In the Congestion Free Network 2, we floated the idea of Northwestern Light Rail along State Highway 16, rather than a Busway. We did this for a few reasons:

  1. Aspirational: We suspected that like the Northern Busway the Northwest Busway would also be a victim of its own success. By putting up the idea, it built the case for future proofing.
  2. The cost differences were relatively small: When comparing a Busway with Light Rail along the whole City Centre to Kumeu corridor, it seemed the costs differences might not be that significant. This is because Light Rail can operate in a slightly narrower corridor in existing areas, while in greenfield areas Light Rail can be built on simple ballasted track whereas a Busway involves the formation of a whole new road
  3. Northwest Light Rail can utilise the Queen St Light Rail corridor thus removing the need for expensive City Centre end works. The advantage buses had was the ability to stage the cost over time, but with the ATAP Refresh recommendation that the busway should be built from Newton-Lincoln first rather than Westgate-Te Atatu this may now not have that much of an advantage.
  4. Dig Once, Do Right: By building Light Rail was most of the route straight away created a build once right situation the corridor wouldn’t need to be done then dug up in a decade or two.
  5. Albert Street Place Making: Albert Street can be rethought, with Light Rail significantly fewer buses will be using Albert Street allowing the street purpose to be re-focused much more on pedestrians/cycling/placemaking.

During the election campaign, the idea of Northwest Light-Rail was picked up by both Labour and the Greens. The acceleration of Northwest Light Rail was part of Jacinda Ardern’s first policy announcement after taking over the leadership from Andrew Little. With the election of a new Government, Northwest Light Rail goes from being something aspirational to something highly likely to happen with Phil Twyford announcing recently

We are proceeding with the policy we campaigned on, that is to building light rail from the CBD to the airport, and to West Auckland, starting immediately

Light Rail – Motorway

Northwest Light Rail will be a large investment, no doubt about it. However, there are several things we can do to manage its cost and develop a strong business case for the project.

  1. Take advantage of the Dominion Road Light Rail: Queen Street will have large capacity when completed and we can leverage that corridor for the Northwest as well which will significantly reduce the cost as a second City Centre Light Rail corridor would not need to be built in the foreseeable future.
  2. Use the current motorway corridor: Work to date appears to assume that any Northwest public transport upgrade would be outside the existing motorway corridor and result in the need to purchase homes and demolish them to make way, alongside ripping up of many sections of the just-completed Northwest Cycleway. This assumption should be challenged, especially the opportunity to shuffle lanes around, narrow lanes slightly (which has good safety benefits) and utilise the shoulder lanes (these are proposed for bus use anyway).
  3. Do not expand the causeway. The causeway between Pt Chevalier and Rosebank Road has only just been reclaimed and it is unlikely that the consent of further reclamation of the causeway will be feasible. But why do we assume we need to do a large amount of widening? Are we going to widen Queen Street or Dominion Road a lane for Light Rail, did we widen Sandringham Road when we put Bus Lanes in? The same logic can apply for Northwest Light Rail instead of massive widening we can use some of the lanes created during the Western Ring works. This means no new bridge needed across the causeway, no large relocation of the cycleway, no large-scale demolition of houses during a housing crisis as well as significantly reducing cost as only targeted widening would be needed. This will not just reduce cost but also reduce the time to complete the project. Less consenting required, fewer court cases, fewer earthworks and construction. The Light Rail will have the capacity of nearly three motorway lanes each way, in the same space as one lane of traffic each way. One good way of doing this might be to take the space currently allocated to the bus shoulder lanes for light-rail, turn one general traffic lane into a “peak only” lane that is used as a shoulder lane outside peak times. If this was going to be OK for buses, why not for cars?

On the alignment between Pt Chevalier and the city I think the Light Rail should follow the motorway corridor rather than Great North Road for a few reasons:

  1. Interferes less with major bus routes and increases capacity: By using SH16 Great North Road still can be a major bus corridor creating capacity on top of Northwest Light Rail instead of supplementing. If the Light Rail was to use Great North Road then questions of how to deal with Great North services would need to be addressed.
  2. Interferes less with the present/future cycle network: By using SH16, the K’Rd upgrade, as well as Great North Road and Pitt Street, can have a higher focus on cycle infrastructure and pedestrian amenity.
  3. Much Faster for Northwest: SH16 creates a faster service which will better serve the communities as well as the development of the Northwest. Travel times from Kumeu to the City would be around 38 minutes and from Westgate 28 minutes. This will be a game changer for the region.

