Plans for light rail in Wellington at the expense of better regional roads are misguided at best, National Party Associate Transport spokesperson Brett Hudson says.

“Following the release of the draft Government Policy Statement on Land Transport (GPS), which strips billions of dollars out of regional roading funding, Wellington Mayor Justin Lester was quick to play up the prospects of light rail for Wellington.

“But this ignores the fact that while the GPS does show an increase in funding for mass transit at the expense of hugely important regional roads, this funding decreases over time. So much so it would be surprising if there was much left for rail after the Government’s pet Auckland tram project is fully funded.

“The business case for trams in Wellington is also weak.

“The Greater Wellington Region Council says light rail for Wellington would cost close to billion dollars and return as little as $47m in benefits.

“That’s why we need to focus on solutions that are actually going to help get Wellington moving, like the currently under construction northern routes and the planned investments in our southern corridor. But we don’t even know whether all of these will still go ahead.

“Bus Rapid Transit is also a lower cost alternative. That could be implemented now and route designations secured for light rail in the future, when the business case makes sense.

“Wellington needs investment to unlock its potential and to make the movement of people and goods more efficient. The Get Wellington Moving initiative initiated by the previous Government has identified opportunities for major improvements across all modes of transport around Wellington.

“It’s a once in a generation opportunity and it’s vital we get it right. If we’re going to ask taxpayers across New Zealand to contribute to Wellington’s transport, we owe it to them to make sure those investments return genuine economic benefits.”

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