Ever since it was announced light-rail was being considered to rail to the airport there has been a ton of debate about the merits of it compared to extending our existing rail system. This has only increased in the last week since we launched the Congestion Free Network 2 (CFN). Last week I looked at why we can’t just throw more trains down the CRL, meaning an additional corridor through the city is needed. Today I’m looking at another frequent point of contention, does light-rail have enough capacity.

I think one issue is many people believe light-rail is just modern versions of dinky trams pootling down roads shared with traffic. But light-rail asproposed by Auckland Transport and expanded on by our CFN would have some serious people moving grunt.

So, here are some examples showing what is possible overseas and often it’s not about how heavy your rail is but how you use it.


We’ve talked about Seattle’s Light-Rail before, largely because it is it has so much in common to what is proposed in Auckland. The single, 32.8km long, 16 station line is largely grade separated system but includes a 7km on-street section that is separated from the general traffic lanes by a concrete kerb. It takes their light-rail vehicles just 48 minutes to traverse the line so about the same speed as and length as from Papakura to Britomart.

The important aspect for this post though is the capacity. Using 29m long vehicles, each one is capable of carrying around 200 people. However, multiple vehicles can be coupled together to increase capacity. Two and three unit trains common with the system designed to allow for up to four trains to be joined. Services run every 6 minutes during the peak and 10 minutes off-peak – less frequent than we propose for each of our light-rail lines.

So how does it perform? Well, as of February, this single light-rail line carries more people each year than Auckland’s entire existing rail network. Ridership has grown amazingly rapidly following a couple of extensions to the system last year.


The Dallas system isn’t one we’ve talked about before but relevant in this discussion. The light-rail network there consists of four lines on a largely separated corridors out to the suburbs however they all combine through the city centre on a single dedicated street level corridor. Each line operates with a 15-minute frequency resulting in one through the city centre corridor every 3½-4 minutes. The vehicles are also capable of up to 110km/h which is the same as our current electric trains.

Dallas light-rail vehicles are not going to win any beauty awards – By Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0

The system uses 37m long vehicles (above) capable of carrying about 200 people. Like Seattle, it’s possible to couple couple up to four vehicles together for a single train, although two to three are more common. This length is an element I’ll touch on later in the post. The system carries 30 million trips a year so despite being at street level through the city centre.

Vancouver – Canada Line

Vancouver’s Skytrain network might not be street level light-rail like we’re talking about here but is useful for discussing capacity. The system uses 41m vehicles capable of carrying 300-400 people each. Unlike the systems above, are not coupled together, relying on high frequencies to move up to 15,000 people an hour in each direction. This is of course made easier and cheaper by the system being fully automated. The numbers are impressive with almost 44 million trips made in the year to the end of February.

Light-Rail and the CFN 2

The point of all of this is that the light-rail proposed in the CFN 2 is light in name only. Each of the two lines would be capable of carrying more people every day than our entire rail network does right now.

What’s more it would be possible to get even more capacity out of such a system. Auckland Transport have proposed using up to two-unit, 66m sets capable of carrying about 450 people each. Given the systems above and elsewhere, perhaps the system should be designed to allow for three coupled units. That would further increase capacity and shift the light-rail network close to what the CRL is capable of. Given it’s also many light-rail systems are capable of over 100km/h these light rail vehicles wouldn’t be slow either.

By way of comparison, light-rail with 99m vehicles could have the capacity to deliver up to 32,000 people an hour. That’s not too far off the ultimate capacity of the CRL, capable of delivering up to 36,000 people to the city centre. The proposed light-rail network would have more in common with our rail network than it does with old trams.

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  1. And of course the key point is that this capacity is in addition to the capacity of the current network. So we get two high capacity corridors through the city centre and out to new areas. If we instead build a new line say to the NW to plug into the CRL, it has to use space that can’t be used a train from somewhere else. Or we have to build a second CRL. And maybe that need will arise, but it seems pretty clear that the few tens of thousands of riders coming from new lines can be best and most cost effectively served with a surface corridor in Queen St using this rail technology.

    1. …and of course so would new NW and NS HR be capacity in addition to the existing HR metro network. So a future Queen St, pedestrian focused, no cars, perhaps few service and delivery vehicles maybe time zoned,
      CFN2 proposes a RTN where multiple, not tram-like, longish LR vehicles push through a pedestrian precinct. Great.
      Or would a CBD commuter delivery system based on underground HR stations such as Aotea, Britomart, then perhaps University, Wynyard etc, not look like a better future outcome.

      1. So now instead of attacking Light Rail’s capacity you are now claiming it will ruin place quality? Have you been to Melbourne? Or perhaps, like our current government, you prefer diesel buses in the Queen St valley to modern Light Rail vehicles?

        By all means lobby for fully separate railways everywhere; and continue to enjoy streets clogged with buses, because that’s was you’ll continue to have.

        1. I think that was Bigted did the capacity comparison, I dont argue that point nor do I ever believe diesel based transport should be any future plan for Ak CBD or even burbs.
          I just believe there are many ‘downsides’ to LR in te CDB. We have heard that its an advantage it runs in and at street level but its not a tram, its a high capacity fast running commuter delivery system. I question who wants this in Queen when perhaps a tram like system is needed there as this would fit in better with a future mostly pedestrianized Queen, perhaps even of Linear park design. Moving people around the CBD and somewhat beyond is a good tramlike LR application
          All I am suggesting is take a step back and ask what you want Queen Street to be and does a high capacity commuter delivery LT surface rail system fit well. MHO is that if getting outlier commuters into the CBD is the prime function then get them there via an undergrounded HR system.

        2. Melbourne has a light rail line which runs like the Trams once it goes from its rail route onto inner city streets. ie it goes from faster limited stops to slower more frequent stops

        1. Why ask me that? I’m not a transport planner. This type of response to ideas that get posted here are all too often used to block or try to shut down conversation on mode application for any given route
          I didn’t design/plan/configure the CRL so I feel confident there are at least some competent professionals who could answer your question.

        2. The answer is you have 18tphpd to work with for CRL 24tphpd with upgrades the Western and Southern Lines will need all that capacity adding a NS/NW line doesn’t add capacity it’s takes from South/West if we spilt slots equally each line gets 8tphpd so NW/NS line would have 773 x 8 so 6184 pphpd the LRT would have 500 x 24 assuming 74m CAF Urbos so 12000 pphpd.

          Also if you want Takapuna on NS line would require expensive tunnel deviation or spur if spur you only get 3tphpd to Albany.

          So realistically you need a CRL 2 so that is a few b for that plus a few b for NS line plus a few more b for NW which makes it unaffordable.

          Why LRT works you can build a damn good network at a fraction of the cost.

        3. So I take it if the transport planner said NW LR is the best way to go you would agree with them as they are after all the expert.

          I’m purely interested to get an idea of how NW HR would stack up financially against NW LR. I’m no transport planner either but it is easy to imagine a HR tunnel from the NW would be infinitely more expensive than street running LR.

        4. Harriet, I never suggested a NW or NS HR has to go through the CRL. Wasn’t there a previous transportblog look at a deep Aotea HR platorms to serve a NS HR from AWHC/Wynyard and didnt it then head over to a University underground station?
          I would look sorta logical that this would join into a NW HR so to complete a NS to NW HR route. Then maybe in future close the loop via Hobsonville Greenhithe etc
          Some interconnect between this new HR system and existing would be good to provide a South to North HR without going through CRL

        5. Dgd – I’ve thought about that route as well, the problem is it comes out of the CBD on the eastern side, which is the complete opposite to the NW.

