Wellington Scoop

LGWM feedback wants better public transport, less congestion, opposition to cars

News from LGWM
Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM), a joint initiative between the Wellington City Council, the Greater Wellington Regional Council, and the NZ Transport Agency, today released a summary of the public’s feedback on four scenarios for Wellington’s transport future.

“The scenarios we took to public engagement in November and December 2017 are complex. We’re pleased more than 2000 people and 50 stakeholder groups took the time to work through our scenarios and give us feedback,” says Let’s Get Wellington Moving programme director Barry Mein.

LGWM commissioned an independent consultant, Global Research, to analyse and report on the responses. Global Research’s summary report and more information about the public engagement is available here.
Global Research has identified nine key themes from the feedback:

1. Support for better public transport – now and long-term
2. Universal support for less congestion
3. Widespread support for walking and cycling improvements and priority
4. Opposition to new infrastructure that encourages car use
5. A regional, integrated approach is required
6. It is time to act, while being mindful of cost
7. Future-proofed solutions are required
8. Basin traffic flow issues need to be solved, but diverse views are held
9. Wellington-specific solutions required

In the public engagement, LGWM invited people to express a preference for one of the four scenarios, which build on each other (see a description of the scenarios in our Engagement Document). Of the responses expressing a preference:

 560 were for Scenario A
 216 were for Scenario B
 193 were for scenario C
 635 were for scenario D

“It’s important to note that the preferences are not votes – this isn’t a referendum. Many people who selected a preference told us what they would change about their preferred scenario,” says Mr Mein.

The public engagement included a series of community information sessions around the city and region, stakeholder meetings, and a public awareness programme titled Your Voice Counts.

“The public and stakeholders have given us a wealth of feedback about the scenarios, their preferences, and what they’d like to see changed or improved,” says Mr Mein.

“We’ll use their feedback to help guide our work as we develop a recommended programme of investment. This programme will lay out LGWM’s approach to Wellington’s transport in future, outlining recommended improvements for an integrated transport solution that helps people get around whether they’re walking, cycling, using public transport, or driving,” says Mr Mein.

“The recommended programme is unlikely to be one of the four scenarios as presented. It will include parts of the scenarios, as well as other elements supported by the public feedback and our ongoing work.”

The recommended programme will also include information about timing, costs, a pathway for design and construction, and next steps. LGWM plans to deliver a recommended programme to WCC, GWRC, and the Transport Agency in the middle of the year.

“The public will have an opportunity to provide feedback on our recommended programme,” says Mr Mein. “I want to thank the people of Wellington and the stakeholder groups who contributed to the public engagement. We look forward to continuing our work with you and keeping you informed”.

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John Milford: “Fix the Basin”
Save the Basin: Invest in mass transit


  1. greenwelly, 13. March 2018, 15:42

    “The public will have an opportunity to provide feedback on our recommended programme,” says Mr Mein. Even more time for the problems to get worse. But given the above themes, there is no way that LGWM can come out with any solution that doesn’t include Mass Rapid Transport (and that has to be more than painted bus lanes).

  2. Jonny Utzone, 13. March 2018, 18:33

    “Preferences aren’t votes – this isn’t a referendum”. Seems to me, Option D won with 650 votes. It’s a long time ago but as I recall, option D was ‘do everything’ with NZTA picking up the tab. No surprise there then! No wonder, NZTA is now stuttering about reviewing everything and coming up with more (cheaper) options. Blah…

  3. Andy Mellon, 13. March 2018, 19:45

    I don’t think 635 out of 1,604 represents a majority that would ever get through a referendum. I’d hope for a slightly better turnout than 1,604 in a referendum. Interesting how close 635 is to the number surveyed by the Chamber of Commerce too (642).

    In fact, you could say the majority refused to back option D.

