The Survey

Save the Basin asked Regional Council, Wellington City Council and Wellington Mayoral candidates three questions about the future of the Basin Reserve, whether they support a Basin Reserve flyover, and how they think Wellington should deal with the additional traffic forecast to enter the city from the north due to the Government’s motorway projects.

We have already published responses from:

Today, here are the views of Wellington Mayoral candidates. (Note: Nicola Young is also a Lambton Ward candidate for Wellington City Council, so her answers should be read in the context of what other candidates for that Ward say.)

Thanks to every candidate who responded – we appreciate you have a lot on your plates and lots of groups asking you to fill in questionnaires!

UPDATE: Mayoral candidate Jo Coughlan sent in a late response, and this has now been included and reflected in the comments below.

The Questions

  1. What in your view should be the future of the Basin Reserve cricket ground?
  2. Do you rule out supporting the building of a flyover at or next to the Basin Reserve? If you won’t rule it out, under what circumstances would you support a Basin Reserve flyover?
  3. The scheduled completion of the Kapiti Expressway followed by Transmission Gully are forecast to flood Wellington with additional motorway-induced traffic from the north, including rush-hour commuter traffic. What measures do you propose to prevent this additional traffic degrading the liveability of inner-city Wellington and putting further pressure on Wellington’s transport system?

Who Gave The Best Responses?

Justin Lester’s response reaffirms his previous strong opposition to a Basin Reserve flyover, as does Helen Ritchie, who also demonstrates that she has been thinking in detail about improving the sustainability of Wellington Transport. Both Justin and Helene have been on record for some time about their opposition to a Basin Reserve flyover.

Jo Coughlan’s response has a number of positive elements, including her support for the Basin and her recognition of the rapidly changing nature of transport and transport behaviour.

However, there are two major points of concern with what she proposes: firstly, she praises Let’s Get Welly Moving but then proposes a “fast-track” approach that would render LGWM largely irrelevant – which is exactly the type of “decide now, consult later” approach that helped to sink the Basin Reserve flyover proposal. LGWM is due to report in early 2017 – why attempt to override that process?

Secondly, while her recognition of changing transport behaviour is encouraging, it isn’t reflected in a rethink of her “four lanes to the planes” slogan, which is a prime example of the outdated and discredited cars-first model of transport planning.

Keith Johnson’s response is an attempt to find a balance between the two main positions on Wellington transport – “more roads” vs “more sustainable transport” – though we would question whether these two positions are equally valid in an era of rapid climate change.

Nicola Young is very supportive of the Basin, and inclined against a flyover, but not totally prepared to rule it out. Her proposed transport solutions are still very car-centric, however.

Johnny Overton says some good things about transport, and rules out a flyover, but as he wants the Basin Reserve redeveloped to prioritise solving transport issues, these points may be moot.

What About Mayoral Candidates Who Didn’t Respond?

Andy Foster and Nick Leggett did not respond to the survey.

Of these, Nick Leggett’s position is the clearest: at the Mayoral candidates’ meeting on 13 September, he stated that he was and remained a proud supporter of a Basin Reserve flyover. So, do not vote for Nick Leggett if you oppose a Basin Reserve flyover.

Andy Foster had a similar position on a flyover to Jo Coughlan, saying “I don’t think a flyover will be there”.


On the specific issues of a Basin Reserve flyover and the future of the Basin Reserve, Justin Lester is the best of the leading Mayoral candidates. All other candidates except Nick Leggett have at least some positive positions. Keith Johnson’s and Helene Ritchie’s answers demonstrate that they are thinking closely about transport solutions for Wellington. Jo Coughlan has moved some way in her thinking, but her desire to short-circuit existing processes and push through “four lanes to the planes” is a major concern.

As mentioned earlier, though, the candidates’ positions on a wide range of issues – not just the Basin – deserve to be examined.

The Answers In Detail

Jo Coughlan

  1. I think the Basin could be better linked to the City and would like to see it utilised even more often than it is.
  2. I think the horse has bolted on the flyover and it’s unlikely to come back as an option now.I am keen to see a creative and pragmatic solution to congestion problems at the Basin Reserve.The City, Regional Council and the New Zealand Transport Authority are doing great work on ‘Let’s Get Wellington Moving’ to consider an integrated citywide network.But as part of this exercise we need to find a way forward urgently on the Basin Reserve.  The solution needs to be one that the people of Wellington, the cricket community and local residents are happy with.I don’t have fixed views on what the solution might be but a creative city needs a creative solution. We must get on and future proof Wellington’s roads for the next 100 years of growth. Electric cars and buses need roads too.

    There are already some interesting concepts out there including another tunnel alongside the Basin. I am sure there are other great ideas out there too.  This is the kind of vision we need.

    Post election my Capital City Infrastructure Advisory Group will be addressing key infrastructure projects for Wellington including roading around the Basin Reserve and we will work closely with central government to ensure Wellington receives its share of national funding for these projects.

