We were pleasantly surprised back in 2014 when the NZTA were declined consent for the Basin Reserve Flyover, a decision that sent the NZTA back to the drawing board. Last year, the process of coming up with a new transport plan for Wellington got underway with Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM). It is essentially Wellington’s version of the Auckland Transport Alignment Plan and notably, shares the same project director.

While ATAP was far from perfect, starting with asking the wrong questions, it marked significant progress on a number of areas. For example, for the first time the (former) government agreed:

  • we can’t build our way out of congestion with more roads
  • we need to manage transport demand, including that comprehensive road pricing is needed
  • that the motorways are essentially finished and there’s little scope for further widening
  • that a major expansion to Auckland’s strategic public transport network was required

On Wednesday the next stage of LGWM was released. Yet amazingly, LGWM contains none of that and even says of road pricing “We have not specifically included any road pricing in our scenarios”. That’s frankly astounding given it is already being investigated by the government for Auckland. What’s more, as you’ll notice the project appears to ignore everything north of Ngauranga, apparently ruled out of scope.

Unfortunately it gets worse. Many of the much-needed improvements to public transport, walking and cycling are only considered for after a series of increasingly expensive road projects. It’s like something out of the 1960’s. The road projects even include potential bridge options around the Basin Reserve. Did they learn nothing from the Basin Flyover debacle?

LGWM contains four scenarios and they are consulting the public on them. Each new scenario is a progression of the one before it. Here they are:

Scenario A

Prioritising public transport, walking and cycling in the central city

Reducing speed limits and re-prioritising key central city streets for walking, cycling, and public transport makes travelling by bus quicker and creates a safer and more attractive environment for people on foot and on bikes.

Cost: $150 – $200 m

Time to build: 1.5 – 2.5 years

Scenario B

Better connections to the east and south

An extra Mt Victoria tunnel and separating east-west traffic from other movements at the Basin Reserve would deliver faster and more reliable public transport connections to the south and east, and allow mass transit from the railway station to Newtown and the airport. This would also make it easier for everyone, including people walking and on bikes, to get to and from the southern and eastern suburbs.

Cost: $700 – $900 m*

Time to build: 5 – 7 years*

*Includes enhanced bus mass transit. Light rail would add $350m – $500m, and increase the time to construct by about 18 months

Scenario C

Less conflict with traffic and redevelopment opportunities in Te Aro

A new city tunnel would remove much of the conflict between people walking and on bikes and traffic travelling through Te Aro. It would also make bus travel more reliable. It would reduce traffic on Vivian Street and Kent/Cambridge Terrace, and provide redevelopment opportunities, including new buildings and public spaces above the tunnel.

Cost: $1.5b – $1.8b*

Time to build: 7 – 10 years*

*Includes enhanced bus mass transit. Light rail would add $350m – $500m, and increase the time to construct by about 18 months

Scenario D

Better access from the north, and less waterfront traffic

Building an extra Terrace Tunnel would improve access to and from the north and reduce traffic on the waterfront quays and through the central city, making it easier to get to and from the waterfront.

Cost: $1.9b – $2.3b*

Time to build: 10+ years*

*Includes enhanced bus mass transit. Light rail would add $350m – $500m, and increase the time to construct by about 18 months

From all of the language, this is appearing to be a very heavy predict and provide modelling exercise. One that just extrapolates existing behaviour and takes no account of the ability of using transport investment (and or demand management) to influence a different outcome. This is highlighted both by the comments around road pricing and in the text about Mass Transit.

Current growth rates for the city suggest the point at which demand would justify mass transit is about ten years away. In the short term, we need to improve the quality and reliability of buses on the preferred route. This means separating buses from other traffic and giving them priority.

The heavy modelling focus is likely made worse as last I heard, Wellington’s transport models were not as sophisticated as Auckland’s. I’m happy to be wrong on that and hopefully they’ve updated those models for this work.

Another way they appear to have influenced he outcome is by assessing impacts over a ridiculously short time frame. It appears that LGWM is only looking at the impact out to 2026, as opposed to ATAPs 30-year view. That’s notable because at best, it’s going to take years to design, consent the bigger road projects listed and even long to construct them. That wouldn’t give much time for issues like induced demand to rear their head.

Understandably, the scenarios have already angered local advocacy groups like Save the Basin. Thankfully new Transport Minister Phil Twyford has already indicated that the government will focus on walking, cycling and better PT.

It looks like it’s time for LGVM to join the Basin Reserve Flyover in the bin. Before that happens, provide feedback on the plan.

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  1. Yes, let’s do spend hundreds of millions to build light rail out to the airport, especially since air travel is such a huge contributor to the climate change and rising sea levels that are going to see the whole Rongotai/Lyall Bay/Kilbirnie area underwater anyway.

    1. As in Auckland, light rail to the airport isn’t about merely serving the airport. The airport serves as a strong anchor at one end but the light rail route also provides much improved access and congestion free travel to the many areas of the city that it will pass through.

