It’s taken a while to fully digest the light rail announcement from a couple of weeks ago. As I said at the time, and in quite a few interviews since, I have mixed emotions about it all. On the one hand it’s amazing to see the government willing to invest so much in Auckland’s rapid transit network – but on the other hand I worry the ‘tunnelled light-rail’ option has taken the worst parts of the two modes they looked at: the high cost of metro and the lower capacity of light-rail.

Perhaps most of all, I worry that the massive cost of the project will either mean it just doesn’t happen, or it will soak up so much money itself that nothing will be left to progress other important rapid transit projects in Auckland like the neglected Northwest Corridor, let alone progressing rapid transit in Wellington and Christchurch.

But, for now, I think we need to look ahead. As well as explaining the recommendation for tunnelled light rail, the recently released cabinet paper (which is well worth a full read)  provides an outline of how the project will be taken forward. Four big areas stood out for me:

  1. The scope of the next phase of work, including the upcoming detailed business case
  2. How urban development opportunities will be integrated
  3. Work to develop an enduring framework for rapid transit in New Zealand
  4. How the project might be funded

Scoping the next phase of work

The Cabinet Paper outlines 14 areas where direction is provided to the next phase of work:

  • Scope and progress a business case, undertaking necessary analysis to build on the IBC and ensure a robust evidence base for future decision making, including final investment decisions
  • Examine and optimise the preferred proposal to consider whether there are cost savings that can be made, acknowledging that international comparisons cost considerably less. This should consider the extent of land acquisition and corridor widening required in the context of moving towards a low emissions transport system with reduced vehicle kilometres travelled
  • Refine the solution to ensure it is integrated with wider planning for growth and transport investment across the region, including the AWHC, the Auckland Rapid Transit Plan and Kāinga Ora Large Scale Projects
  • Develop procurement and land acquisition strategies, considering the potential for early strategic land acquisition
  • Develop a consenting strategy, begin route protection and the preparation of associated applications for consenting. This must involve working with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development to consider the application of the Urban Development Act 2020
  • Undertake further community, Māori and stakeholder engagement, especially through masterplanning activities, ensuring that local interests are presented in plans and to build an understanding of the implications of this project for urban form along the Corridor
  • Determine the approaches to minimising disruption to businesses and business compensation
  • Further investigate opportunities to reduce embodied emissions across the integrated transport and urban development programme
  • Agree the governance arrangements for the project in the delivery phase, including the roles, responsibilities and accountabilities of agencies
  • Agree the preferred delivery entity, the powers and form of it, ownership and operations of the transport asset
  • Determine the preferred funding and finance arrangements for the delivery of the project
  • Develop an approach to minimise disruption to businesses and target assistance available for businesses affected by the project
  • Develop options to stage the route, and project as a whole (both transport and urban interventions)
  • Develop an approach to the design, delivery and operation of the project in a way that has zero tolerance for harm, and supports workers to thrive. The approach should minimise health and safety issues with a target of zero fatalities during the construction of the project, reflecting approaches taken in other jurisdictions such as the 2012 London Olympics

There’s a lot in here, with perhaps the most interesting bits being specific direction around looking to reduce cost (which is outrageously high by international standards) and reduce embodied carbon (which is important, given the tunnelled light rail is projected to increase emissions over the next 30 years rather than reduce them).

It will be interesting to see how flexible this scope is – for example could efforts to reduce cost include shifting the corridor more to running under Dominion Road rather than the much longer route via Sandringham Road? Or could we even see a shorter tunnel, given that it’s only really the city centre section where the Northwest joins in that faces capacity constraints (and even then not for many decades)?

It will also be interesting to see how the detailed governance arrangements for the project look going forward. Will this continue to be a very much “Wellington/central government” led project, or will control tip back towards Auckland? What will the role of Auckland Council and Auckland Transport be? With a local government election coming up later in the year, and a new Mayor now confirmed, it’s possible that a future Mayor and Council may not be quite so passive in simply accepting government decisions on this project, and may want a proper seat at the decision-making table.

Urban development

The potential for this project to shape and support a more sustainable pattern of urban growth in Auckland has been highlighted by government on multiple occasions as a key reason for investing so much in this part of the city. There is also this infamously bad diagram appearing to show that higher capacity forms of rapid transit would magically allow apartments to be built, which were otherwise for some reason impossible with surface light-rail alone.

Setting that aside, this is a really good corridor for growth – especially with rapid transit in place that allows people to easily access major employment areas at either end of the route. Significantly more growth in this corridor than previously envisaged should mean that far less sprawl will be needed over the next 30 years, and the horrifically expensive and car-focused Supporting Growth programme can be massively curtailed.

The Cabinet paper outlines a few of the next steps that will be taken to realise the growth potential of the corridor:

  • Refreshing the strategic case to outline the urban development factors as well as transport, to help establish realistic and feasible benefits
  • Revisiting land use scenarios, including methodologies, modelling and feasibility assessment of scenarios
  • Identifying the interventions required to facilitate market development benefits, particularly increased housing capacity. These interventions would be focused on infrastructure and land use initiatives and include zoning changes (including impact of new medium density residential standards/intensification rules), land acquisition and aggregation, as well as masterplanning and the ‘packaging’ of development opportunities
  • Analysis of the viability of the development sites that make up the enabled housing capacity, providing an indication of the phasing of development sites
  • Analysis of likely effectiveness and feasibility of urban interventions, including analysis of the effectiveness of different packages of interventions at different locations along the Corridor
  • Engaging with the market to enable, promote and incentivise urban development to achieve desired density and scale
  • Developing our understanding of the costings for the urban interventions, including enabling infrastructure and other amenities required to support development (for example water infrastructure, urban parks, schools, other utilities). Investigation and analysis of options of these interventions is generally the responsibility of partners, namely Auckland Council and Kāinga Ora. Engagement and commitment from these partners will be required to support this work
  • Confirming the requirements, constraints and dependencies of Auckland Council and Kāinga Ora’s adjacent schemes and land holdings is critical, of note are the Kāinga Ora Large Scale housing projects in Mt Roskill and Māngere
  • Analysis of social, well-being, economic costs and benefits of different interventions (or packages of interventions)
  • Working with partners to develop a recommended implementation plan focused on infrastructure and land use initiatives and other urban interventions to facilitate market development.

There’s a lot of bureaucratic waffle in here, but it seems like there will be pressure on Kainga Ora to really step up their game in undertaking massive redevelopment in the area, and on Auckland Council to make sure the Unitary Plan enables the scale of growth to fully maximise the benefits of this gigantic investment.

Recently published draft Area Plans for key places along the route, like Mt Roskill and Māngere, suggest the Council doesn’t have a clue about the scale of change that will be required in these places. So it will be a very interesting discussion between the government and the council on this.

A rapid transit framework

Perhaps one of the most exciting parts of the Cabinet Paper is discussion about the need to develop a framework that guides the planning, delivery and funding of rapid transit across the country. At last there is clear recognition that the current approach is woefully inadequate and actively works against efforts to develop these networks.

From a national perspective, it is not sustainable for investments such as ALR to continue to be developed on a project-by-project basis. To effectively plan and deliver rapid transit in a way that supports long-term growth in cities and delivers against our emissions reduction targets, we need to work towards a clearer, nationwide approach to the planning, funding and delivery of rapid transit. This will be particularly important to frame the development and delivery of future projects in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Preferred options for rapid transit projects in Wellington and Christchurch are likely come before Cabinet in 2022.

