Saturday, October 15, 2005

Big leap forward or political hot air?

  HIDDEN amongst today’s junk mail in between the Warehouse brochure and the Bunting warehouse was the ARC’s October newsletter Region Wide. My heart leapt when I saw on page two, “chairman” (don’t we have to say chairperson any more!) Michael Lee say:

“The ARC group also has a mission to build up Auckland's public transport system - which is chronically run-down after decades of neglect. The Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) has been working hard on upgrading the present system with generous support from the Government. This is beginning to pay dividends - in August our train services achieved a record high in patronage.”
This alongside an article headed : Future of rail looks electric.But the article is very short on specifics and a little confusing for me head. Great in principle – thanks ARC, all good stuff – but it doesn’t seem clear how any of this will ever happen. Is it dependent on money from the Government as the final blow seems to suggest at the end? If Dunne and Peters are the kings of a greens-excluded labour government or National and Turia get into bed (horrible image), I can’t see it happening.
But the fact local politicans as important as these are now saying it in big bold print in official publications is a very exciting step forward that was unthinkable a year ago. We must encourage Mr Lee and co.
Here’s the article:
Plans for upgrading Auckland's rail based on electrification have been presented to the Auckland Region Council's Transport Policy committee. The Auckland Regional Transport Authority's (ARTA) plans for the rail network in 2030 would see annual passenger numbers increase to 30 million. ARTA is the ARC transport agency tasked with improving the region's transport experience. ARC Transport Policy Chairman Joel Cayford says the plan proposes a rail network with a CBD loop, construction of a rail link to the airport and a route between Avondale and Southdown.
"The underground CBD loop would provide commuters and those visiting the city for hopping, entertainment and business with convenient and high speed travel options."It would include two new stations, one near the Wellesley Street intersection with Queen Street and another near Karangahape Road. "ARTA's vision for the rail network in 2030 would see major increases in rail capacity. The improvements could drive annual rail use from the 4 million carried today to more than 30 million passengers in 2030.
"The proposed rail system would be a huge step up from what is currently available to commuters and would make a major contribution to solving Auckland's transport problems," Cr Cayford says.A major issue to consider is how the rail expansion would be funded, he says. "Given the significance of ARTA's proposals it is important we get to grips early with all the issues involved.
"The scale of development that electrification would enable is large and is likely to span 20-30 years. This is not merely a matter of making a decision to electrify and then 'flicking a switch'. It is about the future extent of the rail network. "It is essential for the ARC and ARTA to work together on a full proposal for the development of the rail system. The public have clearly indicated support for significant improvements to our rail system. "Now financial support from the Government will be essential for the region to achieve its rail vision," Cr Cayford says.
 Posted by Picasa ARTA graph
On the iPod: Omit- Tracer (beautiful electronica from Blenheim) Check it out here. Scroll down this San Francisco shop to hear clips and see a rave about a much-neglected Kiwi treasure.

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