It’s been a while since there were any major updates on the Let’s Get Welly Moving project, so I had a look at their website to see whether there had been any major progress since the options that were announced late last year. The main bit of progress is some interesting reporting back on the public consultation that was undertaken on these options, but first a bit of context.

Let’s Get Welly Moving is the piece of work following on from when the Basin Flyover was declined resource consent back in 2014. It is a joint project between NZTA and the local councils, kind of a mini-version of the Auckland Transport Alignment Project.

It’s fair to say we were not impressed by the options presented late last year, basically because it felt like a giant exercise in clever marketing of roading projects. If I was to sum up the general approach in Let’s Get Welly Moving, it would be “let’s build a heap of new roads to improve public transport, walking and cycling.” For reference here’s a brief descriptions of the different options they’ve been looking at, each on building on the last:

A. Prioritise public transport, walking and cycling in the central city

Reduce speed limits in the central city, prioritise key streets for public transport, walking and cycling to make travelling by bus quicker and to create a safer and more attractive environment for people walking and cycling.

B. Scenario A PLUS better connections to the east and south

An extra Mt Victoria tunnel and separating eastwest traffic from other movements at the Basin Reserve would deliver faster and more reliable public transport connections, including mass transit (which could include light rail), to Newtown and the airport.

C. Scenario B PLUS less conflict with traffic and redevelopment opportunities in Te Aro

A new city tunnel under parts of Te Aro would reduce conflicts between people walking, cycling, and traffic, make bus travel more reliable, and provide urban redevelopment opportunities, including new buildings and public spaces above the tunnel.

D. Scenario C PLUS better access from the north, and less waterfront traffic

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 access the waterfront.

There’s a lot of good marketing in the description of those options. Take Scenario D for example:

If you read the text, you’d be thinking that this option is all about public transport priority, walking improvements, cycle lanes and potentially light-rail. In fact it’s three new road tunnels costing billions of dollars and the “possibility” of light-rail.

Scenario A is probably the only one with a fair description. It actually focuses on improving walking and cycling in Wellington’s central city. But no mass transit for some reason – I guess that doesn’t fit with the “you can have mass transit but only if you build heaps of road tunnels first” approach.

The results of the public feedback are interesting, because they suggest large parts of the public have seen through this fancy wording. On the other hand, a large number of people seem to want the “everything option” – which I imagine comes with a fairly hefty price tag.

Options A and D really stand out, although it’s interesting to note a lot of interest in mixing and matching the scenarios. So if you dig a bit deeper, what elements are the most popular?

So very strong support for rapid transit, be it bus or light rail. Strong opposition to congestion pricing and quite a lot of support for some of the other bigger investments. Sounds like fairly typical “we want everything but we don’t want to pay for it” feedback that happens when you don’t force people to make trade-offs in their submissions.

A recommended programme is currently being developed and was meant to have been released by the end of August. It will be interesting to take a look at that programme when it comes out, to see whether it really reflect the government’s new transport priorities, or whether it continues the “clever marketing” language of earlier stages. It will be especially interesting to see how much the preferred programme costs and whether it’s affordable and value for money. This means some tough decisions will need to be made:

  • If it’s a choice between rapid transit and all the motorway tunnels, which is more important?
  • If the only way to pay for the “everything option” is a costly congestion charge, is that OK?
  • Given Wellington really isn’t growing that much, does it actually need so much transport spend?

Wellington’s urbanism has stagnated over the past decade, resting on its laurels while Auckland has come on leaps and bounds. Which way Wellington goes on these questions will be critical to its way forward.

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  1. Separating north South traffic from east west traffic at the basin desperately needs to be done. Same goes for 2nd southbound terrace tunnel lane. Tunneling through Te Aro is less clear cut – it could be great depending on where you can Exit and what that looks like, but it probably is not worth the colossal spend for now. 2nd mt Vic tunnel should hopefully not be necessary if we ramp up PT and therefore reduce airport bound traffic at peak times.

  2. Firstly welly ain’t growing as a region like Ak but Welly city is getting most of it: 65000 new people in not very long.

    It would be great to know how we could have better transport that doesn’t suppress livability, for less $$
    the smart beans at LGWM seem dead set on $3.2 billion plus.

    Is it really necessary to double the terrace tunnel, for instance?
    And covering Vivian – livability marketing abounds for this very spensy element, but could you not just plant a bunch of ace street trees, calm traffic and prioritize people at intersections, and achieve much of the same effect?

  3. People in the Wellington region have a strange obsession with getting to the airport by car, even though there are great options to use alternatives. At off peak with a snapper card you can get from Wellington Station to a suburban stop less than 600m from the airport terminal by bus for less than $3. Or use the airport bus for $10 and get delivered to the terminal.

    The problem is that most of the region is low density sprawling suburbs with no good transport options, and they continue to expand faster than the dense urban core between them and the airport.

    1. Metlink arent allowed to stop at the actual airport from what I can tell. The airport flyer is getting pricey now too. I’d love to see light rail as far as Newtown.

      1. Does anyone know how this has happened when AT and Environment Canterbury have no trouble running regular services into their respective airports?

        1. It’s probably related to the airport bus being run by Infratil who also own the airport. there is a clause that metlink can provide a service from Wellington railway station if the flyer ceases to run and a time period the current operator must give of ending the service.

        2. As the service basically competes with metlink services and is pricier plus won’t accept snapper from the end of the month I imagine changes will be coming. Convenient (but at $15 not cheap) though it for those of us that reside in the Hutt I do wonder what makes us more entitled to a direct airport bus than those folks from Johnsonville Porirua Island Bay Karori etc.

        3. Infratel is a potent political force in Wellington. It is closely aligned to The Entitled Party, sorry National Party. Before the change in Government, there were lots of examples of the NZTA doing Infratels bidding. The Snapper debacle in Auckland, and on going in Wellington, that still cannot implement integrated ticketing. The shameless gaming of the mixed commercial and subsised services operating model. The concerted, but failed lobbying to close the Johnsonville Railway Line. AT has lots of faults, but Auckland can be greatful they largely stood their ground against Infratel interests.

        4. The Flyer seems to carry quite a bit of air around from what I’ve seen. Is it really a good use of scarce Golden Mile & Hataitai Bus Tunnel capacity?

    2. Yes we had a recent trip there I wanted to try this airport flyer out but combined with the fact we were short of time, my Snapper Card didn’t quite have enough left in it & having to walk to get to the stop we opted for an Uber to the airport for ~$22 vs $20 bus for us both. This also gave us the option of a scenice drive around the waterfront on the way there.

  4. Surely the elephant herd in the room in Get Welly Moving is the abomination of how not to run a bus service!

    Chris Laidlaw and friends, horrendously out of their depth have ensured to in fact “Stop Welly moving” by any means possible.

    Reading between the lines it now appears more an exercise in crushing union related drivers and cutting costs and ditching the most ecological buses in the country. What an absolute mess!

    1. Yes, GWRC’s main purpose appears to be to make AT look like a well functioning organisation that are experts in running PT.

    2. On the trolleys:
      You simplify somewhat. The previous government had a hand in it too by indicating that there would be no NZTA/govt funding for renewal of the power supply (particularly the underground feeder cables – which were worn out).

      Anyway, all the trolleys will be converted to battery electric. NZ Bus has an EECA grant for chargers at Kilbirnie & Karori depots.

      Once that’s done (& the rest of Tranzit’s first batch of electric deckers have arrived) there will be more electric buses in Wellington than there have been for many years.

      1. If you accept politicians words, but in my view its a thing where one should default to the position they are liars until proven beyond reasonable doubt they are not, then the Trolley buses were dispensed with because of the wiring. I tend to think the reality was somewhat different. Those buses were a bottle neck the council could not overcome to implement cut throat tendering that is mandated by the PTOM. So they ditched them and I agree with the reference below, replaced them with tenuous technology.

        And the supremely arrogant Chris Laidlaw hiding behind and blaming the woes on the contract winners. Dear oh dear, that man who has had his snout in one public trough or another over the years has to go.

        Good article by Simon Louisson today that is worth reading;

  5. I see that Fairfax are trying to blame the bus disaster in Wellington on the hub/spoke model:

    ” The council had initially proposed for a whopping 30 per cent of commuters to need to transfer buses, but cut that back to 5 per cent in the final design.

    But Kitchenman says requiring anyone to transfer buses where they did not previously need to was a fundamental design flaw.

    Psychologically speaking, this effect was known as a “response cost”: the cost associated with removing something which encouraged people to use a product or service, and making them less likely to use it.

    In the case of transfers, taking away a direct service and replacing it with a more disruptive journey was plainly a barrier to using the system.

    “They should be growing their customer base, not discouraging people.””

    BUT: Auckland’s New Networks are guided by that transfer model. There’s been some grumbling but no “disaster” talk. Who is this “Kitchenman” guy, where does he get his anti-transfer ideology from, whose interests is he serving by spreading it?

    1. I think there is a couple of things at play here. Wellingtonians don’t like change, it’s a sentiment that applies everywhere but seems to be particularly strong in Wellington.

