27 Feb

Taumarunui Solution For Auckland Rail Overcrowding

AT modern fleet lying idle

Auckland rail commuters face overcrowded carriages and confusing timetables as Auckland Transport prepares to launch a new rail timetable on March 12th.

Uptake on train travel has proven popular as the city grapples with chronic traffic congestion, but the new electric train fleet is fast reaching capacity and patronage continues to soar well ahead of forecast, with 18 million journeys made in the 12 month period to December 2016.

Auckland Transport and their rail operator Transdev are now struggling to cope with this unprecedented demand, and with no additional new electric trains ordered and no progress on electrification of the line to Pukekohe while waiting for government funding, a capacity squeeze faces rail commuters.

“This inaction is resulting in desperate measures of cutting out stops on some services such as the Onehunga Line and the ridiculous situation of only having some trains stop at the new Parnell station due to open on March 12, in order to free up more trains for other services. This will result in confusion and frustration to users” says Public Transport Users Association Co-ordinator Jon Reeves.

“They are constrained with a limited fleet of electric trains and even if new trains were to be ordered tomorrow, it would likely be three to four years before they could be delivered and available -time which Auckland does not have” he says.

SA/SD AT Carriages new interior lying idleTrain staff have also contacted the PTUA with concerns about train service reliability after March 12 with precariously tight timetables and operating plans proposed which will have no allowance for any delays, meaning potential widespread disruption should any train be late for whatever reason. The staff say this has come about because of the shortage of trains and staff Reeves said.

The PTUA is calling on Auckland Transport and Transdev to reintroduce some of the recently fully refurbished diesel locomotive hauled  train fleet owned by Auckland Transport currently in storage at Taumarunui, to introduce a new service between Pukekohe and Huapai through Newmarket.

The new service would provide an extension of rail services to Kumeu/Huapai, something which local residents and those from surrounding districts have long been calling for to their rapidly growing region which is suffering from chronic congestion on State Highway 16 heading into the city. It would also only require one “slot” on the Western and Southern line in each direction per hour to enable an hourly frequency from Huapai.

Existing rail commuters also currently have to endure the inconvenience of changing trains at Newmarket when travelling from south to west, and at Papakura when travelling to and from Pukekohe.

“A new direct train service between Pukekohe and Huapai using the diesel carriage trains which are quiet and comfortable, would address the current capacity problems as well as providing an attractive seamless journey option from one end of of Auckland to the other without having to change trains” says PTUA Chair and Waimauku resident Christine Rose. “People want public transport to be simple and easy to use, and this service would provide this” she says.

Ratepayers and the Government invested $195 million refurbishing the carriages in New Zealand, some of the fleet only saw service for three years before being laid up in Taumarunui. “AT have attempted to sell the entire fleet of carriages for just $5 million in a failed sale last year, it would be better use of ratepayers money to use these carriages in Auckland now, and the plan could be quickly put into place” Reeves said.

Notes:

Over 100 carriages currently stored in Taumarunui were fully refurbished at Hillside Workshops  from the ground up between 2003 and 2011 and all withdrawn from service in 2014.

They are fully compliant with the Auckland rail network

Passenger Platforms already exist at Huapai (constructed in 2009) and available for immediate use.

Auckland ratepayers and NZTA funded the $195 million refurbishment programme and the carriages have a further 20 year life expectancy.

New electric trains, if ordered immediately, would not arrive in full until 2021 (the year the City Rail Link opens).

MORE READING

ENDS

Media contacts:

Christine Rose – Chair 021 850 356

Jon Reeves – Coordinator 021 529 404AT modern fleet lying idle

09 Nov

“Sensible solution for Auckland Transport is back to the future” 

Best and Worst Bus Stops

The discussion over new Mayor Phil Goff’s decision not to appoint Councillors to the AT Board highlights that “there’s little debate that Auckland Transport’s governance arrangements need reviewing” says the Public Transport Users Association.

