Light rail debate ignites.

Friday 2 September 2016

The Regional Council is faced with some pressing issues (plus implementing the Long Term Plan), eg while commending the Regional Council on improvements in rail transport, there are concerns on aspects of bus travel amongst quite a number of its users: proposed routes, number of buses, required interchanges, and ticket prices – and bus to rail subsidy? Further, light rail has limited flexibility – how many will really use it in this compact, walkable city?

If light rail is to be debated, there are a number of issues and at time of writing surely those being offered should be more specific - transparency! The price has suddenly almost halved from $1 billion (22 08) – what authority? Then one Councillor says we mustn’t get bogged down in debating costs (29 08) – well $600+m in my view is quite some bog to wade through! Another current councillor said, “We’re not keen on being totally prescriptive on the route.” (22 08) – why not? Is it because wherever the route goes it can affect use of the road by others, parking for businesses, cycle ways, and possibly even residential sections if streets are widened? Then there are comparisons with other cities (29 08) but what about Sydney? – its had unforeseen challenges, for example, so far more than 250 unknown utility services have been found (SMH 6 2016) - and is well over budget (SMH 11 2014).

Finally, of course, level of rates: GWRC rates sit unobtrusively at the bottom of our rates bill but in these two years have increased quite markedly, averaging 8%, but presumably with just cause. That can’t continue however, not even for yet further costly reports if light rail is on the agenda! - but it’s not on my current agenda.