Three options to axe cars from Wellington's Golden Mile have been revealed. The most drastic creates up to 75 per cent more footpath space at the expense of up to 200 car parks.
They are part of the latest round of proposals to go out for public consultation in the $6.4b Let's Get Wellington Moving transport project.
The Golden Mile is one of the busiest pedestrian areas in the country, running from Lambton Quay, through Willis and Manners streets to Courtenay Place.
The most conservative option would close the Golden Mile end of some side streets to general traffic, relocate taxi stands and loading zones, and scrap up to 120 car parks to make more footpath space.
Bus stops would also be consolidated, but be no more than a five-minute walk for someone on the Golden Mile, to increase space and improve reliability.
The option with the most changes could cost almost $80m, compared to the most conservative's $22m price tag.
The changes include completely removing all general traffic from the Golden Mile, adding more bus lanes, and dedicated space for people on bikes and scooters.
They would also include changes proposed in the first option, creating a total of up to 75 per cent more footpath space.
All options include closing some side streets, making space for people to walk, sit or spend time, or to access businesses.
Emergency vehicles would still have access to the Golden Mile and mobility access will be provided nearby.
Taxis, delivery and maintenance vehicles could be allowed access outside of the busiest times of the day.
Let's Get Wellington Moving programme director Andrew Body said if people wanted more space and to provide more priority for buses, car parks would have to be removed.
But he said it was important to put that in context.
"150 car parks is about half a per cent of all the available car parks in town, so there will still remain plenty of options for people who need to use their cars."
There are only about 99 car parks along the Golden Mile. The others in connecting side streets.
Body said he was aware businesses were concerned about the loss of car parks and Let's Get Wellington Moving would work closely with them on their needs too.
They would also meet disability groups to make sure their needs were being met.
Body hoped the project might improve facilities: only one mobility car park is on the Golden Mile and the rest are on side streets.
The proposals have been released at the same time as concerns mount that the heart of Wellington City is at risk with more people choosing to work from home following Covid-19.
A survey by Wellington City Council at the beginning of this month revealed two thirds of people want to work from home more.
But Body said changes to the Golden Mile was a decision for the long term.
"We need to think about what we want the Golden Mile to look like in 20 or 30 years. We might stage some of the implementation, and the reality is there will be no physical works on the Golden Mile until next year anyway.
"So there's plenty of time for us to work through how we do it in a way that makes sure we keep that heart of our city strong."
The Golden Mile is also the core of the city's bus network bringing 36,000 people and from the city on any typical weekday.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford said improving the Golden Mile was an important part of the plan to move more people with fewer vehicles and support Wellington's growth.
"On a normal day, the Golden Mile is at capacity. Buses get stuck in congestion and footpaths are overcrowded. Fixing these issues now will help pave the way for better public transport and create a more attractive place for Wellingtonians to spend time and shop."
The preferred option, which will be confirmed in September, may be a combination of the three concepts.
Detailed planning and implementation will be under way from next year.