Auckland gets trams

As TVNZ reports, last week the Auckland Regional Council announced that they’re bringing trams back to Auckland. I didn’t have a chance to comment at the time but this is significant news.

If you’re familiar with our transport history you’ll know that back in the 1950s Auckland had an extremely high rate of public transport use (for more info about changes in public transport use in Auckland see this interesting page on the Ministry of Economic Developments website). This was largely due to our excellent tram system which covered most of the isthmus area (see map below from 1950).

Source: the Campaign for Better Transport forums

But in the 1950s we believed that the private motor car would solve all our congestion and mobility problems. So we tore up our tram lines and replaced them with motorways and massive roads.

Oddly enough, building lots of infrastructure that encouraged people to drive and discouraged them from walking, cycling or using public transport didn’t really work to increase mobility. So now Auckland has the worst traffic congestion in New Zealand.

It also has one of the lowest rates of public transport patronage of most roughly comparable cities in Australia, the USA and NZ (as shown in this graph from the Auckland Regional Land Transport Strategy).

(NOTE – this graph also shows the GDP of each city. Isn’t it interesting to see that Auckland scores poorly on both public transport use and GDP?)

The good news is that a lot of the older roads in Auckland (like Dominion Road) could probably be adapted to carry trams again without too much work since that is what they were originally designed for.  So, it’s nice to see the ARC bringing back a tram to Auckland – even if it is only a heritage project which will just run around the waterfront at first.

What do you think? Is a tram for the Wynward Quarter a good idea? If you lived in Auckland (or came here for a visit) would you use it?

39 thoughts on “Auckland gets trams

  1. That map is originally from another website, not the CBT forums… That tram system is over 70 kms and covered most of the extent of Auckland at the time…

    Dom Rd is the real opportunity to show light rail’s worth in Auckland… Let us hope that it is extended there quickly…

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  2. Most large cities in Europe, Australia & North America have rail networks to move the people, ease the congestion on roads & cut down the vehicle pollution levels.. having lived in Sydney for quite a while in the 80-90s.. I was reliant on the trains to get around. Then I returned to NZ several years ago to see that kiwis seem to have an aversion to public transport & see the private car as the be all & end all..

    I think it time to catch up the the rest of the modern world & invest in getting the grid-lock off the roads.. Kia-ora

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  3. Isn’t it interesting to see that Auckland scores poorly on both public transport use and GDP?)

    If you want to argue that that’s why NZ lags in GDP then go for it.

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  4. Having lived in Melbourne and having made full use of their tram system, I am fully in favour of trams in all cities of reasonable size. Therefore I am delighted to read that Auckland is taking the first step down this road.

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  5. Oh FFS! They are bringing them back as a tourist attraction. A sign of the quaint world of yesteryear. They are in effect consigning them to history not providing a platform for growth. If the greens want to align with a great leap backwards then more fool you.

    How many tramlines have been built in Chch for public transport since theirs got going? Oh that’s right, none.

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  6. @Insider. Obviously I’d prefer to see modern light rail seriously on the table as a transport option for Auckland (and Christchurch). But at the same time most Aucklanders have no idea there were ever trams in Auckland. A heritage tram with accompanying exhibit might make them more aware of the potential a lot of our oldest roads have to run light rail.

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  7. I seriously don’t understand this obsession with trams over buses and dedicated bus lanes. They are inflexible and I suspect expensive. You can’t retask a tram to substitute for broken down trains or for school runs, and you can use a tramline for other traffic off peak. The only benefit it seems is size and perhaps speed, but at what comparative cost?

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  8. As an elderly diabled person (the kind that is most reliant on public transport) I’d like to say eff you very much to the council for wasting so much money on something I will never be able to use. The only good thing is another summer with roadworks at the tourist hub at the bottom of Auckland. I just love seeing them all stuck in the noise and dust waiting for buses and ferries.

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  9. A few facts.
    Light rail is slow. Buses using the same road normally overtake the rail.
    Second, Auckland is a hilly city with narrow roads.
    Light rail works in Melbourne because Melbourne has massive wide boulevards – as does Minneapolis.
    when you insert rail into a street network you lose two lanes.
    So if you look at K Road in Auckland where do you fit the rail lines and indeed where do you fit them in almost any Auckland road. Either the bus lanes have to go or you forget about the rail.
    The engineers who lifted the tram lines in the fifties were not stupid. People were buying cars and public transport use was destined to all in Auckland as in every other city around the world.
    Something had to give – and still does.
    Also, cities like Auckland have a major cross town movements and the radial light rail lanes require traffic light control while the arms come down. This further extends the delays to cross town traffic from the traffic lights.
    Think Green lane road and Manukau road. This is why light rail increases congestion on cross town routes.
    And before you mention San Francisco, the cable cars are essentially tourist items and their core spine again is along the foreshore where the Emacadero is a wide boulevard – Melbourne Style. Quay Street is already lane saturated.
    Auckland roads are either bullock tracks or sheep tracks.
    The wide boulevards of Europe and the US were designed to allow a coach and eight horses space to turn around. (An equine cul de sac end if you like.) Because of our hills and lack of gentry and palaces we never had a big demand for coach and eight horse transport.

