Over the last few days the twists and turns on the light rail saga have felt more like those of a roller coaster than a mass transit system. It all started with an article in the Sunday Star times with leaked documents showing the entire process to deliver light rail was derailed by a six-slide proposal from the NZ Superfund and their Canadian partners. This comes after I looked into the dodgy funding arrangement they’re likely looking at just over a week ago.

First though, here are some of the new things we’ve learnt since my post on Monday.

The (original) NZ Infra Proposal

Yesterday Stuff’s Thomas Coughlan, who kicked off this roller coaster, dropped some more crucial details about what was been proposed by NZ Infra that got us into this mess.

A tunnel under Queen St, elevated sections over Mt Eden, and automatic driverless trains are part of the secretive bid from the Super Fund to build Auckland’s light rail.

Details of the plan and the route have been kept secret by NZ Infra, the company the fund has formed to manage the proposal.

But a massive leak of documents to Stuff shows a radical plan that differs substantially from anything previously proposed by the Government, including the well-known NZTA plan for light rail along Dominion Rd.

Renderings from the NZ Infra project show a design that looks more like heavy rail, with underground and elevated sections.

The plans date from last December, and Transport Minister Phil Twyford and the Ministry of Transport say they have been updated since.

The map behind this is below but is unfortunately low quality so is hard to make out some of the details but the big focus appears to be on speed with a claim of a 30 minute trip to the airport, I’ll deal with that part shortly. The Ministry and NZ Infra are both saying this proposal is “outdated”.

On the surface the proposal sounds exciting as a fully automated system such as the Sky-train in Vancouver would be great, but the issue comes in that being fully grade separated it would also make it extremely costly. Take the city centre section for example, we now know first-hand what digging a tunnel through the city centre costs, both in terms of disruption and money so to start with this would mean a second CRL. To remain separated through the isthmus means either buying and demolishing a heap of houses or elevating the line -you could tunnel that too but that’s even more costly. We struggle to get even some gentle density in the corridor so how easily is it going to be to get this consented?

An elevated skytrain line in Vancouver, note it also takes up a significant amount of road space

While we’d love a fully automated system, and have talked about it before, the high cost of it means we’re not going to be able to afford to build a lot of it and that means we’re less likely to see improvements to other critical areas, like the Northwest – which with all the housing being built is probably more urgent at this stage. A properly optimised surface route would likely deliver most of the benefits of the much more expensive option for a much lower costs meaning we might be able to afford to also start building that Northwest line.

As I’ve said before, I think the best solution is to stick to the original light rail plan by Auckland Transport, which also delivers some great urban design outcomes, especially for those town centres. Then in the future, after we’ve extended light rail to the North Shore, we could look at an additional more direct, grade separated route that could be upgraded to an automated system but still leaving the surface route to serve Dominion Rd. For example, something like this.

New Requirements

One thing that seems to be driving all of this is that seemingly off the back of the NZ Infra proposal, the government have changed the rules of the game. Again from the Coughlan piece.

Twyford and the Ministry of Transport cautioned that the plan has been altered, after the Government changed what it wanted from the project. These new goals, set out in a “Requirements document” have not been made public.


[Transport Ministry chief executive Peter Mersi said]

“It’s important to note that what has been leaked is outdated and that both NZTA and NZ Infra are now responding to a requirements document by developing new Proposals. The requirements document sets out the outcomes the Government wants to achieve from the Auckland Light Rail project. NZTA and NZ Infra’s new Proposals will set out how they plan to meet these outcomes and may be significantly different to what we have seen from them before,” he said

I can understand not wanting to discuss or release confidential information about proposals but I can’t see any reason why the government couldn’t release the new goals and requirements. Surely we should be able to understand what their focus is.

It certainly feels like the government have been seduced by the sales pitch of a glossy brochure and so suddenly decided to prioritise speed from the city to the airport above all else. This is despite city to airport trips being relatively insignificant with ATAP finding that only 4% of trips along the corridor in the morning peak would be these journeys.

There is also suggestions that urban development has become less of a priority under the new goals and that is backed up by suggestions there will be many fewer train stations – meaning also fewer people can access the system.

NZTA Admissions

One angle to emerge yesterday was the NZTA admitting they dropped the ball and delayed the process to assess the NZ Infra proposal. The Prime Minister and Transport Minister have also both pointed fingers at the NZTA for this.

NZTA’s new board chair Sir Brian Roche said the ordeal had disappointed ministers.

“We the agency were given a job to do … and for whatever reason … we didn’t get it done. That’s delayed the process, that’s frustrated ministers,” he told Morning Report.

“This is a huge project on any scale, and it took the agency by surprise, that’s understandable.”

This feels like a little bit of convenient scapegoating to me and in many ways I’m not surprised the NZTA didn’t seem to take the proposal seriously given it’s so dramatically different to what was expected of the project – it must have felt like a weird joke.

The politics

Both National and the government’s own coalition partner, NZ First, have been quick to jump to the news.

National have long been opposed to the project and have understandably jumped on the news. While we are probably in agreement on the role of the Superfund, the main problem with their position is that like when they were in government, they oppose the project but have not provided any viable alternative. For example, Simon Bridges is saying he prefers rail from Puhinui and more buses on the isthmus despite the Puhinui upgrade and bus priority to the airport already being underway while having too many buses in the city is what lead to the need for light rail in the first place.

NZ First are similarly saying they’ll build rail from Puhinui and Shane Jones is saying there’s no guarantee they’ll support the project after the next election.

How to fix this mess

The government are reported to be furious with the leaks that lead to all of this but perhaps they should count it as a blessing. One of the problems in all of this is that with the secret change in focus, the NZTA, who are now competing with NZ Infra for the project, are likely having to come up with a similar crazy proposal. The concern is that come February the government will be presented with two near identical bids neither of which are able to be funded or pass any kind of sanity check and the entire process/project dies for at least a few years.

As I said the timing of this should be seen as a blessing as there’s likely just enough time to change track back to something sensible – which they can then claim was the plan all along. To do this the NZTA should be asked to submit a ‘sensible’ bid which presumably would be similar to what AT spent years developing, enhanced with any insights gained from the NZ Infra proposal and anything else they’ve learnt during this process.

Even better would be if the government simultaneously ended the NZ Infra bid.

There are obviously a lot of funding pressures and ATAP only set aside $1.8 billion to kick-start the development so perhaps look at what they can get for that as even just getting a first stage of the project started, say from the city centre to Mt Roskill, will make a big difference and other parts of the route can be staged for delivery later.

It is also increasingly urgent we get improvements to the Northwest. Putting some money aside to get some interim but future proofed bus improvements, such as building the interchange stations, could make a big difference.

What could have been

A briefing document from January 2018 released by the Ministry of Transport highlights what could have been had NZ Infra not derailed the process just a few months later. In another unfortunately low quality map it highlights what the NZTA were aiming to deliver on rapid transit in 2020. I’ll decipher those boxes as best I can below

Northern Line LRT

    • Busway extension (with LRT future proofing) and station upgrades Albany to Constellation operational
    • Silverdale to Albany bus priority operational
    • Sunnynook and Smales Farm Station upgrade operational
    • Additional harbour crossing for RTN designation secured
    • Northern Line LRT implementation plan completed

Airport to City Line LRT

    • City to Mt Roskill services relocation and slab placement under construction
    • Stoddard Depot substantially complete
    • Airport to Mt Roskill enabling works contracts under construction (bridges and civil works)
    • LRT vehicles ordered

Botany to Panmure (AMETI) BRT

    • Pakuranga to Panmure busway operational

North-Western Line LRT

    • Massey North station operational
    • LRT enabling works under construction
    • LRT vehicles ordered
    • Depot identified and consents lodged

Airport to Puhinui Line BRT

    • Puhinui interchange operational
    • Airport to Puhinui bus priority and lanes operational
    • Bus services enhancements

Southern Line

    • Papakura to Pukekohe electrification construction underway
    • 3rd main line under construction

Finally, I’d also recommend this great piece by Todd Niall looking at all of this and also asking the question of how much say Auckland should have in this outcome. Auckland has historically not been well served by decisions like this being made in Wellington and one of the reasons Auckland was amalgamated int he first place was to address some of this stuff.

