We have been very critical of NZTA’s approach to communications for the light-rail project they’re now leading. That’s because their approach has mainly been to not actually do any communications, and to allow misleading and incorrect statements to generally go unchallenged. On Friday though, NZTA finally stirred into life with a Herald opinion piece from Chief Executive Fergus Gammie:

As a responsible Government agency, the NZ Transport Agency’s job is to thoroughly investigate the case for Light Rail between the city centre and Mangere. While some people are speculating about what light rail may or may not be, we are getting on with the job.

We’ve been drawing on the expertise of transport and urban development professionals both here in New Zealand and overseas. This includes the likes of Volterra from the United Kingdom, who have provided economic analysis on light rail projects from London to Kuala Lumpur to Adelaide. Systra, a transport consulting firm based in France, has been a part of the development of more than 40 light rail lines worldwide. We’re also working with LUTI, who’ve worked on light rail across Australia.

Given the only information NZTA have released on light-rail so far has a couple of very high level brochures and an extremely basic webpage, it will be really interesting to see the results of all their detailed technical work when it eventually is completed and gets released. Volterra’s Paul Buchanan led the business case for London’s CrossRail project, so it seems some of the world’s best advisors are being brought in to help develop the light-rail work. As nowhere in New Zealand has yet implemented modern light rail, it will be important to draw in the lessons from similar major projects that have either been built in recent years, or are currently underway.

NZTA also usefully highlight that the light-rail project is about so much more than just linking together the city centre and the Airport – emphasising the enormous growth potential that exists in the parts of Auckland the project will run through:

The preferred route between the City Centre and Māngere has been developed after comprehensive studies based on two central goals – providing better transport access and more capacity to support growth in the CBD and wider urban areas.

The City Centre and Māngere, including the airport, represent two of Auckland’s fastest growing employment centres. More than a third of Auckland’s job growth over the next 30 years is expected to take place in the City Centre to Māngere corridor. The communities along the route are currently home to nearly 200,000 Aucklanders and in the next 30 years, the population will grow to an estimated 300,000 people.

They are communities that have large areas of publicly owned land that give us a rare and important opportunity for large-scale redevelopment close to the city centre and the airport.

Light rail will provide greater transport access to suburbs that don’t currently have good public transport options and this will in turn attract private and public investment in new housing developments. It will also connect with walking, biking and other public transport options, giving people much greater choice than they’ve ever had about how they travel.

Finally NZTA also get to the heart of the matter by highlighting how heavy rail costs a lot, and doesn’t achieve anywhere near as much as light rail. Interestingly it also seems like a bit more work has been done that looks at some of the challenges of getting heavy rail into the Airport area – with it now seeming as though a very long tunnel would be required.

Heavy rail is a much more expensive option and won’t deliver the same urban development opportunities that light rail does. Studies show heavy rail between the airport and Onehunga would cost approximately $2.3-$3billion, and the airport to Puhinui between $1.7b and 2b. Either of these options would serve tens of thousands fewer people who live and work along the light rail route and it wouldn’t ease traffic in the CBD or along the corridor.

Heavy rail would need a rail tunnel through to the airport that would be as long as the City Rail Link, that’s a costly and time consuming project in its own right. Light rail can be built on existing corridors, making it faster and more cost effective to build and that means people will start enjoying the benefits sooner.

Overall, this is a good first step by NZTA into actually talking about the project and giving an insight into how much work is going on behind the scenes to confirm a route, develop the project’s business case and surely a lot of other necessary technical analysis. It will be great when that work is done, so there’s some real information to fill what remains a pretty big information void.

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112 comments

    1. What findings? There aren’t any. This press release from NZTA is spin, assuring us they are a responsible govt agency just getting on with the job.
      No real information, no clues and certainly no detail.

      1. So you missed the complete rebuke that this project is only about the airport? This is the entire foundation of the attack by the handful of obsessives of only one kind of train…. shown to be the triviality it is.

