This is a guest post from some of our friends in Wellington

Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) will profoundly shape Wellington, and the window is almost closed to give your steer on the approach they’re taking. We need you, smart GA readers, to take two minutes and give some good progressive-transport feedback – by Friday 15 December at 5pm. It will make a difference!

LGWM is being touted as the most comprehensive transport planning and prioritisation exercise Wellington city has ever seen, and this is probably true. For all its limited geographic scope, NZTA, GWRC and WCC are talking about spending well over $2 billion to Sort Out Transport in the Capital.

Yes, the officials have a helluva task.

They need to do a decent job of the complex and complicated art and science of transport planning – with, hopefully, a bit of landuse planning integrated in. (Greater Auckland’s assessment has a pretty clear view of how they’ve done.)

But the officials also need to get good public feedback. There’s different art and science required here. This complex, fraught stuff needs to be communicated clearly and well, so that ordinary laypeople can give good feedback and give the decision-makers a good steer.

So haumai te pakipaki for the team, but no excuses

Firstly, a round of applause for the LGWM team behind the scenes. Goodness knows we don’t envy them. This is a mammoth task: modelling, options assessment, investment logic, design, communication and engagement … doing this for something as little as bike infrastructure is difficult, let alone a whole package of transport changes.

It’s a tough job, and they’re in the public service to do it – they have the expertise in these arts and sciences, and the power. They must wield it well.

Public feedback matters, and feedback is hampered by these scenarios.

The feedback on these scenarios will be held up as evidence for the public appetite – or lack thereof – for either traditionalist or progressive solutions to our transport and liveability problems. And, therefore, decision-makers’ mandate to be progressive and lead, or an excuse to be “same same” and try to solve the problems with the same approaches that created them. Importantly, Ministers are open to change, but need to know there’s a public mandate: lots of LGWM feedback from the public saying “be more progressive”.

So public feedback is doubly important. And for a city that prides itself on being innovative, these scenarios miss a lot of basic, important opportunities and leave out a lot of basic, important things.

We don’t think what they’ve proposed is “roughly right” – and this skews feedback.

  1. Despite LGWM’s startlingly short time horizon and soaring population trends, it still fails to prioritise non-car transport. This is defying good practice in transport planning, and means its scenarios barely meet many of its own excellent principles.
  2. It’s scoped so out-of-scope people’s behaviour and geography undermine it
  3. They left out any incentives or demand management (because it’s too complex for us apparently)

And if even a bunch of non-experts can clearly see these issues, and the various authorities can’t give a good answer when asked, it’s definitely time for a healthy boost in the right direction.

Wellington needs you – yes, You Auckland!

That boost has to come from The Public. Not just the population of Wellington and the region – residents, the citizens, the ratepayers – but also any of you who use Wellington from time to time. Any of you who have relatives, friends, colleagues, children there – or who sometimes use the capital or its region. Unfortunately, given these scenarios, people will be encouraged to think “same same” will make a difference.

So the future of our capital and region relies on smart, progressive-minded folks like GA’s readership, who know their induced demand from their infill housing, to help give LGWM a good boost towards progressive transport thinking.

Get in today – it’s the last day.  If you’re busy, just jump to here and say “Scenario A+” in one of the freetext boxes and you’re good to go.

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  1. Why can’t they just double track the rail lines to the hutt and the kapiti coast? then all those drivers will take the train, less cars in wellington, no problem

    1. The Kapiti Coast line is double track to the Waikanae Bridge which is a single track bridge and is single track for the remaining 2 kms to Waikanae being the end of the suburban electrified network.

      The Hutt line is double track to Upper Hutt except for a short section between Wallaceville and Trentham which is single track. There are plans to double this section.

      1. And there are North-South Junction on the Kapiti Line between Pukerua Bay and Paekakariki (the most significant single-track bottleneck on the Wellington network), and Wallaceville-Upper Hutt.

      2. The Hutt section exacerbated a Wairarapa drama on Monday. Hopefully it adds to the urgency of doubling this section, which is a no brainer. The Kapiti bits are a little trickier, but they should be aiming for incremental doubling and wiring both routes to Palmy.

