Wellington Scoop

What must be done, and how to do it

by Guy Marriage
Both locals and imported experts have no problem observing the problems present in Wellington – you only have to stand on a street corner for 10 minutes to observe that our city has some real issues.

The advantage of using a company like Gehl Architects of Denmark is that they will (hopefully) know how to get us out of this situation, whereas many of us locals just stand here and weep at the ineptitude of our elected officials and their un-elected officers.

Our local consultants have been tried and found wanting – remember the debacle of the Basin Bridge? There were 53 consultant companies employed by NZTA to give advice, to try and support a scheme which was badly flawed from the start.

The Board of Enquiry process found that the consultation had been done poorly, while the numbers it based its traffic calculations on were erroneous – the 6 and a half minutes of traffic savings were attributed to the Basin itself and a 250m long flyover was proposed – while the actual answer, under questioning, was around 30 seconds for the Basin and the rest from other areas including a second Mt Vic tunnel and other possibilities.

Meanwhile, a group of local architects called the Architectural Centre proved that a simpler scheme could be done at ground level, with just a short bridging of SH1 by Sussex St and no flyover at all, with similar time savings at far less cost. But, of course, that is egg on the face of NZTA to admit that even now, a decade on, they were backing the wrong horse and really had no idea how to make it less ugly. The Arch Centre scheme is undoubtedly the answer that they will have to go with in the end – it will happen, I’m sure – but someone within LGWM and NZTA just needs to swallow their pride, admit they were wrong, and move on.

So, we already know some of the answers – and Gehl will be given the information for all the city (I hope) and asked to put it together and give our city ONE overall masterplan with Everything tied in together.

I was amazed and exasperated at LGWM putting forward a series of solutions for the Golden Mile, but not simultaneously putting out the other parts of the plan – where the Rapid Transit route is, how cyclists get safely across town, how to connect people to the waterfront if they are planning to run a train along the Quays, how businesses on Lambton Quay are able to restock their shelves in a pedestrian mall, where the residents and shoppers will be able to access the shops, etc. A Master Plan that pieces it all together. Bits of a plan are not a plan – they are merely a jigsaw of random ideas. It is the stitching together that counts.

We have one of the best and most perfect cities in the world in many ways, due to our natural topography – far better than Auckland with its acute transport issues and doubly-pinched peninsula worries, while we have a vibrant downtown, a curvaceous waterfront and naturally pedestrian harbour edge and a crucial problem with just a handful of pinch points that are choking our city and our economy.

That’s what I hope that Gehl have been brought in to advise on and kick ass on, to give LGWM a clear and unequivocal direction on what must be done, and how to do it.


  1. Dave B, 22. March 2021, 14:19

    My hope too, that this will break through the deadlock that stymied progress to date, and also bring some fresh perspectives that our local talent has been blind to (such as the need for a regional rapid transit solution, not just a modernised version of the Wellington City Trams).

  2. Ben Schrader, 22. March 2021, 14:56

    Until we get a new generation of planners and engineers in Aotearoa who have moved past the Modernist idea that city streets are primarily there to move motorised traffic along as quickly and efficiently as possible I can’t see much hope that Gehl and Co will have much more impact than they did last time they were here – in 2004.

    At that time Gehl gave us a Masterplan that included things like making the waterfront quays narrower and slowing traffic to make it easier for pedestrians to get to the waterfront, but ideas like these were soon buried by officials because it would slow journey times for those heading to the airport and hospital, etc. In the years since we haven’t even managed to get a dedicated cycle lane along the quays. The car remains king and pedestrians still wait for an eternity to cross from Post Office Square to Queens Wharf.

    Maybe there are some planners and engineers within LGWM who do want to create a people-centric city. And maybe they will have the courage, with Gehl’s encouragement, to stand up to the old guard and demand change. I really hope so. A slower city need not be an inefficient city.