        1. Yes, missed that, didnt look like any ‘complete rebuke’. Please desist from repeating that old platitude that LR is not about the airport.
          It was and still is even if workers transport is how some want to insist its main purpose is. Or is it the same concept that the Puhinui interchange is not all about the airport?
          NZTA dont exactly give an impression of enthusiasm over light rail. I suspect their ‘getting on with the job’ means assuring everyone there is important backroom research happening meanwhile minimum communications and certainly no urgent or soon advanced works.
          Could it be that NZTA are releasing spin to the press while patiently awaiting a new govt? And getting back to their core mission of moar and moar roads and EW link?

          1. Bugger off if you can’t have a rational debate. HR route to airport doesn’t provide access to houses and workplaces in Mangere and Mt Roskill and light rail does. Is that hard to understand?

          2. This project isn’t all about the airport. The airport is simply a strong anchor to a line with huge catchment and various destinations all along its whole route. Airport access is a multi-mode, multi-route issue. Starting with the near term bus shuttle connecting the rail network at an upgraded Puhinu station.

            But sadly a deliberate misunderstanding of this is the whole flimsy foundation on which the complaint of the little group of huffy Foamers rests.

          3. @brendonharre – is your comment for someone else! I didnt mention heavy rail so what is your ‘rational debate’ referring to?
            Im makng a point that NZTA dont appear very enthusiastic about LR.

          4. PatrickR, I have said many times before that there needs to some real progress with LR, some advanced works or some useful short section built and working sometime soon. Years of delay and planning and nzta information gathering junkets only provide the time for more negativity such as the Herald anti LR articles. Eventually we will likely need both LR and HR connections to the airport. This squabbling between LR and HR advocates is probably missing the point that a new Nat govt is probably completely anti rail and will demand more roads and only grudingly fund busses and more busses on bigger roads.
            Who cares if the Mangere LR is not about the airport?
            Just get on with some works happening.

          5. “The airport is simply a strong anchor”

            In effect, the line is like a shopping mall – the CBD is The Warehouse or Kmart, the Airport is the Pak’nSave or Countdown, and Dominion Road is the foodcourt!

          1. I can’t see it being built without all of the buildings along Dominion Road, by your logic, it is all about Dominion Road. Of course, it’s actually just a really sensible, direct transit line linking lots of destinations and origins with transfers or future extensions available to almost all of the city.

      1. Thanks for the link.
        That scoop article is a concern. With opposition like that it sure looks like an interesting ride for light rail in Auckland. So the NZTA piece was just spin in response to the growing anti LR lobby.

        1. It’s not an article, it’s just a press release. Scoop publishes press releases from anyone who sends them in. Anyone could write any kind of made up story or angry rant, and they do, and they publish them.

  1. Yes, good to see acknowledgment from NZTA of some sort finally. Were in not for Greater Auckland I would not have known they were involved all these months.

    At least the argument is put forward that LR vs Heavy rail is substantially cheaper. I don’t know however if I buy in to the inevitability of tunnels for heavy rail though. That line seems like a flimsy justification for the LR preference.

    1. The NZTA Herald piece appears to be nothing more than a facile response to the Herald’s run of anti light rail articles. Despite Greater Auckland constantly refuting these articles (apparently without success) its likely NZTA have been prodded to provide this response. The Herald polls and results showing significant light rail opposition are probably starting to concern the relevant politicans who can see such opposition meaning lost future votes
      If this is the best response NZTA has, telling us they are responsibe and getting on with the job while assuring us ‘studies’ prove light rail is the way to go, then light rail opposition wont be going away anytime soon.

      1. I don’t think lost votes are a major concern. The opposition to LR appears to come from an odd mix of people that would never vote Labour and never vote National anyway, I don’t think it is an issue that will swing an election.

        It’s worth remembering that National have no plans for HR, just to can LR.

        1. I don’t know if that’s how the politicians see it though. If they feel the voices being heard by the public are anti-LR, they might position themselves as anti-LR, even if it wasn’t going to be an election-swinging issue.

          We have the same problem with all transport projects. When you look at specific issues, eg safety, speeds, wish for increased cycling investment, etc, the voice that is being heard loudest in the media only represents a small minority of people.

          Yet politicians have already shifted position according to these unrepresentative voices.

