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  1. Glen Smith, 6. July 2019, 23:17

    I’m not sure concentrating on electrifying our private vehicle fleet is going to be the magic quick climate change panacea you feel it would be. Electric cars consume less fossil fuels if the source of the electricity is renewable/ solar but if the the marginal source of electricity (ie where the extra required electricity would be sourced from) is fossil fuel based (as it would be in NZ until we get to 100% renewable electric production – still many years away) then electric cars are almost as climate change inducing as petrol cars (see https://m.dw.com/en/how-eco-friendly-are-electric-cars/a-19441437). In fact they could be worse due to the extra CO2 associated with battery production. In addition the average lifespan of a light vehicle in New Zealand is 14.3 years so rapidly replacing our existing car stock would be hugely expensive.
    So to reduce CO2 output by electrifying our car fleet would require not only the cost of replacing our vehicle fleet but building the huge new renewable electricity generation capacity to power these. This will happen and should be supported, but won’t be quick or cheap.
    The alternative is to reduce total energy consumption by moving a large part of our transport load onto more efficient transport modes. Research shows that ‘passenger transportation by rail systems requires less energy than by car or plane (one seventh of the energy needed to move a person by car in an urban context)’ and ‘This is the reason why, although accounting for 9% of world passenger transportation activity (expressed in pkm) in 2015, rail passenger services represented only 1% of final energy demand in passenger transportation.’
    Implementing an efficient and attractive PT network is likely to be cheaper than replacing our vehicle fleet plus building the renewable electrity generation to power them, and there is no reason it can’t be achieved more rapidly

  2. CPH, 7. July 2019, 9:36

    What I don’t understand from the light rail enthusiasts is how they think it’s going to help all the people whose jobs and lives don’t revolve around a train line. One of my family members works at the hospital and regularly does night shifts, and she and her family live in Karori. Exactly how will a light rail system help her get to and from work safely in the middle of the night when the trains and buses aren’t running? Saying that light rail is the solution to all Wellington’s transport problems is just wishful thinking for her family!

  3. John Rankin, 7. July 2019, 11:29

    @CPH asks a good question. In the longer run (and sooner rather than later), we need to plan a city-wide rapid transit network, not just a light rail line. For Karori, it’s hard to see how we could justify light rail; there is not enough demand to make it a cost-effective proposition. However, we can reasonably expect that autonomous trackless trams will mature and offer a lower cost rapid transit option for lower demand corridors. I can envisage a rapid transit corridor between the city centre and Karori, with 2 separated and dedicated trackless tram lanes, connecting to the light rail corridor with cross-platform transfers.

    And as a matter of fact, hospital shift workers in cities with effective rapid transit networks do indeed ride light rail safely to and from their work at all hours. We need to encourage our elected representatives to translate “climate emergency” into a sense of transport urgency and just get on with it. In particular, build rapid transit from the city to the airport by 2029, then plan on delivering 2 rapid transit projects per decade over the following 2 decades.

    I agree with @GlenSmith’s comments. Maybe a better strategy than picking EVs as the winner would be to accelerate public and active transport investments, then introduce a congestion charge, with higher charges for ICE vehicles entering the city centre. Maybe it’s better to send a strong price signal for the behaviours we want to discourage, than let people decide for themselves what to do about it.

  4. CPH, 7. July 2019, 13:17

    John Rankin – You seem to be indicating that the only plan to benefit people who don’t live within walking distance of the light rail system is some wishful thinking that might come to fruition decades hence. Further, the people who don’t have access to this expensive train will still be paying for it in their rates and taxes whilst being penalised for having the audacity to use their cars to get to work, irrespective of the fact that they have no alternative.

  5. PCGM, 7. July 2019, 14:04

    Glen Smith – Accepting your assertion that rail is the most energy-efficient way to move people around, even if we ignore the very significant embedded carbon of building the system in the first place, the question still remains: what is to be done about the need to reduce our emissions in the here-and-now?

    The scientists tell us we need to reduce emissions immediately and the Council’s plan commits us to a 43% reduction in CO2 by 2030, at which time light rail will have been operating for a scant few years – if at all, given how long it takes to design, fund, consent, procure and build these things. So what’s the plan in the interim? Or are light rail advocates proposing that we do nothing that isn’t light rail, and fry the planet in the process?