          This would mean an expensive tunnel from Wynyard through to Grafton Gully, which would result in a long arcing route into the CBD for passengers from the NW.

          PS – I sent this before I saw your most recent reply.

        6. Jezza, you are right, it would be more expensive but I think not prohibitively so. Always looking for cheaper solutions nearly always means second rate solutions just as paying peanuts gets monkeys.
          These NW and NS metro systems need properly done now at the design stage, undergrounded HR is the solution obvious to me with minimal environmental impact and certainly not blighting Queen St with a continuous flow of those ugly monstrosities we see in the photo of Dallas LR above.
          Lets have a ped/cycle focused Queen not street space consuming LR stations/[platforms and other LR infrastructure.

        7. It would be prohibitively expensive though since it requires a CRL 2. We don’t have the money for that and even if we did the opportunity costs of building it would be huge every dollar spent is one that can’t on housing, mental health, superfund, education etc.

        8. I imagine a second underground heavy rail route would be pretty close to the original morningside deviation route under the CBC underneath aotea and reappearing near the old Auckland station.

        9. I visited the Gold Coast last year and, of course, had to experience the G Link. The difference an LRT line makes vs cars on a street is virtually indescribable. You really have to experience it for yourself.

    1. Who in governance is in support of HR? I thought council were clearly in support of LR and Central Government is in favour of buses.

      I agree with you though, I don’t think HR to the airport is off the table yet, as we will likely have gone through 2 – 3 changes in government before it is built.

      1. Any Ward that has a rail line through it is one place to start for HR to the Airport. That gives you 9 of the 21 while I have left out 3 (Albert Eden and Tamaki/Maungakiekie) at the moment.

        If the 3 came over and we get one more from the South that would be 13/21 in favour of heavy rail.

        1. Have no idea why South supports HR to Airport since it would be a Northern Connection and the cost would mean Southern PT projects moved back to fund it.

        2. Are you meaning Local Boards? If so I don’t see what relevance the view of a governing body that doesn’t have to pay for the infrastructure has.

        3. Hasnt the transport development and operation been taken off Auckland Council.
          Perhaps you have heard of Auckland Transport ?

    2. And after receiving an update on where we are with the Governing Body my previous comment is rescinded.

      Now then focus to getting at least the Manukau to Airport stretch done so we can capture both east west flows and the current rail network flows

  2. It’s worth underlining that Dallas’ “street level corridor” is not on-street running. It’s a dedicated path parallel to and a short block away from one of the city’s main roads. Which if I read the rest of this article correctly means that none of these examples runs on streets shared with other traffic.

    I’m not sure Auckland’s going to see that level of separation.

      1. Patrick,

        Yes, I’ve used Dallas’ trams in the recent past. Through the city centre they use a dedicated path not shared with anything else. Not shared, for example, with buses.

        I assume the same to be true of the other examples cited.

        To reiterate, I am sceptical of the use of light rail in Auckland because I do not think that degree of separation will actually happen.

    1. As the post points it, Seattle has a 7km on street section separated by kerbs.

      You’re right that none of these are mixed with traffic, and ours isn’t proposed to either. In Queen St it would be a transit mall and on Dominion Rd like the Seattle example and with signal priority at intersections.

      Here’s another example from across the ditch

      1. Those photos hardly reflect what an Auckland LR would look like through the limited width, intensively built up Dom Rd or Queen St. Maybe useful if you propose LR for Chch.

        1. I wonder how dull ones imagination has to be to render them incapable of putting the existing bus lane in the centre of the road on a kerb.


          Here is an implementation within a 20m corridor. 95% of Dominion Road is wider than this.

        2. Yes it is. A lot of Dominion Road is 20.1m (1 chain) so you can have the skinny little footpaths you have shown and an extra 50mm either side. That should keep the residents and shopkeepers happy.

        3. Those skinny little footpaths that are wider than the existing footpaths along most of the road?

      2. The Seattle street looks wider than 30m but less than 40m. The Gold Coast one looks about 25 to 30m. So all you need do is widen Dominion Road by between 5 m and 15m and you can have either option.

        1. The width of Dominion Road won’t be the major issue. I strongly suspect that the locals won’t want light rail to run after 10pm, just simply too noisy!

        2. Dominion Rd is already pretty noisy after 10pm anyway so it wouldn’t make much difference. Assuming they trains are not ringing loud bells or sirens like some in the US appear to do.

        3. Yes, those 8-12 electric LRT vehicles are so much worse than the 100s of petrol and diesel cars currently running there.

  3. Having just spent a few days in Melbourne I agree that a light rail down Queen St is far far preferable than buses or cars, even with their higher frequency.
    Unfortunately we don’t have enough roads in Auckland to fully pedestrianize them. High St should be, and cars should not go down Albert or Queen St.
    Oh, and our linear park.

  4. https://www.luas.ie/routes/
    this light rail system carries 34 million per year, compliments a heavy rail system, runs through a CBD that was laid out in the 18th century and has a population similar to Auckland….and is constructing a light rail extension to the airport, is also trying to ban cars from the CBD, and narrowed its main street from four to two lanes

    1. Yes Luas is a good example. And they currently building a kind of surface CRL right through the historic heart of the city to link their two lines, universities, and heavy rail stations. It will open in December, after four years of work (!) and 380m Euro. Clearly showing the cost advantage that street running has over full separation. Will be transformative.

      Basically LIght Rail, implemented well hits the sweet spot between cost, capacity, and amenity. Is a fine addition to the mix for cities of all sizes and patterns. Complements legacy rail systems well, enables a rebalance to pedestrian prioritised placemaking (but is not a prerequisite to it).

      Together the CRL, Light Rail, and de-car-ing the Queen St valley will enable AKL to compete internationally on urban quality AND better include more of its citizens across the wider city in that success.

    2. That was an interesting read about LUAS, the Dublin light rail system. No doubt ideally suited for a city the shape of Dublin. However, with Auckland layout where there a several pinch points between quite large suburbs and the long south and north regions completely separated by a wide harbour, its not an ideal layout for a star shaped, central area feeding LR metro system.Just IMHO.

      1. The physical shape of Dublin is perfect for LRT. Auckland though, is not? What about all the other, different-shaped cities that are using LRT?

        Having “pinch points” means that you get bottlenecks. To reduce bottlenecks, you either move more people through those areas faster, or you reduce the amount of vehicles that go through those pinch points.

        LRT will do both of those.

  5. The YVR Skytrain is closer to being HR than it is to being LR. It runs on a completely separate elevated track with a live 3rd rail. It basically is like the new London Tube trains. If you want to a build a system like that (as proposed in your original CFN1 then sure as it is a great system) but don’t try to pretend that standard LR vehicles are anything like it especially in a street running setting.

      1. Virtually impossible to upgrade it at a future point as not only would it be expensive to do, it would be incredibly disruptive and the extra capacity etc isn’t big enough to justify upgrading. That is why do it once do it right when it comes to rail (of any kind) is so important.

        1. Not really if planned right

          1) Build platforms future proofed or straight away with longer length so you can run longer LRV’s.
          2) Procure LRV’s that can be extended easily by adding another set onto them.
          3) Have the LRV’s future proofed for ATO signalling upgrade.
          4) Don’t build any non Class A ROW sections on NW/NS other than the CBD surface corridor.

          Then as soon as you build a second CBD tunnel as proposed by Jezza then you have LRT that has all the pros of Light Metro.