The framework we are developing through work on the Strategic Planning Act will be a significant step forward in the integration of planning for transport and land use. This will provide a platform for a shared understanding for how regions such as Auckland will grow. It will help provide a more consistent approach to identifying and protecting transit corridors and creating certainty for the Government, its partners and the market regarding the timing and prioritisation of investments.

In response to this new planning regime, and our climate commitments, a nationally consistent strategy for the planning, funding, ownership, operation and delivery of rapid transit in New Zealand is needed. The Minister of Transport intends to set out a high level direction on these issues in an amendment to the GPS on Transport in early 2022. As part of the policy work programme needed to take ALR forward, the Ministry of Transport will lead ongoing work, working the Treasury, Waka Kotahi and others.

The approach should clarify the definitions and role of rapid transit in wider transport and planning frameworks, including the wider range of interventions that will be needed to reduce emissions in our cities. This will form the basis of advice to ministers on the roles and responsibilities for the delivery and operation of rapid transit within the transport system.

Sufficient progress will need to be made on the development of the national approach to rapid transit to inform policy decisions on funding and delivery entity choices for ALR. The Minister of Transport will return to Cabinet with details of this national approach as part of advice to Cabinet on the delivery entity for ALR.

The catastrophic mess of planning the City Centre to Māngere light rail project over the past seven years is exactly why a framework like this is required. Hopefully it provides clarity about “who does what” when it comes to rapid transit – in particular whether a new national “rapid transit agency” needs to be established, or whether Waka Kotahi can finally throw off its 1960s motorway focus to become a proper multi-modal transport agency and consistently lead the delivery of these projects like it does for state highways.

Funding

With the government selecting an option that costs nearly $15 billion, more than three times the cost of City Rail Link, funding will be a major focus going forwards. The Cabinet Paper talks about a variety of funding sources for the project, including some that are likely to be extremely controversial such as value capture.

It is clear that a significant proportion of the capital costs associated with the project will be paid for by the Crown. To support this, it is important that a broad range of funding sources, including value capture, is utilised as part of a fair and equitable funding solution. The Establishment Unit’s work indicates that $2-3 billion could be recovered through value capture mechanisms.

The development of the final funding package will require an ambitious approach that reflects the scale, breadth and nature of benefits that investment will bring, based on the ‘beneficiary pays’ principle.

The Establishment Unit considered the merits of a range of funding sources.

  • Infrastructure Funding and Finance (IFF) levy.
  • General rates (to recognise regional benefits to regional landowners).
  • Business rate supplement across Auckland (with local and regional price differentials).
  • Development contributions, which will recoup growth-related elements of Auckland Council’s contribution from developers.
  • Strategic land acquisition and intervention has the ability to generate funding for the project, and will need to be considered in more detail in the next phase business case.

Whilst this has provided an indication of the potential funding tools that could be used, further analysis is needed to better understand the affordability and viability of different mechanisms, and the contributions these could make. We are proposing that this takes place during the detailed planning phase, led by the Ministry of Transport and the Treasury with input from the ALR Unit.

The Establishment Unit has considered IFF as a proxy for value capture, although we note that this mechanism is generally intended to recover costs rather than capture value. This future work should explicitly explore how value capture could be pursued as a core component of any funding solution, recognising that the developers and landowners who benefit from investment should make a contribution to its costs.

Whilst the use of both targeted rates and/or the IFF levy could be an appropriate part of any funding package, we are recommending that future work develops the policy approach and a pathway to implement a specific value capture tool that could be used for this project and possibly others. Given the impact on landowners along the Corridor, any announcements the Government makes about the project should indicate the possible funding sources to be used.

The National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) alone will not have the capacity to fund the capital costs of this project, or all of the operating costs. The NLTF funding model is well-suited to meet maintenance costs and gradual network improvements but too inflexible to meet the capital cost profile and the many objectives we want from projects such as ALR.

In some respects it is good to look at a wide variety of funding sources for a project like this. However, I do worry that the approach to funding and financing this particular project might fall into many of the same problems highlighted by the previous section about the need for ongoing certainty about funding rapid transit. Complicated funding agreements developed on a project-by-project basis is a recipe for delay and uncertainty – not only for this project, but for rapid transit in general.

Overall, if we set aside the issue of whether tunnelled light rail is the best option or not, the Cabinet paper highlights some pretty useful pieces of work going forward that will hopefully not only be valuable for this project, but should help make rapid transit easier to progress across New Zealand. Development of a rapid transit framework has probably come many years too late, but is absolutely essential going forward. Similarly, gnarly conversations with Auckland Council about how much much more growth can be enabled in the corridor has to happen sooner rather than later.

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93 comments

  1. They are so preocupied with business cases and procurement and consultation they’ve left out “do some basic transport planning”.

    1. step 0. Implement and execute “quick wins – carbon and cost offset” – power up cycling/eBike mode change. Do it NOW!

      1. Do it always!

        Step 0 should never have to wait for any big infrastructure projects.

        Cycleways, bus lanes, increased bus frequencies, e-bike subsidies etc. should be the norm when it comes to regular transit improvements.

    1. That’s not entirely true. Shorter vehicles themselves don’t save money, but shorter platforms do. This means it makes sense to try to plan for high frequencies so that you can carry the same number of passengers on shorter trains.

      Stations are a large portion of costs for deep underground lines, sometimes more than 50% of the entire project budget. For a given station depth, the cost is approximately proportional to platform length. Cost is proportional to platform length on shallow cut-and-cover stations, too, but shallow stations are hugely less expensive than deep stations and therefore they make up a much smaller proportion of total costs.

    2. I don’t agree, as the tunnels being dug will always fit a metro anyway.
      for example an 80 metre long train that is 2.6m wide has a floor area 208m2 and a typical metro width at 3.2 metres is 256m2
      To have the same floor area at 2.6 metres you need to extend the length to 100 metres.
      Also trains with more width more accessible, especially with prams bikes and wheelchair.

      1. I’d be surprised if tunnelled light rail welcomes bikes. How do I get off at University? Will there be lifts that I can use in rush hour?

  2. ‘corridor widening required in the context of moving towards a low emissions transport system with reduced vehicle kilometres travelled’

    They couldn’t have written a more contradictory statement.

  3. But on Tuesday night, the Auckland Light Rail (ALR) group said its initial timeframe – which wouldn’t see construction start until at least 2025 – remained unchanged.(this is a comment from a previous stuff article). If they say a week is a long time in politics,4 years is a life time. Regardless of the merits or short comings,how does a project like this survive,4 years of organizations,councils,govt,politicians,and the general public all wanting a piece of it,(or not as the case may be).
    The situation now is so dire,anything that is proposed,is better than the status quo, and l would like to see something happen, but l fear this will end up on the cutting room floor.

  4. The photo from Singapore is interesting. In Singapore housing is a very centralized via the HBD which builds almost all housing (with 80% or so of all people in Singapore living in HBD housing). Note that most of these are not renters but “owners” (on 99 year leases), so Singapore also has a high ownership rate. Something for NZ to learn from?

