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Western Connector Trains Gathers Steam

Western Connector Trains Gathers Steam

Representatives from the Public Transport Users Association say they were “listened to, but not heard” at their presentation to the Auckland Transport Board meeting today. The group’s Chairwoman Christine Rose and Co-ordinator, Jon Reeves, today took their concept of the ‘Western Connector’ to the Board for the first time.

The Western Connector seeks to retain existing rail services to Waitakere township and extend them to the growth areas of Huapai-Kumeu, using existing rail lines, stations, rolling stock and other infrastructure.

The plan to kill current services to Waitakere and long-planned extended services to Huapai-Kumeu was made last year. The Public Transport Users Association says that decision was based on false, outdated information, with inflated and gold plated costs. Their critique of the report, and huge development occurring in the area leads them to ask the report be reviewed, before the current services to Waitakere are cancelled in early July.

Auckland Transport acknowledges the report needs to be reviewed, with fresh analysis of the case for retained and extended services in light of the Special Housing Areas bringing an extra 2,500 houses to Kumeu-Huapai.

But PTUA say it’s premature to cancel the service with all the growth occurring and given peoples’ current transport needs. Christine Rose, a Kumeu resident and long term public transport user, says ‘The Waitakere service has been run down, with over 1400 services cancelled last year. But that’s no excuse to stop the service altogether. The existing and future residents of the “far-west” need reliable, comfortable and direct rail services to key employment, education and commercial centres. In all aspects, rail provides a superior service to the west than buses. These services should be put in place while the planning for massive growth in the area proceeds – especially since much of the growth is adjacent to the currently moth-balled Huapai station”.

PTUA co-ordinator Jon Reeves says “We were somewhat disappointed at the reception we received from the AT Board. While they agreed a review of the report was required, they failed to engage with our proposal”. “We understand a review of the report is scheduled for October, but we believe this is a premature decision which undermines the need for transport services, reliability, regional rail equity and integrated transport and land use”.

Mr Reeves says “we know we have the public mandate for this campaign, and more and more local politicians are in support – including the Waitakere Ranges Local Board, Waitakere Councillors, Rodney Local Board members, and Auckland Council’s Infrastructure Committee”.

Mrs Rose adds, “Our campaign is gathering steam – and despite the ambivalence from the AT Board, we have more campaign initiatives in the wings, we won’t give up our efforts to ensure the area has the public transport services it deserves – using existing lines, assets and infrastructure”.

ENDS

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