The Eye of the Fish

June 16, 2008

Ngauranga to Airport (Part 2)

Its that time again – time for another round in the turtle-paced tennis match that is the public consultation process. This time the ball is back in our court, taking the form of a new draft plan for the Ngauranga-Airport transport corridor.

The plan is quick to address what is perhaps the most topical of the proposed options: light rail. To summarise, the report concludes that light rail is “exciting” and “potentially a very effective public transport solution,” but that none of the tested options were found to be feasible within the next deacde. However a “detailed scheme assesment” is to be undertaken within 5-10 years.

Instead, the suggested strategy is primarily focused around producing a rapid bus transit system along the much lauded ‘growth spine’ of the N2A corridor. Within 5 years, bus priority measures are planned to be put in place between the railway station and Newtown, which essentially means that dedicated bus lanes will be implemented during peak times, along with some minor improvements such as electronic arrival tracking and traffic signal manipulation for late buses. The plan is also quick to point out that these new busways could easily become the base infrastructure for a future light rail line.

The Basin Reserve is set for some fairly major improvements, with much of the traffic flow being reshaped so as to accommodate the new bus lanes and a more segregated, efficient route for cars. Improving the quality of the public space and transport access options is also on the agenda. Although not mentioned explicitly, the option of new fly-over is illustrated in the accompanying artist’s impression – along with light rail (anyone else notice how these sort of sketches always seem to include light rail…?)

Some other minor points:

Anyway, be sure to check out the draft (its only about 15 pages) and let us know what you think. Was light rail passed over to easily? Are improvements to the bus system really enough – or are more radical solutions needed?

17 - 06 - 08

Whoever the ‘artist’ is on the picture of the ‘flyover’, they’re certainly no architect or engineer – that hideous stick-on arch-oid each side is just heinous. Not a structural diagramme by anyone’s stretch of imagination.

Fair go that no one has actually designed it yet. But don’t leave it up to the office junior with a crayon to design. page 13 of the draft – noted in the posting above.

Actually, while i’m on a rant, why is there even an option for a flyover here? Could there be anything more likely to kill off the Basin Reserve than a bloody great motorway leaping through the air nearby? Arch or no arch – this is a bit of road we don’t need. Get rid of the lame traffic engineers and ask someone with more than half a brain to design an alternative. That flyover has got to go.

18 - 06 - 08

I have a few problems with that picture too. Namely that pictures like that are dangerous. Probably put there intentionally in this case to support the author’s preferences. People will expect that it will look like that and we all know it is impossible for it to. It doesn’t even align with the schemes proposed (e.g. including off ramp onto Cambridge Tce. Also notice there are only two southbound lanes where currently there are four. Light rail wouldn’t follow that route. Etc.

I know that’s just a sketch, and to make people think, but its use in a report like this is (intentionally) dangerous because it can seriously affect peoples thinking. If someone makes a submission, seeing that, they might well have no problem with a bridge. Then if they build a bridge they will use their support to justify it, even though if the submitter saw the real picture they might well not.

Other than that, on the face of it, the whole thing seem like a bit of a backpeddle from the original ambitious proposals. Mostly sounds like its about not doing much useful at all and waiting until the future…?

My big problem is they’ve completely ignored (there is no other way to put it) the submissions for public transport/LRT and against road building, they’re asking for more submissions again. So essentially this means that all those submissions were wasted, if everyone who previously submitted now doesn’t resubmit, effectively they will win.

What if thousands submit in favour of LRT again? I know! We’ll produce another report that ignores that again!

Its ridiculous.

On top of that, anyone in the industry able to comment on how it can cost $6 million for a simple scheme assessment of bus priority/LRT that’s only worth between 20 and 140 million completed!? Surely for that price you can undertake full engineering work, and complete the tender for supply/construction, and have some left over to PM the supply/construction through to finish. $6 million, that’s a staff of 50 people for a year, or 35,000 man hours worth of well paid contractors.


