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Party politics and transport

by Tony Jansen
Recently one of our newly elected regional councillors called for the reintroduction of overnight sleeper trains between Wellington and Auckland.

This is a politician who was elected on a mandate to initiate meaningful change. A Green candidate. Someone whom we assumed would be responsible, smart, savvy and put an end to the time-wasting of the previous regime. Alas clearly this is not to be the case.

Are there more important transport issues in the Wellington region? Well yes, that’s obvious.

Is this an economically viable suggestion? No. Never!

Is this an environmentally friendly suggestion? Not really.

So why waste time with this sort of nonsense?

As a teenager in the 1970s, I rode the Silver Star to Auckland with a bunch of mates to see Bowie at Western Springs. Awesome.

Do we have anything like that available to resurrect? No we don’t. It would cost a small fortune to get purpose-built carriages made. And they would be powered by a polluting diesel locomotive. The cost to run the service would be large. Could we expect enough patronage to cover costs? No we could not. Very few people would use this service and the cost of tickets would most likely be prohibitive.

Wouldn’t it be far more environmentally responsible to call for the electrification of the Main Trunk line to Palmerston North so we can reduce private vehicle use into central Wellington, and our emissions and carbon footprint as well? Hell yes.

Would that be a better and more responsible call from one of our regional councillors? Hell yes! So why isn’t this idea getting publicity instead of a call for an overnight train service?

Maybe the people of the Wairarapa deserve better than the refurbished 1970s carriages that they have to endure when they use the service that KiwiRail/TransDev deems to give them. Aren’t they regional council voters too?

Is this not as important as an Auckland to Wellington overnight service? Apparently not to our new Green representative on the regional council.

Is this Party politics interfering with local needs so soon after the election? (We have seen it with the City Council.) Is this just a bit of profile building by the councillor in question? If so, why can’t he choose a more relevant and practical issue?

Whatever is going on, this is not good enough from the Wellington region’s top-polling representative. The voters deserve better than poorly thought out musings.

The next three years are pivotal for the future of the Wellington region. We cannot afford Party politics to derail our political and economic processes. Let’s start by expecting some insight and smart commentary from all our elected representatives.

Tony Jansen was a candidate in the recent local elections.

38 comments:

  1. Alan, 27. October 2019, 11:45

    Who in their right mind would want to spend 10-12 hours on a train mostly in darkness anyway. To wake up refreshed to start the day in either Wellington or Auckland – yeah right!

     
  2. Henry Filth, 27. October 2019, 21:36

    Out of idle curiosity, what was (or would be) the journey time from W to A by train? [There is a Northern Explorer train service that runs between Wellington and Auckland three times a week – aiming at tourists. The scheduled travel time is eleven hours.]

     
  3. Glen Smith, 28. October 2019, 9:03

    What a disparaging article from a failed candidate attacking a newly elected Regional Councillor who is exploring options for reducing our carbon footprint. And the carbon reduction could be large. Comparison of modes shows domestic air travel generates over 250g of CO2 equivalent per km compared to as low as 6g for efficient rail.
    Last year, after cycling the Danube to reach Vienna, we had to get to Venice. The options were staying another night in Vienna or Venice (at large expense) and having to get to and from the airport in each location (not cheap and time consuming) plus paying for flights (around $200 each from recollection) OR catching the Nightjet sleeper train which left around 10pm from near our accommodation in central Vienna (bags stored at the station) and arrived around 8am (short walk to our accommodation who stored our bags). The train was a vastly superior option both in overall cost, time (we were sleeping anyway) and carbon footprint. With NZ’s lower population this may not be a viable option here but why would we not explore it?
    You say it would ‘cost a small fortune to get purpose-built carriages made’ but ignore the cost of required airport expansion and the required capital investment in equivalent airplane capacity.
    You imply that we have to choose between this and electrifying the main trunk line to Palmerston North when I am sure that Thomas can consider both concurrently. If the main trunk line were fully electrified, the train could potentially run on carbon free electricity (dual voltage) using cheap off peak overnight capacity with almost zero fossil fuel footprint.

     
  4. Brendan, 28. October 2019, 17:37

    Why not just go on an overnight intercity coach?

