We used the following principles to guide thinking about possible light rail routes and assess alternatives. The goal is to have light rail from the railway station to the airport by 2035, for a budget of $750M.
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- Give the people of Wellington an improved public transport network designed for the future that addresses climate change and health issues.
- Light rail is the most valuable, least flexible public transport asset, so put it where it needs to go and fit other assets, like buses, around it. Once it’s in place, it’s hard to move, so get it right first time. If there is a conflict between light rail and other vehicles, light rail takes priority.
- Trial public transport spine routes before any big works occur (bus priority and paint first). Ticketing and transfer issues should be ironed out before rails go into the road.
- To maximise ridership, identify the high demand locations along the route corridor and aim to put stations as close to these as possible.
- To minimise travel times, make the line as straight as possible, on a dedicated right-of-way, with an average of at least 600m between stations over the route as a whole. Stations will be closer together in the CBD, further apart in the suburbs.
- First priority is to have bus-only lanes and give PT priority at intersections.
- Other things being equal, prefer the least cost alternative.
- Identify improvements that can be done now; including bus-only routes, ticketing, intersection priority, Jan Gehl improvements along the Golden Mile that promote pedestrian use and fewer cars, sort out transfer points, retain trolleys at least for their useful life. A better bus interchange at the Railway Station is also needed (the current one is not user friendly).