Its that time again – time for another round in the turtle-paced tennis match that is the public consultation process. This time the ball is back in our court, taking the form of a new draft plan for the Ngauranga-Airport transport corridor.

The plan is quick to address what is perhaps the most topical of the proposed options: light rail. To summarise, the report concludes that light rail is “exciting” and “potentially a very effective public transport solution,” but that none of the tested options were found to be feasible within the next deacde. However a “detailed scheme assesment” is to be undertaken within 5-10 years.

Instead, the suggested strategy is primarily focused around producing a rapid bus transit system along the much lauded ‘growth spine’ of the N2A corridor. Within 5 years, bus priority measures are planned to be put in place between the railway station and Newtown, which essentially means that dedicated bus lanes will be implemented during peak times, along with some minor improvements such as electronic arrival tracking and traffic signal manipulation for late buses. The plan is also quick to point out that these new busways could easily become the base infrastructure for a future light rail line.

The Basin Reserve is set for some fairly major improvements, with much of the traffic flow being reshaped so as to accommodate the new bus lanes and a more segregated, efficient route for cars. Improving the quality of the public space and transport access options is also on the agenda. Although not mentioned explicitly, the option of new fly-over is illustrated in the accompanying artist’s impression – along with light rail (anyone else notice how these sort of sketches always seem to include light rail…?)

Some other minor points:

  • In what seems to be slightly ambiguous phrasing, private car park owners would be “encouraged to reduce the number of car parks allocated for commuters.”
  • Interestingly, one of the investigated options was to extend the rail line along the waterfront to the start of Courtenay Place, creating a new hub there in the vein of the Britomart. However this was found as ‘disruptive to build’ and ‘operationally difficult’.
  • Road tolls have been ignored; presumably are still not legally viable.

Anyway, be sure to check out the draft (its only about 15 pages) and let us know what you think. Was light rail passed over to easily? Are improvements to the bus system really enough – or are more radical solutions needed?