        2. Except it isn’t which is what we were talking about. If you are going to go to all that hassle of building that into the design to start with then you might as well go light metro/HR since it will cost pretty much the same by that point.

        3. Except it doesn’t because of staging, it allows you defer spending into the 2050s and beyond saving tons in interest. Not staging also has opportunity costs and may not be affordable in the short run meaning it doesn’t happen.

          Comparing two goods across at different temporal points also requires you to take account of time preference discounts.

        4. The difference between light metro and LRT is basically the former is driverless. So just apply SelTrac driverless operation system to your LRT and you achieve the same. In other words, build a tunnel in the middle at a later date if you really have to, and you’ve achieved the same thing.

    1. Yes I say it’s not the same as street running LRT but I also point out that capacity is not simply about big vehicles but a mix of that and frequency

  6. Yes heaps of capacity with the right setup. Was watching a video from inside the cab of a vehicle on the Californian Gold line yesterday. Quite interesting ride in the different environments. Their units seem quite small and not that fast on dedicated sections. As you approach the big city end it is elevated and the city area is really quite ugly and shows the results of decades of car domination.

    1. Yes Grant, have ridden on the Gold Line many many times and it is an interesting ride. Does the job reasonably well and it has some interesting RoW down back alleyways between houses etc too. Pasadena is quite a nice area but anywhere in LA has parts that are not the friendliest to pedestrians. From memory most of the route is on an old HR route.

  7. It’ll be interesting to see which way the energy goes come September. Buses and roods aren’t the answer and there is no cheap alternative. A heavy rail connection to Airport from Puhunui would involve KiwiRail getting a third mainline. Capacity for the CRL will be maxed out pretty much the day it opens with a train every minute, so Heavy Rail from the airport might not have the capacity.
    Many have pushed for Light Rail via Dominion Road etc and it’s the most expensive but very likely the only workable alternative.
    Re adding extra cars to existing heavy rail or light rail, for more capacity:
    AT have shown their lack of foresight by building Onehunga Station too short for two unit trains. I shudder to think how they’ll stuff up any light or heavy rail between them and Transdev, at the deign stage will they fall into the same penny pinching trap and narrow mindset? I think so, but something anything is better than nothing………….

    1. From Otahuhu onwards there is a choice of 2 tracks to/from CBD with the split via Newmarket or Eastern suburbs. An airport node doesnt really need a high frequency, a quick look at Brisbanes timetable shows trains every 30 min with the peak period every 15min or so. As they would stop at other stations it would be complementary to existing services , not on top of.

      1. Brisbane’s frequency is too low. Anyway no investment of the scale required could possibly be justified with such trivial service and therefore small ridership.
        Any Airport line from the north is a Mangere line with the Airport at the end, not just a dedicated Airport shuttle, so would need to have full Rapid Transit frequency of a minimum 10mins.

        AKL’s little two track system and constrained flat junctions at Newmarket and Britomart is expensive and difficult to crank up to the required frequencies in the centre required to run more branch lines.

        Better to maximise it on a simple pattern on exiting lines and add new capacity to complement it.

        1. You should offer Brisbane airport train operator your free advice.
          The reality is that Brisbane , like Sydney airport stations isnt really used much. When you think about the numbers of people who work there and the travellers it should be in the top 5 stations. But it is what is. Competing against all those airport carparks isnt easy ( and taxpayer funded roads that take them there)

        2. Brisbane is a good example. The airport is just the last station on the end of a line that goes all the way through the CBD and out to the Gold Coast. It’s true, the station at the airport terminal isn’t used very much, and is only one station of many on the line. Will be the same in Auckland, the airport at the end will be just one of a dozen stations on the line, and probably not the busiest.

  8. I notice the diagram for the CFN does not show the long planned HR link from Avondale to Onehunga. Does that mean this is now a dead duck?

    Wouldn’t it still be useful to divert through freight away from Newmarket and the passenger network?

    1. It only makes sense if a National Ports Strategy recommends Marsden and a Govt takes action to upgrade Marsden. Because we don’t have a National Ports Strategy in NZ Avondale-Southdown fell out of scope for the CFN.

    2. The Avondale line has been a dead duck since the Pollen Island port idea died back in the 1970’s. Nobody will ever build it. But that didn’t stop them from forcing Transit NZ to build bigger bridges on the Mt Roskill motorway. We have a system where once land is designated their is no obligation on the requiring authority to justify keeping the designation.

      1. mfwic, NZ has an almost useless system of land designation. The ASL is about the only one I can think of that has actually be preserved. Far more should have been preserved and much earlier (there should be a designation for HR right along the North Shore, out to Botany etc). Land for rail, roads, paths, infrastructure etc should have all been purchased and reserved way back when land costs were next to nothing rather than council/government having to fork over multiple millions to buy land for these projects.

        1. So you are happy to let them blight land the way they have in Mt Roskill for something that nobody has any intention of ever building? If 60 years isn’t enough for you then how long is?

  9. Light rail is seriously needed on Symonds Street. There should be a light rail line from the Mt Eden Rd/Symonds St intersection, all the way to the Law Building at Uni. There should be three stops in between: one, on upper Symonds (around Newton Road), one, around where Langham is currently, and one to serve the Uni. The frequency should be one tram (which can carry 200 people) every 3 minutes from 7am to 9am and 3pm to 6pm, and one tram every 5 minutes in between. Buses will travel to an appropriate tram stop e.g. the 274/277 should terminate just before it turns right into Symonds and then people who need to go into the city can jump on light rail.

    Symonds is a mess right now with all those buses – I’m getting stuck in the bus lanes every morning.

  10. So Light Rail will be neither light nor slow. But we are OK advocating it creating tens more ‘at grade’ crossings with cars/pedestrians, while at the same time lobbying that all HR level crossings need to be removed ‘for safety’.

    1. Yes, vehicles specifically designed for on-street running tend to be far safer at street running than vehicles specifically designed to almost only ever operate in their own corridor.

        1. Yes; light rail typically has far better braking and is going slower through crossings to start with. LRT makes up for the lower speed in street running by maintaining a higher speed on tight alignments and using on street running to avoid time consuming detours to fully grade separated corridors.

        2. She walked out right in front of the train. It doesn’t matter how good your brakes are, nothing would stop in time if she was 1-2 seconds earlier than she was. Also, she had flashing lights and ringing bells to warn her (these will not be present at any of the road intersections on the LR route).

          That train would have been doing about 50km/h entering Mount Eden platform. LR will need to be doing these speeds across intersections if it is to have any chance of meeting the proposed running times to the airport.

        3. No way, the western line doesn’t get to 50 between kingsland and Mt Eden. it would have been doing 20 or less at that point.

        4. Nick R – What makes you think the trains don’t reach at least 50 between Kingsland and Mount Eden? From memory there may be on 40 curve but I am pretty sure they would be doing 50 or even slightly higher coming into this platform.

          Anyway – what is your point? Are you saying that LR will be doing 2.5 faster than the train in that video when it interacts with cars and pedestrians?

        5. What makes me think that is I’ve measured the speeds of the western line with a GPS logger and I can see it is doing 20km/h or less approaching every station. LRT will be about the same speed approaching stops.
          My point is that these vehicles aren’t going nearly as fast as everyone assumes, and LRT will be able to stop quite quickly around stations.

        6. Maybe it was a not in service train in that new article, seemed to be going pretty quick even with braking already I suspect. Wonder if it sounded it’s horn seeing her there? I also wonder why she’s looking the other way, probably everyone yelling to look out.

