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Council Urged To Prioritise Downtown Light Rail

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) urges both Auckland Transport and the Government to prioritise planning and construction of a light rail tram line between Britomart Transport Centre and the Wynard Quarter as part of its recently announced Downtown programme.
The Government through the NZ Transport Agency could also be actively involved to speed up design, construction and funding as it would link the largest public transport hub at Downtown to the area where most America’s Cup teams will be located. It will also encourage the growing numbers of commuters in the Wynard Quarter to leave their cars and use modern public transport which could be operational by 2021. Modern light rail trams between Britomart and Wynard Quarter were not mentioned in the recent Auckland Council Downtown programme.

Number one light rail priority
With tram lines already laid over part of the route in Wynard Quarter this section should be the number one light rail tram priority for Auckland Transport and Government. “Unlike the longer light rail tram routes currently proposed by the Government such as Airport to CBD via Mangere, this one could realistically be delivered and ready by the next Americas Cup in 2021” said Jon Reeves, National Coordinator for the PTUA.

Auckland’s waterfront will be the show piece to the world when the Americas Cup gets underway. The PTUA encourages increased investment in public transport. The Britomart – Wynard Quarter light rail tram route ticks all the boxes for commuters and tourists, faster construction delivery with some of the tram lines and infrastructure already in place to a growing part of the City Centre. A modern light rail tram will link to buses, trains and ferries at Britomart and would fit perfectly with Downtown programme announced by Auckland Council. “It will be a catalyst for modal change by office workers and encourage them to get out of their single occupancy vehicles” Reeves said.

Huge growth in Wynard Quarter
Many large corporates are now based in the Wynard Quarter including ASB, Air New Zealand, Fonterra, Datacom and Auckland Transport. “The list of corporates based in Wynard Quarter is growing and we can add in new hotels and many new apartment blocks being developed as well” Reeves said.

Panuku Development Auckland failing
The PTUA believes the Britomart – Wynard Quarter light rail tram route could prove the Governments commitment for delivering useful public transport improvements people will actually want to use. “Panuku Development Auckland currently own the tram tracks and infrastructure already in place in the Wynard Quarter but clearly lack both expertise and vision to figure out how modern light rail trams would benefit the area and the connection through to the Britomart Transport Centre. Reeves says “Panuku should relinquish ownership of the infrastructure and allow Auckland Transport to get on and deliver 21st century public transport connection. As we speak, Panuku’s only plan is to rip up the tracks and overhead wires. They are the wrong owners of the light rail assets”.
Support for local initiative to save dockline
The PTUA supports the local initiative called “Keep the Dockline Tram Running”, a group which will present to Auckland Council Governing Committee tomorrow Thursday 22 November. Reeves said, “This is a real chance for Mayor Goff and Councilors to retain existing tram infrastructure and create a modern public transport system the world will see in 2021. However, Panuku Development Auckland clearly need to be removed from the equation as they have no mandate and no interest to develop or operate public transport”.

Light rail trams ideal for waterfront
The PTUA supports rapid trains between the CBD and South Auckland/Waikato to the airport over the Governments slow tram proposal. In a recent NZ Herald poll of 13,300 readers 82% of supported a rapid train to the airport and only 6% of respondents supported the Governments 24km long slow airport tram route. “However, we do believe light rail trams would fit perfectly well between Britomart and the growing and popular Wynard Quarter. Transport Minister Phil Twyford should ask the NZ Transport Agency to make this a true priority given the high international focus on Downtown Auckland thanks to the Americas Cup. If we can move many of the office workers, residents and tourists by quality light rail trams it will help reduce congestion from the Wynard Quarter and become a tourist attraction in its own right” Jon Reeves added.

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