even west of the CBD. A cheaper light rail(cut and cover would be pricey) would just go down the existing PTSS spine route with the exception of using Constable. By the way, Constable doesn’t need widening – even if it did, you could have one direction of tram go down constable, and the other sent through the neighborhoods. Crawford Rd definitely would need straightening, but that would be cheap compared to the $600m tunnel that’s been specified. Sure, it costs a bit, but then you’ve served every part of the city with rail which can be extended in the future to eliminate transfers.

      And by the way, evidence out of other countries shows that light rail systems can attract ridership of 16-40% more than a bus that is exactly the same, running in the same context. Just a thought. Think of all the time saved both for drivers who get out of traffic, and for the riders who will cut their journey time in half.

  22. The politicians with the big bucks operate out of the beehive.
    The big driver for the basin flyover ( and the motorway to destroy Haitaitai after the second Mt Victoria road tunnel gets built) are the boys in the beehive who want to get to the airport quick to fly home on the weekends.
    If you connect the existing Wellington Railway station to the airport by rail the beehive boys and girls will be able to get to their planes faster than in a government limousine. They will also get to PN airport (if Wellington Airport is closed) faster than a police motorcade.
    I cannot be convinced that light rail running on the surface could provide such a service.
    Main line rail directly between the existing Wellington Railway Station and Wellington Airport on a mainly underground routing is the only mode of transport that could be quicker than that government limousine. Light rail would be good to Island and Lyall Bays and a possible extension to Seatoun could be a useful connection to the rail line the airport, but a heavy rail line to the airport and PN airport is how to sell public transport to the beehive boys and girls..

  23. Cut and cover for rail up Jervois Quay would only need to take out two lanes maximum at any one time. The effect would be less than removing certain bus lanes in Auckland.

  24. The justification for removing trams from the streets of Wellington in the late 1950’s was that the existing trams needed replacing and a bus cost a little less than half a new tram. The fact that a tram was good for forty years use whilst a bus wore out in ten years never figured in the WCC calculations…..

  25. Since 1992 7 kms of new rail has been built Waikanae-Para. That’s less than half a km a year. Its 16 years to 2030 so we can expect 5kms to be built – so maybe WRS-Hospital is possible? But pressing the Monarch is our v g habit ! !

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