Submission to LGWM: Light Rail for Wellington

Summary of full submission to LGWM

Mass transit in Wellington City as proposed by LGWM is necessary but not sufficient. To compete successfully with private car travel requires rapid transit that delivers a congestion-free journey — the basis of Scenario A+. Transit Oriented Development around stops is an essential complement to urban rapid transit.

Wellington needs an ambitious goal, that by 2050 over 50% of all trips to and from the CBD will be by public transport. Light rail is a proven, low risk rapid transit option which has been deployed in other earthquake-prone cities. There would be benefits in Wellington adopting the same technology standards as Auckland.

The investor that assumes the ridership risk should have the final say on rapid transit route and technology choice. LGWM needs to set the performance targets for travel time, service frequency, and transfer time at hubs.

List of recommendations

  1. Plan to open a rapid transit line between the railway station and Miramar by 2027, as a reliable and superior alternative to driving.
  2. Agree that rapid transit is a core component of a future transport system designed around the wants and needs of people.
  3. Reconfigure bus services along the rapid transit corridor to aggregate demand and connect at transit hubs.
  4. Develop a policy and guidelines for transit oriented development around rapid transit stops and at transit hubs.
  5. Design the first rapid transit line in a way that facilitates future extensions and connections.
  6. Note that to provide reliable rapid transit for the projected demand, Wellington needs light rail operating no later than 2027.
  7. Note the earthquake risk to light rail lines can be mitigated and other earthquake-prone cities have extensive passenger rail networks.
  8. Note the estimated cost of a first light rail line is $910m and a public–private partnership is one of several possible funding mechanisms.
  9. Choose technologies that are based on widely-used standards, to provide maximally contestable supply and avoid supplier lock-in.
  10. Consider adopting a technology-neutral approach to procurement, specifying the services that the rapid transit system must deliver.