Track(less) to the future for Dominion Road
A majority of businesses along Dominion Road believe they could not survive the long period of disruption that establishing a Light Rail route along the iconic arterial route would necessitate
Initial concepts release by the Light Rail establishment Unit appear to be looking at a light rail option which would require long periods of build and disruption. The Dominion Rd Business Association (DRBA) recently conducted an initial sentiment survey to understand how its 300+ members are responding to the renewed discussion and possibility of Light Rail.
Key concerns raised by businesses included concern about how resilient their business would be to the disruption caused by a long period of works and that a large number of businesses, still depend on customers that arrive by car and park close to their premise, expressed real concerns about not providing this option.
Business Association Manager Gary Holmes said the results demonstrated very clear concerns and anxiety amongst its members who clearly felt that the disruption associated with both the works and the final outcome would have a serious effect on the ongoing viability of their businesses and tenants.
“The Dominion Rd Business Association in principle supports the development of a public transport system that increases load capacity and recognises that public transport systems are a key component of developing a vibrant, prosperous and sustainable city”, Mr Holmes said.
The Association believes that Trackless Trams offer the best solution to mass transit options along te iconic arterial route as they can avoid the worst features of light rail – disruption and cost. It can take years to lay rail tracks, causing major disruption to local economies, as is happening in Sydney.
Light rail in Sydney is also costing about $120 million per kilometre, Canberra and Newcastle over $80 million per km. Trackless trams cost about $6 - $8 million per km. These saving would allow investment in a built environment that supports car parking, community space and a world class environment to support housing density, while also achieving the same ride quality and capacity. Most importantly they can go in on existing road services and be installed in weeks or months – not years.
Dominion Road has been flagged for upgrades for decades, and projects have been started, stalled and then shelved a number of times, causing a great deal of ongoing uncertainty for business owners and property owners who have endured significant changes in access to parking with the creation of bus lanes and the overall general decline in the built environment.
Despite this Dominion Road has thrived in one of Auckland most loved and iconic destinations that offers a vibrant and diverse cultural experience. The area is also seeing a large number of new high density housing developments which is improving the quality and size of the building on its strip.
Dominion Road currently has more buses traveling along it that most transport routes in Auckland, and it is acknowledged that an increase in density will put this under even more pressure and that Dominion Rd is close to reaching its capacity in terms of bus usage.
The DRBA engaged Dr Sarosh Mulla, a Director of Pac Studio and Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland School of Architecture and Planning to develop up some hand rendered drawings on what the DRBA’s preferred option might look like, if Dominion Rd were intensified to its full extent.
Mr Holmes noted that Dominion Road can (and is) providing an important role in the urban densification needed in Auckland and that the key role of this transport system is urban regeneration and supporting density and that any connection to the airport is irrelevant.
“Rapid transport to the Airport is better served by other options and is counter to needs supporting urban regeneration and density,” he said.