Government announces preferred option for Wellington’s Mass Rapid Transport future
Greater Wellington welcomed an announcement by Transport Minister Michael Wood and Infrastructure Minister Grant Robertson this morning which outlined the Government’s preferred Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) option for the Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) programme.
The preferred option, known as option 1, focuses on south coast light rail and a new public transport tunnel – helping move the most people possible to and from Island Bay and surrounding suburbs, beautifying the Basin Reserve, supporting the most housing and urban development of all the options, and making city streets better for everyone.
The announcement signalled further detailed investigations which will test assumptions and, if necessary, allows for a fallback position using Bus Rapid Transit vehicles along the same route as option 1.
Chair of Greater Wellington, Daran Ponter, says the announcement was consistent with the advice and recommendations of LGWM’s Board and strikes the right balance between action and flexibility.
“This announcement gives confidence for a Mass Rapid Transport future for Wellington, and paves the way for dedicated public transport corridors and a connection to the wider Metlink network, which will be fantastic news for existing and future public transport users and the environment,” says Chair Ponter.
In the announcement this morning, the Government noted lessons learned in Auckland, economies of scale and future proofing for urban growth despite the complications of COVID-19. However, it did recognise that cities like Wellington had unique terrain challenges and limited central city options for urban intensification which may require more localised solutions.
“Thousands of Wellingtonians gave their opinions on light rail or bus rapid transit last year as part of LGWM’s consultation process. The goal remains the same in terms of moving the most amount of people with the fewest vehicles, but this announcement provides direction and flexibility around the necessary infrastructure and the mode of transport needed to meet Wellington’s urban growth in the future.
“Regardless of which of the two modes eventuate, this carbon responsible future aligns closely with Greater Wellington’s existing plans and compliments Metlink initiatives such as electrification of all buses by 2030, electronic ticketing, and transport on demand services. MRT will also build upon the earlier delivery of Golden Mile, Thorndon Quay and Hutt Road, and City Streets initiatives,” says Chair Ponter.
While welcoming the MRT news, Chair Daran Ponter says he’s looking forward forward to future announcements from the Government on a range of rail investments.
“The last piece of the puzzle is rail and how that fits into the overall transport vision for our region. We have made it clear that a range of investments need to be made in rail to bring the region and the city up to standard as well help connect the Lower North Island with job market, urban growth and population rises putting strain on aging infrastructure and rail stock.
Greater Wellington will discuss and vote on the MRT option at its Council Meeting on July 6.
For more information on the Government’s announcement and the preferred option report visit the beehive website.
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