  2. get rid of the terrace tunnell bottleneck, bridge to twin tunnels at Mt Vic, 4lane Ruahene st its’ bottlecks thats the problem. could stay 80km/70k the whole way , keep it flowin

      1. Actually, it’s private cars that are the problem: they cause most traffic congestion.

        The solution is not to remove traffic congestion (that’ll never happen) but to avoid it using what LGWM calls “mass transit”.

        1. Its the private car that is causing the problem. It slows down public transport and results in more people using their car, so it becomes are vicious circle.

  3. Big weakness in Wellington is that the southern CBD and entire southern/eastern suburbs are remote from rail. Just like Auckland CBD before Britomart and of course, the CRL.

    Money needs to be spent on fixing Wellington’s “broken PT spine” instead of pouring it into multi-billion dollar motorways. Unfortunately thanks to Steven Joyce, the possibilities of this have already been extensively undermined by sinking upwards of $2 billion into the Kapiti Expressway, Transmission Gully and other associated wrong-headed non-solutions.

    But the need to extend the regional rail system to this major un-served part of the region is now greater than ever. Rail over the city-to-airport corridor MUST be considered and not merely as trams-in-the-street.

    My submission in essence.

    1. Heavy or light rail from the railway station to the Airport is to expensive and once the the Basin Reserve obstacle has been removed, the missing section from the Terrance Tunnel to Mt Victoria tunnel is completed and the traffic deflected away from the CBD than the bus network will more efficient as currently at the moment.

      With regards to Transmission Gully, Wellington needs a second road access away from the sea, as the current SH1 from Pukerua Bay to Paekakariki section will subject to increase sea levels due to climate change.

      1. “the missing section from the Terrance Tunnel to Mt Victoria tunnel is completed and the traffic deflected away from the CBD than the bus network will more efficient” – yeah, right, as they say.

        That’s the line that was peddled when the Inner City Bypass (Karo Drive) was being planned – and they expect us to fall for it again!

        1. Karo Drive or the inner city by pass concept was a cheaper version of the original Wellington Urban Motorway plan which called for a trenched motorway with overbridges between the Terrace tunnel and Mt Victoria tunnel.

  4. Submitted just now – and I pointed out that I was an Aucklander, but that transport planning has national and international effects. I also pointed out that since NZTA doesn’t accept that new roading infrastructure results in new trips taken, their modelling flies in the face of international research and shouldn’t be used for planning. 🙂

  5. I admit to being biased in favor of trams and LRT, but for the prices quoted for options like Scenarios B, C and D an LRT scheme really would be possible. Assume $100 M per km,double for tunneled sections, plus $100 million for a depot and you will be pretty close. So for $1 billion you could build a depot, 1km tunnel section, and 7 km of surface track. Roughly $1.2 billion would get you from the rail terminus to the airport with a spur to the hospital. You could then run feeder buses from there. So LRT in Wellington is technically and financially feasible. The questions are political will and willingness to accept restricting car traffic capacity.

    Of course, I am sure NZTA are aware of all this and faithfully considering all modes. Soon we will call them the New Zealand Tram Authority 🙂

    1. The business case for light/heavy rail will not stack up. The cost will be to high regardless of the route chosen including the route to the eastern side of the runway airport, whether its a tunnel under the runway or around the north end of the runaway. Then there the problem of the getting around the the Basin Reserve. One suggest light rail route calls for 2 tunnel plus a tunnels under the runway. Building a light rail system will not solve the Wellington traffic congestion and only add to it.

      The money saved in not building a light/heavy system to the airport can be used to build the missing section of the original Wellington Urban Motorway plan.

      1. Kris
        On what factual basis do you say that? Recent LRT projects have been costing what I said ($100m per km) – look at Canberra, Gold Coast and Sydney. Recent NZTA motorways have been costing much more. +50% if on surface; double or worse if tunnel. Waterview was $200 million per km. EW Link was headed for an even higher cost.

        Any motorway tunnel to match the LRT capacity will need to be four or more lanes, whereas an LRT tunnel l can be the equivalent of one lane in each direction, with less onerous fire safety requirements. So an LRT in tunnel will be cheaper than a motorway in tunnel. The higher land costs go, the more surface LRT will also be cheaper than surface motorways, because they have a much smaller land footprint.

        You are free to prefer a motorway solution, as that is a matter of opinion. But I wish people would stop inventing false facts to justify motorways. The days when motorways were cheaper than mass transit solutions are long over. They are clearly more expensive.

