A regional transport authority for Wellington is being mooted, one year into the city's bus debacle.

The idea also comes as the $6.4b Let's Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) transport project gets underway.

But some aren't convinced an authority would make a difference, and the fact it's being considered at all has been described by a local MP as a shame.

The authority would manage infrastructure for local roads, rail, bus, ferry and cable car services and seek to provide a joint and consistent transport planning approach.


Assets would remain with each individual council as well as their ability to set policies and control rates and user charges.

A representative from each council would sit on the joint governance committee and provide oversight of the authority.

Mayor Justin Lester said he was keen to explore the option.

It would operate in a similar fashion to the Wellington Water model, which provided a centre of expertise and recommendations to councils, mayor Justin Lester said.

"I think everyone would agree the current transport model is not perfect, it's far from perfect, and we've seen that with the rollout of the bus changes over the course of the last year.

"It's also been very frustrating as mayor when you've got a whole lot of people relying on public transport, but you've got no direct involvement in the running of the bus services, only the ability to advocate."

Wellington City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council would join the new authority first, with other councils in the region being invited to follow, Lester said.

Regional councillor Daran Ponter agreed there could be better collaboration across the region to deliver transport.


There were multiple bureaucracies in place which could be smoothed out to make the process more streamlined, he said.

But he stressed the more immediate importance of "bolting down" LGWM to get tangible results from the project.

"While we're doing that we can look at and we can explore how we move to a regional transport authority but that must be a secondary consideration behind the Let's Get Welly Moving project."

Mayor Justin Lester says the region's current transport model is far from perfect. Photo / Mark Mitchell.
Mayor Justin Lester says the region's current transport model is far from perfect. Photo / Mark Mitchell.

Some argue a regional transport authority could simply be adding another level of bureaucratic hoops to jump through.

Victoria University environmental studies director Ralph Chapman doubted the authority would make much difference.

GWRC was already a regional level authority which dealt with most transport issues apart from local planning ones around things like roads and allocation of space, he said.

"It would duplicate what Greater Wellington has been doing, and not doing very well."

Chapman suggested improving the current system rather than institutional reform, which took a long time.

The time for fresh ideas and leadership would come in this year's local body elections, he said.

"We've got a good democratic opportunity to improve the quality of the people leading that transport organisation."

Wellington-based National list MP Nicola Willis said the idea of an authority was a show of no confidence in GWRC's ability to deliver transport measures.

It was a shame it had got to the point of considering it, she said.

"You'd hope that your city councillors and your regional councillors could work together without a special vehicle to achieve that.

"But I think at the end of the day Wellingtonians just want better public transport and better transport measures, and so if this will deliver that, then it's something worth considering."