Wellington Scoop

Campaigners appalled at three new plans for a Basin Reserve flyover

Press Release – Save the Basin Campaign
The Save the Basin Campaign says that aspects of new Wellington transport plans unveiled tonight “feel like a slap in the face of the new Government”.

Three of the four new “scenarios” for Wellington transport unveiled by Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) – made up of the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), Greater Wellington (GW) and the Wellington City Council (WCC) – show that a version of the failed Basin Reserve flyover project (which was known as the Basin Bridge) remains on the table.

“NZTA’s Basin Reserve flyover project was an utter failure, and was rightly rejected by the courts,” said Save the Basin spokesperson Tim Jones. “LGWM and especially NZTA know people don’t want this failed flyover plan, yet here they go again!”

“It seems LGWM has learned nothing from NZTA’s track record of defeat,” said Mr Jones. “Have the last two years of ‘engagement exercises’ been a sham? What’s the point of putting us through all that malarkey only to come up with the same old, tired, motorway-dominated proposals?”

“These plans will not get Wellington moving. The induced demand of a road-first approach will just make traffic chaos throughout the city worse. We need to create viable transport alternatives to reduce dependence on private cars, and make travel easier and safer for the people who really need to use the roads.”

Mr Jones said that many other aspects of the new scenarios felt like a deliberate slap in the face of the new Government.

“The attempts to factor in the new Government’s aims of reducing carbon emissions and become a carbon neutral economy by 2050 are pathetic. There appears to be no attempt to take into account the new Government’s transport priorities. These scenarios look like they were drawn up by the National Party and rushed out at the end of the year to try to sneak them under the radar.”

In the 2014 Basin Bridge Board of Inquiry decision rejecting the previous flyover proposal, NZTA was taken to task for the many deficiencies in its consultation process. Mr Jones said the timing of the current round of consultation showed LGWM hasn’t learned from NZTA’s failures.

“LGWM has chosen to run a crucial consultation phase from now till mid-December, when people are caught up in the pre-Xmas rush,” said Mr Jones. “That looks a lot like a cynical attempt to minimise public input.”

“When and if LGWM provides a meaningful level of detail about their plans,” Mr Jones concluded, “Save the Basin will be able to decide if any of these scenarios are worth further consideration. Right now, it looks like LGWM needs to go back to the drawing board.”

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  1. Dave Armstrong, 15. November 2017, 20:42

    I asked my lecturer for two extensions, then handed in exactly the same essay that got me a D when I failed the course last year. I have now been headhunted by Let’s Get Welly Moving.

  2. Patrick Morgan, 15. November 2017, 20:43

    The aims of Let’s Get Wellington Moving are great, but the scenarios simply don’t deliver on the aims. We’ll need to fight hard for a better Wellington.

  3. Greater Auckland, 15. November 2017, 21:16

    Wow. Surprised at how deeply transport in Wellington is stuck in 1960s thinking and how the desperate NZTA don’t want to let go of the horrific Basin Reserve flyover. [via twitter]

  4. Tim Jones, 15. November 2017, 21:18

    Dave, was that essay what Let’s Get Wellington Moving released to the public tonight? Graded an F in that case, I’m afraid.

  5. Torken Faddy, 15. November 2017, 21:21

    Still the flyover. How many times do they need to hear the word “no”?!

  6. Andy Mellon, 15. November 2017, 21:46

    Is this a cynical attempt to repackage the Basin Flyover in a much larger scheme – as I recall this was one of the criticisms levied by the environment court first time around. By making construction of the flyover an integral part of a larger package, then are some other issues put aside? Plus, presumably they’d no longer have to bother with building a new stand at the Basin Reserve because there won’t be scope within a $1.5bn – $2.5bn package of improvements?

    What a crock. There’s a couple of small sops to pedestrians and cyclists, no improvements to public transport unless the Basin solution is made (which seems a bit like coercion of public transport supporters to get them over the line to support construction at the Basin Reserve).

