Let’s Get Wellington Moving: a case study of the failure to apply adequate cost-benefit analysis that includes climate change and other health costs

Guest post by Liz Springford

This case study from Liz’s Productivity Commission Low Emissions Economy submission is a powerful critique of LGWM’s failure to apply adequate cost-benefit analysis that includes climate change and other health costs.

Case study: Let’s Get Wellington Moving

The recent “Let’s Get Wellington Moving” (or not) joint project between NZTA, GWRC and WCC is a case study of the failure to apply adequate cost-benefit analysis that includes climate change and other health costs.

In 2016, WCC agreed on a Low Carbon Plan 2016-2018 with city-wide targets for reduced emissions by 10% by 2020, 40% by 2030, and 80% by 2050. When Wellington’s emissions were last measured a few years ago, these had dropped less than 2% from baseline. The Plan acknowledges that more than half of Wellington’s emissions are from transport. GWRC has a Climate Strategy to reduce regional emissions, although no specific targets.

Although both Councils’ plan and strategy need updating to match NZ’s new net zero trajectory by 2050, Wellington’s emissions reductions targets were not included in the Let’s Get Wellington Moving consultation. Instead, a vague “Clean and Green” principle to “improve environmental outcomes for Wellington city and the region” was amongst a dozen principles – in response to the first wave of public consultation.

Four scenarios were presented for public consultation late last year. This was basically, one scenario in four sizes: Small, Medium, Large, and Extra-Large – ranging from “a little more active and public transport provision plus a little more roading”, to “a lot of active and public transport provision plus a lot of roading”. The capacity of improved active and public transport to decongest existing roading provision was ignored. Likewise, induced increases in private fossil fuelled vehicles by increasing roading provision were also ignored.

Climate impact analysis was limited to noting under the “Clean and Green” principle that for each sized scenario there will be “No significant change to greenhouse gas emission at a regional level”. Construction costs of each scenario were detailed for the public, but not the running costs – that is, the impact on Wellington’s transport emissions contributing to the ongoing operational costs over the lifetime of the infrastructure.

Another wave of public consultation appears to have sent a strong climate-protecting message. However, this case study indicates the urgency in introducing accurate up-to-date shadow pricing across the state sector and influencing local government to follow suit. Delay risks wasting taxes and rates, plus inheriting high-emissions white elephant infrastructure that limits our capacity to move towards net zero NZ fast enough.

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Taking The Wheel: The Government Makes More Moves To Rebalance Transport

As Wellington waits for an announcement in its transport future, the Government is continuing to make moves to reshape transport in New Zealand away from over-reliance on the private car and towards a balanced system that gives as many people as possible options for getting off the roads:

While we wait to see whether the Government’s new, balanced approach will succeed in cutting Wellington’s motorway-building cabal off at the pass, why not find out how another seaside city, Vancouver, has succeeded in making its transport system work for people, not the other way around?

Transportation 2040: Vancouver’s Blueprint for Sustainable Transport, with lessons for Wellington: Wednesday 4 July, 6:30-7:30pm

Date, Time and Venue

Wednesday 4 July6:30-7:30pm
Sustainability Trust2 Forresters Lane, Te Aro (off Tory St)
Who: Hosted by Congestion-Free Wellington

What’s This About?

Wellington is facing major transport and land-use choices as we decide on the Let’s Get Wellington Moving process. Will we choose a compact, low-carbon city supported by world-class public transport, walking and cycling? Or will we choose tunnels, flyovers and sprawl?

How have other cities made progress? Learn more in this public presentation from Dale Bracewell, Vancouver’s transport manager. 

Transportation 2040 is Vancouver’s high-level vision for all modes of transport, with specific mobility and safety goals. Vancouver achieved its interim target of 50 percent of all daily trips by sustainable modes, and is on track to achieve two-thirds of all daily trips by walking, cycling and public transport in 2040.

The presentation will include learnings from Dale’s experiences applied to Wellington.

Facebook Event and Further Information

Facebook event – please share:
https://www.facebook.com/events/453349428446867/

Links
http://vancouver.ca/streets-transportation/transportation-2040.aspx
https://nacto.org/person/dale-bracewell/

Image: https://nacto.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/2017-Dale-Headshotprint-res-e1506697321280-200×185.jpg

Tired Motorway Sales Pitch Falls Flat, Says Save The Basin Campaign

The leaked transport proposals for Wellington read like a sales pitch gone badly wrong, said Save the Basin Campaign spokesperson Tim Jones.

“The tired, dated ‘four lanes to the planes’ concept is well past its sell-by date,” said Mr Jones. “A Government that’s focused on making climate change, public health and transport choices that work for everyone just isn’t going to hand over the billions of dollars required for new motorways.”

“When it comes to the Basin Reserve, all we have yet again are rumours and suggestions,” Mr Jones continued. “Until Save the Basin is presented with clear, detailed design proposals, we cannot and will not endorse any proposal that is not at the same grade as current roading, or that may threaten the Basin Reserve,” Mr Jones said.

