The Eye of the Fish

Leviathan
January 6, 2020

Previewing the Next decade

So here’s to the 2020s: the years ahead. What do you want to happen? What do you think will happen? Once again, in a cheeky form of reverence, I’m going to use the Greater Auckland blog as a template for what we are doing here in Wellington – so the headlines all refer to AKL projects. Let’s see how we are doing by comparison.

City Rail Link

Well, we don’t have a CRL, but we definitely should have. We’ve said it before, as have many others: Wellington’s rail needs to not all stop at the main station, but continue through. Action on this over the next year: unlikely. Over the next decade? I damn well hope so.

First things first: GWRC and WCC need to agree on a plan of action, and that means PLAN OF ACTION…! Oh – and a route would be a good first step. And a decision on the technology we are going to use. I’m keen. Andy Foster – are you ready to take some big steps forward?

Downtown Programme

We don’t have a downtown programme either, but we should have and we can do. Our “Golden Mile” of Lambton Quay and Willis Street is good, but crammed with traffic – mostly buses and tradies vans. We urgently need to up our game and be working on a way to make it an even better pedestrian experience. That probably means banning traffic from the Golden Mile, and widening footpaths, and generally making Wellington a winner! And that includes:

City Centre Masterplan and Access for Everyone

We don’t really have a problem here – with us it is more about access THROUGH the city than merely to it. But I’m going to put my oar in here and say: CycleWay and ScooterWay. Needed NOW. Neither of those modes of transport are safe on the roads, but neither are they safe on the foot path. We need an Accessible city for Everyone and all modes of transport.

Northern Busway Extension / Northern Corridor

There are some remarkable similarities in the situation faced by our two cities, but people bussing in from the North is not really one of them. We do have a Northern Corridor project too, called Transmission Gully, which will probably open in November 2020 and cause a major change in the way people get to work. Well, if they get to work by car. If it works well, it is going to cause cars to get to the city faster, and so probably result in less people taking the train (of buses, I’m not so sure). But if it does not work well, then arguably we’ve just wasted $2 billion… Trouble is, as far as I can see, the road network is unaltered from Linden southwards, and can never get more lanes through at Johnsonville, or Ngauranga, and so the present pinch points will remain – and get worse, with all that extra new TG traffic arriving at the same time. Dare I say it: Things are not going to get better.

Eastern Busway

While Auckland has / needs a busway out east, where currently cars rule, we have a route East to the land of Miramar, whence lies an Airport and many Weta workers. Sean Rush and his Orc ilk will be barracking for four lanes to the planes for sure: but is anyone here advocating for a busway out east? Is anyone proposing that one of the new lanes through Ruahine St be reserved as a bus lane? No? I thought not. And yet, you just know the truth: that if a bus lane was installed instead of an extra car lane, that would be a better solution.

Puhinui Station Upgrade

We have no Puhinui down here, but for those that don’t know, Puhinui is a currently nothing-much station south of Auckland, that will be transformed into a major node for catching the bus/train to the airport. I’m predicting that in Wellington, we both need an equivalent as a major node, but we also urgently need a whole lot of station upgrades for our Metlink railway stations throughout the region. Hutt valley: step up, it’s your turn.

If we seriously want people to leave their cars behind at home, and commute into Wellington via bus or train, then we need adequate facilities. See that picture above? Yes, it is in Auckland, not Wellington, but that’s because this is an Auckland BUS HUB !!! Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. GWRC – are you listening?

SH20B widening

In our case, it’s SH 58. The upgrade has started already, but won’t be finished by next Christmas. Two years tops. Overdue.

Extra trains

Already onto it, I think. Hasn’t GWRC asked for a couple of hundred million for new Hutt tracks, Trentham infrastructure and new Wairarapa trains? Will they get the money in time for next October?

Light Rail

well…. this one is the big question of course. Will we? Won’t we? If the Government is being at all sensible, they should order two systems with one common feature: identical Auckland and Wellington trains for a Light Rail system for each city. Please god don’t let them order Trackless Trams for Wellington and a proper Light Rail for Auckland – just get the same quality system for each city. We need to be working as a Team NZ, not a disjointed effort. We await the word from LGWM. Actually, we await anything at all from LGWM, who appear once more to be asleep at the wheel. Wake up!

Cycling

Will we ever see Island Bay Cycle Way completed? Who knows – perhaps Vicki Greco will get her way. However, we will soon see the completion of the first stage of a much improved Oriental Bay to Evans Bay cycleway, which is great news. Also, the Cobham Drive cycle path is proceeding at pace – that will be complete this year too, although any bridge across (or traffic lights – arrgh!! No!!!) has yet to be designed / built / even started.