          This is why we need a charismatic and knowledgeable leader who will champion the cause of a better transport network.

          1. Hence, as I have been stating, they need to get on with it and show the benefits as soon as possible.

            This is the thing I am noticing with Twyford and others, fantastict at announcements but seems to be devoid of working out the political risks of not producing benefits of the plan through physical evidence, in other words, having a coherent plan.

    2. It’s only cheaper if you don’t include the Mt Roskill via Dominion Rd to Britomart section. This is where it all falls apart for me, the price has to be Britomart to the Airport, AT and LR supporters can’t only consider the cost for part of it.

      Personally I think both should be built, trams to Mt Roskill and HR from Puhinui. Then we get the best of both worlds.

        1. 3TPH on the Southern (whichever direction works best into CRL), 3TPH shuttle between Airport and Puhinui (or through to Manukau). That way you get the 10 minute frequency, you still get the one seat ride every 20 mins (or an easy change at Puhinui), you provide for the majority of airport workers who either live in East Auckland (Botany etc) or South Auckland and don’t impact on the network (3TPH is certainly not going to be a problem in the network once the 3rd main is built, and it would still service the busy inner 2/3 of the network between Britomart and Puhinui).
          As for the tunnels, there is no difference between building this for LR or HR unless you do plan to run LR above ground (which isn’t the plan so far as I know – I doubt the Airport company would be pleased to hand over around 3ha (6 acres) of land for LR purposes. Also if above ground, is LR expected to have priority (thus disrupting other airport operations), or have to give way (therefore slowing it down)?
          Either way, a large tunnel of CRL magnitude is most certainly not required! At most it would be 1.5 km (but more like 800m from the East and would be cut n cover in a cheaper trench (with hardly any costly services in the way – think New Lynn/DART but even easier). Eventually you could still have LR from the North if you wanted (it’s going to take a decade to reach the airport anyway).

          1. That’s a relatively small improvement over the proposed BRT between the Airport and Puhinui, for a large cost difference.

            The only thing gained is a single seat ride from the CBD and southern line stations to the airport, while a single seat bus ride to the Eastern suburbs is lost.

            Even using the lower estimates of $1b for the rail connection I don’t think there would be a business case to justify this over the bus solution.

  2. At least NZTA are doing the publicity work instead of burning through the political capital of their Minister.

    At some point an actual comms strategy would be great from NZTA, rather than just continuing a further fact-free tit-for-tat through the NZHerald.

    1. Yes. It would be nice if the communications strategy would outright ban paltering, too. AT needs a shake up on this, too. I’m tired of asking specific questions, and getting facts returned to me that do not answer my questions. Ask again, and they go silent.

    1. Light rail suits many European cities with much more narrow streets than we have too. It’s just about what you value, and we seem to value car dependency.

        1. Edinburgh, London, Amsterdam, Lyon and Nice immediately come to mind. These are the places I have personally used light rail at least.

          1. And most of those are trams rather than light rail, some are a mix like the London Tram. See my point you’re getting your trams and light rail mixed and using what are tram networks to justify a LR network.

            Edinburg is probably the closest to what we’re proposing, it’s a very slow system. I’ve used it a few times, as an Airport to City Center service it’s hopeless, the bus and taxi are quicker.

            If we were building something like the Copenhagen Metro system I’d jump on the bandwagon.

      1. Everyone here are going on abut LR in Europe he is a youtube video showing 29+ systems in the USA so view it and see what you think :-
        As a lot of them are European designed and possibly built there or USA made

        1. Interesting looking at the street maintenance of the various cities. Also interesting to see the various approaches to car parking along the routes

          1. “Ted F” I posted this to show what can possibly been done from a country that is in love with their mobile tin boxes the same way Auckland is .
            The thing that gets me is the people that post comments about European and Australian systems never seem to want to post video links about the systems they are forever ranting and raving about .
            When I was in San Francisco in “97” I used all but 1 off their PT systems as the day I went to use the LR it had been derailed by a motorbike accident , as they also have a streetcar/tram system I found this was amazing as it ran down 1 of their busiest main roads with no problems with all the cars that were around

    2. That is not how I read it: “The second stage of Canberra’s light rail project could also cost well over double the price of stage one”
      I bet the waterview tunnel stage of the western ring route cost many times what the other stages cost…

        1. And the Sydney system seems to be an overpriced Lawyers dream so if LR goes ahead here shoot the lawyers as they may make more than the job is worth through all the legal fees
          When they originally built the rail from Wellington to Auckland I bet the only thing the was said is “Here’s The Money Now Build It” so why don’t they use that method today

      1. The doubling of costs for Canberra light rail per km was because they want a wireless system past the Parliament buildings and a new bridge rather than using the existing bridge over the central city lake.