    Another example would be Japan. Japan builds lots and lots and lots of rail and does it profitably. How do they do it? The rail companies are also property developers and make their profit from the value increase around new stations.

    I believe Hong Kong also uses similar approaches.

    1. Yes, I was struck that it seems to imply the only driver of density/housing styles was the mode of transport! There is plenty we can learn from overseas but it needs to be as a connected set of systems within the city – neither transport nor housing problems will be solved in isolation.

    2. Ralf, you are correct that Hong Kong MTR is a major developer along its route, particularly apartment blocks above the MTR station are highly sought due to excellent accessibility.
      Hopefully developers will see the opportunity to develop good medium to high density housing options in the vicinity of major interchange and key stations. People often drive to major stations, and park nearby, which congestion and car volume decreases accessibility

  5. Motion for the Council to just start surreptitiously extending the Motat tram network and see how far they can get before someone cottons on.

    1. That’s not a bad idea. And/or extending the Wynyard Quarter heritage tram loop. If they got past the St Lukes onramp while staying on Motat land/the stadium, they’re home free.

  6. If they think a bike bridge is worth spending $1billion and a light rail line is worth spending $10 billion to $20 billion then imagine how much they would be prepared to spend if someone came up with a project that was worthwhile.

    1. At $685m the bike bridge represented less than 9% of what the active modes budget for the decade should be, which is appropriate for the importance of the link once the other 91% is spent. This uses the UN’s recommendations for spending a “minimum of 20% of the transport budget”, and it would transform the network to give all our family members the transport freedom they deserve.

      They come up with a project that was worthwhile, miffy. But they chose to ignore the advice of anyone who understood the need for sophisticated communications, and anyone who knew how they were being played by WK.

      1. Crikey. Imagine how bad our transport system would be if we reduced the spending on all other modes down until active modes made up 20% of the total. It might make the UN happy but I don’t think anyone who lives here would like it.

        1. Crikey. Imagine thinking what we’re spending our money on in transport at the moment is in any way good value for money. You’ve been sold a crock of sh*t, miffy.

        2. Perhaps we could spend money on things where the benefits exceed the costs regardless of arbitrary UN percentages and regardless of any other ideology. Maybe we could define problems and develop projects that solve those problems rather than choose light rail and then look about for a problem it might solve. Maybe if the answer is digging a tunnel from Wynyard to Mt Roskill then perhaps we have asked the wrong question. People tell me I am too cynical but perhaps I am not cynical enough. Perhaps the intention of all this is to get well intentioned people to debate meaningless trivia like how long station platforms should be and the merits of light rail vs light metro with the debate being the only intended outcome.

        3. “Perhaps we could spend money on things where the benefits exceed the costs regardless of arbitrary UN percentages and regardless of any other ideology”

          You’re almost starting to understand that we need way less spending on roads 😉

        4. Miffy- “Perhaps we could spend money on things where the benefits exceed the costs”

          So just build bike lanes?

        5. We could claw back 20% capex from motorways alone tomorrow if we were picking projects that had positive BCRs

        6. You seem to be assuming I am in favour of all roads. I am as opposed to Transmission Gulley as I am to CRL. It doesn’t matter if it is road, rail or cycling if the BCR is less than 1.0 it shouldn’t be built.

  7. What is this going to mean? : “Analysis of the viability of the development sites that make up the enabled housing capacity, providing an indication of the phasing of development sites”

    Given the AUP is still preventing quality intensification on a site-by-site basis, should this work not be about analysis of the viability… and then improving the viability?

    Such work would be complementary to the NPS-UD, and needs to continue to tackle Council about their resistance to making quality intensification easy. Council don’t seem to be doing anything to ensure intensification leads to fewer vehicle crossings, they still think residential parking schemes are a good way forward when in fact that kerbside space is desperately needed for active modes, trees and placemaking, and they seem to still believe that it’s their job to force developments to include offstreet carparking. Some of the ways they are using to do it by stealth are quite offensive, eg splitting residents into two classes, with different levels of rights.

  8. Heidi,l think we give the council far to much credit,(if there is a thought that they see this as an opportunity to increase density). By their very nature,councils are slow ,ponderous entities, who do not attract nimble thinkers into their fold. At best ,there would be some developers, who see the opportunity, but as you have quite rightly pointed out,it would be done with council opposition, rather than support.

  9. The scenarios are based on Stats NZ medium population scenario, which has Auckland growing at 1.1% pa to 2050 (pop +720,000) vs 0.65% for the rest of New Zealand. Certainly adds to the challenge.

    1. The projections for Auckland, at least, are probably on the high side given that the region’s population decreased by 1300 in the year to June 2021.

  10. Someone has already said it but I will say it again – it’s really disappointing and surprising that NZTA is trying to “solve” all the problems and “serve” all the destinations with one line. There could easily be a surface-level tram, completely separated from the general traffic down Dominion Rd with a spur on Balmoral Rd/St Lukes Rd towards the mall and the Kainga Ora developments in Mt Roskill and potentially further south to Avondale. We would essentially create two separate lines which could run every 6-8 minutes each giving a 3-4 minute frequency on the joint stretch.
    It’s also disappointing that there are no plans shown as to how the network could be further extended. I can envisage a line going down Symonds Rd and Anzac Ave towards Britomart where it could join the line going down (or under) Queen Street.
    Also, it is my impression that if we’re going for an underground solution from Wynyard Quarter then the AWHC would need to be a tunnel (again not my preferred option).

    1. The cost of a line between Mt Roskill and the Airport would never be justified for 8 minute frequencies. Spur lines are terrible for splitting services and reducing frequencies. A four minute frequency going via Sandringham Rd is more valuable to someone in Mangere than 8 mins going via Dominion Rd.

      1. Agreed – if we’re talking about separate Sandringham & Dominion Rd light rail lines, the Sandringham Rd line should be sent from Owairaka to Avondale.

        This is probably an argument in favour of having surface light rail/modern trams replace buses on the Isthmus and light metro focus on the RTN, since the only way to ensure 4-minute frequencies on each of the Dominion & Sandringham LRT lines would be to have a separate corridor in the city centre for the North Shore, NW, and Mangere lines.

    2. I am also concerned about the Wynyard quarter station being underground as it definitely locks us into a tunnel under the harbour.
      A bridge and station over Victoria Park, running parallel with Victoria St and bending round to run parallel with the state highway 1 bridge, this would mean there is enough height to shoot straight across st marys bay with clearance for boat masts etc.

      1. A good point and an intriguing possibility – though I wouldn’t expect a routing cutting directly across St Mary’s Bay.

        Would have expected a light rail/metro bridge to go from around Silo Park/the tip of the Wynyard Quarter wharves to Sulphur Beach

  11. A master class by the Labour government in how to kill off a project that they have no intention of ever doing, ie spend years designing something so expensive that literally everyone says, this makes no sense, at which point the government can walk away and everyone goes, ‘well thank goodness for that’, what a sensible decision. Worked for cycle bridge, will work for light rail….

  12. “There’s a lot of bureaucratic waffle”

    I have worked on some largish scale IT projects and this looks a lot like Analysis Paralysis

    In those lists of bullet points, lots of things to think about, but very little to do that has concrete, timely, measurable goals.

    Perhaps in the short bullet-point summary it was skipped over, but I didn’t see anywhere in that list anything about ‘time to market’ or goals to have first passenger riding in 202x. What is missing is the when.

