Last year the Wellington’s semi-equivalent of our Auckland Transport Alignment Project was released for consultation. The work, known as “Let’s Get Welly Moving”, was done as a result of the declined consent for the Basin Reserve Flyover which required Central and Local Government to go back to the drawing board.

As Matt pointed out here in his post on the work, the recommendations were incredibly disappointing, basically using the pretence of improving public transport, walking and cycling to push through some massive roading investments. I’m not going to go into further detail on that part of it, as what I want to touch upon in this post are some issues with the work the report did into Mass Transit options.

Underestimated Light Rail Capacity

The first issue that I had with the Wellington Mass Transit Summary Report was that that is was working on the assumption of 34 metre long Light Rail Vehicles, each carrying 250 people. This is on the low-end side of modern vehicles, which generally are up to 45 metres long, or can be coupled together, as is proposed for Auckland. Longer vehicles mean much higher capacity, with each vehicle able to carry close to 500 people.

This under-estimating of light-rail’s capacity has some important implications, because many of the overall work’s findings repeatedly are subtly disparaging to light-rail, basically saying that it’s just an expensive way of doing something that buses can do just as well. We know from detailed studies in Auckland that this isn’t true, but under-estimating light-rail’s capacity means the comparison between it and Bus Rapid Transit is not made fairly.

Bus Rapid Transit vs Demand

Many of the findings rely upon 2031 modelling, which suggests that the largest vehicles would be needed for Bus Rapid Transit with 24m vehicles running every two minutes to serve the demand for about 4500 southbound from Wellington station during the morning peak. Assuming that Wellington’s transport models are fairly similar to Auckland’s, this finding concerns me as we are very familiar with many of the shortcomings of these models. In particular, they:

  • Consistently underestimate PT demand
  • Particularly underestimate people’s willingness to transfer between public transport services

Correctly estimating the willingness to transfer is particularly important for this proposal, as people transferring between the rail terminus at Wellington station and the Mass Transit line will make up a huge proportion of the corridor’s demand.

Of course, Wellington could look at a second Bus Rapid Transit corridor or accept low future PT level of service with degraded placemaking due to wall to wall buses. However, this is where Light Rail could do well as it gives more wiggle room if growth is higher than expected as you have space to increase frequency as well as procure extra vehicles to combine creating much larger capacity than Bus Rapid Transit while still maintaining place.

The Route Plan

The route planning of the Mass Transit corridor especially the southern end of very odd for a few reasons.

The first reason is the assumption that Mass Transit needs to work around the motorway tunnels assumed as a given rather than be planned in own right leading to a similar issue to AWHC in Auckland where tying the rail/road together doesn’t make sense.

The reason it doesn’t make sense to tie them together is a new tunnel for Light Rail next to the existing tunnel does not make sense from a PT operations perspective for two reasons:

  1. Hataitai is pretty low density on the route on one side, and on the other side, your catchment is a park;
  2. It divides unnecessarily your spine into two branches meaning you need double the vehicles to maintain frequency or you spilt the frequency between Newtown and Kilbirnie.

    Option S3  Preferred Wellington Mass Transit Spine

A better solution is to create a route that can serve both Newtown as well as Kilbirnie on a single spine creating a more frequent linear network. Two options exist that could solve this issue well:

  1. Option S2 which after Newtown continued to Kilbirnie via Constable and Crawford St;

    Option S2
  2. Option S4 which after Newtown continues to Wellington Zoo then to Kilbirnie via a new tunnel to Coutts St;

    Option S4

Part two of the document contains all the potential route alignments if interested.

No real reason was given why option S2 (which would be much cheaper due to no tunnel) was dropped other than to say it was close to residential properties and the street was a little narrow in places. However, many parts of the route in Wellington will need to deal with this problem. Grade might be the problem further investigation should take place.

