Wellington Scoop

The evidence against more motorways

by Russell Tregonning
John Milford of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce wants to ‘fix congestion choke points’ in Wellington’s urban roading system. He says this will be ‘vital to our economy’. But there’s no evidence that his solution — more motorways — will achieve either aim.

Mr Milford supports elements of Let’s Get Wellington Moving‘s most expensive and destructive scenario D: extra Terrace and Mount Victoria tunnels, separation of traffic at the Basin Reserve, and cut and cover through TeAro. The LGWM team have costed this at about $2b but Mr Milford hears it may be more like $4-5b.

The big question is – with all this spending, will it ‘fix congestion at the choke points’ and will it be ‘vital to our economy’? What does the evidence show?

Wellington architectural historian Ben Schrader recently gave a brief history of roading development in Wellington city over six decades. In his talk ‘Four lanes to the planes: yeah right’, he reminded us that the ‘Foothills Motorway‘ project leading to the construction of the Northern Motorway, cutting Thorndon in half and desecrating the Bolton Cemetery in the early 1960s, was vigorously opposed by Wellingtonians. Then came the inner-city bypass of the early 2000s: once again protest was strong – people didn’t want the Upper Cuba heritage areas destroyed. “Bypass my ass” was their catch-cry as they protested in the streets where police in riot gear opposed them.

But, apart from the destruction of inner-city heritage, what has been achieved? We still have congestion. And what about Auckland? Ben Schrader compared the Capital, where protest has been strong, to the Queen City where motorways have been completed, largely embraced by the community. Embraced or not, they have not stopped congestion.

What about evidence from overseas? Todd Litman, transport planner from Victoria in Canada, studies the effects of creating more urban motorways. In his latest April 2018 paper, ‘Generated traffic and Induced Travel’, he describes its medium-term futility. This is because as road capacity increases, trips also increase until congestion returns. The generated or induced traffic consists of diverted traffic (trips shifted in time and destination), and induced vehicle travel (shifts from other transport modes like public transport). There may be short-term benefits to congestion, but soon the new road space fills up again: eventually, a self-limiting equilibrium is achieved.

What about the economic benefits? Apart from the huge infrastructure costs, more roads mean more expensive road crashes. Unhealthy pollution causing lung and cardiovascular disease increases from more exhaust fumes with their particulates and noxious gases. Increased noise in a city is a known health hazard. There are also important equity impacts as the huge costs impact on those who don’t even own cars.

The need to act against our increasing climate disruption is urgent. Therefore the question of what happens to greenhouse gas emissions with more motorway construction is important. The evidence is that expanding highly congested roadways may temporarily reduce emission rates per vehicle/km. But increasing traffic speeds to greater than 80kms/hr increases emission rates. Also, by inducing total vehicle travel, total emissions increase, particularly in the long run. Changes in favour of private cars at the expense of public transport and cycling also contribute.

So, the much-vaunted congestion relief and economic benefits of more urban motorways, particularly in the longer term are not backed up by the evidence.

The government’s new GPS on transport was released in June this year. It ‘presents a number of changes in direction, prioritising a safer transport system free of death and injury, accessible and affordable transport, reduced emissions and value for money’.

Evidence and common sense shows that new urban motorways for Wellington will not achieve the government’s commitments. We must hope that LGWM is listening to the government’s priorities, and not Mr. Milford’s.


  1. Cecil Roads, 19. September 2018, 10:17

    Russell – but the alternative is dysfunctional public transport run by GWRC! Using your car is a no-brainer when buses and trains are so crap. If you are one of the lucky ones who have a house in the inner suburbs then you can walk or cycle.

  2. Dave B, 19. September 2018, 11:13

    Cecil – The buses may be crap but the trains are pretty good now (Wairarapa Line shortcomings excepted).

    The solution to Wellington’s transport problems has to lie in its rail system, and in expanding this to connect the huge un-served region south of the present station. Only this will convincingly reduce traffic at source. More roading will just encourage more traffic and further, undesirable car-dependency.

    The current leadership at GWRC should be replaced by people with more enthusiasm and competence for good public transport. There used to be such a visionary Transport chairman – Dr David Watson, but he was squeezed out by the “Transport is all about roads” mob. These people have held sway for far too long and held the whole city back.

