In the lead-up to the general election, public transport in major cities has been a key focus. More needs to be done to tackle the congestion problem and passenger growth because, at its current rate, Auckand’s roads will be left gridlocked with traffic during rush hour and other busy times. It’s believed that by 2020, a third of Auckland’s roads will be congested. So, those who are stuck in traffic day after day want answers from the political parties. Both, National and Labour have included commuter rail investment as one of their main initiatives to alleviate congestion. Let’s discuss the promises they’ve made and how they could benefit our country.
Should Labour win the election, they have promised to build a 20km light rail from Auckland CBD to the airport. There have been questions about how the new developments will be funded, but Labour leader Jacinda Arden, revealed that the airport link would be paid partly from a regional fuel tax. Arden also announced early on in the month that they will build a light rail service from Wynyard Quarter to Mt. Roskill within four years. There will also be routes built to the suburbs as well as the West Auckland region, which will make up a ten-year plan. Labour aims to reduce $2 billion a year in congestion in Auckland, as well as save $1.2 billion from changes in ongoing projects. It’s clear that Auckland could benefit from a new light rail system, as it will allow people to travel easily whilst freeing up the roads from congestion. With Labour’s plans in action, we may see a future with less cars on the road, as there will be more public transport available that provides a reliable and more efficient travel for commuters.
In addition, Labour also recently announced that it is planning to build a basic commuter rail service between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga. These three cities, collectively known as the ‘Golden Triangle’, make up half our population and play a huge role in the economy. It has been projected that it will gain another 80,000 people. Labour will also support the Regional Rapid Plan, which is a proposal to build high-speed Regional Rapid Rail in the ‘Golden Triangle’, in order to provide faster travelling options and improve journey times. The plan would take place in three stages with the aim of creating a multi-line network with 6 million annual passengers.
On the other hand, National is prioritizing road links and commuter trains, rather than a light rail system. While National has pledged to invest $267 million in commuter rail, the party is focusing more on expanding the train networks that are already available, rather than building new systems. In response to Labour’s plans for a new rail line, the National Party has labelled the idea as unrealistic as the ‘Golden Triangle’ is our busiest freight route, so they believe it won’t have a positive impact on journey times.
National has also pledged to invest $130 million to electrify the track between Papakura and Pukekohe. Electrification is a key element in the National Party’s proposals, as they aim to support the rapid growth of the number of people using commuter trains ran on an electric system. Also, they have promised to build a third rail line between Westfield and Wiri in Auckland, which forms part of their commitment to revitalise New Zealand’s transport network. They aim to start work on the rail before the end of 2018 and with the new construction, we can expect improved freight access and better overall capacity, ensuring for more passengers.
Whether the transport investments promised by both parties will be sufficient enough to meet people’s needs remains to be seen. The problem of transport remains a key election issue that will likely have a significant impact on the public’s vote on September 23rd.
What do you think about National & Labour's take on public transport? Let us know in the comments box below.
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