There are a whole lot of other cycle routes to be started too – including connecting far flung flatland suburbs such as Seatoun, Rongotai, Kilbirnie, Berhampore and of course, gulp, Island Bay. I’m picking that new Mayor Andy Foster will lead the way here – he has balls of steel and is not afraid of making the bold decision to say Go, where Wade Brown and Lester faltered before. Clear, unequivocal action is needed on where the cycle routes will be. Road side car parks may get lost. Tough. Onwards!

Housing

Where will Wellington expand to in the next decade? Lincolnshire Farm? Porirua? Even further out in the Hutt? Or will it just rely on continuing to accumulate in the central Te Aro / Newtown / CBD areas?

Here at Eye of the Fish world Headquarters, we’re picking that new apartment builds are going nowhere, until the gross insurance fraud is resolved and people can live in an apartment in Wellington without getting gouged for dosh over exorbitant insurance costs.

Climate Change

Wellington has declared an emergency in this area, so perhaps we better start doing something about this. Or was it all just cynical spin? 405 ppm and still rising…. Australia is on fire. It’s here already.

CCO Review

As far as I am aware, this is not something that was posted as being a big issue down here – but it is a good idea none-the-less. I’d suggest for starters that the basics are looked at first: Waste Water, Fresh Water, Storm Water. The collapse of the sewer over Christmas and pouring of raw sewerage straight into out main harbour is a shockingly bad event to have happened. Management of the 3 Waters needs a good hard look.

Hamilton trains

An equivalent of trains to Hamilton up there, might be trains to Palmerston down here. Much as I would like them to continue to electrify the Main Trunk Line from Waikanae north to Palmerston (only 90-odd kilometres) it seems that this is unlikely. So: I’m not holding my breath on this one.

Infrastructure spendup

Guaranteed: for reasons why, see below. But also see above i.e. 3 Waters. It is clear that Wellington remains on a knife edge when it comes to the dreaded question of earthquakes. All our aged infrastructure below the ground is suspect – cracked, leaking, oozing, collapsing. There is a lot to be done – a lot of money to be spent under the ground, let alone the continuation of strengthening work above ground. Time to get the money on the table and for Andy Foster to discuss this publicly: we need to invest in the future of the city.

Elections

Expect the focus of the year to be all around the two main parties squabbling over who will run NZ better: witness Simon Bridges’s attempts to ingratiate himself with the electorate by promising tired old National stalwarts like: more prisons, more roads, more police, less drugs, less pandering to the greenies, less RMA, less PC language and more plain talking like wot we used to. The farmers who vote for National love that kind of shit.

On a more cerebral level, we could have a discussion on how we want the future of our country to unfold. What sort of a country do we want to really live in? More immigration? More communities? More housing?

One thing is for certain: more MMP in our political system. Labour can’t (and shouldn’t) govern alone. National can’t (and shouldn’t) govern alone. We need the Greens and we need NZ First and we need more than just David Seymour. We’ll get a new version of the Christian nutty party, like the Conservatives, or Family First, or Destiny Church, but we might also get a right wing neo fascist party uprising from Christchurch and Dunedin, if they have the balls to put their heads above the parapets.

We NEED alternatives to the two main parties who have grown together to be so similar in policies, although miles apart in leadership (my obvious prediction: Simon Bridges will lose the next election and get replaced by someone else – hopefully neither Judith Collins who is just a spiteful little troll, and not Luxton either, as he doesn’t have the political experience to lead a paper bag out of the pantry, let alone lead a country). So who do we have on the horizon? NZ First? TOP ! Are they the answer to our prayers for more thoughtful discussion on politics? Geoff? Do you hear me? Winston?!

starkive
6 - 01 - 20

As a regular user of SH1 from the deep north, I am intrigued by the phenomenon of the Expressway. In 2016, before it opened, the off-peak drive from Whanganui to Ngauranga took 2hrs 20 mins, regularly throttling bck to 50kph through Paraparaumu, Waikanui, Raumati and so on, and sometimes stopping altogether for traffic lights or car-based window shoppers. Now I can sweep past all that through the artificial wetlands – sometimes at 110kph (don’t tell). Aside from Pukerua Bay, nothing much breaks the stride between Otaki and Porirua. Seems a heck of a lot faster.

2020 off-peak trip time? 2hrs 20mins.

I know this different from the commuter experience, but are we just sending cars faster and further with no net time gain and a greater energy cost?

