Back in 2009 the CBT lobbied for a light rail connection to the new Wynyard Quarter. A planning objective for the precinct was, and still is, that 70% of all trips in and out of the area should be via modes other than the private car.
Due to the politics of getting the former Auckland City Council on-side, we had to settle for the current heritage tram circuit. This was largely driven through the efforts of ARC Chair Mike Lee.
The intention was, and has always been, that the current circuit should be extended to Britomart, and that modern light rail vehicles be used on the track. However the Waterfront Plan is vague on this –
“Expansion of the bridge to accommodate more people and some form of low-impact, frequent, high-volume transit service is being explored. In the short term, business suppliers, customers and visitors will need to access the waterfront using private vehicles, and parking will therefore have to be addressed.”
So while it is still possible, efforts to extend the track towards Britomart (via a new bridge parallel to the existing pedestrian-only bridge, or a replacement bridge) appear to have stalled.
Even worse, the existing heritage circuit is under threat from Waterfront Auckland. Despite hundreds of people about to take up jobs at the new ASB centre on Jellicoe Street, and tram operator Dockline Trams offering $1 fares to workers to capitalise on this, Waterfront Auckland is not willing to underwrite tram operations for another year, “especially in light of the imminent disruption to services while the upgrades of Daldy and Halsey Streets are undertaken.”
Even so, a light rail connection will be an important piece of infrastructure for the Wynyard Quarter, in the same way the footpaths, pavements, sewerage, electricity and roads are. If the tracks are ripped up, even “temporarily”, there is the strong possibility that they will never return, and the Wynyard Quarter will be the poorer for it.
The CBT has already asked Bob Harvey, Chairman of Waterfront Auckland, not to throw the baby out with the bathwater and to follow through with the original vision of a light rail connection to Britomart. Over time this will be even more important as the land north of Jellicoe Street is developed, which is some distance away from downtown Auckland.
The current situation is confusing. Waterfront Auckland told us the heritage tram will pause from Easter, and for health and safety reasons it will not be possible for it to operate during the reconstruction of Daldy and Halsey Streets. In the meantime the operators of the Dockline tram tell us they are still taking group bookings right through to mid-May.
You can help send a message about the importance of a light rail connection for the Wynyard Quarter.
- Check out “Save the Auckland Dockline Tram” on Facebook.
- Write to the Board of Waterfront Auckland and ask them to follow through on what was promised. Send an email to the Chairman of the Board Bob Harvey – – and let him know what you think.
- Ride the tram to demonstrate to Waterfront Auckland your support for the concept.