When the government came to power in 2017, light rail was effectively ‘shovel-ready’. Building the project was the first election policy of then newly minted leader Jacinda Ardern. The government swiftly took the project off Auckland Transport and the biggest issue at the time seemed to be the complete radio silence from Auckland Transport and then Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency about the project which had allowed misinformation about it to sprout like mushrooms after rain. That seemed about to be over as by May of 2018 procurement processes were underway and I understand the intention was to start work on a series of early works, just like was happening with the City Rail Link.

But then everything ground to a halt after the NZ Super Fund and their Canadian partners, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) – a Quebec-based pension fund, submitted an unsolicited bid to build the project under the joint name of NZ Infra. The bid ultimately resulted in the government kicking off a bizarre horse race between NZ Infra and their own transport delivery agency, NZTA.

Yesterday we got the news that government had finally put an end to the process with the coalition parties unable to come to an agreement, meaning the future of light rail is uncertain and in many ways is now further behind where it was more than two years ago.

Cabinet has agreed to end the twin track Auckland Light Rail process and refer the project to the Ministry of Transport for further work, Transport Minister Phil Twyford says.

Despite extensive cross-party consultation, Government parties were unable to reach agreement on a preferred proposal. The future of the project will now be decided by the government following September’s general election.

Phil Twyford says two credible and deliverable proposals were received.

“I’d like to thank NZ Infra and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency for their work and innovative proposals.

“Either would have created hundreds of jobs and resulted in an Auckland metro that offered Aucklanders a 30 minute trip from the CBD to the Airport.”

Auckland Light Rail remains a project in the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP), he said.

“The Ministry of Transport and the Treasury will report back after the general election on the best option for this project to be delivered by the public sector. The Ministry of Transport and the Treasury will also engage with NZ Infra and Waka Kotahi about how work done on this project can support the next phase.

“The Government remains committed to fixing congestion in Auckland and boosting jobs through building infrastructure. We’ve made good progress on ATAP with construction starting this term on the Eastern Busway, Matakana Link Road, SH20B upgrades, the Puhinui Interchange, Karangahape Road Cycleway, and the Constellation Bus Station upgrade, to name a few.

“Auckland Light Rail will be New Zealand’s most complex infrastructure project in decades and it’s vital we get it right for future generations,” Phil Twyford said.

On the positive side, at least we’re not going to be sending billions of dollars off to pay for Canadian retirements. Paying a rumoured 7% return for 50 years would have been an incredibly poor outcome when the cost of government borrowing is below 1%.

There are a few interesting parts of the announcement I want to break down.

Despite extensive cross-party consultation, Government parties were unable to reach agreement on a preferred proposal. The future of the project will now be decided by the government following September’s general election.

With an election just around the corner, the media and others have been quick play up NZ First as the boogeyman angle, and they might well be, but it’s worth remembering that they’ve only had the opportunity to stop the project because the door was opened for them to do so by the project having veered so far off course. Afterall, NZ First members as part of cabinet had agreed to the current Government Policy Statement which explicitly put money aside for Light Rail. Had the NZTA carried on the process they were on before the Superfund bid, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

“Either would have created hundreds of jobs and resulted in an Auckland metro that offered Aucklanders a 30 minute trip from the CBD to the Airport.”

The core of the problem seems to be that Twyford has been convinced that speed to the airport is the single most important factor and that the way to deliver that is a fully grade separated light metro system with only a few stops. Like some of the earlier naysayers and information spreaders, he has characterised light rail instead as slow streetcars – which is not what was proposed. It also ignores that currently our most popular rapid transit line is also our slowest, the Western Line. It’s popular because it goes to many places people want to go – not that more speed wouldn’t be nice.

This is not to say that light metro is a bad thing, but it is much more expensive as requires the entire route to be grade separated which means large sections expensive underground or elevated lines. It likely means we’re still going to need to run buses along the street for more local trips negating one of the key benefits we were meant to achieve from light rail.

This is also an issue because the government changed the project and the outcomes they sought from it but have never publicly said this was the case, let alone show any analysis behind this decision.

Light Metro will also likely mean less impetus to upgrade town centres along Dominion Rd, if the route even still goes that way

“The Ministry of Transport and the Treasury will report back after the general election on the best option for this project to be delivered by the public sector. The Ministry of Transport and the Treasury will also engage with NZ Infra and Waka Kotahi about how work done on this project can support the next phase.

The Ministry and Treasury were some of the biggest sceptics of public transport investment in Auckland until they got handed the job of running and assessing the bid process, which they’ve bungled by pushing it through the ‘twin track’ process. Giving it back to them and Treasury feels like a recipe for disaster.

At least in saying that the project will now be delivered by the public sector it confirms we shouldn’t be seeing any more PPP type deals, and why would we given what we’re seeing with the likes of Transmission Gully.

I also guess that by engaging with NZ Infra and Waka Kotahi they mean they’ll probably be paying them out (well NZ Infra at least) for the IP they’ve developed. It will be interesting to see if the two proposals ever get released.

Perhaps part of the problem with light rail/metro is that it became too government led with no input from Auckland. The mayor and the council should have been demanding a bigger say in what was happening with what would become the biggest project in the city’s history.

Asked whether he, as mayor, could have done more to avert the three-year delay, Goff attributed it entirely to the government.

“I think the point at which the decision was made that this would be funded and run by central government, rather than shared costs like City Rail Link – then the initiative lay with central government and the old story is, he who pays the piper calls the tune,” Goff said.

His statement in the wake of the decision is probably the most he’s said on the project publicly in about three years.

“Tāmaki Makaurau needs a decision on light rail to meet growth on the Auckland isthmus, support intensification of housing, and head off bus congestion due to occur within three to four years – light rail needs to be in place before then,” the Mayor said.

While it’s disappointing things haven’t progressed, given everything that has transpired over the last few years then like trees that need forest fires for their seeds to germinate, perhaps the project needed to burn down and start anew.

There is a heap more to say about light rail and light metro, including that I think that long term there’s actually a need for both. But that’s far too much for this post and so we’ll have a lot more to say in coming weeks and months.

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  1. Well sadly as the quarantine bugles mount and flagship policies like this one collapse due to ineptitude its looking increasingly likely that we will have a National government with generic placeholder 50 year old white guy as PM. If that’s the case light rail is gone completely.

    1. While I doubt Labour will govern alone as the recent polls suggested, that’s a big call to suggest National will be in government.

      The reality is we are Covid free and things have gone surprisingly well in the last few months, I don’t think enough voters care about Kiwibuild and light rail at the moment.

      If however a bungle results in Covid finding its way back into the community then all bets are off and National would have to become favourites.

      1. We’re in a recession, worse than Australia. Unemployment is probably double digit. Tourism is dead for at least a year. No shovel ready projects are underway. This government has failed on its key policy areas: LRT, kiwibuild, planting trees, road safety projects, green economy, EV subsidy / guzzler tax, pike river, reduction in poverty and homelessness, no new taxes, etc. It stopped cameras on fishing boats and 2 marine sanctuaries. There doesn’t appear to be any results coming from its 300 working groups. It is bungling covid management.
        Muller is a lot more electable than Bridges, and can trade on a history of actually getting things done. I don’t think its a big call at all.

        1. I agree with you on most of the failure to deliver listed above, can’t think of any new taxes they have introduced other than the standard fuel tax increases.

          However, I’m not convinced the public cares about failure to deliver at the moment, the care about the fact we’re Covid free and most other countries aren’t.

          I doubt there’s a single person in the country that has seen Muller’s bumbling efforts in the last few weeks and thinks he is the person to solve any border bungles.

          ‘We’re in a recession, worse than Australia. Unemployment is probably double digit. Tourism is dead for at least a year.’

          These were factors a few weeks ago when the last polls were taken, clearly most voters think these are world issues and wouldn’t differ much whether the government was red or blue.

        2. I believe there is a poll tonight, Jezza. Won’t reflect his week’s dramas which are arguably the worst the coalition has dealt with to date.

        3. We are free of Covid-19 and I don’t think anyone believes Bill English would have even attempted that. People understand that National always favours business interests over people. The current crop of Nats are no different to the previous ones- just a bit less talented.

          We probably are still in recession but that will turn around quickly as it is a demand shock and isn’t because of a monetary shock or a supply shock. We haven’t actually seen a demand shock like this before- people used to mistakenly thing the great depression was a demand shock and taught the Aggregate Demand model as an explanation. Now practically everyone knows the depression was due to a sharp decline in money supply. It was monetary mis-management.
          We are now living in a country where thousands will want to return to or migrate to. Even more if Australia doesn’t lock down properly and allows the disease to continue to spread in the community.
          Our outlook is actually better than it has ever been in my lifetime. Just don’t invest in or try to work in tourism, that sector is about to experience what Schumpeter meant by creative destruction.

        4. Buttwizard – it’s been a week since the border bungle a poll tonight will probably pick up the impact of that.

        5. miffy – I would have thought the global economic impacts of the virus will ensure we suffer a significant economic shock.

          I’m not much of an economics expert but it appears to be a productivity shock to me, in that across the world productivity has fallen as people stay home to look after kids, businesses have to put in place distancing requirements etc?

        6. Jezza every plague has been followed by an economic boom. We are lucky to have been granted an exemtpion from the plague so now we can get on with things. Growth is coming from the influx of people and the steady demand for our exports. Soon they will restart the overseas students again. The only downside is tourism but that is partly cancelled out by the reduction in money flooding out due to Kiwis travelling overseas. GDP will go down but Gross National Income won’t look so bad. (GNI=GDP+money flowing from other countries-money flowing to other countries.)
          For NZ we have a demand shock as people all just went home and stopped spending. So long as we don’t waste too much propping up dead industries then NZ is sitting pretty. The only other similar demand shock I can think of is when the UK entered the EU. It only had long term effects because the government kept subsidising production of unwanted goods.

  2. I really don’t think the government should be allowed to just say “oh well” and move onto to not talking about whatever else they’re failing to do properly.

    This has been a handbrake on the development of a decent transport network for North West Auckland, and done immense damage to even the idea of light rail in Auckland. Many hours lost on congestion over the last few years, and many more to come, with no plan B. All during a climate emergency.

    And to add insult to injury, Twyford has been promoted up the Labour rankings.

    1. +1

      I can’t understand how Twyford is still employed, following his record of high-profile failures this term. Same goes for David Clark. I guess Labour believe that whoever would replace them would be even less competent – which is a frightening thought.

  3. Theory: it was actually the Greens (not NZF) that blocked the two-track process because they saw how misaligned it was with the original project and its goals. I can imagine JAG not backing a bad idea from Twyford.

    JAG made a very positive tweet about the cancelation of the two-track process.

    1. They’ve had the last three years to publicly voice their disapproval or openly state what they wanted LRT to look like. You’d think they would have availed themselves of that opportunity at some point.

      1. I’m fairly convinced that JAG never wanted grade separated LR.
        The greens really need to separate themselves from Labour. They seem to have next to no bargaining power. What have they achieved in 3 years?
        They should enter the next election saying they will go with the party that will give the best environmental outcome (even if they know it will be Labour)

        1. The problem with the Greens is that if they had 1 leader and a deputy or not like they had when they went into the last election things may have been better for them . Trouble is they have 2 heads and the heads won’t to go in different directions , that is what went wrong with the Maori Party also . So if you watched the Dr Doolittle movie with the push me pull you it wanted to go in 2 different directions .

      2. Greens have a very similar stance to NZF: they think the PPP sending payments offshore for half a century is insane, and they think Twyford demand for a metro line that costs four times as much as the previous plan is unwarranted. They just differ on what they actually want, Greens want to build the cheaper and quicker light rail, and NZF don’t want to build anything in Auckland.

        1. At a time when money has never been cheaper, a ppp of which we have no details about actual costs, would seem very unwise. Maybe that’s why NZ First correctly opposed it.

        2. quicker in what respect? From my personal experience light rail is always slower than light metro.

