My Policies

My policies and pledges are set out below, grouped into three sections, with explanations of the reasons for each policy: Better Roads, Better Transport and Better Local Government.

Better Roads

Roads are the veins and arteries of any city. Clogged or congested, the city’s fitness and health declines.

Some people equate a desire for better roads with a willingness to encourage more cars. But good roads are necessary for buses, motorcycles, bicycles, vans, trucks and emergency vehicles, not just for cars, and of course good roads include good footpaths for pedestrians.

Yes, car use can rise if road space is increased, but congestion is a poor deterrent to car use. Transport is a derived demand – more cars will only emerge under four principal circumstances: an increase in population, an increase in wealth or economic activity, a major change in the distribution of housing and jobs in a city, or an increase in the attractiveness of car use over other transport alternatives.

Wellington’s population is predicted to increase, so we need to cater for the extra trips (by whatever transport mode) and hopefully our city’s wealth and economic activity will continue to grow, so people will want or need to travel more. The opening of the Kapiti Expressway in the next few months and the completion of the Transmission Gully route in 2020 will see travel demand increase as the city becomes more accessible from the Kapiti region and more people settle there.

Wellington airport expects an ongoing increase in passenger demand, which will mean more trips between Rongotai and the rest of the city (and through the city to Porirua, Kapiti and the Hutt Valley). About half of Wellington’s jobs are in the central city. This percentage isn’t likely to change much in the foreseeable future, but housing densities will rise in some areas, where there is good public transport.

The fourth factor, the relative attractiveness of the transport modes, is the one we can and must influence. More roads make private car use more attractive, leading to more cars and eventually more congestion. But this only happens within the limits of people’s needs and desire to use their cars for any given travel requirement. The city must work with the Regional Council to secure better public transport. Bus priority, more frequent and accessible buses and lower fares all help to make buses an attractive option. Similarly good cycle paths help to encourage more people to cycle. Of course, people’s decisions on their commuting patterns and other use of their cars are also influenced by parking supply and cost, so this must be borne in mind when the city strives to retain a vibrant commercial and retail heart while avoiding clogging it with parked vehicles.

As I noted above, congestion is a poor deterrent to car use, especially if the alternatives are also seen as poor. All congestion achieves is frayed tempers, lost working hours, increased business costs, disrupted bus schedules and localised air pollution.

The city has three main congestion points: the motorway interchange at the bottom of Ngauranga Gorge, the three lane Terrace Tunnel and the Mt Victoria Tunnel/Basin Reserve area. All these are along State Highway 1 and solutions are the prerogative of the New Zealand Transport Agency. With NZTA’s failure to gain approval for its Basin Reserve flyover scheme, the city has effectively been punished by a lack of resolve by NZTA to progress other schemes, with the exception of the new Smart motorway. That is, until recently, when agreement was reached to form “Get Wellington Moving”, a joint initiative between NZTA and the City and Regional Councils, to look primarily at the State Highway 1 route. While this is admirable, and while this initiative has resulted in the collection of unprecedented amounts of transport data and large numbers of views from the public, there is a risk that no physical efforts to decrease congestion at the key tunnel bottlenecks will be made for a considerable time.

The proposed Petone-Granada link road will in due course alleviate congestion at the bottom of Ngauranga Gorge by offering a new route between Petone/Wainuiomata/Eastbourne and Porirua/Tawa. Transmission Gully will also help by reducing travel times between Tawa/Porirua and the Hutt Valley via SH58, but the new Gully route will also encourage more car-commuting from Kapiti to Wellington.

The Terrace Tunnel bottleneck acts as a filter for citybound traffic in the morning peak but also diverts about 40% of it via Aotea Quay and the waterfront with some of this traffic continuing to the airport and eastern suburbs via Oriental and Evans Bays.  In the evening peak, the lack of grade separation (over or underpasses) through Te Aro means that outbound traffic queues back on Karo Drive and clogs Willis, Wakefield and Taranaki Streets to the detriment of north-south travel including buses.