    2. Why shouldn’t people east of Evans Bay have better PT options?

      Yes, air travel will also be serviced. However that air travel demand may well increase soon, if the runway is ever extended. Those people would be contributing less carbon travelling by rail than by car or bus. Also, don’t forget that aircraft manufacturers are decreasing their carbon impact and also looking at fully electric aircraft. Will fully electric happen this decade? Probably not, however at least they’re serious about addressing the problem.

      Aucklanders are lucky to have PT options, even if not perfect. Wellington deserves the same.

    3. Wellington has a big problem with the airport on the eastern side and people wanting to go across the city in private cars to get to it. Its a pressure that threatens to overwhelm efforts to keep this a walkable, livable and cool city. That background pressure loomed large in the Basin Bridge hearings which I was involved in. The Board wanted to know why the airport had plans for a large new car park (now nearly completed), but no plan of any comparable significance for PT improvements.

      The need to urgently reduce air travel demand to respond to climate change raises even more questions about the current proposals, which still attempt to funnel large numbers of private cars across the city to the airport. Fossil fuel flying is already an embarrassment to climate change scientists, and that embarrassment is spreading to academia. It is a rapidly developing global issue that companies like Air NZ are, and should be, terrified of. When the issue makes even the front page of the Listener (Nov 4-10 issue), something is afoot.

      Hopefully, the runway extension doesnt go ahead or gets turned down, and Wellington ditches its cargo cult mentality towards airport expansion, then we can think about transport futures that properly serve ourselves and our children. I tend to think that light rail would be a defining statement of what Wellington is about and have a lot of positive spin-offs in terms of transport improvements, safety and urban design.

  2. Agree very much that the airport is merely an anchor for light rail in Wellington. It’s real purpose is to reduce bus congestion on the very high frequency PT spine through the city from Newtown to the railway station. It is likely to support significant uplift in value and associated land use change along this route particularly immediately south of the Basin on Adelaide Road but also potentially in Kilbirne.

  3. ““We have not specifically included any road pricing in our scenarios”. That’s frankly astounding “. True; it should be in all roading proposals even if set to a zero price.

  4. The most important priority should be to build light rail to Newtown. (Disclaimer the mfwics own an old villa in Newtown).

    1. I have just moved to Wellington in the last few weeks and agree the priority should be getting LR to Newtown and even continue down to Lyall or Island bay.
      There definitely needs to be another Mt Vic tunnel, even just to get 2 way access for buses and eventually LR.
      Also getting a better SH1 road to get to East/South Wellington would be good as the traffic is so slow once you get out of the Terrace tunnel and going through the city to just get to the other side. Still doesn’t beat Auckland’s traffic congestion so no regrets coming down to Wellywood.

      1. Wellington is not suited to LR due to the hilly topography of the city.

        Whilst the pro light rail people keep going on about the benefits of LR to Newtown and the airport but the system hasn’t been fully costed in regards to building the system.

        There are major engineering issues in building a LR system for Wellington, being the corners around the Basin Reserve are to tight for 2-3 unit LR vehicle and the problems of the somewhat steep hill climb up Constable Street (from Newtown) and the up or down hill climb of Crawford Road with its tight corners into the Kilbirnie unless a tunnel is built under Mt Victoria.

        Depending of the route from Kilbirnie to the airport that is chosen whether along Rongotai Road to Cobham Drive (with its tight corners) to Calibar Road or from Kilbirnie along Coutts Street to the airport. A tunnel would be required under the airport to have access to the the terminal buildings located on the eastern side of the airport.

        The other factor with LR in Wellington, where are the LR vehicles going to be housed?. There is no room in the city, so it will have to at Rongotai but the existing bus sheds being the older tram barns are past their economical live and I see the NZ Bus will demolish the buildings and sell the land for housing, since NZ Bus will lost 60% of the bus routes from 1 Jul 18 and the trolley buses have been decommissioned. The Kilbirnie bus sheds have been retained for housing and maintenance of the trolley bus fleet plus the Go Wellington branded diesel bus fleet.

        The cost of building the system is going to be more than what has been discussed for a small 2 route system.

        1. “Wellington is not suited to LR due to the hilly topography of the city.” – That is ridiculous. I refer you to Prague, San Francisco and Lisbon. All are veery hilly cities that are well served by light rail/trams.

          What are you basing that on?

        2. LR vehicle construction is not the same as the older tram contraction which was hi floor single unit contraction on either single truck or double bogie and is not low floor or ultra floor construction of 2, 3 or 4 unit this currently used for LR.

          With regards to Lisbon, they use single truck trams for hill climb and LR for flat operation. With regards to San Fransisco, trolley buses and cable cars are used for hill routes and LR vehicles and PC Cars are used on flat land. With regards to Prague, whilst they have hills, that are not as steep as going up Constable Crawford Road, Pairie Street, or Waitora Road in Haitaiti.

