Brian Rudman has an opinion piece in today’s Herald looking at Auckland Transport’s recent light-rail announcement and hoping that the Mayor jumps on board to support the idea a bit more than he has so far.

The mayor is struggling to put together a budget that will accommodate his magnificent obsession, the $2.5 billion underground City Rail Link (CRL), without triggering a ratepayer revolt, so his testiness over Dr Levy’s light rail proposal is understandable.

But if Mr Brown wants to be remembered as the mayor who solved Auckland’s transport congestion problems, he should be embracing the light rail proposal as though it was his idea.

His single-mindedness over the CRL is admirable. Such projects need a 24-hour-a-day champion. But it shouldn’t blind him to the bigger picture – that the heavy rail network, while vital, is only a small part of the city’s overall transport system, and that regardless of how much money is thrown at roads and buses, which the majority of commuters use, increasing congestion will inevitably induce cardiac arrest.

The mayor’s attitude towards the project so far perhaps has more to do with his surprise that Auckland Transport had undertaken such a major piece of work without him knowing the details, as well as the risk that some CRL opponents may jump on light-rail as an alternative to CRL (I explained how they do very different tasks here). However, as there is clearly merit in the proposal, Rudman is right in suggesting that the mayor jump on board – at least in terms of supporting full investigation.

Draft RLTP LRT Routes
The potential Light Rail network?

Rudman also points out that we should not be surprised to see Auckland Transport come up with some big new ideas for how to solve future transport challenges, because the existing/previous plans tend to show things getting worse – regardless of how much extra funding is raised for transport:

This was spelt out in March 2013 when Auckland Transport (AT) revealed its Integrated Transport Programme, with the dire warning that even if the $34 billion allocated to transport in the city’s proposed 30-year plan was spent as planned, the end result would be gridlock.

Worse, AT admitted that even if the city funded the alternative $59 billion gold-plated plan the transport boffins wanted, the outcome would still be dire.

“Even with the fully funded programme,” admitted the report authors, “road congestion levels will deteriorate with volume/capacity ratios exceeding 100 per cent on most of our arterial road network by 2041 and emission levels exceeding current levels”.

It was all self-explanatory. The mayor’s vision of squeezing 700,000 to 1 million people into the compact isthmus city by 2041 was going to put an unsustainable pressure on the roading network. There wouldn’t be room for the extra cars and buses.

The main arterial roads, such as Symonds St and Albert St, would be jammed with buses.

At the time, the mayor refused to see the futility of pursuing this inevitable endgame. He still doesn’t. Instead he appointed a “consensus building group” to select ways of extracting another $12 billion from Aucklanders through fuel taxes or road tolls, to help fund the gold-plated scenario.

The group proposes the inevitable mix of taxes, all of which the Government has indicated it won’t allow. Yet the mayor won’t budge.

Thankfully, AT now acknowledges the flaw in its earlier 30-year plan, and is suggesting a solution employed by liveable cities all around the world. Modern trams.

While we are yet to see all the details of the light-rail project, especially in terms of its cost and the extent to which it resolves future transport challenges, at first blush there is some compelling logic to the scheme in providing high quality PT to a part of Auckland that has huge existing patronage and will never be served by rapid transit.

Is Modern Light Rail coming to Auckland
Is Modern Light Rail coming to Auckland

Perhaps the issue here is more about the ideal timing and priority of light-rail, compared to all the other projects Auckland is planning in the coming years. For example, there is a lot of investment required to enable the new bus network to be successfully implemented, there are huge areas of northwest and southeast Auckland with extremely poor public transport and there is an under-utilised rail network because of the Britomart bottleneck (which CRL resolves).

However, timing and priority issues aside, the mayor should be congratulating Auckland Transport for coming up with new ideas and finally accepting that their previous plans just weren’t adequate to meet Auckland’s transport needs for the next 30 years. Rudman is right in pointing this out.

