Help Us Save The New Zealand Transport Agency From Itself

In less than four weeks’ time, on Monday 20 July, the New Zealand Transport Agency’s appeal against the Board of Inquiry decision to decline resource consent for a Basin Reserve flyover begins.

What’s astonishing is that the Transport Agency’s obsession with building a flyover at the Basin Reserve, no matter the cost to the taxpayer, no matter how outdated, ugly and discredited urban flyovers are, is being conducted in the face of research the Transport Agency itself has carried out. It’s described in this report:

Death of the car: Why Generation Y is turning to public transport

and you can find the study itself here:

Public transport and the next generation (NZTA Research Report 569, June 2015)

Historic New Zealand light vehicle traffic forecasts vs actual growth (Source: MoT)

Historic New Zealand light vehicle traffic forecasts vs actual growth (Source: MoT)

The Transport Agency is supposed to be building transport infrastructure to meet future demand – so why does it continues to build motorways, flyovers and the other expensive nostrums of mid-twentieth-century transport planning, instead of spending money on public transport infrastructure for which there is a large and growing unmet demand?

One reason is that a Generation X Government with strong ties to the trucking industry is still committed to its $12 billion Roads of National Significance boondoggle. Another is that the New Zealand Transport Agency was created out of two bodies: Land Transport New Zealand (the policy part) and Transit New Zealand (the road-building part).

Ever since then, Transit has been the large, well-funded tail wagging the small policy dog. Because what Transit knows how to do is build roads, lots of roads, big expensive roads – and by golly, they’re not about to let some pointy-headed policy wonks and their inconvenient research studies stop them.

It seems that, like an addict who knows he or she should stop but wants just one more hit, the Transport Agency is incapable of saving itself from its roadbuilding addiction. So we’re staging an intervention to save NZTA from itself – and save an iconic part of Wellington from NZTA. Donate to help us bring this tragic flyover addiction to an end.

 

European Cyclists’ Federation Supports Save The Basin

It isn’t just Wellingtonians, or even New Zealanders, who can see that building a motorway flyover at the Basin Reserve is a very bad idea. We’ve had support from overseas as well – residents of cities in which flyovers are being torn down as the outdated relics they are have been shocked to hear that New Zealand is contemplating building a new one in the centre of the nation’s capital.

The European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) is the latest group to offer their support, and in their recent newsletter they carried an excellent article which concisely states the case against a Basin Reserve flyover and for a modern, sustainable transport system for Wellington. It’s well worth reading in full, but here is a key quote:

Major roads suck up resources that could be spent on infrastructure for cycling, walking and public transport and because of the principle of induced demand most road building results in increased congestion, not decreased. Conversely reducing road capacity by turning roads in to public spaces and green corridors actually reduces congestion, not increasing it. There is a growing body of cities that have implemented freeway demolitions with a huge positive effect on their cities.

Save the Basin is grateful to ECF for its support. Thanks, Kevin, Peter, and friends!

 

Great New Video From The Architectural Centre

Save the Basin and the Mt Victoria Residents Association have been hard at work raising funds to oppose NZTA’s attempt to get the High Court to overturn the Basin Board of Inquiry decision. The Architectural Centre will also be represented at the High Court, and as part of their fundraising efforts, they have produced the great video above. Please check it out and share it!

Ministry of Transport Research Shows Up NZTA’s Flawed Traffic Projections

Historic New Zealand light vehicle traffic forecasts vs actual growth (Source: MoT)

Historic New Zealand light vehicle traffic forecasts vs actual growth (Source: MoT)

In trying to justify the Government’s $12 billion “Roads of National Significance” motorway-building programme, which included a Basin Reserve flyover, the New Zealand Transport Agency makes great play of a projected increase in Vehicle Kilometres Travelled (VKT). The growth in VKT, they say, can only be dealt with by building more motorways.

It’s been known for a long time that the second part of this argument is false: there is plentiful evidence from all around the world, and from New Zealand, that building new roading capacity only induces more traffic, thus leading to bigger motorways, thus leading to more traffic…

But, at the Board of Inquiry into the Basin Reserve flyover proposal, NZTA’s claims of growth in VKT was also challenged. Submitters pointed to recent New Zealand research that shows young people, especially in cities, are turning off driving.

Now research by the Ministry of Transport shows that Vehicle Kilometres Travelled in New Zealand has not grown since 2007. You can view this on the Ministry’s own site and also read a detailed analysis by Auckland’s Transport Blog.

Which raises two very basic questions:

1)    Why is NZTA continuing to claim that traffic demand will rise?
2)    Why is the Government continuing to ignore its own research?

You might think – you might very well think – that this is because the Government has bet $12 billion of public money on continuing to ignore the evidence. But I couldn’t possibly comment.

Saturday 2 May: A Victorian Dinner to raise funds for the Basin appeal

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Mt Victoria Historical Society (MVHS), a party to the Board of Inquiry and the High Court Appeal, is organising a fabulous evening of food, entertainment and conviviality to raise funds for Save the Basin Campaign’s response to NZTA’s Appeal against the Board’s decision to decline resource consent for the Basin Reserve flyover.

You are welcome to organise a group of 10 friends to make up a table.  And if you’d like to come on your own, or can’t fill a table for 10, MVHS will make sure you’re seated with congenial company.

What: Mt Victoria Historical Society Victorian Dinner Fundraiser

When: Saturday 2 May, 7pm

Where: Long Room, Basin Reserve

How much: $95 per ticket

How to book/for more info: Phone Sue on 04 384 8208, email whathouse@xtra.co.nz or see http://mtvictoria.history.org.nz/event/victorian-dinner/

mvhs_gaiety

MVHS will keep you posted with details such as highlights for the silent auction and entertainment.

