Wellington Scoop

Regional Council promises “integrated” public transport

News from Greater Wellington Regional Council
The coming months will see a major upgrade of Greater Wellington’s public transport network, the first major changes to our public transport services and infrastructure in 20 years.

“We’re on our way to an integrated public transport network in July, and that means a new look and new services for Metlink that are focused on what customers have told us they want,” says Greater Wellington Regional Council’s Sustainable Transport Chair Barbara Donaldson.

“A key part our new network is giving people new and better ways to connect that enhance their lives. We are creating a public transport system that will help commuters, students, visitors and day-trippers to connect to what’s great in our region.

“It will be simpler, more connected and consistent, giving our customers more choice about where and when to travel.

“The use of buses, trains and ferries is predicted to increase significantly between now and 2024. To keep our customers’ lives connected, we need a public transport network that can carry more of us to more places, every day of the week.

“The changes have been years in the planning and are based on talking to our customers who live in our Greater Wellington Region communities, as well as looking at what international cities do. They include new timetables and routes to ensure more frequent services that better connect with each other, new buses that are right-sized to the task, new generation electric buses, and Snapper as the most convenient and best value way to pay on all Metlink buses,” says Councillor Donaldson.

“We also need to be realistic – these changes will take a while to bed down and there may be a few sticking points along the way. For some of us, some changes may take a bit of getting used to. We will be doing our best every day to make things better and promise to give you as much information and help that you need along the way.”

The bus changes are rolling out in three phases – in the Wairarapa from 30 April, the Hutt Valley and Eastbourne from 17 June, and in Wellington, Porirua and Kapiti from 15 July.

For Kapiti, Wairarapa and Porirua, the biggest change for customers is likely to be the move to Snapper and some timetable changes. In Wellington there will be a simpler network of routes with bus hubs where feeder buses from outer suburbs will connect to main routes. Across the region there will also be some changes to bus and train timetables for better connections.

Information on the Metlink website includes a new network journey planner that lets customers see what their new bus routes and numbers in Wellington City will look like from 15 July, and information about changes to bus services by suburb. Signing up to MyMetlink will provide updates on route and timetable information as it becomes available.

“Signing up to MyMetlink is one of the best ways you can keep up to date with what this means for you and how you can be more connected,” Councillor Donaldson says. “Getting onto it early means you’ll know well ahead of the changeover date about any timetable or route changes, and you’ll get the best value from day one because you’ll have your Snapper card organised.

“Our new network is designed to offer our customers the best of our region. It will give us all a smoother and more comfortable travel experience. That will help our region grow and prosper, benefitting the lives of everyone in Greater Wellington.”


  1. Trish, 7. March 2018, 11:53

    I see that 2 zone bus users are still being charged more per month (as they can only use Snapper) than 3 zone train monthly pass users – though councillor Daran Ponter stated at the Terrace consultation meeting that there would be a monthly pass for bus users that would make this fairer.

  2. jonny utzone, 7. March 2018, 16:18

    Reads like a speech by Chairman Mao or by Brian of 1984 “the great leap backwards”. RIP the trolley buses and bus trips without transfer. Cheerio Airport Flyer from Lower Hutt too?

  3. Ian Apperley, 7. March 2018, 16:36

    “a simpler network of routes with bus hubs where feeder buses from outer suburbs will connect to main routes.” Translated; it will take you two buses to get to the city, not one.

  4. helen viggers, 7. March 2018, 17:03

    The Metlink website has little actual information.
    And nothing on what concerned me the most from the consultation document, which was the new time that the last-bus of the day will leave Wellington. In the consultation, although it said that night time services would remain the same for the Mairangi route, a closer reading suggested that they intended to make the last-bus leave earlier, and from further along the route, making it largely useless for anyone who had been to an evening movie etc. This is a particular problem as the route serves Victoria University & it seems desirable that students should have a safe, cheap route home after a night out both for safety reasons and to encourage them to form a lifetime habit of public transport.

  5. TrevorH, 7. March 2018, 19:30

    Yes Ian. Two buses to get to the city instead of one. This is a joke. People will not use an inconvenient service which requires them to leave home earlier, wait in the wind and rain for the second bus and take their chances on getting a seat thereon. The GWRC are incompetent, but we already knew that.