S4 was dropped due to cost and the tunnel portal effects on residents, but if we are going to be making this large step change investment then value engineering doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Other than the benefit of better frequencies, the service becomes simpler for users as you can hop on any service, has lower operating costs to achieve same capacity while also allowing branching the route in much more useful places. The report makes it clear the endpoint would eventually be the Airport, but if the branching is done in the right place then we could also extend the service via a new branch for example to Miramar as the spare capacity would exist.

The report worked on the assumption of a 34m LRV running every 4 minutes looking at the difference between an S3 and S2/4 if we also wanted a branch to Miramar:

Get Wellington Moving S3

  • Wellington to Newtown – Every 8 min
  • Wellington to Airport via Kilbirnie – Every 16 min
  • Wellington to Miramar via Kilbirnie – Every 16 min

Option S2/S4

  • Wellington to Newtown/Kilbirnie – Every 4 min
  • Wellington to Airport – Every 8 min
  • Wellington to Miramar – Every 8 min

Future Proofing for Light Rail is not Easy

One of the more interesting reports on the Let’s get Wellington Moving website is an Opus BRT Investigations Summary, which is different from the previously linked Mass Transit Reports. The report notes while future-proofing Bus Rapid Transit for Light Rail is possible, there are some huge trade-offs and issues:

Cost – if all LRT-ready elements are incorporated into the BRT scheme, then the cost difference between this level of implementation and a LRT scheme reduces, suggesting that it might be better to install LRT in the first place. A better approach is to design in some LRT-ready elements (predominantly alignment related) that do not preclude a conversion in the future for a lower expenditure. However, this approach may lead to the situation in the future, where it is more difficult to justify the upgrade on a cost-benefit aspect, as the ridership (and other) benefits may be much lower for the conversion.

Construction Impact – a second lengthy construction programme on the same corridor is likely to be undesirable unless a good alternative route was identified (which would be difficult in the Wellington context).

For the above reasons, the optimum approach in Wellington is likely to be that taken by most other cities – to build in some lower level of LRT-readiness to the BRT system (based on protecting the alignment and providing some BRT benefit at the same time), but with the expectation that this is unlikely to occur in any reasonable planning timeframe

Also from the report:

  • BRT can be successfully converted to LRT in the future;
  • Minimal LRT ready elements should be incorporated into the BRT corridor to minimise costs;
  • If LRT will definitely be implemented in the future, then it is more cost efficient to build it now;
  • BRT can drive significant mode share shift from private car, but it requires the system to be designed, implemented and operated to a high standard (i.e. to a similar level to that considered “normal” for a LRT system; and
  • Constructing LRT on the existing PT corridor either now or in the future could have significant effects on both PT usage and other modes due to the additional infrastructure requirements and need to relocate all services / utilities from the proposed route.

The Mass Transit Report also noted:

Evidence from other cities (Brisbane, Sydney) indicates there are likely to be significant challenges associated with the future conversion of BRT to LRT. The challenges are associated with the provision of alternative routes for public transport and other motor vehicles during the deconstruction/reconstruction process, as well as the need to replace most of the costly infrastructure.

The City of Ottawa has recently begun implementing the conversion of their highly successful BRT system to light rail, which is expected to open in 2018. The high growth rate of the city, and very high patronage demand on the BRT were the key drivers for this change. However, it has been found to be an expensive undertaking.

In short

  1. To future-proof for Light Rail properly often means the difference between BRT to a quality standard and LRT costs is low, so a minimal amount of future proofing is recommended i.e. just enough not to preclude it completely;
  2. Be very wary of talk of future proofing Bus Rapid Transit corridors for Light Rail;
  3. Upgrading from BRT to LRT is harder than expected, due to having to close the corridor during reconstruction;
  4. If you know you will need Light Rail in the future build it straight off, or deliver low cost/disruption bus upgrades in the interim rather than full BRT;

This is all not to say that the best option for Wellington is not Bus Rapid Transit rather than Light Rail, but I do think there were a few key issues that were a little off. You can find all the detailed reports here. There is a whole bunch of detailed reports on issues other than Mass Transit towards the bottom of the page.

