Wellington Scoop

Let’s get Wellington really moving

FIT Wellington / David Randall Peters

by Michael Barnett
FIT Wellington has done much work in identifying feasible routes for light rail connecting the Wellington Railway Station with the Airport, and we consider a viable route exists that avoids the potential mode conflicts at the Basin Reserve. We now call on Wellingtonians to tell the powers that be that the time has come for future proofed, sustainable, efficient, desirable mass rapid transit. That solution isn’t BRT (Bus Rapid Transit), it is LR (Light Rail). WLR (Wellington Light Rail) is the future that Wellington deserves and you need to ask for it, now!

LGMW (Let’s Get Wellington Moving) states that “Current growth rates for the city suggest that the point at which demand would justify mass transit is about ten years away.” Considering that Light Rail is anticipated to take 7-10 years to implement, clearly now is the time to start.

The implementation of light rail would dramatically reduce the number of vehicles using the Mt Vic tunnel and therefore alleviate the congestion through the tunnel and around the Basin Reserve at peak times. It would also future proof Wellington for an expected increase in population in the order of 50,000 – 80,000 residents by 2043 (Statistics NZ projections).

Last week FIT announced an alternative to add to the LGWM conversation. That alternative is Scenario A+ and it includes LGWM’s Scenario A plus light rail on a “string of pearls” route connecting the railway station, the hospital in Newtown, Kilbirnie, the Airport and on to Miramar; with high quality connections to buses, trains and planes.

FIT Wellington
Click here for large version of route map

Our work is based on the premise that, rather than expanding road space to satisfy demand in metropolitan and urban areas, what is proven to be best is to work with the existing space and use it more efficiently. As demonstrated successfully in cities all around the world, this involves introducing mass rapid transit with the highest capacity through areas of high population density and potential for growth.

Light rail has three times the capacity in persons per hour of two Mt Victoria tunnels (12,000 people per hour versus 4,000 people per hour) and international experience has shown that as soon as light rail is introduced, there is a mode shift of the order of 25% (and often much higher) from cars to public transport because of the high quality, fast, and congestion-free service.

We believe that there is faulty logic in the LGWM document when it regards light rail as an ‘add-on’ of $350 – $500M in scenarios B, C and D. Light rail does not require massive expenditure in roads and road tunnels and should be considered separately in its own right.

We have estimated the cost of Scenario A+ at between $900M – $1.2b (including light rail at an estimated cost of $800M for the suggested route, and the $150 – $200M Scenario A walking and cycling and bus network improvements). This is significantly less than the $2.3b Scenario D cost including the second tunnels at The Terrace and Mt Victoria, the undergrounding of Karo Drive and road widening along Ruahine Street and Wellington Road.

Minor and cost-effective changes can be implemented to the road network, particularly around the Basin Reserve, which along with major improvements in bus services and cycle infrastructure, can ease congestion until the light rail route comes online.

The Minister of Transport Phil Twyford is on record as saying that “LGWM is lacking ambition”. FIT Wellington agree and go further by saying that three of the four scenarios place far too heavy an emphasis on more roads and tunnels for motor vehicles and that this runs counter to one of LGWM’s prime objectives of achieving a major mode share shift from cars to public transport and active transport modes such as walking and cycling. The LGWM scenarios have also missed the importance of achieving a major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Wellington is internationally regarded as an attractive and livable city and it is expected to continue to grow.

LGWM’s Scenarios B, C & D must be firmly rejected as out of date thinking that will not allow it to flourish into a sustainable, 21st Century world leading city. The time to start planning for light rail is now and the time to say it is before Friday. Visit www.fitwellington.nz for all the details including a handy submission guide and a link to the online submission form. Let’s do light rail!

Michael Barnett wrote this article on behalf of FIT (Fair Intelligent Transport) Wellington.
(He was once a WCC engineer who worked on road and transport issues in Wellington. Others in the group have direct experience planning and implementing Light Rail overseas.)


  1. Patrick Morgan, Cycling Action Network, 12. December 2017, 17:48

    I agree with Michael, and have made a submission based on scenario A+.