“We need a transport system that works for everyone’s future in a changing climate,” said Mr Jones. “That means major investment in better walking and cycling, with a light rail route running through the CBD, continuing to Newtown and the hospital, and going out to Miramar and the airport. Light rail is the most efficient way to move people who don’t need to use the roads, and that helps free up the roads for those who do need them – including people on buses.”

Press Release: Save the Basin Campaign Congratulates Wellington City Council

A artist’s impression of what the Sussex Street side of the Museum Stand could look like after refurbishment, including a new entrance for the NZ Cricket Museum.

Save the Basin Campaign applauds Wellington City Council’s proposal to save the historic Basin Reserve Museum Stand.

“Not only are they keeping it, earthquake-strengthening it and restoring its unique heritage features, they are creating a greatly enhanced facility”, says STBC co-convenor Joanna Newman.  

“If this plan is approved by Council, the Museum Stand will be better for spectators, provide many more facilities, and make the world-renowned NZ Cricket Museum easier to access both on match days and non-match days.”

The Basin Reserve is one of the world’s best cricket grounds, but it’s not just about cricket. From junior rugby on Saturday mornings, to functions in the RA Vance stand, to a quiet place to sit and have lunch, the ground is used day and night, and all year round.

With assistance from the Basin Reserve Trust, Wellington City Council has come up with a proposal that is affordable, responsible and forward-looking. Renovating and improving the Museum Stand ticks all the boxes.

By restoring and giving the Museum Stand new life, the Council is recognising the special place this Heritage New Zealand registered site has in the hearts of Wellingtonians and people around the country. 

“We can continue to be proud of this unique community and cricket venue and of its custodianship by our City”, says Joanna.

Further reading

Restoring it, not bowling it

A possible Basin Reserve flyover has emerged again in a new “surprise survey” from LGWM

The Save the Basin Campaign Inc has written the following letter in response to the new Let’s Get Welly Moving “surprise survey” which LGWM chose not to notify stakeholder groups, such as Save the Basin, about:

The STBC, as a stakeholder group in the LGWM consultation process, takes strong issue with your organisation on a number of matters in relation to the existence of this survey:

  1. The survey has taken everyone at STBC by complete surprise. What is the purpose of the survey and who has it been distributed to? There was no prior notification to STBC (as a stakeholder) that LGWM would be commissioning the survey and it was only by chance that a member of the STBC committee was alerted to its existence. This is alarming and shows a complete lack of transparency and questions the validity of the survey.
  2. The process for public engagement on the LGWM scenarios closed in November last year – and in March this year LGWM released the summary of the feedback process on future transport scenarios for Wellington. Your website currently says “We’re using the feedback from the November 2017 public engagement to help guide our work as we develop a recommended programme of investment.” However, you continue to be asking for more views and ideas through this latest survey – with no information about this available to the public through your website.
  3. Of great concern is the fact the survey implies that a bridge/fly-over around the Basin Reserve is still an option – especially in the way the questions are constructed and presented.  For example in relation to design, one survey respondent said that the preferences for infrastructure around the Basin gave options for a bridge or tunnel on one page – suggesting that there were only two options – then on the next page the last part of this question appeared offering an at grade option.
  4. Although we are not circulating the survey to our members to complete, we know that others who have been alerted to the survey may.  If the survey was designed to be filled in by certain individuals or organisations, either targeted or randomly selected, the results will be invalidated if others complete it.  No-one should trust the results of this survey.

We would appreciate a response to this email.
[etc]

Submit by Wednesday 2 May: Let the Government know you support the new draft Government Policy Statement (GPS) on Land Transport

The draft Government Policy Statement is a very significant change from the previous Government’s motorway-dominated policies – the policies that led to the now-defeated Basin Reserve flyover proposal. As far as Save the Basin is concerned, it’s a vital and welcome change of direction.

But it’s only a draft, and it’s under threat.

The powerful roading and trucking lobbies are marshaling their forces to push back against the GPS. That’s why we need you to submit and say that you support the direction laid out in the draft Government Policy Statement.

Only got time to make a quick submission? Please read the next section – it’s got all you need!

Make a quick submission

We suggest you email gps2018@transport.govt.nz with the subject line “Providing feedback on the Draft GPS 2018” and say something like this:

I support the Government’s new transport policy direction. It’s good for the climate, good for public health, and it provides better transport choices so fewer people need to rely on private cars.

I especially like the increased funding for public transport (including rapid transit), walking, cycling and rail, and the decreased funding for state highways.