  6. Benny, 7. July 2019, 18:20

    @PCGM: Brilliant, spot on, accurate and realistic article, once again. Your analysis of the transport problem is 100% correct, and the suggestion that EVs are the only alternative right now is very wise. It is clear that civilisation will prefer to collapse rather than give up on cars. Unless a dictatorship puts everyone back on a bike, people will not turn their back on cars. They are just too useful and too practical. Their drawback however is that they are not sustainable, and their fumes and noise have become unbearable. EVs are the solution, with a right balance with AT and PT (and promotion of them). Moreover, technology is helping to make them safer when not driven by people, addressing safety concerns.

    @Glen: there is an article called « Enough with the ‘Actually, Electric Cars Pollute More’ Bullshit Already » summarising one study (amongst a few) which demonstrates that, even when using the dirtiest coal plant to power an EVs, the overall CO2 emissions will still be better than a diesel car. In NZ, the electricity mix is 80% renewable, making EVs way cleaner over their lifespan. The study is available here.

  7. John Rankin, 7. July 2019, 19:58

    @CPH: if you look at the recommendations LGWM received from its consultants about how light rail would integrate with the bus network (page 8), you will see that on the day the light rail line opens, your relative will be able to catch a bus in Karori and change to light rail at either the railway station or the Courtenay Place stop.

    Your “wishful thinking” is what other cities call “long term planning”. Wellington is learning how to become a multi-modal city where people have more choices for getting around, but as PCGM keeps reminding us, time is short and we have put off acting for too long. I don’t see it as an either / or choice; we need to do what’s in the LGWM programme for public and active transport, do it faster than LGWM proposes and we need to transition the vehicle fleet from ICE to electric (and potentially hydrogen fuel cell).

  8. Glen Smith, 7. July 2019, 20:18

    CPH. Under a logical ‘connective network- radial’ design (which has multiple uninterrupted lines, each from one regional peripheral destination to another regional peripheral destination but of different modes depending on what is the ‘best fit’ for that line) a person going from Karori to Newtown (both of which, in my view, should be on bus lines) wouldn’t benefit directly from a Quays based light rail corridor but, if travelling by bus, would benefit from lower Golden Mile congestion (due to current overcapacity being transferred to the rail corridor) and if travelling by car would benefit from lower congestion (due to across town car users switching to rail). In my proposed network design a rider from Karori could get to the hospital without transfer since they happen to be on the same line, but could get to any destination on any bus or rail line throughout the region with one transfer. This would only be during PT hours – anyone travelling in the middle of the night would have to go by car.

  9. Glen Smith, 7. July 2019, 20:46

    Benny. I have had a quick look at the article you cite but nowhere can I see the claim that ‘even when using the dirtiest coal plant to power an EVs, the overall CO2 emissions will still be better than a diesel car’ (which makes no logical sense). The study uses overall electricity generation share for each region (just as you do with your 80% share in NZ) rather than marginal electricity production which is hard to justify. I support EV cars rather than petrol cars (where car travel is required), and certainly support increasing renewable electricity production, but switching from petrol to EV won’t alter total CO2 output in the short term – only when we are 100% renewable electricity AND extra capacity has been added to supply the extra electricity required by the EV fleet (we should of course be aiming for this in the longer term). Happy to debate why this analysis is correct.
    Also I have not said that we should ‘turn our back on cars’ (I support improving all modes) but that a city has a finite capacity to accommodate car transport and this should be ‘reserved’ for trips where cars are essential by making trips easy by more efficient modes (rail, bus, walking, cycling) for trips where a car is not essential. Otherwise our road network will descend into escalating congestion.

  10. Glen Smith, 7. July 2019, 21:38

    PCGM. I’m not sure there is an immediate magic bullet- only incremental progress towards an end goal based on funding availability. There is of course a very strong argument for greatly increasing funding (even if this is by deficit budgeting recovered over time) based on the huge future costs that will be averted by investing money now but sadly many people (including some of our leading politicians) appear unable to grasp the logic of this.