          I remember as a kid, the old double saloons and Fudicas slowly making the their way up and down Crawford Road with wheel squeal on the corners. The same applied going up Pairie Street and Waitoria Road to the Haitaiti tram tunnel.

          The old Crossley and BUTtrolley buses where quicker than the trams.

        3. What!? Wellington had trams up until the 1950s! Also the corners around the Basin Reserve will be less tight than the corner of Queen St and Customs St in Auckland where LRVs will make a 90 degree turn.

        4. I have to disagree with, the corners on the eastern side of the Basin Reserve where tight for the trams generating alot of wheel suqeal and the same applies to Crawford Road.

          The old tram route did not follow the inbound one way route on the western side of the Basin. All traffic including trams and trolley buses used to go around the Basin Reserve on the eastern side (Mt Victoria side). It wasn’t until 1968 that the road was altered for inbound city traffic on the western side of Basin Reserve.

        5. The steepest part of Constable st is Coromandel Street to Alexandra Rd which is 1 in 15 or around 6.4%. the Sheffield Supertram is designed for 10% or 1 in 10.
          The external radii at the Basin Reserve look like around 40m, the Siemens S70 can turn with 25m. It is tighter getting onto the Basin Resrve rotary but that can be fix with some land take on the outside boundary. Where are they going to keep them? In a shed somewhere FFS.

        6. What about Crawford Road. What is the grade for that?

          With regards to the Basin Reserve, which side of the Basin Reserve are you talking about about. The western or eastern side? You then has to think about the NIMBY’s who live in the area and they wont be happy about any land grab.

          What about the Rongotai Road/Cobham Drive and Cobham Drive/Calibar Road round abouts at the northern end of the runway. At lot of road traffic use those round abouts. Also don’t forget the salt spray that is generated in a good Northerly wind. There was alot of arching from the trolley buses from the spray.

          With regards to your comment – ‘Where are they going to keep them? In a shed somewhere FFS.’, where will the ‘shed’ be located? It wont be the city, land is expensive, there is no space near the railway station or Centreport land nor in Kiwirail Rail yards, so the logical place is Kilbirnie. NZ Bus has already stated they want to sell the land that the current Kilbirnie Bus Sheds (the old Kilbirnie Tram main storage and maintenance Depot) is on.

          As mentioned in my post Wellington is not suited for LR, as the original tram routes has have gone.

        7. Chris – if they don’t have trams they will have more buses, which will need to be stored. Either way it is a problem that will need to be solved. I assume the new companies that have taken routes off NZ Bus will also have buses that need to be stored.

          I imagine buying the depot in Kilbirnie would be a logical starting point.

          You clearly haven’t seen the corner of Customs St and Queen St if you think anywhere on the Basin Reserve roundabout has a tighter radius of curvature.

        8. For Jezza – The current Kilbirnie Bus Sheds are big and is owned by NZ Bus. Also NZ Bus has a large depot in the Hutt Valley. The new contractor Tranzit, will take 60% of the bus routes, has a small depot which is near Wellington airport for their ‘InterCity’ branded and charter coaches let alone having storage for 40-60 new urban buses. Currently, Tranzit is looking for depot storage in the Hutt Valley for the Hutt Valley/Wainuiomata routes. Tranzit is buying 228 new urban buses which includes 11 electric double deckers (which will be interesting to see how long they will last).

          Yes, I have seen the corner of Customs St and Queen St. Have you seen the corners on eastern side of the Basin Reserve from Kent Terrace corner and the Adelaide Road corner.

        9. Chris – that’s quite the circular argument you have going there. You mention NZ Bus is planning on selling their depot, I suggest it is purchased to house LRVs and you suggest that is a problem because it is owned by NZ Bus.

          I am well aware of the curvature around the Basin Reserve, I drove through on Tuesday. It looks like a commercial premises on the tightest curve (from the Basin into Adelaide Rd, so I doubt there would be too much of a NIMBY issue.

  5. I think the idea of reducing traffic along the waterfront is important. Wellington has a fantastic waterfront that is somewhat ruined by the poor pedestrian priority provided for crossing Customhouse Quay at the moment.

  6. During my time living in Wellington I was always shocked by the Manners mall/Lambton quay bus route in terms of its affect on the urban realm and what could otherwise be pleasant pedestrian friendly spaces. The number of bus vs pedestrian accidents is testament to this.

    Considering it’s only a matter of one block before you get to Wakefield street (which has a lot more space) it always left me with the impression that there was something fundamentally misguided in the transport strategy down there (or really I suppose here, as in New Zealand…).