        3. I was meaning quicker to plan and build. How long did the stations take to construct in Copenhagen? How long to negotiate the property purchases?

        4. Planning of the Metro started in 1992 as part of the redevelopment plans for Ørestad with construction starting in 1996, and stage 1, from Nørreport to Vestamager and Lergravsparken, opened in 2002. Stage 2, from Nørreport to Vanløse, opened in 2003, followed by stage 3, from Lergravsparken to Lufthavnen, in 2007.

        1. I think you are right though, they are probably happy at least that the Superfund proposal has been put to bed.

    2. Haha haha haha haaa
      JAG is hopeless. No, the greens are bitterly disappointed that their LR plans haven’t happened and are now trying to distance themselves from Labour before the election.

  4. Never thought I’d say it during this term but it feels like Winnie has done us all a big favour given Twyford wanted the super fund option.

    Surely Twyford should be going down the ranks rather than up.

    1. All it shows is how miserable the Labour party’s depth of talent is.
      Incompetent government. Full of hot air.

      1. I actually have to agree. It really looks like Covid is an absolute fluke too. The only thing they got right was Jacinda’s decision to go hard and communicate well. The rest of the party have no talent, except maybe Andrew Little who seems to be moving further down the list and doesn’t seem to get any worthwhile portfolios.
        But then who is there in the National party either?

        1. No Grant Robertson and Megan Woods are both really capable but beyond that they are all a bunch of twits. The PM would do better having an inner cabinet of five to make all the decisions and do all of the talking. That is why the Government did so well during the lockdown. The idiots didn’t get a look in.

        2. National would be walking all over Labour if they had the slightest signs of competence – but its pretty much missing. Their biggest / most experienced player in the game is the former woodwork teacher – not such a great business acumen, judging by the mess he left in Christchurch. Lots of ex sheep farmers and cow cockies still in National – and judging by our local choices in Wellington of Chris Bishop and Nicola Wills, they’re scraping the barrel to find anyone of intelligence and experience, as well as vaguely interesting. Muller is boring as anything and devoid of fresh thoughts, Bridges and Bennet were stale and stupid as well. There may be some real wastes of space in Labour, but there are just as many in National as well.

          Let’s face it – nobody with a decent brain wants to be a politician these days, unless they have an ego that inflates their own self-worth. If we had a choice of who would run the country, I’d put forward Rob Fyfe or Jeremy Moon, or Lance Sullivan. But at the moment, Jacinda and Grant and Ashley have made NZ the envy of the world – not perfect, but massively better than any other country on earth, with a tiny budget by comparison, and we would be mad to change that for the next few years.

        3. The only problem Megan Woods has is that each time one of the idiots stuffs up she has to take over. She is going to be overloaded and trying to do too much. But you have to rank her as one of the most able people down there.

  5. I would consider this blog to be as much experts in this area as anyone in the country. Almost all Auckland PT projects effectively originated here.
    So when the blog and commenters all breath a sigh of relief that a major $3 billion (or potentially a lot more) PT project has been cancelled you know there is something wrong.
    I would love to have seen a business case for a high speed separated rail corridor from the Airport to the city with limited stops along the way. Surely it had to be at least twice the cost of the ground level option, and with probably less than half the number of stations along the way it probably would have had less than half the benefit.

    1. Rumor has it that the $3b light rail line was going to cost more than $10b to do as metro, and yes with fewer stations serving less people in order to get the speed to the airport up. And that’s before the blowouts: Sydney’s light rail ended up costing a billion more than projected, but its new metro line is now edging towards $20billion! There is a sigh of relief over dodging that bullet for sure.

        1. Next best thing to Matt – JAG. Let’s face it, she is the only Transport Minister EVER to have had training in the area, and in any fair and logical world, she should be in charge of it. I have no idea how good she was as a student in Transport design, but even someone who got a C- in the subject would be better than a Minister with no training at all. Chances are that she did substantially better than that, and hence she should be promoted heavily.

        2. It defies all reason as to why PT is still so high in the pecking order.
          He mostly has himself to blame. Very arrogant, seems to be very closed to alternative views and opinion.

        3. Labour said they were going to build this light railway in 2017. Now 2020 no progress. We need a new transport minister who is not Labour Party.

      1. I got the feeling it was around $8 billion and they were going to claim it was not much more than the original proposal (conveniently forgetting the original proposal was for the North West too).

    2. It is a win all round. 1 and a 1/2 dud schemes killed off at once is good decision making. Shame that light rail always turns into a poisoned chalice though as there are parts of the city that it would be really suited to if it was done properly.

        1. Nobody is planning one near my house. I must be more than 10km from any possible route.
          No it could work well within the CBD as a distributor, it could have worked well on Dominion Rd if they had a twin track scheme that didn’t share any space with cars, it would work well past the Hospital or on Manukau Road, or along the North western motorway. But no, they came up with a cheap arse plan to squeeze it into a 20m road reserve and pretend it could be a local service and rapid service to the airport simultaneously.
          The whole thing is a repeat of the ARC trying to get rid of heavy rail and replace it with light rail back in 1989. That resulted in nothing being done to either for years until enough people forgot about the debacle. Same thing will happen now.

  6. Let’s face it, light rail down Dominion Road would have been a $5B white elephant. No one would have used it to go to the airport (too slow) and in terms of isthmus commuters, Dominion Rd is largely low intensity housing (well the northern half is anyway) and will mostly remain so due to zoning. Light rail or rapid bus to the north west is the big loser and those residents should be furious at the delays.

    1. I would have used it. It’s a big exaggerated call to claim it wouldn’t be used, both for commuting and for airport travel.

      I do agree however that we need to press on with a rapid transit along the NorthWest corridor.

      1. Matthews hot takes are a bit off. The corridor between the city and Mangere has around a quarter million people living in it, about the same as Hamilton and tauranga combined. It’s also already got the densest suburbs in New Zealand, with a flat grid of tightly packed houses sitting on 400m2 sections, and some of the busiest bus routes in the country… and that’s before the developments let in tens of thousands of new residents.

        Who cares that the airport is 40 minutes from downtown, it’s irrelevant for 95% of users.

    2. Who cares if no one used to go to the airport? (which seems highly unlikely by the way)
      The 10,000 new homes in Mt Roskill and in Mangere aren’t enough? Are their bigger plans out west? Isn’t that like 4x Hobsonville pt?
      And where is the intensity along the western line? Most of it will be isolated from anybody by the motorway!

      1. Jimbo: The Westgate precinct is massive. Plus a huge amount of development has already happened out there. Waiting until all the houses have been built and then going “but you aren’t adding any more houses!” is the type of cop-out that the Council used for years to justify not spending money on the AMETI predecessors to serve Botany and Howick. Look how that turned out.

        1. “The Westgate precinct is massive”: But is it bigger than the population of the Central isthmus + Onehunga + Mangere + Airport?

          I’m not saying it shouldn’t be built, but saying the North Western line has more catchment than the Mangere line doesn’t seem valid to me…

        2. I’m confused, did I say it has more people going in catchment and that we shouldn’t build the South Western leg at all? As far as I’m aware, both parts of the city have the same issue – big developments with little access to alternatives to driving. They both need access to decent rapid transit.

        3. You didn’t but Matthew the Democrat did. My original response was to him.
          I agree that something decent should be built along both corridors. I really can’t see that being light rail though.

        4. I’m not entirely fussed what it is anymore, to be honest. I think the dithering is doing more damage than we can possibly expect the decision-makers in Wellington to understand or care about in some of the most time- and resource-poor communities in our city.

          Whatever we do end up doing needs to have an upgrade path – we have to stop delivering an interim solution in five years for the problems we have today, only to find out that penny-pinching has meant we’re stuck with it forever.

      2. ‘who cares if now one used it to go to the airport’, but lets build it anyway? Hardly a solid argument. Also 10,000 new homes in Mt Roskill doesn’t justify $5B light rail when there are already buses. NW is different as there is no fully dedicated bus lane (like the north shore for instance).

        1. I’m saying the airport is NOT the main reason for the Mangere line as you implied. If the highly unlikely case that no one used the airport station as you implied, the lines still makes perfect sense.

          The North west also already has buses too. In the Central Isthmus we are sensible enough to dedicate 50% of our road space for the buses to move quicker. Maybe the North West could consider that option? You have 4 lanes of road the taxpayer paid billions for so you would only need to dedicate 25% of it.

        2. Not that many people catch a train from Swanson to Britomart either but that doesn’t stop the line from going to Swanson.

          There isn’t a fully dedicated bus corridor on Dominion Rd either, let alone from Mt Roskill though Mangere.

        3. Sure there are buses, but the corridor is going to be at full capacity in a matter of time. In particular the section of Symonds Street where the Dominion Road corridor meets several other corridors, it almost can’t cope as it is.

        4. Jimbo I’m sure you didnt mean it as you stated it but it reads as if the people of the NW are the ones responsible for their lack of dedicated bus ways as opposed to the sensible people in the central areas.

        5. Vinny they may not be directly responsible. But do you think if AT proposed taking a lane from the motorway and turning it into a bus lane that the locals would be OK with that? I’m not convinced…
          My real point is that if bus lanes are good enough for the isthmus then why not have them in the North West as well?

    3. Dominion Rd is already the third busiest bus corridor in the city, with the intensification planned along this route I highly doubt it would have ended up being a white elephant.

      Agree though, it has continued to hold up progress in the North-west.

    4. “No one would have used it to go to the airport (too slow)”

      5mins slower than the alternatives – for about the 5% of users who would actually go end to end. But then it had much better frequencies than the alternatives, too.

    5. You know the Northern Busway was predicted to be a white elephant too, exact same dated phrase; what a great big successful elephant it’s turned out to be. Failure is a pretty bold prediction these days for a new transit line in Auckland. Much much more likely is that it would hugely loved and bust whatever it is our transport models predict for ridership, like the NB and the electrified rail network did.

      Both of which, we all should remember, are pretty good, but very still very compromised services by any rapid transit definition. The NB has great frequency, but not full separation, the rail line only has RT frequency at the peaks, is slow, unreliable, mixed with freight and level crossings, but with great vehicles and improving stations (esp interchanges).

      The surface LR plan, city to Mangere, wouldn’t be massively fast, but with intersection priority and own running right of way, would be plenty fast enough. More importantly is the accessibility of stations, right there where you want to be, esp on Dom and Queen, and a lovely experience.

      Modern LR Vehicles are loved and used massively everywhere they are employed in an even slightly useful, pattern, see all the recent Aus lines for example. And Queen/Dom/Onehunga/Mangere is an ideal route; on the streets where so many people/destinations are, and fast grade separate for the less destination-dense part of the route. Plus a handy anchor in the airport (but not the main reason for it, airports never are).

  7. I have just learned there is metro rail or there is light rail. I had thought there was no difference.
    I then support light rail for more stops even though a little slower

  8. I actually think the best outcome from here is some really flash buses. It would be a lot cheaper and more realistic for our population. I doubt it would be too expensive to give buses priority on most of the south western motorway and to build a few stations along the way. Dominion road really just needs some tweaks here and there. Close off some side streets, remove some traffic lights, give priority, and take the Ian McKinnan / Queen Street route (or even Albert Street) instead of the current detour.
    Spend some money on some decent buses (electric only). String some overhead wires up if they have to. None of this should cost billions.
    Continue the nice buses on to the North Shore (NEX) instead of having them turn around in the city. Turn the Civic carpark into a decent mid town station.

    1. A 40km through bus route with just a few tweaks on Dominion Rd is going to result in some serious bus bunching to the detriment of the existing Northern busway services.

      Given the busway is likely to need an upgrade to LR in the next 20 years anyway it would make more sense to use LR for any through route.

      But yes make some improvements with some route tweaks and electric buses in the interim.

      1. Is bunching really a problem if they are frequent enough?
        I think in 20 years buses will be almost as good as LR. In fact I think that will be the case in 10 years.