        7. 20km/h approaching platforms? You might want to check your GPS or increase your sample size! Or reassess your definition of “approach”. Trains usually won’t cross 20km/h until they’re 2/3 of the way down the platform (red lights excepted). Standard procedure is to cross the start of the platform at 50km/h under moderate braking. Exceptions as required to account for speed limits and gradients. The curve speed approaching that pedestrian crossing is 55km/h. It’s usual to approach Mt Eden platform at 45-50km/h from that direction.

  11. Hello AKL Transport Blog.

    I didn’t agree with your line capacity calculations at all, nor do I agree that 32 000 pphd is required to Auckland airport.

    Your blog claims that 66m two unit trams could carry 450 passengers. Therefore one set would carry about 225 passengers.

    So a three set should carry 225 pax x 3 LRVs = 675 passengers.

    Now 32 000 pphd is thrown around. Sorry, but I disagree.

    32 000 pphd divided by 675 passengers per LRV-consist is 47 trams per hour.

    That is a tram every 76.5 seconds. Something that can only be achieved if the trams are crawling along behind each other at very slow speeds.

    A more reasonable figure is a tram every two minutes. (30 trams/hour). That puts it at 22 950 pphd, much lower than the touted “32 000 pphd”.

    A tram that is almost 100m long is a problem on streets as it may block intersections when stopped at traffic lights or when travelling through the CBD. Something like that really should be elevated or underground. And if you have to bear costs like that, you might want to consider using true rail that can plug into the existing rail network rather than re-invent the wheel.

    There is also a bit of emphasis on speed here too (e.g. Dallas tram capable of doing 110 km/hr).

    Tram speed is not determined by vehicle speed when in service. It is determined by stop spacing. The more stops and the closer the stops are, the slower the overall service will be, regardless of the ultimate vehicle speeds. Many cars for example have speedometers that go up to 300 or 400 km/hr, speeds that are illegal and would never be reached or used in normal operation. It is a similar thing here.

    It is therefore highly likely that a tram would carry (225 pax/tram x 2 coupled vehicles x 30 trams/hour) no more than 13 500 passengers per hour under the most ideal “on the ground” conditions.

    This is a pphd figure that can easily be matched by high frequency BRT superbuses carrying 250 passengers/bus and running every 30 seconds, as planned for the Australian city of Brisbane (Brisbane Metro Project).

    Perhaps it is time to stop worshipping light rail and look at things that matter – speed, capacity, stop spacing, level of priority and separation from general traffic, span of hours – all of which can be achieved on almost any mode, be it bus, tram, train, ferry or other.

    1. The Brisbane busway is 26 metres wide at stops, with passing lanes and through lanes plus bus bays. Stops are 80 metres long plus tapers. It would not fit in Queen Street without taking out a row of buildings. Bus lanes without passing lanes at stops will top out around 50 buses per hour, so 3000-4000 pphpd.

      The Brisbane busway was high capacity (now 18,000 pphpd and congested) and also very costly – over $60 million/km, and over $100 million/km for tunnelled sections. That is actually more expensive than the contract prices for the Gold Coast and Canberra LRTs now being built in Australia (both around $60 million/km including depot and rolling stock).

      Also with signal priority surface LRT is faster than surface BRT. This is mainly because boarding capacity of the LRV is higher than the bus (more doors and wider aisles). Plus at 30 LRVs per hour you can still coordinate signals to give them priority, since signals at peak typically run a two minute cycle time. Whereas once bus flows exceed 30 vehicles per hour signal priority for the buses becomes almost impossible, because there is more than one bus arriving per signal cycle.

      I would not suggest that LRT is cheap. But once you look into the details you realise that there is no mass transit solution that is cheap and has high capacity, and acceptable impacts. LRT has the least impact on amenity of the bunch, which I think is the real reason it is increasingly preferred. Most of the French cities that put in LRT in the 80s and 90s have largely abandoned their plans for VAL Metro (heavy rail) systems now. They put in more LRT lines instead, and extend the LRVs to get more capacity.

      1. Sorry, don’t agree with your assessment for the following reasons:

        1. 50 buses per hour x 250 passengers/bus is 12 500 pphd, not 3000 – 4000 you have claimed. This is very close to what the LRT is projected to do, and it is highly likely that Auckland Airport does not require or need that level of line capacity. LRT is likely overkill.

        2. Buses can run express past stations, for example directly from Auckland CBD to the Airport nonstop. Trams cannot do that. That express mode running could see very considerable time savings.

        3. Buses are not fixed to the guideway like trams are. Multiple services could use the route, not just restricted to Airport-CBD.

        4. The Brisbane busway is costly not because it is a busway but because it is a busway *built to Light Rail standards*. You are paying for Priority A ROW. If you choose Priority B ROW the costs will of course be lower.

        5. Boarding capacity is a function of doors, you can have the similar sized doors engineered on to a bus. Indeed, the entire vehicle can be indistinguishable from LRT. Evidence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rdy9_QHZL-0

        A proper transport study starts with frequencies, needed capacity (not absolute maximum possible) and span of hours. It looks at all options, not just the sexy ones, and on this count BRT using superbuses is a viable alternative that is likely much cheaper and faster to implement as the heavy infrastructure (rails) is optional.

        1. Believe me we are aware of this technology, and indeed that the vehicle mode is not the critical determinate of success on a Transit route. As can be seen by the fact that our network includes Rail, Light Rail, Buses, and Ferries.

          Our analysis does not begin with mode but rather the topography, the landuse, the existing right of ways, the network, the route, then finally the mode.

          I find it confirming that we are criticised both by the Heavy Rail and Bus fans for concluding that Light Rail has a role on a couple of routes. We looked very hard at all the trade-offs each technology offers for adding the necessary capacity and reaching unserved areas in our city. And found that in the intersection between Capital Cost, Operating Cost, Capacity, and Place Value, for the Queen St corridor, that Light Rail best hits the sweet spot.

          Vehicles at most at 2min frequencies, sufficient vehicle capacity to make this frequency work to demand (and no it is not primarily about the Airport; only half the LR service goes there) able to switch back, i.e. no need to loop around on city streets, nor need more than one lane in each direction, yet to still work at surface level, to avoid the extreme cost of tunnelling for either rail mode or buses. Also to be socially acceptable in our premier street, which buses at the volume proposed by the Advanced Bus Study will not be (1 per minute each way).

          Perhaps you have not looked at our entire network, and that LR is only a part of it, it is the network that is essential, not the machines, but then each part has to be as optimal as possible too:


          Or indeed the Recent Bus Study?:


          Or that buses are surely the first solution to improving Airport access:


        2. If there are 2 min frequencies on Queen St then that means the frequency on each line is 4 mins.

          I can’t see how this (4 mins, 66m trains) delivers the same capacity as a heavy rail line (5 mins, 144m trains). Maybe I’ve missed something?

        3. “If there are 2 min frequencies on Queen St then that means the frequency on each line is 4 mins.

          I can’t see how this (4 mins, 66m trains) delivers the same capacity as a heavy rail line (5 mins, 144m trains). Maybe I’ve missed something?”

          What you have missed is that all of that HR capacity is stolen from another line. It’s additional coverage with no addition capacity. You’ve also missed that LRT can get more passengers in the same length of train because of reduced cab and traction requirements.

        4. I get that there is no more capacity in the CRL for other lines.

          The gist of this post and others is that these LR lines have similar capacity to HR. I can’t see how a 4 min frequency with a 66m vehicle could match the 5 min frequency with a 144m vehicle as proposed on the Western line.

          There doesn’t appear to be much linear space on an EMU taken up with traction gear.