  4. Regan Dooley, 13. March 2018, 20:13

    Scenario D didn’t ‘win’ anything. In fact, the way the scenarios were designed to build on each other (i.e. “how far would you go?”) it’s fair to say that only 40% of respondents who expressed a preference want to go as far as Scenario D (635/1604). If you include respondents who were ‘unsure’ it’s only 32% (635/1954). There’s no way LGWM can proceed with something that looks like Scenario D when at least 60% of respondents said “don’t go that far”

  5. Ellen, 13. March 2018, 23:14

    Are we any further ahead? No, another year or two of doing nothing planned! Wellington is languishing in the meantime for any positive changes – 30km hour central city, better pedestrian crossings (both in wait and cross times, complete on all sides of an intersection, remove slip lanes), dedicated bus lane – you know simple stuff that most people use.

  6. Wellington Commuter, 14. March 2018, 8:32

    The Scenario numbers DID give a good indication of what is wanted at the Basin.
    * Scenario A (560 supporters) included “Improved Basin Reserve road layout”
    * Scenarios B, C and D (1044 supporters) all included “Tunnels or bridges at Basin plus a second Mt Victoria tunnel with shared cycleway/walkway”.

    So, 65% of submissions to LGWM were in favour of “Tunnels or bridges at Basin plus a second Mt Victoria tunnel with shared cycleway/walkway”. Bring it on !!

  7. TrevorH, 14. March 2018, 8:55

    @ Wellington Commuter: absolutely right.

  8. Rossco, 14. March 2018, 20:07

    What the survey shows is that people want Option D not some mythical better public transport. The silent majority, 98% of all commuters, want better roads and we want it now. Public transport is a bye product, not the aim.

  9. Stephen Minto, 14. March 2018, 23:17

    Wellington Commuter you make a passable debating point, but the nine themes do not show that more cars to the max is the desired option.
    Cheaper, easier to use, more frequent public transport with self motivated (walk, run, bike) options would take other cars off the road so you can drive to work quickly and in peace. And I want that to happen for you. I want what you want but just not how you want it.
    p.s. another example of false positional conflicts over roads: recently some friends bemoaned Karu Drive being intersected by Taranaki and Willis St and not trenched. The culprits to them were greenies who moaned so much that politicians and LTA backed away. Reality was all the massive infrastructure under those two roads: waste water, storm water. clean water, gas, telecoms etc. The LTA and others just didn’t want to touch it. Massive cost for tiny gains in time. Cost is key.

  10. Ross Clark, 15. March 2018, 3:09

    For investment in public transport to work, we *have* to be prepared to look at CBD parking restrictions, especially for commuter traffic. However, given the brouhaha over simple things like cycleway projects, I am not going to hold my breath.

  11. Durden, 15. March 2018, 9:03

    Absolutely agree with @Wellington Commuter.

    Mr Minto — agree “more cars to the max” is not the desired option according to qualitative statements, but right now not much of existing traffic has been moving during peak hours or most of the day during weekends. This demand has been there for a long time.

    Build Option D to meet long-standing existing demand AND future proof the infrastructure design to be adaptable to future technological and behavioural developments. The latter means, as real mode shifting can be proven to be happening, you can re-purpose infrastructure to add lanes for PT, shared e-taxis, more bike lanes etc. Accepting that state change happens on a continuum and designing for such a transition is key.

    Hoping to create a step change by forcing change on to the current majority is a pipe dream. A dream that will be shattered by the next set of politicians who will sense the inevitable backlash and promise roll backs in their quest for power.

  12. Jonny Utzone, 15. March 2018, 10:07

    The answer is a tunnel built through via a PPP with overseas consortia egged on to come up with ridiculously high traffic forecasts to win the contract. Then, when the forecasts fail to materialise and the consortium goes belly-up, a public sector outfit (WCC or NZTA etc) can acquire the asset at a knock-down price. Fantasy? No, just look across the Tasman at Cross City Tunnel Sydney and the toll roads in Brisbane. P.S. (1) just make sure mum and dad investors don’t get sucked in by the merchant bankers and its overseas money at stake and (2) make sure it’s a public sector outfit that gets first claim on the buy back.