18 - 06 - 08

it is possible that the entire “consultation” thing is just a charade, and that the GWRC and WCC and Transit have already agreed to do whatever it is they want, and that the rest of this expensive consultation is just a waste of time.

To paraphrase an old hippy saying, “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal…”

18 - 06 - 08

>Interestingly, one of the investigated options was to extend the rail line along the waterfront to the start of Courtenay Place

The waterfront never feels like a good route to me. If you figure that a public transport station has a catchment area of about 500m or so… maybe less in the CBD… then half a waterfront station’s catchment area is sea or development with a very low density.

Whereas running buses or trams along Lambton Quay covers all the area that a waterfront route covers, but also brings the Terrace and the top end of Willis St in to play.

I’m presuming that the reason the waterfront is often mentioned in this context is that it’d be cheap, being relatively straight and it wouldn’t be hard to close off a couple of lanes of traffic to use for trams. While a Lambton Quay route involves complex routing decisions in order to connect Lambton Quay to Manners St.

18 - 06 - 08

So, half way in between would be Featherston St then? Take out all the cars and run Light Rail through there?

Actually that would work quite well, except for the south end where it runs into the MLC building, and would have to smash through or do some pretty tight curves. That’s why they’ve always been talking about along the waterfront – wide open space (former race-car track – ha ! that’ll work well for a high speed rail link as well then) and not that much infrastructure in the ground, and certainly no sharp corners till Mt Vic/New World

18 - 06 - 08

I’ve always thought it would be fun to send two railway lines ala Britomart down Featherston Street and then underground into the BNZ Centre and develop that into a proper hub, on one of the busiest corners in the country. Willis Street could become one way for northbound buses and victoria street could become the southbound bus route with a major stop outside or between the Library and Chew’s Lane. Southbound could also be sent down Victoria Street, which is sort of a deadish cousin of Willis/Manners, however that would cut out the Manners Street stop.

18 - 06 - 08

Meant to write terminal instead of hub.

Also, that’d send rents skyrocketing in the Old Bank and surrounds, but NW wouldn’t have to build another Metro :)

18 - 06 - 08

What has this country got against good quality, modern public transport? And by that I mean specifically light rail….

Honestly, every other first world country has it to some degree. Its embarressing.

Yes, its expensive now – but its not going to get any cheaper by the time we really need it.

Its all so depressing…..

18 - 06 - 08

So, half way in between would be Featherston St then? Take out all the cars and run Light Rail through there? Actually that would work quite well, except for the south end where it runs into the MLC building, and would have to smash through or do some pretty tight curves.

Modern articulated trams can go around the tightest corners imaginable. They just kink around the curve. Some European trams now are articulated into as many as nine sections. The newest in Melbourne now have five sections.

The articulations mean the trams can carry huge numbers of people because they are very long, but can go around very very tight corners.

I’d just run them right through the CBD on the main golden mile bus route. They would run off the Johnsonville rail line at Thorndon Quay then through the CBD and out to Newtown via Kent/Cambridge Tce and Adelaide Rd.

Allow only trams and trolley buses along the golden mile corridor, banish all those diesel buses to Featherston St and other side roads like the old City Outer Route used to do.

Easy peasy.

18 - 06 - 08

Are there any examples of fantastic public transport in a city of a similar size to Wellington? Melbourne, Toyko, Berlin… nice examples but how relevant are they? (they’re huge)

I’m currently living in a city of 300,000 in Japan and have been dissapointed at the quality of the public transport here. There’s a definite car culture here that I wasn’t expecting.

I know Wellington has the topography that should help in getting good public transport along some routes. But does Wellington really have the population density to support light rail? It’s something I’d love to see happen. Surely there must be one good example somewhere in the world where there is quality light rail in a city of a similar size to Wellington.

18 - 06 - 08

Are there any examples of fantastic public transport in a city of a similar size to Wellington? Melbourne, Toyko, Berlin… nice examples but how relevant are they? (they’re huge)

There are many such examples. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are smallish Japanese cities with trams.