    I really want to not be cynical and throw my support in behind this tunnelled LR, as nearly any light rail style solutions, are better than nothing. But from what has been posted, it looks like a plan to spend the next 2-3 years spending tens of millions of dollars including visiting lots of overseas cities (not actually a bad idea), just doing planning with no actual goal to go live. On that basis, I can’t see myself actually riding on light rail in Auckland until after 2030 – if ever.

    Only thing that would give me confidence would be to have somebody high profile (Phil Goff upto it?) to own this project, put their name to it, and commit to an ambitious date for passengers to ride. It might slip, there might be lots of complaints from an army of consultants that they need more time, mistakes will be made, and results may not be perfect, but we might get a project underway and something getting built rather than a pile of documents*.

    Looking at the list, I am sure there are some decisions which can be deferred along the way. Like pick a route and tell partners like Kāinga Ora to work with it (or respond with a better solution within weeks) rather than spend the next two years in meetings to figure out their dreams which may not align with others and change next government (also coming to the conclusion that 3 year terms are too short).

    Classic project management mantra is that you can have it good, cheap or fast; pick two. We have been arguing about cost and ‘best’ solution. What I am suggesting is that we need to weigh in on the fast side of the triangle. Modern agile project management (and don’t worry, I am not a total agile fanboy), is that if you are not sure about what you need to build, then build incrementally with a core team that gets better and better at delivery.

    *I worked on one large IT project. Large NZ organisation had spent $10m+ on an ambitious IT solution from overseas vendor before pulling the plug. I remember coming into the replacement project and having to read some of vast pile of documents that had been written by the previous vendor over ~18 months period.

    They had spent that time just learning about what they had to do and documenting it, but clearly had not started any actual development to build the solution. It struck me as such a waste of money, rather than just using people who already knew what to do

  13. First things first should be a drastic reassessment of costings. Surface light rail should not cost >$300 million per km, and light metro should not cost >$600 million per km.

    Tampere, Finland built their 15km LRT line for $30 million per km – granted that’s more of a tram than a rapid transit light rail system, but still. $100-150 million per km is typical for upper-end light rail, as already discussed in GA articles.

    The international average cost per km for tunneling is around $390 million per km, according to transitcosts.com. Japan and Norway both can tunnel rail for around $250 million per km – even less expensive.

    Based on these international costings, $15 billion could get Auckland 100km of high-quality surface light rail, or 40-60km of light metro.

    In addition, an assessment of the Isthmus light rail route and goals is seriously needed. Serving Wesley may be better achieved with the Crosstown Light Rail proposal than by trying to wiggle the CC2M line all over the place.

    And in the case of light metro, taking a Manukau Rd routing (~5km shorter than Sandringham Rd) could potentially free up enough funds to build surface light rail along Dominion Rd and Sandringham Rd. Nothing wrong with more modes, if you’ve got the money for it.

      1. Agree, Manukau Road is the logical underground route for city to airport. But quite likely only the first route, Sandringham Road, will be underground and future routes through the isthmus will run on the street: Dominion Road, Manukau Road, Mt Eden Road. So the announcement is good news in the (very) long run for Dominion Road etc because they will, eventually, get street level light rail and all the placemaking benefits that come from that.

        Meanwhile city to airport is quicker via Puhinui.

        1. If a Manukau Rd light metro route was built from the start (5km shorter than the Sandringham Rd route) it could save enough funds to be able to build Dominion Rd and/or Sandringham Rd surface light rail at the same time – up to $3 billion based on the ALR’s $600 million cost per km. Even assuming costings of $200 million per km (similar to Sydney) $3 billion would be enough for 15km of surface light rail.

          A Manukau Rd light metro, if built, would be the fastest City-Mangere & City-Airport option by a long shot. 25-30 minutes Aotea-Airport, vs 40-50 minutes for the Puhinui transfer option.

        2. For $15bn, they would be better looking at the options of what could be built instead of just this single tunelled LRT line.

          The options would be, truly, transformational for Auckland.

        3. Yes I think we should be looking at the shorter route via Epsom and Manukau Rd. Epsom is ripe for big upzoning and densification – we can see this already at Greenlane with the apartments by the racecourse. Then Royal Oak is also suitable for upzoning. While there is some duplication with the HR network, it actually provides the opportunity to network these together so that people can easily transfer from one line to another (Grafton, potentially Newmarket, then Onehunga).
          As others have pointed out, this routing should save billions off the cost (as well as time) which could then be used for surface LR through either Sandringham or Dom Rd (and which could later be added to as a crosstown route and maybe convert the Onehunga HR line to LR).

          Effectively for the same cost as planned you not only get a faster CC2M line, but you also get the Isthmus line (which wouldn’t need to go around the city anymore to go under etc, it could simply terminate somewhere central eg Upper Queen St.
          While we’re at it for cost savings, save money through Mangere one way or another (still have stop/s there of course), and demand Auckland Airport accommodate a direct route in (cut n cover under the future runway and through what is now car parks – so cheap to do and shaving distance/cost of the line).
          Furthermore, the new isthmus surface LR (now with spare capacity, could be the first section of the NW line potentially – in other words build Upper Queen to Sandringham, then Sandringham to Avondale then along Rosebank Rd to the motorway then NW through to Westgate etc. That Avondale-Sandringham section is also the start of the Avondale-Onehunga-Penrose crosstown line).

        4. Not sure how RealistIC it would be so expect people from the North West to have a tiki tour through Avondale & the central isthmus on their way to work rather than just building it down the direct route via SH16

        5. @Kraut – agreed.

          If any alternate route for the inner Northwest line should be discussed then it should be tunnelling on the north side of SH16, under Grey Lynn & Ponsonby, to get to the central city. That would have a bit better catchment than in the motorway corridor, though it may not be that much quicker and certainly more expensive.

        6. Kraut, that can be done later as another project/extension when demand needs it. By doing it this way you save about $3B or more right off the bat and really only add about 5-10 minutes to the journey time… but the beauty is that people will be able to easily transfer at Avondale to the Western line and take the CRL into the city.

        7. @Realist – but you’re forgetting about conflicts with existing Western Line passengers, and the sore need for direct mass transit to the Northwest. Not to mention that any transfers for what has already been identified as a primary radial RTN corridor would be off-putting to some.

          Your proposal runs the risk of becoming another “interim solution turned permanent solution” for the Northwest.

          If light metro is what ends up being built, I would be in favour of building a NW line from the University station, around the CMJ and along SH16 all the way to Huapai as part of the second stage, following the Mangere & Crosstown lines and at the same time as a North Shore line.

      2. I disagree about Manukau. To me its all about station placement, and the Manukau route does not offer many good locations. Between Onehunga and Britomart you only really have Royal Oak, some stops in Epsom which couldn’t be any lower density, and Newmarket which already has a rail station. Compare that to Mt Roskill and Wesley with big growth potential as well as all the stops along Sandringham incl Eden Park. Yes it may be a bit further so time from airport will be greater, but the airport is not a priority.

        1. Fair point. Running it along the motorway corridor from Mt Roskill to Onehunga is probably a but cheaper than tunnelling as well.