      The second is that Wellington has a higher proportion of people working in the CBD and has a very narrow spine. The existing network offered a good service to large parts of the city already, there was less scope to make significant improvements, such as rail/bus interchanges such as Panmure, New Lynn and Otahuhu as there is in Auckland.

        1. There was severe bus congestion in the city centre but poor frequency outside it. Wellington will benefit greatly from it’s hub and spoke once it’s operating properly.

          And I read that it was introduced in anticipation of a rapid service (i.e. light rail or rapid bus) being introduced in future, which would mean everyone transferring onto rapid at the hubs rather than taking their bus all the way into the city.

          Wellington much more than Auckland suffers from a geometry problem. Which is why road building is pointless and rapid transit through the centre is the best option long term.

        2. Ben Ormsby – Your comment is wrong. The so call ‘bus congestion’ was and will be caused by traffic congestion by non-essential vehicles, no bus priority traffic light phasing that favors pedestrians and long bus dwell times due to non integrated ‘tap n travel’ ticketing/payment system, that cause slow bus travel and bus bunching in the central city zone. With the new bus network the only thing that has change, there is now an integrated ‘tap n travel’ ticketing/payment system but the bus dwell times are still the same due to the double decker buses.

          There is no requirement to have 5 additional bus transfer hubs for Wellington city services, when 3 is enough, being – the golden mile between Courtenay Place and the railway station which includes bus/train interchange, Kilbirnie and Johnsonville.

          The previous network worked well dispute the occasional hiccups and all was required was enhancements that factored in better bus services from city’s northwestern suburbs of Johnsonville, Newlands, Churton Park and Grenda village and a region wide integrated bus ‘tap n travel’ payment/ticketing system. By doing this would have been cheaper than what the new system is costing the regions rate payers.

          The current network is the GWRC version of a rapid bus network.

        3. Kris:
          I’m not convince that double decker dwell times at peak of the peak are much (if any) worse than that of absolutely rammed single deckers where half a dozen plus people had to get off to let people out and get back on again. This was pretty typical under the old network – which was not functioning well.

          Its nice to be able to actually get on the bus at the time I want, rather than being left at the stop as 2-3 full bus go past – a big problem under the old network in my case. It got so bad under the old network that I was leaving 20+min early to arrive on time.

          For me the new network is an improvement even with the botched implementation, unfinished hubs, etc, etc.

    2. I’m no expert on Wellington, but the generalisations Kitchenman makes are certainly wrong. In Auckland, it is only because of the transfers and the rationalisation of routes that the frequency has been able to go up as much as it has. Change is the hard one – those I feel the most sorry for with change are people who have bought a house on a bus route and then find the bus route disappears.

      1. Bit annoyed at all those who think the old network was perfect. Things like no evening or weekend service on some routes (e.g. parts of current 29, 21, 23, 24). This is what some want to go back to.

        1. Same in Auckland. People who in the past only used the bus for a commute to work, complaining that they now have to walk 200m to the stop. Not sure why they can’t see that other users now have services that didn’t even used to exist – an hour later each morning and evening, twice as many between 7 am and 7 pm, and that the network now actually functions for people doing something other than a simple commute.

        2. Why would it concern somebody who perceives themselves disadvantaged that somebody else benefits?

    3. Daphne – MRCagney Australian based urban and transit consulting company was involved in the consulting in Auckland’s bus network redesign and in Wellington new bus network. In essence, GWRC choose the cheaper scaled down Auckland ‘hub n spoke’ rapid bus concept to operate in Wellington by reducing the region’s bus fleet from 515 buses down to 428 buses. Whilst the current or new bus network looked good on paper, it was flawed before its was implemented.

      Unlike Auckland and Christchurch, Wellington city and the region is confined to its topography. The previous Wellington city bus network grow out of the Wellington tram network that was built to suit the Wellington city southern, eastern and western suburbs topography to allow people direct one tram ride to the city CBD and the railway station being the major tram later bus and train interchange hub. As buses replaced trams, the core route network grow to take factor in growth in the southern, eastern and western suburbs.

      With growth in the Wellington northwestern suburbs of Johnsonville, Churton Park, Newlands, Grenda village over the last 40 years, increased the number of bus services from these suburbs and Eastbourne to the Wellington central city zone initially terminated at Wellington station but in the mid 1990’s bus services from these northwestern suburbs and Eastbourne were allowed to travel through the city centre, dubbed the ‘Golden Mile’ to terminate at Courtenay Place.

      This concept work well despite the occasional hicups for nearly 114 years until the GWRC introduced ‘hub n spoke’ rapid bus concept.

      Since the early early 1950’s when cars became popular, Wellington city central zone, started to experience traffic congestion, that started to affect tram and later bus travel on the golden mile slowing bus travel. Due to bad city planning by then Wellington Council City, not banning non essential vehicles in the central city zone, not giving bus priority traffic light phasing at city intersections, resulted in slow bus movements and bunching, which plagued the previous bus network and is and will plague the current bus network and any light rail travel through the central city zone until the missing section of the Wellington urban motorway between the Terrace and Mt Victoria tunnels to deflect non essential vehicle way from Wellington central city zone.

      Despite the GWRC claims that the previous bus network was pass it use by date, broken and had reach capacity, the new ‘hub n spoke’ rapid bus network was flawed before it was implemented, as the GWRC choose to ignored –

      – Traffic congestion, lack of bus priority in traffic light phasing which favors pedestrians in the city central zone will continue to slow bus movements and bus bunching on the golden mile, resulting in missed connections at the new bus transfer hubs

      – Failed to listen to the users of the network that wanted direct one bus travel to the city, especially from the southern, eastern and western suburbs that use take to 15-25 minutes on one bus, now required up to 3 bus transfers taking up to 40 minutes to hour to do the same travel.

      – To save money, the GWRC accept contracts from Tranzurban (owned by Tranzit group) and Uzabus, both known for non unionized, low wage drivers for 60% of the bus routes. leaving NZ Bus and Mana who have unionized higher paid drivers for the remaining routes.

      Because high number of low paid drivers, which is and will create driver long term recruiting and retention issues, causing cancelled services and long delays at hubs, coupled with slow bus movements and long dwell times with double decker bus compared to single decker buses on the golden mile, the new ‘hub n spoke’ rapid bus network will never work as designed, hence the massive back lash to the current network and calls for an enhanced version of the previous network, which would have cheaper compared what has been spent on the current network.

      1. What’s your solution to the problem of non-essential car traffic in the area, Kris? Which traffic evaporation method do you think is appropriate here?

        1. Heidi – the solutions are simple –

          – Complete the missing section of the Wellington urban motorway between the Terrace and Mt Victoria tunnels to deflect non essential traffic away from the city central zone as per the De Leuw Cather 1963 and 1966 Reports and Burrell 1980 Report, as a either cheaper 3 lane or more expensive 4 lane system.

          – Only buses, ride sharing services, emergency and service vehicles in the central city zone which is from Vivian Street to Wakefeld and from Courtenay Place to the Terrace.

          – Link Adelaide Road directly with Kent and Cambridge Terraces to allow greater traffic flow by eliminating the congestion around the Basin Reserve.

          All of the above have been discussed for the last 50 years and nothing has been done, except the traffic congestion gets worse, especially once Transmission Gully comes online and complete the Petone to State Highway 1 Grenda link.

          As I have always said, Wellington city is not a car/vehicle friendly but a more public transport, walk and cycling friendly city.

        2. Your second solution is a traffic evaporation solution.

          Your first and third are traffic induction methods.

        3. In reality this proposal is likely going to require tolls to pay for it. Wouldn’t it make more sense to save a whole lot of money and put a congestion charge on the existing roads, with some smaller improvements.

          This would make people put a lot more value on their trips, as I suspect not many trips on this corridor are actually going to the regional facilities you mentioned.

        4. Heidi and Luke – I an not a person who believes in building roads to solve traffic solutions but in Wellington it needs to happen, as the Terrace to Mt Victoria link needs to get non essential vehicles away from the Wellington central zone and the Petone to State Highway 1 link needs to future proof road access out of Wellington/Hutt in case of a natural disaster like Transmission Gully. These are 2 roading projects I reluctantly support.

          Like with most cities in NZ, people are obsessed with their cars as a convenience and don’t want the benefits of public transport, as they perceive they will loose their independence.

        5. How on earth does the Petone to Grenada route help if Transmission Gully is closed due to a disaster? There is just as much chance of P2G also being closed?

        6. Oh yay, motorways are the solution to poor PT. Tiresome – just more of the same old that’s been promoted for years.

          How improving public transport by actually improving public transport? If it inconveniences a few motorists, so what?

  6. I think part of the problem here in Wellington is we don’t yet have an influential lobby group like Greater Auckland to demonstrate leadership on the right issues.

    There’s often plenty of opposition to projects at the grassroots level (see Basin Flyover and waterfront developments), but no real strong lobby for them. Add in the mess that is multiple local government organisations and it’s the perfect opportunity for the wrong type of projects to get through.

    1. Another big problem for Wellington is that the proliferation of local councils fragments community engagement. Particularly as employment, entertainment and education in the Wellington Region is so focused on the Wellington City centre.

