by Tim Jones
Another year has gone by, and we still don’t know what will be in the Let’s Get Wellington Moving Recommended Programme of Investment – in other words, the Ngauranga to Airport transport plan that we’ve been awaiting for the last three years.
It often seems as though the whole thing will end up as a messy political compromise. But what if the guiding principles were such things as:
- making Wellington liveable
- making Wellington fair, safe and healthy
- making Wellington beautiful, vibrant and culturally rich?
And what if, in place of Let’s Get Welly Moving’s continued refusal to treat the climate change impact of its plans as a key or even important factor, a central goal of their work was to ensure zero greenhouse gas emissions from Wellington transport by 2040?
Does that sound like a pipe dream? It isn’t. Because Councillor Roger Blakeley, with input from a number of people with community expertise in Wellington transport, has come up with a plan to do all that and more. And he presented it to the 2018 Save the Basin Campaign Annual General Meeting:
We encourage you to read it. We encourage you to think about it. And we encourage you to support it – or, if you wish, suggest further improvements.
It’s great to see one of our elected representatives engaging in detail with the work that needs to be done to make Wellington a city fit for its residents – and fit for the future. Thanks, Roger!
The Save the Basin Campaign Inc. 2018 AGM will be held as follows:
When: Thursday 22 November, 5.45pm
Where: Mezzanine Room, Central Library, 65 Victoria Street
Programme: AGM at 5.45pm followed at approx 6.15pm by guest speaker Councillor Roger Blakeley, and a panel discussion featuring Cllr Blakeley and Save the Basin Campaign Inc. co-convenors Jo Newman and Tim Jones.
All are welcome to attend the AGM, listen to the speaker, and participate in the panel discussion. However, only people who are formal members of the Save the Basin Campaign Inc. will be able to participate in the business of the AGM.
About our speaker
Following the conclusion of the formal AGM, Dr Roger Blakeley will be our guest speaker. Dr Blakeley is a Councillor in the Greater Wellington Regional Council and Member, Capital and Coast District Health Board. He is a former Chief Executive of the Ministry for the Environment (1986 to 1995), and has held many other significant roles in central and local government. He has a deep knowledge of and interest in transport issues.
Cllr Blakeley’s topic will be “Essentials of a 21st Century Transport Strategy”, and following his presentation, there’ll be a panel consisting of Cllr Blakeley and Save the Basin Campaign Inc. co-convenors Jo Newman and Tim Jones. We expect to finish the formal business of the AGM by 6.15pm, and then have approximately 20 minutes each for Roger’s presentation and the panel that follows – so we’ll finish around 7pm.
About the panel discussion
The panel discussion following Cllr Blakeley’s presentation will feature Cllr Blakeley together with current Save the Basin Campaign Inc. co-convenors Jo Newman and Tim Jones.
There are some questions Cllr Blakeley may not be able to respond to due to his elected roles. However, individually or collectively, the panel should be able to address a wide range of Wellington transport topics, ranging from broad issues of transport strategy, to current and forthcoming Wellington transport developments, to current and planned future developments at the Basin Reserve.
The Save the Basin Campaign has welcomed elements of the “Let’s Get Wellington Moving” Wellington transport plans revealed last night, especially the news that light rail is to be included as a priority element of those plans.
But Save the Basin, which was one of the groups that helped defeat the 2011 Basin Reserve flyover proposal, has criticised the continued uncertainty over the future of the Basin Reserve area, and the mixed messages contained in the leaked plans.
Save the Basin Campaign spokesperson Tim Jones said “If the Dominion Post report is accurate, there are some good things in these plans. Save the Basin supports the development of a high quality, sustainable Wellington transport network, and getting on with implementing a light rail spine using an appropriate route would be a major contribution to this. So that’s great news.”
“Yet many other things in these plans aren’t so great,” Mr Jones continued. “First of all, Save the Basin has consistently supported at-grade roading changes at the Basin – that is, changes at the current street levels. But these latest plans appear to include grade separation, which means some roads going over or under others. The Dominion Post article talks in very vague terms about tunnels near the Basin, but detail is completely lacking. Save the Basin is absolutely opposed to a Basin Reserve bridge or flyover, and we cannot support any grade separation plan for the Basin that doesn’t explicitly rule out such bridges or flyovers.”
“It’s great to see that cycling would get a boost in these plans,” Mr Jones said. “But, as a group that supports walkability, we are disappointed that walking appears to have been treated, yet again, as the unwanted guest at the party.”
“But the worst thing about these proposals,” Mr Jones commented, “is that they continue to entrench the dominance of roading, by proposing to spend billions more dollars on State Highway 1. Despite the Government’s stated commitment to evidence-based decision making, this proposal appears to ignore the immense body of evidence that says that building more road capacity merely ends up putting more cars on the roads.”
“One of Let’s Get Wellington Moving’s stated objectives was to reduce Wellingtonians’ dependence on private vehicle travel,” said Mr Jones. “Where is the evidence that these proposals pay any more than lip-service to this objective? Where is any attempt to make the sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that the city and the nation have already committed themselves to make?”
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.”