Wellington Scoop

A moving transport manifesto

Lest the hard-working contributors to wellington.scoop (or its clever community of commenters) ever be accused of not offering solutions to the city’s transport woes, here’s a biased but practical zero-carbon manifesto for moving around our fair city in the decades ahead.

Firstly: let’s be clear about the problems we need to address.

The most obvious of these is the climate emergency, while the efficiency of our transport network is the second priority – which makes sense when we think about it. As Greta Thunberg has said: our house is burning and we need to act decisively and quickly if we want to pass a habitable planet to our descendants – so all other objectives need to play second fiddle. But thankfully, many of the solutions that will help the climate emergency will also improve the city, so there are plenty of opportunities to do two things at the same time.

As the Wellington City Council’s Te Atakura – First to Zero strategy notes, transport comprises 58% of our emissions and we need to decrease those by 43% by 2030 – barely more than a decade from now. We need some immediate actions that are going to have real impacts, rather than just more talk about long-term plans that may or may not come to fruition.

So here’s a practical manifesto for change that we could start on tomorrow.

Step 1: Don’t make the problem worse
The obvious first thing to do is to stop adding fuel to the fire – we should not be doing the things that will make our emissions worse, either in the short term or the long term. That means:

1. Stop planning for all new roads. If the roads are partly-built then it probably makes sense to finish them – but all those putative upgrades to the State Highways and the Grenada link road and the four lanes to the planes and all the rest of it? They need to stop, forthwith. From here on through, the only money that should get spent on roads is for maintenance.

2. Reform the Regional Council and replace it with a Transport Authority. As highlighted by Guy Marriage, we need an integrated approach to the trains and buses and ferries and roads, and that can only happen effectively if there is a single responsible agency. Right now, the GWRC is an obstacle to getting a transport network that works better, and the vast majority of the actions it has taken in the last few years – from destroying the trolley bus network to the bustastrophe – have increased emissions at the very point in history when they need to be decreased. Getting GWRC out of the way will probably require Parliament to legislate, but this should be started as soon as possible.

3. Set phase-out dates for fossil fuels in public transport. We need to be sending a clear signal to public transport providers that fossil-fuelled buses and trains and ferries have a finite life-span … say, 2025 or so. And we need to provide incentives to move to hydrogen and electricity for the operators so they don’t go broke in the process.
4. Cancel the airport extension. Well duh.

There are some additional steps that would make a difference, such as setting phase-out dates for fossil fuelled cars, vans and trucks – but many of those items are things that only the government can fix at a national level, so we’ll leave them off the list for now … with the caveat, of course, that Wellington should be lobbying furiously for those things at the Beehive.

Step 2: Make short-term changes fast
The next step is to pull down emissions as quickly as possible to meet the 43%-by-2030 goal the scientists tell us we need. That’s going to involve changing behaviours – but we need to do this in a way that doesn’t punish people financially, and that shares the burden and inconvenience around so there’s some fairness to the steps we take.