      A lot of the urban design decisions that affect transport (road design, cyleways, parking etc) are made at a city level, not a regional level, and most “Wellingtonians” live outside Wellington City (in the Hutts, Porirua and Kapiti).

      But LGWM only includes WCC, NZTA and GWRC, and “The focus is the area from Ngauranga Gorge to the Airport” which means the focus is really on “fixing” the roads in Wellington City for people who have already decided to drive there, rather than creating a regional transport network that encourages people to use other modes.

      1. Yes! Definitely. The entire scope of the project is at the wrong level. It’s not about thinking holistically about the entire regional network, so of course the outcomes aren’t going to reflect what works across the entire regional network.

        1. Agree with the two core issues – council fragmentation and a lack of GA type lobby group in Wellington. It is shocking that the train network finishes 1.5km from central Wellington and extending it is not even being looked at as an option (likewise light rail is not even being investigated) – we don’t know how much these options would cost, how feasible they would be, what they would look like. How can core transport decisions be made without this information?

        2. Commenters here on GA sometimes say we need many separate councils competing with each other for residents; that this would encourage them to allow intensification. Any thoughts about whether the council fragmentation could be an advantage for Wellington in this way? To me, it seems that the downsides for regional planning are too great, for all the reasons given in this thread, but I am wondering about the intensification question.

      2. peter – The GWRC looks after whole of the greater Wellington region when it comes to public transport through Metlink, water supplies, etc.

        Metlink is responsible for the region’s bus, Wellington harbour ferry and regional passenger train services.

        There has been calls to create the Wellington Council but people living in the Wairarapa rejected the idea.

        People within the region have to travel through Wellington city to get to work, the regional hospital, the regional stadium and regional aquatic centre and the airport, as State Highways 1 and 2 merge at Ngauranga Interchange to become State Highway 1 through Wellington city to terminate at Wellington Airport hence the ‘Ngauranga Gorge to the Airport’ focus.

        The problem is, Wellington city and its mediate suburbs are not car friendly due to the city topography making any roading solutions difficult, as the city is more public transport, walking and cycling friendly.

        1. Agreed that many people within the region have to travel through Wellington, and the problem is that the road system is much better than the public transport system for this – so the clear solution is to improve public transport.

          The Ngauranga to Airport focus actually comes from LGWM being the successor to GWRC’s Ngauranga to Airport Corridor Plan. The other regional corridors already have reasonably workable corridor plans but N2A proved a harder nut to crack, hence the change in approach and the inclusion of WCC.

          By the way, people living in the Wairarapa didn’t reject the Wellington Council option (well they sort of did, in the sense that public opinion across the region rejected it): what they actually formally rejected was amalgamating the three Wairarapa district councils into one.

  7. I’ve spent the last few years hoping the capital would become progressive but pretty much abandoned hope now. Probably time to move away.

  8. I’m not convinced light rail is necessary. While capacity issues exist on the 3 route, this is a result of the operator not putting on the double deckers the route was planned around, rather than there being a more fundamental issue with capacity.

    I’m also not convinced more cycleways are going to achieve much. I cycle to work, but Wellington’s weather means it will remain a fringe mode of transport during the winter months. Also while Newtown can be a little hairy during peak hour, for the most part the existing roads are fine going from Newtown to the CBD.

    What a mess. What we’ve ended up with is four years (and counting) of total inaction. Congestion has got worse, and it’s difficult to see the existing network coping once Transmission Gully goes online.

    1. Henry O’Connor – I agree with you about light rail. If the trams and the trolley buses where phased out due to inflexibility for their infrastructure in the Wellington central city zone, so why would light rail be any better, as light rail will have the similar inflexible infrastructure as trams being fixed to rails.

      1. Agree – Wellington’s geography creates a situation where there are very crowded corridors in and around the CBD but which suddenly disperse as you get about halfway to the outer suburbs, this doesn’t suit LR that well. What is really needed is a second bus corridor in the CBD, with Customhouse Quay being the obvious example.

        1. Jezza – Customhouse Quay is already one of the major arterial vehicles routes in and out of the Wellington city. If the missing section between the Terrace and Mt Victoria tunnels is ever completed it is planned to the secondary arterial route in and out of the city.

        2. Are you seriously saying it would still be a major car route even if the missing section is completed? This is a crazy use of prime waterfront land.

        3. Kris, can you not envision Wellington without “greater traffic flow” and “major arterial vehicle routes”? Your idea to “link Adelaide Road directly with Kent and Cambridge Terraces to allow greater traffic flow by eliminating the congestion around the Basin Reserve” is straight out of the 60’s. These roads and places need to be relieved of their car burden, and the possibilities of placemaking, intensification and increased people-flow through space-efficient transport modes there are obvious even from Streetview.

          There doesn’t seem to be anything unique about these road capacity expansion ideas. Your line of reasoning just seem to be more of the “I want public transport except right here where I want the traffic flow to be better by widening the intersection / road / adding a tunnel” rubbish. It seems to be blind ignorance of the effect of road capacity expansion. Do you not understand that NZTA isn’t modelling for newly generated trips so any benefits they calculate are wrong?

          Wellington could be so much better than what you’re suggesting for it.

        4. The inner city bypass was promoted as allowing narrowing of the quays. Turned out to be BS … ’cause traffic flow or something.

          Just pinch two lanes & dedicated to PT – there the second city route. And get away from the failed “everything must go down the Golden Mile” mentality. That’s what is (partly) holding back the bus network.

  9. I believe we need some thing a bit more visionary for Wellington, something that will actually change how Wellington works.
    Heavy rail ! (that ties in to the existing rail), with stops Courtney place, the basin, hospital, newtown, kilbernie the airport and finally Miramar (if they allow district plan changes)
    we have spent too long talking about the solutions and this option always gets thrown out due to the cost. Wellington has a sandstone (greywacke) substrata which you can TBM through.
    A solution like this could change the way the region works.
    I apologize for the rant, Its just been dragging on for 15 years… probably longer..
    All the recommended options either affect communities negatively or put a solution on a already constrained street and don’t actually increase the ability to move people or freight in any dramatic way.

    1. That option always gets thrown out on cost because it is mindbogglingly expensive.

      8.5km of heavy railway with six underground stations would be somewhere between six and eight billion dollars. That’s about $35,000 per ratepayer in the region.

      Actually it’s seven underground stations, because you’d need new underground platforms at the railway station.

      1. Hmmm a gold plated metro in the earthquake-prone capital when the biggest city has to make do with the bargain-basement solution after years of delays? Yea I’m sure that’s going to go down really well.

        1. People always focus on the earthquakes, you can design around them.
          Sure the cost is high , but its all very speculative. until someone prices it we don’t actually know.
          Until we have a balanced approach to transport investment this will always seem like pie in the sky thinking.

        2. While I agree the earthquake thing is a red herring, it is more than speculative to say that this proposal would be extremely expensive for a city the size of Wellington.

        3. I understand Mexico city is rather prone to earthquakes too yet the metro is one of the safer places to be during seismic activity.

        4. Mexico City is indeed prone to earthquakes, but that’s because it is built on an old lake-bed, and when an earthquake hits, it has massive liquefaction. Actually, it has problems with buildings sinking into the oooze even without the earthquakes… check out the Museum of Fine Arts, which is now considerably lower than ground level…

          Wellington is quite different. It has a well-documented highly active fault-line running right through the city, on which the ground will fracture and move, slicing vertically. It also has reclaimed land, on which Stats House sat (and on which much of the city sits…).

          You’re right that subway tunnels are inherently stronger than the ground around them – although it would be no match for an earthquake if it was built across a fault line. Mind you, no one is suggesting that we build across a fault line. The main issue, of course, is cost.

        5. Cost, and resilience. All the amazing earthquake engineering technology we can use in Wellington is available elsewhere in the country too. It’s just that elsewhere, it’ll be a parallel strand to other more fundamental safety concepts, such as being basically less earthquake prone.

        6. “Hmmm a gold plated metro in the earthquake-prone capital”

          Who said anything about any metro or anything being “Gold plated”. What i’ve advocated for would be an extension of the current suburban trains into the CBD (with its very limited loading gauge) and most of it would be by not especially expensive and rudimentary cut-and-cover tunnelling.
          Yes Wellington is earthquake prone but that didn’t stop any of its motorway infrastructure being built.
          Nobody stopped the CRL on the basis of it’s steep gradient or the fact that Auckland sits on a volcanic field (and nor should’ve anyone).

          “when the biggest city has to make do with the bargain-basement solution”

          How is the CRL any “bargain basement solution? I think its about the best that can be done with Britomart!
          You can suspend the parochial inferiority complex with the knowledge that the CRL would still be more impressive….

    2. Don’t be put off by nay-sayers Tim. Heavy Rail extension is do-able. It needs:-
      i) an openness to include it as an option for consideration,
      ii) a design-team capable of thinking-outside-the-box and with an attitude “how can we make this happen?”, rather than “how can we shoot this down as quickly as poss?”, and
      iii) an appropriate mechanism for considering such a project as a complete alternative to further expensive motorway construction, though that horse has largely bolted now with Transmission Gully etc now under way.

