Wellington Scoop

Avoiding a flyover at the Basin

by Tim Jones
For a long time, since the final defeat of the Basin Reserve flyover proposal in 2015, all we’ve had to go on are private assurances that whatever plans eventually emerged would not include a new Basin Reserve flyover. But it’s taken until the past few weeks, with the release of a slew of Let’s Get Wellington Moving reports and technical documents, to get some idea of what those plans entail.

The good news is that those private assurances have now been backed up by the publicly released information.

The roading changes proposed around the Basin do indeed seem to avoid bridges or flyovers – though there is an underpass proposed for walking and cycling use for those entering the ground from the north, and without careful design, underpasses can be exactly the sort of places pedestrians and cyclists don’t want to go.

The red line is the light rail/trackless tram/mass transit route. Click on the map for a bigger image

Click on the map for a bigger image

The redoubtable and well-informed Leviathan has put up an excellent and very informative post on the Eye of the Fish blog about LGWM’s plans for the Basin Reserve area, evidently drawing on the recently-released trove of LGWM documents, and including the two diagrams above plus drawings of how these might look in context.

The diagrams released by LGWM were developed on the assumption that Karo Drive undergrounding would be included in the funded package – but it wasn’t. So a question is: what if any design changes near the Basin will result from that?

While the overall picture of Let’s Get Welly Moving with regards to the Basin is encouraging, the level of detail available to the public remains vague enough that continued vigilance is needed – just as it is to ensure that the project meets its overall goals of reducing transport emissions, reducing dependence on private cars, and promoting walking, cycling, public transport and rapid transit.

Tim Jones is spokesperson for the Save the Basin campaign.


  1. Dave B, 9. July 2019, 21:40

    This will encourage more driving, more traffic, more emissions and more 1960’s thinking. We have enough roads. We need to stop expecting roads alone to keep Wellington Moving. That is why in 1963 and 1966 De Leuw Cather Consultants recommended that we extend our rail system to serve this part of town. They could see something we couldn’t, and we paid them for their sage advice.
    Guess what? We ignored them. We failed to follow their recommendations. And in 2019 we are still struggling with the same issue.

  2. mason, 9. July 2019, 23:54

    The main problem here seems to be how popular more new roads are with voters, despite all the issues. Politicians say what they think will get them the most votes, not what is a good idea. Changing this mindset will take decades and New Zealand is usually about twenty years behind the rest of the world.

  3. Henry Filth, 11. July 2019, 20:02

    People will use cars until public transport is convenient enough, comfortable enough, cheap enough and reliable enough.

    Until then. . . any changes will have to be imposed from “on high” and then sufficiently complained about to force the necessary improvements.

  4. Dave B, 11. July 2019, 21:56

    @ Henry. Auckland has experienced a huge upswing in public transport use since it upgraded its rail system and parts of its bus network. And this happened in stages over the last 20 years. It began with the modest replacement of totally worn-out old trains with less worn-out second-hand ones from Perth. The patronage-improvement from this was sufficient to inspire a few far-sighted politicians to build Britomart Station, which brought rail back into the heart of the CBD. As patronage continued to climb, further refurbished second-hand trains were introduced, stations were improved and single-track sections were doubled. Electrification then followed along with all-new trains, and now the long-awaited City Rail Link is finally under construction. There is also the highly-successful Northern Busway which defied its critics and succeeded. From being a public-transport basket-case in the 1990’s, now more-than 50% of all journeys to Auckland’s CBD are by Public transport.

    This is a great lesson in what can happen if politicians can throw-off the “roads-only” mentality. Wellington’s PT never sank to the dismal levels of Auckland, but there is a danger for us that complacency has set in, with no real enthusiasm to keep pushing PT forward. We have been side-tracked by the more-motorways lobby.

  5. Henry Filth, 12. July 2019, 5:10

    My point exactly, Dave.