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  1. In the history of humankind has anyone ever had problems travelling between the airport and the city? There are a huge number of taxis and your choice of an expensive bus or a cheap bus.
    The Newtown to the railway LRT makes a huge amount of sense. You can move masses with a reasonably short line that also serves Mt Cook, Basin Reserve and Courtenay Place. They should build that bit.

    1. +1, they need to build that bit, and then they can actually calibrate their assumptions about transfer penalties so they have some clue whether to extend it or not.

    2. People seem to lose their minds when the A word and Transit are used in the same sentence. Please can everyone try to remember that here, like in Auckland, a high quality Transit route with the Airport at one end does not mean that the whole thing is about going all the way to that destination. And it especially isn’t just about airline travellers making that journey.

      An Airport, like any high employment and visitor single destination, makes for a pretty good anchor to a well designed route, unless, even better, it can be on the way to other equally good attractors. But should rarely be the only reason for building such a line… In general Transit planners avoid single market routes.

      So in Wellington, like in Auckland, any route ending at the Airport (and there is no destination beyond it) needs to be more about what’s along the way than end to end speed.

      Reducing the railway terminus issue particularly with connection to the busy Newton area is surely the priority here. Build that, get it humming then there may well be a case to invest in a new tunnel to add the Airport as the anchor to an already successful system….

      I know, weirdly I appear to be in agreement with Miffy for the second day in a row, hope he’s alright…

      1. An aside. What do politicians and other Very Important People spend a lot time doing that the rest of the population don’t do much. That’s right, rushing late, in peak traffic, in a car they don’t have pay to use or park, to Airports. I have long believed this is one reason why urban transport decisions are so often twisted by obsessions with vehicle access to Airports. And the consequent failure to fund Transit alternatives.

        For example it can be argued that 9 years of more power than any single politician has wielded in this country since Muldoon, achieved little more than the construction of enough motorways, so that Steven Joyce now no longer has to give way to a fellow New Zealander driving between his lifestyle block home north of Auckland, on routes 18, 16, 20, 20A, to the Airport….

        (…except when congested of course, though he help achieve that too)

    3. Hey Miffy, the short answer is Yes, they have. It’s something that a lot of Wellingtonians get rather hot under the collar about – being stuck in traffic, between the airport and the city. Something the NZTA proposed a billion dollar solution to, that wasn’t actually going to solve the problem. The huge number of taxis is indeed the major part of the problem.

      1. Yes there can be a queue to the tunnel about the size of what most Aucklanders are happy to sit in near their kid’s school.

        1. Absolutely true – and in fact the issue is very much to do with parents driving children to school – we have 3 or 4 schools right next to the Basin, and whaddya know, the traffic jams go away when it is school holidays. But still – they’re still up in arms about it.

  2. Some where in the corridors of power, their is a sign that says, remember, we hate LRT. Keep the public thinking that we are considering but remember, it must never come to be. Why else is everywhere taking so long? Just get it done already, before us tram lovers abandon the country for somewhere with trams (Lisbon is a rather pleasant little city).

  3. Good points about capacity and cost of conversion. Brisbane’s busways actually cost more per km than the Canberra LRT is costing. There is also no mention of operating cost. One of the reasons European cities put LRT in at high passenger volumes is that it is cheaper to run than BRT. This article sums up the whole of life cost issue. Central government should not ignore it, even if it is the local operator that winds up paying for it.

  4. LGWM has been the most drawn out piece of navel gazing I have seen in a long time,

    Three years and they have basically come up with a plan that when fully developed would replicate the “tunnel link” project from the 1990s,

    Including 2 new tunnels (terrace and Mt Vic) , an additional motorway lane into the city along with a roading solution (a tunnel is proposed) to get southward traffic through town.

