Public Transport Spine Study

The Public Transport Spine Study (PTSS) was carried out to help determine the best way to provide future high-quality public transport in Wellington City.

A Bus Rapid Transit system in Veldhoven in the Netherlands. Photo: Arthur Akkermans.

A Bus Rapid Transit system in the Netherlands. Photo: Arthur Akkermans


Jointly commissioned by Greater Wellington Regional Council, Wellington City Council and the NZ Transport Agency, the study started in August 2011 and was completed in June 2013.

The three organisations worked together to come up with a public transport system that fitted with other transport developments planned for the city and region, and our economic goals.

After public consultation, it was decided that a bus rapid transit system was the best way to provide high-quality public transport through central Wellington.

News - It's Agreed: Bus Rapid Transit for Wellington's Public Transport Spine - 4 March 2014



The study began by looking at 88 possible options. These were evaluated against a range of criteria and short-listed to three options:

  • Bus Priority - an enhanced bus network with greater priority at intersections and along key corridors, but using existing vehicle types
  • Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) - dedicated bus lanes for new high capacity vehicles as well as other system improvements to enhance frequency and journey times
  • Light Rail Transit (LRT) - dedicated lanes and tracks for new light rail vehicles as well as interchanges to transfer from other transport modes.


The final stage involved evaluating the three options, including:

  • assessment of potential route alignments
  • benefits
  • cost estimates and economic analysis
  • social and environmental assessments.


The study found a bus rapid transit system provided the greatest benefits, followed by light rail and bus priority.

In 2013, the Regional Transport Committee agreed with the study findings, making the bus rapid transit system its preferred option. Later that year, Wellingtonians provided feedback in a public consultation about the three short-listed options that came out of the study.

In March 2014, the Regional Transport Committee formerly agreed on the bus rapid transit system and recommended the routes the system should take.

Planned route

The planned public transport route will run:

  • along the Golden Mile, Kent and Cambridge terraces
  • around the Basin Reserve
  • along Adelaide Road to Wellington Hospital.

Another branch will run:

  • through the proposed, second Mount Victoria tunnel
  • along Ruahine Street and Wellington Road to Kilbirnie town centre.

An extension to the Wellington Airport is possible in the future.

Next steps

In 2014/2015, a joint Wellington City, Regional Council and NZ Transport Agency project team will work on the detailed planning and design of the spine. This will include:

  • bus lanes
  • stop and interchange facilities
  • the completion of the design of the future city-wide bus network.

The team will also consider different types of modern high-capacity, low-emission bus rapid transit vehicles.

More information

For more information about the study, visit:
Wellington Public Transport Spine Study - Greater Wellington Regional Council