“While there are differences of opinion about the solutions, there is widespread agreement about the problems”. “Poor performance on some indicators, a perceived lack of accountability, inefficiencies, a lack of contestable advice – all show signs of typical transport capture with AT”, says PTUA Chair Christine Rose.

“But the most sensible solution may rest in Auckland’s past” says Mrs Rose. “Up until 2010, and everywhere else in the country now, citizens have the value of a broadly representative Regional Land Transport Committee to help shape important strategic transport decisions”. “Everywhere else in the country high-level transport direction is informed by political representatives. But these are supplemented by voices from the community too”. “PTUA recommends that in addition to the two re-established political Board roles, key Board members could also include those mandated for the rest of New Zealand”.

Regional Land Transport Committees (RLTC) elsewhere in New Zealand develop Regional Land Transport Strategies that set out the region’s transport vision and objectives. In Auckland, Auckland Transport already has the legal functions of an RLTC. “It makes sense therefore, to reflect what is essential and works well for the rest of the country. For a Unitary Authority like Auckland, the main transport decision making board (the RLTC equivalent) should include five elected representatives from the Council, one from NZTA, one cultural representative, and one to represent each of the objectives in the 2008 NZ Transport Strategy – economic development, safety and personal security, environmental sustainability, public health and access and mobility”.

PTUA co-ordinator Jon Reeves says there are clearly many voices missing from important transport decisions in Auckland, that are mandated to sit at the table elsewhere in the country. “Where are the voices for those with disabilities or cultural knowledge, or for sustainability?” “Up until the latest decision to axe the meagre two elected representatives, these Board members carried those cudgels. Now even that opportunity is being removed”.

“Ultimately on an enhanced AT Board that takes on the equivalent role of an RLTC, those positions might be filled by sector representatives, such as the AA, the Employers and Manufacturers’ Association, cycling advocate representatives, other advocates” says Mr Reeves. “But we’d be ensuring statutory objectives were being considered openly, as is required elsewhere in New Zealand.” “There’s no case for Auckland exceptionalism and the prohibition against political and community representation here”, he says.

Mrs Rose, who was Chair of the region’s last Regional Land Transport Committee before the creation of Auckland Council and the Auckland Transport CCO, says the monolithic, hostile AT Board edifice would well benefit from more open governance, rather than closing it down. “Inclusive and consensus based decision making is essential for transport governance elsewhere in the country, and it worked well in Auckland until amalgamation”. “We may have to look to the past – and elsewhere in the country

28 Oct

Wins and Losses for Auckland Public Transport Users

Best and Worst Bus Stops

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) is pleased that the impressive new Otahuhu Bus and Rail Transport Centre has opened. The Centre will be a major game changer, as frequent bus services will now feed into our rail network.

Jon Reeves, Co-ordinator of the PTUA says “the opening of the new Otahuhu Transport Centre today and the combined changes for the Southern bus network from tomorrow should deliver positive results for most passengers in South Auckland. We would hope that the rail fleet can cope with the growth that will naturally happen in a relatively short timeframe. Even with Auckland Transport (AT) proposing slight increases to the speed of rail services on the southern corridor, only three rail units will be freed up by March next year to service demand”.

The PTUA suggest that AT look at some interim stop gap solutions, either through the re-introduction of some of its refurbished diesel hauled carriages currently being stored in Taumarunui, or by utilising the five spare diesel railcars based in Westfield (near Otahuhu). “Ultimately, AT need to be ordering a second tranche of new Electric Multiple Units to also co-inside with the City Rail Link opening around 2021, but that will require significant Government support”, Reeves said.

The PTUA also understand there is some anguish among residents in Paerata, near Pukekohe, at AT’s removal of all bus services between Pukekohe and Papakura. While the PTUA understands the logic behind AT’s plans to focus on feeding into rail services, the removal of buses appears premature when no rail station has been planned nor built in Paerata. Effectively residents in this area will now have zero option for public transport, and will be required to drive instead.

There has been one significant development this week that the PTUA finds highly concerning. The removal of two democratically elected representatives off the Board of Auckland Transport by the new Mayor Phil Goff, is as Reeves says, “a direct attack on democracy and a huge concern given AT is a public organisation spending public money.”