  2. Russell Tregonning, 12. December 2017, 21:18

    Building more roads doesn’t solve congestion in the medium to long term–this is well proven with experiences here and overseas–Auckland the most dramatic example in NZ. Attributed to Albert Einstein is –“the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result”. Scenarios B,C and D are doing the same old thing. Enough already. Wellington needs a new way of thinking– scenario A+. Tell LGWM before they make the same old insane mistakes.

  3. Glen Smith, 12. December 2017, 21:22

    Michael and FIT. Congratulations on presenting several viable and well researched alternatives to the LGWM plans, options that would truly combat the large (and hugely expensive) predicted increase in congestion by pursuing the only logical solution – attracting people onto high quality public transport. LGWM planners should be presenting options such as this for the public to consider. It is good that the Quays route is now your preferred option through the northern CBD – an option that it appears LGWM has not even considered. Advantages of this route include
    1. Adding capacity (rather than replacing bus capacity); 2. Not displacing buses (which would result in lower levels of bus service, force transfers onto bus users and result in lower bus use); 3. Higher quality corridor; 4. Shorter distance; 5. Faster transit time; 6. Greater city coverage (adding key waterfront destinations); 7. Technically easier; 8. Lower cost; 9. Easier construction. No disruption of bus services along the Golden Mile.

    Your preferred Taranaki St route is also interesting and runs more centrally than the alternative Kent/ Cambridge Terrace (accessed via Wakefield Street), but ends in Wallace Street which, at only 10m kerb to kerb, was never going to be a viable rail route. The cheapest option would have been to build the Arras Tunnel with an adjacent rail tunnel but, despite sending the NZTA concept plans for this, they weren’t competent enough to even consider it. Your tunnel further south is an interesting alternative. One thing you haven’t explored is options for removal of the transfer penalty at the Station, which consists of both the actual transfer time (likely 5-10 minutes for every across town commuter … forever. Have you assessed the long term cost of not removing this?) and the additional ‘disinclination’ to use a service if it involves a transfer at the Station – a disincentive estimated by Neil Douglas at around 9 minutes for rail to rail transfer ( see http://atrf.info/papers/2013/2013_douglas_jones.pdf). This will almost certainly lead to lower rail uptake. Suggestions for removing transfer so far have consisted of
    1. Continuation of ‘heavy’ rail across the city. This would require a very high, completely segregated corridor which would be very difficult/destructive and very expensive.
    2. Continuation of ‘light rail’ (rail carriages that can travel down ordinary streets and mix more intimately with pedestrians/cyclists and other street users) onto our mainstream rail corridors via a ‘tram-train’ system. This presents a number of technical problems. It seems to me that these two options are the extreme ends of a continuum and that a middle ground is likely achievable. That is ‘medium weight’ rail running via a high quality (but not completely segregated/exclusive) across town corridor that can run ‘medium weight’ units that are ‘heavy’ enough to run safely on our mainstream lines alongside ‘heavier’ rail units. Such ‘track sharing’ is common world wide.

    This is where the next section of your route is interesting. The Quays and Taranaki Street could easily accommodate such a higher quality rail corridor but I fail to see how Newtown could do so. Rail through Newtown would truly be ‘light’ rail and the cost is likely to be the sacrifice of any chance of removing the Station transfer penalty. The alternative is a higher quality fully dedicated rail corridor via a stacked dual road/rail second Mt Victoria Tunnel and then following a Ruahine St/ Wellington Road/Kilbirnie Cres route – a corridor that looks likely to be of sufficient quality to accommodate such ‘medium weight’ rail.

    The reason for taking rail via Newtown is to try and put as many ‘pearls’ as possible on the one ‘string’. However no city can put all destinations on one route and multiple routes are required. Housing density data shows there are two main ‘outer’ population densities south of the CBD – Island Bay and the Eastern Suburbs. Both are large enough to justify a regular service. And they cannot be supplied by one ‘string’- two are required and they have to ‘split’ at some point. The Island Bay route has to go via Newtown and passenger data shows this would be adequate to service Newtown. Rail via Newtown is not required and the best rail route to the Airport can be assessed independent of this. I am happy to be convinced that rail via Newtown is the best option but I would like this to be examined in a thorough and objective manner and both options (with costings) put to the public. What is very clear from the performance of our LGWM ‘professionals’ so far is that they are incapable of undertaking the task of examining (and presenting to the public) a range of options such as these in any competent manner. I am left wondering when Phil Twyford is going to have to intervene.

