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Eight public transport options to be further investigated for Wellington

Eight public transport options to be further investigated for Wellington

Eight options, including bus, light rail and heavy rail, will be investigated further as part of the Wellington Public Transport Spine Study.

Long List Evaluation Report

The Spine Study is looking into the merits of long-term, high quality public transport options for the ‘spine’ between Wellington Railway Station and Wellington Regional Hospital. It’s being carried out by consultant AECOM for Greater Wellington Regional Council in partnership with Wellington City Council and the NZ Transport Agency.

An inception and scoping report produced in February identified 88 possible options, combining a range of routes and a range of modes (systems) from heavy rail through to personalised rapid transit ‘pods’.

The list of 88 was then broken down into six possible public transport modes and five possible alignments. These were assessed against specific criteria including accessibility, attractiveness to users, ability to meet future passenger demand, and engineering and financial viability. Compatibility between various combinations of modes and possible alignments was also tested, and a ‘medium list’ of eight options were identified to take forward to the next stage of evaluation. 

The eight options are:

  • Two high quality on-street bus options along a central alignment (essentially the Golden Mile) or along a waterfront alignment (essentially following the Quays), with both options then continuing south along Kent/Cambridge Terraces, through to Adelaide Road.
  • Two bus rapid transit options along the same two alignments as above. Bus rapid transit involves buses running in an entirely separate space on the road from other traffic
  • Two light rail options along the same two alignments as above.
  • A heavy rail extension underground along an alignment to be determined.
  • A heavy rail extension at street level along a waterfront alignment.

Fran Wilde, Chair of Greater Wellington Regional Council, welcomed the latest step in the study. “We’ve now got some tangible options and it will be interesting to see how they stack up in the next round of more detailed assessment. High quality, highly efficient public transport along this crucial spine is imperative, not only for the future of Wellington City but for the entire region.  Excellent public transport means less reliance on cars and less congestion, making it a lot easier to get to regional destinations such as Wellington Station, Wellington Hospital and the airport.”

The study milestone was also welcomed by Jenny Chetwynd, NZ Transport Agency’s Regional Director Central “We're very pleased at the noticeable progress the study has made in creating a medium list of options for consideration. The study team is keeping an open mind and has looked at dozens of overseas examples of public transport systems. We're confident this will help us and our council partners to identify the best potential long-term solutions that provide good value for money and fit well with the needs, the opportunities, and the constraints of our city."

Celia Wade-Brown, Mayor of Wellington, says she’s very interested in how the eight options will be assessed to improve transport choices and urban form. “Good transport choices must include economical, efficient and pleasant public transport. Wellington’s compact form combined with its population already sympathetic to walking and catching public transport provides a great opportunity for future investment.

“Improving the public transport links between the Hutt Valley, the Western corridor and Wellington’s CBD and beyond to the eastern suburbs and the Airport is important for economic and environmental success.”

For more information, contact our media team

Spine Study - Q & As

Q: What is light rail?
A: Light rail is a form of electric rail transport. It normally runs on a separate track and route from other road traffic but it can share road space with other users. Light rail is also referred to as Light Rail Transit (LRT) in the study documents.

Q: What is heavy rail?
A: Heavy rail runs on a separate corridor from other forms of transport. Within city centres trains can run at very high frequencies through underground tunnels or on elevated tracks. In the Wellington context the heavy rail options would be extensions of the existing heavy rail network. Heavy rail is also referred to as Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) in the study documents.

Q: What is bus rapid transit?
A: Bus rapid transit (BRT) is a bus system where buses run in a separate space from other traffic, like the northern busway in Auckland.

Q: What does Transit Supportive Development mean?
A: Transit Supportive Development is about coordinating transport planning and urban planning so transport projects complement land use and vice versa. In the context of the Wellington Public Transport Spine Study, evaluation of the Spine options includes identifying parts of the study area where there are opportunities for residential and commercial development that could further encourage people to use public transport instead of the car. The effectiveness and value of a high quality public transport spine depends on as many people as possible being able to access it, so it makes sense to locate it in areas where there’s the most potential for growth and development.

Q: The on-street bus options look exactly like what we have now, would they be different in any way?
A: The study to date has considered only modes and route alignments. From now on the evaluation process will start to flesh out specifically what the options may look like so the bus-on-street option could be quite different from what we have now or it could be reasonably similar.

Q: What options have been ruled out so far?
A: Mini-buses and personal rapid transit or ‘pods’ have been ruled out for further assessment, largely because of their limited capacity to meet peak-hour demand. Two alignment options, a northern one via The Terrace and a southern one via Taranaki and Wallace streets, were also ruled out for further investigation because of their gradients, accessibility issues and a lack of opportunity for land use development and increased public transport use. However, the findings indicate that The Terrace could be used for supplementary services.

Q: What happens next?
A: The ‘medium list’ of eight options will now be further assessed by AECOM, the study consultant. They will identify a short-list of up to four options for further comprehensive costing, modelling and evaluation.  The short-list is expected to be finalised around the middle of this year. These short-listed options will be developed in detail including specific alignments, engineering requirements, environmental and land use impacts and costs. The evaluation will be completed by early 2013.

Q: What happens after the study?
A:  The study will not identify a preferred option. Following on from the study the Wellington Regional Transport Committee will take the short-listed options, along with the results of the final evaluation, out to public consultation in early 2013. The Committee will hear submissions and make recommendations about which option should be included in the region’s transport planning from here on.


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