As an experienced transport planner and candidate for the City Council’s eastern ward, I want to see immediate action on the third congestion point:  the Basin Reserve and single Mt Victoria traffic tunnel. For eastern suburbs residents and airport travellers, the single Mt Victoria traffic tunnel and Basin Reserve gyratory system is a critical impediment to efficient travel. Congestion at the Basin delays private cars, taxis, trucks and vans, leading to unnecessary daily frustration. Walking and cycling conditions through the tunnel and around the Basin are dire. Congestion at the Basin also affects north-south movement including hospital traffic and buses to and from the southern suburbs. Displaced traffic clogs Evans Bay Parade, Oriental Bay, Newtown and Mt Cook. In the morning peak, for every 10 cars that use the tunnel, a further 8-10 use either Oriental Bay or Constable Street. Both these alternative routes are effectively saturated.

NZTA had approved the funding of the proposed Basin flyover and were preparing for a second Mt Victoria traffic tunnel to provide two lanes of outbound traffic, with the existing tunnel to be converted to two lanes citybound. However, the proposed flyover was challenged by Mt Victoria residents and other Wellingtonians who didn’t see it as the appropriate solution for the area. I also don’t see the flyover as the best solution and I’ve been studying the area quite closely and have met with Tim Jones, who led the Save the Basin campaign, to see what other options might be possible. I intend to publish a new plan for discussion, in the very near future.

Solving the Basin problem will clear the way to NZTA building the second Mt Victoria traffic tunnel. The new tunnel must have superior cycling and walking facilities to encourage more sustainable commuting and help to counter the increase in motor vehicle traffic that will come as the capital’s economy grows and more people and freight arrive by air.

  • I will develop and champion a workable Basin Reserve traffic scheme, and work with Council to secure the second Mt Victoria traffic tunnel and get this part of Wellington moving again as soon as possible. I will work to ensure that the new tunnel has high quality, segregated walking and cycling facilities, and is future-proofed for the anticipated increase in cyclists and pedestrians that these new facilities will bring about.

NZTA’s plans for the new Mt Victoria traffic tunnel included widening of Ruahine Street and Wellington Road, to provide a minimum of two lanes each way between Cobham Drive and the city centre. However, the plans appear to be over-developed. The Goa Street Ruahine Street intersection had seven lanes and was to be signalised to provide access to State Highway 1 from Hataitai.  The existing citybound access via Taurima Street was to be closed. I intend to look closely at these plans and see whether a better solution can be created, that minimises the unfortunate land-take along Ruahine Street.

I believe NZTA already owns all or most of the properties on the south side of Wellington Road. The delay in widening this road has caused blight, with several properties including two blocks of flats now empty. NZTA should be encouraged to either commence the road widening here or else offer the flats for short term lease.

Meanwhile, the truly horrible intersection of Wellington Road and Ruahine Street remains hazardous for road users and is avoided by many drivers travelling from the city to Miramar via Newtown. Vehicles avoiding this intersection use Crawford Road and travel right through Kilbirnie town centre – not an appropriate route for through traffic.

Finally, NZTA’s plans include the widening of the eastern section of Wellington Road and the western end of Cobham Drive to three lanes each way. This would take a significant slice off Kilbirnie Park, and seems unnecessary.

  • I will work with Council to encourage NZTA to revisit its plans for Ruahine Street, Wellington Road and Cobham Drive with a view to developing a less-intrusive set of proposals. I will ask NZTA to reconsider its plans for access to State Highway 1 from Hataitai via Goa Street instead of Taurima Street. I will encourage NZTA to progress the necessary widening work on Wellington Road and the reconstruction of the Wellington Road/Ruahine Street intersection at an early date, once new plans have been prepared.

There are many other deficient roads and intersections in the eastern suburbs and elsewhere. These include the three intersections at the northern end of Kilbirnie, i.e. Evans Bay Parade / Kilbirnie Crescent, Rongotai Road / Bay Road and Rongotai Road / Onepu Road. The traffic signal phasing appears uncoordinated, resulting in unnecessary delays for all road users.