  6. David Mackenzie, 8. March 2018, 9:02

    The Metlink website does not inform us about any possible extra cost involved in transferring from one bus to another to continue a trip. Will there be no basic charge on the connecting trip, on the snapper? Will it be considered as a continuation of a trip with no additional charge, if the connecting trip begins from disembarkation point within a certain time? Or, will you pay the base fee twice, undercutting any potential advantage of the snapper discount? This is the most important question for Metlink to answer.

  7. Kerry, 8. March 2018, 10:20

    A two-bus—or bus and light rail—commute is accepted routine in many cities and inevitable in Wellington. Rapid Transit is now the only real alternative to more and more buses clogging up the central city, and Greater Wellington is right to be introducing hubs.

    The problem is that connections in Wellington are very unpopular, rightly so. They are badly laid out and don’t work because timekeeping is so bad. This is despite a report to councillors last year that buses were 99.9% on time (although only 99.5% of them ran: GW report 17.118, 9 May 2017). The explanation is simple: the definition of ‘on time’ is hopelessly loose and early-running is ignored. If your first bus is 9 minutes late and your second bus 4 minutes early, have a good day.

    My new bus timetable has another hint of trouble. Buses will run every 15 minutes in the morning peak (a big improvement), and 30 minutes inter-peak. But the evening peak is 20 minutes. Two 15 minute timetables can be ‘pulsed’ so that buses arrive at pretty much the same times. Pulsed timetables and good hubs make connections quick and easy. This doesn’t work if one timetable is 15 minutes and the other 20 minutes. Will all buses switch to 20 (or 10) minute intervals in the evening peak? No.

    Look out for many more connections and no better reliability.

    Best-practice connections generally take about two or three minutes, and few more than five minutes. Better still, the delays can be made up. Rapid Transit (light rail) in Wellington could be quicker than the existing buses by at least a minute every kilometre. Change to light rail at Kilbirnie and lose 2 minutes, then save 6–8 minutes on the run into Wellington. And if you miss a peak-hour tram there will be another in five minutes.

    In Wellington there are already enough passengers to make the combined capital and operating costs of light rail cheaper than buses.

  8. Jonny Utzone, 8. March 2018, 10:44

    David – Snapper is an NZBus creation and they have lost most (three-quarters?) of their routes courtesy of GWRC so their ticket product will be far less relevant come July. GWRC has never supported Snapper much because they wanted to create their own integrated ticket but never got amywhere (no surprises there).

  9. Greenwelly, 8. March 2018, 11:18

    @Jonny, Snapper has been selected by WRC as their “interim” integrated ticketing system to run from 2018 until a new national ticketing scheme is developed. (They say 2020, but given how long HOP took to get running, it will be much later). So Snapper will be here for at least the next 5 years (maybe longer).

  10. Tony Jansen, 8. March 2018, 13:11

    The legacy of the last national government which put the current tendering process in place (one thinks to further destroy public transport provision in the only city where it has been great). Introduced and governed by old neo liberals. This will be a precursor to Bus Rapid transit which is NZTA’s preferred (and only) option for Wellington. Forget about trams/light rail. The national and local governments involved are not committed to light rail. In the WCC Long Term Plan they are committed to implementing “Let’s Get Wellington Moving” outcomes. In other words, roads, roads and more roads. This is what you get when your national and local politicians are wedded to ideological viewpoints and in bed with the major property developers. Wellington was for a long time a well functioning boutique city – small, compact, great public transport and pedestrian areas, focused on being pleasurable and easy to live in. Now we are hurtling down the path to becoming another Auckland. Gutted.

  11. Paul, 8. March 2018, 13:57

    Lol, how many times did Cr Donaldson use the word “connected” in her press release. She should audition for the Stereo MCs. and this gem….”new services for Metlink that are focused on what customers have told us they want.” My recollection of the resounding feedback from Wellingtonians on the bus hub concept and new routes was that it was something they definitely did NOT want. Council public consultation, an utter sham since aaages ago.