  3. So they hire a company whose job it is to demonstrate LR is the solution and, lo and behold, they find LR is the solution! Wow. Solid stuff AT! Spin city.

    1. This is from NZTA, not AT.

      Did you actually read it because that’s a pretty weird mistake to make, considering how many times it’s mentioned throughout

        1. It wasn’t SH 1 that was described as the Holiday Highway – it was the parallel duplicate highway that was proposed that was described as the “Holiday Highway”

        2. If the supposed case for a project (freight from Northland) does not stack up, don’t be surprised when people spot another likely motivation, a smoother trip to conveniently located vacation homes of the decision-makers and their chums. Yes, Prime Minister..

          1. And let’s not forget the traffic it would induce into Auckland, and the disbenefit that would cause throughout the city, undermining all the work we’re trying to do to reduce traffic volumes and congestion.

  4. I would like to read some of those consultants reports on rail, roads, restructuring hospitals, banks, anything, and get a feel for the $millions spent and their analysis and what good value we get

  5. Greater Christchurch are submitting on its Urban Development Strategy. My analysis of integrated land use and infrastructure provision is that Greater Christchurch would benefit from focusing on using existing heavy rail to shape city growth from the north and light rail from the south-west.

    Light rail in Christchurch should be less costly per km because it does not require bridges or tunnels and much of the proposed line is in greenfields -with lower land acquisition and build costs. Costs will be similar to Canberra’s $700 million,12 kilometre, initial stage light rail. There would be considerable land value uplift that could fund a large part of the required infrastructure costs.

    https://medium.com/land-buildings-identity-and-values/greater-christchurchs-future-the-fat-banana-aba0402f16a4

    1. Had a look at your post. One thing I would note it that the centre of business appears to be moving south after the earthquakes, a lot of the new buildings are south of Cathedral Square, so I don’t think the railway station is as isolated as it used to be. Probably not much different than Wellington now.

    2. What I don’t understand is why the banana is necessary. I’m really not clued up about Christchurch, but it looks to me like there’s a huge swathe of land with 1 or 2 storey development and wide, wide roads that could take multiple modes. Why can’t a whole lot of intensification happen without the need for banana-isation? Technically, that is. I realise the political situation is tricky…

      If the land use models assumed all the development would happen centrally, and worked out the travel demands based on that, it might just show the need for cycling and bus infrastructure, no?

  6. Anyone else bemused by the opening words of the article: “As a responsible Government agency…”

    Not to denigrate the many excellent people working there, but it isn’t responsible of NZTA to continue to allow such skewed business cases to be made for roads, fed by grossly inaccurate transport modelling.

    Nor is it responsible to ignore the call for better non-motorised user audits, and for a proper database of pedestrians counts, related to different road devices.

    Nor is it responsible to prioritise traffic flow over safety.

    Improving your communications is vital. But so, too, is improving your practice.

  7. At least the article is more of a push in using train/tram concept for Christchurch. I thought I was the only person in NZ who believe train/tram networks could be a better option for future urban/regional passenger rail options in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and possibility Hamilton.

    1. Tram/train is best suited for cities with an underutilised rail corridor and missing links such as the CBD. Auckland and Hamilton both have a rail connection into the CBD, while Auckland’s rail network is definitely not underutilised, so I don’t think it would be much value in either of those cities.

