By Taryn Dryfhout
Talks of a new rail line being introduced to the North Shore may be a lifesaver for students travelling to the Albany campus.
Auckland Transport and the New Zealand Transport Agency have joined forces to nail down a final decision on upgrading the Northern Busway, except it won’t be buses, it will be trains.
The two transport agencies will be working this year on finalising the new rail, as well as determining a time frame and funding options for the large-scale project.
Current considerations include both light and heavy rail, as well as variations which will utilise both.
The push to finalise the northern rail plan follows recent projections by Auckland Transport that Auckland’s Northern Busway will reach its capacity by 2026, twenty years earlier than expected.
The report, released in September of last year, estimates that increased patronage on the Northern Busway will result in severe overcapacity conditions, especially in high-demand service areas such Albany, Sunnynook and Akoranga.
According to Auckland Transport, this high demand is expected to overtake the practical capacity of the busway, and requires “some form of higher-capacity solution.
ASA President Lance Walsh feels that the new rail-line is not the answer.
“I think money would be a lot better spent working on the infrastructure of the bus stations and looking at building car lots for people who wish to park and ride.
“If more people were able to access parking at the bus stations it would solve a lot more issues than building a rail network,” he says.
“For students, I think this will not be a huge benefit as they will still suffer waiting times and busy traffic times getting to the city.”
In addition to planning the new rail system, the Northern Busway will also undergo an upgrade which will include larger bus station platforms, improved ticketing services and a new operating centre.
Despite Auckland Transport identifying the need for this new rail line, the project will still be subject to obtaining the large amount of funding it will require, and cannot begin before construction on the $4 billion tunnel under the Auckland Harbour has been completed.