Levi
6 - 01 - 20

Ha ! Yes, exactly as I thought. Look – I’m no specialist in traffic, but I know that certain traffic engineers like to compare traffic design to Computational Fluid Dynamics. In that scenario, traffic behaves like the flow of water inside a pipe. The overall flow out the end of the pipe is directly in proportion to the size of the nozzle, and so depending on how you restrict the nozzle, depends how much water gets through. It’s a bit different with cars, obviously, but Wellington has a series of small nozzles leading into the city – and so if those haven’t changed, then the overall traffic flow will be no different. In effect if your trip time relies on you using the same nozzle, then you’ll go no faster, even if they put a bigger pipe on the back end. Making two lanes all the way to the Ngauranga Gorge will make no difference if you still have to get out at one lane at Vivian St.

Of course, there are those that say we should build a second Terrace Tunnel, a second Mt Vic tunnel, a wider Ruahine St and Wellington Road – but remember that the road network was planned this way specifically to restrict vehicle inflow. To be perfectly honest, using the CFD analogy, we could get the same result by getting people to drive twice as fast down Vivian St as they did on the motorway leading to it – but that would mean drivers at 200kph down Vivian and through the tunnels. While some of the boy racers do try hard to achieve that every Saturday night, their efforts to do so are not often appreciated.

In fact, even if we did put two lanes all the way through town, the fact that we still slow the traffic down to 50 means that there will always be massive traffic jams. Fact of life – unless perhaps you build 4 lanes to the planes…

m28a31
6 - 01 - 20

>> “Already onto it, I think. Hasn’t GWRC asked for a couple of hundred million for new Hutt tracks, Trentham infrastructure and new Wairarapa trains? Will they get the money in time for next October?”

The double-tracking at Trentham is currently under construction(!) and the new station buildings at Trentham and Wallaceville along with the double track are supposed to be opening in 18 months. For the interested, here is the KiwiRail project page: https://www.kiwirail.co.nz/what-we-do/projects/wellington/hutt-valley-line/

I would expect the business case for the 15 dual-power multiple units for the Palmy and Masterton runs to be approved in the next Budget (we do have an election coming up, after all) if it is approved in the next couple of years. Daran Ponter seems to be being much louder than the previous GWRC chair about regional PT improvements, he spoke at the opening of the Waterloo station park&ride improvements IIRC and he doesn’t seem afraid to put out press releases about this kind of thing (in particular, this one: https://www.metlink.org.nz/news/lower-north-island-passengers-packed-in-like-sardines-without-urgent-government-funding-for-new-hybrid-trains/); I hope it is more than just electioneering and that he can actually shepard GRWC into getting some of this stuff done.

Re. Transmission Gully, in the medium term I would expect the main consequence to be major housing developments in eastern Porirua (in behind Whitby) as the new motorway interchange there will bring the area (psychologically at least) much closer to Wellington CBD.

m28a31
6 - 01 - 20

Also, regarding the city centre, I would expect the first step (in the next year, if the new council is competent) to be the development of a detailed plan and timeframe to reopen the buildings around Civic Square (library, town hall, …).

Talking about that, wouldn’t it be nice to pedestrianise the still-open end of Mercer St and put in a nice lawn or some trees or something so there is a visible and wide open pedestrian-only boulevard from the Golden Mile at Willis St to the waterfront.

And put some proper pedestrian signage in while you’re at it, WCC! *I* know how to get everywhere, but tourists certainly don’t. There are a few signs along the Golden Mile, and sporadic signage along some of the main routes (Kelburn to the CBD via The Tce for example), but this signage should be integrated with PT signage and should be much more prominent. Cars get massive two-by-three metre signs through Kelburn and the CBD; there should be equivalents for pedestrians (and cyclists – though LGWM seems to have this worked out, their latest consultation was on a proper marked route through the CBD and hopefully this is done properly).

m28a31
6 - 01 - 20

And finally (…sorry for the mass of comments…), someone needs to fix the pedestrian severance between the government buildings on Murphy and Molesworth Sts and the Golden Mile (maybe upgrade the path between the end of the Terrace around the edge of Parliament and signpost it properly) and add proper footpaths on Bowen St to open up the shops on Thorndon Rd to the CBD.

…whew. Now I’ll let someone else speak :D

Greenwelly
7 - 01 - 20

Oh wow, so much to comment on ,

But i’m going to throw some thoughts on which of these projects might get funded from Grant’s “many billion dollar Santa Sack” he promised in December ( but will only name next month)

I think we will get SH58 fully improved (the current works are only stage 1).. the dual mode rail units to allow services to Pamly and the wairarapa will get fast tracked, as will the Melling interchange/Bridge..