        1. Yes, they start to become inefficient at stops as the bus in front collects more passengers as it arrives first. It then needs to let more off as it goes along the route slowing those behind it. Peoples behaviour at a bus stop is quite different to that at a tram or train stop.

          This can be solved with sufficient space and passing opportunities as has been done on some large busways in South America. However, space is not a strength of either Dominion Rd or the CBD.

        2. Probably a good corridor for bus headway management instead of fixed timetables to mitigate this problem.

        3. But are we really talking about that high a frequency? Maybe one every 3 minutes at peak? Especially if they use articulated high occupancy buses with quick boarding, no cash, etc. Not all NEX buses would need to take that route.
          I guess my main point is that we could probably give really decent bus services to 5 or more areas of Auckland for the price of one LR setup. Someone needs to be doing this kind of math, not just pulling rabbits out of hats.

        4. There’s already a double decker bus every 3 – 5 mins on Dominion Rd at the moment.

          I think what you are suggesting would be valid in the short-medium term, but it would take a lot of buses to replace a 66m tram every 4 minutes as proposed in the LR plan.

          Just out of interest what are you thinking for the buses south of Mt Roskill, build a busway or just use shoulder lanes?

        5. I find myself wondering about how you effectively squeeze the light rail on the Dominion Rd and that conjured up an idea where the line is actually a single track until you get to a stop and then it splits in to two tracks.
          The concept would be that a train would stop and wait for the section ahead was cleared by any train running in the opposite direction.
          Yes it would increase stop times, but it would reduce the space required for most of the length of Dominion Rd.
          The line would need to be built it such a way that it’s future proofed so the second track could still be added in the future.

        6. Doesn’t work in practice, well at very low frequency and poor reliability it would, but that’s less capacity and performance than they buses.

          There is no way you be able to get a double length train every four minutes in both directions on that arrangement.

        7. Robert – the space issues are in the town centres where the stations would be. Mid block there are no real issues with space for double track.

          As Riccardo the capacity would be far to low with single track, lower than what the buses carry today, you might as well just save the money and leave the buses there.

  9. As a left of centre thought.
    If the government has put funds aside for at least the start of the light rail system, why not hand the whole system back to Auckland with the government playing banker.
    AT had a shovel ready proposal, so surely they could easily make a fast start at Wynyard and build the system from there, or even just from Britomart and work with the Vintage tram to build an interconnection system.
    The headaches along with the designing of each section could be undertaking as the program moved on out from the city, after all it’s going to take a lot of time before they actually reach Dominion Rd, let alone start digging up Dominion Rd.
    Doing this allows the Government, well Labour and the Greens, to save face while showing that the Light Rail policy is actually being delivered

  10. I’m glad they’ve killed off the PPP option. Twyford was an idiot to even entertain the idea. The fundamentals that make light rail a good solution for the Dominion Rd corridor and to the Northwest are still there so this won’t be the last we’ve heard of light rail.

    To those hoping for the demise of light rail altogether my question is: After CRL is completed around 2024, what’s the next step-change improvement in Auckland’s PT network? And when do you envisage it starting construction?

  11. OMG what are we going to do without it? I heard cows would stop producing milk, chickens would stop laying eggs and Bussnake would swallow the entire CBD if we didn’t spend $5billion on this thing.

    1. I assusme cows would stop producing milk, chickens would stop laying eggs and Bussnake would swallow the entire CBD had they not built the roads you use every day?

  12. Great! We don’t have to sell our children to pay the Canadians but looks like we’re going to wreck Dominion Rd. Pissy!! Poor Aucklanders, eh, just wanting some good transport so we can live our lives. And it should be on its way. Bad stuff. Bad for Mangere and Mt Roskill, bad for the NW, and bad for the retailers on Dominion Rd who’ve now had years and years of uncertainty. Gee, the project was “shovel ready” back in 2017 so maybe it should be chosen as a “shovel ready” project for the Covid economic recovery? Knock knock? Shovel Ready?

    And only because Twyford thought he could hide the cost from present-day voters to make him look good and make tomorrow’s voters pay later instead when they wouldn’t have a choice.

    As for Goff, JFC what a pr*ck. Are you going to let anyone with money to invest shape our city, are you? DO YOUR FUCKING JOB, MATE.

    1. Bring back Len Brown , at least he was able to get the CRL started before the money was available which in the end forced the Govt’s hand and forced them to cough up the funds to pay for half off it .

  13. I think light metro will be vastly superior to light rail both in terms of speed, and capacity. Even cost might not be a huge difference since LR is a lot more expensive than it should be (look at Sydney etc). Vancouver has a wonderful light metro system that has now been around for some time (one would hope that Auckland would get an ever more modern and higher capacity version of that).
    Other advantages include potentially faster construction time (elevated tracks can be built faster and with less disruption than digging up entire roads), and they make use of the airspace rather than surface level space (leaving room for things under them – Vancouver for example has paths, shops, stations, parking, mini plazas, cyclelanes, bus stops, turning bays etc underneath).
    Then on top of all that it is a superior user experience and a more comfortable ride.

    The big take from all of this is that if the government can do this rather than PPP then we all win.

    1. You can’t even build a building more than 5 stories high in most of Auckland. Do you really think they would allow that through the isthmus? What about the very important view shafts!
      I’m pro development but even I think that is a step too far. Maybe over the motorways it would be OK. But if you build it over motorways you have next to no walk up catchment, so it is all about getting people from A(irport) to B(ritomart) and not to C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K,L,etc.

      1. Works very well in Vancouver and other cities. The Vancouver example is through suburban as well as medium density for most of its length. Not sure where 5 storeys comes from? 5 levels is ~ 18m in a building. Elevated light metro would have 5m clearance underneath, track height 2m above that, then 3m above that for the top of the train. That’s 10m total, or if they went big and made more clearance, you’re still only talking 12-13m total height including train (or 9-10m structure). Pretty much half the height of a 5 level building.

        There haven’t been any factual “counterclaims” Heidi, just opinions.

        Then there is LogarithmicBears comment. He assumes that all of those things need to be moved (that is if they are located where the pylons would go), if he is correct, then the same thing needs to happen for regular LR too. As for power, most of Dom Rd is undergrounded already.
        Why do you think it would take weeks or months per pillar to install?
        Never thought of precasting? Build the base then pop the pillar on in a matter of hours then the overhead beams can be installed quickly as they are also precast. A lot smaller, lighter and quicker to do than for a road.
        Vancouver is building 16.5km of skytrain for around NZ$4B including 8 big stations and the whole thing will take 3 years with the actual main construction period being probably half of that (prep to start with and then completing without building as such makes up the rest). Sydney LR took over 4 years (and they already had LR unlike Auckland).

        Then as I previously mentioned, you have a much smaller footprint at street level, and you get a faster and higher capacity system (and can have things like bike lanes underneath).

    2. “elevated tracks can be built faster and with less disruption than digging up entire roads”

      So this has been discussed at length.

      There’s definitely a place for Light Metro, and I realise your vision of elevated tracks down Dominion Rd appeal to your aesthetics and don’t to mine, and that is OK, it’s just subjective. But you state that elevated tracks can be built faster and with less disruption. After all the counterclaims that people have written on these blogs, maybe you need to write a blog post, AKLDUDE, with evidence to support the claim. Would you be interested?

    3. For a generic 1 chain (20.1m) wide road corridor in NZ, if you want to install elevated light rail you must first:

      – Dig up one side of the street to lay a new wastewater main and connect the properties on that side of the street.
      – Dig up the other side of the street to reroute the wastewater laterals to the new main.
      – Dig up and relay any other services that are in the way of the foundations.
      – Dig trenches across the road to underground any overhead wires that currently cross the road.

      This is only the early works component. It can be done while maintaining two lanes of traffic. The next steps (piling in the middle of the road, casting concrete pillars in situ etc.) are louder, more disruptive and would shut the whole road for weeks or months.

      If you think this would be not much worse (in cost, disruption and public backlash) than at-grade light rail then I have a bridge to sell you…

      1. Maybe we should find out how Vancouver and other Canadian cities do it before making all sorts of assumptions about the impossibility of such a scheme in Auckland. One of the problems in NZ is a refusal to use off the shelf, proven solutions from overseas. Prefabrication and standardisation are fundamental in successful light metro developments in other countries.

        1. No one is doubting whether it’s possible, but people are making all sorts of claims about how a skytrain set-up in somehow less intrusive on the urban environment.

          Of course, I could be convinced if, say, the Government released designs, plans, costings and specs… but I doubt we’ll ever see those now.

        2. What about the cost of much more expensive stations that need to be supported rather than at surface level? Escalators and lifts at each and every station? On both sides of the tracks?

          Yeah. Cheaper.

        3. Driverless so cheaper to run, much faster, far less chance of running into cars every second day. Depending on the situation it can be elevated, surface level or underground. The Canadian light metro lines are generally a mix of all three.

        4. Vancouver did it by building the first line along an old railway line the ripped out, and the second line down the middle of an eight lane expressway, and the third one in a very expensive but limited capacity tunnel.

          Auckland doesn’t have the first two to work with, so can only do the last.

        5. Riccardo – that’s the key, at no point have they built a metro line down anything even remotely resembling Dominion Road.

        6. Copenhagen is an even better example of a driverless light metro system than Vancouver, and it was built cheap.

        7. That’s BS Riccardo and you know it. Hell there isn’t even an eight lane expressway into Vancouver itself!
          Most of Skytrain lines run down or alongside arterial roads and only go underground in the CBD.

          Zippo is right, instead of dissing we should be trying to get as off the shelf as possible.

        8. There’s at least six lanes here, either way it’s a hell of a lot wider than Dominion Road, looks more like Pakuranga Road to me.

  14. The transport policy of the government was the best idea they had (mostly because they picked it up from here). Unfortunately, slogans, promises, and good intentions do not make for actions or policies.

    This government has to be the most incompetent I have seen. They can’t seem to implement any of their ideas – Kiwibuild, 1 billion trees, reduce child poverty, and now building light rail.

    And what are we paying that extra fuel tax for?

    1. Stop complaining about the fuel tax – you still have cheaper petrol than we do in Wellington. At least yours is targeted – our extra costs just go straight into fuel company profits.

      1. First, I don’t own a car so don’t buy fuel. However, you should be really concerned where your taxes go. If you aren’t worried then I will tax you on your income for unknown purposes – interested?

      2. We have cheaper petrol because we have a bigger consumer base, we’re closer to the refineries and we have more operators servicing our area.

        Your regional transport network upgrade is also being funded at 60/40 from general taxation compared to the CRL which is 50/50.

      3. It’s because your fuel costs more to transport from Marsden to Wellington than fuel from Marsden to Auckland, do you think the oil companies shouldn’t include transport costs into the pump price?

    2. “And what are we paying that extra fuel tax for?”
      This has been answered time and time again but still it doesn’t get through. Go to Panmure and see.

    3. The extra fuel tax isn’t going into light rail. It’s going in to ATAP projects, including roads:
      Mill Road corridor
      Matakana Link Road

      1. Might want to take a look at ATAP again – Light Rail was an ATAP Decade One project (supposedly).

  15. Twyford should go. That’s two of Labours key election platform promises he has failed to deliver on. Cindy is undoubtedly fantastic at fronting a response campaign in a crisis but she appears unable to deal with woeful Ministers. Possibly because there are so many of them.

    Labour are turning out to be just as meh as National were

    1. Not really, projects like the Eastern Busway are actually underway now. Under National they had been in limbo for years, always about to happen but never actually arriving.

      1. Never mind Nationals biggest refusal of implementing the foreign buyer ban because apparently it broke WTO rules.

        Then Labour getting in and had it done in a matter of months.

        Thanks for your blatant lies on that one Sir John.

        1. Sorry, that would be the same Labour Party who dismissed any FBB concerns with “We’ll just renegotiate all our trade agreements!” and then ending up having to quietly exempt Singaporeans and Australians from it because it turned out they couldn’t “just renegotiate” those agreements? Yea, that’s definitely the benchmark we want for honesty, right?