  4. Citizen Joe, 13. December 2017, 10:25

    The artistic impression shows a short stop with shelter that is on the wrong side of double tracks in terms of accessing the long tram that is approaching. Either it is not going to be a popular stop (somewhere near the Beehive?) or people are going to get wet and wind blown and then face a dangerous walk accessing the tram.

  5. John Rankin, 13. December 2017, 11:06

    @GlenSmith, thank you for your comments. Let me address some of them. The following are ideas FIT has explored, not firm proposals.

    FIT envisages that extending the first line north would be a priority: first to Kaiwharawhara to serve the planned new ferry terminal and potentially a park and ride area, then to Johnsonville via a new tunnel (entering the hill just past the north end of Tinakori Rd). This would free up Matangi units for redeployment on the other suburban rail services and could create an opportunity for an urban walking and cycling trail on the current Johnsonville line.

    With FIT’s suggested route, Island Bay could be reached through a short tunnel west of the Zoo stop to Adelaide Rd in Berhampore. This would probably operate as a shuttle service between Island Bay and the Newtown stop. An extension from the Railway Station to Karori is also highly desirable, especially given the planned growth in that suburb.

    Your point about examining options in a thorough and objective manner is exactly correct. FIT’s route is a suggestion that our investigations have found is practical and feasible. But another option may prove better; we remain agnostic about a preferred route until a properly constituted evaluation has been carried out.

    FIT concluded that making the first line a “string of pearls” was important for maximizing potential ridership. FIT sees two ridership-limiting problems with the split route LGWM has chosen. The frequency of service south of the split is necessarily half that on the main line north of the split, which increases journey times and makes the service less attractive. Those wishing to travel from one leg to another (such as a Newtown resident who works at the airport or a Kilbirnie resident who works at the hospital) must transfer at Courtenay Place, which again increases journey times. FIT notes the view WSP raised in its report to LGWM that light rail on a split route south of the Basin may not be viable.

  6. David B, 13. December 2017, 12:19

    Glen I fear your pronouncement that extension of heavy rail “…would be very difficult/destructive and very expensive”, is unnecessarily alarmist.

    If the Waterfront Route was relinquished as a major traffic artery then an at-grade or shallow-excavated rail corridor could be installed and cheaply covered-over to form a ‘linear mound’ which could then be landscaped and featured. De-trafficking the Waterfront Route would be facilitated by making the innercity bypass 2-way, an easy solution to a number of things just waiting to be embraced.

    I believe there are ways of taking heavy rail further south which require inventiveness and preparedness to ‘think outside-the-square’, rather than massive destruction and expense. These descriptors are more apt for motorway-construction, not rail.

  7. Traveller, 13. December 2017, 15:26

    The Fit people, and Save the Basin and the other campaigners, have proved beyond a shadow of doubt that if more roads are built, more congestion will result. Which makes Scenarios B, C and D look foolish indeed.

  8. Conn G, 13. December 2017, 17:23

    Regarding all scenarios, Wellington missed a golden opportunity when it scrapped the trolleybuses. Another scenario could have involved using them by retaining a network with a small extension line to the airport. Alternative wire sections to divide this created route from the existing suburban numbered routes would allow a prioritised route from Railway Station to the Airport, this would serve well if new articulated trolleybuses were purchased, after proven passenger numbers.

  9. Peter Grant, 13. December 2017, 18:58

    Michael Barnett, Glenn Smith et all. Thank you for such exhaustive deliberations on what ought to be done (but is currently being ignored by the people on large salaries) whose preference is to keep on collecting those salaries for as long as possible.

  10. luke, 13. December 2017, 19:39

    There is nothing wrong with transfers, has nobody seen the London underground. As long as transferring between light & heavy rail incurred no fiscal penalty and services were frequent, it would be fine.

  11. Kerry, 13. December 2017, 21:43

    Citizen Joe. You are right, an artist’s license has produced something far more effective than a mere engineer (like me) could have managed. This is about visions and concepts, and facing a new direction for Wellington, at least as much as practicalities and problems.

