Wellington Scoop

LGWM survey shows big support for light rail, walking and cycling

News from LGWM
Let’s Get Wellington Moving, (LGWM), a joint initiative between Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and the NZ Transport Agency, today released a summary of the public’s feedback on four scenarios for Wellington’s transport future.

“The scenarios we took to public engagement in November and December 2017 are complex. We’re pleased more than 2000 people and 50 stakeholder groups took the time to work through our scenarios and give us feedback,” says Let’s Get Wellington Moving programme director Barry Mein.

LGWM commissioned an independent consultant, Global Research, to analyse and report on the responses. Global Research has identified nine key themes from the feedback:

Support for better public transport – now and long-term
Universal support for less congestion
Widespread support for walking and cycling improvements and priority
Opposition to new infrastructure that encourages car use
A regional, integrated approach is required
It is time to act, while being mindful of cost
Future-proofed solutions are required
Basin traffic flow issues need to be solved, but diverse views are held
Wellington-specific solutions required

In the public engagement, LGWM invited people to express a preference for one of the four scenarios, which build on each other (see a description of the scenarios in our Engagement Document). Of the responses expressing a preference:

560 were for Scenario A

216 were for Scenario B

193 were for scenario C

635 were for scenario D

“It’s important to note that the preferences are not votes – this isn’t a referendum. Many people who selected a preference told us what they would change about their preferred scenario,” says Mr Mein.

The public engagement included a series of community information sessions around the city and region, stakeholder meetings, and a public awareness programme titled Your Voice Counts.

“The public and stakeholders have given us a wealth of feedback about the scenarios, their preferences, and what they’d like to see changed or improved,” says Mr Mein.

“We’ll use their feedback to help guide our work as we develop a recommended programme of investment. This programme will lay out LGWM’s approach to Wellington’s transport in future, outlining recommended improvements for an integrated transport solution that helps people get around whether they’re walking, cycling, using public transport, or driving,” says Mr Mein.

“The recommended programme is unlikely to be one of the four scenarios as presented. It will include parts of the scenarios, as well as other elements supported by the public feedback and our ongoing work.”

The recommended programme will also include information about timing, costs, a pathway for design and construction, and next steps. LGWM plans to deliver a recommended programme to WCC, GWRC, and the Transport Agency in the middle of the year.

“The public will have an opportunity to provide feedback on our recommended programme,” says Mr Mein. “I want to thank the people of Wellington and the stakeholder groups who contributed to the public engagement. We look forward to continuing our work with you and keeping you informed.”

News from WCC
Wellingtonians want better public transport and fewer cars in central city streets and are backing a number of plans to get the capital moving, according to the results of a survey of residents – released today – carried out by Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM), a joint initiative between Wellington City Council, Wellington Regional Council and the New Zealand Transport Agency.

The survey shows there is:

· 63 percent support for light rail to the airport via Newtown (13 percent oppose)

· 62 percent support for bus rapid transit on major routes (7 percent oppose)

· 62 percent support for an extra Mt Victoria tunnel, with separate cycling and walking lanes (9 percent oppose)

· 57 percent for dedicated public transport lanes on the Golden Mile (11 percent oppose)

· 56 percent support for a tunnel under Te Aro for State Highway 1 traffic (11 percent oppose)

· 53 percent support for a tunnel under the Basin Reserve (11 percent oppose).

At least two-thirds of people were affected by at least one of the following: slow car trips through the city, slow bus trips, too many cars, cycling or walking safety.

“The survey shows just how many Wellingtonians are affected by transport problems and they want us to do something,” says Wellington mayor Justin Lester.

“The single biggest thing they want us to tackle is improving public transport, and many are telling us that without having to be asked.”

“There is most support for light rail to the airport and bus rapid transit, which shows people want other options than cars,” Mayor Lester says.

“We need to invest to deliver the things they want, such as increased frequency, better reliability and cheaper fares so we can have a city less dominated by cars.”