  12. Frank Lawton, 8. March 2018, 14:07

    The biggest change/risk has not been mentioned by this update and that is: on 16 July in Wellington there may not be enough bus drivers to drive the buses. You don’t need to worry about timeliness of the next bus if it does not ever come. The problem is that Go Wellington are to make 90 drivers redundant as they lost so much work to the new operator (TranzUrban). But most of these drivers are old and will either retire or do something else part-time ie they will leave the industry and will not sign on with the new operator. TranzUrban have lots of drivers to call on as at the time of the year there is not much charter work, but even if they can cover the 16 July numbers needed I think by September they will struggle. Go Wellington has a 30% pa turnover and 90% of that is drivers who have been there less than 3 years. So it’s a tough business to join if from the charter world. See what has happened in Auckland where a charter operator took on public transport work.

  13. John Rankin, 8. March 2018, 15:11

    The big question is whether the current operating model can deliver the connected network ideal that @Kerry lays out. For the reasons @TonyJansen gives, I suspect the answer is No. For the last decade, Wellington’s bus services appear to have operated under a “lowest cost provider” regime. But to make transfers work requires operational excellence from the providers — running frequent joined-up services to schedule all day, every day, whatever the weather.

    You can be the lowest cost operator or you can deliver operational excellence, but you can’t do both at the same time. Operational excellence may cost more, but the increased revenue from additional ridership more than offsets the extra cost. Transfers rely on trust — that my connecting service will be there and the transfer will be quick and easy. Trust has to be earned; meanwhile a bit of healthy scepticism is in order.

    As the story says, “these changes will take a while to bed down and there may be a few sticking points along the way.” The changes are heading in the right direction and while the desired outcome may not happen overnight, let us hope it will happen soon.

  14. Graeme Clarke, 8. March 2018, 15:19

    This Regional Council version of what is happening is divorced from reality. Expect chaos. There is no agreement to transfer workers. No agreement on what wages will apply. No consents for new hubs. No new depots ready. It all adds up to industrial action and no buses at all. Be prepared to walk.

  15. Rossco, 8. March 2018, 19:15

    @ Tony Jansen, I suspect you are way too pessimistic or misinterpreted the WRCC Long Term plan, I always understood “Let’s Get Wellington Moving Again” was code for “let’s convert Wellington Roads to bike lanes.” Loved your quaint description of Wellington in the 1930s, “small, compact etc.”

  16. Cr Daran Ponter, 9. March 2018, 0:14

    Hi Trish, and indeed there is a monthly 3 zone bus pass which was formerly provided by Go Wellington but will not be extended across Wellington City. This was agreed as part of the Wellington Fare Review and will be included in the GWRC Long-term Plan for final consultation.

  17. Cr Daran Ponter, 9. March 2018, 0:22

    Hi David McKenzie: Good point. And the website could be clearer about the cost of transferring between buses. If you are using a Snapper car,. you will have a 30 minute window within which to transfer from one bus to another bus. You can make your transfer anywhere within the Zone that you got off in (i.e. you don’t have to get on the bus at the same place you got off the last bus.) For Gold Card users travelling in the off-peak it is business as usual. Cash paying customers will have to pay for their separate journeys (no free transfer).

  18. Cr Daran Ponter, 9. March 2018, 0:35

    Ian Apperley and TrevorH: Whether or not you have to catch two buses really depends on where you are coming from and what time of the day. GWRC modelling suggests that less than 5% of customers will need to change buses (though admittedly for them this will be an inconvenience).

    Many of the routes are different from today. For example today’s No 11 from Seatoun goes via Constable St and the Hospital, but from 15 July it will be the No 2 Route running through the bus tunnel. The response we got to this from regular commuters was very positive because they get a faster journey to where most regular commuters want to go – the CBD. But….if in the future you want to go from Seatoun to the Hospital, you will need to change at Kilbirnie.

    Similarly, commuters on the No 3 route can get direct to the Hospital from Karori, whereas in the future they will need to change bus along the Golden Mile. On the other hand travellers from Johnsonville and neighbouring suburbs currently have to change bus to get to the Hospital, but in the future will have a direct service to the Hospital and through to Island Bay.

    It will take a while getting used to….and there will be teething problems – and that folks is a cast iron guarantee.

  19. Cr Daran Ponter, 9. March 2018, 0:38

    Kerry and John Rankin, Agree with your comments. This will be the last comprehensive bus only review undertaken in Wellington. The next time that a similar review is done, it will be to integrate bus services into a light rail spine.

