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Wellington long-term public transport options down to three

Wellington long-term public transport options down to three

Two bus options and one light rail option through the centre of Wellington and along Adelaide Road to Newtown have been found to have the most merit for a future high quality public transport spine between Wellington Railway Station and the Regional Hospital.

These three scored the highest out of eight ‘medium list’ options evaluated against a range of criteria as part of the Wellington Public Transport Spine Study being carried out by Greater Wellington in partnership with Wellington City Council and the NZ Transport Agency. The study started with 88 possible options.

The full medium evaluation list report is at http://haveyoursay.gw.govt.nz/PTSpineStudy

A set of Questions and Answers is also attached to this message.

The three short-listed options which will be further assessed are:
• Bus priority, which involves more dedicated bus lanes and priority traffic signals for buses, along a central alignment essentially along the Golden Mile to Kent Terrace, around the Basin Reserve and along Adelaide Road to Newtown.
• An exclusive busway, for bigger, higher capacity buses separated from other traffic, along the central alignment.
• Light rail, running on steel tracks either separate from or with other traffic, along the central alignment.

AECOM, the study consultant, has made three recommendations based on the evaluation:
1. The central corridor should be the principal route for a high quality, high frequency public transport spine.
2. The use of street-level bus and light rail public transport should be further evaluated.
3. A single spine on its own is unlikely to provide sufficient future capacity.

Fran Wilde, Chair of Greater Wellington Regional Council, says the three short-listed options and recommendations don’t come as a surprise. “From previous studies that have been done, particularly for the Ngauranga to Airport corridor plan, we expected bus and light rail to be the most likely options for the region’s public transport spine. And our transport planning predecessors plainly got it right when they decided the route should be through the centre of the city. We’ll now await further rigorous and detailed assessment of the three options.”

Celia Wade-Brown, Mayor of Wellington, says, “Good transport choices for Wellington mean public transport congestion, attractiveness and reliability must be improved

“I’m delighted but not surprised that light rail is still firmly on the agenda. There are opportunities for development at stations and exchanges that must be explored among other funding models.”

Jenny Chetwynd, the NZ Transport Agency’s Regional Director, Central says the announcement of the three options is great progress towards determining a long-term solution that will meet Wellington’s future public transport needs. “The next phase of the study will look at how each option stacks up from a value for money perspective, as well as other important considerations like resilience and transport integration.”

In addition to the three options above, the other five medium list options evaluated were:
• Bus priority along a waterfront quays alignment to Courtenay Place then along the central alignment to Newtown.
• An exclusive busway along a waterfront alignment.
• Light rail along a waterfront alignment to Courtenay Place.
• Heavy rail along an underground alignment from Wellington Station to Courtenay Place.
• Heavy rail along a ground-level waterfront alignment to Courtenay Place.

The eight options were evaluated alongside a ‘base case’ option that involves already committed public transport projects in the study area and the changes proposed as part of the Wellington City Bus Review that is under way.

The next step in the study will be to analyse the three short-listed options in more detail including land use evaluations, social, environmental and planning assessments, transport integration and feasibility, and capital and operating estimates.

The final study report is expected to be released in April 2013. The Regional Transport Committee will then carry out formal public consultation, including hearings, on the short list options. Submissions from this consultation will inform the Committee’s final decision on the best option for the long-term future of the region.

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