Wellington Scoop

Political compromise on roading is unacceptable – Andy Foster

by Andy Foster
It is no surprise to see NZTA’s confirmation that the Let’s Get Wellington Moving package has been politically compromised.

Delaying the second Mount Victoria tunnel and Basin Reserve improvements for reasons of political ideology is unacceptable. There are several aspects of the LGWM package that show it is clearly anti-motorist. Today’s revelations are just further confirmation of that, and I expect there will be more.

As it stands LGWM is unbalanced, unworkable and unaffordable. This is a failure of leadership, and also shows the dangers of ideological decision making. As Mayor I will change that.

We need more people walking, biking and using public transport, and we also need a functioning state highway system. That has always been part of the City’s transport strategy. Without a functioning State Highway system city streets will become ever more congested as the city grows, and Eastern suburbs residents and Airport users will become ever more frustrated. LGWM as it stands proposes to reduce roading capacity north of the Basin and this will be exacerbated during construction of public transport projects which as proposed will reduce capacity along the Quays and through Newtown.

Wellington deserves a coherent transport package that will actually work. As it stands LGWM will not get Wellington moving at all, but it will still cost Wellingtonians around 20% increase on our rates over the next ten years – on top of the already planned 52%.

 We must get on with early improvements for walking, cycling and public transport especially but not only in the Central City.

 We now finally have some commitment to get on with bus priority on key routes. That is essential to make our bus system more reliable and more efficient.

 We must start now on detailed planning and the resource consents for the Mount Victoria tunnel and Basin Reserve, and associated roading improvements.

 We need to get on with the business case for step change in public transport to decide what will stack up and what the right mode and route are. I share many people’s skepticism about the current proposal.

 We need to decide on funding tools, ideally ones that will help achieve transport outcomes as well as reduce the impost on rates significantly.

Our Government needs to help Wellington on this, not be a handbrake.

Councillor Andy Foster is a candidate for the Wellington mayoralty.


  1. Peter, 31. August 2019, 7:45

    I respectfully disagree Andy. We need to build the public transport infrastructure first and give it a chance to take the load off of the occasionally-congested-but-usually-fine road network.

    If light rail is done properly we will likely not need the hideous widening of Ruahine Street and the extra Mount Vic tunnel as people will have a dependable, affordable and comfortable alternative to driving into the city from the East.

    We are entering the new age of climate change – inducing driving demand with more roads is unacceptable. My vote will be going to a Councillor who recognises this.

  2. Marion Leader, 31. August 2019, 8:11

    Why is there a group of left-wing Councillors who kow-tow to the Government and its internal politicking? Am I correct that the Mayor, his Deputy, Brian Dawson, Fleur Fitsimmons and Peter Gilberd form this group even though they are not all standing for Labour?
    Aside from taking the focus away from the buses why support the developer’s plans in Shelly Bay? More donations perhaps?
    Their acquiescence in the Government’s delaying tactics is just not good enough.

  3. Magdelena, 31. August 2019, 8:40

    Why destroy the Basin ? – I’m no traffic engineer, but I can look at a map – there are alternatives!

  4. Ms Green, 31. August 2019, 8:54

    Andy. We would be better off getting on with mass rapid transport first and now. There is limited space for more and more cars and especially those coming from Transmission Gully which you supported. Anyway what is your commitment to minimising greenhouse emissions?

  5. Andrew S, 31. August 2019, 8:57

    The whole LGWM is political, local govt is political (and its agenda is pro cyclist and anti car). We’re already moving, its just the Council that are moving in the wrong directions. We don’t even need a second tunnel through Mt Vic Andy, we’ve just been told we do by politicians .

  6. Keith Flinders, 31. August 2019, 9:05

    It was clear to me from the outset that LGWM was only ever going to be a series of talkfests that would fail to deliver any part of a coherent transport plan to take Wellington into the future. Coined by local body politicians subject to three year election cycles, and with the NZTA who are wedded to roads, and more roads, no matter at what environmental cost.

    If bustastrophe hasn’t taught us that the public transport component of LGWM is doomed to fail, then nothing will. Set up an independent Wellington Transport Authority, removing the hapless GWRC’s involvement and keeping the WCC at arm’s length, might be a better option. Then we just have to decide where central government fence sitters might be involved.