  13. Wellington Commuter, 15. March 2018, 10:51

    @Stephen Minto: With a clear majority of submitters, I favour a solution that includes both grade separation at Basin and a second Mt Vic Tunnel. The reasons for supporting this option will obviously differ from those who simply believe this will enable better traffic flow to those, like myself, who support this to enable a Rapid Transit service to be implemented.

    Part of the conflict about how to get better PT in Wellington is between those who believe the Basin bottleneck can be resolved by simply reprioritising access away from cars towards PT and those (like myself) who believe that the capacity of this key intersection must be increased which can only happen through grade separation. Note that I support Options B – D because these are essential to providing the “cheaper, easier to use, more frequent public transport” you say you also desire, not because I support “more cars to the max”.

    Yes, cost is the key and the cost is high. But over the past decade, Wellington City ratepayers have provided most of the $1Billion+ spent to improve passenger rail access from cities to the north. It only seems fair that similar amounts be invested in supporting major travel improvements for similar numbers of our own residents from the south and east.

  14. Esjay, 15. March 2018, 17:55

    Let’s be practical, no one has got the authority to run all existing motor vehicles off the road. Even if someone possessed the authority, where are the cycles coming from to replace existing vehicles? It must be understood that freedom of choice of transport is number one, and not political ambition. Each and every road user has varying circumstances for driving from point A to point B, there is no disputing that. Wellington roads were never constructed for cycles, and in any case the weather mostly prohibits anything less substantial than a motor driven vehicle to cover distances from one side of the city to points north east or south.

  15. Kerry, 15. March 2018, 21:08

    Esjay: You have forgotten that cycles came first, then cars, which eventually drove most cyclists off the road. Drivers seem incapable of sharing space with cyclists, let alone pedestrians.
    A paper on managing congestion, put out by Transport for London, identifies three phases in urban transport planning:
    —Planning for vehicles: roads and parking
    —Planning for people: better public transport
    —Planning for city life: place, car restraint, walking and cycling.
    TfL is now in the third phase.
    As the Scandinavians put it, there is no bad weather, only bad overcoats.

  16. Wellington Commuter, 16. March 2018, 9:58

    @Kerry, first there were horses, then roads. From Teara – the Encyclopedia of NZ:
    “Many early NZ roads were known as bridle trails (named after the head-gear of a horse’s harness) – they were too rough for wheeled vehicles but suitable for horses. Bridle paths were widened and graded to become dray roads, suitable for a horse and dray cart, then they were metalled (surfaced with crushed stones). If a route got enough traffic it was upgraded. In this way, over time, paths became roads. Finally, heavily used roads were sealed with asphalt.”
    The first roads were built before the 1880s when the “Safety Bicycle” arrived in NZ but even then coastal shipping was a better way to travel any distance. In 1886 the 580k New Zealanders had over 190k horses which (with bullocks) provided most long distance land transport. I doubt that bicycles had much influence on roads before cars arrived.

  17. Dave B, 16. March 2018, 13:34

    @ Wellington Commuter, I think you will find that the predominant mode of transport during the horse-and-cart era was walking. Long-distance travel was much less common and the average person largely got around on foot. I doubt that most city folk would have owned their own horse. When the bicycle arrived it augmented the walking mode and to some degree it may have made inroads on horse travel. But at that stage individual transport was still largely self-powered. The alternative was to take a horse-drawn cab. Public mass-transit came next, first as horse-drawn buses/trams, then steam-powered railways, then electric trams, and finally the internal-combustion engine. Longer journeys and commutes became possible but many people continued to walk and many people continued to cycle. Cars were a rarity, for the rich only, and the roads definitely were not there just for them

    Not until the 1950s did individual car-ownership begin to gain ground, but even then it was only the better-off who could afford them. However the better-off included society’s leaders and politicians, and they decided that everyone would somehow be better-off if large sums were invested in new roads for the anticipated ‘motor-age’,and well-used public transport systems were deliberately run down and removed. An early example of what we now term “elite projection”.