With Mr Brown hanging his legacy – and his re-election hopes – on fast-tracking the central city rail tunnel, he obviously sees light rail as an unneeded distraction. That ignores the fact that the existing 30-year transport grand plan is designed to fail for the majority of commuters forced to travel by car or bus – even if we could afford to build it.

The light rail proposal is the chance to go back to the drawing board. No one’s suggesting trams should displace the CRL. They’re just a possible missing link in the earlier flawed integrated transport plan.

And while they’re fitting trams into the new model would be a good time to shave the unaffordable $12 billion blowout off the overall budget.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could compare the merits of this light-rail scheme (or the many other important projects on AT’s list) against the marginal state highway projects the government is throwing billions at over the next few years?

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  1. Now this is far better than that tunnel. Problem still sits here to pay for this the rates will go up which again will make it hard for those who are finding it hard to pay there rates now
    Family’s who have kids and pensioners are going to get hit hard with rate rises

    1. It’s not as useful as the CRL – the CRL is needed to make sure Britomart can cope with the inevitable increase of ridership and would effect the entire train network.
      Yet we could have both of these projects for less than half of what central government is spending on useless roads. It could even be within AT’s budget if it was decided to put new roads on hold.

      1. Would be interesting know what you consider ‘useless roads’. Do you really think it is feasible to continue with a two lane goat track between Auckland and Hamilton, for example? I can see the holiday highway being somewhat unnecessary right now, but what else is there that we don’t need?

        I think this tram idea has come about because the government or NZTA want to be seen to invest in some PT in Auckland, but they are ideologically against the CRL.

        1. I just drove that road to Hamilton last week, and I thought the quality was great. When no express way it at least had wire median strips or big clear markings separating on coming traffic. I, subjectively, did find it quite empty of traffic, and did start wandering about the cost benefit ratio’s with so little traffic.

          The first useless road that pops into mind is the Holiday Highway (duplication of SH1 Puhoi to Wellsford), then the upgrades outside MOTAT to GNR. Another potential is the additional Harbour Crossing.
          1. The traffic models are WRONG and hugely over inflated, and have been wrong since before 2007.
          2. Traffic across the current harbour bridge is lower than in 2007 and may not improve much… see point 1 above.
          3. Great North Road will have 19 lanes of tarmac for something hinging on point 1 above. Oh and lots of PT wash to go with it.
          4. Holiday highway D.O.E.S. N.O.T. benefit Northland. It doesn’t go near Northland, is in fact well in Auckland and probably wont get any further than Warkworth. Current traffic counts are lower than Esmond Rd, Takapuna, and we wont be seeing any gold plated motorway there anytime soon. Refer to point 1 above and read up a little on the Australian failed PPP’s for further insight into how traffic modeling is akin to astrology! Operation Life Saver can fix this for a tenth of the cost and then further savings can be spent fixing all the GOAT TRACKS in Northland.,

        2. To useless roads I would add the mega scale works planned for Constellation Dr area where SH18 meets SH1.

        3. Patrick. I have to agree with you. For a start we need to move away from traffic models based on projected car growth. Our solution to congestion is actually a multi-modal one. With protected cycle paths there is available data from oversees. With a free flow bus network we could even just look at our current CBD mode share or even half to be conservative. For both networks and an upgrade to light rail we need to reprioritise our current road corridors with no widening involved in the first instance. For protected two way cycling 3.8m width would be fine. For bus/tram we are talking about converting 2 lanes or if there is surplus paved median space less than that. Looking at oversees data and facts from our northern busway, I am sad to say that my fellow engineers are neglecting their ethics in terms of sustainability and future generations. I am confident congestion could be solved with no widening and a reconfigure of current tarmac width and in months congestion will start to decrease dramatically and keep on decreasing until gone. Any State Highway spending is a complete waste of money and not sustainable or working in the interests of future generations. The best thing Len /Lester/David could do right now is zone adjacent parking off all arterial roads then the coast is clear to maximise the full width which is already built. Adding barriers with planting or 0.8m dia flower pots and upgrading intersections to dutch treatments would get people on their bikes widespread, buses well we need control of them and that is a concern but 1000 buses in free flow is probably the equivalent of 10 times what is happening now.