Mayor Lester noted the strong support for a second Mt Victoria tunnel and a Te Aro tunnel, but also support for a second Terrace tunnel (49 percent support, 15 percent oppose).

“People want an arterial route that takes traffic off Vivian Street and Karo Drive and out of the heart of the city.”

Councillor Chris Calvi-Freeman, who is on the LGWM governance group and holds the Council’s transport strategy portfolio, also welcomed the public mood for better public transport and getting cars out of the city.

“It comes as no surprise that there’s strong support for a game-changing improvement to public transport, especially light rail from Wellington to the southern and eastern suburbs,” he says.

“It’s also no surprise that business interests in the eastern and southern suburbs and commuters who are not going into the city centre want the extra capacity of a second tunnel.

“After what must seem like a long period of gestation we are getting to an exciting stage where Wellingtonians will be able to see an agreed programme of investment and see something started.

“Wellingtonians will look forward to reaching a stage of the project where indeed we can get Wellington moving.”


  1. Jonny Utzone, 14. June 2018, 20:05

    No difference in public support for Light Rail and el cheapo bus “rapid” transport (63% v 62%) with bus having half as many opponents (7% v 13%). That’s it then, el cheapo diesel buses here we come oh and with a tunnel for cars.

    Thanks LGWM. That’s a year well spent

  2. Ross Clark, 14. June 2018, 20:27

    I have a different approach to this – work out how much money Central Government will cough up and then go back and sort out our priorities. Wishlists which haven’t already sorted out “who pays?” are a waste of time (and I speak as someone who has worked in transport, in various areas, over many years).

    I agree with point [4] above, so let’s start with reducing commuter parking availability – or is that sacrosanct?

  3. glenn, 15. June 2018, 7:04

    “Big support for light rail”….really?

    800 people, out of an approx regional population of 500,000, voted for light rail……..time to kick it to touch, and start investing money into the roading network.

  4. luke, 15. June 2018, 12:04

    this plan looks straight out of steven joyce’s playbook, more roads then a bit of PT/active mode greenwash if there’s any money left over.

  5. Peter Barlow, 15. June 2018, 18:09

    Just get on with it. There needs to be segregated cycle lanes that are continuous and in a network that allows the public to access the city for work,business and recreation. The emphasis is on safety and the environment not to mention healthy lifestyle.

  6. Andrew, 15. June 2018, 22:05

    Glenn, for a start they are not votes. Big support out of those who took the time to respond obviously…

  7. Ian, 16. June 2018, 9:35

    Dear editor – placing LGWM and WCC press releases together provides an extraordinary example of public double-speak plus “lies, dammed lies and statistics”. The scenarios were sequential (cumulative). LGWM and WCC/GW seem to have come to different conclusions.

    LGWM used “independent consultant, Global Research” to highlight what we told them: their report shows our directives to our city governors were very clear: Please stop designing cities for cars, people are more important.

    The 1604 people ‘who expressed a preference’ want better public transport plus walking and cycling – this was part of every scenario. Another 400 responders did not seem to express a preference. Only 635 people (less than 32%) wanted the full suite of tunnels and roads as well.

  8. Gillybee, 16. June 2018, 13:04

    @ Ross: “I have a different approach to this – work out how much money Central Government will cough up and then go back and sort out our priorities.”

    I disagree. Right now the NZTA – an unelected and unaccountable government entity – contributes 16.5% to the cost of our public transport, yet they are able to dictate what happens here in Wellington, completely overriding local elections, the public consultative process and GWRC’s long-term transport plan. What’s the point of having one? The public on the other hand contribute 50% to the transport ‘pie’ through fares.

    It’s not so much asking how much the government will cough up, but the degree to which progressive transport options are constrained by legislation designed to minimise COST, and to hell with the negative consequences.

    We need a change of attitude at the national level, and at the local level more WILL to follow through on what the public in Wellington have consistently voted for.

