NZ’s ‘Foremost Transport Economist’ ?

Why is the $1.8b East-West Link is being funded but a $58 million rail project is being ignored despite yielding more value?

Julie Anne Genter’s line of questioning leaves little doubt that idealology is the main driver in funding the 2-billion-dollar road, and Bridges’ ‘answers’ confirm it.

With Maggie Barry looking as smug AF in the background, Bridges tries to hack his way through the argument with distractions and slander. So muddled in old and new reports, costs and benefits, that Bridges begins to claim a transport policy that sounds a lot like the Greens’, and even goes as far as calling Genter NZ’s foremost transport economist, twice!

Check out the full clip on Julie Anne’s Facebook Page (below) or InTheHouse – Bridges quip about NZs transport economist might be on the money.


Wellington’s CRL: A reStart

Wellington Station. It’s probably the most glorious and identifiable building in the city, and it’s status is warranted: about 30,000 people travel through it each day – not bad given it’s location on the outskirts of the CBD.

The station sits close the New Zealand’s Parliament and its Governmental Ministries, the 40,000 people working  along Lambton and Featherston Streets, and the supporting shops, bars, schools, and the waterfront. If you work around this area, the train’s just a short walk. But if you work further down Lambton Quay, or in the Courtenay and Cuba end of town, you’ll have a 20-30 minute walk from the train – on a nice day its one of the best; but on a real Wellington day, it leaves you wondering why you left home without a car (or why the train doesn’t go further into the city!).

The concept is easy:

  • extend the commuter line closer to the jobs in Lambton and Te Aro

  • allow people to quickly make trips within the CBD

In particular, the concept provides better transport options for people working at the Courtenay & Cuba end of town.

A number of studies across the decades have been undertaken to extend the passenger rail further into Wellington, though none have gained traction – even light rail has been discounted in favour of a BRT system recently – albeit through a very conservative (and pessimistic) costing model provided by consultants.


Part of the proposed 1970’s Wellington Underground traveling under Thorndon to Parliament, Lambton and George Stations. The full plan continues to Newtown, Kilbernie and terminates at the Airport

While the proposals might be a hard-sell to a society raised on infinite, cheap oil, unquestioned car dependence and toll-free roads, the project would probably make more economic sense than Transmission Gully and any other RoNS motorway projects that have been sold on supposed ‘benefits to the economy’.

If the Kapiti expressway can be built through 17km of swamp, or if the Transmission Gully Road can be built steeply across an active fault line, then a couple of rail lines can be extended further over, under, or even through the city.

In the next few posts I’ll have a look at some options to see what could work, what’s been done in other cities around the world and how it could add real value to Wellington as a city, province and capital.

Cars and vibrancy

Another letter that made it into the DomPost sometime in March 2016:

Cars and Vibrancy

It was depressing reading your front page (March 22) and other items about Wellington traffic. It surely must be obvious that this traffic is part of what makes a very small city so vibrant. Without it Wellington would be a boring public service village with a basket-case economy.

The Government realises that good roads are essential for economic growth. They carry goods and services and provide flexibility for people that public transport can never achieve. Given that light rail is a pipedream, they (roads) are essential also for buses. Wellington’s council and some inner suburbs can’t see this and want to go back to bikes, to lower speed limits and to remove developers’obligations on parking.

The government is paid election bribes by the Road Transport Forum and the AA (and probably others) to help with their interests. The fact that the roads are a popular vote-winner is a happy coincidence.

New Zealand has record car sales and car ownership rates. Cars are the most popular transport, and are not going away. A small number of good roads would lead to huge improvements in transport efficiency.

For instance, it is weird that the NZ Transport Agency is not building the Petone/Tawa road urgently, this would greatly reduce the load on the southern motorway and Hutt Rd and divert traffic away from Wellington pressure points.

A small number of good roads? Beacuse the Inner-city bypass, Dowse Interchange, “smart” motorway, Kapiti Expressway, Haywards and Transmission Gully aren’t good roads?  And the $430 million-dollar Petone to Grenada link – the road that promises to help all 25 people commuting between Pourirua and Lower Hutt? Hmmmm.

We’re witnessing the effect of induced congestion – more roads aint going to solve your problems bud.

It would be good for the whole region if Wellingtonians could get rid of council ostriches and NZTA got thinking.

Interesting – maybe we could build a time machine for this chap, or just send him to the US.

Poor use of space

Fantastic letter from the DomPost, 24th March

Urban road space is finite, valuable and hotly-contested. It therefore makes sense to prioritise transport modes that make efficient use of this space. This does not include cars.

If you use a tonne-and-a-half of machinery to shift just yourself at the same time as  thousands of other people, you should not expect an outcome other than congestion.

Continue reading →

Interesting clip from IPENZ magazine

Attached is an article I found in the ‘New Zealand Infrastructure Forum’ section of IPENZ’ Engineering Dimension magazine.


The contradiction of what MoT say and what NZTA are doing, particularly with regard to the RoNS programme in the context of Tony’s presentation and more generally a lack of funding for alternatives to road, particularly rail.

Basically, the presentation outlines how distributed solar energy (solar and wind) will disrupt traditional large power plants and how electric, driverless cars will be used as a service rather than owing by 2030. This will see car utilisation improved from about 4% to about 90% and significantly reduce parking space requirements and improve safety.

I’m interested in how NZTA continue to back their projects – the projects are already dubious investments with highly massaged BCRs and incredibly optimistic figures for growth and demand. Add to the mix widely predicted oil supply shocks and falling traffic volumes (Wellington’s had dropped ~4% since 2006) as well as a disruptive paradigm outlined in Tony’s presentation and you’d really, really have to start questioning what the plan really is and why it is proceeding as a matter of priority.

How on earth can NZTA and their funders carry on with their highly expensive and dated ‘business-as-usual’ approach to transportation?