    Sorry about that.

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  10. Owen it’s like you try to be completely wrong…

    Melbourne widened it’s roads in response to growing traffic volumes decades AFTER the introduction of trams and BEFORE building their motorway system, the trams are one of the reasons they could delay their motorway system…

    Secondly the removal of PT in Auckland was done by well intentioned traffic engineers (read: morons) but it had little to do with public opinion (over 66% of people walk, cycled or caught PT for all trips) or traffic volumes at the time and in fact involved some very creative writing and photography in the Master Plan in 1955 to not have Aucklanders in active revolt…

    @Stephen R: The lack of PT is one of the reasons NZ GDP lacks behind, actually the entire transport system here is a cross subsidising mess that would make the most backwater former Eastern bloc communist state proud…

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  11. “But in the 1950s we believed that the private motor car would solve all our congestion and mobility problems. So we tore up our tram lines and replaced them with motorways and massive roads.”

    Frog, no no no no. When the decision was made in 1949 to replace the trams of both Auckland and Wellington with buses, the private motorcar was not viewed as the solution to all our transport problems and public transport was still deemed to have a central role.

    The problem was that most of Auckland and Wellington’s trams were old and tired. The most numeric class of trams that Auckland had were the M class, and they dated to between 1908 and 1923 – that meant that they were anywhere between twenty-five and forty years old, and some had gone through two World Wars. Similarly, Wellington had a large number of double saloon trams (around half their fleet if memory serves) which dated from the same era, and they were also old and tired.

    Replacing them with other trams was not going to be all that easy, since the only mass tram manufacturers left were on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain. The only option left was replacement with buses.

    If you look at Melbourne, the sole reason I believe that their tram system was kept intact was because the last of the cable tram routes were electrified in the late 1930s, and this allowed for a degree of fleet renewal – effectively the trams were still relatively new in the 1950s and 1960s. A similar fleet renewal programme happened in Brisbane with the FM class trams arriving in the late 1930s, however, the main reason why the Brisbane tram system died was because of the 1962 Paddington Depot fire which destroyed 65 out of their 365 trams and also resulted in the loss of their major westside tram stabling depot.

    If we look at the other Australian centres that got rid of their tram fleets (Perth, Adelaide and Sydney), we essentially see the same pattern as what happened in Auckland and Wellington – there was no significant fleet renewal, and so by the 1950s, there was old and tired tram fleets that could only be replaced by buses (remember, tram manufacturers were on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain).

    “Is a tram for the Wynward Quarter a good idea?”

    Frog, I personally don’t think that it is a good idea. There are significant parts of Auckland that only get a bus once every hour during the off-peak, and we really need to ensure that their bus services improve. We should fix what we have first, and then look at getting all the fancy stuff – ultimately, if we had fifteen minute bus frequencies to all throughout Auckland, you would see a massive spike in public transport patronage as public transport would become a reasonably convenient transport option.

    At the moment, the residents of West Harbour, Titirangi, Bucklands Beach and even parts of Mangere have the option of waiting an hour in the cold and rain for a bus or driving their car – what do you think they are choosing?

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  12. Owen, a few more facts…

    ‘Light rail is slow’…….. Compared to what? How fast do you think trams should travel? In urban streets the speed limit for all types of vehicle is 50 kmh. This is entirely adequate for public transport in city streets.

    ‘Auckland is a hilly city with narrow roads’……… So is Lisbon, yet it has an extensive tram network which, from my own observation, appears unhindered by the local topography.

    ‘if you look at K Road in Auckland where do you fit the rail lines’…… If you look at the map above you can see that K Road had tram lines in the past. You fit the rail lines precisely where they were the first time, of course.

    ‘radial light rail lanes require traffic light control while the arms come down’……. This is patently absurd. Can you give us an example? Where in the world is there a tram network which requires ‘arms’ to separate tram movements from other traffic? Trams and light rail use traffic lights at street crossings in just the same way as all other vehicles.

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  13. “Replacing them with other trams was not going to be all that easy, since the only mass tram manufacturers left were on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain.”

    Wellington bought Ganz railcar units from Hungary, why couldn’t we buy East European trams?

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  14. Why bother with trams? Trolley buses will do a better job, ask Wellingtonians. Like trams, trolleys need the overhead wires but don’t need any rails, hence lower capital cost. Furthermore, they don’t obstruct other traffic when they stop for passengers because they pickup at the kerbside. Trams stop in the middle of the road and other traffic must stop when they stop otherwise passengers get runover.

    And tramlines are a cyclist’s nightmare; I write from bitter experience.

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  15. “Trolley buses will do a better job”

    Dunno – trams seem more reliable and are more fun, which is not a minor consideration.

