Let's Get Wellington Moving: Councillor Tony Randle calls for multi-billion-dollar project to be scrapped

The Prime Minister won't commit to Wellington's multi-billion-dollar transport project but is determined to fix the capital's traffic woes.

It comes after local councillor Tony Randle criticised the Let's Get Wellington Moving project telling AM it's not working.

The transport plan was supposed to be the answer to the capital's public transport problems and bring tunnels, light rail, bike and bus lanes, footpath changes, and speed limit alterations. 

But New Zealand's two main political parties don't seem fully behind it with National saying the lack of progress means it will be scrapped if the party is elected in October while Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has refused to commit to it.

Randle told AM on Tuesday he welcomes the news New Zealand's two big political parties are not looking fondly at the project. 

He said the project simply "isn't moving itself" and isn't working and wants a new project to fix Wellington's roads. 

"First of all and most importantly it's not led by the city. It seems to be led by the Government. Secondly, they promised us they were going to subsidise things and city council ratepayers would be paying 20 percent. We're paying a lot more than that," he said. 

"Thirdly, as you quite rightly pointed out, they simply are spending much more money on consulting than they are on actually building."

Randle believes the key to unlocking and fixing Wellington's transport problems is fixing the congestion around the Basin Reserve, opening up access to the eastern suburbs and getting improved bus services along those routes. 

One plan that came to light on Monday was National's 'Transport for the Future' policy. As part of that, National would build two new roads in Wellington: Petone to Grenada Link Road and Cross Valley Link, costing $1.8 billion, and a second Mt Victoria Tunnel, which would cost $2.2 billion. 

But this plan wasn't supported by the city's mayor, with Tory Whanau saying it would do nothing to grow Wellington, make it more livable or tackle the climate crisis.

"Ramming through a four-lane highway and tunnel won't win the votes of Wellingtonians who have shown consistent support for light rail in the city," Whanau told RNZ in a statement. 

"The light rail spine would create superb housing opportunities as future growth in the city ramps up. We need to unlock investment in the city, not dampen it with a flaccid vision."

A big issue Randle sees with Let's Get Wellington Moving is it doesn't provide enough bus capacity. 

He believes with clever design Wellington could get more bus lanes as well as improved car access. 

"I think we can walk and chew gum at the same time. I think there are only about 60 buses an hour, that's one bus a minute and I'm sure we can fit some cars into this space along with the tunnels, just like they do in the Auckland Harbour Bridge," he told AM. 

"I mean, Auckland Harbour Bridge has no bus lane and yet more people go across it on buses than do in cars. So with some good design, I think we can improve the car access as well as significantly improve the bus access." 

Local councillor Tony Randle.
Local councillor Tony Randle. Photo credit: AM

He had a simple message for the Prime Minister for the project. 

"My advice is to give up on Let's Get Wellington Moving, but leave the money on the table because we need it," he said.

Ngauranga Gorge to Wellington Airport corridor is a key priority for Government - PM

Hipkins wouldn't commit to Let's Get Wellington Moving but told AM on Tuesday he's determined to fix the Capital's traffic woes.

He said a key issue is the Ngauranga Gorge to Wellington Airport corridor, an area that has been under heavy debate for years.

"There was the proposal around the Basin Reserve flyover, that all fell apart. They couldn't get an agreement on that and so Let's Get Wellington Moving was born as a way of resolving that and thus far the issue has not yet been resolved. I think that's pretty critical," Hipkins said.

"I get stuck in Wellington's traffic on a daily basis, same as everybody else. We have to resolve those issues around the Ngauranga through to the airport corridor.

"That has to be one of our key priorities. What I'm saying is I'm not taking anything off the table in terms of Let's Get Wellington Moving but I am saying that corridor and freeing that up has to be the priority."

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins is determined to get Wellington "moving".
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins is determined to get Wellington "moving". Photo credit: AM

Just last month funding was approved by Waka Kotahi for two major Let's Get Wellington Moving projects - Golden Mile and Thorndon Quay revamp.

The Golden Mile is a project from Lambton Quay to Courtenay Place in the heart of Wellington.

It would see private cars almost gone from a stretch of road from Courtenay Place to Manners St, Willis St, and Lambton Quay, with bus lanes, pedestrian areas, and bike lanes in their place.

The Thorndon Quay revamp would see bus lanes in both directions and a two-way cycleway.
The Prime Minister confirmed to AM co-host Ryan Bridge he's not proposing to review that funding at this point.

Watch the full interview with Tony Randle in the video above.