        4. I agree with your subjective observations of the Waikato Expressway.

          The wire barriers and other safety improvements are welcome. But the divided highways south of Taupiri are vastly overscaled.. I drive to Hamilton regularly but on this section I rarely see even a steady stream of cars in one lane. Much of the time it’s so empty you could drive on the wrong side of the road and no-one would notice. Vast over building. Or building too much too soon. Bypass Ngaruawahia fair enough but why all that tarseal and concrete? Must be decades ahead of demand.

          By contrast the CRL and trams and dozens of other PT and cycling and walking projects in Auckland are badly needed now. Or years ago.

          The whole NZ transport budget is totally out of kilter. Too much roads too much regions.

    2. At least you can target the rates for light rail. Divide the cost by the number of houses with 800m of it and charge them all evenly. Harder to do with a through road or even heavy rail.

      1. So rail and road users don’t get targeted rates but tram users do? Sounds a bit unfair don’t you think?
        Surely it’s about time some transport budget was spent on the central isthmus, billions have already been spent on motorways and rail for the rest of Auckland, all the central isthmus has is some clogged arterial roads and overcrowded buses.

    3. Cool so what your saying is the NZTA should fund the CRL like they have with the Waterview connection and Auckland Transport can concentrate on building a new modern tram network, sounds good to me.

      1. Of course keeping in line with priorities. It would be good to get private funding for light rail so funding for other projects like the Manukau and Otahuhu interchanges can stay on track. These two interchanges are critical to the new bus network being implemented in south Auckland, this will provide better connections to the existing rail line which should see better frequencies post CRL and better patronage.

        (Please take note everyone of the ending paragraphs in this post).

        1. If by privately funded you mean an off balance sheet loan, tied up in a PPP bow and paid off by the Auckland ratepayers over a profitable time period, then yeah; it’s totally privately funded.

        2. Well money has already been set aside for the Dominion rd upgrade but since this project arose it might be held back to go towards LRT. And yes I mean Private Public Partnership, so the extra cost could possibly come from private businesses along the routes who could benefit greatly from having light rail through these corridors.

        3. Be interesting to see how deep pocketed the businesses are along these corridors, but here’s hoping.. Places like the Wynard Quarter strike me as a better bet for business funded PT infrastructure though, banks and large corporates being what they are.

          These LRT lines seem a good project for the proposed Auckland Development CCO to be honest. Fund the thing through property development.

        4. And don’t forget to stack up on CAPEX plus the 20+ years of AT’s substantial OPEX (to NZ Bus or whome ever) for paying them to run a bunch of diesel buses along those roads, adding to the problem of congestion in the CBD and these roads. Thats a lot of money – over 20 years, be surprised if that much short of $500m in todays money – money I hasten to add that AT and its predecessors have been handing over to private bus companies for the last 20 years, and if we do nothing different, we’ll hand that same amount over again in the next 20..

          When you add those two together, you can see that maybe the $1B tag for LRT is not such a pie in the sky idea.

    4. Not better. Different. Without “that tunnel” the investment in Auckland’s heavy rail capacity can never deliver to its full potential. A Lamborghini forever driven in rush-hour traffic along Queen Street.

  2. I think the CRL is essentially a won battle. The issue is not if we will get it but when, although we need to fight to make it happen sooner rather than latter. We need to talk about after the CRL what next. There are 2 (possibly 3) contenders here, for the next big PT project after the CRL: Airport rail, building a light rail network, or North Shore rail. I think North Shore rail will be biggest, but not needed immediately, and the price tag is very (perhaps too) high, plus road builders could use it to agitate for a road crossing too. To me this leaves Airport rail and light rail. We need to examine the merits of both projects carefully. Getting both Airport rail and light rail could be possible, but extremely difficult. And one will probably be needed first.

