Wellington Scoop

Stuck in traffic? Promises, promises

andy advt

by Benoit Pette
Halfway through the term of our beloved City Council, it’s appropriate to check progress on the biggest promise that was made during the election, in October 2019. The hot topic was transport. So, what has been achieved and what has been stalled since the new team was elected?

In the “moved forward” category, we find two deliverables from LGWM: safer (slower) speed limits, and cycleways. The slower speed limits have been implemented, and some cycleway projects have made a leap forward. For example, Wellington’s eastern gateway has been opened, enabling people who want to commute on a bike to do it in a safe manner (and even more so when the cycleway along Evans Bay is completed).

But for the rest, the delivery has been underwhelming. Is there a need to keep having a go at Let’s Get Wellington Moving? Apart from the two aforementioned projects, progress by LGWM seems to be at a standstill, with nothing but still more public consultation.

Some people have given up hoping that it will produce anything – and the LGWM name itself is now a sad joke (although this term is not short of bitter irony, hello “First to zero”, hi Shelly Bay).

There are things that could have done to address transport promises. They wouldn’t have required many dollars, but much political will would have been needed.

For example, a bus service between the airport and the railway station could remove hundreds of cars from the congested highway. The problem is that no amount of polite requests from the City Council and the Regional Council have persuaded the airport to allow public transport on to its turf. Who can blame the airport? Public transport is directly in competition with its car parking business … which is also a source of revenue for the shareholding City Council!

Saddening, however, to realise the council could easily pass a by-law to force any airport business (in this case, WIAL) to provide reasonable access for public transport if they want to operate in Wellington. But that would require political courage, and we also know the City Council has 2 of the 6 seats on the airport board.

Additionally, the City Council could have surfed the post-lockdown wave of working from home by encouraging people who could do so to work remotely, thus removing cars from the roads. The council could have embraced that change, campaigned in that direction, and met with government agencies and corporate businesses to support what is now common practice in the US and in Europe. Doing so, they would have also encouraged the rezoning of some business precincts into apartments, addressing the climate and housing crisis at the same time.

Such a transformative, visionary strategy is outlined on page 12 of Te Atakura, which was adopted last year by the City Council. But instead, the Mayor invited hordes of people to come back to the CBD. The council’s Regional Development Agency spent $75,000 to “attract more people to … the CBD.”

It seems “sorting out” the traffic is a long-gone goal. No one seems able to undertake the bold, transformative changes required to address Wellington’s growing pains and to meet Wellington’s climate change commitments. Meanwhile, we are still stuck in traffic.

Benoit Pette is now writing the Inside Wellington blog, where this article was first published.


  1. KT, 9. May 2021, 9:25

    Traffic into and around Wellington on a weekend evening is ridiculous. Actually, trying to get around Wellington at any time is. [via twitter]

  2. Local, 9. May 2021, 12:33

    Still no plans for the airport bus? I am sick of waiting for it. After a flight from Auckland, it took me an an hour and a half to get home from the Airport to the Wgtn ‘fringe’ the other day … walking with my pack on nearly to the Miramar shops, and still waiting for the number 2 to come along… and then to get home eventually somehow. My friend flew from Auckland to Dunedin and arrived home before I did.

    WCC could immediately change this? So could the Regional Council, or even the Airport company. Nobody cares enough. Benoit why don’t you stand as a candidate for the Eastern suburbs? Did the Transport Minister offer anything to us in his latest announcement? Doesn’t the Government (or anyone) care about Wellington transport?

  3. Marion Leader, 9. May 2021, 17:20

    Local, the excuses have been pathetic. We are the only capital in the world without an airport bus.

  4. michael, 9. May 2021, 17:36

    At this rate WCC may have to change its mantra to “Absolutely, Negatively, Wellington.”

  5. TrevorH, 9. May 2021, 19:27

    Local: no one cares and certainly not the government. Wellington is a Labour/Greens town. Why waste money here?

  6. bsmith, 10. May 2021, 8:19

    So the council should push employers to encourage their workers to work from home? It’s called the CBD for a reason. ‘Hey covid destroyed so many businesses, let’s finish off the rest.’

  7. Lawrence, 10. May 2021, 9:54

    On a positive note the end of the airport bus made me find the existence of that number #2 bus to Miramar, which nicely stops 300m/5min walk from the airport gate, and for a fraction of the price! Some people will complain there is no public bus stopping right in front of the terminal, but considering the tiny size of our Wellington airport you still end up walking less than in a larger airport where terminals are so big. Not to everyone’s need but totally fine for most people, and really cheap too.

  8. Dave B, 10. May 2021, 15:39

    Lawrence, if the No2 is to become the de-facto airport-bus, then some form of signage is necessary to direct those unfamiliar with Wellington, where to catch it. Not unreasonably, many new arrivals will be expecting some form of ‘1st-world’ public transport right outside the terminal, so it should not be assumed that everyone will immediately grasp the present requirement to locate a random bus stop buried in a remote suburban street. Also, a clear indication of where to get off the bus when travelling to the airport would be helpful for those not au-fait with the system.
    And of course, some generous shelter at the bus stop and over the entire walk should be provided, given that Wellington’s weather can be pretty foul at times. The situation at the moment is not acceptable.

  9. Local, 10. May 2021, 16:12

    I’m pretty sure the Airport had been trying to get a new Airport Bus service operator (they built a big terminus for it and it’s not being used, which would make no commercial sense to them) but the Regional Council put a stop to it because they wanted it to be part of their public network.

  10. Marion Leader, 10. May 2021, 17:25

    Dave B, you have far too much commonsense. And such a good approach. Thank you.

  11. Local, 10. May 2021, 18:00

    Actually Dave B. and Marion there also needs to be at least a pedestrian crossing at the Number 2 Wgtn-Miramar busstop. It’s not safe crossing that road on the corner now.

    What’s wrong with all these ridiculous organisations that can’t organise one Airport busstop and bus? What else do they do…build a hotel? So that’s the Airport Company plan? We should all stay there instead of trying to go home? Or should we take our cars and park in the new carpark building for some exorbitant fee?

    Come on Andy and Daran can’t you do this for us? A busstop.

  12. Peter B, 10. May 2021, 20:15

    Wellington is a capital city without a direct public bus to the airport. The idea that a 75-year-old with a 23kg bag arriving is meant to find their way to a bus stop from the airport with no signage onto a local bus 10 min away is crazy. The Wellington public has been over consulted over this; a bus is required. Just deliver it, be it Wellington City Council, Wellington Regional Council or Let’s get Wellington Moving. We have elected representatives who should accept full responsibility for the situation.

  13. Lawrence, 11. May 2021, 9:59

    I agree with you Dave B. With a bit of tweaking, signage, improved bus stop, crossing, and possibly vehicles with a bit more room for luggage that #2 is a good option. And I still insist on the price tag of the normal public service. Not unusual for “skybuses” to charge some ridiculous fares just to enter the airport grounds.

  14. Andrew Bartlett, 12. May 2021, 21:32

    Peter B, I understand we are due to be consulted on exactly that. The Regional Council is in the process of doing so, so they can spend ratepayers’ money as you demand. The previous commercial arrangement is no longer, we can’t bring it back, and it seems the new one fell over as well. (The airport claims it didn’t fall, but was pushed.) But either way what you ask for is happening, it is happening on a longer timeframe than you might like. Feel free to blame PTOM, that is the normal thing around here.