Tomorrow the Council’s Governing Body will – presumably – confirm the end of the Wynyard Quarter tramline. A combination of factors, including some changes to the location of key development sites, means that it will cost up to $6.6 million to reinstate the service, which ceased operation back in August. This from the Council’s report:

Since late 2015 the tram has run on a partial loop, operated on Sundays, Public Holidays and for special events, due to the extent of construction/development activity occurring in Wynyard Quarter.

In September 2017, as the result of an earlier executive decision, the West 1 and West 2 development site boundaries (in the block bounded by Beaumont, Madden, Daldy and Pakenham Streets), under the development agreement with Willis Bond, were changed. This was to enable better development outcomes by having two sites of similar proportions. It was always envisaged that these sites would be used for development, it was just a matter of when this development would occur.

In April 2018, it was brought to the attention of Panuku Development Auckland (Panuku) that the south-east corner of the West 1 (30 Madden Street) development site boundary clashed with the existing Auckland Dockline tramline. West 1 is the location of the next stage of Willis Bond’s residential development, which is currently gearing up to commence construction in November 2018.

This realisation compelled Panuku to consider the long-term future of the tram. The decision was made to suspend the service to allow the encroaching tram lines to be removed from West 1, and to allow Panuku more time to consider its options in a climate of uncertainty, and with the knowledge that this would also involve material unbudgeted expenditure…

…There is a material cost with reinstating the tram. It is likely to cost up to $6.6 million once relocation of the tram depot and further track work is undertaken. Approximately $5.6 million of this cost is unbudgeted. Panuku would therefore require a Council provided budget of $5.6 million to continue the operation of the tram on a permanent basis.

Panuku currently requires an OPEX budget of $190,000 per annum to keep the tram operational on the partial loop. When the tram initially started operation in 2011, 15,376 customers used it in its peak month (during the 2011 Rugby World Cup). In 2018, these numbers dropped to the mid-hundreds. Revenue has dropped from $52,653 in its peak month in 2011 to $463 in the month of May 2018. From August 2011 to August 2018, 126,946 passengers have ridden on the tram, with a net revenue return of $329,750. The tram has never been a viable commercial operation for Waterfront Auckland or Panuku.

After considering four options (continue with the suspension of services but potentially enable future reinstatement, full reinstatement in the future, full reinstatement in time for the America’s Cup and ceasing tram operations altogether), Panuku propose option 4 as the best way forwards:

Option 4: Cease tram operations, is considered the most appropriate option for Wynyard Quarter by the Panuku Board due to material cost and future uncertainties, and the fact that the tram is no longer considered a high priority place activation for Wynyard Quarter in the context of current and future Wynyard Quarter investment by the council.

Although the tram has served as a place-making feature in Wynyard Quarter it has now, arguably, fulfilled its purpose. Significant capital and operating expenditure would be required to keep the tram running for what could be considered insufficient ongoing benefit to Wynyard Quarter. The tram has limited heritage value (being from Melbourne), lacks strong support for its running during the 36th America’s Cup event, and has its depot located on a future development site. In terms of Wynyard Quarter expenditure it is seen as a relatively low priority.

Considerable work has been undertaken to get to this position and the decision by the Panuku Board has not been taken lightly. The Panuku Board and staff have engaged with the supporter groups and have considered, analysed and had peer reviewed the costs of all the options put on the table. Enabling more people to live and work in the Wynyard Quarter, along with the high quality of development, place-making programme, and new public
spaces will ensure that the area continues to grow and fulfil its potential.

I think the concept that the tram has fulfilled its purpose already is quite a good way of looking at the issue. As I noted back in August, the tram has never been a serious part of the public transport network, and its basic engineering and tight corners mean it can’t be used by much longer modern light rail. But it was really only ever meant to be something that helped to kick-start Wynyard Quarter’s regeneration while also being a “foot in the door” to a future, more serious, modern light-rail system. Wynyard is now growing rapidly, while a huge light-rail network is now being developed.

We have also matured in our understanding of what’s necessary to really make high quality places – and it’s not gimmicks light heritage trams from Melbourne, but rather high quality pedestrian environments and public spaces that draw people in to linger. Wynyard Quarter certainly no longer needs this tram loop.

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60 comments

  1. Was doomed from the moment it was decided the Wynyard bridge wouldn’t be replaced with one that could handle light rail. Once that happened, there was no opportunity to Connect with the Viaduct or Quay St. I feel like it could have accelerated Light Rail into the CBD, so there may be a missed opportunity there. However what’s done is done.

      1. Yes he does, just not to the airport. He has long supported and advocated the establishment of a light rail network in Auckland along the main arterial roads out of the CBD across the central isthmus.

