Yesterday the government made an announcement that should surprise almost no-one, finally making it official that light rail is dead.

The coalition Government continues to deliver on its 100-day plan with the decision to cancel the Auckland Light Rail project.

“Auckland Light Rail would have cost taxpayers $15 billion, with advice showing the cost could increase to $29.2 billion,” Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.

“The previous government committed to building light rail to Mt Roskill within four years of being elected. After six years and over $228 million spent on the project, not a single metre of track has been delivered and congestion has only worsened in the city.

“Scrapping the expensive project is part of the coalition agreements and we have taken swift action. Auckland Light Rail Limited has been instructed to immediately cease work on the project, and to take the necessary steps to wind up the company.

“The Government is committed to delivering infrastructure that will reduce congestion, boost productivity, and create a more reliable and resilient transport network that drives economic growth.

“Our focus is on building a rapid transit network in Auckland, including completion of the City Rail Link, which was started by the last National Government, and starting work on a Northwest Rapid Transit corridor, alongside other projects to deliver reduced congestion for Aucklanders.

“Work is underway on rewriting the Government Policy Statement on land transport which will reflect these priorities.

“The Government’s decision to scrap Auckland Light Rail means that we can stop work on a project which has not delivered and get on with delivering the critical transport infrastructure that Auckland needs.”

As a huge advocate for better public transport in Auckland, it continues to feel a bit weird that I’m not upset that a major public transport project is being cancelled. Instead I continue to feel disappointed and frustrated at the previous government for botching this project so badly that it was further from becoming a reality in 2023 than it was when they took it over in 2017.

As I wrote a few months ago:

It was a key part of Labour’s policy platform when they were elected to office in 2017 – and they were handed a scheme by Auckland Transport that had seen significant design work already undertaken.

Under Labour’s first transport minister Phil Twyford, Waka Kotahi were also ready to start delivering it, and my understanding is they had contracts ready to sign to start enabling works – that was, until the government got distracted by the NZ Super Fund proposal – which then led to the bizarre twin-track process that saw Waka Kotahi competing with the NZ Super Fund for who would build it. It turns out the Super Fund would have won the gig, had Winston Peters not blocked it a few months out from the 2020 election.

The new transport minister, Michael Wood, reset the process in 2021 – but notably put in charge the same consultants who were behind Waka Kotahi’s failed bid in the previous process; and this resulted in the tunnelled light rail proposal we have today.

I feel that both Phil Twyford and Michael Wood got distracted by thinking they could be the ones to right the wrongs of the past – for example, the abandonment of schemes like that pushed by Sir Dove-Myer Robinson. Both often repeated the urban legends that have built up around ‘Robbie’s Rail‘ but ignored the hard-learned lessons, that any programme needs to be fundable and builable in a rational, staged way. They were certainly encouraged by some officials and industry players to ‘build big‘ from the start, and not repeat the experience of the Harbour Bridge which soon needed to be expanded again – even though (as the Harbour Bridge example shows), taking a staged approach would likely have resulted in a better overall system.

Had they not been distracted, light rail along Dominion Rd would be in operation now – but sadly, the concept is probably now dead for a generation due to Labour’s mismanagement.

Business Desk have reported on Mayor Wayne Brown’s response to the news

“They’re stopping things, but between now and the end of the month, I expect to sit down with government leaders to work out the things they want to do.”

Referring to the work undertaken on light rail to-date, Brown said: “They didn’t achieve much.”

He agreed there could be a chilling effect on the possibility of future light rail schemes, given the lack of delivery.

“It’s certainly set things back many, many years,” Brown said.

“It was a clear example of how to completely stuff everything up.”

I do think discussion about Light Rail will come back at some stage, but probably not for a decade or more. The reality is the factors behind the need for it still exist, such as that there is only limited space in the city centre for more buses. Reductions in public transport use since COVID have brought probably a few years reprieve but usage is rising again and will eventually get back to, and exceed, those pre-pandemic levels and that will reignite the discussion about higher capacity options.

And speaking of the type of capacity light rail can deliver, it’s notable that Sydney’s 12km CBD and Southeast light rail line, which opened just before the pandemic, recorded 31 million trips in 2023. That’s the same as what Labour’s Tunnelled Light Rail was estimated to achieve in 30 years.

Coming back to yesterday’s announcement, one thing that is somewhat pleasing is that Transport Minister Simeon Brown did include the need to continue with the Northwest Rapid Transit in the announcement. While it was part of their election policy, including it in this announcement hopefully means the work already underway on it will continue rather than be paused till later in the government’s term.

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    1. I just can’t understand how the hell it cost that much to do nothing. I’m definitely working in the wrong sector.

      1. Simple, it’s property acquistion. Look at how much the new railway stations between Papakura and Pukekohe are costing, same reason. Of course this means a lot of the so called cost could be recovered but you won’t here that from “safe modern roads and a few buses” brown.

        1. $33 million is, realistically, only the price of 30-40 houses that were on the route. I suspect that there were a lot more houses purchased, compulsorily or not.

          Of course, any property purchased could now simply be resold, probably for the same amount?

          The big loss of money on “Consultants” should have been towards Engineers and Architects and Surveyors. But instead I bet it probably went on professional time-wasters and money-shankers like PWC, Deloitte, EW, KPMG etc. There is no way that it all got spent on Jasmax and Opus/WSP…

        2. You wouldn’t believe how easy the NZTA business case process makes spending bazillions of dollars on staff doing bullshit work, MCA assessments, environmental impact assessments, engineering design for dozens of dead end options. Hell, just having all the staff attend one 15 min stand up meeting a day costs $100k a week. ALR was spending $2m a week on the people in the office, most of them wasting time being busy working up terrible ideas.

          Their real problem is the two guys in charge wouldn’t know transit if it ran over them, so they kept reiterating plainly stupid ideas through the wringer time after time, always pushing a metro tunnel via Sandringham for some reason.

          Shame they didn’t just apply the office to ATs original plan, they’d have had the plan finalized and the design drawings ready for tender in six weeks.

      2. Auckland Light Rail (ALR) was paying about $920,000 a week to two engineering companies to plan and design the central city-to-airport light rail project and a further $310,000 to its own contractors and consultants.

        1. $920,000 a week is a pretty hefty wages bill ! Allowing for engineers at $120,000 per annum, that’s paying out $2300 each per week, that works out at a workforce size of 400 staff. Probably more like 200 staff after taxes and profit margins, so that’s maybe 100 staff at each office? Even if they were only getting one drawing done per week, each, there should be some 5000 drawings floating around somewhere from each office – we’ve paid for them, so I’d like to see them !

        2. ” Even if they were only getting one drawing done per week, each, there should be some 5000 drawings floating around somewhere from each office – we’ve paid for them, so I’d like to see them !”

          You are forgetting the catering budget, meeting expenses, external Agile workshop facilitators, H&S training on how to lift a box of photocopy paper, Agile workshop expenses, group sing-alongs, team building and leadership workshops, and so on. ie the ALR project had become a gravy train.

  1. Inevitable, but bitterly disappointing. The way this project was allowed to stagnate with little accountability from party leadership or the media is a disgrace. I’m going to struggle to take climate reform seriously from the parties involved, likewise any credibility when it comes to Auckland issues. They were very quick to bring in the fuel tax, but I would caution Wayne Brown that ATAP doesn’t seem to be worth the paper it’s written on. Remember, this was a ‘Decade One’ project at one point.