  3. Greenwelly, 22. March 2021, 15:25

    The biggest problem is that LGWM have to accept and action what is presented to them… The last Gehl report is still sitting on the shelf….

  4. Pedge, 22. March 2021, 15:25

    Guy. I have a question. Is it really just pride and stubbornness that is stopping what is by all accounts a rather elegant solution at the Basin? The plans put forward by the Architectural Centre could be started tomorrow with little disruption to traffic until the final phases. I can’t find a flaw in the plan, and I’ve looked. I agree that it will happen, It must, what are they actually waiting for? Sorry that’s two questions…

  5. GK, 22. March 2021, 15:57

    Gehl will probably suggest lots of good stuff for Wellington (just like last time). The Council etc will probably do a few token things while the rest gets sidelined due to the council’s extreme NIMBY phobia (just like last time).
    (Hopefully I’m wrong, but it’s hard to be optimistic after seeing the council etc muck about and stall for year after year.)

  6. Guy M, 22. March 2021, 19:01

    Pedge – I agree – they could start tomorrow, but someone (presumably NZTA) is refusing to let anything go ahead unless the Mt Vic twin tunnels also get the go ahead. Remember that it is the second tunnel that would speed up the traffic – but only if the Wellington Road and Ruahine St route is also doubled in width. So doing the Arch Centre / Sussex St small bridge scheme would be pointless in solving traffic congestion unless coupled with the second tunnel and those roads. You and I may reason that we need to start somewhere and that this is a logical place to start, but NZTA will want to wrap it all up into one big new contract – and so nothing happens until they get the 2nd tunnel. Two lanes to the planes, remember! (Jo Coughlan / NZTA mantra for the last decade…).

    I’m not popular with the Mt Vic Residents Association for saying this, but I agree that we need a new tunnel. The present tunnel is past its best-by date and is a danger to pedestrians and cyclists as well as functionally redundant. We can do better. We should do better in 2021.

    It is somewhat ridiculous that Wellington still relies on tunnels built 80-100 years ago, which were dug out with steam shovel, horses, labourers and a few sticks of dynamite. It was a helluva lot harder to dig tunnels back then, with a population far smaller, technology much less sophisticated and money far less easy to come by. These days, with a government or council with a bit of gumption, foresight and a decent wodge of cash, we could – and in my opinion, definitely should – be building new, wider, safer, better tunnels. Not solely for cars – the classic bullshit proposal from NZTA during the Basin Bridge Debacle was to suggest that the “Rapid Bus Transit” scheme should share the new road tunnel through Mt Vic. How in heaven’s name would a Bus be Rapid if it is stuck in traffic on the same tunnel with the cars it is trying to outpace?

    What needs to be done is that the Rapid route needs to be identified and then sanctified: no work to get done that is against the principals of the rapid transit route. If it goes down the Quays and up Taranaki St – so be it. There are some incredibly awkward junctions to get through on the way to the airport, that Leviathan thrashed out on Eye of the Fish last year – the route needs to be set in stone and engineers put to work now to have a decent chance to have a resolution before opening. Pipes and wires and connections and all sorts of underground magic needs to be diverted, before lifting a shovel – these things can take years to sort out, so we need to start now. Sigh…. if only I was in charge.

  7. Mike Mellor, 22. March 2021, 20:05

    Guy M/Pedge/whoever – Can you remind us what the Arch Centre Basin proposal involved? From hazy memory it wasn’t quite perfect. Agreed that we need to define a transit route, then protect it, then implement it. And it needs to be a car-free route: the proposal that Guy refers to, optimistically called Bus Rapid Transit, actually had buses sharing with general traffic not just through the Mt Vic tunnel, but for about half the total route length – a bit of a con.

    Not at all sure about needing a new tunnel (though it would be really good for walkers and cyclists), but if we do it must not increase capacity. If it does it will overload the eastern suburbs’ roads just like that, worsening congestion.