          1. Nope – his latest article was complaining that the proposed plan won’t serve the area well, because 8 stops along Dominon Road is too sparse:

            “… light rail service with only eight stops on Dominion Road instead of the present 20 bus stops, is clearly not designed for the convenience of public transport users, whether they are airport passengers (too slow) or local residents (not enough stops).”

          2. Interesting, they’re actually wrong on that point. There’s only 16 pairs of bus stops along the LRT section currently, not 20. But anyway who cares?

            16 bus stops over 4.8km is one every 300m, meaning no point is more than 150m from a bus stop, on average, and the average walk distance to a stop from any point on Dominion Road is 75m.

            8 LRT stations over 4.8km is one every 600m, meaning a max walk of 300m to a station, or an average walk of 150m.

            So the difference is 75m, which is about a minute walking at a leisurely pace. A minute extra walk to save 10 to 15 minutes travel time, sounds good to me.

          3. Yes. If we’re supposed to be aiming for a 800m walkup catchment for RTN, then a walk along Dominion Rd to a stop of 150m maximum, leaves 650m for the rest of the walk. Given that you could easily need to turn and go back 150m parallel to Dominion Rd, that means the swathe of “800m accessible” area is 500m either side of Dominion Rd, bulging up to 800m near the stops.

            For the bus stop layout, It’s a 650m swathe, bulging up to 800m near the stops if they’re at corners.

            I think either way there needs to be plenty of bike storage near each of the stops.

          4. Interesting that the draft RPTP calculates the %age of residents within a 500m walk of a rapid transit stop. Not a 800m walk. I wonder how carefully they calculate it? Anyone know?

            The increase in this measure from 14% in 2015 to 41% in 2018 was impressive. The prediction of 42% in 2021 is unimpressive.

            With the 800m walkup area essentially being a 500m band plus some bumps out to 800m, it essentially means we need RTN on all those isthmus arterials. Better get cracking.

          5. DV:
            There’s only 7 stops planned on that section of Dominion Rd – the 8th one is near New North Rd. Maximum spacing is getting up to 800m – 900m (ish).

            But with LR all door boarding distance to nearest door would reduce this by ~60 m for a double unit (2x33m, assume cab ~3m).

            Heidi: “bike storage”
            Has Auckland got any of those double deck dutch style racks? Wellington’s just opened one last week (city centre, just off Lambton – covered too). Look’s way more space efficient. Haven’t tried it as I don’t have a working bike currently.

            Stop catchment: hopefully its a network distance approach of some sort. If its old fashioned buffers, then it will be a tad fictional.

          6. I would say there is a happy medium somewhere between too slow and not enough stops. Considering light rail is only about 5 minutes slower than heavy rail and also has plenty of stops down dominion road I think it is the happy medium.
            What I’d like to know – does mike lee and co really think light rail will be a flop? Do they honestly think it won’t get heavily used? Do they honestly think more people would use a one station airport heavy rail spur than a light rail line with 20 well positioned stations? I just don’t get how that is logical?

  2. The wyanard quarter still has tram tracks. The issue with this is it is not very smooth for baby stroller and lime escooter and looks rundown.

    I understand some people want to keep this old industrial look. However is that value more important than a nicely paved surface and some landscaping placemaking?

    1. Yes, I agree. And the ‘industrial look’ with wide truck-sized roads isn’t helping with traffic speeds. The area is a big carpark disappointment with a few pockets of loveliness.

    2. The Wynyard Dockline tram was set up to fail from the start with not being built through to Britomart and just being a loop going nowhere in the middle of nowhere. Had it been built through to Britomart it would have been a useful and attractive public transport service.

      Perhaps the Wynyard Quarter will get connected to Queen Street with a new light rail loop via Fanshawe Street in the future when the new light rail network is eventually built along Queen Street?

      1. what they should do iss lay the tracks from the Civic to Wnyard Quarter to make the motorist get use to the service and then they could get better patronage for this time of the year . Cause were it is right now the average tourist/visitor to the city would not now it’s even there . Christchurch had a better idea with their one being installed were the people are all the time and it gets used

      2. I presume you have read none of the press releases or you could be taking the Mickey, however in case of the former, yes the proposed Light Rail will travel from Jellicoe Street in Wynyard, along Fanshawe then up Queen Street at the Customs Street intersection. Easy walk to Britomart from there (albeit uncovered).

    3. Are you thinking of the old railway tracks? Much rougher than the modern boondoggle tram tracks (although the flange gap has been (mostly) filled in)

  3. I don’t think it will be too missed, I think the Council undervalued how much Auckland public would appreciate just having open waterfront space and thought they needed a tourist attraction to get people there. Wynyrd Quarter IS the attraction..

    Not having the light rail bridge across to the Viaduct is also a blessing as Light Rail will server way more peope going along the Fanshawe corridor past all the business park like offices.

    1. There’s little difference in the distance between being on the other side of the street. Having the bridge would have meant a proper connection to Britomart and the downtown area, not isolating the track in the middle of nowhere.