The Northwest Light Rail project is a perfect opportunity to link walking/cycling upgrades to fully unlock a rapid transit corridor. In the Netherlands, this is a primary way of increasing catchment and the Northwest is ideal for this kind of investment. Walking/Cycling upgrades in the area such as Te Atatu Rd and Lincoln Rd as well as safer streets upgrades on the local streets should be considered and completed before/same time as the opening.

Finally, while this is a major project that will need to be done in “one go” at least as far as Westgate, there are some interim upgrades that could be made that would still provide value in the long run. These could include:

  • The Lincoln – Te Atatu section of the Busway, of course, built in such a way that would easily be upgraded to light-rail.
  • Important interchanges at Westgate, Lincoln and Te Atatu, this could be done on its own if the feeling was putting in a busway only to upgrade it a few years later may not be worth the hassle.

Together, these fairly small upgrades or at the least the latter could be done in the next couple of years and unlock the Western New Network until the full project is completed.

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  1. Not sure about following the motorway from Pt Chev to the city. That takes the route away from a lot of people who would otherwise use it, particularly in Grey Lynn and the southern part of Ponsonby. The route following the motorway will have a very limited catchment.

    1. Great North Road has a number of frequent bus services to serve Grey Lynn etc, I don’t think LRT is needed on top of that. In terms of LRT stations on the Northwestern, you’d probably have Westgate, Lincoln Rd, Te Atatu Rd, Rosebank Rd, Pt Chevalier, Bond St, uptown, downtown. There would be some pretty big catchments served by that, particularly with good cycle connectivity and bus feeder services.

    2. Is it the NW transit or the Inner West transit scheme.

      While it would be great for it to be both, I feel that it is better to be one or the other, but trying to be both would be consigning it to doing neither well.

    3. I don’t think a line from the outer suburbs and satellite towns should be crawling along the streets in the inner suburbs unless it is necessary. We wouldn’t accept a situation where the Southern line left it’s dedicated corridor and traveled along Gt South Rd and through Newmarket to get to the city.

      While the catchment will be smaller I don’t think this lines purpose should be an inner suburbs collector.

    4. The huge problem to be solved here is accessibility for NW residents who are suffering from the lack of fast PT, and the motorway route would surely be faster for them into town. In the inner west we do have a good network of buses already; what we need is for them to connect to rapid transit.

      However, the motorway option provides opportunity to solve another massive problem – the disconnection caused by the motorway. Pt Chev town centre is still suffering from having half its catchment severed. One bridge with poor pedestrian amenity doesn’t make up for what was cut off. If LR on the motorway could provide overpass reconnection across the motorway at each of a few new locations, the whole area would benefit.

        1. The Carrington Rd / Pt Chev Rd bridge needs widening for pedestrians – this was highlighted in a 2001 study into trying to revitalise the Pt Chev town centre. As was the need for a new pedestrian bridge at about Parr Rd North. I’m hoping for extra overpasses at other locations too. Along GNR we have new apartments going in – 140 are in the pipeline at the RSA and Andy Miller sites, with other big developments at the planning stages. These apartments need small parks within a 4 -minute walk (Western Springs Park is close but not close enough – highlighting the need for many small parks in addition to the big ones.) Chamberlain Park would be ideal if overpasses were added.

          This is all just Pt Chev focused – I’m sure people in other suburbs like Arch Hill could see specific projects to repair a small part of the severance caused by the motorway.

    5. As a regular user of buses from Massey into the city I can say with confidence that the best option would be for light rail to use SH16 all the way to the city. With the proviso that there is an interchange at Waterview which the current 18 bus intends to pass through.
      Most services from out northwest are currently only every 30min. Yet, Gt North Rd has a bus to the city every 5min or so. Especially during peak. The 18 alone is every 15. Anyone who needs to get off at Grey Lynn or Ponsonby would use the interchange. The frequency improvements and shortened travel times will be a massive improvement. It will also allow local catchment routes to be a lot more frequent and efficient.

    6. The other advantage of putting LR along the motorway is that it would indeed replace motorway lanes, and thus have the opposite effect to adding motorway capacity. Instead of inducing traffic, it will create traffic evaporation. Elegantly too, with the built-in PT option. Of course it could do the same thing on GNR, but this is needed for buses, as Harriet says.

  2. I don’t think the diatribe about 10-foot lanes applies to motorways. Most sane people opt for 3.5m lanes on motorways and 3.0 metre lanes where you want lower speeds.
    (space isn’t a problem though as the artists impression shows how you can squeeze light rail trams together and let them scrape each other!

