A presentation from Auckland Transport to the council provides us with a lot more detail about what they’re proposing with Light Rail and how it complements the CRL rather than competes with it.

We’ve covered some of these aspects in other posts before but it’s worth highlighting some of them again. Public transport has been increasing rapidly in the last decade as improvements have been made. This is most evident in the City Centre where since 2001 use of PT has accounted for all the growth in trips to the area – car use actually declined slightly.

CBD Transport Change

There is also a lot more growth that is expected to occur in the area that will drive more travel demand. The City Centre Future Access Study found a combination of the City Rail Link and on street buses was the best way to improve access however more work was needed on the bus aspects. In the presentation AT say:

  • Access crisis into the city centre by 2021 with medium population growth and despite completion of all (pre-CRL) planned transport improvements.
  • Auckland’s growth will outstrip its road capacity and maximising rail is an essential part of an integrated access solution
  • Bus-only investment will meet demand for only a few years and require significant land take for priority lanes and depots

The pre CRL planned improvements includes projects like Rail Electrification, The New Network and bus lane improvements.

As mentioned above a serious issue that AT are finding is that there’s simply not enough room on city streets or in key terminus locations to handle the number of buses that will be needed. AT say more of the same means bumper to bumper cars will be replaced by wall to wall buses. They started the CCFAS 2 project to look at how to address this and the objectives were:

  • Significantly contribute to lifting and shaping Auckland’s economic growth
  • Improve the efficiency and resilience of the transport network of inner Auckland and the city centre
  • Improve transport access into and around the city centre to address current problems and for a rapidly growing Auckland
  • Provide a sustainable transport solution that minimises environmental impacts
  • Contribute positively to a liveable, vibrant and safe city
  • Optimise the potential to implement a feasible solution

CCFAS 2 looked at and included a range of improvements that could be made including double deckers/bendy buses. They say the focus was on was on corridors with significant patronage and/or connections to significant land use. They also say that there was no solution to city centre road congestion identified that doesn’t involve light rail.

In the image below the top graph suggests terminal capacity starts to be exceeded around 2023 and the corridor capacities around 2035. The busiest corridors are the ones from areas not served by the CRL which means the North Shore and the Central Isthmus. I assume the lower graph shows what it would look like with light rail implemented. If I’m reading it right, it suggests AT are looking to have light rail rolled out to Dominion Rd by around 2021, Sandringham Rd around 2023, Manukau Rd in 2032 and Mt Eden Rd 2037.

City Centre Bus Capacity

One of the big advantages of light rail is that it can be much easier and more space efficient to turn a vehicle around.

With the CRL sorting out the constraints on the rail network the map below shows how Light Rail would integrate with other parts of the PT network. I assume the dotted lines are future potential high quality routes and major feeders to the RTN and LRT networks.


The map below indicates how light rail might work in the city centre along with the other buses that will still be there. This also highlights how they would access the Wynyard Quarter meaning that rather than a bridge across the Viaduct it would go via Fanshawe St, presumably sharing a corridor with buses. It also shows that the routes would operate as two pairs, Dominion Rd and Sandringham Rd would join together and travel down Queen St while Mt Eden Rd and Manukau Rd would use Symonds St.

Future City Centre Network

Lastly they list some of the features and benefits of light rail over other options.

LRT Features - Benefits

At this stage there has still not been any further information on just how AT plan to pay for the project.

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  1. How about in the mean time they allow rear loading of city link bus, to get that load time under 30s. At the moment it can take several minutes to load at Britomart.

    1. They couldn’t possibly do that as that might put buses on an equal footing with the light rail they want to promote. The method assumes current system bad, proposed system good. If you loaded both ends the assumed terminal capacity of 425 buses per hour would increase removing the main case for light rail. Similarly they assume you can just make bus stops longer or make a few more.

  2. How does light rail manage inclines? The purpose of my question is could light rail be extended relatively cheaply to the North Shore by an extension from the Wynyard Quarter, over the Harbour Bridge, and along the busway? Or is that a really bad idea?

    1. Not enough of a capacity boost over the busway that exists. Really need Light Metro (think Vancouver Skytrain) or proper heavy rail to get the needed capacity.

    2. Steel wheel on steel rail isn’t great on inclines. There is probably a standard for max incline somewhere via google. How about rack rail on steep parts?

