Bigger faster buses won’t work and won’t fix congestion, say two councillors

Joint media release
Light rail is ideally suited to Wellington’s narrow streets, while bigger buses are not, said Regional Councillors Paul Bruce and Sue Kedgley today.

Recommendations on the Public Transport Spine options were accepted today by the Regional Transport Committee. The recommendations included a Bus Rapid Transit system, and priority measures for buses as an integral component of the Basin Reserve and Mount Victoria Tunnel Duplication projects.

“We are not convinced that rapid bus transport will actually work in Wellington, or solve the current bus congestion problems,” said Regional Councillor Paul Bruce.

“Light rail should be kept on the table until the unresolved questions have been answered and we can be sure about the right choice for Wellington’s future PT network.

“Light rail or modern tram as it is sometimes known, offers faster boarding, enhanced passenger comfort, increased safety to pedestrians and passengers and lower operational costs. It also would attract new transit orientated development along a defined growth corridor,” according to Cr Bruce.

“This is a serious investment and it would be a short-sighted and possibly very costly decision to commit to bus rapid transit if it can’t actually cater for the kind of city the councils say they want to achieve in the future.”

“The last thing we need in Wellington are even bigger buses,’ Regional Councillor Sue Kedgley said today. “Longer ‘bendy’ buses pose a risk to pedestrians and cyclists, as they are difficult for drivers to manoeuvre on our narrow streets.

“I am not convinced longer buses will work on stretches of the route such as Manners Street, or around tight corners such as the Old BNZ,” Ms Kedgley said. “Councillors have not been shown how they could work on these stretches of the Golden Mile.”

“Officers have not been able to point to any city in the world with narrow two lane streets, such as downtown Wellington, where Bus rapid transit has worked. Most BRT systems operate with four to six lanes of traffic, where buses can easily pass one another.

“While the jury is out on BRT, and many questions remain unanswered, the light rail option with its city shaping and higher amenity benefits, needs to remain on the table,” Councillors Bruce and Kedgley concluded.



  1. Ian Shearer, 4. March 2014, 20:53

    Well said Paul and Sue. Cold hard reflection will eventually force a reconsideration of the sad decision that lacks vision. It is interesting that the City Council has released a new press release about an old event – Wellington being the most liveable city in 2012 – on the day of this pitiable public transport announcement. Trying to remind ourselves of an old achievement that will never happen again is not a good PR strategy, especially when the aim is to whitewash the public transport disaster about to hit us.

  2. Monique Angel, 5. March 2014, 17:15

    This is just silly! Rail requires additional investment, surplus to the ability of poor old Wellington City to fund. You just can’t afford to implement light rail.

  3. Ross Clark, 5. March 2014, 21:12

    To Cllrs Bruce and Kedgley: come back when you have worked out a way to get central government to pay for light rail – because there’s no way the city will. And you know it.

    Also, as I have said before, any amount of investment in light rail will be wasted if at the same time you don’t tackle the city’s currently very high levels of commuter parking provision. If you did that, now, I suspect that a lot of the problems with the current weight of bus services would dissipate.

  4. The City is Ours Inc., 5. March 2014, 23:47

    Wellington deserves an affordable reliable public transport system. Unfortunately this, much like light rail, remains out of reach while NZBus run by Infratil has the upper hand.


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