No Bridge at the Basin – What Now? Invitation to a Pizza & Panel Evening, Thursday 12 March

Basin Reserve rainbow. Photo: Patrick Morgan.

Basin Reserve rainbow. Photo: Patrick Morgan.

What: A Panel Discussion on the future of the Basin Reserve – plus tasty pizza!

When: Thursday 12 March, 6-8pm

Where: New Crossways, 6 Roxburgh St, Mt Victoria (off Majoribanks St) (see map)

How much: $20/$10 concessions, payable at the door

Who: You, your friends, neighbours, colleagues and networks! In fact, anyone interested in the future of the Basin Reserve and of Wellington’s transport system.

Why: Because our local authorities, given the opportunity by the Board of Inquiry decision to take a fresh look at the Basin, have chosen to hide behind NZTA’s appeal process instead. So it’s time we, the people of Wellington, took the lead.

The Pizzas: We’ll be taking orders at the start of the event and having pizzas delivered during the event. BYO beverages.

The Panel: We have an excellent panel lined up, including three speakers (Julie Anne Genter, Michael Kelly and Sarah Poff) who appeared as expert witnesses at the Board of Inquiry:

  • Mary Varnham (moderator): Managing Director Awa Press, former Wellington City Councillor.
  • Julie Anne Genter: Transportation Planner, MP, Green Party spokesperson on Transport
  • Russell Tregonning: Orthopedic Surgeon, Senior Clinical Lecturer at University of Otago, Wellington. Executive Member Ora Taiao: The NZ Climate and Health Council. Committee member, Fair Intelligent Transport Wellington (FIT Wellington).
  • Sarah Poff: Landscape Architect, SPK Landscape Architecture.
  • Michael Kelly: Heritage Consultant, writer – “The Lung of the Capital: The Basin Reserve,” in HeartlandsPenguin Books (2006).

(Note: Some panel members are listed subject to final confirmation of availability.)

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/767473170010976/

Please share this widely and invite your friends and networks. It’s going to be a good night.

Make a Quick and Easy Submission on Wellington’s Draft Regional Land Transport Plan – Submissions close on Friday 20 February

In an earlier post, we told you about the importance of submitting on Wellington’s Draft Regional Land Transport Plan, which local body politicians use to set transport priorities for the city. Submissions close at 4pm on Friday 20 February.

Now there’s a quick and easy online form you can use to make your submission, prepared by the good folks at Generation Zero in conjunction with FIT Wellington. Here’s all you need to do:

Go to http://www.generationzero.org/wellingtonrltp and fill in the quick submission form as follows:

– Enter your name

– Enter your email address

– Tick the four boxes that follow

– Enter any comments you want to make.

– Answer the question: Do you want to make an oral presentation?  Tick yes or no

– Send it.

One thing we’d really like you to say: it’s time to take any prospect of a Basin Reserve flyover off the table, and focus on developing better, more sustainable solutions!

Oral submissions will be heard by the Regional Transport Committee on 9/10 March. We encourage you to make an oral submission if you’re available to do so.

Basin Reserve Flyover Decision Has Positive Consequences In Auckland

The Basin Reserve Flyover may be primarily a Wellington issue, but the Board of Inquiry’s decision to decline resource consent for a Basin Reserve flyover has led to flyover plans being delayed, and public transport improvements brought forward, in Auckland.

An Auckland Transport article, Southeastern Busway To Open Sooner, explains [added emphasis is mine]:

Major new public transport improvements will arrive earlier for people in Auckland’s south east.

Auckland Transport is aiming to open the full Southeastern Busway to Botany sooner than the 2028 completion date earlier proposed, and AT is investigating extending bus lanes to Highland Park.

SE Busway Botany

Recent work on the Auckland Manukau Transport Initiative (AMETI) has identified that the busway can operate through Pakuranga town centre without the need to build Reeves Road flyover first.

and goes on to quote AMETI programme director Peter King as saying:

The recent decision on the Basin Reserve flyover in Wellington shows the challenges of consenting a flyover that has impacts on an urban area and the potential for long delays. This decision allows us to extend the AMETI transport improvements made in Panmure to Pakuranga and Botany as soon as possible while continuing to build the case for the flyover.”

