Light Rail and Urban Transformation – A Video from the Building Nations 2018 Symposium. I Have Questions.

Did Anyone include when Light Rail Runs Through a Metropolitan Centre?

The answer to that question and on Mixed Use zoning/housing was no. The result? We get a two dimensional look at how Light Rail can be used to spur on urban regeneration in places like Mangere. 

I listened to this Panel discussion around Light Rail spurring on urban regeneration given this intense focus on City Centre to Mangere Light Rail impacting the Mangere community itself. 

The panel discussion left me cold. This talk about Value Capture Taxes or a flat rate levy on properties, the lack of acknowledge on the heterogeneous multi use zones/housing, and the focus on solely on bums on a tram has me wonder if there is a full appreciation of what Light Rail can deliver for both Mangere AND the Airport to Botany Line (A2B)?

Northern Airport Line Layout: Source: Auckland Transport

Light Rail is a Community Builder

This applies to both CC2M (City Centre to Mangere) and Airport to Botany (A2B): The Southern Airport Line – More than a Light Rail Line – A Community and City Builder Too!

A2B also offers lessons for CC2M Light Rail especially as A2B has two Metropolitan Centres which gives very different diverse Urban Geographic dynamics as well: Airport to Botany Rapid Transit Offers Salient Lessons for City Centre to Mangere Light Rail


Point One – Community Building or rather City Building:

As NZ Transport Agency continues the processes with City Centre to Mangere/Airport LightRail , its southern sibling – Airport to Botany RapidTransit via Manukau and Puhinui Station handed by Auckland Transport throws up so interesting questions around integrated developments or more to the point community building.

The Southern Airport Line – More than a Light Rail Line – A Community and City Builder Too!

Point Two: Transit Orientated Developments, how to get best bang for buck:

TransitOrientatedDevelopments or IntegratedPlanning have picked up a lot of attention recently in Auckland as the Government Policy Statement makes it very clear on delivering both in urban areas.  Again while NZ Transport Agency continue to work on the processes for City Centre to Mangere/Airport LightRail , again its southern sibling that is Airport to Botany RapidTransit offers insights how to implement TODs or Integrated Planning effectively. It is more than just about a transit line, it is also about consequences to the existing hashtag#UrbanGeography and the future Urban Geography around those lines.

The Southern Airport Line and Transit Orientated Developments. Rethinking Transit and Developments in Auckland

Point Three: Metropolitan Centres – how our second and third ranked Centres can make or break a Transit Line:

Finally one thing NZ Transport Agency will need to work out with City Centre to Mangere LightRail is the zoning of land around the corridor. Most of it is single use zone (residential and the odd bit of industry) with any multi use not until you get close to the City Centre end of the line. Airport to Botany RapidTransit however, has two Metropolitan Centres (CC2M has none) and the surrounding is multi use zones beyond that.  As it was explained in a recent presentation I later wrote on, single use zoned land makes Transit Lines hard to be viable to their full extent (unlike multi use zones). So simply put could Metropolitan Centres make or break RapidTransit especially with accessibility and social equity.

UPDATED: Urban Geography Thoughts on City Centre to Airport Light Rail, and Airport to Botany Rapid Transit

Airport to Botany Rapid Transit Source: Auckland Transport

A2B makes the perfect demonstration (Light Rail) to implement or build what is called First Of Its Class. That term is used for US Naval ships where the first ship or sub of a new class takes slightly longer than its successors as mistakes and shortcomings in design that show up in the field but not on paper are revealed. 

Airport to Botany is not politically charged as City Centre to Mangere to the point the community (Puhinui, Manukau, Otara, Botany, Wiri, Homai, Manurewa and Papakura) WANT THE Line (as Light Rail) and wish authorities would HURRY UP! 

If you have a community willing to put up with the inconvenience of construction so that they get a decent transit connection A2B would offer then Minister Twyford needs to adjust priorities to make it happen!

Airport and bus line up Source:

Let A2B be the demonstration line, the first of its class where we can work mistakes and shortcomings out in a community environment that is willing and accepting – not one that is hostile as Dominion Road is!

In my UPDATED: Urban Geography Thoughts on City Centre to Airport Light Rail, and Airport to Botany Rapid Transit post I drew on experiences with Edmonton Light Rail and its lessons it can teach Auckland. This is mainly around the use of surrounding land and whether the zones are single use or multi use. 

The issue of land or rather Urban Geography would be a reason (but not the sole reason) that I gave my presentation the Planning Committee earlier this week: Affordable Housing – A Presentation on Typology and How We Can Not Forget Transport in the Affordability Equation

Finally has anyone looked at Green LRT? If not I recommend going here: Bus Rapid Transit and Light Rail – What is the Difference?

Source: @TransitSleuth

Why would you replace already existing grass medians inside a Metropolitan Centre with tarmac that would worsen run off? The answer is you do NOT hence move away from just focusing on bums on a tram and look at the wider environmental consequences including runoff. Green LRT using existing grass medians would seem logical when handling urban run off compared to a bus way!

We need to change our mindset around the delivery of our expanding Rapid Transit Network. Airport to Botany must be light rail, it is the perfect demonstration Line, and it has wide community support compared to City Centre to Mangere. 

Lessons learned from A2B can be applied to CC2M (a more highly politically charged project) to avoid the blowouts Sydney has faced with their light rail!