  8. Guy M, 22. March 2021, 21:18

    Mike – essentially it was having SH1 go to the north of the Basin, all at ground level, and then connecting up to the Arras Tunnel. Sussex St could then go over the top of SH1 and descend down to Cambridge Tce where Turners have built their temporary car showroom. The land is all cleared and ready to go (Turners presumably only have a short-term lease). That would achieve grade separation, same as the NZTA proposal, but without the need for a massive long bridge over the edge of the Basin. Sussex St could then become two way, as it would just have local traffic.

    Deleting that traffic conflict between North-South traffic and East-West traffic would mean that people (cars, bikes, trucks, cyclists, pedestrians etc) could go more easily from Adelaide Road to Courtenay Place without getting snarled up with people in cars trying to go east or west (ie Motorway or Airport). The one key feature that the scheme required was a tunnel – at the time, NZTA proposed that Pukeahu Park should have SH1 running at ground level right through the middle of it. Arch Centre was told, via some completely rubbish jacked up prices, that it would be too expensive to build a tunnel – and then half way through, the Government changed their minds and built a tunnel anyway, effectively making the Arch Centre scheme very achievable at reasonable cost. It is an exercise in earthworks.

    The massive bonus of the Arch Centre scheme was that it completely removed traffic from the south-east corner of the Basin, allowing the lush greenery of the town belt and the rich gardens of Government House to be linked up with the starchy greens of the Basin itself, so that school children could walk to school through a park, instead of cramming into buses parked on the side of SH1 on the city’s biggest roundabout, blocking traffic every day, twice a day.

  9. Pedge, 23. March 2021, 8:39

    Hi Guy. Thanks for the response. I did read the interesting work leviathan did on eye of the fish. We started a new discussion on it recently, (search for Art Vandelay on eye of the fish). The diagram I created is an option for Featherston St, which Nemo noted had been written about by you for Talk Wellington. The scheme is fairly ambitious. I agree that the route needs to be decided on as the highest priority. There’s going to be plenty of further discussion, but I can’t see how anything trumps it in terms of priority. I agree about the tunnel, should’ve trenched Karo Drive when we had the chance as well. I disagree that creating option X would be pointless without the other projects though. Surely separation of the east-west and north-south traffic would have substantial benefits for traffic, not to mention pedestrians.

  10. Ralf, 23. March 2021, 10:18

    I am fundamentally opposed to a second tunnel, just on the grounds that it will screw over multi-modal solutions and modal shift. If a second tunnel comes together with a modal solution, i.e. has at least 50% of its space allocated to pedestrians, bikes and busses/light rail/whatever PT, than ok, give some of the remaining space to cars. But think first about a PT solution and a bike network before even starting on the tunnel.

    Some of our politicians (including the top three mayoral candidates in the last election) have indicated that a car tunnel is their first priority before they start looking at PT, in which case PT will have no tunnel and of course we will have no money left either.

    And for our Danish consultants: easy money for them, they can repurpose the report they did more than a decade ago since all that is still relevant and has been mostly ignored by our councillors. Of course the new report will also be ignored.

  11. Guy M, 23. March 2021, 17:36

    Ralf. You may be right. I’m more of a glass half full sort of guy, than a half empty. I said we should have a new tunnel – I didn’t say what for. Obviously NZTA want a road tunnel to get 2 lanes each way. They won’t give that up – they won’t allow anything to happen unless they get that.
    Personally I’m more in favour of some clever thinking. The existing tunnel could be made into a PT tunnel (two tracks), or it could be made into a pedestrian/ cycling / scootering route, with no cars at all. Again, personally I think that the PT route should cross that mountain further down the track – near the Zoo, direct to Kilbirnie. But the existing tunnel for cars is ancient and really bad. We need to build a new tunnel that is safer for cars, for fire protection, for trucks and most of all: for people. It is just a shocker as it is. Whether that new tunnel still has only two lanes, or as NZTA wants: four lanes, I don’t really mind. You’re right in that if you make the traffic flow too well, it will have a bad effect on the inclination of people to use Public Transport. A bit of congestion is actually a good thing to persuade people out of their cars and into a bus or train. Not that it is a good thing in the eyes of anyone sitting in their car, fuming, but it is vital that the PT system has advantages. These MUST be that it is quicker, cheaper, safer, more enjoyable, or any combination of those. If it doesn’t meet any of those targets then it doesn’t have a chance of working. Hence the failure of the Airport Flyer – slower, more expensive, less safe and low happiness. Doomed to failure.