I am also concerned about the dangerous junctions of Evans Bay Parade and Rata and Maida Vale Roads, the lack of adequate pedestrian crossing facilities across Evans Bay Parade at Kio Bay and Balaena Bay, and the poorly-functioning intersections of Oriental Parade and Wakefield and Cable Streets.

I also support the development of plans to provide a safe pedestrian and cycle crossing facility across Cobham Drive, and the possible introduction of traffic signals at the junctions of Miramar Avenue and Shelly Bay and Maupuia Roads.

I would welcome other suggestions from eastern suburbs residents concerning roads and intersections that could be prioritised for safety, accessibility and traffic-flow improvements.

  • I will champion road safety, pedestrian crossing and congestion-busting schemes where appropriate throughout the eastern suburbs and the rest of the city.

Returning to the subject of State Highway 1, I believe that the whole route from the northern end of the Terrace Tunnel through to the Basin Reserve needs new analysis. The existing one-way arterial roads (Buckle Street / Karo Drive and Vivian Street / Kent Terrace force and prioritise through traffic across intersections to the detriment of north-south traffic and pedestrians. In the medium to long term, a grade-separated route needs to be developed for State Highway 1 through Te Aro. This should probably take the form of one or more trenches or cut-and-cover tunnels.

Duplication of the Terrace Tunnel should also be a long-term aim. A new two-lane tunnel would accommodate southbound traffic. One lane of the existing three lane tunnel could be separated from the other two lanes by barriers and be given over to cyclists and pedestrians. Developing suitable connections at each end of this new pedestrian path and cycleway might be challenging, but should not be impossible.

My long term vision is to completely separate State Highway 1 through traffic from local traffic, pedestrians and cross traffic, between the Terrace Tunnel/s and the Basin Reserve. Existing east-west streets (Karo Drive and Vivian Street) could be reassigned to local motor traffic, cross city buses and cyclists.

  • I will lobby NZTA to create a new medium-long term plan to enhance State Highway 1 between the southern end of the Urban Motorway and the Basin Reserve, with the aims of improving peak-hour journey times on State Highway 1 and separating through traffic from local traffic so that the existing arterial roads through Te Aro can be returned to local uses.

Towards the top of this web-page, I mentioned the role of parking in encouraging or discouraging car use. Parking pricing and controls can be contentious issues, as they affect the ability of roads to handle moving traffic and they also affect the look-and-feel of roads and streets. Parking supply affects the functioning and attractiveness (both positively and negatively) of town centres, and parking can also have beneficial and detrimental effects on local shops, business and residents.

There is a traditional view that good car-parking supply is necessary to support a vibrant central business district and local shopping centres. However, many studies have shown that public transport users, pedestrians and cyclists spend just as much in shops as car-users (the exception of course being supermarkets and garden centres etc.) Unrestricted access to car parking in town centres usually results in traffic congestion and frustrated would-be-carparkers.

Car parking around railway stations, informal bus park & ride nodes and suburban businesses (including the airport) often causes resentment and inconvenience to local residents. There is a range of possible solutions to these problems. Often the best alternative is revealed only after thorough consultation with those affected.

  • I will examine the Council’s current car-parking policies, strategies and procedures to ensure they are fit for purpose and will propose improvements if necessary.

Finally, we should not lose sight of the needs of pedestrians for safe footpaths throughout the city’s road network. Council needs to ensure that footpaths are consistently well maintained, well lit, well connected (across intersections) and unobstructed by parked vehicles and construction work. Zig-zags, laneways and pedestrian cut-throughs should also be suitably enhanced and protected.

  • I will work to ensure that pedestrians’ rights to safe, connected, well lit, well maintained and unobstructed footpaths are protected and enhanced.

Better Transport

Better roads and better transport are of course interlinked. Most urban transport needs roads. Roads have important roles in facilitating transport, but most urban roads should also be streets –
i.e. they should have a “place” component as well as a “link” (or transport-carrying) component.

