Members of youth climate change group Generation Zero paraded a painted cardboard train through central Wellington today to promote their proposal for a low cost light rail solution for the capital: "The Constable Connection".
Getting into the Christmas spirit before the annual Wellington Santa Parade, the train was painted with the message "All we want for Christmas is a fair go for light rail" and the group handed out lollies and train ticket flyers to passersby.
The action followed Generation Zero's presentation on Monday to the Public Transport Spine Study Options Hearings Committee, where they called for an independent review of the Constable Connection by a consultant with good experience in light rail in conjunction with the Newtown Residents' Association.
"We're being told our city can't afford light rail, but there's a cheaper alternative route that has been prematurely dismissed," said Generation Zero spokesperson Paul Young.
"The Constable Connection would connect Newtown with Kilbirnie via Constable St, avoiding expensive tunnels and unnecessary extra track which led to the Public Transport Spine Study's inflated cost of over $1 billion.
"At less than $400 million – similar to what a quality rapid bus system would realistically cost - the Constable Connection offers the affordable light rail solution that Wellington wants.
"We believe there are creative solutions that will protect Constable Street properties and Newtown's pedestrian-friendly nature."
Newtown Residents' Association President, Martin Hanley, says that the Association supports investigation of light rail options through Newtown.
"Continuing light rail up Constable Street would give our community a public transport link to Kilbirnie and to the airport, and save so many dollars that clean, green light rail might actually be an affordable option," said Mr Hanley.
"Us locals would defend Constable Street with pitch forks and burning barricades if the Council proposed bulldozing a wide traffic corridor that wrecked frontages. My idea is that locals should collaborate and design a much better solution ourselves.
"We want to work with the council to design a fine grain plan that integrates safe slow moving public transport, preserves our community's liveability and greenery, and caters for safe cycling and walking. I have offered to recruit architecture and landscape students to help design options that might do this, with detailed community consultation."
Paul Young: "Wellington needs a reliable, modern and clean public transport system to flourish into the future. Light rail offers huge potential to transform our city, and the Regional Transport Committee must give it a fair go by considering the Constable Connection."
The Constable Connection is part of Generation Zero's Fast Forward Wellington plan to provide better transport choice through congestion-free public transport, Copenhagen-style cycleways and a region-wide car share system.