Scenario A+ Gets Wellington Moving with Light Rail and Road Pricing


“The Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) proposals are a $2.3bn bust,” says Fair Intelligent Transport (FIT) Wellington.

Space is at a premium in Wellington, yet LGWM wants to pour over 80% of its proposed spending into the most space-hungry transport mode—cars.

“This is magical thinking straight from the 1950s,” says FIT spokesman John Rankin. “We ought to spend public money on solutions that will work.”

“FIT supports LGWM’s Scenario A, to prioritise public transport, walking and cycling in the central city, but it's not enough. We also need to prioritise light rail, road pricing, plus safe walking and cycling. FIT calls this Scenario A+.

“Invest in light rail connecting the railway station to the regional hospital, Newtown, and continuing to the airport, so people have an inviting alternative to private car travel.

“Charge for car trips entering the central city during peak times, to reduce traffic on city streets and make it easier to get around.

“Make multiple safe places for people walking and cycling to cross SH1 between Willis St and the airport.

“We need a bold objective,” says Rankin. “Let’s aim for over 80% of CBD trips to be people walking, cycling and using public transport by 2040. That will enable Wellington to do its share of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Government’s ‘net zero by 2050’ target.”

“For a city Wellington’s size, light rail is an attractive, space-efficient and affordable mass transit option,” Rankin says. “A person travelling by car takes about 20 times as much road space as a person travelling by light rail. We need to charge people for their peak hour car trips and invest the money in public transport.”

“Our city deserves future-proof transport,” says Rankin. “Scenario A+ will get Wellington moving on all transport modes, including cars."

FIT asks Wellingtonians to reject the failed thinking of the past and support Scenario A+ at

What Makes Light Rail Succeed


Wellington is an ideally-sized city for light rail. It will reduce congestion and support higher-density housing.

Road space is valuable

BRT (Bus Rapid Transport) is impractical in Wellington’s narrow CBD and is less space-efficient. Private cars need up to 20 times as much space as light rail to carry the same numbers.

Buses are cheap to buy but expensive to operate; light rail is the opposite. A light rail vehicle lasts twice as long as a bus, runs at twice the average speed, and one driver can move 7 times as many people.

Buses are better for some trips, such as links to light rail from the suburbs. At the railway station, light rail connects to heavy rail.

Density rules

Light rail has the best chance of success when one goal sits above all others — maximize ridership. Light rail needs to go where lots of people are, and busy all day — shopping areas, the regional hospital, and airport; not people deserts like the town belt.

Time is money

Successful light rail needs to be there when people need it: high frequency all day, every day — at least every 6 minutes during peak periods, every 12 minutes off-peak. Plan for at least 5000 passengers per hour in peak periods, 2500 passengers per hour off-peak.

People don’t mind transferring when the service is reliable and often.

Inflexibility works

Light rail must be long enough to be fast and predictable — at least 5km with widely-spaced stops. Wellington railway station to the airport is about 9km, travel time less than 20 minutes.

Light rail needs an exclusive right-of-way, with priority over regular traffic at intersections. Cars and buses will sometimes have to wait, but less than waiting at the lights for the hundreds of extra cars and buses that light rail replaces.

Success for all of us

Overseas light rail appeals to everyone — rich and poor, young and old, of all shapes, sizes and abilities find it inviting and welcoming.

Build the right project; build the project right.