Wellington Scoop

Mayor expects “transformational” transport project for Wellington

Report from RNZ
Wellington mayor Justin Lester has hinted that a multimillion-dollar government-backed transport project is on the cards for Wellington.

Mr Lester, who over the weekend announced his bid for another term as Wellington’s mayor, told Morning Report the Let’s Get Wellington Moving project was something that would be announced by the end of the month and needed Cabinet sign-off.

“This is around a transformational shift in the way people get around, particularly between the CBD and the airport … it entails a multi-billion dollar investment in Wellington infrastructure,” he said. “It’s a large-scale investment – it needs Cabinet sign off”

While he seemed confident of an announcement backed by the government within the month – likely signalling something in the Budget on 30 May – he would not give much more detail.

“I won’t raise the ire of all of Cabinet and go announce it before it’s announced … it’s a large scale investment it needs Cabinet sign-off, it’ll be this month.”

“The last time we had a significant investment in infrastructure in Wellington aside from the upgrading of the trains … was 1978.”

Asked about the strong level of opposition to public infrastructure projects in the city in the past – such as the Basin Reserve flyover – he thought people would be “astounded”.

“I think we’ll have the government on board, there’ll always be debate in Wellington, we’re a highly democratic city. You compare side by side the Basin Reserve flyover with what our proposal for that part of the city looks like and it’s chalk and cheese. Look, I’m glad we didn’t end up with the Basin Reserve flyover because when you see what will be proposed I think people will be astounded.

“It’s a vast improvement and I’m looking forward [to] when that announcement happens by the end of the month.”

Mr Lester is also pushing two other promises as part of his mayoral re-election campaign: providing housing for the city’s homeless and curbing traffic through the city’s “Golden Mile” strip – referring to the route through Lambton Quay, Willis Street, Manners Street and Courtenay Place.

He said the traffic measures was something retailers and others had been asking for.

“We’ve undertaken consumer insight surveys, we’ve worked with our partners like First Retail, and what’s the constant feedback we hear? We want greater pedestrian friendliness, covered walkways, less traffic, better selection of food offerings, outside dining, cooler dining spots, they want to be able to sit down, less of a traffic dominance and focus.

“We do want to have a public transport spine, and that’s really important because that brings tens of thousands of people in each day and that’s great for retail as well, but we will take the private vehicles out.

“You’ll still be able to park in the CBD and the parking buildings will all still be there but on those high pedestrian routes making sure that they’re prioritised for people.”

He said buses would still go down the golden mile but it would be closed to private vehicles.


  1. Meredith, 13. May 2019, 13:42

    Transport announcement:
    More room for more diesel buses on Lambton Quay? Is that more pedestrian friendly? I wish it were….but is it really?

  2. Mark Spencer, 14. May 2019, 6:56

    I don’t feel we have that “highly democratic” thing happening. We haven’t forgotten the “despite strong public opposition” runway extension that the council still fight us for, Shelly Bay development and the unneeded convention center. On no a mystery election promise (that was already part of the WCC agenda) which also sounds really expensive.
    Mr Mayor your partners should not be First Retail they should be the ratepayers. But you keep us in the dark, ignore our submissions and our strong opposition.

  3. Paul, 14. May 2019, 13:18

    Just please don’t let GWRC anywhere near planning or running this “transformational” new project, or we’ll end up with a state of the art solution that sits idle and rusts because there are no drivers.

  4. Richard Keller, 14. May 2019, 19:24

    The most important result from the Let’s Get Wellington Moving project should be that there is no second vehicle tunnel. With the long time obsession with the personal motor car still strong in the face of the need to immediately and drastically cut the use of fossil fuels, to suggest a second vehicle tunnel is to give the impression fossil-fuel use reduction is not really as urgent as it is. To add a light rail plan alongside a tunnel may seem similar to using methadone to suppress heroin addiction, but in this case there will be no significant suppression of the obsession with the personal motor car as long as there is a second vehicle tunnel.

  5. mason, 15. May 2019, 0:29

    If we want more cars we build more roads. Unfortunately that seems popular in voter land.

  6. Keith Flinders, 15. May 2019, 8:52

    As an advocate for, and user of, public transport, I would like to see even more of it. However to reduce the reliance people have on their cars, and hence the increasing demand for more roads, there will be no quick fix as billions will need to be spent to extend existing public rail and bus services. The region is growing population wise, but transport planning for the future isn’t keeping up.

    Lets Get Wellington Moving appears on the surface to be a worthy initiative, but after all the years of talk fests we have yet to see any real results. In the interim, bus services no longer provide the level of service that they did before July 2018, with severe overcrowding on the Karori services in particular, and the failure to maintain the Matangi units is impacting commuter rail passengers.

    There appears to be no rush by the Regional Council to address the bus and rail issues. Does the Wellington region need its own public transport authority with parochial interests removed from decision making?

  7. Chris Horne, 15. May 2019, 15:14

    Let’s Get Wellington Moving – please implement:
    Mother Earth, and all its inhabitants – human and all other species – simply cannot afford to continue to produce the atmospheric pollution caused by 20th-century-style, road-focussed, transport planning. We need vastly improved public transport services and walking and cycling facilities. Parliament ratified the COP21 Paris Agreement for comppelling reasons. This commits New Zealand to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions.
    The last things that Mother Earth needs from Wellington are increased road capacity and the increase in greenhouse-gas emissions which would result. We must not have twinning of the The Terrace and Mt Victoria tunnels, or a Basin Reserve tunnel or flyover, or a tunnel under Te Aro. “Four lanes to the planes” is dead in the ever-rising water. The era of adulation of private car and company cars must end. NOW!

  8. Richard Keller, 15. May 2019, 19:32

    Keith Flinders queries whether there needs to be a Transport Authority beyond the Regional Council. Transport is the most important yet tense issue in Wellington and has been for a decade or more. Given that, it should be noted that the northern suburbs in the Regional Council have a different priority from Wellington city and the tension is grating relationships. The northern suburbs’ first priority is to get through (past?) Wellington to the airport, that is, the ‘four lanes to the planes’ desperation. That’s not Wellington’s first priority. This tension should be seen as the source of the bus fiasco. Barbara Donaldson must not be allowed to remain silent about this.

  9. Northland, 15. May 2019, 21:41

    Chris I think you are conflating road usage with greenhouse gas emissions. What about electric cars? If private cars were zero polluting would you still be ideologically opposed to their use? Is it more about personal freedom?

    For better or worse, roads and private cars are required in today’s New Zealand. The reach of public transport is simply not sufficient. The key is to go electric. And, yes, let’s improve public transport and make Wellington a first class ‘public transport first’ city. But coming down like a ton of bricks on private car usage is not the way forwards.