  2. How do we split the blame?

    50% each to Twyford personally and 50% to Labour in general?

    Depressing to think we could have Light Rail to at least Mt Roskill by now if they’d just stuck to AT’s plans

    1. Wood could have handed the project back to AT, instead he went down a rabbit hole and enabled this stupid decision from Brown the younger. Wood also botched immigration, not a great record from someone who seemed promising in many ways.

        1. Driverless light metro is the gold standard of public transport and Twyford was justified in looking at it if a good deal was really available. However when it became apparent NZ First would not support the ppp, he should have moved speedily to return the project to AT. You also have to remember the pandemic which a lot of people seem to have forgotten about.

        2. The pandemic kicked into gear two years after Labour got into power. If the 2021 promise was ever realistic then Covid should have impacted construction, not case studies and the prelim work.

          The reality is Labour already had a poor track record of delivery before Covid rolled around – and most people seem to have forgotten about it. ‘Town Hall Reset’ anyone?

        3. Labour reset the CRL project adding back the Beresford entrance and the nine car platforms National had deleted. Labour also got the third main and P2P projects underway finally after years of plans with no funding. So let’s not runaway with no delivery theme.

        4. The CRL was a project they didn’t start nor one of their 2017 campaign policies.

          Yes, they made changes to it, but acting like that mitigates failures across flagship policies (Kiwibuild, Light Rail, Infinity Trillion Trees) is desperate revisionism. Nor does it excuse the pigs ear they made of Light Rail with two successive cabinet members who never faced any consequences for this going wrong under their watch.

        5. @zippo, added back the entrance, but the 9-car platforms were never an actual thing. Adding them on is of course the right move to future proof.

        6. Zippo, driverless light metro was looked at back before 2017, and every year since. It’s standard to look at all mode options.

          The thing is it rightfully gets discounted early on cost grounds, being around $20b to build the airport line alone.

          The problem is we had two transport ministers who naively believed the incompetent advisors telling them they either the cost doesn’t matter because they can magic up huge benefits to go with the huge borrowing, and/or that they have some magic tunneling method that will make it far cheaper than ever before.

    2. Wood was worse, he should have learned from Twyford’s mistakes, instead he doubled down on them. He had the perfect opportunity to deliver what the party had been elected to do, instead he chose to deliver nothing.
      In saying that, had Labour actually delivered Metro from Airport to Albany and Westgate, it would have been pretty transformational! But as Matt L has pointed out, that could have been the very long term plan but the starting point could have been above ground on Dominion Road.

  3. It seems to me ,that we have reached a stage ,where even maintaining existing assets is unaffordable, this is manifesting itself (transport wise in Auckland),in the crumbling roading network and fears about running costs for CLR.
    We,Aucklanders are resigned to hefty rate increases,but even this does not address funding shortfalls, scrapping the fuel tax,adds to the misery, RUC and congestion charging ,seems clunky in comparison.
    The true cost of motoring has never been passed on to the end user,so would seem unlikely in the future,so how do “we” fund future works.
    As I do my commuting/shopping/visiting on my bike,l realize I am getting a “free” pass,(financially), but someone ,somewhere is funding this.

    1. “As I do my commuting/shopping/visiting on my bike, l realize I am getting a “free” pass,(financially), but someone, somewhere is funding this”.
      ANSWER: Auckland Ratepayers

    2. Bus Driver is right, you contribute through your rates to local roading.

      I doubt you use motorways on your bike, but you’re contributing to those through income tax put into Roads of National Significance.

      The personal risk you take on in riding a bike in the current environment is also a subsidy to drivists, as you do little to damage road surfaces or hog available parking.

      1. My contribution to Auckland rates is about $50 per week, including water,and no fuel tax. Regardless of the lack of damage my cycling causes ,the existing asphalt still requires maintenance. To expect $50 weekly per ratepayer,to cover all the costs that Auckland Council provides is wishful thinking. I’m wondering whether the preferred option would be ,for me to consume petrol,therefore adding to the council budget. A bit like asking people to keep smoking,as “we” need the tax money ,smoking provides.

  4. I remember massive fees going to this for a potential bus corridor in 2017, which was a redesign of work from 2014. Massive amounts of waste going back more than a decade now on Dom Rd schemes that amount to nothing.

    1. “going back more than a decade now on Dom Rd schemes”

      There have been several Dom Road schemes even before that. Our “can’t touch car(parking)” obsession has scuppered more than this and the previous scheme.

      1. I seem to remember the former Auckland City Council were on the verge of doing a central busway, from memory the budget was 100 mil (correct me if I’m wrong as usual). Then Auckland Transport decided that 100 mil was a waste of money and spent a lot more since consulting on stuff that was never going to get built.

        1. I remember Bridges asking for a report into the central bus way, (possibly as a means to kill LR). The report was clear that light rail was needed along the corridor. Bridges agreed.

        2. “The report was clear that light rail was needed along the corridor” – would a similar report say the same thing about the Northern Busway and the Northwestern Bus Improvements? Why is Dominion Road so special?
          Maybe if the report was only given the two viable options (busway or existing buslanes), a busway would have been built years ago and been very successful.

        3. Jimbo please go back and read earlier posts here about the CCFAS. Otherwise you are wasting a lot of everyone’s time relitigating discussions.

          The reason for light rail was the lack of space at the city centre end for the number of buses needed to move the projected number of people.

        4. So considering we know LR will never happen, and considering a report commissioned by National says we can’t have a busway on Dominion Road (even though Upper Queen Street seems to have lots of free space that is currently wasted on cars), then the only solution is the current one (very slow buses in bus lanes using Symonds Street)? Seems to have conveniently played into Bridges/Nationals hands don’t you think?

  5. Blame should be slated to Grant Robertson, or NZ’s approach to crown finances more generally. They were not prepared to front with the money for the construction costs. That was why the super fund idea got legs.
    At no point did the construction costs ever get forecast in the crown accounts (ie within the next 4 years). The chunky construction costs were forever 4 years in the future, with new excuses for pushing them out every budget. This was a way to keep hope, without having to account for the costs.
    This was also true for Let’s Get Wellington Moving (big ticket items starting in 2028 ) and Lake Onslow.
    I expect National to take the same approach to “commit to building a four lane alternative to the Brynderwyns” – part of their coalition agreement with NZ First. The commitment will be there, 10s of millions will be spent on business cases and detailed design but the construction start date will continue to be pushed out beyond 4 years, so that that big costs don’t hit the crown accounts.
    This an appallingly cynical way to govern – hundreds of millions spent on work that you never genuinely plan on doing, to keep part of cabinet happy (labour’s urbanist wing, or NZ First/Simeon Brown).
    Or maybe I’m giving to much Machiavellian credit.

    1. “I expect National to take the same approach to “commit to building a four lane alternative to the Brynderwyns” – part of their coalition agreement with NZ First. The commitment will be there, 10s of millions will be spent on business cases and detailed design but the construction start date will continue to be pushed out beyond 4 years, so that that big costs don’t hit the crown accounts.”

      Ah, but unlike Labour, National actually proceeds with their boondoggles – because the transport agencies entrenched power structures actually like RONS still stuff. Or, in some cases, National get voted out before stuff gets built, but then Labour builds Nationals motorways, because they think they need to do something “shovel ready” (being so useless at it themselves). Our poor country keeps getting paved over with more traffic lanes whoever is in charge, it seems.