     
  5. Ross Clark, 29. October 2019, 1:00

    @Glen. Answer: there are cheaper and more cost-effective ways of reducing our carbon footprint. The issue with the cost of required airport/airline expansion, is that it will be met by users – not the taxpayer, which is the case for any rail investment.

    @Brendan. Have you actually done this?! I have, and it is not recommended.

     
  6. Marion Leader, 29. October 2019, 6:39

    Do they have electric overnight coaches?

     
  7. Keith Flinders, 29. October 2019, 8:23

    Alan: As one who tried the Silver Star Wellington to Auckland in the 1970s once to see what it was like, and a second time as I couldn’t get a flight back, I can report that it was nothing like the Orient Express for service. The ride was far from smooth, with the single berth cabins cell like and cramped. I would be unable to perform the contortions 50 years on to occupy such a berth.

    The Silver Star was withdrawn due to lack of patronage and and the high costs associated with running it. The daily daylight services are now only three times a week, again due to lack of patronage. Having done the daylight journey a year ago I can highly recommend it to those who haven’t. A must do before one dies, albeit you are currently hauled all the way by a diesel locomotive.

     
  8. Keith Flinders, 29. October 2019, 8:50

    The reintroduction of the overnight rail service Wellington – Auckland has about the same chance as succeeding as Glen’s imaginative multi mode tunnel through Mt Victoria, or indeed heavy rail to the airport. None are financially viable.

    What we in Wellington need from our newly elected GWRC councillors is immediate attention to the state of the third world, around seventy nearly 20 year old, Euro 3 buses operated by NZ Bus on east – west routes spewing out pollution over 20 schools, and where the pedestrian count is the highest in the region. The Golden Mile is a polluted sewer for particulate matter and noxious gases, yet two years after the trolley buses were withdrawn only a token number of, 10 at most, battery buses operate spasmodically in Wellington City.

    Last week I received a report from the GWRC congratulating themselves for the overall reduction in pollution and carbon dioxide (their figures re CO2 are debatable). What they presented me with is the region as a whole, failing to mention that pollution levels in Wellington City have risen since the trolley buses were withdrawn. Outside Wellington City the levels have certainly dropped at the expense of those living and working here.

    At http://vault.revoltwellington.co.nz/ are charts of pollution levels taken from the GRWC’s web site both in the trolley bus era, and after the July 2018 changes when a new operator introduced its more modern fleet.

     
  9. Dave B, 29. October 2019, 11:30

    I used the former overnight “Northerner” Wgtn-Akld service a number of times in the days when it used to run. It had its advantages and I never had trouble sleeping on it. Something about the gentle rocking-motion and the relaxing ‘diddly-dum’ of the wheels perhaps. I could arrive in Auckland refreshed for the start of the day, without needing to wake up at 4:00am for the “red-eye” flight.
    I could go skiing for the weekend at Ruapehu, travelling up to Ohakune after work Friday, sleeping for a good 6 hours once off the train, skiing both Saturday and Sunday, then returning on the train in time for work Monday.
    And it came in really handy for attending a morning funeral at Otorohanga some years ago. Saved travelling the previous day and arranging a night’s accommodation and a rental car.
    And despite the “official line” that only a few people used it, each time I did it always seemed to be well-filled.
    Bring back the Northerner.

     
  10. Glen Smith, 30. October 2019, 8:01

    Brendan. Yes my daughter uses the sleeper buses but has to use a sleeping pill. I had no problem sleeping on my journey but I suspect European tracks are superior to NZ (although still better gradients and curvatures than NZ roads). Sleeper trains have been in decline but are now making a comeback (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/11/travel/europe-overnight-trains.html).(https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/sleepers_swiss-rail-operator-considers-night-train-u-turn-climate/45026054).
    Ross – ‘the cost of required airport/airline expansion…will be met by users’. Really? 30% of the road traffic to the eastern suburbs is to the airport and I think I heard somewhere that Andy Foster is planning to spend billions of taxpayer/ratepayer dollars to appease these people. This ignores pollution, noise, degradation of our open green environment etc plus the likely biggest cost -climate change- which airplane users will just happily pass on to future generations.

