Tāmaki Makaurau’s biggest urban regeneration and transport project moved a step forward on Friday, 29 October 2021 as the Hon Michael Wood, Minister of Transport and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff released the recommendations of the Auckland Light Rail team which Cabinet will consider later this year. The indicative business case draws a clear conclusion that Auckland light rail is a necessary investment to lessen congestion and further future proof our biggest city. It is a critical piece of infrastructure to support more housing, to give people real transport choices, and to build a linked up transport network for Auckland.

City Vision is keen to see progress as the city’s growth means its residents are struggling with reliable, effective transport options and adequate housing, impacting on both community and economic well-being.

Three short list options have been put forward in the indicative business case. All three options deliver against the objectives of improving accessibility, reducing Auckland’s carbon footprint, and unlocking urban development in the corridor.   Major benefits of the Auckland Light Rail team’s preferred option, a partially tunnelled light rail, and the associated route are the links enabled to the future rapid transit to the North Shore and West, a station near the University of Auckland, and the corridor going into new housing developments in Wesley, Mt Roskill, Ōnehunga and Māngere. The preferred option sees a solution that would avoid significant disruption on roads across the isthmus during construction and fewer properties being taken (167, down from 489 with a surface light rail option).

The route needs to deliver capacity for several generations and the preferred route would enable up to 35,000 homes and 16,000 jobs. Combined with significant urban intervention, the Tunnelled Light Rail and alternative Light Metro rapid transit options have the potential for an additional 66,000 households over the next 30 years. An additional key outcome is that there is significant reduction in carbon emissions through mode shift, more efficient urban form and sustainable building design – and all 3 shortlisted options achieve those at varying levels with the preferred option delivering the highest levels of carbon saved over time.

City Vision principles are reflected in this project including:

  • Transport choice, with public and active transport solutions
  • A sustainable environment and low carbon future
  • Economic fairness, and well-being for all Aucklanders
  • Resilient, healthy and safe communities
  • The provision of more housing choice, and affordable, healthy, secure homes
  • Greater opportunities for access to the arts, events, sport and recreation
  • Access, participation and inclusion for all

The Auckland Light Rail team was required to consider:

  • Access and Integration – to enhance and integrate with the current and future transport network
  • Environment – an optimised environmental quality and embedded sustainable practice
  • Experience – a high quality service that is attractive to users and well-patronised
  • Urban and Community – enablement of quality integrated urban communities, especially around Māngere, Ōnehunga and Mt Roskill
  • Value for money

The Indicative Business Case will inform the advice to Cabinet prior to their decision on the project in late 2021. If progressed, we look forward to Aucklanders being engaged in the Detailed Business Case work.

The Summary Report on the Indicative Business Case, a map of the routes and further notes are available here:  https://www.lightrail.co.nz/light-rail/resources/

City Vision’s Margi Watson and Deputy Chair of the Albert-Eden Local Board is on the Board of the Auckland Light Rail team