Crashes, congestion and cycling hell: report lays bare Wellington's transport woes
Wellington's central city is being strangled by crashes and breakdowns, which average more than one a day and are delaying motorists by up to four hours.
The fragile and dysfunctional state of the capital's transport network has been laid bare in a new report that paints a picture of increasing congestion, rush hour delays, safety issues and vulnerability to disruption.
The report, prepared by the Let's Get Wellington Moving working group, revealed there were 438 traffic incidents on State Highway 1 between Wellington Airport and the Terrace Tunnel between July 2015 and June 30 last year.
The average delay for a breakdown was one hour and 18 minutes, while the average delay for a crash was three hours and 42 minutes.
* Wellington drivers average 27kmh in rush hour
* Which of New Zealand's major cities has the worst traffic congestion?
* Chronic congestion causes headaches
* Congestion relief coming to Wellington
* Board of inquiry says 'NO' to Basin flyover
* Basin Reserve flyover project killed off by the High Court
* Four years of frustration: Planners admit congestion solution is a long way off
A lack of alternatives in and out of the CBD remains one of Wellington's biggest problems. Even relatively minor incidents often result in severe delays and disruption to the wider road network, the report found.
More than 82,000 people travel through Wellington compact CBD's during the morning rush each day, roughly half of them by car.
Those travelling by car or bus are regularly being held up by people walking and cycling, and vice versa, in Wellington's compact CBD.
This conflict is also creating a safety issue. The Willis St section of the Golden Mile is a "hot spot" for fatal and serious crashes, the report said.
Cyclists in the Wellington region also have a greater-than-average risk of being killed or seriously injured compared to those in other parts of the country.
The problem is only expected to get worse with the Mckays to Peka Peka section of the Kapiti Expressway set to open later this month, making driving into the capital a more attractive option.
The same will be true once the Transmission Gully motorway opens north of Wellington in 2020.
The aim of the Let's Get Wellington Moving project - a joint initiative between Greater Wellington Regional Council, Wellington City Council and the New Zealand Transport Agency - is to find an alternative solution for the capital's congestion problem after the agency's plans for a $90 million highway flyover at the Basin Reserve were killed off by community opposition in 2014.
Programme director Barry Mein said the report, which also summarises 10,000 pieces of public feedback, showed Wellingtonians were becomingly increasingly fed up.
Just under 60 per cent said rush hour traffic volumes were "acceptable" in 2013. Last year that number fell to 43 per cent.
"It is fair to say there is a lot of frustration," Mein said
"We asked [the public] what they liked and what they didn't like about Wellington. The things they don't like had a lot to do with traffic."
A short-list of solutions to the problem will be revealed later this year for public feedback.
Mein would not reveal what they were, but did not rule out duplicate Mount Victoria and Terrace tunnels being back on the table after those projects were shelved in the wake of the flyover's demise.
"We are casting a very wide net," Mein said. "At some point, we need to boil those things down to things that are manageable."
Transport Minister Simon Bridges said he was keeping an open mind about how to fix Wellington's transport problems.
"The money is fundamentally there ... but we need a solution that we know will stick and will work."
WELLINGTON'S TRANSPORT WOES
* Driving between the airport and Basin Reserve normally takes about five minutes, but takes 18 minutes during the morning peak
* Driving between the Terrace Tunnel and Basin Reserve normally takes about five minutes, but can take 21 minutes during the evening peak
* A bus trip from Courtenay Place to Wellington Railway Station normally takes eight minutes, but can 19 minutes during the morning peak
Source: Let's Get Wellington Moving – Progress Report February 2017