Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Is light rail the answer to Auckland’s transport crisis?


“Despite an announcement about plans for Auckland light rail being imminent, the fact of the matter is Aucklanders would still prefer better road connections in the city over a promise of light rail,” says ACT Transport spokesperson Simon Court.

“There is a need for better public transport in Auckland, just as in any big city, but that mustn’t come at the cost of how most people will continue to move around.

“The roading network already connects communities, workers and businesses and provides corridors for public transport.

“But newer and growing communities in the west, south and further north of Auckland depend on two-lane roads totally unsuited for their current traffic and freight volumes, let alone public transport and future growth. 

“Many of these areas are zoned for higher density housing, which is why residents already find themselves stuck in traffic for hours.

“Tradies struggle to get to more than one job in a day. Truck drivers who used to do four to five trips around the city a day 10 years ago now plan for three trips, but due to congestion, sometimes only manage two. 

“The Government knows most journeys will continue to be by private motor vehicle for decades to come, whether powered by battery or hydrogen fuel cell.

“Their priority should be expanding the existing road capacity to deliver basic public transport, as well as free flowing corridors for freight distribution and commercial use.

“Cabinet needed to ask itself the following questions when considering its light rail ambitions:

  • what is the problem we are trying to solve with a light rail scheme?
  • is there a strong case that light rail is a better option than building better roads?

“The public deserves a Government that is honest about evaluating those questions, and whatever it concludes it must be clear about estimated costs and how long it will take to deliver.

“Finally, this time Cabinet needs to have evaluated a proper, independently reviewed business case.

“We can’t afford a repeat of the fiasco of the last three years.”

ENDS