  3. Roy Kutel, 19. September 2018, 14:06

    Dave – Wasn’t Transmission Gully the #1 Priority under Dr Watson for ten to fifteen years? Only a lack of funding from a CBA orientated Tranzit NZ prevented transport chair Terry McDavitt from getting it built, which at least promoted inner city living. The Labour and Green Govt killed economic CBA for multiple criteria analysis and fuzzy objectives like ‘strategic fit’ and ‘effectiveness’ which allowed National to do their Roads of National Significance with Transmission Gully a key RON.

  4. greenwelly, 19. September 2018, 14:06

    @Dave B, Well what would you expect, they have spent the thick end of 1/2 billion dollars on the Matangi fleet and the network upgrades to support it. They are now looking at $300 million for the DEMUs for the Wairarapa line (and otaki/palmy?) and the track upgrades.
    So that’s ~$800 million….. and they said they couldn’t justify “tens of millions” to upgrade the trolley bus network… and then in 2017 announced they were reducing costs on the bus network by “several million dollars a year”

  5. Dave B, 19. September 2018, 17:10

    @ Roy Kutel – Yes, this is all true and my memory of it comes flooding back. Transmission Gully has always been (to use an over-used phrase) the ‘elephant in the room’ – something undesirable on so many practical and economic levels, yet so hankered-after by the motoring public and so heavily pushed by politicians on all sides – Dunne, McDavitt, Wilde, Brash, and of course Joyce, even Twyford supported it from opposition while Joyce was making it happen. The only non-green local politician I can think of who wasn’t keen on it was Prendergast, but only because she wanted NZTA to prioritise 4-lanes-to-the-planes instead. (Open to correction if I have misrepresented anyone here, or left anyone out who might wish to be included on the list of infamy).

    @ Greenwelly – My understanding is that a chunk of money for the rail upgrades came from government, on Michael Cullen’s say-so. After 8 years of denial, Cullen suddenly awoke to the importance of rail as a strategic national asset, culminating in the Auckland and Wellington upgrades and the urgent rescue of rail from likely oblivion under privatisation. Unfortunately this was just as Labour got tossed out of office, so any further strategic plans which might have included upgrading the trolleybus infrastructure were swept away by National. The diesel bus network is not quite the same as rail or trolleybus in that it doesn’t have the fixed infrastructure that is so vulnerable to political vandalism. Though the service is an organisational shambles at the moment, you have to admit that it has been significantly re-equipped with new vehicles yet again. In fact the bus fleet has been renewed several times over during the long decades through which rail was starved of renewal funding and the surviving English Electric units almost reached their 65th birthday! As for what happens on the buses now – well, we wait with bated breath.

  6. Ross Clark, 19. September 2018, 20:45

    Roy Kutel is right – Dave Watson was actually quite pro-roading, including Transmission Gully. He lived out at Waikanae at the time and I understand drove into work, rather than use the train, as many industry cynics noted. I can recall asking him at a forum, many years ago now, whether the WRC wanted more public transport investment or more roads investment. His reply was, IIRC, “we want both!”

    At the time, his support for Transmission Gully was all about keeping the Kapiti Coast District Council on board, as they had no real enthusiasm for being part of the Wellington region after 1989. So there was IMHO a lot of politics being played as well. At the time, Transit NZ as-was did not have the money for big projects, road or public transport, and we were also struggling to get *any* money for public transport (disclosure: I was working for them at the time).

  7. TrevorH, 19. September 2018, 21:10

    Roads are essential for the economy of the region.

  8. Kerry, 20. September 2018, 8:48

    Dave B. It will be hard to justify ‘heavy’ rail south of the Railway Station. It would have to go underground and would not be cheap. Stop spacing would also be a problem. Light rail’s rule-of-thumb 800m is too long for those used to Wellington’s very short (and slow) bus-stop spacings, and main-line rail is usually much longer.
    On the other hand, Wellington’s layout puts so much emphasis on a single north-south corridor, and the case for greater emphasis on public transport is so strong, that light rail through the city might one day run out of capacity. If that happened, a good option might be a single-track, heavy-rail loop, in tunnel, from the Railway Station to the proposed hub at Te Aro Park and back. That would give rail passengers a choice of either walking or changing to bus/light rail at either end of the CBD.
    That would be no use for freight, of course, but special vehicles can carry short (3-6 m) containers on light rail, interpeak (to a siding) or even delivering at night, with no siding.