        2. Arguably that’s what makes Manukau Rd more suitable for light metro – the wider stop spacing. There’s still a few major nodes & places of interest along the route (Newmarket mall, Mt St John, Greenlane Hospital, Alexandria Racecourse, Cornwall Park, the Stardome), plus new apartments going up in Epsom and existing high-density zoning in the Unitary Plan .

          Dominion Rd and Sandringham Rd may be better off with the close stop spacing of surface light rail. Greater coverage for continuous surrounding development, direct access between the light rail and the streetscape.

          Also remember that the NPS-UD is intended to enable 6+ storey uplift around any rapid transit station, so whatever route is chosen will create additional intensification.

          I disagree with the Sandringham Rd routing because in my view it is too close to the Western Line. Doesn’t seem suitable to me to basically double heavy rail from Aotea to Kingsland, or take the longest and most indirect route to Mangere with so few stations that there will likely be no reduction in buses along Sandringham Rd and into the CBD.

          If light metro is to be build closer to the middle of the isthmus my preference would be Dominion Rd, but that would still be second in my ranking to Manukau Rd, simply because a Dominion Rd light metro would need sufficient stations to effectively substitute buses (e.g. spaced every 1-1.5km between Dominion Junction & Mt Roskill).

    1. Manukau Rd route = North shore, Wynyard, Aotea, University, Hospital, Grafton Station, Gillies Ave, Alexandra Park, Royal Oak roundabout, Onehunga, Airport.
      Large apartment developments (HDB style) should be possible at each of these locations.
      Need a basic plan for the whole city to start with, and plan for where and how the extra 720,000 people will fit.

      1. And in addition to Manukau Rd route for light metro – modern trams along Dominion Rd to Mt Roskill & Sandringham Rd to Owairaka. The 5km shorter tunnelled route via Manukau Rd should save enough money to afford 15km of surface light rail.

        I reckon the ATAP 2018 rapid transit plan should be stuck with – maybe a few enhancements like a crosstown route all the way from Pt Chev-Avondale-Onehunga – and the most development based around that. The NPS-UD should enable 6+ storey intensification around frequent bus routes too, so in theory intensification should happen all over the city, but yes planning around transit will be crucial for making sure the extra 720K people can actually get around the place.

  14. New survey: https://nzta.govt.nz/resources/public-attitudes-to-road-safety
    The framing of the question is a bit dodgy, but:
    “Only one in three (33%) consider it to be at least fairly safe to cycle on rural or open roads outside of town, and few (6%) consider it to be very safe.
    Having been informed that around 350 people are killed each year on our roads, almost half of the population (44%) think deaths from road crashes are acceptable”

  15. I note the National party wants to scrap this if elected it would be useful if they could outline their alternative. I expect it would be a revived East west link with bus and cycle lanes added on. I wonder if this could be useful especially for cross town public transport. For instances if the North western bus priorities could be extended through the tunnel onto the Southwestern motorway and onto the airport and Puhinui Station plus through Onehunga to Otahuhu Station or maybe through to Slyvia Park. Buses from the city centre along Dominion Road could be futhur enhanced and run on to the motorway bus priority routes at Mount Roskill. And before you dismiss this consider where are all the cars on the southwestern motorway going to and coming from.

    1. Royce – how would you provide for stations? It’s all very well running buses on motorway priority lanes, but they’ve got to stop somewhere to pick up people if they are to provide any sort of effective transit service.

      Not even getting into the fact that buses cannot and do not provide the capacity that light rail has to generate urban uplift of 6+ storeys.

      As a temporary measure though – yes we should be rolling out bus lanes anywhere there is a frequent bus route in Auckland, minimum. But that will not be a long term alternative for light rail or light metro.

      Do not support the East-West Link; as last proposed it was wildly expensive and environmentally destructive (cost will likely have gone up now). The same traffic benefits could be gained from upgrading existing roads.

      1. Still I was just thinking what National will do after they scrap the light what ever rail project. Just maybe the east west project could provide something useful especially for cross town. As for station/bus stops I suppose we would get more of what has being proposed for the North Western bus priority although it could clean up the messy bus routes in Onehunga and getting across to Mangere as well.

        1. If National had any political sense they’d either:

          – Pledge to build light rail but cheaper; returning to the $2-4 billion surface light rail proposal of 2016. Also committing to improving frequent buses across Auckland with the funds raised from a congestion charge (which Luxon supports).
          – Extend the Onehunga Line to the airport. Yes, it would be very technically demanding and expensive, but it would be far better than a Puhinui branch as Simeon Browne is currently proposing.
          – Acknowledge that more improvement to isthmus transit than “slightly better buses” is necessary, especially for intensification. Modern tram-style light rail is the best fit if you ask me; even bi-articulated buses or ‘trackless trams’ seem insufficient from what i’ve read.

        2. Do you mean both light rail and HR (the O Line) servicing Onehunga-Airport?

          Or light rail CBD-Onehunga only and HR City-Airport via Onehunga?

          The problem with HR from Onehunga its a lot of cost, for very little new catchment (4 stations?)

        3. I think we can agree a branch to the airport from Puhinui is a waste of time and frankly counter productive to the smooth operation of the rail network. I don’t suppose National are to worried about rail access to the airport but surely thay would have to address public transport along or near to Dominion Road at leasr as far as the Motorway. But I am not expecting there will be any rails involved which is why I have suggested a bus based system could run to other destinations.

        4. @KLK probably should have better clarified – it should have been an either/or.

          If National becomes more open to the idea of light rail as a mode before the 2023 election (unlikely, but one can dream) I’d hope that they’d pick up delivering light rail for cheaper as a potentially attractive election policy.

          However if National remains devoutly anti-light rail and insists on heavy rail and bus rapid transit only, then I’d argue that trying to convince the party to support Onehunga-Airport HR or even Avondale-Onehunga-Airport HR would definitely be more beneficial than Simeon Brown’s suggestion of a Puhinui-Airport HR branch. Of course I’m aware of the technical difficulties & expense of HR, plus not solving the isthmus transit dilemmas without separate trams/BRT, but a route to Mangere from the north would have at least more catchment than a Puhinui spur.

        5. @Royce – I do not believe a bus-based system is going to be anywhere near sufficient or appropriate for Auckland’s needs long term.

          As a temporary measure to improve PT? Absolutely, service should be improved and little incremental interim steps taken.

          As a long-term major component of the RTN, supposed to move tens of thousands of people per hour and enable+ cater to 6+ storey intensification around stations? No, bus shoulder lanes won’t be able to do that.

          At the same headways, surface light rail can have up to 4x the capacity of double decker buses. Tunneled light metro, up to 8x the capacity. Heavy rail up to 12x.

          Rail is going to be a necessary component of the RTN – the exorbitant costs of the ALR ‘tunnelled light rail’ proposal doesn’t change that. Effort should be made to bring the costings down to international standards (~$100 million per km for surface light rail, $250-400 million per km for tunnelled light metro).

  16. Wouldnt it be cool if we could manufacture the rolling stock here in NZ and have the same LR specs in Auckland, Wellington and Chch (and other cities like Tauranga, Dunedin etc.)

    1. Agreed – there should be a conveyor belt of light rail projects once Auckland gets the ball rolling. Costs would be reduced and commonality would make maintenance easier.