        2. So you’d rather they negotiated nothing at all butty? Coz that was what was going to happen if National stayed in power.

          The point was that Sir John flatly straight out lied saying it ‘couldn’t be done’, when he knew full well it could.

        3. Frankly, I can accept a lie about a xenophobic foreign buyer ban easier than I accept a cover up about child sex abuse.
          Cindy has always done a fantastic job of fronting the media, but she is no saint. Twyford has not delivered and despite being a nice guy, never managed to come close to the good politician he was in opposition. JAG can’t be trusted, having abused her office to blackmail the local Wellington Government.
          Compared to PT and JAG, maybe Chris Bishop is the better choice?

    2. Pro-tip: no-one calls the Prime Minister “Cindy” apart from the nastiest type of conservative online trolls, so call her by her real name if you want to keep that under cover

  16. Starting from scratch is a win for the Northwest.

    Massive growth without any frequent or rapid transit.

    1. I’d hardly called a win. Basically yet another delay. And looking the way traffic is looking these days along NW I’d say the pandemic managed to move the clock back at least a few years. That means even less pressure to actually do anything, as we seem to be able to only move with these sort of projects forward when facing a wall (Northern busway or AMETI are good examples here). Now that wall got moved further away.

  17. The whole process was captured by interests around government and the NZ Superfund wanting to create gold standard PPP agreements to leverage off the new Pacific trade agreement. Large oversea investment funds were the target of this. The History of PPP lost on these people is that the public entity takes on all the risk and pays over the odds for the project over many decades. Despite asurances to the contrary, this is what happened with Transmission Gulley and would have happened with Auckland LRT. One of the prime movers here was Michael Cullen, and he mentions the desirability of these funding arrangments in several interviews at the time. Plus we also have this:
    https://fyi.org.nz/request/12397-sir-michael-cullen-management-of-possible-conflict-of-interest/new Watch this space, there is more to come out.

  18. Ha ha ha screwed again by the MMP system when we used to have first-past-the-post (FPTP) . We should have National government right now, but no because a minor party that came in 3rd they became the winner, this never happened with FPTP, but everyone wanted MMP.

    Now the party who came in 3rd has canned the light rail from the city to the airport, to be honest who gives a toss? I dont! it seems Aucklanders want everything except the obvious. The bus system is a joke, lets reword that Auckland transport is a joke.

    We should be more focused on what to do with the harbor bridge that gets choked twice a day, why is it people on the north shore do not want to use public transport to cross the harbor bridge? because the bus system is run by Auckland transport.

    Right now we should be more focused on what to do with our town water supply, every place I rent the toilet system leaches water and waste it trickling water down the back of the ‘throne’ out all the time 60/24/7 via the toilet system, Lets have a look at The storm water system collected from the street curbs , now let me guess where is that going? No doubt ‘Um straight out to the sea’ $$ BINGO $$ it should be stored in tanks and sold as 2nd grade water, so water blasting, car wash companies (& park lakes) can use water when the town water supply dams run dry.

    1. Ha Ha Ha – You couldn’t be more wrong if you tried. MMP was brought in precisely because successive governments pushed through legislation and projects that was never in their manifestos.

      Heard of Muldoons Think Big Massive infrastructure projects that attempted to turn us into a faux Eastern European economy by a demagogue who in two elections running received less votes than Labour.

      MMP and FPP both have their faults but MMP does better reflect the wished of the majority.

      Anyway to get back on track – this ultimate decision is good because it kills the Canadian bullshit but it’s three years wasted and most of the blame must attach to dithering Phil.

      I had high hopes for him. He was a good opposition spokesman but he’s been found out as a ditherer and a magpie – seduced by the latest shiny thing and hence unable to formulate a series of priorities and deliver on them

    2. I think the 3 year term screws us up more than anything, all the parties posturing as we come up to the election.

      We should have 4 year electoral terms.

    3. “We should have National government right now” – you don’t know that! In a FPP system the minor parties wouldn’t exist. Maybe all those votes would have gone to Labour (including TOP etc). National did not get 50%

    4. “why is it people on the north shore do not want to use public transport to cross the harbor bridge”

      But they do. The main problem with the NEX is capacity, not demand. There are now more people crossing the bridge in the morning by bus than by car.

      You couldn’t be more wrong.

    5. Interesting how so many National party supports are so against MMP now, after three full terms of it working in their favour.

      No way do I want to go back to an electoral system where my vote is instantly changed into a vote for another party because a particular candidate didn’t necessary get a majority of the votes, they just got more than everyone else.

  19. The delay is disappointing, though the outcome is probably positive in the long run with dropping the PPP – it ensures publicly owned transport infrastructure driven by societal rather than financial priorities.

    One of the other major failings with this project has been the constant promotion of it as a way to get to/from the airport rather than about all the places in between… that’s allowed it to get sidetracked, and probably lost it public support.

    If Twyford hadn’t messed around with the PPP & focused so much on the airport, maybe they could’ve got this moving with NZF support in the first 12-18mths of the term… that definitely seems to be the take-away for both Labour & the Greens – get your major policies rolling ASAP while everyone is still happy with each other.

  20. Anything Twyford touches will fail.

    I don’t think they can blame it on NZ first.

    The light rail to westgate is also missing, which has less complexity and debate.

    1. Due to the distance light metro makes far more sense than light rail to Westgate, ditto for changing the Northern Busway to rail, it should either be light metro or heavy rail.

      1. There is no industry on the Shore or space for it to develop to justify the extra cost, constraints and complexity of heavy rail on the Shore over what Light Rail could achieve for much less. It’s a fantasy.

      2. If you insist on metro or heavy rail you’ll never get to Westgate, because you won’t even have the budget to build the tunnel out of downtown, let alone all the way there.

      3. ‘The distance’ is 2.5km. That’s the distance from Britomart to Newton Road. West of there, it’s all motorway running and metro and LRT will perform almost identically. Same top speed, same acceleration, same grades, the only difference will be a driver.

        Over ‘the distance’ we would want 5 stops, with stop spacing of 500m. Travel time assuming top speed of 110km/h is 44s between stops or assuming top speed of 30 km/h is 70s. Total time savings from Britomart to Westgate by going metro or HR: 2m 10s. We know by comparing to the CRL, that the cost of that tunnel alone is about $4.5b.

  21. As much as I want to see light rail built, waiting until after the election is going to be a blessing in disguise. The PPP was an awful idea, the metro was an awful idea, i’d rather nothing than that waste of money. I hope the greens make a funded LRT to Kumeu and the airport to be built by AT or NZTA directly a condition of any coalition agreement.

  22. Light rail would be infinitely preferable to light metro. Grade separated metro systems are far less accessible for women than street level light rail – in terms of safety after dark, the stairways/lifts up or down to the stops would be lonely, scary, ghetto like places than women like myself would not feel comfortable using.

    Street level light rail is SO easy to use, and there is no fear factor – having lived in Dublin where their Luas light rail was at ground/street level, you can just hop on. There are more stops along the way, making it far more useful for people. I’ve used light rail in Nantes and Bordeaux, and it was completely transformative for the city. You see the light rail coming, you just hop on. No climbing stairs/waiting for lifts/going into underpasses.

    PLEASE Mr Twyford – forget about the supposed speed advantage of light metro – light rail would be fast, reliable, offer more stops, more accessible, cheaper to build, the list goes on.

      1. Cheers Heidi – do you feel the same as me on this? I just think complicating entrances and exits makes for weird areas which can feel so unsafe at less busy times!

        1. Absolutely.

          Light Rail offers a far superior safety and accessibility experience than elevated rail. The people who claim having it in the street is “dangerous” are weighing up risks with a faulty set of scales. Light Rail in the street is far safer than vehicle traffic. So if it shouldn’t be allowed for that reason, we need to get rid of cars everywhere. And it’s safer for personal safety than either subway or elevated rail.

          Personal safety and fundamental design for accessibility (as opposed to work-arounds) need to be given far higher weighting in the initial options stage. (They probably were, which is why Light Rail was decided upon!)

          It’s also much cheaper to maintain and clean stations when they are simply platforms on the street. With climate change we need to be scrutinising every project for its maintenance burden. Once stations aren’t clean and well-maintained, they become even more of a crime-magnet and feel less safe.

        2. I agree and I think (and hope) that light rail will come back, just not with a costly PPP attached and not to the airport. There are too many urban centres around Auckland that have poor public transport and to me they are the priority.

        3. “Light Rail in the street is far safer than vehicle traffic”

          Rail safety standards are considerably stricter than road safety standards. The Christchurch trams, Wynyard trams and Kawakawa trains are all restricted to 25kph or 30kph as a part of their safety cases, for operation within uncontrolled pedestrian space.

          Light Rail along Dominion Rd will either be fenced off or restricted to 30kph max. That’s why the original AT plan was ditched, as it wrongly assumed 50kph LRVs could operate through uncontrolled pedestrian space. They can’t.

        4. You keep saying this Geoff but it’s just not true. Wynyard and Christchurch trolleys run at 30kmh because that’s the speed limit of the streets they run on. Kawakawa is a tourist toy train set. Light rail won’t be covered by the railways act or have anything to do with Kiwirail (thank god).

        5. John D, railway safety legislation is for all railway and tramway operations, not just KiwiRail.

          The systems I mentioned were/are all 50kph roads.

        6. Oh my, so desperate to push a point that you fib about speed limits. The signs are right there in the street you know!

          Light rail, or light metro, will get new legislation. The railways act is insufficient, it was written for mainline railways and has a small appendix for tourist trolleys.

        7. John D, what fib? As I wrote, the streets were/are all 50kph streets.

          No, the railways act will not be re-written to downgrade safety standards.

          You clearly don’t understand rail safety legislation – it applies to every railway and tramway in the country, over 2ft gauge. Your insistence that LRVs travelling at 50kph will somehow be treated to a leser standard than 10kph museum railways is farcical.

          You’ll be pleased to know that yesterday Labour announced they will not be bringing light rail back. They have decided to only pursue light metro, and have stated the need to separate from pedestrians as one of the primary reasons for changing their policy.

          Light Rail is dead. It couldn’t be applied as intended within the New Zealand context of rail safety standards, and this has finally be realised and accepted by the government.

      2. So agree, always my preferred way to get around in Melbourne, feels so much safe in the street, always other people around.

    1. You need to go to Copenhagen, it’s has a world class light metro system that doesn’t suffer from any of the issues you have mentioned. Or is it Danish women are made of sterner stuff then kiwi women?

      Compared to Dublin’s trams the Copenhagen light metro is vastly superior, it’s faster, it’s more comfortable, it runs 24/7. They’ve built 3 lines in a short amount of time, with more to come.

      1. “Or is it Danish women are made of sterner stuff then kiwi women?”

        Please don’t be flippant. This is a big issue. Auckland needs every bit of assistance it can to increase personal safety in public places. If you’d like to increase your understanding of the issue, here’s an International Transport Forum report:

        Women’s Safety and Security – A Public Transport Priority

        Probably the most central concept in crime prevention through environmental design is designing spaces to have plenty of passive surveillance, “eyes on the street”, people around. The safety offered by a few people waiting at a station is not high, and safety increases markedly if the station is placed at street level, due to the safety offered by all the people passing.

        There are other things we can do to help but we should be trying to use all levers, not have to mitigate a basic poor starting position (elevated stations) just because it wasn’t prioritised in the fundamental planning.

        1. I’m not being flippant, my guess is its much easier and faster to kidnap a person off a street level platform and throw them into a vehicle than when they’re on an elevated or underground platform. In Copenhagen all the platforms are covered by CCTV.

          Copenhagen Metro are installing platform edge doors, improving safety and reducing suicide by train. I’ve never seen any tram network having platform doors at an at grade station….

          I don’t see your issue with elevated metros, new system are being built all around the world, multiple cities in India have installed or are installing elevated metro, Honolulu is building an elevated network, London’s Docklands Light Rail is elevated, so are parts of the Vienna U-Bahn, they have been built all through Southeast Asia. From my own experience I find light metro’s are quicker, more efficient and safer than any street running tram could ever hope to be.