    1. Yes it was a waste of money. Just like the unused ramps from Spaghetti junction to Dominion Road. Or the unused ramps for a Ngaio Gorge connection to SH1 in Wellington. Small beer in relation to the total misspend in totally prioritising car transport and storage over other modes.

      1. “unused ramps for a Ngaio Gorge”
        Part of the northbound off ramp was used to add 4th lane north of Aotea Quay on ramp (so wasn’t entirely useless).

      2. “The ramps and bridges that
        were already built are the connections
        used today to Dominion Road and New
        North Road from the city. ”

        Again, also in use.

        1. My understanding is that a portion of the already constructed proposed northbound connection from Dominion Road to the Northern Motorway required demolition to accommodate the northbound connection from the NW motorway to the Northern Motorway

        2. And due to be demolished any time now and the intersection returned to at-grade with the surrounding freed-up land sold for development.

  4. “In April 2018, it was brought to the attention of Panuku Development Auckland (Panuku) that the south-east corner of the West 1 (30 Madden Street) development site boundary clashed with the existing Auckland Dockline tramline. West 1 is the location of the next stage of Willis Bond’s residential development, which is currently gearing up to commence construction in November 2018.”

    Is this for real? Had Panuku made a a decision where they didn’t understand the consequence of it? If so, this is almost incompetence.

    I wonder if all the wasteful decisions were summed and halted, and this money applied to PT fare reductions what PT ridership might look like. Lets start with 50 mill from recent increases in road resurfacing. Bingo – already 50 cents off every single fare.

    1. Arguably, Panuku development sold the land to Willis Bond without consideration of the tram services future, despite it being prominent in the Auckland Waterfront plan at the time the sale was made. If you were a cynical person you may take it that they made a mistake and are now covering it up.

  5. The idea that the tram was just a promotional tool that served it’s purpose is, I think, just a face-saving exercise. It was a half-baked scheme from the start. More ammunition for the anti light rail brigade.

    1. Agreed. The only sensible part was when they turned it off. A poor imitation of a tourist attraction of another city is just a bad idea. The council would have been better off handing out $20 notes to tourists than spending on this.

  6. What is not being realised here is that the residential development planned in the Wynyard Quarter will being built alongside engineering shops specialising in marine work, some of it very noisy. And the problem with that is that those industries cannot move from the area, simply because they are the only ones that can overhaul the luxury super yachts with masts so high they can’t go under the harbour bridge. I can’t really see people who have paid $2 million plus for an apartment putting up with that, but those industries inject huge amounts of money into the Auckland and NZ economies, and the alternative could see them moving out of town or even the country altogether.

    1. Meh, it’s no worse than living in an apartment next to any street in central auckland. The noise of the marine industry is nothing compared to the noise of Hobson street or the Grafton Gully motorway.

    1. It would have been easier to go to the fairground and hopped on a merry-go-round . There is a better one at MOTAT and they use NZ trams not Aussie junk which the council I think is paying hireage on

    2. I went on it a couple of times on one of my infrequent visits to Auckland. Was very useful on a rainy day (quite often in Auckland) as there was so much unbuilt in Wynyard, and no verandahs, so I could move round and not get wet. Nice to be able to have the windows down and fresh air / rain in my face.

      Amusingly, on one of the times, I was talking to the driver, going down Halsey St, and I was asking him whether there were ever accidents with cars. About a minute later, a car decided to reverse into a parking space, and instead reversed into us… Tram 1, Car 0. No damage to 100 year old steel chassis. Cracked bumper to modern car.

      Actually, I’m going to miss them. If they made the route bigger and more useful than the tiny loop, it would be a great addition to Auckland’s transport options.

  7. Just another example in the long list of examples of idiots spending other people’s money on idiotic things in order to justify their own job.

  8. So many what ifs. The biggest if that would have been more a certainty was if it had connected to downtown it would have succeeded.

    It didn’t, no one had the imagination or care factor to do anything else.

    The last light rail tracks on a public street we will see for a while!

  9. Alas the tram was never taken very seriously from the off start, some form of logical route or connection to Freemans bay would have been a nice feature for Auckland but this must be made way for large scale development projects for private interest and more lanes for traffic and car parks. It will only take 20 years for light rail to hit the ground as if the other lot get back in power we will be back to RoNS and 16 lanes in each direction on the northwestern to accommodate the all the cars needed for the multi-level car park about to be constructed by the Ports of Auckland. Now that’s what we call investment…… This Goff fella has sure been a major disappointment of a Mayor….we can have nice things in Auckland apart form pink cycle ways formerly known as a off ramp, lets all pat each other on the back for our success!

    1. When you combine this with the Cluster f**k that is going on with the Speedway relocation, it is rapidly looking like the campaign period for local elections has begun early….

