Pointed questions

Let’s Get Wellington Moving will be some of the biggest changes to Wellington city’s transport since the Urban Motorway was built in the 1960s. LGWM’s “recommended package for investment” (stuff to build) was due out in May. While we wait, progressive transport coalition Congestion Free Wellington has ten questions for the LGWM team.

Article originally published on Scoop
When Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) finally releases its Recommended Programme of Investment (RPI) for transport in Wellington, a lot of questions are going to be about what gets funded, when, and who by.

But let’s take a step back. What is the plan actually trying to achieve? Does it have any targets, and how will we know whether it has achieved them?

Congestion Free Wellington believes that fundamental questions about the purpose, nature and effectiveness of the Recommended Programme of Investment have yet to be addressed or answered. Here are ten fundamental questions we suggest should be raised with local politicians, Minister of Transport Phil Twyford, and the media about Let’s Get Wellington Moving’s Recommended Programme of Investment:

1. Wellington’s status quo doesn’t give people nearly enough good low-carbon options for making everyday trips, so these should be central to the recommended plan of investment. Up until now, LGWM has treated emissions reductions as an optional extra in its proposals. To what extent will it help us reduce our greenhouse gas emissions from transport (Wellington’s biggest emitter)?

2. A headline LGWM objective was reducing Wellingtonians’ dependence on private vehicle travel, by providing better options such as mass transit, walking, biking, carshare and scootering (as well as incentives like congestion charging). This objective is excellent because it means more driving space for those who have no choice, and also produces major public health benefits. But LGWM must get serious about mass transit and active transport modes so they finally become meaningful, attractive choices that get people to happily leave the car at home. That means that the RPI needs to target a significant increase in the share of trips carried out by modes other than private vehicle journeys. How much of an increase in these modes does it target?

3. In two years Transmission Gully is due to open, bringing yet more cars from the north of the city into Wellington. To what extent will the RPI give people options to get into the city and do what they need, without bringing their cars into the city?

4. Will the RPI reduce transport poverty? Will it reduce the high percentage of Wellington people who have little alternative to using cars to get around – such as shift workers, people in suburbs with infrequent bus services, older folk, kids, and families on low incomes? Will it help more people to live in truly affordable housing close to their everyday needs?

5. Will the RPI be aligned with the new directions for land transport set out in the 2018 Government Policy Statement, including changes to transport funding that reduce spending on state highways relative to other modes of transport?

6. It’s well established that increasing road space increases people’s driving until it’s congested again, and several of the most expensive projects proposed by LGWM are only for cars (no public transport benefit).

It’s also well established that a big proportion of people will happily choose to leave the car at home when their city offers other good options, and uses good incentives like congestion charging.

Will the sequence and timing of the proposed investments commit us to building new roads first that we’ll then fill up with more cars, thus taking us back to square one – or will they focus on first providing the good options that will stop our roads filling up with more cars that lead to more pollution and more greenhouse gas emissions?

7. Many streetscape improvements have been put on ice by Wellington City Council pending the resolution of the LGWM process, even when they don’t depend on LGWM funding. Will the RPI allow the city to crack on and do the “quick wins” that make our streets more people-friendly and efficient, and better for walking and cycling, without making them wait for the big expensive works?

8. Congestion charging and other incentives are an essential ingredient in any effective transport plan. What measures to manage travel demand will be included, what targets will they be designed to meet, and when will they be scheduled in the LGWM programme?

9. How will the proposed investments enhance the liveability of Wellington City, including performance measures for reduced traffic noise, enhanced heritage values, and increased public space?

10. Will the recommended programme of investment actively promote transit-led development – denser, multi-use developments where lots of people can live, eat, work and play within a quick walk of excellent public transport in a compact, liveable Wellington?

What are your hopes for Let’s Get Wellington Moving?

Image courtesy of Congestion Free Wellington

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