      1. Yeah so CHCH is a possibility, except the rail resources north are sparse, single track and level crossings. Would need investment there. But assuming that it’s not hard to design all sorts of useful street level Light Rail extensions to the city, Uni, and other population concentrations…. would have been even easier a few years a go of course… Perhaps the problem with this particular idea (as opposed to using conventional rail vehicles for the satellite town) is getting a design that suits both longer distance and local access in the city…?

        1. I think the best approach in Chch would be the one taken in Auckland, make use of existing resources, relatively cheap rolling stock with some basic network improvements to get an HR system up and running.

          As it proves itself further investment would flow, once double tracking and electrification was being planned discussions could be had about whether the new fleet should be tram/train or just trains.

  8. Another selling point of LR over bus based public transport is it should be far more reliable and timely.

    Bus services are at the mercy of their individual drivers, a pool of inconsistency, who can through their driving affect how efficient or slow a service can be.

  9. Extremely disappointed but not surprised that this has not made any print edition of the paper. So those that still only read paper, a particular demographic, are only getting the misinformation of the little clique of conspiracy theorists on this issue… irresponsible for an institution with pretensions to be the publication of record for our city.

    1. And the article is now entirely invisible on the herald website too.

      Although given the absence of any likely category like (most bizarrely) ‘Auckland’, or ‘transport’, or ‘Urban development’, where would you look…..

      These are all issues with a lot of interest…

    2. Like the tobacco industry, the suppliers for the services and equipment to maintain private motoring capability will fight all threats to their gravy train . They are using similar means, such as seeded “expert reports”, sponsoring celebrity influencers, making strategic,(usually untraceable political donations) and creating phoney grass roots organisations.
      The commercial news media by it’s own heavy dependence on advertising revenue from motoring related activities is far from independent in this process.
      When outright opposition has failed, the tactics turn to supporting any delaying mechanism.
      A delay for them is still a victory. A slowed gravy train is better then no gravy at all.
      National Party politicians and the NZ Herald editor have already reluctantly conceded, Britomart Railway Station, Northern Busway, and its extension, Western line double tacking, rail electrification, the CRL but fighting Light Rail is their current battle.

      1. and fighting placemaking, people-friendly initiatives and active mode projects wherever they impinge on road and car precedence.

  10. Good to finally see some communication from NZTA.

    I’m glad they addressed the issues with using heavy rail as well as the associated costs. The only thing I would like them to change is to add links to the reports they mention, not adding links gives detractors more ammo to use against them. e.g. The one that says a tunnel will be needed for heavy rail.

    1. I fear that even providing the links will do little to allay the concerns of non-LR-fetishists that HR has been deliberately over-specified and over-priced to deter further consideration.

      “Studies show heavy rail between the airport and Onehunga would cost approximately $2.3-$3billion, and the airport to Puhinui between $1.7b and 2b. “
      This is more than the cost of the proposed E-W link motorway!!

      “Studies show. . . .” that HR has been costed on unnecessarily gold-plated schemes, not on realistic ones.

      LR may indeed be the preferred solution but it should not require these underhand tactics to sell the idea.

      1. +1. It appears there is no restraint on the level of exaggeration for HR costs when comparing to LR costs. A lot of this inflated HR cost was oft because HR required gentle gradients compared to hilly operating LR.
        I dont know why gradients suitable for 2000 ton kilometre long freight trains were necessary for the airport HR line. But costing it for these trains suited the anti HR protagonists.

        1. You guys still aren’t accepting that there is no HR v LR contest for most of this route at all. It’s LR or bus. And we’ve tried buses and now we’ve run entirely out of capacity in the city for more.

          However the contest for linking the existing rail system to the Airport is conceivably HR or bus. And here there clearly in no contest in terms of cost, there will easily be an order of magnitude difference in capital cost between a bus shuttle from Puhinui or a branch line.

          And then there’s the problem that there is no good running pattern for such branch, certainly not at a useful frequency, or that doesn’t do immeasurable harm to the rest of the network.

          Really, this one needs to be let go, extending the HR network directly to AKL Airport is simply not the best option how ever you weigh it. And there is no conspiracy; it just isn’t the right tool for this particular job in this place.

          This is no slight on the wonderful job it is doing elsewhere and will do even more of post CRL and other improvements. It will remain the heart of our nascent Rapid Transit Network and grow with it.