          What makes an LR cab smaller than a HR cab, they both need to hold one driver?

        5. Jezza I think the close to CRL capacity comes from 99m LRV’s rather than 66m ones. 3 x 33m each with capacity for 230 equals around 690 capacity. A Class AM EMU 6 Car carries about 773 people.

        6. Thanks for the clarification Harriet. I’m still intrigued that a 99m vehicle can have 690 pax (6.97 pax per m) and a 144m vehicle can have 773 (5.37 pax per m). It seems like a big difference, especially when the LR vehicle would have 6 cabs and the HR vehicle would have 4 cabs.

          I also think 99m vehicles in a slow zone like Queen St would be a significant risk of bunching at 2-min frequencies, especially when there are two separate lines running. I suspect when we get to this stage it might have to be tunneled light metro through the CBD anyway.

        7. Me personally the spec I like to use for Auckland LRT to explain to people are the 74m (Operate as a 33m and 44m LRVs that can link) CAF Urbos recently procured for Utrecht which are 100% low floor and carry 500 people which at headways of 2.5m each way (Once NW LRT opens) have a total network capacity of 24000 people which is pretty good considering the costs.

        8. Jezza, the main thing is they are comparing:

          a) Auckland heavy rail EMUs, which have a lot of seating, less standing, and few doors and vestibules.


          b) industry standard light rail, which are usually configured with less seating, lots of standing and two or three times as many doors/vestibules per metre of length.

          So it basically boils down to lots of seats with less capacity and slower boarding vs. fewer seats with heaps of standing and circulation capacity, for a given length.

          Of course you could spec either mode with different seating ratios and door configurations, but thats what we have vs. standard.

        9. Thanks Nick that makes sense now.

          So based on floor space the capacity is significantly lower if we use 66m units at 4 min frequencies per line (compared with 144m trains at 5 min frequencies and still quite a bit lower if we manage to make 99m work.

          These lines will run to Waimauku and Orewa so I think there will need to be a significant amount of seating on them.

          This is not necessarily a problem and does not not mean LR is not the solution but I think it needs to be acknowledged. Also in reality the system needs to be built in a way that allows an upgrade to light metro in the future if needed. We may of course never need that capacity.

        10. Jezza

          1. LR scheme is doubled at the highest demand section Akoranga-K Rd. So high capacity where it’s needed.

          2. LR capacity is in addition to the CRL, and the buses on Wellesley, Albert, Symonds, Customs. So that capacity is a net gain for city, unlike trying to poke same amount of trains through CRL to more places. And more buses on every street.

          3. Queen St has other uses than just as a Transit route. It has to be able to close for parades and protests etc. LR is uniquely able to still run in these conditions because the vehicles are double ended and need no turning. The lines are simply split in two; the North Shore services stop on Customs St and return to the Shore at exactly the same frequency and timetable as usual and the Isthmus and NW ones do the same at the Town Hall. The only thing needed to enable this is a couple of crossovers at these points. Trying to do this with high capacity buses at 1 a minute, finding somewhere for them to turn around…close to impossible in AKL, and incredibly disruptive. And certainly unable to quickly change to if there were some disruption to the route, like a burst watermain or worse…

          So people pouring into the city on the CRL and LR system and the buses particularly on Wellesley and Lower Albert and partying from the sea to Aotea… what’s not to like?

        11. Patrick – I agree with your comments and I think LR is the right solution. However, this post and others have implied we can achieve a similar capacity on a given line with LR than we can with HR running at 5 min frequencies. Previous discussions have talked about 2.5 min frequencies being possible on the airport line for example.

          It would appear that is definitely not the case. That may not be a problem as the NS, NW and airport lines may never need the same capacity as the Western and Southern rail lines. However, it is important any system is future proofed to go driverless in tunnels through the CBD if this did ever happen.

        12. Why are 2.5min headways not possible Jezza? Might require some compromises with traffic but frankly at that level of throughput who cares.
          We run two minute headways on Dominion Road already, FYI.

        13. Patrick’s post at 3:18pm talks about 2 min headways on Queen St, which given there are two lines running through here means there are 4 min headways on each line, one being the airport line.

        14. Ok sure yes I follow you. I would question why you need 2.5 minute headways on the airport line anyway. That’s over 10,000 people an hour. You’d need something like that in the core of the network, but not on the individual line.

        15. Yes Jezza that’s clearly the network design. that’s why there are two branches at each side, frequency and therefore capacity splits. I see 2min freqs and 99m vehicles as the absolute end point. Earlier it would be up to 2.5min freq in the core and 66m vehicles. That’s 5 min freqs on each line outside of the core. But it would surely begin with 10/5 min freq spilt and probably 66m machines, and build from there, lifting frequency and/or vehicle length as required. It’s a trade off.

          Then, ultimately, when both the Rail and Light Rail networks are humming along at top notch, and the remaining buses too, then it is time to look at some mega CrossRail-like, Parisian RER-like, CRL II; running east west under the whole she-bang. But that wouldn’t make any of the current work; CRL and LR, redundant, it’s all accumulative capacity and accumulative access.

          Richness. Fairer access to employment, education, and living.

        16. The reality of constructing a busway pavement for the type of buses you propose is that it comes close to the requirements for LRT anyway. If you don’t build it to that standard the pavement will fail quite quickly resulting in ongoing serviceability and maintenance issues. Therefore there are not significant savings to be had by constructing to a lesser standard. If a lesser standard is constructed then upgrading to LRT would require full reconstruction.

        1. But you need to pay for Class A ROW because otherwise you will have bus bunching issues.

          You also can’t run express buses on Dominion Rd because the bus would just get stuck in the general traffic lane or bunch behind the all-stop service.

        2. How do express buses work now?
          I understand they go directly up Queen St to Dominion Rd and avoid the bottle neck of Symonds St. There are usually enough breaks in traffic for them to pass other buses in the bus lane.
          The safety issue of trams in the centre of road hasnt been adressed. Yes they have islands but you still will get passengers diving through moving traffic. And any prangs with cars will stop the entire line- for how long?
          Auckland drivers arent as careful as a lot of cities with trams

        3. “The safety issue of trams in the centre of road hasnt been adressed.”

          Something that doesn’t exist can’t be addressed.

          “Yes they have islands but you still will get passengers diving through moving traffic.”

          No, you will get passengers crossing at signalised crossings with a few choosing to cross at other points/times as happens with bus stops.

          “And any prangs with cars will stop the entire line- for how long? Auckland drivers aren’t as careful as a lot of cities with trams”

          That’s why we no one is proposing trams in Auckalnd.

        4. “The safety issue of trams in the centre of road hasnt been adressed. Yes they have islands but you still will get passengers diving through moving traffic. ”

          Why will Kiwi’s be more stupid than other places in the world that have LR? Or ped vs vehicles crossings of any sort?

        5. No one is proposing trams ?
          The Dominion Rd proposal ‘light rail’ is very closely related to centre of the road trams

          Auckland drivers ? Well the higher death rate for NZ over say Victoria says differently. People comment about the poor driver courtesy here compared to a lot of other places.

        6. The Mettis system does not have the same capacity as LRT.
          It runs at 3-4 minute frequency, with a capacity of around 5000 passengers per day, less than half the potential LRT capacity. It carries 32,000 passengers per day, whereas some LRTs in Europe and North America carry 80,000+.