  7. TrevorH, 31. August 2019, 9:07

    All of that work, all of that consultation, all for nothing. More than five years of effort rendered meaningless, it appears on the whim of a minor party politician. And we are expected to lie down and accept this? The situation for the Eastern Suburbs, especially since the bus fiasco, has become critical. Congestion is now a major cost of doing business in Wellington. We don’t pay our taxes to be treated with contempt like this.

  8. Richard M, 31. August 2019, 9:21

    Thanks for coming clean Andy, didn’t think of you as a 4 lanes to the planes guy and I appreciate the honesty. You just lost my vote!

  9. Glen Smith, 31. August 2019, 11:52

    Andy. Another sensible balanced policy position. We unfortunately have a ‘road only’ clique and a ‘PT only’ fraternity both of whom ignore the reality that we need improvements in both modes. The “ideological decision making” dates back at least a decade and the main culprits are the pro road National Government, NZTA and more recently LGWM. The congestion projections over the last 10 years have demonstrated that building roads won’t fix this. Just as with most cities as they grow and reach a certain size we need to incorporate high quality PT. It became clear (at least to me) that we needed to do at least a few basic things
    -increase across town PT capacity by adding a second PT corridor
    -to extend our high quality rail ‘lines’ across the city as part of a logical ‘radial connective’ regional network design
    -that this required a high quality corridor- not travelling through crowded multipurpose spaces such as the Golden Mile and Newtown
    -that the Quays was the only surface route across the main CBD that offered this high quality second corridor
    – that Taranaki St was was best central north/south high capacity PT route (but that Kent/Cambridge Tc was an alternative).
    – that the best way east from for a high quality corridor from Taranaki Street was to combine PT and road in the Arras tunnel across Buckle St (but that Wakefield St was an alternative to reach Kent Tce)
    – that increased capacity in road, high quality PT, walking and cycling to the growing Eastern suburbs and airport was needed and this required new tunnel space
    -that the cheapest and least destructive way of achieving this was along a SH1 route via a stacked multipurpose second Mt Victoria Tunnel (see my article of Feb 8 2019)
    – that the Basin Design therefore needed to incorporate a high quality PT corridor to the east and not just road, cycling and walking

    I submitted basic concept plans for this to the NZTA, GWRC, WCC and also the ‘light rail’ fraternity. Had the planning been undertaken at that point we could just about have finished by now. Instead the National Government and NZTA ignored any planning for PT, the NZTA built the Arras Tunnel as road only, they proposed a road biased ‘flyover’ design for the Basin which had no PT corridor to the east at all, they ignored (and planners still ignore) the best solution of a multipurpose second Mt Victoria tunnel, GWRC ignored the need to add a second across town PT corridor and instead tried to run everything down the Golden Mile via a disastrous ‘trunk and feeder’ model, and they have persisted in trying to detour the high quality PT corridor to the east via the crowded multipurpose spaces of Newtown.
    Sadly the reaction from the ‘light rail’ fraternity was little better. They didn’t want road improvements, didn’t want to consider the concept of extending our rail lines, didn’t want a multipurpose second Mt Victoria Tunnel (since it included road capacity), wanted a disastrous ‘trunk and feeder’ design, and wanted to extend rail to areas where bus lines were the best option.

    Our coalition government inherited this poor, unbalanced planning (which is the real reason for the lack of consented infrastructure projects that National now moan about) and the results of the local political quagmire. The LGWM have presented them with a plan that purports to be definitive and authoritative but in fact is one option produced by a distorted politically and agenda-driven planning process. It includes most of the basic flaws listed above. Given this, it is unsurprising that the coalition will select the parts of the flawed plan which are in line with their elected transport policy. Hopefully if elected you can promote a more rational approach to the planning process.

  10. Northland, 31. August 2019, 17:33

    @Glen agree totally with what you are saying here – improvements in both roading and public transport infrastructure are required for Wellington.

    More investment is needed from central government and the Council needs to stop wasting funds on endless reviews and consultations. We need to break out of analysis paralysis and not be afraid to actually do stuff.

  11. John Rankin, 1. September 2019, 12:58

    As far as I can see, “balanced” is just weasel-words for not having the courage to set priorities. LGWM’s vision is “moving more people with fewer vehicles”. Making this a reality means investing in transport modes and urban forms which use our scarce urban space efficiently. That is, public and active transport and medium density housing along rapid transit corridors. It also means choosing not to invest in transport modes which encourage people to drive more and increase urban sprawl. Characterising this as “clearly anti-motorist” is populist nonsense and I had thought Andy was better than that.

