I lived in Szczecin, Poland, until I was 14. I had family in other large centers in Poland. All those cities had something in common—extensive and very well utilised light rail networks.
The trams were a different colour in each city, usually coincident with the colours of the city’s coat of arms. Even at the lowest pointduring the communist regime when the people were at their poorest and the country was in a huge debt the trams were going strong, taking commuters to work, home, school, parks, shopping (when there was something to buy, anything really would do). I certainly don’t remember anyone not being able to afford to use the tram service.
The NZTA propose a new system of roads to divide our city. Roads that will induce more traffic and increase our reliance on non-renewable sources of energy generation. The proposal, which apparently aims to “improve traffic flows and reduce journey times for public transport”, does not seem to acknowledge the future of the city. It simply concentrates on a particular solution, to a potentially non-existant problem, mandated for today only.
What about creating options and opportunities for the future growth of the city?
I believe that one of the reasons why light rail was so successful in Szczecin and other major centers in Poland was because it was well established over the decades. Since its introduction in the early 20th century it’s been constantly improved, extended and above all taken into consideration whenever the city grew or changed in some way.
The point is that there are plenty of precedents in the world suggesting the sensibility of establishing an electric light rail system in Wellington, especially in the face of oil going the way of dinosaurs (or is it the dinosaurs that went the way of oil). At the very least any proposal for major infrastructural changes to the city should address alternatives for public transport and look toward our future needs rather than knee-jerk in a reaction to our current bad behaviours.