Trams – well modern light rail – could be making a comeback to Auckland after an absence of 60 years if Auckland Transport get their way. That’s the major surprise hidden in the draft Regional Land Transport Plan that has been released today. The RLTP is the document that outlines at a high level the what AT and other transport agencies such as the NZTA and Kiwirail plan to do over the next decade and with specific detail about the next three years.

Is Modern Light Rail coming to Auckland
Is Modern Light Rail coming to Auckland? Photo by Oh.Yes.Melbourne

Immediately there are a number of important questions many will be asking such as why Light Rail, why now and what about the City Rail Link. AT say everything stems back to the City Centre Future Access Study (CCFAS). The CCFAS was a response to the government questioning whether the CRL was the best way of solving access problems to the city centre. It found that the CRL plus a combination of street improvements to cope with buses would be needed.

In the outer parts of the region buses will feed into one of the planned Rapid Transit lines (Rail or busways) – and the CRL was key to making the RTN work – however crucially there is what AT call a large void in the central isthmus not covered by the RTN network. In that void are some of the busiest and most heavily used bus routes in the city – which is unsurprising as the suburbs were initially designed and built to support PT.

RTN Void
The central isthmus void in the RTN

It turns out that even with the CRL the sheer number of buses that will need to come from this area will overwhelm city streets. The image below from the last Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing study shows projected bus volumes in 2041 even with the CRL.


And this is the outcome of too many buses on city streets, a veritable solid wall dividing the street.

Bus Congestion

So far from being in competition with the CRL AT are looking at light rail to complement it as a way of addressing bus congestion from areas the CRL can’t touch. It also allows AT to put a higher quality service to areas the rail network is close to but doesn’t pass through such as the Universities and Wynyard Quarter.

The future solution must provide additional capacity, without degrading the quality of the City centre or surrounding neighbourhoods. AT is evaluating a number of options to address this including double-deckers, bus lane expansion and bus interchanges. While many of these bus improvements still need to happen, they will not provide sufficient capacity to move the increase in Aucklanders wishing to travel into the city centre.

Following assessment of options, a light rail network serving the central isthmus has been identified, as the best option to overcome these issues. Similar issues and constraints in successful cities such as Sydney, Canberra and the Gold Coast have reached the same conclusion; that light rail has the ability to provide the necessary public transport capacity and support the city’s intended development. Recent projects in Australasia mean significant recent experience can be drawn on for analysis.

Modern light rail solutions avoid the visual pollution of overhead lines and generate significantly less carbon emissions than the equivalent movement of passengers by bus. Figure 19 below illustrates how different modes have different capacities and travel speeds.

Mode Capacity

The bus numbers are a bit lower than I suspected however this might be due to AT comparing bus priority on the isthmus streets they’re talking about. In effect one modern Light Rail vehicle every 1-2 minutes will hold more people than a double decker bus every 30 seconds.

So which streets are they considering installing light rail, they say that after investigation the most appropriate are

  • Queen Street
  • Symonds Street
  • Dominion Road
  • Sandringham Road
  • Manukau Road
  • Mount Eden Road

There is no maps to show just what routes they would take so I’ve taken a guess based on the streets and key locations near them (hence the extension of Sandringham Rd Along Stoddard Rd).

Draft RLTP LRT Routes

AT say the development of such a network would also open up the opportunity for light rail to the airport, on the North Shore or to other locations which I suspect could mean to the North West or out East.

Of course the biggest question of all is the cost which AT haven’t given any details on but say is potentially significant. They say they are currently evaluating funding options including looking at private sector investment i.e. PPPs. They also note that while the capital cost is high that the operational costs are lower than the equivalent bus fleet and the benefits of the initial investment extend over generations.

Completely coincidentally I wrote a post just a few days ago looking at what it might cost to restore the old tram network. This obviously isn’t the entire old tram network but at ~29km it is a decent chunk of it. There seems to be a wide range in costs from around $6 million per km of single track in Wynyard Quarter up to over $100 million per km (double track) in some Australian cities and averaging around $30 million per km in US cities. As we would be putting any light down existing roads that used to have trams I would expect costs to on the lower end of the scale so including vehicles to run on it we may be talking around $1 billion. That’s a hell of a lot of money that could be spent on a lot of transport projects however the benefits to the city centre, the central isthmus and the city as a whole are also likely to be significant making it an exciting prospect.

We’ve only seen some basic details and much much more information is needed but until then I’m cautiously supportive.

Light Rail in Melbourne 2
Could this be gliding down Dominion Rd in the near future? Photo by Oh.Yes.Melbourne
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  1. This is an astoundingly good development – hope everyone gets behind it. I’ll be writing to the key players in support of this.

  2. Great to see AT thinking outside of their immediate constraints. It would be great to have Queen St emptied of cars with just modedern LRT vehicles and pedestrians like Bourke and Swanston Sts in Melbourne. And this is also a great solution to the over flowing buses on old tram routes. No let’s see the math AT? Can we do it?

    1. This is almost visionary in a retro hindsight kind of way but I fear it will be one of the great ideas that will be lost to the usual internal politicking and bickering. That and I can guarantee Central government won’t want a bar of it, well not unless the right people they know can clip the ticket so to speak..

      It would work a treat if Trams have right away over other traffic and operate like they did via islands mid road. But they will be little better than a bus and possibly worse if they are having to traverse streets competing with cars as per a bus as is the set up with that miniature tramway in Wynyard.

    2. please children. Auckland’s future PT network will always involve buses in a significant way. I know that some hoity toity folks may not catch-up buses, but experience shows that a civil and decent bus service will attract “the middle 80%” in droves.

      Even dense, old, wealthy European cities like Vienna and London, which are much larger and have well developed rail networks, still carry many times more bus passengers than Auckland. I suspect the same is true in cities like Melbourne and Perth.

      Promulgating anti-bus sentiment only serves to undermine the development of an effective PT network. Buses are essential, and the sooner we stop with childish modal distinctions the quicker we’ll make progress. Yes there are modal differences between buses and LRT, but the question always is: What difference; for what cost?

      1. “Promulgating anti-bus sentiment only serves to undermine the development of an effective PT network.” No, God, don’t say more buses, please no. It only acknowledges that since the mid 50’s some of us have concluded there has to be something a lot better than being stuck in traffic on a poorly ventilated cramped crawling bus, skinned in advertising. Its one of the reasons, I believe, that has held PT back, the – this base form of it will have to do for the masses – attitude.

      2. Probably 50% of the people I know have never caught PT in Auckland, I can’t see any of those people ever catching a bus. But if there was a tram to catch I’m sure they would at least consider giving it a go. There is a massive difference between the two modes even if there is real speed difference.

  3. While supporting the idea of LRT, I have to confess suspicions as to why AT should suddenly propose this vague but undoubtedly popular initiative. It recent months, I’ve come to distrust pretty much anything AT’s comms department puts out: there is, inevitably, an unstated agenda. Bit like the National government with its Friday bad news releases, coupled with a bit of benefit bashing to act as a distraction. It’s probably a cover up for yet another arterial (already detailed and costed) a new multi-storey car park somewhere or a little more arboreal vandalism. Tramwash might be an appropriate neologism.

  4. And at the same time, no news on NW busway (should it actually be light metro?), interchanges being delayed, Dominion Rd upgrade imminent (surely this will get delayed now?) etc. Also, unless they offer up full priority on LRT lines, this will be a failure, as in other cities that are struggling with LRT patronage. Would articulated buses offer many of the benefits for much less cost? Also, 246 buses from the Shore.

    And, just to point it out, this comes from the same organisation that is currently overbuilding numerous roads (incl tree removal).

    Me thinks the plan is too simplistic and the Auckland Plan ‘transport plan’ needs to be completely re-written.

  5. I’ve always had an issue with the CFN offering little improvement for the central isthmus (except for Dominion road light rail in 2030 and the Roskill spur which is more the southern isthmus). Light rail is the obvious solution.

    For those that say light rail is not much better than buses other than capacity, do you really think Melbourne’s PT would be as good if you ripped up the trams and replaced them with buses? Seriously?

    1. Sydney achieves higher PT trips per capita than Melbourne. As does Edinburgh, and the latter only uses buses until recently. So “yes” I think it’s plausible that appropriate investment in buses can yield better PT outcomes than LRT. Emphasis on word “can”.

        1. Whatever they create Stu, the one they don’t create is a wall of fumes. Unlike buses.

          I know buses have their place, but its becoming obvious that that place is not in the CBD of a modern city, while they are powered by diesel.

          You know as a well I do that NZ Bus has a virtual monopoly on bus operations on the Isthmus, and that unless something changes, NZ Bus will continue to offload its small, its underpowered, its polluting diesel buses on the public – PTOM rules notwithstanding.

          Therefore if NZ Bus won’t clean up its act, then its fair for a new kid on the block in the form of LRT to step up and have a go.

          Once a modern, properly powered and sized buses that emit far less pollution than the current lot do, then we can talk. Until then I say to NZ Bus, meh.

        2. On those corridors mentioned LRT looks smart anyway. In terms of the buses for heavens sake buy some with a transparent independent entity and free this mode from it’s profit or contractual ties. Buy the cleanest propulsion that makes sense and just get on with it. I am going to prove that independent networks multi-modal are doable right now with a remark on most our arterials. But for car to give one lane we need firepower under control.

      1. The emphasis is always on the word “can” when it comes to Light Rail too. The disparity between the pro-project “cans” and the realities in operation (see Portland for example) should have warned ratepayers in every city in the world off long since. Particularly the total subsidy cost per person-km of travel on them, which can be easily two, three or four times the costs of running an average car.

  6. Just waiting for the inevitable articles decrying the plan due to the effects on the heritage character of Mt Eden and Epsom

    1. I actually think the communities will get behind this. It will be the business associations that will oppose due to decreased on street parking (even though light rail would actually be very good for business)

      1. As a resident of Mt Eden I am right behind this idea. I do feel though that the tram lines should run right to Hillsborough Rd to service Lynfield, Hillsborough and Blockhouse Bay

  7. I wonder if light rail is an easier sell to the general public than the CRL?
    People can see what they are getting for say $1 billion, they can see a service that they will use (if they live in the central isthmus, but there is also the potential of light rail to the shore).
    The CRL is considered by many as an expensive improvement to a rail network that they will never use. (By the way this isn’t my view on the CRL, but I do think it is a bit over hyped)

  8. Would be much needed, as in a proper developed city the trains cater for the far out areas and a tighter grid of subway or tram caters for the city center. Only thing i would miss is a connector tram from East to West, maybe along Greenlane, Balmoral? But meanwhile the Herald has again a rant against the CRL.

