Monday, 11th October, 2021
The Auckland Light Rail Establishment Unit is wrapping up its business case for the City Centre to Mangere (CC2M) project, and key decisions will soon be made by the Transport Minister and his Cabinet colleagues on the way forward. Like many other stakeholder groups that have followed this project, we remain far from convinced about the Government’s approach.
There are still fundamental questions around affordability (both in terms of construction cost and the cost of disruption) and value for money, and why in the first place CC2M is being prioritised over other links in the rapid transit network (CBD to Westgate, for instance).
What’s more, Cabinet is about to make two of the biggest calls of the project – on the route it will follow and the rail system it will use (i.e., trams vs metro rail) – without any opportunity for meaningful public input. Feedback was sought during the recent round of public engagement, but no information was given on what the different options would deliver in terms of additional housing or ridership, or what each would cost (and who would pay). An informed comparison of the options was therefore impossible.
A rushed business case and clunky public engagement process are no way to secure social licence and deliver the most expensive infrastructure project in New Zealand’s history. Things had better change, and fast, or once again it could be back to the light rail drawing board.