Britomart users may soon have to jostle their way through crowded platforms to get on to backed-up rush-hour trains, Auckland Mayor Len Brown warns, highlighting the "critical" need for the City Rail Link.
In the 12 months to April, rail use in Auckland increased 22 per cent, but Transport Minister Simon Bridges said there was still a way to go before usage reached the threshold at which the Government would consider helping fund the $2.5 billion project before 2020.
Mr Brown said the Britomart Transport Centre would face serious congestion problems by 2018 if the "stunning acceleration" of rail use continued - meaning a gridlocked city rail system and increasingly crowded platforms for passengers.
"At this rate, Auckland will meet the Government's patronage threshold for financial support for the CRL early in 2017, three years earlier than projected. Growth has been accelerating since late 2013," Mr Brown said.
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However, Mr Bridges said the train users forecast for this year was below the 16.1 million rail boardings Auckland Transport originally predicted.
"The Government will consider an earlier start date if it becomes clear that the growth of Auckland's CBD employment and rail patronage accelerates faster than current projections. An earlier business plan could be triggered if two conditions are met. These are that Auckland city centre employment increases by 25 per cent over current levels, and that annual rail patronage is tracking to hit 20 million trips per year well before 2020," Mr Bridges said.
And while rail patronage was growing well, he said city centre employment growth remained modest - "some way" from meeting the 25 per cent growth threshold set in 2013.