Talking Transport Hui: Regional (and southeastern city) Candidates

Contenders for Wellington’s Eastern and Southern Wards joined Regional council candidates in the second of The Traffic Jam’s Talking Transport hui, 25th September. Here are hot takes from chief Traffic Jammer Bryan Crump


Regional round up

Let’s begin with the regional councillor candidates, as they straddled two meetings. You can hear all of them speaking here.

You can probably guess, all of them will “fix the buses” but they do differ on how much priority they would buses compared to parked cars, or even moving ones.

“Cars first”

I’ve listed contenders in terms of their support for private versus public/active transport, starting with those who seemed closest to lobbying for private motor vehicles. The further you scroll down, the more public and actively minded your candidates get. Here we go…

Philip O’Brien

Without doubt, the strongest roading advocate at either meeting. Wasn’t afraid to revisit the “four lanes to the planes” mantra that didn’t win Jo Coughlan the Wellington mayoralty in 2016.

Uses the bus, but thinks the city has to cater for the majority who prefer cars.

Says he’s a keen walker, but again doesn’t see many others on the footpath.

Whether you think that’s because other users see him coming first, probably depends on how your views line up with his. If you want more space for cars, and a bloke not afraid of the odd controversial quote (see below) O’Brien is your man.

Lesleigh Salinger

Like Philip O’Brien, wanted to see a road tunnel under Mt Victoria built ahead of a new rapid public transit system to the city’s east.

An advocate of on-street parking in the central city. “You can remove everything and make it absolutely people friendly and businesses collapse and fall apart.” 

Not a supporter of the old electric trolley buses which she said were “dungers”. Would like to see new battery electric ones though.

Gavin Bruce

Favours another road tunnel under Mt Victoria ahead of rapid transit. He was also against removing too many car-parks in the city to make way for buses or cycleways.

“If you can’t drive your car into town you’re probably going to go to free parking in Porirua or Queensgate”.

Anand Kochunny

Vague on detail, but wants priority given to another road tunnel under Mt Victoria.

Tony De Lorenzo

Wants a second tunnel under Mt Vic. Whether it is for buses, mass transit, cars “or whatever”.

David Lee

Retiring Wellington City councillor and urban planner. Pragmatic rather than radical. Wants to shift the balance away from cars.

Blames a lot of the problems with the buses on PTOM: The Public Transport Operating Model, introduced by the previous government to govern regional councils’ contracting of services from bus operators.

Wants a single Wellington wide transport body, a bit like Auckland Transport.

Tony Jansen

Advocates change towards mass rapid transit, but wants councillors to recognise funds are limited.

Suggests selling the city’s stake in Wellington Airport to fund major transport projects.

Bryce Pender

A taxi driver with “everyday experience of traffic congestion” who supports extending the city’s heavy rail system further east to Courtney Place, and extending the current electric train network to Masterton, Otaki and eventually Palmerston North.

Suburban trains: some candidates don’t think they go far enough.

Ray Wilson

Currently works for one of the bus companies. Wants better pay and conditions for bus drivers.

Helene Ritchie

Former Wellington deputy mayor. Supports removal of on-street car parks to make way for bus and cycle lanes.

“I want to fast forward rapid mass public transport, probably light rail”. However, had a chequered voting history at the Wellington City Council. Voted against a 30 kph speed limit in inner Wellington when the council considered it during Celia Wade-Brown’s mayoralty.

John Klaphake

Advocates a regional focus on the city’s transport problems.

Wants light rail from Johnsonville, Porirua and the Hutt all the way to Miramar, based on using the existing rail system.

Sam Somers

A young man “with a plan”. Supports light rail, not just to the eastern suburbs, but also to Karori.

Alexander Garside

Wants continual adjustments of Wellington’s bus network based on public feedback. “I’m not going to fix the buses. You are.”

Wants bus priority lanes to improve reliability.

Daran Ponter

Sitting regional councillor. Highly visible (unlike some) in his work  communicating and consulting the public over the new bus network.

Wants to reduce the number of hubs, pay drivers a fair wage, and allocate more road space to bus priority lanes.

Roger Blakeley

Sitting councillor. Supports Let’s Get Welly Moving with space for bus priority and cycle lanes ahead of more room for cars.

However, reluctant to address an issue which bothers some voters – that GWRC minutes don’t record how each councillor votes on a motion (something which frustrates The Traffic Jam). Argues that commercial confidentiality trumps the public’s right to know on some occasions.

