Transport Minister Michael Wood blindsided Wellington this morning, with an announcement – and a definite decision – that Wellington is going to get Light Rail to Island Bay, a resolution to the Basin Reserve, and a new tunnel in a big diagonal from the Basin to the far end of Haitaitai, right under Mt Victoria.
I’m overjoyed and excited, not just for the solution but also for the fact that we have a decision, and even more so that they have not gone for the silly buses idea, but actually a rail-based solution. It is, without seeing the details, exactly what we have all been asking for all these years. Yes, of course there is much time to go first, as it needs to have any more stages of paperwork to go first:
“But the light rail is not locked in yet – the business case will also consider a rapid bus network as a form of mass rapid transit. “This is a prudent step to take and ensures we can maintain momentum on the project,” Wood said. Robertson said they were “as confident as we possibly can be at this moment” that light rail would be included in the final design – and it was certainly the Government’s preferred option.“
So – good news? Grant Robertson notes: “The southern light rail option [“option 1”] is our preferred choice for Wellington because of the significant potential it offers for new housing and neighbourhood growth. By 2050 we’re expecting up to 80,000 more people to be living within the city limits, and 25% more people coming into the central city each workday from across the region.”
He’s a canny man – he also gets his rebuttal in first, with this very prescient comment:
“I’ve seen a lot of ideas come and go,” he said. “This is an opportunity for our city to sustainably grow and offer a really high quality of life. And even if there’s a small aspect of the project that isn’t quite what you want, let’s take this opportunity. I don’t think it’ll come along in this form again.”
Because he knows that this solution won’t satisfy everyone. There will be the likes of Brent Efford, lovely guy but also self-appointed head of All Future Rail Projects in Wellington, who no doubt will have something to say about it, probably negative. And J Christopher Horne, and Kerry Wood, and Glen Smith and many more, will also be chipping in. Of course, the rabid dogs of Stuff have already decided they don’t want it, despite not having seen details. The sheer depressing fact of reading Stuff comments (I know, I shouldn’t):
The Saint: Stupidest idea from the dumbest Government in NZ history.
Rob66: These guys have lost the plot. Another vanity project with large doses of ideology costing a fortune that will have very little benefit for the average person. Like the bike bridge in Auckland, converting the existing Mt Victoria tunnel into bike lanes would be funny if it was April 1st….
Smith0102: This would be disastrous. No new car lanes and added congestions from the buses to get around the Basin and merge into the tunnel lanes. Most our cars are going to be electric in ~10 years time and people will still chose to travel privately.
I wasn’t invited to the public launch (of course) because no one in power knows that I even exist, so I’m not completely sure what the proposal is – as close as we can get is that the Government prefers LGWM’s Option 1. (There is a picture below of what Option One was advertised as, and if you click here, you can go to our analysis from last year). But guess what – LGWM don’t even have an announcement on their website, so we don’t even know if they are on board with this. But I think it is really important that the whole of Wellington come together and hold hands and say a big collective YES and please proceed.
TBH we are still not much more ahead than we were in 2019, when we were promised light rail to the Airport,
All with the great big caveat of
“If endorsed and funded by the relevant Councils, the components of the package will go through the normal NZ Transport Agency project business case process”
Now 3 years later we have
>b> “The Government will await confirmation from partners that they are agree to proceed with this option to the detailed business case phase, which will be considered by Cabinet.”
With Both the LRT and BRT going through the Detailed Business Case process, over the next 2 years, there is no finality on the mode option at all…
All that is confirmed is the new Tunnels at Arras and Mt Vic,
I have no idea why they have not been able to do a business case on them already, so they can get that workstream underway before they look at the Island Bay light rail, which actually will actually have little impact on the Tunnels…
Minister Wood was asked at the Announcement, So you are building a new 4 lane tunnel, along with the roads to serve it in Kilbirnie, what is to stop a future government reallocating those to 4 regular lanes, rather than 2+2…. his answer was basically .. “nothing”
Yep, let’s hurry up and do the thing. It’s far from perfect, but is a huge upgrade to what we currently have.
It is great to see the front page of the DomPost today come out and support the decision – as with me, any decision is better than no decision. Predictably, ACT still say they want 4 lanes to the planes (there has to be someone to play the Dick card – this week it appears to be Seymour again). But most other people / organisations have been broadly supportive. I only take exception with one organisation: the Greens.
Yes, I’m just as surprised at that as you. But the thing is, the greens say that while they support the decision (as so they should, seeing as they were the ones who basically called it for all of us), they are saying that they want the Pedestrian, Cycling and Public Transport aspects resolved and built first, and then cars finally solved last. Wrong.
While I would normally agree with that, on this occasion I say that No, Wellington cannot wait. We need traffic separation NOW, in an effort to speed up the cross-flow of traffic. So, Sussex Street extension first, and Arras Tunnel extension, and then the process for settling the PT issues will grind on for years, but no matter, as the traffic going to and fro Adelaide Road can continue on, unimpeded, while decisions are being made, tracks being laid, trains being commissioned and built. As LGWM has at last learned, seize the small moves to make progress, while you are waiting for the big moves.
Also while I am used to Seymour getting flak (he has a quite uniquely punchable looking face and hell I voted for the guy) it is good to hear someone taking the Greens to task for some typically woolly-headed thinking.