5. Decarbonise the bus fleet, ASAP. Enough with the testing and the trials, we need to change the diesels for hydrogen and electricity as a matter of urgency. The technology may not be perfect or as cheap as fossil fuels, but it’s good enough and can be made to work with a bit of planning. This means we may have to pay operators to replace their old buses with new ones, increase route subsidies and build new hydrogen and charging infrastructure – but so be it. Maybe we even need to reinstate trolley buses.
6. Electrify the car fleet, ASAP. For most people in most situations, today’s battery electric vehicles are good enough to take the kids to school and get people to work and go to the supermarket. The councils can’t do much about mandating EV use, but they need to proactively install chargers wherever possible and enable basic bits of infrastructure, such as on-curb charging for people who need a car but don’t have a garage. And this is another area where the councils should be lobbying the Beehive for the tools to introduce emissions-free zones, congestion charging that penalises fossil fuelled vehicle and the like.
7. Roll out the cycleways, ASAP. There’s already a plan and part of a network in place, but it can be accelerated. Here’s a wild idea: instead of spending money on a convention centre which will add to emissions, how about we spend the money on an accelerated cycleway and pedestrian plan instead? That way, emissions will go down rather than up …
8. Pedestrianise as much of the city as possible, ASAP. There’s been talk of pedestrianising Lambton Quay for decades, so we could just go ahead and do that. We could also take a look at the city and what makes it work and not work for people on foot, and prioritise walking over driving. So far the WCC has been much talk and little action in this area, but we could spend some actual money and turn the dreams of people like Living Streets into action.
9. Use as many carrots as possible, and as few sticks as possible. There seems to be a desire to punish some groups of people for ideological reasons: the WCC apparently hates car drivers of all stripes, the GWRC seemingly detests pubic transport users and has punished them with higher and higher fares. This needs to stop – at the moment, it takes a great deal of intestinal fortitude to do the right thing and take the bus or ride your bike or walk the length of the city, and while councils have been excellent at applying sticks to the behaviours they apparently don’t want, they’ve been universally terrible at encouraging the behaviours they do want. EV drivers need chargers; cyclists need joined-up cycleways; pedestrians need walkable cities. None of these things are going to be fixed just by putting up bus fares or parking charges. We need to move to a mindset of encouraging and assisting good behaviours rather than heaping costs and fines and insults on the people who need help to transition to a low-carbon way of living.

Step 3: Look to the future
We’re only going to make a dent in our emissions if we do something about the fossil fuelling of our private car and public transport fleet in the short term, but we need a better plan than that in the medium-to-long term (by which we mean 10-20 years hence). That probably means a public transport network that is all joined up, in a city that has incentives to be much more compact.

10. Design for a more compact city. To its credit, the WCC is planning for major population growth in the CBD, but to make this a reality the problem of insurance and the perhaps unrealistic expectations about earthquake strengthening will need to get sorted. Admittedly, these are as much central government problems as local government ones, so the mayor and councillors need to form an orderly queue at the door of the relevant government ministers. In the meantime, things like the District Plan will need to reflect the intentions as quickly as possible.
11. Figure out the best approach south of the railway station, based on emissions profile. At the moment the discussion around light rail and/or roading upgrades revolves around issues like congestion and cost, which – while they’re important – aren’t going to stop the planet burning. So the long-term decisions need to be focused on making sure that these major investments have an emissions profile of exactly zero.

12. Actually get Wellington moving. So far, it’s taken nearly 5 years of chat to get LGWM to the point where we (mostly) have a route but no decision on the type of public transport (light rail? Trackless trams? Flocks of e-scooters?). Bluntly, that’s not good enough – it only took 6 years to defeat Hitler and 7 years to land a man on the moon. The excessive delays from LGWM seem to be a lack of courage and leadership from mayors and councillors, who seem to regard talking as an acceptable substitute for doing. They need to either make decisions quickly – and then stick by them – or vacate their chairs for the people who will.

And it’s the final point that is the important one.

We know the necessary changes can be made in the time available, but they are going to require decisive and courageous leadership at the council tables. The question is, are the current crop up to the job? To use an analogy from an earlier crisis, do we have a collection of Chamberlains, or a collection of Churchills?


  1. Mark Shanks, 7. August 2019, 11:07

    I am in total agreement with this magnificent manifesto and the candidates for the upcoming local body elections must fully endorse it. If they can’t, then they need to stand aside.

  2. David Mackenzie, 7. August 2019, 11:34

    I too find this a model solution. Vote for any candidate whose intentions approximate this manifesto.

  3. Ralf, 7. August 2019, 12:02

    Electrifying our bus network is probably a ship that has sailed, since the contracts in place run until 2028. So only after 2028 can we start going to 100%.
    Obviously if we throw money at Transdev and NZBus they will happily switch, but I am not sure how that works with ratepayers/voters.