  9. Russell Tregonning, 20. September 2018, 16:24

    But Trevor. we already have roads. What we need to help the economy is to reduce congestion on them. Building more roads doesn’t do that —in the medium to long-term they just fill up again. Shifting people to high-capacity rapid mass public transport will. In Wellington‘s narrow cbd corridor, light rail done properly along the transport spine is the best answer — in conjunction with linking buses to & from the suburbs — all electrically-powered from renewable sources to address the climate & health concerns of increasing private car travel.

  10. TrevorH, 20. September 2018, 17:40

    Russell, much of our roading was designed generations ago when our population was half that of now. SH1 is a museum piece. I don’t see my local supermarket or hardware store being resupplied by light rail, nor would I expect builders to catch a tram to their worksite. Where possible CBD commuters should use public transport, although the GWRC has successfully munted that in Wellington. There are many other people however who use roads to earn their crust. Good roads enhance per capita productivity.

  11. Dave B, 20. September 2018, 19:08

    @ Kerry: Heavy Rail south of where it currently ends was planned and recommended as essential in the 1960s. The same need is still there today, but far more acute now. What changed was that transport planning lost its sense of balance and all that ensued was more-roads. The concept of extending heavy rail needs a thorough re-look at. There are alternatives to going underground (or at least to going full-depth underground) which could produce an acceptable compromise, but no-one has considered these. It is not adequate just to dismiss any further expansion of the existing system as the PT Spine Study did, with no proper investigation of options. And while I can appreciate the factors in favour of going for light rail, LRT will not provide the level of regional connectivity which the roading agencies assure us is so vitally needed. With regard to freight, I haven’t considered an extension to the Metro system as being for this purpose any more than Auckland’s CRL might be, but having said that, there would be nothing to preclude freight movements at off-peak times if a case could be made for them.

    @ TrevorH, you raise the old ‘straw man’ that because public transport does not suit every type of traffic then this somehow justifies massive expenditure on more roading which leaves all other modes starved. You must realise that shifting unnecessary traffic from the roads and on to public transport greatly frees up those same roads for the lower amount of traffic that really is necessary. Expanding the road system will not reduce traffic, merely shift it about and in-practice encourage more of it. However expanding the rail system to provide a quality, non-road alternative is the best means of actually reducing traffic at source. The rail system we have is very effective at doing this, but only in the areas it serves. Its benefits are not available to the southern areas of Wellington which, because of decades of stupid politics, have never been connected to it.

  12. Russell Tregonning, 20. September 2018, 19:14

    Quite right about tradies not using light rail, Trevor. But capacious and fast light rail will take many single-occupant private cars off the roads—thus leaving plenty of room to accommodate those who really have to drive. No need for more destructive urban motorways.
    Sure, the recent changes to the bus service have been counter-productive for those wanting to use public transport. But buses alone will never do the job of getting enough people moving across the city, particularly with Wellington‘s rising population and the opening of transmission gully. We need a new, modern pollution-free and safe congestion-buster like light rail.

  13. Ross Clark, 20. September 2018, 20:45

    …capacious and fast light rail will take many single-occupant private cars off the roads—thus leaving plenty of room to accommodate those who really have to drive. No need for more destructive urban motorways.

    Light rail will only take cars off the road if at the same time, road use is constrained in some way, generally parking availability. This is the elephant in the transport policy room. If people can park at their final destination they will prefer to drive. Exhibit A: the parking at the Westpac Stadium during the day is pretty well used, despite the parking itself being a long way from anywhere.

