Doctors say Wellington transport study needs a health check

A group representing OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate and Health Council, which consists of around 200 health professionals, is calling for an urgent revision of Wellington’s public transport plans. They presented their concerns to a panel of local mayors and NZTA in Wellington today.

The doctors say the current Public Transport Spine Study (PTSS) takes no account of the measures needed to counter climate change, and ignores the impact of different modes of transport on human health.


It also fails to acknowledge that car usage in the Wellington region is falling, and the government’s Roads of National Significance (RONS) project for Wellington is seen as heading in the wrong direction. These new roads, built at vast taxpayer expense, will encourage more people to use private cars at a time when the country needs to encourage greater use of public transport and active modes. Walking and cycling provide healthy exercise and are climate-friendly,Dr Russell Tregonning, spokesperson for the group, said.

Commenting on the public transport options being presented, Tregonning said, “The study favours diesel-run buses, and undermines the light rail option by giving it highly inflated costs and few benefits. The doctors favour electric light rail, saying it is climate-friendly, with no greenhouse gas emissions, and free of air pollution.

The group is calling for an immediate health impact assessment of the Spine study. This would analyse the effect of transport infrastructure on health, including physical activity, obesity, heart and lung diseases, and health equity. “Wellington needs a congestion-free, dedicated public transport system that is healthy, without delay.


Media Spokesperson

Dr Russell Tregonning. Mob. 027 444 6805

OraTaiao: The New Zealand Climate & Health Council has more than 200 senior doctors and other health professionals in New Zealand concerned with climate change as a serious threat to health and health services. See:

Key Messages

  • Climate change is a real and urgent threat to the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders.

  • New Zealand must be an active partner in global cooperation to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions to 350ppm CO2‐equivalents by:

- rapidly halving our own emissions by 2020;
- paying our fair share of international investment in a global future.
New Zealand can, and must, respond to climate change in ways that improve population health, accord with Te Tiriti o Waitangi, create a more equitable, just and resilient society, and promote a healthier economy within ecological resource limits. 

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