Make a detailed submission

Possible submission points

There are plenty more points you can make if you wish, and we’re certainly not claiming the draft GPS is perfect. Here are some detailed points of support, and suggestions for improvements, you could make in your submission:

I strongly support:

a) the strategic priorities of safety, access, environment, and value for money
b) increased funding for public transport (including rapid transit), walking, cycling and rail
c) emphasis on integrated planning and mode neutrality
d) a second-stage GPS “to fully realise Government’s direction for transport investment” (draft GPS, p5)

Here are some things I’d like to see changed:

a) allocating funding by Activity Classes that are largely defined by mode is inconsistent with the theme of “a mode neutral approach to transport planning and investment decisions” (p23)
b) environment (“reduces the adverse effects on the climate, local environment and public health”, p7) should be a key strategic priority (like safety and access), rather than a supporting one
c) continuing the very high level of funding for state highway improvements does not appear to be consistent with the strategic priorities
d) recognising the safety implications of mode choice (eg the risk associated with travelling by car is roughly ten times greater than the risk of travelling by public transport)
e) greater support for demand management, such as congestion charging
f)  ensuring distributional effects and equity effects of policy tools are managed properly – so insofar as there are adverse effects, the changes in transport funding and mode provision don’t hit poor people disproportionately hard

Background information

The Government Policy Statement on Land Transport sets the Government’s policy direction on transport. It’s revised every three years, and the last one was issued in 2015 by the then-National Government.

The last government were going to issue a new Government Policy Statement this year that reaffirmed their fixation with prioritising building motorways. Now, Minister of Transport Phil Twyford and Associate Ministers Julie-Anne Genter and Shane Jones have a very different vision for transport: a vision that prioritises reducing dependence on private cars, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and improving public health. This potentially means a modern, sustainable transport system is coming Wellington’s way.

You’ll find the draft GPS and related documents here:

https://www.transport.govt.nz/ourwork/keystrategiesandplans/gpsonlandtransportfunding/

How to submit

The email address for your submission is gps2018@transport.govt.nz.

The official submission form is a downloadable PDF that has to be filled in and submitted by email or post. You may find it easier to simply send your submission in the body of your email.

Further reading

Here are two articles that do a good job of summarising why the draft GPS is worth supporting:

Here is a useful summary of changes in various “activity classes” in the new draft GPS that clearly shows why it’s a change of transport direction that’s worth supporting (.docx format).

Save the Basin Campaign Media Release: It’s Time To Go Forwards, Not Backwards, On Wellington Transport

The Save the Basin Campaign today called on the Government, Wellington City Council and Greater Wellington to go forwards, not backwards, on Wellington transport.

Responding to the release of Let’s Get Wellington Moving’s summary feedback report and associated press release, Save the Basin Campaign spokesperson Tim Jones said “It’s very clear that there are two possible transport futures ahead of Wellington. One is a future that makes the city better to live in and better able to respond to climate change. The other is a big step backwards to the failed transport policies of the past, in which the city is once again held hostage to the private car.”

“Auckland is at last beginning to escape from the trap of putting cars before people in transport planning. It would be a huge waste if Wellington ended up falling into the very same trap,” Mr Jones said.

“The Save the Basin Campaign calls on the three agencies involved in this project to take a bold step forward on transport. Trying to escape congestion by building more motorway capacity has failed wherever it’s been tried. We need to invest in mass transit that will move people efficiently in large numbers, build better walking and cycling infrastructure, manage transport demand, and free up the roads for the people who genuinely need to use them.”

“Save the Basin’s objectives haven’t changed. We aim to protect the Basin Reserve from inappropriate development while supporting appropriate enhancements to Wellington’s transport system. We’ve helped to defeat flawed transport projects affecting the Basin before, and we stand prepared to defeat them again. But this time round, we hope that won’t be necessary,” Mr Jones concluded.

Save the Basin Campaign Inc. Submission On The Regional Land Transport Plan Mid-Term Review

While we wait to see what emerges from the Let’s Get Welly Moving engagement process that was held just before Christmas 2107, other transport planning processes are continuing.

One of them is the Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP) Mid-Term Review – a rather strange beast which ranks a number of Wellington region transport plans in priority order, without providing much detail about any of them. Not surprisingly, whatever emerges from LGWM in terms of a detailed proposal is ranked #1 – but that’s far from the only proposal in the RLTP that would affect the Basin Reserve and its environs.

You can:

 

Save the Basin Campaign Inc. Submission To Let’s Get Welly Moving

Kids playing cricket at the Basin Reserve

Below is the Save the Basin Campaign (STBC) submission to the Let’s Get Welly Moving (LGWM) engagement process on its four proposed scenarios for Wellington transport. Thanks to all the individuals and groups who submitted in favour of a modern, sustainable transport system for Wellington, and against a transport system which would perpetuate the failed proposals of the past – such as one or more Basin Reserve flyovers.

As you’ll see, Save the Basin’s submission focuses on the role of the Basin Reserve as a valued part of Wellington heritage, identity and urban design, and supports transport proposals that do not imperil that role, and enhance Wellington’s status as a liveable city designed to meet the needs of people, not cars.

Save the Basin Campaign Submission on LGWM Scenarios

Summary

  • STBC supports Scenario A.
  • It rejects Scenarios B, C and D.
  • In supporting Scenario A, STBC also urges that it be accompanied by additional actions such as transport demand management and serious option development and assessment of public transport options such as light rail. This could be called Scenario A+.