Town half the size of Southern Auckland has functioning viable Light Rail
I saw the following Tweet come up on my feed over the weekend and thought if they can have light rail then nothing stopping the South having light rail either. That tweet was:
A further look from the drivers cab of one of the units:
Basically if Newcastle, New South Wales at 320,000 people can get a basic light rail system (that can also be expanded) then why does Southern Auckland 550,000 (Auckland as a whole is 1.75 million), Wellington 207,000 (or 422,000 in the Wellington Region) and Christchurch at 381,000 (or 396,000 for the region) have to put the begging bowl out to also get light rail transit to help the respective areas move along?
Light rail from Wellington Central Station to their Airport would form a nice central transit spine relieving the area of bus sausage (congestion) and car congestion between the two major transport points. Light rail running east-west and north-south with both meeting in the middle of Christchurch City Centre would help Christchurch move (that does not include using a car) as it continues to rebound. Of course Southern Auckland getting light rail presents boundless opportunities as well: Enhancing the Southern Auckland Transit Network – By Expanding Rapid Transit Network South.
The question is then why the excuses around Southern Auckland (outside of City Centre to Mangere Light Rail), Wellington and Christchurch having to put the begging bowl out for Light Rail Transit when they all have similar or larger populations to New South Wales? In short? There is none! The lack of population density or numbers to support such a scheme often touted by other groups like Greater Auckland is an irrelevant one providing you treat Light Rail as an Urban Geography project not a pure engineering transport to move people project.
Remember as I have written before (most recent here: Weymouth Light Rail? Silly? Actually No as it would provide massive boost to area and Auckland as a whole!) it is more than just backsides on seats, it also comes down to amenity and intrinsic values placed with Light Rail. With LRT it catalyses greater amenity and thus encourages greater intensification and urban renewal. Busses including those stupid trackless trams aka a gloried bendy bus will never give off those same amenity and intrinsic values as LRT would so trying for Bus Rapid Transit through the guts of an urban area (the Northern Busway runs parallel to a motorway not through an urban area) is pretty much insulting those urban areas wanting better amenity and renewal prospects. Also as been stated in the past busses and bus rapid transit requires tarmac which means stormwater run off management is needed compared to LRT which can be placed on grass medians (natural runoff and filtration). See: Guest Post: Auckland’s Urban Freshwater – our transport future? (Part 3)
SO! If Newcastle in New South Wales can run light rail (and for that matter the Gold Coast in Queensland can light rail) with smaller populations than Southern Auckland or similar populations to our other cities in New Zealand then there is no reason why the South, Wellington and Christchurch can not build and run Light Rail as well. The Airport to Botany (A2B) can be Light Rail starting from the Airport end to Manukau by 2024 and then out to Botany by 2026 (in time for the Eastern Busway reaching Botany). There is no reason for Wellington and Christchurch to NOT also have their’s in place by 2028 as well.
Procrastination – the biggest killer of us all in this rapid changing world!