Faster commuting in the capital is one step closer with the release of four options for mass rapid transit under the multibillion-dollar Let's Get Wellington Moving project.
The options, now out for public consultation, could enable up to 21,000 more homes to be built with 500 fewer cars on the road at peak hour.
Option one includes light rail to the south coast via the waterfront, Cambridge Terrace and Wellington Hospital, with bus priority lanes through a new Mount Victoria tunnel reaching the eastern suburbs and airport.
The existing Hataitai bus tunnel would remain for local bus routes and the Basin Reserve would cease to be a roundabout, with the Arras Tunnel extended.
Option two is the same except the mass rapid transport option through to the south coast would be buses, not light rail.
The extra tunnel would allow for a dedicated walking and cycling path for both options.
Option three brings the light rail route through to the south coast, with bus priority through the existing bus-only tunnel for the eastern suburbs. Changes to the Basin Reserve remain the same as options one and two.
Option four changes the south coast light rail route slightly - coming up Taranaki Street instead of Cambridge Terrace - but leaves mass rapid transport to the eastern suburbs through priority bus lanes the same.
Option four is the only option to leave the Basin Reserve as a roundabout, but includes improvements to the layout and at the intersection with Adelaide Road.
The latter options have the new Mount Victoria tunnel running parallel to the existing tunnel while the first two has it either running "diagonal" from Paterson Street to the top of Wellington Road or parallel to the existing tunnel.
The exact alignment would be investigated in the next phase of the plan.
Acting programme director David Dunlop said the project was a "once-in-a generation opportunity".
"Our goal is to build a world-class capital to be proud of with streets that are beautiful and safe so that new housing and business will flourish. We won't need to use our cars as often so can cut back on our carbon emissions."
Dunlop said the mass rapid transport plans would result in up to 21,000 more houses built by making it easier to access the central city from the outer suburbs.
It is expected the options would make trips from Island Bay to Wellington Railway station 12 minutes shorter, trips from Miramar to the station would be 14 minutes shorter and a trip from the airport to the train station would reduce by eight minutes.
Detailed designs on the options would be released once LGWM had received feedback on the options.
Consultation on incentives to get more people out of their cars would also come down the line, including congestion charges.
Wellington City mayor Andy Foster urged residents to look at the options alongside the council's Draft District Plan and Bike Network Plan.
Consultation on the current phase runs for six weeks, with events open to the public online and around the city.