    Given limited funding the best course would be to have an overall ‘master plan’ and to put the most money towards actions that will have the greatest impact first, then progressively implement other changes over time. I think enabling people to get out of their cars is the top priority since not only should this dramatically lower total energy consumption (to a seventh for each trip diverted based on the research referenced above) but will also address the dire issue of escalating city congestion (which shifting the motive power of individual cars from petrol to EV won’t). Achieving this seems to be handicapped by having a mishmash of planning agencies who are not only biased and demonstrably incapable of examining options in an objective manner, but also seem to struggle with even basic concepts (such as the need for a second across town PT spine due to inadequate capacity – only just included in LGWM’s plans 6 years after the Spine Study showed a ‘secondary spine’ was required but with design that makes you wonder if any of them have even seen a mass transit system. Do they seek advice from overseas experts?). The result is some disastrous decision making (eg. getting rid of our fully electric trolley network and introducing a flawed ‘hub’ system with multiple transfers in a futile attempt to accommodate all across town PT in a single corridor) and an inability to progress changes in any timely fashion. Hopefully central government can exert some sort of control to get things moving.

  11. Glen Smith, 7. July 2019, 22:31

    John. Who are MRCagney? (I see they are based in Auckland – do they have experienced international experts?) and why is their word gospel without even consulting with the public and our elected representatives? They recommend a ‘trunk and feeder’ basic model – the same basis of the disastrous ‘bustastrophe’ which imposes unnecessary transfers on a large percentage of transport trips. Has a ‘connective radial network’ even been considered? The design will drive eastern commuters back to their cars – almost all commuters to the CBD will have to endure an unnecessary transfer and be ‘forced’ onto a Quay corridor (really intended for across town commuters) or have a second transfer for a Golden Mile destination. Across town riders will suffer 2 transfers. All will have to detour via congested Newtown. Bus and rail double up along Adelaide Road and Newtown – will these be separate dedicated corridors or will buses mix with cars? If mixing with cars how reliable will the southern lines buses be with no bus lane and after car capacity is limited to one lane each direction with no central turning median? Has a SH1 route been considered? If so where are the costings and modelling?
    This model will be a disaster just as the ‘trunk and feeder’ bus changes have been. It is sad to see you advocate a ‘just accept this model and gets on with it without any consultation’ attitude – (the attitude of the NZTA with the flyover) because it suits your agenda.

  12. Henry Filth, 8. July 2019, 4:59

    “For Karori, it’s hard to see how we could justify light rail;” – John Rankin.

    John, out of idle curiosity, did trams ever run out to Karori?

  13. TrevorH, 8. July 2019, 9:25

    The demonisation of diesel vehicles is becoming tiresome. Here’s the New Zealand AA’s take:
    “To summarise the environmental impact of petrol vs diesel engines: diesel comes out on top with regards to CO2, CO and HC. Both are around the same when it comes to NOx, and diesel is worse for SPM. Generally speaking, a large 4WD vehicle doing high mileage would be better off diesel powered and a small hatchback doing a low mileage may be better being petrol powered.”
    Diesels that meet Euro 5/6 have made significant advances in controlling particulates. Biodiesel offers plenty of scope for reducing fossil fuel consumption in New Zealand using organic sources like tallow.

  14. John Rankin, 8. July 2019, 10:33

    @HenryFilth: see this map.

    That was then; this is now. The economics of modern light rail mean you need at least 3500 passengers per hour to make light rail better value than than buses. Advocates of the autonomous trackless tram say that the lower capital cost makes it economically feasible to deliver rapid transit service on corridors with lower demand. TT lowers the barrier to entry. If the technology does what its proponents say (and it’s a big if), it will be a game-changer.

    @GlenSmith: nowhere have I said that just getting on with it should happen “without any consultation”. Please don’t put words in my mouth. If it was up to me, companies tendering for the project would be encouraged to propose whatever network design and technology they consider would be the best fit to the requirements. May the best proposal win. You may be interested in MRCagney’s proposed Te Aro to Newtown road layouts.

    MRCagney has a web site, which may answer @GlenSmith’s questions.

  15. Graham Atkinson, 8. July 2019, 10:55

    Henry yes trams ran to both Karori & Northland – Bowen Street would not have existed if it was originally built for the tramway

  16. PCGM, 8. July 2019, 11:12

    Glen Smith – While light rail makes sense in the medium term, there’s no getting away from the fact that it will have little-to-no impact on the immediate climate emergency that’s staring us in the face. Simply building the light rail system itself is going to add vast quantities of CO2 to the atmosphere, given the large quantities of concrete and steel and diesel required for its construction. Assuming it goes ahead in the 2020s, it’s unequivocally going to make the climate crisis worse in the short term, in an environment where we need to see a 43% reduction in emissions by 2030.