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  1. It probably will require a quiet shuffling of Twyford sideways as well. Maybe make him Minister of Administrative Affairs.

    I know someone well involved in community housing and the description I got of how Twyford bungled Kiwibuild is almost a carbon copy of his behaviour here. Basically, in housing he made grandiose claims with hugely ambitious targets on aggressive timelines then immediately dismantled the funding for any sort of regional or community initiatives capable of actually building houses to meet his goals in favour of re-inventing the wheel with excessive centralisation. I gave Twyford the benefit of the doubt on housing, because I hoped that I could discern a method in the madness.

    Reading Todd Niall’s piece yesterday it sees the same mistakes have been made by the same minister in relation to light rail. The time has surely come for the PM to take control and to put someone else in charge of the light rail project, dismiss the the NZ Infra bid, and direct AT/NZTA to get on with it.

    1. What’s concerning now is even if we do go with the original NZTA bid or the AT concept with the airport and NW tacked onto it, there’ll no doubt be a judicial review or auditor general’s review of the process by any disaffected party or lobby groups that feel like their pet project got shafted.

    2. That sounds sensible. On any project where development is ongoing, at some time you need to lock it in and proceed. Always delaying while looking for even more improvements is a certain way to achieve little.

    3. Sanctuary, the voters are going to move Twyford “sideways” next year. His electorate is gridlock city and he has delivered diddly squat and he never will.

      So Cindy may as well do it for them!

    4. The made Jonathon Hunt a minister without porfolio, he was known as the Minister of Wine and Cheese. Twyford could do that.

        1. lol maybe. He supports the superfund scheme while trying to shaft Twyford. He also mentions this blog and a former major blogger. If he is right then it is like the John Key Skycity sweetheart deal (which maybe they might be regretting now after all you are fully insured right up until the time you lodge a claim).

        2. His allegations in that story are serious enough that the Herald’s lawyers and ‘editors’ must have vetted them. I guess some of the fired NZTA board members are sharing dirt in their party circles.

        3. Ah, today’s follow-up story suggests Hoots may end up costing his publisher after all: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12280093

          “Senior Cabinet Ministers were sounded out about an Auckland light rail bid from the NZ Super Fund in January 2018, months before a proposal was put to the Government.

          But Transport Minister Phil Twyford says the subsequent proposal was unsolicited, and any suggestion that he has been lying about that is defamatory.”

      1. There is delicious irony in the fact that Matthew Hooton has been deplatformed by the Herald’s need to make a buck. He’s not part of the debate.

    5. There is something profoundly disappointing about a supposed PT advocate who is singing from the same songsheet as National.

  2. Perhaps we should all be emailing our govt representives and the PM, asking why there is a proposal being considered from NZ infra when AT had a perfectly good one and all they need to do is fund it.

    They all read or a briefed on the emails they get.

    1. My guess is funding. AT had a proposal but it was not fully funded in ATAP, it required a significant amount of funding. It is possible that the Super Fund option is the best option up front for getting it built, but probably the worst option for our wallets in the next 100 years.

      1. The point about Japan is that high land prices have not translated to high house prices. As per the quote from my link.

        “Land prices in inner Tokyo are considerably higher than in London, whereas house prices are significantly lower. The explanation, James Gleeson argues, is that land in Tokyo is used more productively to produce more housing than equivalent land in London.”

        Rents are actually higher in Wellington and Auckland than they are in Tokyo. So land in NZ cities is also unproductively utilized.

        Which politicians in NZ have a rationale argument to fix our unproductive cities?

        All I am seeing is a lot of silence, no commitment, no teamwork, a lot of ignorance and then when it goes wrong Phil Twyford gets the blame.

      2. The Government should avoid creating creating any perpetual property rights over infrastructure sited on currently publicly owned land, like the plague. Have they, treasury and all, learnt anything from the failed privatisation of Rail in NZ that resulted in it’s private owners firstly holding the Auckland regional council hostage to having to pay excessively for access to the rail corridors within Auckland, and then the Government to paying way way over the top, to buy it back, to thwart the owner simply removing rail as an on going transport option in NZ in favour of their road haulage business.

    1. One would hope that now seeing the bleeding obvious writing on the wall will be the turning point for Labours leadership group. I am certainly praying to the Gods on that.

  3. Also Winston Peter’s made it very clear that he’s worried about cost increases. That should kill off fanciful underground or elevated systems that always end up many times more costly than something running at grade.

    1. Snoozle, Winston’s plan for Northland rail upgrade and shifting Auckland Port activities to North Port are the fly in the ointment. That plan includes completing the Avondale to Penrose heavy rail link – which was where AT wanted to build tram storage and workshops.
      So many plans and so few dollars and maybe to many cooks trying to use the same frying pan.

      1. ATs plans have always left room for a double track freight line in the avondale southdown reservation. It’s a big reservation, and the LRT only runs along a 3km stretch where it is over 30m wide. The stabling workshops aren’t in the corridor.

        This is a myth cooked up by people that don’t know what is going on.

        1. East of Dominion Rd it’s only 10m wide at the corner with Somerset Rd. Can’t sensibly close the road, school buildings would need demolishing to shift it.
          Similarly there are other industrial buildings and houses at other narrow points. It is not a continuous 30m wide corridor.

        2. Anthony – it is a continuous 30m corridor, any buildings encroaching onto it will be leasing the land off Kiwirail.

  4. AT spent years showing time and time again that heavy rail was in expensive and ineffective. And now the MoT wants to double down on even more expensive metros?

    What is wrong with this country, why can we never just do the right thing once we work it out? Why do we always have to spend a decade veering off to random shitty dead ends first.

    1. Years ago we had a large amount of domestic capacity and the capability to just get on and design and build. Now any projects have to be professionally managed and involve convoluted economic schemes to keep the costs off the books.

      1. Ten years ago the largest ever transport project in NZ had cost $350 million. Now we have a number of projects that have cost more than that, with one under construction costing at least $4 billion. We are in a different era of transport projects.

  5. We need to focus on the larger picture here. Clearly the Cullen Fund people have a goal of interfering with major projects and are seeking to impoverish us all with obligations to foreign entities. It is time to shut them down. Award these pricks the DCM (Don’t Come Monday). Move the money into Vanguard or some of the other bug managers and just give the pricks that caused this their notice.
    They have well and truly killed light rail for years to come.

    1. Yes the larger picture. It’s just not believable that Cullen fund people came up with an LR proposal right out of the blue as a complete surprise to the govt. A more likely picture is that panic was setting in as NZTA started to make headway with LR and the govt could see potentially footing the $6bn LR bill. Then with overseas LR schemes cost blowouts that could easily become $10bn+ and already having a CRL $1bn blowout to deal with (and high probability of future CRL blowouts), the govt needed an excuse to stymie the LR roller coaster before it took on an unstoppable momentum.
      Enter the Cullen fund, LR development halted, sack the nzta board and blame them for LR debacle meanwhile govt feeds us all BS the LR scheme needs more studying, analysis, costing ad infinitum

      1. It’s easy to assume conspiracy but my guess is they were following what was happening in Montreal given it was reported on in investment circles (which formed part of my post recently on it). CDPQ have said they wanted to export the model and I assume NZ Superfund thought they could get a piece of the action. I don’t think they entered in to the process on the goal of delaying/killing the project

        1. That is more likely. The superfund people saw the project as a chance for guaranteed returns and were in like a robber’s dog. Their goal is not about providing the public transport system we need, it is all about making their own job easier.

