Wellington Scoop

Five years of not getting us moving

lgwm logo 2017

by Lindsay Shelton
There was another reminder last week that Let’s Get Wellington Moving is mis-named. Announcing that public feedback from 2000 people on changes to Wellington’s Golden Mile had overwhelmingly backed the “transform” option, it said: “The next step … is to identify a preferred option.”

If only LGWM could move on from research and consultation to what we thought it was supposed to be doing – getting us moving.

But its five year history shows that research and consultation is followed only by more of the same. Having asked us this year what we wanted for the Golden Mile, LGWM admits that it had also asked us last year, when “… Wellingtonians told us what they wanted to see on the mile that runs from Lambton Quay to Courtenay Place.”

We told them this year. We told them last year. And it was the same in 2018 – after prolonged public consultation in 2017, the LGWM programme director announced that

“We’ll use the feedback to help guide our work as we develop a recommended programme of investment.”

We didn’t get a programme of investment. Instead: two more consultations asking the same questions, again. And getting the same answers, again.

In one of the findings from 2018, we told them: “It is time to act, while being mindful of cost.” Two years later, there’s no sign that LGWM have reached the time to act.

In September last year, mayoral candidate Conor Hill wrote:

We’ve waited almost 5 years for an announcement that lacked the sort of detail you would expect after that time frame. Something as simple as a mass transit route and technology is not a clear part of the package. Long awaited changes to the Golden Mile are still awaiting a business case and another round of consultation… We could argue about this forever … Instead, let’s push hard to deliver the projects in Let’s Get Wellington Moving as fast as possible.

As consideration of what to do on the Golden Mile drags on into 2021, it’s impossible to believe that LGWM is pushing hard to deliver anything. In an unfortunately named ‘progress report’ in February 2017, it summarised consultation that it had carried out in 2016:

In April and May 2016, we invited people across the region to share what they love about Wellington City and what frustrates them most about getting around it. More than 10,000 people joined the conversation. This provided Let’s Get Wellington Moving with 2,500 ideas, suggestions and options for improvements. It helped us understand the problems people face day to day as they walk, cycle, use public transport or drive around the city. Insights we’ve gained from the feedback so far have been used to help develop a set of 12 urban design and transport principles

They understood our problems. They gained insights. They developed a set of principles. There was more:

We’ve collected a wealth of data from different sources on where, when and how people travel around Wellington City. Additional information has been gathered on the reliability of journey times. This has built an excellent evidence base to inform decisions about possible improvements.

Almost five years later, where are the decisions? Where are the improvements? Where’s the action?


  1. David Mackenzie, 5. November 2020, 10:16

    Is it fear of doing something expensive and with a poor result that inhibits action? Do they shudder at the prospects of infamy? Did we elect wimps to office? We deserve better from people willing to represent us and accept office.

  2. luke, 5. November 2020, 10:19

    Seems like all we get is more consultation, until LGWM eventually get the feedback LGWM actually want to ‘legitimise’ doing what LGWM planned all along.

  3. Groggy, 5. November 2020, 14:24

    how many millions has this talkfest cost over five years? To deliver absolutely positively nothing so far. The (complete lack of) progress over simple things like bus priority does not bode at all well for making decisions on the controversial and complicated bits. Maybe they are hoping if they talk long enough oil supplies will give out and the decisions will be made for them.

  4. Alan, 5. November 2020, 14:41

    Just think of the money these consultants have lined their pockets with in all this protracted talkfest. Nice little earner for them and nothing concrete (literally) for us. Get on with it before this city snarls to a complete halt.

  5. michael, 5. November 2020, 15:18

    It seems like GWRC and WCC are on the same page as for both councils consultation usually results in consultants reports on the consultation, and then peer reviews of the consultant reports, and then more consultation, and around and around we go. Maybe there is a method in their perceived incompetence as, after years of inaction everyone becomes so fed-up and frustrated, they give-up or accept anything just to get some action?

  6. greenwelly, 5. November 2020, 16:49

    This article claims they are burning through $4million a month, and have decided it’s a good idea to spend even more money by having someone external review whether the project can actually achieve its objectives…
    (sounds like a first step in either asking for more $billions, or to do justify changing the expected outcome)

  7. Michael Gibson, 5. November 2020, 16:59

    Does anyone know how much the top people in this organisation are paid?

  8. Andrew, 5. November 2020, 18:34

    Look, consultants have to eat too

  9. Andrew Bartlett, 5. November 2020, 21:01

    What frustrates me is that other simple fixes – indeed things that could be ripped back out if really required – in the CBD were all blocked up behind LGWM.

    So for example in my area of passion anything but the very smallest improvements for cyclists (I’ve only spotted the bike lane headed over post office square) had to be totally halted in case LGWM decided to do something else.

    I’m always reminded that an inter-departmental committee is where you send good ideas to die, and that certainly seems to be the case here.

  10. Henry Filth, 5. November 2020, 21:47

    When did New Zealand stop being able to actually do things? Can anybody put a date, even a rough date, on it?

  11. michael, 5. November 2020, 21:59

    Whatever the top people are paid, it is far too much, and it would seem there are not any Key Performance Indicators required, otherwise they would have lost their jobs by now.