    2. Really Katy? The Skytrain in Vancouver would say otherwise, very safe, less crime than on the street. The entire platform and lift/stairway systems are in the secure area so you have to pay to get in. Then they have CCTV everywhere and well lit. Compare that to the street where you have drunks or drugged up people mopping around, in dimly lit areas.
      I get your concerns, but you are transferring them to the wrong place.

      1. Meeting the drunks or drugged up people on an elevated station with no one else around is far worse, AKLDUDE. Vancouver has installed CCTV and good lighting because it’s been needed, not because elevated stations are fundamentally safer, and we can do the same at street level as well as use every other lever we need.

        Vancouver had to launch a poster campaign because of the dangers on sexual assault on its metro: https://www.bwss.org/metro-vancouver-transit-police-womens-organizations-launch-poster-campaign-raising-awareness-sexual-harassment-assault-public-transportation/

        “The problem of sexual harassment and assault on public transport has basically been trivialized and ignored. In 2015, Metro Vancouver reports of sexual harassment and assault to police services increased 28% according to Metro Vancouver Transit Police. And even with the increase reports TransLink, the crown corporation responsible for public transportation essential ignored the daily sexual harassment and assault experienced by women on their transportation system, until today.”

        1. Do you honestly think any of those issues are mitigated because the platforms are at street level, I think you’re kidding yourself if you do.

          You do bring up one valid point, a lot of cities have transport police, if we do end up building a metro system to complement our existing heavy rail network it might be time to look into forming specialist transport police branch.

        2. Torsten, I would rather get on a tram at street level than go into any public stairwell/elevator at night – I’ve done both in various cities and it is infinitely preferable to be out in the open.

          Not to mention that specialist transport police, extensive well-monitored CCTV and lighting would be incredibly expensive.

          AKLDUDE, this is the real, lived experience of women, who make up over 50% of the population – the kind of stuff men generally don’t think twice about. Definitely not transferring my concerns to the wrong place.

        3. And is that happening in the secure area of the stations Heidi? No, it’s happening on the trains and buses.
          Just because they have put in place a safety program (which all PT operations should have to be Frank), doesn’t mean that a light metro system is somehow less safe than an unsecure street system. You’re reaching really far there.

        4. AKLDUDE and Torsten, women are contacting me by email wanting to know how they can take this further. They know that what the women here – Katy, urbanista and I – have expressed, is what matches their experiences.

          For each design decision that has an impact on personal safety, there are ways to try and mitigate the effects. But here, we still have the opportunity to choose each decision wisely so it fundamentally serves all the users and doesn’t require mitigation by other measures.

          CPTED doesn’t get overruled because of men’s speed and mode fetishes. I can predict that the longer you argue it, the more people will notice the thread and be mobilised to push for the better mobility and personal safety that street level LR offers. Up to you, I guess.

        5. Torsten and AKLDUDE, you seem to be arguing that your strongly held beliefs somehow trump the personal experience of half the population. You are making a very persuasive argument for better representation of women as policymakers and design engineers. Consultation processes are insufficient if the feedback is simply ignored by people who think they know better.

        6. If you don’t feel safe on public transport and you think cars should be banned, how are people to get around?
          Women safely use underground trains all over the world. The Docklands Light Rail is elevated and goes through some of the worst parts of London and yet plenty of its users are women.

        7. So Daniel has decided to take Heidis choice to get more people mobilised. OK. I’ll stick up for good basic design. I absolutely don’t want to be reliant on the lift working or not full of vomit, when I’m with a pushchair. Having to go up to a station just adds time. On the street is better.

          The argument LogarithmicBear showed the others were making ‘for better representation of women’ has just got more persuasive, well done!

        8. Torsten, AKLDUDE and Daniel – you have all given an A grade demonstration of missing the point.

          This isn’t a debate about what is or isn’t more likely to happen, it is about the real world concerns of an actual group of users. It may well be the reason why light rail is so successful despite alternative metro systems generally being a bit quicker.

          Torsten – you may well be right that kidnapping risk is higher at an on-street station, but given random kidnapping is extremely rare I’m not sure that is the risk most people are concerned about.

        9. LogarithmicBear how do women survive the London Underground, where no stations are at street level, or for that matter our own Auckland rail network. Personal safety is of course an important aspect of network design but with the proper precaution an elevated system can be as safe and or safer than a street level station.

          As I pointed out above my guess is it’s much easier to bundle a women into a vehicle from a street level station than from a station which is gated and requires a ticket to enter.

        10. I couldn’t agree more, Mum-of-two! Lifts are often out of order, gross, and just take up too much time when you have a pram. If you can see a tram coming down the street, you can just hop on – rather than having to go up or down to stations, where you can’t really tell when the tram is coming or whether you’ll miss it.

          Also, Daniel – I know the Docklands Light Rail is used by lots of women, I was one of them…but it’s hard to compare that (which is connected to one of the world’s largest and busiest underground systems in the world) to a fledgling, one-line-to-begin-with light rail line in a lesser populated city.

        11. Torsten – as LogarithmicBear pointed out, being bundled into a car and kidnapped is not the kind of thing we are worried about! I would say sexual assault is one of the things I would be most worried about in a lonely stairwell late at night – and sexual predators are more than capable of buying a ticket and going through a gate, so I’m not sure why that would ensure safety.

          Again – the safety precautions you’re all bringing up (transport police at stations, well monitored CCTV, which still wouldn’t necessarily capture every corner of every stairwell or lift or station) are all extremely costly ongoing measures which could be simply done away with street level light rail! It’s such a no brainer.

        12. I think you’re looking for problems to support your preferred mode rather than seeing that sexual assault can happen just as easily whichever form of is utilised. How do you use our existing trains? It must terrify you.

        13. Literally every female that has posted on this topic raising concerns about their safety for elevated rail stations. White male tells them what’s best for them..haven’t seen this episode before!

        14. If it’s really that scary, better abandon the idea altogether and spend all the money on more motorways. That will solve these security concerns about elevated stations which are entirely unique to Auckland and impossible to alleviate.

        15. And another man steps in immediately with a spectacular strawman to put those womenfolk back in their place. Great argument Zippo, either shut up about your concerns or you don’t get anything at all!

        16. Torsten isn’t digging himself a hole because usually when you are digging yourself a hole it assumes you care about the other party..clearly from Torstens language and sarcastic tones over a subject such as Sexual assault which he never has to worry about, indicates he really doesn’t care for women…

          The best part is, he argues that others are using their emotions to backup their narrative when all he has presented is a bunch of reckons and I thinks about a Metro system he likes somewhere else in the world. He hasn’t mentioned where he is running elevated rail in Auckland, a city full of NIMBYs and regulations or costed anything up. He hasn’t presented any data on safety, infact all we’ve learnt from Torsten is that he is like Denmark and doesn’t like Women.

        17. I would hope everyone here wants to make sure that the users of public transport are safe. That’s not limited to just women as males are also often victims of violent crimes.
          However, if the best solution overall is elevated stations, the secondary issues like: vomit in the lifts and crime can be addressed with CCTV and lighting.
          If irrational fear drove design, we would not be building the CRL as that too can have similar issues.

        18. The biggest problem is 75% of the stations/platforms don’t have any public amenities that people can go to to relieve themselves and if there are any they may only be used between daylight hours ? . So why don’t AT build them so there is a way of capturing the vomit and urine that gets disposed on the stations .

        19. You’re not wrong about facilities there, David!

          National Guidelines for Crime Prevention through Environmental Design in New Zealand Part 1: Seven Qualities of Safer Places

          So much I could copy and paste. This is a good bit:

          “The idea of ‘see and be seen’ is a central CPTED principle. Effective surveillance and maximising visibility are central to safe design. Places that have passers-by, or windows and activities that overlook them, provide the victim with the possibility of help and the criminal with the risk of detection. Clear sightlines and good visibility allow people to see where they are going and make a reasonable choice of routes. This has a significant impact on feeling and being safe.”

          Or maybe:

          “Crime can be deterred through the ‘eyes on the street’ of people going about their everyday business – making a place more secure by populating it. The levels and type of activity are determined by land use patterns. A broad range of activities in a mixed use environment (such as residential, restaurants, offices and shops) helps to promote activity around the clock, informal surveillance and increased use of public spaces.”

          This is a very useful thread everybody. Thanks to you all for playing your roles so well.

        20. The arguments that keep being presented are “women’s real world concerns”. Considering that none of these options even exist in NZ how would these even be valid? This is especially true when overseas they are building more of these systems and they are actively used by women and in my own experience a lot more than use PT in NZ! Just because I’m a guy doesn’t make my point any less valid. Yes you have concerns and they are valid, doesn’t mean that your solutions are correct though! The only valid point that has been made in favour of light rail is for mums (or dads) with a pram trying to access the platform if a lift is out of service. Guess it depends on what they install, but many systems also have escalators which while not recommended, are perfectly fine for taking a pram on (have done it myself and seen others do it too). Wheelchair passengers are a different story, Ramos can often be built.

        21. AKLDUDE, did you read the emergency budget and notice how the red light camera programme will be cut? On a city-wide basis, AT expects this cut will mean that people will die, and many more will be seriously hurt. Lives put in turmoil.

          What would be different with a CCTV programme to mitigate the relatively poor CPTED outcomes of elevated stations compared to street level stations? Cutting a CCTV programme would probably put fewer lives in jeopardy than cutting the red light running project, so it would definitely be on the chopping board whenever finances are tight. But many women would instead restrict their movements and suffer transport poverty.

          Why should Aucklanders accept a design of any more infrastructure that rely on ongoing camera operation costs to be continuously met by council – unless those costs are in turn cheaper than the alternative? We have evidence before our eyes that council will agree to prioritise road building and spurious network optimisation programmes instead of retain funding for life-saving camera programmes.

          As an urban permaculturalist, can I take this opportunity to explain this principle: We should set things up in a way that minimises the resources and energy required to operate and maintain the system, not necessarily by spending more on building a more expensive design (although that often has a place) but by good design that harnesses the social, physical, ecological forces at work.

          This is what we are pointing out. Set it up right and mitigation isn’t required – hence there’s no risk of losing that mitigation as the economy goes south with climate change.

        22. @heidi, you’re seriously trying to compare the costs of red light cameras (which cost hundreds of thousands and need to be vigorously maintained and calibrated regularly) to a fixed CCTV system that costs a fraction of that, requires little maintenance, and can have hundreds of cameras monitored remotely by a single person? Also CCTV helps prevent costly damage to assets, and helps deter fare evasion. Your arguments are starting to sound more and more like excuses to argue simply because a man said something rather than on actual reason.
          I bet if LR had never been on the cards in Auckland and the government stepped forward saying “hey we like what other cities are doing with light metro so are going to build one in Auckland” you’d be their biggest fan rather than trying to score obfuscous points!

        23. @ Joe contrary to popular belief men can also be sexually assaulted.

          I care I just don’t see this as an issue that is meaningful enough to stop Auckland from building an elevated and underground light metro, it hasn’t stopped women from using our existing rail network, non of which is street running, where plenty of stations are in difficult to see places, nor will it stop women using the CRL stations which are underground.

        24. – it hasn’t stopped women from using our existing rail network

          Actually all you can say is it hasn’t stopped *all* women from using our existing rail network.

          I know teenage boys whose parents won’t allow them to use the trains after dark, but will allow them to use buses. Same for plenty of women.

        25. I’m amazed that in 2020 there are still men around who don’t undersatand that many women are so (justifiably) concerned with violence, especially from men. I’m even more amazed that when women tell those men ‘I avoid these situations because they are dangerous’, the men’s responses are basically ‘no you don’t’.

          Thankfully, design has moved on a little from these archaic attitudes. There is an entire profession called crime prevention through environmental design. People in that field would laugh at the idea of using cameras instead of passive observation, until they realised you were serious.