          1. Here’s your pattern: 3TPH Britomart-Airport, 3TPH Airport-Puhinui as shuttle (or Manukau). Gives 10 min frequency with single seat ride every 20. Doesn’t disrupt the network (especially once 3rd main built and since it still serves most of the stops on that Southern Line). Provides better access for the MAJORITY of airport workers who live out east or south.

          2. It would be easier, cheaper and quicker to build and operate a dedicate bus way following the proposed LR route from city to airport and from city to Henderson?

            At least there will be no disruption like laying tracks and power supply networks LR. The positive side is greater utilzation of the bus fleet and no service disruptions due to LR breakdowns.

            Bus motive technology has improved to the level that fossil fuel is not the main motive power.

          3. Kris – this is what National proposed and NZTA investigated it. What they found is that while it is technically feasible it would require buses running less than 1 minute apart, which would create serious bunching issues and would eventually need to be replaced by LR anyway.

            This is exactly what is expected to happen with the Northern busway.

          4. This would work, Kris, on the NW, if they reallocated general traffic lanes to bus lanes. Instead they’re determined to keep the road capacity as it is. LR is narrower, making it a little easier to fit beside the motorway. And it looks like progress whereas more pavement will look like what it is – more pavement.

            Road reallocation is the best way to reduce our carbon emissions, air pollution, traffic danger and congestion. During construction, it would require a whole lot of other measures, like putting on excellent bus services on the other lanes, and banning private cars at peak hour. If they were to make this decision, Kris, the decision on whether it should be light rail or rapid bus, is a much less important one.

        2. Bogle and Dave, how about you do what we’re all having to do with lots of transport issues? Pull the analysis apart afterwards, and help to influence a decision more satisfactory to you on the next project.

          Nothing is analysed on a level playing field at the moment. I’d say it’s all a load of bollocks, actually. But if it’s true on all the other issues that we just have to record the poor processes followed, in order to try to get some accountability later, then it’s definitely true on this project too.

          Let’s work together on modeshift, even if not every project suits every one of us perfectly.

          1. Patrick @ Heidi – I was not commenting above on the relative merits of HR and LR to the airport. I simply reacted to NZTA’s parroting of the overblown costings for HR (and a few provocative comments above that happily take this at face value and swipe at HR before anyone else has even mentioned it).

            When I see: “Studies show heavy rail between the airport and Onehunga would cost approximately $2.3-$3billion, and the airport to Puhinui between $1.7b and 2b.“ , I call this for what it is. Misleading B.S.

          2. Heidi and Patrick, ditto what DaveB says. There is no argument. I wish we could see this LR progress asap. The counter proposal in Herald for express HR via Puhinui is for another time. Get the mangere LR up first then a future generation can re-evaluate if any HR airport link is needed.

        3. Heidi & Jezza – I was thinking of bi-articulated buses that could be used as they are design for high density rapid bus routes using dedicate bus lanes/busways, using on 100% biofuel and carry up to 300 passengers. I was thinking of the Neobus Mega BRT Bi-articulated bus or the AutoTram Extra Grand bus.

          1. It’s hard to see how these would be better than LR on the airport corridor. If they are not double ended then they will require turning space which is a premium in the CBD.

            Unless they are guided then they will require a wider corridor, which will be an issue on Dominion Rd and in the CBD and will increase costs on other parts of the corridor.

            If they are guided they will require the same level of strengthening of the road as would required for LR. There is every chance the guidance system would be just as expensive as laying rails as they are not a big chunk of a projects expense.

            Also biofuel is a big step down from electric, as it still produces local emissions and requires the fuel to be transported from wherever it is produced, probably overseas.

  11. With all this money they have spent on reports , experts and other ideas they could have built and paid for the 1st section from Wynyard Quarter to the top of Queen Street . Instead of spending more on reports that no-one in the streets can understand just start and build the thing and it will then be opened earlier than expected .
    And with the cost of each of these reports the price goes up by millions of dollars

    1. Agreed.

      If NZTA, AT and the Government are so adamant about light rail being the best transport mode for Auckland, they should get the NZTA to take over AT’s Eastern Busway project and build this as light rail instead of a busway. It could be tied in with the CBD to Mangere light rail project as an extension from the airport through to Botany and Panmure via Puhinui, Manukau and Pakuranga.