          If you look up French PT planning guidelines, in their view surface BRT systems cannot reliably achieve more than 3000-4000 passengers per hour (the higher figure assumes bigger buses, which also take up more kerb space at stops). Surface LRT systems will get 7000 to 12,000 passengers per hour per direction, depending on vehicle size and degree of priority. But generally the surface LRT will have double the capacity of a surface BRT.

          What this blog is discussing about LRT is standard in dozens of (other) countries. If you use Google Scholar, you will find links to many professional conference papers and presentations discussing the relative merit of LRT vs BRT. For example:

          Or read textbooks by Vukan Vuckic, who is probably the pre-eminent authority on public transport planning and engineering in the English speaking world (arguably the top experts all speak French, German or Japanese.)

        7. If every car currently travelling along Dominion Rd in the morning peak took the bus what is the required bus frequency.
          I have seen vehicle traffic count numbers , but Im not sure exactly what they are counting ( both directions?)
          Wouldnt 3000-4000 pass per hour easily take all those travelling this route if cars were banned ?
          Would there really be 7-12k per hour passengers within walking distance of a Dominion Rd stop?

        8. Erm cars can’t take the bus, only people!

          But I think what you mean is how many people drive along Dominion Rd in the morning peak. The answer is much less than the bus already. The figure is about 800 vehicles per hour at full congestion. With the average Auckland occupancy of 1.1 people per vehicle, that is 880 people an hour in cars on Dominion Rd.

          So about ten full double deckers an hour extra would take all the car drivers. That’s in addition to the thirty buses an hour they run already.

        9. Yes you are correct, if the people in the cars took the bus.
          Why then do we need a service that has a capacity up to 10k passengers per hour ?

          AM &PM peak hour volume of vehicles on Dominion RD Top end is just under 2000 ( both ways)

        10. Well the whole line through to Onehunga, Mangere and the airport would need more. Something like 5,000 an hour. And that is only half the network, so the total needs to be about 10,000 where the two lines come together.

  12. I agree with TT’s comments.
    There is a strong focus for Light Rail here on the “greater auckland’ blog with what appears to be me a main argument that Heavy Rail costs to much and using opportunity cost light rail is better because it is cheaper.
    Well I don’t buy that, Light rail may carry enough numbers in the short term but will clog up our streets, create more intersections with trains and people and not carry the same numbers of people eventually.
    Bring back our streets with Queen Street fully pedestrianised , and create a new CRL2 running to the airport and either to the North Shore or out west.
    Do it once, do it right – I believe funds can be found if opportunity cost is used to assess other projects that don’t cut muster and free up money – e.g. East / West Link – if the Government gets on board.
    Light rail makes sense down dominion road / symond street but as a supplement to a growing heavy rail network and not a cheaper alternative.

        1. Except of course there is zero evidence that light rail would be cheaper or better than heavy rail in the cases discussed

        2. Except for the various studies on Dominion Road, SMART, and the North Shore route by professionals in the field (which you admitted you are not) and the enormous international track history of costs for heavy and light rail.

          Why do the mode fetishists always just pretend that the SMART studies don’t exist?

        3. You find the SMART study along withe the various reports from AT NZTA as credible enough to take as gospel?
          Have you looked at the Campaign for better transport’s views and submissions to AT.
          I admit I am no expert but it appears you assign expertise to ‘experts’ with questionable analysis skills.
          Perhaps try widening your myopic views and cease accusing others of mode fetishes.

        4. “You find the SMART study along withe the various reports from AT NZTA as credible enough to take as gospel?”

          No; I find it the best evidence written by the most qualified people, who have spent the most time an drate it several thousand leagues higher than the opinion of people with no experience.

          “Have you looked at the Campaign for better transport’s views and submissions to AT.”

          No; I have repeatedly asked Jon Reeves to link to them, but it seems he is too ashamed to show anyone.

          “I admit I am no expert but it appears you assign expertise to ‘experts’ with [what *you* consider to be] questionable analysis skills.”

          “Perhaps try widening your myopic views and cease accusing others of mode fetishes.”

          You can’t seriously be accusing me of this given your stance?

        5. The money isn’t there though even if you increase taxes and move back all the roading projects.

        6. This is getting old, the constant bleating about money. How does anyone here know there is not enough available?, is that not why we have a Govt? To make decisions about funding transport schemes.
          Or is there a crystal ball I cant see that informs you there will be no money for such a project now, in 10years, 20 years, 30 years, 50 years etc..

        7. We may well have the money to make both of the LRT line from the CFN into heavy rail lines.

          If we have that much money we would be better off to lay four LRT lines instead of the two HR lines you are proposing.

        8. Because I have read ATAP and all the supporting documents. I also have a line by line breakdown of all CAPEX for ATAP including the RDP which was how we came up with the CFN 2.0 budget.

          I know exactly what you can get into D1 2018-2028 because I have a spreadsheet with has all the CAPEX breakdowns and I along with others moved stuff around for hours and hours to try make things work.

          Even after moving all the major roading projects back, assuming Govt funds Warkworth – Wellesford D1 which was outside of ATAP at the full potential 1.9b the figures still don’t have a full network by 2030. (Final parts of network would be finished D2 2028-2038 under ATAP funding levels) Of course the other issue is ATAP has a funding gap of over 4b which also needs to be addressed if we are to fund based on ATAP levels.

          So if we can’t fund easily fund LRT network which uses surface route through the CBD, requires basically zero tunnels (Outside crossing if bridge not elected for) and can handle tight geometry how do you propose we fund a HR extension to Airport, CRL 2, a NS HR Line and NW HR Line.

          I am not criticising if you can make it work and show me your numbers that would be fantastic happy to be wrong.

        9. DGD: fiscal constraints are carefully explained in this YouTube video (one of my favs): https://youtu.be/ETxmCCsMoD0

          They are also considered in detail in the ATAP report; there is something like $40 billion in expenditure over the next few decades, for which there is already a large-ish funding gap based on agreed timelines/plans.

          So my take on the matter is that both central and local government agree that fiscal constraints are binding.

          Value for money matters; get over it.

        10. Just putting it out there Harriet (and the rest of GA), but hypothetically if the government/AC were to magically stump up with $50B or even $100B to be spent in the next 25 years in Auckland what would you like to see built? (I’d imagine that would allow for pretty much gold platted solutions if wanted).
          Might be worth a whole new post?

          For me I would like to see a full HR network
          – North Shore line all the way to Orewa, Another from Westgate through to Constellation (and through to somewhere like Mairangi Bay). CRL2, Airport line loop (Onehunga or Otahuhu -Airport-Puhinui), Manukau-Botany-Mt Wellington, NW line alongside the NW motorway, LR up Queen St and along Dom Rd, 4th Main, ASD line.

        11. Agree, value for money is important for any project. There is nothing I have seen concerning these proposed LR routes that would be better value for money compared to a HR solution’s value for money.
          But do economists and accountants really decide the future RTN for Auckland? Do I really have to believe that fiscal policy for 50 years into the future (concerning RTN) is irrevocably decided in 2016/7?
          So suggesting other alternates is pointless, having a different opinion is meaningless, we the end users of the PT and rates and tax payers should just take what are given and be grateful for LR, EW link etc..

        12. If I had a budget of $50b over a couple of decades I would be building a automated light metro network like Vancouver’s to cover the North Shore, Northwest, upper harbour, Airport and East loops.

          I’d spend some on heavy rail from the city south, primarily to create an express path for intercity trains through to Britomart, which I would widen to the full extent of the station box to have at least four terminal platforms next to the CRL platforms, which I would give spanish solution crossflow platforms and screen doors. I’d also build a short link tunnel from Britomart to Quay Park junction to give a extra two tracks to keep the CRL lines clear.