      1. Adhesion-only main-line passenger railways can cope with up to about 7% grade (1 in 14) – eg Bernina Line in Switzerland (Note that this was also the gradient of the Rimutaka Incline which was equipped with the “Fell” system. However diesel railcars were able to climb the grade without using this).

        Urban light rail systems can be significantly steeper than this – e.g. Sheffield Supertram 10% (1 in 10), provided all wheels are powered and equipped with appropriate slip/slide correction. Rack systems can greatly increase gradient-capability but they add a level of complexity and maintenance-liability which it is good to avoid. Auckland could manage fine with an adhesion-only system.

        1. Queen St is the only steep-ish route, and as not turning onto K wouldn’t they need to go under the road at the top to smooth the grade there anyway? Looks not too steep otherwise to me…?

  3. I’m totally behind the CRL, it benefits much of the city.

    Trams though???
    We should never have taken the trams out in the first place, but putting them back in the future sounds like a really expensive idea that doesn’t really benefit many people except those in the isthmus.
    Are they expecting infinite job growth in the CBD? Where are all these jobs or is it just lots of uni students? I thought the whole point of the CRL and the new network was to feed rail which would have the capacity for future CBD growth? Is this no longer the case?

    1. CRL is only good for areas where you can feed rail though, pretty out of the way from Balmoral and stuff.

      Didn’t matt say last week Dominion Rd gets as many people as the northern express bus? What about the other three

    2. I don’t think LRT is any more expensive than any other option would be, and certainly cheaper than say widening the motorway by yet more lanes would be.
      No-one expecting infinite growth anything these days (well except road builders) it seems, but for every new building in the CBD the vast bulk of it is taken up with offices or apartments.
      And the old buildings that those office workers or apartment dwellings came from don’t suddenly disappear, so yes over time the CBD will densify even more.

      And in case you haven’t noticed there is no “rail” where the LRT is running so there are no rail stations nearby to deposit the bus users into before the CBD for most of the the proposed LRT routes.

      And if the resulting journey times of bus/train aren’t quicker than a bus is now, those people will forget the bus and just drive instead, which is the worst outcome.

  4. I would suggest light rail on onewa road as a starter, The shore and Manukau do not seem well served by light rail. Perhaps it is not viable to provide light rail to theses areas???

  5. Not convinced about the proposed Wynyard end of the LRT shown above, suboptimal to use Fanshawe I’d have thought, given the bus and general traffic loads through there, everything likely to snafu. But also if it went direct across the basin as originally planned then it’s future-proofed for extensions along Beaumont St and up College Hill to Ponsonby and beyond one day….? reaches the centre of Wynyard first then turns left towards Vic park. No?

    1. Remember there is an actual busway being designed for Fanshaw and the link to any bus interchange there (NEX) will be very popular. Also, a Fanshaw alignment will run the LRT past Fonterra, Vodafone etc. Presumably, the NEX won’t always run along Fanshaw, being replaced at some time by a tunneled line across the harbour.

      1. Yes according to the AT CRL link site that Patrick put on previous post, Rail connection to Aotea Station, A Wynyard Quarter Station and rail tunnel to North Shore.

  6. Hmm, very interesting, if you look closely at the inner city map, and look at Newmarket, there are a lot of changes there that I can see, including:

    EP Highway buses do a different dog leg via Newmarket (cutting out Gt South/Broadway and going through Newmarket via Remuera Road, which requires a new motorway overbridge between Market Road and St Marks Road, about where the “Dilworth Road” footbridge is now. Once past Newmarket same buses avoid the Grafton Bridge and instead go down Grafton Road and across town to Wynyard via Wellesly St.

    And looks like Buses will be gone from Lower Symonds St (below K’Rd), with a major Bus terminus to be built at Wellesly/Symonds area in the “Learning Quarter”.

    All up looks good, but I think timetables are too slow for the kinds of growth we’re seeing. In part with delays to CRL stations being operational looking more likely (see yesterdays post on the CRL stations), you have to assume that the CRL tunnels will be built and opened sooner than the stations.

    Need details on the funding though.

  7. Greg that’s just the Market Rd bridge. And yes the University is very displeased with buses on Symonds.

    Yes that looks like a big bus station on that prime site over the Grafton Motorway behind the School of Arch. There goes the hope ofr a bike lane under Symonds on Wellesley to connect the Grafton Gully bike SuperHighway to the city…

    It seems to show that LRT and buses are incompatible on Grafton Bridge as the Inner link has gone to Symonds and Khyber….? Himmmm? not so good for Hospital access from inner west, not without a short walk or a change. And would have to have bus lanes on Khyber or Link will be even more stuck in traffic. Like that it turns left towards Parnell though.

