It’s heartening to read in today’s NZ Herald that plans are advancing quite quickly to extend the Wynyard Tramway loop over the Viaduct Harbour and to connect with Britomart transport centre in the relatively near future.

Waterfront Auckland planning and design manager Rod Marler said the carnation-red heritage trams were a great short-term attraction for capturing the imagination and emotions of Aucklanders but the tram tracks, future-proofed to take light rail, offered a bigger opportunity along the waterfront.

The tram extension is expected to cost $8.1 million plus the cost of a new crossing, which is expected to be a lot less than the $47.3 million cost of an earlier plan for a permanent bridge across the Viaduct Harbour.

Auckland Council transport chairman Mike Lee said extending the trams less than 1km to Britomart would increase their value as a tourism attraction, picking up cruise ships visitors along the way.

Mr Lee, who as chairman of the Auckland Regional Council championed the $8 million set-up costs of the Wynyard Loop, said he favoured another crossing for trams as close as possible to the new $3.7 million pedestrian and cycling bridge across the Viaduct Harbour.

Work on laying tracks to Britomart could start at Christmas, and the project could be completed in about a year, he said.

I’ve always had some reservations about the tramway loop being so isolated from the rest of Auckland’s transport system – although I certainly understand that building the loop as quickly as it has been constructed was only possible because the connection to Britomart was pushed back into becoming a future project. Once the trams are connected to Britomart the opportunities are endless: continue along Quay Street and Tamaki Drive to St Heliers (much like the F & Market in San Francisco) or head up Queen Street and then along Dominion Road with modern light-rail vehicles as a way to cope with increasing public transport demand along that critical corridor?

In terms of the first step, to link with Britomart, I also like the idea of building a second bridge to carry the trams, rather than trying to rebuild the existing pedestrian bridge to do that job – as the new bridge could probably be a fair bit shorter and could be quite narrow if it doesn’t have to be shared with pedestrians. A very short second bridge on the eastern side of Te Wero island is probably going to be necessary as well, because of clearance issues with the old lifting bridge.

The tram plan forms part of a “Waterfront Plan” that the Waterfront Auckland CCO has been formulating. It has a number of great ideas:

It contained a lot of relatively inexpensive “quick hits”, such as a $9.2 million walking and cycling boulevard from the Auckland Harbour Bridge to Teal Park, and expensive “aspirational” projects, such as a new island off Westhaven Marina, built from dredgings, where people could live on boats.

The plan includes many projects already proposed, such as the boulevarding of Quay St from lower Hobson St to Britomart Place, creating a 4.25ha headland park at Wynyard Quarter, building a cruise ship terminal on Queens Wharf and a $4.4 million upgrade of St Marys Bay beach.

New ideas include a salt-water pool at the end of Queens Wharf similar to Sydney’s Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool, a wharf extension at the end of Wynyard Quarter for historic ships and waka, and spending $700,000 to tear up the bland paving at Waitemata Plaza to create a green space in the Viaduct Harbour.

Another idea is to extend the Halsey St wharf outside the Viaduct Harbour for a new sheltered water space that could be used for dragon boat racing and other recreational activities.

So many great plans. So many great ideas. This is an exciting time for Auckland.

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  1. Why has the seemingly longer but simpler and potentially cheaper option of running the tram around the Viaduct harbour via Halsey Street etc been seemingly ruled out? It would be a longer route, but would bring it closer to the commercial area around the Vodafone building etc, and could help revitalise that area too.

    1. I think going the longer way is silly because it would be too slow – walking from Britomart would be faster. I also understand that some of the corners are too sharp for light-rail.

      1. you’ll still have to raise the bridge for the boats passing, losing time. I don’t think it would be much faster. And I don’t see room for a new bridge, unless you destroy the new steps going down the sea.

  2. Why would a new bridge be shorter as it would have to be right next to the existing one, also I can’t see how it could be narrower, the existing pedestrian one is only about 5m wide. Another thing, if we want to start expanding this to a more useful network should we not consider the Britomart connection being double tracked?

    1. You can “build out” from the Wynyard side I think, to shorten the bridge. In terms of double-tracked, yes along Quay Street and perhaps through Te Wero island. Single track should be OK for the bridge though.

  3. Removal of parking on Te Whero island would be a good fist step, and a good hard look at the building with the rugby jersey shop in it that juts out into the sight-line of Quay St to the new Wynyard boulevard…. important to cut down the driving destinations as we restrict traffic privilege.

      1. Don’t worry. With Mike Lee having such substantial input KZ1 will be gone soon enough. In fact, you probably wont have to deal with looking at any boats at all – just retail buildings. It seems that the sooner the marine industry is out of the viaduct the better as far as he is concerned (just look back to what they wanted to do to the tank farm / Westhaven. It’s not like it is part of Auckland’s history.

        1. Are you sure you’ve got your facts right there? Mike Lee has always strongly supported a working maritime environment there.

  4. A new bridge need not destroy the tidal stairs, I think from memory there is plentiful space to keep all or most of them (you can see it here

    The bridge would not be raised most of the time, so the time savings will be very significant – a route around the Viaduct is also a lot more twisty (I know that is why it was ruled out in the first place), reducing the ride comfort and max speeds – and thus the long-term viability for “real transport”, so we should not go for that.