  12. Glen Smith, 23. March 2021, 20:32

    Guy M and Ralf. Agree with your last couple of comments. New tunnel space is inevitable because the total transport capacity across Mt Victoria is inadequate and will get worse with future growth (especially if we are encouraging intensification, with the large flat areas to the east being prime candidates for ‘medium density’ development. These areas are, in my view, far better than Newtown and Mt Victoria for intensification). The top priority is alternative modes – walking, cycling and PT – and any proposal that doesn’t prioritise these (such as the current tunnel proposals) should be vigorously opposed. However the sensible ‘do it once and do it right’ approach is to look at ALL capacity in ALL modes that will EVER be required and plan for ALL of these. Even a cursory look at future trip projections shows that increased road capacity will be required. This prompts the obvious question – is it possible, and would it be cheaper, easier and less destructive in the long term, to undertake these at the same time, and in the same tunnel structure? The answer to these questions is almost certainly yes, yes, yes and yes.
    In 2019 I outlined the proposal by a world tunnelling expert for a single large-bore stacked multipurpose tunnel that would accommodate rail, cycling, pedestrian and extra road capacity – all in one tunnel. He felt confident (with the proviso he hadn’t undertaken a feasibility study) that this would be easier, cheaper and less destructive than separate bores.
    The total trip capacity in this tunnel was over 90% alternative mode but also with the required additional road capacity. Sadly NZTA, and now LGWM, seem incapable of objectively comparing a range of options and this option has been ignored.
    One of the key advantages of this route is that it could accommodate ‘medium weight’ rail, which would make tracksharing on our rail network easier, which would in turn allow true seamless ‘regional’ rail based PT corridors. Going via Newtown is not only illogical (Newtown sits naturally on the ‘southern’ PT lines) but, going via narrow crowded multipurpose spaces, would struggle to house rail at even the ‘light’ end of the rail spectrum.

  13. Glen Smith, 23. March 2021, 21:40

    Pedge. Absolutely agree that the basic layout of the Architecture Centre’s ‘Option X’ is the best. However I disagree that it has no flaws. Some of these were outlined in a report commissioned by the Council . The main ones in my view are
    1. Lack of direct outflow for traffic from the east to exit onto Cambridge Terrace, forcing traffic to the CBD to take a Taranaki St route, crossing the Golden Mile;
    2. An impractical pedestrian overbridge at high level;
    3. West to east SH1 traffic coming off Kent Terrace, presupposing a Vivian St west to east SH1 route rather than transferring this to a bypass route;
    4. Poor cycling routes. The north south route goes through the Basin which would be inaccessible during events. There is no easy east to south route or west to east route;
    5. Poor non-grade separated access to the school drop off area/ school access.

    However the main flaw, in my view, is that it has no dedicated PT to the east via the logical direct Mt Victoria tunnel route – only to Newtown. A neutral objective NZTA, interested in achieving the best possible design outcome, would have explored options around the basic Option X layout to overcome the flaws. So of course this didn’t happen.

    My Basin article in 2019 looks at design options to overcome the flaws. It assumes a Kent Terrace route for rail but could be easily modified to accommodate rail across the north of the Basin via a Buckle St rail tunnel parallel to the Arras tunnel (which should have been undertaken when the Arras Tunnel was built). The more recent LGWM design for the area has incorporated grade separation via the short trench/ tunnel east of Arras Tunnel, as proposed in Option X, but the rail corridor can only be described as pathetic and which goes to Newtown rather than taking the sensible direct route to the east via a multipurpose stacked second Mt Victoria Tunnel.