    I do think that we can find a solution that will deliver benefits to public and private transport and which will enhance the experience for pedestrians and cyclists.  Right now the Basin is an island surrounded by heavily trafficked roads.  I would like to see the solution link the Basin more directly with the city and Memorial Park on one side and with the three schools and Government House on the other.

    The key thing is we crack on and do not delay any longer.

  3. As a city we are going to be faced with two major transitions. One is demographic. This includes more people, more of them will be living in city centre and the population as a whole is aging. The second change – and the really exciting one – is that the nature of transport is going to evolve, and probably evolve quite quickly.We’re already on the cusp of autonomous cars, and the impacts of climate change mean that we’re going to likely electrify much of the fleet, including buses and the freight sector. So the mix of vehicles on the roads could change quite radically – we may own fewer cars but use them more often for brief trips. Thanks to autonomous vehicles we may be able to fit far more of them in a given road space. They may well be much quieter than current cars, and some of the things we do with vehicles at the moment – like small high-value deliveries – may transition to other technologies, such as drones. And in an increasingly health-conscious world, many more people may opt for active modes like walking and cycling. Biking to work could be far more attractive if there’s far less exhaust pollution and safer roads.We are moving fast to an electric fleet of cars, and I want to accelerate this trend by ensuring we have the best infrastructure for these vehicles. (I’ve recently announced a target of 75% of the council fleet to be electric by 2020). I commend NZ Bus for their plans to transition to a fully electric bus fleet – this is exactly the sort of solution Wellington needs, and everyone agrees we need those noisy and polluting diesel buses off our roads. I will work with the Regional Council wherever possible to help ensure that our bus fleet is 100% electric within 10 years. The environmental impacts will be significant and positive.Buses are facing the same congestion as cars, and our road system is not as safe as it should be for cyclists and pedestrians. So I want to ensure Wellington has a first-rate transport network that relieves congestion on key corridors for both bus and vehicle users, and which safely separates cyclists and pedestrians wherever possible. The reality is that our topography makes this challenging from a practical point of view. We need to be pragmatic about the solutionsIt’s apparent that we need plenty of flexibility in our transport network. My transport plans are designed to give us the adaptability in our key transport corridors that we’re going to need to thrive. We have physical constraints in Wellington, and our geography dictates many of our transport solutions – so we need to plan accordingly.

    As a city and a nation, we’re big enough and capable enough to move forward in multiple areas at the same time. So I’d like to see the double tunnelling of Mt Victoria, The Terrace and four lanes to the planes at the same time as I want improvements to the cricket ground at the Basin Reserve, at the same time that I want to push forward with the harbour cycleway as a step in a joined-up cycling network across the city, as well as integrated ticketing on our public transport. All these things can be done in parallel, and I’m hopeful that – with some close collaboration with central government – we can get funding for a pretty big part of it.

    One of the keys will be stepping away from unhelpful political labels and rigid ideologies. Yes, I’m in favour of more roads – of the right types, in the right places. Yes, I’m in favour of more cycleways – of the right types, in the right places. Yes, I’m in favour of being able to take the train and the bus from Johnsonville to the hospital using a single ticket. Yes, I want to improve our urban design with appropriate and thoughtful projects. Yes, I want to see more people on foot and on bikes, heading to school and work.

    So our challenge as a Council – and one which I will fully embrace as Mayor – will be to work collaboratively on the full range of transport solutions our city needs, so that Wellington continues to grow and thrive.

    I will work closely with Central Government to ensure Wellington receives its share of national funding for these projects.

Keith Johnson

  1. I expect it to continue in its current role but I have not ruled out the longer-term possibility of lifting it 2+ storeys and using the footprint to solve roading problems, provide a right  of way for a rapid transit line, and create parking for both Basin Reserve functions and park-and-ride options
  2. No, I don’t support a flyover – not under any circumstances. What’s done is done.
  3. Traffic is a manifestation of a wider demand for accessibility and mobility and its existence and growth is directly related to land-use choices. Frankly, we also really need a region-wide accord on planned decentralization – one that gives Porirua and Hutt City – Petone much enhanced roles – I would try to persuade Central Wellingtonians of the eventual virtues of this approach.
    I am also very sceptical about the hoopla surrounding the continued enhancement and gilding of the CBD with wish-list / vanity projects and have been interested to observe that many Berliners have recently voted against the ‘suffocation’ that is developing from over-rapid, over-intensive development.

Keith also sent these additional thoughts proposing a Transport Accord:


What then is needed is a negotiated Transport Accord that provides for trade-offs over a 25 year or longer horizon to gain a Win-Win outcome.

As a prelude to the negotiation of The Accord, I would commission a study from highly reputable environmental-land use-transport consultants, with the tender being awarded by open competition. The commission would include widespread consultation with affected parties and interest groups.