    In the last 2 weeks, we’ve seen the electric trolley buses replaced by diesels, the first proper rail strike in over 20 years and now what could be a recommendation for more concrete wilderness construction around the Basin. Why are our public servants taking such retrograde steps for the health and wellbeing (and transport outcomes) for our Capital?

  7. Glen Smith, 15. November 2017, 22:15

    I couldn’t make the LGWM presentation but have quickly looked at the 4 ‘scenarios’ and, sadly, my worst fears again seem to have been realised. It surprises me how consistently our planners can do things so badly.
    The ‘scenarios’ are not really a comprehensive range of options for the public to consider but a predetermined stepwise agenda that the designers will no doubt think is a fait accompli. With the amount of time they have taken, I am sure the detailed designs have already been done and, once the inconvenience of ‘public consultation’ is out of the way will be progressively revealed. As far as I can see, the scenarios are just a minimally changed rehash of the roading agenda presented in the ‘Spine Study’ with the same minimal lip service paid to proper high quality public transport. In fact the only significant difference I can see is a slightly different layout (possibly) for the Basin and the NZTA finally admitting what we all already knew – which is that the Arras Tunnel was built for bidirectional 4 lane roading for ‘4 lanes to the planes’ via Karo Drive and a second Terrace Tunnel. This was originally going to be via 2 flyovers (the second they weren’t going to tell you about until the first one was built – ie when it became inevitable). Now it looks like a tunnel and a shorter ‘flyover’ .
    None of the basic flaws in public transport are addressed including
    1. The lack of long term capacity in a single across town public transport spine – the spine study analysis showed that even with the short planning undertaken and the minimal predicted increase in pubic transport a ‘secondary spine’ of up to 29 units per hour (ie half another spine) would be required almost immediately.
    2. The lack of a ‘bypass’ route for across town public transport users (logically the Quays). Traffic flow data shows that over 50% of cars approaching from the north bypass the city via the dedicated motorway and through the Terrace Tunnel, while only 15% of PT users transfer to a bus because of the slow up to 1/2 hour crawl (to avoid killing more pedestrians) down the most crowded streets.
    3. The failure to remove either the transfer time penalty (5-10 minutes) or the additional transfer disincentive (an additional 9 minutes) at the railway station despite research showing that this is a major disincentive to PT utilisation and that ‘track sharing’ of ‘heavier’ and ‘lighter’ rail units is common overseas
    4. The failure to even plan for, let along secure, any sort of dedicated PT corridor to the East and airport. The only option presented for this is two Mt Victoria Tunnels each with one car lane and one PT lane. (Does anyone really think once motorists have two car lanes in each direction they are going to give one of them up for PT? Does anyone really think the planners are serious about this? It is a sham to try and pretend they are catering for PT users so they can secure a second road only tunnel) and the carrot of the ‘in the never-never’ possibility of light rail via Newtown (with no plans of how they will do this).
    No ‘option X’ designs seem to have been presented (or probably even considered) despite the demonstrable superiority of this layout.

    Sadly it looks like another long fight with many more years of delay

  8. Russell Tregonning, 15. November 2017, 23:50

    No mention of the ‘climate’ word in the whole presentation. WHO describes climate disruption as the major global health hazard. Transport is the most rapidly increasing source of our escalating NZ GHG emissions (78% increase since 1990). Scenario A plus light rail will provide the most climate-effective, healthy & cheap solution for Wellington.

  9. Guy M, 16. November 2017, 1:15

    Eye of the Fish seems to have solved the problem that LGWM couldn’t, apparently in only about 30 minutes. Seems to work fine…

  10. Neil Douglas, 16. November 2017, 7:53

    Weird, LGWM has mixed up options for scenarios!

    Scenarios are usually states of the world minus the thing you want to plan – be it a tunnel, flyover (bridge), Light Rail or a cycleway. So for Wellington in 10 years time, the scenarios could have been:

    1) Less cars say 30%
    2) About the same as now number of cars
    3) More cars say 30%
    4) Lots more cars say 60%

    Ask people what which scenario they want then determine the option that best suits the scenario. Simple really?