     
  11. Glen Smith, 30. October 2019, 8:18

    Keith. The ‘not financially viable’ argument was used to get rid of the trolleys without proper analysis or objective consideration of all option (the best being ‘off wire’ trolleys’). Yet you appear to be happy to do the same for ‘heavy’ rail (which I don’t advocate – depending on your definition) and a multipurpose tunnel.
    I see you are an engineer by training and that you aspired to be a Regional Councillor. You presumably therefore are used to assessing projects, analysing the best way to achieve the end goal and formulating practical plans to work toward that goal. You presumably have also thought about transport to the Eastern suburbs. I would therefore ask the the following questions
    1. What additional transport capacity do you think will be required by way of new tunnel space over this century and beyond. And do you think that the proposed extra 2 lanes of road will supply this? (hint the answer is no)
    2. What modes do you think will require extra tunnel space and in what proportions? Do you agree that we are going to require additional tunnel space for cycling, pedestrian, dedicated PT corridor and extra road capacity? (hint – the answer is yes)
    3. Given the need for additional tunnel space for these 4 modes, what long term solutions do you to propose to solve this problem and what is the time frame for implementing these solutions? And what is the evidence that that your solution would be more ‘financially viable’ than a multipurpose tunnel? (hint- a multipurpose tunnel is almost certainly the cheapest and least destructive way of achieving long term transport capacity to the Eastern Suburbs- finished forever- job done.)

     
  12. Kerry, 30. October 2019, 9:07

    Brendan says, “Why not just go on an overnight intercity coach?” and I agree.

    But in time, going by train might be a much better aircraft-replacement than electric buses. When the line is fully electrified, and several hour faster (much cheaper than another road) overnight sleeper trains will be worth thinking about.

    I once had to go from London to a meeting in Peterhead, north of Aberdeen and a 1200km round trip. Flying would have been a very long day, so I took the overnight train to Aberdeen, hired a car, and caught the train back in the evening; much more civilised.

     
  13. Brendan, 30. October 2019, 9:44

    Kerry just use Skype.

     
  14. Keith Flinders, 30. October 2019, 12:12

    Glen. I am not disagreeing with your ideas and concepts, but what seems best for the long term in Wellington will be discounted on the basis of cost rather than looking at the value.

    Since I came to live here in 1972, amongst other things:
    1. The piazza public space over Shell Gully to compensate for the loss of the cemetery amenity space taken for the motorway was cancelled. Reason cost.
    2. The Terrace Tunnel was built as 3 lanes only at a time when road transport was going to be allowed to expand forever. Should have been four.
    3. The Arras Tunnel was built as 3 lanes only.
    4. Karo Drive was built as a new road intersecting with existing roads, rather than being in a cut and cover tunnel.
    5. The removal of the trolley buses without looking at the actual cost to the environment, and health of Wellington citizens. I was part of a small group who tried to save the trolley buses, but the GWRC would not listen to any argument. Three of the Wellington electorate councillors elected in 2016 tried to save that mode of transport but they were reminded of their collective responsibility and that debate was terminated.

    Saving part the overhead infrastructure would have allowed In Motion Charging thus permitting electric buses to run all day, operate off the wires also, and have smaller battery banks. Instead the then recently upgraded overhead wiring was dismantled for scrap at a time when other cities were introducing/re-introducing trolley buses.

    Can we solve the eastern suburbs traffic congestion by having “4 lanes to the planes”? No. More roads lead to more traffic, and the Basin problem would remain.

    Can we solve the longer term public transport requirement by having Bus Rapid Transit? I don’t believe so. In my opinion light rail is the longer term solution but seen by the new Mayor as too expensive. Heavy rail would require a segregated corridor on safety grounds, at a massive cost of purchasing the land to achieve this.

    I certainly agree that we are going to require additional tunnel space for cycling, pedestrians, a dedicated PT corridor and some extra road capacity. Anyone using the current Mt. Victoria Tunnel risks their health, especially if walking or cycling.

