29 Jan 2022

Auckland light rail project 'extremely expensive', won't deliver - lobby group

6:57 pm on 29 January 2022

A transport advocacy group says the new partially-tunnelled light rail project in Auckland is a waste of money and will not serve the intended purpose.

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A model of the proposed Auckland Light Rail network with the government yesterday announcing it was going with the partially-tunnelled option. Photo: Supplied

The line will run underground from Wynyard Quarter to Mt Roskill before surfacing and running alongside State Highway 20 to the airport.

Light rail to Mount Roskill within four years and then to the airport within 10 years was one of the first campaign promises then-opposition leader Jacinda Ardern made in 2017.

Three options were presented to Cabinet last year and the government yesterday announced that it had decided to go with the partially-tunnelled option recommended by the Auckland Light Rail Establishment.

The selected 24km route will see transport available every five minutes from up to 18 stops and will be able to carry 15,000 passengers per hour at peak times.

But Public Transport Users Association national co-ordinator Jon Reeves said it does not link to the present rail network and will not be able to travel as fast as the government suggests.

"It's extremely expensive now at over $14.5 billion and with inflation and 10 years to build it it's probably being close to $25 billion and it's not actually going to deliver a suitable solution for Auckland's transport woes."

Reeves said the money would be better-spent on connecting the current system to the airport through Māngere and Onehunga.

He said he hoped the government would heed the concerns and stop the project.

The opposition has also criticised the plan with National's infrastructure spokesperson Simon Bridges saying it is wasted spending and ACT transport spokesperson Simon Court describing it as a disaster.

Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March said the party would prefer street-level light rail down Dominion Road but it was now time to get on with the project.

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