      The chances of the Council doing anything controversial over the next 11 months appear to be diminishing by the hour…

    2. Council would like to spend $1.8 million to reinstate the line until the America’s Cup.

      What else could we do with $1.8 million?

      In Toronto, they managed to make quick changes to the streetscape of King St, and increase ridership along there by 11% (20,000 almost overnight), and cycling numbers went up by 440%. For $1.5 (Canadian). We could too, if we had the will.

      1. We could close Queen Street to cars for that. I wonder what visitors for the AC would prefer, let alone city centre residents.

  10. I wonder how many people purchased apartments in the area under the expectation the tram would be extended to Britomart?
    I find it very strange that the tracks are not being maintained, or reinstated by developers.
    Tight corners are fine for a shuttle to Britomart as only a single car would be required.

    1. I’m sure that residents would prefer an actual light rail line to Britomart, Queen Street, Mt Roskill, and the airport over a 1920s Melburbian trolley doing a loop around their suburb and maybe going to Britomart one day.

      1. The massive LRT project that we still don’t have a firm timetable around vs. the half-built tram that we did have a timetable around but it just got scuttled. Decisions, decisions…

  11. How many of these trams does Auckland have?
    Wellington should consider the same strategy for its push for Light Rail / Heavy Rail extn.

    Bluebridge Ferry Terminal to Vivian / Taranaki St. 6 basic ‘bus stop’ stations with double track for passing and 1.8km of single track for the route length.
    Bluebridge Ferry – Queens Wharf – Frank Kitts Park / Arena – Te Papa – Courtney Pl – Vivian St.

    Bluebridge to Te Papa could be shared space / dedicated ROW, Te Papa to Vivian St has at least 4 lanes of traffic plus parking, a painted median and / or turning lanes to use.
    A visual:
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1iK369I3O8AbwMhGncx4UEJ134AFFVqCT&usp=sharing

    A reasonable combination of tourist, resident and commuter utility – and a first step / demonstration of the power of moving Wellington’s Rail further into the city.

    1. 3 former Melbourne tram at Dockline, 20 from various cities at MOTAT, of which about 7 former Auckland trams and about another five privately or Trust preserved Auckland trams and 80-90 as baches/holiday homes.

  12. Well, Just like Panuku, this article was a little premature. Great to hear that the Council has seen straight through Panuku’s attempt to get shot of the Wynyard Quarter Tramway. Here is my beef. In 2010, a Tramway was mooted to go from the Quay Street to Wynyard Quarter as a Space Shaping exercise. With the time and financial constraints at the time, only Phase 1, the loop or “destination” was built and opened in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Then in 2012, Phase 2 was mooted and discussed, but went no further. The loop was successful in bringing attention to the new development area of Wynyard Quarter. What Phase 2 promises to do is connect the loop from Halsey Street – a light rail capable Te Wero bridge across Ligher Basin, replacing the temporary bridge – to the Maritime Museum/Eastern Viaduct (600m) – and onward to Queens Wharf/Britomart (1km) is connect the hundreds of thousands of pedestrians, tourists, cruise ship visitors and office workers with Wynyard Quarter.

    Currently there is a big drop or low conversion rate of pedestrians between the Viaduct and Wynyard Quarter. Not all visitors are capable of the 600m + walk each way. A tram service would carry people between these areas within minutes, is scale-able, in other words, you add more trams into the system as patronage rises and the benefit to the Wynyard Quarter is there would be a steady stream of people past the restaurants, shops and businesses regardless of the weather, and without having to take a long detour along Fanshawe Street on the red bus. So there would be a higher conversion rate. Many opening tram bridges exist in the world, whether side opening of lifting and none of this is rocket science.

    MOTAT’s tramway works because is connects two destinations together, or three if you count the Zoo. When the Dockline Tramway is connected to the City would carry hundreds of thousands a year. Any public transport system is only as good as the planning or route design.

    Also if people want to see authentic trams running, MOTAT and the Auckland Electric Tramway Trust have Auckland trams preserved and could be restored in a reasonable time frame to provide the true heritage element.

    The question is, do Aucklanders have the vision to make this happen? In Melbourne the City Circle works with their W class trams, in San Francisco the Muni run the F and E lines with historic streetcars and tramcars including two Melbourne Ws like Docklines and carry many hundreds of thousands of tourists and locals per year. Well planned, well executed and extremely successful. The only thing that is missing for the Dockline is Phase 2 to Quay Street to tick all these boxes!

    1. Thanks, David. For what it’s worth, I used to use the Motat tram quite a bit as transport. Usually there was a fair bit of walk at either end, but with children with me, it meant I could cut out three bus fares each way. (With Motat membership, the tram was free.) I would’ve used it much more if it had operated at peak hour or if it had gone a bit further at either end.

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