Wellington Scoop

Transport issues: Nick Leggett

We’ve been asking mayoral candidates to tell us their views about transport issues in the city. The questions were prepared with the Transporting Wellington blog. Here’s the fourth response, from Nick Leggett.

1 In what ways do you think transport in Wellington will change over the next twenty years?

I think population growth will force a different approach to transport. While Wellington is forecast to grow quite slowly in comparison to other major cities, this may change and we have to be prepared for that. Greater intensification close to the CBD would serve Wellington well as it would mean an increase in uptake of walking and cycling.

In terms of private car travel it is estimated that by 2031, without any further investment in infrastructure or implementation of incentives, the number of trips into the CBD will rise from 64 million to 75 million per year. So we know based on this that Wellington’s roads are only going to get busier.

Therefore I think Council needs to focus on putting in place the strategies and necessary infrastructure to ensure this increase is minimised in any way possible and managed so that it doesn’t have an adverse affect on the CBD and overall traffic flow.

2 Do you believe there is traffic congestion in Wellington? If so, to what extent does it affect Wellington residents and the wider economy?

There is congestion as proved by the release of the Tom Tom 2016 annual traffic survey. Wellington’s congestion has worsened to 30% up from 24% in 2013. However the standout point is Wellington’s peak morning congestion, with Wellingtonians spending 75% more time travelling during the morning peak compared with an uncongested trip. Congestion has a large range of both economic and health related negative externalities – for example, the average Wellingtonian who commutes into work each day spends 162 hours per year sitting in congestion, that’s 42 minutes per day of lost time. There are ways to mitigate the negative effects of congestion and I believe council needs to fully explore the options and alternatives and implement those that are most effective.

3 People believe it is unlikely major transport projects in Wellington can be completed without the help of Central Government. In what ways have you shown you can work constructively with Central Government to deliver on major projects?

As Mayor of Porirua I have been actively involved with Government and NZTA over a number of years to not only secure agreement on the route, but changes to designation and agreement over funding partnership (between Local and Central Government) with link roads at Waitangirua and Whitby.

More recently, I have ensured the Porirua City Council was responsive to the needs of the Gateway Partnership (Transmission Gully PPP) with changes to planning and the route.

I have strong relationships inside NZTA at many levels and Government has said they believe Porirua has a more “progressive” attribute to transport than Wellington. This is a clear nod to my leadership.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Regional Council, WCC and NZTA need a formal “Alliance” to more effectively manage operative transport within Wellington City so prioritisation of particular modes can occur. I would engage around this Concept immediately upon election . It’s mindless that road signalling for instance is not co-ordinated between local roads and State Highways. We are not optimising our network at any level currently.

Such an Alliance should also deal with an overall plan for Wellington City, timeline and funding of the projects that are identified in the plan.

4. In Wellington’s Urban Growth Plan 2014, there was a transport hierarchy where some people inferred cycling would be given higher priority than public transport and roading. Do you agree with that transport hierarchy?

No. I believe the hierarchy should be “flattened” so we get the best mode in the best area. We don’t need an ideological position adopted prior to considering our transport network. If we are to get a truly integrated network, we cannot pre-suppose which mode has priority.

In my view, State Highway 1 is being “right sized” across the region – except Wellington City. We need to engage Central Government in an agreement to four lane State Highway 1 from and including the Terrace Tunnel to the airport.

5. Do you support the airport runway extension? Will your support/opposition change depending on how it is to be funded? Why?

I support the extension and the associated projection of visitor numbers and economic activity. Wellington must branch out from being solely seen at the seat of Government and begin to drive its unique economic offering on behalf of New Zealand inc.

The first challenge is for the Resource Consent to be secured. This will then allow a commercial funding proposal to be formed, consulted and agreed upon. The proposal does not “fly” without Government support. This will be the key step once the consent is achieved.

A Business Case should be developed that justifies a greater commercial component in the funding. I am hopeful that this is possible.

6. What would you like to see done to improve movements for pedestrians, bikes, buses and cars around the Basin Reserve?

We have to consider the Basin issue as part of the wider Terrace to Airport connection (SH1). Clearly the Basin Bridge provided grade separation for local and national traffic, but it also provided excellent linkages for PT, pedestrians and cyclists. Whatever the solution at the Basin, all modes must be catered for as part of a wider plan for the city.

It must also be taken into consideration that a solution to the Basin Reserve chokepoint is required before the implementation of upgraded public transport systems such as Bus Rapid Transit or Light Rail can go ahead. This should be a priority for council.