    The trend towards more cars and less of anything else thus became self-perpetuating as road-schemes subsidised with public money became the norm and the public transport alternatives disappeared. And the more the private-car took hold, the more danger and damage there was, and the more the demand that more money be spent on more roads to ‘solve this’. More, more, more. And of course cyclists and pedestrians got bowled aside (often literally) in this rush to motordom. Did the average person really “choose” this state of affairs? I think not. And as we now find ourselves emerging from the final days of this sorry epoch, we will look back on it as another of those nonsensical aberrations that have plagued human history from the start.

  18. Sam Donald, 16. March 2018, 15:35

    @ Wellington Commuter – According to the ‘Fundamental law of road supply’ (a term coined by Duranton & Turner in their 2011 research): An increase in road supply leads to an increase in vehicle demand. This is not what Wellington wants if it is to be a liveable, sustainable city, free of traffic congestion. Wellington’s limited space needs to be shared efficiently to accommodate the current transport demand and the expected 50,000 – 80,000 more residents over the next few decades. LGWM needs to look beyond the ‘tick box’ scenarios and listen to the feedback which calls for a city not dominated by cars; light rail was shown to be far more popular than bus rapid transit, and that’s without it even being put forward as a clear option. Scenario A+ equals walking, cycling, rapid mass transit (in the form of light rail with a route which avoids the Basin Reserve) and road pricing without new roads or road tunnels, and is likely to be around half the cost of Scenario D. Let’s instigate a future for Wellington of sustainable, integrated, fast, attractive transport that is a true alternative to more roads and the inevitable increase in cars that would come with them!

  19. TrevorH, 16. March 2018, 22:36

    @ Wellington Commuter: you are right again. Modern roads and the vehicles that ply them sustain our cities and rural communities. The Romans knew this but it seems the knowledge was lost in the dark ages and some people never regained it.

  20. Ross Clark, 17. March 2018, 0:59

    Dave B – it’s not quite as simple as that.

    By the late 1930s New Zealand was one of the most motorised countries in the world, and only the war and the later postwar austerity prevented that rate of motorisation from growing more than it did. Until the mid80s, it was very expensive to buy a car, but that had not stopped car ownership rates from continuing to grow. The arrival in the mid 80s of “Japanese imports” dropped the real cost of motoring quite substantially. In 1986 I recall that 25 percent of the Wellington region workforce used public transport to get to work; by 1991 that had fallen to 15 percent.

    However, one unforeseen and positive consequence of the rise in car ownership rates was that motorcycle use fell substantially as well, by about half – with thoroughly positive consequences for road safety. At the time, I was working in the MoT and then Transit NZ as-was, and the improvement in the road toll was noteworthy. In the context of this discussion it was a reminder of how people had used motorcycles when they couldn’t afford cars.

    Again, from my early time in the MoT, I was told: “if religion is the opiate of the people, mobility is their heroin and cocaine”. Any discussion on transport policy must work from the premise that people like their cars, and it is not enough to promote high-standard alternatives; we must be serious about controlling car demand as well.

  21. Dave B, 19. March 2018, 0:04

    Ross, I don’t think many NZers are as in besotted with their cars as you make out. In Auckland public transport use has rocketed since certain initiatives were undertaken (Britomart Station opened, new electric trains arrived, Northern Busway opened, plus a whole raft of improvements, either planned or currently in the pipeline). And potentially every 1.3 people on PT represent another car that otherwise could be on the road. So a significant trend away from cars-for-all-journeys is happening before our very eyes.

  22. Chris Horne, 3. April 2018, 18:23

    Ross Clark wisely says “We must be serious about controlling car demand as well”. Yes indeed! Here are the five crucial ways to reduce the city-crippling use of cars:
    1. Increase parking charges for commuter car parks;
    2. Increase the Fringe-Benefit Tax on company cars;
    3. Impose a regional fuel tax;
    4. Introduce congestion pricing around the CBD;
    5. Abandon Scenario D and the roading ideas in Scenarios B and C, as 1960s’-style transport planning, all bound to exacerbate congestion by increasing car use, and all bound to decrease the liveability of our capital city.
    All funds raised from the above measures 1, 2, 3, 4,to be used for public transport vehicles and infrastructure, and walking and cycling facilities.