Wellington public transport

June 2nd, 2012 at 10:46 am by David Farrar

Lane Nichols at the Dom Post reports:

Frustrated rail commuters will benefit from a massive Government investment in designed to reduce congestion and delays.

The announcement of nearly $900million for national public transport projects will buoy proponents of Wellington’s costly proposed light-rail system.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown immediately called for urgent work to establish a central city light-rail or tram system.

The Government has in fact spent a huge amount on public transport, and rail. I’d be quite keen to see costings of a tram system in Wellington, but we should make decisions based on the benefits and costs.

I’m a very regular user of Wellington buses in the CBD and Thorndon areas, and generally they work very well. Would trams be more efficient?

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21 Responses to “Wellington public transport”

  1. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    No!

    They are an unnecessary expenditure, for no benefit. As you point out, we already have PT options for south of the railway station – buses and taxis. Both of which go through the CBD and all suburbs through to the airport.

    Celia Wade-Brown and her insistence on light rail is simply another case of “buying things you don’t need, with money you don’t have, to impress people you don’t like.” (Although in this case it would be more people not liking her if she were somehow successful in mortgaging ratepayers to realise her pipe-dream idea.)

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  2. Other_Andy (2,314 comments) says:

    “The Government has in fact spent a huge amount on public transport, and rail. I’d be quite keen to see costings of a tram system in Wellington, but we should make decisions based on the benefits and costs.”

    In Auckland (Len-Labour) and Wellington (Wade-Brown-watermelons) decisions will be based on ideology, not on the benefits and costs. The mess will be left for others to clean up in a few years time.

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  3. flipper (3,590 comments) says:

    As a regular, but periodic visitor, to Wellington I agree that the Wellington mid-week bus service is both effective and efficient.

    BUT…. as for red melon Wade-Brown……

    Take a look at weekend and after 5pm usage. Take all those Kapiti line , Hutt and Wairarapa weekday commuters out and any justification for a rail/tram system will come up short.

    Anyway, Wade-Brown will be OUT next year.

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  4. orewa1 (428 comments) says:

    Wellington’s buses are extremely efficient.

    Wellington’s trains, also, are extremely efficient.

    The problem is they don’t interconnect especially well. The answer is simple:

    1 Introduce a “link” type shuttle bus specifically for rail travellers around a one way circuit – rail, Courtenay Place, and the top of Molesworth St. Use the excellent existing bus lanes to the maximum. Every 2 minutes in peak time, alternating directions.

    2 Have it leave from the grass area in front of the station to save commuters the trek through the subway. (Sure that might only save half a minute morning and night, but that mounts up over a year.)

    3 Build it into the train fare to eliminate delays boarding the bus.

    4 Have direct radio contact between the train despatch people and bus drivers so the connection could be smoothed – train held back a few seconds if a bus is just pulling in and vice versa.

    At a rough guess you could introduce this and make it free for about a hundred years for the cost of a light rail system.

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  5. davidp (3,540 comments) says:

    No!!! Why replace an efficient and cheap bus service with an expensive light rail system?

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  6. gazzmaniac (2,317 comments) says:

    I recently spent a month in Sydney, commuting by public transport from Eastwood (North-West) to Kensington (On the way to the airport) each day.
    They have had a system for years where you can buy a day/week/month/etc ticket that is valid for everything including the buses and ferries within a zone – and the zones are massive – there’s three zones between Sydney and Newcastle.
    Each railway station has a card reader that you put the card through, as does each bus and each ferry terminal. It makes a daily commute very easy, and getting onto a bus is quick because the express buses don’t take cash (you can buy bus tickets at most news agents).

    In Southeast Queensland they have the Go Card which are also valid for each form of public transport. It’s probably a bit like the card they have in Wellington but it’s valid for everything. That said, services on the Gold Coast (where I live) are few and far between once you get away from the glitter strip, and only taking public transport it is quicker for me to get to Brisbane Airport by rail than the (much closer) Coolangatta which only has public buses.

    Integrated ticketing works.

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  7. gazzmaniac (2,317 comments) says:

    By the way, I’m not calling for rail to Coolangatta – the problem could be solved with more buses that use the motorway (which goes right past the airport and isn’t too far from where I live) instead of making everyone get to the GC Highway (which is miles from my house – the main problem for a slow trip – runs along the coast and is slow)

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  8. somewhatthoughtful (452 comments) says:

    Benefits and costs eh? how novel, you mean like the benefits and costs of the Puhoi -> Wellsford Road?