    Hopefully the fresh government get some traction with better strategies there and the rest of the country (Julie-Anne Genter has a few I’m sure…)

    1. There is a rather misguided view that rapid transit , whether bus or light rail, must go along the Golden Mile to avoid negative impacts on the shops along there. I think this is overblown and would prefer to have the eventual rapid transit system go along the quays with limited stops and good covered walkways linking the stops to the surrounding streets

      1. I have just returned from Britain, where I saw a number of cities (Gloucester for example) which have completely banned traffic from their main shopping streets. They were thronged with people.

    2. A few decades ago, there were two bus routes through central Wellington, called Inner and Outer. Now there is one.

  7. its frustrating, I hope the new govt files the entire lgwm in the rubbish bin. They definately need to put the waterfronts de facto motorway on a road diet. Personally I think funelling any transit along the golden mile will mean its not rapid and therefore there needs to be a seperate route for mass transit, the waterfront looks ideal for this to me.

  8. Of the many bizarre things about this project that disappoint after its excellent high-level objectives, here are my faves:
    1.All the “change the road a bit” scenarios (i.e. B-D) are costed to include full construction for car traffic but all they do for any kind of mass transit is provide a *designation* which “may be in future used for light rail or maybe something else entirely, and BRT in the meantime” (Barry Mein, on Wednesday). No construction, not even moving services to prepare for mass transit (that *$350-500m additional)

    2.the supply and demand assumptions are deeply perplexing. Why on earth, when it takes so long to consent and plan and build roads and tunnels of this ilk, would one fail to even *start* providing properly for mass transit when *even by their own calculations*, densification in Newtown will create sufficient demand in just ten years?

    3. As yesterday’s passenger rail strikes demonstrated beautifully, and most of the commenters here fail to appreciate, the overwhelming share of the movements into Wellington city are commuters (i.e. destination CBD), from north of Ngauranga.

    Oh well, whoopsie, they’re out of LGWM’s scope… and the new roading projects that are “opening up land for development” (- all our councillors) to the north. Oh well, never mind, we’ll leave all that to some regional land transport collaborative strategic planning somethingorother second coming of Jesus.

    1. Any rational person and certainly any transport planner living outside of NZ would interpret “densification will create sufficient demand for mass transit in 10 years” as meaning we better get started with doing something now. However in NZ we do things differently, if Mass transit isn’t “needed” until 10 years away then we start thinking about talking about the possibility of maybe doing something in about 20-30 years time.

  9. Wellington is not a car friendly city due to its topography.

    The discussion regarding Wellington traffic has been an ongoing hot topic since the late 1950’s and there is still being discussed.

    When the original design for the Wellington Urban Motorway was done in 1963, it called for a 4 to 6 lane motorway from Ngauranga Gorge following the current route with 2 tunnels through the Terrace with on and off ramps at Willis Street, Vivian Street and Basin Reserve, 4 lane trenched motorway (similar to the current Arzus Tunnel) with over bridges at Willis Street, Victoria Street, Taranaki Street and Tasman Streets, the Basin Reserve and a second 2 lane Mt Victoria tunnel, 4 lanes down Ruahine Street and Wellington Road connecting with the current Cobham Drive to the airport.

    Alot to the original plan especially from the Terrace Tunnel to Cobham Drive was scrapped in the 1970’s due to cost but is now being looked again. The biggest stumbling block for the Airport to the Terrace Tunnel section, will be the Basin Reserve which is also going to be a problem for any LR system in Wellington.

    Many Wellington City Council’s over the last 50 odd years have looked at making the CBD a pedestrian mall by banning cars and only allow buses, taxis and good service/emergency vehicles in the CBD.

    If the original Terrace Tunnel to the Airport plan ever gets off the ground, it will reduce the current traffic shambles the city is currently facing, by defecting traffic away from the CBD, allowing the CBD to be pedestrian mall only allowing buses, taxis, good service vehicles, bicycles and walking.

    It will take a very brave city council to say ‘lets do this’ as the city needs it otherwise, there will another 50 years of traffic shambles.

    1. When the original study for the Wellington Urban Motorway was done in 1963, it also called for the urgent extension of the regional rail system with a first stage terminating near Newtown. This equally-important development dropped off the radar in the 1970’s, round about the time that “Robbie’s Rail” got cancelled in Auckland.

      Wellington’s urgent need is to extend the regional rail system along the all-important city to airport corridor, not to build more road capacity. However few people seem to grasp this.

      A separate light rail system from the Station to the Airport, while better than what we have at the moment (or anything currently planned), would not provide the vital regional-connectivity that extension of the existing rail system would.

      If this project had been prioritised instead of the $2.4billion, traffic-worsening Levin-Airport motorway, it could have been well underway by now. And the need for it is much greater now than it was back in 1963.

      1. Its not going the work for a LR to the airport, due to the topography of the city and missed opportunities. I would hate to think what the infrastructure build costs will be to build a 2 route LR system from the city to the airport considering that original tram routes have gone. Any way, there is a perfectly good regular limited stop airport to city bus service, so there is no need to have an expensive LR system.