A possible sketch of an Accord outcome:

B get, say, the completion of an inner city dual-carriageway that gets traffic motorway traffic out of Vivian Street, the completion of State Highway 1 from the Terrace Tunnel the Airport up to Roads of National Significance status [including Mt Vic tunnels] and a solution to the Basin Reserve Problem that delivers grade separation and a right-of-way for a rapid transit system.

A get, say, more or less everything else that they want, including the calming of traffic in the CBD, rapid transit facilities and the partial pedestrianization of Lambton Quay and Courtney Place.

As for the Basin Reserve Cricket Ground, the solution may lie in a multi-purpose development that lifts the playing and spectator surfaces by one or more storeys. Remember we are talking 25 – 50 years to completion.

With respect to rapid / mass transit, I have suggested a bus-based ‘Swiss Solution’ for the medium term:

I would also like to put in place serious advance planning for a light rail rapid transit spine. My preferred route at this stage is largely that proposed by Dr Roger Blakeley which would run from the railway Station into Taranaki Street and thence to Kilbirnie under the Mt Victoria hillside behind Wellington Zoo. I would like to see the line go underground before the Karo Street – Taranaki Street junction and continue underground across Mt Cook and Newtown and thence to Kilbirnie.

If I am elected Mayor in October, I will make the negotiation of a Transport Accord my Top Priority.

Justin Lester

  1. I’m a big cricket fan. The Basin Reserve is and should remain one of the world’s best cricket grounds and a key part of Wellington’s heritage. I will work with the Basin Reserve Trust to upgrade the Basin and improve its facilities to ensure its future as a test cricket ground.
  2. Yes, I’ve ruled it out and I didn’t support the last proposal. My preference is a cut-and-cover tunnel like we see at the Arras Tunnel.
  3. With the changes taking place at Kapiti and Transmission Gully we will see larger numbers of cars coming into Wellington. We need to address some of the congestion points on the state highway network and focus car traffic on the state highway network and away from Wellington CBD. My strong preference over time is to reduce the amount of traffic along the Quays so we can better connect the CBD to the waterfront.
    I will have a strong focus on public transport to help reduce the number of cars coming into the city. My priorities will be to work with Greater Wellington Regional Council to freeze public transport fares for the next three years, introduce student concession fares and provide more park and ride facilities outside of the CBD. I will continue to support better walking and cycling routes because 21% of Wellington commuters currently walk (17%) or bike (4%) to work and I think we can improve this further. 

Johnny Overton

  1. Sorry people, but I’m in favour of redeveloping the Basin Reserve in a way that would alleviate the current traffic bottleneck in this area. I’m more of a big picture person, so I’ll leave how this could be done to the experts.
  2. Yes, I rule out a flyover.
  3. Ideally our getting around woes could be alleviated by constructing a well planned, integrated, mixed modal transportation network, & an alternative north/south route. This process would take time & be costly, so our immediate focus should be on getting on with the job of removing the bottlenecks that currently exist. The Basin Reserve is one of these problematic areas, which is why I’m against the planned upgrade. Improving commuter train service & incentives to use them would be useful. Reducing the need to commute in the first place, should also be a priority. This could be achieved by developing more localised workplace, learning & recreational environments.

Helene Ritchie

  1. Council has put aside $20m for an upgrade. I insisted on a reserve management plan being done first….and would drive that to happen as mayor. I would like to see far greater use of the Reserve…as a public is poorly and infrequently used at present.
  2. Yes, I rule out a flyover
  3. No one solution or easy solution.Mass transit-public transport:
  • Light rail (Government funded) -3 times the capacity, half the cost, available before any “four lanes to the planes” are completed…or may be even started….
  • Increased Commuter ferries as part of our transport network
  • Shared cars
  • Shared taxis especially at peak times from the Airport (Eastern suburbs)
  • Maybe another lane will fit around the Basin Reserve
  • Park and Ride at key access points into the CBD. (long overdue)….
  • A secondary school in Karori  on the Teachers College site
  • Safe cycling and walking
  • Urban design and planning around nodes…for compact accessible living in the suburbs and in the CBD
  • Await Let’s Get Welly moving outcomes.
  • I would love to see Jervois Quay tunnelled and green cover…with a plaza –but that will never happen!

Nicola Young

  1. The Basin Reserve cricket ground is Wellington’s village green, and needs to be used more widely by the community – not just for cricket.  Council has included the Basin Reserve masterplan in the Long Term Plan, which includes a $21million upgrade over the next 10 years.
  2. I’m very aware of local concerns about the impact of both congestion, and the look, feel and efficacy of the solutions, but I can’t rule out anything that’s unknown, although I’m certainly not a flyover fan. It all depends on the complete package; the aesthetics of any proposal must be taken into account.
  3. Half the central city traffic is just trying to get to the other side of the city, so we need to improve State Highway 1 by cut-and-covering Vivian Street, just like the Arras Tunnel. This would remove intersections, making SHI faster and, therefore, more attractive for cross-city traffic, leaving the central city for its vehicles that need to be there (and local residents). This would also improve the liveability of the central city (NZ’s fastest growing residential area).