    1. Duplicating transport options on routes that are already well-served should be the last thing on the list. Extending the NEX I would understand, but rail to the Shore is just pluralism for the sake of it. Maybe when the rest of Auckland has access to dedicated busway services, but not before.

    2. Although I agree with the selection of your candidate projects I’m not convinced on your choice, especially when viewed from the NZTA’s road bias perspective.

      So here’s my 2c worth…

      The next big project on the NZTA’s agenda after their forced contribution to the CRL is the second harbour crossing. Frankly if we’re to turn this investment around and make it more PT friendly then this better aligns to a cross harbour rail only tunnel not a tram network or a rail link to the airport.


  3. Excellent post. The unfortunate thing is that some are seeing light rail as a reason to not proceed with the CRL. Both of course are needed – the CRL to unlock the potential of the rail network, and light rail to significantly increase capacity where we currently use buses. Add on to this the walkways and cycleways we also desperately need to provide transport choice and a highly efficient means to get around our local neighbourhoods.

    But where’s all the money coming from?, I hear you say. Conceptually it’s simple – we have both national and local transport budgets which encompass all of these modes. We just need to divvy it up a bit more intelligently – and that probably means dropping off some roading projects of low economic benefit. I’m also in favour of raising transport funding through usage charges, not just as a means to raise revenue, but also as a way to manage demand. Petrol taxes, congestion charges, parking charges – all need to be reviewed and implemented in as cost-effective a way as possible.

  4. Does the right-angled spur at the southern end of Sandringham Rd impinge on the Avondale-Southdown rail designation? I wouldn’t like a light-rail proposal to be used as an excuse for abandoning a worthwhile heavy-rail project.

    1. id assume light rail would just go down stoddard road, not down the rail designation.
      I think that is just a transport blog guess of where it might go, not an official AT designation

      1. Bingo. I haven’t seen what AT have planned but have just assumed that it would go down Stoddard Rd as for that short extension you pick up a lot of development which is good for patronage.

        1. Except you’re thinking of it as a tram, not as a true RTN line. We could use LRT or Light Metro down SH20 as it would then allow the grade into Onehunga to be a non issue.

        2. My exact thoughts too.

          Which means the idea of LRT to the airport (using an Onehunga to Dom Rd extension of the LRT on/beside SH20) is not such an infeasible idea as it seemed when first mentioned a few months back.

          In many ways LRT “move the goal posts” around a lot – both for buses and for heavy rail, by using/picking up on the best features of both.
          So suddenly the grade from Onehunga to Dom Road which Heavy rail can’t manage can be managed by LRT (or maybe EMUs too?).

          Doesn’t get across the Mangere bridges though as that is the expensive bit.

        3. The SH20 corridor is owned by Kiwirail and intended for freight, not sure they’d quickly give that up for any other form of rail transport.

          As for over Mangere Bridge, my understanding is they are hoping to be able to use the bus lanes that were built as part of the bridge duplication for that to save money. That requires more investigation though. If they can’t do that then it would need a new bridge and the cost difference for Heavy Rail wouldn’t be much. For me Heavy rail is still preferred to the airport as the Onehunga line helps balance out the network and the travel time would be better – my guess being 30-35 minutes for our EMUs vs ~50 minutes for LRT via Dominion Rd

        4. LTR, especially as it will involve sections of mixed running, cannot be speed competitive with conventional rail between the city and the Airport. The rail network, with brand new modern trains is already half way there. A single track bridge under the existing road is all that is needed to maintain reliable 10 min + frequencies through Mangere, to the airport so long as much of the rest of the route is double tracked.

          Running LRT to the distances that our rail network does is only effective if it is grade separate all the way. It is much less about the machine than the quality of the right of way. And these LRT routes are not separate, they will need to have every sort of possible priority through intersections, and probably get sections of free running but will not be able to be as time competitive with the rail network, and matters over longer distance. LRT here are upgrades for bus routes, not replacement for rail.