    There’s a proposal to pedestrianise Lambton Quay in Wellington, and it strikes me that ultra-light rail would be useful here. Get a model railway club to build one of those miniature train tracks (the biggish ride-on ones they have in some parks) down it. Cheap, fun and suitable for the needs of parents, shoppers and others who just need to get from one end of the street to another slightly faster than walking.

    Come to think of it, a Ferris wheel to lift people up to a platform on a high rise building would be a great way to access the Terrace from Lambton Quay as well. Where could dodgems fit in?

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  16. “Wellington bought Ganz railcar units from Hungary, why couldn’t we buy East European trams?”

    Sam, remember that the Ganz Mavag units were bought in the 1980s – while the Cold War was still going on, things were not as frosty (if memory serves, we were even selling butter to the Soviet Union at around that time).

    The situation was significantly different in the 1950s – indeed, we were fighting the Soviets in Korea at the time.

    “Trolley buses will do a better job, ask Wellingtonians.”

    Michaela, trolley buses are, generally speaking, the worst of both worlds – they have the association of buses in the minds of the public and the inflexibility (and thus reduced capacity in some respects) of trams. Wellington only keeps trolley buses because of their geography.

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  17. Trams generally have 3 times the capacity of trolley buses…

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  18. Where I come from, buses and trams use the same tracks – so there is no reason to sacrifice bus lanes for trams, just as there is no reason trams have to run in the middle of the road. In other cities, light rail and heavy rail tracks are seamlessly connected: in Karlsruhe for example, you enter a tram and can go to the next city 100 km away in it, or – at the other end – directly into the Black Forest – without ever changing vehicles.
    I fully understand the aversion of New Zealanders to use public transport. Why would you use a slow, infrequent, unreliable, costly, inaccessible (for people with physical disabilities, and everyone not knowing exactly which route to take), smelly, disconnected system, where you get motion sickness frequently, because drivers need to negotiated the road with other users? It doesn’t have to be that way: using public transport can be a pleasure! A network of modern trams would be a first step in this direction. Yet: heritage trams in the Viaduct? This will only convince everyone that trams are not a serious option to move around in the city. It’s a tourism gimmick, and might have it’s own right in this department, but do not confuse this with transport planning, please!
    Hilly, low density, love affair with the car: all petty excuses. Less dense cities have far better public transport, hills are not an insurmountable problem anywhere in the world, and the love affair with the car is actually an abuse story.
    The only reasonable explanation for why we don’t have a real choice of getting around, is the answer to the classical question: Cui bono – who’s benefiting?

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  19. “Trams generally have 3 times the capacity of trolley buses”

    Trams have approximately twice the seated capacity of the largest trolley buses. Still, like I said, trolley buses are the worst of both worlds.

    “Where I come from, buses and trams use the same tracks – so there is no reason to sacrifice bus lanes for trams, just as there is no reason trams have to run in the middle of the road.”

    Actually, you’ll find for things such as crossovers and the like, trams need to run in the middle of the road. In terms of bus lanes not being sacrificed, remember that your buses would be wanting to overtake stationary trams at stops (it is likely that your buses would be coming from further out or other locations) and if you are running thirty or forty trams an hour (as you would during peak hour), then you are either going to run the risk of head on collisions with trams or not being to overtake at all. With a bus lane, you can have one of those pull over bus stops which means that you can overtake a stationary bus quite easily.

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  20. “Actually, you’ll find for things such as crossovers and the like, trams need to run in the middle of the road.”
    I can give you plenty of examples, where trams do not run in the middle of the road.
    Go to Google Earth and have a look at the city of Bremen as one example. And actually, you are not making a case for why they would need to.

    “In terms of bus lanes not being sacrificed, remember that your buses would be wanting to overtake stationary trams at stops (it is likely that your buses would be coming from further out or other locations) and if you are running thirty or forty trams an hour (as you would during peak hour), then you are either going to run the risk of head on collisions with trams or not being to overtake at all.”

    There is no overtaking -and there doesn’t need to be any, as stops only take seconds (with a smart ticketing system). I know what I am talking about – I lived in a city with this system for more than a decade, it works out very smoothly.
    Of course if you apply current Auckland public transport situation, this would be a mess – but then again: current Auckland public transport IS a mess, and needs to change radically to make any sense at all.

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  21. @johnston, the trolley I was on in Wellington looked like a 44 seater, trams are usually around 120…

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  22. What vehicles can carry is not the issue – it is what they actually carry that counts.
    A 300 capacity tram carrying only 100 passengers is much less efficient that a 100 passenger bus carrying 100 passengers.
    This is why cars are more efficient than people think. They are never less that 25% loaded whereas trams and buses are frequently 10% loaded. The highest real capacity transport lane is the New York lincoln tunnel busway that from memory carries 30,000 passengers an hour at peak. This outperforms the subway because the lighter vehicles can run at shorter headways.