    @Northland has it right. Since we are unwilling to set priorities so that we can live within our means, let’s ask central government for more money. On the other hand, given the pot of money available, investing the bulk of it in public and active transport, while delaying road projects which will induce additional demand, is exactly the right thing to do. With a bigger pot of money, we might make different decisions. I’m with @Peter and @MsGreen on this.

  12. Andy Foster, 2. September 2019, 7:18

    Thank you for the comments.
    Peter – There is no evidence that mass transit will take away all the demand for more flexible private transport. On LGWM’s own numbers (limited that they are) something under 5% of the people entering the Central City in 2038 are expected to come by mass transit. That is dwarfed by the numbers expected on buses and by train.
    The problem with building it first is the disruption during the lengthy construction period.
    An essential factor which hasn’t been answered at all is how it might integrate with the bus system.
    The cost is also eye-watering, and so it seems will the public subsidy per journey be. Back of the envelope – try around $20 – each way.
    One of the big problems with LGWM is that it is long on rhetoric and short on detail and analysis.

  13. Andy Foster, 2. September 2019, 7:24

    Ms Green – You are correct that there is limited space for cars. The key part of the SH1 ring road is to provide capacity for private vehicles to go around the city, so that we can re-purpose space inside the core central city for other uses – walking, cycling and public transport. LGWM as it stands will reduce road space for private vehicles from the Basin Reserve north. And can I suggest you google back on TGM. Council including me at the time was very concerned about cost, who paid, economics, and about TGM encouraging more cars into the city, and about the impact on regional urban form. There is no doubt we are already seeing that. I’ve said it before about opposition to roading projects within the City – people are shooting at the mice when the elephant is just up the road – and you ignored it.

  14. Andy Foster, 2. September 2019, 7:39

    John Rankin – ‘balanced’ is not weasel words my friend. The problem in transport debate is so often that some people go to the extremes – all roads, or no roads. Neither are sensible positions.
    You might have missed that an ever increasing proportion of Wellingtonians do travel at least to work and education by public transport, walking and cycling. We need to keep that going, and I am committed to doing just that. I am the one who has led delivery of almost every bus priority project in the city, and the initial cycling push, more recently taken on by Sarah Free. I’ve put up budget bids for progressing bus priority and had them shot down by other councillors at least a couple of times.
    We have always been the leader in NZ on having the highest proportion of trips by PT, walking and cycling, and that lead has grown significantly. That’s partly why we have the lowest carbon emissions per capita in Australasia. That’s been something I’ve been part of delivering bit by bit over many years.
    I completely agree with you about urban form and densification along key transport routes and around suburban and city centres. That again is a policy I’ve led during my time on Council. It is a key plank of our Urban Growth Strategy. It is a key reason for the transport mode choices noted above.
    Finally ‘anti-motorist’ being political rhetoric – yes but let’s see if and when JAG’s letter gets released. It is hard to see it any other way when LGWM as finally released after what was clearly 7 months of debate within Government removed several roading projects, delayed those that were left, and talked about private vehicles not using a second Mt Victoria tunnel if and when it is built.

    Kind regards, Andy

  15. Helene Ritchie, 2. September 2019, 8:41

    John Rankin you continue to make a lot of sense. It is about setting priorities and setting these priorities.