  9. Pam, 17. June 2018, 12:49

    Why was the survey not sent to all ratepayers? The many Wellingtonians I spoke to, had no idea a survey existed. Are the results really a meaningful survey of public opinion? Retailing in central Wellington is likely to disappear under Lester’s scenario; the only thing that may preserve it is intensification of central city living subsidised by ratepayers. (The council will lease offices converted to apartments for up to 20 years).

  10. Ross Clark, 18. June 2018, 7:50

    @Gillybee. You wrote:
    It’s not so much asking how much the government will cough up, but the degree to which progressive transport options are constrained by legislation designed to minimise COST, and to hell with the negative consequences.

    Yes, but even if the ‘progressive transport options’ were not constrained by legislation designed to minimise cost, as you put it, nothing will change unless there is much more central government money involved.

  11. TrevorH, 18. June 2018, 7:57

    @ Pam: I agree. If I were a retailer in Wellington City I would be winding up my business. The Council’s raid on the funds provided by retailers for free weekend parking is indicative of its hostility to business and to the needs of shoppers in the central city.

  12. Concerned Wellingtonian, 18. June 2018, 9:39

    Can somebody in Masterton tell us how noisy and/or smelly the 100 new buses from England are?
    On second thoughts perhaps a councillor who was at the launch knees-up at the British High Commission a month ago could comment.

  13. Gillybee, 18. June 2018, 21:36

    Ross: “nothing will change unless there is much more central government money involved.”

    Then we need to change the legislation. Join the ReVolt Ross 😉

  14. Casey, 19. June 2018, 14:23

    Concerned Wellingtonian: In Wellington only the North – South spine is getting all new buses. East – West spine will see a few new buses but the majority will be the old diesel ones already in service.

  15. Ross Clark, 19. June 2018, 20:20

    GillyBee – a nice thought, that we “need to change the legislation”; we do, but without the money, we’re still going no-where.

    Let me explain. I was part of the old Transit New Zealand, when it was set up in 1989. My job was working on public transport funding; the idea behind the amalgamation of the old National Roads Board and the old Urban Transport Council was that it would allow more joined-up thinking about land transport than previously had been the case. Alas, in 1990 our budget was cut in one fell swoop by a quarter and public transport the next year by a separate 40 percent, and it took years for the sector to recover – never mind the legislation.

  16. Elaine Hampton, 21. June 2018, 9:44

    NZTA has so much sway over Wellington roading decisions because nominally route 1 runs through the city to the airport. Route 1 used to stop at the Ferry. Now who extended it?

  17. Neil Douglas, 21. June 2018, 10:13

    Ross, thanks for reminding us of our history. It inspired me to dig out my copy of the 1986 Urban Rail Review chaired by Ian McCutcheon with analysis by Travers Morgan.

    The review recommended a four year real reduction in the level of urban rail subsidies funded by central government to achieve a 61% revenue recovery in Wellington, 65% in Auckland and 87% on the Wairarapa service rather than the lower recovery rates of 39%, 21% and 65% being achieved. So Ross, I think the reduction in funding was probably because rail had ‘never had it so good’.

    The report recommended that subsidy was paid by way of a comprehensive service agreement to stop the relative ease with which subsidy had previously been paid (by local authorities on behalf of operators on an annual basis) and which had not encouraged operators to make improvements.

    Payment should be on a five year term to encourage NZ Rail Corporation to invest in new expensive capital equipment or introduce improved operating practices on the grounds that savings would be retained by NZRC for the balance of the payment period.

    The report found no justification for funding public transport on the basis of it being a ‘public good’. The public good argument was ‘weak’.

    Travers Morgan’s analysis also recommended conversion of the Johnsonville line to buses as was closing the Melling branch and for Auckland it was’longer term replacement of trains with buses’.

  18. Ross Clark, 21. June 2018, 21:16

    Neil – thank you; the whole of this debate boils down to, “Who pays for our transport investment, how much investment do we want, and in what?” We have been arguing this in Wellington’s case since the mid-eighties, if not earlier.