  12. Northland, 5. November 2020, 23:10

    I would like to see fewer rounds of consultation (maybe just the one would do) and some actual decisions and actions taken. After all, we do have the opportunity to cast our vote every three years if we decide that the wrong actions are being taken or the wrong course is being set.

  13. David Mackenzie, 6. November 2020, 7:13

    I suspect that they are headless chickens because the plat de resistance of the transport planning (the Basin flyover) was rejected, and nothing so grandiose and important is in prospect, so they have lost motivation.

  14. TrevorH, 6. November 2020, 7:46

    LGWM has become a thing in itself. Its main purpose is to sustain itself indefinitely by conducting never-ending consultations and surveys that are repeated on an infinite cycle attuned to the music of the spheres which only they can hear.

  15. Ian, 6. November 2020, 7:59

    Follow the money (and politics). National lost, the block has been removed. New Transport Minister Wood must rapidly make the announcement that both Auckland and Wellington Light Rail mass rapid transport systems will be funded. With all the studies work already done LGWM will be able to immediately confirm routes and details. Purchasing both systems at the same time, for staged delivery, will increase the competition for the city that gets the first delivery. Come on LGWM – we want to be first with modern light rail!

  16. Brent Efford, 6. November 2020, 17:37

    Dead right, Ian. What LGWM, despite burning through $4M/month, fails to recognise is that Wellington ALREADY HAS a rail mass transit system which serves 3/4 of the regional population, carries 70% of the passenger km on 92% of the state highway corridor route length. Its vehicles, speeds, headways etc make it physically very much like a light rail system that is so common overseas. All it lacks is operation through the central city where 75% of the region’s economy happens – the only main rail system in the world to be so crippled. Complete the system through to the Airport/Miramar and public transport use would double, and other issues like urban design, densification, congestion charging, zero-carbon targets, etc would be much easier to resolve.

  17. Wellington Inc, 6. November 2020, 21:29

    One contributing factor to this ongoing saga is that people working on the project are often new to Wellington and don’t fully appreciate how long it’s been going on. The LGWM moniker may be only 5 years old but the underlying project now numbers many decades, not years. A secondary school adjacent to the Basin Reserve was relocated in preparation for it way back in 1979. Somebody even older than me advised recently they remember preparations and announcements being made back in the 60s. Is it time for central government to bring in commissioners, bang heads together and make things happen?

  18. Leviathan, 7. November 2020, 10:38

    Hmmm. Interesting. $4million a month. I confess that I have only visited the offices for LGWM just the once, pre Lockdown, but when I visited there was actually no one there. Not a single person. I had a brief wander round, but the office was deserted. Computers on but no one home. Perhaps they had all gone off for morning tea and forgot to lock the door, but I do find it hard that they could be spending $4m a month working that way.

  19. michael, 7. November 2020, 14:36

    S4 million a month for what??? Since they aren’t doing anything is that just for wages and consultants?

  20. Pseudopanax, 10. November 2020, 12:42

    Unfortunately one of the three ‘Partners’ in LGWM, the NZTA does not know how to do anything but road building. It has driven the Four Lanes to The Planes asphalt programme since the Dinosaur age and is determined to deliver it as shown by its recent scandalous decision to demolish habitable apartment housing which it acquired on route and left empty since 2014. It has no experience or expertise with Light Rail. At its annual Open Day recently, the Chief Executive could not bring herself even to mention it. IMHO there needs to be a new ministry for Heavy and Light Rail to take advantage of the Pandemic to attract talent to make both happen with a vision other than road building for the 21st Century.

  21. Ralf, 11. November 2020, 8:27

    In defense of LGWM they are not set up to accomplish anything besides coming up with ideas. So they come up with ideas which are then rejected by the players with money:
    NZTA: I don’t see any new roads in this proposal. We build only roads.
    WCC: This is too expensive. There is also that shop owner I know who doesn’t want to lose his/her parking spot in front of his/her shop.
    GWRC: I don’t see why Porirua/Hutt should pay for Wellington’s problems.

    NZTA might start working on a new tunnel early if the current powers sign it off. Light Rail? Lol, get out of here. Low traffic neighbourhoods? Lol, car is king in NZ. WCC might be interested in some changes but they have piled up to many problems (Pipes, Library, Shelly Bay…) together with a budget problem which will paralyze them for a couple of years. GWRC will also be in a defensive mode since usage of public transport has fallen thanks to Covid.

  22. Ross Clark, 16. November 2020, 6:17

    In the meantime, what small fixes can we put in place which will improve things now? I would suggest:

    * In the offpeak run buses direct from the wider region into the CBD – but, “first stop Taranaki St”, thus avoiding the Golden Mile and all the problems there. These buses could run through to about the Hospital, as being a natural traffic generator.

    * In the peak, run free buses from about Taranaki St to the railway station – along the quays, and again, avoiding the Golden Mile. Not perfect, and there is still the transfer penalty, but it would provide a better connection into that part of the CBD.

    * Do something, anything, to improve bus operations via traffic pre-emptions (whatever is tried would also be needed to make any light rail investment work).

  23. Ross Clark, 17. November 2020, 6:33

    And to add the obvious: if the Feds can’t be cajoled into paying at least three-quarters of the bill, all our bright ideas aren’t going anywhere. There wouldn’t be any enthusiasm for the big roading projects in Wellington if it was the region that was having to foot the bill.