    And reading the WCC Te Atakura – First to Zero document, it’s apparent that there’s no concrete plan to get transport emissions down as rapidly as needed, even ignoring the extra CO2 that will be created by light rail construction and the rest of the LGWM initiatives. We seem to be pretending that we can have all the time in the world to make changes to the public transport network, when the scientists and the climate are telling us otherwise.

    In this environment, your objections to EVs seem unfounded. No, they’re not perfect, and yes they’ll cost money. But they will unequivocally reduce our transport emissions in the here and now, because your assumptions about embedded carbon in their construction and the need for additional fossil fueled power plants are simply not correct.

    For instance, New Zealand could easily add another 25% of zero-carbon hydro power to its total electricity production overnight by the simple act of turning off Tiwai Point, and this would provide more than enough capacity to move a huge section of our vehicle fleet to EVs. Not a single new power station is needed, as you seem to be thinking, and there’s certainly no requirement for new fossil fueled generation.

    As I said in the article, there seems to be a view in some parts of Wellington – including around the Council table – that all cars are bad, irrespective of their motive power. This seems more an ideological position than anything else, but not moving to EVs is the equivalent of doing nothing while the planet burns, and pretty much the textbook definition of cutting off our noses to spite our faces.

  17. Dave B, 8. July 2019, 12:49

    PCGM, building new rail infrastructure will make a big difference if it is done instead of more motorway building, which is likely to be the default scenario unless a significant change away from 50 years of road-building-policy happens soon.

    What you are saying is that electrifying the vehicle fleet is a better thing to do now than spending money on any infrastructure at all – which may be true if it is a straight binary choice. But do you believe pressure to “fix congestion” will somehow just melt away? That all this funding will happily be available to focus on subsidizing EVs and their infrastructure for everyone (while other transport problems remain or continue to worsen)? If failing to push hard for a rail-based solution means we get 4-lanes-to-the-planes anyway, and therefore limited funding for anything else including subsidized EV’s, where does that leave us carbon-wise?

  18. PCGM, 8. July 2019, 14:00

    Dave B – those are good questions! Let’s assume for a second that the climate emergency is exactly that – an emergency – rather than just the election year PR opportunity it’s being treated as at the moment. That implies we need to take action urgently to address the burning platform of the burning planet.

    The first and obvious step is to not make things any worse. So that means we need to stop putting carbon in the atmosphere unless it’s completely essential – and in that context, reducing congestion is a “nice to have”, not a “need to have”. In terms of road building, we’re stuck with Transmission Gully because it’s almost finished, but in my view all other road building should slam to a halt. Until we get to zero emissions, we’re going to be stuck with the roading network we have, and “four lanes to the planes” is a pointless CO2 burden we are better off without.

    Basically, unless a transport investment is going to reduce emissions in the short term, the rational approach is to stop it forthwith. And it would be ever so nice if the existential challenge of climate change was to be treated rationally, instead of as a platform for local politicians to engage in some largely irrelevant virtue-signaling!

  19. Dave B, 8. July 2019, 16:47

    Yes, it’s hard to interpret declarations of ‘climate emergency’ from the various local bodies as anything other than virtue-grandstanding with no intention to significantly change anything. As I may have said somewhere else, I reckon the quickest way to bring fossil-fuel use down is to massively jack up the price of it with a Phenomenal-Fossil-Fuel-Tax (PFFT). Yes, it would hurt the car-dependent and the transport of goods, and perhaps allowance could be made for the really deserving, but it would shake out a lot of unnecessary low-value vehicle-trips which people make because they don’t have to face the real costs. And revenue from the PFFT could help towards the transition to EV’s or better-still towards a less car-dependent society overall. $10/litre sounds about right given the current state-of-emergency.
    But hey – this is election-year – clearly a greater emergency!

  20. TrevorH, 8. July 2019, 20:07

    @ Dave B: the “climate change emergency” is another example of hysterical groupthink led by extremists.