        5. Patrick from Airport to Onehunga will be grade separated/ROW separated.
          From there mixed running may be needed, but those who need a faster trip could transfer at Onehunga to the EMUs assuming they don’t put Heavy rail south of Onehunga.

          Plenty of cities service the Airport as part of a normal suburban line, so thats not unusual.

          Of course Heavy rail is preferred but thats a decision that needs NZTA, KR and AT to agree who pays for what and when.

          Whereas LRT may cut KR out of the loop. And as they are the indigent sibling these days thats not so bad.

        6. I wasn’t thinking of LRT along SH20 as an Airport Line, more as a crosstown link from Rosebank Rd to Onehunga and link to the proposed LRT lines.

        7. I meant Manukau/Pah Road as LRT route for Onehunga, as it might almost get there, and Onehunga did have trams once, so presumably could again.

          My thinking is maybe build a interim [but workable] solution using LRT, to be replaced longer term when heavy rail gets there and as patronage ramps up.
          Plenty of people would use LRT to get to/from Onehunga via Manukau Road – it was after all a main tram route like Dom Road was.

  5. This “LRT as an alternative to CRL” thing can only be coming from those who know nothing about Auckland’s PT situation, and are effectively arguing that a dollop of money should be spent on any aspect of Auckland’s PT, doesn’t matter what, just in order to pacify those clamouring for more PT.

    But realistically, believing that the proposed LRT could be an alternative to the CRL is like believing that the Holiday Highway could be an alternative to Waterview. Comparing apples with lightbulbs.

  6. Of course it’s Light Rail instead of some buses. Not instead of any trains. The Light Rail routes are all current bus routes. They fill a large gap not covered by the diverging rail lines.

  7. Can’t we just focus on 1 project.
    I get the feeling this light rail is another half arsed copy of the ausies.
    I do like the idea of light rail replacing some bus lines and replicating some of the original tram system.
    But Shouldn’t we just get our standard commuter rail to an international standard. It might take 30 plus years and many 10s of Billion’s.
    But at this stage we will end up with a very staggered pt system in the future, I will have to catch a bus to a train and then a tram to get from A to B maybe the air port for example.
    So y don’t we put a heavy rail plan together including the CRL but air port rail in my mind should of come 1st and maybe upgrade sections of the northern bus way bit by bit to heavy rail standard so when eventually the hole gets dug its all ready.

    1. Theres a very good reason why LRT has to come now – because NZ Bus and the other bus companies are negotiating with AT right now for decade or longer contracts to run buses under the new PTOM model.

      If AT don’t do LRT now to replace those Isthmus buses, it will be delayed for 15 or more years, and we will squander a large chunk of our rate money we give AT each year paying for inadequate bus services, which clog the shit out of the CBD.

      And its not AT saying that – CCFAS says that, don’t know whats CCFAS is? Go read the links above at the top of the page or Google it and read the damn report.
      It and AT makes it real clear, we collectively are going to pay $Bs to run a PT system over the next 20 years, and even with Len’s gold plated version we still end up worse than we are now in the CBD and elsehwere.

      Hardly a solution worth doing is it? Spend all that money and end up worse off.

      Heavy rail has its place but it can’t go everywhere, nor can LRT – both have a place in the PT mix.

      Who cares how many modes you change to and from – I bet when you drive to work each day you go from “foot” to “car” back to “foot” for each journey you make – thats 3 mode switches yet you still drive right?
      People will use whatever modes that work together and work the quickest end to end. Buses and Cars over time will become slower and slower to use to get around.
      A system built just on buses or just on trains won’t work as well as system that uses all Pt and active modes together, efficiently.

