Wellington transport: Greens say another tunnel not helpful for low-carbon future, National asks why not more lanes for cars

Light rail from the Wellington railway station to the southern suburbs and a new tunnel for buses and cars are part of the Government's long-awaited plan to make the city less congested and lower emissions.

But the Green Party says another tunnel for cars won't lead to a lower carbon future while National asks why there aren't more lanes for cars.

Biking out to the beach means no faffing around finding a car park. Stephen Edward and 3-year-old Leon are among the increasing numbers of Wellingtonians choosing to pedal.

"I cycle every day almost. I bike to work. I bike around town. I bike to the beach. Yeah, it's great," Edward said. 

It's behaviour the Let's Get Wellington Moving plan aims to encourage, getting people out of their cars to reduce emissions and congestion.

"It also supports the ambitions we all share for more compact and connected communities and liveable and walkable neighbourhoods," said Transport Minister Michael Wood. 

With 80,000 more people expected to live in the city by 2050, the Government wants to boost housing intensification too, insisting the councils are on board.

"This is a transport and urban development programme and they expressed to me a high level of confidence and ambition for delivering that urban intensification."

First announced by the previous Transport Minister three years ago, the Government's finally revealed its preferred choice for Wellington's future.

It includes light rail running from the railway station to the southern suburbs, digging a new tunnel through Mount Victoria with two lanes for buses and two for cars, banishing cars from the existing tunnel, and upgrades to Basin Reserve to reduce congestion, including extending the Arras Tunnel.

"It just won't work. Eventually, you'll have to have cars through Mount Victoria tunnel because 58 percent of Wellingtonians drive to work," said ACT leader David Seymour.

National also wants to see all four lanes for private cars through the proposed new tunnel

"You can then enable more public transport, walking and cycling safely because it's not competing against the current traffic," said National transport spokesperson Simeon Brown.

But Greens transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said: "We all know that more lanes for cars isn't going to make congestion better, it's going to make it worse".

Labour's light rail promises for Auckland have dragged on for years, prompting fears of the same in the capital.

"The Government should be getting on with light rail as soon as possible to deliver those benefits sooner," said Genter.

Edwards said, "the only downside is it should've happened years ago". 

Plenty of fanfare from the Government but Leon will likely be on a bike of his own before Let's Get Wellington Moving, gets moving.

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