    2. “Clearly the Cullen Fund people have a goal of interfering with major projects and are seeking to impoverish us all with obligations to foreign entities.”

      I appreciate the sentiment but that’s a contentious way of putting it. I think it’s more reasonable to say:

      “Clearly the Cullen Fund’s goal of juicing the capital markets by providing attractive opportunities for overseas investment leads them to interfere with major projects and thus impoverish actual outcomes to make NZ profitable for foreign entities”.

  6. I am still coming to grips with the governments and most particularly Labours naive management of this project;

    It is their policy with support from the Greens
    The electoral cycle runs for 3 years and there is no secret of this fun fact
    They must have something to show for it to prove to voters they can do and can be trusted
    They did not foresee the absolute lack of action as being a problem.
    They seem to be in disbelief and irritated that the failure to deliver this promise has predictably like night follows day, blown up in their faces in the media

    Jacinda, blaming NZTA for something YOUR Minister should have ridden roughshod over doesn’t lay 1 millimetre of light rail
    It does not give me any faith it will be delivered by 2023 or even 2123
    I have even less faith that it will be delivered because your Minister, Phil Twyford, has proven to be utterly hopeless and he is still heading it

    I could write Nationals campaign ads now, actually, a shaved chimp could;

    Kiwibuild should have delivered 30,000 homes. How’s about 1000, maybe? #Twyford?
    Light rail, Wynyard to Mt Roskill by next year (2021), cue man standing by ghost station in Wynyard and ghost station in Mt Roskill wearing a Labour T-shirt with Jacinda’s face on it, #Twyford?

    One does not have to be a crystal ball reader or have an IQ above Forrest Gump to see how easy for National it will be pinning the tail on this goat.

    Soooooo – Cut the bullshit excuses, bypass Twyford because he is simply not up to it, put a rocket up someone and get some real progress, physical progress underway immediately so at least we all know it’s for real. INACTION, INDECISION and DITHERING are NOT options unless your government want to be one-hit wonders!!!!

    And as they say in the car industry, Drive it like you stole it because time is not on your side!

    Blaming NZTA for piss poor management is not going to cut it, I promise!

  7. Lets be honest and if NZTA had done its job properly since 2008, then the NW motorway corridor would be at the very least “Light rail ready”.

    If not likely already having a half decent busway running on it for half a decade now – proving it will work just like the NW Busway does. And paving the way for LRT.

    But NZTA fiddled, and burned, avoided making space for PT other than skanky breakdown/shoulder lanes that avoid “their motorway” becoming cluttered with stations.
    No doubt under the mistaken belief that those stations will hamper future widening of the motorways.

    So NZTA is right in the gun. If they had delivered a NW busway, then the LRT would be running on it in some form by now.

    As for NZ Infra. This has the strong smell of Thales/Snapper and Hop smeared all over it. Almost like NZ Infra are reading from [or rolling in?] the NZ Bus’ playbook.

    And it seems that NZ Infra has the ministers ear, because there was a comment from Twyford along the lines of “its a good outcome if every Aucklander using PT is funding their retirement”.

    While it is a good idea if Aucklanders PT use of PT does fund their retirement to some degree, it seemingly ignore that obvious question “but at what cost, Minister”?

    Having NZ Infra [and a healthy dollop of overseas pension funds as well] clipping the PT tickets in every sense of that phrase for decades (or even a century) as was proposed does not to me sound like a “good deal” for Aucklanders or even NZ Inc- in the long run.

    Especially if it takes a decade to deliver.

    1. Yes. If you want to maintain road dominance in the transport networks, you won’t restrict motorways by building stations or giving lane space to bus rapid transit or to light rail.

      We know how NZTA are masters with the business case process, using it to shape or kill projects.

      When I read in Politik today that three months ago, in a meeting with the Auckland Business Forum, NZTA’s new head of Light Rail,

      “Devlin told the group he wanted to conduct a review of the project “from first principles…” In effect, he was saying the whole project needed to go back to the beginning…”

      … it made me really wonder what he was employed to do, and whether the rumours in the industry that he was employed to kill LR were indeed with good basis.

    2. Agree, the best deal for NZers in retirement would be to go and find another sucker overseas who wants a light metro PPP and invest in that. That way we can get rich of someone else’s mistakes.

    3. “its a good outcome if every Aucklander using PT is funding their retirement”.
      What a load of rubbish!
      The reality is that every NZer will be funding every single light rail journey through farebox recovery. I don’t have a problem with that – I do have a problem with trying to put a spin on the total economics of it.

  8. Delays and controversy over Aucklands light rail is bad for integrated public transport and housing advocates outside of Auckland too.

    One of the big decisions about public transport in NZ which successive central governments from David Lange onwards have avoided is devolution of revenue gathering to regional government so they can fund their own capital projects.

    If GA/Matt Lowrie believes that AT should have run the light rail project then GA should have been campaigning that revenue gathering be devolved to Auckland. Because whoever funds the capital projects is the decision maker.

    One of the arguments used against devolution is that Wellington has the expertise and regional bodies do not. Well NZTA shows they lack the expertise. They clearly do not understand how urban transport systems work. Basically they are only in there comfort zone when building regional state highways. Even worse they have no idea how to evaluate complex financial transport options.

    All of this points to an endless argument between Wellington and Auckland that is going nowhere fast. The other urban centers of NZ. Christchurch, Hamilton, Tauranga will as per usual in NZ get ignored and the cluster- f.. that is NZs investment in capital projects will continue.

    1. And today Goff is showing his agility on the fence and unwillingness to really advocate for Auckland: https://i.stuff.co.nz/auckland/116793028/auckland-light-rail-goff-says-its-the-governments-call

      Auckland’s Mayor Phil Goff says it’s the Government’s role to decide which of two very different light rail schemes, is chosen for his city.Stuff had sought an interview with the mayor on whether Auckland should be more closely involved in choosing a scheme that met Auckland’s needs, however his office supplied a statement…

      “At the time we developed the Auckland 10-year transport programme, Government offered to fund light rail in Auckland. As the funder, it has primary responsibility for determining which of the two proposals, is the more affordable and feasible,” he said…

      It is a view which has raised hackles of the downtown business group Heart of the City…

      “You can’t sit on your hands in Auckland and wait for things to happen in Wellington – that’s very disturbing,” said Viv Beck the chief executive.

      1. When Goff was first running for Mayor I wrote an article that concluded he should be asking in partnership with other Mayors for devolution of revenue gathering power to fund needed local capital projects. Privately a message was delivered to me that this narrative was not helpful for his campaign.

        The light rail controversy between Wellington wanting to do its thing and the likes of Matt Lowrie wanting Auckland’s designed system has been baked in for a long time.

        1. I agree with this 100%, for example GST that is collected in the Auckland region could go to Auckland Council, not the central government. A bit like how local governments are supported in the US by local sales taxes. What is good about this type of tax is that revenue will tend to automatically rise as population increases.

    2. In summary. I am nearly fifty years old and my home town is Christchurch. All my adult life I have watched New Zealand’s investment in capital projects being a big argument between Wellington and Auckland, which has poorly served Wellington and Auckland and has been useless for the cities like Christchurch.