    There is a multiple tradeoff between headway, travel speed, capacity, and waiting time at the stops.
    The passenger prefers short waiting times which translates into small capacity, low speed except on high loaded routes. Once a passenger is on the tram or train or bus they do not care too much about the speed.
    The waiting minute is worth about 3 travel minutes.
    Engineers tend to favour speed over frequency. HIgh speed means high weight for comfort on rail and hence long headways and low frequencies. This makes it difficult to mix light and heavy rail on the same lines but it can be done. However, it gets to be near impossible if there is freight as well because they go slowly but with massive loads and stopping distances. Auckland has this problem on its heavy rail network.

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  23. “I can give you plenty of examples, where trams do not run in the middle of the road.
    Go to Google Earth and have a look at the city of Bremen as one example. And actually, you are not making a case for why they would need to.”

    Kara, the example given of Bremen still has two tram-tracks sitting next to each other – for all intents and purposes, it is a separate corridor. You couldn’t have two single track sections without causing significant infrastructure problems – you need a place to easily terminate those trams both for usual operations, and in case of unusual events (for instance, a tram breakdown).

    “There is no overtaking -and there doesn’t need to be any, as stops only take seconds (with a smart ticketing system). I know what I am talking about – I lived in a city with this system for more than a decade, it works out very smoothly.”

    Kara, how many buses per hour were on this corridor? How many trams per hour? No overtaking might work when you are only talking about sixty vehicles per hour total, but if you are looking at above a hundred then the ability for buses to overtake trams is pretty important – if you are running at two hundred buses per hour, a tram stopping for even a few seconds is going to cause buses to stop behind it unless you have the ability to overtake.

    Now obviously Auckland doesn’t have that situation yet (the busiest corridor in Auckland outside of the CBD is Auckland to Newmarket with around seventy buses per hour during peak), but if public transport patronage does grow, then we are going to need extra services and if we throw trams in, then we are going to need the ability for Express buses to easily overtake the trams.

    “the trolley I was on in Wellington looked like a 44 seater, trams are usually around 120…”

    You do get articulated trolley-buses which are obviously higher seating capacity than the ones in Wellington. If Wellington were to ever get trams, they probably wouldn’t be the 130 seater ones either.

    “The passenger prefers short waiting times which translates into small capacity, low speed except on high loaded routes. Once a passenger is on the tram or train or bus they do not care too much about the speed.”

    Owen, that is mostly right – and that is why I am concerned that $7 million is being wasted by the ARC on this light rail scheme while parts of Auckland still have hourly off-peak services. Would anyone in their right mind expect people to take the bus if the next one is an hour away? We need to spend the money on bringing what we have up to standard first, and then we can look at tram lines for those routes that need them.

    “However, it gets to be near impossible if there is freight as well because they go slowly but with massive loads and stopping distances. Auckland has this problem on its heavy rail network.”

    Generally speaking, the Australian centres have removed freight from their suburban lines by constructing freight only lines. The only cities there that still have them to a significant degree is Sydney (Glenfield to Macarthur and north of Strathfield) and Brisbane (although that is partly mitigated through the use of amplification).

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  24. “for all intents and purposes, it is a separate corridor.” Believe you me: it is not! Occasionally: yes, trams are on separate tracks, but in large parts of the city, tracks are simply embedded in the road, and trams share the road with buses, cars, bicycles – the city layout is medieval – there is no space for separate tracks – but the important thing here: it works! As for breakdowns: in my 6 years in Auckland I experienced more than a handful of them – in my more than 10 year in Bremen with extensive PT use, the total is: none.
    One important difference: buses and trams stop at every stop – there’s no signalling the driver (my eyesight is still quite good, but even I can sometimes not make out the bus numbers, and I really wonder how people who are more visually impaired can possibly work out how to signal the right bus). It is no nuisance, though, as again: it takes a lot less than stopping at a red light to have a dozen people boarding and exiting. As half the city takes PT at rush hour, there is heaps of trams and buses moving around (can’t give you exact numbers, but mornings and evenings you do not wait longer than 5 minutes anywhere in the city). Yes, buses (and cars) occasionally stop behind trams, load and unload, too – no one minds. Buses and trams head to tail doesn’t happen all too often, though, as everyone pretty much sticks to their timetables. I heard that in Tokyo, train drivers resign when they are seconds late – it’s not quite like that in Bremen, but delays are the exception.
    Of course, PT is operated by a CCO, the fleet is quite new, there are network maps at every stop (in Auckland, every second bus is delayed because people are asking the driver for the right line to xy -as there is minimal info on this at the stops) , and taking PT is a real option – I did not own a car. Pricing invites frequent use – in Auckland, a monthly pass looses all advantage if I take as much as 2 days off a month. In Bremen, there are even larger savings with a yearly! pass. Did I mention perpetual ferries across the river, for pedestrians and bicycles only?
    This is all light-years away from the situation in Auckland, and it’ll either take very serious spending or bespoke light-years before PT becomes a viable alternative for Aucklanders. Without it, though, most of us will not be able to move around at all in a carbon constraint future.

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  25. “Believe you me: it is not! Occasionally: yes, trams are on separate tracks, but in large parts of the city, tracks are simply embedded in the road, and trams share the road with buses, cars, bicycles – the city layout is medieval – there is no space for separate tracks – but the important thing here: it works!”

