The government’s preferred transport option from Wellington includes light rail to the south coast

The government’s preferred option for redoing Wellington’s transport infrastructure includes light rail from the city center to the south coast.

Watch Infrastructure Minister Grant Robertson and Transport Minister Michael Wood here:

The option includes trains linking Wellington Central Station to Island Bay, an additional tunnel through Mount Victoria for buses, bikes and walkers, and the redevelopment of roads around the basin reserve.

If the light rail option was too expensive, she would consider using buses instead.

The plan is part of the $6.4 billion Let’s Get Wellington Moving program, a partnership between government, Wellington city and regional councils and Waka Kotahi.

However, the councils and Waka Kotahi have yet to agree to move the proposal to the business case stage.

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

More details on plans

When LGWM was first announced in 2019, it was expected to cost $6.4 billion, but is now expected to cost around $7.4 billion, in 2030 dollars, taking inflation into account.

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

Rapid Transit: Rapid Transit will pass through the Waterfront Quays, through Kent/Cambride 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 lanes 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 Mont Victoria. There will be green spaces for walking and cycling. Local traffic will be physically separated from northbound National Route 1 traffic in the basin reserve area.

Illustration showing traffic around Wellington Basin Reserve.
Photo: Supplied / LGWM

Infrastructure Minister Grant Robertson said it was a unique opportunity to reshape the city.

“[To] align transport and urban development, and help tackle the climate crisis by moving more people with fewer vehicles. »

The light rail would help service the significant number of new homes to be built over the next few decades to accommodate up to 80,000 new residents who are expected to live within city limits, Robertson said.

He expected a 25% increase in the number of people entering the city center each working day from across the region.

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

Robertson appealed to all Wellington residents, including the business community, to embrace the plan, saying it was a chance for the capital to develop in a sustainable way.

“This is Wellington’s best chance of developing a livable city over the next two decades,” Robertson said.

Illustration showing light rail in Wellington as part of the Let's Get Wellington Moving transport options.

The plan includes light rail from downtown Wellington to the south coast.
Photo:

Transport Minister Michael Wood said: “Our capital needs a rapid transit system that will serve the people of Wellington in the future, speeding up travel around the city, connecting communities, providing better access to businesses, while reducing congestion”

Illustrations released by the government appeared to show altered two-way traffic in parts of the Basin Reserve and an extension of the Arras Tunnel under Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. They also showed the current Mount Victoria tunnel converted for walking and cycling only.

Informations about LGWM website indicated that the light rail or bus options would have dedicated lanes in some parts of the network. He expects the morning journey between Island Bay and the station to be shortened by 12 minutes – from 35 minutes to 23 minutes.

It appeared that the plan included either option to race down the Kent/Cambridge terraces. He also said local traffic would be physically separated from northbound National Route 1 traffic in the Basin Reserve area.

Green Party infrastructure and transport spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter said the government’s preferred option would cost the most and have the biggest climate emissions.

She said it was unclear how this plan aligned with the government’s climate target of reducing the number of miles driven by private fossil fuel cars by 2035.

National Transport Party spokesman Simeon Brown said there was nothing new in the government’s announcement today of its plan to overhaul Wellington’s transport system and that it would do nothing to stop the traffic jam in the capital.

He said light rail – if it actually happened – and a second tunnel through Mount Victoria would not solve the problems.

Brown said Wellington needed a four-lane road through the city to the airport and Miramar.

He accused the Labor Party of putting its ideological preference for light rail ahead of what Wellingtonians actually need.

The LGWM program was officially launched in 2019 but has been plagued with problems and delays – with little concrete action so far apart from speed limit reductions in the city centre.

Things reports Treasury analysis that the price of $6.4 billion is expected to rise significantly.

Funding for the program is shared, with Wellington Councils funding 40% and the government supporting the rest of the tab.

‘It’s a huge day for Wellington’ – mayor

Municipal and regional councils in the capital appear to support the direction of the plan.

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

“The commitment of a second tunnel and a clear plan for the regularization of transport around the Bassin Reserve are important and long-awaited field issues.

“It is also important to point out other detailed investigations of urban development hypotheses along the route confirmed [mass transit] itinerary. Whether the ultimate choice is bus or rail will depend on the expected levels of urban development along the corridor. »

Wellington should be a city where people could get around easily, where there was a choice of transport but where there was more use of cycling, walking and public transport, who would welcome people, who would be livable and low-carbon, Foster said.

“Today was truly a great day for the City of Wellington as it aims to achieve all of these goals,” Foster said.

Greater Wellington Regional Council chairman Daran Ponter said the plan struck the right balance between action and flexibility, and was aligned with the council’s transportation plans.

Both councils will vote on the proposal next week.

Jose P. Rogers