          Apart from that I probably wouldn’t build any heavy rail extensions, I’d go straight to a purpose designed high performance urban metro system.

        13. Nick, money centric right off the bat, if I had $50bn?
          What about starting from what we want Auckland to be and then address the best transport that fits.
          My problem with all this LR bandwagon promotion is that jumping half arsed into an obtrusive road surface based mass transit system that removes so many great future possibilites for the likes of Queen Street is just going to be a total waste of money when at some future time the proper solution will be HR extended to the NS and NW and the CBD server by unobtrusive underground stations.
          I want to see a pleasant ped/bike friendly, perhaps family friendly too, Queen and surroundings streets with linear parks, a pleasant attractive shopping and recreation areas free from the need to be a mass transit thoroughfare.
          I would even eventually look at banning all fossil fuel vehicles from the area.

    1. “Light rail makes sense down dominion road / symond street but as a supplement to a growing heavy rail network and not a cheaper alternative.”

      I completely agree. A supplementary system to the heavy rail network that continues to extend the existing lines south to Hamilton.

  13. I used the Seattle LR system to go from the Airport to the [then] end of the line in Seattle proper last year.

    Works well, even the on street sections. The traffic lights are all timed with the rail signals so that the LRT was not held up on these on-street sections, except once at a station immediately before a set of lights and a level crossing, which meant we took a lot longer to depart than usual once the doors were shut – due to the traffic lights on the adjacent level crossing still allowing cars to cross the tracks. Once the traffic lights went red, and the signal bells/lights for the level crossing were going, the train left the station pretty quickly.

    Closer to the city is uses elevated sections to get over highways and an underground section to enter Seattle proper. Stations are quite variable in spacing, the last few nearer to the airport have long distances of full speed travel, way longer than any stretches on our EMUs would cover.
    Nearer Seattle the stations are more frequent. There was a mixture of island and side platforms in use, so which side you entered/exited from could differ for a given station. But the signing

    However, the actual LR vehicles are badly designed, they use regular bus style seating layout, and each pair of the LR “A+B” vehicles are multi-segmented in the middle, with each segment having its own power and other cabinetry inside the cabin. All of which reduces the usable space markedly.

    Think of it like a bunch of closely coupled/strung together small articulated ADL buses each working like its a carriage in a smallish train rather than the “open cabin” end to end EMU style design of vehicle we have already.

    But I’m sure a modern LRT vehicle we’d use wouldn’t have that bad a design even if it has to fit into the street geometry we’d have.

    1. It is a good point about the interior layout and capacity. Seattle is not ideal for this. The high volume European systems are careful to have LRVs with wide aisles and plenty of space around the doors. Often this means reducing the number of seats by 5-10%, but it works much better, especially in peak.

      1. it works much better in peak, and off peak the 5-10% of seats usually aren’t needed to accommodate all passengers. I never understand why there is so much opposition to longitudinal seating.

        1. Much more comfortable being in forward of backward facing seats during acceleration and deceleration in my opinion. I always avoid them in the EMUs, and is a relevant factor when we are talking about lines that go to Waimauku and Orewa.

        2. But the people coming from Waimauku and Orewa will always get their choice of seats, and as the train empties heading out there will be able to take seats. It’s so much less of an issue than people make out.

        3. You are right, however longitudinal seat for that distance though doesn’t sound particularly appealing.

          The less seats, the more likely someone is standing all the way to say Albany or Lincoln Rd.

        4. I didn’t realise that Albany was that close. If so I agree, I’m quite happy standing from Britomart to Panmure, which is around 16 mins.

        5. I did some back of the envelope calculations to come up with that number, but can’t remember exactly what parameters I used. For reference I have managed under 18 minutes from Albany to Britomart on a bus that stopped at every station before including the dogleg motorway entrance at Albany, lights at Constellation, and 80km/h limit.

    1. Up to AT to say but most new LRT systems are built at standard gauge, which is the most common. This allows for all the manufacturers to tender, and should achieve the lowest cost rolling stock. The body width would be the same (2.4m to 2.65m) regardless.

      1. It would almost certainly be standard gauge, no reason not to be and it would allow to go to the market with the largest range of vehicles from all suppliers. Anything else would lead to more expensive or less suitable vehicles.

      2. Standard gauge makes absolute sense, particularly if there is no future plan to run these on ‘heavy’ rail lines.

        1. I hope other nz cities can take advantage of this and piggyback on the auckland track/vehicles/parts/expertise etc for some economies of scale.

        2. Christchurch might be the exception there. It is probably the best candidate for tram/trains in NZ. An under-utilised rail network that doesn’t have a station or tracks going into the heart of the CBD.

          LR could use existing rail lines to travel to and from Rolleston/Rangiora and Lyttelton and then street run into the CBD.

        3. Using existing lines is a lot more difficult than it sounds. You’d probably do better to just build light rail tracks next to the existing heavy freight and intercity network, than try and mix the two in Christchurch. The fact so much of it is single track without stations means you’d be building a lot from scratch regardless.

  14. Given how much cost and disruption existed in Calgary extending their 3-car LRT system to 4-cars, I hope that at the very least allowances are made during the design to increase capacity as the ridership grows. Calgary had to increase the number of cars because they couldn’t increase the frequency of services on weekday mornings – at times running as frequently as 2 minutes but at most 5 minutes with the 3 car sets completely full (600 passengers) before reaching the final few stops before the city.

    1. Don’t be silly Mike! This is Auckland we are talking about – forethought??? No such thing!
      The last guy who had forethought got kicked out of office for it…. a fellow named Robbie.

  15. It should be heavy rail. It should be buses. It should be hyperloop. I’m not a transport planner, but my arguments are incontrovertible based on googlepedia and uranium enriched truthiness. It’s this blog’s job to make my preferences stack up. Get to it pronto

  16. Why not run LR on Albert and Symonds Street and make Queen Street pedestrian only. Once Queen Street got past Aotea square LR could run on it.

    1. Albert and Symonds are both very busy with buses already moving thousands of people per hour from all across Auckland. The benefit of Queen St it that it only has the one shuttle bus, so it’s effectively spare and ready to add service to.

      1. No, keep Queen clear of new mass transit services so that when cars are banned from there it can become a proper pedestrian precinct, linear park, clean air area etc.. Keep LR out of it.

        1. If you successfully keep LR out of Queen St you will instead have a gazillion Diesel buses… with or without cars. There is not one serious proposal that leaves Queen St without Transit, and rightfully so, it is the key north-south city access route, both on foot and PT.

          Please go to Melbourne, just once, have a look, and see if the world has ended because of the mixture there of lots and lots of people and surface Light Rail on Bourke St.

          The only actual alternative to LR here is the government’s ‘Advanced Bus Solution’ with 60 mega buses an hour each way… so, feel free to support that.

        2. I suspect you are correct but since Q only has one shuttle bus now as Nick R says, then its looking like a void, an anathema to transport planners, that just has to be filled with some form of mass transit PT.
          I just wish we could keep the busses and LR out of it,
          and ban all other vehicles asap.

        3. That may be your wish but it isn’t a good one. Aiming to turn a street the scale and length of Queen St into pedestrian only would be to give all the quality and atmosphere of a suburban shopping mall, and none of a city street. Queen with Light Rail is a far better outcome than without.

          Anyway not everyone is able to walk five blocks, a quality and frequent means of movement along it as as important as one to it. Queen St without the pointless cars is very wide, more than enough room for people walking, on bikes, and a high quality clean movement system. And still leave room/time for deliveries.