        1. Do you live in Wellington, if not, it is not flat from the city to the airport. Any light rail system for Wellington, would have to go through Mt Victoria range that separates the city from the eastern suburbs of Kilbirnie, Seatoun. Miramar and the airport. Whilst the actual light rail route hasn’t been discussed in much detail, there are several plans, being to put a tunnel from the Newtown Park Zoo through to Kilbirnie, which will mean removing houses at both sides of the tunnel. The other problem with this route is the Basin Reserve, as it will have to compete with the current traffic congestion, unless the cricket ground at the Basin Reserve goes and there is a direct road access from the northern end of Adelaide Road through cricket ground to link with Kent and Cambridge Terraces.

          There is another route option, that calls for 2 tunnels – one between Taranaki Street to Adelaide Road in Newtown, by passing the Basin Reserve and a tunnel from the Zoo to Kilbirnie, This option will still need to remove houses for both tunnels.

          Then there is issue at the airport. The terminal building are located in the eastern side of the runway, which means putting a tunnel under the airport which would be the best and quickest option or going around the northern end of the runway, which will clash with State Hwy 1 plus the sea spray from a good northerly wind or the southern end of the runway. If the runway is extend, it will be to the south, then the light rail tunnel can be incorporated in the extension. The current road tunnel at the southern end of the runway wasn’t designed built for light rail operation. There where calls when airport was built for a tunnel under the runaway at Coutts Street, to allow the continuation of trams services from Kilbirnie to Miramar and Seatoun. The government of day rejected the idea as to costly.

          The other factor about light rail to the airport, is the land that Kilbirnie and the airport is on, which has risen in each major earthquake. The last major earthquake in 1855 raised the current land.

          That is why the business case for 1 light rail line from the city to the airport, via the hospital (Newton) will not stake up. There is a perfectly good, regular limited stop ‘city to airport’ express bus service, so there is no reason for a light rail system for Wellington.

        2. I agree there is a perfectly good express bus to the eastern end of Courtenay Place. From there is enters NZ’s greatest PT timewarp – the Golden Mile.

          I’m a bit baffled about you comment on the seaspray at the northern end. It is within the harbour so I can’t imagine it would be any worse than what the Hutt Valley line deals with.

        3. Hi Jezza, the sea spray generate by a strong Northerly wind at the northern end of the runway, in some cases worse than in a southerly, as the wind is more predominate due to mountain flunneling of air currents above Newlands at the northern end of the harbour compared to wind from the south.

          Spray has known to affect both of sides of Cobham Drive. Northerly wind and spray use to affect trolley bus operations from Kilbirnie to Miramar and Seatoun to a point, service where suspensed due to the trolley buses losing their poles and/or severe arcing due to salt on the overhead. So, if the trolley bus services were affected, means light rail around the northern end of the running will also be subject to sea spray and arcing.

        4. Scott – With regards to comment ‘You are free to prefer a motorway solution, as that is a matter of opinion. But I wish people would stop inventing false facts to justify motorways’, firstly I don’t support motorway construction for the sake of it. I prefer public transport options, as I am a great public transport and former bus driver but the situation in Wellington is unique compared to Auckland, where the missing section of the Wellington Urban Motorway from the Terrace Tunnel to Mt Victoria as per the original plan of 1963 and the revised plan of 1980, is essential for Wellington city, like the CRL is for Auckland.

          The whole purpose of the Wellington Urban Motorway plan was to deflect traffic, using State Hwy 1 and 2 from the Hutt Valley and the Kapiti Coast away from the Wellington city and allow traffic to travel to the airport with out going through the city centre, as it is currently doing at the moment. Had the missing been completed as planned, Wellington would have still keep its environmental friendly trolley buses and its current Wellington city and local suburb bus network that has served Wellington city and suburbs efficiently since 1904, instead of the proposed new bus network that starts July 2018.

        5. I thought the 1963 and 1980 proposals put an overland motorway through the city. This is not so much taking traffic out of the city but instead replacing it with a motorway.

          I can’t see how this motorway not being built has caused the demise of the trolley buses.

      2. “The money saved in not building a light/heavy system to the airport can be used to build the missing section of the original Wellington Urban Motorway plan.”

