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Wellington Civic Trust calls for increased public transport

Wellington Civic Trust calls for increased public transport, walking, cycling and open space

Light rail, walking, cycling and open space should be prioritised over roading in any upgrade of the transport system in the Capital, according to a city watchdog.

Responding to the release of Let's Get Wellington Moving's (LGWM) summary feedback report, the Wellington Civic Trust (WCT) urged city leaders to invest in better public transport rather than roads and tunnels in line. This is in line with the main themes that came out of independent consultant, Global Research, analysis of the responses, released yesterday.

Nine key themes were identified, with support for better public transport at top place, and widespread support for walking and cycling improvements and priority. A significant number, through advocating for Scenario A+, sought light rail to be added to Scenario A+.

Paul Bruce, transport spokesman for the WCT, said new roads and tunnels will inevitably lead to greater traffic congestion.

“High quality public transport, cycling and walking will improve the quality of life, mobility and health of Wellingtonians.

“An urban design that encourages Wellingtonians and visitors to walk or use high quality public transport would reduce the need to travel by car, lower noise levels, improve air quality and ambience.

“High capacity public transport such as modern light rail can also help provide the needed capacity to remove both bus and car congestion in the inner city and at the Basin Reserve.”

Light rail could be an efficient alternative to private vehicles, potentially allowing fast access to the airport and eastern suburbs, and at the same time, removing the need for private vehicles to enter the Central Business District, said Mr Bruce.

“Light rail is the most expensive public transport mode, however, it is cheap compared to the cost of new roads and the loss of prime quality land, safety hazards, air pollution and greenhouse emissions.

“It also fosters transit-oriented development along the route, which could be used to lower the cost of installation.”

“The fundamental aspect of a city is its people. A city must be designed around dense walkable core suburbs connected by efficient public transport and safe cycle routes.

“Cities that adopt a high quality urban environment result in lower living costs, attract more tourists and support more vibrant business.”

New suburban facilities should be constructed close to transport hubs, said Mr Bruce.

“The need for travel and new roads is reduced when a higher quality urban environment containing all essential services is facilitated.

“This is especially important for inner city residents, but also in potential urban islands such as Newtown, Kilbirnie, Miramar, Karori, Johnsonville.”

Restriction of private vehicle entry and street parking within the city would also allow for much more green, pedestrian space and cycle routes, parks and tree promenades, he said.

“The promised removal of a traffic lane on the Quays and replacement with a cycleway would connect Wellington’s CBD to its waterfront, as well as giving greater support to cyclists.

“Removal of private vehicles from the Golden Mile and their replacement with widened pedestrian promenades and modern light rail extending from the railway station to the eastern and southern suburbs and the airport, should be explored.

“An innovative design of a light rail transport system could help provide an effective mechanism to start to build city infrastructure that can better-cope with sea-level-rise.”

Mr Bruce said planning for exclusive use of zero emissions vehicles alongside much better facilities for walking and cycling will also reduce the need for retrofitting expensive new roading-related infrastructure that will soon be impacted by emission cuts.

“We urge the local authorities and the government to discard their ambitions to induce even more traffic by roading projects, and to build the first-world public transport, cycling and walking solutions sought by Wellingtonians.”
ENDS

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