      1. They only proceed with their boondoggles by cutting maintenance or signing up to dodgy ppp’s. Plus the projects are split into stages so the cost seems more acceptable unlike light rail which was always costed for the whole thing.

      2. I have no problem with most of the RONs, the Waikato expressway is great, as is the new Warkworth bypass. But spending money on roads within Auckland is usually a stupid idea, it just moves the congestion somewhere else.

        1. Do you mean you have no problem with the RONS regardless of their cost or impact? I can see why people like the benefits, I’ve driven on the Ōtaki, Waikato, and Warkworth RONS many times, but they are very expensive projects with unpredictable long-term impacts.

          Another commenter here remarked on the increasing subsidy to cars – the direct costs used to be entirely covered by fuel taxes, now it is closer to 50%.

          If users paid the direct costs, the tolls would be something like $20 per trip and then we would see what the true demand for new motorways is.

          I’m reminded of the debate over building Penlink. Locals were in favour of tolling right up to the moment when the project was approved and then switched to being opposed to tolling.

        2. If transport was completely user pays (tolls / fares) almost none of it would exist (including trains), we would probably just have airports and bikes. Maybe that would make for a much nicer country, although probably hard to compete economically.
          What price would a train ticket need to be to pay for the CRL?

        3. “If transport was completely user pays (tolls / fares) almost none of it would exist”

          Incorrect. We’d build less of the wasteful stuff – because it would fail to get used – and people COULD actually pay for the charges, because they’d not have to pay all that tax wasted on these massive motorway projects.

          Not to say that i WANT us to go all user pays, especially as a general / 100% thing. But you got to remember that these costs exist NOW. They are just paid from the money deducted monthly from your earnings. A less wasteful transport system can very much include user pays elements (such as fuel taxes or congestion charges).

        4. I think that the cost of a ticket would be the same or less, if all of the costs and externalities were included in the price, less people would drive and more people would take Transit. We’d also have less arguing about building more of it.

        5. Jimbo, assuming rail patronage goes up to 40m a year with the CRL, there would need to be $5 added to each rail ticket ($200m a year thereabouts) to pay for it.

          But if people were also paying the true cost of driving the CRL would be doing perhaps four or five times the patronage, and maybe $1 to $2 per ticket.

  6. “I do think discussion about Light Rail will come back at some stage” – unlikely I reckon. Labour won’t go there again. It could possibly be in a coalition agreement with the greens although the greens never get much say.
    Auckland’s future has to be trackless trams. Its something both parties could support and hopefully much more affordable for a city with only 1.7 million people. Imagine if they had spent that 200 million (or even a fraction of it) getting a NZ engineering firm to design a bus system where multiple buses could be articulated on a fixed route, it seems almost trivial really. It could be rolled out across the city instead of just on one route.

      1. What is so funny about having multiple buses connected together? It can provide most of the advantages of a train at a fraction of the cost.
        Making buses as much like trains as possible is by far the best bang for buck. Even if it were standard tandem buses (electric) with all door boarding. There has to be something in between crappy slow diesel buses and the multi billion dollar train lines that only big cities can afford.

        1. So considering that LR is not going to be built any time soon (or at all), what options do we have? Double decker buses on bus lanes are the next best thing?

        2. “What is so funny about having multiple buses connected together?”

          Because it doesn’t solve the problem of being stuck in congestion! For that you need a dedicated right of way much more urgently than a specific vehicle. If your bus/tram/light rail/monorail/magic carpet has to queue with the Remuera tractors to just get into town, it won’t work.

          [And bus lanes are only a halfway-house, because they get abused, blocked by turning traffic, and turned back into “transit lanes” or off-peak parking whenever a car administration comes back in).

          So until we actually are willing to dedicate space to public transport, we will either not get good public transport, or be stuck with extremely expensive projects like the now-dead LRT which try to have their cake and eat it too by not touching the car space, and instead going underground or grade-separated above. Massive opportunity cost even in the rare cases it actually gets done.

        3. Damian I agree we need to reserve the space. But there are a lot more issues than that including cost, time to build, and disruption during build.
          Apparently we can’t have standard buses as they would be too frequent, we can have surface rail but no party will fund or build it. So wouldn’t a much larger bus that is more like rail at a fraction of the cost also work?

        4. There is a problem with running buses over the same piece of asphalt ,it creates ” tracks in the road,look at any dedicated bus lane. I’ve also noticed bus “wallows” appearing in bus stops. To increase the size frequency of bus movements will require substantial investment in the road surface,maybe more cost effective with steel wheels.

        5. The surface for trackless trams needs to be built to the same standard as real trams because of the weight of the buses running over the same ground. forming “tracks” in the substrate. There are issues with the surface impairing the ability of the trams to operate.

          They’re no cheaper to install and maintenance is likely higher.

        6. The road surface argument doesn’t stack up. Trackless trams have similar loading impact to double decker buses, we just threw those on many routes in Auckland without spending a cent. And even if they did need to improve the road surface, I doubt it will cost billions.

        7. But Jimbo, buses don’t just sit in one single narrow corridor within a lane, they move about spreading the wear around.

        8. Realist there is no reason trackless trams couldn’t vary their route randomly to some extent, except for at stations where they need to align with the platform.
          Or use steel reinforced concrete where the wheels will go, that won’t cost billions.

        9. Jimbo, we already have high capacity buses running at very high frequencies on bus lanes.

          There’s quite a big step change to go above that for an appreciable change in performance, especially because our street corridors aren’t very wide. That’s why light rail is useful if you are making that step, they get the most capacity into narrow streets.

          Sure there is a BRT type solution, but it’s not nearly as cheap and easy as you might assume, because we’ve already maxed out the cheap and easy options.

    1. Canberra is a city of less than 500k, built an LR line on a corridor with a smaller and less dense population than Dominion Rd and even post-covid it achieves more ridership than Dominion Rd buses did pre-covid.

    2. Yes trackless trams would be the best outcome now, Perth has been trialing a unit at present. Also Brisbane runs bi articulated buses which aren’t double ended like trackless trams. Serval countries in Europe use them or a planning on it. It’s just so expensive to install LR once you’ve ripped out something you had in the first place. So past powers that be made a ridiculous decision now the chickens have come home to roost.

      1. No. Trackless trams are the last thing we need to spend money on. All the down sides of light rail and busses combined.

        Make the bus lanes 24/7 and give busses light priority is the cheap and easy ish thing to do. Yes it will never have the scale.

  7. Surface light rail is popular with people on the isthmus. I suspect the Green Party will campaign on this topic at the next election, and Labour will need to respond to prevent further loss of support to the Green Party. Labour was weak on delivery. If they had started surface light rail and urban intensification simultaneously the viability of both projects would have been improved.

  8. Such a shame.
    I was at a conference when Tommy Parker made a presentation on what was planned for Auckland Light Rail. It just seemed like the project was focused on building the ultimate solution for a potential Auckland in 2100. No discussion what so ever on costs, no discussion on alternatives.

    Looking back I probably should have asked some of those questions, but, the fear of looking silly in a room full of professionals / potential employers is a bit overwhelming sometimes.

  9. Following on from my comments above, it would be interesting to hear what people think is the next best thing, because realistically light rail is not going to happen for decades now (I can’t see it happening ever as Labour will certainly drop it).
    Currently a Dominion Road bus from Mt Roskill to city travels at an average speed of 12 km/hr and is significantly slower than driving. Is this the best we can expect? At the very least could they have traffic light priority and use Upper Queen Street like LR was going to?
    Should some kind of busway or bus priority be built on the South Western Motorway for a Mangere / Airport link? Or are there better options for those places?