    Hi Helen Viggers, Your route analysis is correct with respect to the Mairangi Route (new numbering = #22), but students going from Courtenay Place to Kelburn / University will largely now catch the No 21 service which is high frequency and avoids going via the Golden Mile (quicker).

    Hi Graeme Clarke, It certainly won’t be plain sailing, but the bus companies are working through their employment issues, the WCC is in the final process of consulting on the bus hubs (which are a largely modular construction), and the large Tranzit Depot in Grenada is under construction

  20. Sarah Free, 9. March 2018, 8:09

    Hi Daran, My understanding was that GWRC has promised a 30 day 3 zone bus for Wellington City users when it conducted the fare review?

  21. greenwelly, 9. March 2018, 8:48

    @Daran, Sarah – The Regional Council explicitly said they would keep the 3 zone pass. Has something changed since this was agreed to??
    “Based on this feedback the Greater Wellington Regional Council has made further changes to simplifying fares and improving overall affordability after consulting the public on its proposed Better Metlink Fares package. The amendments include:
    • retaining a 30-day bus pass in zones 1 to 3 in Wellington city, as well as for those travelling directly from Eastbourne”

    and also:
    “Metlink 30-day bus pass (Wellington routes)
    An electronic Metlink 30-day bus pass will be available for frequent bus users travelling within zones 1 to 3 of the Metlink network, including the Wellington city’s north-western suburbs.
    The Wellington 30-day bus pass will only be available on Snapper cards.
    GWRC will confirm the terms and conditions for the new Metlink pass product.”

  22. Jonny Utzone, 9. March 2018, 9:23

    Get ready to get out and push the double deck battery buses back up the hill to their out of town Grenada depot come 7pm when the battery is flat.

    I doubt Tranzit allowed for a way out depot up in the clouds in their costings so they’ll probably come back to GWRC for extra payments and GWRC will cave in to save face.

  23. Cr Daran Ponter, 9. March 2018, 10:46

    Dear Greenwelly. The 30-day bus pass for zones 1-3 is locked in and will be available across the city from 15 July.

  24. Cr Chris Calvi-Freeman, 9. March 2018, 11:05

    Good to hear, Daran. Thanks for your efforts in this regard, and thanks also to WCC Cllr Sarah Free for her stalwart advocacy on behalf of Wellington city residents, bus-users and ratepayers. We were alarmed by your previous posting (above) in which you said the pass “will not be extended across Wellington City.”
    Did you mean (not) across the region?

  25. John Rankin, 9. March 2018, 11:05

    @CrPonter: integrating bus services into a light rail spine will not be without its own challenges. As the WSP study found, and several of your colleagues have pointed out, there are genuine questions about whether the level of demand south of the Basin Reserve is high enough to justify investing in light rail.

    Transit hubs at the Hospital, Zoo, Kilbirnie and Miramar will play an essential role in aggregating dispersed passenger demand and delivering it to and from the light rail line. And there lies a potential problem. As others have noted, transfers carry a penalty in time and inconvenience. As @Kerry points out, the light rail service has to be fast enough, frequent enough, and reliable enough to overcome this penalty. So if we are going to invest in light rail, we need to design it as a rapid transit service. Otherwise, potential passengers will continue to use their cars and we will not achieve the passenger numbers needed to justify spending such a large sum of money.

    It would be really helpful if LGWM could provide some advice on how they see passenger numbers varying with end-to-end travel time, for a given service frequency and assuming @Kerry’s 2 minute best practice for transfer times.

    I assume we would give light rail a dedicated right-of-way and signal priority. The main factors that could then increase travel time are increasing the number of stops and the need to reduce cruising speeds in pedestrian priority areas (e.g., 20 km/hr if a Golden Mile route is chosen). It is not hard to imagine a compromised light rail route design which claims the benefits of light rail without delivering the quality of service needed to realise those benefits.

    Meanwhile, we have electronic signs all over the motorway network telling people their expected travel times to various destinations. Public transport has to be able to compete if we want people to choose to leave their cars at home.