  3. I agree with what was said earlier about alignment. I agree that it should follow SH16 west of Pt Chev (else just duplicates the western rail line), but in the inner city I think Great North Rd would result in a much improved catchment area, plus have some urban design benefits. Furthermore, assuming that eventually light rail lines would be added going down K Rd across Grafton Bridge and through to Newmarket, and down Mt Eden Rd, a route running down Great North Rd would feed better into these services (imo).

    Either way though, bloody exciting to see it happening. Not so long ago that it was a distant pipe dream! Hopefully in a decade or two we will have a really great network springing up- definitely lots of potential corridors.

    1. This may be an unpopular opinion, but a route down Great North Road would be too meandering. You’re looking for rapid transit from the NW, it is a giant waste to make all these gains over gridlock and then wind your way through inner suburban streets when the motorway will head directly into the CBD.

      I also suspect there is a degree of giving the inner West Auckland suburbs their trams back, which will make this popular with the Grey Lynn crowd, but of bugger all use to those of us stuck in traffic on the NW who actually need this infrastructure. Get us to the city centre or a train station ASAP.

      1. I have experience of light rail in Portland, Oregon. In the city centre blocks, the passenger units travel at about 25 mph between street stops but once away from the centre of town on their own dedicated track away from the street they travel much faster.

        I think I would vote to utilize Great North Road into the city because of the increased catchment.

        1. Wouldn’t it make more sense for the trams to run at higher speed all the way into the edge of the CBD, rather than running at street speeds all the way in from Pt Chevalier? That is quite a long stretch at a maximum of 50kmh.

        2. So you’re increasing access to areas that already have heaps of other PT options while at the same time crippling the speed of the only rapid transit to the NW? Imagine if the NW busway diverted to Devonport and made everyone hope on the ferry. That’s effectively what you’re proposing.

        3. Portland works well and I would always choose railed transit over buses.
          Efficiency can be determined in large measure by the number and placement of stops.

    2. Even a SH16 alignment would, assuming good walking links down to it, still be in 800m walking distance to a lot of the new GNR density that is and will continue to be developing there…

      If you want to maximise that use, we may have to think about elevators up to Bond Street bridge, or even escalators up the hillside – but even without that, I think GNR 9and to a lesser degree NNR on the south side) will be well-served with buses and LRT both.

  4. I would have thought that this project lends it self not to being done in one-go as you suggest but in smaller stages building out from the City. So build the route from CBD to the top of Dominion Rd, then progress on two fronts – Dominion and SH16 one major stop at a time, ensuring that buses and LR can transfer passengers from one mode to the other at each phase. That might be unpleasant for many until the LR progresses out beyond “your” stop, but it means that bus and LR can use the same righ-of-way.

  5. So what is GA’s solution to existing traffic congestion time delays between Huapai and Westgate, that can be implemented within the next six months? What will the staged growth of service to encourage PT look like between now and the implementation of LR at some distant point in time (Labour have only commited to LR as far as Westgate)?

    I’ve yet to see GA show even the slightest interest in improving PT in the norwest. How about express buses direct from Kumeu? Where does Riverhead fit into your plan? Or Muriwai, with its 2,200 residents?

    The entire Norwest needs a PT overhaul, because right now it has some of the worst traffic congestion in Auckland combined with a crap PT service to Helensville and nothing at all to Muriwai and Riverhead. It would be nice to see GA recognise that the norwest is actually part of Auckland.

    1. +1 ..and is this not a reason why something should be seriously done to extend the metro HR service out to Huapai or even Helensville. This is where several BEMUs as originally suggested for the Papakura-Pukehoe, would be very useful. Or as a second solution run a shuttle using the soon to be redundant DMUs, between Swanson and Huapai

      1. Only people working in Henderson would use it though. Even with a Swanson-Kumeu connection, it would still be cheaper and quicker to use a car to get between CBD and Kumeu.

        1. That may be true but I don’t think so. On a clear motorway and easy cbd parking then definitely true but with the current car park like congestion in rush hour then a non stressful ride on an emu sure looks a preferred mode. Without RTN NW busway its no quicker on a bus.

      2. Wouldn’t surprise me if that is where the DMUs end up, but there is no way you would spend the extra money on BEMUs for that service, better to spend the money on a good express bus as is the case with the new network.

    2. Geoff, the New Network has express buses direct from Kumeu already, from Helensville actually. It’s the route 125x. We certainly don’t advocate removing those.