In Europe, cities of similar size to Wellington with trams and trolley buses include Bern, Geneva, St Gallen and Zurich. French cities with new modern tramways include Montpellier. Freiberg in Germany has a fast-expanding modern tramway. There are heaps more. Gent in Belgium has trams and trolley buses.

I could go on but you get the picture.

18 - 06 - 08

What I would do in my ideal world (involving rail matters other than Wellingtonian):

1. Rail only moves about 15-20% of NZ’s freight. It doesn’t deliver benefits even vaguely approaching the money that the taxpayer will have to put in to it to make it viable. Most of our national transport corridors have half baked roads and a half baked rail system running along them. Close down the rail system outside of Wellington and Auckland metro areas. Use those corridors and the money saved to improve the road system.

2. That allows us to close the Wellington rail yards. We have an area the size of the CBD dedicated to rearranging trains, and it is on the doorstep of parliament. What a waste! And bloody ugly to boot.

3. Dig a couple of cut and cover tunnels through the current rail yards to an underground station under the current station. Sell the land above… it must be worth a fortune. Use the money to develop a proper light rail system as follows.

4. Heavy metro rail system could terminate at the underground railway system. The J’ville line could be converted to light rail and continue, in tunnel, under Thorndon Quay/Featherston St to emerge in Stout St. It would then run on the surface along Lambton Quay to the Old BNZ.

5. Where it would drop in to tunnel to emerge again outside the library on Victoria St. It would then run on the surface through Manners Mall and Courtenay Place to a tunnel through Mt Vic.

6. After that, to Miramar and the airport?

7. The number of passengers wanting to transfer between heavy and light rail at the station is likely to be large. In which case you might want to consider converting the whole system to light rail and feeding most trains through the CBD to a variety of end points. Island Bay being a good candidate. And you can do this safely because you wouldn’t be mixing light rail, heavy rail, and freight on the same lines… never a good idea when collisions are possible. Light rail would be more frequent than heavy metro rail, turning it in to a turn up and ride system, rather than something operating to a timetable. The funneling aspect means that light rail trains will be coming along Lambton Quay at intervals of a minute or two.

8. And I already mentioned that the light rail and the tunneling could be financed out of building offices and apartments all over the old rail yards.

18 - 06 - 08

Thanks for the fine list Poneke, you had me exploring the world on Wikipedia. It’s the density of the population rather than the size that’s needed (and quite a few on your list seem much denser than Wellington). I hope the growth spine is developed with a good public transport system to encourage more higher density housing. I don’t see how continually developing new subdivisions (Woodridge, Lincolshire) is going to in any way help promote population growth along the spine or the use of trams feeding off the railway system. Instead it’ll just create more traffic headaches and demand for better roads.

Actually the city I’m in has a tram line, but it seems to have been superceded horrendously by the use of the car. I’d say Wellington’s public transport is better than here. I think it’d be great to improve public transport in Wellington with either light rail or improved trolley busways but dreams of subways seem a bit ridiculous.

18 - 06 - 08

“dreams of subways seem a bit ridiculous”? No no, mystery “a”, its called planning ahead. Auckland had the chance in the 60s, with Sir Dove Myer Robinson – people called him mad then, and now they all wished they had saved the transport corridors he was trying to set up then, instead of the cars they have now. And look at what a fine mess Auckland is in now. Instead they built a motorway system, and despite spending several billions of dollar on that, its more choked up now than ever.

London started building its subway, the world’s first, when it was a whole lot smaller than it is now. Figures, figures – it was only 860,000 in 1800, although it grew fast, and i think it was about 2.3 million in 1850, if you include the whole greater london area, and it was packed – heaving with people – choked to the gills. But they put the tubes through starting in – ooh, about 1863 from memory – which was too late really, as the city was already choked, but then, fair enough, they hadn’t invented the tube lines till then – indeed, they only invented the steam engine in 1829.

