Getting our City Moving

Getting our City Moving

  • Sort the bus network out for our city, my number 1 priority
  • Pedestrianise the golden mile and support local business through transition
  • Deliver real improvements on SH1 from the CBD to the east, making it better in 5, not 20 years
  • Get the second  Terrace and Mt Victoria Tunnels and widening Ruahine St/Wellington Rd back on the agenda sooner.
  • No more secret deals on Transport

Wellingtonians need to be able to travel freely around our city- to work, shop, do business and enjoy the city’s attractions. Not everyone can use public transport or use active modes of travel and the city is gradually choking with no planned significant improvements for years. Since Nov 2016, we have also lost over 1700 off street parks in our inner city which stops visitors coming into our city for extended periods. That’s hurting our local arts, retail, service and hospitality areas.

Despite all the promises, Wellington’s transport network is stalling. We used to have the best public transport in the Southern Hemisphere, now we are being forced to accept an inadequate and unfounded plan.

Bus Network

We need a balanced and more transitional approach to change. I will be turning our Council’s attention back to the buses so that we can really accelerate getting them on the road and have a decent plan for making further improvements for both supply and demand. Focusing only on bus priority lanes is not going to deliver what Wellington needs now or in the future.

Getting the buses sorted will be my No1 priority as Mayor. The immense social, economic and environmental harm this has caused our city is intolerable. I have been very disappointed with our political leaders on their lack of action and that it has been left to a few individual councillors such as myself to strongly advocate for the city. Buses will continue to be the main stay of our city’s public transport for the next 10 years so we can’t continue to take a “hands-off” or piecemeal approach, or continue to leave it in the hands of the Regional Council. Buses are also a critical plank in our desire to drive down congestion and carbon emissions yet this has been ignored by all the political parties and transport experts.

To get the buses moving faster, I will re-prioritise our own Council’s resources and expertise to support GWRC in fixing the buses. We need think systematically and to look at all the components that go into running the buses- technology, vehicles, drivers, routes, timetables, providers, contracts and funding. I will take responsibility as Mayor for our city doing whatever is required so that our citizens can get to where they want to be on time. I will personally work with the incoming GWRC council and NZTA to get the buses moving. Check out my recent article on how I will sort out the bus network

There is an excellent model for a different style of governance over the bus network (that does not require the legislative set  up or cost of a new regional transport agency) already in operation between Waikato Regional Council, Hamilton City Council and NZTA. They all belong to a joint committee that oversees the implementation and monitoring of the Regional Public Transport Plan in Hamilton.

You can find out more about their  Bus Plan here and their Hamilton Joint Public transport committee meetings here. The committee meetings are public.

For too long, Wellington Airport has been allowed to not play its part in getting an airport bus service that is frequent, comfortable and something Wellingtonians can be proud of. The lack of this service has significantly contributed to congestion between the CBD and the east. The Council has a third ownership in the airport and we need to expect much more from our investments and our regional partners.

Pedestrianising the Golden Mile

Pedestrianising the Golden Mile is what the city needs and what Wellingtonians want. I will speed this up by making sure local businesses get the support they need through the change. I will also actively support commercial development of multi-use inner-city parking buildings (built with a high enough stud to allow for future repurposing as habitable buildings) that frees up on-street parks to help pedestrians, cyclists, e-scooters and buses move more freely and safely. It also provides for extended parking for visitors to our CBD which in turn helps our economy and vibrancy of our city.

No more secret deals on transport

The last Council was voted in on the basis of getting Wellington’s transport moving by getting second tunnels built at The Terrace and Mt Victoria. This has not been delivered because of secret deals driven by ideological sentiments and political aspirations. I will provide the transparency so all Wellingtonians clearly understand the benefits, impacts, costs and trade-offs before any further decisions (routes, modes, costs) are made and rates committed.

CBD to the east

If we can improve SH1 now, we can move a lot of traffic off the others roads i.e. The Quays, Victoria St etc and get it back on SH1 creating better space for pedestrians and other active modes. The Mt Vic tunnel currently does not offer a great experience at the moment for these groups.

Unfortunately the current government’s indicative package currently does not include any SH1 improvements for at least 10 years. The indicative plan is to first put a mass transit route from the CBD out through Newtown, the zoo and then cut a new tunnel under Mt Albert out through Kilbirnie. More roads rather than first making our existing set better for all.

At present, the government’s indicative package is solely based on ideological views. I want all views taken into consideration so that we get a workable solution. This means that no-one will get everything they want but everyone will get something. There is also the big question about how to  bring enough people along that they will happy to support the required funding, using a carrot rather than a stick mentality.

Currently we are being short changed by government as they are only offering to fund 50% of long overdue SH1 projects because of the additional funds being put into the mass transit route. Ministry of Transport state  “ State highways are funded entirely by central government, with maintenance responsibilities and expenses falling on the NZ Transport Agency”.

Even the mass transit route, they want the city to have, is going to cost us  and we are talking billions of dollars.

To reduce the cars along the quays and through the CBD and to make our CBD more people friendly, we need to get vehicles back onto SH1. I want to see a second tunnel through Mt Victoria, the widening of Ruahine St/Wellington Rd, reconfiguring SH1 into a tunnel under a new city park in Te Aro and an Extra Terrace Tunnel back on the agenda. Doing this will relieve congestion and free up more space for pedestrians, cyclists and mass transit of some form. This does not rely on new technology and the risks that this brings ie trackless trams and means we can ‘get Welly moving’ quicker.  While we continue to procrastinate, we are seeing more and more congestion, vehicles idling and burning off unnecessary fuels while they queue. We are also not improving, quick enough,  the space for pedestrians and encouraging other active modes of travel.

For more details on how I will get Welly actually moving read my recent article here.

Cycleways

The council’s cycleway programme has been underway for several years. We are now starting to see better progress as more engagement occurs and better street placemaking for people is also included. Lessons have been learned and different designs used. This now puts is in an ideal space to finally get the Island Bay cycleway finished.

Two years ago the Council made a decision on improving the path including village improvements. It has since been stalled through detailed design, increased costs, a judicial review and the coupling of it with the Newtown connection cycleways. The community’s frustration with Council is growing and their trust and confidence in Council getting the matter resolved and moving on is diminishing. If elected as Mayor, I will ask Council to de-couple the cycleway from the Newtown connection project (which has recently been delayed further) and look at completion as a standalone project within 12 months. The impact of the size of the new buses must also be factored in when completing the final design.

“By working collaboratively together we will bring more progress for our city”