  16. Kerry, 2. September 2019, 14:11

    Andy – I think you are forgetting that Wellington’s biggest-ever ‘carmageddon’ was when a storm washed out the Hutt railway line. Wellington needs continuing transport capacity but new capacity does not have to mimic present day practice. Cycle lanes alone can make tomorrow’s total capacity very different: there is no need to keep all modes in proportion. We also have to think about climate change and much lower emissions. Cars in NZ are now killing twice as many people by pollution as by crashes.
    The NACTO Global Street Design Guide (WCC contributed) gives this maximum lane capacities, expressed in people per hour:
    — Private motor vehicles 1600
    — Mixed traffic with frequent buses 2800
    — Bicycle lane 7500
    — Transit lane (buses or streetcars) 8000
    — Footpath 9000
    FIT’s light rail estimate is 10,000
    Light rail to the airport would cost about $bn1.8 (LGWM), with a capacity east of the Zoo of about 6400 pass/hr (single track tunnel, FIT estimate). A second Mt Vic tunnel would cost say $1billion (cost borrowed from Terrace Tunnel duplication estimate) and have a capacity of say three lanes, 4800 pass/hr. Light rail is much more effective, and a second tunnel at the zoo (10,000 pass/hr) would be far cheaper than a Mt Vic tunnel.
    Light rail in Taranaki St would have a practical capacity of 4500 pass/hr each way, but an all-modes capacity of 13,000, five times the present-day capacity (MRCagney for LGWM, Report 12).
    LGWM is estimating only a 10% reduction in car use by 2030, but much more is necessary, possible, and cheaper than road-building. Emissions improve too.
    In 1830s Britain, the railway experts were making gross errors because everything was changing so fast, and I think urban transport is now going into a similar phase. It is going to be a wild ride. Luckily there are precedents. The inner ring road in Paris is grossly overloaded and the new plan is to close some lanes, permanently. The engineers are confident about what will happen; less congestion because of big changes in mode-choice. It has already happened in many cities, and in Seoul they were even able to model it. A four lane viaduct, with another 8 lanes at ground level, became a linear park with a stream.

  17. Glen Smith, 2. September 2019, 20:34

    John. Absolutely we should prioritise. Public transport, including a high quality second across town PT corridor, is obviously (except it would seem to Diane Calvert) absolutely the top priority. But a significant percentage of trips can only be, or are most efficiently, made by car (happy to argue this). Given this the logical position is to project into the future, analyse how much extra PT and car capacity we are likely to need for different areas/ routes, then look at the best way of achieving BOTH and in what order. Where these are totally separate (like the Terrace Tunnel and across town PT) then PT should have top priority. But where these are best achieved together we should be progressing both at the same time.
    As an example take the Arras Tunnel. This was constructed with only car capacity when even 5 minutes forethought about how we were going to get a high quality PT corridor east from Taranaki St should have told the NZ ‘Transport’ Agency that they should be including a parallel PT tunnel. They were obsessed with cars and that lead to suboptimal planning. We are now faced with either re-excavating Memorial park, building a far more expensive tunnel somewhere else, taking a drastically inferior surface route (as LGWM propose), or finding a route elsewhere. The best route for rail now is Wakefield St onto Kent Tce, with Taranaki St serviced by a couple of the major bus routes. Once the Convention centre is built without an associated station, the opportunity will be lost.
    You and other light rail proponents undertake the same illogical planning. You want only PT to the east when all objective long term projections tell us extra roading capacity is also required (although likely a lot less than alternative modes). To satisfy this you are prepared to ignore the objectively best option (a multipurpose second Mt Victoria Tunnel) and instead take the PT corridor to the east via a Tunnel at Mt Albert of all places, with the huge cost and logistical challenge of trying to get a high quality corridor through Newtown. When the second Mt Victoria Tunnel goes ahead (as it inevitably will – because more road, cycle and pedestrian capacity is required) the cumulative cost and disruption will be far, far higher. And, as you are now seeing, this will be used as an excuse not to progress high quality dedicated PT corridors at all.

  18. Roy Kutel, 2. September 2019, 20:43

    Wasn’t Andy Foster a NZ First candidate for Wellington at the last general election? I wonder what their transport policy was? Oh wasn’t it rapid rail and trolley bus retention? Never mind, let’s just tarmac over that policy shall we?

  19. Glen Smith, 2. September 2019, 20:55

    Andy. What on earth do you mean by your statement ‘under 5% of the people entering the Central City in 2038 are expected to come by mass transit. That is dwarfed by the numbers expected on buses and by train’? Train IS mass transport – the problem is it is crippled by stopping on the northern fringe of the CBD and so fails to service the majority of potential PT users. These are people who want to get ACROSS the main CBD and make up not 5% but over 50% of trips approaching the city from the north or south (happy to present the data again). I expected better analysis from you.
    Are you still supporting an across-town high-quality dedicated Quays-based second PT corridor as recommended by LGWM (albeit with poor design) as one of the top funding priorities to service these across town PT trips? If not, then you have lost my vote. .

