Greens welcome opening of North Shore Busway

Auckland Green Party MP Keith Locke is welcoming the opening of the North Shore Busway tomorrow.

“This is a huge step forward for public transport in Auckland,” says Mr Locke, the Green’s Spokesperson on Auckland Transport issues.

“Improvements in bus services on the Shore have already increased bus patronage by 48 percent from January to June 2007, compared with the same time the previous year. We are sure the new busway will entice many more commuters out of their cars and onto buses. At rush hour, they’ll now get to the CBD quicker by bus than by car.

“It’s great that a single transferable ticket, the Northern Pass, is also being introduced as the busway opens. Public transport in Auckland has long been bedeviled by the each operator having their own ticketing system. The Northern Pass, which can also be used on rail on the south side of the bridge, will make life much easier for passengers and bus drivers.

“The Greens look forward to a much more integrated public transport system in Auckland. We support the Auckland Regional Council and the Auckland Regional Transport Authority’s call for the Public Transport Management Bill to be amended to allow local bodies to contract all bus services, not just some. This is essential for proper regional coordination of all public transport modes and services.”

The next big project for Auckland is to bring the suburban rail network up to world standard. This means, not only electrifying the existing lines, but completing the network. Extending the Onehunga line to the airport would give North Shore residents a quick trip to the airport — via the North Shore Busway and then rail. Another essential project is the extension of rail from Britomart beneath the city to connect with the Western line at Mt Eden.

“This all costs money, which is another reason for postponing big new motorway projects which are geared to car travel. It is ominous that in her speech last Wednesday the Prime Minister said there would be ‘an important announcement soon about progress on the Waterview (motorway) connection’. Surely urgent public transport projects are a much better use of the $1 billion this motorway extension would cost.”