In the current mayoral race, there is talk of pedestrianising Lambton Quay. Opponents have mainly come from the business world who believe that their businesses would suffer keeping the cars out. But, there are relatively few car-parks on the Golden Mile, and as a recent letter to the DomPost (Patrick Morgan) stated "people shop, not cars". Research from elsewhere shows that seldom is shopping made worse by removing cars, and usually it is improved as slow foot traffic increases past shops.
But there may be a problem if no public transport is allowed in the Golden Mile. Commuters would benefit from quick access to their place of work if such were provided--that is as long as the mode was fast. So what do other similar cities do? I visit my grandchildren in Zurich. This is the city that nzta research paper 396 proposes as that which more than others resembles Wellington in the form of its CBD. The researchers predict much greater public transport use for our capital city if we adopt Zurich as our model:there the main street ( Bahnhofstrasse) has light rail running through it, beautiful with trees and without polluting cars and buses thundering along --such a people-friendly and inviting space, and so practical. And light rail is so successful throughout Zurich city --per-capita trip-making rates on public transport are more than five times higher than Wellington because of it.
We need to quickly put light rail onto our public transport agenda.
This is the letter I have just had published in the DomPost on this subject ( the editor slightly shortened it)-
Your editorial wisely promotes a “compromise on Lambton Quay” between attractive pedestrian access and better public transport. It just doesn’t name the solution-- light rail.
A landscaped, bus and car-free Golden Mile with clean congestion-free electric light rail would boost public transport --recently introduced light rail on the Gold Coast increased public transport use by 25% in the first year. At the same time it would provide an escape from the unhealthy fossil-fuel pollution provided by the current dirty, low-capacity diesel buses jamming up the heart of our city.
And as part of a light rail spine from railway station to airport via the hospital it will be cheaper than the planned multi-lane motorways and tunnels.
Canberra is building it now, joining the rapid uptake in Europe and North American cities. Why not us? Our compact city being narrow excludes any effective rapid bus scheme but is ideal for rail.
We mustn’t be left behind.