About a week ago I put together a map of what I think Auckland’s rail network should look like in around 25 years time. Now I’ve taken things one step further and added in a supporting light-rail (or in some cases busway) network that would support the heavy-rail lines that I detailed previously. The heavy rail lines would continue to form the backbone of the transport system.
If heavy-rail is the public transport equivalent of the motorways, then to me light-rail (which in this case would probably be quite similar to European trams, running on the street) is the equivalent of main arterial routes. These are necessary to feed into the main railway system, but also they are superb at driving high-quality sustainable land-use patterns. There’s always a strong debate as to whether one should bother with light-rail over bus lanes, and perhaps on some of the routes in the map below (the Upper Harbour route seems most likely) a busway might work best. However, as I explained in this post a while ago, the wider benefits of light-rail in terms of what it does to land-use patterns and how it encourages users who generally wouldn’t take the bus are real and significant.
So, without further delay, here’s the diagram, with the black lines showing light-rail (or busways in some cases): There is probably scope for some further light-rail lines out west (Titrangi Road perhaps?) and out south. The relatively high number of light-rail lines on the North Shore compensates for that part of the city only having one main heavy rail line, while on the isthmus I also think there’s potential for a few more routes in the longer-term future.
Now I realise that it’s definitely a dream to hope for this kind of system at the moment, but I think there are certainly steps that could be made towards this becoming a reality. For a start, we could ensure there are good bus lanes running along all these routes; then we could make sure that if we are upgrading any of the routes for other reasons we make sure they are future-proofed for running light-rail. Finally, we can make a start on a couple of the routes (Dominion Road and Tamaki Drive in my opinion) that would be immediate successes, and then go from there. With a variety of feeder buses, plus these tram and train networks, I reckon Auckland could very well do away with its auto-dependency and cater quite well for a population of 2-2.5 million.