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FIT Wellington: Open Letter to LGWM

Barry Mein
Let’s Get Wellington Moving Programme Director
NZ Transport Agency regional office
P O Box 5084, Lambton Quay
Wellington 6145

Michael Barnett
Convenor, FIT Wellington
299 Karaka Bay Road
Karaka Bays
Wellington 6022

FIT’s response to LGWM’s presentation to GW STC meeting

Dear Barry

We are encouraged by your presentation to Greater Wellington’s Sustainable Transport Committee on 9 May 2017. We like your consideration of light rail (LR) as an option; also LGWM’s plan to engage independent consultants to look at the 2014 PTSS assumptions. There are numerous international LR consultants—we would be happy to suggest some.

However, we are concerned that you appeared to endorse the Auckland approach of buses now and convert the route to light rail some time in the far future. LR will take up to 10 years from the decision to go ahead. The route to the airport should be specific for the needs of LR, which are not necessarily the needs of buses. We support bus-route and other improvements to keep the buses flowing, but we think it imperative to make the definite decision for light rail now. Our concern is that merely “protecting the route” for LR may further postpone its introduction and increase the cost. Here are some points you may wish to consider:

  • The existing bus route along the golden mile is carrying some 140 buses an hour, more than double the desirable optimum of about 60.
  • GW proposes double-deck buses which may increase route capacity, but may also reduce passenger through-put due to delays in boarding at stops.

You downplayed our assertion (shared by other interest groups) that without a commitment for LR, LGWM may be seen as a smokescreen for the current government’s intention to push through with its roads of national significance to Wellington Airport. This will consume all government funding available for Wellington and leave little else for investment in the public’s preference for public and active transport modes. LGWM rightly emphasizes a multi-modal approach: more roads will not only frustrate your ambition but will also oppose the public’s wishes.

No city anywhere has built its way out of traffic congestion by building more urban motorways. LR offers a congestion-free alternative to private vehicle travel. Complemented by a network of connecting buses, LR will provide the capacity needed to shift large numbers of people quickly. This will have major economic benefits for the city, enhance the urban form and reduce pollution and emissions.

We consider that light rail, initially on the high-population spine, is a key component of a multi-modal transport system for Wellington. To keep faith with the public, LGWM must include light rail in its scenarios.

Yours sincerely


Michael Barnett (Convenor)


John Rankin


Ian Shearer


Russell Tregonning


Derek Wilshere


Kerry Wood


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