The PTUA believes Goff has been ill-informed by whomever has advised him to remove elected officials from the Board. Goff has over-stepped his authority in this case, given it is the Council that makes decisions around the removal of elected officials to the Board, not the Mayor alone. “We certainly do not want to see any more unelected board members appointed, regardless of their perceived experience, as the current Board is stacked full with unelected members” Christine Rose, PTUA Chair said.  

The PTUA supports the need for accountability to be restored to the board of Auckland Transport. Transport committees across New Zealand are staffed in their entirety by democratically elected members. The PTUA strongly believes Auckland should be no different. 

21 Sep

Mike Lee the Legend of Auckland Public Transport

Mike Lee

As voters consider their choices in the upcoming local government elections, the Public Transport Users Association has decided it was time to highlight and thank Cr. Mike Lee for his excellent, unparalleled efforts to promote public transport across the Auckland region, regardless of the outcome of the election.

Christine Rose, Chair of the PTUA said “ I worked with Mike Lee when I was the Chair of the Regional Transport Committee in the mid to late 2000’s and found his incredible in-depth knowledge around all things related to transport as extremely beneficial. His long term vision for public transport is something others need to aspire to”.

Jon Reeves, Coordinator of the PTUA says, Mike Lee is often overlooked by other organisations rating candidates who have their own agendas to push. Unlike them, the PTUA looks at one thing, what has a candidate done and achieved for Aucklanders in the realms of public transport.

The list of achievements with Mike Lee is a mile long, but to just name a few:

  • – 1992 Helped save rail in Auckland by acquiring the ex-Perth diesel railcars. This small but significant action helped grow rail patronage and set the plan for Britomart 10 years later.
  • – Promoted, pushed and negotiated with Central and local Govt stakeholders to have the Onehunga railway line reopened. It successfully opened in 2010 after being closed to passengers in 1973 and was on the cusp of being removed forever.
  • – Lobbied for funding support of free City Link bus promoted by Heart of the City.
  • – As Chair of the old Auckland Regional Council Lee supported electrification of the Auckland rail network . He lobbied both the Labour and National Governments for support.
  • – City Rail Link, formulated by the ARC under Mike Lee’s stewardship and later championed by Mayor Len Brown.
  • “The PTUA is not aware of any other candidates with as such a strong track record in delivering solid public transport improvements and we wish Mike Lee all the best in his attempt to win his seat on the Waitemata and Gulf Ward in the current elections. Train, bus and ferry users of today and the future, owe Mike Lee a lot” says Mr Reeves

    “The PTUA is an independent organisation, not funded directly or indirectly by Auckland Transport, development organisations or property developers and the like. We purely exist to represent users of public transport”. “We remain politically neutral, but we must give credit where credit is due to the single person who has done so much for public transport in Auckland”. Reeves added “Mike Lee is also a founding member of the PTUA.”

    Mrs Rose says “Mike has been a consistent and dignified statesman of public transport in the Auckland region. He doesn’t take credit for the actions of many, as other candidates are inclined to do, but he has a long memory and a clear vision for transport justice across the whole Auckland land-mass, not just in a single electorate”. “Without Mike’s contribution through the decades, we would have made half the progress to date”. “The Public Transport Users Association commends his contributions through the years, with an ongoing legacy that others can only dream of and hope to build upon”.

    ENDS

    Scoop Article

27 Jun

PLANS TO ‘DERAIL’ AIRPORT PASSENGER TRANSPORT, A FAILURE OF COMMON SENSE

no-trains-no-brains

Transport planners are letting down both residents and visitors to Auckland in the decision to abandon heavy rail to Auckland International Airport says the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA).

“Transport authorities are foreclosing future options and compromising optimum long term solutions for airport access, just when they should be protecting the airport rail route and providing connections for heavy rail into the rest of the regional rail network” says PTUA co-ordinator Jon Reeves.