    Kara, while the tram tracks might be imbedded in the road, as far as I can see, the tram tracks are effectively running in parallel to the road – they aren’t running one track on one side of the road, one track on the other side of the road.

    “One important difference: buses and trams stop at every stop – there’s no signalling the driver (my eyesight is still quite good, but even I can sometimes not make out the bus numbers, and I really wonder how people who are more visually impaired can possibly work out how to signal the right bus). It is no nuisance, though, as again: it takes a lot less than stopping at a red light to have a dozen people boarding and exiting.”

    That would slow down the public transport system excessively, because not only do you have the actual stopping to consider, but you have the fact that you could have gone by that stop at 50km/h. If someone can drive at 50km/h while the bus is stopping every 400 metres, then you are just going to shoot public transport patronage in the foot. Also, you haven’t factored in the running of Express buses from points outside of the tram line – a tram might be stopping at the stop, but the bus would be sailing on through.

    “As half the city takes PT at rush hour, there is heaps of trams and buses moving around (can’t give you exact numbers, but mornings and evenings you do not wait longer than 5 minutes anywhere in the city). Yes, buses (and cars) occasionally stop behind trams, load and unload, too – no one minds.”

    Alright, so you have about twelve public transport vehicles on the worst routes every hour during peak then?

    “Buses and trams head to tail doesn’t happen all too often, though, as everyone pretty much sticks to their timetables. I heard that in Tokyo, train drivers resign when they are seconds late – it’s not quite like that in Bremen, but delays are the exception.”

    It doesn’t even come down to late running, it comes down to the sheer number of vehicles. If we are expecting Auckland’s public transport patronage to quadruple over the next thirty years, then we are going to have to supply four times the amount of peak hour capacity. For a route such as Dominion Road, that means a hundred buses per hour and when you have buses running once every forty seconds, then chances are that the bus behind will catch up to the bus in front at some point in the trip.

    “This is all light-years away from the situation in Auckland, and it’ll either take very serious spending or bespoke light-years before PT becomes a viable alternative for Aucklanders.”

    No, what it will take is starting off small and working from there. If we had fifteen minute bus frequencies to the whole of Auckland, then we could potentially double or if we are lucky, even treble public transport patronage. Then we take the busiest routes and upgrade them to rail and get even more patrons. You don’t need a big bang approach to make public transport viable.

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  26. “Kara, while the tram tracks might be imbedded in the road, as far as I can see, the tram tracks are effectively running in parallel to the road – they aren’t running one track on one side of the road, one track on the other side of the road.”
    Hmm – don’t know what to say to this, really. Have you lived there, too? What suburb where you living in then, and did you ever go to Walle, Groepelingen, Hastedt, Findorff or the Viertel? And by the way: many cities in Europe run trams on the same roads as cars and buses, not just Bremen.

    “That would slow down the public transport system excessively” only: it doesn’t. Again: I am not talking theory here, I am talking years of experience. There are no stops every 400m, though, and you don’t need them in a more grid-like network, as you still only live max 400m away from the nearest stop. As to 100 buses down Dominion Road: how about 20 trams instead? I know it is hard to fathom that effective PT can work smoothly, when all the experience you have is Auckland, but if you’ve lived in cities overseas – and I have in more than one – with good public transport, you can see that load doesn’t have to be a problem. Nor do hills, or low density.
    I maintain, though, that incremental changes of the PT concept as found in Auckland are fraud with enormous difficulty. As long as PT does not provide a viable alternative, I will have to keep my car, for example. As long as it takes me twice the time to go to work by PT than by car (even considering congestion), I will contribute to the ever growing gridlock, occasionally. If Auckland got it right, though, not only would I scrap my car, I would not need parking any longer, which would free up considerable space. If more people followed, cycling became a safe alternative, and even walking might become pleasurable again.
    As long as PT only gets a bit more reliable, frequent and connected, none of this will happen, because it is still light-years away from good enough.

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  27. “Hmm – don’t know what to say to this, really. Have you lived there, too? What suburb where you living in then, and did you ever go to Walle, Groepelingen, Hastedt, Findorff or the Viertel? And by the way: many cities in Europe run trams on the same roads as cars and buses, not just Bremen.”

    No, but I did do some basic research when you made your earlier point. All the images on the Bergen Light Rail article on Wikipedia showed tram tracks where both tracks were on one side of the road.

    Also, I am aware that you can run tram tracks in the same road – however, you tend to find that when that happens that the tram tracks are in the middle of the road, to allow for crossovers and the like.

    “only: it doesn’t. Again: I am not talking theory here, I am talking years of experience. There are no stops every 400m, though, and you don’t need them in a more grid-like network, as you still only live max 400m away from the nearest stop.”

    So are you suggesting bus stops only every 800m from each other? Don’t you think that is a little far to walk for the average commuter to get to their bus stop?

    “As to 100 buses down Dominion Road: how about 20 trams instead?”