  14. Pseudopanax, 21. September 2018, 6:24

    Will John Milford please take his 20th century dinosaur thinking and go away, for the sake of future generations! Building roads dismembers communities, increases pollution and creates congestion by attracting more and more traffic. This has been proven time and time again yet the mantra of the petrol head is still heard from circles that should know better. If his is the view of the ‘Business’ community then it’s time it checked into environmental rehab and recognised the future belongs to car free cities and the economic opportunities offered up by them.
    Wellington’s Founding Fathers offered a coherent vision of a compact city serviced by a national rail network, a thriving port and later, a tram network. Ideal for a city at a dead end and compact topography. Sadly that vision has been subverted by the ever increasing demands of the Kiwi love affair with the private motor car. This obsession has gutted the city’s oldest residential area and heritage and has continued to wreak structural collateral damage as the juggernaut continues on to the airport.
    London suffered from such backward thinking in the 1980s when the DoT and its road lobby planned to build a motorway down the Thames, tunnels under Clapham Common and the destruction of a ancient woodland before realising that car traffic had to be discouraged by massive investment in Public Transport and Congestion Charging. Consequently today driving into Central London is just not an option for the great majority of its citizens, leaving roads for PT and service vehicles.
    The onset of electric cars is not a panacea for Wellington as our population increases because the city has already hit ‘Peak Car’. It is therefore time to reclaim our wonderful city from the tyranny of the car…Decision makers need to get out of their super sized chariots and offer a vision of Wellington fit for the 21st century.

  15. Cecil Roads, 21. September 2018, 8:29

    Question: What sort of surface do buses, fire engines and ambulances run on? Answer: Roads!

  16. Mike Mellor, 21. September 2018, 9:23

    TrevorH: you say “good roads enhance per capita productivity”, but the Productivity Commission says (p340):

     While low-emissions vehicles will provide the bulk of transport emissions reductions, other mitigation options can provide immediate reductions and valuable co-benefits. Shifting to loweremitting modes of travel (eg, public transport and cycling) and increasing the uptake of mobility sharing are examples. Another is shifting some of the freight load from road to rail and shipping, although possible reductions are limited since most freight is carried over small distances.
     Inadequate pricing of vehicle externalities (including emissions), and the land transport funding system skewing investments towards roading, stifles the potential for mode shifting and leads to excessively high vehicle travel and inefficient vehicle choices. Levelling the playing field for infrastructure investments and more cost-reflective pricing of vehicle externalities would help to better support low-emissions modes of transport.

    So the more-roads funding policy has in fact led to inefficiencies, and productivity would be higher with investments in other modes instead.

    Cecil Roads: yes, they run on roads that are increasingly clogged because of the lack of credible choice in transport use and the traffic induced by building roads. Less car use means more space for these essential services (and for tradies etc).

  17. Ben Schrader, 21. September 2018, 10:26

    For millennia, streets were places of trade (hawkers), traffic (vehicles and pedestrians) and sociability (a space to stop and chat). The turning over of city streets to motorcars in the early 20th century meant vehicular traffic was privileged over trade and people. This was done in the name of name of making cities faster and more efficient, but in killing off street life it made them dull and unsafe.

    Recent recognition that automotive cities are inherently anti-urban has led planners to try and reduce some of the damage car culture has inflicted on cities through initiatives like improved public transport and the banning cars in CBDs.

    This month’s series on walking cities in ‘The Guardian’ notes such measures have seen a return of street life and made central cities more pleasant places to be in. As the mayor of the Spanish city of Pontevedra (which banned cars in its CBD) says: ‘owning a car doesn’t give you a right to occupy public space.’

    In short, these cities are no longer privileging cars over people in their streets. Wellington needs to do the same. Completing the motorway to the airport might have short term gains, but as others have pointed out it will be only be a matter of time before the road’s congested. The catch cry will then inevitably become “six (or eight) lanes to the planes”.

    The longer term solution is to recognise people, not cars, are at the heart of city life and plan accordingly. In another millennia, the automotive city will be remembered as a road that should not have been taken.

  18. Cecil Roads, 21. September 2018, 12:21

    The wheel was a pretty good invention Ben that got things moving on Rome’s Roads of National Significance. I doubt many plebeians would have got in the way of a chariot!

  19. Russell. Tregonning, 22. September 2018, 12:51

    Ross – I agree with your statement that as well as having efficient rapid mass transit there needs to be demand management of private cars to incentivise people to use light rail. The two need to go together. This will be particularly so initially until people get the feel of the transformative nature of light rail across the city.

  20. Mel G., 23. September 2018, 10:13

    Russell: transformative effect across the city? For $3 billion, LRT will get us to the airport from the Railway Station. That’s one corridor built at a cost of $6,666 for everybody in the Wellington region (450,000) and this excludes the operating deficit which will probably be more than operating buses. Just curious, but where else are you going with LRT to get your ‘city wide transformation’ and who are you going to call to pay for it?

