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.

28 Apr

Western Connector Trains Gathers Steam

Waitakere and Huapai Kumeu trains

Image courtesy of M KilgourRepresentatives from the Public Transport Users Association say they were “listened to, but not heard” at their presentation to the Auckland Transport Board meeting today. The group’s Chairwoman Christine Rose and Co-ordinator, Jon Reeves, today took their concept of the ‘Western Connector’ to the Board for the first time.

The Western Connector seeks to retain existing rail services to Waitakere township and extend them to the growth areas of Huapai-Kumeu, using existing rail lines, stations, rolling stock and other infrastructure.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN OUR PETITION TO RETAIN EXISTING SERVICES TO WAITAKERE & FURTHER EXTEND THEM TO SERVICES THE FAST GROWING HUAPAI-KUMEU AREA!

The plan to kill current services to Waitakere and long-planned extended services to Huapai-Kumeu was made last year. The Public Transport Users Association says that decision was based on false, outdated information, with inflated and gold plated costs. Their critique of the report, and huge development occurring in the area leads them to ask the report be reviewed, before the current services to Waitakere are cancelled in early July.

Auckland Transport acknowledges the report needs to be reviewed, with fresh analysis of the case for retained and extended services in light of the Special Housing Areas bringing an extra 2,500 houses to Kumeu-Huapai.

But PTUA say it’s premature to cancel the service with all the growth occurring and given peoples’ current transport needs. Christine Rose, a Kumeu resident and long term public transport user, says ‘The Waitakere service has been run down, with over 1400 services cancelled last year. But that’s no excuse to stop the service altogether. The existing and future residents of the “far-west” need reliable, comfortable and direct rail services to key employment, education and commercial centres.

In all aspects, rail provides a superior service to the west than buses. These services should be put in place while the planning for massive growth in the area proceeds – especially since much of the growth is adjacent to the currently moth-balled Huapai station”.

PTUA co-ordinator Jon Reeves says “We were somewhat disappointed at the reception we received from the AT Board. While they agreed a review of the report was required, they failed to engage with our proposal”. “We understand a review of the report is scheduled for October, but we believe this is a premature decision which undermines the need for transport services, reliability, regional rail equity and integrated transport and land use”.

Mr Reeves says “we know we have the public mandate for this campaign, and more and more local politicians are in support – including the Waitakere Ranges Local Board, Waitakere Councillors, Rodney Local Board members, and Auckland Council’s Infrastructure Committee”.

Mrs Rose adds, “Our campaign is gathering steam – and despite the ambivalence from the AT Board, we have more campaign initiatives in the wings, we won’t give up our efforts to ensure the area has the public transport services it deserves – using existing lines, assets and infrastructure”.

Mr Reeves says “we know we have the public mandate for this campaign, and more and more local politicians are in support – including the Waitakere Ranges Local Board, Waitakere Councillors, Rodney Local Board members, and Auckland Council’s Infrastructure Committee”.

Mrs Rose adds, “Our campaign is gathering steam – and despite the ambivalence from the AT Board, we have more campaign initiatives in the wings, we won’t give up our efforts to ensure the area has the public transport services it deserves – using existing lines, assets and infrastructure”.

ENDS

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