    1. Having light priority for buses seems like a cure all but at peak times the lights would just be continually on for the buses. Also without a a dedicated bus lane the buses are just stuck in traffic and can’t get to the the lights anyway. The same goes for the trackless trams.

      1. There were plans to have a dedicated centre bus lane very similar to the LR. Coupled with bigger buses (I won’t say trackless trams for fear of being banned, so lets say standard articulated electric buses), less stops, traffic light priority (they aren’t that frequent), all door boarding, and the much more direct Queen Street route instead of Symonds Street, we could have a significantly better solution than we have now that even the National party could support.
        Sure it won’t have the capacity that we may need in 50 years time, but with bigger buses and faster boarding it would have a much higher capacity than we have now.

        1. That looks spot on. The discussion could have happened in 2017 before the government stepped in to ‘help’. Rubber or steel wheels could be compared and contrasted, so long as that dedicated centre-run was put in. Banning some right turns would help. Do-Minimum Road needs to go back onto the agenda once again for the umpteenth attempt. The advantage of on-street running is that improved bus services could run on the first stages of construction until enough is completed for longer, high-capacity vehicles.

        2. “Banning some right turns would help”

          That was part of the LR plan, wasn’t it?

          Answer: No. That was an urban myth that was spread by a candidate prior to local body elections.

      1. Sasha all the replies are “can’t be done”, “monorail”, “report says so”, etc. It would be nice to have something more constructive. Are you saying that nothing at all can be done for Dominion Road other than what we have now or light rail?
        I am as disappointed as anyone the LR isn’t happening, but that is the reality. Even if Labour were to win the next election, the chance of them promising LR again is about the same as them promising Kiwibuild again. And we know that National will never build LR, and AT can’t afford it.

        1. I don’t put trackless trams in the monorail category because they are just bigger and better buses, which isn’t too hard to imagine with electrification and guidance systems. Imagine 3 electric buses all attached to each other and using a guidance system so they take the same route and you have a basic trackless tram, 3x the capacity of a bus with just one driver. Its not rocket science and unlike monorail it has a very real use case.

        2. Tracked trams aka light rail is mature and open source with multiple competive suppliers of compatible equipment.
          At this stage trackless trams is immature technology and guidance systems are proprietary.
          There is considerable risk in being landed with a orphan proprietorial system.
          Repetitive highly concentrated pavement loading will require very robust pavement. Sure it can be done, but the excavation and sub grade replacement could well exceed that required for intrinsically load spreading steel rail tracks.
          The ability to run on existing road surfaces mat well prove to be illusionary.

          For overhead electrical supply there is the additional complication of an additional conductor in the absence of the steel rail for the return circuit.

          Sophisticated optical and radar guidance systems are likely to prove troublesome, if not down right dangerous, compared to the inherently simple flanged steel wheel, running on steel rails.

          There is a message that cannot be ignored in the current low uptake of trackless trams, (or multiple trolley bus units) compared to light rail.
          Why have others made the choices they have?

    2. In general I think people who care about PT should, for the next 2 years anyhow, push for what is most likely to be done by this govt – bus lanes, better ticketing, congestion charging, maybe some regulatory reform (removing consultation provisions in the local government act anyone?).
      This govt has a combination of extremely expensive plans overall (RoNs 2, defence spending), apparent tax cut plans, and bringing the budget to balance. I see zero room for big, or even medium ticket items that aren’t in the coalition agreements, particularly those which are not ideologically aligned.

      1. You may be right. Although I think National would really like to deliver on PT where Labour failed (without rails and at a fraction of the cost of course). And keep in mind the real costs probably won’t start occurring for a few years yet, these things take time to plan and design (as Labour now know).

      2. Eastern Busway, NW Rapid Transit and Airport to Botany are the most probable projects, as they are in progress already. City Centre-Mangere-Airport wouldn’t be on the ground in first term, even with reversion to the AT Dominion Rd route for surface running, so the capital commitment wouldn’t be ‘unaffordable’.
        I agree that low-cost PT priority works are more meaningful for the short term, by a faster process than Connected Communities. Con Com did achieve a lot of work that provides the background for proposals on those key routes. It’s up to Wayne to push the case.

        1. Completion of these three, plus congestion charging, in the next 2 terms/6yrs would actually be a significant advance for AKL.

  10. It will be a rare time that I will agree with this government. Wood had the opportunity to do something sensible with the reset and come up with something absolutely ridiculous in its place, when a sensible and workable proposal was on the table to begin with.
    We all know that Winnie was a huge boat anchor in the process, and at that time would not have allowed anything through unless it was at no cost to the taxpayer. But opportunity presented again in 2020, and Labour completely squandered it.
    The Airport was the biggest distraction in the process. It was only included because essentially “it was not far from the end of the proposed line” and in the end wound up derailing the entire process.

    1. It was already a giant mess spiraling out of control before Winston got anywhere near it. He’s just a convenient excuse for a lack of accountability and discipline. By the time it got to cabinet, Winston was doing us a favour by blocking it.

      The response should have been to thin it back to something surface level; instead we got told surface level would cost multiple times what the Australians could build theirs for so we might as well continue to bloat the hell out of it – in the end it was six times as much money for half as much track.

      Opportunity lost for another generation – that’s on Labour. Nothing to do with Winston, even though he will tell anyone who listens that it’s all down to his dedication to preserving the public purse.

  11. The quickest system would be to build strong pressure piled pillars in the center of motorway route holding a 4 lane rail bridge on each side to have 2 metro trains operate with station at each suburb
    eg hillsborough onehunga mangere auckland airport and return upto queen street
    have ski lift installed with connections all over the city suburbs

  12. There is a need to look seriously at the organisational vehicles for investigating and planning these major infrastructure projects. ALR ended up with the biggest, ‘best’, and costliest option. This looks like too much autonomy in developing the ideas, without an eye on affordability. It’s very hard for an autonomous partnership to be frugal or look it the wider perspectives. At least they chose the right branding – blue, yellow and red – Blue-sky Thinking, All Turns to Custard, Blood on the Tracks.

    1. It’s a very engineering led process. First find out the most effective solution, then once that’s decided design the thing, then use the design drawings to calculate the cost.

      Then, well, that’s how much it costs to do the thing.

  13. For our $228 million we did get some nice looking visuals, a new logo ( why not just use the current AT Metro logo ) and some embroidered jackets used by the ALR staff at their meaningless public consultation sessions. ALR PR person: “Please give us your feedback on the LR proposal” Citizen: ” What is the route and where are the stations?” ALR PR Person: ” We don’t know yet”. Citizen: “So what exactly are you seeking my feedback on?”. ALR PR Person: “I don’t know, but here is a nice brochure that doesn’t include any details of the route, the station locations, or the frequency of the service.”

    1. How about the time, they refused to even think about looking into adding cross town light rail, but they did look into a hyper loop?

      Money well spent.

    1. June 2023 – probably about then they realised their time was up, and they have all just been working on their CVs…

      1. Correct. The ALR staff will now all be enjoying a series of fully funded workshops on the topic of how to find another role within another CCO. All funded by ratepayers,

  14. If a programme like Yes (Prime) Minister or Utopia wanted to come up with a plot line about how absurd modern planning practices have become, they would dismiss ALR for being too unbelievable.

