Posted by: senjmito | November 10, 2010

Wellington: Motorway Capital Of The World?

Paula Warren of Public Transport Voice has provided this update on recent developments regarding sustainable transport in the region. Wellington may be “the coolest little capital in the world”, but it turns out we also have another, unwanted distinction among the world’s cities.

What’s been happening

  • Peter Newman was in town for the Environment Institute of Australia and NZ conference. He is Professor of Sustainability at Curtin University, on the Board of Infrastructure Australia, and probably best known in transport circles here for the work he did to save, revive and extend Perth’s railway system.  He met with Trans-Action to discuss transport issues in Wellington, and also had meetings with the Mayor of Wellington and Chair of Greater Wellington.  A key point Peter made in his discussions with Trans-Action was that no other city in the world is building new motorways.  He also said that a study showed that Wellington has more motorways per capita than any other city in the world – even more than LA. [our emphasis]
  • The New Zealand Transport Agency, which does seem to want to build new motorways in Wellington despite the recent report that said a motorway would provide no long-term congestion reduction, announced that they cannot yet reveal the planned route for the Kapiti expressway.  Communities and landowners affected by the proposals were understandably upset at the continued uncertainty about how they will be affected. But as the expressway is not wanted by communities and is contrary to the intent of the Regional Land Transport Strategy, some groups were hopeful that this signalled a reduction in commitment to the project. Local groups have decided that if NZTA does not want a dialogue with the communities, they should make the dialogue happen anyway (and a meeting organised by Labour MP Darren Hughes on 9 November is contributing to this process).  Many Kapiti residents will feel some sympathy for the business in Auckland accusing NZTA of “bullying” tactics over another motorway.
  • The Cycle Advocates’ Network hosted a conference/training event in Wellington, and the cycle friendly awards. For the award winners see
  • Living Streets Wellington has opened up a dialogue with the new Mayor regarding the council’s “no pedestrian” signposts in Upper Boulcott Street.  It said in their letter to the Mayor that the signs will increase rather than reduce the danger to pedestrians, and asked that the signs be removed, and replaced in the short term with some alternative measures designed to help inform pedestrians about the hazards of the area. In the longer term, WCC are expecting some changes in the area as a result of the changes to Manners St.
  • Public Transport Voice (PTV) met with Simon Kennett from Greater Wellington to discuss the proposed cycles on trains policy.  We had a good discussion, which identified a number of key issues that need to be resolved.  A submission is now in preparation.
  • PTV also asked under the Official Information Act for the plans relating to the introduction of the new Matangi trains.  PTV was told by the previous head of TranzMetro that the introduction of the new trains and the station upgrade process would mean new timetables, because the mixed fleet and overall shortage of trains means that there will need to be fewer services run in the short term. Greater Wellington has not talked about that or undertaken any consultation, but rumours have it that new timetables have been put together. It is important that impacts on passengers are minimised, and the chance to fix some existing timetable problems (such as the times not matching what drivers can achieve) are fixed.
  • Living Streets met with Wellington City Council to work through the detailed designs for Manners Street.  They made a number of requests for minor changes and additional works to ensure that pedestrians are well accommodated (within the constraints of the project).

What’s coming up



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tim Jones, Sustwelltrans. Sustwelltrans said: Wellington: Motorway Capital Of The World? – and other recent sustainable transport news now on our blog: […]

  2. Paula, I am very confused by Peter Newmans claim that “a study showed that Wellington has more motorways per capita than any other city in the world – even more than LA.”.

    What Study ? (I cannot find his talk on the net)

    Even worse, looking at the NZTA Stats (i.e. “Network statistics for the year ended 30 June 2009”) shows the opposite to be true !!

    Here’s what I found from the 2006 NZTA highway stats by Region (they don’t separate motorway length by City):
    Region/Pop/MW Km/MW Lane Km
    Auckland Region/1394000/114/556/8/40
    – MW Km per 100,000 = 8
    – MW Lane Km per 100,000 = 40
    Canterbury Region/355000/19/39/5/11
    – MW Km per 100,000 = 5
    – MW Lane Km per 100,000 = 11
    – MW Km per 100,000 = 13
    – MW Lane Km per 100,000 = 27
    Well Reg/470000/18/44/4/9
    – MW Km per 100,000 = 4
    – MW Lane Km per 100,000 = 9

    The Wellington Region has the LOWEST amount of motorway per head of population !

    Even assuming all the Wellington Region Motorways are in Wellington City doesn’t change really change the picture:
    Well City/185000/19/44/10/24
    – MW Km per 100,000 = 10
    – MW Lane Km per 100,000 = 24

    Here in Wellington, we are still behind Dunedin in Motorway (13) and are behind Dunedin & Auckland in the more important Motorway Lane Kms (27 & 40).

    So, even in New Zealand, the Wellington City DOES NOT have the Highest amount of motorway to population.

    And, what about Australia (Peter being from Australia). Here are the Freeway (what they term Motorways) Kms for a number of Australian cities (could not find Lane Kms) . Note I included Canberra and Hobart as they are similar sizes to the Wellington Region and City Respectively:
    Region/Pop/FW Km/FW Km per 100,000
    – FW Km per 100,000 = 5
    – FW Km per 100,000 = 9
    – FW Km per 100,000 = 14
    – FW Km per 100,000 = 9
    – FW Km per 100,000 = 11
    – FW Km per 100,000 = 18

    Again the Wellington Region is LOWER than all of these, and Wellington City is in the middle (similar to Peter’s home town of Perth). Any why did Peter not highlight that Hobart (slightly larger than Wellington City) has nearly DOUBLE the motorway length per person than Wellington City even assuming all Wellington Region motorways are in the city (which they are not) ? Why did he not highlight the high Brisbane figure too (perhaps he only does this he goes to Queensland) ?

    Can you name the study from which Peter is quoting ? And can you help me understand if Peter really knows what he is talking about or if he just made this statistic up to impress at the Wellington Environmental Conference attendees (which seemed to have worked) ?

  3. I thought Peter Newman made that claim of Auckland, not Wellington.

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