Wellingtonians have been shafted by two “greenie” ministers from Auckland, along with our current very weak city and regional council leaders. This group signed up to a plan that prioritises a so called “rapid transit” tram/trackless service to the airport, which could be completed in 10-20 years. They relegated a much needed second Mount Victoria tunnel, the plan says might happen in a decade or so.
They have miserably failed the people of the greater Wellington region.
The current two way Mount Victoria tunnel was built in 1931 when Wellington had very few vehicles and decades before air travel became popular. As someone who has lived in Melbourne, London and New York, and Wellington for more than 40 years, I have some sense of where trains, trams, busses and cars fit in consumer preferences and what works.
We do need better access to the airport and also better public transport to the eastern suburbs, but they are not the same thing. Flyers generally want fast, frequent services. I simply don’t believe that a rapid, frequent (say 10 minutes apart) service from Wellington station to the airport, would be viable. Greater Wellington has one tenth the population of Sydney and Melbourne. Let’s get real.
How on earth do the supporters of this proposition think people are going to get to this tram/bus at Wellington station or central Wellington? Do they contemplate large car parks at the station and other stops on the way? The more stops of course the slower the service will be. Trying to incorporate the needs of flyers with the people of Newtown, will inevitably result in neither being satisfied.
Looking at the Cabinet paper and the vague way it describes the rapid transport system, and how long it takes New Zealand to undertake major transport projects, only a true optimist could believe it would open within 15 years. The very slow start to the Auckland CBD – airport light rail proposal, should give everyone a reality check on timing.
The underlying problem is these Ministers and many others, have an absurd religious type obsession with rail over road and private cars. This is conflated with concerns about CO2 emissions and climate change. Co2 emissions can be ignored because by 2050 virtually all forms on land transport will be powered by sources other than fossil fuels.
What our next local government leaders should do acquire the courage to relitigate the package to make the second Mount Victoria tunnel and the widening of Ruahine Street, the priority over so called rapid transit. This has a price tag of $700 million. It would also allow for other proposals to speed up travel through the Te Aro area.
No doubt the two ministers will say it is a take it or leave it proposition but I have no doubt a heavy duty campaign can “persuade” the Government to change its mind. And if not this one the next.