Three thoughts:

  1. It appears that Auckland transport decision-makers are taking steps towards a more modern and sustainable approach towards transport thinking. When will NZTA’s Wellington transport decision-makers start to do likewise?
  2. It’s great to see that all the work that Save the Basin and other groups have put in opposing a Basin Reserve flyover is having positive consequences elsewhere.
  3. If any Aucklanders want to show their gratitude by donating to help us fund our response to NZTA’s High Court appeal of its Basin Reserve flyover defeat, that would be much appreciated!

 

 

Have Your Say on the Draft Wellington Regional Land Transport Plan 2015

The Regional Transport Committee’s Draft Regional Land Transport Plan is currently open for submissions. It lists and prioritises what the Regional Transport Committee considers to be Wellington’s transport priorities. Submissions close at 4pm on Friday 20 February.

We’re pleased to see that a Basin Reserve Flyover isn’t included on that list, but we’ve heard through the grapevine that the Regional Transport Committee plans to reinstate a flyover in their plans if NZTA wins their High Court appeal – and the various references to the Basin Reserve in the Draft Plan strongly suggest that the Regional Transport Committee is hoping NZTA does win.

We suggest you take the opportunity to submit on the Draft Regional Land Transport Plan, supporting the exclusion of a Basin Reserve Flyover from their list of priorities, asking them to seriously consider at-grade alternatives rather than keep pining for a Basin flyover, and asking for a guarantee that a flyover will not be retroactively included – plus, of course, commenting on their plans in general!

New lobby group Fair, Intelligent Transport Wellington (FIT Wellington) is concerned that the questions on the official submissions form are biased. So, although we’ve provided the official submission information below, FIT Wellington suggests that you avoid using the GW Online submission form and use the email option or postal method instead. 

If you’d like a copy of FIT Wellington’s submission, or to get involved in that group, please contact mbarnett@paradise.net.nz.

Here is the official word on how to submit:

“Your views are invited on the draft Regional Land Transport Plan 2015.

The draft Plan is a statutory document that the Regional Transport Committee must prepare under the Land Transport Management Act 2003.

The draft Plan outlines the proposed strategic approach for development of the region’s land transport network over the next 10 to 30 years and includes all of the land transport activities proposed for funding over the next six years and the regional priority to be given to the large new transport projects.

How to view the draft Plan

  • The full draft Plan can be viewed online at www.gw.govt.nz/RLTPlan
  • A hard copy can be viewed at libraries and council offices throughout the region.
  • Alternatively, you can order a copy by calling Greater Wellington Regional Council on 0800 496 734 or by emailing info@gw.govt.nz.

How to provide feedback

  • An online submission form can be completed at www.gw.govt.nz/RLTPlan
  • Alternatively, submissions can be emailed to info@gw.govt.nz or posted to Draft RLTP Submissions, Freepost 3156, Greater Wellington Regional Council, PO Box 11646, Wellington 6142

Submissions close at 4pm on Friday 20 February 2015.

Feedback from the submissions will be considered before the draft Plan is finalised in April 2015.

If you would like to speak in support of your submission at a hearing in early March, please indicate this clearly in your submission.”

No Date Yet Set For NZTA’s Basin Flyover Appeal In High Court

A date has not yet been set for the New Zealand Transport Agency’s appeal against the Board of Inquiry decision to decline resource consent for a Basin Reserve flyover.

Rather than accepting the Board’s 500-page decision, the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) chose to appeal it to the High Court. The NZTA has now finalised its grounds of appeal, but given the complexity of those grounds, the hearing is likely to be lengthy, meaning that it cannot be scheduled in the near future.

We currently expect that the appeal will be heard in the second half of 2015, but this is yet to be confirmed.

Save the Basin Campaign Inc will be represented at the appeal hearing by Matthew Palmer QC. We are currently raising funds towards the cost of this, and your regular and one-off donations are much appreciated:

Donate to Save the Basin’s legal costs

Best wishes to all our friends and supporters for a happy and safe holidays and an excellent – and successful – 2015!

Transport Realities Are Changing Fast. Is The Government Starting To Take Notice?

“Peak car” acknowledged by the Ministry of Transport

Following each General Election, Government departments prepare a Briefing for the Incoming Minister (BIM). Patrick Morgan of Cycle Aware Wellington has drawn my attention to the following passage from the Ministry of Transport’s BIM – emphasis is mine:

The average distance travelled per-person in light passenger vehicles has fallen by around 8 percent, from a peak of about 7,600km in 2004, to around 7,000km in 2013. The total distance travelled over the same period has increased marginally (from 39.3 billion kilometres in 2004 to 40.4 billion kilometres in 2013) as a result of population growth. This trend is not unique to New Zealand – it has been observed in a number of developed countries.