      Do it once and do it properly from the start!

        1. Agreed jezza, but I’d sooner give light rail proper consideration than rush ahead with a sub-optimal solution. This analysis should be quick so that it doesn’t introduce any delay at this early stage. Equally, a busway to Mangere and the airport might be better than light rail.

          I don’t know the answers, but I think it would be to our advantage to settle on one technology or the other, and build a proper network that doesn’t require unnecessary mode changes.

          1. The work has already been done to compare a busway with LR for the Mangere corridor and imagine it has for the Eastern busway. Given construction is basically underway I doubt there is any meaningful new analysis that could be done that wouldn’t slow this project down.

            LR on the Eastern busway will increase mode changes not reduce it as anyone catching a bus from Bucklands Beach, Howick or the current 711 route would have to change to LR and then to HR at Panmure to get to the CBD.

          2. “I think it would be to our advantage to settle on one technology or the other, and build a proper network that doesn’t require unnecessary mode changes.”

            Technology is irrelevant if the modes – whatever they are – are true RTNs and integrate at various points to provide a network. Changing modes – where necessary (e.g. to change direction/head to another destination point) and provided it is seamless – is little different than changing routes on the same mode.

            This pre-occupation with a single mode is a little perplexing.

        2. Did we ever establish if the Eastern Busway was now completely unable to ever run LRT? It was a twitter rumour but I never remember what the outcome is.

          I imagine most people would be disappointed if this is the case.

      1. They aren’t adamant that light rail is the best transport mode for Auckland, only the line in question. Obviously as they are in the process of building the CRL heavy rail, the eastern busway, various street bus upgrades, a ferry wharf, two light rail lines, etc.

        No one mode suits every route and every corridor.

  12. The two possible outcomes depending on who builds this project. If AT were to do it the job would cost twice what they say it will but it will carry around the number of people they forecast. If NZTA do it the project will be completed for around the budget figure but it will only carry half as many people as they claim.

    1. I just love these scientific pronouncements. Your point is what? Sounds like no one can be trusted to build anything – so I guess your conclusion is we should do nothing at all?

    2. Also if AT run a project that cost blows out then it will be paid for by ratepayers via AC, probably by some special rate levy.
      Whereas NZTA cost blowouts will be covered by the goverment.

    1. There are just so many things wrong with this scoop article. One that stands out is many sratements that this cbd to Mangere will be a slow tram. Forgetting the tram reference as they understand its light rail aka modern trams, there is nothing slow about this LR since its running with traffic control priority and once past Onehunga its own dedicated pathway.
      So why in the very last paragraph say its too slow to be acceptable?
      Are they implying that only a fast express, limited stop service is suitable for cbd to airport? Is it overall travel time is too low because of the multiple LR stations?

      1. Yes, the article is so bad I’d hope most people would sniff and turn away in boredom. In addition to the misconceptions in the article picked up by Helga and Bogle, another of many is:

        “Gammie’s Dominion Road tramline ironically will also do nothing to relieve isthmus traffic congestion and indeed is likely to exacerbate it with the effective removal of such a critical roading artery.”

        The author seems to think the existing lanes of general traffic need to be retained, as if we must be dependent on our cars to use that public space. That’s called car dependency, and Lester Levy describes it as:

        “perhaps Auckland’s most ominous and least confronted problem from a transport perspective… If a sizeable percentage of car drivers do not make a modal switch, congestion will simply get worse and worse and as long as the majority of car drivers assume that the responsibility for modal switching lies with someone other than themselves, the problem of congestion is very likely to persist.”

        Retaining those arterial lanes is how to ensure we never move to a more liveable city with better circulation for people and better places. People need access, for sure. All the children, elderly and disabled people who don’t drive and are sick of being dependent on people who do, need a much better network. And the people who are wishing they could didn’t have to drive need to be able to stop, from the point of view of reducing carbon emissions, if nothing else. For all these reasons, the replacement of general traffic lanes with light rail will aid the network and the populace.