  9. I agree with Christopher T on the chance this is a smoke screen activity from AT, but listening to Dr Levy on the news it seems that this is “take less prisoners” approach from AT over big projects we’ve been asking for.

    So while cycling to work this morning, I decided that this is AT’s attempt to move the goal posts out from under NZ Bus, as part of the PTOM negotiations for the Bus contracts.
    Which we had heard comments about is being overly difficult because of NZ Bus and as 75% of the buses in Auckland are run by them on some form, they are the big kahuna.

    Also NZ Bus are the biggest operator on the Isthmus routes proposed for trams, so putting trams on their (no doubt extremely profitable) routes basically kneecaps them and their negotiations with AT.

    So whether this is just an bargaining chip to get NZ Bus to the table, or is a real threat. Lets run the numbers and do the maths on it.

    Without the LRT running in dedicated right of ways though the trams will be just as slow as the buses are.
    Also interested to know how these things get powered if they don’t have overhead wires, presumably some 3rd wire system in the road?

    1. Given the amount of work they’ve already done on the project so far I think this is much more than just a smokescreen. There’s a lot more to it then they’re letting on.

      1. Matt I agree, and I also applaud AT for having a Plan B in case the PTOM negotiations don’t deliver in a timely fashion.

        AT desperately needs to kick this addiction it has been forced to accept of NZ Bus as the majority bus operator in Auckland. A large single monopoly provider for most routes doesn’t work well for competition.

        Of course, it could be that NZ Bus is the “Private” operator behind the LRT proposal, but its also likely it is not. And that its an overseas operators who knows how to deliver LRT – who is the main “private” partner behind this.

        Either way its a good idea, but with AT playing its card so close to its chest (not even letting council(lors) know) raises some “whats going on behind the curtain?” type speculation. And thats where the PTOM part of the equation comes to mind.

        What better way to end NZ Bus’s virtual monopoly on routes and holier than thou attitude than AT simply saying to them “we don’t need your stinking buses where we’re going”?

        Yes, we will still need a lot of buses, but only to get to/from the nearest RTN station, be that in north, south, east or west Auckland.

        1. With a blank canvas start again look this makes a lot of sense. What concerns me is that a blank canvas look is not being done everywhere and parking, flush medians, car lanes only are not being directly addressed right now on all main roads. We are not looking at ultimate mode shares just projecting from a fully biased clogged network
          While AT has a PT department it seems their road designers add anything but useful things, out of control, and they are still puppets to NZTA, and they let businesses ruin good space on the main roads that could be used for cycling, bus, trams or whatever. This stuffing around with PT and private operators, do you want control of your high capacity network or not? 3 years wasted that is $3.7 b in congestion. And AT cycling just do protected cycling for heavens sake, save your green paint, paint a house make it useful. So in short good, but change all main road corridors with painted lines and symbols first and directly fix problems for a change. Add the best suited mode to PT. The fact is you hardly have any continuous bus lanes right now when it should be on all arterials, do the maths with that first a $2 painted symbol symbol every 50m. As also can be seen.on the chart LRT I’d heavy rail little brother this is not a solution for CRL or a SW line, or a link across the harbour.

        2. Get the fleet, be it buses with a light rail rollout and get trams. Has a private bus service been fantastic for Auckland..yes or no. We can open up the arterials to free flow right now with a $2 bus symbol every 50m. We need the buses or later trams to justify the capacity increase. If the plan is buying the correct number of buses and trams, I’m 100% supportive. If it is going to be a run down private service , not self thinking, improving service, and 3 years plus to change to a new network plan then I’m not.

        3. NZ Bus’s Parent company Infratil have very deep pockets, and given the changes that will happen with PTOM, a 20+ year PPP with AT might be a better option than having to buy a pile of new buses..
          + Infratil have done a number of deals with the NZ super fund, I’m thinking that lots of people would support the super fund investing in Auckland PT…

  10. As much as I’d like to see light rail in the city, there is hardly any space to run congestion-free light rail, so it will be trams stuck in traffic instead of buses stuck in traffic, hardly an improvement. Unless we’re looking at removing all parking on said arterials though – and yes, that’s going to go to down well: we can’t even have a few hundred metres of no parking (shared spaces) without either stiff opposition or people flouting the rules. Now it’s just waiting for the geriatric collective to ask where all these tram users are going to park their car.

      1. Matt, this is good to hear. What about flush medians also? If the space isn’t for anything going straight ahead, then is that capacity or not?

    1. It fitted fine on those roads 60 years ago. Don’t see why it shouldn’t now if we get rid of some of those huge medians that have sprung up in the meantime.

      1. But after 60 years we ended up with most of the space handed over to cars and trucks, car storage, and vehicle movements – with every imaginable movement catered for. And there shouldn’t be parking on arterial roads in the first place (first thing I noticed when moving to NZ!). I live on Manukau Road, we have off-street parking (3+ spaces for one car). As do my neighbours, and their neighbours, and their neighbours, and so on. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a place without off-street parking. But it will be the retailers and the people who still feel it’s their godgiven right to store their private property on a public road kicking up a huge storm as per usual. Now, does anyone see AT do anything other than buckling under the pressure – yet again? It’s one thing having something written down in a document, another to actually go through with change.

        1. But those same retailers will not only be arguing to preserve the few car parking spots outside their businesses, they’ll also be lobbying long and hard to have those LRT stops right outside their businesses too.
          And more people will arrive and shop via PT stops (whether bus or LRT) than will ever arrive by car and park on the roads.
          [they don’t call PT stops “people fountains” for nothing you know)

          Once retailers sniff the change in the wind, they’ll all be clamouring for LRT stops near them and bugger the parking – mark my words

        2. It is so true that fixed-route PT investments of public money, often have benefiting owners of property portfolios as part of the coalition of interests driving them. It is immoral to transfer wealth from other subsidy sources to these people; subsidies should be mostly via targeted assessments on the benefiting properties.

          The fact that Auckland Council have rejected this as a source of ANY fraction of PT funding, stinks to high heaven of vested interests and corruption.

  11. This is a good idea, but it is not a new idea. When I was elected to the Eden/Albert Community Board in 1998, one of the first things we did was go on a bus tour down Dominion Road looking at the area proposed to be designated for a light rail service. There was extensive consultation at that stage, and also later after the plans were shelved during the Banks years. Many of the designations may still be in place and Auckland City did buy some property to facilitate a future service.

    1. Those designations were lifted a few years ago. The old plan was very car centered by sending trams away behind the shops so parking wasn’t impacted etc.

    2. I remember those days: the time when light rail for Auckland was enough of a current issue that it got mentioned in an episode of Shortland Street.

      1. Was that when 15 year old Minnie wanted to get her drivers license, but her mother sarcastically told her to take the light rail instead, to which Minnie replied “But it hasn’t even been built yet!”

  12. Does anyone know why the light rail capacity numbers beat buses so badly? For example how does light rail sharing a road travel at the same average speed as a bus on a priority busway? And how does the light rail then carry twice as many passengers at that speed? If a single tram carries twice as many passengers why not just double the number of buses? I had a look at the draft report but didn’t see a source for the numbers.

    1. If you ride Busses and Light Rails in Europe the capacity of seats is about 40% and 60% is people standing very different to AKL where you maybe get 60 ppl in the bus. The City where I am from had articulated busses which were commissioned for 54 people sitting and 102 standing. Similar are tram commissions so one tram can carry about 200 people if double articulated, a single articulated tram is about 150 similar like the bus.

  13. I wonder if the trams might have the option to be upgraded to driver-less technology in the future, that might make “the driver-less cars will solve everything” people happy.

    1. Yeah, about that…

      I think people vastly underestimate just how difficult it is to safely implement driverless vehicles when they are placed in complex environments like city streets.

      Google* cars tend to run around closed circuits or Mountain View, which (around the Google headquarters) has been very intensively scanned and huge effort put in to identify areas where the cars could have problems.

      Even then, the cars normally have a person with driving control as back-up.

      I am impressed by how fast progress is in driverless tech, but still someway from dealing well with things like power failure / accidents / maintenance causing police to implement measures like having a points person directing traffic.

      Visual recognition system can recognise people and deal with pedestrian avoidance (though potentially creating a situation where a single obstructive person could walk onto a road shutting down automated systems), but there are lots more complex situations. Even large passenger aircraft which are almost totally automated, hand ultimate authority to human pilots; and aircraft don’t have to deal with as complex visual environments.

      So given a tram could have 150 or more people on board, happy to have a meat-bag sitting up front for the next few years to deal with the unexpected..

      *I might be slightly bitter that Google Android 5 update pretty much borked my Nexus 7 tablet; but as somebody working in IT and who deals with defects, happy they are not pushing buggy updates to my car…

      1. I’m glad someone else has stopped to think of the complications involved in this technology. Hell, my TomTom doesn’t get updated enough to cover temp speed limit changes much less being able to navigate roads in Woodhill Forest that don’t exist according to TomTom ( as I did yesterday).

  14. This is exciting. I guess it makes sense to build this in stages – perhaps Queen St – Dominion Road first, then adding route progressively.

    I hope enough intensification is allowed on the Unitary Plan to take advantage of this.

  15. Really intrigued how they have defined the need – ‘a transport void’. I am all for light rail, but we need better to understand how this void occurs and what are the economics behind it.
    Looking at the maps I see a much larger transport void between Pakuranga and Manukau City – anywhere east of the Tamaki river.
    Perhaps AT is thinking they can get more miles of light rail for the buck than heavy rail…and light rail to the airport is an add on to this proposal.
    A major tack for AT a switch from heavy rail to light rail or a smokescreen for another plan?

    1. I think either the NZTA or government asked AT to come up with a popular PT initiative that they can back that isn’t the CRL.
      Buses are never popular, so that only really leaves light rail. And the obvious place for light rail is where buses are struggling with capacity, which is only really the isthmus and the shore.

      1. It did make the paper version – I cant find it online. Half page spread including graphics which should the potential lines (which dont actually connect to anything – ie. a gap between the D Road line and the Q Street Line)

    2. Don your right the void you have just stated is massive, and not one bus lane. Not one? AMETI is addressing a long term class a but why not a Class B today on all those arterials. Panmure Interchange is there? It concerns me this is not a transit focus at all. My mother lives on Ti Rakau Dr, and plan to Botany not until 2021 or 2022 OK thats fine for class a. I really wander what the necessary footprint would be if the ultimate mode share was roadmarked right now and resourced to suit. So many residents and not a bus symbol in sight. Man gives these guys a treat and show bus in own lane. In saying that not a cycle lane either on all those arterials, imagine what protected cycle would do.

