Green Party wants Wellington light rail airport link

The Greens say they have a solution to the daily congestion experienced by commuters to Wellington's eastern and southern suburbs.

They want to build a $700 million light rail link between the CBD and the Airport by 2027 - if they form part of a new government.

And the idea has the support of the city's Mayor, who says the sooner, the better.

The rail link would run south from Wellington railway station, through the CBD and Courtenay Place, around the Basin Reserve to Newtown, by 202 and on to connect with Kilbirnie and the western side of the airport by 2027.

Green Party leader James Shaw says light rail will see a huge return on investment and should have been built years ago.

"It's the single best thing you can do for economic development in the city because around that route what you'll see is shops and high density housing coming on stream as it gets built," he says.

They say it's not about transport, but about transforming the city, as similar projects have done for many other cities around the world.

"There are 170 cities in the world similar in population size to Wellington or smaller that have successful light rail networks," says Greens transport spokesperson Julie-Anne Genter.

Light rail's being built in Australia's capital, Canberra. Wellington Mayor Justin Lester says it would be ideal for our capital city, too.

"We don't want to be another Auckland, we've got a really compact city, we've got a narrow transport corridor as well," he says.

But at $700 million, it doesn't come cheap.

"We've got a $10.9b policy for roads of national significance, we need to get balance in our transport system," Mr Lester says.

"He just needs a friendly government and that's us," Mr Shaw says.

The Greens say when you build light rail people want to work and live alongside it, unlike motorways, where they want to live as far away from them as they can.

They say it will mean 60 fewer buses on Lambton Quay during peak hour.

The Greens would also fast-track an electric bus fleet, and retain existing trolley buses, spending up to

$50 million to upgrade infrastructure.

"It makes a huge difference to have fewer cars on the road at peak time," Ms Genter says.

Wellington City Council says it's likely light rail for Wellington is a question of when, not if.