So, brief history lesson aside – we need to plan ahead. And identify and save a route for rapid transit right now, while we can. Doesn’t matter if we don’t build it for another 20, we need to know where it should go. And if a modern day equivalent to Robert Stephenson comes along with a hover board, or a serious working Pod system before then, we can scrap it and take to the skies with nuclear powered backpacks. But until then – we plan ahead.

Presumably there is some boffin in the GWRC sitting with a slide rule and a pack of model trains and bits of string, reading this right now, and planning our future transport system. We need to support him (or her) against the mind-numbingly Roads-only mentality of Transit and their equally boring bunch of boffins.

19 - 06 - 08

GWRC say they are keen for public input and submissions.
Roadshow on at the following times and dates:

Wednesday 18 June, 1pm-4pm – yesterday
Kilbirnie Community Centre, Bay Road

Thursday 19 June, 11am-2pm – today !
Ground Floor, Wellington Public Library

Saturday 21 June, 11am-2pm
Queensgate Mall, Lower Hutt

Saturday 28 June, 11am-2pm
Paraparaumu Library Meeting Room

Saturday 5 July, 11am-2pm
Trentham City Mall

Saturday 12 July, 11am-2pm
North City, Porirua

Saturday 19 July, 11am-2pm
Johnsonville Mall

19 - 06 - 08

what fictional world are these people (consultants, wcc, etc) living in?

The daily news is filled with stories about the cost of living starting to hurt people because of rising energy costs, yet this proposal is as if petrol is cheap and plentiful and there is no impending financial disaster awaiting.

Why are they proposing additional investment in a transport mode that is increasingly obvious to be a dead end? We’re going to build a multibillion dollar roadway system for the 100 people who can afford to drive on it.

That’s efficient.

19 - 06 - 08

“Are there any examples of fantastic public transport in a city of a similar size to Wellington? Melbourne, Toyko, Berlin… nice examples but how relevant are they? (they’re huge)”
here’s a list of existing systems worldwide

The best predictors however are not urban population as much as density and current ridership. Compare LA with a metro population of 14 million with a metro ridership only twice as high as Denver at 2 million.

If you want some good examples of success stories however, the western US is full of good ones. You have to remember that with the vast majority of growth in the western US occurred post WW2 and is very car oriented. The most successful examples are actually several mid sized cities – Denver, Salt Lake City, and Portland. While eastern cities such as Washington DC, Boston or New York may have daily ridership of 600,000 or more, they are more dense and are built to encourage people to take transit. Portland, Denver and Salt Lake have been successful in getting people out of their cars and on to transit. In addition, those cities have used existing urban centres for transit nodes and oriented growth at those locations.

All the numbers I have seen point to a ridership base of 10,000 to 12,000 daily to be the minimum for a successful light rail system.

The other added bonus is that often light rail introduces people to transit and actually increases the people who use the bus as well…

19 - 06 - 08

jayseatee – it sounds as though a car sharing scheme has been launched in Auckland recently, and may come to Wellington soon. Just thought you’d like to know that.

19 - 06 - 08

I saw a reference to that. good news. thanks.

19 - 06 - 08

to add further-
Portland and Denver are two excellent examples of overall inter-modal transportation networks that wellington should look at as models. IN the mid 1980’s denver asked Pei Cobb Freed to design a pedestrian mall in downtown to help reinvigorate the dead urban center. They created the basis of what is now a mile long busy strip connecting Union Station to the Colorado Capitol. Free shuttles go up and down the street every two minutes with people hopping on and off. The free shuttle service helped increase activity through the downtown, instead of keeping people isolated in their two to three block radius of their office. Then through the years light rail has been added as an intersecting component, and soon the revitalisation of Union Station will introduce train service to the suburbs and the airport. Denver has also seen the incredible development of downtown housing and has also moved all of their sports arenas into the urban centre.

Portland has a similar strategy that utilises pedestrian zones and a central free bus service with short shuttle style routes. The advantage of this is that it helps create an identifiable space and transit combo, as opposed to a random path linked to a easily forgettable route number. This strategy has been adopted by a growing number of cities to get people to use the bus system. DC has implemented several shuttle routes to try to make up for a rail system that is well over capacity.