  16. I really like this.

    At the same time, the failure of AT to build the NW Busway and Eastern Busway is the cause of a much larger transport gap. The isthmus is already reasonably well served. The West and the East particularly are neglected.

  17. Worth pointing out that the void map above is not geographically accurate,

    Where does this leave the Mt Roskill branch extension from the western line?

  18. This is not going to happen in the short time frame that AT appear to be proposing, … It will get pecked to death by Len Brown and the Council.

    Len Brown claims AT have kept him in the loop and that he was previoudly aware of this project, but he still doesn’t support it at the moment.
    Guyon Espiner: Do you support it or not

    Len Brown At this point in time, I support light rail going forward in the future, there is a place in the future…
    But I think what is proposed, is in too short a time frame, and I am not convinced of the urgency….

    1. Maybe,
      But public consultation on the PTOM for Isthmus bus services is due this year, with rollout starting from 2016. Unless, that is, AT want to roll over the current contracts for even longer? And hows that value for money for ratepayers?

      So AT have to do something in the next 3 years so getting this into the current LTP is needed to enable that.

      While we need to see the numbers in more detail, if AT can put together a CAPEX and OPEX plan that does save council money over the “Status quo” over the next 10 or 20 years and also delivers superior service, why would you not push it up the agenda?
      [Think Skypath on a grander scale].

      And its worth doing now as it successfully twists NZ Bus’ cojones right before/during the PTOM negotiations as they’ll have the sword of LRT dangling over their head.

      1. Is it?
        Or is AT now doing exactly what we’ve asked for them to do for ages – and start leading by example and doing stuff?

        If AT’s budget doesn’t need to increase as a result, and it agrees with the GPS, who is going to be the loser if it happens?
        Oh, thats right, NZ Bus, and their shareholders – so its really a victimless crime.

        The reality for Brown, is that AT is a largely independent body, with directors appointed by other than AC. So while he can ask he can’t order AT around as he’d like.
        [If he could I’m sure the “Pohutukawa 6” would have been freed from their death sentence by Brown by now].

        So is it lack of leadership or even surprising that AT are now flexing that muscle that the Government gave them – after all isn’t this the sort of leadership we need right now?

  19. Now we know what “CCFAS2” – that was mentioned in earlier board reports is – I noted this comment on the RNZ website:

    “Since September last year Auckland Transport has spent $2.2 million on external contractors working on the second stage of the ‘Central City Future Access Study’, which looks at how bus services or light rail can move through the CBD.”

    So CCFAS2 is the second stage of the CCFAS study. Not a completely new one, which is what some of us feared.

  20. So the proposal is to spend near a billion dollars providing fantastic PT to a part of Auckland with zilch growth potential due to NIMBYism. Does that seem odd to anyone else?

    1. Attitudes change. Just because some folks living in the central isthmus are nimbys now, doesn’t mean that will be the case in 10, 15, 25 years. The suburbs, housing stock, and proposed LRT will outlast a lot of the naysayers.
      Also, as far as growth is concerned, Auckland is stuffed with brownfield development opportunities. Parking lots, car yards, empty lots – they’re everywhere you look and can easily support small developments, much like the Melbourne one shown on Transport Blog last week.

        1. …Until the next time the AUP is updated, which is what every three or so years?

          So while the NIMBYs have won this round, once LRT is down their streets they can’t argue against intensification next time round. And it will happen.

    2. I’m not sure light rail is fantastic! Better than buses agreed, but it would have to be an underground or equivalent for me to call it fantastic.
      They are providing better PT to the routes that are already showing good patronage. If you can find other bus routes that are as busy and as easily adaptable to light rail I’d be surprised.

    3. Putting high Capacity Rapid Transit down Dominion\Sandringham etc road WILL result in increased intensification, it’s inevitable. Once the infrastructure investment is made, ‘compromises’ will be arranged and we’ll start seeing taller towers and a complete change to how Auckland views itself (and it’s going to be great)

  21. I agree with Matt’s overall assessment and questions. I think this initiative stems from an ARUP report prepared jointly between Auckland Transport and Waterfront Auckland for which I was one of many interviewees. It partially arose from the challenge that arises at Wynyard Quarter to meet the 70/30 split for travel patterns that is imposed by the District Plan for development in the area. It also explored the different approaches to streetscape design that are exemplified at Jellicoe Street and Halsey and Daldy Streets – for example – and the streetscape generally favoured by the more traditional Auckland Transport. One of the discussion points of the ARUP consultation related to light rail – and how and when it might be deployed to interconnect Wynyard Qtr with Auckland CBD. It was clear to all that a very short line – that just went Wynyard/CBD would not be worthwhile. Advice to hand suggested that it was necessary to think about this technology in a staged manner. (For example I suggested that if light rail went to Wynyard, it would then be the logical technology for the next harbour tunnel, allowing for a small section, cheaper, tunnel, and enabling connection to Takapuna and beyond. And in the CBD direction, lines could serve Queen Street and Custom St, up Anzac to University etc.)
    More in next comment – sorry….

  22. …. (more)… One of the drivers for this thinking came from Waterfront Auckland that has been keen to see light rail down there as an incentive for future development. An issue arises – which is major in my view – as to where such a line would run. Would it go over Te Whero, would it go along Fanshaw, or is there a middle option with a new bridge? Wellington’s waterfront planners long ago came to the conclusion that fast frequent public transport along its waterfront would damage pedestrian and public space amenity, and ruled long ago that there would be no PT services along its waterfront. Auckland really needs to have the same discussion. Auckland also needs to have an integrated discussion about what happens to PT and public space in Auckland’s CBD. Matt is absolutely right to point out that even with CRL the CBD will be full of buses – and at present trhey are to be shoe-horned into Britomart Precinct and Lower Albert Street. If – now – fast frequent light rail (it needs to be fast and frequent to justify its utility and to provide pax carrying capacity) is to run along Quay Street and up Lower Queen (sold so far as public space – alebit threatened with reduced size because of loss of QE Square) then pedestrian amenity in those parts of the CBD will be highly compromised.

  23. Um … Edinburgh was meant to cost $NZ60m/km or thereabouts, which was unrealistic anyway. The hash made of the utility relocation, amongst other things, then turned it into a project costing $NZ120m/km.

    I almost wonder if the better idea along that corridor would be something I’ve not thought about for a while: a subway. The cost of building the stations, which is the main issue for any underground, could be reduced by putting them in current park areas, or having the line surface at the points where stations would be needed. Then, and then serve them with cross-Isthmus bus links (e.g. Kingsland-Balmoral Rd-Greenlane). The city terminus could be in the Aotea Square carpark, thus putting it to some good use!

    1. But presumably since the utility relocation won’t be needed as those roads had tramlines down them for many years so those utilities won’t be under the LRT lines which I assume will run the same part of the road way (down the middle)?

      As for Edinburgh, yes, everyone has read about that, but its not the experience of most other LRT rollouts in Europe and elsewhere –
      Take a look at Manchesters LRT system for a recent successful example – and thats not been “the disaster” Edinburgh was. So has not had the “newsworthyness” Edinburgh has.
      Also, every one needs a “Example” of how not to do something, and Edinburgh is surely that for LRT, brings to mind that Demotivational Poster about mistakes:

      See – “It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.” Sounds the case for Edinburgh LRT.

      As for a subway, not sure we need to go that far (yet), LRT can take us a long long way, for a lot less cost. And do we need to gold plate this part of town with a subway, when other parts of town need improving too. Certainly CRL is expensive to build for the KM built – but the actual tunnelling is quite cheap, the tunnel fit out and station building is the big expense.
      And with a subway as you propose the Station fit-out costs will dwarf any tunneling costs.

      1. The tram tracks were lifted 50 years ago. What makes you think that there has been no new utilities installed in the last 50 years? Telephone has certainly made huge strides since the 1950s, and this alone will have led to much digging of the road corridor.

  24. Who comes up with these stupid ideas. It doesn’t matter what you do, you are not going to get the majority of people out of their cars. Do these people who are all for this know what road rules have to be changed to allow trams and motor vehicles on the same road. Just drive in Melbourne and you soon find out how very different things become like turning right from the extreme left of the road. You only need a prang between a tram and car to block up the whole system as the tram can’t move to the side of the road while the accident is investigated. Sort the 2nd harbour crossing first before playing with more train sets.

    1. Hook turns aren’t a requirement due to trams are they? I thought that was just a weird Melbourne thing unrelated to trams…
      Why do we need a second harbour crossing? My North Shore colleges tell me the bridge is often the least congested part of the motorway network.
      If you don’t think PT can help ease congestion, maybe AT should shut down all buses and trains and ferries for a week and see how your commute goes then! Almost 50% of commutes to the city are PT.

    2. “You only need a prang between a tram and car to block up the whole system as the tram can’t move to the side of the road while the accident is investigated”

      And that never, ever, ever, ever happens for car v car or car v truck, or motorcycle v truck on the motorways and roads now?
      Yeah Right! Seems to recall major problems with the motorways due to trucks and such having prangs, that ended up closing the motorway down for the best part of a day.
      Most recent one being on Sunday.

      And in any case, the LRT lines will come in pairs and would support full bi-directional running on eahc line, so while a prang might hold up 1 LRT vehicle involved with the prang all the other LRTs will just use the other track to get past the prang.

      And no this isn’t about getting all the people out of their cars, but getting the current and future bus passengers to where they want to go and also getting the (smelly diesel) buses out of the CBD and surrounds.

      And once some of those car drivers see the LRT getting into town quicker than they can then they might change their minds. But that snot required to make this a success.

      Sounds a better bet than that tunnel for yet more cars you mention – and how will all those cars get to from the new tunnel? The existing motorways? But they’re already jammed to the gunwhales each AM and PM with cars, so the 3 lanes each way tunnel will sit there not actually helping solve the problem. Yet cost over $5B rto build and will need a toll on it and the existing bridge too to help pay for it.

      Get real Brian, and get a Brain.