      Muriwai has 2,200 residents… the size of a small suburb but spread over an area half the size of the North Shore. Their transit solution is the park and ride planned for the back of Westgate. Trying to serve them with even a half-useful bus service would require a massive over subsidy that would be incredibly unfair and inequitable.

    3. yes Geoff, too many GA folk are fixated on a distant future idealism instead of being flexible enough to book a few quick wins via pragmatic fixes along an existing rail infrastructure corridor during a housing shortage that can unlock a massive house building area.
      The Waitakere tunnel isn’t so deep or so long that it can’t be subjected to a 6-12 month cut & cover project ( or simply a wide trench ) that would enable a future 3 track width, so we can double track and electrify to Helensville whilst creating a number of commuter towns along the way.
      We could then have a Helensville to Hamilton spine from which we could have multiple bus/tram/LRT systems intersecting with or across it to get to where ever you wanted.
      The land corridor is already there and protected.
      Waiting 15 years to then be able to catch an ‘express’ bus on an already congested state highway to an interchange at Westgate is not exactly inspired multi-dimensional thinking

  6. Can I ask why we don’t talk about heavy rail to the northwest? It would provide greater capacity and speed, although at a greater cost to build. Especially if we do the move the port to Northport or north of Auckland it would save us the cost of adding a third track down the western line (which would be very expensive especially at New Lynn) and building the Avondale to Southdown line which could recover alot of the costs. A heavy rail link would also shorten rail travel times between Auckland and Northland considerably and avoid duplicating light rail in Kumeu should we extend it there. The big catch is that further causeway widening would be needed for heavy rail and a tunnel from Mt Eden station to the western springs area.

    If a heavy rail line along the full length is too pricey we can just put the light rail line down Lincoln Road from the motorway and have a new “Northwest Line” from the SH16/Lincoln road junction to Waiamuku with stations in Huapai, Kumau, Westgate and royal Road, and a freight rail/road transfer facility around Selwood Road for freight to/from Northland to be unloaded from/onto trucks to be taken to Northland or destinations around greater Auckland.

    1. The CRL has 48tph worse of capacity.

      If we added NW HR we would either need to take capacity from the Western Line or build a CRL2

      1. I see this issue. One short term option could be for NW HR trains to terminate at Newmarket (maybe some services at Otahuhu) forcing all Northwest passengers to transfer at Mt Eden or Newmarket or Otahuhu (atleast until we build CRL2 to North Shore if we ever do). If we do move the port we can have the Eastern line trains use the exisiting freight rail link to the port to a new Merchants Bay station and then under a cut and cover under Quay Street to a Britomart North station right next to the existing Britomart station to the north, removing Eastern line trains from the CRL and allowing Northwest HR trains to use the CRL. Obvously this option is conditional on us moving the port.

        1. There may not be much room on trains entering the CRL at Mt Eden from the west or Newmarket from the south at peak for all the passengers transferring from NW trains.

          Why would you kick eastern line trains out of the CRL? Panmure will be one of the busiest stations on the network with the Ameti bus station and thus the inner eastern line is going to have some of the highest frequencies on the network. Expecting all these passengers to transfer at Britomart doesn’t make any sense.

        2. In light of that terminating the Howick services at Panmure makes even less sense. Since the Botany service will eventually use AMETI, shouldn’t that have been the one truncated. I think that was the original plan. The problem is that not all travellers out east want to go to Britomart. The inference in this comment is that after AMETI implementation Botany services will also terminate at Panmure leaving no way for Eastern travellers to access Greenlane, Newmarket, upper CBD without excessive transfers. i.e. Bus train, bus.

        3. Not sure how you inferred that from my comment! I agree it would make no sense to terminate both Howick and Botany services at Panmure as it would leave no frequent connection along the EP Highway and Great South Rd for those wanting to go this way.

      2. ‘The CRL has 48tph worth of capacity’
        yes, when the CRL opens this will be the tph limit. However, its something that should not be a permanent limit as implementing ETCS3/4 or eventually driverless trains would permit 60tph or higher.
        So I’d say that using any tph figure to naysay further HR route development may look good and proper but if NW HR were built then technology will sort out CRL tph.
        When LRT gets to Onehunga then the HR spur to Onehunga should not be needed. Closing that would free some bandwidth in CRL

        1. I agree 60tph will happen one day, but by then the extra capacity will be needed for the existing lines.

        2. The London underground operates trains every 90secs and all the drivers do is open and close the doors and computers do the rest .

        3. Importantly this was introduced in the 1990s to boost capacity on existing lines not to allow for additional lines. This is a card we will likely need to keep up our sleeve for the existing lines further into the future.