    The twenty trams will offer less than half the seating capacity that is offered by the hundred buses – if you want to maintain the same seating capacity, then you will be needing fifty trams (and that assumes that you run tram lines to each of the termini as well).

    “I know it is hard to fathom that effective PT can work smoothly, when all the experience you have is Auckland, but if you’ve lived in cities overseas – and I have in more than one – with good public transport, you can see that load doesn’t have to be a problem. Nor do hills, or low density.”

    I know that public transport can work very well; loads aren’t a problem to a certain point, but once they have hit that point, then you do start to get problems.

    “I maintain, though, that incremental changes of the PT concept as found in Auckland are fraud with enormous difficulty.”

    Incremental change is going to be the only way we can really get basic improvements. Building a light rail line to the Viaduct might be alright for that area, but we will still have parts of Auckland where there is only one bus per hour – we really need to ensure that we have reasonably frequent buses to all parts of Auckland, and then we can look at the fancy infrastructure. You also find that improvements in frequency do result in improvements in patronage.

    “As long as PT only gets a bit more reliable, frequent and connected, none of this will happen, because it is still light-years away from good enough.”

    The problem is that we have gold plated infrastructure (how much does it really need to cost to paint some lanes green?), and we have people who want to spend millions on fancy public transport proposals while there are far too many parts of Auckland that only have one or two buses per hour. I can only name about a dozen corridors from memory that have at least fifteen minute frequencies all day on weekdays, and there are even fewer that have those sort of frequencies on weekends.

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  28. Never said anything about Bergen. Have a look at Bremen:
    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3446/3725820051_ed6121a9b4.jpg

    Yes, I did say you don’t need a stop every 400m if you have a grid. I also said that if you had a grid you only have to walk a max of 400m to the nearest stop – actually reading helps enormously in understanding!

    What bus capacity and what tram capacity are we talking? It’s not as if there’s only one size of bus or tram, so I have no clue where you are basing your figures on.
    It is indeed a pity that here are so few corridors with halfway frequent services. Yet: we always wanted to get away with PT solutions on the cheap in Auckland – see where this got us! What I am saying is: be serious about PT, and this entails serious investment -it might be the only option to get around in the future.

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  29. (NOTE – this graph also shows the GDP of each city. Isn’t it interesting to see that Auckland scores poorly on both public transport use and GDP?)

    IMHO, it’s even more interesting that Christchurch, which has no urban motorways scores even worse than Auckland on both counts and Wellington with it’s excellent PT usage is barely better than Auckland for GDP.

    But most interesting is that Transit’s travel time survey reveals that Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Tauranga have almost identical congestion, ranging between 65.5% of the legal speed limit in Christchurch to 67% in Tauranga. By using the actual time lost rather than indexing to the speed limit means that roading engineers will be perpetually chasing “congestion” that exists solely because they’ve built some more high-speed roadways in urban areas to solve congestion problems caused by building higher-speed urban roads in the first place in complete ignorance of the psychology of time budgeting.

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  30. Why does the MED think “It is also reasonable to assume the elimination of importing licence restrictions in 1989 and substantial further reductions in tariff levels from 1993-2000 contributed to the sharp decline in public transport usage over the period.”

    The removal of credit rationing, falling petrol prices, the end of stagflation and a spectacular increase in two-income households suggest that the MED is making an unreasonable, or at the very least unsubstantiated, assumption.

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  31. “Never said anything about Bergen. Have a look at Bremen:”

    The image you posted, and the two images that I have seen on the Wikipedia article about the Bremen system show trams running in the centre of the road. Even a brief look at Google Earth either showed the tram lines running in the centre of the road, or running in their own alignment in parallel to the road. I didn’t see one track on one side of the road and another track on the other side of the road.

    “Yes, I did say you don’t need a stop every 400m if you have a grid. I also said that if you had a grid you only have to walk a max of 400m to the nearest stop – actually reading helps enormously in understanding!”

    Kara, even with a grid, the widest you could have bus stops apart from each other is 565 metres to keep walking distances to less than 400 metres. That is of course assuming that a grid is even possible – Auckland, for instance, would only be able to have a spiderweb, and in a lot of older suburbs, the only bus suitable roads quite a distance from each other. Taking Dominion Road for instance, it is about a kilometre between Balmoral Road and Landscape Road – not 600 metres.

    Essentially, you haven’t changed the situation by much.

    “What bus capacity and what tram capacity are we talking? It’s not as if there’s only one size of bus or tram, so I have no clue where you are basing your figures on.”

    The largest capacity tram that I am aware of has 129 seats; in terms of buses, I am working on the standard Auckland articulated bus, which has 70 seats. I am aware that you can get longer articulated buses, but those are generally for busways.

    “It is indeed a pity that here are so few corridors with halfway frequent services. Yet: we always wanted to get away with PT solutions on the cheap in Auckland – see where this got us! What I am saying is: be serious about PT, and this entails serious investment -it might be the only option to get around in the future.”

