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In just under five years, the idea of a light rail line from downtown Auckland to the airport has developed more subplots than a Scandi-noir thriller.
What started as one idea, has become two, and both entries for the "Auckland's Got Light Rail" knock-out are expected to be with the Ministry of Transport by Christmas.
The Government is due to announce its preference early in the new year.
A 2016 artist's impression of Auckland light rail trains en route to the airport.
To help understand what will become Auckland's big debate for next year, here are some simple answers to simple questions.
* Why does Auckland need light rail?
Repeated studies have shown bus congestion from the main isthmus arterial roads into the CBD is nearing gridlock, and upzoning under the Unitary Plan will allow much more intensive housing along those routes, such as Dominion Rd. Add to that thousands of additional homes coming in the redevelopment of Housing New Zealand's blocks in Mount Roskill, and Māngere.
This image shows how Auckland's proposed light rail route on Dominion Rd, Balmoral, could look.
Yes, I mean no, oh actually ... The airport was originally pencilled in for a heavy rail link, with light rail to serve the isthmus, but then light rail to the airport became the one mode to serve them all. Reasons given were the need for a proper rapid transit system to serve Māngere, and link it better to the rapidly growing employment precinct around the airport. After 2017, the Minister of Transport Phil Twyford promoted the scheme as a boon to intensification and urban transformation, serving new housing developments, such as on the Unitec site at Pt Chevalier.
* Why are there two schemes now?
NZTA, under the Labour-led government, took over the "legacy" project that had been developed by Auckland Transport. In 2018, out of the blue came an unsolicited idea from NZ Infra, made up of the NZ Super Fund and Canadian infrastructure investor CDPQ.
This article first appeared on www.stuff.co.nz
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