      This latest tiff between Auckland and Wellington about light rail is just another example.

      In the last thirty years I have watched our towns and cities get further and further behind the international competition.

      Christchurch for example has huge potential but due to a lack of capital investment it is becoming a third tier city in Australaisia. Capitals projects that could bring inequality, environmental and productivity benefits are not happening.

      The way politics is run in NZ is broken. The status quo rules. Transformation is nigh on impossible.
      Wellington cannot transform itself, look at how it let the housing crisis move down to the capital city. Auckland and the provinces will get the dregs and New Zealand’s other urban areas will get ignored. That’s how leadership rolls in New Zealand.

      1. Not sure how this is now and Auckland vrs Wellington thing when it’s NZTA vrs Govt?

        Agree though, things seem very broken at present & it’s all very depressing.

        1. Matt is essentially arguing for AT’ light rail plan but that Wellington pays for it via NZTA because AT cannot afford it. NZTA wants to do it rather than outsource light rail to someone else. Wellington because it is paying for it wants to look at other options and take it’s time making up its mind. So essentially it is a tiff between Wellington and Auckland. Unfortunately due to the size and complexity of the light rail project I have my doubts that places like Christchurch will get any attention from transport planners.

        2. The critical dynamic is that participation rates in national elections are higher than in local body elections. “Wellington” needs a system that is preferred by the people of Auckland, as opposed to one that preferred by its transport bureaucracy.

        3. The root problem is the lack of funding options at local government level. Central govt (‘Wellington’) knows that but does not want to cede the power that goes with with the independent revenue.

          Amalgamating the Auckland region was always going to ramp up that local/central tension but it applies everywhere else as well. Imagine if Christchurch had the ability to develop its own transit-oriented network around urban rail or trams without needing umpteen business cases signed off by whoever is pulling Treasury’s strings at the time.

        4. I agree Sacha. I think it would be great if Greater Christchurch and NZs other cities and regions were given a independent funding source so it could build TOD without going through a million business cases with Wellington officials.
          The common excuse given for why this is the process is that Wellington has the expertise.
          Personally I seriously doubt that. I have looked at Wellington carefully in the housing space and there is no evidence that they can be transformational. Unless Wellington learns how to pull finger then there is no point to it.

    1. Piers on the Mangere Bridge have been strengthened to carry a rail line.

      Carrying the existing line from Onehunga to Mangere Bridge initially and staged to the airport would be the easiest option and we already have the rolling stock.

      1. A transfer at Onehunga just like at Panmure or Puhinui is ok. Then LRT from Onehunga to Mangere and the airport. A cheaper, easier option.
        There is the problem at the Kirkbride trench getting the line through as discussed on GA previously.

      2. NZTA took money from Auckland to stregthen the piers of their road bridge in the name of ‘futureproofing’ for rail. However they didn’t design the rail or change anything about their road bridge, and the alignment of those piers are not suitable for any kind of rail.

        Any rail crossing requires an eitirely new and separate bridge.

      3. It’s not correct to say we already have the rolling stock as it is currently being used on other lines. Any transfer of this rolling stock to an airport line would require a reduction in capacity or frequency on the other lines.

        1. Vance:
          You completely failed to understand Jezza’s point. (Or are taking refuge in pedantry because you have no real answer.)

          Do you think that a train would be able to do Onehunga – Mangere Bridge – Onehunga on what would be a poorly aligned sharply curved single track in the 6 min dwell that the current timetable allows?
          If not where’s the extra train resource coming from?

        2. Vance – the longer a line is the more trains are needed to service it as it will take longer for a train to complete a run in each direction and be ready to start another run.

          Currently, two trains are required to service the Onehunga line at 30 mins frequency as a train can do Britomart-Onehunga-Britomart in less than 1 hour. If you extended it to the airport it would need 3 – 4 trains to service it at 30 mins frequency.

          If you are building an extension to a line you would also hope it would be popular enough to justify increased frequencies and larger trains than the 3-car ones that currently service Onehunga.

        3. Also, since it’s only a single track between Onehunga and Penrose without some sort of upgrade (like longer passing loop at Te Papapa) the frequency couldn’t be improved.

        4. I’m talking about Mangere Bridge initially.

          That may or may not be able to serviced by current stock.
          If additional rolling stock is required I’m sure the existing order could be increased and introduced in a relatively short period of time than a LRT from the city.

          Either way this is far more fiscally prudent than the money is no object up to $10 Billion scheme promoted here.

        5. Sure it would be cheaper, but given how little it would achieve I’m not sure it would be fiscally prudent. There would still be the cost of getting the line over Neilson St.

        6. Could that Onehunga heavy rail line potentially be upgraded to twin light rail lines? The corridor looks like it might be wide enough.

        7. David:
          Corridor should be wide enough for light or heavy rail double track. Number of level crossings is more of a problem for a frequent HR service & would likely require grade separation.

        8. Other options are LRT Wynyard to Onehunga via Dominion Rd (don’t forget too many buses in the central city).

          Staged BRT between Onehunga & Airport using existing bridge (remember BRT to Puhinui anyway to start).

          Staged BRT for the NW as per Matt’s older post mentioned yesterday.

  9. Jacinda just needs to make the captains call on the NZTA spec, expand the network to cover AT’s three-branch system with Roskill to Mangere and SH16 added (throw in the Shore in Decade 2 ATAP as goodwill), commit the funding NOW and get on with it.

    From an Auckland perspective, it’s the only reasonable outcoming. Doing anything less just underlines the right of poorly performing public servants in Wellington to dick about with Auckland’s crucially needed infrastructure because it doesn’t affect them personally and they get their above-market government salary no matter how badly they stuff it up.

    1. I’d also strongly support her instructing the Urban Planning authority to take full control of the approval and consenting process along those key routes too. Lock in the routes, free up the consenting process along them and let the good times roll. Mistakes into miracles, etc.

  10. I am concerned about the message that financially the difference between the two schemes is the NZTA scheme will be funded upfront and the Superfund scheme being a PPP will have ongoing payments.
    There is actually multiple variables to consider. Like how mass transit works with real estate development, can some of that value be captured, does this land variable also lead to patronage and fare revenue increasing, is there a way that congestion cost externalities are internalized either through car parking or road pricing. And so on.
    The Japanese are brilliant at this.

    1. I don’t think anyone really appreciates how much this will increase land values, otherwise they would have already increased by that amount (unless the market doesn’t expect the project to ever complete).

      1. The point about Japan is that high land prices have not translated to high house prices. As per the quote from my link.

        “Land prices in inner Tokyo are considerably higher than in London, whereas house prices are significantly lower. The explanation, James Gleeson argues, is that land in Tokyo is used more productively to produce more housing than equivalent land in London.”

        Rents are actually higher in Wellington and Auckland than they are in Tokyo. So land in NZ cities is also unproductively utilized.

        Which politicians in NZ have a rationale argument to fix our unproductive cities?

        All I am seeing is a lot of silence, no commitment, no teamwork, a lot of ignorance and then when it goes wrong Phil Twyford gets the blame.

        1. Brendan – is there a way to measure the ‘value of the land’ in a way that reflects ‘the value extracted from the land’ as opposed to a pure $ windfall? A block of single level bungalows is going to be doing a lot more work with a five level block of pre-fabbed terraced housing and light rail at the front door instead. Perhaps GDP per capita per sqm or some bastardisation there of, or not worth bothering with?

        2. Good question Buttwizard. I am not sure about land prices.
          House prices and rents should reflect the marginal build cost of housing in that particular area.

