New rapid bus system one step closer

31 July 2015

Modern, faster, high quality public transport travel for Wellington City is another step closer, following the narrowing of two options for a new rapid bus system between Wellington Railway Station, Newtown and Kilbirnie.

Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC), Wellington City Council (WCC) and the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) have completed an indicative business case (IBC) for a new bus system. The IBC recommends two options for further investigation.

This means that, subject to approval from the partners over the next few weeks, the project can move through to a detailed business case phase over the next year, in which the two options will be thoroughly investigated and a preferred option will be progressed to the planning and design phase.

The detailed business case (DBC) will examine where bus lanes are needed, how these should be designed and what priority should be provided for buses at intersections.

On several of the key corridors it will be necessary to undertake design of the corridors for multiple modes, particularly to accommodate proposed new cycling infrastructure.

Once further design and modelling of options have been carried out, as part of the DBC process, the community will be asked for their feedback. 

The results of the DBC will feed into the three organisations' future budget considerations and planning processes.

The new system will feature new, high capacity, low-emission vehicles, special lanes separating buses from traffic to some extent and priority for buses at signalled intersections, providing a modern, fast and high quality travel experience from the Railway Station through the Golden Mile to the Basin Reserve, Wellington Hospital and via another branch to Kilbirnie. It will be a reliable public transport system that people can depend on to get them where they need to go quickly and easily.

It will be designed to work effectively with the unique nature of Wellington’s terrain and constrained road corridors, and to be integrated with other transport modes. 

Paul Swain, the Regional Council’s Public Transport portfolio leader, says the new bus system will build on the new Wellington City bus network that's planned to be introduced progressively within the next two to three years.

“The new network will give more people access to all day, high frequency bus services, reduce bus congestion through the CBD, making bus travel around and across Wellington simpler and quicker. The new rapid bus system will further enhance bus travel in the city, giving bus users a truly top notch, metropolitan service. And it will encourage even more people to get out of their cars and onto public transport – which will be great for traffic flows, our environment and public health.”

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the Bus Rapid Transit system is important for Wellington and will encourage travellers onto buses.

 “As our population grows, public transport becomes ever more important.  Wellington’s transport network plays an important role in the region’s economy and the BRT will improve efficiency,” she says.

“This exciting new system will transform public transport between the CBD, Newtown and Kilbirnie, and I hope to see it eventually extended all the way to the Airport.”

 The council also intends to encourage greater use of buses and has funded a low fare trial. “There is still a lot of work to do but I am very pleased the council and the partner agencies can now move to the preparation of a detailed business case,” she says.

Transport Agency Regional Director Central Raewyn Bleakley says the completion of the indicative business case is a milestone that opens the way for the project to move forward with a single option that can now be developed.

“Together we are making great strides towards delivering the high quality transport system Wellington needs. With 73,000 people traveling into and out of our CBD for work daily, public transport is an essential part of the transport network. A high quality rapid bus system designed specifically for our capital city will build on Wellington’s strong public transport patronage. This, in turn eases congestion on roads so that other road users can get where they need to go more efficiently.”

The project is a key facet of the Ngauranga to Airport Corridor Plan, which sets out a comprehensive blueprint to make travelling around Wellington City easier and more reliable across all travel modes.

The project began as the Public Transport Spine Study, which saw more than 80 potential options identified to improve public transport between the CBD and the eastern and southern suburbs. BRT was chosen following a rigorous analysis, consultation and selection process.