  20. Andy Foster, 2. September 2019, 23:56

    Hi Glen – have you seen the presentation material – I think it was all attached to the June Council paper. Mass transit is defined in the LGWM documentation as a specific separate transport category to trains and buses. The point I am making is that LGWM’s expectation is that only 5% of trips to the CBD are expected to be by ‘mass transit’ under LGWM definition.

  21. Ross Clark, 3. September 2019, 8:13

    Quote from above:

    …under 5% of the people entering the Central City in 2038 are expected to come by mass transit. That is dwarfed by the numbers expected on buses and by train

    Could this be distinguished by time of day? Mass transit (however defined) handles far more of the am. and pm. peak load than at other times of the day.

  22. Marion Leader, 3. September 2019, 8:30

    I am still looking forward to reading Green Minister Genter’s letter giving her reasons (if any) for interfering in our needs here in Wellington.

  23. Donald T., 3. September 2019, 9:46

    Andy – well it’s the wrong definition then! Change it please! When are the LGWM team going to finish their whatever? Seems like a job for life to me.

  24. Glen Smith, 3. September 2019, 11:22

    Andy. Can’t you and LGWM see how stupid it is to divide trips into north and south of the CBD and just look at those going to the CBD rather than across it. Lets pretend we do this for Otaki. Hmmm lots of cars approaching from the north and from the south but only 5% stop in Otaki. So we don’t need a through road – ok guys cancel the bypass, we don’t need it.
    You say ‘There is no evidence that mass transit will take away all the demand for more flexible private transport’. Really?. Mass transit will do for PT what the motorway and Terrace Tunnel does for cars – allow a rapid route around the CBD for across town transport trips (the majority approaching the city from north and south). If done successfully this will absolutely decrease road demands- I expect we could see Terrace Tunnel numbers drop by 30%- which is why Terrace Tunnel duplication is absolutely not a top funding priority.

  25. John Rankin, 3. September 2019, 11:47

    @AndyFoster: I think the difference between us is how to set priorities given a constrained budget. I say start building rapid transit first; you propose to build more roads first. Which choice better supports the goal to “move more people with fewer vehicles”? My own view is that the budget is too constrained and we should be looking for ways to fund a bigger programme faster. If we could do that, I expect you and I could find a position we would both support.

    @GlenSmith: please don’t tell me what I want. Let me say it again: given a limited budget, we have to make hard choices. We have enough budget to build rapid transit or road tunnels and extra lanes, but not both. Given that choice, I choose to build rapid transit now, roads later. Given a bigger budget, I would have different preferences.

    Justin Lester appears to be trying to square this particular circle by using a supposedly low-cost rapid transit technology, so there is enough money left in the current budget for at least some of the roads being proposed. I am not convinced this is a valid proposition.

    As I read it, a combined road-rail route through Mt Victoria and beyond is not feasible within the current budget allocation. Building LGWM’s proposed rapid transit route now does not stop us from building a second Mt Victoria road tunnel later. In the long run, this may well cost more than a combined road-rail route. I don’t know; I haven’t seen the cash-flow models.

  26. John Rankin, 3. September 2019, 13:59

    There is a useful comment over at the Greater Auckland blog from a “Nick R” who sets out the logic (that @GlenSmith says is illogical and disastrous) underlying LGWM’s rapid transit proposal:

    [B]us congestion … is a huge problem where you run a large number of individually low occupancy bus lines to a single place. In effect, that is exactly what the light rail in LGWM is trying to change with regard to the golden mile. It does that by creating one high capacity line that serves a dozen major suburbs and destinations directly, and by replacing a large morass of low frequency direct service buses with feeder routes that only go so far as the light rail line, that means the trunk also serves dozens more neighbourhoods beyond its immediate catchment. That is the essence of rapid transit, bus or otherwise. One service pattern carries demand to and from two dozen neighbourhoods and centres.

    To make this design work for its customers, the trunk and feeder services must be frequent, reliable and fast. In particular, because the trunk is of necessity not the most direct route between any of the destinations it serves, it has to be designed for the maximum practical speed. An average speed approaching 30 kph is probably going to be needed to make the LGWM proposal a competitive and attractive alternative to travel by private car. This speed translates into about 20 minutes between the station and airport. Is this feasible? We don’t yet know.