  6. mason, 12. July 2019, 11:03

    When you add up transmission folly, kapiti expressway, Otaki to Peka Peka, peka peka to Levin, the Melling interchange, the cross valley link road, extra lanes between wellington and the Hutt, four lanes (initially) to the planes, Petone to Grenada … it sure seems like we want everything to travel almost exclusively by car. There won’t be enough money left for anything else.

  7. Dave B, 13. July 2019, 8:29

    Mason – exactly. That is what those of us who care have got to try and turn around. Steven Joyce has gone. It’s time to turn away from his misguided and damaging transport policies.

  8. Ross Clark, 17. July 2019, 21:06

    Unfortunately, people like their cars and like using them. Public transport enthusiasts, and I am one, need to remind themselves of this more often.

    The other trouble is that congestion is increasingly seen outside the journey-to-work peaks, but it is very difficult, in a city the size of Wellington, to get much uptake of any sort of public transport in the off-peak – rail included. (I suspect that the data Dave B quotes above about public transport use into Central Auckland, are for journeys to work in the peak – and on this measure, the Wellington data are comparable, even from the bus catchment).

  9. Dave B, 18. July 2019, 21:51

    Ross, Auckland rail has significantly expanded its hours of “peak operation” and is, I believe, working towards making this level-of-service the standard for all-day. The idea that public transport is only for commuting is a quaint throwback from the NZ of old and Auckland is challenging this. Wellington needs to do the same.

    The idea that “people like their cars and like using them” needs to be seen in the context of what the alternatives are. They do not like sitting stuck in traffic, and most people will make a rational choice if a better alternative is provided. I think what people want is choice. This has long been stymied in New Zealand by an excessive focus on roads, and nowhere more so than in Auckland. Now that the balance there is being righted, we are starting to see the notion that “people like their cars” as an excuse not to provide anything else, clearly unravelling.

  10. Ross Clark, 19. July 2019, 6:57

    @Dave B. Two other considerations:
    * the key factor in modal decisions is not in-vehicle journey time, where trains might well be faster, but end-to-end journey time. So yes, while people might face congestion for part of their journey, it is the length of time from where it starts to where it finishes that matters more. And in Wellington, the offpeak frequencies for the rail need to be much better than they are.
    * Auckland’s rail will work as a ‘metro’ option, because they should be able to get frequencies down to ten minutes. How feasible would that sort of frequency be for Wellington, especially offpeak?

  11. Brendan, 19. July 2019, 8:58

    Dave – but commuting is what causes all the capacity problems and why you bang on about roads being the devil incarnate. If the white collar ‘lemmings’ spread their commuting time a bit, we wouldn’t need all these extra roads and your multi-multi billion dollar rail tunnel.

  12. Dave B, 19. July 2019, 16:11

    @ Ross – there is no physical reason why Wellington could not run a service approaching peak-level intensity for much more of the day, if patronage justified it. The recent move to a 20-minute inter-peak frequency has helped (except for Johnsonville which is still stuck at ½-hourly), but plenty more could be done. A Taita-turnaround between each Upper Hutt, and a Plimmerton-turnaround between each Waikanae would give a 10-minute inner-tier frequency on these lines, and all-day Johnsonvilles every 15 minutes are do-able. The rolling stock is all there, sitting idle most of the day. The main constraints are that an occasional service might have to make way for a freight train, and all maintenance would have to take place at night.

    As regards the importance of end-end journey times, I totally agree. No use having a fast portion if the gains are undone by long walks, long waits, or time-consuming interchanging. This is one of the main reasons I advocate extending rail. We are imposing a forced-transfer from rail to an inadequate bus-service on what should be a major spinal service. This kills the concept and most travelers opt for car instead.

    @ Brendan – You are right that if (Big IF) we could spread peak travel demand over a longer time-span then we could maybe get away without any extra infrastructure. And just to be clear, I have no problem with roads per-se. I just have a problem with ‘only-roads’, more-roads, multi-multi-billion-dollar roads, and the increased, un-solvable traffic problems they create.