        Yes, there were serious discussions in the 1970’s to convert the Johnsonville heavy rail line to LR from Johnsonville to Newtown Park Zoo, due to the planned replacements of the English Electrics EMUs. Discussions arose again in the 1980’s when NZ Rail decide to replace the English Electrics with the Ganz EMU’s, as the Ganz were to big for the tunnels on the Johnsonville line. Nothing came from the discussions, as the major obstacles for the LR route was street access at Wellington Railway Station and the issues with the Basin Reserve.

        Discussions rose again about LR to Newtown Park Zoo when the replacement of the remaining English Electrics and Ganz EMUs where mooted and be replaced with LR train trams but once again Wellington Railway Station and the Basin Reserve were the major obstacles.

        When the current Wellington runway was being planned in 1950’s, there were calls for an under pass under the new runway at Coutts Street allowing the existing tram services to continue to Miramar and Seatoun with an extension line to the new terminal. But nothing came of it, as the city council at the time was hell bent on replacing the trams with trolley buses. Had the underpass been incorporated into the new runaway. Wellington could have kept the key high density trams routes like Railway Station to Newtown Park Zoo, Island Bay, Lyall Bay, Kilbirnie, Miramar and Seatoun. This was a missed for opportunity for a future LR system considering that the was major tram storage and maintenance depot was at Kilbirnie, now NZ Bus bus sheds and a large storage depot in Newtown near the Zoo, which is now a fire station and council flats.

        To me. the biggest problems to Wellington city traffic shambles, has been disastrous short term band aid cost cutting traffic planning of the past and the Basin Reserve. The Basin Reserve needs to go, if Wellington wants to fix its traffic problems.

        It will be interesting to see how successful the new GWRC bus network for the city will be when it is introduced on 1 July 2018.

        1. Chris, despite your apparent credentials regarding Wellington, I’m sorry, but you lose all credibility with me when you make a statement like “The Basin Reserve needs to go, if Wellington wants to fix its traffic problems”. That’s just absolute bollocks, and I wish that otherwise intelligent people would stop saying that.

          The Basin Reserve is not the problem – there was a Basin Bridge Board of Inquiry, which conclusively proved that the problem was actually congestion either side of the Basin, including the West side (especially the Taranaki St intersection) and the East side courtesy of the skinny Mt Vic tunnel, that would not be resolved by building a flyover over the Basin. So, if the Basin Reserve is not the problem, then clearly the Basin Reserve does not need to go.

          There is, however, a clash of north-south local traffic with an airport-bound stream of State highway traffic, and this can be solved relatively easily with a simple grade separation – a small bridge of the local roads over the main route of the highway. What was not needed was a 250m long flyover to achieve the same thing. Nor is it needed to demolish or destroy the Basin Reserve.

  10. I don’t buy the argument about Wellington’s topography not being suitable for light rail. Line 1 of the. Tenerife Light Rail in Spain which opened in 2007 climbs 600m in altitude in 12km (http://www.railway-technology.com/projects/tenerife-lightrail/). It has an average gradient of 4.4% and maximum gradiient of 8.5%. The Alstom Citadis trams used have all axles powered but otherwise appear standard in design. This you tube video shows how steep the line is in places:

    1. The hill climb for the Tenerife light rail system is mild compared to the hill climb and the tight corners on the eastern side of Mt Victoria using Crawford Road. To run a LR line from Newtown over Mt Victoria using Constable Street and Crawford Road to the eastern suburbs and the airport, without putting tunnel through, would require major engineering work to flatten some of the corners which means moving a number of houses. The NIMBY’s wont like that.

      Prior to 1915, Crawford Road was a narrow steep winding single lane road and was widen in 1915 for double track tram route, as a second tram access route to the eastern suburbs of Kilbirnie, Lyall Bay, Miramar and Seatoun.

      Besides this access, the only other access ways over Mt Victoria, is the Mt Victoria road tunnel built in 1930 and the Haitaiti Bus Tunnel (which was the old tram tunnel) built in 1907.

      1. Chris, some facts for you, re this post and your earlier ones:

        1. no-one is seriously proposing light rail on Constable St, Crawford Rd, “Pairie” (Pirie?) St or, “Waitora” (Waitoa?) Rd, so the steepness of those roads is irrelevant (current possibilities are via a new Mt Victoria tunnel, or perhaps a Mt Albert tunnel from the zoo to Kilbirnie);
        2. there are no tight corners between Rongotai Rd and Calabar Rd, just a bend into Troy St and two very large roundabouts;
        3. NZ Bus has sold its main Hutt Valley depot to GWRC;
        4. Tranzit will have 60% of the region’s buses, but about 44% of Wellington city’s – NZ Bus will have about 53% (provide a contract gets signed);
        5. all the old tram routes were long gone in Croydon, Manchester, Sheffield, Paris, Grenoble, Edinburgh, Rouen, Orleans, Birmingham, LA, Portland, Seattle etc etc, but that hasn’t stopped new systems being built in those places.