  27. Kerry, 3. September 2019, 15:36

    Andy. You say that the LGWM proposal is clearly anti-motorist. Many will agree with you (including me) but it is equally true to say that motorists are anti-Wellington. Sadly, few of them realise it yet. Something has to give, and increasingly desperate attempts to manage world-wide emissions means that it has to be motorists.
    — Motorists kill and injure pedestrians, cyclists and each other.
    — Motorists’ emissions in New Zealand kill twice as many people as their crashes, from exhaust gases and micro-particles from tyres.
    — Motorists run around in tin boxes designed to protect them, and seem incapable of making adequate allowances for other road users.
    — Motorists make unreasonable demands for road-space, when Wellington is short of space for housing and needs to plan for greater residential densities.
    Yesterday an Auckland car crash caused chaos on the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and a proposal from a professor of engineering led to an interesting article on the Auckland Transport blog today: the NZTA is coming round to the view that a second harbour crossing would be a waste of time and money; light rail would be more rational.
    In Wellington the parallel is obvious. Building enough roads to bring in all the traffic from Transmission Gully would be enormously costly, the benefits short-lived at best. No urban road-building, since about 1900, has ever been effective for long. Houston’s Katy Highway is wide enough to fill most of the space between Wellington’s waterfront and golden mile, and (like Auckland’s harbour bridge) is running at capacity.
    Paris now has the solution. With an excellent public transport system, it has the luxury of managing traffic by closing roads.
    Wellington does not have an excellent public transport system, but is working on it. Investing in public transport, including light rail, will be a much better option than road building.

  28. Glen Smith, 3. September 2019, 17:38

    John. The analysis in the planning guide that I summarised in my article of 20 Aug showed that ‘trunk and feeder’ design does have a place where there are “a lot of small direct service routes that overlap for a long distance with the trunk corridor” but that “the conditions under which the conversion of direct services to trunk-and-feeder services will bring overall benefits are fairly limited”.
    The “extra costs will total something in the range of 34 percent of an additional cost for the trunk-and-feeder service, while the benefits from the larger vehicle use are going to be generally in a similar range only when the trunk is very long relative to the feeder route, and there are many very small routes converging.”
    These condition don’t exist in Wellington City (Kapiti and Hutt into Wellington yes but not Wellington itself)

    People don’t like transfers and will go back to their cars to avoid them. Introducing transfers at hubs close to the CBD (where buses can, for little extra cost, just continue all the way directly) in a city the size of Wellington isn’t sensible planning when it is perfectly possible to continue the system of direct services that has served us well for so long.

  29. Ross Clark, 3. September 2019, 20:42

    @John Rankin
    An average speed approaching 30 kph is probably going to be needed to make the LGWM proposal a competitive and attractive alternative to travel by private car. This speed translates into about 20 minutes between the station and airport

    Agreed, but this will need a lot of grade separation to work, as well as a high service frequency. Offpeak, one can drive between the city and the airport in fifteen or so minutes – keep end-to-end journey time in mind, as well as in-vehicle time.

  30. John Rankin, 4. September 2019, 11:55

    @RossClark: agreed but will we be willing to invest in the grade separations needed to make the system work? Off-peak is interesting; the thing about driving to the airport off peak is that while it can take 15 minutes, it can also take 30 minutes. Because of the travel time variability associated with driving, one has to plan on the trip taking the longest time, not the shortest. By rapid transit on the other hand, the trip always takes 20 minutes (plus wait time), if the system is designed and built properly.

    If we are going to invest in rapid transit, we need to do it well, which means not trying to do it on the cheap.

  31. John Rankin, 4. September 2019, 15:07

    @GlenSmith says: “People don’t like transfers and will go back to their cars to avoid them.”

    In reality, many things affect people’s choice between taking public transport and driving. Public transport network design has to optimise among multiple, potentially conflicting factors, such as: good connections; service frequency; trip duration; on‐time reliability; value for fare; hours of operation; safety; convenience of stop locations; and access to information. The best way to find out which factors to prioritise is to ask a random sample of users and potential users how important these and other factors are and how satisfied they are with current performance. The designer’s job is to improve performance of important factors with low satisfaction, without unduly compromising factors with high satisfaction, within cost constraints.

    All other things being equal, people of course prefer a one-seat journey to a two-seat journey. But other things never are equal. Consider the following choices:

    1. Would you rather (a) have a one-seat public transport journey, with service once an hour, often late but sometimes early; or (b) take your car?