Having dealt with the needs of car users and commercial road users in the Better Roads section, I’ll now move on to look at cycling and public transport

 

Cycling

I have actively participated in the Eastern Suburbs Cycling Working Group.  This group was established to scope out the best cycling routes and facilities for Council to implement with government and ratepayer funds. The primary intention has been to develop new facilities to encourage more people to cycle, as opposed to making life easier for existing cyclists who are assumed to be sufficiently confident and satisfied with the existing roads and cycling facilities to continue to cycle on them. New facilities should of course aim to make cycling safer and more comfortable for existing cyclists as well as encouraging new cyclists.

I have argued that the significant funds available should be put to best use by developing a high quality route between the eastern suburbs and the central city, as opposed to a number of routes within Miramar, Strathmore, Rongotai and Kilbirnie, however valuable these may be. This view has found favour and the Council has recently reallocated government funds with the intention of creating a “Great Harbour Way” route between Miramar and the city centre via Cobham Drive, Evans Bay Parade and Oriental Parade. Meanwhile, the Council is progressing the designs for the other cycle routes within the eastern suburbs, although the Cycling Working Group has not been reconvened to monitor this work.

$12 million has been allocated for the Great Harbour Way route. Some of this will go to creating a segregated cycle path along Cobham Drive. This is straightforward and should be constructed as soon as possible. Unfortunately, an artist’s impression published recently by the Council suggests that the intention is for a shared (pedestrian and cyclist) facility along Evans Bay Parade. This is exactly what is not required if more people are to be encouraged to cycle to work. Cyclists don’t want to have to dodge pedestrians any more than pedestrians want to be “monstered” by cyclists. Shared pedestrian and cycle paths are only useful for meandering – and even then they only work when cyclist and walker numbers are very low and the paths very wide. Instead, the route must be segregated and sufficiently wide to cater for faster and slower cyclists in each direction. Although expensive, a well designed and properly constructed segregated facility will bear long-term dividends in road safety and reduction in pollution and traffic congestion on this popular route.

  • I will work actively to ensure the Great Harbour Way route along Cobham Drive and Evans Bay Parade is a safe, segregated cycling corridor and attractive pedestrian promenade.

Designing and implementing good quality cycling infrastructure can be extremely challenging, as the recent case of the Island Bay cycleway has demonstrated. One problem is that cyclists have a wide range of needs and preferences for different cycling facilities. Slower, less confident and casual cyclists (including young children) prefer fully segregated facilities, but these are often difficult to provide without bringing cyclists into close proximity with pedestrians, turning traffic at intersections and vehicles crossing the cycleway to access driveways. Faster and more confident cyclists tend to prefer on-road facilities well away from unpredictable pedestrian movements, where the cyclists can match speeds with urban traffic and have right of way over turning motor traffic. New cycle facilities often require reduction or relocation of car parking, which can be problematic for local residents. Nevertheless, with good design and thorough consultation, a good quality design can often be accepted and implemented. The devil is often in the detail and what works at one site may be inappropriate at another. The amount of time and effort required for design and consultation should not be underestimated, and even the best schemes are unlikely to find favour with all road users.

  • I will champion well-designed and effective cycling infrastructure throughout the eastern suburbs and the city and will seek to ensure that cycling facilities are only implemented after thorough, honest consultation with all affected parties.

 

Buses

Public transport is ultimately the responsibility of the Greater Wellington Regional Council. Under current legislation, GWRC contracts bus operators to supply services on prescribed routes and at prescribed fares and timetables.  GWRC also registers and monitors unsubsidised services such as the Airport Flyer buses.

The current Wellington bus network was developed and implemented in 1991 .  This network brought in through-routing across the city and major improvements to northern suburbs routes including extension of these routes to Courtenay Place. (I am very familiar with that network as I was in charge of developing and implementing it in response to the central government directed process of transport “deregulation” at that time.) The through-routing concept was introduced at that time partly to reduce the duplication of buses in the city centre and partly to allow people to travel right across the city, for example route 3 Lyall Bay to Karori.