  14. Kerry, 24. March 2021, 9:51

    Looking through all these comments, one thing is clear: our concepts are changing very quickly.
    Climate change is a ‘new’ factor — only about 50 years old — which must now be taken seriously. Australia is getting a hammering right now, and our turn will come. Wellington’s main risk is probably sea-level rise, with much of the inner city uncomfortably close to high tide.
    The Mt Victoria tunnel is the best route for fast trips to the airport, but aircraft will have to be be cut back too. For public transport a much better route is the LGWM proposal, running past the hospital, serving the denser urban suburbs around it, and continuing to the airport through a Mt Albert tunnel: a bit slower to the airport but faster everywhere else.
    A new Mt Victoria tunnel for motor traffic is a ridiculous approach, and the NZTA recognises this. New road capacity attracts more trips and very quickly creates new problems. New roads for cars are still very popular, and inevitably make things worse, demanding far more space than other ways of getting around. Converting a traffic or parking lane to cycling or public transport increases the passenger-carrying capacity by 600 or 800 percent. A new Mt Victoria tunnel for walking and cycling makes much more sense. Buses might also be a good idea, if the speed advantage offsets the low residential density disadvantage. Another option is the Oriental Bay route.
    If citizens living outside the WCC area want to reach the airport, they should have a choice: queue in the traffic or catch the train and switch to light rail.
    Dave B calls for something better then modernising the Wellington trams, but the denser areas are built around the old tram routes. Modern light rail is a much better approach, faster and with greater capacity, but following old routes can be a good idea.

  15. Guy M, 24. March 2021, 13:21

    Glen, thanks for your comments. Answering your queries using your numbers:

    1. “Lack of direct outflow for traffic from the east to exit onto Cambridge Terrace, forcing traffic to the CBD to take a Taranaki St route, crossing the Golden Mile;”
    – Actually, traffic numbers show very low amounts of traffic wanting to make that turn, so it was best to cut it out. Most cars from the east want to get further than Cambridge Tce, and so using the main boulevard route of Taranaki St gave a better outline for all concerned. If you’re in a car, it would take you little time to get to Mt Victoria, if that was your concern. Of course another flyover could be planned, but in my opinion, the less flyovers the better. And no, despite one councillor questioning it at the time, it would not deter your trip to Moore Wilsons!

    2. “An impractical pedestrian overbridge at high level;”
    – yes, the greened overbridge was aspirational but difficult to achieve. Not impossible, but could be achieved by a good designer with a paid fee. Arch Centre was doing all this work in their spare time, unpaid. Very easy to design a better bridge, if you want to pay my fee.

    3. “West to east SH1 traffic coming off Kent Terrace, presupposing a Vivian St west to east SH1 route rather than transferring this to a bypass route;”
    – the scheme allows for either option, and gave NZTA room to move.

    4. “Poor cycling routes. The north south route goes through the Basin which would be inaccessible during events. There is no easy east to south route or west to east route;”
    – its the same north-south route as present, which seems to work fine every day except for Boxing Day cricket matches etc. The east-west route is an interesting one – remember that the official Basin Bridge route had a cycling clip-on, which was 8m up in the air, and was proved to be impractical and unwanted – surveys on cyclists showed that very few wanted to take that route. I’m reasonably confident that a route could be found that would keep all happy, at a level closer to the ground. Fundamentally though, cyclists do not need a cycle route following SH1 / the motorway, as they will not be using the motorway.

