NZTA Have NOT Ruled Out Starting City Centre to Mangere Light Rail from Airport End First, Queen Street End won’t start until AFTER 2021

Something is smouldering but it has not set the smoke alarm off just yet

It is a case of multiple but parallel threads all moving together before they start intertwining (and then often making a rather large fire that everyone does then notice). The subject? City Centre to Mangere Light Rail or simply known as CC2M for short. 

CC2M is the Light Rail project from the City Centre (Queen Street) to the Airport via Dominion Road, Onehunga and Mangere. It is designed to allow a large part of the Isthmus and Mangere in the South to be connected to a rapid transit network other areas of Auckland already enjoy (the Northern Busway and the heavy rail lines) and get around congestion free. 

CC2M is meant to be Auckland’s first light rail project at a price tag of around $4b at this point in time. The Line will be starting from Queen Street and making its way to the Airport – or will it?

NZTA refuse to rule out starting CC2M from the Airport/Mangere end

It has been stated in the past that owing to several factors (the heightened risk at the City Centre end, the CRL, America’s Cup and getting one of Auckland’s more socio-economically deprived areas linked into the transit system first) that City Centre to Mangere Light Rail should start from the Airport end first go through Mangere and finally meet up with the Onehunga Line at Onehunga Station. From there as a ‘Stage 2’ you can continue to the City Centre. The beauty of doing this is not only is Mangere finally connected to the massive employment centre at the Airport it is also connected to the Onehunga Line to head to the City Centre. As a BONUS starting City Centre to Mangere at the Airport end also means it can also plug straight into the Airport to Botany Rapid Transit Line as well thus really open up Southern Auckland to rapid transit. 

Light Rail to Airport and Manukau Source: Auckland Transport and NZTA

Of course I have covered this in the past as linked below:

Northern Airport Line (Central Line) Accelerated? Auckland Transport Say Extremely Risky While CRL is being Built

We are doing the Airport Lines All Wrong. Start from the Airport not from the City Centres

Where to Place the Light Rail Depot for the Northern Airport Line?

I had written those posts in April and one would think given December is now here that the above issues would be sorted – right? Well if the City Rail Link Fallacy posts I wrote and was ridiculed for in 2013 (and in the end was proven correct on cost and time blow outs) is anything to go by then no our authorities and some activists have not learned a thing and we are looking at again a blow out of 1.5x in terms of cost and project completion. 

In going back over the above three posts indeed those parallel threads are starting to come together. That is the risks I wrote on (from an Auckland Transport report) are still very valid while it seems NZTA have NOT ruled out starting CC2M from the Airport end first. 

The opening lines from Auckland Council’s Chief Planner reveal the NZTA matter very quickly:

Auckland Council Planning Committee, November 27. CC2M item

To repeat: no decision calls have been made about starting CC2M from the Mangere/Airport end (just as NZTA keep couching all Airport to Botany Rapid Transit language as Light Rail) HOWEVER, no work on the Queen Street end of CC2M will start until after the America’s Cup in 2021. 

Airport to Botany is currently out for consultation at the moment with Stage 1 set for completion by 2021 (see: Airport to Botany Rapid Transit (A2B) Including Manukau Route Selection Open For Consultation).

A2B plus 20connect Source: NZTA

Councillor Fletcher at the 7:45min mark of the above video also raised concerns about the disruption CC2M will cause but more specifically not knowing which end the project would start!

Fletcher goes on in that item talking about the entirely opaque processes from NZTA and Auckland Transport on CC2M – a main reason why we get items like the one in Newsroom last week. Not having elected officials at Ward or Local Board level with CC2M is inviting absolute disaster further down the track when public buy was needed long ago.

Ironically Airport to Botany (A2B) has been more open and transparent (including briefings to Local Boards) with the first of many consultations under way at the moment. On the pace of A2B? Bit slower than I like. 

The following was resolved at the Planning Committee last week:

City Centre to Māngere Light Rail Update – continued

The following motion was considered separately with the agreement of the meeting.

Resolution number PLA/2018/132

MOVED by Cr C Casey, seconded by Cr C Fletcher:  

That the Planning Committee:

d)          communicate to the Minister of Transport that Auckland Council elected members expect to have early and meaningful engagement with relevant Ministers on the City Centre to Māngere Light Rail project, given the impact and disruption it will have on Auckland and its communities.

CARRIED

For clarity the resolution for Item 14 – City Centre to Māngere Light Rail Updatereads as follows:

That the Planning Committee:

a)          note that the New Zealand Transport Agency has been confirmed as the lead delivery agency for the City Centre to Māngere light rail project.

b)          support Auckland Council’s ongoing involvement in the project, including strategic input, urban planning, streetscape design, regulatory advice, and supporting engagement with relevant local boards and ward councillors, mana whenua/mataawaka and the community.

c)          request regular updates during the project development, either via reports, workshops or memos.

d)       communicate to the Minister of Transport that Auckland Council elected members expect to have early and meaningful engagement with relevant Ministers on the City Centre to Māngere Light Rail project, given the impact and disruption it will have on Auckland and its communities.

With CC2M there is smoke smouldering but it has not set the smoke alarm off just yet…

City Centre to Mangere Light Rail. Source: Auckland Transport
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