      1. Ah yes, Skypath. Maybe we should start talking about a third harbour crossing then!

        A tunnel is indeed needed for the Shore to integrate our public transport – it only needs to be a simple LRT tunnel that surfaces at Akoranga, then splits east onto Taharoto, East Coast and Lake Roads and west onto Onewa and Glenfield Roads. These are all nice wide arterial roads just waiting for an upgrade that are in some cases being used as carparks.

        So many roads in Auckland could be upgraded in this way. Dominion Rd, Gt South Rd, Te Atatu Rd, Ti Rakau Dr, Tamaki Dr especially. I think the idea has much merit – in fact the only part I disagree with is AT’s identification of the ‘triangle void’ area as being a priority.

      2. Come to Melbourne and see the joys of 1. trams sharing road space with cars (there are now calls for removing lines from parts of the city because of the chaos caused by trams) and 2. the chaos that eventuates from a single tram failure or a prang. Seriously, it’s hell. At least a bus can be moved. At a minimum, you get 30 minutes of frozen network in Melbourne, then flow on effects for 1-2 hours. You don’t get that with buses.

        Also, the numbers thrown around by AT look like a nonsense – trams sharing road space are somehow moving more people at faster speeds than buses doing the same? Garbage.

        This is solely a negotiation exercise by AT – they whack on a ridiculously uneconomic, unaffordable extra that can be negotiated away for what hey really want. Pretty standard practice.

        1. Come to Auckland and see the wonders of the dominion road bus. They stop every 200m where a queue of people line up with their 20 dollar note to give the driver. Even those with hop have to queue through a narrow door at the front of the bus. Halfway through the route they are full and stop picking people up. Just when you think you are close to town, they deviate through a route that adds 10 minutes to the journey. And then they terminate at the top of the city for no real reason leaving most people to walk another 10 minutes to their destination.

        2. Everything you’ve described can be solved by other – some already planned – less expensive solutions. But go ahead and get excited. It’s not going to happen.

      3. So, we’re all aware this is simply a negotiating tactic by AT, right? Ask for something extremely expensive and unrealistic to scare your opposition (central government) into giving you what you really want – funding for the CRL.

        It’s like everyone here has collectively forgotten how hard it’s been to get the billions or so out of Wellington for the CRL. Why do you think they’d be any more keen on something like trams?

        1. ‘Cos its a PPP and the Government likes PPPs silly. Its ideologically wedded to them.

          Secondly a PPP means the CAPEX is not on the Auckland Councils (or AT’s) books, anymore.

          So see how Transmission Gully PPP allows the Government to “magic away” a problem and expense of this project, a PPP as proposed will “magic away” the expense to the Council.

          And provided the PPP is structured right so that the risk is fully privatised and the profit is shared publically/privately whats not to like?

    3. “It doesn’t matter what you do, you are not going to get the majority of people out of their cars.” People are already getting out of their cars and onto public transport – all they need is a fast, reliable service. Case in point: The Northern Busway, Britomart, new electrified trains…build it, make sure it functions well, and people use it.

      “Just drive in Melbourne and you soon find out how very different things become like turning right from the extreme left of the road”. How tragically inept do you think drivers really are? I perform hook turns here in Melbourne all the time, despite having driven most of my life in Auckland. Haven’t been poleaxed once by a tram. You get used to it, in the same way most people got used to the changing of the right hand turn rule and shared spaces in the CBD.

      “Sort the second harbour crossing…” Quite. And make it one of those low opex, high-capacity skytrain type systems.

    4. Hook turns occur at a limited number of interseections in central Melbourne (17, according to the paper at )
      Their purpose is to prevent right turning cars from delaying trams. They work. If the people of Melbourne are smart enough to handle them, I’m sure the people of Auckland will be.

      ‘It doesn’t matter what you do, you are not going to get the majority of people out of their cars’. No, but with supportive policies and investments you may be able to set a trend of reducing car-dependency and increasing public/active transport mode share. The long term trend is what matters and incremental change should be the goal. I guess Auckland now has a 90/10 car/other transport mode share (typical for car-dependent developed nation cities). If that was 80/20 or 70/30 it would be a radical improvement in urban amenity in congested areas and leave more space on the roads for the people who most need to be in their cars.

  25. I understand patronage growth modelling was completed a few years ago on each of these corridors with calculations done on loads and bus vehicle types. Patronage and vehicle requirements will double in 10 years based on the cumulative effect of 7% annual growth. Double Deckers are required in the next few years to prevent excessive congestion around Britomart and midtown. Artics were an option also, but take up too much real estate in CBD.

    Infrastructure changes were required to accommodate the deckers on these corridors, which were tested iby AT and NZ Bus in 2011. I wonder where these discussions got to? Currently AT will not allow deckers due to odd weight constraints set by roading engineers (and to a lesser extent width).

    I believe NZ Bus were occasionally asked by AT to think outside the square with light rail being a potential future option, but this is presumably up to AT to do the pre-work on before presnting options to current and potential operators. Great to see this concept has been brought to the table.

    Will be interesting to see what the costs of variations to a PTOM contract would be if buses were replaced by ligt rail if the winning tenderer signs up for a 12 year contract and purchases buses based on this ‘security’.

    Light rail would be a better long term solution than deckers simply based on delivering patronage growth beyond 2020.

  26. I hope this doesn’t further delay the CRL. Or get pushed as an alternative to the CRL. In many overseas cities it would be quite normal to see light rail projects progressing side-by-side with underground heavy rail. However given New Zealand’s jaundiced attitude to public transport in general, it is hard not to suspect that there must be some catch in relation to this seemingly bold LRT proposal. I would feel more comfortable if the CRL was already well underway.

    1. Agreed. Concerned. We aren’t even doing the basics yet. No completed heavy rail, not a full bus network yet and plans so far not even a full bus lane where possible. Haven’t removed parking or flush medians on arterials. No full protected cycle network or even space for it. All very possible right now and no sign off yet on CRL? Frankly it is all disfunctional and funding reliant on NZTA which isn’t multi-modal and just does 1% tack ons.

  27. I’m super keen on light rail, but this seems like a huge missed opportunity from the Council to really engage with other parts of Auckland. Places like Te Irangi Drive through to Botany and even Howick would be a great character tram loop, but sadly this seems limited to the inner city suburbs. It would be really great if the Council had a ‘Phase II’ of this Light Rail that acknowledged the potential for Light Rail outside of the central city.

    1. Well they do say there are other options after this one. Thing is out east still a lot of improvements that can be made to buses feeding into Panmure.

      1. I hope you’re right. It just seems like being more specific about how this might be an option in other areas of Auckland now might help combat the sort of thinking that gives rise to the argument that the CRL is only good for people who live in the CBD. It might stop people opposing projects that will ultimately benefit from them, even if not straight away – especially considering how AT are supposedly meant to be doing more to encourage buy-in.

      2. But the key thing with Eastern and Western LRT routes is they will terminate well before the CBD at a RTN station (like Panmure for Eastern, and Henderson or New Lynn? for Western).
        So they don’t relieve the current or projected congestion with buses in the CBD and surrounds even when rolled out.

        Yes they are worth doing though. As for why these Isthmus roads for LRT and why now/soon?, well they do pull a lot of bus users along these corridors, so making them LRT will (a) remove buses from the CBD (b) if the business case doesn’t stack up for these heavily used and no doubt very profitable corridors – it won’t stack up anywhere else in Auckland with their longer routes and wider/more dispersed catchment areas.

        And as I said above, I also believe there is (c) firing a shot across NZ Bus’ bow with regards PTOM

        Personally I’m for it, and I think we all should be too – why? well the practicality of it is this:

        Does Auckland want the bus operators to go and buy a whole bunch more diesel powered buses to service their PTOM contracts for the 12-20 years, basically enshrining the current smelly, slow diesel buses we all have today, maybe mixed with some double deckers and maybe some hybrids, running fossil fuels, and at the whims of the likes of the Yanks, and the Middle East countries for how much we pay to fuel them.

        Or do we want to instead, move to the renewable energy powered transport system immune to the ups and down of the oil market, and one which removes the smelly diesel issue from the CBD and environs?

        Even if the LRT option was more expensive than the status quo of buses, I’d take the latter, because I know it will serve us all better in the long run.

        And this is just a start – if we can make it work here in the isthmus, we can then use this success to build out a 21st century tram system, maybe initially each LRT area will be “isolated” from the others but connected to the wider network by the RTN, and longer term the LRT and RTN will run in a complementary fashion to fill in the gaps. [e.g. the say Eastern LRT will run from Panmure to the places where the RTN doesn’t go – like across the isthmus to Onehunga, New Lynn or Mt Roskill RTN station.

        1. You make some good points here Greg. I’m all in favour if we stage all 3 modes appropriately heavy rail, light rail and bus. I guess from my point of view I would like a full scale arterial repriorisation with space for PT,Cycle and Car and with PT it is all done to Class B std. This just needs space,signal tweaks and of course buses. My utter frustration is with that as I know the width is there for all modes to co-exist in most places if we deal to parking and medians.

      1. The eastern “void” is arguably bigger than the central isthmus one.. it’s a vast area and fast growing – in population and size. Buses are far from ideal, even linking with rail at Panmure.. so most people drive. You have to believe trams would entice a fair few more Easties out of their cars. It shouldn’t even be too hard to build.. aren’t some of the roads designed to have light rail?

        1. Yes Te Irirangi is the most obvious. A busway would be more appropriate and cheaper for the time being and the best thing is that it can go as far as the airport if going through Manukau.

        2. It’s not just Te Irangi though – Pakuranga Road all the way through to Howick, the Cascades and Botany are all heavy-volume areas as well. AMETI is all well and good but there’s still a lot of people who are ultimately reliant on cars out there.

        3. TheBigWheel: “The eastern “void” is arguably bigger than the central isthmus one.. it’s a vast area and fast growing – in population and size.”

          Yeah, it says a lot that this solution was only proposed for the central isthmus. Is this an admision by AT that only the AMETI busway will be the solution for the east in the next 30yrs? Or is extension of heavy rail still the ultimate goal?

          Interesting that the long-proposed Avondale-Southdown line – which would all west-south direct trips across the isthmus – wasn’t included as needing the LRT solution. Another one for heavy rail?

  28. This is simply a “nice to have” project for the time being. As others have stated large areas of the Northwest, Southeast as well as Mangere are neglected from public transport. So wouldn’t projects like the NW busway, the busway from Pakuranga to the Airport and other projects as such be more of a priority.

