Is capital gridlock worse than Auckland?
It has been a topsy-turvy few days for those who like to stereotype Wellington. First it was shown that our weather isn't half as bad as we all think - now a study says our traffic congestion could be worse than Auckland's.
TomTom GPS data comparing peak travel times with off-peak journeys in the past year showed the Wellington region came out worst against both Auckland and Christchurch.
A car trip that took one hour in free-flowing traffic took an extra 41 minutes in the morning and afternoon commutes.
In Auckland, the worst gridlock added an extra 38 minutes to a typical 60-minute drive, and in Christchurch it was an extra 27 minutes.
However, as AA motoring affairs manager Mike Noon noted, larger differences between peak and free-flowing times did not necessarily mean the capital had the worst traffic.
"If you're congested all the time, then there isn't a difference. That could have been a factor in some of it."
TomTom spokesman Phil Allen thought the long-term trends in Wellington were sobering.
"Wellington has seriously trended far worse over time than Auckland or Christchurch - it's been consistently getting more congested over the year.
"I think maybe [the National War] Memorial Park [roadworks] has made a difference."
However, the New Zealand Transport Agency disputed that, saying a temporary diversion had been in place around the worksite for the last year and a half and "additional delays arising from the work have in fact been minimal."
Noon said Wellington certainly had its share of gridlock, particularly around the Basin Reserve area, but Auckland's traffic could be "horrendous".
New Zealand Transport Agency data rates Auckland as the most congested city, with 70 per cent of the country's gridlock.
Wellington City Council transport portfolio leader Andy Foster said current investment, by NZTA and Greater Wellington Regional Council, would have mixed results on the capital's traffic.
"Some of it will be beneficial, and some will be beneficial temporarily, but probably make it worse over the long-term - encouraging people to live further away, particularly up the Kapiti Coast, and drive."
Foster noted that, in the TomTom index's overall congestion rankings, the Wellington region compared very similarly with Auckland and Christchurch.
The survey also had some interesting advice on which days to take the car and when to leave it at home. Fridays mornings in Wellington were the least congested, whereas Tuesday mornings and Thursday evenings were the most clogged.
Storms were the probable cause of Wellington's most congested day last year, on November 20. Auckland's coincided with several pre-Christmas events, on December 4.
The results were gathered from 1.7 million kilometres of driving in Wellington, compared with 17.4 million in Auckland.
The Dominion Post