    My money would have been on option 1.

  11. Sue Watt, 16. November 2017, 14:08

    No mention of improvements to and better use of the existing Mt Victoria bus tunnel. Rather it appears the new buses will have to use the car tunnel ie. put more pressure on the Basin Reserve area.
    Let’s stop after Scenario A plus light rail, as Russell suggests. This includes improvements near and at the Basin Reserve such as removing all parking and other impediments so it functions as a proper roundabout.

  12. CPH, 16. November 2017, 17:23

    Oddly enough I have some sympathy for NZTA in all this.

    The quality of the decision-making depends on the people in the room when the transport scenarios are developed and selected. Officials from WCC and GWRC should have been given the correct riding instructions from their political masters before they attended the sessions with NZTA. Either the politicians didn’t make sure the officials were correctly briefed, or in the case of the dinosaurs at Greater Wellington, they briefed them to be car-friendly.

    This isn’t really NZTA’s fault. If Wellington wants better transport outcomes than flyovers and motorways, we need to elect councillors who will actually stand up for public transport and who will hold officials to account to make sure that happens. Right now we have too many councillors at both the WCC and the GWRC who talk the talk rather than walk the walk, and who instead of doing their jobs expect community activists like Save the Basin to fix the problems they create.

  13. Citizen Joe, 16. November 2017, 20:30

    WCC could always appoint an officer to work alongside the lobby groups to oppose road builder NZTA, just like the Inner West Council of Sydney has just done to facilitate opposition to a major new road being hoist upon them by the State Government.

  14. Chris Laidlaw, 16. November 2017, 20:52

    Lots of good comments folks. In effect all those options are possible in this spread of scenarios if you read it carefully, so feed in your specific proposals. We will also need strong public support for congestion charging / road pricing which will be essential components if we are to shift the balance away from private cars to mass transit.

  15. Peter, 16. November 2017, 21:28

    Mr. Laidlaw – pity you had to lower the tone with a patronising comment. This is especially galling coming on the day of a rail strike that was attributable to GWRC’s ineptitude and in the knowledge that the bus drivers have also been shafted by the organisation you head with future ramifications. Remind us how much we ratepayers paid for your Council’s legal manoeuvrings that screwed the bus and train drivers – over $6M wasn’t it?

  16. CPH, 16. November 2017, 21:46

    I rest my case, based on Chris Laidlaw’s comments. In Auckland the local body politicians fought for a regional fuel tax and won, but here in Wellington the local body politicians seem to expect us to do the job for them on congestion charging!

  17. Neil Douglas, 16. November 2017, 21:51

    Hey Chris, I know fences can be carefree places to sit on and view the world but there comes a time when you have to decide which side of the fence you are on. Particularly so if you’ve put your name forward, got elected and get handsomely paid to make decisions.

    So Chris what option/scenario do YOU want for Wellington?

  18. Kay, 16. November 2017, 22:30

    The scenarios use misleading maps. Buses have their own tunnel and don’t use the Mt Victoria road tunnel. Why has #GetWellyMoving done this? Have they never been on Wellington buses? Why do the plans only talk of car tunnel expansion and miss the opportunity to turn the one lane bus tunnel bottleneck into a quicker two lane tunnel? That would match the road lanes flowing into and out of the tunnel? This problem was shared with them at consultation meetings in March so why the oversight?

  19. Chris Laidlaw, 17. November 2017, 20:32

    I’d be more than happy with an option that creates a genuine public transport clearway through the CBD, transfer of SH1 to Caro Drive with pedestrianisation of the Vivian/Cuba St zone, at-grade solutions round the Basin and an immediate work programme designed to settle on the best mass transit option through to the airport.
    What’s your solution?

