Time for Auckland PRT study
It is easy to be sympathetic to Auckland Council Transport Chairman Mike Lee's recent frustration. Transport MInister Steven Joyce has displayed a less than enthusiastic reaction to the business case for the $2b Auckland central city rail tunnel.
True, at about 3.5km long this amounts to some $570m a kilometre bearing in mind it is tunnelling under CBD. But the benefits have been indicated and it is long overdue. If you are an Aucklander, it is also easy to sympathise with Mike Lee's; threat that if central government do not get this right - to quote
"what comes roaring out of Auckland's underground rail link could end up running down the National Government."
The $5m study shows massive benefits for a transit solution with a $2b price tag seeking implementation within 3-5 years. Government has resisted it because on the face of it $2b is a massive price tag and they apparently cannot prioritise this sooner.
So, here is the question - isn't it way past time for transit and funding people in both Auckland and Wellington to start thinking outside the box? PRT studies have shown and are still showing costs of about $10m - $15m per kilometre. The nature of PRT light-weight beamways could permit fast deployment - easily within 3 years. For that cost and time frame the whole of CBD could be networked with a world-class transit system. Isn't it time we did the PRT study for Auckland?
The objective of the study should be to show that an equivalent or better solution can be achieved at well below $2b and well within the time-frame. And while they are at it the study should also review a PRT link from Auckland Airport to Manukau City and also a PRT link from CBD over the existing harbour bridge to the North Shore.
And to be clear, a PRT solution does not need to be an "either or" solution - as in either PRT or rail. It should be "both and" and simply part of an overall set of transit solutions for Auckland.
While it is good for Mike Lee and Len Brown to push government hard for funding a decent transit solution for Auckland and to take a "we need it now" approach, in our current economci climate, as they say, "necessity is the mother of invention".
Read Mike Lee's reaction here
Mike Lee image courtesy of City Vision