Wellington City Council’s Basin Reserve Masterplan and Greater Wellington’s Climate Change Strategy

Wellington City Council’s Basin Reserve Masterplan

Wellington City Council is finally developing a Basin Reserve Masterplan. That’s good: the lack of such a plan was adversely noted at the Board of Inquiry hearing. But it could also be bad: the Council may use it as a pretext to demolish the Museum Stand, which houses the New Zealand Cricket Museum, and to make other changes which may adversely affect the Basin.

So we need to be vigilant, and we need to have our say. It’s not yet possible to submit directly on the Masterplan itself, but the seeds of it are sown in the Council’s 10-year Long Term Plan at http://www.our10yearplan.co.nz/ – itself a very important document to submit on, as other planning documents are derived from it:

The general supporting documents for the LTP are below:

http://www.our10yearplan.co.nz/supporting-documents/

The document which mentions the Basin is below:

http://www.our10yearplan.co.nz/assets/Supporting-documents/long-term-plan-consultation.pdf

P. 37 mentions the Basin Reserve Masterplan.  Cost is at $21m.  Note that the actual master plan will be brought back to Council later in the year.  The actual detail is not in the Plan which will make it a bit difficult to feed back on but think it important that high level feedback is given through this process.

The supporting document that discusses the Basin Reserve makes it clear that the future of the Museum Stand is still under threat – there’s a risk it may be demolished, and with it the Cricket Museum which it houses. So you might want to submit on these points:

  • No flyover or similar transport project should be allowed to threaten the future of the Basin!
  • Preservation of the Museum Stand and the New Zealand Cricket Museum
  • Emphasis the importance of the Basin to Wellington, not just as a cricket ground but a recreation facility.

Submissions on the Long Term Plan close on Friday 17 April and can be made at https://submissions.wellington.govt.nz/submission.aspx

Greater Wellington’s Climate Change Strategy

Greater Wellington (aka Wellington Regional Council), while busily supporting more motorways and longer airport runways, is at the same time developing its climate change strategy, which is meant to cover both actions the region should take to reduce its contribution to climate change, and actions needed to adapt to the effects of climate change, such as sea level rise, storm surges, coastal erosion, flooding, and increased extreme weather events.

You have until Friday 10 April to have your say on the draft plan, which might be a good opportunity to point out any contradictions you see between the Council’s words and its actions, as well as recommending actions you think the region needs to take: http://haveyoursay.gw.govt.nz/climate-change

Four Months To Stop A Basin Reserve Flyover: NZ Transport Agency’s High Court Appeal Set Down For Monday 20 July

Here’s what you need to know:

Short version:

We have four months to raise $50,000 to fight the Transport Agency in the High Court for the future of the Basin Reserve. Donate here: http://savethebasin.org.nz/donate/

Longer version:

  • The New Zealand Transport Agency’s appeal to the High Court of the Board of Inquiry decision to decline resource consent for a Basin Reserve flyover has been set down for Monday 20 July.
  • The hearing is expected to last two weeks.
  • NZTA will be claiming that the Board decision was wrong on various points of law. The Board itself will not be represented at the hearing. That means it’s up to groups like us to defend the Board’s decision.
  • Save the Basin Campaign Inc and Mt Victoria Residents Association have jointly taken on Matthew Palmer QC to act for them at the hearing.
  • We need to raise $50,000 to pay for this legal representation. We have raised a good chunk of this. We have four months to raise the rest.
  • Many of our supporters have already contributed generously, and that’s much appreciated. We’re happy to accept donations via http://savethebasin.org.nz/donate/ but we also need your help with the names of new people to approach.
  • Got a friend who’s opposed to a Basin Reserve flyover and wants to stop it going ahead? Let us know their name and contact details by emailing stoptheflyover@gmail.com, and we’ll approach them.
  • NZTA are using taxpayers’ money – your money – to continue to push for their unwanted, unnecessary, ugly and expensive flyover. By putting our heads and our funds together, we can and will stop them.

Community groups join together to back Board of Inquiry decision on a Basin Reserve flyover

Local groups that believe the decision by the Board of Inquiry into the Basin Bridge project should stand, are energetically raising funds to defend the decision against the New Zealand Transport Agency’s appeal to the High Court.

At the same time, they are taking the lead by organising an event to discuss what could happen next at the Basin Reserve in the context of Wellington’s development as an attractive, liveable and modern city.

The event, entitled “No Bridge at the Basin – What Now?”, is being organised by the Save the Basin Campaign Inc. and the Mt Victoria Residents’ Association, in partnership with the recently-formed group FIT Wellington (Fair, Intelligent Transport Wellington). It features a panel chaired by Mary Varnham and including Julie Anne Genter, Russell Tregonning, Sarah Poff and Michael Kelly.

Save the Basin Campaign spokesperson Tim Jones said, “Despite the fact that the Basin Bridge Board of Inquiry made the reasons why a flyover at the Basin Reserve should not be built very clear in its report, the New Zealand Transport Agency and local authorities have failed to take its findings on board. ”

The New Zealand Transport Agency’s appeal against the Board of Inquiry’s decision to decline resource consent for a Basin Reserve flyover is set to be heard in the High Court starting on 20 July 2015, and the Save the Basin Campaign and the Mt Victoria Residents’ Association will be jointly represented at the hearing by Matthew Palmer QC.

“This event gives Wellington residents who support the Board’s decision an opportunity to talk about what they want for the Basin and for Wellington’s transport system”, Tim Jones said, “as well as contributing towards the costs of our legal representation at NZTA’s appeal.”

The Pizza & Panel evening is being held on Thursday 12 March from 6-8pm at New Crossways, 6 Roxburgh St, Mt Victoria. Admission (including the cost of pizza) is $20 full/$10 concession.

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.

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