The prospect of Melbourne-style trams in Wellington has survived the latest selection process for deciding how to combat the capital's transport gridlock, but faces an uphill battle to overcome more favoured rivals.
The Wellington City Council, regional council and the New Zealand Transport Agency have whittled eight possible solutions to a shortlist of three.
The plans, which cover transit from the railway station to the hospital, are part of a bigger project to improve transport from Ngauranga Gorge to the airport.
The options are: light rail; large, faster buses - possibly with purpose-built roads; and squeezing more buses on existing roads while giving them favourable treatment through traffic control.
Wellington mayor Celia Wade Brown has long championed light rail, but thinks it might have to be deferred in favour of more buses.
The Transport Agency would fund the lion's share of the project and has warned of the high cost of light rail.
Five alternatives have been culled, including heavy underground rail, which has been deemed too expensive and too ineffective in a confined space like Wellington.
Another casualty was the idea of using the waterfront as a thoroughfare.
A final decision is expected next year.