    Don’t forget to make a submission to LGWM by Friday

  12. David Preece, 13. December 2017, 23:09

    Hell no. Transport technology is in the process of leaping forward. Not in five or ten years time, now. Light rail is already over expensive and under good – in a world where everybody either has a battery assisted bike, has a self driving car, or (more likely) uses self driving taxis, a half billion dollars on a train set is the worst idea ever. If nothing else the marginal utility over buses is practically nil.

    Tyres. We invented them. Get over it.

  13. TrevorH, 14. December 2017, 6:49

    It must be fun to dwell in a fantasy world.

  14. Lindsay, 14. December 2017, 9:14

    I intend never to get into a taxi without a driver, if ever anyone is deluded enough to invent such a service. (But I’m not prejudiced, and have often ridden in underground trains without a driver…)

  15. Kerry, 14. December 2017, 11:10

    David: Light rail can carry ten times as many people as cars, in a single lane. If automated cars are a solution (there are still unsolved problems) they cannot do much to improve capacity.

    Drivers are encouraged to keep two seconds behind the car in front, plus the car or truck length. Try working out the following distance for automated vehicles at ten times that flow rate, then think about what happens if one of your sacred tyres blows out.

  16. Andrew, 14. December 2017, 11:40

    Self driving vehicles still have a major hurdle. Liability. What happens when something malfunctions? Arguably, these need to run with 0% chance of errors and with redundancy. Just like the space shuttle computer.

    Where will the blame lie when things go pear shaped?

  17. John Rankin, 14. December 2017, 12:05

    New technologies can do many wonderful things, but bypassing the laws of geometry is not one of them. A person travelling by car needs about 15 times as much total road space as one travelling by light rail, whether the driver is a human or a computer. Until such time as we invent a Tardis-like ability to fit many large things (cars) into a small space (roads), urban light rail will remain the most space-efficient way to move large numbers of people quickly, safely, and in comfort.

    News flash: Doctor Who is a work of fiction.

    If a corridor is carrying over about 3000 passengers per hour per direction, light rail is cheaper than any bus-based service, when you take account of the total lifetime cost of ownership. Future autonomous vehicles will most likely complement light rail by providing “last mile” travel from the light rail corridor to people’s homes. These are services currently provided by feeder buses and are the most expensive part of the total trip, because drivers are the highest cost aspect of running a bus system.

  18. Elaine Hampton, 14. December 2017, 15:16

    Cars are polluting. The NZTA website states that car pollution kills more people than cancer in NZ. It is not just the diesel or petrol fumes exiting the exhaust – electric and driverless cars still have tires that rub the road, the particulate matter resulting is toxic. They are also heavy on materials and energy to produce. Electric and driverless cars won’t solve congestion; rapid rail on rails with high carrying capacity is the answer for the future.

  19. Jimbo, 15. December 2017, 8:55

    Think I stopped reading at “Light rail does not require massive expenditure…” Look at recent massive blowouts in the UK…and you’ll face the same old issues of you still have to get to the stations.

  20. Russell Familton, 15. December 2017, 15:00

    I am a regular and very satisfied user of PT in Auckland. But Auckland Transport, the NZTA and the car and truck lobby regularly put obstacles in the way of PT.
    64% of NZ people want more PT. Most NZ people want to do something about global warming and drive less.
    It is not profitable to continually build roads to houses in distant suburbs. Auckland is now building more apartments in and around the CBD and bus and train stations where the living is easy.