There is some debate as to whether this trend is the result of economic factors or a more structural shift in attitudes towards personal transportation. The fact that this trend emerged before the onset of the global financial crisis gives cause to believe that social, behavioural and lifestyle factors (such as the proliferation of smart phones, social media, online shopping and video conferencing) may also be having an influence. A related trend is a reduction in the number of driver licences being issued. In particular, fewer young people are choosing to drive. This suggests that in some groups, the perceived merit of car ownership and use may be declining.”

(from http://www.transport.govt.nz/about/publications/briefingtoincomingminister/)

Save the Basin has already drawn attention in the media to New Zealand research showing that young people in urban centres are turning away from driving private cars. It’s great to see that the Ministry of Transport has picked up on this. The question now is: are the Government and NZTA willing and able to realise that the assumptions on which their transport thinking is based no longer apply?

Photo by Patrick Morgan

Photo by Patrick Morgan

Presentation draws together the many health benefits of reorienting transport planning

OraTaiao, the New Zealand Climate & Health Council, is playing an increasing role in drawing attention to the negative health implications of the Government’s obsession with funding motorways while depriving sustainable transport and active modes of financial support. Last week, Russell Tregonning of OraTaiao delivered an excellent presentation entitled Transport, Climate and Health: Wellington at the cross-roads that draws together:

  • the urgent need to reorient transport planning and spending to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport
  • the other public health and economic benefits that would flow from doing so – such as reductions in crashes, air pollution, and obesity and related ailments
  • the changing patterns of transport behaviour that are helping to change transport planners’ and Government’s transport thinking worldwide

We encourage you to download, read and share Russell’s presentation.

Matthew Palmer QC Will Represent Save The Basin At NZTA’s High Court Appeal

As reported by Wellington Scoop, the Save the Basin Campaign Inc will be represented by Matthew Palmer QC at the High Court, which will be hearing the New Zealand Transport Agency’s appeal against the Basin Bridge Board of Inquiry’s decision to decline resource consent for a Basin Reserve flyover.

We feel very fortunate to have secured the services of such a distinguished and experienced lawyer, with considerable experience of appeal court hearings, to represent us.

We are now fundraising to meet the costs of this appeal. You can donate via online banking or by mail – we encourage you to consider making a regular payment via online banking.

You can also donate online via Givealittle.

Basin Reserve rainbow. Photo: Patrick Morgan.

Basin Reserve rainbow. Photo: Patrick Morgan.

What Happens Next?

We don’t yet know the date of the High Court appeal, but it has now been confirmed that a case management conference – an organisational meeting that sets the stage for the hearing of the case itself – will be held on Monday 10 November 2014. We have heard that NZTA expects a decision in the case by mid-2015.

Unlike the Board of Inquiry, which was primarily focused on matters of fact, the High Court appeal will be primarily focused on matters of law. The NZTA has challenged a large number of aspects of the Board’s decision on legal grounds – we anticipate that some and possibly many of these grounds of appeal may be abandoned by NZTA before the case goes to trial. The appeal will be heard by Justice MacKenzie.

After the hearing, Justice MacKenzie will consider his decision, a process which could take several more months. He could, as far as I’m aware:

  • decline NZTA’s appeal
  • uphold it in whole or part and make an immediate determination on the issues
  • send the BOI decision back to the reconvened Board of Inquiry, with instructions to reconsider the decision taking into account the High Court judgement on some or all the legal matters raised by NZTA. The Board would not hear new submitter evidence.

We plan to be there, opposing NZTA every step of the way through the legal process at the same time as we advocate for better alternatives through the political process. We won in the Board of Inquiry, and with your help, we plan to keep winning.

The Basin Flyover Board of Inquiry Decision Was Clear. Why Are Councils and NZTA Ignoring It?

One of the most interesting (and I wish I could say surprising) things about reaction to the Board of Inquiry decision to decline resource consent for a Basin Reserve flyover is how reluctant the New Zealand Transport Agency, many local councils, and flyover cheerleaders in the business community have been to examine what the Board actually said.

Such organisations appear to regard the Board decision as a toxic document that can be handled only with tongs. The idea of paying serious attention to the Board’s conclusions appears not to have occurred to them.