There have been only relatively minor changes since that date, although the individual bus operators (companies) have changed ownership and new vehicles have been introduced.

A whole new network of bus routes is expected to be introduced across Wellington in 2018. GWRC has reviewed all the services and has developed contracts for new routes and timetables, which are currently out to tender.  Several intentions are implicit in the new structure:  to align routes and service frequencies with potential demand (this includes service improvements such as weekend services on a number of currently poorly served routes); to reduce the number of buses operating in the central city, where buses are currently contributing to peak-hour congestion on the Golden Mile; and to divide the routes into groups that can be competitively tendered for by a range of bus operators including Go Wellington and Newlands Coach Services.

The basis of the new network is a reduced number of core routes, running into or through the city centre, supplemented by more minor routes (some of which will offer improved services) and some peak-only commuter routes.  Some of the minor routes won’t run into the city centre – passengers using these will need to transfer to and from the core routes at various suburban “hubs.”

For the eastern suburbs, the biggest changes are:-

  • The Seatoun route (route C) will run via Broadway, Hobart Street and Miramar Avenue (not via Caledonia Street) then via Kilbirnie and Hataitai bus tunnel (not via Newtown) to the city centre then through to Karori.  Strathmore Park buses will only run through to Kilbirnie except for three trips each peak through to the city centre.
  • The main Miramar route (D) will run from the existing terminus only as far as Miramar Avenue, then everyone will need to change buses to a Seatoun route bus to go through to the city centre. There will, however, be some peak-only buses (every 20 minutes) from Miramar North running non-stop from Miramar Avenue to the city centre via Hataitai (I can see these being overloaded!) and there will also be five buses each peak running from Miramar through to Karori via Newtown and Kelburn to serve the universities.
  • The new Lyall Bay route (route F including a Rongotai route via Lyall Parade) will run via Kilbirnie and Newtown (hospital and Massey university) to the railway station, with a supplementary peak hour route via Hataitai bus tunnel.
  • The Roseneath route (O) from Wilton will only run through as far as Hataitai village (no direct service through to Kilbirnie and Rongotai). The old route 5 Hataitai service (peak hours) will cease but the Seatoun route will have three short-run trips in the morning peak only, starting from the Hataitai loop.
  • Evans Bay/Miramar Heights services (route P) will run through to Johnsonville via Onslow Road.

GWRC’s stated aim is to reduce the number of buses clogging up the city centre, hence the new Miramar route only running through to Miramar Avenue. However, most of this clogging happens in peak hours when the vast majority of buses from the eastern suburbs still run to or though the city centre, so the benefits are likely to be relatively small. Off peak, the hubbing concept is presumably more about cost savings.

There has some misinformation recently about the new network. Some people have assumed that the greater proportion of eastern suburbs commuters will routinely need to change buses at Kilbirnie or elsewhere if travelling to the city centre. This is not so. The exception is the Miramar route (change at Miramar Ave) but even with that route there will be some direct peak hour services all the way through to town. Off-peak, there will be lots more changing buses at Kilbirnie or Miramar Avenue. Anyone wanting to travel between the northern part of Miramar and the hospital will need to change buses at Miramar Avenue then again at Kilbirnie. This is a significant design flaw. GWRC must be persuaded to extend Miramar route D to Kilbirnie.

GWRC has published its latest material recently to try to allay the fears that most peak hour commutes will need to change buses. Nevertheless, there will inevitably be people who will be disadvantaged by some of the changes. I hope others will experience the benefits.

It appears that there has been insufficient exchange of information between GWRC and the City Council on public transport issues. This must change.  There appears to be an assumption that the City Council will provide good quality “hubs” for passengers waiting and transferring between buses, however it’s not clear whether there is a substantial budget for this. Mention has been made that the hubs need to be warm, dry and secure. In order to create such a facility in Kilbirnie, for example, a substantial plot of land would need to be purchased and redeveloped. Something the size of the land currently occupied by KFC would be necessary, strategically located so that buses can easily turn in and out. This appears unlikely to be possible within available budgets and timeframes.