    2. Would you rather (a) have a two-seat public transport journey, with service every 10 minutes, always on time; or (b) take your car?

    Glen’s transfer hypothesis predicts people will overwhelmingly choose 1a and 2b. I predict that many people will choose 1b and 2a, because service frequency and reliability are important factors in their mode decision.

    I apologise for this somewhat nerdy comment. @Andy gives me the impression that he genuinely understands there is no magic silver bullet when it comes to dealing with Wellington’s transport challenges.

  32. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 4. September 2019, 22:25

    Ross, you don’t need lots of grade separation for a single-spine LRT to operate reliably. You need to maximise corridor segregation and provide traffic signals which respond positively to the approach of the LRT vehicles at key intersections.

  33. Glen Smith, 4. September 2019, 22:25

    John. These are not the alternatives. You say you are going to have a 10 minute service in your ‘trunk and feeder’ design. This means you have to have 10 minutes buses on each ‘feeder’ line heading to the ‘hub’. At the hub these people all transfer to a larger ‘trunk’ vehicle- presumably also every 10 minutes.
    The alternative is for each of these 10 minute feeder buses just to continue to the CBD separately rather than forcing people to transfer to a single larger vehicle. It is these two alternatives that the planning guide compares and it shows that having each of the ‘feeders’ buses (the same ones you are planning) travelling separately directly is superior to forcing people to a larger ‘trunk’ vehicle except in the case of a large number of small feeder line’s joining onto a very long trunk.
    You don’t like this analysis because it doesn’t line up with FIT’s model of a single ‘light rail’ trunk that almost all bus users are forced to transfer to, a model that LGWM is planning to impose and which the Wellington public have clearly indicated they don’t like when a more diluted version was imposed as part of the bus review.
    I support rail (as you know) but this should be incorporated into a ‘connective radial’ design of predominantly direct lines with rail servicing the ‘high volume’ lines and bus the ‘lower volume’ lines. The high capacity rail lines would form the basis of the essential across town ‘mass transit’ system that is required to service the large number of ‘across town’ trips so that these people have a viable PT option rather than having to all be in their cars swamping over the motorway and Terrace Tunnel. Sadly several of our mayoral candidates, including the author of this article, don’t seem to understand the vital importance of this despite it being, as far as I can see, blindingly obvious.

  34. Ross Clark, 5. September 2019, 1:32

    @Chris Calvi-Freeman
    You don’t need lots of grade separation for a single-spine LRT to operate reliably. You need to maximise corridor segregation and provide traffic signals which respond positively to the approach of the LRT vehicles at key intersections.
    Fair point, can you give examples? I have Croydon Tram in mind for some reason. I have also seen how a mixed-traffic environment like Edinburgh’s, and the city end of the North Shore Busway for that matter, work against effective public transport operation.

  35. John Rankin, 5. September 2019, 8:03

    @RossClark and @CCF: as I understand it, the critical factors are the volume of traffic on the roads the light rail line has to cross and the frequency of light rail service. If these are high enough, pre-emptive signal priority for light rail can create very long delays on the road during peak periods. At an intersection close to where I used to live, a car can take over half an hour to get through during the morning peak.

    Designers now have very sophisticated models which let them predict intersection performance and make informed decisions about where to invest in grade separation. It’s expensive to retrofit separation, so best to get it right first time. I trust LGWM will use these and publish the results as part of the final route selection process.

  36. John Rankin, 5. September 2019, 10:50

    @GlenSmith: the difference between us is that I acknowledge there is more than one way to do it and FIT’s proposal is just one of many options. It appears you believe you are right and everyone else is wrong and (in your word) illogical. If the goal is to get commuters to and from the city centre during peak times on a one-seat journey at any cost, your proposal is a good answer. I think that’s a poor goal around which to design our public transport system. For a start, it ignores the first point “Nick R” made: “[B]us congestion … is a huge problem where you run a large number of individually low occupancy bus lines to a single place.”

    I have regularly argued on these and other pages for LGWM to seek proposals from qualified suppliers setting out how to meet our transport and urban development needs. If a solution like yours emerges from an open and contestable process as the best option, that’s fine with me. I happen to think it won’t but the market may prove me wrong. Every option has strengths and weaknesses. The best option depends on what we think is important.

    Glen, as you keep telling me I’m being illogical, I think it’s time we brought our conversation to a close.