  26. Cr Chris Calvi-Freeman, 9. March 2018, 11:43

    @John Rankin Good points John. LGWM will need to look very closely at how LRT can be “positioned” (route, alignment, frequency, station spacing etc) to maximise its appeal and benefits to potential passengers, whether they are travelling Airport-Kilbirnie-Rail or making more localised journeys. An LRT service does indeed need to be “fast enough, frequent enough, and reliable enough to overcome this (transfer) penalty”, but it also needs to stop close enough to people’s destinations to ensure that the distance they have to walk (eg in the CBD) doesn’t outweigh the benefits of the journey on the tram. Yes, people will walk further to catch a superior LRT service than they will a bus, but there are limits. Of course, you can also add “ride quality” to the list of LRT benefits you’ve listed. Much easier to read a newspaper or write emails on a smooth tram than on a jerky bus!

  27. Cr Daran Ponter, 9. March 2018, 12:55

    Ah ha. Sorry for the Alarm folks. Slip of the finger. In my response to Trish I said the 30 day card will not be extended. In fact the 30 day pass will be extended across the city from 15 July. This decision was made late last year as part of the new fares package. My apologies if I got some of you a bit worried. Thanks for picking this up Cr Calvi-Freeman.

  28. Cr Chris Calvi-Freeman, 9. March 2018, 13:13

    @ Cr Daran Ponter Phew!! And thanks for all your other explanations of the forthcoming changes.

  29. John Rankin, 9. March 2018, 18:31

    @CrCalvi-Freeman: “people will walk further to catch a superior LRT service than they will a bus, but there are limits.” Yes indeed, but what limits ought we to plan for? I have found it quite hard to get a straight answer to this question. General practice seems to say, “a maximum 5 minute walk to the LRT.” Most people walk at about 1.4 m/sec, so that’s 500 metres. But it’s not clear whether this number is based on evidence or just practice. Most modern light rail lines have stops about 1 km apart (eg Canberra and Auckland in our part of the world). Not exactly every 1km, because major destinations determine the actual stop location, such as the Hospital, but on average over the length of the line.

    If we have the data, we might say, choose a route and stops that maximise the number of people within a 500 metre walk of a stop. (Counting each person once, to avoid adjacent stops competing for the same riders.) We would also want to recognise the importance of the Golden Mile as a destination and require that every point on the Golden Mile (Beehive to Courtenay Place) must be within a 500 metre walk of a light rail stop.

    Of course, light rail stops are platforms, not bus stops, so a 500 metre walk is a 467 metre walk to the end of the platform, assuming Wellington adopts the same 66 metre platform standard as Auckland.

    Jarrett Walker has a discussion about the spacing of stops and stations, that’s well worth a read.

  30. John Rankin, 9. March 2018, 19:29

    Clarification: 5 minutes walk at 1.4 metres per second is 420 metres. In my previous comment I rounded this up to 500 metres as a suggested maximum reasonable walk to a LRT stop.

  31. Glen Smith, 9. March 2018, 22:32

    The spine study looked at egress patterns from Wellington Railway station (fig 5.7 page 26). It shows that the average walk egress distance from the station was 0.78 km (table 5.8). However an ‘average’ likely underestimates the distance rail commuters were prepared to walk due to the higher percentage of short distance destinations in the northern CBD. In fact this scatter diagram shows that it isn’t until about Manners Street that the concentration of rail commuter destinations starts to fall off – around 1200m from the station. This demonstrates the high commitment that Wellington commuters have to public transport despite being hamstrung by having a truncated rail spine that stops at the north end of the CBD.
    This diagram has a couple of striking features.
    1. The poor coverage achieved for rail commuters whose destination is in the southern CBD emphasising the need to extend our rail network across the CBD.
    2. The pitifully small number of commuters who, in the real world, transfer to bus (despite having the option to do this) highlighting the potent disinhibitory effect that mode transfer has on PT utilisation (around 17 minute ‘pure’ transfer rail to bus penalty separate from the actual walk and wait time) and emphasising the need to explore all options to remove mode transfer at the station and in particular ‘Track Sharing’ options for rail.
    Given this data, stations around 800m apart (ie 400-500m to all destinations) would be more than adequate to attract commuters. My proposal for seamless extension of rail along the Quays had stations at Queens Wharf (around 600m from the Station), Whairepo Lagoon/Civic Square (around 400m), incorporated into the new Convention Centre (around 400m), Kent Tce near Courtenay (around 400m) and the Basin (around 600m). This gives effective coverage (within 500m) of the whole of the Wellington CBD (excluding a small area in the southern Victoria Street area).