        1. With regards to your comments –

          1, the pro LR lobby wants to see LR from the city to Newtown and the airport. The only way from Newtown to the airport is either build a tunnel (very expensive) or via Constable/Crawford Road. If the second Mt Victoria includes a LR line. it will make the second Mt Victoria very expensive and I don’t see NZTA/Government paying for it. The original plan calls for 2 lane second tunnel. The planned second Mt Victoria tunnel is to be close to the existing Mt Victoria tunnel hence the original land purchase around the western entrance of the existing tunnel in the 1970’s and 1980’s. A test west to east tunnel bore was completed in the 1970’s.

          Anyway, there is a perfectly efficient limited stop city to airport bus service, plus plenty of bus services from the city to Newtown (even under the new GWRC planned bus network), so there is no need for a LR system. The infrastructural cost is to high for a 1 or 2 route system. Money for a LR system can be better used to sort out the existing Terrace to airport problem.

          2. I was referring to the 2 roundabouts being Rongotai (or Troy Street)/Cobham Drive and Cobham Drive/Calibar Road. That is State Highway 1 roading. If the LR route from Kilbirnie to the Airport using this route, it will disrupt the traffic flow at the 2 roundabouts. I done see NZTA agreeing to a LR route interfering with the traffic flow.

          3. I wasn’t aware the NZ Bus had sold their Hutt Valley depot to GWRC. That means Tranzit will be using it.

          4. Thanks for the break down of GWRC bus contracts. Have been trying to get the information about this. GWRC hasn’t been great about giving out the information.

          5. You have missed the point in what I was saying about previous tram routes. It was in response other comments that Wellington had trams.

          The reality is, Wellington has been and always will be non-car friendly but a public transport, walkable and cycleable friendly city due to its compactness created by the topography of the city and region. That what makes Wellington unique compared to the other 5 main centres.

        2. Chris Wellington is very flat, except where it isn’t, and there we plan no LR. This really is no issue. And yes if crossing from plain to plain then tunnels are exactly the time honoured solution.

        3. Sorry Patrick, Wellington city in not very flat. I am not sure where you got that impression from. The only flat land, is the current rail yards, CentrePort land, the CBD, Te Aro, Basin Reserve and valley where Newtown is located and Island Bay. The eastern suburbs of Kilbirnie up to the western side of the airport, Lyall Bay and Miramar are on flat land, Seatoun is on flat land after going through the Seatoun tunnel.

          With regards to your comment about tunnels, money is better spent on completing the second Terrace Tunnel and the second Mt Victoria tunnel, than building a tunnel for LR system from Newtown through to Kilbirnie.

          In fact, Wellington has more city and suburban tunnels than any other city in NZ.

        4. @ Chris “money is better spent on completing the second Terrace Tunnel and the second Mt Victoria tunnel. . .”.

          That may be your view Chris (and NZTA’s), but many are not in agreement with you. Wellington’s need is to cut back on traffic, not continue to build more infrastructure which will encourage more of it. That is my view, and its no less valid than yours (or NZTA’s)..

      2. New Zealand has had some reasonably steep tram routes in the past. For example, Christchurch’s no. 1 route climbed a quite steep road into the Cashmere hills, so much so the CTB ordered special trams that had extra braking power compared to their other regular trams and applied restrictions on the towing of trailers for that section.

  11. Along with its dated 20thC approach to transport planning (roads first and only!), or rather because of it, it seems clear LGWM have not properly considered alternative Rapid Transit routes.

    1. Why does their only proposed route bifurcate? Surely one strong spine connecting important locations will provide more benefits more efficiently. So if it is to go to the airport it must do so via the hospital and Newton. This does suggest a new LR only tunnel from say the zoo to Rongatai or Coutts Sts, but also completely avoids the Mt Vic problems (alternatively don’t go to the airport; terminate at Newton, at least at first). This alternative must be examined.

    2. Tory St is just sitting there calling out to be an LR Transit Mall. Leave Cambridge Tce and the Basin gyratory to road vehicles. Place value win, restricting streets to traffic is the aim here, not a disbenefit. Doesn’t everyone in Welly go to Moore Wilsons daily? Anyway giving narrow streets over to Transit and walking is often a better solution to adding it to wide and traffic busy avenues. Local access issues can be sorted. Also this means it crosses the Arras tunnel on existing structure as well enabling high quality access to Pukeahu, The Basin Reserve, Schools, and tertiary in this area while slipping down one corner of the Basin via Tasman/Rugby Sts and into Adelaide.

    3. In the city, Stout St should be the route to Lambton Quay and also get the Transit Mall treatment. It has but one vehicle entrance to an awful parking building and that looks moveable to balance or even better repurposable (terrible place for it). Stout is currently is full of that peculiarly Wellington street disease of angle parking (proof of so much wasted city street space). Joining Lambton Quay at Stout instead of further east is less disruptive of bus and delivery systems and existing established street trees. I considered the even more direct Featherston, but i think adding LR there would be more disruptive to the traffic network. Removing parking is a win if the aim is to remove traffic, which is in the high level desires of the people.

