Increase in buses but north-west no closer to rail service
The job of Auckland Transport is "by no means done," says Cameron Brewer.
The chairman of the Rodney Local Board's Transport, Infrastructure and Environment Committee said although planned new bus services looked "reasonably positive," it was still only a small contribution to the transport solution for the north-west.
Auckland Transport (AT) announced its streamlined bus service would be implemented out west from June 11.
It would include six services from Helensville to the city during the morning peak and a service every two hours after that from Helensville to Westgate.
But Brewer said a diesel shuttle service to Swanson from Huapai and back would help service people moving into the area.
"The north-west has got more than 30,000 houses coming in the next 30 years. AT says it's all about supporting future growth and in my mind that should mean committing to all feasible modes available, which includes trains to Huapai," he said.
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"There seems a concerted attempt by the likes of AT and KiwiRail to come up with every excuse as to why a diesel shuttle service can not operate from Swanson to Huapai as is already successfully happening from Papakura to Pukekohoe."
But AT media relations manager Mark Hannan said there are safety issues which prevented the diesel trains in storage from being used.
They do not meet current fire safety standards to use the Waitakere tunnel, he said.
"The regulations were changed following the Pike River investigation and the diesels no longer have certificates to operate in the Waitakere tunnel. It is extremely narrow and it would be difficult to evacuate passengers if there was a fire."
It would cost millions to upgrade the tunnel and diesel trains to the new required standards, Hannan said.
Brewer said bringing railway to life needs to be part of the transport agency's "pledge" to support the growth happening in the north-west.
"So a tick for committing to improve the north-west's bus service and frequency, but the job is by no means done. The decision-makers can no longer ignore that perfectly usable railway line that runs right past a lot of the growth," he said.
Hannan said AT, the New Zealand Transport Agency and the council were currently working through the best transport options for the areas of Riverhead, Kumeu, Huapai, Whenuapai and Red Hills.