    This waterfront route was modelled by Neil Douglas and Daryl Cockburn as having a 7 minute transit time (Station to Embassy) with a basic costing of a cheap $93million (less than the flyover which provided just 90 seconds savings for a small percentage of road commuters). It is a scathing indictment on the negligence of our planners that no costing or modelling of this route/option has been undertaken except by members of the public. Sadly, following the trolley debacle, we are getting used to this level of competence.

  32. Neil Douglas, 10. March 2018, 13:28

    Glen – thanks for the plug! You can access a detailed passenger survey of Wellington rail that I did a decade ago. Amongst the statistics, it shows ‘relatively few rail passengers transfer to/from bus. For Wellington station, the weekday percentage using bus was 16% (Table C2.7 page 160) compared to 12% for all rail stations in the region. The access/egress time for Wellington rail station was 10.8 minutes (Table C3.6 page 168) with two thirds taking up to 10 minutes and one third taking longer than 10 minutes. Sufficient geographic information on trip origins and destinations was collected and analysed to determine rail’s share, access/egress mode and travel time by suburb for all trip purposes not just journey to work (i.e. Census data)’.

  33. John Rankin, 10. March 2018, 14:41

    @GlenSmith: thank you for the walk pattern information, which I confess I was too lazy to look up. These numbers are consistent with a proposal for stops (stations) every 800 – 1000 metres. So I’d have said your stops are unnecessarily close together and suggest it’s possible to do better.

    This matters because what we really, really want to do with rapid transit is offer a high frequency service, all day every day. The most cost-effective way to do this is to make the service as fast as practical, consistent with the service performance standards you set. Here’s why I think this. Suppose the round trip time from the station to the airport is 45 minutes (including end-of-line layovers). That means 3 trains can deliver a 15 minute service. But suppose the round trip time is 60 minutes. Now those same 3 trains only deliver a 20 minute service.

    So for a given cost, slower service means lower frequency. But it gets worse. To carry the same number of passengers per hour, you need to run longer vehicles. In other words, you have higher costs to deliver the same revenue. So you need another source of revenue to offset the additional costs.

    In other words, we want to push the stops as far apart as practical, have the highest practical cruising speed (so yes to a waterfront route), and make the dwell time at stops as short as practical.

    I don’t think it’s safe to extrapolate from the existing train-bus connection and conclude that through running is needed. Here’s Jarrett Walker again, on why transferring is good for you and good for your city. The configuration of the connection matters; good connections have lower transfer penalties.

    For the reasons you give at the end of your comment, I am increasingly of the view that Wellington needs to consider adopting a technology-neutral approach to procuring a rapid transit service. First, it would force us to be really clear about what service standards we want. Is a 500 metre maximum walk to a stop acceptable? What about 750 metres? How rapid is “rapid”? The proposals received would then let us make a maximally-informed choice about the trade-offs between different options.

  34. Henry Filth, 10. March 2018, 20:40

    Oh for G*d’s sake!

    For how many decades have these people been integrating public transport?

  35. Kerry, 10. March 2018, 21:37

    Glen, John: Thanks for the reminder to look at Fig 5.7 in the PTSS modelling report. It looked a bit odd, and it is. Broadly, the figure is from Wilton and Mitcheltown in the west, the motorway/Thorndon Q bridge in the north, Roseneath in the east and the Vivian St/Cambridge Tce junction in the south – a big area, say 10 sq km, and a few walkers are scattered right across it. In that area, about 94% of rail passengers walk to their final destination. The figure is not particularly accurate because it requires counting a lot of dots at a low resolution.

    But Neil Douglas’ figure is much larger, about 14% transferring to buses, which suggests that some passengers are going much further. Scaling that figure to present-day passenger numbers gives about 2200 passengers in the morning peak. WSP (p iii) give 1500, but also mention ‘high level’ (crude) estimates, now being re-examined.

    I wandered around the station in about 2014, eyeballing which buses rail passengers were taking, and thought about half were going to Kelburn and VUW. But every direction was taking some passengers.

    John: I recall something some years ago, giving curves of the proportion of passengers walking a given distance to a stop, in a range of suburbs (in N America?), with big differences between suburbs.

