The Lets Get Wellington Moving proposals for “mass transit” – which may or may not mean light rail – are “unbelievably stupid”, according to Brent Efford, the NZ agent for the UK-based Light Rail Transit Association. "The study has clearly taken no notice of expert advice and has failed to learn from international experience."
“While the report says good things about moving more people with fewer vehicles, the approach suggested in the Recommended Programme of Investment will not make that happen. Experience overseas of integrating regional heavy rail and local light rail routes suggests at least a doubling of overall rail patronage would happen if that obvious, and more economical, approach was taken ”
“Wellington” is not just a small city of 100,000 served by buses south of Thorndon but a metropolis of nearly half a million, 75% of whom live in an area served by a rail transit spine operated very much like light rail already. However, that rail transit spine stops at the edge of the CBD where 77% of the region’s economic activity happens. That circumstance incentivises the mass car commuting by the 75% which is the cause of most of the traffic congestion.
Wellington is one of the very few regions to have a rail transit system so crippled. As in Auckland, any big infrastructure investment must facilitate regional rail penetration of the CBD. Light rail (to the ambient railway gauge, of course) can do that; glorified buses, or any other incompatible technology, obviously will not.
Moreover, a waterfront route away from the Golden Mile – the region’s main street – instead going via Taranaki St not Courtenay Place, and a winding indirect route to the Airport via Miramar and mixed up with SH1 will cost more and be too slow to be an attractive alternative to driving.
"But the worst aspect of the whole plan is the failure to have an integrated high-capacity regional rail transit system penetrating the CBD, like every other rail-equipped city in the world either already has or, like Auckland, is striving towards", Mr Efford concluded.
NZ Agent, Light Rail Transit Assn
1 Boston Tce, Aro Valley,
Ph 04 938 9380 or
0274 887 387