  23. If they could pare back the project to a firm $1b to $1.5b to get down Dominion Road with something that works well then I wouldn’t have major concerns about the project proceeding.

    But I think it’s premature to say that things have changed. The evaluation process for the two light metro proposals is still live – Twyford is claiming probity around that process as a reason for limiting any information releases before the election about the project including up-to-date cost estimates.

    Until it’s confirmed that it will be pared back to a reasonable cost and is workable I’d like to see more information on the rationale for the project. Phil Goff’s explanation for why the project should proceed is that otherwise bus congestion will start happening in three or four years’ time. But that alone is hardly a compelling rationale when there is already congestion all over the city.

    Before believing the CBD ‘bus snake’ will become a real problem I’d like to see a breakdown of projected delay times and numbers of people affected compared to the same figures for congestion elsewhere, or alternatively information supporting an argument that light rail on Dominion Road will solve more congestion relative to the money spent than you could get elsewhere.

    All I can find is the 2016 Central Access Plan Programme business case and another one that same year for the airport link, but neither quantifies the congestion problems well or addresses how bad the ‘bus snake’ impacts would be relative to other problems across the city. Any links that anyone has got to more recent or comprehensive information are welcome if anything actually exists and has ever been released.

    But even if the ‘bus snake’ will become a real problem I still think there’s a good chance the problem could be solved more cheaply by other means for the next ten or twenty years e.g. diverting bus passengers to the CRL, re-distributing bus termination within the CBD or buying up some uptown properties and terminating some buses at the top end of town to avoid any congestion. Whoever has ongoing responsibility for the project should be providing a refreshed business case for the project that addresses these and any other alternatives.

    And is there any problem on Dominion Road itself? JAG has talked about its capacity, but I thought the traffic flow there on the news last night looked quite good.

  24. The reason grade separation was made a feature by the Superfund, and the reason NZTA also looked to greater separation than the original AT proposal, was that the original AT proposal was found to be flawed in that it had assumed LRVs and pedestrians could somehow be considered a safe combination.

    Rail safety lefislation is New Zealand requires all risks to be identified and eliminated. There must be no risk to pedestrians posed by LRVs. This was found to not be the case with ATs light rail proposal. They had envisioned LRVs travelling at 50kph through pedestrian environments, and that was never a goer.

    Forget all those artist drawings produced by AT – none of them show anything that can be built in the New Zealand environment, unless you want a maximum speed of 30kph imposed, because that is the speed deemed acceptable for any location where rail vehicles pass through uncontrolled pedestrian space.

    The only way to get LRVs along Dominion Rd at anything above 30kph is to change all pedestrian areas from uncontrolled space, to controlled space, like a railway. Essentially, the tracks will need to be fenced off, with pedestrians required to cross the tracks at gated level crossings or by way of overbridge or underpass.

    Whatever is built is going to be separated in some manner, and once you accept the necessity of that, light metro becomes a realistic proposition.

    If the Greens are going to campaign on bringing back the original proposal as planned by AT, they are going to have to admit the LRVs will be very slow, considerably less than the surrounding road vehicles.

    1. Thanks Geoff. I have been trying to say this over and over but no-one here listens.

      Rail should as far as possible be at ground level but in its own segregated right-of-way. Yes, this may mean property-acquisition and demolition for new routes, so more-fool-us that we didn’t plan for this decades ago. Instead we bulldozed property for motorways which consume vastly more land than railways.

      Where station-stops have to be elevated or underground, proper design and maintenance allow this to be done appealingly and tastefully .My local line is the Johnsonville line. Some stations are on the level, some are on hillsides which require ramps up from the street and some are in cuttings which require ramps down from the street. None are particularly spooky or off-putting for women, though it helps that this is a generally well-behaved area. There are cameras all over the place and emergency phones have just been installed. You are safer there than at a typical bus-stop which has none of this.

      Trams in pedestrian space such as in the picture above are fine, but only below 30Km/h. General traffic-speeds in pedestrian-accessible areas are steadily heading down to this speed also. The 50Km/h default urban traffic speed is seriously under question now, and about time too. Fast traffic including rapid transit does not mix well with pedestrians. Transit that is safe around pedestrians will not be rapid.

      1. It’s not that no one is listening to you. Everyone is listening, but no one believes you. Light rail runs at 50 km/h on collector roads all over the world.

        1. Sailor Boy, why does “all over the world” matter, when New Zealand’s rail safety requirements are not for “all over the world”?

          Trains run through tunnels without fire suppression systems “all over the world” as well, but it’s been banned in New Zealand despite it never having been a problem to not have it.

          LRVs will not be traveling toward pedestrians on the raised track platform at anything over 30kph, which is why the design AT planned has effectively been ditched. No point in building something that doesn’t work.

      2. Even if you are correct about the limitations NZ rail safety legislation would impose on street-running light rail, you seem to be willfully ignoring a key consideration: The legislation is not immutable. The government can just amend it to allow the sort of street-running light rail that works perfectly well and safely overseas.

        Safety legislation that requires “all risks to be identified and eliminated” is incongruous with the rest of NZ’s safety legislation, which requires risks to be identified and mitigated as far as reasonably practical. If such a strict standard was applied to roads then no-one would be allowed to drive as not even leaving one’s driveway would be considered safe.

        1. Like I said above, the current legislation doesn’t cover light rail. It covers heavy railways and has a brief appendix added to allow the tourist trams to be run. That appendix consists mostly of a list of railway things that don’t apply to them. (it also doesn’t say anything at all about speed limits or pedestrian areas in the list of requirements of a safety case, that is his interpretation).

          And it will be superseded in any case. Like the northern busway, or the New Network, or Transmission Gully, or the CRL, or the convention centre, or any other major project, new enabling legislation will be drafted for it. This is a totally normal part of project delivery.

      1. Kraut, the entire light rail line north of Mt Roskill is in pedestrian space, except the short underpass under K Rd, and any bridge they may build over the CMJ.

        1. It allows them. Jaywalking isn’t banned in NZ.

          Dominion Rd is crossed thousands of times every day by pedestrians. AT’s plan was to have them cross one side, then use the raised tram tracks platform as the place to stand waiting for a gap in the traffic on the other side. I’m not sure how they came to the conclusion that would be considered acceptable.

          Even with the safety issue put aside, why would you want the LRVs to be stopping and starting all the time as they wait for pedestrians to clear the tracks?

          There isn’t space to design a safe midway standing place for pedestrians clear of road traffic and trams, thus the tracks will be fenced off or grade separated, or the speed of the LRVs restricted to 30kph. One of those three things has to happen.

    2. Light rail vehicles/ trams typically have much better braking rates than Heavy rail vehicles , with magnetic track brakes often used for emergency braking. The maximum speeds of both the Gold Coast and Canberra light rail systems is 70 Kmh and neither of these systems is fully segregated from other road users or pedestrians. Australian rail safety legislation is at least as onerous , if not more so, than that in Nz, so I expect that the authorities approving modern light rail schemes in Australia have not blindly applied heavy rail requirements. By contrast the performance of some US and North American light rail systems have really been impacted by adoption of unnecessary heavy rail standards. I expect that if any light rail system in NZ ever proceeds concept stage, there will need to be a lot of work to come up with an appropriate legal framework for operating them on streets.

    3. So are you finally saying you support 30 km/hr for all vehicles mixing with pedestrians, Geoff? I certainly do; it will encourage enormous modeshift, improve liveability, improve travel choice and thus reduce traffic volumes.

      I believe any need to change regulations would’ve been looked at already; we would surely not handicap ourselves to impose a stricter speed limit on light rail than we do on motor vehicles, given how much safer light rail is:
      – professional drivers;
      – only one vehicle for many passengers, so the number of possible collisions is vastly lower;
      – predictable path on the street (whereas vehicles end up all over the show).

      However, if the limit for light rail ends up being 30 along Dominion Rd just as it will be for traffic elsewhere, it will barely change the trip times, because:
      – the distances between stations mean much of the time is used in acceleration and deceleration, and
      – the speed limits are already 30 for the city end of the trip, and after Mt Roskill it is grade separated infrastructure.

      I imagine the whole route from town to Mangere is unlikely to increase in journey time by more than 5 minutes or so. But if this 30 km/hr is applied on Dominion Rd, it’ll be because the whole city has 30 km/hr on arterials and we’ll be see a much safer and healthier system – certainly worth that!

      Alternatively Auckland might get lumped with a slightly higher speed limit on arterials – 35? 40? – or light rail may be assigned a higher speed limit than traffic due to its inherent higher safety – in which case the travel time difference over the trip will be negligible.

      Are you really suggesting we need to have a grade separated system – and ruin the public realm and introduce all sorts of other costs and dangers (eg stairs, lifts, stations, personal safety) to avoid such a tiny travel time difference? That’s laughable, Geoff. It’s out of touch with what Dominion Rd needs.

      And if you’re saying it at the same time as not accepting that general traffic needs to be 30, then it’s, well… what are the words? Hypocritical, I guess.

      1. Heidi, I’ve not said anything about Dominion Rd traffic speeds at 30, for or against. You might have confused me with someone else?

        If you’re happy with everything, LRVs included, travelling at 30, so be it. I couldn’t care less what speed they run them at – just pointing out LRVs will not be doing 50 or more without making pedestrian access to the tracks controlled space.

        1. How is a pedestrian being hit by a tram doing 30kmh safe but one doing 50kmh isn’t?

        2. old Choo Choo bore Geoff still flogging this nonsense, yawn…Some foamers are obsessed with mainline rules and simply can’t accept or even comprehend how light rail works. Better not travel to any Australian city I guess.

        3. urbanista, I’ve been to the Australian cities that have trams thanks, and travelled on them. Not sure what the relevance of your comment is, as Australia has different rail standards than we do.

          Since Matt wrote this article, Labour have announced they won’t be campaigning on light rail. They want light metro, and have specifically stated the need to separate from pedestrians as one of the reasons. You make not accept the points I’ve been making, but the government certainly is.

          The safety issue was identified more than two years ago. It’s why NZTA moved away from ATs plan, and why the Superfund ruled it out right at the start. One of TAIC’s investigators told me in 2018 he couldn’t see any way ATs plan could be made workable and that restricting the speed was the most likely outcome in his opinion, if pedestrian access wasn’t controlled. I’ll put his view over yours any day.

  25. You are still wrong Geoff. The AT Plan had 30kmh top speed on 700m of half of queen st, which is the only pedestrian environment on the line and the existing speed limit of the street.

    The rest is not in a pedestrian environment, it’s either in the middle of a district arterial or alongside a motorway.

      1. Its a road Geoff, a district arterial to be precise. The carriageway of a arterial road is not a pedestrian environment in law, or in common understanding.

        1. Yes it is. People can cross the road almost wherever they like. They get out of parked cars into the carriageway. They cycle in the traffic lanes.

          Geoff is correct that arterials are pedestrian environments, unless they’ve been made a limited access expressway.

          See my longer comment for the implications of this.

        2. Not according to the law it isn’t.

          Footpaths, pedestrian malls, shared space and transit malls, yes. Carriageway, no. People can continue to use the footpaths, get out of parked cars, cycle in the traffic lanes, the light rail wouldn’t run in traffic lanes or on the footpath.

        3. What law are you talking about? You said, “It’s a road, Geoff.” Are you suggesting only the “footpaths, pedestrian malls, shared space and transit malls” are the areas where pedestrians and traffic mix and therefore need the 30 km/hr speed limit suggested by Vision Zero and Austroads and ITF? 🙂 Surely not. Some of these need a much lower speed limit, or just no vehicles at all. The 30 km/hr applies indeed to roads.

          As for light rail? As I said there may be reasons for it being able to have a slightly higher limit. I haven’t looked into it.

        4. John D, the only parts of Dominion Rd where pedestrians are not allowed, is within 20 metres either side of a marked pedestrian crossing. The other 99%+ is legal pedestrian access.

          And because it’s a busy arterial, you don’t easily cross it in one go. You wait for a gap in the traffic, then go to middle, then wait for another gap in the traffic before crossing the other half.

