Wellington Scoop

Chambers of Commerce welcome support for “sorting out” the Basin

Press release from Chambers of Commerce
Transport planners at last have a clear mandate to get on and sort out an option at the Basin Reserve that will solve Wellington’s main transport bottleneck, say the region’s Chambers of Commerce.

The five Wellington Region Chambers of Commerce today welcomed the summary report on the ‘Let’s Get Welly Moving’ options, which shows Option D is the most favoured option and that an overwhelming majority of 65 per cent (1044 of 1604 submitters) want a solution that sorts out the Basin.

“It’s great news that the Let’s Get Welly Moving consultation saw a significant number of submissions from the public,” says John Milford, Chief Executive of Wellington Chamber of Commerce.

“There is a clear need to fix the current issues that under-investment and poor planning has created to date, and get it right going forward by planning ahead.

“A survey by the five Wellington Region Chambers of Commerce conclusively backs up the Let’s Get Welly Moving report.

“There can now be no doubt what the majority of people in the region want – and that’s a fix at the Basin.

“We undertook extensive research with our own members, which saw 642 give us direct feedback from members across Wairarapa, Kapiti, Porirua, Hutt Valley and Wellington.

“The survey revealed that 96.86 percent – more than 600 respondents – agree that Wellington’s transport system needs further development and investment. More than half (54 per cent) of businesses that participated favoured Scenario D, while 90 per cent supported a solution that includes resolving the issues at the Basin Reserve and introducing grade separation.

“Scenario D delivers the most benefits, including travel time savings and opportunities to regenerate and develop the city, and builds the infrastructure that Wellington needs to make our transport network work.

“Given that the business community pays 47 per cent of Wellington City rates and a third of the regional council’s rates, we believe it’s important for decision-makers to take this into account over the next few months as they take final decisions.

“We can’t stand still in congestion any longer. We’ve got to get Welly moving.”


  1. Tim Jones, 13. March 2018, 15:47

    John Milford’s desperation to push the Chamber of Commerce survey results, rather than focus on the actual feedback reported on by Let’s Get Welly Moving, clearly shows that his organisation failed to get the outcome from the LGWM report that it had hoped for.

    It would be better if the Chamber of Commerce was prepared to engage with the changed transport realities of the 21st century, which are well expressed in the LGWM report, rather than endlessly indulging in nostalgia for the failed transport approaches of the past.

  2. Stephen Moore, 13. March 2018, 16:13

    All the cities referenced by “sustainable”” transport proponents such as Freiburg, Copenhagen have extensive motorways and bypasses to remove vehicles from the CBD and provide access to e,g, airports. In this context, all Option D is proposing the same solution.

    So it’s time to stop fighting against vehicles and admit a mixed solution is required. Once Option D is in place, then other services such as buses will run freer. In fact Option D provides the perfect route for a dedicated cross city cycleway separated from all cars. The only alternative is a continuation of the status quo.

  3. Kerry, 13. March 2018, 19:53

    We are told that:
    “Scenario D delivers the most benefits, including travel time savings and opportunities to regenerate and develop the city, and builds the infrastructure that Wellington needs to make our transport network work.”
    Problem: there is abundant evidence that it doesn’t work.

    Auckland’s Waterview tunnels opened six months ago, bringing time savings of up to about six minutes. Now those savings have gone, and there are no more benefits from a $billion+ project. So is the solution to spend $2billion+ in Auckland, every year?

    It is called ‘triple convergence.’ More road capacity brings more existing traffic from three sources:
    — Other modes: ‘Maybe I will take the car today’ or ‘cycling is getting too dangerous.’
    — Other routes: ‘Its worth another 5 km go get a quicker trip’
    — Other times of day: ‘I can spend another 10 minutes in bed.’
    Most of the ‘new’ traffic is changes to existing trips.

    It also works in the other direction. Permanently closing a road makes very little difference to congestion.

    Light rail in Wellington could carry two or three times as many people as ‘four lanes to the planes’, more reliably, at less cost, and much more safely. Stephen doesn’t give the full story. Traffic on the ring road may be because central-city routes have been closed, and the only way to get from A to B by car is drive out, go round and drive in.
    Many people find cycling quicker.

  4. paul bruce, 13. March 2018, 20:43

    Congestion on Ruahine Street through the tunnel to the Basin is mostly due to single occupancy taxis/private vehicles moving to and from the airport, alongside parents dropping kids off at school. The solution is a high-quality public transport system like modern light rail that is sufficiently reliable and frequent that most commuters will choose that instead of their cars. Building more roads once again, before investing in public transport will only increase traffic in the city, and encourage more roads….and yet more roads.