    2. HR would be hugely expensive, it would turn a two ish billion dollar line into six or eight billion dollars. Heavy Rail is super difficult to retrofit to an existing suburban environment.

      The speed differences would be negligible, LRT can do 110km/h if you want them to, and acellerate just as fast.

      If there was lots of spare capacity in the CRL maybe it could be worth the extra cost, but there isn’t so like Harriet says you’d need a second CRL. Terminating at Newmarket doesn’t help, trying to push a train load of passengers onto an already full train from another line doesn’t add capacity.

      1. “. . .it would turn a two ish billion dollar line into six or eight billion dollars”

        Calling you out again Nick. You have no basis for this arbitrary statement other than your own gut feel. Each time you make such a comparison your HR/LR factor-of-difference seems to have inflated itself by another 50%.

        My gut feel is that if you aim for a similar service-expectation and provided you don’t load HR with unnecessary requirements that you magically exempt LR from, HR could be done for a similar cost. The exception is where LR can be done on-the-cheap through public streets without an exclusive right-of-way. Then certainly you would have to pay more for a proper rail corridor but you would get the benefits also.

        1. Its because you need a CRL2 otherwise you are just taking capacity from the Western hence the cost.

        2. OK, I accept Nick R’s point, if not his figures. If LR can run through the streets without a separate corridor then of course it will be far cheaper over that particular section but you will lose significant speed benefits
          (See my comment

          But a difference of $4-6 Billion? That’s a much-more expensive CRL than the one currently being built.

          And if street-running for such a major arterial service turns out not to be acceptable or feasible then the costs HR/LR will end up similar.

        3. Because its CRL2 + the NW Line if you say each one costs around 3-3.5b that gets you 6-7b.

        4. I have used underground in several major cities – London, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo. The reason it works it that the lines are completely separated: cross on different levels and never share tracks. These networks could not work efficiently if it was a same level shared track system like a national rail network. the north, west and south light rail corridors must be separate from the rail network for those reasons.

        5. Dave you can keep calling me out all you like, but it’s not going to change the reality of the situation.

          The $4-6b extra is around $2-3b for the second CRL it requires, plus another $2-$3b for the extra cost of building heavy rail over the 18km route instead of light rail or busway. Yes the HR would be at least twice the cost per km to build alongside the motorway (or rather for the most part, underneath or elevated over the motorway: see the problem?).

          I know in your world HR and LR and everything else is all exactly the same, and anyone that says HR is expensive to build is some sort of conspiracy peddler. However in the real world of actual projects being planned and built in Auckland, HR is much harder and more expensive to build and costs a lot more that LR.

          It’s not a gut feel nor an arbitrary statement: I do this for a job, literally this. And doing my job relies on the work of a lot of skilled design engineers and cost estimators to work out these specific costs so we can do the planning and cost-benefit analyses.

          If you think they are all systematically wrong and you have better information and skills then I suggest you go into business as a consultant, if you can shave billions of the price of heavy rail plans you would be an very popular and rich person.

        6. Nick, the extra costs of a tunnelled section I will accept and exclude.

          Its the “$2-$3b for the extra cost of building heavy rail over the 18km route instead of light rail or busway” that I am flagging as nonsense. This is additional to the tunnel, and additional to whatever the LRT equivalent cost would be. I cannot see how you can remotely justify this amount. What on earth are you specifying to make it this much more expensive? You could buy 2-3 27Km 4-lane Transmission Gully motorways for this. Tell me you’re joking.

        7. So to summarise: HR is better no matter the cost, and any evidence to the contrary is just not good enough.

          Seems like classic case of modal fanaticism …

        8. No, I’m not inferring that. I’m suggesting that the transport task for this major arterial route may be beyond what can reasonably be shoe-horned into existing streets. If this is the case then an exclusive ROW will be needed regardless of the vehicle-types used, and the cost-differential between HR or an equivalent light-metro will be much less than claimed above.

          Not modal fanaticism at all. More of an attempt to introduce some reality to the “let’s run major rail arteries down the street” school-of-thought..

        9. Well, you and others in the HR camp continually ignore capacity constraints and assume some perfect ideal HR while assuming the worst about LR.
          NZ HR is not ideal e.g. platform height/gap compromises, having to mix it with heavy freight, etc, etc.
          Given that additional (to CRL) central city capacity will be needed anyway, why saddle it with all the legacy constraints?
          Building NW as light rail and using street running (separate from traffic) in central city cuts billions of initial cost. When capacity becomes an issue then add a new central city tunneled section and upgrade to driverless light metro (e.g. something like Vancouver has).