    1. Poor map marking then as that road is to the western side of Mt Hobson, not the Eastern side which is where Market Road goes.
      And not sure that thats a better alignment due to the congestion at Market Road/Gt South Road in all directions.

      In some ways a dedicated busway over the motorway at Dilworth makes a lot of sense, so maybe its intentional?

      1. It eases congestion 100% for all who use it…. congestion will always exist unless city fails, the key is to offer alternatives so that participation in it is optional. A range of quality alternatives. Cycling and Transit together are very powerful, cycling as the local and shorter distributor. Cycling SuperHighways; no so much.

        The vast bulk of road traffic, the congesting part, are private vehicles carrying people [or usually person] 77% IIRC, reduce that by 5-10% …. much more functional, efficient, and resilient city

      2. Completing the cycle network could conceivably, as you say, take 5-10% of the people onto bikes. That, then means that the traffic / population growth of anywhere from a few years to a whole decade or more could be “solved” by one single project that is cheaper than many of our many, many other projects. Think of the rates savings if you didn’t have to do any new traffic infrastructure for a decade.

      3. Take away all the parents dropping off and picking up their kids to school makes quite a dent in things just on it’s own let alone other proven potential and health benefits. Ticks all the boxes vs what parking on street and flush medians? Based on demand we should have come about 9 years ago, 1 year after demand change, or even better a balanced approach with unbiased decisions from the start and we wouldn’t be in the shit at all or misallocated so much resources. These dinosaurs are going to need more than guns set at stun!!!! Full take down for misappropriate spending!!!!

        1. It’s not helped when schools are promoting cars by providing carparks and drop off zones and discouarging cycling by removing bike parking (Takapuna Grammar School https://www.facebook.com/groups/bikedevonport/permalink/354133214770353/) or making rules that only 9 year+ are permitted to ride to school AND they must have written permission from their parents AND they must have completed a safety course led by the Police Education officer (Vauxhall Scool, Devonport http://www.vauxhall.school.nz/transport)

        2. The solution is fully seperated cycling and making it safe for kids of all ages and other cyclists. 1m physical protection via solid hedged planters would do it. Change the road layouts make the space, put the protection in and cut in paste best practice intersections from Netherlands or Denmark. All trial designs already done. Dedicated team or preferably 5 teams doing each sector so done evenly citywide, central ,N,S E,W.

        3. Apart from the obvious rapid transit, and bus network, even if we dedicated full remaining resources on cycle until fully up. If we did physical protection and intersections in bulk obviously cheaper when coast is clear width wise and under a full directive. Impacts on cycle safety massive, and removing parents from the traffic grid.

  8. Interesting reading on a few fronts:

    * The timeframes are much longer than I anticipated. Is this about alignment with need or purely cost based? The slides didn’t cover that.
    * The line “No additional rail services can be provided” in 2021 – when the govt currently propose to START building the CRL. Madness.

  9. Idle musings.
    Is there the potential for a bad case of rail exhaustion among politicians and the nattering classes?
    “Why are we doing the CRL, then? Isn’t light rail the same thing, only cheaper?”
    Construction impacts will be a big topic of discussion, whether or not they should be given time frame.
    How about a light-rail-type rubber tyre technology? Need stations and the catenary but right of way is there.
    2037? Nine years between Sandringham and Manukau? That’s a long time to maintain political momentum, and costs go up substantially.
    I think the time frames for CRL are already too long, though I understand it’s a massive project, but that much more so that Waterview?
    End of musings.

    1. I was wondering about rubber tyre. Is it possible these days to create a rubber tyre tram like solution where there is no need do anything to the road to create a new tram line (other than road markings, covered stops, etc)?
      I’m thinking:
      * Tram with rubber wheels
      * Each carriage independently steered electronically
      * Travels through a fixed route using GPS or similar (but can deviate if required)
      * Driver that pulls a stop/go lever, doesn’t steer the vehicle (except if in override mode)
      * Battery powered, the battery pack gets pulled out at the terminus and replaced with a charged one for the next trip.

      If AT spent a billion dollars on developing this kind of solution we could provide light rail like technology around a lot more of Auckland for very little extra cost. And sell it to the rest of the world.

      1. Singapore has a LRT with rubber tyres to make it quieter when passing close to blocks of apartments. They haven’t repeated the experiment.