    2. I couldn’t care less if the rolling stock is manufactured in NZ. It’s expensive enough as it is. I cant imagine it getting any cheaper if we manufacture lower volume and with higher costs for materials, labor and compliance.

      We do not need to spawn an industry that will be continuously strapped for cash, griping in the media, relies heavily on subsidies through making all our PT systems more expensive to own and operate, and has zero export potential because it simply could not compete with overseas manufacturers.

      And so long as all the cities in NZ pick a system that is widely used overseas and not too innovative or unique, then we can gain the economies of scale and security of supply by buying similar stock as much bigger orders.

  17. SH20 between the NW busway (cough) and Onehunga looks interesting all on its own. As JJ says, it services MR and Wesley and places like Hillsborough, MR South and the southern parts of 3K and Royal Oak. Ultimately it could be a fairly direct link up to the Upper Harbour (via UHH). And could be the beginning of that conversion of the O Line to LRT. But I guess its not strictly north-south between CBD and airport.

    Start with the Airport to Onehunga LRT section first and decide from there. Its a mere change to the O Line for (infrequent) services to the CBD, but its a start.

    But whatever way you cut it, Dom Rd cuts right through the heart of the isthmus. With St Lukes/Balmoral Rd providing east-west services between the western line/NW busway and the southern line (if not beyond) you really start to get a step-change towards a connected network.

  18. A holistic approach is needed and it is still not there.

    +1
    a) The integrated landuse / transport planning. Kainga Ora should use it compulsory powers to appropriately zone / develop the landuse along the corridor. Transport is just a derived demand of spatial land use distribution. If we want a beneficial transport scheme we need the land use to go with it.

    -1
    a) Funding – vehicle drivers remain very heavily subsidised (internal and external costs) but there is no mention of increasing funding from them.
    ai) no mention on increasing fuel excise tax /RUCs to ensure road users cover more of their internal and external costs (this would drive mode shift & reduce need for capital funding from other sources)
    aii) no congestion tolls mentioned to partly fund the capex and make up the shortfall in opex
    aiii) no vehicle air pollution tax or increases in road user costs to cover other externalities (these would again drive mode shift reducing the opex shortfall)
    b) developer contributions & rates – poor policy – developers & ratepayers dont cause transport issues, the users do
    c) value capture levy – poor policy – land and capital values will increase anyway (and will already be increasing along the corridor). There will be an increased rate take anyway without imposing an extra “levy” tax. But, yes, the uplift value that occurs in rates should be transferred from Council to the project. This is all the more reason Central government should tax land (resource used) and local government the capital value (ratepayer services provided)
    d) “but too inflexible to meet the capital cost profile and the many objectives we want from projects such as ALR” – this is a 200+ year project not an NLTF project with a 25-40 year time horizon. The costs should be spread across the users long term. The government should borrow the money upfront and build in the funding cost when recovering the capital cost.

    Can of worms:
    “Determine the approaches to minimising disruption to businesses and business compensation” – if this is applied to this transport project then it should apply to all.

  19. Regarding the business case I would assume that a transit system with a BCR below 1 wouldn’t be a big deal, but I would expect as the transit line is extended those future projects would have a BCR much higher than 1, due to existing patronage feeding into the added line.
    Also regarding station spacing I would say 1.5km is about right, most people are happy to walk 0.5km and will do it in about 10 minutes those on bikes and E scooters will do that in just a couple minutes, this is why it is important that we cater to people bringing micro mobility devices on board which is my main problem with low floor LRT.
    Also I don’t understand why Sandringham Rd was chosen. It is only 1.7km and 2.3km from Morningside and mount Albert stations, I won’t mention Kingsland station. Unless they are going to repeat this again under mount Eden road, if it was to go under mount Eden Rd that would put it right between the western and southern line so would be the best cover.
    But I get this is about intensification in poorer areas and serving kainga ora developments.
    But Maybe large areas of land should be bought around this proposed rail line instead of bringing the line up to existing kainga ora land.
    I also feel there is no well thought out route with this proposed line, they seem to be taking the tunnel boring machine for granted.
    I understand once a TBM is in the ground digging that it doesn’t cost that much per km.
    But I still see many opportunities for sections above ground like Grafton gully instead of under Symonds Street.
    I also think they should change the Aotea station contact now and get the new station underneath built now before Aotea station is completed and covered in.

  20. The funniest* part of this for me is the way the Dominion Rd Business Association so strongly opposed the route down Dominion Rd.
    They got what they wanted.
    Now light rail will go down Sandringham Rd and all the development will be there. And when the build is complete that’s also where all the people will be.
    Dominion Rd businesses will die the death they deserve for their shortsightedness.
    And a few hundred metres away Sandringham Rd will thrive.

    *not remotely funny, just selfish

      1. Oh I didn’t realise CRL was open already?

        Or the hotels operating with the borders closed? MIQ doesn’t seem to generate that much foot traffic for some reason. Weird

  21. 1.Write a business case, write hundreds pages of framework.

    2. Then put it aside. Undecided for a few years.

    3. Then next government comes in. The people who did the original business case moved on. The data used on the original business case is outdated and useless.

    4. New business case done again

    5. Repeat step 2.

  22. Auckland really needs a proper light metro system as the backbone, not light rail. What improvement would having trams running down the centre of the street in Onehunga and Mangere have over light metro? I can’t think of any at all. Light rail is great don’t get me wrong but its not designed to be a backbone for a city of this size and a route this major. I can just imagine the trams running down Bader Drive causing problems and slowing down the whole route…. running at probably an average of 30kph and giving way to vehicles, I can’t imagine it being great.. Why do they need to have a station right beside the Kainga Ora development? Can’t they just put a bus route or something? Having a stop at Mangere by the Motorway wouldn’t’t hurt anyone. It would make room for a proper integrated bus and train station as well as a Park n ride.

    1. 1. Concern with light metro primarily is the sheer expense – $16 billion as costed by ALR, and even if you use more typical overseas costings ($200-400 million per km) the Mangere line alone would still cost around $5-10 billion; at least twice as expensive as equivalent surface light rail (international costings $50-150 million per km). We’d have to be absolutely sure that proportional benefits were being achieved for light metro (capacity, frequency, travel time).

      2. “Why do they need to have a station right beside the Kainga Ora development? Can’t they just put a bus route or something?” Buses won’t have the capacity to handle NPS-UD enabled 6+ storey development. Yes, having a Mangere line wind via Sandringham Rd is a poor choice. But Sandringham Rd may benefit from a modern tram line replacing the 24 bus route, especially if a Manukau Rd routing was used for light metro. Additionally leveraging off the Mangere line to create a Pt Chev-Onehunga-Howick crosstown line would directly serve Owairaka & Mt Roskill that way.

      3. “Having a stop at Mangere by the Motorway wouldn’t’t hurt anyone. ” By and large the Mangere community seem to want a station right in their town centre, not a 5 minutes walk away over a noisy motorway environment. Park’n’rides are also not suitable for city environments which are meant to encourage walking, cycling, and feeder buses to get to a rapid transit station.

      1. On 3, of course they do. If you ask people “do you want a station in your town centre or one not in your town centre” what do you think they will say.

        Without any mention of the trade off of the cost, how many more years they have to wait for it, the extra travel time it takes to get anywhere… it’s not even worth asking the question.

