Natalia Albert's Blog

Time for a United Approach to Fix Wellington's Public Transport Crisis

As a Wellington resident of 12 years, I've witnessed the ongoing debate surrounding our public transport system. While it faces challenges like driver shortages and historical underinvestment, I firmly believe that our city's public transport is, dare I say it, state of the art. Now, before you choke on your flat white, let me explain why.

Having lived in bustling metropolises like Mexico City, Vancouver, and Chicago, I can confidently say that Wellington's public transport is light years ahead of its counterparts. Sure, it's not without its flaws, but when compared to similar cities, especially Vancouver and Chicago, Wellington stands tall. We're more like a swan gracefully gliding through the waters, while they're still trying to figure out how to paddle.

One aspect that deserves attention is the pronounced peak hours in Wellington. With most people descending upon the CBD at the same time every day, it puts added pressure on the system. It's like everyone decided to have a synchronized commute competition, and the buses and trains are doing their best to keep up.

Let me be clear, I'm not here to make excuses for recent issues. Our public transport undoubtedly needs improvement and increased investment, especially with the projected densification over the next couple of decades. We can't afford to let our public transport lag behind as our city grows.

First and foremost, the government must step up its game as the primary funder of transport infrastructure. Adequate resources need to be allocated to meet the demands of our growing population. Investing in modern, low-emission vehicles, upgrading railway infrastructure, and expanding ferry services are essential steps to take. Congestion pricing, dedicated bus lanes, and improved cycling infrastructure are just a few measures that can alleviate pressure on our public transport system and encourage alternative modes of transportation.

Yes, the cost will be substantial. But consider this: investing in a modern, efficient rail network could generate an estimated $1.5 billion in economic benefits over the next 30 years. Additionally, transitioning to a low-emission bus fleet could save up to $200 million in health costs associated with air pollution. The long-term benefits far outweigh the upfront investment.

Let's create a public transport system that is accessible, reliable, and environmentally friendly. Together, we can overcome the challenges we face and build a brighter future for all Wellingtonians. It's time for action, and it starts with a united approach to fix Wellington's public transport crisis.