    2. I have my doubts about how serious Labour and the Greens are in wanting to resolve their problems with housing and transport because the big guns in Cabinet, Ardern, Robertson, Parket, Woods, Genter etc cannot or choose not to articulate a message of how cities will reform land use, congested public road and parking spaces, capturing land value to pay for infrastructure etc.

      1. I’m not sure why articulating the benefits of a better planned city seems so elusive from our leaders. But then articulating the benefits of a society, including what taxes and rates are for, hasn’t been their strong suit either.

        I suspect that those who do understand the departure required from past planning policy (note that Genter is not in cabinet) are held up by those who do not. Or who perhaps do, but whose solid political background has them quite aware of the risk of departing from well trodden political paths.

        Something means they need to understand the risk of keeping to the well trodden political paths in a time where change is required.

        1. In 2017 right through until the Queens speech, so post coalition agreement, there seemed to be an understanding that transformation was needed. But gradually in the last 2 years the status quo has reasserted itself. This is a disaster because the original tensions that created the demand for transformation are still there. The housing crisis just moved down to Wellington. So inequality has not reduced. Our cities are still unproductive. The climate emergency has got worse…

  11. With all the issues of public transport projects in Auckland and lessor extend in Wellington and Christchurch, public transport in rest of NZ is fragment and in some cases almost non existent.

    Victoria had similar fractured state wide public transport issues, so in 2012, the Victorian State Government merged all public transport provision. coordination, funding promotion of public transport through out the state, under one entity PTV (Public Transport Victoria) that integrated all Melbourne’s metro trains, buses and trams, regional urban bus and the state’s regional rail and buses services including the Overland train service and appropriate public transport infrastructure under one brand and one ‘tap n travel’ payment ticketing system that covers nearly 80% of the state’s public transport services.

    By using the PTV model, there is no reason for NZ to have a dedicate public transport agency under the Ministry of Transport, to plan, fund and operate in association with district/regional councils, a sustainable and environmentally friendly integrated urban, semi-rural, rural, intra and inter-regional bus, train, LR and ferry services, where commuters can use on ‘tap n travel payment/ticketing system allowing people to travel from Kaitaia to Invercargill and possibility Stewart Island using one payment/ticketing card traveling on affordable fares.

    This will allow, NZTA to do its job that it knows best, being roads, vehicle/driver licencing, WOFs/COFs. etc.

    With the current public transport dramas, it clearly shows, that NZTA can not handle planning and execution of public transport projects that benefit all of NZ.

    With regards to the existing 3 long distance passenger train services and the national bus/coach networks of InterCity Coachlines and Skip, it would business as usual due to their existing business models.

    1. The PTV model in Victoria is what needs to happen in NZ.

      I believe NZ First had / have a policy to set up similar for public transport in NZ. Having this as a division of the Ministry of Transport would make sense.

      The mess which has been made with the way AT operates in Auckland, the light rail project in Auckland, the buses and public transport plans in Wellington, and the lack of rail passenger services, both suburban and inter-regional in most cities around NZ, needs properly addressing.

      KiwiRail’s long distance passenger train services need to come under this model as well, as KiwiRail in its current form as a State Owned Enterprise has no real interest from a commercial point of view in developing more rail passenger services.

      The ‘New Zealand Rail Plan’ which has been put together over this year as part of the Government’s ‘Future of Rail’ project, is due to be released soon and this will make for interesting reading.

      A similar project ought to be put together for public transport provision throughout NZ, with the objective of establishing a similar model to Victoria.

      Another more capable Minister than Twyford should be appointed the Transport portfolio and tasked with carrying out this objective.

      1. For the intra and inter-regional train service function of a national public transport agency, the track, tunnels, bridges, signalling, etc and train control is transferred out of Kiwi Holdings Ltd and becomes an ‘open access’ cost recovery crown entity under the Ministry of Transport dubbed ‘Railnet’, funded by track access charges and subsidies from fuel tax and RUC’s. This allows any rail operator and heritage rail museum to have access to NZ’s national rail network without protectionism which is currently happen with Kiwirail owning the track, signalling infrastructure and train control functions. This is similar to to what has happen with Victrack in Victoria. Victrack owns and maintains all the track and signalling infrastructure and train control including inter-state tracks operating in Victoria and track infrastructure of Melbourne’s tram network.

        Kiwirail Holdings Ltd remains a state owned rail operator with the government holding at least 51% shareholding of the company, for semi and bulk freight intra and inter- regional and long distance rail freight and long distance passenger train services.

        With regards to the rail enabled inter-island ferries would be operated a separate entity under ‘Railnet’ or Maritime NZ being the bridge for the national rail and state highways between the North and South Islands.

        The rolling stock for intra and inter-region train services excluding the existing EMU rolling stock in Auckland and Wellington, would be operate on a 25-30 year damp or wet lease PPP contract by a passenger rolling stock manufacture like Bombardier, Alstrom, Siemens, CAF, etc for 25-30 years and the public transport agency. By this doing this, means, there will be standardised rolling stock throughout the country.

        With regards to any LR systems in NZ, this would come under the responsibility of the national public transport agency with the LR rolling passenger manufacture like Bombardier, Alstrom, Siemens, CAF, etc for 25-30 years and the public transport agency. By this doing this, means, there will be standardised LR rolling stock throughout the country.

        The PTV model is a cost effective was of delivering good frequent affordable public transport through out NZ instead of the the current set we have at the moment.

        1. I don’t think standardising LR rolling stock throughout the country is a good idea, that assumes that every line has exactly the same characteristics and requirements and needs exactly the same vehicles to serve it.

          We may not even want standardised rolling stock within Auckland, we might want different units for different tasks.

          A general system standard yes, but you’ll get that anyway just by selecting best practice, but not standardised fleet.

        2. Nick R – By having a standardise LR rolling stock cuts purchase/lease costs, maintenance, driver training, spares and operating costs. Look at what Air NZ has done with its regional, domestic jet, international short and international medium to long fleets aircraft fleets, they are moving to standard aircraft types to suit routes.

          I do agree with you, that each urban LR system will have different operating requirements to suit local environment but these will minor modifications and would not affect the overall build of the rolling stock.

        3. Sure choose the most common LR track gauge, and power supply provision to enable the existing multiple suppliers to offer off the shelf equipment but no further standardisation is necessary or desirable. Adelaide enlarged it’s LR fleet at a very advantageous price by taking advantage of a cancelled order somewhere else in the world. Locking into one unique design and supplier is an unnecessary risk and constraint. Each tranche of Queensland Rail suburban rail stock differs from previous orders.
          Even the second tranche of Matangis in Wellington incorporate improvements.

        4. Kris, your description of the functions of PTV and VicTrack etc in Victoria is not correct. While PTV ( which since July 2019 is part of the Victorian Dept of Transport) has a key role in funding and coordinating public transport services , as far as I’m aware it is not directly involved in the delivery or operation of PT and rail services. VicTrack, despite its name is effectively the owner of rail property and some telecommunications services. Within Melbourne, the operation and maintenance of the suburban passenger network, trains and services is contracted out – currently to MTM a subsidiary of the MTR in Hong Kong. Regional passenger services and the broad gauge network outside of Melbourne is the responsibility of VLine, a Victorian government company. Finally the standard gauge interstate lines to NSW and SA are leased to ARTC, a federal government corporation. There are open access freight train services on the Interstate network and some parts of the regional broad gauge network , but there are no open access passenger services.