    Cycleways: Lol. These will be built only where they will not impact on car owners (e.g. the seawall/cycleway between Petone and Wellington). Our politicians do not have the spine to stand up to angry voters. You have to flip the script, and build the cycleways because, once built, removing them will be difficult (see Madrid where the new right-wing local government wanted to remove the city centre restrictions on car usage and that is now on hold because of backlash since enough locals like the better air and livable streets). This is difficult in NZ since we have elections every three years and going through the consultation phase and building something takes a whole cycle. So as a politician you are out of the job before you can enjoy the fruits of your labor (which happened to the left-wing Madrid government as well).

    Not building any new roads, airport extension: That is the only thing we can hope for, since we have the same condition as with cycleways. Building new roads needs to overcome angry voters and we should be at a point where Wellington has enough of them.

  4. John Rankin, 7. August 2019, 14:57

    Suppose we elect city and regional council majorities that broadly support this manifesto. What would happen if there is a change of government at next year’s election or the one after? Would it survive? Or would we get RoNS 2.0 imposed?

    I’d add a step 13: “Protect the manifesto from those who try to kill it.”

  5. Dave B, 7. August 2019, 17:05

    Ratepayers shouldn’t have to pay for re-establishment of the trolleybus infrastructure. The councilors who ordered its destruction should be made to pay for it out of their own estates. They actually contracted people to tear down the perfectly-good wiring and cut it up. Make them pay for the damage they did, like any other vandals caught in the act. Oh, and also get them to reimburse the ratepayers’ funds they paid to the contractors to carry out this vandalism.

  6. Benny, 7. August 2019, 19:04

    This manifesto is amazing, and I fully support it. Two caveats, however:

    1. My understanding is that the WCC is planning for growth in outer suburbs of the CBD, not in the CBD (as per the recent consultation process “Plan for Growth”. I have some views on how the consultation was carried, but I won’t digress). That doesn’t impact much of the outcome, but thought I should clarify;

    2. The airport amounts for 25% of Wellington’s emissions. I would include it in this manifesto and suggest its emissions are capped at its current level today, with a steep reduction of this cap in years to come. Clean flying technology is unlikely to catch-up at the same rate, so this clearly goes against the airport’s growth plans (with hope/expectations traffic will have doubled by 2030). So they won’t like it. But we need to put environment first here, and apply to jets the same policies that have been applied to cars in Europe, with more and more stringent fuel economy standards. And as for Wellington airport, a clear cap to emissions as to where they are today.

  7. Northland, 7. August 2019, 19:07

    Can we stop conflating roads with pollution. I don’t think we should stop building roads. But we do need to move to a fully EV fleet. Roads connect communities and people in a way that public transport can’t. Rural communities, tradespeople, emergency services, people travelling early in the morning or late at night. etc etc. And if the population is going to grow, we’re going to need more / better roads. Kill the petrol car, don’t kill the road.

  8. Dave B, 7. August 2019, 22:06

    @ Northland: We’ve got enough roads already. They are adequate for the vast majority of the time. Where they are overloaded, public transport could, should, and to an extent already does take up the slack.
    More public transport will not take away roads. However more roads will very likely mean no major public transport initiatives which are sorely needed. Just a continuation of the strategy that unrealistically expects cars to meet all our transport needs. Excessive car-dependency has caused massive problems and we need to break the habit, not just change the power source.

  9. Gillian Tompsett, 8. August 2019, 14:08

    “Obviously if we throw money at Transdev and NZBus they will happily switch, but I am not sure how that works with ratepayers/voters.”

    @ Ralf. Electrifying the buses is not an issue that’s sailed. I attended and gave a submission at the GWRC sustainable transport committee yesterday and the only thing stopping it is getting the right mix of councillors elected, with Daran Ponter replacing Barbara Donaldson (and getting rid of some of the dead wood in the region, including Swain who couldn’t be arsed getting off his iPad throughout the public submission process).

    “Ratepayers/voters” aren’t a monolithic body that all adhere to one point of view that’s averse to paying taxes. I’m very happy to pay my share to get good public infrastructure. If there’s anything we all seem to agree on, it’s the desire to see actual progress, rather than hot air from policy-makers and indecision.

    Lastly, framing it as a left/right-wing issue is a bit old hat these days. Climate change is a non-partisan issue. A good place to start is to get as many diesel buses off the road with some good incentives. Carrots always work better than sticks.

