Wellington's major transport initiative

Wellington’s major transport initiative -

Progress report from the Let’s Get Wellington Moving project

Ellen Blake

Another step forward for the major Wellington transport project shows some interesting results for pedestrians but will it follow through?

The Lets Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) project is the work being done by the Wellington City Council with the Greater Wellington Regional Council and the New Zealand Transport Agency. The project area of interest is entirely within Wellington city so it is an interesting approach to include broader representation – hopefully this is a good move so that the funding agency together with the provider of public transport services will in fact buy in to the outcome.

This approach came into being because the unpopular Basin bridge proposal to cater to larger numbers of private vehicles didn’t pass muster and was rejected by the Environment Court as well. So there is a history.

The novel approach of this project has been to get some real data before a whole lot of options are proposed. And for the first time some real data on walking is emerging – Wellington City Council has done a good annual pedestrian cordon count for many years but this only counted people passing particular points during one week a year. The LGWM project has gone further and can now produce some numbers on how many people are passing particular points by all modes of travel. The progress report from LGWM has shown what many of us already ‘knew’ – that there are more pedestrian trips on many important intersections than private vehicles. And on other intersections the public transport numbers top all other modes. For instance, the Tory Street intersection along the Golden Mile shows walking far out rates car use (see attachement or the progress report). Do the traffic lights give priority to pedestrians at Tory Street – hell no. I look forward to see the information on this intersection with the bus use included and the obvious solution to priority fixed.

The data collection methods are described in general but we are still to see the details on how this new information was gathered.

There is other good news in the LGWM project and that was to define some principles that may support walking. Despite every other consultation of this type coming up with Wellingtonians wanting a compact walkable city (eg the recent Wellington Urban Growth Plan) the LGWM doesn’t refer to walking in its principles at all – something to watch in the next steps.

12 Principles for LGWM project

  • Accessible, healthy and safe
  • Better public transport
  • Clean and green
  • Compact city
  • Demand and supply
  • Future-proof and resilient
  • Past, present, future
  • Predictable travel times
  • Set in nature
  • Growth
  • Travel choice
  • Wider View

The Travel Choice principle is in ‘alignment’ with the sustainable transport hierarchy so I assume we can look forward to walking being the priority, and decisions on other modes having to support walkability.

Assessment criteria have been developed to review the scenarios that the project is identifying, and these do mention walking. Improving walkability and increasing walk mode share along with pedestrian safety are welcome criteria. I take this to mean that pedestrian accessibility will be considered so that this really is walking for all, people who use wheelchairs included. And of course better public transport is great for pedestrians. We do need some assurance from the LGWM project though, that these principles and criteria will survive the often squeaky wheels of other better resourced lobby’s.

It’s been a quiet time for several months for LGWM. I’m looking forward to seeing the full set of information from the LGWM project and the long list of scenarios as well. A series of workshops with invited guests in March is the next step on this path.