      I see no other effective answer to the transport problems of Wellington from a *regional* perspective. LGWM and most of the commenters above are restricting their consideration to Wellington City only, and are ignoring the fact that the Wellington region has a population of nearly half a million, and that Wellington’s traffic problems significantly originate in places like Kapiti, Porirua and the Hutt Valley.

      1. It certainly doesn’t seem possible to ‘fix’ the Basin Reserve and other congestion hot spots by any means other than a regional approach to public transport, with traffic evaporation methods through the central areas. “Easing” the congestion in these areas with road capacity projects is the same approach that we’ve shown over and over again to be worse than pointless: hugely expensive, providing no long term travel time benefits, shifting mode share further towards the car and away from active and public modes, and ruining places at the same time.

        Frustrating that this still needs to be fought, but while NZTA continues to feed its business cases with completely erroneous travel time savings based on traffic modelling that does not include the new trips created by increased road capacity, what else can we expect of them?

      2. Dave B (Wellington) – Dreams are free and your a wrong about it being Wellington city focus. People from the region have to pass through Wellington to get to work, the regional hospital, the regional stadium, regional aquatic centre and the airport,

        If is taking 50 odd years of trying to get the missing section of the Wellington urban motorway between the Terrace and Mt Victoria tunnels completed, we all be dead and buried by the time what you are suggesting and by then, central Wellington will be cover by water due to the effects of climate change.

        1. “People from the region have to pass through Wellington to get to work, the regional hospital, the regional stadium, regional aquatic centre and the airport”

          But they don’t have to do so by car.

          From the perspective of Healthy Streets (with all those public health consequences), of climate change, of safety for vulnerable road users, of equitable access, of inter-generational equity (with future generations not having to be strapped with the high cost of road maintenance and of poor public health from a car dependent population), it’s absolutely vital that Wellington shifts to ensure they do NOT pass through Wellington by car.

          Solutions involve road reallocation to bus, cycling, walking, dead-ending streets with blocks, investment in public transport, bus priority measures, wayfinding, user amenity such as bus stops and better crossing facilities.

          New tunnels and new road capacity just push it all in the wrong, costly, direction.

        2. Heidi – Research has shown, the people living in Johnsonville, Porirua, Kapiti Coast, Hutt Vally, Stokes Valley, Churton Park, Grenada, Newlands, Wainuiomata, etc have said, they would use their car to travel to Wellington city, the regional hospital, the airport, etc, as they believe that region’s current public transport system is not frequent, slow and has to many transfers, where their car can offer direct quick travel, hence the Wellington city traffic congestion and 50 odd years of discussion on how to fix it.

          The only time they would use public transport is going to work in Wellington’s CBD.

          The new expensive flawed ‘spoke n hub’ rapid bus network is a cheaper, non user friendly and questionable frequency version that uses less buses and cheap labour to replace a more efficient established network that wasn’t at the end of use by date, broken or had reached its capacity, which only needed enhancements and an integrated ‘tap n travel’ payment/ticketing system.

        3. Look at the Healthy Streets information, Kris. We do have an obligation to our children, to future generations, to disadvantaged people, to the environment. We do NOT have an obligation to plan around the people whose mindset and dependency on cars has been created through a completely unbalanced investment regime of 60 years. Especially as what people say they need does not match what they then do when improved public transport is provided.

          I’m quite open to the idea that the bus network changes was a complete clusterf**k. I’m just confused as to why you can’t see the flaws in your road capacity expansion ideas.

        4. Did they ask how much people in these areas were willing to pay to travel by car between these locations? If not then it is a bit meaningless, of course people would choose the most convenient method of travel possible, I’m sure if a high speed train between the Kapiti Coast and the airport was an option people would choose it.

          Sometimes it is just not possible to have a quick and cheap trip between everywhere you want. The airport has been where it is since the 1950s, so I doubt there are many people in the Hutt Valley that were not aware it was a long way to get there when they bought their houses.

        5. Heidi – I’m am not sure why you think that I am advocating road building over public transport, I am not as I am very pro public transport but I realise that Wellington has an unique situation, the city is the end of the North Island with State Highway 1 traveling through the Wellington central city terminating at the airport, that is causing un-necessary traffic congestion and not having a more efficient city bus network.

          Out of the NZ’s 4 main cities, State Highway 1 by passes Auckland and Christchurch central city areas and shortly Hamilton, when the completion of the Hamilton city bypass of the Waikato Expressway is completed in 2019 yet its okay for it travel through Wellington central city.

          So you are saying the Terrace and Mt Victoria tunnels section of State Highway 1 shouldn’t be completed and allow the central city slowly grind to a halt with traffic congestion?.

          As far as I am concerned as a public transport user, the completion of the section between the Terrace and Mt Victoria tunnels is a No 1 priority, to defect non essential traffic away from the city centre, like what has happen in Auckland, Christchurch and shortly Hamilton.

          The reality is, once that section is completed, then work can start on fixing other issues like refining public transport, cycle ways and walk ways, etc.

        6. Kris – the Auckland cbd includes state highway 1:,+1010/@-36.8492494,174.7495576,14z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x6d0d47fb48a99ab9:0x500ef6143a2b3e0!8m2!3d-36.8484597!4d174.7633315 If SH1 sits on the border of the cbd for 1.5 km or so, that is because SH1 created a constraint on the cbd. SH1 ruins the central city, not just through the severance it causes, but through the severance caused by the roads that serve as motorway infrastructure on our local roads: Nelson, Hobson, The Strand, and many others.

          If SH1 in Wellington carries even half as much traffic as it does in Auckland, it shouldn’t be going through the cbd. But tunnelling some of it doesn’t help, because it’s not just the SH1 itself, it’s the supporting roading that ruins the city.

          The fact that Wellington is at the southern end of the island doesn’t suggest it’s in the middle of a route to the south island. Vehicles going to the south island need to go to the port, not to the airport. People and some freight go to the airport; the key is how to get them there in the most space and energy efficient way, with the least impact on places. What money you are spending needs to be invested in public transport (and if possible, rail of some kind for freight) not in ‘easing traffic flow’ or increasing road capacity through pinch points, because all that does, ultimately, is add traffic.

        7. Heidi – I know that State Highway 1 goes through Auckland city via Spaghetti Junction not down Nelson, Hobson or Queen Street, etc. I am talking about State Highway 1N that terminates at Wellington Airport (not at Wellington Ports). I am fully aware that State Highway 1 continues from Picton to Invercargill as State Highway 1S.

          Despite the new shambolic bus network, that GWRC has thrusted onto the people of Wellington city, Wellington and the region still has a more efficient public transport system compared to Auckland and Christchurch, which centres on well established yet under funded regional rail network backed up with inter-connecting bus services. Despite lack of proper investment in public transport in Wellington region (not Wellington city) and a lack of a integrated regional bus, train and harbour ferry ‘tap n travel’ payment/ticketing system, folks in Porirua, Kapiti Coast, the Hutt Valley, Eastbourne, Wainuiomata, etc, are still not convinced that traveling by train and bus say from Upper Hutt or Eastbourne to the Wellington regional hospital located in Newtown or to Wellington airport, is still the best or quickest option, hence they will still use a car, just like in Auckland and Christchurch.

          The building of missing section of State Highway 1N between the Terrace and Mt Victoria tunnels to deflect non essential traffic away from Wellington central city zone, will increase inner city living to make Wellington city a more vibrant, public transport, walking and cycling friendly livable city. I would like to point, that land that has been purchased over the years for the State Highway 1N inner city bypass is sitting vacant and once the bypass has been completed, that remaining vacant land can be used for inner city living.

        8. @ Kris: You are right and I am wrong about LGWM having a Wellington city focus and not a regional focus.

          LGWM does have a regional focus in what it advocates for roading, and as you say, people use the roads to access facilities from elsewhere in the region.

          What I should have said is that LGWM appears to restrict its public transport consideration to Wellington City only, and shows no recognition of the need for better regional PT connectivity.

          If LGWM is to do its job properly, then alongside any “Option D” to improve regional road-connectivity (arguably pretty good already), there should be an alternative “Option E” which proposes improving regional PT-connectivity by extending the rail system. Currently the PT offering from the rest of the region to the southern areas of Wellington Is woeful. No wonder there is a traffic problem at the Basin Reserve.

      3. The key point here would be around increasing density around any stations – much in the way the Hong Kong MTR does – obviously I’m not proposing 50 floor apartment buildings in Kilbirnie, but there certainly is room for a huge increase in density through a lot of the Wellington Station to Miramar corridor – assuming that the right transport infrastructure is in place.

    3. I’ve said for years that the heavy rail should be extended into Wellington. But i’ve always advocated for a balloon loop.
      First extend the line under Featherston st with a station at the foot of Willis St (under the old BNZ building would be a great spot for a station) and then a balloon loop with a station near the end of Courtney place (near Kent/Cambridge terrace), Another station at the northern end of Newtown and a final station in the vicinity of the bottom of Aro Valley/Brooklyn hill which ten connects back to the station at the bottom of Willis St..

      I don’t understand people’s fixation with providing rail to the small airport and Miramar. So much traffic congestion is from commuters from the satellite cities and people commuting from the Southern suburbs.

  10. Kris, it’s fine for you to say my comment is wrong but you aren’t backing your argument up with any evidence that disproves my point.