  20. James, 17. November 2017, 22:37

    ‘Lets Get Welly Moving’ consultation is looking like a sham. Going through the ‘consultation,’ soft soaping us when it’s the same old same old roading juggernaut that has delivered congestion into a dead end since the 1960s. According to Mr Mein, Road Pricing/Congestion Charging (‘too complicated ‘) and Light Rail (‘too expensive’ or ‘no demand for 10 years’) are to be kicked into the long grass.
    No mention either on what happens after the new Mt Vic Tunnel is built..as if it goes without saying a four lane highway to the planes will be required. Pity the neighbourhoods of Te Aro, Mt Vic, Newtown and Hataitai who will get buried by asphalt while the rest of us witness further the heart of Wellington sacrificed on the altar of the combustion engine. Thorndon and a huge chunk of Mt Cook and its heritage are already toast, you’re next!
    Let’s face up to the fact that the NZTA is really a Roading Agency, its hubris shown by its determination to force through their ‘Road of National Significance’ to the bitter end. The GWRC focus is getting traffic from ‘the Regions’ to the Airport as quickly as possible. Tough luck on the residents of Wellington City who are in the way. The WCC seems impotent, bullied and incapable of coming up a vision for the 21st century.
    With such paymasters we should not be surprised with the scenarios presented. C’mon Wellington! We desperately need leadership to stand up to the petrol heads and their 20th century thinking, with their emissions and contributions to climate breakdown! If we let them get away with such “Tunnel Vision,” generations to come will never forgive us.

  21. Michael, 18. November 2017, 15:13

    What makes you think we are going to be able to reduce the use of private cars when the decision makers are flooding the roads with smelly noisy second hand buses and putting up the fares. This is only going to encourage more private use.
    Let’s face it, Wellington transport has been badly served by the GWRC for years, and there is little hope that this will ever change. As they tear down the trolley bus lines the next initiative from them is likely to be smog masks.

  22. Neil Douglas, 20. November 2017, 0:40

    Chris, First of all thanks for hanging it all out there and giving us your preferred option. You ask for my solution? Well it’s not a million miles from yours!

    When I arrived in Wellington back in 1990, I saw Light Rail as a ‘silver bullet’ solution to splice a continuation of rail from the rail station to the airport. But it’s only one corridor (admittedly now a ‘strategic’ one after the Govt moved the end of the State Highway from the Terrace Tunnel to the airport).

    What I gradually became to appreciate was Wellington’s unique (to the Southern Hemisphere) trolley bus system. Utilitarian no doubt, unappreciated certainly, but worth keeping and investing in as our core hard-wired public transport system. So I have been disillusioned to see that you and others did not share my passion for our trolley buses and that they had to be effectively sacrificed for competitive bus tendering.

    What about roads and cars? Up until 5 years ago, I was a firm believer in Dave Watson’s / Terry McDavitt’s double act ‘we want to do this but we have no money so we’ll ‘do nothing’’ . Transmission Gully was always #1 but never got the nod from Tranzit NZ because its economics was so piss poor. The Greens and Kabour changed that with demotion of BCRs in favour of softer criteria which National maxed out with RONS.

    The lack of major road or heavy rail infrastructure curtailed sprawl and encouraged city living and I think that has been great for Wellington City.

    But lately as I walk my dogs along the side of the Thorndon motorway I see ever lengthening queues of cars – 80% with only a driver in them. Tinakori Rd is now a long traffic jam morning and night. Something has changed and it has to be population pressure. Immigration has changed the dynamics fundamentally. We are now a mini Sydney. We can learn from what they (and other cities) have been doing (good and bad). Sydney has limited CBD car parking. They charge a level on car parking too. Neither of these aspects are GWRC in charge of. Any major new Sydney road is a toll road. They have sold off assets (port and electricity) to fund capital transport projects i.e: metro rail and light rail. But they are now struggling financially.

