Auckland. New Zealand’s largest city.

After several years of pooh-poohing the idea, the Government reverses its stance on funding (or at least partially funding) the Auckland central city rail loop. (Update: We have been told quite firmly by Auckland transport friends that it is not a loop!)

Even though the Government is delaying the project by five years and is coy on where the money will come from and how much it will pay, it’s still a big step forward for sustainable transport in Auckland and a triumph for Auckland mayor Len Brown, who has stubbornly maintained his support for the project in the face of Governmental and NZTA opposition. Well done, Auckland, and well done, Len Brown!

Wellington. New Zealand’s capital city.

The Government and the New Zealand Transport Agency push ahead with a roading-based transport ‘solution’ for Wellington that includes a proposed Basin Reserve flyover. The NZTA, Greater Wellington and the WCC release a public transport spine study that claims light rail will be too expensive for Wellington. The Mayor gives her support to a “bus rapid transit system”.

No sooner have the study’s conclusions been released than two Victoria University transport researchers expose how NZTA has cooked the books to greatly inflate the apparent cost of rail relative to other options. And transport researcher Kerry Wood also points out the biased costings in NZTA’s study.

A tale of two cities. In Auckland, civic leaders keep advocating for the best solution, and eventually, after much derision from their opponents, they get what they stood up for.

In Wellington, the Government and NZTA are using similar tactics. They have tried to tilt the playing field in favour of the ‘solution’ they want. They’ve been caught out.

Will Wellingtonians and their civic leaders see through the spin and continue to push for the best possible sustainable transport solution for Wellington, or will we cave in?

It’s up to us.