As for the LRT, nothing is going to happen until Cabinet put on their big boy pants and decide if they want an at grade on road street car style service to Auckland airport, or a scnepped up fancy pants canuk style skytrain….

But its election year, so everyone is going to be promising $$$, the question is what will be delivered
(remember both Labour and National promised to electrify from Papakura to Pukekohe in Auckland, and little has progressed on that)

Leviathan
7 - 01 - 20

Some great comments from m28a31 and greenwelly, thanks to you both. I’m still trying to visualize quite what you mean by a “scnepped up fancy pants canuk style skytrain” but I think you mean one of these, like this:
http://metroautomation.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Skytrain1.jpg
Greater Auckland has been having some very robust discussion over these issues, with a lot of the commenters pinioning that Labour / Phil Twyford is mad to consider a bid from the Canadians. Myself, I think that it is a pretty big decision to make, about the whole of Auckland’s future – so it is better to delay by a year and make a decision based on ALL the facts, rather than blunder on into something half-arsed. Hopefully that is what LGWM is doing also: except that I’m not so sure that they are…

Fully agree with you on SH58 and Melling. Perhaps the battery-powered trains that AT were going to buy for Pukekohe could now get used for Wairarapa instead….?

Guy M
8 - 01 - 20

You may be interested to read Greater Auckland’s post today, on speeding up Wellington’s buses.
https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2020/01/08/speeding-up-wellington-buses/
Talks about GWRC and WCC collaborating on proposals for 8 main routes into/ through the capital.

starkive
8 - 01 - 20

Understandably enough given its template this post focuses mainly on transport, but I would like to see some decisions on public planning and building too. Here’s a few wishes:

• Timetable/commitment for Central Library redevelopment
• Timetable/commitment for Convention Centre
• Plan/competition/anything (!) for Civic Square/Capital E/City to Sea
• Inner city public space plan
• Vision thing for suburban centres – Newtown, Kilbirnie, J’Ville, Karori, etc…

Time for Te Aro Re-Re-Planned?

Greenwelly
8 - 01 - 20

@Leviathan,
the Canadian’s view of light rail likely a a fully automatic, fully grade separated system, (very similar to the skytrain you linked to)
https://rem.info/en/rolling-stock

The Auckland “battery trains” won’t cut it on the Wairarapa line, they off wire section is too long, Papakura-Pukekohe is 18km, Upper Hutt-Masteron is nearer 50km, even if they wired the tunnel its still over 40km. + they want to use them for palmy too..

John H
9 - 01 - 20

+1 on committing to the library and Civic Square redevelopment. The pink curved Council Civic Admin building had been empty and disused since the 2016 earthquakes. It’s stuffed but insurance refuses to pay out. The former Capital E has been out of action even longer. In March it will be one year since the central library closed. The old Municipal Office Building now appears to be empty of council workers but VUW don’t appear to be very committed to the idea they had of turning it into a school of music. If the library and the civic admin building need to be demolished, then get on and do it. I’d rather have an empty site with circus tents, food trucks and the summer Shakespeare than two stuffed buildings falling into further disrepair for years to come. My greatest fear is that these buildings will end up like the old BNZ (now the Old Bank Arcade) which sat empty on one of the most valuable pieces of land in Wellington for about 20 years under Council ownership until they sold it for $1.
As for paying for all this, looking at last year’s annual report for Wellington International Airport Ltd, the council owns about 1/3 of the shares in a company with a book value of $1.26 Billion. However, without a majority on the board of directors, the council has little say in the running of the company; what Infratil wants, Infratil gets. Last year’s dividend paid to WCC was $12.6m on an asset worth a theoretical $420m. I’ve always opposed selling the family silver but I’m now starting to have second thoughts…

luke
9 - 01 - 20

Religion has no place in politics, I hope these god botherers dont get into Parliament. I wonder if the petome to ngauranga cycleway will be completed within a decade.

Leviathan
9 - 01 - 20

Luke – ummm, what’s up? Religion? Who mentioned religion? Sorry, but I honestly don’t know quite what you are referring to. “God botherers” sounds like something my uncle Andrew used to say, but I can’t remember bringing up anything religious lately. Could you give me a reminder?

Leviathan
9 - 01 - 20

ooh – and re the Petone to Ngaurange cycleway? I’m pretty sure that they were hoping to build that with the rock spoilage from the Petone to Granada Link road – which is now not going to go ahead (due to stupid design and massive cost for little gain) so my guess is: Nope, its not going ahead ever. Unless someone else has some magic rocks that work like: “Just add water!!”