      Lastly no point doing LRT on the shore yet – it can’t cross the bridge (it could if NZTA let it – each LRT train is only as heavy as a fully loaded container truck).
      So currently needs a tunnel to do so. When the tunnel is being built North shore busway can upgrade to LRT at same time.

      Meantime buses can do the job well.

      1. Re “Len’s gold plated version” it’s his excessive road building plans that are gold plated not the PT programme, with or without trams.

    2. Buses are great till they aren’t; which is to say on a number of isthmus routes they becoming too full and too numerous; a great success. LRT simply is the only way to increase capacity on constricted city routes without much higher cost interventions, like tunnelled or elevated systems or a huge amount of property purchase and demolition to make room for a new right of way.

      There is no issue with different technologies in the same city; in fact it is the norm. And this proposal is a sign that AT doing it right; looking at the problem and allowing that analysis to shape the answer without choosing the mode first. Better than the government that simply runs around looking for places to put more state highways, whatever the need. Because it believes that this should always be the answer.

      With this better process different routes and demands are more than likely to lead to different solutions. Ergo.

        1. …thinking like a traffic engineer. Big fat motorways through urban areas take a huge amount of valuable land and leave terrible severance issues, and can only be done if you get most to agree there’s no value there. That lie is over, happily.

        2. Umm, Except for the Onehunga foreshore, where SH18/1 join, and of course, the portals/motorway linkages for the future AWHC “road” tunnel.

          All projects that NZTA insists are needed and is actively planning to shove each one up the arse of the respective Auckland.

        3. Not If I can.prove being negligent for sustainability and neglecting future generations. Actually based on the facts the City of Auckland could sue for damages as well as Code of Ethics investigations.

        4. Depends on where that large scale demolition is, if in the centre or surrounding suburbs then not good but if it’s about large scale demolition of some of our auto dependant sprawl suburbs with them rebuilt as higher density with decent street patterns then that could be a good thing.

        5. Absolutely. Bowl the North Shore and start again;)

          Lester Levy makes a comment into today’s Herald that large scale property purchases are off the table in respect to Light Rail, which is a shame because that seems to be exactly what’s needed.

          If we reimagined Dominion Road for example as a rapid transit spine, complete with greenway for cycling and walking, bordered by midrise apartments. 60 years ago we covered inner city housing with the CMJ and we may need to be equally bold to really make the car alternatives work.

        6. While agree we certainly need to be bold with city making I would argue that the lesson from the CMJ is infact the reverse of what you say above David. The destruction and the severance should not be repeated. The CRL is bold but with an extremely light touch, this is the great advantage of undergrounding. There is no point in improving connection if we destroy the place to achieve it. LRT’s power is capacity, at grade with a narrow footprint. However I do agree that if the people in this area want this investment they are going to have to accept more intensification along the routes to properly justify it.

          Modern LRT or NIMBY values, what do you want Mt Eden/Dom Rd/Balmoral?

        7. I don’t disagree but think the current plans, such as they are , lack the scope that is really required. Something along the lines of the 1940’s Railway Plan, a reimagining of Auckland as it “should” have been.

          Dreams are free though, it will probably take another ring of Auckland and a solid wall of housing from Walkworth to Pokeno before Aucklander’s are ready for that.

  8. I do agree that when using a train most unless u live by a station will need to bus or drive to the nearest station but I Would at least expect a standardized Auckland wide rapid pt system to most main centers.
    I just think they should focus on the greater story.
    And not invest in these odd box projects that might fix the problem in one area but need a completely different system in another.
    Example our motorway system. It was mostly pland in one stage but built over many decades and it is a standardized system. (You can drive your car truck motorbike on all of it no problems) But if they pland for the northern for bikes only and southern for trucks only and western for just cars then you have Auckland’s public transport system.

    1. john you misunderstand how PT works, it is not identical to the private car system. You do not take the vehicle with you where ever you go, that’s the point. The traveller moves on whichever part of the network she wants and is not stuck with only choosing a specific machine, mode, or route. Jumping between a bus, a bike, or a train, works very well so long as each part is a good quality service, frequent, and the connections are easy to find with minimal waiting.