          AT’s plan was for pedestrians to wait in the middle, on the tracks. You know, where the 66 metre long LRVs are travelling at 50kph. Never mind, if there’s no gap in the traffic, and the LRV is approaching, just step back onto the other track to get out of its way – fingers crossed there isn’t another 66 metre long LRV approaching at 50kph with the pedestrian view hidden by the first LRV.

          Not hard to see why ATs plan was rejected by both the Superfund and to a degree by NZTA. Twyford has even stated publicly that there was merit to moving it all out of the people environment, so I suspect the very point I’ve been making has been quite central to the whole debacle.

        5. Based on the recent blog re the “need” for slower speeds, the train would need to be limited to about 10kph given that the assumption is that a pedestrian should be able just walk across any road with no risk of harm to them. I imagine there might be some harm done when the train doesnt stop quick enough. So yes 30kph would be max speed. But that is ok because that is the average cyclist speed, so why would anyone need to go faster.

  26. Commenters here are arguing about the details of the AT plan. Has it been published then? Where?

    All I have seen are a couple of beautiful but vague artist’s impressions. I don’t understand how Dominion Road is wide enough to put tramlines down.

    1. Bennett, Dominion Rd was wide enough to have tramlines over 70 years ago. The street width is still the same.

      1. Very few vehicles on the roads back then Katy and as the numbers of vehicles increased the tram network was gradually shuttered. We never had lots of cars and lots of trans mingling together on the roads.

        1. Thanks for the mansplain Torsten, I am well aware of the reason the tram network was dismantled. The point being made was that was that the width of Dominion Road remains the same. All that demarcates carparks and traffic lanes is paint, and it can easily be painted out again.

        2. Modern trams are bigger than the trams we operated back then, just like people today are bigger, new trams will take up more road space than old trams, it just makes more sense to elevate them.

        3. Or you could say that we’ve had our fling with cars and found they only work when they’re used for a minority of trips. In the past car ownership was low, so which trips could be done by car was determined by wealth. Ideally in the future, it will be determined by need.

          However things pan out, we need to reclaim the streets for people. Space-efficient transport modes only, so the remainder of the space is a place, for people and trees. Cars don’t stack up as a good use of the space.

        4. We are far from ending our relationship with cars Heidi, we are moving towards a new relationship with them, I’ve just replaced one of my cars with a BEV and will look at replacing the second next year with another BEV.

        5. So Torson makes a comment quite reasonably explaining the differences between the past and the present in relation to your comment Katy and you immediately jump to him “mansplaining”?! Wow! Just Wow!
          Nothing he said had anything to do with gender. So that just leaves you thinking people aren’t allowed to comment because of their gender in your opinion. That is a disgusting attitude to have. Think you owe him an apology.

    2. ATs plan was all on their website for years, literally. Until Labour took it off them and gave it to NZTA when they took most of it down.

      Do you really think they would spend three years completing a reference design, securing funding and tendering enabling works without checking it fits on the street?!

      1. To clarify, I wasn’t saying that AT don’t understand how Dominion Road is wide enough to put tramlines down. I was saying that *I* don’t understand, since there are no plans currently available for me to refer to.

        And to clarify even further: of course Dom Rd is obviously wide enough to put tramlines down; but I don’t know what will happen to the cars, buses, bikes and parking to accommodate that.

        So are AT’s plans available anywhere?

        1. Good question. I hope one of the light rail experts will link something for you …

          One silver lining of all the delay is that we might get a better design now. It needs to have the best possible climate impact on the transport network, and it needs to be based on Vision Zero, whereas in 2016, they might just have been designing it on a vague idea that light rail will be good for the climate and safety. Now we know how the details must be designed to optimise those things.

          To assist the wider network to address climate, safety and equity well, we must take every opportunity to reduce traffic volumes. If you have a look at the chart of levers that can be applied in this post: https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2020/03/02/reducing-traffic/ you’ll see the how the choice of allocating space to the cars, buses, bikes and parking on Dominion Rd is easily made.

        2. AT’s plans have been removed since the project was taken off them by the minister. He’s not since published either NZTAs revised light rail plans, nor the plans from the canadian consortium, nor the plans from the new NZTA metro proposal he had them do against the canadians.

          It’s no wonder there is utter confusion about this, the way he has handled it.

          My guess is Twyford is utterly terrified of the public finding out how much impact his plan to bowl houses, cut trenches and erect viaducts for the metro across the suburbs of central Auckland has. You won’t see any plans this side of the election, and I’m sure they’ll do everything they can to avoid it becoming public at all.

        3. “but I don’t know what will happen to the cars, buses, bikes and parking to accommodate that.’

          ANSWER. In the AT/NZTA Proposal, there would be no buses on Dominion Road, and the car lanes would be reduced. Car parking would also be removed.

  27. So if trams and people can’t mix, how did we cope with literally decades of trams on urban streets in Auckland? How does a modern Australian or European city cope now? The Gold Coast line runs right through the tourist precinct – that’s why it’s there. It’s not fenced off. If I wanted to jam my tackle into the rails on a morning stroll, there’s no fence or anything else stopping me.

    You lads aren’t just seeing the crash barriers they put next to the Gold Coast line on TV to protect them from the Supercars and assuming the whole Light Rail line is like that, are you?

    1. Geoff is so desperate to prove that Auckland can’t have new rail lines, for some reason, that he’s just making stuff up.

      1. Sorry John D. Every point you’ve raised has been thoroughly countered and soundly rebutted by Geoff. He’s been factual and concise.

        1. No he isn’t. He spams in the same fantastical garbage every time light rail is bought up. I cannot recall him responding to me querying where in Massey/Hobsonville his heavy rail would go. His system would cost in the hundreds of billions, take decades to build and does nothing for emissions or congestion in the hear-and-now.

  28. It only came to me recently if you ran a light rail on top of the City rail on Albert street you could have avoided light rail running up Queen Street and messing with pedestrian mall

    1. They looked at both options for this. There isn’t enough space for a second tunnel level on top of the CRL, Aotea station is just below the surface as is the tunnel down at the Customs Street end.

      If you mean running it at street level on Albert Street, this doesn’t really acheive anything as Albert is already a major bus corridor, if you took those buses away to put in light rail you’d almost end up with less than you started with.

    2. LR on Queen makes it a pedestrian place. See Bourke St in Melbourne. Otherwise at best it’ll be a bus transit mall, or more likely stay a vehicle drenched traffic sewer like now, with idiotic retailers and other changeophobes preventing improvement.

  29. Kind of relieved by the decision. I agree with the blog post.

    Polls suggest Labour-Greens is seriously on the cards. If so, I want JAG as transport minister and Twyford sent to the Kermadecs. JAG at least has Masters-level professional qualifications for transport and planning. Looks like that doctor Ayesha Verrall is also being lined up to boot David Clark into touch. I believe a lot of those people in cabinet are because Andrew Little had a big influence on the 2017 Labour list. Remember Jacinda only became leader late in the show after the list as released. That means most of the other people on the backbenches were first-time MPs and she did not feel she could throw them into cabinet straight off the bat – people like Liz Craig (a fully qualified public health doctor). That privilege can only really go to people like epidemiologist Ayesha Verrall in a post-Covid world. The people coming in on the 2020 Labour list are really Jacinda’s people, so I have faith the dead wood like Clark and Twyford can be purged.

    Long story short, Labour-Greens will likely be the most pro-public transport government in half a century. This is good news for light rail in Auckland.

  30. Could we see the return of the Mt Roskill spur from the Western line?

    There is capacity on the line post-CRL, and the corridor is largely clear. From there on, who knows, down to Onehunga, over Mangere and to the Airport?

    Pricier than the Onehunga line extension sure, but potentially it could integrate that too – giving two routes, a teardrop airport loop even – instead of the Purple Line!)

    1. Is there capacity? We are aiming for 5 minute frequencies on all lines which doesn’t leave any capacity to add new spurs

      1. The 2045 peak operating plan for the rail network post-CRL includes 6 trains per hour running between Sylvia Park and Mt Albert via the CRL, presumably to provide extra capacity on the inner section of the Western Line and Eastern Line.

        I don’t see any reason why these trains could not continue onto a Mt Roskill spur instead of terminating at Mt Albert.

        If a somewhat affordable way can be found to cross New North Rd and build a grade separated junction with the Western Line I think this spur is worth building. Apart from Richardson Rd and New North Rd all the other bridge spans for this spur were constructed as part of the South Western Motorway works.

        1. If the Avondale to Southdown Line is to be built for freight, the opposite extension could be considered:

          The extension of the Onehunga line to Avondale Station with cross platform transfer.

          Not ideal and unlikely to happen anytime soon.

    1. Man that has big gaps between stations judging by the time gaps. They were in lockdown by the sounds so would be hardly any customers anyway.

  31. This comment from ;-

    Bay Area Transit News
    1 week ago
    A future infill station is planned at Calaveras when the City of Milpitas finds a way to fund it.

    we are lucky in some ways we don’t have all the different councils in Auckland like we use to otherwise no stations would be built .

  32. Came across this one this morning comparing costs over LR and Metro and how it’s worked out in the USA ;-

      1. US is no model for transit! Obviously. Also these are full metro systems not Light Metro. Asia/Europe better places to model how to do it. Auckland is plenty big enough.

        1. Also it’s a common, but huge, mistake to claim that ‘x density is a prerequisite’ for transit systems, as form follows transport, and transit enables density.

          So rather than density being a prerequisite for transit, transit is an enabler of density. Or more accurately the two are mutually reinforcing.

        2. I posted this because Auckland has the sprawl more like America than anywhere in Europe . And most of the postings here always look at the way Europe and Asia does it , whereas in the late 40’s and 50’s we went the American way with the Car being the King and now we are trying to build our way out of it .
          And did the original Shop owners moan about the tram lines being built down Dominion Rd or did they rub there hands in joy thinking about the custom that will come their way ? .

        3. david L, Scandinavian cities have sprawl, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Olso aren’t tight compact cities, they have a lot of space and suburbs with single dwelling homes like cities in NZ.

  33. So light rail is on hold again. and I suppose, so is “heavy” rail. We can use this time to reflect on what Auckland really needs for a transport network. We are spending $5 billion on a City Rail Link. We need to add to that, not build a duplicate system like Metro which will not share the same tracks.

    Dominion Road is always looked at in any light rail discussion. It is unlikely that it will be acceptable to devote it entirely to a light rail system. The light rail picture in this document shows no other traffic at all. That would be ideal, but it is probably not practical. The alternative is a central bridge on piers, as shown in the other pictures. If such a structure is to be built along Dominion Road, it might as well be heavy rail. It has to be designed for earthquake resistance, so the cost is going to be about the same whatever rail system runs on it. Heavy rail can connect to the existing rail between Kingsland and Mt Eden Railway Stations, and thus it becomes another feeder route to the CRL. It saves building a separate Metro terminus, or
    Metro CRL, and it saves building a railway past the New North Road intersection.

    The high level track down Dominion road can be costed by reference to the cost of the high level track serving Brisbane Airport. Rail from Brisbane City cost A$220 million in 2001. Its notable feature is the high level section on concrete piers, 8.5km long over the industrial area between the city and the airport. We can copy that down Dominion Road. In today’s money the Brisbane rail scheme could amount to $800 million. This is based on present rail construction cost in UK.

    At the south end of Dominion Road, the track continues east to Onehunga, where it connects to the existing rail line. This completes a circular route, connecting east and west Auckland, serving much of the residential and industrial areas of the city. The amount of rail needed is about 5 or 6km along Dominion Road, and a further 5km to Onehunga. The high level part could cost $600 million. The rest to Onehunga is about $70 million, based again on current costs in UK.

    The result is a major enhancement of the current rail system in Auckland, and we have not reached $1 billion yet.

