Front page article on the Dominion Post today, faithfully reporting that there is a good chance that Wellington may indeed have a chance at getting a light rail system. That’s quite amazing – not that we have a chance, but that the DomPost hasn’t immediately been sneering about it. Maybe they have a different attitude to it now that Celia has gone.
But what is even more amazing is that the Editorial today in the DomPost is also solidly pro-light-rail and is also not sneering – so, a double coup, and its not even April 1st any more.
This blog has always been hugely supportive of Light Rail as an answer to some of the capital’s transport woes – it is patently obvious that “more cars” and “more roads” is not the answer, and despite the last transport review advocating “more buses”, things have just gone backwards there. Auckland has now, at last, got an understanding that it needs a different solution to cars, and Light Rail is firmly in its sights up there. Wellington of course has an even more convincing case, despite our smaller size, as we already have the mantle of the greatest proportion of rail users and bus users in the entire country. If any city can make it work, we can. While it seems obvious that the answer is indeed a better system of Rapid Public Transport, the key will be the political will-power to say YES, and then to say I DO.
We need, in effect, to become firmly wedded to this idea. The argument has always been “you’re too small” and “it’s too early, not yet”, sounding like a teenage couple trying to have sex, rather than a mature city with a tight set of population centres. The truth is, it will take several years to plan and several more to build, and by that time Wellington will have grown by almost 20% and will be completely choked on vehicle traffic if we haven’t already started then. I, for one, and I’m sure Maximus before me also, would completely support a push for the current Council to grip this seedling idea firmly by the stalk and plant it into the ground now.
We need Light Rail. We arguably need it now, but we certainly need to start planning it now. What can we, the blog, and the public, do to make it come true?
The first thing that needs to happen is a route to be selected,
There appear to be two camps promoting LR in wellington with one favouring a route along the quays and another on the golden mile.
Curing this division would be a good start and a council decision on a route would be a good start,
But on the “dose of reality” side, they Council is about to commence a 9 year PTOM bus contract with Tranzit and NZbus, so I am not expecting anything to be running before 2027 when these contracts end,
It would be great to see two LRT systems being developed in NZ at the same time with on each in Auckland and Wellington….
Greenwelly – while I agree that a route needs to be selected, I honestly don’t care which route – there are positives and negatives either way. The main thing is to have the gumption to lay the cards on the table and say “We’re doing this” and actually start the planning in earnest.
The other thing is, buses will still be the main form of PT all over Wellington. Its just that at present, there are too many, concentrating through a narrow route in Wellington. I think the general idea would be that there would still be many buses and bus routes, but the heavy lifting of mass movement along the chief spine, would be done on a LR system.
There was some good discussion on this over at Talk Wellington a few months ago.
Worth checking them out
I see the Airport as a distraction, where Light Rail is needed is between the station and the hospital especially if the area is to house signifigantly more people.
A distraction? How do you figure that out? Ever seen that long string of taxis and cars snaking its way along Cobham Drive, every day, helping cause traffic jams at every intersection along the way? It’s airport traffic. Much of it business traffic, going from airport to Lambton Quay; or Parliamentary traffic, going from Airport to Molesworth St. All of it perfectly capable of travelling smoothly and fast along a Light Rail route into town. Hardly a distraction – more of a main reason I’d have thought.
But yes, Light Rail would also be massively helpful for the thousands of new apartment dwellers planned for the Te Aro / Newtown residential growth areas.
Oooh, imagine if they could use the Coutts-Miro Street airport pedestrian tunnel for light rail?!
I’m guessing that if they lowered the floor to give then the required headroom they would probably use it, rather then having to build another separate one..
ok maybe not a distraction but a longer term prospect, whats needed now is an alternative to congestion that can extend the rail networks penetration to Courtenay Place and Newtown.
Greenwelly and SeaMonkey – the Under-Airport tunnel is barely big enough for two humans to walk through and pass each other comfortably, and is oppressive at the best of times. But it is a route, I’ll give you that. My guess would be that they would use it as a construction site in which to build a much bigger tunnel. Shore up the ceiling to stop the planes falling in, build much wider walls, lower the floor, that sort of thing.
Or they could bore a new one. You’d need a tunnel about 3.5m in diameter to get a single train through. Or two tunnels to get a system that flows properly. Again – doable, they just need to say Go.
There has been some really good discussion on this over on the Scoop website – which might be why there has not been much discussion here. Here’s the links to the Scoop articles: