10 Apr 2017

Push for Auckland light rail network in new plan

9:40 am on 10 April 2017

An independent plan for what's being touted as a better public transport network for Auckland has been unveiled.

An artists' visualisation for Auckland Transport of light rail in the city.

Greater Auckland says light rail needs to be introduced sooner than planned, and more extensively. Photo: Supplied / Auckland Transport

Public transport advocate group Greater Auckland is proposing a light rail or rapid bus network - on the same scale as the current commuter rail system - focused on high-growth areas.

It says the $14bn rapid transit network would offer congestion-free travel sooner and more cheaply than currently planned.

The group's plan, Congestion Free Network 2, includes projects already proposed, but defers most roading work until after the rapid transit public transport element is completed.

"We believe it's urgent. It was proposed in the 1960s to build these two networks, road and rapid transit together, but we haven't," said Greater Auckland spokesperson Patrick Reynolds.

Read the full report: here.

The suggested network has found early political support, with senior Auckland councillor Chris Darby saying it reflected the view of the current council and the mayor Phil Goff.

Greater Auckland proposes a network of rapid transit routes extending further north and north-west than presently planned

Greater Auckland proposes a network of rapid transit routes extending further north and north-west than presently planned. Photo: Supplied / Greater Auckland

The plan aimed to join employment and social centres across the region with rapid transit routes.

  • North Shore gets Light Rail to Orewa, crossing the harbour on its own new bridge, and rapid bus on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, and to Glenfield
  • North West gets Light Rail to the CBD and a busway to the North Shore
  • South extends electric rail to Pukekohe, and a third main rail line for freight and commuter trains
  • South-east connects across to the Airport with a busway
  • Central Auckland gets Light Rail from Wynyard Quarter to the airport, and a big crosstown bus route

Current funding through fuel taxes and road user charges would be scrapped and what the group calls smarter pricing - road charges that increase at peak times - would be brought in.

"One of the reasons why the establishment doesn't have this network planned in the near term is there's simply no funding mechanism for anything other than roads," said Mr Reynolds.

"That's the stumbling block. It's not from the analysis of need."

He said another feature is to plan, and in some cases build, dedicated rapid transit routes into high growth greenfield areas, such as Waimauku in the northwest, so the transport service can shape the way growth occurs.

"If we build it on an auto-dependency model for the next 30 years, we'll have an entirely auto-dependent place which is very spread out. Wide roads - we'll also spend all of our money on roads."

Mr Darby, who chaired the planning committee that will receive a presentation from Greater Auckland this month, said it confirmed the need for Auckland to make a step change in the provision of a public transport network.

"We have been putting in incremental change, but we're really treading water.

"We've got major congestion and now's the time to make that transformative shift - and that's what the Congestion Free Network offers us."

He said the joint transport programme between the council and government, ATAP, was already outdated, as it was based on 2013 data, and was being refereshed.

"The CFN really confirms we need to focus much more on a public transport network. For 60 years, we've been focussing on a roading network," said Mr Darby.

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