Jill Ford

Wants “action now” on allocating more road space to bus and cycle lanes ahead of “Let’s Get Wellington Waiting”, removing on-street parking where necessary.

Supports a second Mt Vic tunnel only for public or active transport. Wants a single transport agency for Wellington.

Thomas Nash

Says Wellington needs to address its “car addiction”. Strong supporter of Let’s Get Welly Moving’s plan to prioritise public and active transport ahead of the private car.

Victoria Rhodes-Carlin

Strongest speaker among the younger candidates. Says the current crop of regional councillors failed to understand the needs of bus customers.

Wants an electric bus network by 2030.

Did not show up:

  • Phil Quin. Shame because he says he’s “going to fix the buses”!
  • Troy Mihaka. Member of the same political group as Philip O’Brien, called The Wellington Party.
  • Glenda Hughes. Also a Wellington Party member.
  • Yvonne Legarth.
  • Deane Milne.
Discussing induced demand is much easier with a cuppa.

South of the Basin: Wellington City Council candidates

You can hear all of the Southern and Eastern candidates speaking at the Hui here.

Only four candidates are standing for the city council’s Southern Ward, and we’re happy to report there’s not much between them on transport: all are supporting a shift from the private motor car towards active and public transport.

  • Thomas Morgan suggests “raising the Basin Reserve” and having the roads pass underneath.
  • Fleur Fitzsimons is a sitting councillor. Sat on the fence over a question regarding an extension to the Wellington Runway.
  • Humphrey Hanley couldn’t make it to the meeting. Sent a written statement. Strong advocate for the disabled.
  • Laurie Foon advocates opening up Kent and Cambridge Terrace and Adelaide Road to higher density housing, with more road space allocated to public and active transport.
Build active infrastructure and they will come – even on a grey day in Palmerston North

Through the tunnels

More policy diversity from candidates for Wellington City’s Eastern ward, and more diversity in attitudes to transport. Again, I’ve listed first those tending towards space for private motor vehicles.

  • Sean Rush was the most “cars first” candidate. Member of the same political party as Philip O’Brien, the Wellington Party, which advocates for “common sense” on transport policy (strong on provision for private car driving). Did seem a little nonplussed by some of Philip’s statements.
  • Steph Edlin. High school student. Strong advocate for the buses, but also for a second road tunnel under Mt Victoria. Against giving up on-street parking for cycle lanes.
  • Bernard O’Shaughnessy. Supports a second road tunnel under Mt Victoria ahead of rapid mass transport to the airport.
  • Teri O’Neill. Another well-spoken candidate under the age of 30. Favours public transport ahead of another road tunnel under Mt Victoria. Critical of the Council’s consultation around cycleways in Island Bay, and has doubts over removing parking from central Newtown to make space for bikes or buses.
  • Sarah Free. Sitting councillor. Spoke strongly on advocating cycling in answer to a question from the floor. Would “consider” a second tunnel under Mt Victoria, “if we’ve really got a need for it, because I do believe we need some more connections even if it’s just for cycling and walking.” Says council needs to be careful about removing parking along Newtown’s main corridor.
  • Chris Calvi-Freeman. Sitting councillor, who’s taken on the transport portfolio. Against a second road tunnel under Mt Vic. Supports the priorities outlined in Let’s Get Welly Moving but wants light rail sooner than the current plan. In answer to a question, from an opponent of more cycleways, he said “consultation is not the same as a referendum” and that councillors are elected to make decisions on the public’s behalf.
Sarah Free on cycleways
Some people couldn’t make it to the meeting…

Did not show up: Ajay Rathod. A strong roads advocate, to the extent of opening up the bus tunnel to motor cars.


Read more!

Check out the other Talking Transport hui roundup: northern, western and central
Scorecards, and a look behind the pre-election spin


The Traffic Jam would like to thank the following for their support organising, podcasting and blogging these transport hui:

The Wellington Council of the AA, Cycle Wellington, Rubber Monkey, Save the Basin, Bicycle Junction, Living Streets Aotearoa, Valley Audio, Pete Busby (sound engineer), and the Common Climate Network.

A special big thank you to Co-organiser, Mark Johnston, and to the MC for our second hui, Dave Armstrong.


Image credits: Banner – The Traffic Jam and Elections NZ.
Trains – Valley Signals
Some people couldn’t make it – James Gilberd
Build active infrastructure – Bryan Crump Discussing induced demand – Bryan Crump

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