Light rail could be fast-tracked in Wellington following the new Transport Minister's remarks that new scenarios to fix the city's growing congestion problem "lack ambition".
Let's Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) released four transport proposals for consultation last week, which include significant tunnelling and road work.
It has been a long time coming for the capital after the controversial Basin Reserve Flyover was finally quashed by the High Court in 2015.
The most expensive of the latest scenarios could cost as much as $2.3 billion and 10 or more years to complete.
It includes duplicating The Terrace and Mt Victoria tunnels, sending the Inner City Bypass underground and an additional southbound lane on State Highway 1 between Aotea and Ngauranga.
Three of the four proposals include bridging or tunnelling at the Basin Reserve.
Save The Basin Campaign spokesman Tim Jones said aspects of the proposals "feel like a slap in the face of the new Government".
Transport Minister Phil Twyford said the proposals lack ambition.
"We have a Government that is committed to building up the role of public transport, to investing in modern rapid transit in our cities to make them work better."
Twyford said he wanted to work with Wellington to develop an inspiring transport plan to make the city more liveable.
LGWM consultation documents said demand to justify mass transit was about ten years away and the short-term priority was improving the path for buses.
Three of the four proposals included building a pathway for an enhanced bus mass transit system - but up to $500 million more would be needed for light rail.
Wellington mayor Justin Lester and Greater Wellington Regional Council chair Chris Laidlaw have met with the Transport Minister over the proposals.
Lester said he shared Twyford's ambition for the city.
"I completely agree with him, we want to be bold, we don't want to nickel-and-dime, we want to get the best once-in-a-generation outcome for Wellington."
Lester said there was an opportunity to improve the proposals, including potential to bring forward the timeline for light rail.
"We have a narrow city, we've got to focus on a narrow spine and what corridor is best for getting around the city and mass transit plays a big role in that. We need a balanced approach, we can't just have one component to the transport system.
"If we've got the opportunity to bring mass transit, light rail or another form forward in time, then I'm wholly supportive of that."
Laidlaw said he was on the same page as the Transport Minister.
"I'm very keen to be more ambitious, we want to see public transport upfront, we want to see a mass transit corridor, we want to see decisions about the mass transit options."
He said the project might look road focused on the face of it but the work was necessary to free up space for public transport.
"It's actually changing the morphology of the roads so that you can open up your corridor, you can't have mass transit without tinkering with your roads."
"This question of never never land for light rail is not an issue, we might be able to start on light rail, if it's the best option, very shortly."
Laidlaw said the message he took away from his meeting with Twyford and Lester was to "get on with it".
Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency interim chief executive Derek Fry said he was still forming a view on the transport plans.
He said one thing was clear- the new government has a different approach.
"They are not looking for naked economics, they're looking for a much more whole of life experience so that transport is about growth, it's about wellbeing it's about the future ...
"It's just not about a piece of tarseal that runs through, or the Basin Reserve's not just an obstacle to get through."