Leviathan
10 - 01 - 20

From Scoop website: http://wellington.scoop.co.nz/?p=124996
“After Christmas upgrades, Ponter optimistic about improving services on rail network”
“To increase the network’s capacity, and allow for regional growth, double tracking will go ahead between Trentham and Upper Hutt and improvements will be made to the congested approach to Wellington Railways Station and also to Plimmerton.

“For the Wellington region rail network, 2020 will be the decade of development,” says Cr Ponter, ”the outcome of which will be better and more reliable services.

“What we now need is for government to agree to our $414 million bid for new rolling stock.

“With annual metro rail patronage reaching a high of 14.3 million passengers in June 2019, a rise of 5.7 per cent year on year, we need to build the capacity to deal with growth. New rolling stock is essential to achieving that. Peak patronage rates were even higher, rising 7.3 per cent year-to-date, with our busiest lines being Hutt Valley and Kapiti.”

60 MPa
11 - 01 - 20

Re Ngauranga to Petone cycleway there is an existing one, it would not cost much to sweep it and do minor upgrades

I’d like to see congestion charging in hand with better park and ride train options, this should smooth out traffic a little

Also if they could finish the end of Grays Rd where it joins SH1 at Mana, instead of doing that silly 20km/h corner it is meant to go straight over the bowling green and join the roundabout by Palmers Garden/Spa shop

Whilst 4 lanes to planes sounds about as smart as White Island tourism (too soon?)- even if we are all in self-driving electric units that cluster in streamlining groups on the roads; the road network will still be a useful system in a post-carbon era

In a larger sense it is interesting to see the Tesla vs Facebook visions of the future – Elon wants the Hyperloop to extend the reaches of suburbia so that commuting from further areas is feasible whereas Mark is promoting telepresence so that with a decent datalink people can co-work from anywhere
I’d say that the Farcebook version will prevail as building tunnels everywhere is just too expensive

Greenwelly
13 - 01 - 20

@60 Mpa, the Ngauranga to Petone Cycleway is s Kiwirail project dressed up in a bike,
KR want to speed $20 million on a long term upgrade of the rock armour along the route to ensure no further washouts, they also have eyes on a $30 million project to increase reclamation to ease curves and realign portions of the track on that route to allow 100km/h running…..

The bike/walking path can be added for a pretty low marginal cost (In the scheme of Transport projects) …

Your chances of anything happening at Grays road once T/Gully is completed are pretty low, (I would actually say zero)

Henry Filth
13 - 01 - 20

Looking forward hopefully less of the same.

Betterbee
13 - 01 - 20

Re the Ngauranga-Petone section of Te Ara Tupua (as the Ngauranga-Melling path is now called), the FAQs at https://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/te-ara-tupua/frequently-asked-questions/ include the following:

“Where will the material come from to construct the Ngauranga to Petone coastal reclamation and rock seawall?

“It is too soon to say exactly where the material will be sourced.

“The project will require an estimated 180,000m3 of fill material. Of this, approximately 100,000m3 is rock, which is needed to create the revetment (the sloping rock seawall) which will protect the reclamation and the path from the sea. This rock will likely be brought in from outside Wellington, because our region’s quarries don’t have the size and quality of rock needed to create a resilient coastal edge.

“The remaining 80,000m3 is general fill. There are a number of potential sources for this material.”

and

“Key features include:

potential further widening at three locations to facilitate straightening the railway tracks which will enable faster train journeys.”

It also says “We hope to apply for resource consents in early 2020”, and it will be interesting to see if the “potential further widening” will be included. At the last open day at Petone, NZTA was adamant that straightening the rail line was *not* an option being considered.

The existing cycleway is perfectly fine if what is wanted is a low-use one-way southbound-only path that is difficult to sweep because it’s too narrow for sweeping machines to be used (unless that situation has changed since I was told that a few years ago). Anything better than that requires a lot more than minor upgrades.

60 MPa
14 - 01 - 20

For what it is worth these things exist and I’ve used one once
https://generalmowers.com.au/product-tag/2-stroke-petrol-power-sweeper/

They could sweep that sucker 3 times a week for less than the caucus spends on biccies

As I understand it the cyclists go South on that path in the morning and North on the side of the m’way after work?

Betterbee
14 - 01 - 20

I agree re a.m. and p.m. cyclists, but “Re Ngauranga to Petone cycleway there is an existing one” isn’t quite right – there is a Petone to Ngauranga shared path (using the road shoulder for the first few hundred metres), but no such facility for cyclists in the other direction.

It’s hard to see how “minor upgrades” could fix either of those deficiencies.