“Nearly every major airport in the world is served by rail. Dedicated, uncongested and seamless links between city hubs and airports are critical to provide certainty to travellers, but the New Zealand Transport Agency rejects this conventional wisdom in its current thinking”.

“NZTA and Auckland Transport(AT) are proposing busway and/or tram-light rail solutions to the airport. In doing so they are rejecting the strong arguments in support of rail – an existing railway line already reaches within a few kilometres of the airport, whereas light rail or dedicated bus corridors require significant land and infrastructure development costs. Political and public support for conventional rail services from the current Onehunga terminus is high. Extending the link through Mangere will improve that community’s access to the regional rail network and to the airport, while using existing infrastructure wisely”.

“Light rail/trams and a busway are a dream, while conventional rail is already a successful reality for Auckland, and offers travel and construction time savings, cost savings, and it’s imminently do-able”, says Mr Reeves.

“NZTA and Auckland Transport are overlooking obvious solutions while putting faith in uncosted, undeveloped plans that are in some undetermined future. The agency is foreclosing heavy rail solutions even while light rail options are hypothetical, certainly not guaranteed”.

“In the decision to abandon conventional rail which serves the region so well, and compromising future development by removing the Neilson Street overbridge, NZTA and AT are putting the cart before the horse” says Mr Reeves. “Yet this is just when planners need certainty as Auckland International Airport redevelops. NZTA are leading the process which is more rightfully an Auckland Transport role. But what we get as a result is a failure of leadership all round”.

“AT and NZTA seem to have talked themselves into a corner which delivers poor outcomes for Onehunga, Mangere, the airport, Aucklanders, and travellers to and from the airport gateway. Meanwhile they exhibit a failure of imagination and common sense in rejecting the most rational use of existing corridors and infrastructure provided by heavy rail”. “We suggest both NZTA and AT go back to the drawing board, or at least carry out an independent review of their arguments against existing wisdom and investment, in favour of an alternative which is really just a wish and a dream”.

The PTUA supports the Campaign for Better Transport and Cr. Mike Lee’s abhorrent disbelief at the decision not to progress with planning for Airport Rail. Public opinion is set to grow against this highly flawed decision by NZTA and AT.

Reeves said “These two agencies should be ready for a well deserved public backlash in the lead up to local body elections and the general election next year. It could well be a matter the Government will need to step in to sort out as it is clear NZTA and the Council Own Organisation (AT) are lacking competence and common sense.

 

18 Apr

Diesel Train Service Now, Pragmatic Solution To Area’s Growth, Public Say

DMU Auckland courtesy of M KilgourAuckland Transport (AT) continues its consultation on transport options to serve the region’s massive future growth, and locals favour passenger rail transport, but AT’s plans show unsustainable bias toward road based solutions for Huapai-Kumeu, say the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA).

“The high growth greenfields development happening now in Huapai-Kumeu on the North West outskirts of Auckland, is crippling State Highway 16” says local resident and PTUA chair, Christine Rose. “SH16 is a strategic, freight and service industry transport alternative to SH1, but is at a standstill now because of residential sprawl unmatched with decent public transport infrastructure. Auckland Transport are consulting on plans for transport improvements sometime, including new roads and a busway from Westgate into the city, none of which have real timeframes or funding, nor deliver the transport solutions people say they want”.

In the last consultation round, passenger rail solutions were preferred by the public more than any other option. Auckland Transport, to their credit have moved slightly in suggesting an investigation into benefits and costs of electric rail to the area. ”But in effect, we’re no further ahead, with the plans showing bias toward a road-based solutions which have no timeframe, no budget, fail to address SH16 congestion and won’t serve the current growth of Kumeu” Rose added.

“Meanwhile, we’ve got an existing railway line, railway station, and diesel rolling stock that can be used tomorrow on an uncongested, dedicated route. With smart timetabling to meet the rest of the regional rail network, this service could start tomorrow, with marginal additional cost” says Mrs Rose. “Surely that’s a better deal for ratepayers and residents than living with crippling congestion for decades until ‘if and when’ budgets and plans are developed?”.