    The CFN has only Dominion rd with light rail so shouldn’t we be sticking to this transformational plan. The CFN sets out a plan that best serves the whole city rather than just the Isthmus,

    1. CFN is (a) not cast in stone and (b) doesn’t propose everything in it be done in one fell swoop – its a 15-30 year plan.

      So there is time to change the CFN as the landscape of Auckland transport changes and also to adjust the staging of whats built next based around whats already been done and working.

      The CFN guys are not the Government, they’re not stuck ideologically in a single fixed mindset of a single design from 30 years ago – no matter how much the rest of the world has changed.
      Unlike The Governments approach with RoNS

      1. Greg you are right there are always room for changes but not even the CFN plan has been adopted and it is superior to any plans so far. If AT did an overall review looking at the CFN plan every 5 years and everyone can see big picture. But at the moment it is one off studies that go round in circles like SMART and now this? If the immediate problem is buses, buy some. If even this network was opened up fully asap there would be a better functioning network. But if the style is nothing until the red tape like AMETI and based on current mode share then why? Show big picture like CFN don’t spend $2m on one off studies you could remark all the arterials with that.

        1. OK read in the herald trams won’t compete with trains and CRL still no1 priority.. relief. I don’t disagree at all next step up from bus. AT don’t just show a 10yr plan show every 5 years like the CFN. How does this all knit together visually. I note even discussion about possibility NW by motorway , North Shore and a link to Botany.

      2. Yes you are right but I’m simply just trying to state that the CFN has other projects that should be prioritised before a project such as this proposed light rail.

        Yes to showing support for it in principle, but No to it being brought forward before the NW busway and Eastern-Manukau busway.


        1. NW Busway is in the hands of NZTA not AT, so perhaps go ask them when they’ll build it and come back when you have an answer?

          Eastern-Manukau busway is (we are told by AT) dependent on the Reeves Road Flyover being built to take pressure off the Ti Raku/Pakuranga Highway.
          So that they can build the Pakuranga Bus Interchange, again AT control the timing,sequencing and purse strings here.

          Agree any PT prioritisation takes precedence, but if AT can do a PPP for LRT and not impact (delay) these other projects (at least the ones it controls) then who is the actual loser here so wouldn’t you let LRT go ahead?

        2. NW busway is an AT project and of far higher importance than isthmus LRT. Unless you live in the isthmus.

        3. I firmly believe the reeves road flyover would not be necessary if standard class b bus lanes are installed immediately on both Pakuranga Rd (easy), Botany Rd, Ti Rakau Dr also. Do the 2030 CFN plan right now. This is just holding back the tide and creating a gigantic bubble. Resource appropriately so a 3min frequency. Panmure Station, stand by for a tsunami.

    2. Those places will get better bus services, and if they ever get the take up that the isthmus has (I think its something like a full bus every 3 minutes down Dominion road at peak), then they might be considered for trams or busways.
      If there is a choice between providing everywhere with pretty average PT, or providing some places with good PT and others without, I think the second options works best. People can choose whether they want to live near the good PT or live in the car focused sprawl.

      1. Wow is that really the perspective you’re taking? I’m vying for excellent public transport for all not just those of the isthmus. We all pay rates so it is only fair we all get a fair share. This isn’t an Auckland City takeover, this is Auckland from Bombay to Kaipara.

        1. Yes but some areas are better suited to good PT than others. Are you saying the isthmus can’t have light rail unless every area gets it? I barely use the harbour bridge or any motorway, how fair is that? The council probably spend less per capita on transport in the central isthmus than anywhere else.

      2. “If there is a choice between providing everywhere with pretty average PT, or providing some places with good PT and others without, I think the second options works best.”

        And of course a refund will go to those places who are paying millions in rates for PT but not receiving it, yes?

      3. Both BrandonU and DaveB,
        Wake up guys, AT can’t do everything for everybody all at once.
        Stuff has to happen in a order over many years.

        Just because you don’t like the order of things doesn’t mean you get a refund as a result.

        And you have to start somewhere, if we are to EVER have LRT in our future, somewhere has to be the first to get it, just like somewhere had to be the first to get Fibre rolled out.
        Did you expect a reduction on your Spark/Telecom Phone Bill just because you didn’t get Fibre on day 1 in 2009?

        And if LRT business case doesn’t stack up here, it won’t stack up anywhere else, so don’t think you’re missing out ‘cos someone else isn’t – **this is not a zero sum game**

        1. Well the biggest issue is funding right? If you can get the trams for free then go ahead but that’s unlikely to happen. We should restrain from throwing money at “nice to have” projects that can be pushed further down the priority list. We can only afford to do so much as of now, so lets put it towards more effective and connected projects in poorly served areas.

          Yes things have to happen before things can be built like the CRL before rail to shore or airport, but that doesn’t mean building something else instead. We got money issues people, we need to prioritise.

        2. AT don’t seem to think so, based on their comments, lets see the numbers and make the call.
          Bearing in mind its not you or I who will vote for it – it will be the Auckland Councillors.
          And voting “for it” doesn’t mean its going to happen, just that its in the possibles for the next 3 years.

          I’d prefer that if this does stack up and has limited financial cost to AT/AC, then why not do it?
          Especially if the alternative is locking in decades more of 20th century technology diesel buses in the Transport fleet, which is the outcome we’re facing before this came to the table.

        3. i think you are missing one other aspect of this, whilst the West is not getting improved PT services it still has congestion so what we are getting is widening of our arterials for cars. This is just going to lead to more induced demand and people saying the West does not warrant PT as they are not using the poor service offered.

        4. I really can’t believe not a current busway being constructed on NW. 2 lanes for heaven sake. What is that 7m plus a 0.5m wide barrier. No chance to correct the mode imbalance. But how many car lanes? Supply for anything but the sustainable mode that will reduce congestion. Northern Busway proven 150% beating all projections. Car isn’t the 100% answer, yes allow for it, but put it in it’s real place capacity wise. It was good to see a board with am peak modes now coming into CBD today at the anniversary celebrations.I think car was 41%. So shouldn’t all arterials, motorways be designed for something similar or less?

        5. All I can say is looking back at the old tram photos in CBD and all the people around. Fantastic 8m wide photos by the way standing about 3m high in black and white. Our potential to take a few steps back to then but with better technology, suited to the areas concerned, but not to lose sight of the person and the place. I really hope businesses saw the difference back in our past,and a lot of people enjoying it down there today. Pedestrians to the fore in our waterfront and main street bring it on and great for business too.

        6. Fair to say we have cocked up quite a few things up since some of those old photos. Also interesting was a time lapse harbour view since 1840 at the cloud and lots of other things. How do we rebound from here? This reintroduction of trams on some old routes, sounds good. The key thing is detail are they running in own corridor and are we putting cars in one lane each way only, removing parking and flush medians for protected cycle and on Queen St no lane for cars or cycle. Also the whole arterial network are we going to remark so 11m is protected cycle and 2 bus lanes if it can fit with 6.5m for car/truck ie one lane each way. And how do we get a bus fleet under control do we have to buy some like now so the whole fleet is fully maximised using it’s own lane for a major change to speed and capacity, plus new for customer comfort as patronage will soon explode if we did this citywide.

        7. You’re preaching to the choir man, we know all this stuff. But you gotta start somewhere when you do LRT.
          AT has decided to go with LRT down the roads that used to run trams on them, makes sense – they were designed to be wide enough to handle them.
          It also is a set of routes that will have a high benefit to cost ratio so a good fit for a PPP which is what AT say this will be.

          LRT is not the solution to every congestion problem, for the NW a dedicated Busway is the way to go, we know this. AT knows this, and NZTA knows this, but its not top priority in the LTP so has to wait.
          If of course NZTA wanted to it could stump up the dollars tomorrow for it – but they’re not allowed to do Bus Priority like that by their political masters in Wellington.

        8. Political masters in Wellington time to feel an upper cut. Len tell them your putting a $50 daily property rates on all car parks in Auckland. Either way you will have a lane for buses on the north western, actually everywhere and congestion gone. The government doesn’t actually hold all the arsenal.

        9. We can fix the balance the road space way and natural selection when both networks fully up or the cost of car parking way. The first way will hurt the public/drivers less. But if the government doesn’t play ball I see no option but cost control to change demand immediately and this would fund all PT and cycle works anyway without government share. Status quo isn’t an option anymore.

        10. So these LRT routes have a very high benefit-cost ratio and a guaranteed high return to the funders. An easy business case. Why the hell are we giving half this guaranteed profit to private enterprise. I could say the same about the bus fleet. If bus / light rail is going to jump to be greater than 30% mode share like CBD, what the hell are we doing? We can afford this capital investment if we do it smart. Get the buses (a 75% or 750 buses new fleet hybrid equivalent is only $450m, I doubt initially we need 100% if they have own lane, open up arterials via roadmarking as we get them. Higher patronage and instant up resourcing as we turn the tap. More incoming fares. Put 20% income to constant fleet upgrades which initially would be light rail. We will need flexible, smart diversions while we put the tracks in. Both ways we are cleaning up our act fleet wise, and totally new and top of the road network chain with superior speed to car or at least on par when you have stops.

        11. And no I don’t think they need a depot. A full bus lane on all arterials is a lot of parking space. The whole fleet should be working 2 shifts anyway 6 am to 10pm. Then drop it down to 10 to 20%. Sure allow for security that is it and a dedicated garage somewhere.

      4. This is such an appalling blinkered middle class view of the world I don’t even understand how someone on this blog can hold it. The world has changed. You work where you can find a job and you live where you can afford to pay the rent or buy a house. The fantasy that you can simply move closer to work or anywhere at any time is simply that – a fantasy.

        1. But there simply isn’t the money for everyone to have good PT. Do we really want to live in a city where the only PT options are buses and a few train stations dotted around, just so its fair?
          It makes sense to provide really good PT options to some places, and those that gravitate towards PT will try and live in those places. It won’t be just the isthmus by any means, there are also plenty of train stations around, the northern busway, etc.
          When my wife and I chose where to live the main criteria was to be as close to the city and good PT as possible. Other people will value other things more, like proximity to beaches, etc.

  29. I think all the arterials should be reprioritised with an ultimate mode share immediately. All of them. Then do the CFN which has an overall city focus. If we want to do more light rail after that or in parallel fine but you need the corridors reallocated before you can do anything anyway and the money.

    1. I’ve just re-read the earlier post on light metro, and it’s still current and still excellent.

      Reading that, your idea of reprioritising all arterials as multi-mode access routes for light metro that can provide public transport improvements all over Auckland is quite compelling. But I can’t help wondering, how much space do our arterials have? Can we really squeeze light metro, buses, cars and bikes into our arterial roads? That said, removing the free car parking would be an ideal first step, and surprisingly few of our arterials have bus lanes.

