Amelia Wade is a court reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Revealed: First look at Auckland's transport plan

Transport proposals for poorly-connected and rising suburbs ready for public feedback
The network consists of rail, light rail and busways that will operate at high frequency - at least every 10 minutes - and offer "very reliable" journey times, the agency said. Photo / Janna Dixon
The network consists of rail, light rail and busways that will operate at high frequency - at least every 10 minutes - and offer "very reliable" journey times, the agency said. Photo / Janna Dixon

For the first time, Aucklanders can see how transport-poor suburbs and areas of intense housing development will be served by newly proposed public transport lines.

Auckland Transport, Auckland Council and the New Zealand Transport Agency opened their draft plans for the Rapid Transit Network to the public for consultation on Friday.

The network consists of rail, light rail and busways that will operate at high frequency - at least every 10 minutes - and offer "very reliable" journey times, the agency said.

The services are to be built over the next 30 years and have been targeted at areas with a lot of planned residential and employment growth.

The Herald has identified up-and-coming suburbs on Auckland's periphery that are affordable but require a hefty commute. Those included Huntly, Pokeno and Tuakau to the south, Helensville to the northwest and Kaipara, Wellsford and Warkworth to the north.

If the draft proposals are completed, these areas will be serviced by the hub and spoke network. Commuters will be able to catch a frequent bus service - at least one every 15 minutes from anywhere in the region - to a station then catch a rapid transit service.

Simplified fares, being introduced later this year, will make it easier and cheaper to connect between different services with an AT HOP card, the agency said.

Auckland Transport's chief strategy officer Peter Clark said the plans had taken so long to come together because they were waiting for the Auckland Council to complete its housing plan and set the rural urban boundaries.

The speed of the rapid transit network's roll out is almost entirely dependant on funding, but Mr Clark said it was "fundamental to growth".

"Having a network of public transport that's unaffected by congestion is hugely expensive as you've got to build a network that's completely separated but they're massively successful, just look at the ... Northern Busway."

And the proposal is far from being set in stone, he said.

In the current draft plans, there are no rail or light rail links to the North Shore and beyond, however this could change once another investigation is completed to determine the length of life of the Northern Busway before it needs to be upgraded.

Mr Clark said the busway was already future-proofed for lightrail.

Another important focus is new or upgraded roading - for example the Ara-Tuhono Puhoi to Warkworth Road of National Significance.

However, the Public Transport Users Association chairwoman, Christine Rose, said the northwest needed solutions now as State Highway 16 is already at a standstill because the residential sprawl is unmatched with decent public transport infrastructure.

She said in the last consultation round in February and March, passenger rail solutions were preferred by the public more than any other option and Auckland Transport has now included an investigation into electric rail to the area.

"[But] we're no further ahead, with the plans showing bias toward [roading] solutions which have no timeframe, no budget, fail to address SH16 congestion and won't serve the current growth of Kumeu."

Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse said about 110,000 new houses are expected to be built on future urban areas bigger than urban Hamilton and significant new transport infrastructure will be needed to support those areas.

Public information days will be held in Kumeu, Whenuapai, Dairy Flat, Wainui, Warkworth, Pukekohe, Drury, Takanini and Manukau.

Find out more and have your say at: www.at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/transport-for-future-urban-growth/

The numbers

82km of rapid transit lines currently, with the rail lines and Northern Busway.

41km extra built by 2026

84km extra built by 2036

41km extra built by 2046

166km total extra built in 30 years

- NZ Herald

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