    And it might not even be the craziest transport project Labour was involved with because they also wanted to spend a fifth of the country’s GDP to build an additional linkage between two of the wealthiest parts of a single city… that evidence suggests does not actually need to be built.

    If only Labour had just given AT the money. But, i guess, they began as they meant to go on… historians will remember the last six years as a period of centralisation.

  15. Our future is PPPs. I can’t see any other solution when we have a massive infrastructure deficit, one side of politics doesn’t want to invest outside of its ideological preference and the other wants to invest but doesn’t know how to pay or build for it.

    AT is probably going to have to go the PE market because central governments of any colour just don’t want to or cannot make the hard calls. Though ACT would probably support that.

    1. That’s why I’m so pro having REM built by the CDPQ/NZ Superfund etc. – like, at least it’ll happen, and not be half arsed. Central gov will either go with a gold plated solution that will never happen, or try to do a minimum viable product for an announcement, which is quite different from the minimum viable product for a solution. Plus avoids a big gov bill rn, so they can do other stuff.

      Then once the NW REM happens, it’ll get expanded as it makes sense, because the operators will want that, while the gov/council is happy about anything they don’t have to pay for.

      1. I agree, I was initially on the fence, especially regarding the per passenger km costs they would change, but REM is a model the CDPQ want to copy paste to other cities, that model would better suit Auckland long term as Montreal like Auckland has a lot of suburban sprawl built around a freeway network.
        A system like rem or sky train would not just allow the reform of existing suburbs but also allow better quality greenfield suburbs to be built.
        As many of the new suburbs being built on the edge of town right now are extremely low quality, I visited milldale yesterday and it felt dead, it had a new school and some cycle paths plus some tree lined walkways, but no shops, no restaurants or cafes, even with the houses being largely different I couldn’t tell the difference between one street and another, it all looked the same, infact I got lost, had to pull out Google maps.

        1. I think we’ll continue sprawling out like that for the following decades along the new SH16 motorway, down to Waikato and along the new Wellsford/north ones. Council will force some positive aspects in (like you can see random cycleways that go for a few blocks where a developer is building, then stop abruptly), but it’ll be an area that is developer funded (kudos to the councils for stepping up and making developers pay), then in 25 years it’ll start being a drain on council finances and not stop given the locations in the middle of nowhere.

          That’s why I’m so pro targeted rates, as it means those areas that don’t make financial sense will actually have to pay more of their way.

          The positives is where we run REM etc. down good routes like the NWern, it’ll be the faster/better option, so people will switch to it. People are rational agents in general, so as a whole they’ll take a car right until the moment the congestion/unreliability makes PT better. Good PT will allow more density (as it’ll make financial sense for developers to build up and councils are more likely to allow it), allowing us to pay for all of those far flung reaches of the city like the subdivisions in Warkworth. And maybe in 70 years or so, the REMs might reach that far out, allowing redevelopment and make those areas finally being a plus rather than a drain.

      2. The challenge with any PPP or similar private equity based model, is that the tax payer ends up with the cost for gold plated, but often receives something less than. The shareholders engineer it so they win every time, whilst sidestepping the financial and other risks….. so there’s no free lunch here, its just a question of a long term OpEx payment vs needing to fund the CapEx. The tax payer pays. unless it’s tolled/charged directly to the end user (as per the Sydney motorway network and then it’s the end users).

        1. True. But the difference in the NZ context is that it actually gets built, and then giving private equity a slice of the pie isn’t an issue as their slice is smaller than the increase of the size of the pie.

          If central/local gov was going to build it while making best use of our money, it’s much better to have it in public hands. Just we’ve not seen a lot of signs of that, and there is plenty of need for projects that if the public sector/politicians want to step up, there is room for them as well.

          With the REM, the risks are held by the private sector a lot more than typical PPPs, and it’s more in their interest for success. They get their return in payments per passenger kilometre (inflation adjusted) – so it’s in their interest for people to use it/the system to work. If people don’t use the system, they don’t get money. Compare that to our motorway PPPs where the risk seems to be being held more by the gov.

        2. Freddy, that’s quite a claim given the Superfund idea supposedly derailed the Light Rail from plausible surface level scheme to hugely blown out mega-project we didn’t need.

          There should be real questions about whether that was acting in the nation’s interest or not. I hope lessons are learned next time someone thinks of involving them into a project.

  16. Simeon Brown: “The Government is committed to delivering infrastructure that will reduce congestion, boost productivity, and create a more reliable and resilient transport network that drives economic growth.

    “Our focus is on building a rapid transit network in Auckland, including completion of the City Rail Link, which was started by the last National Government, and starting work on a Northwest Rapid Transit corridor, alongside other projects to deliver reduced congestion for Aucklanders.

    Translated this means we are going to spend shitloads of public money on moar roads, provide for public transport as an afterthought which we expect the private sector to pay for and construct, no cycleways, no pedestrianisation.

  17. Having experienced the WX1 “express” bus this morning, taking longer crawling between “bus lanes” (60kmh speed limit zones on the hard shoulders) along the motorway than the 11W takes stopping along Gt North Rd, the sooner NZTA dust off their (or AT’s) abandoned busway plans the better.

  18. Put on your future vision thinking caps, and project forward 3 years to when National have completed their first term. Does anyone think that they will have actually laid a single metre of any form of Public Transport by then? They seem to be a government set on undoing everything, but sadly without a single thing planned to replace them. Have they announced a single positive plan of any sort yet? I’m picking, that with Simeon Brown and Chris Bishop at the helm, they will prove just as spectacularly incompetent as Labour were.

    1. Its possible that they do want to deliver some bus based PT to prove they are capable and prevent Labour doing anything better. Its hard to build a business case for LRT if National have already built a functioning busway.
      They probably wont get anywhere in 3 years, but very few NZ governments only get 3 years. 6 years maybe. Building roads and busways is easy compared to rail, just tell NZTA to do it and give them the funding, or use a PPP.

      1. Why is building a real busway easier than an already designated rail line? Hint: the WX is not a real busway, far from it.

        1. In the case of Dominion Road, building a busway (if you can call a central dedicated bus lane a busway) is mostly some paint. A small bit of work to do at the “stations”, but again that can be done with paint; the bus pulls to the left, cars go to the centre, and a “Give Way to buses” sign or traffic lights. If they literally designed the cheapest possible solution I reckon it could be done for $100 million and provide probably 50% of the benefits of surface LR.

        2. Jimbo – are you proposing that the buses run centrally down the middle of the road (great idea by the way) and then duck across the traffic to the left side of the road every time they need to have a bus stop ? That would be a terrible idea. All that crossing back and forth – accidents all the time.

          Much better just to keep the buses in the centre, and have passengers on islands with decent shelters; or keep buses in the left lane as we do now, with bus shelters mixing it on the footpath.

        3. average human: yes if there are room for islands with decent shelters. Dom road already has 2 traffic lanes, 2 bus lanes, and a median, so the only extra room is the median, and that would need to be shared on both sides of the busway.
          I am thinking of significantly less stops than current, the same number that surface LR would have. I believe surface LR was going to do something similar to what I have proposed.

        4. I think you’re underestimating the cost and complexity, and complaints that would come from this. I’m unconvinced a Dominion Road busway of any form could be completed by the end of National’s current term. I mean take a look at the current NW busway or whatever you want to call it, how long that took to complete etc. Yes there are significant differences in terms of distance, what they needed to do etc, but also some similarities, especially the need to do it on a major thoroughfare.