        1. Based on my experience trying to get to the Northern Busway stations (next to motorways), I’m inclined to disagree on that point.

      2. Oh and on 2, of course buses can handle that. That area has a shit load of buses, citybound, crosstown, and can add on feeders too. No problems increasing the size or frequency either if there is light rail in place.

        1. I don’t think so, given that the isthmus bus routes have been overcrowded while running double deckers at up to 2 minute headways, when most of the development there is no more than 2 storeys. 6-storey development may need 3x the capacity of buses, which light rail can offer.

          An Avondale-Onehunga crosstown branch of light rail/light metro, later extending to a full Pt Chev-Howick crosstown line, would bring higher capacity rapid transit to Owairaka & Mt Roskill leveraging simply off a Manukau Rd routing; and it could interchange with modern isthmus tram lines for direct CBD access.

    2. How would they cause problems if they just replace bus lanes, thereby not reducing traffic lanes?

      How would they have to give way to vehicles, they would get priority at intersections and not interact with vehicles in between as they have their own raised right of way that vehicles can’t cross

  23. This project is starting to become a ‘racist project’, just like with the harbour bridge where privileged entitled people cross the harbour bridges with their bikes vs Maori/Pacifica who would be arrested for standing up to get the outcomes they want. The same thing applies with this project, but this time it’s more to do with geography, fares passengers pay to get to work vs non transport deprived suburbs/durations of point a to b, patronage of passengers and financial outcomes. This project is mostly suppose to be for people in Mangere since they’re Transport deprived not for inner city centre.

    People who live in the Mangere area at the moment obviously have a transport poverty, it’s also obvious that they need some form of rail to maintain transport in the area but there’s one problem which is purpose of people using rail in the area. Most people from there would not be going to Mount Roskill or CBD at all due to financial outcomes and the place they work. Most people from there would be wanting an ‘Extended Onehunga Heavy Rail Line’ from Onehunga to get to Penrose or Ellerslie since its more common place for them to be working, it would beneficially improve their way of getting to work than the ‘Light Rail Option’. While ‘Light Rail’ option would not improve people from Mangere at all since it won’t be going towards those areas at all, instead people from their would have to have to transfer onto Onehunga and wait till 20 mins or so for train to arrive compared to those who live in the inner central suburbs of Auckland.

    Paying for fares in Auckland can be bit expensive for some people due to social welfare outcomes, the fares for people here in Auckland are not completely cheap especially if you have to cross into ’one zone’ to another, especially if its long journey. Also on top of that, people from Mangere would be paying higher fares still compared to their compatriots living in Mt Roskill, Sandringham and Kingsland. People in Mangere would be paying for more for getting to places still because they would be required to exchange from one place to another, for example if someone from Mangere was trying to get to Penrose or even Ellerslie, they would paying for ‘Zone 2’ $3.90 fare cause their in ‘Manukau North Zone’ during their ride on ‘Light Rail’, once they tag off, they would required to paying extra ‘Zone 1’ fare for getting on Onehunga Line cause their no ‘direct access’, while people in Mount Roskill, Sandringham and Kingsland would be paying only for ‘Zone 1’ $2.20 in ‘Central Auckland’. In total for return way for people in Mangere would be $12.20 each day of work vs people who live in inner city area $4.40 each day of work.

    The Minister of Transport didn’t want people to know how much passengers that ‘Heavy rail’ would be able to accommodate compared with ‘Light Rail’. In the ‘South Western Multi-Model Airport Rapid Transit’ conducted by Auckland Transport and reported in 2016, it evaluated that the ‘Heavy Rail’ would not have the capacity to facilitate for general population 34,310 people while 72,940 people for employment, ‘Light Rail’ had 60,240 general population while 83,200 for employment. That might be the case but with the ‘Heavy Rail’ option they only evaluated this by using 3 car not using 6 or 9 car train. If there was a proper evaluation conducted on the Onehunga line it definitely be different story, there would be 68,620 people while for employment 145,880 for 6 car, if 9 car was an option it would be 102,930 while employment 218,820 people.

    Central Auckland areas in Mount Roskill, Sandringham, Mt Eden, Kingland would use the ‘Light Rail’ more compared to people who live in Mangere due to fares of travelling one place to another and the inconvenience from getting to ‘point A to B’. It would make no difference to people in Mangere, it would only save them from being transport deprived only not improving their ‘Quality of Life’ interns of fast commute to work or convenient direct service to point a to b.

    For those on very low income or on the minimum wage, they would suffer a lot under this project due to having to pay for more things would be in a position to sacrifice what to pay, main instance would be food since that more easier to reduce, this issue affects Maori/Pasifika more than other ethnic races since they don’t have financially supportive people to help them out. It would mean that the average tax payer would be paying $1.70 a week or $6.60 a week if construction or more deadly ‘COVID variant’ was to disrupt inflates the overall cost at a time where so many are struggling financially. In a year it would mean that each tax payer would be paying $90.10 to $349.80 per year, which is total of $153 million to $595 million each year for all tax payer. By the time it’s payed off which is likely to be 50 years to 100 years to be fully paid off. If they were to go ahead with constructing ‘Light Rail’ system to North Shore it be double tax payer money, ranging from $180.20 to $699.60 per year each tax payer and take longer to pay off due to other departments needing investments in future along with people struggling to pay tax bills. You would be putting people in extreme financial hardship and have issues to fixing poverty problems in-future.

    The Minister of Transport needs to do the right thing and get rid of ‘Light Rail’ for good, its going to do more harm than good towards mostly particularly Maori/Pasifika people and put them into extreme poverty. We must seek towards cheaper alternative which is ‘Heavy rail’ instead of ‘Light Rail’.

    1. Heavy rail would not be cheaper – it would be 2x as expensive as light rail between Onehunga and Mangere/Airport, without any stations for Favona, Ascot, or the Airport Business Presinct. So worse outcomes for the area.

      It is dishonest to claim that light rail would terminate at Onehunga and force a transfer. Light rail would run all the way up the isthmus to the city. Surface light rail via a superior Dominion Rd alignment would take 42-45 minutes Aotea to Airport; light metro via Mangere Rd 25-30 minutes. Compare that to 40-42 minutes Aotea-Onehunga-Airport with heavy rail.

      With 99m 675pax LRVs every 4 minutes surface light rail would have a capacity of 10,125 people per hr each way, equal to 6-car AM class trains every 5 minutes. 120m, 900pax light metro every 3 minutes would have a capacity of 18,000 people per hr each way, the same as 9-car AM class trains every 5 minutes.

      Surface light rail should be much cheaper than ALR have costed it – overseas systems cost within the range of $30-200 million per km (vs ALR’s $375 million per km). So should light metro – overseas systems cost within the range of $150-400 million per km (vs. ALR’s cost of $650 million per km). Light rail and light metro are not inherently cheaper than heavy rail; in fact it would be reasonable to expect the opposite since heavy rail requires stronger foundations for higher axle loads as well as more earthworks & property acquisition for easier grades & curves.

      These facts have been outlined since 2016; it’s really pointless to keep banging on about an inferior option that won’t happen and is provably inferior to light rail/metro to boot.