      Like with airlines; what does it matter to you if one leg of your journey is on an Airbus and the next on a Boeing? Ok you’ll answer you’d prefer a direct flight, but heres the thing, in order to serve more people better, a city is much more able to provide a lot of connected routes of quality than even a modest number of direct routes for a smaller part of the population.

      Auckland isn’t there yet but it is improving rapidly to this end, especially with fare integration making transfers easier and cheaper. And many more people are agreeing that it’s worth doing, because we can see the numbers, people are catching the bus to the train etc. Those bus routes and and services certainly need improving as the train services are now improving, but that’s certainly much more possible than ripping out one mode just for the sake of consistency.

    2. Quite wrong John, the system is fully standardised. The western rail line is for people, the northern busway is for people, the Devonport ferry is for people. The bus that connects to the ferry is for people, etc etc. a person can travel on any and all elements of the public transport system.

  9. Light rail would be great to replace some buses. On Symonds St we often see huge queues of 274s and 277s, and never are there five minutes without at least two of each. One light rail/tram to replace several buses would get a fair load off the roads, providing better mass commuter transit. Works well for areas with a large commuter base and no viable land for a heavy rail corridor, which is a fair bit of Auckland due to its spread. Dropping the Trams was too shortsighted (as seems common)

    It is a bit concerning how many seem to see this as a replacement for heavy rail though. Probably the biggest benefit of the CRL is the fact Britomart will have four access lines to the five platforms, which would greatly remove the current bottleneck. In addition, there are some regions which need heavy rail, not light, such as East Tamaki & Highbrook and Mangere & the Airport. In these areas, there is not only a huge daily commute base (to the CBD from Mangere, to/from the airport and from other regions to industrial regions such as Highbrook), but there is also an enormous amount of freight going daily from the port to Highbrook and the airport (ie, industrial and freight hubs) and vice versa. Light rail may help commuters in these places, but heavy rail would be more efficient for handling both commuters and freight, which gets cars, trucks and some buses off the roads. Removing trucks from suburban roads and the motorways would greatly increase safety and decrease traffic and road maintenance. Seeing an alarming number of trucks lately with three containers hanging off the backs going past schools right at speed.

    Long story short: Auckland needs substantial investment in its transport because a lot of short-term and “too much expense for little immediate gain” thinking has left Auckland a “big little city”: a big city with little-city infrastructure. And it’s only going to get worse if nothing is done. It will take a long time, but the argument will just continue if it doesn’t happen ever. Light rail would be good on heavy commuter bus routes where there is no land or need for heavy rail, AND this should be coupled with heavy rail in other regions where land permits, passenger loads are very high and freight loads are required. Buses are good for point-to-point flexible work where loads are insufficient to warrant a mass transit system, but right now they are being used inefficiently (in the main) as a mass-transit hub-and-spoke network, almost all heading to the CBD for connections.

    The government needs to step up and aid public transport in Auckland. Auckland is where much of the government’s income comes from, and if Auckland continuously loses efficiency, so will government income. There is no point trumpeting budget surpluses when your largest city cannot afford to operate, let alone improve, without forever increasing rates in the double digits percentages.

  10. Haha I don’t want to piss you all off lol I often read this blog as I agree Auckland needs to step up in rapid transport.
    the light rail plan will be a great replacement for buses of the more dence Auckland suburbs.
    And there is a risk some will think “stuff the CRL this is better and cheaper” even though it serves completely different suburbs.
    I do live on the shore and bus to work, also I have only used a train 4 times in my life, 3 times in Sydney from airport to town hall and circular quay and last week I tried the new trains on the eastern line.
    And it was great and surprisingly quick.
    But I realize there will need a lot more money spent yet. I found the ride very rough. Maybe its our narrow guage track or just that there was not many people on that train it might need more weight to dampen the old rail track.

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