  5. Mike Mellor, 13. March 2018, 21:05

    All cities referenced by sustainable (no quotation marks needed) transport proponents have city-wide rail systems, including to their airports. They may have extensive motorways and bypasses (but some, eg Vancouver, have neither) to enable through intercity traffic to bypass the CBD, but cities with no such through traffic (like Wellington) don’t need them to handle intracity traffic. Many cities nowadays are recognising the urban blight that urban motorways cause (we have our own home-grown versions in the severance created by SH2 in Petone and by SH1 between Kilbirnie and Miramar) and are removing them rather than building new ones, recognising that accessibilty for people is much more important than mobility for vehicles.

    “Once Option D is in place, then other services such as buses will run freer” is unfortunately typical roading hype: what will almost certainly happen if Option D is built is that it will quickly become clogged with induced traffic, with the CBD still having too many cars but with enough patronage removed from public transport to ensure that it remains a basket case. I suspect that is not the city that many of us want.

    But, agreed that a mixed solution is required, rather than the current road-centric status quo. That means catch-up investment in public transport, walking and cycling – not surprisingly, top themes from LGWM feedback (along with opposition to new infrastructure that encourages car use).

  6. Andy Foster, 13. March 2018, 22:31

    Kerry – the element that people talking about induced traffic always seem to neglect is population growth which has a massive impact on journey numbers. So for Auckland – its population has grown by 44,000 in the June 2016 year, 43,000 the year before and 34,000 in the June 2014 year. So I agree a road is likely to induce some behavioural changes, but you also need to factor in that there are other critical things changing – like population. The thing with the debate about the Basin is that the roading changes there are the mouse in terms of behavioural change. The elephants – in terms of induced trips – are already built or underway on the Kapiti Coast. TGM was predicted by NZTA to see approximately 25% of rail patrons shift to their cars, and we’ve been seeing faster Kapiti property development for several years on the back of these roading developments.

  7. Filosofos, 13. March 2018, 23:26

    Stephen, those cities you mention had rail-based public transport systems before their motorways. Don’t forget, light rail dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, well before cars were generally used, and is still going strong, whereas cars came much later and are now on their way out because of their inefficient use of road space. The same will apply in Wellington once we get a decent public transport system. One lane of cars carries about 1,500 people per hour, whereas the same road width dedicated to light rail can carry 12,000. So you need 8 lanes of cars to do the same work as one rail track. Buses don’t cut the mustard either. You’d be lucky to get one-quarter of light rail’s capacity, and that’s being generous. Bear in mind that our topography constrains us and we don’t have room for those extra lanes, not without doing serious damage to the liveability and urban form of our city. And when you start to take account of health-damaging emissions and climate change, well, there’s no comparison.

    The way to remove vehicles from Wellington is to install light rail, which will not require any extra road space. Overseas experience shows that is the way to coax people out of their cars. Look at the commuting percentages for the cities you mention and a few more besides, from the European Platform on Mobility Management: Copenhagen, PT-20%, car 33%; Freiburg, PT 16%, car 21%; Paris, PT 33%, car 17%; Madrid, PT 42% car 29%; Vienna, PT 39% car 27%; Bucharest, 53%, car 24%. Compare that to Wellington, PT 17%, cars a whopping 68% (2013 census). [The remaining percentages are walking and cycling.] Interesting, isn’t it? Four times more people drive to work than take public transport, whereas in the cities mentioned above (most of which have better roads than us) they drive far less. What the census doesn’t ask is how people would prefer to get to work. A captive driver is just a driver to the statisticians, so they conclude that they should build more roads to satisfy those 68% instead of improving public transport to increase its usage.

    Andy. Are you saying that “journey numbers” equals car trips? Not so! The way to handle the extra population is with a high capacity mode like light rail which can easily be expanded at little cost to the environment and urban amenity. The way to handle population growth is not to build more roads.

    The way to make light rail relevant to the increasing Kapiti population is to give them a seamless trip in to town by extending the rails through town and operating tram-trains over the whole system. That has to be the ultimate long term vision.

    As for John Milford, he’s completely out of sync with his business colleagues overseas where they can see the multiple benefits of light rail for business – yes, even in the USA, where they used to have a fixation with the private car. I put it down to a badly informed personal preference rather than being based on any logic. I wonder if all the CoC members genuinely have an informed opinion or if they “received some guidance” in their survey and are just toeing the line. I would love to see the wording of their survey for a start. To me, it just looks like a lone John Milford crusade.

