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Thursday, 25 April 2019 03:55 am

Best traffic bang-for-buck: sharing a taxi with Helene Ritchie


candits across top image

Wellington Mayoral hopefuls face students at Whitireia journalism and broadcasting school. Left to right – Jo Coughlan, Justin Lester, Nick Legget, Nicola Young, Helene Ritchie and Andy Foster.


An old Christmas ditty came to mind yesterday as mayoral candidates gave their best bang-for-buck transport spend:

“We five mayors of Wellington are, one in a taxi, two in a car, two on a bus…” – the ditty runs out of rhyme at this point.

However, the candidates were tooting their hooters when they fronted questions from Whitireia journalism and broadcasting students yesterday.

New motorways heading towards the city will result in 12,000 more cars into the city in the morning rush period by 2031, according to the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

Today the capital is the third most congested city in Australia and New Zealand, beaten by Sydney at number one and Auckland at number two, according to the TomTom Traffic Index

Justin Lester, Nick Leggett, Nicola Young, Helene Ritchie and Andy Foster were asked for their single best ‘bag for buck’ solution to ease traffic congestion in the city.

Andy Foster and Justin Lester’s first picks are to get people out of cars and onto public transport, footpaths and cycleways.

Getting people within easy striking distance of public transport routes and cycleways so they can easily choose an alternative to driving is important said Andy Foster.

“If you have people far flung all over the place they are more likely to get in their car and cause congestion” he said.

Justin Lester would halve the cost of public transport.

“Obviously it is not in my power to do so, but it would be the best bag for buck to reduce congestion, and I think it would have a really good outcome for the city” he said.

Helene Ritchie’s best fix is to share taxis from the airport.

“I’d seek a change in regulation from Government, no cost to the ratepayer, to ensure there are shared taxis from the airport. It’s common around the world.”

Andy Foster noted that he tended to share taxis from the airport anyway.

Candidates Nick Leggett and Nicola Young are firmly in the more and better roads camp. Both favour extending State Highway 1 from the Terrace Tunnel to the airport.

“That’s not just about cars,” said Leggett “it’s about public transport, fitting cycling and walking alongside it. I trust in technology to lessen emissions, I’m not afraid of more roads.”

Young proposes a motorway extension cut and cover through the city, getting rid of the intersections and creating ring road around the CBD.

“Half the traffic in the CBD is simply trying to get to the other side of the city, and if we can get rid of that congestion we can make the city a much better place to be,” she said.

None of the candidates suggested congestion charging in the CBD and making Lambton Quay pedestrian as a best fix solution. Light Rail likewise wasn’t high on the list of fixes.

Voting in the local body elections closes on Saturday, October 8.

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