  10. CPH, 8. August 2019, 17:25

    Electrifying the buses should be a straightforward process providing the right financial incentives are in place for the operators.The current contracts are a problem, but organisations start and end and renegotiate and break contracts every day and that is just part of normal commercial life.

    There is no valid commercial reason why we couldn’t have an entirely electrical bus fleet within the next five years, but I don’t believe that the current crop of GWRC councillors have either the skills or the motivation to achieve such a thing. They seem completely unconcerned about climate change.

  11. PCGM, 8. August 2019, 17:32

    Mark Shanks, David Mackenzie and others – thanks for the kind comments. Just for the record, the entire manifesto is free and open source … that’s free as in free beer, and open source as in anyone can borrow, repurpose and reuse to the outer limits of plagiarism, with no attribution or payment required. Regard the entire thing as just another wellington.scoop contribution to our city’s civic society.

    And in truth, wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if even a few candidates stood up for this kind of practical approach to our climate emergency?

  12. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 8. August 2019, 21:36

    I think it’s fair to say that my “intentions approximate this manifesto”, to quote David Mackenzie.

    My main points of departure are that I don’t subscribe to the absolutely-no-new-roads philosophy – I think some exceptions are warranted for network resilience, road safety and/or public transport carrying capacity etc – and I am not (yet) convinced that the disestablishment of GWRC is called for, lest we end up with unintended consequences such as a larger and less-accountable transport bureaucracy. The regional council has been responsible for public transport for 30 years, and through most of that time it has coordinated a reasonable public transport network, albeit one that arguably hasn’t grown, modernised and decarbonised sufficiently through the last five or ten years, even before the unfortunate 2018 bus network changes.

    But yes to the re-electrification of the buses (by battery) or conversion to hydrogen or whatever is more environmentally friendly; yes to walking and cycling and a more compact, walkable & cycleable city; yes to electric cars, vans and trucks; and a huge yes to game-changing mass transit, as quickly as humanly possible.

  13. Mike Mellor, 8. August 2019, 21:41

    This manifesto makes a lot of sense, and a few comments from me:

    1. Stop planning for all new roads.
    Agreed, and @Northland is sadly mistaken in trying to stop conflating roads with pollution. Tyres on roads are significant producers of particulates, a health hazard for which there is no safe limit.

    2. Reform the Regional Council and replace it with a Transport Authority.
    This will not be a quick fix, so highly unlikely to be in Step 1 (or perhaps even Step 2). A much quicker fix that would eliminate the inter-council bickering and create a single agreed strategy would be to take a leaf out of Waikato’s book and form a joint committee of the regional, city and district councils, represented in proportion to their public transport needs and usage, and NZTA, to provide governance for the whole region. This would take over the functions of GWRC’s Sustainable Transport Committee and the PT-related functions of the other councils (e.g. bus stops and bus priority). It would not require legislation, and a similar model already exists locally in the form of Wellington Water.

    5. Decarbonise the bus fleet, ASAP.
    Fortunately @Ralf is mistaken in thinking that this ship has sailed: there is a current (and urgent) opportunity, since a large part of the NZ Bus fleet is overdue for replacement. GWRC and NZ Bus are apparently negotiating, but progress is glacial (probably not helped by the imminent sale of NZ Bus). This needs to be kicked into action, including replacing the 95 Euro3 and Euro4 buses/84 “interim” buses (including the ex-Auckland old dungers), many 15 years old, that have been inflicted on Wellington city and Eastbourne.

    11. Figure out the best approach south of the railway station, based on emissions profile.
    This must cover all emissions, including the particulates created by tyre and road wear – see the Guardian article linked above.

    12. Actually get Wellington moving.
    In terms of the process, certainly – but not necessarily in terms of physical movement. Movement by itself is pointless: it’s where that movement gets us to that’s important. We should be focusing on accessibility – i.e. getting to where we want to get to – rather than moving for the sake of it. Let’s Get Wellington Moving should really be Let’s Make Wellington Accessible, for both people and freight.