    Kara, you don’t need billions to get public transport up to a decent standard. All you need is fifteen minute frequencies and a lick of paint to start off with. Once you know where the most popular corridors are, then you spend the billions on upgrading to improve patronage further. The problem is that we aren’t spending money on improving bus services – if we were, then would we see hourly bus frequencies to parts of Mangere, Titirangi, West Harbour and Bucklands Beach?

    “IMHO, it’s even more interesting that Christchurch, which has no urban motorways scores even worse than Auckland on both counts and Wellington with it’s excellent PT usage is barely better than Auckland for GDP.”

    I suspect that it is the other way around – remember, what sort of occupations tend to generate high GDP and what occupations tend to be more public transport friendly? HINT: Think about what London and New York are famous centres of.

    “The removal of credit rationing, falling petrol prices, the end of stagflation and a spectacular increase in two-income households suggest that the MED is making an unreasonable, or at the very least unsubstantiated, assumption.”

    Kevyn, I wonder how much of the lost patronage was caused by service cuts that had occurred earlier but had not been allowed to flow through because there had been no alternatives.

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  32. “The image you posted, and the two images that I have seen on the Wikipedia article about the Bremen system show trams running in the centre of the road. ”

    Come on, if this is the centre of the road: would you care to point out where the sides are, then? You can possibly squeeze a towel in between the trams and the sidewalk or parking bays – but that’s that.
    Here’s another one: http://www.prorad.de/bremen/fleetrade/fleetrade.php Still to centrist?
    I thought a tram every 3 minutes (20 per hour) down Dominion Road was quite good, and still manageable. 100 buses per hour, as you suggest, equates to one every 36 seconds – that even I find ambitious to coordinate! But then again: we are probably both no transport planners.My perspective is looking at what works, and what doesn’t. All the years I live in Auckland, incremental changes didn’t do much for me – or percentage of mode share.

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  33. When in Europe I used a tram-train system which operated like a tram in the central city streets, stopping at all the intersections, it then left the road onto the rail system and operated like a suburban metro, stopping at stations. It then lowered its connector to the overhead wires and started its diesel motor, continuing out beyond the city servicing the smaller towns like a regional train before arriving at the next city over a 100Km away. It was quick, efficient and integrated – tram, metro, train all rolled into one, and all because the inner-city tram tracks were the same gauge as the railway tracks. (search Wikipedia for Tram-train).
    
I hope Auckland will think carefully about the track gauge for any trams making them the same as the railway gauge, and surely a integrated system using all the same infrastructure is more economical to run than separate systems.

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  34. “Come on, if this is the centre of the road: would you care to point out where the sides are, then? You can possibly squeeze a towel in between the trams and the sidewalk or parking bays – but that’s that.”

    The road width doesn’t matter, the trams are still running down the middle of the road (even if the road itself is the width of the tram alignment). Like I said above, when I looked at Google Earth images of Bremen, I saw a lot of tram track running in the middle of the road and not very much running on the side of the road.

    “I thought a tram every 3 minutes (20 per hour) down Dominion Road was quite good, and still manageable. 100 buses per hour, as you suggest, equates to one every 36 seconds – that even I find ambitious to coordinate! But then again: we are probably both no transport planners.My perspective is looking at what works, and what doesn’t. All the years I live in Auckland, incremental changes didn’t do much for me – or percentage of mode share.”

    20 trams per hour is fine at the moment, but if we have four times the number of passengers going down Dominion Road in the coming years, then we are going to need four times the seating capacity. A hundred buses per hour, while ambitious, is definitely possible – Anzac Parade in Sydney has over 200 buses per hour during peak, and that is a suburban arterial route.

    “I hope Auckland will think carefully about the track gauge for any trams making them the same as the railway gauge, and surely a integrated system using all the same infrastructure is more economical to run than separate systems.”

    Shayne, in the case of Auckland, the last thing you will be wanting is trams and trains mixing together. If we look at the picture in the years to come, we might be talking about twelve trains per hour on each of the legacy routes. Trying to fit trams in between them is going to be very difficult because of the differing speeds (80km/h for your tram, 110km/h for your train) without looking at constructing additional tracks. Also, there aren’t really any places in Auckland that would be worthy of light rail that runs significantly in parallel with the current rail network.

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  35. Hi guys as a PT & rail nut from NZ, living in Germany for 5 years, no amount of theory or research can really prepare you for how well Germany does rail based transport in all forms from tram, underground (U Bahn), city trains (S Bahn) to regional and inter city express trains, you can not imagine until you have lived there and used it every day, it becomes part of your relationship to the city, you love it as much as every kiwi loves his car.
    . Sorry to say it John but your perspective is wrong because if Auckland did ever manage to get such an extensive tram network that so many trams were running down Dominion Road then you don’t need those ‘lost’ lanes of traffic cause all the people are on the trams. In Berlin the traffic is often stopped and must wait while I get on or off my tram, the NZ mindset is all wrong for PT, it views it as an optional extra, where as in Germany the PT user comes before the private car user !
    . To Shayne herceg YES The great thing is in NZ we have such a tiny gauge that yes we can run light rail that just rolls onto regular rail line !. Wellington is thinking about it, by converting the Jonsonvile line and the melling line to light rail, departing from the main line just before the railway station using the major roads through the city, and best way to avoid Johns and Kara never ending discussion, to simply use the one way system already in place, for easy boarding with out having tracks in the middle of the road :)
    . O and by the way I was in Sarjiavo 4 years ago and it had a better Tram and public transport system than any NZ city, so don’t tell me its a money problem, its public mind set and political will !

