National is warming to the idea of zooming down Dominion Rd in Auckland on modern trams within 10 years.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges today said National is open to trams running on light rail in Auckland, less than 12 months after Finance Minister Steven Joyce accused Labour of panicking and "pork barrel" politics for promoting light rail during last year's Mt Roskill byelection.
At the general election, Labour and the Greens have promised to spend up to $5 billion building light rail from the Auckland CBD to the airport and West Auckland.
Bridges said National was not making any election promises for light rail in Auckland, but had an open mind about advanced buses or light rail from the CBD and down Dominion Rd to Mt Roskill over the next decade.
At the moment, he said, the focus was on route protection for mass transit to Mt Roskill, whether it was buses or trams.
Bridges said what could swing it for National is more work being done by Auckland Transport and the New Zealand Transport Agency into the best option - buses or trams - costing up to $1.2 billion.
Auckland Transport said the cost for light rail from the CBD, via Mt Roskill, to the airport is $2.5b to $3b. Labour has costed light rail from the CBD to West Auckland at $2b.
The need for a mass transit solution from the CBD to Mt Roskill has been brought forward in a joint, 30-year transport programme between Auckland Council and the Government.
Population projections suggest 100,000 more people will be living in Auckland by 2026, bringing the population to 1.9m people.
Bridges said National was prioritising other projects in the 'Auckland Transport Alignment Project' work programme, including a new $995m highway alongside the Southern Motorway between Manukau and Drury.
Labour's Auckland Issues spokesman Phil Twyford said he suspected National was warming to light rail in proportion to their polling numbers going down.
"We need a modern transit system for the city and it has taken years for the National Party to get their head around that," Twyford said.