  21. Northland, 8. July 2019, 21:19

    Agree wholeheartedly with this article. EVs are the way forwards for Wellington and when combined with other modern technology such as ride sharing apps and on demand single trip hire, will be a real game changer. On a smaller scale we’ve already seen enthusiastic uptake for electric bikes and scooters in the wake of ‘bustrastrophe’. People will vote with their feet – and with their mobile phones.

    The primary change that needs to happen is the move away from privately owned petrol and diesel vehicles to a hired, on demand EV fleet. Secondary to this change, enhancements to the current bus and rail public transport network as per LGWM plans will greatly assist with peak traffic flows. It’s unfortunate that the timescale for this change is still in the 10 to 15 year range.

  22. Glen Smith, 8. July 2019, 22:24

    PCGM. Interesting discussion. Building rail does involve CO2 production but this is recovered in under 15 years for urban railways. However you assume it will be rail construction or nothing. In fact, congestion is projected to increase nearly 90% by 2041 which will be politically and economically unacceptable. If we don’t build rail we will have to build more roads and when re-elected National will happily oblige. Road construction involves even more CO2 production. So we have to expend some CO2 in infrastructure construction as our city transport needs grow over the next few decades – choices include expending this in rail construction or road construction. Choosing rail leads to immediate CO2 reduction once completed (which could be quite quickly if planners pulled finger), roads lead to ever increased CO2 output.

    Turning off Tiwai Point is unlikely to decrease world CO2 production and may increase it. Unless world aluminium consumption decreases, stopping smelting here will require increased production elsewhere, the energy for which is likely to be fossil fuel based. Using the electricity would require increased transmission capacity up the whole South Island and/ or storage capacity to utilise offpeak transmission, both likely to be hugely expensive and CO2 inducing.
    Reduction in world transport CO2 output can only be achieved by using less total energy (which rail achieves but powering cars by a different energy source doesn’t) or by building extra non fossil energy production PLUS the method to utilise this, such as new electric vehicles (both of which require limited funding over time).

    Dave. Reclaiming some of the huge subsidy paid to car users (around $120 per week for an average family of four based on international research) would certainly help fund the climate emergency but this should be targetted and is likely to result in backlash from drivers who have grown so used to having their snouts buried deep in the public feeding trough that they think it is a right.

  23. Glen Smith, 8. July 2019, 22:51

    Northland. Switching the motive power of a vehicle from petrol to electric does nothing to reduce our escalating congestion, and ride sharing increases it dramatically. A bit like a yeast in a sugar solution which keeps expanding until it dies in its own excretion, unfettered mass car transportation as a city grows is self limiting/ self destructive. That is why congestion in the USA now costs over $300 billion, traffic speed in London is slower than Victorian times, and Americans spend an average of almost 2.5 extra working weeks sitting in their cars. This is something you aspire to?

  24. Henry Filth, 9. July 2019, 5:14

    More idle curiosity – what’s the difference between a trackless tram and a bus?

  25. John Rankin, 9. July 2019, 9:32

    @HenryFilth: a better question is, what’s the difference between a trackless tram and a light rail vehicle? To quote Newman et al (p 84):

    Trackless Trams are effectively a standard light rail set of carriages, affording all the benefits of a light rail such as a sleek aerodynamic design, multiple doors, higher ride quality, passenger safety and fixed-route land-value creation, with four additional Distinctions.
    1. Rubber on the Road […]
    2. Battery-powered […]
    3. Autonomous […]
    4. Low cost

    They go on to say (p 87, emphasis added): “If a Trackless Tram is to be able to attract value capture opportunities it must be more like a train than a bus.”

    Like a light rail, a trackless tram is a “metro-style” service:
    • 25-30km/h average speed
    Widely spaced ‘station’ platforms
    • Little to no mixing with traffic and buses: permanent, physically separated dedicated lanes
    Parking removal, traffic lane reduction
    Right turn bans: Left-in, Left-out to driveways and minor streets
    • Pre-emptive traffic signal priority

  26. Glen Smith, 9. July 2019, 9:39

    Northland. Sorry I meant on-demand car hire increases congestion. Ride sharing could theoretically reduce it if well implemented.

  27. mason, 9. July 2019, 9:47

    Henry, I think it’s a bendy bus with a cab at both ends.

  28. PCGM, 9. July 2019, 9:48

    Glen Smith – Methinks you might be cherry-picking your data to try and bolster the case for light rail to the exclusion of all other transport investments.