        5. Don Robertson – It is more economic to have a one contract for a LR rolling stock supplier, as oppose to different LR rolling stock supplier/s, for any light rail system in NZ which would allow standardised parts, spares, driver training and operational logistics. Any operational upgrades/enhancements to the rolling stock is done across the entire fleet, as seen in Wellington with the Matangi EMU fleet. Remember, NZ is equivalent to one state in Australia.

      2. ALPHATRON – I am fully aware the PTV, Vicrail, along with V/Line, Vicroads, Taxi Services Commission, Victorian Ports Corporation (Melbourne), Victorian Regional Channels Authority, Port Hastings Development Authority and Melbourne Port Lessor where incorporated into state’s Department of Transport similar to our Ministry of Transport on 1 July 2019.

        PTV mandate is to plan, coordinate, provide, operate and maintain safe, punctual, reliable and clean public transport network by entering into contracts on behalf of the State with transport operators to provide train (Melbourne Metro, V/Line and the Overland), tram (Yarra Trams) and PTV branded and V/Line bus/coach services throughout Victoria.

        Victrack is state-owned corporation that owns all railway and tram lines, associated rail lands and other rail-related infrastructure in the Victoria excluding heritage railway lines. VicTrack leases railway (including inter-state) and tram land used for public transport to PTV which then sub-leases the assets and infrastructure to rail and tram operators, currently Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) between Melbourne to Serviceton and to Albury, Metro Trains Melbourne, V/Line and Yarra Trams.

        Melbourne Metro train network track, infrastructure and rolling stock is owned by VicTrack on behalf of the State Government and is leased to PTV which then sub-leases to Metro Trains Melbourne (MTM) a consortium owned by MTR Corporation. John Holland Group and UGL Rail.

  12. Carl Devlin (light rail chief) has also referenced the need for a route change in an article eslewhere yesterday, as the Southdown-Avondale heavy rail corridor is off the table. That’s been an obvious point for a long time, but neither NZTA nor NZ Infra were taking it seriously until Winston Peters stepped in.

    I suggest taking it through Three Kings, as this blog suggested in a post a few months back. Makes more sense anyway, rather than running past the community at 70kph.

    1. “as the Southdown-Avondale heavy rail corridor is off the table.”
      I said all along that the light rail wouldn’t be able to use that corridor and you wouldn’t believe how much people on here rubbished me and even insulted me.

  13. 17 stations in 30 minutes is an average of 1.76 minutes per station, about 12.5 minutes Britomart to Mt Roskill and about 16 minutes Britomart to Onehunga.
    The NW station spacing is greater so Britomart to Kumeu would probably be less than 30 minutes.
    A reliable grade separated turn up and go service like this would have to be popular and well patronized. With connecting feeder services, door to door times would be acceptable across a large part of the city.
    While potentially horribly expensive, its going to operate for 100 years.
    On the subject of cost, elevated rail is expensive, but so is digging up streets and relocating services, e.g. Sydney light rail.

    1. Yep, also worth noting: The ability to transfer between LRT and HR which becomes infinitely more useful once the CRL opens, the fact there is *no* rapid transit in the North West and that the commuting times for those on SH16 are likely to continue blowing out as more and more houses are added all the way from Tat Penn to the Westgate/Massey/Hobsonville area.

      I’m really starting to think the Govt should start with the NW route as a proof of concept first.

      1. “I’m really starting to think the Govt should start with the NW route as a proof of concept first.”

        Especially as the Airport (which certain quarters against LRT are so focused on) is getting its access via the Puhinui BRT/Southern line link.

        The isthmus still gets shafted in the interim but the proof of concept would be an overwhelming success. I predict others will try and jump ahead of the queue…

  14. Will someone please leak how both the NZTA and Super fund plans will get through Onehunga and over the harbour it would be useful information. If a govt that has sold itself on being transparent isn’t we need leaks.
    Also I note that the new pedestrian and cycling bridge to replace the old old old bridge hasn’t started so I wonder if this project has being canned as they are planning to integrate it with either the NZTA or Super fund version or maybe even build a heavy rail bridge or a busway bridge connecting too Onehunga station. The construction of the pedestrian cycling bridge was meant to start mid year according to the signs which were erected when the contract was signed a few months ago.
    Given the absolute pigs ear that “Twyford the Clown” has made of this project I wonder if it wouldn’t just be best to build another facility like the Manukau bus station or the Puhinui bus rail intersection in Onehunga and a new bus only bridge across the harbour. All buses to Mangere Bridge and Mangere and the airport including Intercity buses could call their. Gradually over time a busway between Mangere bridge and the airport could be developed when it is finished then we could look at light rail. So initially there would be an express bus via the motorway to the airport from Onehunga probably with a premium price provided by Intercity. And local buses to the Mangere town center via Mangere bridge. Also the 380 bus could wind itself away around Mangere to the airport as well with a subsidised price for a slower ride.
    I suppose I am saying build the transfer station for the heavy rail to light rail and the route through Onehunga and across the harbour first and use it intially with buses and then convert it to what ever they eventually come up with. And they should incorporate the rail alignment from Onehunga down to the port into the plan before someone uses it for a reincarnated “East West Link”.

    1. And how many stops will a light rail scheme have in the Airport prescient nobody takes this into account. The answer is one. So we need an express system for airport passengers versus an all stop system for airport workers. I am a rail supporter from way back but in this case buses might be best.

      1. The answer is two stops, according to AT’s plan. One for the terminal and one for the office park. There are also several bus routes existing or planned for the airport precinct.

      2. “Express system”. What does that mean and who would it benefit?

        Most airport travelers are not international tourists staying in the CBD. They are workers or domestic/Auckland travellers who live outside of the CBD. The number going Airport-Newmarket-Britomart and reverse would be relatively small compared total travelers. See the previous post on LRT not being really about the airport.

        If you want an express service, it should be on the Southern Line to Puhinui, via the 3rd/4th. At least then many more people would get the benefit. Including future rail riders to/from Hamilton.

    2. This is basically what I mentioned up above somewhere, based on Nicholas Lee’s idea. Stage the Onehunga to Airport as a busway to begin with.

      Don’t think you would need a separate bridge, just use the existing with bus lanes of some sort of quality to begin with. Time & cost to build the 3rd bridge. New bridge once you transition to LRT.

      All comes back to competing plans, separate projects & politics screwing things up.

  15. Its all back to front. The City to Airport light rail project is a political solution looking for a problem.

    1) The decision on where the congestion toll cordons are to be located & the approx tolls (to manage congestion aka Singapore best practice approach) should have been made first.

    2) Then the optimal spend of $6bn on PT projects considered from a social cost benefit perspective. This may or may not have included the City to Airport light rail proposal.

    3) Personally I prefer combining as a joint venture (with a statement of intent to do TOD & maximise PT revenue):
    a) The proposed Urban Development Authority
    b) Housing NZ
    c) The Akl rail network passenger operations

    This would be synergistic & drive TOD & rail development under one strategy & minimise the subsidy required to run it.
    The govt would have to fund the JV (but it would have had to fund the PT rail anyway & likely by a lot more over the long term without coordinated TOD development.).

    There is also a limited chance that over the long term The JV might get to a commercial basis.

    1. Agree re 3. TOD combined with congestion charging will require the smallest subsidy or alternatively with a given sized funding pot for PT congestion charging and TOD will enable a larger PT system to be built.

  16. Is $6 billion for two light rail projects really unaffordable? I imagine that they would be built over about 6 years, or about $1 billion per year.

    And how to fund this? Here’s some research that Auckland University did recently:
    “Reductions in payments to high income superannuitants may release more taxes to fund services that benefit the population as a whole,” Mr Cordtz said.