    Depending upon one’s definition of rapid, we do need to plan for mass transit, rapid or just somewhat faster than now. I see light rail to the eastern suburbs eventually, although having it via Newtown/new Mount Albert tunnel is the current thinking to maximise patronage opportunities. Via existing bus tunnel/Haitaitai/Kilbirnie/Miramar would shorten the journey for the growing number of eastern suburbs PT users. Light rail via Newtown and southern suburbs could use Tory/Tasman and achieve grade separation with west bound road traffic.

    At http://briefs.flinders.nz/ are some of the thoughts I had during the 2016 election campaign, including a rather expensive option to solve the Basin traffic issue, and the trolley/electric bus situation.

     
  15. Dave B, 30. October 2019, 18:16

    Keith, it’s great that you recognize the futility of 4-lanes-to-the-planes for solving eastern suburbs congestion, but you fail to acknowledge the hindrance to regional public transport of perpetuating the “broken spine” – i.e. the inability of light rail to provide a continuous connection to the existing regional rail system. It is not reasonable to expect flows of perhaps 10,000 passengers/hr who may wish to continue from the existing system to the new, to all get out and change vehicles.

    Heavy rail can run along the Quays route if a) the route is de-trafficked and b) the rail line is boxed-over and land-scaped or otherwise developed. De-trafficking the Quays route has been mooted for years, and could be greatly facilitated by 2-waying the Innercity Bypass trench / Karo Drive / Arras Tunnel (all are wide enough for the same 2+1 lane-configuration as the Terrace Tunnel).

    Beyond Civic Square then yes, heavy rail would likely need tunneling for a significant distance and possible land-acquisition between Kilbirnie and Airport. But 4-lanes-to-the-planes also requires tunneling and land-acquisition. Why is this considered “feasible” but 4-trains-to-the-planes is not?
    This bias in the treatment of transport options needs to be rectified in order to get NZ’s transport policy properly on track.

     
  16. Brendan, 30. October 2019, 19:08

    ‘Boxed over and landscaped’? What an earth are you planning here Dave B? Have you got an artist’s impression of your proposal?

     
  17. Keith Flinders, 31. October 2019, 9:36

    Dave B. The steam train has long since left the Te Aro Station and heavy rail is not an option that I would ever expect to see extended past the current railway station. That is except for train/trams able to operate on heavy and light rail infrastructure. Even this is not as simple as it might seem.

    In terms of passenger numbers how many from the existing rail commuter network go beyond Willis Street and Courtenay Place ? Additionally how many of those would elect in all weather conditions to trek to/from a proposed Frank Kitts station.

    De-trafficking the quays would cause economic damage to the Wellington service economy. As much as I would like to see a greater uptake of public transport, if ever sufficient capacity is made available, we will still have road transport to contend with but hopefully at a slower growth rate than the population. In time this traffic will hopefully convert to being nearly all electric, albeit not in my life time.

    It would be convenient if living in Waikanae or Upper Hutt and wanting to go to the airport, if one could take the one Matangi unit to do so. Realistically a train to the current railway station and a cross platform interchange to the yet to be built light rail system can achieve the same result. Works well in places like London and other major cities where all rail services can’t all go to the same destinations.

     
  18. steve doole, 31. October 2019, 11:28

    Keith, the Terrace Tunnel was not designed as 3 lanes, only 2 with a hard shoulder, as was good practice highway design at the time – breakdowns being more common than now for instance.
    Another tunnel just to the east was prepared for southbound, but fortunately not built. A concrete deck for the motorway north of the tunnel was built, but southbound one was dropped after foundations were finished. The constructed deck is used for both northbound and southbound traffic. Some foundation blocks for southbound remain today in an area used as a car park behind offices on the Terrace.

     
  19. D.W., 31. October 2019, 13:26

    Well said Keith Flinders! Rational arguments indeed. Heavy rail will not be extended. Too expensive and too disruptive. As you say a cross platform interchange rail-LRT at the railway station is a sane idea but will depend on the cost of LRT. A decent electric bus service might prove (or disprove) the concept.

     
  20. Dave B, 31. October 2019, 14:06

    Keith, you raise some interesting points that are worth exploring, as they highlight misconceptions that the unwary regularly slip into.