    The next stage is a Mangere rail bridge. Once again the cost is a proportion of the Dominion Road rail bridge cost, 1km at the most. Then continue to the Airport, and on to Wiri. This will provide the needed rail connection to the airport from Dominion Road, and also fast trains from the airport to the CRL via Wiri and Newmarket. Also in time, trains can serve Pukekohe, Hamilton, Tauranga and Rotorua etc. from the airport.

    All these new routes add to the use of the CRL, making the maximum use of that city connection. Trains can run from the airport direct to Avondale, New Lynn, and Swanson etc. The city is beginning to become connected by rail. All for the cost of a small amount of track between Dominion Road and the Airport, and Wiri.

    This is not all. The next stages connect Kumeu and Hobsonville and the North Shore to the CRL. This is done first by rail from Kingsland to Pt Chevalier, and on to Massey, – another bridge like the Dominion Road one, this time parallel to SH16 . Continue overhead over Massey, then at ground level to Kumeu. This will enable fast rains to run from Helensville, Huapai, and Kumeu direct to CRL without going the long way round via Swanson. The most expensive part of this is the bridge following SH16, about the same as Dominion Road, $600 million. The rest at ground level is $14million per km, say 15km, $210 million. The high level bit at Massey could double this, say $410 million. Total for heavy rail via Massey, about $1 billion.

    The Massey connection is to provide a connection to the North Shore via Hobsonville. This is most important. One of Auckland’s most crowded routes is the Harbour Bridge. Any number of buses provided do little to reduce the numbers of cars on the bridge. The bridge was reaching its peak load in 1990. The clip-on strengthening was to give the bridge another 40 years life. But further strengthening was needed after only ten years, to give another 40 years life from 2000. I was involved in the job.

    Only heavy rail to the North Shore will persuade commuters to leave their cars at home, and take a train to work. This is the same all over the world. I can give you many examples. Heathrow Airport given below.

    The rail goes from Massey to Hobsonville, across to Greenhithe, Cathill and on to Albany. A major rail hub is built at Albany to serve other lines to Silverdale, north, and Browns Bay and other places. Once again, only another 15km of track, but we will end up with an enhanced heavy rail network, which will transform Auckland Transport, and this will become a solution which will transform the city for ever.

    Continuing from Albany to Warkwoth, and Wellsford will enable fast trains to serve Whangerei, and Bay of Islands from Auckland Airport. We have to have this future in mind.

    There is my solution for the city. It will cost nothing like $10 billion. I know the costs. I have friends in UK building railways there, even as I write. We have to do it. We do not want any more negative thinking. I have a lifetime experience in these matters. Note the Crossrail project in London. Once trains began to serve Heathrow Airport, the passenger numbers grew to 45,000 per day within a month or two. Compare this to the only handfuls of passengers that used the airport buses from 1960 to 2019, hardly any in fact. I made a point of noticing it.

    This is an election year. We have to talk to all our MPs and candidates, and get something moving right after the election. I can discuss with any who are keen to advance this project. Alan Spinks, Chartered Engineer.

    1. ” We need to add to that, not build a duplicate system like Metro which will not share the same tracks.”

      With all due respect, why not? Many good overseas systems just use different high frequency systems where people can simply transfer from one to another. The good thing about this is that if there is a failure on one the other usually can carry on working.

      Light rail can give us the best of high capacity and the ability knit closer into the urban fabric and normally cost less than a full on metro or heavy rail system.

      The CRL will be busy enough (and will likely need to increase in frequency) as it is without extra direction connections.

    2. The biggest problem here is the cost of all these reports everyone wants on the cost of the project , when someone coughs or goes to the toilet or goes home . instead of writing and creating a mountain of paperwork just start building the dam things as all these reports seem to double the price of the work and by the time all these clowns the reports go to it will never happen as they can’t understand them .

    3. ” We need to add to that, not build a duplicate system like Metro which will not share the same tracks.”

      Save yourself the time reading the rest of the post when it;s so wrong in the opening salvo. Any more lines added to the heavy rail network that run through the CRL reduce the capacity of the existing network and is therefore nonsensical

      1. ” We need to add to that, not build a duplicate system like Metro which will not share the same tracks.”

        Why do you need to share the same tracks? Just build a complimentary system that will share some of the same stations.

    4. “Only heavy rail to the North Shore will persuade commuters to leave their cars at home, and take a train to work.”

      Utter nonsense. Evidence? Northern Busway.

    5. Doesn’t look like you have accounted for the cost of building elevated stations, not much point having a railway line without stations.

      1. To the heavy rail fundamentalist stations are undesirable. The purest, most perfect rail system has zero stations: The trains run in endless loops at top speed and never have their interiors sullied by passengers.

    6. Alan, on Dominion Rd we can have light rail in a vibrant, people-friendly, safe street with clean air, thriving businesses, where the passengers and the other street users provide social connection and security for each other. Why would we, instead, want the underbelly of an engineer’s heavy rail dream, with superstructure shading and dominating the street, and far more user hassle to access the stations?

    7. That’s all well and good Alan but this blog and most of it’s adherents have light rail and light rail only as the solution for Auckland, nothing else will do and it has to be done now, they’re not looking far enough into the future.

      As an example this blog is pushing regional rapid rail but they haven’t considered a link to AKL as part of the plan.

      1. Eh? The link already exists, regional rapid rail stops at Puhinui and 10 minutes later you’re at the airport. Noone wants to spend $1b on diverting RRR to the airport to save travellers 5 minutes and slow down everyone else travelling to the CBD

        1. Lots countries do just that Kraut, Copenhagen for example has direct trains to the airport from all over the country including trains from Sweden.

  34. Look at the high level “heavy” railway over the entire industrial estate between Brisbane City and Brisbane Airport. 8.5 km, cost $220 million in 2001. In our money today about $700 million. Can be built from precast concrete sections, – mass produced, time, less than 2 years. We can do it around Massey and Hobsonville. Who will put up their hand and say, Yes let’s do it, and let us start now! We do not want another 20 years of talking about it.
    A similar bridge connects Pt Chevalier to Massey, then rails go on to Kumeu and Greenhithe and on to Albany. This has to be done in heavy rail. Light rail no cheaper, the earthquake engineeing decides the cost, so it might as well be heavy rail. It will last 100 years or more, and future generations will thank us for it.

  35. So where are those who will put their hand us and say Let’s do it. Form a group of doers, and put a case to our politicians in an election year. We have had enough talking. We have built roads, roads, and yet more roads, but no-one has thought about how people are to get to work. The only answer for most people is cars. We have to now extend our heavy rail network. That is the only way to get people out of cars. Buses will only ever take about 5% Example, how many passengers does the Northern Busway take each day, compared with 100,000 cars on the Harbour Bridge? Rail is the only answer now.

    1. Sorry Alan but you are simply wrong and approaching the problem from a very biased perspective.

      The northern busway system carries 45,000 bus passengers per day across the harbour bridge. During the morning peak hour, there are as many bus users heading south over the bridge as there are people in cars.

      By comparison, the number of rail passengers to and from Britomart amounts to about 48,000 on a weekday… from all four rail lines put together. The four heavy rail lines only move about as many workers to the city centre as the north shore buses.

      Buses are doing famously, the idea that rail is the only answer is demonstrably incorrect.

  36. Well I have to say you are completely wrong! What is actually wrong is that most people involved in this topic have extremely fixed ideas, and will not make any effort to listen to someone from outside who perhaps might have some alternative ideas to contribute. This started in 1985 when I suggested to my colleagues in National Roads Board, that a railway line should be built from Northcote to Albany while the land was available. There was talk at the time that an under Harbour tunnel should be built. They were insistent that it should be a road tunnel, but it would cost $100 billion. I said it should be a rail tunnel costing $10 billion. They said, “Rubbish. rubbish, railways are old fashioned, roads are the transport of the future.” I will say again they were completely wrong. We now have our roads, and all forms of alternative transport are now overpriced because no provision has been made for them. All the land is built up. Light rail sharing roads with traffic will be no faster than buses. Metro systems on overhead bridges will be no cheaper than heavy rail on the same bridges because the earthquake engineering is the deciding cost. The CRL was talked about 40 years ago. It is only with huge effort by Len Brown that we now have it, and we will be forever thankful. Otherwise it will still be being talked about today, and never built. Just like the under harbour tunnel.
    So we have buses on the Harbour Bridge. They are doing a good job, from the numbers of passengers. Can we double those numbers? I think that will cause problems in the city if we double the number of buses. But a motorway is being built to Warkworth. It is said it is expected to take 35,000 vehicles a day when complete. Are all those vehicles going to want to cross the Harbour Bridge? Has this even been thought about? Do we buy 170 extra buses to try to reduce that extra traffic? I was involved in the crack detection in the harbour bridge. Repairs were done to give another 40 years life in 1990. By 2000 that 40 year life had been reached with the extra traffic. More strengthening had to be done to give another 40 year life from 2000. We are now half way, and in the meantime the traffic has doubled. What happens when that 40 year life is reached? Has anyone thought about it? I suspect not. They are still building motorways to bring in an extra 35,000 vehicles per year. Cost of rail is one fifth of the cost of a motorway.
    I will say from experience that doubling the heavy rail network in Auckland is the only way to begin to tackle the transport problem. A metro system that does not connect with the CRL will result in the need to duplicate that project with a metro CRL, probably at high level, and at a similar cost, $5 billion, just for the metro CRL bit.
    The CRL needs to be fully utilised by adding enough trains to fill its capacity. I have designed a train tracking system that enabled trains travelling at 60mph, (96km/hr) to travel at 4 minute intervals on the same track. Data is sent via the overhead wires. It is now being upgraded to allow trains travelling at 125mph, (200km/hr) to travel at 2.5 minute intervals on the same track. It is being tried out as I write between St Pancras and Blackfriars in London.
    With this equipment, I would suggest trains every 3 minutes on each track through the CRL. That gives the trains time to stop for 2.5 minutes at each station for passengers to get on and off, then 30 seconds to move out, and the next train to come in. That gives us 20 trains per hour on each track, 40 trains per hour in both directions. Buying Bombardier Aventra trains carrying 1100 passengers will give us 44,000 passengers per hour, 88,000 passengers from 7.00am to 9.00am every morning. The same in the evening. With CRL complete, the trains will travel from Swanson, round the CRL and straight out to Papakura.
    To create those numbers of passengers we need more destinations. I have suggested, Kingsland to Pt Chevalier, Massey and Kumeu for a start, an affordable add-on to the rail network. We can copy the bridge to Brisbane Airport. Estimate $700 million for the bridge, in our money today.
    This railway should be built while we still have the space from Massey North to Kumeu, and it will connect to the existing rail to Huapei and Helensville, giving quicker direct rail access to the CRL from those places.
    Next we extend the rail north to Hobsonville, Greenhithe, and Albany, giving us heavy rail to Albany, as I suggested in 1985. A limited stop service can be provided from Albany to CRL in 20 minutes. That will really make a difference. With a train every six minutes we can move 11,000 passengers per hour.
    This line should be planned to extend to Silverdale, Orewa, Warkworth and Wellesford. We can copy the train timetable from Queensland Railways, Brisbane Airport to Robina, near the NSW border, in 70 minutes. I have used it.
    Imagine getting from Warkworth to Auckland Airport in 70 minutes. it will transform Auckland Transport for ever. Buses will never compete with this.
    At present it takes three hours by car, and there is nowhere to park when you get there. My son takes three hours to pick me up from the airport, and three hours to get me back to Warkworth. With waiting for my plane to arrive, he needs to take a whole day off work just to pick me up. I have tried a bus. It takes three hours just to get from Warkworth to Newmarket.
    55,000 passengers per day had this problem at Auckland Airport, pre covid, but the numbers will surely pick up again. So we need to plan for the future, and I will add the essential rail connection to the airport, high on the priority list. I have said all this many times. When will we stop talking and start doing?

    1. ‘What is actually wrong is that most people involved in this topic have extremely fixed ideas, and will not make any effort to listen to someone from outside who perhaps might have some alternative ideas to contribute.’

      You’re not wrong there…

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