Alanah Eriksen is the New Zealand Herald's deputy chief of staff

Mission: Restore faith in transport

Transport chief says major review designed to address public systems' woeful underperformance.

Lester Levy. Photo / Supplied
Lester Levy. Photo / Supplied

The head of Auckland Transport has come out swinging against the public transport system he runs saying trains and buses are late, infrequent and overcrowded.

In an opinion piece in the Herald today, Lester Levy says "figuring out what to do has become more important than actually doing something" and as a result, Aucklanders had lost faith there was an alternative to cars.

"I have been chairman of Auckland Transport for six months, what do I see? Public transport in Auckland is just not yet good enough," he said.

"The trains do not run frequently enough and frequently they do not run on time. The bus real time information does not seem real to many. That is because it is not, a lot of the time.

"Doubt, distrust, ridicule, criticism - that has largely been the history of transport in Auckland, and the possibility that transport issues in Auckland could ever be resolved seems to have been consigned to the wastebasket of history."

He said the new Hop card had also had issues which had been frustrating for passengers. It was announced last week that the system would be rolled out on the city's buses from late June - the final stage of a three-year process towards integrated ticketing. Dr Levy, also chairman of the Waitemata and Auckland district health boards, said Auckland Transport was about to "undertake major reconstructive surgery", and would embark on a review of every bus route, a major upgrade of the trains, new ferry services and new fare structures. But it would take time and would not be easy.

Auckland Transport last year unveiled plans for a central city $2.86 billion rail loop, which would be built in two 3.5km-long twin tunnels up to 45m below the city.

A $1.164 billion electrification project of the city's rail network is already under way and will see 57 three-car electric trains up and running by April next year.

Dr Levy promised that in three years, transport in Auckland would be different and by 2020 it would be "very, very different".

A report released last year revealed by 2021, most bus networks near and in the city centre will be at capacity or overloaded.

Private motor vehicle speeds will have halved from 16km/h in the morning peak to 8km/h. And by 2041, the average morning peak car speed in the city centre will be 5km/h.

Cameron Pitches, of the Campaign for Better Transport, praised Mr Levy's comments.

"He's clearly in touch with what the people who use the public transport system are saying ... I guess the real question is 'What is he planning to do about it?' These changes have been in the wind for a very long time."

Transport plans

* $2.86 billion rail loop, which will be built in two 3.5km-long twin tunnels up to 45m below the city
* $1.164 billion electrification project of the city's rail network is already under way
* 57 three-car electric trains will be up and running by April next year.

- NZ Herald

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