The Wellington storm of Thursday 20 June 2013, and subsequent commuter disruption, cost the region up to $43 million, a joint report by the Ministry of Transport, NZ Transport Agency, KiwiRail and the Greater Wellington Regional Council has found.

The total cost included $5.3 million of direct costs to local and central government agencies that responded to disruptions and damage on the transport network.

It included a $5.3 million cost of increased travel time for commuters.

And it included up to $32 million of direct, indirect and induced loss in economic output.

Tim Herbert, Manager of the Ministry of Transport’s Financial, Economic and Statistical Analysis Team, says the storm severely affected Wellington’s transport network.

“There were both immediate and flow-on effects for commuters in the region.

“Of particular significance was the damage done to the Hutt Valley rail line, and the consequent disruption to passenger rail services for six days following the storm.”

The report is based on a social media survey of 1,072 Wellington commuters. It assessed:

  • the extent to which disruptions to the transport network affected the time it took commuters to get to their destination
  • how commuters changed their travel behaviour
  • the extent to which communications by transport agencies may have influenced the behaviour of commuters.

The closure of the Hutt Valley rail line between Wellington and Petone – due to damage at seven places along the line – put pressure on the road network, as rail services were disrupted.

In particular, traffic on State Highway 2 was severely congested on the Monday after the storm, when normal traffic resumed. On the Monday morning, peak-hour congestion on State Highway 2 lasted two hours longer than usual.

Communications by transport agencies after the storm was judged to be effective. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed were aware of the transport delays before they headed to work the day after the storm. Over half of these people altered their travel plans in response.

Traffic counts provided by NZ Transport Agency, and patronage data supplied by KiwiRail, were also used in the assessment.

Mr Herbert says the report will be used by agencies to assist with contingency planning.

“The report also provides useful information when future improvements to infrastructure are considered.”

Download The transport impacts of the 20 June 2013 storm report [PDF, 811 KB]

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