SLOW TRAM VS SMART PLAN

A group of organisations is calling for the Government to halt plans for the costly slow tram between Downtown Auckland and the airport via Mangere and for Trains to Huapai and bus lanes to replace the Government’s now cancelled tram to Westgate and Kumeu.

Led by the Public Transport Users Association and NZ Transport 2050, the groups want the estimated $6 billion estimated cost of the tram systems to be used more efficiently, by expanding the existing railway network and improving bus lanes on the SH16 motorway route for a significantly lower price tag, with faster delivery.

A public campaign gets underway this Wednesday 1st May, with ads running in the New Zealand Herald entitled “Auckland deserves better value from Government transport spend”. The campaign highlights sensible transport solutions, a ‘Smart Plan’, which the Government refuses to consider, compared with how much it wants to spend on a slow airport to city tram line, and the illusionary West Auckland tram to Kumeu. For significantly lesser amounts many alternative public transport projects could be constructed benefiting hundreds of thousands of more Aucklanders get to jobs, housing, recreation and to the country’s largest international airport.

The Smart Plan projects include:

  • Extending commuter trains to Huapai.
  • We have the rail infrastructure let’s use it. Stations and Park and Ride facilities are already built and lie unused at Waitakere and Huapai railway stations. Auckland Transport already own unused diesel passenger trains, which with some relatively minor upgrading would be permitted to travel through Waitakere tunnel under new Health and Safety regulations. With upgrades to the line for the Governments Northport project electrification extension could be possible in the future.
  • Constructing a rapid airport railway link between Wiri and the airport. Providing a fast, low-cost rail connection from the whole of the rail network to the growing airport and industrial zone. Additionally, allowing for freight to be moved by rail to the industrial area.
  • Expanding New Rail services to Mount Roskill and the Airport from the west, leveraging the proposed Northport freight line (Avondale to Southdown extension) We can use the proposed freight rail diversion to the CRL to deliver passenger services to link work, employment and urban regeneration with existing rail technology
  • Adding express rail services to South Auckland with the Government’s planned 3rd and 4th rail lines expansion. Effective public transport is not just about providing any form of service; it needs to be a timely and true alternative to a car. Express journey times from Pokeno, Tuakau, Pukekohe to Newmarket, the airport and the city provides true work-life options for many more Aucklanders
  • Investigating busway options between the city and Westgate alongside the North West Motorway. The Northern Busway has provided a highly effective option for Northern commuters. Let’s look to leverage this for the growing North West. Alternatively, we propose investigations into using an existing motorway lane at peak periods for express bus services to and from the city. Potentially bus stations could be built in route.
  • Utilising investment in the City Rail Link. With billions invested in this major project the Governments Slow Tram plan makes zero use of the new central Auckland rail tunnel.

Jon Reeves, National Coordinator of the Public Transport Users Association says “Unfortunately political egos are getting in the way of sensible public transport decisions for Auckland. We could build a list of truly worthwhile public transport improvements, or we can have the slow tram from the city to the airport in 10 years.”

NZ Transport 2050 Chair, Paul Miller says ” Our groups have spoken with airport workers, travellers and business owners along the slow tram route, and with residents of West Auckland and many Local Boards around Auckland. They want solutions that will help the majority of Aucklanders, something that the slow tram won’t deliver. What’s worse is, the Transport Minister has told us that the tram line is a priority, yet there is no business case and very little public support to justify it. All we know is the tram cost has jumped from $1.2 billion in 2015 to over $4 billion now, before the project has even started. Why should all of Auckland be forced to fund through rates, asset sales and petrol taxes for this white elephant while sensible projects Aucklanders actually want and can be easily justified be completely ignored the Minister of Transport.”

The Rail and Maritime Transport Union has also joined in the campaign to highlight the slow tram plan is not the best investment for Auckland. Wayne Butson, General Secretary of the RMTU, said “No one but a small bunch of individuals residing in Central Auckland seem to want this light rail tram. We want the Government to be honest, admit that it has never studied a railway from Wiri to the airport, so therefore, should not make any hasty decisions on a slow light rail tram to the airport. Our members do not support this $6 billion tram idea because it’s going to fail while Auckland’s traffic gets increasingly worse. For Nor-West Auckland there is a partial solution available now, extend commuter trains to Huapai”.

In the lead up to this year’s local body elections the combined groups will be hosting a number of public meetings around Auckland, including in West Auckland to highlight the poor value for money the slow airport tram presents and the fact the Government will not even commit to a low-cost extension of commuter trains to Huapai.

About:

The Public Transport Users Association is a non-politically aligned volunteer lobby group representing current and future users of buses, trains and ferries.

Partners of this campaign are:

  • Public Transport Users Association
  • NZ Transport 2050 Inc
  • Rail and Maritime Transport Union

MEDIA CONTACTS:
PTUA:
Jon Reeves, National Coordinator, Phone 021 529 404 / ptusers@outlook.com
Christine Rose, Chair, Phone 021 056 3784, christine.rose25@gmail.com

NZ Transport 2050: Paul Miller, Chair, Phone 021 648 152 / start.advocate@gmail.com

Rail and Maritime Transport Union: Wayne Butson, General Secretary, Phone 027 496 2461 / wbutson@rmtunion.org.nz
Websites:

Trainstohuapai.org // PTUA.org.nz
Facebook:

  • START- Straight To Airport Rapid Trains
  • Public Transport Users Association ? NZ
  • Trains To Huapai

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