The advantage of the free central city bus service is that it encourages people to spend more time in the CBD. You can move all around the central area, quickly and easily for free, resulting in more money spent in the CBD, more activity, more desire to live in the CBD etc.

19 - 06 - 08

The advantage of the free central city bus service is that it encourages people to spend more time in the CBD. You can move all around the central area, quickly and easily for free, resulting in more money spent in the CBD, more activity, more desire to live in the CBD etc.

We already have an excellent CBD bus service that large numbers of people use. Many of them possess monthly Gold Passes or daily day trippers so in effect are using it for free. For those who pay it is only $1 a ride and has been since 1993.

I don’t see any need for a free bus service in the CBD given the high level of very good service.

What is needed is to close to other traffic most of the streets the buses use, so they are not held up by private cars, etc.

19 - 06 - 08

>The advantage of the free central city bus service is that it encourages people to spend more time in the CBD. You can move all around the central area, quickly and easily for free, resulting in more money spent in the CBD, more activity, more desire to live in the CBD etc.

Manchester also has a free city center bus service. Very useful. And the routes are colour coded so easy to work out, even for tourists.

19 - 06 - 08

The aspect of colour coding or some kind of visual identification is part of what makes these systems very successful. There are some very interesting psychological things that happen. For some reason when a bus becomes a limited distance shuttle service such as the ones in Denver, Portland etc, and has a visual continuity along its route, whether its through signage, landscaping, street scaping, etc., it becomes a much more intuitive transit option, coming close to the psychological permanence of light rail or other metro systems. As for the free aspect, this is another strange psychological thing that cannot be underestimated. You make the bus free and people are more likely to use it, in fact they will chose to use it to go further because it is free.

I worked in Denver. My office was on one end of the 16th street mall. For lunch we would think nothing of going to the other end of the transit mall, and then walking an additional 3 blocks to go to lunch. It would be the equivalent of going from the beehive to manners mall, then walking down cuba street. Because it is free and quick and intuitive it becomes a non decision, as if no effort is required. It’s a strange phenomenon, but even if the bus is 1 just 1 dollar, people will be selective in their use.

I also worked in downtown Seattle where they also had free bus service in the central district. In addition, in preparation for a transit system that is still not complete, they had constructed an underground bus tunnel. All free. It really does change peoples habits when they can just jump on and off transit that follows an easily mentally defined route. It becomes second nature. And once you get them into the free system, then are easier to convert to the longer routes that require payment.

19 - 06 - 08

And of course if it is free, within the confines of the CBD (which you can easily do with a loop route) then there isn’t all the mucking around with tickets and money which slows boarding.

I’m very fond of Manchester’s system. I’d arrived in town last year on an express train that had terminated one stop past the station I wanted. I was asking a station attendant when the next train doubling back was (quite a long time), and preparing to grab my backpack and just walk a couple of kilometers, when he started pointing at a bus and shouting “it is going where you want to go and its FREE”.

Trains and trams are better than buses because they stop at named stations, they keep to a fixed route, and there is usually a big graphical colour coded map to allow you to monitor progress. By contrast, you really have to know a city well to use buses, and remember lots of winding routes and service numbers. If you’re a stranger in a place, it is easy to get lost and end up in the middle of goodness-knows-where.

Stephen Judd
19 - 06 - 08

I already blogged about it.

20 - 06 - 08

DavidP, “The waterfront never feels like a good route to me. If you figure that a public transport station has a catchment area of about 500m or so…[snip] it’d be cheap, being relatively straight and it wouldn’t be hard to close off a couple of lanes of traffic to use for trams. While a Lambton Quay route involves complex routing decisions in order to connect Lambton Quay to Manners St.”

It has already been more or less declared by the Council, LRT proponents, and previous studies that the Golden Mile is the best route for LRT. I think when they talk about the waterfront they’re talking about the subway route to Taranaki St studied by Opus. Rough diagram of that route here:

KLK, “Honestly, every other first world country has it to some degree. Its embarressing.”

