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).
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?