  21. Glen Smith, 18. December 2017, 6:53

    Luke. Transfers are essential since there is insufficient demand for a direct service from every origin to every destination. However the station transfer for across-town commuters serves no logical purpose and will be an expensive and (empirical data shows) potent barrier forever. All options for removing it should be explored.
    David B. I suspect we are talking about similar things. Despite being commonly used, there is no precise definition of ‘heavy’ and ‘light’ rail. I would see ‘heavy’ as fully (or almost fully) segregated corridors capable of running very heavy (eg freight trains) units with large turning radius’s, slow acceleration/ deceleration and high voltage supply. Achieving this across town would be very difficult. Unless taken underground or overhead, rail would have to interact with roads at numerous places, have lower physical weight, lower turning radius’s, better acceleration/ deceleration and low voltage (dual voltage) supply. Nonetheless I would like to see across-town rail at the ‘heaviest’ end of the spectrum as feasible.
    John Rankin. Nice to see your exploration of options. A couple of comments. You seem very willing to impose transfers on commuters (e.g. the shuttle to Newtown) despite the research showing this is a potent inhibitor (17.5 minute ‘disincentive’ for bus to rail transfer in Neil Douglas’s study). The aim should be direct transport to the CBD on all lines. The huge advantage of the Quays route rail is adding essential capacity while retaining a high quality Golden Mile bus corridor. We can then assess each route objectively over time to see if it is best served by rail or by bus. While I appreciate your enthusiasm for rail, this can lead to non objective planning (Just as the NZTA’s does with roads). The best option for the ‘southern’ line (Island Bay and Newtown) will, in my view, continue to be buses for many years to come. Across town ‘medium’ weight rail (to open up the southern CBD to commuters from the Kapiti and Hutt lines) is the most essential first step. This ‘medium’ weight rail should extend to the airport (the only route that, in my view, currently justifies rail based on the forecast 59,000 daily car trips to/from the airport by 2030- source Wellington Airport Master Plan) via the only route that, in my view, can accommodate the required higher quality corridor which is a dual road/ rail Mt Victoria tunnel then Ruahine St, Wellington Road, Kilbirnie Cres, Rongotai Road, tunnel under the runway then Calaber road. All other routes should remain as buses with the option of replacing them with true ‘light’ rail (track sharing with ‘medium’ weight rail along the Quays) at some time in the future when growth dictates.

  22. Jonny Utzone, 18. December 2017, 9:46

    I see Edinburgh’s LRT has been nominated as an urban white elephant (a very costly elephant too). What evidence is there that Wellington would do even as well as Lothian Council in planning and building Light Rail?! Four examples of Wellington ‘transport planning’: Trolley Bus / Wright Speed fiasco, Island Bay Cycleway, Basin Reserve Flyover and Wairarapa Train Line.

  23. K, 18. December 2017, 10:06

    @glenn smith: transfer are only “essential” if planning public transport based on 20th century solutions. Autonomous, on-demand, point-to-point transport is the future – no way around that. Spending hundreds of millions on anything except a core spine mass transit is a huge waste of tax dollars. The future for suburban public transport away from the core spine is autonomous vehicles (whether it is subsidized or not will determine how long it takes to deploy to everyone, but it will happen. Take the driver out of the Uber and the cost per trip falls to the low single dollars – or about the same cost as a bus/train fare eventually, but with all the advantages of point to point)

  24. Glen Smith, 18. December 2017, 10:49

    K. Good to see you agree with a core mass transit spine – logically a direct extension of our high quality existing rail network. But the limiting factor with roads is not mass spines (you can always add lanes to a motorway) but the crippling and expensive congestion once those cars get into the city proper. How will changing from non-autonomous, on demand, point to point transport (ie current cars) to autonomous, on demand, point to point transport alter that? The answer is it won’t and, once ‘critical density’ is passed, roads will still become increasingly inefficient and ultimately gridlocked whether the vehicles are autonomous or not. The only way to avoid this is moving people into more efficient modes (vehicles with multiple people in on set routes) whether these vehicles have rubber or steel wheels.
    Johnny Utzone. I agree rail has to stand up objectively, particularly compared to buses. However the case for across town rail to the airport is, in my view, indisputable. Happy for you to try and dispute it.

  25. John Rankin, 18. December 2017, 11:33

    For people interested in the pros and cons of transfers versus direct services, this article by Jarrett Walker is well worth reading: “Transferring” Can Be Good for You, and Good for Your City. The article also has some well-informed and thoughtful comments at the end.

    Those who doubt the efficacy of a well-designed connective network may wish to visit Edmonton, Alberta (preferably in January) and spend a week or two getting around the city on Edmonton Transit. I’m sure there are other excellent examples, but it’s the one with which I’m most familiar. It’s a pity Wellington’s weather is so balmy year round. When the price of missing a connection is frostbite because it’s -35C outside, there is a strong incentive on the system operator to make sure connections are reliable.

  26. Jonny Utzone, 18. December 2017, 12:15

    John Rankin advocates Edmonton Alberta as somewhere to look for good LRT. But even with ‘good LRT’ transit (bus + LRT) still only gets a a 9% share with car getting 77.5% of trips (8x as many trips as PT). Clearly it’s hard getting people out of their air conditioned cars especially when it’s -35C outside. Brrrrrrr!