7. What do you believe should happen with the Island Bay Cycleway? Why?

I’ve said that I would act upon compromise recommendations from the local community and cycling groups. Politicians caused the problems around this decision by ignoring officer advice and NZTA partnership funding priorities; I don’t believe we are the experts in solving those problems.

8. For cycling, given the choice of prioritizing either CBD cycling routes, suburban cycling routes or the Great Harbour Way, what order of priority would you choose? Why?

I would be interested in supporting the routes that would have the most usage and generates the most economic return. I would support either recreational routes such as the Great Harbour Way or CBD to suburb routes. The principle of connecting existing routes to new ones would also feature in my decision making. The problem with Island Bay is that it is effectively a stranded cycling route with no real connectivity.

9. In what ways would you like to improve public transport in the Wellington area? Why? If you think public transport is already good enough, tell us why it is the case.

Bus Rapid Transit would be the key project I would be supportive of. WCC must do everything possible to assist GWRC in rolling this out, This includes providing much needed priority bus lanes from Ngauranga to the Airport. BRT is a cost effective solution that provides a level of flexibility, meaning that it can be extended as and when is needed to match population growth patterns and demand.

Integrated ticketing is another key project that I would support and lobby for. We have to make PT easier for people to choose and it must be prioritised as a mode so more people use it and have a guarantee about faster and more reliable journeys on PT.

10. In a world where funds and political support is of no issue, what one transport related project or policy would you choose to approve?

I would support Light Rail Transit extending from the Wellington Railway Station and connecting to the South, East and West to all outer suburbs.

Tomorrow: Helene Ritchie


  1. lindsay, 15. August 2016, 7:43

    Amazing. Nick, Keith, Justin and Nicola – they are all saying they support the longterm aim of light rail for Wellington.

  2. Trevor, 15. August 2016, 10:16

    Leggett says he supports the runway extension and expresses the hope that a commercial funding proposal will be developed. He needs to come clean about where he stands on ratepayer funding as this is a crucial election issue for many.

  3. Trish, 15. August 2016, 10:42

    Can someone please enroll Nick in a Plain English writing course. (Please note that I used capitals for the course subject only because I can see that nick thinks that all Important Words should have capitals.) And if he want to communicate I suggest that he cuts back on the jargon – one never sees “PT” in the middle of an article in the DomPost, only in discussions among the in-crowd.

  4. Paul, 15. August 2016, 12:56

    One has to be concerned about Mr Leggett’s “close ties at all levels with NZTA”.

    We have seen how well NZTA treats ratepayers and the general public with a poorly planned and consulted Basin proposal and a near criminally incompetent P2G extension plan. Time and time again Nick has shown he will support an incompetent and authoritarian agency over the welfare of his own voters. How can Wellington residents be assured his track record will be any better if he becomes Mayor?

  5. Ellen13, 15. August 2016, 17:17

    Starts off well recognising the increase in cars into the city with business as projected. But building more roads won’t fix it. Will pedestrian numbers (17% commute Wellington) decline to the poor levels of Porirua (3%) under these proposals?

  6. Sez, 20. August 2016, 20:05

    Just get the feeling he doesn’t really know Wellingon – or Wellingtonians. And there’s a lot of waffle in his response. He could have done another term in Porirua, but I can’t see Nick as Wellingnton mayor on a pro-runway ticket.

  7. James Young, 22. August 2016, 8:38

    I won’t be voting for Nick Leggett. I will be voting for my sister Nicola Young. Unlike Nick, she is a resident of Wellington and a long time resident. I believe she has done a good job as a councilor and that anyone who wants to be a mayor of our city needs to have first served on the council to know how it works. I don’t think Nick did a very good job in Porirua and people I have spoken to out there confirm this.

  8. Chris Laidlaw, 5. September 2016, 14:13

    Nick recognised, unlike many others, that the big transport decisions have got to be the product of joined up decision-making between the regional council, the city council and NZTA. That is what we are engaged in with the Get Welly Moving exercise. The city by itself simply can’t afford the big capital outlays. I find it very surprising that so many mayoral candidates don’t seem to get this.

  9. The City is Ours, 5. September 2016, 23:33

    Transport decisions guided by safety audits would be preferable. I would like to know whether Chris Laidlaw has read the latest safety audit for the Golden Mile and whether Get Wellington Moving will be including it in its planning?