          And not all of these made the NW/SH16 harder. For example longer distances sure, but in terms of the bus shelters you only needed 3 and you had a lot more room. Likewise I’d imagine working at night on the motorway is a lot easier since it tends to be further away from residential areas. I know during the road resurfacing works on Lincoln Road recently, there were a bunch of noise complaints, and this only lasted about 3 weeks. (Also some crazy people who seemed to think they were going to put speed humps despite these not being in the published plans and the fact it was still driveable albeit one lane so if they were doing that work someone would have seen it.)

          Actually are you new to NZ and seen how long projects tend to take to complete? E.g. the Te Atatu Road upgrade a few years back seem to take a very long time. for what didn’t seem that complex.

          I don’t think National can magically do things a lot better since I never noticed things be faster with National’s 9 years. I mean in the NW case, possibly LR delayed the start, and after NZTA (under National)+AT failed to add anything with the SH16 upgrade, they took way to long to come up with a plan forward and Labour was a part of that.

          But AFAIK there’s no real plan for what you’re proposing meaning 1 year plus, but realistically 1.5 years of planning consenting etc. Then maybe 1 years of building. If they’re really lucky they might be able to get it done before the end of their term if they start right now. But given the lack of any sign of that, this seems very unlikely.

        5. Sorry I forgot you’d already acknowledged it wouldn’t happen in 3 years. Still I think your underestimating how easy it will be and how quickly NZTA can do it. I especially think one thing you”re ignoring is the opposition to any proposal coming from electorates seen as important, especially to ACT, which will probably make them chicken out.

          IMO this is one thing people here often seem to downplay. I don’t think Labour’s failures with LR are just because they got bamboozled or because of excessive visions of grandiose but also they chickened out at dealing with the opposition to any surface proposal.

          While it is true if they had deliver something, the opposition may die down a bit, and it also makes it harder to just kill and so if they had just done that perhaps they would have increased their chances, I think especially with our (IMO short) 3 year terms, governments are wary of doing stuff which they feel is right but aren’t extremely committed to when they know the harm to their electoral chances will last not only to the end of their current term but possibly even to the next.

  19. On my way to work this morning, listening to Newstalk zb, they had the cancellation of Auckland light rail as there topic, and you guessed it, the 1st caller said that we should rip up all the rail and tar seal it all so trucks an buses can use it….
    In little old backward new Zealand I’m not surprised to hear things like this, especially on News talk zb.
    I thought about calling up and suggesting we get rocket powered hover craft that fly between bus stops and then we can do away with bus lanes.

  20. Overall this is good news as the Avondale southdown line does not now have a light rail line planned to encroach on its route.
    I wonder where this leaves kiwirails plan of bringing the a-s line forward?. Perhaps that was only an opportunistic public money grab for when the light rail was still going ahead.

    1. I didn’t think Kiwirail had any interest in the line anymore, only they probably still own the land.

      Wayne Brown was keen though.

      I think the line has alot of merit, even if as a busway to start with.


        Pretty much the only visionary thing they’ve got in their 30 year plan for Auckland. The rest are (needed) capacity stuff/level crossing stuff. 3rd/4th main, but in 30 years that won’t be enough given the growth of local/freight trips as well as inter-regional trips. Plus a freight hub in the NW which is good.

        They should be cooperating with NZTA to get a route designated alongside the new highway projects from Wellsford to the north, so in 30 years or so when they need to cut down travel times to Northport they can do so, and figuring if they can designate a route (probably beside SH1) that’s more direct to Auckland. If they don’t do it now, it’ll be 1000* harder when there is sprawl everywhere.

        1. Ah yes, I remember now.

          1 single expansion of the network in the next 30yrs. We are in good hands, folks. The world is laughing at us.

        2. Ah yes, the NW Hub. Definitely no problems with putting a logistics centre in one of the most congested bits of Auckland with no access to rapid transit so you can scale commercial development around it, and that we also now know is prone to regular flooding events.

        3. @BW – eventually the NW will get rapid transit, purely because it’s a no brainer. It’ll also be easily accessible by rail (because it’s on a rail line). The status quo is them shipping it from South Auckland to there, so at least this will reduce truck trips (or more likely reduce the time taken so more trips can be taken with the same trucks). It’s far from perfect, but on balance I think it’s better than not having it. They’re going to build industrial/commercial space everywhere out there either way, it can be like Silverdale or it can have access to rail as well.

          @KLK tbh the ROW probably doesn’t care either way. I think designating a line from the port along SH1 to Wellsford (should be relatively cheap as it’s not buying land/building anything) to be built in 30 years or so, then designating a line alongside the new motorway projects is all they’d really need to do vision wise.

          They’ve stepped back from local PT apart from existing lines (and Avondale-Southdown), but freight/interregional rail is solely on them, and eventually they’re going to need to radically improve the links north and south – and planning for it early will save billions later, and doesn’t cost anything now.

      1. Yes, and they should stage it like how they do motorways so cleverly, to make the cost into palatable bit-sized chunks.

        Out to Mt Roskill first (2 extra stations). Then extend out to Onehunga, taking in a stop at Hillsborough. Then you can decide if it heads south to the airport (staging to Mangere, first) or forms part of the existing Onehunga or Southern lines.

        1. Yes. I agree with the staging starting at Mt roskill first but when it gets to onehunga it should carry on to just north of Westfield and go over/under the southern line and run directly into the eastern line to create an isthmus circle line. Where the southern and circle lines cross should be a large transfer station.

          This opens up the entire isthmus and also reduces congestion around Westfield to wiri.

  21. If I’m to concur with the general consensus here that the next ‘look’ at light rail is ten yrs away and given our 10-15yr idea to reality lag in NZ we’re up to 25yrs away from seeing light rail on the ground in Auckland. That’s 2050!!!
    So what can we do in the interim? Cry into our teacups? Keep flogging the dead horse? Re-litigate Labour’s failings? Get on the bus lane band wagon? Maybe, but bus lanes are happening anyway, so lets put our energy elsewhere.
    For my money I’m going to push for e-bike subsidies and e-bike infrastructure. It’s cheap, it works and since most trips out of home are less than five K’s easily achieved by most people.
    I’m proposing that all of us here with a passion for de-congesting Auckland drive this idea as the next big thing worth the politicians deciding was their idea.

    1. Here’s an idea. Remember how car park requirements in new developments skewed the development of our cities and drove people to commuting in cars how about getting e-bike parking minimums put into a by-law to drive e-bike uptake.
      What other insidious means did the automotive & fossil fuel industry use to build our purchase and use of motorcars? How many of those could be adapted to increase the uptake of ebikes.

  22. And again. Tommy Parker and his consulting mates did very well out of the ALR debacle? How can we make working (and actually delivering) bike infrastructure just as appealing to them so they work with us to secure funds and support to the e-bike revolution.
    How about the e-bike brands when did the last one of them sponsor TV news or it’s modern equivalent.

    1. Looked at in isolation a project that costs ten? times as much as a cheaper solution will most likely be a better job.
      But looked at more holistically, and more realistically, if that ten times more expensive project prevents another nine similarly priced projects being undertaken then the total outcome is almost certainly inferior.
      Lots of smaller projects, including ongoing incremental extensions, to both new and existing transport assets, would most certainly contribute more to providing better transportation outcomes city wide.
      But perhaps not quite as good to the Mount Roskill area.

