Auckland, 22 October – A record 12 million train trips across Auckland confirms that Aucklanders are crying out for better transport choices, says Mayor Len Brown. Auckland rail patronage numbers, up 17.5 percent in the past year, are on track to reach the Council’s target of 15 million by 2017 and for the first time….. climbed passed Wellington’s. Since the introduction of electric trains six months ago, the number of people getting out of their cars and jumping on the train is soaring, despite the electric fleet roll out still only at the half-way stage. Aucklanders tell me every day they want better public transport. The latest hike in patronage confirms that if we can build it, they will get out of their cars and use it. “But this is just a start. After decades of under-investment, we need to fund and build the fully-integrated transport system I know Aucklanders want and one that will finally get this region moving.”
Auckland’s population is expected to soar to two million in the next two decades. Despite some key projects underway or planned, the current transport system risks buckling under the weight of extra demand and stifling the city’s economic development along with it. By mid-2015, Britomart will have reached its train capacity and simply no more trains will be able to fit in. If we continue the current rate of growth in rail patronage, we will pass the Government’s 20 million trip target in 2017/18. Later this month the Mayor will be presenting alternative options to fund the more ambitious, enhanced transport network set out in the Auckland Plan that sees investment in roads, rail, buses, cycleways and walkways to get Auckland moving. Auckland has suffered chronic under-investment in its transport infrastructure for decades. Improving transport is the Auckland Council’s number one investment priority as it drafts its next 10-year budget over the coming months – the Long-term Plan (LTP) 2015-2025. At the top of the list is the $2.4 billion City Rail Link, doubling rail patronage, and which the Council wants to begin building early 2016.
“At a time when more and more people are choosing to travel by rail, we need to start construction in 2016 if this city is to cope with its rapidly growing population,” says Len Brown. Aucklanders are behind this, the business and investment community are behind this, we just need to get on and get it done. The public will have their say on the transport system they want and how they would like to pay for it when the draft LTP goes out for public consultation late January 2015.