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  9. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    somewhatthoughtful,

    I was thinking more like Len’s little rail loop. That rail option doesn’t stack up either

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  10. PaulL (5,875 comments) says:

    Wellington’s trolley buses are already effectively trams/light rail. Except they don’t require tracks.

    Buses and trams are actually quite similar beasts. The differences are:
    – you can get more people on a large tram / light rail than a standard bus. With very high traffic on a single line, this can be important. But the threshold where buses aren’t enough isn’t really reached yet in Wellington
    – buses can go more places
    – buses can share infrastructure – so they’re much cheaper to install
    – you often don’t have to change vehicle with a bus – so buses can go out to the burbs, and still do a central city loop easily, light rail basically means multi-mode all the time
    – light rail is far more trendy, and trams are kind of cool

    Bottom line, you can do most things with buses, the only real limitation is efficiency (in terms of passengers per driver, in terms of passengers per stop, in terms of load/unload time). All these can be addressed with a bit of infrastructure – raised platforms for buses, artic buses, more efficient scheduling and more bus only lanes.

    I’m not against public transport, but I am against picking the wrong public transport for the situation.

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  11. mikenmild (10,766 comments) says:

    somewhatthoughtful
    Tsk, tsk. Cost/benefit ratios are only relevant in considering projects we already hate, like rail options. They are obviously unnecessary inconveniences for new roads, like Transmission Gully.

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  12. Peter (1,578 comments) says:

    Anything that gets poor people/leftists out of their cars has got to be good.

    More road for the rest of us.

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  13. annie (537 comments) says:

    Most NZ cities had trams in the past, and ditched the vile things as soon as they could.

    My ma always called them Silent Death.

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  14. somewhatthoughtful (452 comments) says:

    That’s good to know annie, your well researched anecdote adds lots to the discourse.

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  15. swan (659 comments) says:

    I don’t even think it is ideology on the part of the left. Unless “I heart steel tracks” can be considered an ideology. I remain somewhat mystified by the lefts obsession with rail. But I believe it has a good deal to do with aesthetics. Which kind of means they just want every thing to be “nice” “cool” “vibrant” “livable” etc.

    I think the rail-to-the-north-shore proposals in Auckland are another classic example. The busway there has enough capacity to take every passenger from every private car on the adjacent motorway. Yet the left are obsessed with ripping it up and putting in a rail line at great expense.

    It’s actually quite a snobbish attitude, and I don’t use that word very often.

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  16. Griff (6,833 comments) says:

    The train tracks appeal to those on the left because the rigid lines echo in their thinking
    Mass control and mass transport
    You will go were we place train tracks
    You will not operate as an individual unit
    Only as a rigidly fixed one to the aims of our ideology
    choo choo

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  17. Anthony (768 comments) says:

    Orewa, I’ve been suggesting something similar too with a dedicated inner city bus loop. The continuous bus loop could be mostly trolley buses to cut down on noise and fumes in the CBD. But the main thing is to stop most of the long bus routes going right across town which just makes it more difficult to keep them on time and other times means if ahead of schedule means they sit at a stop for several minutes. Most of the routes should radiate out of Courtenay Pace and the railway station depot.

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  18. mikenmild (10,766 comments) says:

    Anthony
    I’ve wondered about the present bus routes too. A lot of them seem to be like Wilton-Kilbirnie, so there a quite a few routes criss-crossing through the CBD. I should have thought most bus demand was to and from the CBD, or looping around the central city.

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  19. Ross12 (1,155 comments) says:

    Mikenmild

    Your comment assumes a CBD should be part of Wellington’s ( or any city ) future. Why do we need all the public service people coming into the CBD every day when we have the technolgy we have today ? Why can’t we have low rise office buildings in the suburbs or up the coast ( in the case of Wellington) ? There is absolutely no need for them in the CBD. We are now having another round of earth quake proofing discussions going on in Wellington — get business and the bureaucrats away from the fault line.
    Light rail is just a waste of money with the small population we have in Wellington.

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  20. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    Oh for the DomPost headline “Wellington Mayor is off her trolley”…

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  21. Anthony (768 comments) says:

    Ross12, people are social creatures and most like to get out and interact in person. The demise of the CBD has been predicted for years. Most people can now work from home if they want, so how come the CBD hasn’t died already??

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