The Herald ran a couple of interesting pieces on the weekend looking at Queen St and its future. The main piece is relatively good – although annoyingly gets my name wrong – but importantly shows the growing support for improving Queen St from some of our politicians.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect is this separate piece covering a suggestion by Phil Goff that light rail would be free in the city.
Mayor Phil Goff wants free travel for passengers on Queen Street’s planned new trams to be considered.
The Government announced in May two tram routes were planned in Auckland, one of which will travel the length of Queen St on its way to Auckland Airport.
Goff told the Weekend Herald he hoped passengers could ride for free on Queen St, but it would be up to those running the service to decide.
He got the idea after seeing the same system working well in Melbourne.
“It seems to work for them, so why don’t you look at it? It’s an option,” Goff said
I’ve got a few thoughts about this, these aren’t in any particular order
- The City Link buses used to be free with a HOP card but that was stopped a while back. When it was in force, City Link buses were often severely overcrowded. Light Rail would obviously have a lot more capacity but we’ll most likely be wanting to use that capacity for those travelling down Dominion Rd rather than just a few stops up Queen St.
- Alternative options now exist for improving short trips, such as Onzo bikes and soon electric scooters.
- Many of the people who use the City Link buses are doing so as part of their daily commute, for example they’ve caught the train to the city and using it to get up Queen St. Providing they’ve used a HOP card, that extra trip is free anyway.
- Longer term, once the City Rail Link opens most of the users who currently transfer from train could just get off closer to their destination at Aotea or Karangahape.
- It’s possible some will expect the rest of their journey to be free too and it could cause a fare evasion issue
- If we’re going to start handing out free travel on PT then other areas and demographic groups that should be considered first.
Overall this kind of This feels like a bit of a distraction but it, and fare policy, is the kind of thing that will undoubtedly be continued to discussed for years to come.