          Still be a street.

          In other words Bourke St Melbourne not Queen St Brisbane.

        4. It’s not just the one shuttle bus as Nick R says.
          With the New Network I see 22 buses going north an hour in morning peak (from Victoria to Customs), City Link, Inner Link and the 105, 106. South not quite so many as the 106 operates as a one way 1/2 hrly loop.

  17. Wow! Even though there’s still disagreement – it’s heartening to see all this passion for improving our city.

    Well done GA, keep up the good work!

  18. For the capacity of a public transport vehicle, a good rule of thumb is: multiply the floor space by 3.

    Sitting passengers come out at around 3 per square metre. That’s also a good upper limit standard for standing passengers, as it’s about the limit of being able to move around freely. 4 per square metre would count as a crush load, at least in a culture where there’s resistence to getting too close and personal; but it becomes counterproductive, as without free movement people won’t move away from doors (they’re afraid of being trapped inside) and dwells become very long.

    So for a 50-metre LRV: 50×2.5×3=375. At 40 per hour per direction (a reasonable target where there’s a 90 second traffic light cycle, as in Melbourne’s Swanston St), that makes 15,000 per hour per direction.

    1. OMG! Forty of these 66 metre monsters per hour per direction on the centre of Queen Street? Isn’t that one every 45 seconds? Will It be possible for pedestrians to get from one side of the street to the other? Should be no problem if they are fit and sprightly, forget families with young children, slower elderly or infirm etc..

      1. Nope. There is no plan to run more than 30 per direction per hour max, more likely topping out at 24: Frequencies of 5mins on each line and 2.5min in the core.

        But 10 minute frequencies on each line combining to 5 min is a likely starting point.

        1. Phew! Thats a relief, those extra 15 seconds to one LRV every minute on Q will work for peds and cyclists? Eh?
          Thank God for such considerate Transport Planners, how could we ever do without them?

      2. Dgd you are grasping at straws here. An LRV every 2.5 minutes means 20 seconds as the vehicle goes by then over two minutes with nothing at all. Couple that with taking the roadway down to just two skinny LRT lanes with a grand total of 7m width, and you’ll have a vastly improved pedestrian environment where it is far quicker and easier to cross the road.

        THat’s the inverse of what happens now: currently cars and buses run up and down for two minutes then you get thirty seconds to cross.

        1. Yes , LR would be far superior to what is happening now. 30 per direction per hour means 60 per hour total, isn’t that one per minute average? 20 seconds for LRV to pass leaving 40 second gap for pedestrian to cross road? Or do you forsee LRT clumping so that we get some 2+ minute gaps? Plus, as you say, still a couple of normal traffic lanes to contend with 🙂

        2. Eh what normal traffic lanes? I didn’t say that, there won’t be any traffic on Queen St. Just two lanes of LRT, which is far less than the four traffic lanes plus parking we have now.

          You’d only have one a minute at the very worst place where opposing directions were perfectly offset. Just as likely that they are perfectly on-set and you get two minutes clear. In either case still far superior to the current situation of waiting two minutes to cross.

          Also that is the peak hour you are talking about, for most of the day you’d have more like five minutes between vehicles, which is an eternity.

  19. With all these glowing references to LR through centres of cities in other parts of the world, is there any stats available on the accident rate involving pedestrians and other vehicles on shared parhways with LRTs?

    1. Perhaps you might be able to undertake your own googling if a detail interests you?

      However we can safely say that the death toll would have to be spectacular to get anywhere near the routine killing of the traffic industry, so it is hard to believe that if this is such an issue we would all be hearing about it….

      With regards to Bourke St, recently a homocidal maniac killed a bunch of people with a car… I don’t recall any recent LR related deaths, but why not have a look….?

      1. I did Google for details but it seems that’s one stat nobody wants to publish or say much about. I would expect LR would be nowhere near as risky to other road users compared to cars/trucks etc but probably not quite as safe as HR.
        I also wondered if in researching LR you or others had come across any stats.

  20. “Given it’s also many light-rail systems are capable of over 100km/h these light rail vehicles wouldn’t be slow either.”I cannot wait to see the light rail trams speeding along Dominion Road at 100kms per hour.

    All we know is that the travel times and costings around rapid transit (heavy rail) and light rail (slow mass transit) are up in the air. Certainly no decision should be made on the only report made to date.

    PS.. congrats on Patrick getting onto Auckland Transport, a dream come true.

    1. ““Given it’s also many light-rail systems are capable of over 100km/h these light rail vehicles wouldn’t be slow either.”I cannot wait to see the light rail trams speeding along Dominion Road at 100kms per hour.” And I can’t wait to see heavy rail going 100 km/h around the beach road switchback.

      “All we know is that the travel times and costings around rapid transit (heavy rail) and light rail (slow mass transit) are [Not the figures that I want to see].”

      “Certainly no decision should be made on the [multitude of] report[s] made to date.”

      1. And reports made prior to AT’s flawed report last year all were in favour of fast modern heavy rail. One flawed report against it and suddenly slow light rail wins. Shocking.

  21. The Seattle light rail vehicles are 29m long and up to four can be joined together, for a total length of close to 120m, needing a boarding area of the same length. If the light rail were to run in the existing bus lanes (next to the footpaths) a great many driveway entrances would need to be eliminated. The alternative is to run them down the centre of the road, but in that case, do passengers simply get out into the street? Or do we build raised platforms (for level entry) on either side of the tracks? If the latter, each of these would need enough width for people to safely wait & board – can we actually fit that into our existing road corridors?

    1. We can build centre island platforms, and yes, these can be fitted into all but the narrowest sections of Dominion Road.

      1. Are you dreamin? Have LRT station layouts and positions on Dom been published yet? showing how passengers get in and out of an island platform, how wide the platform is and passenger capacity?

  22. Just a note: Being from Metro Vancouver, some items about Vancouver’s SkyTrain.

    What we call SkyTrain are actually 3 different railways.

    1) Expo Line – A Linear Induction Motor powered proprietary light-metro that was once marketed by the UTDC, a Crown Corporation as ALRT, in Ontario. Legal limit (Transport Canada Operating Certificate) 15,000 pphpd.

    2) Millennium/Evergreen Lines – A proprietary railway based on ALRT, but was rebuilt with somewhat larger and longer bodies based on Bombardier’s Innovia universal body shell. These cars can operate on both lines but cannot operate in coupled sets with the earlier MK.1 UTDC cars. Legal limit (Transport Canada Operating Certificate) 15,000 pphpd. The Evergreen line was the unfinished portion of the Millennium Line, due to high cost of construction.

    General note. The three ALRT/ART Lines need CAD $3 billion to lengthen station platforms, upgrade the electrical supply, upgrade the ATC, new vehicles and partial rebuilding of the Expo line before any future increase of capacity.

    3) The Canada Line – A conventionally powered heavy-rail metro, built as a light metro. Due to massive cost overruns, the scope of the Canada line was cut back, including stations having 40m long station platforms, versus 80m with the ALRT/ART Lines. Thus the Capacity of the Canada line is roughly little more than half of the ALRT/ART Lines or about 8,000 to 8,500 pphpd. Due to scaling back of the Canada Line an estimated $1.5 billion must be spent before any extensions are to be made. The Canada line is not compatible in operation with the ALRT/ART Lines.

    Total cost to the taxpayer to date for rapid transit in metro Vancouver $11 billion, yet according to Metro Vancouver’s figures, mode share by commuters has remained around 57% for the past 30 years!

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