        The author also obviously hasn’t thought through that retaining arterial lanes stops people getting out and about walking and cycling, because the cars make it so unpleasant.The absolutely best place to remove traffic lanes in order to remove congestion on the isthmus is on the busy arterials. That’s where a more space efficient mode is most required. Better people flow. Better access for users. More foot traffic for business. All good.

      2. They criticise the change of mind by the third study by Jacobs. Could it simply be that by having more details and ideas explored & calculated, without the discounted options from earlier studies, we arrive at the LRT via Mangere solution?

        1. Yes, clearly written by someone who doesn’t understand the planning process and has never been involved in preparing a business case or delivering a project.

          There are four main stages to the business case process, from a high level strategic assessment through successive levels of design, testing and costing, to a final implementation strategy.

          The idea you start with is almost never the final result, once you’ve thoroughly designed and costed the options, assessed the operational impacts and evaluated the benefits. Especially as other projects evolve at the same time, which influence your own project.

          They seem to suggest that you should ignore all assessment, evidence and evaluation, ignore any changes in the context or the rest of the newtwork…. and just go with whatever idea gave you the feels ten years ago.

  13. Eternal problem for progressives – those who want to keep things the same are united, but those who want to change things spend all their time fighting each other about how it should be done

  14. I reckon NZTA are sweating the small stuff on Dominion Rd. We should take a leaf out of Toronto’s book:

    https://usa.streetsblog.org/2018/11/13/toronto-cleared-cars-off-a-major-transit-corridor-and-it-worked/

    “The project, which cost just $1.5 million, has produced an 11-percent increase in average daily ridership, and as much as 34 percent at peak hours. Once the street was closed to cars, about 20,000 additional streetcar riders materialized practically overnight, the city reports. Biking, meanwhile, is up by as much as an astounding 440 percent, according to city estimates.”

    When NZTA design the Dominion Rd light rail, they absolutely don’t need space for through traffic. Car access to properties can just share the same space as the light rail. If it’s only a block’s worth of cars accessing the properties, it’ll hardly hold the light rail up. And in return, we’d get plenty of space for cycling and walking.

    Even better, do they really need to wait for the light rail? Imagine all those grumpy bus passengers who wish the express buses hadn’t been stopped? All the buses would be like express buses, if they did this, and they’d need more buses, meaning even better frequency. Let those buses flow. Give those cyclists space. And let those businesses see the benefits of much so much foot traffic in a much nicer environment before they have to put up with the construction of the light rail. At least they’ll know it’s worth it, and be wanting the next stage of improvements.

    1. And from the comments section of that article, “The biggest impact of the pilot was an increase in the reliability of the service. Previously, congestion meant long waits between cars, so commuters were frustrated before they ever boarded.” As I remember it, Dominion Rd was a big grumble spot after the New Network started. AT, you could fix that for those lost / diverted / unhappy passengers right now, while NZTA are designing the light rail.

      1. That’s OK. I’m not suggesting it. What I’m suggesting is that we don’t have traffic lanes in addition to the light rail lanes. We absolutely need cycle lanes, and decent footpaths, and it would be nice to have decent trees and raingardens too.

        Currently, it’s quite on the cards that NZTA are going to not put any cycle lanes on Dominion Rd, and that would be a terrible outcome.

      2. And yes, one of the few accidents my husband’s had has been on tram tracks near Motat. I hate going over them. Other people I know have got their wheels stuck and gone head over handle bars.

        Today, my littlest son wiped out on the way to school, on the wet road. 🙁 He picked himself and all the pieces of bike lights up, and came home in such a state of upset and shock that he went to bed and slept for four hours!

          1. Yes, I worried about that during the night. He hadn’t mentioned banging his head, but I also didn’t ask. Just tended to the wounds. Thanks, I will.

          2. No concussion. 🙂 Sleep probably exactly what he needed, though. The fact that he was able to pick up all the bits of his light was a good sign, apparently, plus the fact that he a clear recall. But Doc also checked his eyes, neck, etc. All good. 🙂

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