FIT welcomes the release of the Let’s Get Wellington Moving recommended programme of investment, the RPI.
“The RPI recognises that LGWM is an investment in city-shaping, not just a series of transport projects,” says John Rankin on behalf of FIT. “FIT supports the vision to give priority to local amenities, walking, cycling, and public transport, so people have congestion-free alternatives to private car travel.”
The LGWM programme, in particular the proposed rapid transit route, will shape the city for the next 100 years. The programme is a useful contribution to the region’s strategies for dealing with anthropogenic climate disruptions such as sea level rise. It’s an investment in the city’s future, not a cost to be minimised
The programme offers a variety of ways in which people can improve their quality of life while reducing their transport carbon footprint in response to the Climate Crisis. “It’s a good start, but there is still plenty of room to make it better,” says Rankin.
First, the pace of implementation needs to accelerate. The Chamber of Commerce has pointed out that it can take longer to drive from the airport to the city centre than to fly from Auckland. “What better argument is there for completing high capacity rapid transit to the airport by 2029 or sooner?” asks Rankin. “Other cities have built longer lines in shorter times, so what's the hold-up?” he asks.
Relocating State Highway 1 eastbound from Vivian Street to a 2-way trenched Karo Drive is a strategic city-shaping project that ought to be given the highest priority, in conjunction with rapid transit on Taranaki Street. “This whole area close to Cuba Street and the city centre is just waiting to be rejuvenated,” says Rankin. “Grade separation at this point, clear of the Basin Reserve, is the best strategy for Wellington.”
As the last bus stop on the planet, Wellington needs to stay in the mainstream of technology, neither the first buyer of new and unproven technology like trackless trams, nor the last buyer of old technology. “The best option for New Zealand Inc is for Wellington to choose the same rapid transit technology and standards as Auckland,” Rankin says. “That way, we can share our experiences and learn from one another.”
FIT emphasises that as a long term programme, LGWM requires long term commitment. The region and investors need to know that a future government will not pull the plug. The pace of investment may change, but the broad direction needs to endure.
“The LGWM team has done a fine job under difficult circumstances,” says Rankin. “They have sent a message loud and clear that we can’t solve congestion by building more motorways.” The plan recognises that to make walking, cycling and public transport better, we also need to make better roads. “Commercial road users will benefit hugely by a shift from private cars to other transport modes,” Rankin says.
FIT looks forward to working with the LGWM team to enhance and accelerate the RPI.