Rail slated for Auckland’s North Shore
Transport agencies expect to select a preferred mode of rail line through the North Shore this year.
A joint statement from Auckland Transport (AT) and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) says a decision on upgrading Auckland’s Northern Busway should be made in 2017 and it will be rail, not more buses.
A time frame on when this rail upgrade will occur has still not been set.
‘‘It is expected that progress on the selection of a preferred rail mode will be made this year, followed by further work on the likely alignment and timing,’’ AT and NZTA say.
‘‘This work is identifying the potential rail modes that may be considered in the long term.
‘‘This investigation is considering both light rail and heavy rail, as well as variations using both.’’
The decision on rail comes in response to recent AT projections the Northern Busway will reach its capacity in 2026 - 20 years earlier than originally expected.
In AT’s September 2016 North Shore Rapid Transit Network (RTN) strategic case, it projects, by 2026, increased patronage on the Northern Busway will ‘‘manifest in overcapacity conditions‘‘ at Albany, Sunnynook and Akoranga bus stations.
However, the joint AT/NZTA statement insists no ‘‘definitive date’’ is known when the busway will be full, but planning for a ‘‘post-busway system’’ was under way.
‘‘When the busway opened, this [its capacity] had been expected to be beyond 2046 but, following greater than anticipated customer growth, the North Shore RTN study highlighted the busway will come under increasing pressure earlier.’’
Interim improvements to the busway prior to a rail upgrade could include: lengthening bus station platforms, improving ticketing technologies, and creating a new operating centre to manage bus flow.
Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter says North Shore rail still needs financial backing from the Government to happen or ‘‘there’s still a huge risk it won’t be started in time.’’
Auckland Transport media manager Mark Hannan stressed any rail upgrade to the Northern Busway could not occur before the Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing was built - projected anywhere from 2030 to 2048.