  21. Brent Efford, 23. September 2018, 12:41

    Excellent analysis, Russell. However, maybe my browser malfunctioned, but I didn’t see the bit which Cecil Roads and TrevorH obviously read, which suggested ripping up all the existing roads and converting the land to farming.
    What gets me is the reactionary mentality of those who say that because some functions and some journeys require motor vehicles or roads, we can’t be allowed the choice of any other mode when it comes to public investment – be it cycleways or tramways!
    This demand comes particularly from the end of the political spectrum that promotes ‘freedom of choice’ as an objective of the ideology. Freedom to choose between parallel main roads to drive on, apparently, but not to choose any non-motor mode for covering the same distance.

  22. Keith Flinders, 23. September 2018, 12:51

    Agreed, Mel, light rail from anywhere to anywhere will cost a lot of money, but what has to be considered is the value. In the early 1900s, had we had the attitudes of the GWRC and NZTA, then the tram system that served and expanded Wellington for 50 years would never have been built. Wellington City in 1911 had a tramway debt of 650,000 Pounds ($1.3 million) and a voting population of 40,000 aged 21 and over. That debt today is the equivalent of around $400million. And now there are 140,000 voters in Wellington aged 18 plus, as well as those from the rest of the region to service such a debt. Light rail will serve the city for 80 plus years, so servicing the debt per year using your figure of $6,666 construction cost per person in the region over those number of years, it has to be seen in context. I’m not sure if your $3billion figure is correct but certainly the cost will be well north of $1 billion to eventually extend the light rail service to the Airport.

    $0.6 billion has been spent on suburban rail in the past few years to carry 11 million people annually. Little of that sum was spent on the tracks which were constructed as the result of forward thinking planners in the 1930s, and now command from their owners $20 million annually for the suburban units to use them. Huge sums of money from central government are being spent replacing the rail electric overhead infrastructure that has been allowed to deteriorate, as well as outdated signalling systems. And it is proposed to spend $0.3 billion updating the Wairarapa commuter train service for a few hundred passengers per day.

    Is light rail the best solution for the mass transit system that Wellington needs for the immediate and longer term? The around 20 million Wellington City bus users, currently, is only going to increase, and although not all will use light rail they will benefit from it. There are alternatives to light rail that could be considered, see the last three items in this list. The last option a battery powered trackless tram/bus is being considered for Parramatta, Sydney and Perth.

  23. kiwi_overseas, 23. September 2018, 15:43

    The solution to traffic congestion is technically well known. It is simply politics as to whether its implementation is achievable.
    1) Peak period congestion charging is needed to manage the travel demand which over-congest the road network.
    2) Congestion charging also:
    a) provides a source of revenue from the users demanding peak period access
    b) delays the need for very expensive future capital works
    c) increases PT patronage making PT services and upgrades more feasible
    d) reduces the subsidy to run PT systems
    e) reduces peak hour emissions
    f) increases road safety (more travelling via PT)
    Peak period congestion charges can be offset for the poorer in society both through the availability of an improved PT system as well as transfer payments or free peak period travel quotas. Peak period congestion charges can be dynamically priced. E.g. Singapore, where the charges change about every 15 mins and the charges are reviewed about every 6 months to manage the congestion levels. Where congestion charges are not (yet) implemented, or in addition to congestion charging, robust CBD parking strategies aimed at pricing all public and private long term parking can be implemented to manage commuter travel demand or peak period CBD congestion hotspots.

    Peak period traffic can further be indirectly managed by increasing the cost of car travel (vs PT, walk, cycle alternatives) to reflect the real costs via:
    a) implementation of a carbon tax (NZ ETS)
    b) addition of a vehicle air pollution excise tax on fuel proportionate to the health costs
    c) implementation of a road safety fuel excise tax proportionate to the cost of crashes
    However, in addition, land supply/density should also be freed up. Travel is no more than the induced demand between land uses and land use locations. The land use pattern needs to be able to respond elastically to land demand and travel costs. This is not the case in NZ (where land supply//density is near inelastic) and where the RMA has been very poorly implemented as effectively an extension of the town & country planning act via rigid land use zoning, rather than a true effects based mechanism as it was originally intended.