    For starters, you’re asserting that it’s a simple binary choice between light rail and more roads, but as other commenters have pointed out, light rail doesn’t even pretend to work for people who don’t live on the transport spine or who need to travel outside PT hours. This means that – at best – light rail is only going to deliver for a subset of Wellingtonians. And while that’s a laudable goal, it means that money will need to be spent on additional solutions that work for the rest of the city.

    The problem is, light rail is extremely expensive. The total lifetime cost of LGWM is around $6.4 billion, and – if I’m reading the material correctly – the light rail component is about 40% of this. Admittedly, this includes the operating and financing costs over the next 50 years, but it seems feasible that light rail in the capital will be as expensive as the City Rail Link in Auckland. That means it’s a once-in-a-generation investment.

    Because of the scale of the spending, LGWM and light rail will effectively “crowd out” all other transport investments in the Wellington region for at least 20 years, and possibly longer. There will simply be no money to spend on anything else, and all kinds of taxes – from rates to fuel levies and (potentially) congestion charges – will have risen dramatically. There will neither be the fiscal headroom nor the public appetite to continue spending money like water. Plus, plenty of people who get no-to-low benefits from the light rail system will be paying significantly to build and operate it.

    And as I keep pointing out, all that spending simply won’t achieve the stated goal of a 43% reduction in emissions by 2030. To state the obvious, we don’t have a congestion emergency or a public transport emergency, we have a climate emergency. Debating whether or not there will be some additional congestion by 2041 is entirely academic if we’ve fried the planet by then.

    So while public transport and light rail are going to be essential components of addressing the climate crisis, we can’t afford to blow the entire budget on a partial solution. EVs are only a short to medium-term fix, but they will work before light rail arrives and for the people that it’s never going to service. We need both, and we need the short-term solution before the long-term solution.

  29. CPH, 9. July 2019, 11:29

    Glen Smith – The only reason on-demand car hire companies like Uber increase congestion is because the bus service is slow, expensive and inconvenient. That is a public transport problem rather than an Uber problem so if you wish to see less congestion then fixing the buses would be a first step.

  30. Dave B, 9. July 2019, 12:57

    @ PCGM. Leaving aside the so-called climate emergency for the moment, I fear you are tending to talk-down the potential benefits of rail development and talk up the likely costs. And I say this as one (the only one?) who is not advocating light rail but more of the rail we already have, which will cost more than at least some versions of light rail. So please bear with my dropping the prefix “light” before every mention of “rail”.

    You claim that rail “doesn’t work for people who don’t live on the transport spine”. But please take a look at the Hutt Valley, the Porirua Basin and the Kapiti Coast, where rail proves enormously beneficial despite most homes not being immediately adjacent to a station. Any spinal public-transport service will have a “catchment”. This catchment comprises a walk-up radius (generally 0-1½Km for rail, less for bus), a cycling catchment (½-4Km), and a driving catchment (½-5Km+)(all my estimates). There may also be other PT services which feed the spinal service at hubs (shining example: Porirua). So an awful lot of residents can benefit from the spinal service. According to GWRC’s 2015 Regional Land Transport Plan, 45% of all commuters to the CBD from the region north of Wellington City come by train. This represents a truly massive PT mode-share, and it makes a massive difference to traffic volumes, road-spending and of course carbon-emissions. But these benefits don’t happen where there is no rail.

    South of Wellington’s CBD are approximately 100,000 residents who have only a mediocre bus-service which uses the same congested roads as cars. The proportion of CBD commuters who use PT from these areas was only 29% in 2015, and this figure has probably fallen since the bustastrophe.

    The officially-proffered “solution” for this PT-deprived area is a spinal motorway, known as 4-Lanes-to-the-Planes. This is not going to reduce traffic volumes, nor is it even intended to do so, but rather to somehow make traffic flow better (everywhere?) in spite of encouraging more of it. Many are saying this is a futile quest. And along with its ugly-sister motorway developments already happening to the north of Wellington, it will cost $Billions. Does the alternative of a Hutt-Valley-Line or Kapiti-Line type of rail-service to this southern area, and of course one that permits through-connectivity thus ‘joining up’ the region and massively boosting PT-mode-share, not sound like a better alternative than continuing to pour $Billions down the Gully-trap for a traffic-encouraging not-solution? Because I strongly suggest it will be one or the other. Rather than comparing the cost of a “Wellington City Rail Link” with Auckland’s, we should be comparing this with the long-term cost of continuing down the car-dominated path.