    2. A two way corridor for bus or tram (7m) car or truck (6.5m) and protected cycle (4m) is 17.5m kerb to kerb. There are definitely a lot of arterials wider than that. I guess I have to measure them.

      1. That’d be useful, if anyone can do it. Does the data exist in an accessible form? I’d love to see a map of all Auckland roads colour coded by kerb-to-kerb width.

  30. If they did go ahead and start to build a light rail network it would be good to have some sort of ‘national standard’ so other cities could piggyback on the deal and some economies of scale might be generated.

  31. Probably more trouble than it is worth, any LR in wellignton is going to be governed by very tight corners and will likely demand narrower cars than what could be run in Auckland/Christchurch.

    A National standard didn’t happen with EMUs, so I doubt it will happen with light rail,

      1. Actually we’re currently spending a lot of money improving the trolleybus overhead in Wellington (eg Seatoun, Karori, Mt Vic, Victoria St), so that when it does get ripped out in a couple of years’ time it will be in the best condition it’s been in for the last 30 years, according to GWRC.

  32. A just-released UN Habitat Report, “Streets as Public Spaces and Drivers of Urban Prosperity” has really opened my mind on all these issues. They point out that vibrant urbanism, walkability and repurposing of street space in the most successful cities in the world has been possible because their street space was considerable to start with. They are expressing alarm that developing countries cities are building up higgledy-piggledy without setting aside street space well in advance, which leads to intractable difficulties with congestion and conflicts on all levels, regardless of whether you are talking about cars OR alternatives!

    Now, it does not surprise me at all to read that Auckland has a problem with the space needed for buses – and Light Rail is not immune to this problem either. The dynamite in the UN Habitat report as far as we are concerned, is that Auckland ranks along with Moscow at the bottom of the chart of cities outside the third world, for its street intensity. They actually provide an interesting discussion of the history of mistakes made in Auckland, that has left Auckland as an outlier on the low side.

    Amsterdam, which is the same overall urban density as Auckland (circa 2500 people per square km) has a city street grid TWO POINT FIVE TIMES as intense as Auckland’s. Even its suburbs have a higher street intensity than Auckland.

    The Bertauds actually calculated Auckland’s density at 2800 people per sq km, so the other figure I am quoting (Demographia) is at the very least confirmed.

    So where we need to start with Auckland, is by demolishing LOTS of buildings to create more space for public circulation, and building “up” the sites that are still left. Without doing that, and trying to turn Auckland into anything like Amsterdam or Manhattan, we are committing functional and economic hara-kiri.

    1. That’s an odd take-out from that report – it’s really about connectivity not simply increasing street space. AKL has plenty of street space, we just fill it with cars, while we don’t have a great record of linking public corridors – eg with walkable links (which is the actual example the report gives for this city). Running around demolishing buildings isn’t a solution to anything.

      1. Odd is very polite. It’s a completely bonkers take on Amsterdam- have you been there? ‘Street intensity’ is indeed rich; lots and lots on narrow un-drivable streets jam packed with buildings. The reverse of demolishing buildings to make wider roads. Such a take could only come from someone who has absolutely no grasp on the economics of cities and a lack of real experience of the urban form of the places he tries to write about.

        1. I am going by data in a UN Report. Perhaps you would like to take up your perception that the report’s findings about Auckland and Amsterdam are wrong, with the authors of it in the UN Habitat Program? The Report’s authors have painstakingly used Google Earth to produce their own measured data (a world first, I believe). What could they have done wrong? This is far too important to just dismiss the bearer of the information with ad hominems. Have you even looked at the report?

          The crammed nature that you see of Amsterdam’s streets may well be because so much of the street space has been repurposed in line with exactly the way people like you want it repurposed. It is just highly important to know if in fact Amsterdam started with far more street space to actually repurpose part of. Possibly their cycleway network is included in the UN calculation, I see no reason it would not be if you read the report, which is transparent in its methodology.

          And as you do say yourself: “lots and lots of narrow streets” – adding up to a lot more intense street network than Auckland. “Crammed with buildings” – er, that is part of the point, isn’t it? Isn’t cramming buildings exactly what the compact city, transit-oriented planning people want? I am just pointing out that having a more intense street network makes this more possible, not less possible. In fact I recall reading something by Colin Clark decades ago (hard to get a more distinguished urban economist than him) where he stated that he believed that street network intensity was a precondition of the success of all the most powerful urban economies. Now this UN Report confirms Clark’s insight with hard data and analysis.

          When I say “knock down buildings”, was it not clear that I meant by way of aiming for higher ultimate density? I don’t think it is called for, for you to accuse me of weakness in understanding how cities work. YOU seem to have not got MY point. And where is the light rail going to go without choking off more important flows of people and goods; not to mention the cycle path network favoured by so many contributors to this site – without demolitions of buildings in the way? The push for repurposing of streets in Wellington and Auckland for bike lanes is madness – motorists are already put-upon enough as it is, and all the concrete data reinforces their reason for anger. Anecdotes told by activists to each other in echo-chamber discussion groups is not data.

          And Auckland scores even WORSE for connectivity than it does for actual intensity of its street network.

        2. As ever it’s your skewed reading of data and others’ analysis that tips your comments into the ludicrous. I am certain that the authors of the UN report would not share your belief that Auckland would be more like Amsterdam by demolishing buildings and adding more driving and parking space. Equally no one who understands the economics of cities would advise such a value and productivity destroying plan.

          Strongly recommend you get on a plane and go to the world’s great cities and see for yourself. The certainties you imagine from reading a screen in quiet Upper Hutt are becoming increasingly unreal.

  33. It became apparent some time back that AT were looking at LRT, when Lester Levy questioned the wisdom of heavy rail to the airport, suggesting LRT might be better suited.

    But where does this leave heavy rail expansion? It sounds to me that LRT is seen as the preferred choice for the North Shore and Airport, and with no interest in expanding the current heavy rail operation further west or south, does this mean an end to heavy rail development in Auckland, other than the CRL? I.e., abandonment of the “Perth Model”?

    1. Well we certainly hope not as that would be to defy what the evidence in Auckland shows us. Rapid Transit is the big success story; rail and the Northern Busway are attracting riders at around 18% pa growth rates right now, and LRT on streets mixed with traffic is not separated Rapid Transit. It will offer a higher quality and higher capacity ride and remove diesel buses form city and suburban streets but it is no substitute over long distances like to the airport.

      AT are saying that this is to ‘fill the void’ between the Western and Onehunga Lines on the isthmus rather than to replace rail anywhere. I am confident that any comparison between extending standard rail and LRT through Mangere to the airport will show significant time advantages for grade separate rail over mixed run LRT so it is unlikely that LRT could servive any thorough analysis.
      Basically we need both systems as they perform different jobs.

    2. Yep I think it’s important that rail to the airport remains heavy rail (or light metro if it were not for the current infrastructure). It’s quite a distance and needs to be high quality to compete with other options and to give Mangare decent transport options.

    3. “does this mean an end to heavy rail development in Auckland, other than the CRL? I.e., abandonment of the “Perth Model”?”

      That’s the interesting question out of all of this. Unless of course that by not proposing LRT for anything other than the central isthmus, AT still sees heavy rail expansion in other areas like the east?

      I think having a CBD-airport line that requires and interchange is ludicrous. Which is what would happen if the Onehunga-Airport extension was to be LRT rather than an extension of the O’ Line.

      I’ve often thought that, long term, light rail would be the answer to a core RTN on the North Shore, so it would make sense to have the eventual harbour rail crossing LRT rather than heavy rail. Once the spine is built, there could be extensions to Takapuna and a west-east line. Though I guess there is no stopping those LRT lines just because the spine (Britomart to north of Albany) is heavy rail.

  34. I wander in an overly saturated network like Auckland, what the real capacity difference is to a bus or a tram in their own lane at peak hour? Is going nowhere vs own lane with priority signal.

    1. Is it capacity or cost as the real driver. The tram I was on in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago had seats for 40 and standing room for another 60 or so. At that rate it’s1.5-2 buses for one drivers wages.

      The driver costs are a big part of the Opex associated with PT so I think cost reduction is part of the reason for pursuing this.

    2. Yes opex cost advantages, cleaner no emissions, emptier road corridors, extra capacity per vehicle that can be added to. What is not to like. Bring it on but let’s open up the gates fully on all arterials first to PT and protected cycle and get 2 x network effects up and running and start mode share correction everywhere so nobody misses out. The lane for PT can be tram or a bus. But do we have a bus fleet ready now to adapt to justify this lane if they had it? I will list arterials that achieve one way lane 14m and two way 17.5m width.

      1. Significantly higher startup and maintenance costs, substantial fare avoidance and lost revenues, significant disruption in the event of mechanical failure/collision, lower potential frequencies due to acquisition and opex costs, diversion of investment away from other forms of PT, less sitting space per service (the latest trams in Melbourne are made for standing) etc etc. why do you think Wellington is pulling out of trolley buses?

        Seriously, pull the blinders off.

        1. And how does Wellingtons Trolley buses in anyway relate to a LRT system other that they both run on electricity?
          No one is proposing to use an fully overhead system like Wellington does for LRT.

          A Bananas and Cucumbers comparison there.

          A “Crash” or breakdown cna be easily handled by bidirectional running on the other track, trains do it all the time. No brainer to build in from day 1.

          As for having to stand, for short run services, standing is fine, ask those on these routes now who have the choice of standing all or part of the way or missing the bus altogether.
          Most will take standing without a second thought. The old trams worked the same way – more standing than sitting. Even the new EMU’s work the same way.

  35. I’d like to see the Dom Rd – Queen St route diverted to connect properly with the future Mt Eden Station redevelopment.
    Possibly the Mt Eden Rd route could divert closer to the platforms, given the planned local road reconfiguration.

  36. My understanding of the new network philosophy is that buses will feed into the RTN. Sandringham, Dominion, Mt Eden and Manukau Rd all have rail stations at their northern ends. Can we not reduce the high number of buses on Symonds St by turning a proportion of buses around at these rail stations? i.e. Is this really a void?

    I find the capacity and speed comparisons difficult to believe. How can a bus be slow than light rail given the same corridor. Most of what I have read on capacity suggests that for the same corridor, bus vs light rail capacities are not anywhere near as different as suggested by the figures quoted.