    The manifesto is a generous and positive contribution to the local election landscape, and all candidates should be presented with the challenge of accepting it.

  14. PCGM, 8. August 2019, 22:24

    Chris Calvi-Freeman – Thanks for your contribution. However, it’s hard to reconcile your statement that “some [road building] exceptions are warranted for network resilience, road safety and/or public transport carrying capacity etc” with the declaration of a climate emergency. Either we have an emergency or we don’t, and if it’s serious enough that practically all of the WCC councillors voted to declare one, then obviously that’s incompatible with spending the extra carbon it would take to build new roads, let alone the extra carbon that would result from the induced demand from the additional vehicle traffic that would result. And therein lies the problem with the current WCC approach to climate change – it appears that there is indeed an emergency, but that action is only going to be taken if it doesn’t interfere with pet projects and/or existing plans. Which makes the declaration appear rather like some extra-special greenwashing in an election year, unfortunately. It appears from WCC’s own consultations that Wellingtonians would like it to be taken a bit more seriously than that.

    Mike Mellor – Your proposal re GWRC for how public transport arrangements could be reformed is clever, and appears to be much easier from a legislative point of view than merely consigning the regional council to the fly-blown dumpster of history to which is most clearly belongs. Your idea is a sensible and pragmatic solution, and given the speed at which the climate is changing, sensible and pragmatic solutions should be welcomed with open arms.

  15. Roy Kutel, 8. August 2019, 23:13

    No – bite the bullet and abolish GWRC now as we have too many politicians and ‘planners’ stopping Wellington ever getting moving.

    Waikato doesn’t have a rail system to speak of and its diesel buses aren’t much to rave about either. A PTA is what is needed. Keep road maintenance with NZTA and the city/district councils.

  16. Ross Clark, 9. August 2019, 3:08

    Something that I would include (and have mentioned several times before): controlling and then cutting the volume of CBD parking, especially commuter parking.

    Or doesn’t anyone have the capacity to do that? The point is that buses are a far more effective use of road space than cars, yet no-one is prepared to seriously clamp down on the use of the latter. Thoughts?

  17. PCGM, 9. August 2019, 12:29

    Ross Clark – A significant reduction in CBD parking has already occurred, courtesy of the Kaikoura earthquake closing 3,500 car parks in various parking buildings. As we remarked at the time, this would have been a great opportunity for GWRC to offer some incentives – like discounted monthly passes, for instance – for people to change their habits and move to public transport. They didn’t do this, naturally.

    And this rather goes to point 9 above – we should be using as many carrots as possible rather than just using sticks all the time. Yes, we could immediately make parking really expensive, but unless there’s some concerted effort to help people make the transition to buses – perhaps starting by running a competent bus service – then the only effect will be to financially punish families, some of whom are in no position to afford the impacts.

  18. lindsay, 9. August 2019, 12:36

    I remember that when large areas of car parking were closed down on the waterfront, some motorists complained that they’d have nowhere to go. The reality was different: fewer cars seeking parking spaces in the city. No parking problem. It’ll be the same when/if our councillors get the courage to ban parking on the city’s narrow streets.

  19. Mason, 9. August 2019, 13:23

    I suspect if onstreet parking was removed and roads prioritised for movement instead of storage we might not even need lgwm.

  20. Concerned Wellingtonian, 9. August 2019, 15:33

    It would be a real help if the buses were fixed.

  21. Dave B, 9. August 2019, 19:47

    @ Mason. Very good point. The costs of allowing on-street car-parking, in terms of constriction of the available road-width, rarely gets talked-about. And yet it has a notably degrading effect on the efficiency of roads to actually carry traffic. This represents a real cost. And yet much on-street parking is provided free and is seen by many as a ‘right’.

  22. Ross Clark, 9. August 2019, 20:29

    @PGCM. Yeah, but thirty-plus years in this industry has taught me: if people can drive, they will. It doesn’t matter how good the parallel public transport services are, because you only get high rates of public transport use (a) when a good-to-excellent service is provided and (b) when the parallel car use is constrained as well. If there is a good or even excellent PT system and free- and freeish-flowing car traffic, people will stick with their cars.

