Build Auckland light rail for benefit of everyone

The Government’s decision on light rail in Auckland is the first step towards building the climate friendly, accessible city our communities deserve.

“For years the Greens have been pushing for accessible public transport options for Aucklanders that reduce traffic congestion, cut climate pollution, and make it easier to get around without a car. Today we can see part of that vision becoming a reality and we want the Government to get on with it,” says the Green Party’s Transport Spokesperson Ricardo Menéndez March.

“Most people will choose public or active transport over a car when the infrastructure to support active mobility is available. Today’s decision is a huge opportunity to build truly world class, climate friendly public transport infrastructure for the benefit of everyone - and we should take it.

“However, by partially going underground the Government will need to ensure underground stations are accessible and welcoming to all communities. We also missed an opportunity to ensure the main corridor is people friendly. In the short term, cars will still dominate the spaces above ground. With urgent action on climate required, we need to seize every opportunity that allows us to support people to a sustainable future.

"While the Green Party's preferred option has always been more accessible street-level light rail down Dominion Road, it's time to get on with building better transport options for Aucklanders. For the Government’s preferred option for light rail to work for the benefit of everyone, Ministers will need to further invest in accessible above ground public transport infrastructure that will make it easier for everyone to get around Auckland without needing a car. 

“We also want to see light rail built with universal design so light rail meets the needs of everyone for generations to come - parents, children, senior citizens and disabled people, and many who currently have to drive.

“The voice of local communities and mana whenua also needs to be a central part of the process right from the start. With the biggest infrastructure project in Auckland for generations, we have a unique opportunity to do this right,” says Ricardo Menéndez March.

Auckland Central Green MP, Chlöe Swarbrick added: “It is encouraging that modelling shows building light rail with a boring machine will cause much less disruption than the trenching we’ve seen with the city rail link, there’s still a lot to be changed and improved in our above-ground environment. This project must occur alongside delivering on the City Centre Masterplan aspirations of streets for people. Queen Street should be a destination, not a thoroughfare.”

Ricardo Menéndez March continued: “The decision to locate a station at the universities is welcomed and should be part of a plan to create a future where young people can live and study in Auckland without ever needing a car - but let’s back it up with a commitment to ensuring there are affordable, warm homes right along the proposed route and by making travel on light rail free for students. Keeping the option open for a future light rail connection to the North Shore is also welcome.

“The Green Party also welcomes the decision to move forward with an additional Waitematā Harbour crossing. This additional crossing must create a dedicated rapid transit and active mode connection, including rail to the North Shore, and not more lanes for cars. As we face the challenge of climate change, Auckland must prioritise active transport options, like cycling, and greater public transport use across the harbour.”

ENDS

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