There's no silver bullet to solve all the public transport and congestion issues in AKL. In my mind Light Rail was a two birds one stone approach and offered little for the Airport. In all honesty, I can't see how LR won a cost to benefit ratio over something like electric buses provided by Sky Bus when looking at the cost of the extension.
I have nothing against LR itself, and the residents of in inner city suburbs can't rely on cars and diesel buses forever so something will need to be done here at some point. But I don't think we can solve both issues with one solution.
To your points which I clearly see you hold extensive knowledge on.
- You say "rip the heart out of communities in South Auckland" One would assume any branch would come off the main line south of Puhinui given that's being developed into a transport hub. This is almost all industrial so not so much a community.
- I'm not sure how it will lead to congestion in the CRL. There's working being done now between Otahuhu and Wiri to increase overall network capacity and the CRL is set to double Britomarts capacity. No point doubling it if we don't then use it or is that extra capacity reserved for the Western and Southern lines only. I'd also be interested to know if or how the Onehunga and Manukau branches are impacted/involved? Long term is is Britomart - Onehunga - Airport - Puhinui - Manukau? rainy day idea there.
- You say the two HR lines and post COVID. Well the first one is set for 2026, 6 years away and there will be slippage, the second what 5+ years on that. So potentially over a decade away. If that still COVID recovery stimulus money ?
To be honest, I agree with you and I don't see National winning let alone doing these projects..
I'm still in favor of an autonomous "skytrain" from Puhinui.
"Puhinui > Domestic > International > Rental Cars > Long Term Car Parking > Commercial"
A few comments on the options to clarify:Airport-Puhinui HR link:
Talked up by NZ First and now National, but it's by no means as straightforward as may first appear. Assuming the line branches south of Puhinui (otherwise that massive new station now under construction will be completely valueless) it will go through an industrial area, sure, but when you look at the aerial photos, it's about as densely packed industrial area you'll see anywhere. Property purchases will be a complete nightmare and will take literally years to finalise. Then there's the big issue of crossing the SW Motorway. Sure, let's trench it either side, or build a bridge, To achieve acceptable grades, either a trench or a bridge would need to be at least a kilometre long (the New Lynn rail trench is about 1.1 km), and would cost a fortune. The New Lynn trench cost $300m about a decade ago, and I can imagine that we would be looking at at least $500m just to cross the motorway at Puhinui. Then the train would continue along the Southern Line to Otahuhu, effectively adding a third service to the two lines that are already planned for that stretch - this extra capacity is effectively wasted and yields no benefits at all for the network. The train would probably then travel to Britomart via Panmure and terminate at Britomart to avoid overly congesting the CRL, which is already expected to reach capacity when the existing
lines are given modest frequency increases. And the Puhinui link does nothing whatsoever to address the bigger problem for Auckland's public transport - we have very little "net" in our "network".Airport-Onehunga HR link
: This was AT and NZTA's previous favoured route before light rail was considered. It has a relatively easy route alongside the motorway, though it would still encounter a significant industrial area which would either have to be cut through or tunnelled under, both of which add to the expense. As an extension of the Onehunga line it's a much more efficient use of the network (you'd be adding a few stops to an existing line and double tracking from Onehunga to Penrose). The Mangere Bridge is designed to carry a single
track underneath the existing deck IIRC. But AT have long made clear that you can't run a frequent service to an important destination like the airport with a single track section of line - it would cause endless delays and frustrations for passengers, so a new bridge would be apparently required. IMHO the smart thing to do, whatever mode was chosen, would have been to accommodate rail on the new Mangere pedestrian bridge, which is mostly causeway anyway. But for reasons which are unclear to me, a high bridge is preferred. The removal of the Nelson St overbridge a few years ago also makes this option more difficult.Airport-Onehunga-Dominion Rd Light Rail link:
This has been extensively discussed before, so I won't repeat all the arguments. It is the option that AT and NZTA settled on after literally years of reports, discussions and benefit/cost analyses, and provides the best outcome for the AT network as a whole (and therefore for the region), by a country mile, as well as addressing PT needs in the isthmus and Mangere areas. It's undeniably not as good for airport passengers (though it's far better than the other options for airport industrial estate workers).Airport-Onehunga-Dominion Rd Light Metro link:
This is the option that Labour seems fixated on, and has most of the advantages of light rail and better speed. However, it will require at least 8 km and probably 10 km of tunnelling under the isthmus and would be prohibitively expensive. Assuming they go for cut-and-cover (much cheaper than bored tunnelling) it would disrupt Dominion Road for literally years. The proposed Quebec pension fund ownership also grates a bit with me.
In my view National and NZ First are proposing a solution which will (initially) add only one station to the network, the airport, probably at a cost of more than $1 billion all-up. Labour are proposing a better solution which will be hard to achieve a realistic benefit/cost ratio. Light rail (still favoured by the Greens?) has most of the advantages of Labour's light metro idea, but at a much, much lower cost.
Let's not forget Skybus. It's an excellent limited stop service which is almost as fast as light rail or heavy rail would be apart from peak periods. Trouble is, it's just not sexy, and I think the perceived sexiness of the options is what is now driving a lot of the discussion. The big problem in my view is that the loudest voices on this issue are now the politicians (principally NZ First, Labour and National) who are not thinking about what's best for Auckland but are principally thinking about perceived electoral advantage. When AT and NZTA were calling the shots those considerations were not part of the mix. And once again, it should NOT be the case that the needs of airport users should outweigh the interests of the rest of Auckland. That would be just plain wrong.
This is not my beautiful house . . . This is not my beautiful wife