    Oh, and then they say they can take one lane off the quays ( which is what was promised when Karo drive was build 10 years ago..

    and if you are lucky there might be some cycle lanes and painted bus lanes,

  5. What Wellington needs is simply defined: Extend the existing regional rail system to connect a major part of the region that is currently remote from the system, i.e. from the present railway station southwards. This was seriously proposed between the late 1950s and early 1970s, but it fell victim to the same roads-only thinking that scuppered ‘Robbies Rail’ in Auckland. However the need has not gone away. It has significantly intensified.

    Upwards of 100,000 people reside in this fairly-dense but non-rail-served area, and they are poorly-served by transport of all modes. Meanwhile the existing rail system has a catchment of the entire rest-of-the-region, but stops dead on the northern edge of the CBD. Think Auckland, pre-Britomart!

    A common misconception is that large numbers of rail passengers currently transfer to buses at the Lambton Interchange to reach destinations beyond rail. This is a complete myth. According to the 2012 Wellington Public Transport Spine Study this figure is only 15% (many of which seems to be students transferring to the Vic Universtiy bus). The main conclusion is that the vast majority of rail passengers walk to their destinations, and that the limit of that walk for most people is 0.9-1.0Km (10-12 min). Those with destinations further from rail tend not to use rail. Welcome to Wellington’s stunted transport system that could perform so much better in terms of regional connectivity and better-serving of the Southern/Eastern suburbs plus airport, if this impediment was fixed.

    Harriet, you refer above to people’s willingness to transfer between modes. This is all well and good where you have a minor or secondary passenger flow, but you overlook that a forced transfer to another mode at the present Wellington Station – be it to bus, BRT, LRT or people-pods, is an interruption of the primary arterial flow. 15,000 people arrive into Wellington by train each weekday, with no choice but to get out and walk or transfer. Imagine imposing such a regime on motorists arriving on the motorway! That the rail system is as effective as it is, in spite of this, is an indication of how much more successful it could be if it connected with more of the CBD and the “missing quarter”

    Wellington is being pressured to accept motorway investment along this same corridor to the tune of $ billions. Now is the time to change tack, and look once again at how a rail-extension scheme might be achieved. Unfortunately Let’s Get Welly Moving has failed to do this, and this much-needed missing-ingredient of Wellington’s transport system remains absurdly ‘off the radar’.

    1. Firstly, there was a heavy rail line to Te Aro station (Courtney Place) where the Museum Hotel and Monument Apartments is now located. The line closed in 1917 by the Government due to competition by the trams. When the current railway station was built in 1937 put a stop to any further heavy rail plans through the CBD. Yes, there has been been alot of discussions over the years but all have scrapped due to cost and traffic disruption in the CBD and lack of benefits.

      Yes, having a free transfer system from rail to bus travel at the railway station is a must and has been on the table since the 1940’s. The GWRC is planning to do this in the planned rail/bus/ferry integrated ‘tap on/tap off’ fare and payment system. This will allow passengers to extend their travel between rail and bus and allowing more people to using the passenger transport, especially if travel is from the Porirua, Kapiti Coast, Hutt Valley and the Wairarapa.

      With regards to your comment – ‘Wellington is being pressured to accept motorway investment along this same corridor’ what are you referring too?. Its is the missing in the Wellington Urban Motorway plan from the Terrace Tunnel to Mt Victoria Tunnel? If so, the reality is, it has to be completed, as it is necessary to deflect traffic away from the CBD and will allow better flow of for bus travel especially around the Basin Reserve being the centre of most of Wellington traffic congestion. I hate to say, it is necessary for the missing link to be completed like Transmission Gully is future proofing SH1 against climate change,

    1. I think he means that there is a solution.Many ways of solving it. Having all the heavy rail from the north, all stop and finish at one place and go no further, is silly. There is the possibility of converting the Johnsonville line to Light Rail, and then extend that line so that it goes through town, and through to Newtown. Reasonably simple. Just needs a GWC with both nous and cohones, neither of which the current crew of GWC Councillors have.