Totally, and frustrating, and upsetting, and all kinds of things. :(

a, “Are there any examples of fantastic public transport in a city of a similar size to Wellington? Melbourne, Toyko, Berlin… nice examples but how relevant are they? (they’re huge)”

It’s mostly about density and usage. I.e. it doesn’t matter your population so long as the corridor creates that much PT usage. Wellington’s Golden Mile and Growth Spine rank pretty well in that regard and are only going to get better. Wait until petrol hits $4 dollars a litre, there’ll be absolutely no question then. But also by then because of the head in the sand attitude of the Government (central & local) the cost to improve PT will be huge, and disruptions to PT caused by construction will have an even greater impact.

This cost is going up already, Perth here has found that the time to deliver new trains has increased beyond their expectations, and to their detriment, and people are going to find the cost to get trains and busses is going to increase too as demand around the world for their manufacture increases.

rondo, “No no, mystery “a”, its called planning ahead.”

Hear-hear! Please does someone in the Council not understand this!? Back in the time of the De Leuw Cather report there were plans for a subway in the future, two plans, which we’d only dream of these days, but if they’d only fixed them into the town plan, then now it would be so much easier to build.

Instead of learning, we’re continueing to build buildings around wellington that get in the way of such routes, both for subways, and also critically for Light Rail too. This just drives up the cost further.

Strangely mind you, no one ever seems to have any problem pulling buildings down or doing massive earthworks, removing entire streets, for a motorway :-\

What is it our Councillors and planners know that the rest of the world doesn’t? Meh, just fired this off to councillors@wcc, see if they respond.


With the N2A study appearing to be take the same old business as usual approach, and the legitimate concerns of the majority of submissions being completely ignored by the most recent study report: I have a few direct and simple questions I’d like to ask about your views on planning for the future.

1. What do you anticipate the price of oil to be in 2 years?

2. And in 5 years?

3. When were you first made aware of the peak oil theory and do you believe it is actually likely to occur within the next 10 years (if not already)?

4. Do you support completion of light rail transport through Wellington’s Growth Spine within the next 10 years?

5. Do you support duplication of the Mt Victoria tunnel within the next 10 years?

6. If you beleive that oil-based transport will be replaced by electric vehicles or other alternatives: what time frame do you expect this to occur in and what do you expect will be the total cost to the economy of replacing the entire vehicle fleet?

7. As above, do you expect that all socio economic levels of society will be able to afford this transition or do you anticipate a major impact on many people’s standard of living? If you do, what percentage of the population do you expect will be negatively affected and how do you anticipate this will be handled?

Thanks very much!


20 - 06 - 08

I still maintain that a subway in a city the size of Wellington is not a realistic option. I was in Tokyo when they opened up their new line recently, 250 billion yen for an 8km section. That’s a hell of a lot of money. They expect up to 300,000 passengers per day and even then the general consensus seems to be it’ll never recoup the investment.

On the other hand if I read the draft plan correctly light rail from J’ville to the Hospital costs only $140million. Compare that to the $1b cost of transmission gully. What’s the hold up? They should start building immediately.

20 - 06 - 08

I once heard that the original London underground lines were built privately. The companies made their money by buying up cheap land, and then banking the increased property prices, after the system was up and running. I doubt that option is available in Wellington.

Above ground light rail is already luxury compared to what we got… I just hope there is enough public pressure to get the WCC to agree to commission a report by an experienced international PT consultant about incorporating light rail into Wellington’s transport infrastructure. If that happens it would likely be relatively easy to raise public support for the option, especially if the price tag turns about to be cheaper than tunnels and roads.

a – Did the $140m price include a link onto the J’Ville line, or was did it just terminate at the station?

20 - 06 - 08

Here is the detailed estimate for the Airport to Ngauranga Light Rail Option. I have put the costs on the left and used tabs to make it understandable but the format may not work in the blog. The N2A LR is for a line that starts from the Railway station (i.e. Johnsonville section is excluded).