    Three conclusions:
    — It isn’t simple
    — There is census data (2013) which could give quite a bit of detail
    — MRT is going to change it anyway

  36. Glen Smith, 11. March 2018, 22:15

    Neil. You’re welcome for the plug for your waterfront rail corridor design which is sound and logical. However I am a little biased since you may recall that soon after your 2013 article I contacted you with my proposal which was essentially identical except the Quays rail corridor connected directly to our existing network via the east of the station (rather than continuing to the stadium) and rail went centrally down the Quays (between the north and south traffic flows) rather than on ‘the city side of the…quays’ – both of these features I still maintain are logical (happy to give reasons).
    John. As you say, a balance has to be found between the need for a rapid service and providing access/coverage. Too many stops and the service is too slow, too far apart and people have to walk too far. The other stops on my proposed route (I had put forward a reasonably detailed route all the way to the Airport) were generally further apart; Basin to Mt Victoria station around 400m; to Hataitai Station via a stacked combined transport tunnel (road/rail/cycle/pedestrian – still, in my opinion, the most logical/ cheapest/ least destructive long term solution- again happy to give reasons) around 700m; to Kilbirnie Park station parallel with Wellington Road around 900m; to Kilbirnie Hub Station around 800m; to Sports Centre Station on Rongotai road around 550m; to the station around 1.7km (with a possible station by Calabar Road at around 900m depending on the airports plans to ‘realign’ Calabar Road). This is a fully dedicated corridor and, assuming priority at all intersections, should achieve a Station to Airport transit time a lot less than 45 minutes.
    However the CBD is one of the main destinations on the route and justifies closer stations. More importantly: stations have to fit into the existing city structure. There are two main aspects here:
    1. Egress routes into the city. Stations at Queens Wharf/Post Office park, Civic Square/City to Sea Bridge and Convention Centre/Te Papa/ Readings(through to Courtenay Place) all provide natural entry points.
    2. Corridor width for stations. Using 2 of the 6 road lanes along the Quays (we couldn’t reasonably use more than 2) provides width for rail lines but not for station platforms which have to be large enough to accommodate dozens and perhaps hundreds of people getting on/off trains in both directions. Width is tight in most places along the Quays but fortunately, by my calculations, can be accommodated in each of these locations.
    In terms of transfers clearly these are required to aggregate demand at central transfer ‘hubs’ since there is usually inadequate demand to justify separate services from every ‘origin’ to every’ destination’. As per the article you cite, the logical design is multiple ‘lines’-each from a peripheral location, through a central meeting point (commonly the CBD), and onto another peripheral location. Transfers are required to get from one line to another. But a transfer mid way along a line (which is what a transfer at the Station would be) serves no logical purpose and acts purely as an inhibitor of utilisation (and as the data shows a potent inhibitor). Perhaps you could advise me what the purpose of this transfer would be – or perhaps one of the LGWM team could do this since they are the ones who are failing to look at options for removing this transfer and by doing so imposing a needless transfer onto a large number of future rail commuters… forever.

  37. John Rankin, 12. March 2018, 19:19

    @GlenSmith: for me, the question of whether to create a multi-modal hub at the railway station versus operating through-running trains is an economic one. Suppose we accept for the sake of argument that through-running delivers greater benefit than a hub. How large is that benefit and how does it compare to the relative costs of a hub or through-running? Do all trains from the north through-run, or just (for example) the Johnsonville line?

    There are also opportunity costs of not having a hub. For example, a case can be made that a mini-hub at or near Midland Park is desirable. This would let bus passengers from the western suburbs like Karori transfer to the rapid transit line, without having to divert to the railway station.

    In other words, there is no free lunch; all we can do is try to make well-informed trade-offs. This is one of the reasons I think a suitable approach is through a competitive process allowing qualified suppliers to put forward the solutions that they think will be best value-for-money to meet the requirements. Glen, you may well argue that in a genuinely open procurement process the solution you propose would emerge as the best value option. Who am I to disagree?

    PS achieving a round trip time from the railway station to the airport and back in much under 45 minutes is by my arithmetic quite challenging. How many stops do you have in addition to the railway station and airport?

  38. Citizen Joe, 13. March 2018, 0:14

    John, with the spectacular failures of Fletcher Building here in NZ and Carillion in the UK, I doubt there would be a single bid from the private sector to take on the construction risk of building Light Rail to the airport. The known known of Government (in)competence and the known unknowns of underground utilities means that the risk would be far too massive for any sane construction company to accept (without adding on an unacceptably large contingency to the price tag). So good old GWRC, WCC or hopefully NZTA would have to take on the risk itself and be very specific about what it wants, what it will pay for and what variations in cost it will accept (I can see lawyers’ eyes widening as they read this!)