    5. “Poor non-grade separated access to the school drop off area/ school access.”
    – Totally disagree with you there. The current situation is a disaster, and is a major cause of traffic congestion in the area with 3-4 (?) schools all coming to get onto a bus / spilling out onto SH1 / getting picked up by Mum / making mad dashes through the SH1 traffic over to Mt Vic, all congesting outside the gates of Government House. That still happens every school day – it is criminally irresponsible and needs to stop right now. It really is amazing that more children have not been killed there. Arch Centre envisaged making the schoolchildren able to walk through a green landscaped park area, using their feet, and able to access a number of areas other than SH1 where they could walk to, safely, without traffic issues. It was a far better solution than what we have. Imagine: children walking to school. What an amazing concept. Interestingly, the NZTA’s paid consultant dismissed it as being a dangerous approach, as people in passing cars would apparently stop more crime, as he saw parks only as places of assault. Pure hogwash in my opinion.

    6. “However the main flaw, in my view, is that it has no dedicated PT to the east via the logical direct Mt Victoria tunnel route.”
    – Again, going to disagree with you there. We have a bus tunnel at present which is actually the main PT route, which goes and would continue to go through Mt Voc and over to Hataitai. It’s brilliant. Old, but good. Built in 1907 and still serving Wellington. But a new PT route should never go the same route as the cars through Mt Vic. Absolutely totally 100% needs a separate route. But that’s a different subject, covered elsewhere.

  16. Glen Smith, 24. March 2021, 17:25

    Guy. We are in agreement that the Option X basic layout is the best design for the Basin. Our disagreement is only with specifics of design – but details are important.

    1. You say “very low amounts of traffic [want] to make that turn [from Mt Victoria Tunnel onto Cambridge Tce], so it was best to cut it out”. Automated car recognition (fig 76 page 62 of the LGWM data report ) puts the figure at a minimum of 25%. This is NOT a small number. The Kent/Cambridge Tce, Cable St/ Wakefield St, Quays route is the primary route for eastern/ southern motorists to get to/ from the main CBD without having to cross the Golden Mile pedestrian precinct and is a route we should be encouraging. So “..using the main boulevard route of Taranaki St..” would funnel large amounts of traffic smack into one of the main downtown pedestrian zones. The best option would be direct outflow from the East onto Cambridge Tce without having the deterrent of going around the southern Basin but neither Option X nor LGWM attempt this. It is quite possible by having a combined pedestrian/ cycle/ single car lane overbridge across SH1 (see diagram in my article) that provides a direct outflow route
    2. The problem with the height of the Architecture Centre’s overbridge can be solved by moving it to the east over low ground at the end of Cambridge Tce rather than high ground at the end of Sussex St. It should then be an essentially flat contour off Buckle St. The difficulty is losing height when this overbridge reaches the Basin. The best solution, in my view, is that this enters a new Basin entrance building at height, in the same location as NZTA were planning. With clever design this building could house additional covered seating for the Basin. LGWM want pedestrians/ cyclists to drop not only 6 metres from Buckle St down to Cambridge Tce but another 2-3 metres into an underpass to reach the Basin.
    3. Could you supply the Option X design that has west to east SH1 flow on a bypass route?
    4. Option X does have poor cycle routes. Sussex St is too narrow for a south/ north cycleway and 4 traffic lanes, and the south/ north route through the Basin is unusable during events. I overcame this by taking the main north/ south cycleway to the east. There is no grade separated east/ west or east/south route at all. In fact the only route across SH1 at all is the towering overbridge. I overcame this by adding an underpass under SH1 on northern Dufferin St (where the SH1 traffic and rail would already be at around 2m height) that also accesses the school drop off with grade separation. This design would be tight but I think doable.
    5. Agree the current drop off is appalling. I had a dedicated drop off and adjacent park with grade separated access from the main SH1 flow. Option X has drop off somewhere to the south off Adelaide Road (?with turning lanes) requiring property purchase. Can you outline how traffic from the north east and west were going to access this drop off?
    6. You say that “a new PT route should never go the same route as the cars” but provide no logical basis for this. Cars on SH2 run adjacent to the Hutt rail line all the way from Petone to Wellington because it is the best logical route. A direct SH1 route is the best logical route for both cars and the eastern PT lines to get from the large eastern suburbs to the city. We don’t need a separate route.
    The bus tunnel is completely unsuitable as the major dedicated PT route to the east.