Element Totals Description

$1,857,000 Monitoring MSQA, Transit Managed Costs and Consent monitoring fees

Physical Works
$0 Environmental Compliance
$0 Earthworks
$0 Drainage
$0 Pavement and Surfacing
$0 Tunnels
$0 Bridges / Pedestrian Subway
$0 Retaining Walls
$0 Traffic Services
$0 Service Relocations
$33,750,000 Buildings
$0 Landscaping & Urban design
$0 Traffic Management and Temporary Works
$3,375,000 Preliminary and General Work

Extraordinary Construction Costs
$11,250,000 Supply and lay rail and concrete support, power supply, etc.
$24,000,000 Supply vehicles (8 x 100 person @$3M each)
$5,000,000 Maintenance Equipment
$1,000,000 Tram Tracking
$1,350,000 Rubber Boot for Noise

$15,945,000 Allowance for Missing Items (5%)
$97,527,000 Base Estimate

$34,495,000 Contingency added to Base Estimate
$140,110,000 Expected Estimate

Personally, I believe that Bus Rapid Transit can deliver everything that light rail does to Wellington at half the price but it has never been given a chance . . . until perhaps now.

More specifically, I am very concerned that the Light Rail estimate is likely to be too low given the number of items (such as service relocation) that were priced at $0 but could be very significant. But some people seem immune to a rational discussion on PT options based on costs & benefits and railigious arguments are often not productive.

20 - 06 - 08

Tony what are your thoughts on these points:

Building a bus way is a heavy bet on diesel prices (or possibility of a new affordable fuel). Light rail at least provides a hedge given uncertain future diesel and carbon costs.

By putting tracks down, the council shows it’s commitment not to change the transport route. This may give developers more confidence to build on the route.

20 - 06 - 08

As you asked . . . the diesel prices are a relatively minor component of a bus service cost … especially for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes that have heavy patronage. Staff and capital costs are more significant. Anyway, Hybrid bus techology is now becoming commerically availible that will further reduce the impact of these costs (as well as further improve the environmental impact). In fact NZ actaully builds and exports Hybrid buses … we are yet to trial them in Wellington. Just as others point to overseas examples, I would note that New York City now only purchases Hybrid deisels.

As for the commitment “thing”, true BRT also requires a signficant investment in routes and transport nodes if it is to work correctly (the principles are the same as for light rail as are the outcomes if it is done right). Overseas research (such as on Brisbane’s South-East Busway) confirms the same benefits are seen by developers from BRT. I find it incredible that the N2A study really did not look at a proper BRT based solution with route investment in hubs, GPS, traffic prioritisation, route colour coding … all the things taken for granted as key aspects of a decent Light Rail solution in the puzzling belief that the same principle somehow cannot apply to buses. There are some good examples of BRT such as LA’s Rapid Bus and the famous South American BRT systems such as in Curatiba. Of course it can be done wrong, but another advantage with BRTis, as it costs less, it also costs less to fix :)

20 - 06 - 08

Sorry here is the correct link to LA’s Metro Rapid as well as the El Monte Busway systems (two quite different BRT solutions). IMO Wellington could learn from metro Rapid.

21 - 06 - 08

Tony, I would tend to agree with you when you say you have concern for the number of $0-priced items.

It is absolutely ludicrous to think that there will be no environmental compliance costs considering we live under the bureaucratic RMA.

Pavements and surfacing, traffic services and traffic management will all be needed to some degree or another, especially when running through CBD.

