Wellington Scoop

Simple solutions: they’ve got a list


by Lindsay Shelton
At last night’s sustainable transport meeting, we learnt that the Let’s Get Welly Moving people have made a list of more than 100 simple improvements that could quickly be made to Wellington roads.

In fact, their draft list contains as many as 150 possibilities for “early intervention.” But, cautioned LGWM programme director Barry Mein, the list first needs to be reviewed to ensure that nothing is done – not even something quick and easy – that might obstruct more major work that might be planned at a later time. After the review, the list will be made public.

News of the list caused some enthusiasm at the meeting. Some improvements might actually be started? There was concern that the LGWM process would go on for years, before any results could be seen.

Barry Mein did his best to reassure us. By the end of the year, he promised, there will be a set of “scenarios,” which will be discussed with the public. And next year – which will be the third year of Let’s Get Welly Moving – one of the scenarios will be chosen for implementation. Or more accurately, for costing and designing. And what about light rail? There’s a report being written about it. The report will be made public “when it connects with everything else.”

Last night’s meeting had been organised by the Congestion Free Wellington group, whose aims – described by chair Roger Blakeley – are to promote a more liveable city by reducing the use of private cars. This he said would be good for everyone. Good for health. Good for congestion.

Barry Mein seemed to agree. He said a survey had shown that Wellingtonians are concerned because the city’s transport system is getting in the way of the city’s liveability. He said everyone agreed there is limited space in the CBD – with no space for more cars. “One of our most important assessment criteria is how to reduce dependence on cars.”

He identified areas of “conflict” including State Highway One running through Te Aro, with a possible “intervention” being to move through traffic from Vivian Street on to Karo Drive, with trenches at key intersections. His conflict list also included bottlenecks on the motorway, and bus congestion on the Golden Mile.

Dr Russell Tregonning said that LGWM planners must consider health issues and climate change. “We are in a climate emergency,” he said. The Regional Council’s dumping of trolley buses was “health and climate vandalism.”

Paula Warren from Living Streets Aotearoa called for greater investment in walkability. She said a “really exciting” scenario was needed for walking. “Every time we are asked what we want, we always ask for a walkable city. But cars and car parking always win.”

Barry Mein repeated that reducing Wellington’s dependence on cars was one of the most important objectives of Let’s Get Welly Moving. He agreed there was “no more space” for cars in the centre of Wellington. Reducing the number of vehicles would improve the CBD.

Darryl Cockburn asked if there was any evidence that city businesses wanted more motorways. There are “a wide range of views,” answered Barry Mein. “But they recognise that more vehicles is not possible.”

Prosperous business are the ones with the highest foot traffic, said Paula Warren.

The messages from Barry Mein to last night’s meeting were the same as he had stated in a LGWM progress report last February:

Key routes into and through the CBD are often heavily congested, resulting in delays and unreliable journey times for people and goods accessing the CBD and other important regional destinations like the port, airport and hospital.

State Highway 1 runs through the CBD to the airport, creating conflict in a high growth area with heavy pedestrian activity. Some bus priority is provided along the Golden Mile but it is not consistent across the CBD or wider city, and bus travel times are slow and unreliable.

Whilst Wellington’s compact urban form encourages pedestrian activity, there are many potential points of conflict with vehicles. Infrastructure for cycling in the central city is limited, resulting in safety issues and a very poor level of service for cyclists. Network constraints in terms of space and limited alternative routes mean that the transport system has poor resilience, contributing to delays as a result of unplanned network disruptions.

If action is not taken, travel conditions in and around the Wellington CBD are likely to get worse as population and employment grow.

But his audience last night wanted to know when the action would begin. Told that the LGWM process would be choosing “a scenario” next year, the next question was: what’s the expectation that the new plan will be financed? Would the three partners – NZTA, the Regional Council, the City Council – agree to pay for what is recommended? Just one example: the cost of moving SH1 traffic from Vivian Street on to a widened Karo Drive, with undergrounded intersections – would be substantial, but the results would resolve one of the most serious problems identified by LGWM.


  1. Ben Schrader, 29. August 2017, 10:21

    I can see the value of moving SH1 to Karo Drive. The southern route through Vivian Street is nuts. But would the change mean extending the present two-to three lanes into four or more? And if so how would this impact on Upper Cuba Street? Would it require the demolition or removal of more of the heritage buildings that give the area its vibe?

    Further, does trenching the road at certain points mean the creation of canyons with sterile pedestrian overpasses or might the plan be cut and fill? In other words, I would hate to see transport planners use the situation to resurrect the 1960s plan to build a four-lane trenched motorway through Te Aro. It’s not my kind of livable city.

  2. Lindsay, 29. August 2017, 11:33

    If Karo Drive was trenched under Cuba Street, the area would be much more pleasant for pedestrians, because they would no longer have to stand and wait and wait and wait for the lights to change while three lanes of cars speed past. (The cars wouldn’t be delayed by the pedestrians, either…)

  3. Stop TREXIT, 29. August 2017, 11:57

    Great quote from Russell Tregonning on GWRC’s TREXIT being ‘health and climate change vandalism’. Has LGWM considered trolley buses and their contribution to a liveable city and liveable planet? If not, why not?

    Trolley Bus retention should be one of the 150 possibilities for ‘early intervention’ to keep Wellington a liveable city and a climate change aware city.