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  36. Sorry to say it John but your perspective is wrong because if Auckland did ever manage to get such an extensive tram network that so many trams were running down Dominion Road then you don’t need those ‘lost’ lanes of traffic cause all the people are on the trams.

    If I recall my comment, I was making reference to having both buses and trams running down the same lane. If you have a hundred buses and trams an hour heading down the same corridor, then it is natural that you will want the buses to be able to overtake the trams where appropriate – especially since the most likely scenario where you would have buses and trams in the same corridor is where the buses are running Express from points beyond the tram route.

    In Berlin the traffic is often stopped and must wait while I get on or off my tram, the NZ mindset is all wrong for PT, it views it as an optional extra, where as in Germany the PT user comes before the private car user !

    Both users should have equal priority – you have public transport advocates who suggest that they are not anti the car, and yet they are fans of procedures such as this one which create unnecessary congestion. If I were designing a tram system, I would link the tram stops with traffic lights which themselves would be phased along the corridor – essentially, you would have a lengthy pedestrian phase every couple of minutes to access each stop.

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  37. >If I were designing a tram system, I would link the tram stops with traffic lights >which themselves would be phased along the corridor – essentially, you would have >a lengthy pedestrian phase every couple of minutes to access each stop.

    Sorry, but this is giving priority to cars in disguise. There is no “unnecessary congestion” due to public transport. PT is a necessary element of transportation. Unnecessary congestion is created by too many people using 12 square metres of tin can each to move around, when there is no viable alternative.
    Pedestrians do not require a lengthy phase for boarding PT vehicles – there are other ways to provide safe access, and boarding only takes seconds if a smart ticket system is in place.

    Everywhere in the world where a good (effective, fast, reliable, clean, safe) PT network (with emphasis on NETWORK) is provided, people are flocking to it, and never want to miss it again. Congestion eases as a result, sustainably.

    Thus, in the interest of all traffic participants there needs to be a clear priority for public transport. This is the only chance that individual motorists get for ever being able to drive congestions free again. I repeat: priority for public transport is in the best interest of individual motorists!

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  38. Sorry, but this is giving priority to cars in disguise. There is no “unnecessary congestion” due to public transport. PT is a necessary element of transportation. Unnecessary congestion is created by too many people using 12 square metres of tin can each to move around, when there is no viable alternative.

    How is it giving priority to cars in disguise?

    Pedestrians do not require a lengthy phase for boarding PT vehicles – there are other ways to provide safe access, and boarding only takes seconds if a smart ticket system is in place.

    That would be dependent on a number of aspects. Ideally, you would want your tram stop in the middle of the road to service the trams as opposed to having it at the side of the road with the pedestrians having to cross as the tram arrives. For a corridor such as Dominion Road where there are few safe crossing points at the moment, it would also allow for a safe crossing of the road at more places.

    I would also note that it wouldn’t be a lengthy phase because the pedestrians need it. It would be a lengthy phase to allow for signalling consistency.

    Thus, in the interest of all traffic participants there needs to be a clear priority for public transport. This is the only chance that individual motorists get for ever being able to drive congestions free again. I repeat: priority for public transport is in the best interest of individual motorists!

    It depends on what the “priority” is. If it is forcing all cars to come to a halt when trams stop, then it is idiotic as it would happen every few hundred metres. If it is taking lanes away to provide for the public transport vehicle, then sure, no problem.

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  39. Yes the best tram stops are in the middle of the road and the entry to those stops is worked into the traffic light phasing of the joining intersection, and when that is not possible due to a narrow section of road or more lanes are required for cars at intersecions, then the tram stops in the middle of the road and special extra traffic lights stop the other traffic while people cross from the side walk. you will find everywhere, perhaps you should go on a little public transport trip to Europe and see how the other half live. All of those little problems have been solved decades ago all.

    most modern trams go faster than buses esp when they are on dedicated tracks they can reach over 100km per hour, and even between 800m stops they would go faster and smother than a bus so no need worry about a busses need to overtake ?? by the way busses suck and are a last resort in a real PT network, best would be to drive these busses to an interchange with the tram service as it would get the people in quicker & smother, and a dedicated tram only corridor is about 30% skinnier than a bus corridor so you can have some space to put trees in the middle and make it look pretty with grass coming up in between the tracks, just like in Germany yay :)

    When I do drive around Berlin I never have much of a problem, and I dont mind having to wait 20 seconds longer at lights because a tram load of 100 people gets priority over me and the other cars waiting, O and there is no ugly expensive motor way going through the middle of my city. :)

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