    A complete absence of expectation that our heavy rail network can ever be more than it is today, sort-of becomes self-fulfilling and is at least partly responsible for the log-jam in transport-policy that we now have. What could provide the most-efficacious solution to our traffic and transportation problems is pooh-poohed, as if there is some immutable law-of-the-universe which states that the heavy rail we have today is all we will ever have. . . . But hey – it’s quite ok to go on building motorways along the same corridors! There is something very wrong in this thinking.

    As for how many rail passengers would choose to stay on the train and travel further if it were possible, this is something we will not discern by observing current travel-patterns where this choice is not available. The Auckland Harbour Bridge was not justified on the basis of numbers previously crossing the Waitemata by passenger-ferry! The De Leuw Cather report of 1963 proposed that “More than three quarters of the railway commuters would be better-served through reduced travel time and more convenient delivery to central area destinations” if the railway was extended. It also estimated that patronage would grow by a factor of 1.5 if this facility was there.

    The concept of de-trafficking existing roads also runs up against a wrongly-assumed principle that traffic-capacity must never be reduced – only ever expanded. On this basis and for many decades, we have clung to a policy of doing what encourages traffic, and baulked at worthwhile opportunities to discourage it. Traffic grows if you provide for it while failing to provide more and better alternatives. But conversely, traffic also retrenches if you stop facilitating it and instead, provide appealing alternatives. The fact that our rail system is so effective is testament to this. It just needs to have ‘where it operates’ expanded.

    Claiming that a forced-transfer from one train to another can achieve the same result as a through-train for the same journey, and claiming that this “works well in places like London”, is misleading. True, interchanging is part of life on comprehensive public transport networks. However you do not impose it on distinct arterial passenger flows. London, with its new ‘Elizabeth Line’, is going to great lengths to provide a cross-town, interchange-reduced service on an east-west corridor that is known to be arterial. Likewise with its ‘Thameslink’ connection over the north-south corridor some years ago. Interchanging is fine for distributed flows but you do not impose it on arterials.

     
  21. Graham CA, 31. October 2019, 15:45

    Steve, if I’m not mistaken the Terrace Tunnels were started from opposite ends and the curve resulted from the linking of the northbound exit to the southbound exit – the original design having southbound traffic exit on to Vivian (as it now does) but the northbound entering from what is now Karo Drive. The redesign saved half the houses in Buller Street.

     
  22. Mike Mellor, 31. October 2019, 16:57

    Keith/Steve/Graham, I’m just looking at a brochure put out by the Ministry of Works in 1972, while the motorway south of Hill St was under construction, which says that it was to be six lanes to Vivian St (and four beyond), so The Terrace Tunnels would have been designed for three lanes each, not two plus a hard shoulder. A drawing shows that at the south end of the tunnels the motorway would continue on about the line of what is now Karo Drive to a Taranaki St underpass just north of Buckle St (east of that, “Final design not complete”), with an off-ramp up to Ghuznee St and an off-ramp down from Vivian St.

     
  23. Ray Meers, 31. October 2019, 16:59

    Dave B. Euston, St Pancras, Paddington, Waterloo, Victoria. They are all terminal stations where people get off one train and either walk or get on the underground or a bus. It works and so does Wellington’s terminal rail station.

     
  24. Mike Mellor, 31. October 2019, 18:30

    Ray M: at both Paddington and St Pancras the national rail network has been/is being extended under the mainline terminus through central London, precisely to avoid the need to change. The same applies to the Liverpool St and King’s Cross termini, too.

     
  25. Dave B, 31. October 2019, 23:07

    In reply to Ray Meers, and referencing what Mike Mellor has said above, the “Thameslink” through-service in London (completed in 1988) joined together a number of southern and northern routes to provide an arterial through-service. This has removed the previous need to interchange from every single service at St Pancras, King’s Cross, Waterloo, Victoria and London Bridge.
    When the Elizabeth Line (also known as “Crossrail”) finally opens next year, it will remove the need to interchange from every single service at Paddington and Liverpool Street.
    Compared to the days when travel across London used to impose at least one interchange on absolutely everyone (and often 2 or more), getting from one side to the other is fast becoming a whole lot easier.
    The odd-man-out will soon be Euston station where, just like Wellington, all routes still terminate and everyone has no choice but to get out. Oh, and Marylebone.

