Auck­land Air­port light rail con­firmed

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JAMES PASLEY

Urgent ac­tion is needed to im­prove mass tran­sit to Auck­land In­ter­na­tional Air­port, in­clud­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of light rail from the city cen­tre, Auck­land Trans­port says.

On Fri­day NZTA and Auck­land Coun­cil con­trolled or­gan­i­sa­tion Auck­land Trans­port (AT) said there would be a staged tran­si­tion from bus to light rail tran­sit from the air­port to the city cen­tre.

Do­min­ion Rd was con­firmed as the pre­ferred route.

Auck­land Coun­cil did not say when the tran­si­tion would be­gin. The tim­ing for the tran­si­tion would be based on de­mand, ca­pac­ity and fund­ing.

The an­nounce­ment comes af­ter NZTA an­nounced in June last year that heavy rail from the air­port to cen­tral city was off the cards be­cause it was too ex­pen­sive and dif­fi­cult.

In Septem­ber AT es­ti­mated light rail would cost about $1 bil­lion com­pared to $2.2 bil­lion for heavy rail.

In De­cem­ber Labour Trans­port spokes­woman Sue Moroney said traf­fic to and from Auck­land Air­port was like trav­el­ling in a third world coun­try.

In 2014 the air­port re­vealed an ‘‘air­port of the fu­ture’’ 30-year vi­sion, which in­cludes con­nect­ing the do­mes­tic ter­mi­nal to the in­ter­na­tional ter­mi­nal, con­struc­tion of a sec­ond run­way by 2025 and build- ing in­fra­struc­ture to ac­com­mo­date rail trans­port.

Be­fore mak­ing the tran­si­tion to light rail short-term changes could in­clude higher ca­pac­ity buses and a ded­i­cated bus mass tran­sit right of way, NZTA said.

Auck­land Mayor Phil Goff ‘‘wel­comed’’ gov­ern­ment and coun­cil agree­ment on the need for light rail from the air­port to city.

‘‘This is the first time there’s been an ex­plicit agree­ment,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re get­ting nearly 18 mil­lion pas­sen­ger ar­rivals a year at Auck­land Air­port, so a mass tran­sit al­ter­na­tive to the grow­ing grid­lock is ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal.’’

Goff said what will trig­ger the need to move from buses to light rail will be set out in a re­port due later this year.

NZTA and AT will work with coun­cil and Auck­land Air­port to de­velop and im­ple­ment short-term ac­cess im­prove­ments to the air­port.

Trans­port blog’s Matt Lowrie said he wor­ried the light rail would come too late.

‘‘We need this and other routes built and built sooner than cur­rently planned,’’ Lowrie said.

SUPPLIED

There is cur­rently no rail trans­port to Auck­land In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

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