        That sounds awfully familiar to most of Auckland’s motorway projects

        1. Yes I agree with you but in this case, the missing section of the Wellington Urban Motorway, I hate to say it, is essential for the Wellington city, like the CRL is for Auckland.

          The whole purpose of the Wellington Urban Motorway plan was to deflect traffic using State Hwy 1 and 2 from the Hutt Valley and the Kapiti Coast away from the Wellington city and allow traffic to travel to the airport with out going through the city centre, as it is currently doing at the moment.

          Like with the CRL, it is crucial that this missing section between the Terrace Tunnel and Mt Victoria needs to completed, as per the 1963 original plan and the 1980 revised plan.

        2. So that makes sense if the new motorway comprises buslanes, a truck lane perhaps, and just one general traffic lane, and if it’s coupled with road reallocation to PT and active modes throughout the city (not just CBD), with road blockages to general traffic. Have you looked at the road highway removals for traffic evaporation that have worked overseas, and adapted the ideas for Wellington?

          Otherwise any new motorway or extension just follows Auckland’s (and Atlanta’s, and Houston’s and…) path of simply inducing traffic, reducing accessibility by active modes and increasing car dependency.

        3. Kris, the De Leuw Cather & Co reports of 1963 (Wellington City) and 1966 (Wellington Region) strongly advocated extending the regional rail system at least as far as Te Aro (with provision to go further), at the same time as recommending the building of the Foothills Motorway. The reports also issued dire warnings as to what would happen with traffic if this essential development did not occur “by 1986″(!) What has happened since has borne out these warnings.

          The rail system we currently have carries 45% of ALL commuters from the rest of the region into Wellington CBD, and this massive contribution has enabled substantially reduced roading-expenditure in the northern corridors than would have been needed. This same benefit needs to be extended over the city-airport corridor by linking it to the rest of the rail system.

          Except at peak times, road-access from the north to the airport is generally easy. Public transport access is generally not, and seriously better public transport is the only way to improve things without generating more traffic overall and more car-dependency.

          Failure to do this is likely to cost much more in the long-term than the cost of doing it now. Had it been done when first proposed, the benefits which would by now have accrued would have long-ago justified its construction.

          The truly ‘missing mode’ is rail, not the section of motorway that you clamour for. In fact the traffic situation could be improved almost overnight simply by continuing the 2+1 two-way lane-configuration of the Terrace Tunnel over the whole Inner City Bypass route. The present one-way operation and dog-leg via Vivian Street is a ridiculous shambles.

          Regarding the technical difficulties you raise such as topography, property-acquisition, ground-stability and sea-level rise – these are surmountable and bear in mind that they will also apply also to any “four lanes to the planes” highway development.

          As for the “perfectly good, regular limited stop ‘city to airport’ express bus service” – this is a joke. Some a.m. peak runs to the airport are timetabled at 40 minutes from the station (admittedly seems to be quicker coming back). This is a snail not a flyer, and I would doubt it has a tenth of the 45% commuter-share that rail achieves over the Hutt Valley and Poririua/Kapiti corridors.

          Buses have their place, but with 15,000 a.m. peak arrivals by train into Wellington and the many more that would be attracted if the service went further, I am afraid buses just do not cut it. And neither does light rail meandering down the Golden Mile. Terminating the trains where they do is as unhelpful as terminating the motorway in Thorndon and expecting all vehicle-occupants to get out and change modes.

        4. Hi Heidi – The Wellington Urban Motorway 1963 plan dubbed the Wellington Foothills Motorway, was to follow the edge of the foot hills on the western side of the city with 2 tunnels where the current Terrace tunnel is located, with off and on access at Willis Street, then trenched with bridge at Cuba Street and Taranaki Street until it reached Basin Reserve, an over pass over the extended Adelaide Road linking Kent and Cambridge Terraces to quarter of the way up the road to Mt Victoria tunnel. There were to be additional on/off accesses at Taranaki Street and at the Basin Reserve. Under the 1963 plan, meant the current cricket ground at the Basin Reserve had to go. The 1966 revision kept the cricket ground and shifted the 2 way over pass slightly to the north of then ‘new’ cricket grand stand. The 1980 plan was more of refinement of the 1966 revised plan. The 1963, 1966 and 1980 plans called for an over pass over Adelaide Road, allowing direct link free flowing of local traffic along Adelaide Road, Kent and Cambridge Terraces and free flowing of regional traffic for State Hwy 1 and 2 by passing the city centre. Most of the original 1963 motorway plan was built to the existing Terrace tunnel but due to central government decisions to cut funding in the 1970 and 1980’s, that’s when things went pear shape.