     
  26. Keith Flinders, 1. November 2019, 8:27

    Dave B:In spite of what the nay sayers try to have us believe rail is the current way of the future for public transport. This may change from what we see now, as innovation is ever present.

    I look at the unique challenges Wellington presents with is relatively low population density and stopping at Cook Strait. We owe a debt to those visionary planners in the pre WW2 period who saw rail as the answer for Wellington and the Hutt Valley commuter transportation requirements. Without what we currently have, the building even more roads would have been the case.

    In future the then version of heavy rail may extend through tunnels to the eastern suburbs where like Newtown higher density housing will become the norm, unless sea level rises preclude such.

    As my original comment suggested what we need public transport wise within the next decade will be decided upon cost, rather than looking at long term value and benefits. Short term patches are all we are likely to see alas.

     
  27. Izzy Brunel, 1. November 2019, 8:55

    @ Mike Mellor – Paddington will not remove the need for everyone to avoid a transfer. Many will still transfer onto the central line just like they have for a century (just like most do when they get off trains at Euston, Victoria and the biggest of all Waterloo).

    Cross-Rail? What an expensive project it’s turning out to be! Way late and way over budget. I certainly would not wish Cross Rail on Wellington!

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/apr/26/crossrail-could-be-delayed-beyond-2021-target-admits-chief

    What is wrong with a simple same-level transfer from train to tram at Wellington rail station? Are people that lazy? Why can’t train buffs just be realistic?

     
  28. Dave B, 1. November 2019, 12:26

    Mr I K Brunel, please picture this: You are a typical die-hard car-commuter who drives regularly from say, Upper Hutt to somewhere south of the Wellington CBD. The public transport option of train-plus-transfer-to-bus is too awkward to be bothered with. You know hardly anyone who would make such a journey by public transport, except perhaps for a few train buffs.

    Now you are presented with LGWM Option “Let’s put trams back”, which could mean that instead of getting out of your Matangi train at Wellington and onto a bus, you can potentially get out and onto light rail. Same Matangi-journey to Wellington, same place to get turfed out of it, but a new LR mode for the last bit. Will this be sufficient to induce you to switch your whole car-commute to public transport?

    Alternatively you are presented with LGWM Option “Let’s do this properly”, whereby the Matangi sitting waiting for you at Upper Hutt no longer says “Wellington Station” (take it or leave it) on its destination-screen, but “Wellington Airport” (plus other useful places along the way). Is this a better inducement for you to change your commuting-patterns? You and thousands of other beyond-CBD travellers who help to congest the city-to-airport road-corridor? I believe it would be.

     
  29. TrevorH, 1. November 2019, 16:42

    @ Dave B. Traffic travelling from north of the city to the Airport isn’t the issue on Cobham Drive in the morning. It is traffic from the Airport and the Eastern Suburbs to the CBD and beyond that is mired in congestion that seems to grow worse each year. This is the result a massive population increase out East and greater numbers of airline passenger numbers without adequate infrastructure being provided. The problem has been compounded by the collapse of public transport since the imposition of the ludicrous hub and spoke model. The second Mt Victoria tunnel is essential to cope with these pressures. Roads don’t cause traffic, increased population especially through immigration on the scale New Zealand has received over the past ten years, is responsible.

     
  30. John Rankin, 1. November 2019, 18:31

    According to @TrevorH, “Roads don’t cause traffic, increased population … is responsible.” The evidence says this belief is just plain wrong. For example, from The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion: Evidence from US cities:

    We investigate the relationship between interstate highways and highway vehicle kilometers traveled (VKT) in US cities. We find that VKT increases proportionately to highways and identify three important sources for this extra VKT: an increase in driving by current residents; an increase in transportation intensive production activity; and an inflow of new residents. The provision of public transportation has no impact on VKT. We also estimate the aggregate city level demand for VKT and find it to be very elastic. We conclude that an increased provision of roads or public transit is unlikely to relieve congestion.

    More readably: Building Bigger Roads Actually Makes Traffic Worse.

