Passenger Rail, Rail Supply, Research & Development

Auckland to canvass for light rail

Auckland Transport has opened public consultation on a statutory variation which would formalise plans to build a light rail network.

The transport authority on Monday opened the consultation period for a number of proposed variations for its Regional Public Transport Plan – a 2013 document which outlines the future development objectives for Auckland and its surrounding regions.

One proposed variation is the proposal to develop a light rail network.

Auckland Transport has been pursuing a light rail plan since an independent study in 2012 identified future transport demand and ways to meet it.

“Investigations into alternative public transport options for those parts of the Auckland isthmus that cannot be served by the Metro rail network have identified that light rail is the best public transport option to provide for increased capacity, reliability and speed,” Auckland Transport outlined this week.

A separate public consultation recently revealed strong support for the concept, according to the authority.

“As a result, AT is investigating its introduction on some critical routes as part of a multi-modal improvement package.”

The announcement follows a call from the Board of Auckland Transport in late January for a light rail network which would relieve traffic congestion on some of the region’s busiest roads.

The authority believes existing rail and buses, the City Rail Link (CRL) development and this proposed light rail network will fit together under Auckland’s long term integrated transport plan.

“CRL does not address access from the north, the central and southern isthmus or university and Wynyard Quarter,” Auckland Transport explained in a February document.

“Buses from non-rail areas will create significant congestion and affect economic growth. Bus terminal capacity is at a premium and will become challenging and costly.

“More of the same means bumper to bumper cars will be replaced with wall to wall buses.”

Instead, Auckland Transport has proposed light rail to the public, explaining that 16 trams can handle the same passenger volume as 50 buses. The authority has also pointed to successful light rail projects in Montpellier (France), Bergen (Norway) and Dublin (Ireland) in recent years.

This week’s announcement puts the light rail proposal to the public, with the authority hoping to add it to the Regional Public Transport Plan.

Other variations opened to public consultation on Monday included a simplified zone fare structure to reflect Auckland’s new transport network, a ferry development plan, and a new service descriptions to enable the implementation of the new bus network.

Consultation is open until 4pm on June 5.

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