      1. * light metro via Manukau Rd, not ‘Mangere Rd’

        Additionally, heavy rail does not solve the isthmus bus capacity issue, reduce buses on Wellesley St, or enable 6+ storey intensification along Sandringham, Dominion, Mt Eden, or Manukau Rds. Something is needed there, and light rail is the next step up in capacity from buses. Heavy rail extended from Onehunga would need to be accompanied by light rail on the Isthmus, further increasing project costs & complexity.

        And that’s not even getting into the need to replace the Northern Busway before 2040, and get mass transit out Northwest… You won’t be able to do that all optimally with heavy rail

      2. Your statement just completely ignores the people who lives in Mangere area(which is big Maori/Pasifika community), secondly ignores economic implications such as overall cost, secondly tax people having to pay, thirdly fares for people who’ll be affected by the change and lastly inconvenience for people who live there. While people who live in central city area will benefit over-ally more than people who live in Mangere. The only real benefit they’ll have is not being transport deprived anymore.

        “It is dishonest to claim that light rail would terminate at Onehunga and force a transfer. Light rail would run all the way up the isthmus to the city.”

        This comment right here, its completely ignorant, completely ignores the issues that Mangere people face on daily basis and is really racist. Most people from Mangere don’t work in the CBD due to social economic demographic barriers. They work in Penrose, Ellerslie, Otahuhu, Manukau and the Airport cause its more convenient and less of hassle for them interns of journey times from point a to b. Mangere people down there will be paying more for their trip to work compared to people living in in suburbs such as Mount Roskill, Sandringham, Kingsland where the Light Rail will be situated. People in Mangere will be paying three times as much to travel to work. Also I never mentioned termination of Light Rail in Onehunga, find me a quote where I said that, I dare you too!

        Light Rail was never going to be cheap to construct in the first place, reasons behind it economic inflation, disruptions/delays constructing, paying out compensation to businesses, amount of tax people having to pay, time of completion of project and length of constructing. Mostly it shouldn’t even go ahead at all cause it will cause more harm than good to the community of Mangere from Social and Economic perspective. There will be massive consequences for them since it will provide the least amounts of benefits for them. Also surfaced Light Rail would also face the P50 chance of having twice the amount of the original cost. The price of the material used for constructing the surface light rail will appreciate due to supply and arrival time. Heavy rail would only cost $2.2 Billion with inflation currently $6.7 Billion, It would be faster to construct than Light Rail, you face the least amount of issues.

        This project has never been about going through either Dominion Rd or Sandringham Rd, it’s mostly for the community in Mangere since there transport deprived and need some form of rail going through to save transport woes. Dominion Rd and Sandringham Rd need road tolls to stop commuters using their private vehicles to the CBD to work instead cause obliviously its becoming an issue and its more cheaper and faster than building an expensive disruptive ‘Light Rail’ through the road. Same should apply to Manukau Rd, Mt Eden Rd, Great North Rd, New North Rd and Great South Rd. Quite frankly its cars blocking the ‘bus lanes’ along with too many vehicles on our main CBD roads, which make journey times slower, if they placed tolls it would definitely Also do even know the routes even being proposed? Manukau Rd not one of them!

        Also Wellesley St doesn’t have any bus woes, it’s traffic woes along with parked cars on bus designated stops. And finally Heavy rail will be viable option for Northwest and North Shore.

        1. You seem quite hostile.

          1. How am I ignoring the Mangere community? Where in any of what I have said – calling for light rail/metro with stations at Mangere Bridge, Favona, Mangere Town Centre, and Montgomerie Rd, more than would be possible with heavy rail – “racist” in any way? How is calling for a system with comparable distance and travel times to your heavy rail option “resulting in a more expensive journey”?

          2. Firstly – why is enabling trips from Mangere to the City Centre a bad thing? Secondly – I support (and have discussed with Ben Ross of VoAKL) ways to improve public transport within South Auckland, including bus rapid transit lanes from Mangere to Otahuhu, Ormiston, & Manukau.

          3. This is a very confusing paragraph with several incorrect comments. You seem to be cherry-picking the cost of heavy rail; in the very report that you get your $2.2 billion quote from it stated light rail over the same route would cost half that, with 2 more stations to boot! And that’s not even getting into the separate $500+ million needed to double-track and grade separate Onehunga-Penrose, or the cost for an entirely separate Isthmus mass transit solution. All in all, your “supposedly cheaper” heavy rail solution would probably end up being as expensive if not more than light rail, especially if you are aware that heavy rail needs much sturdier construction than light rail (18 ton axle loads HR vs 10-12 ton axle loads LR).

          Again, I must emphasize that ALR’s costings are *wildly* out of line with international standards for light rail construction costs per km. If the cost of Auckland light rail/light metro can be brought down to international common practice, the cost of light rail or light metro could be half of what ALR’s estimates are, or less. Those costs are a indicator of a problem with the light rail group’s methods; to claim that “light rail is always more expensive than heavy rail” couldn’t be more wrong.

          4. Nope, you are incorrect. There is a wealth of photographic evidence online showing crowded buses along Isthmus arterials unable to stop to pick up passengers as early as Balmoral and Mt Eden Village. Buses jammed all the way along Wellesley St from the Civic to the Universities. Studies by AT from the 2010s identified that bus congestion in the city centre would increasingly become a major problem by the 2030s and that light rail to replace at least one isthmus bus route is necessary. Plus, intensification on the isthmus is needed too – buses certainly won’t enable or cope with the demand from 6+ storey apartment developments.

          It is disingenuous and unproductive to suggest that bus lanes or parked cars will make light rail unnecessary (they won’t). Not that they shouldn’t be pursued in the interim, but let me be clear: they would only be a short-term solution.

          5. Again, incorrect. There is no reasonable way to get heavy rail to the North Shore or Northwest from Britomart since they haven’t provided for a junction underneath the Commercial Bay tower; a new tunnel from Aotea would cost WAY more than light rail or light metro would and have fewer stations to boot. Need I repeat that heavy rail is limited to max grades of 3.5%; there are gradients on the Northern Busway of 10% and it is not constructed for 16 ton axle loads?

          I summarize – it has long been proven that heavy rail is not a viable option for Mangere or the Airport anymore; and would not provide the same benefits of intensification and direct access to town centres that light rail or light metro would.

          My reasons for promoting a Manukau Rd routing (as many transit activists continue to do) is that it is the shortest route, and if a light metro is to be built then it will therefore be the cheapest to tunnel. Sandringham Rd and Dominion Rd would be more suited to surface light rail, since they have more continuous strips of development and at-capacity bus routes with frequent stops that need replacing. I do not believe the Auckland Light Rail group’s business case is sound at all.

  24. I don’t understand why can’t they build bus lanes first then put tracks on it when it is required for light rail. With the bus lane there first so the land can’t be used for other things and if someone want to use the land they must first build the underground tunnel for bus lane or light rail. They should have a master plan for all the light rail tracks but build bus lane first.

    1. Same reason why it’s such a struggle to get a lane reallocated for walking & cycling on the Harbour Bridge. Zero political will to actually do it among the current car-centric establishment.

    2. They have this weird idea that actually doing anything useful is a waste of time, because it might not be perfect for eternity. Therefore they sit around navel gazing about the one perfect thing that will fix everything, like a $15 billion metro, and continuing to do nothing.

      Meanwhile, the same people reseal streets like clockwork and continually widen, expand and improve the motorways, so I guess that only applies to public transport.

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