    The point of building rapid transit first (in whatever form we decide) is so people can choose a congestion-free alternative to driving; it will not reduce traffic congestion on the road network. A rational investor making evidence-based decisions would build rapid transit to the eastern suburbs and airport as soon as possible, because it’s the only investment that will offer its users a congestion-free journey. What form it should take and what route it should follow are open questions.

    Politicians promising to fix congestion by adding road capacity (like a second Mt Victoria road tunnel) are selling snake oil to the gullible.

     
  31. Dave B, 1. November 2019, 19:29

    But TrevorH, the Matangi trains I propose between the rest of the region and the Eastern Suburbs would actually travel in both directions(!) So they would equally benefit the “traffic from the Airport and the Eastern Suburbs to the CBD and beyond that is mired in congestion”. I believe such a solution would transform PT-usage across the whole region, as well as bringing the benefits of having a rail-alternative to the Southern/Eastern Suburbs which are currently denied this. And before we shoot it down as “unaffordable”, we need to recognize its transformative advantages and explore every means by which it might be achieved.

    “Roads don’t cause traffic”? Actually they do. The public provision that society commits its resources to, is what the people will use. Give them more roads, they will drive more. Give them no more roads and better public transport, they will drive less and use PT more. It really is that simple. Population-growth will amplify either side of this equation, but it is far easier to accommodate with mass-transit than single-occupant cars.
    The Regional Land Transport Plan of 2015 reported that 44% of commuters to the CBD from the rail-served areas used PT, compared to only 29% from the rail-less city-suburbs. What does this tell us? And this was before the Bustastrophe!

     
  32. Northland, 1. November 2019, 22:50

    Not sure why every comment thread descends into the old ‘roads versus PT’ argument. Both are a necessity and investment has to be ploughed into both also. Roads offer far better reach into neighborhoods and 24/7 availability. They allow ambulances to get to hospitals and tradies to get to their jobs. PT allows mass transit movement that roads will never be able to surpass.

     
  33. Brendan, 2. November 2019, 11:09

    Well said Northland! I wonder if Dave B has plans for rail to be extended to Northland, Karori, Brooklyn etc so that car users don’t need to get off at the railway station and transfer onto a bus and then travel on that awful tarmac stuff.

     
  34. Dave B, 2. November 2019, 18:16

    Haha, I have no plans to run Matangis to the suburbs you mention Brendan. I’m sure no-one has any plans to build motorways there either! Maybe one day light rail might make it there, as it once did prior to being ripped out in the 1960s. But the routes to these suburbs are significantly less ‘arterial’ than the City to Airport corridor, as I’m sure you will agree. If there was pressure for “4 lanes to Karori”, then maybe the rail option would also need looking at.

    And Northland – the commenter above, not the suburb – the reason the “Roads vs PT” debate arises so frequently whenever transport is the topic is that roads have far-and-away had more than their fair share of funding for the last 50 years, while PT has largely been starved. There are a growing number of us who can see that this has been highly detrimental and we want to see much-needed re-balancing. Unfortunately the ‘roads first’ mentality remains deeply entrenched and without persistent challenging looks set to remain that way. No-one is suggesting doing away with roads or stopping ambulances, tradies etc. Just stop private-car transport from taking so much of the funding ‘cake’. Does that make sense to you?

     
  35. Karori Pete, 3. November 2019, 20:01

    I think you are referring to trams Dave B, not Light Rail. Isn’t there a difference? Trams got replaced by trolley buses so the vehicles could get around parked cars etc but GWRC didn’t like them and axed them for old Auckland diesels.

     
  36. steve doole, 4. November 2019, 2:28

    Karori and areas further west seem more sensible to develop than Waikanae or Martinborough. A train line through the hills would provide a brief journey to the CBD, similar to the main line from Tawa now – rather than a tram over the hills. Although earthquake faultlines cross, are there other factors ruling this out?

     
  37. Brendan, 4. November 2019, 6:15

    Could do with doubling the Karori Tunnel to get rid of the bottleneck and saving all that CO2. Two tunnels to the city please Andy!

     
  38. Casey, 4. November 2019, 8:25

    Karori Pete: Essentially tram and light rail systems are the same thing. The difference today is that light rail vehicles are designed with lower floors than the trams of old were.

     

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