    I agree that we should remove obstacles from priority bus routes such as private vehicle traffic, but that will only reinforce the benefit of the new network. I agree that the contracting of the services was poor but the design of the new network couldn’t anticipate that. You seem to be conflating the new network design with other factors that were outside the control of the designers or GWRC. That doesn’t absolve them of all blame but you seem to ignore this in your critique.

    1. Ben, are there ridership numbers yet? The media will usually beat up any change to do with public transport but real improvements will show in the medium-term numbers. In this case, the reduction in bus numbers and a situation of poor bus driver conditions sounds like serious issues that need to be resolved. The network, and indeed the hub and spoke model, could easily be tainted long term if they’re not.

      1. Heidi – the ridership figures for the first 2 months of the new bus network are out, with the GWRC saying there is increase usage of the new bus network. Since the figures is based on Snapper ‘Tap on/Tap off’ boardings, there is lot of speculation that the figures in corporate 2 or more boardings through transfer hubs, since most travelers, especially from the city eastern, southern and western suburbs, now have to make 1 or more bus transfers to get to their destination compared to one boarding under the previous bus network.

        Heidi, the new network is a mess if Grant Robertson and Phil Twyford say that there needs to independent review of the new network.

        Have a read –

        1. I took a brief squiz through several of those. Can you point me to something that gives info about the bus numbers dropping? That’s a serious problem – what were they thinking?

          Have they said when they’ll release the journey numbers? Presumably it takes a bit of analysis to subtract the transfers from the boardings to get the journeys; from some recent posts on GA it looks like we get them a few months later.

        2. Heidi – Here is the quote –

          But after sending out figures on Monday, on Tuesday a council spokesman conceded those figures included transfers people had to take under the new system.

          “We have always counted transfers as separate trips, both before and after the July 15 changeover,” the spokesman said.

          “We expect that some of the growth is attributable to more transfers; probably between 8000 to 10,000 trips.”

          GWRC stood by its claim that “continuing patronage growth” defied commentators.

          “Commentators have predicted that the implementation of the new network would result in commuters abandoning public transport in significant numbers, and this is not the case”.

          To former bus driver Frank Lawton the numbers were “nonsense”.

          “A person who would have once caught a single bus from Strathmore to Newtown now took two, or a Miramar North commuter who now took multiple trips instead of one, and it was easy to see why the numbers increased.”

          You can read the full article at –

        3. Thanks. Those boarding numbers are meaningless in this situation and should never have been used to show an increase in ridership.

          What about the reduction in bus fleet – 515 buses down to 428 buses – was that in an article too? That must surely be a big cause of the problem. The gradual improvements in the bus network should never result in a reduction of actual buses (unless LR is brought in, perhaps).

        4. Revolt is quite biased – I’d be wary of anything from that source without other sources to confirm. A number of their suppose ‘facts’ prior to the new network, particularly concerning emission standards were somewhat ‘alternative’.

          Like scaremongering that Euro 1&2 standard buses were going to be used indefinitely on GWRC contracted services …

        5. Heidi – Totally agree. Whilst most of the reports where about the trolley bus future, the following contain some interesting insight to what information the GWRC was receiving –

          For further information –

        6. “Presumably it takes a bit of analysis to subtract the transfers from the boardings to get the journeys” – shouldn’t do, because patronage information is largely taken from Snapper, and that records transfers as they happen: it has to, so that people don’t get charged for separate trips. This information (and the associated revenue) goes straight to GWRC, so patronage information should be available well-nigh immediately.

        7. In the case of the Southern Suburbs, are you seriously claiming that patronage from Vogeltown, Melrose, Southgate, Owhiro/HappyValley, Kowhai Park (excluding direct peak extensions) is greater than direct boardings to 1, 3, 7, 32x?

          I’m a tad sceptical …

  11. Marketing: “If you read the text, you’d be thinking that this option is all about public transport priority, walking improvements, cycle lanes and potentially light-rail. In fact it’s three new road tunnels costing billions of dollars and the “possibility” of light-rail.”

    Has Talk Wellington given some healthy criticism of this? I note our latest rates bill letter has cut out the implication that the transport spend was mainly on public transport and active modes. I’d like to think the text was changed because someone listened to our criticism of how misleading that was.

  12. Good to see more than twice as many people want lowered speed limits in the central city than don’t.

    Good when public opinion is on the side of research. I would expect no delay in implementing the lower speed zones then.

  13. RE: “we want everything but we don’t want to pay for it”

    All consultations need to get more sophisticated & be mandated to do so. Submitters need to be forced to make the price trade off.

    The options need to be put in front of the public with costs (likely increase in rates / fuel tax / congestion charge) even for the mix & match options.

    An interactive website is possibly the best way to do so.

  14. Disperse some government departments to the regions. Should have the same effect as school holidays, which appear to eliminate congestion. Statistics building was destroyed, so relocate to wanganui or whangarei.

    1. Sounds like an excellent economic strategy for Wellington, start the process for getting rid of your main source of income.

    2. You can relocate some of the transactional govt departments/teams but not ones that rely on close frequent interaction with related agencies and stakeholders – such as Statistics.

  15. Reading about this, I wonder whether Welli officials and agencies are misguidedly trying to ape Auckland’s solutions, forgetting their region’s smaller population, growth projections and therefore reasonable budget? It would be interesting to compare business cases with Christchurch.

    1. Sacha, seeing that people in Wellington have been requesting this for the last 20-30 years at least, I don’t think it is fair to say that now Wellington is “misguidedly trying to ape” Auckland solutions.

      So, in answer to your query, a very firm NO.

      However, there is a definite advantage of “buying in bulk” and making sure that any system one city in NZ gets, is 100% compatible with what the other city has. I think that “Welly officials and agencies” are doing a sensible thing, and extending the scope of Light Rail purchase from one city to two (or three) would make more sense…

  16. I think light rail is not too ambitious. A small network with three or four branches at each end, with a core through the city spine.

    Bern in Switzerland is a small city, capital and civic in nature, without huge growth or private inward investment. It has a fantastic infrastructure network. Yes Swiss funds are more plentiful, but many smaller European cities justify a light rail line or two. It really is so much more appealing than a bus.

    If it hits Newtown, the airport and the peninsula, then I don’t think a road solution to the Basin is required. Tolls or taxes could be used to discourage many inner city car journeys. They are selfish and polluting within a dense city.

    Seatoun/Miramar/Airport spurs and Lyall and Island Bay routes on one side, and Johnsonville, Days Bay and Lower Hutt via Melling on the other side.

    All at between 3-6tph would give a nice density through the core. And cut the equivalent buses, with no fare differentials and full integration and transfers with buses and with rail.

    1. You’re right, but I fear that the classic Kiwi mentality will doom any such discussions – Regardless of the applicability of comparison cities.

      We, as a nation, seem to be stuck in this mindset that we’re a small country with no money and that anything ambitious, or deployed by a European nation, is beyond our capability to afford, design or implement.

      It frustrates the heck out of me and seems to be a hard mindset to displace.

      1. Civil engineering projects are more expensive in NZ than in European nations due to the basic realities of geographic isolation.

        Having said that; I do wish that NZ was more broad-minded in it’s attitudes to urban design and transport.

    2. C – If Wellington’s tram and trolley bus networks have been phased out due to having inflexible infrastructure, why would light rail be better, with its inflexible infrastructure than trams and trolleybuses?

      The proposed light rail system for Wellington is 1 route from Wellington Railway Station to Newtown and the airport that would require building of 2 tunnels.

      At least in Bern, they don’t have hills that their bus, tram and trolley bus need to go through and the city has been built around its tram and bus network.

        1. Chris Randal – Then Bern bus, tram and trolley bus network was built around Bern city, like Wellington city tram and later bus network was built around Wellington city and eastern, southern and western suburbs local topography.

      1. “If Wellington’s tram and trolley bus networks have been phased out due to having inflexible infrastructure” – a big if, and an inaccurate one. The trolleybuses followed the tram routes almost exactly (except around the airport), so inflexibility of trams was not the issue. Similarly, it would have been perfectly possible to retain the trolleys on routes 2, 3 (Lyall Bay branch), 7, 35 and 36 in the new network (of which only route 7 was put out to tender, and changed operators), but actually they were scrapped because of lack of political will coupled with the high cost of deferred maintenance on Wellington Electricity’s power supply system. (In contrast, Wellington Cable Car’s overhead was in the best condition it had been for 30 years, some only two years old when removed.)

        1. Mike M – I agree with you. The core trolleybus routes 1, 2, 3, 7 (Kingston) 11, 10 and 12 (Lyall Bay to Karori through route) should have been retain, as these routes have higher passenger usage, hence the fleet of 65 large 3 axle buses and the smaller 2 axle buses for Aro Street and 5 Haitaiti loop services and an upgraded overhead for ‘high speed’ operation with a operation life of at least at other 15 years. To me the trolleybus network wasn’t used to its full potential.

          If you go back to when the trolley bus network was under WCC ownership, there will peak hour services – like rail to Berhampore, rail to Miramar Ave (Miramar Shops), Rail to Broadway (South Miramar) and rail to Brooklyn terminus.