Both Mrs Rose as previous chair of the Auckland Regional Council’s Transport Committee and PTUA co-ordinator Jon Reeves, have been involved with successful rail campaigns such as that which brought rail back to Onehunga. Mr Reeves says “that campaign showed that there will always be opponents of rail development. But in using existing railway lines, diesel rolling stock, and platforms, we save ratepayers money and increase capacity on roading networks for important freight and service vehicles, and we can provide a decent, truly congestion free public transport service now, not in 20 years when it will be too late”.

PTUA propose a ‘Western Connector’ rail service initially offering hourly rail services between Huapai and Swanson from 6am to 8pm daily. This shuttle will connect with the wider Auckland rail network in the exact same fashion as the successful Pukekohe – Papakura rail shuttle service. “The beauty of our solution is it can start immediately as everything is in place and ready to go. Only the will of Auckland Transport is blocking Huapai, Kumeu and Waitakere residents and ratepayers having a rail service.”

The rail service will also encourage visitors to Huapai and Kumeu villages and the cycling community will benefit as they can transport bikes right out west, which is impossible with buses.

“We know the community overwhelmingly see rail as a pragmatic solution to their existing transport needs” says Mrs Rose. “Now we just need to convince the authorities that the public are right”.

As a side note, voices further north are pushing for a total upgrade of the rail line from Swanson to Whangarei to enable tourist passenger trains to operate at faster speeds. While the concept is slightly different to the “Western Connector” commuter service for Huapai, it shows that there is a growing desire by the public for an upgraded rail service, after 40 years of government initiated decline of the passenger rail system.

The Public Transport Users Association are planning a public meeting at the end of May as part of their campaign for rail services to Kumeu. Discussions are underway with Auckland Transport Chairman Lester Levy in the hope he can attend.

Please take the time tofill out or PETITION at the end of the article?

ENDS

Helpful Links

Western Connector proposal details : http://ptua.org.nz/1/2015/03/western-connector

Western Connector Kumeu proposed timeline

23 Mar

Easter Warning For HOP Card Users

No rail for airport

The Public Transport Users Association is warning Auckland Transport HOP card users to be careful this long weekend as they could be overcharged for fares on Rail Replacement buses.
The PTUA brought the issue to the attention of Auckland Transport after faulty HOP card readers on rail replacement buses and connecting trains over Waitangi weekend overcharged passengers.
Jon Reeves, Coordinator for the PTUA, said “We have warned AT that passengers HOP cards have been illegally overcharged on long weekends when rail lines are partially closed down for maintenance, possibly by hundreds of thousands of dollars collectively. AT have not responded to our concerns, so this weekend the PTUA will be checking the fares for HOP users on rail replacement services. If any illegal overcharging occurs then we will be laying a complaint against AT with the Commerce Commission for breaching the Fair Trading Act by charging higher than advertised fares. Aucklanders have been promised a smart HOP card to make transport easier. Unfortunately, it has turned out the HOP card has made it easier for overcharging users and AT have not been forth coming correcting the issue”.
AT needs to advise and refund HOP card users, who are most likely unaware they are being overcharged by as much as double the published fare.  Reeves says “The PTUA have lodged an OIA request and are waiting for AT’s response to find out how many HOP card passengers used rail replacement services in the past 14 months, and how many were overcharged.
The PTUA are asking passengers to check the fare deducted from their HOP cards on journeys this weekend which use buses as full or partial replacement for train services. If they believe they have been over charged, please contact the PTUA with details. HOP card users should pay particular attention on these services which could overcharge your account:
All services on the Western Line will be replaced by rail buses from Good Friday (25 March) to Easter Monday (28 March).
All services on the Southern, Eastern and Onehunga Line will be replaced by rail buses on Good Friday.
Trains are operating between Sylvia Park and Britomart on the Eastern Line on Saturday 26, Sunday 27 and Easter Monday 28 March. All other services will be replaced by buses.
All services on the Southern and Onehunga Line will be replaced by buses on Saturday 26, Sunday 27 and Easter Monday 28 March.