So I was very struck by the following letter, which Kate Zwartz wrote in response to a report in the Petone Herald of Poririua Mayor Nick Leggett and Kapiti Mayor Ross Church applauding NZTA’s plan to appeal the Board’s decision, and asked her for permission to republish it. Over to you, Kate:

How extraordinary that mayors and council executives can applaud the decision of New Zealand Transport Agency, a government body, to throw more public money after bad.

The decision of the Board of Inquiry, which heard months of detailed evidence from both sides, was crystal clear.  Here are a few direct quotes from the Board’s Final Report and Decision, August 2014:

“… the quantum of transportation benefits is substantially less than originally claimed by the Transport Agency.”  [1317]

“… we do not consider the Project can be credited with being a long term solution.”   [504]

“… we have found that there would be significant adverse effects.”  [1182]

“… it is our view that it is impracticable to avoid this structure dominating this sensitive environment.”  [985]

Why is NZTA reluctant to accept this decision?  Let’s get on with designing proper, fit-for-purpose solutions and drop the failed flyover.

Save the Basin Campaign to respond to NZTA’s Basin Reserve flyover appeal

The Save the Basin Campaign has announced that it will be contesting the New Zealand Transport Agency’s appeal against the Board of Inquiry decision to decline resource consent for a Basin Reserve flyover.

“Along with a number of other community groups, we have indicated our intention to be heard as an interested party in this appeal when it is heard in the High Court”, says spokesperson Joanna Newman.  “That doesn’t mean we’re not extremely disappointed and frustrated.  NZTA appears to have no interest in accepting a decision reached by a robust and democratic process established by this government to make good decisions on such projects.  They seem to be perfectly happy to throw more taxpayer money down the drain in pursuit of their flyover obsession.”

The opposing community groups aim to work together, but taking such action has not been considered lightly, because of the costs involved.  “We haven’t come so far only to sit back and allow NZTA to appeal the decision unopposed.”

Another source of disappointment to Save the Basin Campaign is that NZTA has not even allowed time to evaluate the impact of the recent opening of the Arras Tunnel under Buckle Street on Basin Reserve traffic flows.  “It really does seem fixated on a flyover solution.  The opinion of transport experts who gave evidence at the Board of Inquiry was that, with the introduction of three through lanes in Buckle Street and the removal of the Tory St intersection with Buckle St, the flow of traffic around the Basin Reserve would be greatly improved.”

“Evidence was also provided of opportunities to improve lane markings to optimise the existing roads around the Basin Reserve. NZTA, however, seems reluctant to explore these low cost opportunities, preferring instead to waste more money on legal fees to appeal the Board of Inquiry decision.”

Basin Flyover Appeal: NZ Transport Agency Refuses To Learn From Past Mistakes

The Save the Basin Campaign has described the decision by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) to appeal the Board of Inquiry decision declining consent for its proposed Basin Reserve flyover as an indictment of the Agency’s refusal to learn from its mistakes.

“The Board of Inquiry delivered a comprehensive report giving clear reasons for declining the New Zealand Transport Agency’s poorly conceived and badly put together proposal to build a flyover at the Basin Reserve,” Save the Basin Campaign spokesperson Tim Jones said. “The Board’s decision made it clear that a flyover was not an appropriate structure to build at the Basin Reserve.”

“Instead of accepting this decision, acknowledging the failure of its flyover plans and moving on to develop a better proposal in partnership with the people of Wellington and with community groups, the NZTA has chosen to continue pursuing its flyover plan through the courts,” Mr Jones said. “It seems that the NZTA’s wounded pride is more important to it than developing good transport solutions.”

On Radio New Zealand this week, Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said in reference to the Basin flyover Board of Inquiry that “good process should not be stalled to save costs”. Clearly, he regards the Board of Inquiry as a good process, but the New Zealand Transport Agency does not. The Save the Basin Campaign thinks that the Minister should have instructed NZTA to stop obsessing over its failed flyover project,  accept the decision and start working on an alternative solution that works for Wellington, rather than wasting more taxpayer dollars on an appeal.

“Wellington is a modern capital city that deserves sustainable, modern transport solutions that take account of a unique urban environment,” Mr Jones said. “It’s time that the NZ Transport Agency recognised that and stopped flogging a dead horse.”

Mr Jones said that Save the Basin would be carefully considering its detailed response to NZTA’s appeal once it had received the appeal documents.

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