      1. I think the Mount Roskill area would have been better off with surface, there would be more stops so better coverage.
        Expanding LR to the airport started off as a “may as well” type solution; those areas could get reasonable PT for a reasonable cost. But then the whole project became about Mangere / Airport getting very high quality PT regardless of the cost or benefit.

    2. Its bad form to cancel a project that the previous government had started. But with LR nothing has been started other than planning. National would be crazy to go ahead with a 15 billion+ project that they didn’t believe in just because the previous government started planning it. (And the planning was akin to taking someone to a jewellery shop and telling them to pick whatever they wanted regardless of price)
      I said from the day Labour were elected that was crucial to get spades in the ground within 3 years. They never got a spade in the ground in 6 years.

  23. I think the only hope is for Wayne Brown to squawk the need for surface light right, if nothing but to keep it alive until closer to a change in government.

    On another note though, politicians might actually get a wake up call when the CRL is finished and people start start using it and actually see what can be done and want more. Hopefully they put their vote where their mouth is next time. National are so backwards, still living in the 70s. I hope they keep on screwing up so that voters will finally see the light,

    1. And what, vote for Labour again who can again spend years dithering and blowing out workable proposals with nothing to show for it but a huge consultant spend?

      Because when they do, people will either blame the voters or National.

      And people wonder why nothing changes.

      1. Yep I agree, you have a very valid point.

        At least they have vision, just lack the ability to deliver quickly. Lets hope they have learnt some very valuable lessons and can sort out their approach next time.

        With the next change of government it will certainly most likely have Labour in it so we just have to hope.

    2. > Hopefully they put their vote where their mouth is next time.

      I did that in 2017 and 2020… how many metres of light rail did that get me?

  24. Doing nothing, or doing the wrong things, will just add to the congestion.
    Congestion not only on the roadways, but also in the very largely publicly, provided and spacially wasteful car storage locations.
    Locations that are essential to make private car transport viable.

    Congestion that will grow at around the rate of our currently elevated population growth in that prime motoring age group demographic.

    Unfortunately the consequences of increased congestion, increased journey times, increasingly variable trip times, and increased emissions, are not linearly related to traffic volumes. The problems will grow faster then traffic volumes.
    So the onus will increasingly fall on our elected authorities to provide more spacially efficient systems or face electoral wrath. But inertia may well continue to be the predominant force, to our detriment. Vested interests will continue to robustly protect their interests even when they run counter to the common good.

    But let’s hope electoral pressures will provoke them to act. The current pathway is not sustainable.
    Lots of small projects can make a significant difference and deliver immediate results.
    Particularly in enhancing bus priority.
    Removing bus lane pinch points.
    More bus lane kilometers and hours of operation.
    And then there is congestion charging.

    National made an outstanding job in the broadband roll out.
    So here is another similar sized challenge.

  25. Was the fact that the broadband rollout only took 11 years the outstanding part?

    Good luck that Auckland’s transport woes will be fixed with a few tweaks to some bus lanes. There needs to be fundamental changes to cause a significant number of Aucklanders to drive much less. Congestion charging will help. Annual increases to AT parking charges would also help.

  26. So disappointed by this. We as a country have been let down by two parties … one who failed to make it happen, and another who never wanted it to happen. Meanwhile Auckland still suffers from heavy congestion, Light Rail was part of the solution.
    I say good luck to the coalition government that think they can deliver a busway on the Northwestern motorway … even though the National-led government before that could have easily done it when they upgraded the Northwestern motorway, and chose not to.

    1. Well, their “rapid transport network for Auckland” only mentioned the North West and Airport to Botany. Two lines.

      They will be buses of course but while A2B can be a busway (and a good one), SH16 looks tough. If they are smart they’ll have a busway down SH20 too.

      I think NZF has always had its eye on HR to the airport somewhere but with the A2B announcement it won’t be via Puhinui as they wanted.

      1. From a quick Google search, in his pre-election manifesto last year, Peters was still pushing heavy rail from Puhinui. But I highly doubt National’s proposal for A2B is rail…

        Nothing in the coalition agreement either, just reference to “four major public transport” projects.

        Personally, a Busway from the Airport to Botany (linking seamlessly with the Eastern Busway), any enhancement towards a busway for the NW, and a SH20 busway would actually be a stepchange for Auckland…

        1. Dissapointing if they do a busway to the airport. It should be heavy rail on a full loop from onehunga. After getting to the southern line at puhunui it should go under and continue straight through to manukau station meaning manukau is no longer a branch line but the natural end of the omehunga/airport line.

        2. Why spend a billion dollars between Puhinui and the Airport, to duplicate what the Busway will adequately do (especially when the line runs all the way up to Botany)? How many people want to go Onehunga-Manukau via the airport and an indirect loop?

          And as for the cost from Onehunga to the Airport. Eye-watering…

        3. “Dissapointing if they do a busway to the airport”

          More broadly…why? The Northern Busway is an awesome service – as good as any rail. Why not replicate it down south.

        4. Dissapointing in the sense that a rail line would have been better.
          The full onehunga loop to puhunui would be expensive but as you pointed out above it could be done in easy bite size pieces. Onehunga to mangere Bridge first. Etc.
          Also dissapointing as they built the puhunui station in the wrong place for rail. Best solution would have been a rail transfer station where the onehunga/airport/ manukau line would go over the top of the southern line. A nice transfer station where you just walk downstairs to catch a train on the other line.
          Likewise manukau station can be extended but by but each year further out.also intercity trains from Hamilton and Tauranga in the future would take a turnoff to the airport before going to the city. Auckland airport is really nzs airport.
          To me they have left the heavy rail system half finished.

        5. I’m not sure why a slower train ride between the two destinations (compared to transfer at penrose) would be “better”.

        6. “A nice transfer station where you just walk downstairs to catch a train on the other line.”

          You mean like the nice transfer station they have where you just walk downstairs to catch the busway on the other line?

        7. The logical way for the public transport route to take in that area is to go onehunga to mangere to the airport them to puhunui. This route is important for mangere and auckland as a whole,, so what form of transport would you use?
          would you continue the busway from the airport through mangere and over to onehunga?. And then everyone gets off the bus an goes on a train at onehunga?. Or would you rip up the onehunga line to make a busway? Would you continue the rail line from onehunga to the airport but then have the busway on the other side of the airport from puhunui?
          The point being where does the rail line and the busway meet?.
          Onehunga? Airport or puhunui?. the best way imo is to just continue the onehunga rail line, then you get to the airport and realise manukau is just over there. One main form is better. The rail lines should be the main trunks and the busway just an assistant.
          Rail is also the best choice for the future and intercity travel.

        8. Just further to that for me the people of mangere would have to have a direct link to the city so that means onehunga to the airport would have to be rail. They wouldn’t want to take a busway from mangere to onehunga to change to trains. So the only question would be the busway and rail would meet in the airport or at puhunui.

        9. “They wouldn’t want to take a busway from mangere to onehunga to change to trains.” Why not? Hundreds of thousands of people in London, Paris, Sydney, Tokyo…and Auckland make transfers to and from their destination every single day?

          We should have as many RTN lines – busways and train lines – intercating to allow everyone the greatest choice.

  27. I do wonder if I’m future they could simply buy a stack of properties near Dom Rd and simply run new LR tracks down what is effectively grass rather than the expense and disruption of digging up Dom Rd or tunneling.
    Those properties could either be buying a small strip of land, or buying the whole thing and then on selling it/redeveloping it without the strip for LR. Could be a great way to value capture and avoid many of the problems with surface rail (including being on its own RoW).