And $0 spent on landscaping and urban design under the WCC? Not bloody likely! I say this as there SHOULD be money spent on urban design. You cannot just plonk light rail corridor down in the middle of a pedestrian-laden CBD and expect it to integrate into the urban fabric just like that…

/rant (for the moment). :)

21 - 06 - 08

I think its worth remembering the advantages and disadvantages that a busway has vs a light rail corridor, and especially in relation to cars, one of which is the amount of road taken up by cars. There is an excellent diagrammatic demonstration at the following:

The best advantage of course is that buses can roam the suburbs, picking up passengers and changing routes at will, and then, miraculously, without any mode switch, they can enter into the Busway and travel straight through town and out the other side again. A huge disadvantage that the Busway has of course is that the more successful it gets, the more clogged and diesel laden the central city route takes. Unless you stick it underground, which some cities have done, and which i find somehow scary, as you enter into what feels like an underground carpark, and then a bus zooms up behind a glass screen and whisks you away into a dark tunnel. Much like a Metro but scarier as it is in the control of notoriously unreliable bus-drivers.

A light rail system by contrast can’t pick up passengers without mode change, and therefore some inevitable passenger loss at each stage. However, a simple move from a two-car light rail train, to a four-car light rail train, or even onto 6 or 8, can move massively more passengers without any increase in “traffic”. Most European cities have 2 car tram systems – see a list of all the metro and light rail systems in the world, as far as was known in 2006:

But the Smogr post at the top of this comment makes it quite obvious that light rail is the most efficient way to move people through a city – more people, less engines, quieter, faster. And according to Transit’s own figures as Tony’s figures above note, its cheaper than roading tunnels ! (a $15million contingency should buy a fair wack of new asphalt and cobbles to do some landscaping).

22 - 06 - 08

The idea that you don’t have to mode shift in BRT is utterly false.

The BRT systems people are talking about are dedicated and segregated lines that other bus lines link up to. They are just like segregated LRT lines or train lines only with busses runing on concrete instead of trains on rails.

BRT is _NOT_ a busway that bus lines from multiple directions merge into. So if BRT was implement those people outside of the catchment area for the line would still need to change busses just as much as they would bus -> LRV.

So (if you are talking a proper BRT line) you end up with less patronage, because people just don’t like busses as much as LRVs. Its a well understood phenomenon. Then there are other problems with BRT compared to LRT in this situation:

– can I take my bike on a BRT bus? Not from what I’ve seen.
– BRT are keep less reliable time tables and tend to bunch.
– BRT has much higher operating costs.
– BRT is less comfortable and less appropriate for disabled or the elderly.
– BRT vehicles have *much* shorter lifespans

And I don’t think anyone would suggest an automated BRT system… cuz, here, let me sell you this monorail instead.

So if people are actually talking about dedicated bus lanes and bus priority measures at intersections, then it shouldn’t be called BRT. And in that case we’re talking about two different aims for our passenger transport system.

LRT will pick up more passengers than bus will on the same route, as we know passengers walk further for LRT or trains than a bus. If we’re assuming a proper LRT line through to Miramar here, this replaces or consolidates a few lines into one. The vast majority of existing PT users on that corridor will be within 500m of a reliable service that runs every 6-10 minutes, is quiet and comfortable, and gets you into the city fast and on time. A lot of people will find they can now ride their bike and take it with them, increasing the catchment area even further.

There are a few bus routes (e.g. 1, 11, etc.) that would still continue running as is all the way into the city and people shouldn’t think they’d stop. I think this needs to be clear in any pro LRT statement because the N2A study mislead some people on this. It might make sense to reroute them via Wallace St/Taranaki St instead, or through the bus tunnel, leaving adelaide dedicated to LRT, but that is all.

Then there is a small minority of passengers left that are outside the range of the LRT line and whose bus lines would be effected. Notable example is Southgate/Houghton Bay. These passengers would have to mode shift at the Zoo. But within that group I’d actually imagine most of them once they tried it would be happy with having a more frequent shuttle service up and down the hill, linking them to a frequent LRT service, as opposed to a very infrequent bus service which they have to make sure they are there on time to catch, wait around for, stops after 7pm, etc. Instead go out your door in the morning, jump on a shuttle bus when it shows up, grab a coffee at the zoo (well not now that spotless is running the joint) and jump on the next LRV to glide past. Overall, you’d get to work quicker than you would on the bus anyway.