If they ever get near the Treasury benches we are done for – the Greens are to economics what the NZ coastline was to the Mikhail Lermontov
Good decision – but i fear that when National get in they will retain the new tunnel portion and scrap the public transportation improvements. Don’t have much faith in their commitment to light rail (or BRT) given who their Minister of Transport is. Given that we won’t even have a business case before 2024 there is also a good chance the whole thing will be scrapped/put on ice due to the economic climate. I hope i’m wrong.
Can’t say i’m too impressed with the Greens preference on this either – Option 4 doesn’t seem like it will deliver much in ways of improving the Basin and relies on the aging bus tunnel to bring PT to the east. I don’t understand their push against grade separation – isn’t this the thinking that gave us the awful Karo Drive? Surprisingly the Save The Basin group mirror their position.
Rumblings from the Heritage Lobby don’t fill me with confidence either…..
All Hail the King of Potatoes!! Nice to have you here. Who is the Nat’s proposed Transport wallah? It can’t be Simon Bridges as he’s gone – I honestly have no idea who they are proposing. Judith Collins? Simeon Brown? Oh god – its not that dickhead from the Hutt is it? The complete tosser, umm, wozzisname. Knows next to nothing but still spouts off, as does his horrid father. Sorry – I can’t remember his name.
Simeon Brown – ding ding ding – we have a winner!
He doesn’t seem particularly bright either. A sort of Tim Nice But Dim.
I wonder what he knows about Transport ?
(Edited by Nemo – can’t have spam creeping in here !! )
Kristal is nearly the perfect stripper name, pipped only by Chardonnay
I can recall a sign on K Rd in the 70s promoting the talents of Miss Chesty Morgan
Looking further into it, it seems like we may be further behind with regard to detail? The proposal doesn’t really have routes, just squiggly blobs where they’d like things; https://lgwm.nz/all-projects/mass-rapid-transit/
Oh gosh, you’re right Conor – that “diagram” of theirs is just three amorphous purple blobs, the sort of thing that a three year old might draw, and also less substantial than what they showed about five years ago. Instead of progressing forward, have LGWM actually gone backwards? That is truly some amazing feat of project engineering!
Well LGWM looks like its living up to the reputation of all good bus operators, nothing for a while then a whole lot all turn up at once…..
Just as we are getting our heads around the next steps for the MRT, we get the detailed designs for the Golden Mile, which aren’t actually that bad, Although I would like to see what traffic modelling they have done on closing Willis Street Southbound to regular traffic, as the only way across the Golden mile will be Taranaki Street, which will make the Taranaki St/Wakefield/Quays intersection a huge congestion site once BRT/LRT goes through there,,,,
Edit: I mean Northbound of course, ( South bound is already a bus lane)
Even Stuff contributors can be reasonable…
Reasonable? I’d say that they are still as rabid as ever! At least we know that most of the commenters here have at least a modicum of knowledge about the subject on which they talk. But Stuff commenters like FreddyFlinstone will happily comment on anything and everything, without an ounce of brainpower.
Contributors like Peter Griffin, of course, are not the same as Commenters, like someone who can’t even spell the word Flint Stone….
Meanwhile live on Morning Report the dreaded Greg Harford of Retail NZ is explaining why any reduction of car parking on the golden mile will bring doom, doom!
I’ve done a whole new post, just for you Starkive ! Does he have a point? or not? I don’t think that I have ever shopped in any shop along the Lambton Quay – not because I don’t drive there or park there – but because I’m usually just passing through from A to B and back again. To be honest, there is not really any shops that I want to shop at – I’m not really into Glassons and Farmers and Vance Vivian – there are no restaurants, so they get no custom from me at night – and while once there was a profundity of bookshops, now there are none. No Bennets, no Parsons (or am I wrong – does it still exist?), just the bookending (literally) of Vic Books at one end (now closing too) and Unity at the other end. My Golden Mile shopping experience is sitting at Nil, and unlikely to climb higher.
Still in mourning for Kirkaldie and Stains.
Starkive – you’re obviously a real, long-term Wellingtonian, unlike myself, who is a relative newcomer. But as a bloke (I presume), what did you go to Kirkcaldie’s for? Presumably not the makeup department or the lingerie – and really, were the suits and ties all that big a draw? Or was it just the classy elegance of the interior, with the pianist tinkling on the ivories (I met her the other day – she’s still alive!) and the sumptuousness of the rooftop tea room? I went to that tea room at Kirks once – very nice. Very refined, and ultimately, very removed from street level. Nice. But those days have gone.
Kirks offered two things particularly close to my heart – Paul Smith socks and Scandinavian glassware. But mainly it represented a proper department store, without which no city…
But presumably those are all available on the Internet these days? Not the trying on of socks, necessarily, but if you know the size, you’re ok. Don’t really need a whole Department Store for that.
Department Stores all over the world are dying, or mainly dead – in London, Debenhams have gone, I think John Lewis too, Marks and Sparks are dead or dying, Selfridges and Harrods are still thriving, In New York and Chicago – even their big old Titans of retail are suffering.
I am not sure at what price point they let you try on socks, but it’s above Paul Smith’s – and mine.
You could string the great department stores together in a modern Grand Tour – the Galleries Lafayette, Bloomingdales, GUM, De Bijenkorf, KaDeWe, Harrods, Rinascente Milano, Daimaru, Smith and Caughey…