          Part of the 1963 plan called for a combined bus/rail interchange at Wellington Railway Station and this was finally completed in 2007/2008 by the Greater Wellington Regional Council for more efficient bus/rail passenger transfers.

          As you know, Wellington already has an efficient regional rail network to the beginning of the Wellington CBD and regional bus services from/to Newlands, Khandallah and the Hutt Valley including Wainuiomata and Eastbourne, passing through the current rail/bus interchange at the railway station terminating/departing at Courtney Place. What stops more people using regional bus and train services, there is no integrated ‘tap n Go’ fare/payment system. Once that has been introduced, there will more people using local/regional bus and train services.

          With regards to trucks, unlike Auckland, there is not as much truck traffic so there no requirement to allocate dedicated truck lanes like what is required in Auckland, especially from Aotea Quay to the airport section.

          As I have mentioned in the past, Wellington is not car/truck friendly but more public transport, cycling and walking friendly due to the city compactness created by the surrounding topography. If the missing section from Terrace tunnel to Mt Victoria tunnel is completed, this will deflect non essential cars away from the city and will enable better flow of public transport though the city meaning less cars and more riding, cycling and walking.

    2. Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths being spread in various responses, for instance:

      – the Basin Reserve is the main problem. If it were, queues leading into the Basin would be longer than queues out of the Basin. A visit any night of the week will show that this is not the case, so – as the Board of Inquiry confirmed – so the Basin is one issue, but by no means the issue.
      – the Basin requires extensive engineering to “fix” it. Since it’s not the main issue, it doesn’t – judicious application of white and green paint will go a long way.
      – light rail is lust about getting to the airport. It isn’t, it’s primarily about providing PT of sufficient capacity along the Golden Mile – buses don’t hack it, as the queues of up to a dozen buses at Golden Mile stops show, and there’ll still be far too many buses by GWRC’s criteria when the new network is introduced next July – and about access to the eastern and southern suburbs. The airport is one destination, but by no means the destination.
      – “completing” the motorway will free up space on the waterfront. Induced traffic being what it is, it won’t – and they’ve tried this one on us before.
      – NIMBYs have stopped road improvements. They’ve certainly helped the powers that be see sense, but it’s always been the government that’s taken the decisions.
      – Wellington has a good rail system. If you live on the north side of the city and work on the north side of the CBD, perhaps (though Wairarapans, particularly after tonight, are unlikely to agree). For everyone else, a resounding no – and integrated fares won’t fix it (though they will help).
      – plans from the 60s (selectively chosen!) are relevant today. I don’t think any comment is needed!
      – light rail to the airport will require more civil engineering than roading of similar capacity. A nonsense, I’d say.
      – Wellington would still have its trolleys and not be in line for a new bus network if the motorway had been “completed”. Pardon?!?!?!
      – you can’t have decent public transport without building more roads first. Auckland fell for that in the 50s and had to wait 50+ years for the PT, Wellington in the 60s and is still waiting – the last significant PT infrastructure development in Wellington city was the Paekakariki electrification in 1940 (followed only by the trolleybuses!).

      Now, shall we get back to the real world in the 21st century?

  6. NZTA has just released a re-evaluation of the Petone-Grenada link road proposal, at, which basically says that P2G is far too expensive ($125m per km, compared with $28m for Transmission Gully: the Petone interchange alone is half a billion) and will not increase resilience, one of its supposed benefits.

    Tucked away on p43 are a couple of gems: “Aim to move customers and freight, not steel” (point 5), and “Recognise that public transport forms part of the solution” (point 10). Perhaps NZTA is beginning to see the light, and this will be reflected in LGWM?

    1. Great points, Mike. If we could now get NZTA to update their models so their BCR’s don’t undermine their new language, we might make progress. While they refuse to believe that new roading infrastructure creates new trips, they will continue to model incorrectly and feed rubbish into the planning decisions.

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