    It would be interesting to look at the reports that have lead to this proposal. All I can find online is a light press release. Does anyone have a link?

    1. Its not just speed but carrying capacity – a LRT train can carry 2 or more time the number on a double decker for the same “labour cost” (driver).

      That means you need less of them “on the road” to carry the same number at peak times and/or you can carry way more people for the same number of trips.

      As for how a LRT unit will fare better than a bus? if the LRTs run down the same road, and AT get a bylaw change to prioritise the LRT use of the road way then thats better than a bunch of disjointed bus lanes like you have now.

      The other thing is that AT are clearly wanting to do a “end run” around the whole removing of parking and bus lane thing – LRT is a game changer in all sorts of ways, street prioritisation being one of the more obvious and bigger ones.

      1. “As for how a LRT unit will fare better than a bus? if the LRTs run down the same road, and AT get a bylaw change to prioritise the LRT use of the road way then thats better than a bunch of disjointed bus lanes like you have now.”

        That’s an apples and oranges comparison. Prioritisation isn’t predicated on vehicle type. So that can’t be the reason.

        1. Hmm, yes it is valid, with a LRT you need a bylaw to make all LRT lines and trams have automatic rights of way where indicated.

          We have that now for buses [special purpose lanes legislation] so thats needed for LRT for a “like for like operation”.

          But with such a bylaw there no actual need to go and paint stuff on roads like you have with bus lanes – the LRT lines do the marking of the lanes for you, so you get a de-facto “priority lane” out of the LRT lines just through putting them in and a bylaw.

          We used to have that bylaw in the ’50s, so it has precedent.

          Without that LRT can’t work n the same footing.

        2. Wasn’t you point that light rail will result in improved priority? I don’t think painting markings on the corridor is here or there for either option.

        3. LRTs will run down the middle of the road, buses don’t.
          LRTs will stop where they are, not pull in and out of traffic, to let people on and off.

          Those two alone will make LRTs deliver the same or more people door to door than a bus.

          Right now though buses do get intermittent prioritisation via bus lanes, which needs painted lines on road.
          LRT needs nothing ore than a bylaw to achive the same thing.

        4. You are not comparing apples with apples. Buses can run down the middle of the road and they can stop in lane. Those are corridor attributes not vehicle attributes.

        5. Agree. How is a bylaw going to stop cars driving over the track (or even just getting close enough to the track that the driver can get past.

          Separation is the only way and that can be applied to buses too.

          And regarding the comments on driverless trams, impossible unless they have a dedicated track – to dangerous otherwise.

        6. Except AT won’t do that for buses – they won;t put in dedicated busways – hell they wouldn’t put in dedicated bus LANES for ages – the most recent one being the half-arsed one down Fanshawe.
          1st one in some 4 years. And it wasn’t dedicated ROW. The only dedicated ROW bus way in Auckland is the NEX RTN.

          They will (have to) for LRT though – the mode change provokes a mindset change, both in AT and the public.

          Buses could run down the middle of the road and stop and pick up people from the middle of the road – they don’t though do they? And why is that?
          Well the planners consider it simpler to force the buses to the side of the road to do that picking up and letting off there for all sots of reasons gussied up under the guise of “safety”
          But that was never an option for the old trams though, so the trams stopped mid-street, cars went round and people got on and off the trams safely. Evenone coped and worked.
          Look at those old videos of Trams in Auckland – looks like organised chaos, but it worked. and you didn’t see carnage in the streets as a result.

          Basically a LRT will make these existing roads back into the “shared spaces” they once were – people will get the message from that change and adapt. They always have.
          They just needed a reason to. Bus’es can’t do that as they’re part of the problem set for this, not the solution set.

          Yes, its a mode specific thing – no one respects a bus – but they will respect LRT – especially if the alternatives are made clear.

        7. Good comments and interesting concept being floated by AT. In Melbourne of course trams stop in the middle of the road. It is illegal to pass on the inside with a car when the tram is stopped and people are getting on and off. A number of trams have cameras that will record any cars passing on the inside, and they will receive a fine, just as they would from a speed camera.

          I should add that this certainly does hold up traffic……but surely with all these new motorways (especially SH20), its time for a good chunk of that traffic to be encouraged off Queen St, Dominion Road and other areas which will become shared spaces.

        8. Yes and no Swan. Agree in general quality of RoW is way more important than whether wheels are rubber or steel, however on a constrained corridor like Dom Rd it’s not possible to fit BRT so the narrowness and higher capacity of LRT makes a considerable difference. Also this compactness and high capacity makes huge diff at the city end too. As do the zero emissions and opportunities to use its track installation to bank big placemaking wins like the removal of cars from Queen St (of course this could happen with buses too but won’t).

          This is not the case on the North Western which should be getting BRT right now. Both are great technologies and have their right place.

          In general there’s too much obsession with one off capex cost over whole of life cost including Opex, and over value.

        9. Yes buslanes can be added to Dom Rd but not real BRT, and the capacity and head ways of buses without true grade separation and passing lanes at stops does not approach what LRT can in the same corridor. Again, it can on corridors like the NW where there is the width for separate running and stations like the NB has.

        10. And do not ignore the faster acceleration and deceleration that LRT offers over buses.

          This means the time saved at each stop can be recouped easily (both in energy terms and travel time).
          Not needing to pull out of/back into traffic will alone be a huge time saver over a Bus corridor.

          To me this is such an eminently sensible idea by AT you have to wonder where it came from – because past AT thinking has not been anywhere near this clear or direct.

          This project will become Skypath II and yes CRL is still needed, if anything more than ever, but what it also shows that the linking of the CRL Mt Eden station to the LRT lines is needed more than ever.
          And if the Newton station was still on the drawing board Newton would make an ideal LRT/CRL interchange point.

        11. Do we need that capacity on Dom Rd though? Central bus lanes with signal priority will provide pretty decent priority. The problem as stated is capacity in the city and on Symonds St is the issue not on the feeder routes. Hence my question as to why not operate these routes the same as is proposed elsewhere and run them into the RTN and terminate.

          The other question I have about this is: we just had a debate on PT priority for Dom Rd and ended up with a middling result – side bus lanes with conflicts at all the intersections. That level of priority would presumably make LRT a bit wasteful. What has been announced is a vehicle type but nothing about corridor quailty which is the more important part of the equation. Eg what is happening with Newmarket and Khyber Pass? I see they didn’t even draw the line through there. You can say “details” but the corridor questions are more fundamental than the vehicle type questions I would have thought.

        12. Swan that’s what’s so good about this, that Dom rd outcome was expensive bollocks that would be pretty much obsolete by the time it’s finished. This is proper future proofing. And yes the central isthmus has really high bus use now, often constrained by capacity, it’s pretty much all day long, and while higher than elsewhere in the city it still has potential to grow with better service.

          I can only assume that LRT will have centre running, light priority, and fewer stops. This means the end to any parking on the arterial, otherwise that throughput wouldn’t be possible.
          So pleased we aren’t now spending 50 million on a short term upgrade, that we’ed have to revisit in 5 years or whatever. Especially as we have run out of places for buses in the city… LRT is so much more space efficient, we can run fewer of them for the same capacity, and they run on our electrons and don’t belch carcinogens at us….

        13. I hope are right re centre running etc. given ATs appalling record on road space reprioritisation to date, it would be a remarkable turnaround.

          Yes the pollutant and (possible) climate change benefits would be great. I am looking forward to seeing the serious analysis behind this where all such aspects have been considered.

        14. Grade separation is the only element of this that would give trams any conceivable edge in capacity, safety and reliability.

          But then, once you grade separate, if you apply it to buses, you’re suddenly comparing apples with apples and buses get the edge simply because we already have them ands they’re cheaper. The comparative upfront and maintenance costs are enormous. Then you get to comfort (kiss goodbye to sitting down) and fare evasion, not to mention lack of flexibility as trams don’t feed arterial roads, and suddenly it all comes up buses.

        15. And grade separation will be how many more $billions that the projected cost of a LRT solution?

          Plus these roads don’t have the room for grade separation as you suggest.

          As for your other claims of higher maintenance and opex and fare evasion and yada yada yada, got any evidence to that effect, that isn’t rehashing the obvious about the “Edinburghs” LRT/Tram disaster which no other European LRT rollout has had?

    2. Ditto for me. Like the CRL, the justification for the $billion additional investment in light rail is based on the claimed inability of Bus Rapid Transit to provided the needed future capacity on these corridors. This claim needs to be backed up with evidence.

      Also, why not do what many cities (including Wellington) are doing an implement BRT onto these corridors and convert them to light rail when they become everloaded ? That way these areas can get improved service sooner and Auckland ratepayers only have to stump up the big dollars for light rail later.

      1. There is a major flaw in this approach. Once you get the BRT up to capacity, what on earth do you do to transport these people, with priority, while you are building the LRT line down the same route? In my opinion, pick the routes you believe are going to get the patronage you want, and build the mode you think you’ll need. Will save a fortune and a lot of angst in the long run.

  37. Nice to see AT thinking long term but not sure this will be good for cyclists. Many cyclists use bus lanes, where will they put cyclists i hope not on the foot path 🙁

  38. The game changer apart from Class A barriered off improvements being rolled out slowely is actually putting the 3 modes in separate spaces where possible on all main roads. Try $2m for a remark. The main problem is we actually have no plant apart from cars and bikes and no balls to remove parking and flush medians. Both are problems, but a multi modal split can be done right now in a lot of places if we trade those things and one car lane. So get the plant, buses first and start trams on the busiest sections. Balls and our own buses first, trams in the mix if we can.

  39. Hopefully the latest proposals for trams gets somewhere. The big problem is that the tramways will be competing with funding for the CBD and secondly as the installation planned seems to be mainly on the street, putting the tracks in will be very disruptive as in Croydon and Sheffield. USA intstallations of light rail and often been on secondary circular routes and with the two way tramways running on parallel roads so the track only goes in on one side of the road at the time. While I love trams today pure or largely road based systems like Melbournes are extraordinarily rare with most historical systems that survive like Boston, Toronto and San Francisco being underground in the CBD. The British tram systems that survived for a time post war Birmingham, Liverpool, Glasgow, Leeds and Sheffield also had most of there track milage outside the CBD in seperated tram corridors, that was true also in Sydney. Only in Moorhouse Ave in Christchurch did trams have any sort of seperated right of way and the Cashmere- Papanui route was the only NZ line with modern concrete track.
    My own view is the trams should initially be installed running out of Symonds street and the paved street in the CBD where the backpackers ( Nomads) and sport bar are and run down Mt Eden Road , Dominion Rd and to Eden park. THese services currently operate on 4/5 minute intervals and would be economical for trams. A line on one side of Queen street outward bound might be feasible as a quicker route to K road up the hill. Royal Oak to Onehunga is hopelessly congested for trams but the tram routes might be linked to a maintenance terminal near the old Epsom shed in Greenland with putting tracks in the centrelane of Balmoral road highway.
    I acutally think trams would be more useful than the CBD loop.