  4. KB, 29. August 2017, 12:16

    Does anyone know if there has been any investigation of a causeway running across Lambton Harbour, from the edge of the centreport wharf (which Aotea Quay could continue onto) across to the end of Oriental bay parade (thereby allowing Airport & Eastern suburb traffic to bypass the central city completely)? Could also be a valid route for a CBD to Airport light rail solution. Would need to move Strait Shipping/Bluebridge ferries to a shared interislander terminal – and small sea traffic could be accommodated by a bridge in the middle of the causeway. Meanwhile the causeway itself would allow for more cruise ship moorings.

    The above sounds radical – and would undoubtedly make Evans Bay Parade less desirable fro the increased traffic, but in terms of cost and travel time I would wager it would come in far cheaper than replicating mt Vic and terrace tunnels, and trenching various roads in Te Aro. I would also add it could provide valuable protection to the central city in decades to come from sea level increases

  5. Daryl Cockburn, 29. August 2017, 13:25

    The worst news last night was Russell’s graph showing that New Zealand’s transport emissions per capita are among the highest in the OECD.

  6. Save Wgtn for people, 29. August 2017, 14:57

    Caution required with the 100 or so quick wins that are being analysed behind the scenes. One of the early ‘quick win’ actions was to make pedestrians wait longer with a much more complex crossing arrangement at Oriental Parade and Cable Street. Clearly not in keeping with the LGWM principles.

    Cuba Street should clearly be a pedestrian only route, so anything to help that along including trenching would be great – maybe we could get Arthur Street and Tonks Avenue back as well.

  7. David Bond, 29. August 2017, 18:04

    I can’t see any serious reason why the existing inner-city bypass route should not be made two-way immediately.

    From Google Earth’s measuring tool, the Terrace Tunnel wall-wall width looks to be approx. 12.5m. This tunnel carries the full motorway traffic-flow in both directions. The Inner-city bypass trench wall-wall width looks to be approx. 12.5m also. Why can this not be configured like the Terrace Tunnel? The Arras Tunnel is clearly wider, so should easily accommodate both directions. So the whole route from the present motorway to the basin reserve could be made 2-way, without a further spade in the ground.Then, if the new “centre lane” could be arranged for variable-direction tidal-flow, the ability of the route to unload both Vivian Street and the present congested Waterfront Route would be impressive.Plus it would only be one major highway to intersect with, getting through town, rather than the present two.

    Why not?

    Could the powers-that-be want to keep the existing under-performing dog’s breakfast just as it is, because it helps justify their preferred grand scheme involving flyovers, tunnels and billions of dollars?

  8. Demetrius, 31. August 2017, 21:47

    I’m sorry I missed the meeting as I was on a 17 hour flight. Warm sunny greetings to all readers from a village called Aghios Thomas in Greece.

    I boarded a suburban train from the airport (Metro was also available if I was heading in to Athens) and changed en route to reach Inoi junction, about an hour north of Athens. The only hiccup was the underpass to the other platform at the interchange as the lifts were temporarily out of order and I had 30 kg of luggage! Other than that, it was an experience of what public transport should be like, with no dependence on taxis or private cars, and all for 14 Euros or about 23 NZD, which I think must include some sort of airport tax as the shorter leg cost 10 Euros and the longer only 4.

    We talk about great public transport in the so-called “rich” European countries, but I still think Greece, with all its financial woes, still has a lot to teach us in NZ about preferring public transport. And make no mistake, Greeks like their cars, too!

    Looking forward to seeing what LGWM comes up with. Surely region-wide light rail to the airport must be in the final mix as I believe it is a no-brainer, especially with talk of runway extensions and Shelley Bay redevelopment. The airport’s monopoly on its car parking income stream must be broken, too. A shiny lighted billboard after you check in advertises that they are building another 1000 car parks. We must fight this….

  9. Luke, 1. September 2017, 1:28

    I concur, a recent trip to Portugal (euro basket case) saw me take umpteen trips on the metro/tram/funicular/heavy rail over a few days using a paper version of the hop card for maybe $60 nz (exchange rate fluctuations etc) with no need of a car, uber or tuktuk.

    Admittedly I gave up on catching the crowded tram once & walked instead, but kiwis are so far behind in movement it’s not funny.

  10. Ross Clark, 8. September 2017, 0:32

    Demetrius: The airport’s monopoly on its car parking income stream must be broken, too. A shiny lighted billboard after you check in advertises that they are building another 1000 car parks. It’s worth pointing out that most airports in most places make a lot of money from parking. If WIAL are building an additional thousand carparks, it’s because they know they have a market for them. Luggage is a major reason why people prefer to drive to most airports, or take a taxi instead; you (and I) are the exception in this respect!

    In Edinburgh, the airport bus/taxi access arrangements handle over 30 percent of the airport’s total surface access task. The very high ratio is a function of the high volume of inbound tourist traffic. The airport itself handles over 12m passengers per year, larger than Wellington but smaller than Auckland. So, in New Zealand, there is scope to do better.

  11. Mike Mellor, 8. September 2017, 20:46

    Ross, Demetrius: Wellington, like many airports, earns more revenue from non-aeronautical activities (parking, retail etc) than from aeronautical activities, so airlines and their passengers are in effect subsidised by airport parkers and shoppers. That’s why the largest and most obvious building in the eastern suburbs is now a car park – it’s a lot of revenue, and keeps down the cost of flying.

    So how do we go about doing better?

  12. Ross Clark, 9. September 2017, 0:03

    Doing better? Well, an increase in frequency would be a good place to start, from 20 to ten minutes during the whole day and not just the peaks. Eight buses/hour, which has been the frequency in Edinburgh, would be even better. Airport passenger demand is flatter w.r.t. the time of day than public transport demand as a whole, and PT services need to be provided at a high frequency across the day as a result (as per Auckland).

    Also, anything to improve bus priority in the central city would help as well.