  17. Dave B, 24. March 2021, 17:34

    @ Guy M: Thanks for outlining the Arch Centre’s proposal for unblocking the Basin. I hadn’t heard of this before, but I like it for its relative simplicity and its achievement of the basic objective (of grade-separation) without going overboard. But does it work if Karo Drive/Arras Tunnel becomes SH1 in both directions, thereby liberating Kent Terrace of state highway traffic?

    I have for some years tried to advocate making the Arras Tunnel – Karo Drive – Innercity-Bypass route bi-directional as is the Terrace Tunnel which feeds it. From what I can determine the two tunnels and the trench are all about the same width, so what works in one should work in all three. I am not saying this would be the final solution but it could be done easily, now, with minimal construction, and it would be a major improvement over forcing Vivian Street/Kent Terrace to act as SH1 southbound. If this were to happen, how would the Arch Centre proposal handle traffic coming eastwards out of Arras Tunnel and wanting to go south down Adelaide Road, and vice-versa?

    I should add that I would not want to see the Arras Tunnel extended westwards and Karo Drive undergrounded, because this lies in the path of the natural route of a heavy rail extension tunnelled up Taranaki Street with a station cut-and-covered at this point. Far fetched? Well how serious are we about reducing over-dependence on cars and moving away from a ‘more-motorways’ solution?

  18. Mike Mellor, 24. March 2021, 18:12

    Glen S: “However the sensible ‘do it once and do it right’ approach is to look at ALL capacity in ALL modes that will EVER be required and plan for ALL of these”– that’s an approach that’s likely to cost most money and with the worst outcomes. We should be focussing on the modes that give the best outcomes, now and in the future, consistent with tackling climate change and with sensible central and local government policies. So that’s investing in walking, cycling and public transport: done right, that will mean the public transport routes and the existing road network will provide all the capacity we need, for both passengers and freight.

    As for public transport to the east, the Mt Vic tunnel is a poor option, neatly missing the important traffic objectives of Hataitai to the north and Newtown/the hospital to the south. We’ve already got the bus tunnel (a very useful and valuable asset) to the north, and we need a better PT link than Constable St/Crawford Rd to the south. So a Mt Albert tunnel between the Zoo and Kilbirnie (LGWM’s preferred route), keeping well clear of SH1, is the way to go.

  19. Guy M, 24. March 2021, 21:26

    Glen and Dave B and Mike – thanks for the comments. I can’t write any more at present as I’m on a deadline! You’ll just have to take my word for it at the moment. I agree with most of your comments – except Glen’s when he says “Cars on SH2 run adjacent to the Hutt rail line all the way from Petone to Wellington because it is the best logical route.” – Umm, more like it is the ONLY possible route. The thing about a PT route is that it needs to go through the centres of most population – and for a route to go haring off through to Hataitai without paying a visit to the Hospital and Newtown seems really wrong. That’s all I’ll say on the subject for now – over and out.

  20. Mike Mellor, 24. March 2021, 22:44

    For diagrams etc of the Architecture Centre’s Option X, referred to above, see https://architecture.org.nz/tag/option-x/.

    Re the route to/from the east, there seems to be some misunderstanding about why main roads and urban public transport generally take different routes (except, obviously, where there are no alternatives, like SH1 round the end of the airport runway and along SH2, and also for some express buses). Essentially, main roads avoid centres of activity, which is why SH1 from the east bypasses Kilbirnie and Hataitai; public transport routes go through them, which is why the main bus routes from the east go through Kilbirnie and either Hataitai or Newtown, the latter also meeting the significant demand for journeys between the eastern suburbs and Newtown/the hospital. The bus routes are longer than SH1, but good design and proper priority for public transport (the bus tunnel is a good, but dated, example) can compensate for this – and they go where people want to go. There are no bus routes through the Mt Victoria tunnel, and for very good reason.