12 Mar

COMMUNITY SUPPORT FOR KUMEU RAIL GROWS

Western Connector Kumeu proposed timeline

Auckland Transport staff were overwhelmed with support for commuter rail services to the greenfields growth area of Huapai and Kumeu at a public ‘drop-in’ session on Thursday night.
Hundreds of disgruntled locals expressed strong frustration that the railway line runs through their town but transport officials canned planned services to the area. Auckland Council and the Government identified the area on the western outskirts of Auckland for accelerated growth as part of Special Housing Area (SHA) development. This adds to existing pressure as thousands of houses replace rural farmland along the rail corridor. The liberalisation of subdivision controls in the area is seeing another 3000 or so houses being built now, and another 3500 estimated through the SHAs.

The Public Transport Users Association have been leading a campaign to have rail reinstated and say despite more than a hundredfold increase in population, there’s been no Council investment in transport infrastructure for years. Local resident and former Auckland Regional Transport Committee chair, Christine Rose, who is also the chair of the Public Transport Users Association, says support for rail passenger services to the area overwhelmed all other transport options under consideration to serve urban development in the area.

‘At the public meeting run by Auckland Transport, there was almost unanimous support from the community for renewed rail services to the area given the infrastructure is already in place, and congestion is strangling traffic on State Highway 16.” “People logically see the uncongested rail corridor which sits in the heart of the community as an efficient use of existing resource”. “They don’t see the need to wait until 2030 for a busway to Westgate or road based solutions to transport constraints. The railway line should be offering connectivity and access to key communities of interest and work, education and recreation destinations in the rest of the Auckland network now.” “Locals know like no-one else, that growth has already outstripped the capacity of existing roading networks and a cost-effective solution exists in rail.”

The Public Transport Users Association proposes a ‘Western Connector’ rail service for the area extending services from the rest of the Auckland rail network at Swanson using spare rolling stock and timetable capacity to meet the high growth area’s transport needs now.

Jon Reeves, PTUA Coordinator says, “Auckland Transport promised a review of the 2012 report which was severely flawed in terms of costings, demand and did not take into consideration the growth caused by the Special Housing Areas in Huapai-Kumeu. So far we have not heard a peep out of Auckland Transport over the review so it looks like we need to reapply public-backed pressure on AT for immediate action. The spare diesel railcars are sitting idle and the station platforms are ready to be used in Waitakere and Huapai now.”
“Auckland Transport promised large savings from operating the new electric trains and they have recently increased fares so we are confident they can find the budget required to operate a Swanson-Huapai “Western Connector” rail shuttle. Auckland Transport are rapidly running out of excuses not to deliver the rail shuttle to the people of Huapai-Kumeu. They already operate diesel railcar shuttles to Pukekohe” Reeves added.
Western Connector details can be found at: http://ptua.org.nz/1/2015/03/western-connector/

Western Connector Timeline Proposal:

Western Connector proposed timeline

Please take the time to fill out our petition for north western rail today:

10 Mar

Rail – Essential Option For High Growth Huapai-Kumeu

Now Auckland Transport and the Rodney Local Board are currently consulting local communities on transport options for dealing with future growth. But the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) is encouraging people to support passenger rail options to Kumeu-Huapai, even in the short term, given the massive growth happening now.

Kumeu-Huapai and nearby Riverhead, were established on the railway line, which continues to traverse its centre. ‘The existing rail line offers good connectivity to key communities of interest in the west and central city’ says PTUA Chair, local resident and former regional transport chair, Christine Rose. ‘But Auckland Transport recently scuttled long-held plans for resumption of rail services to the fast growing area, despite a surplus of rolling stock and timetable capacity to run a service’.

The area is undergoing the current development of several thousand new houses, and over 3500 additional houses have been fast tracked under the Government and Council’s Special Housing Area scheme. State Highway 16 which also bisects the area and runs parallel to the railway line, is already heavily congested for most of the day, and traffic volumes double in the weekend. Locals say congestion paralyses the local economy and their ability to efficiently get to work and educational facilities across the region.

