Transport plan (with an affordability proviso) is announced for the capital – but don’t look too hard for the details

The  Ardern  government  has  done  it  again, announcing a  grandiose plan to reform Wellington’s  transport system. The plan  includes a long-overdue  duplicate Mt Victoria tunnel, a rearrangement  of  the road around the  Basin Reserve and a  light  rail operation from the  city  centre to the  south coast, all in  the  Let’s Get Wellington Moving project  at  an original  cost of $6.4bn, now put  at $7.4bn.

Fanciful?  It  is,  if  you  are looking  for  a  business case on (for example) the  light rail project.

The announcement included  this  proviso:

“If the light rail option was too expensive it would explore using buses instead”

So  why announce  it?

Could  it be  a fanfare in   the  wake of the declaration  earlier in the week that Labour MP Paul Eagle has  thrown his  hat in the  ring   to be  Mayor of  Wellington?

Infrastructure Minister Grant Robertson  (who also has  his hands on the purse strings) said this  was a once-in-a generation opportunity to reshape the city

“… [To] align transport and urban development, and help to address the climate crisis by moving more people with fewer vehicles.”

Light rail would help service the significant amount of new housing needing to be built in the coming decades to accommodate up to 80,000 new residents expected to be living within the city limits, Robertson said.

He expected a 25% increase in the number of people coming into the central city each workday from across the region.

“Light rail will support more people living centrally, close to where they work, study and live their lives,” Robertson said.

 He  wants all Wellingtonians including the business community to get on board with the plan, saying it was a chance for the capital to grow sustainably.

“This is the best chance Wellington has to develop a liveable city across the next couple of decades,” Robertson said.

Transport Minister Michael Wood said:

“Our capital needs a linked-up rapid transit transport network that will serve Wellingtonians into the future, making it faster to move through the city, connecting communities, providing greater access to businesses, all while reducing congestion,”

Under the  preferred option  of light rail,  trains will connect Wellington’s central train station to Island Bay, an extra tunnel will be drilled through Mount Victoria for buses bicycles and walkers, and roads around the Basin Reserve will be rearranged.

The  City  and  Regional Councils and Waka Kotahi are yet to agree to take the proposal to the business case phase.

There are no indicative costs released with the plan, nor many details.

The detailed business case is expected to be done by 2024, when the public can give more feedback.

Mass Rapid Transit: Mass rapid transit will run via the waterfront Quays, via Kent/Cambridge Terraces, past the hospital and through Berhampore to Island Bay. Wood said there would also be bus rapid transit to the eastern suburbs and the airport via dedicated bus lanes in a new Mount Victoria tunnel. The current Haitaitai tunnel will remain in place, and will be used for local public transport services.

Second Mount Victoria Tunnel: Four lane in total – one lane each way for public transport and one for private vehicles.

Basin Reserve: It will no longer be a roundabout, and the Arras Tunnel will be extended towards the Mount Victoria. There will be green spaces for walking and cycling. Local traffic will be physically separated from northbound SH1 traffic at the Basin Reserve area.

Wellington mayor Andy Foster said it was a “massive day” for the city and showed the government’s commitment to its future.

“Committing to a second tunnel and a clear plan for sorting out transport around the Basin Reserve are important, long-awaited stakes in the ground.

“Important too is signalling of further detailed investigations into urban development assumptions along the confirmed [mass transit] route. Whether the ultimate choice is bus or rail-based will depend on the levels of urban development expected along the corridor.”

Wellington should be a city that people could get around in easily, where there was a choice of transport but where there was more cycling, walking and public transport use, that would accommodate people, that was liveable and that was low carbon, Foster said.

One thought on “Transport plan (with an affordability proviso) is announced for the capital – but don’t look too hard for the details

  1. A totally cynical announcement of possible future announcements timed for the Council elections. Wellingtonians are once again being played for the suckers they obviously are for habitually voting Left.



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