    The researchers found the proposed tax regime, had it in been in place in 2017-2018 would likely have saved around 16 percent of the cost of NZ Super.

    On current superannuation spending that saving represents about $2 billion per year – enough left over for North Shore light rail.

    And the political downside? Does any person on on that money who receives superannuation vote for Labour anyway?

    1. @johnwood I will count as one superannuitant who has voted Labour. I also can attest that I am not the only one.

    2. Except it won’t be $6 Billion. It’ll probably be $10 Billion.

      There are more pressing needs than this grandiose scheme.

      1. If there are pressing needs then you need people to be able to get to and from work to generate the economic activity to tax to pay for stuff to sort those pressing needs.

        Congestion has a real financial and social cost.

      2. It is unaffordable, not because light rail to NW, Mt Roskill and Mangere is a bad idea, but because so much of the rest of Auckland is being ignored. Given that Mt Roskill in particular is very well served by PT, there are many other areas with more pressing needs. So we’re only covering a fraction of the costs of congestion and pollution with these two lines for $10B. Better to make a plan for LR to everywhere, and see if that’s viable, otherwise start afresh with a new plan that doesn’t leave most people behind.

        1. Funny how this “no one should be left behind so let’s not build anything” is fine when there is literally no rapid transit in the North West at all. That’s a perfectly acceptable situation, so let’s hold out rolling out anything at all out that why while we add more houses, just so the bits of the city that already have busways and other such transport yet aren’t taking on the same level of intensification don’t get hurt feelings.

          The LRT served almost 100% of the parts of the city without access to rapid transit. The Botany and AMETI corridors would serve the East. The North Shore already has a busway and had one a decade before anyone else. All these other places got these things before the North West got anything. Mangere is basically an island. Yet when it’s time to even up the score, suddenly no one “missing out” is a world-ending priority? Don’t make me laugh.

        2. Buttwizard that is literally the opposite of what I’m saying, which is to build capacity to everywhere. Yes the NW is a priority, so is the East, so is most of the North Shore that the busway doesn’t go near and so is every other part of Auckland that has no rapid transit. Evening the score means equality of public transit access to me. not picking just two or three parts of the city and spending a fortune on them and nobody else.

        3. You literally just said its affordable to build 2 routes (that aren’t the Shore), whilst advocating to build Light Rail everywhere (basically the Shore).

          What are you actually trying to say? That more routes will cost less? That if we can’t build everywhere simultaneously then we shouldn’t bother doing anything?

          Have you seen the planned growth figures for Roskill and Mangere? Planned development for the North West?

          Where exactly are you running your cheap LR lines?

        4. I don’t get this line of reasoning, what part of Auckland is being ignorned?

          To the North we have the busway, currently being extended and new station being built for the Hibiscus coast.

          Then we have the Western, Southern and Eastern lines, electrified and fully upgraded, with the CRL being built in the centre and extensions of electrification and multi tracking planned in the south.

          We have the eastern busway extending out to the outer east, and the A2B linking corridor across south east from the airport to Botany.

          The parts that are missing out on this regional strategic network are the southwest, the northwest, and the upper harbour… So isn’t a plan to build lines for the southwest and northwest exactly the right step? I would say the only argument is that the upper harbour needs more focus with a route analogous to the A2B plan.

        5. Nick as always your logic is flawless, but the reason I disagree is that the two busways fall far short of providing sufficient walkable catchment without being properly extended. I keep being told that because there’s a busway along the motorway that North Shore has a complete rapid transit network, but this is not true.

          Right now on the shore I am 7km from my nearest transit station. What about Long Bay, Birkenhead, Glenfield, Browns Bay, Beachhaven, Belmont? All of them are nowhere near a rapid transit station. Same for Howick and Bucklands Beach out east post-AMETI. Why are Kumeu, Mt Roskill and Mangere deemed so deserving of rapid transit while the above places (and other parts of Auckland) are not? This is my objection to what is planned; it’s not so much about what is going ahead, rather it is about what is being neglected.

        6. David: I have ten thousand houses going in up the road from my place (literally eight thousand across the road) in the next ten years. How many houses have you got going in Long Bay, Birkenhead, Glenfield, Browns Bay, Beachhaven and Belmont combined?

          That’s why. The insistence that we should just spend billions of dollars giving the Shore more and more stuff while other areas taking on a higher percentage of new population growth get nothing at all is just micro-provincialism and nothing less.

        7. David, I understand your position but respectfully I think there is a flaw in your understanding.

          Rapid transit will not, and cannot, serve the majority of the area of Auckland directly. It’s a geometric impossibiliy, and not it’s point. Rapid transit is the spine of the PT system, but it only works with connections with local and feeder routes.

          You are right that walk up of the busway is limited, as is the walk up of the AMETI busway, or the western line, or any of the proposed light rail lines.

          Belmont shops is 18 minutes on the bus to a busway station, Long Bay is 15 minutes on the 861, Glenfield to Smales farm is 13 minutes, etc. My house is 16 minutes from New Lynn station, so it goes. This is how it works, this is exactly how the majority of busway users use the system right now, they catch a feeder bus.

          The point of a line that ends in Kumeu isn’t to serve a five minute walk around Kumeu directly, it’s to funtion as a hub for the suburban development going in outside of walking distance. More important is the interchange at Westgate, intended to serve the likes of new homes in Whenuapai or Red Hills. Those places are as far from the station as Long Bay or Glenfield is from the busway.

          Likewise Mount Roskill, look at thr regional public transport plan network with light rail, it’s not there for Mount Roskill itself so much as a hub for half a dozen bus feeder routes serving a dozen communities stretching from Green Bay to Hillsborough.

          Mangere again, it’s the hub for a feeder network covering Mangere Bridge, Favona, Mangere East, Ihumato etc. Right now the bus out of the town centre takes 1 hour 20 minutes to get to town, or almost an hour to get to Manukau. How long is your bus trip to the ferry or busway?

          I actually did the math on what you are suggesting: a ten minute walk radius around a station covers about 100 hectares in an suburban setting, which is a lot. However the urbanised parts of Auckland cover 60,000 hectares today. So you’re goal of walk up rapid transit to everywhere would require *six hundred* rapid transit stations if the locations were perfectly optimised, or in practice more like a thousand. However, a ten minute bus radius around a station (about the same as a ten minute bike ride) covers 1,500 hectares… which would require forty to eighty interchange stations to put all of Auckland within ten minutes.

          We currently have forty-six rail and busway stations. These ambitious plans for busways and LRT won’t quite double that to around eighty odd. What is the realistic proposition here?

        8. It would be that close… if you wouldn’t also have to walk to that bus, and wait for it. There is no way anyone in Glenfield will make it to Smales farm in less than 20 minutes. Realistically I would count 30 mintues.

        9. I’m not sure it’s quite that bad but I get your point Roeland. However, that is due to the qualities of the local half of the network, rather than the rapid transit.

          The 901, 906 and 941 cover off suburban Glenfield and all run straight to Smales Farm. The thing that lets them down is the frequency currently. The best thing you could do for rapid transit to Glenfield is make the 941 every ten minutes all day. That’s far more achievable than a train to Glenfield itself.

          I use the 83 out of Murrays Bay a lot to get to Constellation. It’s frequent, direct and connects easy, an exemplar of how the connected network works. Again, Murrays bay will never have it’s own train or busway station, but it is still served by the rapid transit.

          More of those please!

        10. @Nick “The best thing you could do for rapid transit to Glenfield is make the 941 every ten minutes all day”

          Yes some of these connector routes we now have are just too crap at 1/2 hour apart from at peak. Especially given the lack of an Onewa transit interchange that 941 frequency makes good sense.