  27. John Rankin, 18. December 2017, 13:20

    Nevertheless, Jonny Utzone, Edmonton achieves almost twice the annual PT boardings per capita as Wellington.

  28. greenwelly, 18. December 2017, 14:04

    @Johnny, Historically Edmonton (and Alberta in general) have been very pro sprawl and supportive of the use of private cars. Also Alberta is the centre of Canada’s oil industry, so there are all sorts of forces at play in the public policy arena,

  29. Tony Jansen, 18. December 2017, 15:23

    Perhaps we should just simplify all these rather complex and technical statements. It is a simple choice really. Option One – turn Wellington into Auckland. Option two – build more mass public transport. I think we all agree preferably non polluting forms of MPT. For me that means light rail not Bus Rapid Transport.
    If you want to live in Auckland I think the easiest way to do that is move there. If you love and want to live in Wellington, then let’s put a stop to LTSA and co from building more roads.
    We cannot rely on the GWRC or the WCC as they are so completely colonised by the prevailing ideology and with property developers’ money to be able to offer honest assistance.
    We will have to do this ourselves and get the Minister of Transport to intervene as early as possible. So much for LGWM being impartial and not a tool of the LTSA. Huh!

  30. Let'sGetWellingtonMoving, 18. December 2017, 16:12

    Thanks to everyone who took part in the public engagement on LGWM’s transport scenarios. Public feedback is now closed, although you can still get in touch with us at info@getwellymoving.co.nz. We’ll be reporting results back to you by March. [via twitter]

  31. Jonny Utzone, 18. December 2017, 19:58

    John Rankin… I’ve had a look at Edmonton’s transport stats and I work out that there are 112 million boardings per year (bus + LRT) for a metro population of 1.3 million which gives a boardings per capita of 86. This compares with 37 million bus + rail trips for Wellington for 505,000 regional population – which gives a figure of 73/pop.

    Edmonton is higher but not twice as high.

  32. Mike Mellor, 18. December 2017, 21:27

    Johnny Utzone: thanks for that selective quote from the Guardian article on white elephants. It would have been good if you’d also pointed out that there was a road project in that category, Boston’s Big Dig, which ended up 190% over budget.

    As is well known, Edinburgh was very much a worst case in light rail construction costs. But now that it’s built and operating well the council is planning to extend it: let’s hope Wellington finds itself in that happy situation!

    And the Basin Reserve was a stuff-up created entirely by NZTA, the government’s road builders, so I’m not sure how that helps your argument.

  33. Jonny Utzone, 18. December 2017, 22:59

    Sorry Mike, I’m human and not a white elephant so I apologise for not mentioning Boston’s Big Dig. Memory mitigation, well Edinburgh is an LRT project in a capital city and does go to an airport like the proposal for Wellington and will run in competition with a bus service. And regarding cost overruns, Edinburgh LRT does beat Boston’s big dig in percentage terms at 285% over-budget cf 190%.

    Regarding the Basin Reserve – didn’t Andy Foster’s (WCC) fence sitting (abstaining) have a hand in the ‘stuff-up,’ as was the Council not objecting to extending SH1 from the end of the Terrace tunnel to the airport?

    Mike: what evidence have you got that GWRC/WCC/NZTA would manage LRT better than Lothian Council?

  34. Traveller, 19. December 2017, 8:53

    Jonny: Re Andy Foster. Till March 2013 the city council – including Justin Lester – was firmly against the flyover. But then – without warning at a crucial meeting on March 21 – a casting vote from Andy reversed their position, and changed everything. Observers said the concrete bridge across Kent and Cambridge Terraces would have become known as “Foster’s Flyover.”

  35. Glen Smith, 19. December 2017, 13:29

    LetsGetWellingtonMoving. Thanks for the advice we can still contact you after the perfunctory ‘consultation’ on your predetermined agenda. I was tramping so missed the deadline but you can look at my Spine Study submission – you will likely find it routinely filed in the box next to the rubbish bin. I think it contained the international tunnelling experts (Ramboll’ s) recommendation of a dual road rail tunnel, an Option that, in keeping with your thorough and professional approach, has been studiously ignored. This was before Alice, the affectionately named Tunnel Boring Machine that built the Waterview tunnels, was dismantled and sent back to Germany. Ramboll had recommended a 15m bore while Alice produced a 13.1 m bore which by my calculation would have done at a pinch. Alice bored 4.8 kms of tunnel at a cost of 1.4 billion. This would put the cost of the 700m long My Victoria at around 200 million (although set up/approaches/ would add a lot of cost). My official information requests show, a bit like a rail tunnel next to the Arras tunnel, that a dual road rail tunnel was never even on planners’ radars. Ahh the incompetence of narrow blinkered mindsets.