    As Tim says, we can’t just keep on indulging in the failed transport policies of the past. You can’t keep doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome.

  8. Glen Smith, 14. March 2018, 7:28

    Victoria Transport Policy Institute did a very good summary article on generated and induced traffic (www.vtpi.org/gentraf.pdf). One of the interesting sections was not on immediate effects but on longer term land use patterns causing ‘urban sprawl’ which consumes and ever increasing proportion of the world land and especially productive land (see an interesting article http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/jul/12/urban-sprawl-how-cities-grow-change-sustainability-urban-age). A sprawling urban design is self fulfilling- destinations are widespread so you have to travel by car and when you get there you need huge carparks so the destinations have to be even further spaced apart. This is the design we see in Auckland and what we need to avoid here.
    Another interesting section is on the externalised costs that induced traffic generates which are commonly not included in economic analysis.

  9. Kerry, 14. March 2018, 8:15

    Andy – We are pretty much in agreement. Much of the population growth on the Kapiti Coast is induced traffic, anticipating Transmission Gully and stacking up future problems. I experienced it in the 1960s. When London’s M4 Motorway opened I used it at once, to commute outwards. I got a great run, and saw all the jams in the other direction for myself.
    A recent survey of children got this response from a nine year old: ‘Why can’t my friends live closer?’ Dead right: develop a greater density, especially around public transport.

  10. Neil Douglas, 14. March 2018, 9:29

    Kerry – Andy’s right! AKL’s population growth has been adding a thousand cars to their ‘fleet’ a week! And back ‘home,’ traffic has become a polluting crawl along Tinakori Road where I cough and splutter (I can’t see Basin improvements improving my lungs much). So the big debate we are not having is “how many more people do we want living and working in Wellington?” Instead we just accept population projections from Stats NZ and our city and regional ‘planners’.

    Remember also, induced road traffic is a double-edged sword. Public Transport ‘business cases’ tout congestion savings to remaining road users as a big project benefit as result of forecast diversion of car drivers to their trains, LRT and bus improvements. As an example, for Cross River Rail (tunnel) in Brisbane, benefits to remaining road users were the largest component of project benefit (58%) and noticeably exceeded the benefit to PT users. If such projects had been road projects, the PT lobby would no doubt have been asking “but what about induced demand” since any freed up road space would refill with cars and trucks negating the congestion savings long term.

    So with no control on population growth there can be no control on traffic growth. That’s unless ‘economic first best’ demand management measures such as cordon pricing and car parking levies are not left on the policy shelf. Where are the politicians willing to push these taxes and regulations through? Any advice on this Andy?

  11. Andy Foster, 14. March 2018, 10:09

    Great discussion !
    Filosofos – no I absolutely do not mean journey numbers means car trips. What I am saying is that it is not just increased roading capacity that creates demand (or for that matter increased PT capacity). A growing population will indeed mean more demand for trips, and all other things being equal will mean more people on roads, and also on PT.

    Glen and Kerry – 100% right. The most important transport intervention we can make is to get the urban form right. Sprawl – a la Auckland / US model – is always going to make PT/walking/cycling really hard … the simple tyranny of distance. For those who believe cars are the answer – spread out urban form also means more congestion. It also means more environmental consequences both for land and climate. So, as I have said many times, people who care about transport and the environment should care very much about urban form.

    Neil – 100% right too. Population size/distribution impacts everything. Population growth ultimately has to be finite because the Planet isn’t getting any bigger. So far I am disappointed the new Government hasn’t given any indication of at least thinking about this – and allowing New Zealanders into that conversation. There can be no more big picture strategic issue than this. The economic evidence says the benefits of population growth are at the margins. The costs especially to the environment are not. In Wellington we expect another 50,000 to 80,000 people living in the city in 30 years. That is around 40,000 new dwellings (we have about 73,000 now) so it is a huge deal. Increasingly that growth is migration driven. The Council can only influence growth at the margins. What I would say is that growth should come from being a successful attractive city rather than be an aim in itself – which some people seem to aspire to. What obviously we won’t want to do is be an unsuccessful, unattractive city!

    The really big question we face as a community is how can we accommodate that growth in a way that doesn’t ruin the things we value as a community. We have work being done on development capacity now. That is a critical conversation we will start to have this year. I think it will come up with some big, hard questions that will make LGWM look like a walk in the park.

  12. Jonny Utzone, 14. March 2018, 12:15

    So put the road in a tunnel and toll it!