  28. Mrb – all your solutions seem to insist on one seat rides everywhere. That’s not logical and not how a “network” works. Transfers are what make a network, work.

    A2B is a busway that will go the Airport. It doesn’t really matter what mode comes south. If its a busway, then it obviously links all the way through to Botany.

    If its HR/LR, then people transfer at the airport interchange. Or, more likely, they take the quicker route by transferring to the Southern Line at Penrose.

    There is no critical need for their to be a single line going to and from the airport. Most airport stations are, in fact, terminating stations at the end of a line(s)

    1. So what would you offer the people of mangere.? A busway to onehunga and then everyone gets onto a train a onehunga? It would be a bizzare plan to have two different forms if transport in what is essentially a straight line from mangere to the city. The northern busway is essentially from the suburbs to the city so is different . There is no continuing busway from onehunga to the city and the city is at busmaggeddon anyway isn’t it?. That was the argument for light rail.
      Onehunga to the airport would logically be rail imo as it has an existing connection from onehunga to the city.
      So that leaves the puhunui link up to the question of rail or busway.
      For me a rail line from the airport over to manukau with a transfer station makes the most sense. Also with intercity rail connections to the airport. Also making the manukau line not a branch but the end of a line. This is also how you make network by taking out small branch lines and making simple separate metro lines.

      We have to have transfers but there is no point making more transfers than there has to be unnecessarily. We should make the best and simplest network possible, not a disjointed network.

      1. What makes you think people in Mangere want to get to downtown Auckland rather than say Manukau and other southern destinations?

  29. You talk of the need to get people in mangere between the airport and the CBD without a transfer. Fine. But then spending a billion dollars to continue on and replicate the current busway route to Puhinui…..for who? why? Why are they all stopping at Puhinui? If they go north or east, wont they have to transfer anyway? A billion dollars to push their transfer back one extra station?

    The small amount of people making this trip can easily transfer at the airport between two different RTN routes seamlessly, surely. Spend your billion dollars elsewhere on a new route.

    The east to Airport via the southern train line is solved already. Its a Busway. So you can make an independent decision about Onehunga and Mangere and what works best in that corridor (SE Auckland) and then arrange for connectivity at the airport for the relatively few people who need to go east of the airport.

    1. Put it another way. How many people are going Onehunga to Puhinui and absolutely need a one seat ride that would cost an extra billion dollars?

      The answer? Not nearly enough

  30. Quickest way to Manukau from Mangere is a frequent bus down SH20. It certainly isnt a train line (or busway) veering southeast to the airport and then a dogleg back to Manukau.

    Frequency and speed (priority) are the keys. The mode will sort itself out.

    1. A bus in ordinary traffic on that highway is unreliable. Nobody would trust the service unless it was on a separated busway. Which might as well go to useful places like Mangere town centre instead.

  31. Onehunga to Manukau. Puhunui should have been just a transfer station on the line from the airport to manukau. The line at manukau can be extended, maybe one new station every 5 years or something (super clinic? Then to mill rd new areas? As auckland grows. Mangere people might enjoy having one line with manukau and the airport at one end and Newmarket and the city at the other.

    Also what is beneficial here is the manukau line being part of the airport line means eastern lines trains don’t need to travel from Westfield to wiri on the southern line to service manukau. This pattern clears up congestion with passenger and freight trains between Westfield and wiri, reducing the need for a fourth main. How much would that be worth? Maybe a billion?. .

    And Tauranga and Hamilton to auckland airport too. Golden triangle to auckland airport in one train is useful for departures from nz and also arrivals into nz.

    It’s a moot point anyway because they built puhunui station too far north and are building a busway. But as I said above it’s dissapointing and not the best decision.

    1. On a related matter, Onehunga to CBD is not as easy is at sounds.

      AT have half a dozen options for the line post CRL and that includes permanently terminating at Newmarket (as it does now) or heading out west, skipping the CBD. So its not certain that it will in fact be a line to/from the CBD in future. I kind of think HR from Avondale to Southdown (to cater for freight) via Onehunga is the most likely new HR line, maybe even the last. That would mean a transfer between Airport and CBD (whatever is chosen for Onehunga south). But not everyone goes to the CBD anyway; most people going to and from the airport will be workers and Auckland residents, so its probably not crucial anyway.

      1. It’s a shame, the avondale southdown line and the full airport loop from onehunga to puhunui was the best performing option in one of the studies around 2015 or so. Then all this light rail to the airport nonsense took off and it got shuffled down the list. Imo horses for courses is not the right approach. The right approach is to complete the fill rail network before concentrating on smaller busways to connect up gaps in the main network. Auckland has left itself short again.

        1. On that Avondale southdown line, very excited for that to be done and run the trains as an isthmus circle line to start to create a proper network fir auckland.
          Avondale southdown is by far the most underrated line but would be a step change in passenger transport in auckland if the run the trains the right way

        2. “It’s a shame, the avondale southdown line and the full airport loop from onehunga to puhunui was the best performing option in one of the studies around 2015 or so”

          My recollection was that Onehunga to the airport was one of the worst performing options – which is why practically no one ever has it as a potential solution.

          HR south of Mangere, if we are talking the same report (CCAFS?) was twice the cost of light rail for the same leg, could not add as many stations, and ignored all the money needed to be spent to upgrade it from single track and its terrible 30mins frequencies.

          I don’t remember anyone talking about Ohenunga to Puhinui because you can already do that trip on HR.

        3. Yeah but that study compared light rail and heavy rail only in that segment onehunga to the airport. It completely ignored the 10 or 12 billion required to get the light rail from onehunga to the city.
          That wasn’t the report I was talking about anyway. Earlier than that maybe around 2008 or 2009 there was a basic plan to do the full rail of Avondale to southdown and then the full airport loop from onehunga to puhunui. Can’t remember the name of the thing.

  32. Well, its the only new line in Kiwirail’s 30yr plan. No vision.

    They talk of a need to move more and more people by rail, but this line is really about rail freight. And they say it “largely” depends on moving the port. So it presumably isn’t coming anytime soon.

    Oh, and only $6bn

    1. But the a-s it’s the greatest passenger rail line ever devised. Wonderful vision. Have a quick look at seoul (line 2), Tokyo (Yamanote line). Moscow, Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, Madrid metro maps, etc and 20 or 30 more. They are all based on a circle line with intersecting North-South or east-west line that cut through it on both sides. That’s how you create a proper network.
      Auckland is very lucky in the 70% of our circle line is already built (eastern line, crl, inner west line) and the remaining 30% was designated ages ago by someone clearly related to nostradamus.

  33. Light rail north of Onehunga was a completely new RTN line with about 4 times as many stations as the entire O line. That’s not really the right comparison when talking Onehunga to the Airport.

  34. But the light rail north of onehunga was imaginary and 10 to 12 billion away whereas the heavy rail was in the world of the real. There’s no sense in building a roof of the house first and just imagining that the walls and foundation are there. Likewise a light rail onehunga to airport with and imaginary connection to the city is not the same as a real heavy rail existing connection to the city. One is more achievable than the other.

  35. With recent changes to the network, such as the introduction of the Western Express, it seems AT have introduced a new version – though it doesn’t appear to be on their website yet, meaning we need to rely on this version spotted by Andrew W in Lower Albert St. Positively, it does some of the Traffic Jam 3D with the previous version/s but frustratingly, it still retains some of the previous issues too.

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