  24. Harry M, 23. September 2018, 17:43

    Being overseas you lose touch with the reality of where we are. Then you just start a mantra of govt tax as a solution for problems it doesn’t solve.

  25. Cecil Roads, 23. September 2018, 18:12

    Keith – impressive figures regarding 1911 but three years previously, Henry Ford had started production of the world’s first affordable automobile (The Model T). And the Model T and all the variants that came later is perhaps what has driven, for better and for worse, the 20th Century. I can’t see today’s mobile phone crazy citizens signing up for a mega tax/rate hit today for so last century public mobility.

  26. kiwi_overseas, 23. September 2018, 18:12

    Harry, 1) There is no reason that the congestion tax etc can’t be revenue neutral with tax offsets elsewhere. 2) Also the congestion tax is potentially more efficient (targets those causing the congestion) and the net tax take required to fund the transport system thus may be lower

  27. Mel G., 23. September 2018, 18:23

    @K_o – so with your proposed congestion tax, can I have some fuel excise (and the GST levied on top of it) back please?

  28. John Rankin, 23. September 2018, 18:37

    @Harry: a congestion charge is not a tax, it’s requiring a person to pay for a service (mobility during periods of peak demand for a finite resource) that is currently free at the point of use. The absence of a congestion charge is actually a government subsidy, paid by the many for the benefit of the few.

    Distance lets a kiwi_overseas see things we locals are too close to spot.

  29. Jonny Utzone, 23. September 2018, 19:12

    @John -semantics? Stockholm considers their system a tax.

  30. Kerry, 24. September 2018, 8:39

    John, Jonny – More semantics. It is reasonable to see congestion charging as a part-payment for some very large external costs of driving, paid by the community as a whole. These include crashes, noise and pollution (more deaths than crashes), ‘free’ parking, and massive lifestyle costs for strokes and diabetes. Using a car discourages everyday exercise, because the roads are too dangerous or unpleasant for walking or cycling.

  31. Cecil Roads, 24. September 2018, 9:45

    Kerry – a congestion tax is a tax internal to road users, to price some of them off at peak times. So cyclists should pay it too as they take up (at least) a fifth of the room of a car. It has less to do with pollution from energy use which has/is being dealt (partially) by subsidies on electric vehicles and excise tax on petrol. Diesel tax needs to be increased because of the wrong analysis by experts that argued it was less polluting than petrol. They now agree with the non experts who saw the black smoke coming out of the exhaust pipes as harmful. So raise diesel tax and reduce petrol tax. And if you want to impose a congestion tax, then the money should be rebated to road transport user in lower road user charges and petrol excise.

  32. Kerry, 25. September 2018, 21:46

    Cecil. On the contrary. The Global Street Design Guide (NACTO and Island Press: WCC has contributed photos) gives the people-carrying capacity of a 3m private motor vehicle lane as 600–1600 pass/hr. A two-way protected bike lane, also 3m wide, carries 6500–7500 pass/hr. The reason why congestion taxes are specifically for motor vehicles is that they are so spectacularly less space-efficient than other modes.

  33. Cecil Roads, 25. September 2018, 23:45

    Kerry have you ever tried to pass a cyclist on the road and assumed it has zero width? NZTA asks you to give it 1.5 meters. On that basis and given its slower speed, it at least occupies one fifth of a car. And I am a keen cyclist.

  34. Kerry, 26. September 2018, 8:20

    Have you tried looking at videos of cycle routes at peak hours, in Copenhagen or Amsterdam?

  35. Cecil Roads, 26. September 2018, 9:21

    @Kerry – I don’t need to watch the videos as I’ve cycled in Amsterdam. I’ve also seen whilst cycling and driving along the roads of NZ, road signs telling drivers to give cyclists 1.5 metres space. So I think you will have to agree that cyclists take up road space (I reckon a fifth of a car).

  36. John Rankin, 26. September 2018, 9:56

    @CecilRoads: as the driver of a diesel vehicle (which emits no black smoke), I sadly agree that tax on diesel vehicles ought to increase.

    But you can’t get away with spinning a subsidy as a tax. A pre-condition for imposing a congestion charge is that those who have no option but to travel during times when the charge applies must have an alternative means of travel, such as taking the train. At the moment, many people have no reliable alternative to travel by private car. Until we address the public transport deficit in the Wellington region, it would be unjust to impose a regional congestion charge.