          The PWC 2014 Report about the future of the trolley bus network was pretty anti trolley bus which the GWRC wanted to hear, with the reasons given to abandon the network were to similar to the reasons in abandoning the city’s tram network – infrastructure inflexibility.

          Have a read of PWC 2014 Report –

          Unfortunately, the GWRC wanted a cheap solution, hence their 21st century, non user friendly, shambolic ‘Hub n spoke’ so called raid bus network.

      2. “If Wellington’s tram and trolley bus networks have been phased out due to having inflexible infrastructure”

        Are you SURE that’s why they were phased-out? It may have been the excuse but that doesn’t mean it was the actual reason.

        Why do bus routes need to be “flexible” anyway? Planners pretty much determine a good route convenient for commuters and stick to it….

  17. Anyone who has heard our mayor speaking recently would think that there’s a good chance that light rail will be part of the announcement made in October (he’s hinted so much that he might as well have announced it himself).

    Option D, which has been thoroughly denounced here, does from my perspective have some merit. While it might be a case of adding more roads, it does seem that these roads really can sustain improvements for the wider CBD.

    For instance, Option D would vastly improve the central city’s relationship with the waterfront (such an icon of Wellington after all) by reducing the amount of traffic on the Quays. The proposal would see the Quays, which are at present Wellington’s unofficial motorway, reduced from six lanes to four with the addition of more trees and a cycleway. The effect of this would be to increase the connectivity between the city and the waterfront which is at present completely severed at all points from the city itself. Only Option D does this.

    Another beneficial aspect of Option D (but Option C shares this) is the the tunnelling (for a large part) of the motorway underneath Te Aro (including underneath the Basin). Much like the waterfront and the city, Te Aro is currently cleaved in two by an at grade motorway which cuts across this character area at not just one but at two points. Ask yourself, if Auckland had all its cross town movements running at grade through the city centre would you be happy with this? Surely a trench and the surrounding development opportunity it brings will be a step in the right direction from any urban development point of view. Furthermore, Te Aro, which already is Wellington’s apartment zone, is in line for more intensification and removing the at grade motorways will be important for this.

    So I slightly favour Option D simply because it can provide the best urban development outcomes.

    1. How many billions of dollars will option D cost, Tom? How else could that money be spent to improve Wellington’s transport options?

      If there was an absolute requirement that carbon emissions and vkt went down, option D would not pass the test. If there was an absolute requirement that access for people who travel without cars is improved, option D would not pass the test. On what basis, then, can it really be justified? No-one has set such requirements. Instead, they’ve been focused on what they think is going to help ‘me’, and people like me, in cars.

      Trouble is, option D doesn’t even do that. The error you’re making is the same error NZTA makes: they look at the current amount of traffic and design a better way for that traffic to flow. But they forget that by doing so, traffic is induced. So while you think it’ll improve a situation in a particular spot, what it actually does is make things worse everywhere, including in the residential streets where that extra traffic starts. Car dependency just gets a shot of adrenaline, people walk less than before, and drivers end up driving on congested roads over a wider part of the city.

      1. Heidi – Best of luck in promoting your concept to people who live in Porirua, Kapiti Coast, the Hutt Valley, Wainuiomata, Eastobourne, Stokes Valley, etc.

        1. Who cares about them, to be honest. Why do people who live 20 to 40km away from Te Aro deserve a motorway through Te Aro? What for exactly? Let them clog up their own neighborhoods.

        2. Dorian Vainglory – Unfortunately, they, like the folks in Wellington city and they do have the right to have access to the airport and lessor extent to the regional hospital.

          By the way, State Highway 1N does not stop at Te Aro but terminates at Wellington airport.

        3. Agree with Kris’s comment but would like to add Option D does the opposite of what you suggest it would, namely it puts the majority of the traffic, currently ruining vast swathes of Te Aro, underground thus letting Te Aro people get on with their lives unimpeded by motorways.

        4. Tom – Looking at page 9 of the document, with those different options, am I right in thinking traffic will still be able to use local roads to do similar to what it currently does? For example, going through the Basin from east to west, will traffic still be able to go via Rugby and Sussex? The orange lines suggest to me that it will – is that right?

        5. Heidi – I can’t really make it out either but if you were on SH1 heading east to west it does indeed look as though you could exit at Rugby Street and carry on to Sussex and then on to Cambridge Terrace. This exit would presumably be for people travelling from the east wanting to go to the hospital/Newtown or the eastern part of the city centre. But for people travelling through they would use a tunnel (though it worries me they haven’t exactly ruled out a flyover) which is a completely new addition.

          Also a tunnel under the basin does seem to me important for the light rail proposal (and I see there’s a very strong signal it’s going to happen in the paper today) as trying to run a reliable service through all the crossing movements already there seems difficult.

        6. Tom – I suspect you should find out exactly what the local connections are going to be with each option before lauding option D. “Removing through traffic” tends to be a short-term improvement if the local route is still available.

          If you’re comfortable with the high cost of Option D (I’m not, because of what you could get with that money instead) at least ensure that the local roads are blocked, made into bus roads and cycleways, dead ends, etc., so there is no alternative route. This results in a much better transport network; one in which public transport and active modes have good ‘permeability’ through the city, but cars are restricted to the highways and arterials, and to local roads that cannot become rat-runs.

          I think, from your comments, you’re after better local places. Option D seems to offer this for you, but it won’t deliver, because it misses the element NZTA typically misses: sufficient road reduction to match the road expansion.

        7. Heidi, I see what you’re saying but in the case of Option D it really does seem that roads are being reduced in response to extra capacity elsewhere. Take the two lanes being removed from the Quays for instance.

        8. people who live in Porirua, Kapiti Coast, the Hutt Valley, Wainuiomata, Eastobourne, Stokes Valley

          Of that list: “Porirua, Kapiti Coast, the Hutt Valley” all are not restricted to driving automobiles. All have access to the rail network. Well not Porirua east & Whitby but that could’ve been alleviated for less money than transmission gully cost.
          Stokes Valley is not especially big and is in reasonable proximity to Pomare railway station.
          Eastbourne has a ferry service.

          So that only leaves Wainuiomata as completely automobile dependant. And like Stokes Valley its not exactly that populated either.

    2. The Inner City Bypass Route could be made 2-way (as per the Terrace Tunnel) and unload through-traffic from the Waterfront Route and Vivian Street without any major construction at all/ It beggars belief that this has not been thoroughly done already, years ago.

      It is as if the decision-makers have their hearts set on the billion-dollar scheme and aren’t interested in anything that might improve the situation without this. We are not well-served by such decision-makers.

      1. Dave B – De Leuw Cather 1963 Report suggested the section between the Terrace and Mt Victoria tunnels was a 4 way trench system. Karo Drive is a very cheap version of that suggestion. The Arras Tunnel gives an indication what the proposed section would have been like.

    3. “The proposal would see the Quays, which are at present Wellington’s unofficial motorway, reduced from six lanes to four with the addition of more trees and a cycleway. The effect of this would be to increase the connectivity between the city and the waterfront which is at present completely severed at all points from the city itself. Only Option D does this” – no, Karo Drive was going to do just this, too, and look what’s happened…

      1. Mike, I’m afraid I can’t quite make your comment make sense.

        The proposal states that it will remove two lanes from the six lanes currently going along the Quays, this will reduce traffic along the Quays and provide a friendlier environment for pedestrians and cyclists.

        Of course, they could change their minds but then it wouldn’t be the thing I was talking about.

        1. Tim, what I’m saying is that we were promised that the building of Karo Drive would reduce traffic along the Quays and enable the removal of two lanes. Has it happened? No – it turned out to be the familiar refrain that we have to build roads first, then we can have decent urbanism, PT etc. Once again it’s motorways today, sustainable modes tomorrow, and, as Alice in Wonderland knew, tomorrow never comes.

      1. Just because something’s been around for 59 years doesn’t mean to say that it’s a good idea. But, as you’ve noted, the problem is actually with PT through the city, so let’s pick up another ideas from the same period, about which (in stark contrast to the foothills motorway) absolute nothing has happened – a rail extension south of the railway station.

        Again in stark contrast with the motorway, net public transport infrastructure investment in and through Wellington has been minimal in the last 50 years. Time to redress that major negative balance – fingers crossed for LGWM.

        1. Mike M – There was a heavy rail line to Courtenay Place but the line closed in 1917. If the NZ Railways Department had listen to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce at the time to keep the line for freight, Wellington city could have had regular passenger train services to/from Courtenay Place now. It was a missed opportunity. The cost of building it and the indirect costs in central city disruption now, would be expensive and benefits wouldn’t stake up and would solve the current traffic congestion in the central city zone.

          At the least completing the missing section of State Highway 1N between the Terrance and Mt Victoria tunnels, whilst not perfect, is a better compares to the what Wellington city central zone has at present.

        2. Kris, building more roads will not reduce traffic volumes. Yet that is what is needed for Wellington’s limited area.

          The Karo Drive – Inner City Bypass route should be made 2-way, 2+1 lanes as per the Terrace Tunnel. This could be achieved easily. The Waterrfront route, Vivian St and Kent Terrace could then be freed up from arterial status.

