The Road Transport Forum chief executive says Let's Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) should be scrapped and re-started to claw back some credibility.
Nick Leggett made the comments in a Spotlight on Wellington Transport Election Special panel hosted by Jason Pine live on Newstalk ZB today.
Leggett was joined by panellists Dr Caroline Shaw of Otago University's Department of Public Health, John Milford of Wellington Chamber of Commerce, and micro mobility expert Oliver Bruce.
The $6.4 billion LGWM transport plan was a hot topic on the show with every panellist expressing frustration at the pace of its rollout after being announced by the Government last year.
It's a three-way partnership between NZTA, Wellington City Council, and Greater Wellington Regional Council.
Leggett said part of the project's hold-up was to do with the "dysfunction of the Local Government set-up".
"[There's] too much focus on the rats and mice and not on the big stuff and the vision," he said.
"What do we want? What are we trying to achieve here? And it's not about tomorrow or the next day, it's really 10, 20, 50, 100 years."
He said people needed to see progress and criticised the project for being too Wellington City centric.
"People are actually just really frustrated. I think they're going to have to completely can it to get some credibility and we need to start again."
Leggett advocated for one transport planning entity for the region to deliver the project.
He asked the other panellists: "What do you need to see in terms of progress to make Get Wellington Moving viable?"
Shaw said she didn't know what would give her confidence in "this particular project".
"One of the good things that they did do at the start was actually do a very intensive consultation about what the priorities of Wellingtonians are … the problem that they've then faced is actually delivering on them."
She said public transport is the biggest thing Wellington should be doing to reduce carbon emissions, while also acknowledging this was expensive infrastructure that takes a while to build.
Leggett was also concerned with the extent of which politicians politicise transport projects.
"We get politicians of all colours and varieties who fiddle with and politicise these really important long-term issues.
"We get obsessed about projects and we all lose sight, and we all lose the will to live frankly, and we don't get anything done."
Bruce said he supported all of the projects in the package, but agreed with Leggett there needed to be some sort of centralised authority.
"You've got NZTA, you've got the regional council, you've got the city council, and it's a bit of a cluster."
He wanted to see bus priority and cycleways built more quickly.
"Those two things have been stuck in a political process and it is the most frustrating, because they're the easiest things to go and do and everybody agrees, everyone's like 'go sort bus priority lanes' of course it makes the whole thing work better."
Milford pointed out that LGWM has already gone through an exhaustive consultation process.
"Now we've got an ineffective three-way process that's already had consultants brought in to see why it's not working.
"We need to get one entity for delivering this. What the people want, they've spoken, we need to have a plan that actually plans all of it not little bits of it at a time, and we need to get on with it."
Shaw said Wellington City Council was creating a rod for its own back with the way it has tried to build cycleways in the city, mainly the consultation process.
"It's just a disaster".
Asked how she would do it better, Shaw said: "We wouldn't be consulting on every 100 metres of road in this very intensive way … we'd be setting out a whole network of cycle lanes and we'd be consulting on that."
Bruce tried to come to the defence of councils and said they were constrained by consultation requirements under the Local Government Act.
But Leggett, who is also the former mayor of Porirua, said he was pretty familiar with the rules and that it could be done a lot better along the lines of what Shaw suggested.
Milford said at the end of the day the good news was that after decades of underinvestment in Wellington's transport both major parties finally have plans on the table leading into the election.