  36. John Rankin, 19. December 2017, 16:13

    @Johnny Utzone: the Edmonton metropolitan population area includes St Albert and Sherwood Park, which run their own transit systems. Edmonton city’s annual boardings per capita are about 130. See this article, the boardings per capita graph.

    The boardings graph on that page also shows Calgary, Ottawa and Vancouver all have slightly higher boardings per capita than Edmonton. Calgary and Vancouver have LRT systems; Ottawa currently operates a BRT line, which is being upgraded to LRT.

  37. jonny utzone, 19. December 2017, 18:27

    John Rankin, rather than rely on Auckland blog stats, here is Edmonton’s own transport dashboard statistic which gives a figure of 96.9 transit rides per capita for 2016 (down from just over 100 in 2013). Lies, damn lies and statistics!

  38. John Rankin, 20. December 2017, 10:25

    @JohhnUtzone, thank you for that enlightening link. I wonder how Greater Auckland got it wrong. You might want to drop them a line to point this out and seek clarification. Their response would be interesting. And this article from 2010 quotes similar ridership per capita per annum figures to the Greater Auckland one. Curiouser and curiouser.

    Mind you, I think my original point still stands, that with a well-designed connective network, with reliable transfers, it is possible to achieve high ridership.

  39. Jonny Utzone, 20. December 2017, 12:41

    John R, one difference might be transit rides and transit boardings. Edmonton transit boardings at 130 per capita versus 96.9 rides per capita indicates 1.34 boardings per ride (so quite a lot of transfers) which I think was your point. Re the 2010 article you mention, the author seems to have mixed up boardings for trips (Y axis) given the data point for Edmonton.

  40. John Rankin, 20. December 2017, 15:22

    @JonnyUtzone, yes that would explain it. Thanks.

    Strategically placed transit centres mean you can get from anywhere to anywhere with at most 2 transfers, and from anywhere to any major destination with at most 1 transfer. Timetables are synchronised at the transit centres to avoid missed connections.

    The price we pay in Wellington for avoiding transfers is too many under-used buses. By my arithmetic, during the peak periods on Lambton Quay the average bus carries about 30 passengers, ie it’s less than half full. This is because the system is designed around direct services rather than connected services, so we get walls of noisy, smelly buses with spare capacity (by my reading of LGWM, over 120 buses per hour per direction during the peaks, carrying about 3700 passengers per hour).

    If Wellington’s buses were better used, they would generate more venue per bus, so we could either increase the service frequency or lower the fares, or a bit of both. Easier said than done, of course.

  41. Ross Clark, 22. December 2017, 5:58

    Wellington City proper excluding Tawa has a per capita transit demand of about a hundred trips/person/year. That is for journeys within the city proper, so includes the J’ville railway line, but not the regional links. Within the city, the system performs better than we give it credit for.

    Edinburgh, a city of about half a million people, has a per capita transit demand of about 250 trips/person/year – with or without LRT (most LRT passengers were expected to be former bus passengers). I like the tram and use it a lot, but don’t forget about the mistakes in its planning and construction which led to it costing $NZ160m/mile (or $NZ100m/km). The locals are still fuming. Jonny – I can comment on the Edinburgh tram … at length 😉

    John Rankin – again with an eye to how things work in Edinburgh, and in Europe: you need *very* high service frequencies to make transfer-reliant systems work well. Try every five minutes for it to work at all.

    And why is no-one prepared to do something about the volumes of commuter parking in the central city? Without big changes here, LRT will not make overmuch difference to levels of congestion.

  42. greenwelly, 22. December 2017, 9:24

    >costing $NZ160m/mile (or $NZ100m/km).

    Still cheaper than Sydney’s which is currently running at around $190million NZD/km, ($2.1 Billion AUD for 12 km)