          Longer-term it is essential to extend the rail system to spread the major traffic-reducing benefits that it already brings elsewhere, to the City-Airport corridor.

          The loss of the quayside line in 1917 was a minor “lost opportunity” compared to others that have happened since. A number of plans to extend rail were advanced in the 1950’s and 60’s when the need for this became much more apparent, but as with earlier attempts to build Auckland’s CRL, blinkered politicians blocked it. Only now is Auckland moved forward with this and Wellington remains stalled.

          Thought-provoking piece here:

        3. Kris, indeed there was a line to Te Aro, but let’s not rewrite history: the Chamber of Commerce did campaign for its opening, in 1893; but for its closure in 1917, because of the congestion that it was alleged to cause. The line was never used for freight.

          Why you’re so keen to build roads when the problem is poor public transport is beyond me! With respect to congestion, building more motorways is like what they say about second marriages: the triumph of hope over experience.

        4. Dave B – I agree building more roads will not reduce traffic volumes but completing the the inner city by pass of State Highway 1N between the Terrance and Mt Victoria tunnels is an exception as it provides a ring or bypass around the central city, so traffic not interfering with the heart of the city.

          I do agree with you that Karo Drive, should be 2 way (2+1), being the cheaper option and needs to completed as a trench system and Adelaide Road needs to have direct access to Kent and Cambridge Terrace to allow quicker 2 way traffic, especially bus flow along Adelaide Road and Kent/Cambridge Terraces, as oppose to the traffic congestion at the Basin Reserve as present.

          Once inner city bypass of State Highway 1N is completed, the Waterfront route, Vivian St and Kent/Cambridge Terraces would then be freed up from arterial status as per the De Leuw Cather 1963 and 1963 Reports.

          With regards to your comment extending heavy/light rail along the City-Airport corridor, whilst the concept has merit but in reality, the cost and disruption whether construction at street level or under ground will be directly and indirectly expensive for central government unless it PPP financed. I would doubt the business case would stake up.

          Despite the GWRC current shambolic non-user friendly so call rapid bus system, it is still the better option than an expensive heavy/light rail City-Airport corridor.

          Mike M – I am avid public transport supporter and user and do not support road building for the sake of building roads except in special cases like the inner city by pass of State Highway 1N between the Terrance and Mt Victoria tunnels which needs to happen now.

          Your information is incorrect about the Te Aro branch line. The line opened in 1893 for passenger and the city’s produce, consigned to the Courtenay Place markets and received the city’s milk supply prior to distribution.

          Passenger traffic was affected by the Wellington city trams in 1904, as the trams traveled next the to the railway line along Customhouse Quay. Then General Manager of NZ Railways Department condemned the Te Aro station in 1913 as uneconomic and despite the pleas of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce to retain the station for goods only, the line was closed in 1917.

        5. “Despite the GWRC current shambolic non-user friendly so call rapid bus system, it is still the better option than an expensive heavy/light rail City-Airport corridor.”

          Kris, you continue to ignore the hugely-positive effect that the present rail system has on the large part of the region it serves. Its role is that of a high-capacity, rapid transit spinal service on its own right-of-way, and which the local bus network is designed to complement. By dint of history, Wellington has this asset and it demonstrably works. The notion that a bus service could replace this role is fallacious, unless it could run on a similar, segregated right-of-way.

          If Wellington had no rail system and was looking to install some form of mass rapid transit then a segregated busway network could be among the options to consider, but this is not the situation. We have the rail system. It is proven to be effective and provides excellent value for money. But a major chunk of the city is excluded from it. This is what needs to be fixed, ahead of any further major new road commitments.

          Connect this currently-isolated quarter by extending the rail system that we already have, and watch the need for more hugely-expensive, traffic-encouraging new roads simply dwindle away.

        6. Kris, I suggest that you consult “The Merchants Paved the Way” by J. Halket Millar for details of the repeated pleas by the Chamber of Commerce for the abandonment of the Te Aro branch. David Parsons’ Wellington’s Railways, and Rails out of the Capital, have more details of the line.

          And it never carried freight (with a few minor exceptions): proposals for goods facilities at Te Aro were proposed but never came to fruition. If you can produce evidence to the contrary I’d be very interested to see it.

        7. Dave B – I fully understand the importance of Wellington region’s rail network and how crucial it is for the region especially connecting then trams and later buses at Wellington railway station for travel through the Wellington’s CBD. I am not sure why you think differently.

          Wellington railway station has and will be the major bus/train interchange for Wellington city.

          I do have concerns about the practically of having heavy/light rail from the Wellington railway station to the airport which is currently operate by buses (not directly until 2007) since Wellington airport opened in 1958.

          If the Wellington city trams and trolleybus systems were abandon due to their infrastructure inflexibility, spending $900 million to $1 billion in building a 1 route 3 tunnel light rail system with an inflexible infrastructure from the railway station to the airport is going to better that than the current bus services and the current traffic congestion issues?

          To me, use that money to help to pay for the completion of State Highway 1N inner city bypass between the Terrace and Mt Victoria tunnels to bypass the city central zone, sort out the current shambolic so called rapid bus network to enhance version of the previous bus network and install a region wide integrated bus/rail/harbour ferry ‘tap n travel’ payment/ticketing before look at the luxury of having a 1 route heavy/light rail system.

          Mike M – I think its odd that the Wellington Chamber of Commerce pleaded with the General Manager of the NZRD (NZ Railways Department} to abandon the Te Aro branch, if it never carried freight considering the Te Aro station’s buildings were demolished in 1958 after being used Market Gardeners Co-operative Limited for storage. What was the Chamber of Commerce reason/s to have the the line abandoned? Why way the line built in the first place if not freight and passengers?

          Have read of the NZRD General Manager’s reasons for closure of the line –

        8. Kris, thanks for that link – but don’t expect me to be able to explain the reasoning behind the Chamber of Commerce’s views on transport (then or now)!

          After closure in 1917 the space between the buildings on the two platforms was roofed over, the platform bases, tracks, etc covered with a raised floor to provide a loading platform for trucks. In this way a passenger facility was turned into a freight one, and that’s why the tracks etc were still there to be excavated after demolition of the buildings. Many people remarked at the time that it would have been good if the line had been kept.

          I notice that you’re still saying “If the Wellington city trams and trolleybus systems were abandon due to their infrastructure inflexibility”, but as has been discussed that’s not why they were abandoned: with the exception of round the airport and some streets in the CBD, all tram and trolleybus routes are still served by buses. Please stop repeating this red herring!

          And you say “Once inner city bypass of State Highway 1N is completed, the Waterfront route, Vivian St and Kent/Cambridge Terraces would then be freed up from arterial status as per the De Leuw Cather 1963 and 1963 Reports”. That’s precisely what was said about Karo Drive and the waterfront, and as we know such freeing up has never happened – and likely never will if we continue with the discredited mid-20th-century “predict and provide” approach. What is needed is positive action re PT, not the “trickle down” approach of the effects of road building that you repeatedly advocate (and rarely, if ever, actually happens, the reverse generally being true – investing in faster PT means both that and general road traffic move faster; investing in faster roads means that both roads and road-based PT move more slowly). Repetition doesn’t make it true!

          And I don’t understand your comment in brackets in “Wellington railway station to the airport which is currently operate by buses (not directly until 2007)”: for most (if not all) of the airport’s existence it has had a direct, dedicated bus service.

        9. My 2c worth, was catching up on these comments yesterday: Completing the SH1 tunnel does seem logical except once you factor in the cost & induced demand.

          I quite like the Greens simple LRT plan with that or a higher capacity busway system may work in Wellington giving more flexibility for other more minor routes to pass through the main corridors without transfers. If this could be done with LRT then perhaps LRT is a better option.

  18. It doesn’t seem to me necessarily helpful to suggest that there ought to be some sort of correlation between pure population size and money budgeted for transport in and around a CBD. This is to say that while Auckland might be vastly larger than Wellington on a population basis and in terms of the way it is growing, the two CBDs are roughly the same size and the disparity between their growth isn’t enormous.

    In terms of the working population of the two CBDs, Wellington is slightly large (79,812 compared to 75,483 according to Census 2013 and Stats used the same definition of the two CBDs that NZTA uses). While it’s possible that on this count Auckland is now slightly larger than Wellington (I’m not even sure if the last census asked about place of work so we might never know) it won’t be by much. We then of course have to account for all the other uses a CBD has (education, retail, etc.) and on this count there’s no real data I could think of, but it’s likely Auckland would have a larger count on this. Therefore, it seems likely that while Auckland’s CBD has more people that use it than Wellington’s, the difference isn’t huge.

    So really my point is that to calculate transport spending we really need to determine the number of journeys being made into a CBD and while Auckland has other mini CBDs surrounding the larger one using the same transport infrastructure, Wellington and Auckland are not poles apart.

    1. I’d go further Tom, Auckland has its more indie shopping and culture in inner city clusters like Ponsonby, Parnell, K-Road and Newmarket as well as some laneways, whereas the best boutiques, hospitality etc of Wellie are in the CBD.