  13. Michael, 14. March 2018, 16:52

    John Milford and his Chamber of Commerce supports Scenario D and says get on with it. Not surprising, but he shows a complete lack of understanding of the issues. He should read the LGWM reports more closely and he will find that at most only 5% of the traffic arriving in the city during the morning peak from the northern regions is going beyond the CBD. This being the case, why would anyone want to build more roads and tunnels for cars, when a real and cheaper solution lies in the improvements contained in Scenario A plus light rail from the rail station to the Airport and Miramar, capable of moving 12 times the number of people at half the cost.

  14. Dave B, 14. March 2018, 18:59

    A quick win for the city would be to bi-directionalise the Inner-city Bypass/Karo Drive/Arras Tunnel route, such that it becomes the main traffic-artery through Wellington leading to the removal of arterial traffic from Vivian Street, from the entire Waterfront Route and from Cambridge/Kent Terrace. The latter two could become principally for buses.

    This way, the Basin Reserve becomes a roundabout with only three general-traffic entry/exit-points instead of four. Intuitively this would seem to promote less conflict between traffic-flows and smoother operation overall. Only the buses would maintain the existing conflicts.

    Could all be done with a few kerb-alterations and new lane-markings. Unless I have overlooked something. . .

  15. Rossco, 14. March 2018, 19:51

    Urban sprawl does not exist in Wellington, you only need to fly in and out of the city to observe that. India has one of the largest populations in the world, urbanisation covers only 2.8% of their land area, I think you would find close to the same statistic here.
    Thanks to NZTA our regional motorways are a beauty to behold, I love the new ones and the ones being built. They will be a spur to economic development right along their fringes and other nodes.
    Fix the Basin with a bridge, fix Mt Victoria with a second tunnel, fix Karo Drive by undergrounding it…job done. Oh forgot…bin the Evans Bay cycle way…widen for extra car traffic.

  16. Piglet, 14. March 2018, 21:46

    I agree with Jonny Utzone. Build a second tunnel and toll it. Make a decision like Helen Clark did with the tunnel by the military museum. It would just start some movement around the Basin.

  17. glenn, 15. March 2018, 7:00

    @Michael, according to you only 5% of traffic progresses beyond the CBD every morning. But you want to spend billions on transporting said 5% to their destination – kinda a waste of money methinks.

  18. Glen Smith, 15. March 2018, 8:29

    Rossco – The Kapiti Coast (effectively an outbulging of Wellington’s confined geography) is one of the fastest growing areas in NZ- (predicted 21% growth by 2043 requiring a billion dollar motorway to link it to Wellington) with new subdivisions sprawling across Kapiti’s flat land. Presumably the next century will see it sprawl into the Manawatu consuming farmland as it goes.
    India’s urban population is predicted to grow from 27.78% to over 50% by 2030 producing major problems including urban sprawl.
    We know what the outcome of your ‘job done’ would be since it was modelled in the Opus TN24 Baseline Forecasting Report. The result was over 50,000 new car trips compared to around 7500 new PT trips (with PT share falling) with a resulting around 90% increase in congestion (up to 434% to the Hutt) and virtually the whole of the CBD dropping to Level Of Service E or F (figure 4 page 39). Presumably you are happy with this outcome. This is only 2041 – things will only get worse as the century progresses and our city in increasingly enslaved by the motorcar.
    Your comment on the Evans Bay cycleway demonstrates the entitlement that car users now routinely expect including occupying 30% of CBD land, occupying almost all the space of all carriageways and being heavily subsidised by the rest of the community. NIWA’s analysis of costs including externalised transport costs in Auckland concluded ‘the external costs are significant – 2.23% of the GDP produced by the 1.2 million Auckland region residents in 2001. Of this private transport generated 28 times more external cost than public transport. The internal cost assessment showed that total revenues collected did not even cover 50% of total transport cost. The research has shown that not only are the external costs of vehicle transport high, but that contrary to popular belief the total costs of private transport are subsidised by public transport users.’.
    Obviously when car users have been sucking at the nation’s nipple for so long it is a hard habit to break.

  19. Dave B, 15. March 2018, 13:52

    @ Piglet, where do you get the idea that the decision to build the tunnel by the military museum was made by Helen Clark?
    Although the Clark government had looked at building a memorial park on the north side of Buckle Street, the decision to proceed with the tunnel was made by the John Key government. And although we now have a lovely park on top of a $124million tunnel, the benefits to traffic are minimal and the same could have been achieved simply by closing off the Tory St/Tasman St intersection – which is virtually what has happened anyway, in terms of the tiny amount of traffic now using that route.

