A couple of weeks back I blogged about an NZ Herald article which cited a survey to note that transport was Auckland’s biggest issue in the lead-up to the Super City election, and perhaps more importantly – that most Aucklanders felt that the transport situation could most be improved through better public transport, rather than building more roads. This paragraph from the original article was the most intriguing:
Transport is the single most important issue for 27 per cent of survey respondents. And 44 per cent of voters say improving the train services should be the top priority for the new council.
Today we see another article in the NZ Herald confirming that Aucklanders really do want rail improvements more than anything else – at least in terms of big ticket transport projects. Here’s an excerpt:
Rail to the airport has emerged as the most important transport priority in Auckland in the latest Herald-DigiPoll survey on the Super City.
In something of a surprise, 23.5 per cent of respondents voted for a rail link, ahead of improving the roading system (18.4 per cent) and a new harbour crossing (17.7 per cent).
Next was rail to the North Shore (15 per cent), a CBD rail loop (8.6 per cent), extending the Northern Motorway to Wellsford (8.4 per cent) and expanded ferry services (1.4 per cent).
When it comes to a new harbour crossing, 59.7 per cent said it should be a road and rail tunnel, 17.3 per cent a road tunnel and 16.5 per cent a bridge.
If we ignore the specific projects for a second and focus on a “rail versus roads” divide, we see that 47.1 per cent of respondents wanted one of the three big rail projects (rail to airport, CBD tunnel or North Shore Rail) as their number one transport priority. By contrast, 26.8 per cent specified either improving the roading system or building the Puhoi-Wellsford holiday highway. I’ve left out “new harbour crossing” from either group as most people want it to contain both road and rail.
I agree with the article that it is something of a surprise to see “rail to the airport” as the number of preferred project. While I think it’s something Auckland certainly does need, in my opinion the CBD rail tunnel is more essential. The primary reason for that, something that most people probably don’t know, is that until we have the CBD rail tunnel we will not have the capacity in the rail system to allow the other major rail projects to be constructed.
All in all, I think it’s incredibly promising to see the level of support for improving Auckland’s rail system. Remember the proportion of Aucklanders who actually use the rail system on a daily basis is fairly low, so obviously there appears to be an understanding that even those who continue to drive will benefit from there being a better rail system. It also suggests, I think, a general desire in the population to use the rail system, if only it went where they want to go. Clearly, Aucklanders want a better rail system – who’s going to give it to them?