  5. In keeping with the future extension of the tramway system along Quay street to Brittomart, how about planners thinking of developing a base for float planes in the Wynward Quater vicinity? This would be a valuable tourist attraction for cruise ship passengers as there are multiple destinations within 60 to 90 minutes flying time. If this could be patterned on the Vacouuver/Seattle/Victoria model, I think we could be on to a winner. Anybody got any thoughts?

    1. Good idea, however I think that should be something more for private enterprise than publically funded.

      Potential destinations could be the Bay of Islands and Coromandel.

      1. Mechanics Bay is where the flying boats use to land. Maybe bring it back into commercial use? I´ve seen it come up once on a website for flight bookings which is bizarre seeing the police are the only ones who use the site these days,

        1. I really dislike the idea of float planes because they take up a lot of space and are quite dangerous and noisy, the harbour jet boats are bad enough. Certainly not something I would want funded with public money.

        2. Ummm, I am afraid there IS no more Commercial Bay. All filled in long since. Container Terminal now. You’d have to do stuff east of the current Marine Rescue Centre, or whatever it is called, east at Teal Park.

          I like flying boats though, and nobody is talking about using public money. It’s just a fun idea (that sadly will not happen until technology advances so much that it’s commercially feasible again just for the fun of it).

          Oh, and what we really should be looking at is not the tram to Britmart, though that is good. Trams to St Heliers – it’s now officially on the table again! Whoo!

        3. “I like flying boats though, and nobody is talking about using public money. It’s just a fun idea (that sadly will not happen until technology advances so much that it’s commercially feasible again just for the fun of it).”

          I wonder if the Catalina flying boat operating out of Ardmore might be cleared to land on water… probably a bit fragile now, more’s the pity.

    1. So? We don’t have to use those old clunkers for anything more than tourist trade in the long run. Also, I am quite sure that the trams can do more than 10 km/h. Unless they literally ripped out the historic engines and replaced them with weaker ones, the Herald reference probably means that the Wynyard Trams have been “hobbled” to that max speed. Trams have been able to go faster than 10km/h for a LONG, LONG time.

  6. Actually the W class has the same sort of top speed as anything else in the Melbourne fleet. Like the modern ones they top out at about 80km/h. Kinda irrelevant when they travel on streets with 50km/h speed limits and stop once or twice each kilometre. More relevant is the fact the can accellerate and brake at over 1.0ms/s, which is beyong what passengers can handle comfortably.

    If they have them trundling around Wynyard at ten ks an hour that’s probably just to make the tourist ride last a reasonable amount of time.

    If we assume 1km route with two sets of traffic lights and one intermediate stop for the viaduct/princess wharf we’re still looking at less tha five minutes between britomart and wynyard (assuming dedicated tram lanes an some signal priority).

  7. Sending the Trams east from Wynyard is problematic as all hell with the “supports on both sides can handle trams but the deck can’t” bridge.

    How about sending them West? Across Vic Park and up College Hill…
    I’ve got our local MP (Nikki Kaye) to get a feasibility study from Council. There’s a petition too to get legislation reintroduced-

    Good to Mike Lee has has bumped the Tram extension up from “3-10 years” to “within 3 years”.!/pages/Auckland-deserves-a-Tram-System/217282094980382

    1. Ah the Nikki Kaye “let’s save face because Steven Joyce hates the City Rail Link” tramway project.

      Why go west? What trip would you provide for? What are loadings like on the 010 bus route? It looks pretty empty to me.

    2. Hi Admin,

      Nikki is pro CBD Rail Link. The wording of our petition reads-

      “That the House of Representatives consider whether legislation will be required to facilitate the extension of Auckland’s tram system as part of an integrated system that complements the proposed CBD rail link with the aim of reducing congestion in Auckland.”

      Bit of a mouthful, but in English it’s pro-Tram, pro-CBD Rail Link and anti congestion.

      Heading West can be very useful in 2 different ways;

      1- Vic Park, College Hill, Pons Rd, K Rd, Queen and meeting Docklines again at Quay St.

      It is now impossible to bus from Queen St to Ponsonby Rd. This would alleviate that problem among others. Actually I think some brilliant transport blogger thought of that route too…

      2- Vic Park, College Hill, Pons Rd, Great North, Chinamans Hill, linking with the existing line. Also an option of continuing to the Chev/ Unitec.

      This will be even more utilised as Great North becomes High Dens apartment rather than car orientated.

      The new 010? That only goes to Wynyard right, not Downtown or Midtown? No wonder it’s empty..
      No idea of the loadings, maybe the Option 1 loop would be more heavily patronised until Wynyard Wharf fills up somewhat.

      1. Option 1 is quite a nice route, but sounds quite challenging. Good luck getting a double track of lines down Ponsonby Road!

        In any case, surely Option 1 requires the exact link to Britomart we’re talking about above.

        1. Yes, exactly, the bridge will always be the bugbear.

          Still, Mike and Co. have kicked the Trams up in priority a couple of times recently, which is good work from them and good news for us.

          Did you see Len being interviewed by a drag queen on the weekend?

          Skipping to 5.07 will get you to the “Tram loop- Quay, Queen, K Rd”. This is great news and only needs Pons Rd added to the mix to make it an actual loop.

          The idea for the double down Pons Rd is Melbourne shared style, right hand lane both ways, crucifix pole to power both sides and reduce visual clutter.

          3 Lamps will be the tricky bit!

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