‘The development already occurring in the area has created significant transport pressure,
thwarting the State Highway transport function’ says Mrs Rose. ‘We can’t road build our way out of this congestion given the existing constraints in Kumeu, but rail offers the community a congestion free corridor, available now’. ‘This is a location where rail offers clear advantages over alternatives, both for the present and the future’.

The Rodney Local Board is holding a series of future transport consultation meetings, as it grapples with rapid greenfields growth and an existing infrastructure deficit. PTUA co-ordinator Jon Reeves says ‘Given rates pressures facing the region, it makes sense to use existing resources and infrastructure, such as the North Auckland line and the existing railway stations, to serve high growth communities’. Mrs Rose, who was councillor for the area for 15 years, says ‘the area was chosen for growth because of its proximity to the railway line which was seen as an ideal transport solution for decades’. ‘All that changed in 2012 when AT received a report which condemned rail asan option, based on inaccurate growth projections, costings and timetable scenarios’.

PTUA says there’s considerable community support for passenger rail services to the area, now and in the future, and frustration it’s not already being actively pursued. ‘We encourage residents to have their say, and submit to both the Local Board, Auckland Council and Auckland Transport, at every opportunity, in the interests of transport and rates efficiency both now and in the future’.
Auckland Transport invites feedback on its plans by March 17.

https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/transport-for-future-urban-growth/transport-for-growth-in-north-west-auckland/
Submissions can be made to the Auckland Council Draft Annual Plan until March 24.

26 Jan

Prime Minister Can Solve Auckland’s Traffic Woes

Peak hour north western motorway 2015

The Public Transport Users Association is looking forward to the Prime Minister John Key’s expected announcement tomorrow that the Government will bring funding for the City Rail Link project forward by two years.   This move will allow full construction of the CRL to get underway in 2018, instead of the 2020 date the Government has previously advocated for.

Coordinator of the Public Transport Users Association, Jon Reeves, has welcomed the move. “Bringing construction of the City Rail Link forward will provide an important step change in public transport usage across Auckland. It will allow seamless travel throughout the Auckland rail network and reduce travel times to West Auckland by around 15 minutes. It will also allow for the recently marginalised Northern Explorer service to again depart from Britomart, and enable commuter rail services from Hamilton to arrive in the centre of the Auckland CBD”, Reeves said.

However, the PTUA is aware that the Prime Minister may also choose to promote the completion of the East-West connection between Penrose and Onehunga, at an anticipated cost of over $2 billion. The PTUA would view this call as the government bowing to the demands of the powerful trucking lobby. “An East-West truckway is not what Aucklanders want” Reeves says.  “What Aucklanders have been crying out for decades is a fast rail service to Auckland International Airport. Building the Airport Rail line will move thousands of vehicles out of Onehunga and the surrounding areas by freeing up space for the trucking industry. Building an unnecessary East West truckway first, instead of an airport rail line, is taking a short-sighted approach and lacks common sense.”

Other important public transport projects the PTUA would like to see brought forward are:

  • Extend electrification of the rail line to Pukekohe and Pokeno
  • Extend electrification of the rail line extend from Swanson to Huapai to provide reliable and efficient public transport options for this rapidly expanding residential area
  • Extension of the highly successful Northern Busway to Silverdale
  • Construction of the Nor West Busway to Westgate
  • Funding to build a busway from Panmure to East Auckland
  • NZTA funding of public buses from Warkworth to Silverdale
  • Funding of specialist Police unit dedicated to public transport

Fast-tracking these important public transport projects will deliver far better solutions to Auckland’s transport issues than throwing more money at plans for yet more unsustainable motorway expansion. For 65 years Auckland has been building motorways as the city has sprawled, and today the roads are more gridlocked than ever.  Recent and future housing development in areas unsupported by good public transport infrastructure is only adding to the problem. Sustainable solutions that work to move people out of cars and onto reliable, frequent and efficient public transport are the only way forward.

The PTUA hopes to see some of this thinking reflected in the Prime Ministers announcement tomorrow.

ENDS