    As for the part that electric vehicles have to play, yes, it would be good to convert the entire fleet away from fossil-fuels, but the longer-term adverse-effects of hugely-scaled-up EV usage are unknown. We should be wary of putting blind faith in simply replacing every FF vehicle with a BEV to solve our emergency. I suggest that our city and planet do not want vehicle numbers to keep growing. However they inevitably will do if all we do is change the energy-source. We should be looking at what other countries are doing – some not so very different to our own. Rail, light and conventional figure prominently. So also do trolleybuses! Battery-electric vehicles are only a part of the story. There are also vital benefits to be had from curbing our over-dependence on private cars. This is do-able, and our existing rail system shows how.

  31. Donald T., 9. July 2019, 13:09

    Well I never – drunken scooter riders? Courtenay Place here we scoot anyone? And think what will happen, if and when pot is legalised.

  32. Russell Tregonning, 10. July 2019, 13:52

    Dave B is onto it. Light rail along the spine with frequent linking buses, or trackless trams in the suburbs, will be transformative for almost all. Although car use is very convenient, it is so wasteful of city space and is climate and health hostile. New roads should not be built now. There is a climate emergency–how do people who deny that fact feel they can argue with climate scientists who spend their lives examining the science?
    LGWM has been going about 5 years now. Enough already. We need rapid decisions and light rail quickly.

  33. Henry Filth, 10. July 2019, 20:28

    Thanks John, much appreciated.

  34. Kerry, 11. July 2019, 10:51

    PCGM, Glen & Dave – A few misconceptions here: take a look at the MRCagney papers released by LGWM. They propose that all but two bus routes south of the Hospital and Evans Bay, and east of Island Bay Parade, will terminate at light rail hubs at Miramar, Kilbirnie and the Hospital. The two routes to be retained are:
    — Route 2, cut back from Seatoun to Kilbirnie, and extended on the existing Route 3, to Lyall Bay and on to Houghton Bay or Rongotai.
    — Route 21, extended from Courtenay Place to the Hospital, Kilbirnie and Miramar.

    This will have big effects:
    — Faster and more reliable trips, everywhere south and east of the Hospital.
    — Remaining local buses on the Miramar Peninsular reduced to two figure-of-eight loops centred on Miramar (inner and outer) connecting to light rail or Route 21.
    — Cost savings from shorter routes and fewer buses will allow better frequency and longer hours on remaining routes.
    — Routes 2 and 21, both going to Karori, past either the Railway Station or Courtenay Place and Kelburn. They will drastically reduce the number of passengers who would otherwise have to change twice.
    — A good service past the Hospital will allow more staff, visitors and patients to use public transport.
    — A good service to the Airport will reduce congestion on SH 1.

    But the biggest saving of all will be fewer buses on the golden mile, improving timekeeping and reliability. Wellington’s biggest single public transport problem is that the golden mile is grossly overloaded. Any alternative route must create crippling motor traffic circulation, obstructing light rail construction, or both.

    Light rail needs to be opened as soon as reasonably possible, say by 2030, because the buses cannot really be improved until it is open. Bus Rapid Transit is no good because it will need four lanes (where?) and Trackless Trams are unproven, high-risk and perhaps lacking capacity. That leaves cost, and LGWM’s figures, given to MRCagney, come from the outfit that peer-reviewed the Spine Study, and will need checking.

    In stark contrast, French figures from Montpellier show that light rail is cheaper than conventional buses, if it is carrying more than about 3500 passengers an hour at the peak. Montpellier did it in about 8 years, and Wellington should not be far behind. See article here.

    Of course, there will be objections to hubs, reasonable from Wellington experience, but obstructive and unreasonable for a much-improved system. Wellington can have far better hubs, and cannot operate a rational public transport system without them. The golden mile is overloaded because there is still no proper system of hubs, and the timekeeping needed make them work.

