Labour promises light rail to Auckland Airport within a decade

The Labour Party has promised to build light rail from Auckland's CBD to the airport within a decade - three times quicker than National.

It's Jacinda Ardern's first major policy announcement as Leader of the Opposition.

Work on the project would begin with light rail to Mt Roskill, to be completed within four years. That would be expanded south to the airport and to west Auckland within a decade, followed with a line from the North Shore to the CBD.

The plan has backing from Labour's prefered support partner, the Greens, who want rail to the airport by 2021 and to the North Shore by 2030.

Jacinda Ardern at the Labour Party's campaign release.
Jacinda Ardern at the Labour Party's campaign release. Photo credit: Newshub.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges gave light rail to the airport the green light in March, but said it could take 30 years to complete, depending on funding and demand. The Government is planning on meeting demand using buses in the meantime.

Ms Ardern says the plan will help reduce the cost of congestion on Auckland.

"It will realise Auckland's potential to be a truly world class city," Ms Ardern said.

Labour estimates the cost of the accelerated projects to require an extra $2.1 billion investment over the next two decades. It says $1.2b of costs will be avoided by building airport light rail from the beginning, instead of adopting the current plan to build a bus network first, and by selecting a cheaper East-West link option.

In order to fund the projects, Labour is bringing back its 2009 policy which would allow Auckland Council to collect a regional fuel tax. The projects would also be funded through infrastructure bonds and targeted rates.

The party is also promising a Bus Rapid Transit service from Howick in east Auckland to the airport and a third trunk rail line for commuter and freight rail. The bus route would begin with a service connecting Puhinui to the airport within a year.

Additional bus services would run across town, from New Lynn to Flatbush, Pt Chev to Botany, Silverdale to Whangaparaoa and Howick to Glenfield.

Labour's Auckland transport promises

  • Build a light rail network between west Auckland, central Auckland suburbs and the airport within a decade.
  • Later extend the light rail network to the North Shore.
  • Scale back the East-West link to "a reasonable cost".
  • Build a bus network from Howick to the Airport.
  • More electric trains.
  • A third main trunk line between Wiri and Papakura.
  • Allow Auckland Council to collect a regional fuel tax - a 2008 Labour policy which never saw the light of day.