Slow Train Coming

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Christopher E Harris, PhD (Planning)

Two recent papers have described an ‘Americanisation’ of transport policy in Auckland, New Zealand, characterised by the successful advocacy of motorways at the expense of rail. Arrested development of rail transit in Auckland presents a striking contrast to Wellington, New Zealand, where suburban rail is as well developed relative to population as in Perth (WA). Wellington’s suburban rail was installed as part of a state-led development planning programme. By the late 1940s this template was intended for extension to Christchurch and to Auckland, then undergoing rapid growth. Following a change of government in 1949 development planning ceased and a state highway fund was established to fund urban motorways instead. The principal conclusion is that state support for development planning along transit corridors may be a prerequisite for successful urban transit development.

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