In just a couple of month’s time the Greater Wellington Regional will start an $11m project to dismantle the trolley bus system. In his earlier post Council Tramways Union Vice President Chris Morley wrote about why this is a huge mistake. In his follow-up he covers off why light rail for Wellington is unlikely to ever happen, and why it doesn’t need to. Show your support at www.together.org.nz/thankyou-driver
Somewhere within the conundrum of Greater Wellington deciding to scrap the trolley bus network, things have become blurred with the light rail aspect being tossed into the mix. Politicians at all levels of government have waded into the debate as light rail seems to be seen as a panacea to future proofing Wellington’s public transport system. Should Wellington’s population increase to Auckland’s level then this may become reality. Transport Minister Simon Bridges has stated he would like to see light rail to Auckland International Airport within 25 years. With this in mind Wellingtonian’s aren’t going to see light rail in Wellington anytime soon. Perhaps the phenomenal cost could have something to do with a timely decision not to go ahead with light rail in Wellington.
In a recent presentation at the Lets Get Wellington moving forum I attended, an expert responsible for light rail implementation in Sydney, Gold Coast and Canberra in Australia spoke. The cost of these projects $300 million, $500 million and $100 million Australian dollars per kilometre respectively. This figure includes lost time through road closures, redirection and deployment of underground services.
In Wellington much debate centers around which route light rails should follow. The CBD to Airport via Newtown being the most favored. The Average speeds for tram cars in Melbourne is 17km per hour. The notion that light rail will speed transport up in the city is a fatuous argument.
The much maligned trolley bus system eclipses the arguments in virtually every aspect in terms of cost, network and flexibility. Indeed for the cost of a few kilometres at light rail at the cheapest rate ($100 Million Australian) Wellington could future proof its system for the next 25 years. Present power supply issues would be corrected and a brand new fleet of 80 to 100 trolley buses could be purchased.
By retaining the existing network as the base system any future technology being trialed by NZ Bus would have the ability to feed into it and supplement with new routes as required. In a world of uncertainty around fossil fuel and climate change, a trolley bus system can surely be seen as unequalled.
~ Chris Morley