      1. Converting the Johnsonville line from heavy to light rail has been discussed so many times over the years and the last opportunity to do this was at the time the GWRC was about to order the Matangi’s. The subject is now buried for good, as the line has been modified for the Matangi’s.

        1. Why is it buried? If Wellington built an LRT to the airport, this would definitely need to be revisited.

      2. Why would anyone want to convert the J-ville line to light rail?

        Unless you ran units coupled together; it would have a lower capacity than the existing system. At peak times; it’s already at congestion point.

        The layout of the line would not allow for new intermediate stations; one of the benefits of light rail conversion.

        I concede: There would be the potential benefit of possibly continuing the light rail into the CBD. But that might not be too popular if it’s coupled LRT units at rush hour. And that would only save J-ville line commuters from an interchange. Yes I know that essentially a line with no prospect of freight traffic is at mainline standard, but would the cost of converting it to light rail be justified?

        Surely it would make more sense to instead bring rail into the CBD by tunnelling it into the CBD. Then all 4 lines (and any of the future) could utilise it.

  6. it really should be about the railway station to newtown which needs light rail. The airport is a distraction and the existing bus tunnel plus a bit more bus priority should be more than ample for the airport unless it expands majorly.

  7. This is a very timely post thanks Harriet. Just yesterday I was walking along Willis St at 5.40pm and was surrounded by dozens of belching buses. A quick look at the MetLink website tells me there are between 60 and 70 buses an hour in each direction (so between 120 – 140 an hour in total) at peak hours along Lambton Quay and Willis St.

    Yes MetLink have recently confirmed changes to the bus network will take effect in July this year which will require more people to make transfers, but the same number of people will still need to be moved along this corridor (in fact more if recent news reports on full buses are backed up with statistics).

    Clearly it makes sense to start on a phased build of light rail along this corridor – and soon. Because if we get more people on buses we’ll just see longer and longer bus-jams, and more and more people getting mad at them.

    Imagine a 300 person LRT system running every 3 minutes along here. That moves more people than the current 60-70 buses an hour by my maths… and makes for a much more pleasant streetscape. Yes, it still requires transfers at either end, but reliability and right of way trump sitting in a bus behind 20 other buses any day.

    1. Where were the buses going when you walked a long Willis Street? Where they traveling to the railway station, Newlands, Khandalah, Queensgate, Eastbourne etc or out bound to the Brooklyn, Aro Street, Miramar, Seatoun, Newtown Park, Lyall Bay etc?

      Light rail is not going to solve Wellington public transport issues. Its an expensive infrastructural cost that has limited functionality and/or benefit for Wellington city.

  8. @ Guy M, @ KLK: I definitely mean extend heavy rail, but only because heavy rail is what we have. And what we have is 90% of a complete system wanting simply for that extra 10%. The principal attributes of what we have that must be apply to any new extension are, i) Its own exclusive right-of-way, and ii) seamless interoperability region-wide. Light rail through-the-streets will not achieve this and is not a suitable medium by which to extend what we have, neither in terms of speed, nor peak carrying-capacity, nor pedestrian safety.

    @ Kris: The “pressure Wellington faces” over motorway development is to accept full-blown, “4 lanes to the planes”. This involves much more than just the section between the two tunnels.

    Purely from an ‘outcome’ point-of-view and ignoring achievability for the moment, I maintain that the best possible transport-solution for the Wellington region is to extend the proven and highly-effective regional rail system southwards, with the airport as a logical end-point (“4 *lines* to the planes”). Only this will enable the city to break out of the traffic-dependency trap it is now intractably caught in. I do not accept that a local and completely separate light rail line will be sufficient to impact traffic problems which begin as far away as the Kapiti Coast and Upper Hutt. An extension of existing rail which already connects these places would.

    A light rail variant pushed by some is “Tram Train”, whereby limited through-running between the light and heavy rail systems is technically possible. However the challenges in achieving this tend to be glossed-over, and the incompatibility between intensive-rapid-transit and running-in-the-street remains unaddressed.