    What is needed to improve bus services? Simply, more bus lanes. Where I live in the UK, they have made a huge different to the market, and ensured that the per capita use made of buses in the city is 250 trips/ person/year, compared with about 110 or so for Wellington city urban area.

  23. Northland, 10. August 2019, 9:47

    Agree with Chris Calvi-Freeman, we’re still going to need some new roading / planning for network resilience, road safety and/or public transport carrying capacity etc. Simply stopping all new roading doesn’t make sense if the population of New Zealand doubles / triples – which it will. There are also critical safety concerns on many roads in New Zealand that need to be addressed and that will involve spending.

    EVs must be regarded as a step-up from petrol vehicles and an enabler for meeting climate change goals. Norway and Sweden seem to be happy to promote their use.

  24. PCGM, 10. August 2019, 10:28

    Ross Clark – You’e right that the availability of space (either road space or parking space or both) does induce driving. My point was solely that our esteemed leaders have become very good at sticks and rather poor at carrots, and taking that approach with parking will simply add to the already substantial costs of living in Wellington.

    Hitting people with costs they can’t believably avoid tends to be one of those “let them eat cake!” moments, which quickly erodes the social license for making changes. Most people don’t mind being encouraged to alter behaviours, but if you’re being hit with new charges where there aren’t alternatives, then that looks much less like encouragement and a lot more like punishment. Given the imperatives of the climate emergency, we need everyone to come on the journey and change the way we live, so we need to be very careful we don’t alienate people and make their lives worse as the first step.

  25. Ms Green, 10. August 2019, 19:11

    Hey why don’t we get all vehicles – buses, cars, trackless trams, trucks , light rail – out to the perimeter of the city….a ring road that it nearly is anyway. Then leave all the inner city to pedestrians, cyclists, electric scooterers, motor scooters, disability scooters, and skateboarders. “Inner City” is Lambton, Willis, Featherston, Cuba, Tory, Courtenay, and all the little side streets for starters. Maybe add light rail in the inner city.

    Just asking, but that sure would get Wellington moving….and differently, by keeping some cars out and forcing increased use of public transport.

  26. Henry Filth, 10. August 2019, 22:24

    As far as I can see, history shows a trend of people wanting convenient transport, be it chariot, horse, stagecoach, tram, bicycle, bus, car, Segway, whatever. Expecting that trend to reverse seems like pushing string uphill. If I live in (say) Miramar, and work in central Wellington, then I’m very likely to use public transport for that journey. But if I live in Miramar and want to visit a friend in (say) Kelson, then I’m very likely to use a car for that journey. I don’t care if the car is powered by petrol, electricity, or serfs pedaling their little hearts out, what I want is the convenience. Which public transport, with its relentless radial, high-volume fixation, doesn’t give me.

  27. Humphrey H, 13. August 2019, 22:03

    It’s got some good points, but also several that will leave people with accessibility issues fairly stranded. Would want to work on something that didn’t restrict the independence of my peers in the disability community that aren’t the best pedestrians.

  28. John Rankin, 14. August 2019, 8:26

    @HenryFilth: take that thought a bit further. In a modern city, especially one like Wellington where space is a scarce resource, we need to move as many people as possible using as few vehicles as possible. That means making public and active transport convenient for most people for most trips. Traffic congestion is not the result of your driving from Miramar to Kelson and back once a week.

    It also means, as WCC plans, growth needs to happen through commercial and residential development along corridors where public and active transport are the convenient choice. I would expect that you will one day soon subscribe to a vehicle-sharing service like Mevo, choosing this as the most convenient and cost-effective way to get to Kelson from Miramar. But that only makes sense if public and active transport can meet most of your mobility needs.

    Wellington is arriving late to this approach to urban living, but better late than never. Fortunately, the shape of the city makes it easier to do than in many places, if we have the will. As the manifesto says, we have a climate emergency and we need to act.

