Update: Towards deciding Wellington's transport and urban development future

Published on | in Media Releases

Today we updated Wellington’s regional and city councillors on our transformational programme, which will support and enable the region’s transport and urban development future.

Let’s Get Wellington Moving Independent Chair, David Brash, reminded local government partners of the significant decisions required on the future of Wellington and the multi-billion-dollar plan to move more people with fewer vehicles, enable more housing, and help reduce carbon emissions. 

Outlining how the decision-making process works, Brash said four options are being analysed. * The options incorporate mass rapid transit (MRT), improvements at the Basin Reserve, and an extra Mt Victoria Tunnel. 

To reach a preferred option, the team assess each of the four options, using a decision-making process that includes six key areas of work.

These are:

  1. How each of the four options perform against the programme objectives.
  2. What each of the four options might mean under different growth scenarios, the way we might build things, etc.
  3. Public feedback regarding those four options.
  4. Comparing the economic benefits and costs of each option.
  5. Considering the risks of each option.
  6. Answering questions over the key differences between the options – MRT, the Basin Reserve, and an extra Mt Victoria Tunnel. 


One significant part of this process is the six-week intensive public engagement held late last year, which provided feedback on those four options, all designed to help transform the Capital.

“Public feedback is being considered, alongside the other factors that will ultimately determine the preferred option we will recommend.

“Community engagement sought feedback on the options using open-ended questions. Understanding community sentiment helps the Let’s Get Wellington Moving partners gauge Wellingtonians’ appetite for change.”

“There was a strong appetite for change, but people told us that whatever transport and urban development option is chosen it needs to be delivered once and be right first time, including representing the best value for the considerable investment."       

“Wellingtonians also want balance between principle and reality. For example, a mass rapid transit option needed to respect Wellington’s unique terrain and whether it could be extendable in the future., Although some agreed the region would benefit from more housing, many were concerned what urban intensification would actually look like." 

David Brash said that almost 5,700 individuals gave their opinion, and 41 key stakeholder groups and organisations made full written submissions on what options they preferred. 

“In addition, we also ran parallel market research of over 1200 people to make sure the responses broadly reflected the community’s diversity, and a fair spectrum of views were represented." 

“The result of this research was that local opinions were relatively consistent with what was expressed in main engagement report.” 

Outlining the next steps, David Brash said that an indicative preferred option would be released mid-year and, if our partners endorse the preferred option, it will move forward in a detailed business case, and once that is approved, further design, engagement and consenting can begin.

The full engagement report and the parallel market research can be found here.


*NOTE:  The four options being considered are:

  1. South coast light rail + new public transport tunnel – Moving the most people possible to and from Island Bay and surrounding suburbs, beautifying the Basin Reserve, supporting the most housing and urban development, and making our streets better for everyone.
  2. Bus rapid transit to the sea and skies – Moving more people to and from Island Bay and surrounding suburbs, eastern suburbs, and the airport, but with less scope for housing and urban development than option one.
  3. South coast light rail – Connecting the most people between Wellington Railway Station, Island Bay and surrounding suburbs, encouraging the most housing and urban development, making our streets better for everyone and providing some public transport improvements to Hataitai, Miramar and the airport.
  4. South coast light rail via Taranaki – Light Rail Transit (LRT) to Island Bay and surrounding suburbs via Taranaki St, bypassing the Basin Reserve, beautifying streets, and encouraging the most housing and urban development, for the lowest cost.


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