    4. Depot in Thorndon (hat tip to Luke) on rail or low value commercial land say under the flyover, and start the line there. Making the Railway Station stop, on Featherston, the second on the line heading south. Direct all-weather transfers via existing pedestrian tunnel…

    1. I disagree with your first paragraph comment in regards to Wellington. The problems with Wellington’s traffic, is the missing section from the existing Terrace tunnel and the second Mt Victoria tunnel.

      Wellington needs to reduce the number of non-essential vehicle traffic in the CBD and take traffic pressure of the existing major arterial routes along Kent and Cambridge Terraces, Wakefield and Cable Streets and Jevois, Customhouse and Waterloo Quays. The missing Terrace Tunnel to Mt Victoria will deflect non-essential traffic from the CBD and take pressure of the existing main arteries.

      As a person who grow up and drove buses in Wellington, non-essential vehicle congestion on the CBD golden mile bus route disrupts bus flow. Eliminating non-essential traffic from the CBD, will increase bus flow and travel times. Every bus driver who has driven through the CBD knows this and so has the various city councils over the years, hence the call for the last 50 odd years in banning non-essential (including cars) from the CBD. As mentioned, it will take a very brave council to implement a non-essential vehicle ban in the CBD.

      Wellington has a good bus/train/ferry transport network, that needs some fine tuning like an integrated ‘hop on/hop off’ payment/ticketing system, so there is no real justification for a LR system for Wellington unlike in Auckland and Christchurch. I am great believer in public transport, hate building routes to relieve traffic congestion but Wellington is exception especially the missing Terrace to Mt Victoria section.

      1. Chris, one of the positive things about LGWM is that it’s looking (to some extent) beyond the narrow concept of traffic – the movement of vehicles, which is what seems to concern you – to wider issues of liveability and accessibility, about where people (not cars) want to go and how they get there. This seems to be in tune with public opinion, since the four-lanes-to-the-planes candidate was comprehensively defeated at the last mayoral election.

        We were promised that the bypass (Karo Drive) would take enough traffic off the waterfront to reduce it by a lane each way; now we’re being sold the same story about the “missing” Terrace to Mt Vic bit of SH1 – and they expect us to fall for it again!

        As has been pointed out, what’s needed is good PT (eg sort out the Golden Mile bus congestion and much better interchange at Wellington station) plus a congestion charge/petrol tax/whatever, and the “need” for spending billions on roads will be put into perspective.

        And if your assumption that Tranzit will be using NZ Bus’s old Hutt depot courtesy of GWRC were to be true, just imagine the lawsuits from unsuccessful tenderers if the successful tenderer were to be given such preferential treatment!

  12. I agree with the article. I don’t think the options as they stand are useful. However, I also don think PT is a silver bullet either.

    1) Lobby government to allow congestion tolling. Peak travel is heavily underpriced. (Implement the congestion tolls once agreed)

    2) Implement higher levies and charges on all public and private commuter parking in the interim.

    3) This will push up PT demand & reduce subsidies.

    4) Use the parking revenue to build the roading tunnels to get the through traffic out of Wellington City

    5) And implement the maximum PT, cycle and walk priority on the surface streets.

    1. No one sensible claims better PT to be a ‘silver bullet’ but it is the essential missing ingredient if you want:

      1. Road pricing to be possible (there must be good alternatives to drive if pricing it higher).

      2. The already mature driving networks to work at all well (The Nash equilibrium: to improve the dominant network, invest in its alternatives).

      3. A urban place to be able to grow without chocking (spatial efficiency).

  13. High Frequency lightrail to Newtown would be a great start. The existing 91 & 2 buses can use the bus tunnel & the seatoun/strathmore/island bay routes can terminate at Newtown with light rail connection. A depot on the waterfont perhaps (the stats building is coming down so that will be a vacant site). In agreement about using Tory St as a transit mall.

    1. The locals wont like that, as it will entail to many transfer points and a nightmare for drivers shifts. The new bus network for Wellington City and mediate suburbs that takes effect 1 July 2018 has alot of transfer points compared to the existing bus network and the locals arn’t happy. Plus Snapper ‘hop on/hop off’ payment/ticketing is currently not geared for transfers between services, which is going to be interesting.

      1. Transfers between bus services will be free when the new fare structures come into force at the same time as the new network according to the consultation underway on the regional council website at the moment. They have at least thought of that. See link below.

        A direct quote from that article: “Free bus transfers are also proposed because more passengers will need to switch buses as part of a forthcoming redesign of Wellington city’s bus network.”


        1. The money saved be decommissioning of the trolley bus fleet is gone to pay for the ‘free transfers’ The locals have been complaining the bus and train fares are high, compared to overseas public transport.