  39. Glen Smith, 13. March 2018, 7:36

    John. Apologies, I missed the word ’round’ and just read ‘trip time from the station to the airport’ (I thought 45 minutes was a bit pessimistic). Taking Neil and Daryl’s figure of 3 km in 7 minutes gives a speed of around 24km/hr which seems consistent with international literature. Extrapolating this to the just under 8km journey would give around 20 minutes each way. The stations in my plan were as outlined above – six between the Embassy and the Airport. The Mt Victoria station (close to the western tunnel entrance) being only 400m from the Basin Station would be optional but designed to service the Colleges and southern Mt Victoria. Calabar Road would add a station if it went ahead and service southern Miramar.
    In terms of transfers, the Station would probably be better described as a ‘transfer station’ (where different lines intersect) rather than a ‘hub’ (which implies aggregation of demand). This would be equivalent to the point where the red green and blue lines intersect in the last figure of the ‘why transferring is good for you’ article you cite. A transfer for rail commuters at the station would be equivalent to having a transfer midway along the red line. It serves no purpose and is a pure inhibitor of utilisation.
    Clearly not all trains from the north would run through. Most would be multi-unit Matangis terminating at the Station and servicing current demand from the northern CBD. Through-running trains would be new ‘medium weight’ units ‘track sharing’ with Matangis. Frequency would be altered according to demand. Commuters would select the unit they desired. Having these units ‘shadow’ existing services (ie the equivalent of adding a couple of extra carriages but separated rather than joined) would eliminate any conflict with existing services. The only additional cost would be that of an additional driver/attendant and increased patronage on a seamless corridor would more than compensate for these costs. Not all units need be ‘running through’- some could originate from the station. I suspect alternating units from the Hutt and Kapiti to the airport would be sensible – the demand on the Johnsonville line I suspect would be inadequate (but this could at a later date form a true ‘light rail’ line running to ?Lyall Bay or ?Miramar). Other ‘lines’ could be added as future growth/ demand dictates.

  40. Kerry, 13. March 2018, 9:18

    Citizen: Sure, a NZ contractor bidding in isolation would have to be very careful, at the very least. But a consortium of local contractors and consultants, teamed up with a tram manufacturer and an overseas specialist contractor and consultant, would be in a very different position. And the Regional Council could transform itself if it set up a small local office for a specialist consultant, to advise and critique. In 1992 I had a name. He was close to retirement from the Zurich transport outfit and would have been delighted to be paid to spend time in New Zealand.
    And don’t forget Auckland: they are further down the light rail track than Wellington and will be a useful source. Which is why the tram length and track gauge chosen by FIT Wellington is ‘the same as Auckland.’ There are cost savings in shared contracts, especially for a small system. Light rail in Wellington will initially need say 12-15 trams on opening day, and orders as small as that are cheaper if they are standard. “The same as Auckland but with yellow and black paint please.”

  41. John Rankin, 13. March 2018, 15:10

    @Glen: would your proposal deliver a frequency on a “clock-face timetable”? That is, for example, on the station to airport line there’s a service every 10 minutes from 7am to 7pm, 7 days a week, and every 5 minutes during the morning and afternoon peaks. You need a clock-face timetable to support reliable pulsed connections with bus services at transit hubs. [I don’t draw a hard and fast distinction between hubs and transfer stations the way you do — any “transit centre” (a fuzzier term) can potentially offer both types of connection.]

    “A transfer for rail commuters at the station would be equivalent to having a transfer midway along the red line.” This is true only if most rail commuters transfer to the urban rapid transit service to complete their journeys. In the diagram, assuming all destinations are equally popular, 2 out of every 3 passengers will change at the midway point. What proportion of train passengers are affected by a through-run versus transfer decision? A higher proportion tends to favour through-running; a lower proportion tends to favour a transfer.

    If we build a rapid transit service connecting the railway station to the airport:
    – what proportion of the people using it will be suburban rail passengers?
    – what proportion of suburban rail passengers will use it?

    Answering those questions is above my pay grade.