  20. Traveller, 15. March 2018, 14:05

    DaveB: Surely you wouldn’t have wanted all SH1 traffic to drive through the Memorial Park (as was the plan till the tunnel was approved.) As for traffic benefits – if the tunnel had been extended under Taranaki Street, the benefits would have been greater.

  21. Dave B, 15. March 2018, 16:05

    Traveller, it’s a lovely park, but I would have preferred to see more needful things done with the money. And yes, the benefits to SH1 would have been greater if the Taranaki Street intersection had been bridged also, but the question has to be asked, how much should we insulate SH1 from the CBD it cuts through, versus how much should we allow city traffic to use it? If we insulate it then what is its real purpose? Others here are claiming that only a small proportion of traffic wishes to bypass the CBD.

  22. TrevorH, 15. March 2018, 17:23

    @ Glen Smith: when cyclists are registered, pay road user charges and display an identity strip so they can be pursued for traffic offenses then maybe we could take their claims on the public purse seriously. Metropolitan public transport systems in this country seem to be run by local bodies who are for the most part incompetent and wasteful. “Public” transport does not meet public expectations for reliability, punctuality or scheduling and it doesn’t always go where people want to go. Private transport is essential if you want to participate in the world outside your front door.

  23. Traveller, 15. March 2018, 17:34

    DaveB. We are agreed about the park. But I don’t agree that tunnels insulate traffic – after all, they have entrances and exits and there could easily have been an exit to Taranaki Street if the tunnel had been longer.

  24. Glen Smith, 15. March 2018, 20:22

    TrevorH. The research I presented demonstrates that using a car is heavily subsidised at the expense of PT users/ cyclists and other members of the community (if you disagree with the analysis could you identify which aspects you think are inaccurate). Your counter argument appears to be that ‘private transport is essential’ so that the public should pick up a large part of the tab for this activity. Following this argument you also need to eat, so presumably the nation should pay for a large part of your food bill as well? And your clothes?
    The sums we are talking about are not small. The research estimated that $805 is externalised per year per citizen in 2001 NZdollars or around $1150 in 2018 NZdollars. This agrees well with the figure from a more recent EU study which concluded that the externalised cost of motor vehicle transport in the EU was a staggering 373 billion euro and that ‘every citizen of the EU-27 pays for his or her private transport. On average, however, every person living in the EU-27, old or young, male or female, externalizes 750 e per year on to other people, other countries or other generations. Over a period of 10 years, a family of four accumulates a “debt” of 30,000 e.’. 750 euro is around $1250 – similar to the NZ study figure. This means the country subsidises a family of four around $100 per week to drive their car.
    Having private transport far more highly subsidised than public transport distorts decision making in transport mode selection and the Government needs to look at altering subsidy patterns to produce a far more level playing field. Introducing targeted user pays congestion charges for motor vehicle that is transferred to public transport to equalise the subsidy levels would be an intelligent approach.

  25. Rossco, 16. March 2018, 8:51

    Glen Smith, these studies are biased, you need to know the authors and their political leanings and affiliations. It’s like bikes, nobody on your side mentions they are the most dangerous mode of transport in the world “per kilometre travelled…” Without fast efficient cars and transport nodes we’d be back using horses, try to imagine the externalities of that. Oh and you’d probably be out of a job as would millions of other people.

  26. Glen Smith, 16. March 2018, 11:34

    Rossco. Really? These figures have been replicated in a large number of studies (which aspects of the methodology do you think are inaccurate?) and in fact are conservative. One of the main areas of uncertainty is fossil fuel driven climate change where the effects and associated costs aren’t known but may be much higher – in fact enormous (how much will it cost to move the CBD up to the Tawa flats area if the predicted 5m sea level rise eventuates? How much will it cost to do this worldwide?). The EU study only looks at the costs that would be involved in complying with the target of a 2 degree worldwide temperature change, not the costs that will have to be bourne by future generations due to the 2 degree temperature rise (which are effectively already locked in).
    None so blind as those who do not wish to see (or pay the true cost of their actions).

  27. Dave B, 16. March 2018, 12:30

    @ Rossco, what we are seeing in this “post motoring age”, is that cars are only fast and efficient if society is heavily subsidising the infrastructure they need and remediating the harm they cause. You have clearly grown too used to the idea that indiscriminate car-use is a ‘right’ and that someone else should pay all those costs.

    Well the thinking is changing and the evidence is mounting that a new approach is long overdue. Just look at Auckland – the former ‘city of cars’, now seriously having to confront these issues with major new initiatives in public transport and the abandonment of the massively-expensive East-West road scheme. Wellington is lagging behind.