          We won’t get mode shift if peoples whole trip is just too slow with 15 min transfer waits.

        11. I live on that other side and yes it really is that bad. Those services are timetabled to take about 20 minutes to Smales Farm.

          And that missing station, what a crippling limitation that is. No connections between the Onewa Road services and NX. No nice connection between any of [Takapuna, NX, Onewa Road] and any of [Ponsonby, Wellesley Street, Britomart] on the other.

          The 941 should probably be frequent, as well as the entire route from Birkenhead via Glenfield to Constellation station. So close.

  17. Perhaps AT should start proceeding with their own plans and ignore central government like they have previously with auckland council.

  18. Transport planning, like all planning is just a structured process of prioritising, albeit heavily modified by politics.
    Even whilst serving far off new suburbs, most journey time will be incurred transiting through closer in, already developed suburbs.
    Sure it is negligent to build new suburbs without any provision of protected corridors for future transit, or even street layouts that facilitate efficient bus service provision.
    But providing better connectivity to outer suburbs always requires the provision of faster ways of getting through already built up terrain.
    For the last 75 years, this has just been achieved here, by increasing road capacity, ignoring the fundemental space inefficiency of the motor car.
    Now we must accept that the existing transit corridors are saturated.
    New corridors, through existing areas come at tremendous financial and social cost.
    Therefore, our best way forward is to operate these existing corridors with more spacial efficiency by making provision for and providing more spacially efficient vehicles, and networking the linkages between corridors.
    Cycles, scooter, and enhanced bus provision is a first stage as is expanding capacity and improving the route efficiency of the existing heavy rail network.
    However a further increase in the capacity of these already heavily used routes requires even more passenger density in vehicles, which only linked multiple units can provide.
    Without increasing the capacity and efficiency of these routes the benifits of further extending public transport reach will be largely negated.
    Politically such change is frought though. So much business is built up, and depends on at least maintaining, but preferably enlarging existing systems to provide growth.
    Individuals happily accomodate replacing their motorcar at great expense every few years, but hate paying taxes, and rates for things they see as benefiting only others ignoring the fact that each commuter using transit or cycling frees up many many metres of road space, which directly benifits them.

    1. Yes, very good summary. Easy to be ignorant of this. Those that should already know this can lose sight of it after going through a long and winding process where they “can no longer see the forest for the trees”.

  19. We could have a motorway based Bus Rapid Transit system which could run from the CDB to both Westgate and the Airport. The airport line would run through the Waterview tunnel and join to the North Western and then into the city. For instance at Onehunga, Mangere Bridge and Mangere Town center the buses would not come off the motorway as the stop would be arranged to connect with the road overbridge or in Onehunga itself the under tunnel next to the port. I am sure that this sort of arrangement could be replicated at other locations along the motorways. Air conditioned waiting rooms would be required along with lifts and stairs. Local bus stops would be arranged in close proximity to the busway stops.
    You can still build a light rail system to Mount Roskill if you must. Queen street should have had a light rail system years ago.

  20. The Super Fund proposal is clearly better. I has better travel times and higher capacity. More people will use it. Why the hostility?

    Matt L is right about one thing: Let Aucklanders themselves decide. Do they want trams or a sky train? I know which system I’d rather campaign on.

    1. Auckland’s needs are simple:

      1. a solution to the “too many busses” problem
      2. a solution to the public transport desert in the south-west

      NZ Infra don’t provide the former and might well provide fewer stations than the AT/NZTA alternative.

      I’m not 100% sure if banning cars from the CBD would create the capacity to keep using busses to meet demand, but if NZ Infra’s project gets approved through the caprice of Wellington, it seems to me the only option. Although, maybe, some of AT’s other original LR projects could work. Which is insane, btw… to build more LR lines to make up for something one achieved.

      Unfortunately, when you have a project twisted into (Light) Rail to the Airport combined with a blustering and wrong-thinking minister, it seems (in hindsight) this mess was unavoidable. Oh for those halcyon days when we thought NZTA’s lack of communications were the problem. I mean, yeah, that enabled this but still.

      Central Government’s only role here was to provide the money. With that they could decide the technical specifications of a project based on principles and plans developed by AT/Auckland. So, stuff like gauge, the precise location and design of stations, who’d actually build everything and so on. They probably shouldn’t have brought it in house at all, but instead had NZTA teams migrate over to observe, manage, work with and learn from AT.

      1. +1
        The project seems to have been derailed by politics, and opportunism, interfering with sound decision making.
        The problem is as basic as Whirlsler has described with the following caveat, that it is only one of a myriad of problems facing transport in Auckland and as always resources are limited.
        The process so far has identified this a a priority project.
        This however does not equate to, abandoning any cost benifit analysis to advance this project ahead of others regardless of final or ongoing cost.
        Nor should we ever be conned by advances from financiers of fancy deals to leave current capital commitments off the current government books in favour of committing huge ongoing expenditure to future governments, actually their citizens. The NZ Government can borrow cheaper then any Super fund.
        The current Superfund proposal is based upon a very simple premise.
        The more it costs, the more we make.
        A simple analysis is that the construction cost is many times the original proposal for only a marginal increase in end to end journey time, and the reduction of one staff member per composite train set.
        Against this is the massive environmental degradation of any aerial viaduct down Dominion Road, and the loss of at least one lane of surface space to the support pylons in the constrained Dominion Road corridor.
        It is not a sound engineering solution, or even a prudent transport solution. It is simply an opportunistic business proposition looking for a gullible customer.

  21. Look I’m not intending to rub anyone’s face in it.
    But I’ve said all along that Twyford and this Labour government had no intention of building this light rail to the airport, at least after being consulted by the MoT, NZTA & Kiwirail experts after actually getting in power but very likely even before that. All they wanted was cheap votes.
    Politics is a cheap popularity contest and politicians lie and play all the games. Plus: Twyford is a classic pillock to begin with.

    And before anyone accuses me of being biased against Labour: The Nat’s are no better and if anything are often even worse. Never trust any politicians.

    And I still don’t expect that this light rail to the airport will ever be built. Once the CRL is done and dusted; I’m expecting that replacing the Auckland harbour bridge to reemerge as the next big transport infrastructure project for Auckland and I’m also expecting it to be the tunnel that the government enquiry settled on back in 2005 (and it will include capability for upgrading the northern busway to light rail/light metro). At some stage: National will be reelected into government and/or Auckland will get a mayor from the citizens & ratepayer’s group and the light rail to the airport will be buried. At some stage in a decade or so’s time; they’ll start talking again about extending the Onehunga branch to the airport.

  22. Once the CRL is done and dusted; I’m expecting that replacing the Auckland harbour bridge to reemerge as the next big transport infrastructure project for Auckland and I’m also expecting it to be the tunnel that the government enquiry settled on back in 2005 (and it will include capability for upgrading the northern busway to light rail/light metro).

    So you honestly think they are going to build LR through a tunnel under the sea to upgrade Rapid Transit that already exists ahead of any sort of Rapid Transit to the North West or through the Central Ithmus? And you think that will fly with the voters of those areas of which there are and will be in the future based on growth numbers, many more voters?

    And you are expecting this without any evidence, just because you feel like saying it?


    1. Erm Joe…
      …the 2008 harbour crossing study is easy to obtain. The tunnel option recommended is for one large-bore tunnel for 6 lanes of traffic.
      This diameter is also large enough to accommodate two tracks of light rail in the ample space beneath the 6 lanes of road.

      So if they’re going to build a road tunnel this big; they’re going to give it enough space to also accommodate light rail.



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