  7. If you run LR down the centre of SH16 how to you plan to handle passenger stops (stations) and pedestrians crossing SH16? Surely you will be running the LR trams down each side of the motorway in the same direction of the traffic? Can someone clear where and how passengers will board the trams.

    1. Even if you had one track each side (unlikely, as many things would need extra duplicating, then), you’d still need to access from both sides, so grade-separation needed. But I suspect it will be more likely to be alongside rather than median-side (just my guess).

      How to get to the platforms? Pedestrian overbridges over the motorway. They could work quite well with the topography, as you will only have to climb them once, seeing that people will be coming down from the ridges already, so getting onto the bridge to get there, they will not needing to go up first and then down again, like if they were overbridges over a motorway on a flat plain.

      1. You’d probably point one end at an existing overbridge (thats where the connecting buses are going to be), and maybe the other also gets an new footbridge linking to nearby side streets,

  8. then what happens if theirs no bus service any where then couldn’t come up with both so u got more choice in public transport and i would stop a tram any where down the line if there no stops because u got heavy rail in bound both ways still use platforms and stations it can handle both one day people will regret it down the line and the heavy rail all ways wins any thing so dont try

  9. and if u like to be in a tin can and not get out off light rail fine be squish in there and pack and it will fail like every other Auckland thing and putting more cars on makes more hard to get in and out and less the heavey rail got more space and 8 cars now dont complane about space then if thats how its going to be even on rugby would cups or rugby games at night

  10. Also regarding the Northwest light rail route (assuming we do go for light rail and ignoring the heavy rail in my coment above) the SH16/Great North Road to CBD route is interesting. Using the Queen Street/Karagahape Road intersection is quite difficult as current plans are for the Queen Street light rail to go under Karangahape Road in an underpass. Also the Pitt Street/K Road corner is probably too tight for light rail vehicles. One short term option could be for light rail to extend up K Road and then into the CBD down Symonds Street (remember we plan on putting light rail down Symonds street eventually anyway to go to Manukau Road and Mt Eden Road). To me the best route would be to close the bit of Hopetoun Street bridge over the motorway to all non bus/light rail traffic, and make Vincent Street and the part of Hopetoun Street between Pitt Street and Beresford Square a single one lane one way street for cars using the rest of the road space for buses/light rail only. The same would happen to Hereford Street in Newton along with the removal of on street car parks. the result would be a tow land dedicated 24/7 bus/light rail only route suitable for rapid transit between the Cook St/Mayoral Drive intersection and the Hereford/K road intersection in Newton with light rail and buses using the Hereford St/Hopeton St/Vincent St route, and then hopefully dedicated light rail only lines down the centre of Mayoral Drive and Albert Street to Britomart. If we do use this route building the Beresford Square entrance to the K Road City Rail Link train station is essential to allow light rail/heavy rail transfers. Your thoughts? Also continuing light rail southwest from Hoptoun Street down Crummer road to Grey Lynn and from the Crummer Road/Great North Road intersection to SH16 by building a special light rail only on/off ramp bridge is an interesting possibility providing a very straight route to allow light rail vehicles to travel at speed.

    1. That sounds like a meandering route into the CBD, which would be quite frustrating if you had travelled from Kumeu. To me it makes sense for LR to leave the motorway east of Newton Rd and join the Dominion Rd line on Ian McKinnon Drive, then it can run straight down Queen St.

      1. I quite like it. I imagine the LR from out west will be so chocker full at rush hour that noone in the inner west will be able to get on in the morning. So maybe eventually we’ll need something on the motorway and something like the Crummer Rd suggestion.

        In the meantime, what the inner west suburbs desperately need is to block routes like Meola Rd and West End Rd to the private car. Allowing just buses and active mode will improve them considerably, eg making the Outer Link faster and much more reliable.

      2. Its actually very straight and direct. If you look at a map Crummer Road/Hopetoun Street/Vincent Street/Mayoral Drive into Albert Street is a very straight and direct route, probably straighter and more direct than onto Ian McKinnon Drive. The only catch is travelling at 50km/hr could mean slightly slower down to the CBD over continuing on the motorway to Ian McKinnon Drive but allows for stations at Grey Lynn (cnr Crummer Rd/Gt North Road area), Ponsonby (cnr Hopeoun Street/Ponsonby Road) and Beresford Square getting a big Inner West catchment. Regarding the light rail vehicle capacity we might just have to run lots of light rail trams if the vehicles fill up (which is a good thing)

        1. Sorry, I misread your comment above. It was the Symonds St bit that I thought was too meandering. I still think the route you are proposing would be a bit longer along with being slower, especially with the natural dogleg in GNR around Williamson Ave.