    1. Road-based systems like Melbourne are not “extraordinarily rare” -they’re common in Europe, and every British system has street running.

    2. Both the CBD loop and Trams will be useless to people making 95%+ of trips in Auckland region and I hope funding is as close to “user pays” and “property owning beneficiaries pay” as possible. There needs to be a law at the national level to this effect. No wealth transfers to the owners of what are already the most valuable sites in the country.

      1. “I hope funding is as close to “user pays” and “property owning beneficiaries pay” as possible. There needs to be a law at the national level to this effect. No wealth transfers to the owners of what are already the most valuable sites in the country.”

        Given this, I assume that you are a dedicated critic of building new motorways and major roads to greenfield sites on the edge of town. After all, these new roads do not (and probably can not) pay their own way and amount to a substantial transfer of public wealth to a small number of land-bankers, developers and farmers.

        1. I suspect that libertarian Phil strongly supports the 1% owning more than half of the worlds wealth.

      2. FFS Phil. It’s not a “loop”. You know this.

        It will completely change the way people get around the city. It will allow 5-minute frequencies on all lines. This means a train from Henderson to New Lynn every 5 minutes. Or Panmure to Aotea. Or Papatoetoe to Manukau.

        It will be the backbone of a transport network which will allow everyone to travel around the region free of congestion. Many millions of journeys every year.

        1. But you know this too. Your ideological blinkers (or your funders, perhaps) stop you from accepting rationality.

          So why don’t you bugger off and do your trolling elsewhere?

      3. What? The CRL benefits all transport users, cars by reducing traffic due to more using PT and less PT on the road in congested areas (new bus network), it benfits connections and frequencies for all rail users and most bus users who will connect with it at interchanges. You should know this by now, get you head out of the sand.

      4. While we are at it, let’s make it mandatory for supermarkets and malls to have user pay parking. Why should I have to subsidise drivers when I walk to the supermarket and cycle to the mall. Perhaps there needs to be a law at the national level to this effect.

        1. Agreed. It might need intervention on every single carpark. If the goverment doesn’t play ball. I think this is actually in our own council’s court. They could just put a line in the sand and say no congestion in 2 years and then apply a rates charge on carparks to suit what is necessary to do that. Fully opening protected cycle and bus network will probably get us there but the focus needs to be direct, ballsy and a global approach which is not happening , I’m sad to say.

  40. This article in Railway Gazette talks about the recent purchase of 39 LRT units for new LRT lines in Turkey earlier this year that work without the need to continuous overhead wires to power the train.
    [They have on board batteries that can go 50km between charges].

    The cost of the 23 or so Km of lines is Euro 230m and the 39 LRT units (5 car Hyundai Rotem units, 200 carrying capacity), are Euro 46m
    These are not some cheap Chinese KamaKuza brand LRT units either – they are top notch LRT units.

    That means if extrapolated to our situation, $NZ1B will be the upper limit as we’d need a similar number of LRT units to cover twice the distance, asusming all 4 main routes are made LRT.
    Especially if the need for overhead catenary wires is removed, the main cost is laying the track down the road.

    The route down Dominion road is about 12km so is comparable to what Turkey are doing here as their longest one is about the same distance.

    These trains will be in service in 2017.

    Sounds like what AT are considering.

    1. Why?
      LRT can use Dom Road as it is, the flyover only used for vehicles not LRT and the proposal doesn’t currently have LRT down New North road to this point so no need to remove the Flyover.

      If and when LRT does get this far, then they can fill in the NNR underpass and make Dom Rd/NNR a “normal” 4 way intersection like say Greenlane and Dom Rd [without the ridiculous number of lanes mind].

  41. The TV news coverage made it very clear the mayor was angry, didn’t know this was coming so was blindsided by this -and very pissed off AT released it the same day as the Long Term Plan which makes no mention of it (the document arrived in our box on Saturday and asks about views on transport but no mention of light rail). It’s confused the heck out of people I know.

    So what exactly is going on because it can be no coincidence AT took over the debate on Friday’s Morning Report with its light rail plan when it was obviously supposed to be the Mayor’s how do we fund CRL day which got lost in the noise?

    This raises bigger crucial issues about the relationship between AT and council. Is AT an arrogant loose cannon which does what it wants and tries to, by underhand tactics and the fact it has its own board and structure, override the overall council policy with its own agenda?

    I have long suspected AT is full of roading engineers (proven by the appalling Western Springs tree bully tactics which Patrick has written so perceptively about- thanks Patrick) and at heart they really only understand roads, hence their enthusiasm for rail that goes on roads.

    Maybe the AT engineers don’t really want CRL to happen and think this is how they can divert the public instead into light rail, for which there appears to be more general enthusiasm from people who don’t use and understand the need for trains they never use. This long weekend, I am shocked how many people over the BBQs and beach parties who pay just scant attention to the news tell me they assume the CRL is being ditched and it’s light rail instead as it is also going to go around the CBD.

    Can AT be this cunning end evil?

    Avoid the spin. Dig deeper for us please Transport Blog.

    1. A few comments – AT have been working on it for a while but if they want any chance to do anything about it then they had to mention it in the RLTP or it would be a three year wait by which time a lot of other stuff would/could have happened which limit the idea. If it wasn’t for that then I suspect AT would have held off saying anything for a while.

      Yes Len was clearly angry and yes this is a case of AT doing it’s own thing to a degree but in many ways it’s actually them responding to the challenge the council have set them. Council want more PT use and a better city centre so this is part of AT’s response to that. We’ve also been quite critical of the council for the way they include projects for political purposes e.g. Penlink so in some was it’s better that AT come up with solutions rather than the politicians.

      Not too sure this has anything to do with road engineers given what I’ve heard

      Yes AT do really want the CRL and have been pointing out that this is not a replacement for CRL but to complement it. I actually thought the Herald and Radio NZ did a good job to highlight that but AT probably need to keep saying it loudly. End of the day CRL is starting end of this year with the enabling works.

      Agree on the need to avoid the spin but I’m also aware of some of the details that haven’t been made public which give me more confidence that this is being done for the right reasons

      1. Agree with your comments, prepared to give AT the benefit of the doubt.
        What made me do this was the that Lester Levy fronted it on the Friday AM news bulletins. With good comments about how AT needs to do stuff ahead of the curve – which is what we’ve been pinging them for not doing for ages, so when they finally step up, lets let them have their say and prove their mettle.

        Yes Brown is upset, but thats only ‘cos his thunder for the LTP consultation period opening on Friday was stolen by ATs announcement.

        But both AT and AC have a big job on front of them and its not AT or AC that need the limelight – its both in reality, they are co-dependant. Sooner Brown realises this the better.

        And if we the public can’t have CRL for the next 3-5 years, they need something else concrete to capture their imagination and hang on to as a “future” brighter day.

        Because with CRL about to dig the crap out of Downtown for a bit, the public tolerance for all things CRL related will be tested quickly and for a long period of time by the road works and disruptions in Albert St.

        So the public need another thing to gaze out at/distract them while the surgery is taking part in Downtown.

        And LRT certainly has done that, and thats a good thing too – keeps it on the front page and makes Brown look like he’s doing stuff to promote more PT solutions that he really is.
        And yes, we can have LRT in the 10 year plan if the other crap like Penlink and Reeves Road Flyovers are both binned as they should be.

        And lastly Matt, I know you meant to say that the LRT is a “complement” to CRL not its replacement 🙂

        To me the LRT proposal is like the old Cook St Motorway Off Ramp proposal repurposing for a cycleway aka “A Half-Nelson” – its just so obvious and so great an idea, that the public immediately seizes upon it and won’t let it go.

    2. Hopping. Yes I agree that from the Council’s point of view AT is looking increasingly rogue. However in this case they’ve gone rogue very well from the citizens’ perspective. Back to first principles, analysised the problem and come up with the obvious solution, and, apparently, even how to finance it!

      With the Pohutukawa it is their TEs doing the bidding of the most unreconstructed end of NZTA: Highway Network Operations.

      This independence is designed into their structure. Hide and co intended this only imagining examples of the second kind of ‘rogue’. Never would he have thought they’d be be creative and even radical about upgrades to PT like this scheme. So they’ve gone rogue in terms of the Super City creators too. A happy outcome indeed!

      And this really can in no way be seen to be instead of the CRL, another project that AT are working flat out on. The mayor had better get this and quickly as this is very popular and now the genie is out of the bottle the public are not going to let it go…

  42. It is not AT’s fault that there is not an NW Busway under construction as part of the works. That one lies entirely at the feet of NZTA and its political masters. AT has zero authority to build even a centimetre of tarmac within an NZTA-held motorway designation.

    1. That is actually incorrect. NZTA are building to what previous Auckland bodies asked them for. However, NZTA should have said “nope, what you really need is a busway”

      1. When did NZTA ever say to anyone “that you need a busway” on a motorway?

        – the best they’ll tolerate on their patch is a “shared” lane/shoulder – that is a “lane” that buses can use – that is shared with other users like broken down cars and on and off ramp traffic.

        1. I’m just saying this is not all NZTA’s fault. Here is some info on the 2009 ARTA RPTP:

          Look at the West Auckland RTN route and you’ll see why there is no busway being built. As an aside, people who were involved in this planning have tried to distance themselves from this and some are still well involved in shaping our city’s future.

        2. “As an aside, people who were involved in this planning have tried to distance themselves from this and some are still well involved in shaping our city’s future.”

          I’m sure its way more than *some* of these people are still hanging around – like a dead possum lying on the ground that no one wants to clean up so everyone just skirts around it gingerly, pretending not to notice.

  43. If it improves livability, i.e. helps productivity, equality, makes the city more attractive to invest in, helps to attract and retain the bright talent, attracts more tourists, improves air quality and improves the quality of life of your citizens in general, surely it is worth it.

    You can’t put a price on well being and happiness.

    Done creatively, it could be a great tourist attraction.

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