  37. John Rankin, 26. September 2018, 10:15

    @Cecil and @Kerry: If we assume a cycle takes up a fifth of a car, we would predict that a 2-way cycleway could carry up to 5 multiplied by 1600 pass/hr = 8000 pass/hr. This is not a million miles away from Kerry’s quoted 7500 pass/hr. You gentlemen appear to be in violent agreement.

  38. Keith Flinders, 26. September 2018, 11:29

    Cecil Roads writes: I can’t see today’s mobile phone crazy citizens signing up for a mega tax/rate hit today for so last century public mobility. I agree, but the same people don’t sign up for the 200 year old technology suburban rail service, which is also heavily subsidised by them and which we can’t do without. Be it light rail, or some other form of mass transit system, Wellington will need to do more than adding conventional buses to cater for a growing population. See what Perth in West Australia are evaluating as an alternative to light rail.

  39. Cecil Roads, 26. September 2018, 15:14

    Keith – well said regarding rail subsidies. In the UK, there is no subsidy for long distance rail commuting. In fact, the UK Government seeks to make money out of the Train Operating Companies! I dread to think what the unsubsidised fare for a Masterton – Wellington commuter would be. Say $40 one way and that’s without adding in a share of GWRC $40 million a year overhead for ‘governance’? I guess the subsidy is the price of keeping the country yokels within the GWRC empire. So different from the late 90s and early noughties when Tranzrail ran services like the Capital Connection commercially.

  40. Ross Clark, 27. September 2018, 1:17

    @Keith – Peter Newman looking at trackless rubber-tyred “light” – well, something – will be regarded as heretical to many in the LRT community. In effect it’s a high-grade BRT with a better road surface and a segregated lane, but in Wellington’s case, it would suffer from the limitation of not nearly enough road space. But I would welcome others’ opinions.

  41. Mel G., 27. September 2018, 9:36

    Ross C- yep something must be in the water for die-hard Newman to change from steel to rubber wheels! But why the continual emphasis on ‘rapid’? Branding I suppose – call it rapid and the public will love it! But no technology will ever be rapid on the golden mile and who (except our resident transport nutters) would want buses, trains whatever hurtling along Lambton Quay, Willis and Courtenay Place at 50kph anyway?

  42. John Rankin, 27. September 2018, 10:41

    @Mel G: correct; if you want rapid transit you put it on the waterfront, along the Quays.

  43. Keith Flinders, 28. September 2018, 13:55

    Ross: I might well find myself off the LRT fraternity’s Christmas card list, and worse. I put the link to Peter Newman’s comments as I feel such a project needs to be approached with an open mind. Four years ago I didn’t imagine other than a steel wheeled set of “carriages” running on steel rails. Quite how Wellington was going to afford the cost was then, and still is, my question. Both systems would operate on shared road space, but is the time near when that space is rationed 07:00 – 19:00 along the Golden Mile.
    I await with interest to see if the two Australian cities run with trackless technology, or not.

  44. Kerry, 28. September 2018, 17:54

    Still a few questions about rubber-tyred trams.
    — No unified standard, so no competition.
    — Limited length, and therefore lower route capacity
    — How good is the steering? do the rear wheels still run wide?
    — Road reconstruction needed if all the tyres take the same line, because an asphalt surface will form ruts
    — With rubber tyres they still produce some PM10

  45. Keith Flinders, 28. September 2018, 18:48

    Kerry: Certainly questions remain, and I’m not advocating for one system or the other, it’s just that Wellington will need a form of mass transit within 10 years. How many passengers per vehicle will depend upon how many vehicles per hour to meet demand can operate on any route.

    In Nancy, France, where they have had trackless trams for over a decade, the concern is that they are locked into Bombardier as the sole supplier.

    No information yet found about how the Chinese system steers its trailing carriages.

    Ruts in the asphalt road surface are a problem when the “tram” follows the guide rail, as they have found in Nancy, but less so when running off it. Solvable though.

    Eliminating PM10 totally will require no vehicles with rubber tyres. How much of it are we getting off the buses alone presently, along with brake material pollution with no regenerative braking on a 98% diesel fleet. More very general information at: https://www.revolvy.com/page/Rubber%252Dtyred-trams