    2. I believe CRL time frames, can and should be tighter. No1 priority should have all resources at disposal if need be. Tunneling, Stations should be all done in sync with workarounds. The longer we leave it the more we need to accelerate construction.

  10. Will be interesting to see exactly where these light rail lines terminate at the southern end. The map implies the south western motorway (or Avondale-Southdown rail corridor). So will commuters from south of there (e.g. Lynfield, Blockhouse Bay) take a bus and transfer to a tram? I guess once the Roskill spur is done they will transfer to the train. Will these services actually be worse than now (less frequent, required to transfer).

  11. A plan that actually looks clear big scale like the 2030 Congestion Free Network with a few tweaks. An overall solution and focus, finally a starting point!!!!!!!!! Next plan Citywide Seperated Cycling with quicker implementation maximising existing road corridors. Then Citywide Maximised Walking Areas. A new Dawn!!!!!180 degree Scenario!!! Looks great to me, and my kids!!!

  12. Disappointed to see such huge timelines on LRT. I’ll probably be dead before it’s fully rolled out, and even then it’s just to the Central Suburbs. All the inspiring momentum and excitement from AT’s change of tack has gone for me now.

    1. Know what you mean, but this is a rapidly changing scene, the pressures are moving ahead of predictions, things can change very rapidly. We are getting ever closer to the point where it becomes the consensus that investment has to be entirely in the missing modes in Auckland. Not so long ago there was no debate at all. Watch this space, another year of 20% growth on Rapid Transit and CRL will have to be funded. I seriously doubt any major party will contest 2017 without a near term funding promise, and that only means the Nats joining everyone else.

      A lot of dinosaurs are going to be left behind, this is what a period of profound change looks like. Will continue to be a battle, but the direction is all one way.

  13. How are these changes meant to work with the proposed PTOM contracts. it is a major redesign of the network occuring in the middle of some of the contracts (my understanding is they are 6, 9 or 12 years??).

  14. As a starter, has it ever been considered to build a large scale carpark south of K road (where there is already an existing public carpark) with direct access to the motorways so that the first stage of the proposed light rail could run up Queens Street to this facility and remove traffic away from the CBD streets?
    This could give a good purpose to getting this project started and may be allow for the private funding that has been mentioned by AT?

    1. The idea is to improve the connections of the void, and reduce the bus congestion within the city. If anything building a large scale carpark on the outskirt of the CBD will only make congestion on these routes worse.

      1. That might be the ultimate goal but it is still a long way in the future. Getting people to move away from driving directly to the office would surely be the first step to public transport all of the way?

        1. Public transport along this route however is already extremely popular, with the buses struggling to take all passengers, particularly along dominion rd this is more about servicing the demand than encouraging more users, although having a tram system has the benefit of also doing the later.

  15. There will probably be some fine tuning for optimal as we go but at least direction within a degree or 2. Mother ship still heading 180 degrees out and could fully turn also and accelerate full expenditure on missing modes to maximum velocity on own ship and all ships?

  16. I read it as Dominion 2019, Sandringham 2021, Manukau 2030, Mt Eden 2035. These are the years where bus patronage drops in that chart.
    2019 for Dominion seems like quite a short time frame.

  17. Looks like rail to the airport is via Otahuhu or is it light rail. I wonder if it could be built along the harbour edge and avoid the Westfield junction which is a congestion point for trains. We could have a bridge over the freight lines into the Southdown. But then it would bypass Otahuhu station which is meant to be a major hub in the system. Probably better if it went to the airport after Otahuhu station. Then people on the eastern and southern lines could transfer to get onto the airport line. I expect I will be long gone before any airport line is built though.

  18. I believe Tamaki Drive through to St Heliers would be a good route, although not because of capacity constraints. This would be a route that would encourage more PT users aid tourists and provide great access to the city beaches. ATM the only real way off accessing this area during the busy weekends is by car or bike, as the bus service is likely to be held up in traffic and not very frequent as a result. Not saying this is anywhere as important as filling the void, but possibly next off the ranks?

    The major problem is it would be perceived as a subsidy for the rich in many peoples eyes, also possibly difficult to construct…is there enough room for dedicated tramway and dedicated cycleway (not just footpath painted lines)? Would be interesting to see the costs of producing such a line, and the perceived benefits it would provide.

        1. All 4 planned se busway nw busway northern busway onewa rd a route to taka airport route.

          Far higher likely patronage

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