17 Dec 2023

Let's Get Wellington Moving grinds to a halt

12:55 pm on 17 December 2023
Traffic build up in Wellington.

Photo: RNZ / Rob Dixon

Let's Get Wellington Moving will be dissolved, with ministers and local government announcing today they had agreed to end the initiative.

In a joint statement, Infrastructure and Housing Minister Chris Bishop, Transport Minister Simeon Brown, Wellington City Mayor Tory Whanau, and Greater Wellington Regional Council chair Daran Ponter said an agreement to dissolve LGWM had been reached.

Whanau said local, regional and central government were now in agreement about the way forward for Wellington.

"It is important to me that we work constructively with the new government to deliver the infrastructure that Wellington desperately needs. It is good to have a clear sense of direction from the government and commitment to investing in the infrastructure for our growing population."

LGWM was a joint initiative between the Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and NZTA Waka Kotahi to make investments in mass rapid transit, walking and cycling, public transport and state highway improvements in central Wellington.

The new government's pledge to withdraw central government from LGWM was high on the list when Prime Minister Christopher Luxon unveiled his 100-day plan last month.

Brown yesterday pulled the brakes on dozens of council projects designed to encourage cycling, walking and use of public transport across the country, sparking confusion in local authority ranks and fury amongst cycling advocates.

Central government to fund upgrades

It was also confirmed today that central government will build and fund the Basin Reserve upgrade and second Mt Victoria tunnel; while the city council will bring the Golden Mile project in-house.

Local government would have been responsible for 40 percent of the investment in the Basin upgrade and new tunnel's construction costs under the previous scheme.

Bishop said Wellingtonians were "sick of all the backwards and forwards on the second Mt Vic tunnel".

"The tunnel will create exciting opportunities for more urban development and housing, and the government will work with Wellington City Council to explore these opportunities."

Brown said the Golden Mile project needed to ensure efficiencies were made and that the design met everyone's needs, including better bus routes and access for pedestrians.

Bishop said there was general agreement among Wellington "decision-makers" that the Let's Get Wellington Moving initiative had not worked for the city.

"It's been enormously bureaucratic it's spent a lot of money without a lot of delivery and critically, there's been a real loss of public confidence in the project."

But Wellington city councillor Iona Pannett said cutting the LGWM plan was a backwards step for the region.

Wellingtonians had supported a sustainable transport system that was not car-centric, Pannett said.

"Now what we're having with a National government is a car dominated transport system, which is bad for the climate and bad for people's health," she said.

"What we need is a transport system that prioritises pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users, and protects the local environment and houses people, not saves a few minutes for motorists."

Whanau told RNZ she was pleased they were able reach a compromise solution with central government.

"I very much believed in the outcomes of the Let's Get Wellington Moving, because it meant lowering emissions, urban develoment, more housing and all of that good stuff - creating a future focused city.

"However, I've accepted that that's not what the government's priorities are but I know that we can find some middle ground and work together.

"And I believe with this announcement we have done that, because with the retention of the Golden Mile, a commitment to urban development around the tunnel and then they get what they want by putting in that tunnel as well as disolving Let's Get Wellington Moving."