One price to be paid for the new network appears to be the trolley buses. It’s unclear whether the new network could operate under the existing trolley bus infrastructure, or whether the protection of the trolley bus routes is possible given GWRC’s plans to open all routes to competitive tender. Whatever the reason, the loss of the trolley buses is a significant blow to the City’s desire to reduce its carbon footprint and protect the quality of its atmosphere. There is a proposal for diesel-hybrid buses, but these are only marginally more environmentally friendly than full diesel buses. The trolley buses should be retained until full battery-electric buses are available. This may not be too far away – full electric buses are currently being introduced on two routes in London, but it’s unclear whether these routes are as demanding as Wellington’s in terms of topography.

Another concern is that universal (multi-operator) ticketing will not be available when the new network commences. Without this, there will be no proper provision for passengers to transfer between core and minor routes without financial penalty. This will be especially problematic if different bus operators secure the different routes.

Finally, on buses, there have been various proposals for off-peak fares and university student fares. There is little clarity on the cost and who will be expected to subsidise these special fares. A straightforward system of lower off-peak fares would appear farer and easier to implement than special fares for university students.

  • I will work with the City Council to lobby GWRC to reconsider its decision to phase out the trolley buses, to seek clarity and assurances on universal ticketing and off-peak or student fares, and to address and rectify major design flaws in the new network.
  • I will work to ensure that the City Council supports public transport by providing quality waiting and transfer facilities for bus passengers and ensures bus stops support accessible bus services.

 

Light Rail

Finally, it should be noted that there is renewed interest in light rail (modern multi-unit trams) for Wellington. Several GWRC councillors (including the Chair) and several prospective councillors have committed to investigate light rail. I believe this is timely. Light rail has the potential to revolutionise and revitalise public transport in Wellington. However, it remains to be seen whether it is feasible and affordable for a city of our size, with its constrained street layout and challenging topography.

The most likely light rail system, if one is to be introduced, would operate between the Wellington railway station and the eastern suburbs via central Wellington and Newtown (Wellington Regional Hospital). It would run to or via the airport. Light rail could conceivably operate on the Johnsonville line, providing a through route from Johnsonville to the city centre and eastern suburbs. Connecting feeder buses would provide onward transport to various suburbs.

  • I will ensure the City Council is well-represented as an equal partner on any GWRC initiated investigation into light rail for Wellington.

Better Local Government

Residential and business rates are high – too high.

We all pay, whether directly as a business or homeowner, or indirectly when we purchase something from a retailer or rent a house or business premises from a landlord. It’s been all too easy for the Council to simply hike up rates every year in order to fund a range of initiatives, some of which appear to have been poorly conceived. .

Working in London 2001-13 in an era of declining central government funding and a long-term rates freeze, I have first-hand experience of achieving more from less. New ways of working including shared services across neighbouring councils and streamlining of service delivery need to be examined across all of the Council’s operations. We also need to ensure that Wellington gets its fair share of central government grants. Dithering on transport projects has cost us dearly while government pays for major infrastructure improvements in Auckland and Christchurch and there may be other areas in which Wellington isn’t getting its fair share of government support.

  • I will use my professional skills and experience to provide good governance, develop sound policy and improve council efficiency. I will support the council to develop the best possible infrastructure and services for the city’s residents, visitors and businesses.
  • I will champion financial restraint and efficient use of scarce funds. I will argue against any rates increases over and above normal inflation, unless I can be convinced that the additional rates funds will be put to very good and necessary use. I will work to ensure that the council taps into all available central government funding streams.
  • I will champion an approachable, cooperative and customer-focused working environment across the council.
  • I will champion honest and thorough consultation processes for any new initiatives or proposed changes to council operations.

Please visit this page again soon for more policies.