          Remember that GWRC justification for decomissioning the trolley Bus fleet was to ‘save’ money.

      2. The AKL experience, in line with overseas, is that people often think they won’t like a higher frequency transfer model till they have it, then many more do.

        Without integrated ticketing, or better integrated fares, it is much less likely to be positively recieved because it costs more, however.

        Come on Welly, get yr act together, you’re supposed to be the best in the land…?

  14. As always there is some fantastic thought-provoking discussion in this comments section. Can I encourage everyone who has any stake in this, or who just wants to have their say to write a submission on it? And no – I don’t work for the Council, but I am a concerned Wellingtonian who agrees with Matt that this plan looks like something out of the 1960’s and despite the nice words about alternative modes being prioritised it is really just a plan to build roads. I’d like lots of varying opinions to be heard by the Council through their submission process and not just on this blog. Link below. I’m going to go and start writing my own. Thanks in advance!


    1. Hi Kate – The options that are being proposed have been discussed some many times over the years and end up in the to hard basket.

      Option D on the Get Wellington Moving website is closest to the original 1963 Wellington Urban Motorway plan.

      The biggest obstacle to any plan is the damn Basin Reserve. There is a hard core of NIMBY’s who for various reasons known to them, do not want the Basin Reserve to be touched.

      I was reading an interesting comment on Stuff over weekend on the Lets Get Wellington Moving debate, which said – ‘A deed in 1873 stipulated that no thoroughfare would be built across it. A deed of conveyance in 1884 from the crown to the Wellington City corporation stipulated it would always be a cricket ground.’. So I suspect that’s their reasoning.

      Back then, when Wellington was a small town and the Basin Reserve was built on a swamp with mainly empty ground around it and the eastern and southern suburbs did not exist as such. At that time, nobody then could have conceived today’s problems so the deed of conveyance could be said to be an historical irrelevance in today’s terms. In light of the today’s traffic congestion, there is no reason that cricket can not be played in the can tin and under the Public Works Act, the Deed can be over turned, so that the Basin Reserve can used to complete the Terrace to Mt Victoria missing section. What unused land that is still available can be use for park like setting name the Basin Reserve Park. I believe there are plans for for a park buried some where in the Council’s archives.

      Other than completing the Terrace to Mt Victoria missing section, upgrading Ruahine Street and Wellington Road, fine tuning of the Western Hutt Motorway and the completion of Transmission Gully, Wellington does need any other major roading projects.

      1. Chris, you seem not to be aware that it was the government-appointed Board of Inquiry, supported by the High Court (not NIMBYs) that rejected NZTA’s ill-thought-out proposals at the Basin Reserve, meaning that one of the world’s great cricket grounds – an asset of international importance – lives on to host more matches and other events.

        You must surely have your tongue in your cheek when you say that there’s no reason that cricket can’t be played elsewhere but there’s every reason to fill that space with private cars. If that’s not the case, I strongly suggest reading the BoI report.

        The Basin is not the problem – too many cars and inadequate PT/walking/cycling facilities, more like it.

        And your tongue must be even more firmly in your cheek when you suggest we adopt a 1960s motorway plan (regrettably, LGWM’s tongue doesn’t seem to be) – precisely the sort of damage that places infected with that blight are now trying to undo!

  15. Why is everyone scared of building tunnels? The costs can be well and truly paid back with the added value they bring – albeit not to the builder, but instead to the general populace. Look what the Waterview Tunnel has done for Auckland. And ridership on their trains has risen dramatically in the last few years since the service has been revamped with electric trains and new connections.
    So a second Mt Victoria tunnel (NOT alongside the existing one) but starting at the top of Wellington Road and emerging onto the vacant land between Wellington Hospital and Government House. Then a short link road to an elevated junction above Adelaide Road would allow westbound traffic to avoid the Basin’s southeast corner, and largely avoid the existing North-South East-West conflict. There is scope in future for extending that link road to Karo Drive. LGWM wants to put most of Karo Drive into a tunnel anyway (which I regard as great) to relieve the congestion for Brooklyn traffic.
    A mass transit only tunnel from the Zoo through to Kilbirnie and then on to Rongotai, with a tunnel under the runway, would end up within the Airport terminal complex.
    Speedier journeys will attract more patronage. Light rail can achieve that without overloading the roads with more buses.

  16. What blows me away about all this is how unlike ATAP they scoped out the places from whence 65% of the region’s workers descend on Wellington CBD every day: all the towns, cities, suburbs north of Ngauranga, where RONS are being completed and car-centric suburbs are being planned like billyoh, yet double-tracking or any other enhancements to public transport seem just too hard to fund.

    How was this scope deemed OK? How are they kidding themselves they can achieve “less reliance on private vehicle travel (not to mention the other 11 principles) with these waves of private car demand bearing down on the city every day? Surely this wouldn’t have flown in Ak…

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