27 June 2010

New trams for Auckland?


[Pic: Dublin LUAS tram, 29.05.10]

Plans for new trams in Auckland are at an early stage, and currently only involve a short-track heritage tram loop near Westhaven in the area slated for considerable future development.  This would be a start, but ultimately it would be of little use in transport terms – instead, it would be like Christchurch’s tourist-oriented tram route. 

I’d be delighted if Auckland re-installed modern trams as a working part of the city’s transport infrastructure so many decades after the foolishly short-sighted eradication from the city’s streets in 1956, which in part contributed to the traffic problems and private transport-dominated focus of the city today. 

If rumours that the initial loop could be used as the basis for a much larger tram route are true, this holds great potential for revitalising public transport options in Auckland.  The original Auckland tram network never covered the Eastern Bays areas, but now would be the perfect opportunity to extend tram services along the waterfront to connect the city with Mission Bay, to give residents an easy and convenient commute into town, and give shoppers and beachgoers easy access to the beautiful bays of the eastern suburbs. 

I’ve thrown together a quick Google Map to give an idea of how the tram stop network might operate, using the Dublin LUAS tram network as a guide.  The LUAS operates stops at 500m spacing in the inner city, stretching out to 750m spacing further into the suburbs.  Mission Bay would be the initial tram terminus, although given the high land prices there it probably wouldn’t be suitable as a depot.  Perhaps the required tram depot could be located somewhere around the Westhaven loop. 

View Possible Auckland Tram Stops in a larger map

This sort of tram network, assuming it operated at a reasonable frequency of at least one tram every 10-15 minutes, could mitigate road traffic to and from the Eastern Bays, and permit the reassignment of buses to other routes.  The Wimbledon Tramlink has a maximum capacity of 208 passengers in its twin-car setup, so a similar Auckland setup could provide up to 1200 Bays commuters with easy access to the city every hour on a 10-minute service frequency.

Here’s a simple network map to give you an idea of what’s covered by the route (click to enlarge).  Aside from servicing the Westhaven marina and whatever’s developed on the Westhaven loop, the route also takes in:

  • Victoria Park
  • Viaduct Basin / Maritime Museum / Hilton Hotel
  • Britomart / Queen St / Ferry Terminal / Princes Wharf
  • Quay St East / Vector Arena
  • Mechanics Bay / Ports of Auckland
  • Point Resolution / Baths / St Stephens Ave
  • Ngapipi Rd
  • Okahu Bay
  • Kelly Tarlton’s
  • Tamaki Yacht Club / Savage Memorial
  • Mission Bay

Proposed Auckland tram diagram

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