WELL-TRACK study topics
WELL-TRACK topics and issues for study
WELL-TRACK will cover many areas of transport knowledge of benefit to Wellington. In order to make the information-gathering process systematic and manageable, the topics and issues to be covered have been categorised into 10 areas as below. Within each category there are specific topics and questions - for the (20 kb) PDF file detailing them for city click here.
1 Organisation of transit
The governance, commercial and financial arrangements for transit are of renewed interest in New Zealand following the NZ Transport Strategy. Opportunities will soon exist for a more flexible and pragmatic ownership and operational regime with better access to resources. What is the US experience (good and bad) of modern transit organisation within a car-dependent culture?
2 Urbanism, smart growth and sustainable transport
Despite a small population and high levels of public transport use, Wellington suffers from the usual problems of car-dependent urban sprawl and unsustainable levels of automobile traffic growth. Several of the cities included in the WELL-TRACK tour are attempting to curb these problems through smart growth and transit-orientated-development. Their successes, and their continued problems, need to be better understood in Wellington.
3 Commercial and economic opportunities from transit investment
Wellington has a long history of commercial benefit from public transport and rail development, from the time of the Chamber Of Commerce promotion of the Manawatu railway in the 1880s. Business organisations and developers are among the foremost boosters of light rail and transit development in North America and are proponents of transit-orientated-development. What could Wellington business learn from their experience?
4 Light rail technology and operations
The lack of rail penetration through the core of the Wellington CBD is the number one barrier to more use of the rail system for travel into Wellington City. Light rail along Wellington’s ‘Golden Mile’ as an extension of the existing suburban rail system was studied and endorsed in 1995. Nothing happened, largely because local decision makers do not know enough about the mode and have trouble relating it to the Wellington situation. A major function of WELL-TRACK will be overcoming this inadequate knowledge transfer!
5 Commuter rail
Regular diesel-hauled carriage trains provide public transport on the two railway lines extending outside the Wellington electrified zone. The busiest service, to the Wairarapa, is in dire need of improvement. Knowing what works best for similar services in the US will be of great help in guiding the forthcoming upgrade.
6 Rail freight in urban/port areas
Freight trains enter Wellington on two main lines shared with suburban passenger services. The limited options for road access means that high volumes of truck traffic to the Port of Wellington and the industrial areas of the region increase congestion and safety concerns. The efficiency of road freight in the region is therefore low. At the same time, the policy of the national rail freight operator (Tranz Rail) of using road for local movements and ripping up industrial spurs is compounding the problem. The implementation of policies in some US cities to encourage rail access to ports and other high-traffic nodes have lessons for Wellington.
7 Heritage trolleys and streetcars
The use of streetcars and replica or preserved trolley cars as local circulators to provide local downtown or waterfront transport is a feature of several cities to be visited on WELL-TRACK. A heritage tram line was proposed for the Wellington Waterfront and some track foundation work was done in 1995. The idea ‘died’ because the champions of the scheme left the City Council. It has become more relevant because of the opening of the Stadium in 2000, continuing waterfront development, and the possibility of light rail integration.
8 Electric trolleybus technology and operations
Wellington operates an electric trolleybus system which is the mainstay of public transport south of the rail network. Wellington is the only English-speaking city outside North America using trolleybuses, and this will continue because it has been decided to renew the system using locally designed and built vehicles now under development. WELL-TRACK includes the largest three of the seven remaining trolleybus systems in North America. Their experience is of interest in Wellington’s trolleybus renewal; the innovative work being done in Wellington may be of interest to them!
9 Station and interchange design
Wellington recently opened a new bus/rail interchange and more new construction is underway or planned. The design of rail stations, bus/rail interchanges, park+ride, or just better bus stops is a key area of interest.
10 Attracting passengers
Removing barriers and providing positive incentives for use is essential for transit success. Wellington can learn from North American success in areas like:
* low floor/level boarding/easy access designs
* integrated ticketing
* ‘seamless’ multi-modal operations
* passenger information and vehicle tracking systems
* branding, marketing and promotion
* in-vehicle and station surveillance and security systems
* anti-crime and policing systems
* community consultation and involvement in design and planning.