Light rail decisions must consider impact on Auckland businesses
Two preferred delivery partners for Auckland light rail have been chosen before key answers have been given to questions raised about light rail from the city centre to Mangere, which will impact hundreds of businesses along the route.
“Trust and confidence has been dented through the City Rail Link experience and we won’t stand by and watch the same issues happen with light rail. If the business case shows that this is the best option for rapid transit from the city centre to the airport, we expect that business needs will be understood and respected and that this will form an integral part of the project planning,” says Heart of the City Chief Executive Viv Beck.
“We support the development of rapid transit to ease congestion and transform our rapidly growing city. But major projects like this cannot be developed in a bubble, as we have seen by the devastating effects on business of the City Rail Link development.”
As yet we do not have answers to questions we asked a considerable time ago, including the rationale for light rail versus other options; assurance that light rail is fully integrated into wider transport plans for the city; cost and funding model; consideration of technological developments since the project was first mooted; timing; management of risks and more.
We expected these questions to be answered in the business case that was promised early this year and subsequently delayed by the New Zealand Super Fund’s alternative approach. Today’s announcement signals that further work is required over the coming months to determine the best model and “a final decision on who will build this transformational infrastructure will be made early next year”. This may reveal an outstanding solution, but we want to be sure that a decision of such importance to Auckland’s future has the right local input.
We also asked for assurance that there will be adequate time to plan for a significant and disruptive project like this, and that it will be coordinated to avoid unplanned and unnecessary cumulative impacts. The city must learn from the lessons of the CRL and commit to a development response programme to mitigate the impacts with an appropriate budget assigned for business support as part of the overall project plan. This is what other large, transformational projects offshore do and discussions must start now to ensure a fit for purpose model is established upfront so we don’t end up being told later that there is nothing in place to help businesses seriously impacted by the project.
Businesses drive our economy and the stakes are too high to just wait for Wellington to make announcements and tell us what is happening, rather than working with Auckland to help determine what will happen, when and how. City and business needs must be understood and respected and form an integral part of the planning for major projects.
For more information please contact:
Tania Loveridge, Advocacy and Engagement Manager, Heart of the City
027 293 0835
Notes to Editors:
Heart of the City is the business association for the city centre, committed to the growth and success of the city centre as a vibrant, accessible, safe and welcoming urban community