    Doing nothing is better than doing the wrong something. And better pricing/ regulation of what you have got puts you in a better position to decide what extra capacity you really do need. So be smart Chris – advocate for better pricing and coordinate with the city councils regarding their pricing and regulation of car parking and land use.

  23. David Bond, 20. November 2017, 12:38

    I would simply like to add that the need for a city-end extension of our existing “heavy” rail system which was first identified and provisioned-for in the 1950’s has not gone away. Various preliminary plans were made through the 1960s and into the 70s, but things then stopped dead, just as did Auckland’s plans for ‘Rapid Rail’ in the 1970’s.

    While light rail is currently flavour-of-the-era, the heavy rail option should be restored to the suite of proposals for proper investigation. It should be noted that the dishonest treatment and shameful dismissal that it suffered under the Public Transport Spine Study was every bit as bad as that dished out to light rail.

    If the city-to-airport corridor really is warranting of a ‘transport project of national significance’, then we are remiss not to consider this vital mode that already serves the rest of our region so well. And the big advantage of this approach over new and completely separate initiatives is that it builds on, and unlocks connectivity of what we already have.

    Levin-to-Airport / Upper Hutt-to-Airport by train should be the aspiration if we are serious about impacting regional traffic problems. And let it be widely-understood that the money currently being poured into traffic-worsening motorways could have gone a long way towards making this happen had government policies been different.

    Well now government policies are different, so let’s do this! Or at least let’s fully-evaluate it.

  24. Chris Horne, 22. November 2017, 14:58

    Where were the Transport Agency, the Regional Council and the Wellington City Council when, early last year, the previous government wisely ratified New Zealand’s acceptance of the COP21 Paris Agreement? Absent without leave? Heads buried in the sand? On another planet? The NZTA, GWRC and WCC must accept immediately that there is no planet B. They must urgently become prime movers in the region’s implementation of the provisions of COP21. We are committed to slashing CO2 emissions, to do our share of avoiding catastrophic climate change.

    To comply with COP21, we cannot allow the building of more roads, bridges, flyovers, tunnels, parking lots or parking buildings.

    Let’s Get Wellington Moving must instead advocate for:
    1. Implementation of congestion charging to cover all CBDs;
    2. Imposition of regional taxes on petrol and diesel;
    3. Substantial increases in the fringe-benefit tax on those who have company cars.

    The roading proposals in Let’s Get Wellington Moving’s Scenarios 2,3 and 4 must be abandoned forthwith. Let’s Get Wellington Moving swiftly towards being the carbon-neutral capital region we can all be proud of.

  25. Michael, 22. November 2017, 15:55

    It is all very well going on about cars but what about the smelly polluting second-hand buses – with little chance of them being replaced in the foreseeable future. Why should people listen when the GWRC doesn’t seem to care?
    And what must come first? If we are to stop building roads and bridges, how quickly can a major network of public transport across the region be built to service ALL of Wellington? While public transport in the city is pretty good, people also need ready access and reasonably fast transport across the region. If I was to try and take my elderly mother to a hospital appointment on public transport today, it would involve trains and buses and walking (pushing a wheelchair). All up just the travelling time there and back for my mother would be just under 4 hours and for me to come from home and back I would spend 5 hours 30 minutes and that is not allowing for waiting for trains and buses to come along. Until I can do this more effectively, I will continue to use my car.

  26. Frank Buddingh', 28. November 2017, 14:33

    How amazingly naive to think that trying again to present this unwholy plan will gain track.

  27. Michael, 29. November 2017, 18:41

    Just got home after walking along Manners and Willis Street this evening and spent most of it inhaling stinking diesel bus fumes as convoys of noisy buses stopped and started past me. GWR councillors should be made to walk the streets and inhale carcinogenic fumes along with the rest of us.

  28. NigelTwo, 29. November 2017, 19:49

    @Michael, My partner reported a similar thing this evening. It seems the traditional Wellington wind is even failing to support the GWRC. That wind whisks all our car and bus pollution away, making it seem like it never existed.