      Plus Auckland has more sprawls/malls, and less in the way of cultural attractions (theatre, museums, ballet etc etc) right in the city, compared to Wellie…and Wellie’s sports and music venues are central too. Auckland’s are more dispersed.

      I’d say Wellie’s CBD is much more relied upon as the nucleus of the city region than Auckland’s, and better patronised in all regards.

      1. At an interesting symposium of Community-Led Development I went to on Friday, I realised that we should be using the term ‘city centre’ instead of cbd… obvious now that I’ve thought about it. Both Wellington and Auckland have plenty of residents, so I think the change is useful in both places.

      2. C – Central city apartment living in Wellington city is stronger than in Auckland. What makes Wellington different to Auckland and Christchurch, Wellington city is compact make getting around the city central zone by walking and cycling very easy, hence the need to get non-essential traffic out of the central city zone and efficient non hub direct ‘one bus’ travel from the city’s eastern southern, western and north western suburbs to the central city zone.

        I am not sure if you realise, that Wellington city boundary only goes north to Tawa and Horokwi and includes the Miramar Peninsula and doesn’t include the Hutt Valley, Eastbourne (A suburb of Hutt City Council), Porirua, the Kapiti Coast or the Wairarapa. The greater Wellington region is made up of 5 city councils and 3 district councils unlike Auckland, where there is only one council that governs the Auckland region.

    2. When I arrived from Wellington to Auckland a little over twenty years ago, I felt Auckland was just a large provincial town, like Adelaide. Wellington in spite of being a lot smaller, felt more like a scaled down international city. In Auckland, Queen Street was the pits, the waterfront irrelevant. Where as Lambton Quay had a buzz and the harbourside was well used public space. What strikes me now though, is how little has progressed in Wellington, where as Auckland has grown up tremendously and now has an identity as a progressive Asian Pacific City.
      In spite of a largely unsupportive governments, and their support from car first advocates Auckland has made very significant changes to transport infrastructure and this has revitalised our cbd, and waterfront. But I think, more importantly, Aucklanders have become much more internationalist in outlook, more open to ideas, and people, from cities world wide, whilst Wellington and Christchurch have tended to look no further then cities in Australia for inspiration.

      1. I agree with you here, Auckland has come on leaps and bounds from a city with only natural beauty to somewhere which is urbane, internationalist and makes smart, human decisions. Sydney was once just natural beauty too, remember.

        Whereas Wellington had its vibe, but you’re right, hasn’t grown up or developed, which to many is an advantage, sadly. But it’s been left behind. It needs radical change in governance and leadership to now compete on the regional, let alone global stage. And companies all look at transit now, and cycling, walkability, green spaces etc – these things matter for investment attraction as well as people’s daily lives.

        1. C, I would agree that Wellington is in a bit of sticky spot at the moment in terms of governance and just general lack of momentum in certain areas, but I really don’t think it’s as dire as you paint it out to be. All I think needs to happen really is for a certain number of stars to align and Wellington will be moving again – and it seems to me that this particular constellation is around the corner with several large projects happening in the next few years. (btw, I’m sorry about the way this paragraph turned into some sort of horoscope).

          I also think there’s a lot of triumphalism about Auckland’s progress at the moment, and this rather has the effect of masking the actual situation – which is that Auckland is still lagging behind Wellington from an urbanism perspective. That last bit sounds harsh, but for example if you compare all those things you were talking about in your comment – walkability, cycling, etc. – with Wellington’s metrics then you have a stark contrast. The 2013 Census shows that in the Auckland region 82.7% travelled to work by car whereas in Wellington (which included the Wairarapa and Levin) this figure was 62.6%. Moreover, Wellingtonians are also the most likely to walk or cycle to work than anyone else in the country. There seems to be an attitude in this article and in these comments that Wellington is somehow hostile to alternative transport – which is simply untrue – Wellington has to be the most hospitable place in the country to such forms of transport.

          As for Auckland having a beautiful built landscape (which was notion I took from your first paragraph), I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree with you there. Indeed Auckland is beautiful and urbane in many respects, and I would agree there have been vast urban improvements especially in places like Britomart and Wynyard and it looks as though the trend is only going to continue, but to be honest Auckland city centre has to be the ugliest expression of human endeavour anywhere in the developed world. It is singularly lacking in charm, character or any other aesthetic quality; it is an oversized mess. If we’re talking about urbanism and how we might progress the cause, then a cure for ugliness must be Auckland’s main priority because ugliness in one’s built environment is one of the greatest social evils.

        2. No I think we agree, I was saying that Auckland’s beauty was purely natural (as Sydney’s was, once) – the built environment may be more dynamic and interesting than before, but yes I still think it is unimpressive compared to Wellington’s vibe, Victoriana and overall setting.

          Maybe Brisbane is a better comparison, but that’s a bit insulting to Auckland!

        3. ‘but to be honest Auckland city centre has to be the ugliest expression of human endeavour anywhere in the developed world’.

          You need to spend a bit of time travelling in North America by the sound of it!

        4. Tom – I agree with all of your comments. The problem with Wellington, it gets over looked at the expense of Auckland. Coupled with lack of thoughtful long term urban and transport planning and motivation by the WCC, GWRC, PCC, HCC, UHCC, KCDC, MCC, NWDC and SWDC, Wellington city and the Wellington region needs more interaction with the Government like Auckland has, like double tracking of the Hutt line between Wallaceville and Trentham, upgrading of the Wairarapa line between Upper Hutt and Featherston and Masterton to passenger rail services, the completion of the missing section of the State Highway 1 between the Terrace and Mt Victoria tunnels, adding the 4th track at Wellington railway station to increase urban, regional and long distance passenger train services, fully integrated bus, train and harbour ferry ‘tap n travel’ payment/ticketing system and so on, instead of the hap hazard, short term urban and transport planning the Wellington is currently subject too.

          What makes Wellington city an unique boutique vibrant, livable, public transport, walk and cycling friendly city, is it compactness and lets build on that.

        5. Kris – have a look at the fourth graph in this post, especially the blue (NZTA) section. Wellington definitely does not get overlooked for Auckland. If anything it is the local authorities that are dargging the chain financially.

          The reason what you proposed has not been built yet is the cost is eye-watering for a region about 1/3 the size of Auckland in terms of population. It would need to be tolled or covered by a pretty significant regional rate or fuel tax, it would be interesting to see how keen people in Kapiti, the Wairarapa and Hutt Valley would be if that were the case.

        6. The biggest problem in Wellington is the smugness and complacency about public transport in the region, frequent declarations of how wonderful it is(or was) and it’s supposedly “first class” when it fact it is fragmented, expensive and stagnant. Note the inability to organise integrated ticketing, something the rest of the world takes for granted.

        7. The biggest problem in Wellington are crusty old politicians and bureaucrats who are stuck in a 1970’s mentality. They have no vision for where public transport should be heading and they believe Wellington’s answer to excessive road traffic lies in building more roads.

        8. Jezza – yes I always think there must be an uglier city centre than Auckland but then I visit.

          I’m sure there are many cities in North America and elsewhere that are almost on par with Auckland but there’s something about the quality of Auckland city centre’s ugliness (which is really a NZ ugliness) and the utter soul-destroying desolation of it which is in my opinion unique.

    3. Population affects the benefits of any investment, but it’s mainly growth over the next few decades that need to be accounted for in prioritising infrastructure investment. Let’s see the business cases.

  19. That such a large proportion of respondents rejected a cordon charge or some other form of road pricing is the most interesting piece in all this.

    Pricing really has to happen in our main centers, and Wellington is the best placed of them all to do something meaningful at a system level in the near term, precisely because of its geography.

    That a largely uninformed public rejected a blithely presented idea is no surprise: it shows the need for political courage and a well run information campaign – and, as overseas experience demonstrates very clearly, hands on familiarisation through trials – to get over that hump.

    Everything else is moot in the absence of the will to use what is arguably the strongest traffic calming lever short of banning cars to also claw in additional investment funds.

    (And yes, when you need a per km price anything from x5 to x50+ greater than normal to get your 5-10% traffic reduction, there will be money).

    1. +1. Yes, we need an information campaign. About safety, speeds, parking, healthy streets, road reallocation, as well as about pricing. Hopeless having public discussion with so many myths living on.

  20. Talk Wellington have a piece, a bit gloomy/skeptical though

    Signs of hope I”ve seen: the mayor, to his credit, stood firm on charging for weekend parking

    (as an aside, another Collette “rark up the Moar Roads Crowd” Devlin classic. The contrast between her and Damian George’s reportage is painfully stark)

    Other LGWM signs: the gossip is strong that light rail will be brought forward.

    (but how soon is the question, and will there be any “for everything” infra like a duplicated Mt Vic Tunnel, instead of being reserved for PT and walking/biking)

    Auckland’s progressive transport and urban form conversation is really great now – and years of consistent hard graft by Greater Auckland have played a huge part. Plus having certain politiicans being part of your network for a few years before they become Ministers!

    Helps too to have an horrific burning platform of congestion and population growth – we have neither, yet – and we keep being put on liveability top 10s which doesn’t help our public sense of urgency!

  21. Has anyone ever considered connecting the Mount Victoria tunnel and Arthur St via a tunnel under the Basin Reserve?

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