    Incidentally, this also explains why the best car route between Wellington Station and Courtenay Place is via the Quays, while the best public transport route is via the Golden Mile.

  21. Glen Smith, 25. March 2021, 8:52

    Mike Mellor. You say “that’s an approach that’s likely to cost most money and with the worst outcomes” without providing any logical justification and when the opposite is likely to be true. We should be “focussing on modes that give the best outcomes” but a significant proportion of trips can only be undertaken, or are most efficiently undertaken, by motorcar (trades people, taking granny to her resthome/the kids camping/ dog to the vet/ a large shopping load home etc etc). The question is what is the minimum car mode share that you can reasonably reduce to and how much road capacity do you need for this?
    The average car mode share for trips to work (reflecting am/ pm peak) in a sample of cities worldwide is around 55%. Wellington is quoted as 62% which I suspect is about right. Modelled projections (Opus report line W1D table 2 page 35) predicts car flows from the east to rise to 154% of 2011 levels by 2041 and seems to assume proportional growth in PT/ active modes. This means car mode share from the east would have to drop to 62/154 = 40% to maintain the same congestion as 2011. This would be nice but is far lower than most cities of our size/ density have achieved . And this is only 2041 – before the main growth we might expect in the east. What will things be like by the end of the century – especially if we are encouraging intensification of the eastern suburbs? The population are intuitively aware of this which is why the Mt Victoria Tunnel has majority support.
    We need to accept increased road capacity to the east (but not everywhere) as inevitable but plan for these trips to be in vehicles running on renewably sourced electricity while maximising PT/ active mode capacity/attractiveness to keep this road mode-share as low as feasibly possible.
    A multipurpose tunnel achieves all the direct PT/ active mode capacity we are likely to need across Mt Victoria (over 90% of added trip capacity) while adding the likely bare minimum of required long term road capacity.

  22. John Rankin, 25. March 2021, 13:50

    Glen Smith says it’s “inevitable” that traffic to and from the east will increase, so we need those people to be driving EVs. What is inevitable about this strategy is that people will drive even more than they do today, because EV operating costs are so much lower. This is a path to an ever more congested future. A better strategy would be to reduce vehicle use by making Wellington more amenity-dense (ie more needs able to be met through walking, cycling and public transport). This appears to be the basis for LGWM’s “move more people with fewer vehicles” goal, but without a plan for increasing the amenity-density, this too may be doomed not to succeed. The closest LGWM comes to the idea of amenity-density is the expectation that its MRT route will be the catalyst for transit-oriented development around the stations.

    We can’t reduce vehicle use just by making it harder and more expensive for people to drive, Instead, we need to make it easier for people to do the things they want to do without having to drive. Carrots that encourage people to choose not to drive are likely to be more effective than sticks that punish people for driving when in many cases they have no other choice.

    To that end, a second Mt Victoria tunnel might be best to put active transport needs (walking, scooting and cycling) first. This is on the assumption that a MRT tunnel through Mt Albert, as Mike Mellor describes, gets built.

  23. A J Corlett, 28. March 2021, 9:21

    1. Haven’t seen any plan yet for a SH1 expressway from the end of the current motorway to the Airport. There is no point in any further major changes to the route without such a plan.
    2. If an expressway plan is developed, all of it should be completed before considering a third Mt. Victoria road tunnel. (There are already two.)
    3. More immediately, what about optimising the current route e.g. phasing the traffic lights along Vivian Street. Currently, viewing down Vivian Street at any time, day or night, one can see sets of traffic lights in both red and green states. This, plus un-phased lights around the Basin Reserve, causes peak hour tailbacks as far back as the Aotea off-ramp. There can be multiple light phases at Willis Street/Vivian Street without any vehicles exiting the motorway there.


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