        2. Much more pleasant ride, too, than along the motorway. And all those new stations are in areas that should be medium density. I don’t think we should discard this option.

        3. As a regular commuter on that route I can assure you that pretty much everyone would prefer a faster and more direct route over the tiki-tour of GNR.

          If the light rail was to follow GNR it would have to be a separate corridor from the bus one, otherwise it would have to have a stop every 300-400m.

        4. Yip, I agree with you both. The motorway option will be faster, and is probably what should be chosen.

          However, It’s also an “A to B” solution to the problem of greenfields developments being allowed out West before intensification of the inner west suburbs. If we were starting from scratch, the inner west would get the transport and would be built up. The NW developments should only be for people who wanted more space and were happy to take a slower PT option to do so.

          Even looking at the current situation, we’re wanting intense mixed development through all those inner west suburbs. That should mean lots of people coming from the NW to jobs in Grey Lynn, Ponsonby, Kingsland, Pt Chev, etc, and not just to Queen St. We already have HR through Mt Eden and Mt Albert. If you want to put a RT line in to complement the HR line to the west, it wouldn’t be the motorway route.

        5. It’s not all about greenfields. Yes, the proposed greenfield areas will benefit but, there is a large chunk of NW that is currently quite poorly serviced with transit. We’d hardly call Te Atatu Peninsula greenfield. And, if you look in the UP maps, Te Atatu peninsula is zoned for quite a lot of added density.

        6. Agree. It will be great having Pt Chev linked better to Te Atatu by PT. Which route do you think Te Atatu people would prefer, Bryce? Plenty of children from Te Atatu involved in activities throughout the inner west, so I’d imagine they’d quite like the GNR (or Crummer Rd) option. But the workers might prefer the NWM option?

        7. A Pt Chev LRT station at 1074 Gt North Rd would provide a high quality connection to Pt Chev. Another LRT stop at Western Springs gives access to Western Springs Park, Motat etc.

        8. Hmmm, this is great. That’s next to where the new 140 apartments are going (just east of the carpark). The submissions against the RC’s on the basis that the apartment blocks don’t have enough parking will be hard to uphold if the LRT is right there. That carpark is at 70% occupancy currently, not even enough to warrant time limits. The new apartment building would change that, but…

          Imagine the development potential for that carpark if LRT was put there. It should be multistory mixed use…

  11. This could the the great enabler for NW. Even though it’s relatively close from the CBD at this stage, particularly during peak time – it feels like it’s on a different planet.

    Weren’t AT supposed to run a consultation for the alignment of NW busway in October? Or are they busy changing the busway specs to light rail?

  12. Light Rail to serve Westgate is nice in 2028 or 30, but Heavy Rail is needed now to Huapai. Still surprised GA is not promoting a rail shuttle from Huapai to either Swanson or Henderson. That will have no issue on capacity of the CRL, so that red herring can stop right here.

    Action in 2018 with HR rail shuttles to Huapai, or LRT to Westgate (not even Huapai) in 2028? What do you think is the achievable quickly for very low sums on investment?

        1. Extending the existing Swanson station to Waitakere bus service to Huapai could be done for a fraction of the cost of even a DMU shuttle service and would probably have a similar journey time

  13. Possibly go Ian Mckinnon -> New North Road -> (New) Bond Street -> Motorway? That enables Sandringham Road for little extra cost?

  14. I support the motorway route as the very last thing you want is to spend zillions on a fancy LRT system to just to turn it into a really slow mode with overcrowding at Kingsland or Grey Lynn as to many people get on for the last stage. You risk having no time savings for the longer trip and building it to divert a few inner city bus users who get a minute time saving.

  15. I live inWaimauku and have not supported extending HR to Helensville as it’s a very indirect route to the CBD versus the NWM’way. Until this year. The growth beyond Waimauku, in Riverhead & around Kumeu has made just getting to the M’way a nightmare in rush hour and with the logjam east of Waterview that has developed since the tunnels opened the greater travel time on the longer HR route is now probably a line call. So I am now a supporter of a HR shuttle between Helensville & Swanson at least until the LR is in and especially during the construction period.

  16. I’m so pleased that light rail can be put in without widening the causeway – I cycled past the day the contractors were removing the vegetation from Traherne Island and I way almost made the snap decision to lie in front of the bulldozer. It’s pretry special vegetation.