  29. Ralf, 14. August 2019, 10:55

    Thank you for the feedback on my comment that electrifying buses is a lost cause. I would be happy to be proven wrong (in action not in words). I note that there is some discussion on parking as well. I hope you all gave feedback.

  30. John Rankin, 14. August 2019, 11:27

    PS @HenryFilth: with reference to transport, what exactly does “convenient” mean to you? It’s probably not the same as “convenient” for @HumphreyH. One size does not fit all needs. A possible working definition of “convenient” is that people have freedom to choose from a range of transport options, having regard to the total cost, including future climate, environment and health costs.

  31. Henry Filth, 16. August 2019, 5:59

    I’m selfish. Convenience means getting where I want to go, when I want to go there, at the lowest cost, as comfortably as possible, and with the least effort. Like many, many, people, I have become used to the convenience of radial public transport to get to work in central Wellington. And like many many people, I have become used to the inconvenience of using public transport for non-radial journeys.
    Out of idle curiosity, is there a difference between public transport and mass transit?

  32. John Rankin, 16. August 2019, 10:41

    @HenryFilth asks: “is there a difference between public transport and mass transit?”

    Start with the north American term “transit” which pretty much equals our public transport. It can be like a regular bus or streetcar (what we used to call a tram); low volume (ie not “mass”) like a neighbourhood shuttle or a specialist service such as for people with disabilities; high volume like a train or light rail; slow like a regular bus or tram; or fast like a train or underground (or elevated) metro. The fastest, highest capacity option is heavy rail.

    According to the previous LGWM programme director, mass transit means the same as rapid transit. That is, high volume (about 250 people capacity per vehicle or higher), frequent (at least every 10 minutes all day every day), fast (average speed about 30 kph or higher), reliable (on a dedicated corridor with priority over or separated from other vehicles and pedestrians).

    The same transit technology can be used for different kinds of service: a bus can be a slow, frequent-stop service, or an express. A light rail can be tram-style (slow and unreliable) or metro-style (fast and reliable).

    Delivering rapid transit south of the railway station is challenging, whatever technology we use. Like carving an elephant from a rock, the designers have to identify and remove all the things that aren’t rapid. The gold standard would be underground through the city centre, elevated elsewhere. The best-performing on-street urban rapid transit I think from memory is Seattle’s light rail, which achieves an average speed of almost 35 kph.

    Regardless of the technology (bus, light rail or trackless tram), the quality of the on-street corridor (distance between stations, priority at intersections, physical separation, curves, etc) largely determines the performance of the system. Transit service quality starts with the street. A bit like a house, if you don’t invest in good foundations, the house will fall down.

    Sorry you asked?

  33. Alex, 16. August 2019, 19:31

    Bravo. I would argue that electrified car dependency is hardly better than fossil fuelled. The cars are the problem. There should be no public money spent electrifying private vehicles. We should prioritise spending and effort only on sustainable modes. Electrification of the entire fleet is not only a waste of effort and time and materials, but also fails to recognise how detrimental to achieving all the other modes. Cars are what are holding everything back. We need to get over this car blindness.

  34. Ellen, 18. August 2019, 10:27

    Thanks @pcgm for your manifesto. It needs commitment from politicians. Mike M has it right when he says that movement is not the goal – a liveable city is, as Wellington people keep saying in every consultation. Let’s make it a nicer place to be instead of trying to whistle people through. And let’s hear from some more women on what we want, and some kids too.

    Let’s get the priorities right – pedestrians are at the top of the sustainable transport hierarchy – not e-scooters and ONZO bikes, which have had a serious disrupter effect on walking. EVs are grand for those who can afford them and have that choice, but don’t litter the footpath with EV chargers. Want wider footpaths? Get the street junk off footpaths – the chairs and tables, the sandwich boards and magically the footpaths will be wider – simple stuff that this council has been making decisions on in the last 3 years. Stuff that is really cheap to fix.

    The parking policy is the one initiative that is underway (LGWM is not going anywhere fast) but won’t be decided before the election! Get that right and much of the rest will flow through. All achievable things in the very short term with the political will.