    The feasibility of HR extension has not been seriously looked-at since the early 1970s, and at that time it was considered achievable by several feasibility-studies (albeit not all the way to the airport). Much has since changed of course, including the building-out of most of the corridor-options identified back then, but the biggest barrier remains the same: a failure to appreciate the immense value in getting the whole Wellington region rail-connected, and a complete lack-of-will to investigate every possible means by which this might happen.

    As with Auckland’s CRL, we need to do this, and do it properly. The need will not go away until either it is built, or until some significant and as-yet unforeseen change occurs in society. Current proposals for light rail are merely fiddling at the fringes of the problem.

    1. Whilst the original plan was from 4 lanes or as you call it ‘4 Lanes to Planes’ there are to 2 other cheaper options, being 2 lanes (one lane each) way from the Terrace Tunnel to Mt Victoria or a 3 lane system that will allow 2 lanes in and 1 lane out during morning peak period and 2 lanes out and 1 lane in during afternoon/evening peak period. This mean there will be no requirement to build the second Terrace and Mt Victoria tunnels.To do this would be mean redevelopment of the Basin Reserve as there is no where else in Wellington to allow on/off traffic for Adelaide Road and Kent and Cambridge Terraces.

      What the armchair urban planners seem to ignore, residents in the Hutt Valley, Johnsonville, Newlands, Porirua and along the Kapiti Coast have clearly stated, they do not want to use public transport to go the Wellington regional hospital, especially in a medical emergency or to the airport. The whole purpose of the Wellington Urban Motorway plan is to take traffic out of the CBD and inner city suburbs, to make these areas more bus, cycling and walking friendly and reduce CO2 emissions in the city.

      Workers who use public transport from the Hutt Valley, Johnsonville, Newlands, Porirua, the Kapiti Coast and the Wairarapa, have said a fully integrated fare/payment system is a better system than what is currently available.

      While I support the concept of extending HR/LR to Courtney Place or to Newtown, the opportunities have been missed and its not going to happen. While there is a group of people how are very vocal about LR from the station to Newtown and the airport, this is not going to solve Wellington traffic congestion. There has been not detail business case into the costs and economic benefits to the city, the route taken and how many buildings would be need to be demolished for a LR tunnel through Mt Victoria to the airport. Until there is a detail business case and prefer route option/s release to the public, I am not convinced the LR system is the best answer for the city.

      1. “What the armchair urban planners seem to ignore, residents in the Hutt Valley, Johnsonville, Newlands, Porirua and along the Kapiti Coast have clearly stated, they do not want to use public transport to go the Wellington regional hospital, especially in a medical emergency or to the airport. ”

        In a medical emergency you would get to the hospital by ambulance or helicopter. If Wellington residents don’t want to get to an airport by public transport then we may as well close the airport because there are no other cities for them to travel to.

        1. Hospitals have more staff and visitor trips each day than patient trips. And of the patient trips, only a small fraction are emergency situations.

          For every one person who has to go to hospital in a medical emergency, there are ten others that aren’t.

      2. Why should the residents of Porirua, the Hutt Valley, Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa have more priority over the residents of Wellington’s inner suburbs who would have to put up with the impact of the Wellington Urban Motorway system?

        To eliminate the impact of this it would have to be tunneled through the City. Are the residents of these aforementioned suburbs happy to pay a toll that would cover the cost of this? I doubt it, they would more likely rat run through the existing streets.

      3. @Kris, please remind me when the residents of those northern areas you list “have clearly stated, they do not want to use public transport to go the Wellington regional hospital, especially in a medical emergency or to the airport” ? If a survey has elicited this stated preference, I do not recall it.

        But even supposing it had, the question would have been highly “loaded”, in that today’s PT-offering for most of those journeys would require a bus/bus or train/bus transfer, with all the disincentives of a very non-integrated service. This would be the “public transport” that respondents would have in mind when stating their preference. Never has any survey asked, “Would you use public transport to the Hospital or Airport if you could get there in a single train ride from your nearest suburban station?”. How might you answer such a question, Kris?

