Backlash over proposed Auckland rail line

Backlash over proposed Auckland rail line

With family members returning home for the holidays and tourists flying in for the summer, the prospect of a light rail line from Auckland Airport to the central city has arisen again.

One idea is a $1 billion extension which would run down Auckland's busy Dominion Rd, but opponents say it's expensive and badly planned.

Dominion Rd is the home of some seriously good dumplings, eclectic shopping and when it's not the silly season, some very silly peak hour traffic.

Now in the not-too-distant future it could also be home to a light-rail line – a modern day tram, extending from Britomart all the way to Auckland's Airport.

According to Carol Greensmith from Auckland Transport, it's about getting buses off the road in the long run.

"The thing about light-rail is that it gets buses off the streets and it provides opportunities for town centres to develop."

Ms Greensmith says it was the old tram lines that helped create some of Auckland's busiest shopping centres.

"The reason we've got those is because that's where the original tram terminals used to be."

Dominion Road business owners are certainly not shying away from the idea, says Hibiscus and Bays local board member Gary Holmes.

"I mean, wouldn't it be fabulous having hundreds of thousands of visitors to Auckland welcomed by driving through a vibrant community, down Queen Street to Britomart."

Although, Cameron Pitches from the Campaign for Better Transport group say it hasn't been thought through properly.

"Auckland Transport has sat on their hands now for seven or eight years and they haven't done anything to preserve the rail corridor. Now all of a sudden they seem to be in a mad rush."

Mr Pitches says that Auckland Transport should actually be looking at how it can change the whole rail system.

"We already have an existing rail network, so it might make more sense to extend from those points than to commit to an entirely different rail system."

A decision on the proposal is expected to be reached next year.

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