Trams project back on list

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By JESS LEE

SHOULD Auck­land Coun­cil more money on trams?

That’s the ques­tion elected of­fi­cials are ask­ing them­selves as they pon­der plans to run a ser­vice be­tween Wynyard Quar­ter and Brit­o­mart.

A tram al­ready op­er­ates as a tourist at­trac­tion at Wynyard Quar­ter but its lower than fore­cast pa­tron­age has come un­der fire.

Water­front Auck­land spokesman Luke Hen­shall says funds set aside for an ex­panded scheme in coun­cil’s draft 2014/15 bud­get but may not be re­quired if work doesn’t go ahead in the short term.

‘‘It’s still very early days in the trans­port plan­ning and there’s no clear in­di­ca­tion of tim­ing yet,’’ he says.

Build­ing a light rail or tram ser­vice be­tween Wynyard Quar­ter and the cen­tral city was first sig­nalled by Water­front Auck­land in 2011 as a way of re­duc­ing the num­ber of cars on the water­front.

The ex­ist­ing ser­vice has been sus­pended un­til the end of next year while Daldy and Halsey streets are up­graded.

The con­cept and fund­ing of the new plans are sep­a­rate to the ex­ist­ing her­itage loop, Mr Hen­shall says.

‘‘This will be pri­mar­ily used as a form of pub­lic trans­port us­ing light rail or mod­ern trams to sup­port the re­gional pub­lic trans­port net­work.’’

Coun­cil­lor Cameron Brewer says he was sur­prised to see the tram ex­ten­sion project reap­pear on the list of coun­cil ex­pen­di­ture for 2014/15.

Fund­ing does not need to hap­pen for the next fi­nan­cial year, he says.

‘‘I can see the merit in the her­itage loop even­tu­ally con­nect­ing to Brit­o­mart but we need to hold the plan on the trams un­til we get more peo­ple, busi­nesses and apart­ments down there

‘‘If I had my way that fund­ing would go to­wards com­plet­ing the cy­cle­way and walk­way to link Ta­maki Drive.’’

But Western Bays ad­vo­cate Ge­off Hout­man says there has been enough talk about the tram ex­ten­sion and peo­ple now want ac­tion.

He was among the voices call­ing for an ex­tended line to be con­sid­ered to con­nect the cen­tral city with Wynyard Quar­ter, Pon­sonby Rd, Great North Rd and Mo­tat three years ago (Auck­land City Har­bour News, July 14, 2010).

‘‘If one of those con­nec­tions is more im­por­tant, say the Wynyard to Brit­o­mart, then get it hap­pen­ing be­cause there’s noth­ing hap­pen­ing at the mo­ment,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s re­ally good pub­lic and tourist trans­port. We get all th­ese tourists com­ing to Auck­land and we need to give them some­thing to do.

‘‘If a tram’s a waste of money then what’s more mo­tor­way links? That’s not the an­swer.’’

spend

All aboard? Plans to con­nect a tram line from Brit­o­mart to Wynyard Quar­ter’s her­itage tram loop are not any closer to fruition.

Cameron Brewer

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