  35. D.W., 11. July 2019, 11:34

    The French are notorious for dodgy accounting. I would not trust any of their figures. Now the Germans or the Brits yes. I wonder how cost-effective Blackpool’s tram service is?
    Get used to it but Light Rail will be more expensive than buses both in terms of capital costs and operational costs. If Central Government will pay the difference, then okay let’s go for it. If not, can all those on or near the corridor please pay the extra? LRT will not be any use to me so I don’t want to pay for it!

  36. Greenwelly, 11. July 2019, 11:50

    @Kerry, but the kicker is that to make the Taranaki St Corridor work, it would need to be closed to through traffic, and to do that they need to two way Vivian Street. These plans are dated 2018 and appear to assume the Te Aro tunnel, removing SH1. The 2019 decision to leave SH1 on its existing Vivian Street route must surely necessitate a major re examination of some proposals through Te Aro. (+ at the Basin)

  37. Peter Kerr, 11. July 2019, 14:52

    I take it you’re referring to the Panama Canal, D.W. N’est-ce pas?

  38. D.W., 11. July 2019, 15:32

    @PK non! Je voudrais mentionner en particulier le train léger et du coût élevé vis a vis du autobus. N’est-ce pas?

  39. Peter Kerr, 11. July 2019, 17:35

    Touché, DW.

  40. Dave B, 11. July 2019, 19:55

    @ Kerry, you state that “Wellington’s biggest single public transport problem is that the golden mile is grossly overloaded”. I would suggest that the biggest single public transport problem is that the regional rail system fails to serve a major part of the region. I would suggest that reducing regional traffic problems by fixing this public-transport-lack is overall the biggest transport priority. Unfortunately neither LGWM nor FIT appears to factor in the regional dimension to Wellington’s problem. LGWM’s “answer” is more roading. What is FIT’s answer?

    A proper regional solution that connects the rest of the region to the isolated “Southern Quarter” directly by rail would automatically reduce bus-requirements in the CBD. However FIT’s proposal for a light rail system local to Wellington City-only will do very little to impact traffic problems which have their source in the Hutt Valley, Porirua and Kapiti Coast. Or does FIT take the view that 4 Lanes to the Planes is the best answer for this?

    For those unfamiliar with the acronyms, LGWM = Let’s Get Wellington Moving, and FIT = Fair Intelligent Transport.

  41. PCGM, 12. July 2019, 17:01

    Kerry – Reading your comment, I’m left wondering if you actually read the article at all!

    You may be completely correct about the technicalities of bus and light rail integration, but that wasn’t actually the subject at hand. The challenge is emphatically not Golden Mile congestion or public transport route efficiency, but the entirely obvious issue that – as per the Council’s own plan – we need urgent action to reduce our emissions by 43% by 2030. And in that context, both the LGWM, planning and the discussion around public transport improvements seems to be either an exercise in magical thinking, or – less politely – fiddling while the planet burns.

  42. Benny, 12. July 2019, 18:04

    I’m surprised DW’s comment on French supposedly dodgy accounting (and then on Germans and Brits) has gone through, it’s unnecessary and grossly wrong. Have you lived in France DW? Probably not. It’s sad as this was an interesting discussion on an important topic until that comment.

  43. D.W., 13. July 2019, 9:30

    Benny – I suggest you check the funding and finance of TGV, and then think about how France deals with utility diversion costs which makes its LRT look cheap. This summary is worth a spin through.

  44. Kerry, 13. July 2019, 19:51

    DW & PCGM. You are both right to some extent.

    DW — French accounting is a bit iffy on light rail, because they ignore underground services: that is the way French costs are allocated.
    But this is nothing compared with studies in NZ, for example choosing GW choosing BRT over light rail, because BRT is so cheap that it is useless. And Trackless Trams at 10% of the cost of light rail are just as bad.

    PCGM — I had read you article, and I agree with it, but I was responding more to other comments. Electrifying motor vehicles is certainly part of the solution, but it seems to me that good public transport is at least equally important.
    A good strategy is to attack both ends at the same time, in this case fewer cars because of good PT, and fewer emissions from the remaining vehicles because of electrification.
    And attack the middle as well: walking safety and crossing delays, cycle-ways, and so on.
    LGWM has been producing some great stuff on street layouts for people-capacity, not car capacity.

  45. Mason, 13. July 2019, 20:56

    Lgwm needs to start producing a lot more to dissuade the more-roads-is-good narrative for talkback radio/whaleoil voters who need to be convinced the status quo is not good.