  17. Probably just as cheap to build LR on pylons either down the middle of the motorway or beside it.
    Would allow for a faster build, less interference, keeps the road capacity people happy, allows for the fastest/most direct LR route. A lot of places build either LR or HR like this now since it doesn’t require land purchase too.

    1. Pylons? Great suggestion but then why bother with rail if all you are going to do is raise it off the ground. I’d go with a maglev or supended maglev. Then run it over NW motorway with raised station levels as on whatever side of NW trench as needed. Right down the trench to Ak hospital station on Eastern side then wriggle over to Western side to University station then up Beach Rd to Wynyard. Tomorrowland today. Almost negligle land costs, negligle ground footprint for stations and concrete pylons/tracks, 200km+/hr speeds

      1. This is what the actual answer should be. Grey Lynn has buses and a station at the bottom of Western Springs would give them the same access that West Aucklanders are getting. The idea that the Central Eastern suburbs are somehow special enough to cripple the usefulness of the rapid transit option is bananas and does nothing to contradict the view that PT infra exists for the benefit of certain Aucklanders first.

    1. From personal experience – citybound in the morning we’re roughly back to pre-tunnel levels, westbound in the afternoon – congestion starts earlier in the day (some days as early as 3.30pm), mainly due to large number of lanes changes required between Pt Chev and Rosebank for westbound traffic, plus the number of lanes reduces past Rosebank and than Te Atatu.

  18. Now that Dominion Road is going ahead in the short term I think this makes a a lot of sense. Ballasted track LRT is indeed a lot cheaper than street track LRT with a concrete slab – about 2/3 the cost per km. There are examples in Melbourne, Adelaide and being built now in the Gold Coast extension. Ballasted track is in no way inferior, having good engineering properties and a smooth ride for passengers.

    There are also two other major cost advantages. The first is depots and maintenance facilities. In establishing a new LRT system these can easily be 10% of the total capital cost or more. So it is a lot cheaper to extend an existing system where these are already built than to establish a new system where all the fixed support systems need to be built.

    The second is the operating cost. LRT normally has higher capital cost than buses but lower operating cost. If the capital cost is close between an LRT and busway solution, then build the LRT! Because AT will be saving money on operating costs for the following 30 years. All that, plus great connectivity at the city end, and another opportunity to reduce the number of buses on city streets. I like it 🙂

  19. Think the idea is good going motorway for the majority, Ian McKinnon then down Queen is good for a quick win solution & provides better PT for the dead Southern Newton area too. It also presumably gives faster/easier connection to the northern/airport line. I do have reservations about future limiting of the line though if we are going to shove every thing down Queen St.

    As I’ve mentioned the other day you could run NW LRT up Newton Rd off ramp area, along K’Rd, Pitt St, Vincent & onto Albert (probably have to terminate at the bottom there).

    Not sure if can get around K’Rd/Pitt intersection, but the other CRL station entrance is right there for a great interchange. This gives you coverage alternative to Queen St. One idea is every 2nd NW service could go this slower way & the alternate one via Ian McKinnon.

    Yes this gives a NW bus access & K’rd cycle problem (unless cars were totally removed) & also tight corners, so perhaps something like Nicholas O’Kane suggestion heading towards Hopetoun St, perhaps after Newton Rd may be actually really good. Cut through the Mobil on the corner even & redevelop around there?

    If we in the future want a Sandringham Rd LRT line it may have capacity to join Queen St still.

  20. Please be talking about a light-rail / bus / cycleway interchange on and under the Carrington Rd bridge first thing Monday morning!

    Now that the new housing is confirmed for Unitec, and interchange here would connect both SH16 & 20 (with stops for Buses heading South on the M’way, or light rail using SH16), as well as Great North Rd, (with the double decker buses) so seems the best option for a transit connection node. Point Chev has no onramp to SH20, so prioritising PT in this hub would reduce need for private vehicle ownership in this area.

    Also Chamberlain Park golf course: you next.

    1. I have had a good look all the way along the western motorway and out to Kumeu. Spotted a few locations along the route where there were works that could be for pylon supports – for the north west overhead suspended maglev.
      I even noticed support mountings under those flying road structures at Waterview, ready for hanging the supports for the maglev tracks.
      Just can’t figure if the maglev goes over or under the western springs road bridge over the motorway although pylons look feasible right down centre of motorway
      This just got to be cheaper than light rails at ground level with all the property acquisition issues. And cheaper than making a whole new busway or LRway.

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