High Intererst in Rail Proposals for Western Growth Areas
Public Interest High in Rail Proposals for Western Growth Areas
Public interest is high in proposals for improved public rail transport to Auckland’s western growth areas of Huapai-Kumeu, and retention of current services to Waitakere.
The Public Transport Users Association, (PTUA), organisers of a meeting being held in Kumeu tonight, Monday 23 March at 7.30 are expecting good crowds as they present the case for their rail service proposal dubbed ‘the Western Connector’.
Huapai-Kumeu is experiencing massive growth as at least two ‘Special Housing Areas’ zone up to 2500 new houses. This is on top of the current expansion of these and surrounding communities which is already seeing the population of these areas expand by several thousand homes. Despite a railway line running through Huapai-Kumeu, existing stations built in 2009 sitting idle, and imminent surplus rolling stock, no rail services are planned for the area.
Local resident and PTUA Chairwoman, Christine Rose, says her organisation has plans to change that, even if Auckland Transport doesn’t, yet. “Working with rail experts, we’ve devised a solution to traffic congestion in the western corridor – hourly rail services using existing infrastructure at marginal cost on a congestion free route”.
PTUA co-ordinator, Jon Reeves says “We challenge Auckland Transport (AT) arguments that these services would be too expensive. Our own analysis shows AT’s costs were over-inflated and gold-plated’. “Our proposal, the ‘Western Connector’ is a modest and practical solution that addresses the area’s need to access western employment and business areas, in a cost effective manner”.
PTUA surveys of rail and bus users in the area show strong support for services retained to Waitakere and extended to Huapai-Kumeu. “Survey respondents have said they invested in Waitakere because of the rail service, and even though it’s been run poorly with many services cancelled and passengers often ditched from trains far from home, that’s a reason for improving the services, not cancelling them altogether” says Mrs Rose, a regular public transport user who was previously chair of Auckland’s Regional Transport Committee.
“Good planning would see an expansion of public transport services in line with all the current and proposed growth. We know there’s a community desire for more sustainable transport options.
We’re here to support that. Auckland Transport officials will be present, and the meeting will be followed by attendance at Auckland Council’s Infrastructure Committee the next day, as well as ongoing campaigning”. “With all the growth in the area, AT should be looking at expanding the network, not reducing it as is their current proposal”.