        So given the disjointed PT system we have, you are probably right in your assertion that few would choose to make such journeys. But if the aim is to canvass opinion for improved public transport, you don’t do this by asking “Would you use PT based only on how it is today?”.

        I agree with you, that light rail proposals for a separate system between the station and the airport are not going to solve Wellington’s traffic congestion. Those that advocate this (under the name of FIT – “Fair Intelligent Transport”) admit to having the immediate goal of solving bus-congestion along the Golden Mile, rather than impacting regionally-generated traffic problems. To me this is just a time-wasting distraction from what is really needed, but it is a band-wagon onto which environmentally-minded members of the public and even certain politicians have climbed, without having thought through the wider issues.

        The rival LR faction is TramsAction, which advocates tram-trains that can inter-operate on the HR and LR networks. If achievable, this would go some way to eliminating the disjointedness, but it does not provide the region-wide connectivity and rapidity that heavy rail extension would.

        You cursory dismissal of heavy rail extension in a few short words suggests to me that you haven’t really thought about it. And in starting with the premise that “it’s not going to happen”, you immediately close your mind to the possibility that there maybe innovative and yet-to-be explored ways by which it could be achieved. The present urban motorway certainly wouldn’t have happened had the promoters baulked at every challenge in their way. I believe if the will was there to extend rail then a method would be found to do it (and I am more than willing to offer some suggestions of my own!). But as long as the underlying agenda remains only to build roads then you are right – it won’t happen and likely neither will anything else that runs on rails.

        And as with the $1.4 billion Waterview Motorway Tunnel in Auckland which was supposed to free-up congestion but has re-congested within 6 months, we are foolish if we expect a roads-only Wellington to ‘Get Moving’ any time soon.

      4. And Kris, I agree that there is an option readily presenting itself to make the inner-city bypass route bi-directional with 2+1 traffic lanes, as currently happens in the Terrace Tunnel. The northbound ‘trench’ (12.7m) is wide enough for 3x 3.5m lanes plus 2.2m for shoulders and a median. Doing this would mean SH1 could be confined to a single dedicated corridor and Vivian Street could be freed from arterial traffic. Major intersecting routes such as Taranaki St and Willis Street would then each have only a single, bi-directional intersection with SH1 to cope with instead of two separate unidirectional ones as now. I believe this would bring a huge improvement and significant capacity-increase almost overnight, particularly Southbound, and would help pave the way for de-trafficking the waterfront route.

        However the official policy as kick-started by Steven Joyce and taken up by the NZTA is still the “four lanes to the planes”, Road of national Significance, and presumably this remains in force until or unless the new government changes it. The consequence is that cheap and easy improvements such as above are not wanted since they reduce the “justification” for the preferred grandiose scheme.

        That the costly inner-city bypass infrastructure (including the Arras Tunnel) has only ever operated as a one-way road, and that we have endured for so long the dog’s breakfast that is SH1 via Vivian Street, is a complete travesty. But I suspect “4 lanes to the planes” needs to be dropped from government (and LGWM!) policy before anything else will be considered.

      5. According to kris, “residents in the Hutt Valley…have clearly stated, they do not want to use public transport to go…to the airport” (source not given). Meanwhile, back in the real world, “An online petition started by a Lower Hutt councillor to save the only direct bus link between Wellington Airport and the Hutt Valley has secured more than 3500 signatures in less than a day.” (source:

    1. I agree, light rail from the station to newtown with free transfer to/from heavy rail is needed. Not tinkering with buses and more motorways to encourage car dependancy.

  9. Coming back to this now the LGWM feedback results are in… have had a few conversations with councillors recently where they go “yes yes yes mass transit yes efficiency… but earthquakes. Anything on rails will be out for far longer after an earthquake than anything with tyres”.
    yet the LGWM officials are carefully saying “mass transit” seemingly to show that they’re considering buses and LRT. Any thoughts?

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