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Wed May 18 2022

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Four options unveiled for Wellington transport plan

2 Nov 21 Let’s Get Wellington Moving has set out four transport options as part of a multi-billion-dollar plan to move more people with fewer vehicles, enable more housing and help reduce carbon emissions.

The options for the New Zealand city are focused on mass rapid transit, improvements at the Basin Reserve and an extra Mt Victoria Tunnel.

Let’s Get Wellington Moving is a joint initiative between Wellington City Council (WCC), Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency. The organisations are supported by our partners Taranaki Whānui and Ngāti Toa.

“This is a once-in-a generation opportunity to make transformational change,” said Let’s Get Wellington Moving acting programme director David Dunlop. “Wellington is saying hello to a brighter future that will be welcoming more people. We are going to need more places to live, and smoother greener ways of getting around with fewer vehicles.

“Our goal is to build a world-class capital that we can all be proud of with streets that are beautiful and safe so that new housing and business will flourish. We won’t need to use our cars as often so can cut back on our carbon emissions. This is about building a better future for the city and region that we love.”

The centrepiece of the four options is mass rapid transit, either light rail or elongated electric buses. It’s expected that between 50,000 and 80,000 more people will call Wellington home over the next 30 years, according to the city’s forecasts. It said that new mass rapid transit, improvements at the Basin Reserve and an extra Mt Victoria Tunnel are needed to support the growing population.

 “We know that internationally, mass rapid transit systems encourage cities and suburbs to flourish and grow,” said Dunlop. The city plans for mass rapid transit to improve connections and travel options between the central city, and the southern and eastern suburbs. It will see complete renewal of streets along the route and enable more housing in a large part of the city.

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Public comment is being invited on the four options, which are:

  1. South coast light rail plus a new public transport tunnel – designed to move the most people possible to and from Island Bay and surrounding suburbs, beautifying the Basin Reserve, support the most housing and urban development, and make the streets better for everyone;
  2. Bus rapid transit ‘to the sea and skies’ – designed to move more people to and from Island Bay and surrounding suburbs, eastern suburbs and the airport, but with less housing and urban development than option 1.
  3. South coast light rail – designed to connect the most people between Wellington Railway Station, Island Bay and surrounding suburbs, encourage the most housing and urban development, make the streets better for everyone, and provide some public transport improvements to Hataitai, Miramar, and the airport.
  4. South Coast light rail via Taranaki – designed to provide light rail to Island Bay and surrounding suburbs but via Taranaki St, bypassing the Basin Reserve, beautify streets and encourage the most housing and urban development, for the lowest cost.

“As Wellington’s population grows, we’ll need to build more homes that we can afford and are closer to where we need to be,” said Dunlop. “And we need to act now on climate change. To do this we need state-of-the-art public transport to move more of us around Wellington quickly and reliably.”

“We’re looking at major changes to two routes – a southern suburbs route from Wellington Railway Station to Island Bay that has big potential for more housing. And an eastern suburbs route through Mt Victoria – an important connection, but with less potential for housing.”

Light rail is seen by the team as offering roomy and comfortable rides for up to 300 people. Bus rapid transit carries fewer people but can extend to other key destinations in future, such as the northern suburbs. Both vehicle types would run on dedicated lanes, bypassing congestion through busy parts of the city, and on shared lanes where traffic is lighter.

“This public engagement is about which elements should be in our transformational programme, not the details of those elements,” said Dunlop. “Considerable work has been done on the programme to develop these options, but we need to check in with the community before going further. We’ll develop detailed designs in the next stage of our work.

“Information and images are indicative only, and subject to change. Multiple options are still on the table and any impacts on individual properties are unclear at this point.

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