Getting around: Who wants what?

Wellington’s getting a lot of big new roads. TalkWellington, looking at Auckland, wonders if it’s wholly good news for Wellington’s future.

So many new roads!  They include what’s currently the nation’s single largest earthworks project, Transmission Gully. Most of them are funded by the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA).

These roads will have a huge impact on the whole Wellington region, and we’ll look at the good and the bad and the plain ol’ mystifying in other posts.  For now, we want to give you a sense of where we’re at.
We’re not yet an Auckland – congestion here is not
yet that bad – but to us non-experts at TalkWellington, the “build lots of big new roads above all else” approach is precisely how Auckland got to the congestion crisis it’s now in.      

We’d like to think we’re in good hands in Welly, but a few things make us think the region might just on track to make the same mistakes they did in Auckland. For example:

  • TalkWellington sees human drivers ruining the (small) speed gains of major motorway investment…
  • and Tauranga admitting $225 million of public investment (plus surrounding land effects) has not changed congestion.  
  • We see people like the Automobile Association’s Dylan Thomsen saying (in the Dumb Drivers article above) that “shortened travel times were encouraging. […] ‘It may not look like that much but, obviously, when you multiply that over tens of thousands of vehicles, it adds up to some big numbers’”.   
  • That seems sensible, but then we remember the NZTA themselves being caught out with poor sums about the time-saving benefits of major roading projects.
  • And then we do some reading and get some insight into the actual processes used to calculate whether something’s worth investing in or not.
  • And then we see reviews of the UK’s immense investment, which essentially show that there’s little evidence to support the main premise of most of their infrastructure spending (savings in travel time). People just travel further to do the same things – where the investment is in roads, they drive more.   

So in 2017, TalkWellington are a wee bit concerned about Wellington’s future and we think you should be too.

We’re happy to see new arrivals like Congestion Free Wellington who are dedicated to keeping Let’s Get Wellington Moving honest. There are lots of other smart people around to explain things and provide informed critique. Transport and movement planning is complicated, and involves many dense documents, many of them generated by the smart people at the NZTA and other decision-making bodies. Like it or not, transport and movement investment and planning is one of the most powerful forces shaping Wellington.

We want our decision-makers to invest our cash wisely – i.e. in ways that make a more liveable, accessible and sustainable Wellington.

We’ll be helping them, by helping you: fuelling you the citizen with good insight by smart people.  

We look forward to your company on this ride.    


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