Final Part of the Series (Part 6) in Lessons for Auckland
In my ALL ABOARD. Light Rail Moving You Around. Lessons for Auckland post I had mentioned the two types of tram systems I run:
Four new tram lines were built with two connecting to the wider city and two travelling within the area forming a City Link type circuit. The photos below are of City Boulevard Lines 1 and two that run as a loop down the new Boulevard and through Forrest Road (one of the two east-west parallel roads). The other two lines that were later built are:
- City Centre to Airport LRT Line. Think of it as Solaria’s City Centre to Airport via Dominion Road, Auckland equivalent with the Airport-Solarian Line (a metro/subway line) as the express Southern Airport Line).
- Thorton Hills Interchange – City Boulevard Line. This links up the new urban area to a major interchange that serves busses and an inter-city train station
Lessons for Auckland?
Do not be afraid of Light Rail and also Light Rail is good for small intra suburb running as well as big trans-city running like Airport Lines.
Two of the four new tram lines are intra-suburb running – meaning the line runs within a single district rather than multiple districts. I can control individual line budgets meaning I can select capacity ranges from 75 to 210 passengers. As a comparison a bio-fuel bus holds 40 passengers while the bendy busses hold 130 and let off a pile of diesel fumes along the way. So rather clogging my nice new urban area up with smelly busses I can use smaller trams to move passengers around while stepping up capacity as demand increases.
Manukau City Centre and Manukau/Wiri would be a perfect example of such a Light Rail scheme that connects into a larger LRT scheme like the Southern Airport Line (Manukau to the Airport via Puhinui Station) or in Cities Skylines the two City Boulevard Lines connecting into the bigger trans-city lines.
The two bigger lines being the Thorton Interchange to City Centre Line and the Airport to City Centre LRT Line both which run through part of the City Boulevard Lines.
In this case these two bigger lines run through multiple districts and centres so using the big E-class tram that holds 210 passengers will be more viable (remember my biggest bus is only 130 passengers).
The rule of thumb I usually follow with transit is this:
- Busses for short distances and feeders into major interchanges
- Light Rail for medium distances
- Heavy Rail (and Metro Rail with Cities Skylines) for long distances or high capacity shuttling such as a major transport interchange and a stadium
In Cities Skylines I usually follow the above rules with a couple of exceptions. From time to time I will build a busway to allow busses to do medium distance running while light rail can be used for short distance running.
The Laytonville Busway
But it is the LRT system I have set up that is of more interest as it gives lessons to Auckland as we try to set up an LRT system of our own.
This map shows the transit system in San Solarian City. The dash lines are the ferries, thick lines the Metro Lines and the thin lines are the trams:
As noted before I run both trans-city tram lines and tram lines that run within a single district (local loop running). Both classes of lines connect to each other either at a common station/stop or a slight over lap of the lines in some areas (two tram lines sharing the same bit of road/track) to allow transfers.
The question is why am I using trams for shot distance running? Answer One is capacity while answer two is ambience.
Busses are smelly, noisy and hold fewer passengers compared to the trams. Don’t get me wrong busses have their place including the biofuel bus but in a large City they just don’t cut the mustard when wanting to move people between areas (and between Metro Stations).
In high ambience areas like City Boulevard, the City Centre and Laytonville having lots of busses running around isn’t my idea of fostering ambience. This is why the trams are used in local loop running like City Boulevard Lines 1 and 2.
I can control budgets of individual lines so I can determine the capacity required:
So for the City Boulevard Lines trams that hold 75 passengers (still more than the biofuel bus (40)) are adequate while the Trans City Lines get the big 210 passenger trams.
City Centre – Thorton Hills LRT Line via City Boulevard
Airport to City Centre via William and City Boulevards
City Boulevard Line including Forrest Street
Lessons for Auckland?
The Northern Airport Line will be Light Rail while I am pushing the Manukau to Airport section of the Southern Airport Line to be Light Rail (Manukau to Botany will be bus).
The first is about capacity to meet demand (The Southern Airport Line intersects Manukau Bus Station and Puhihui Train Station that have heavily patronised transit lines running through them) and the second is about ambience especially in a major Metropolitan Centre like Manukau.
Manukau or rather Transform Manukau is 600 hectares in size compared to the main City Centre being around 385ha (this does NOT include Port of Auckland but does include Wynyard Quarter). Manukau is also in the middle of a large regeneration program that includes intensification and upgrades of public spaces. Manukau is also forecast to house 20,000 new residents (I say it can hold double) over the next decade or so.
Simply put given its large size busses are not going to quite cut it moving people around Manukau nor to and from it to another major employment area like the Airport. Ambience is also in play and like the City Centre having a high amount busses inside Manukau doesn’t exactly work either.
Running higher capacity trams along the Northern Airport Line through the Airport and down to Manukau via the Southern Airport Line would be Auckland’s example of my Airport to City Centre LRT via William Boulevard Line coupled with the Airport to Laytonville Metro Line.
A LRT Line doing a circuit of Manukau and Manukau City Centre linking up the main commercial area, main residential area to the south, the events centre to the south-east and AUT to the north-east would be an example of my City Boulevard Lines.
Remember via budget control you can use smaller trams (that can be coupled up to make larger units as I can in Cities Skylines (75, 150, 210 (same as the single unit E-class)) to start with and up the capacity as the demand allows.
I believe in the dig once, get it right policy that New Zealand struggles with (due to our often lack of foresight). While building LRT instead of a busway for the Southern Airport Line between Manukau and the Airport is more expensive those costs are paid off pretty quickly from the demand and ambience side.
Remember the Southern Airport Line intersects the Southern and Eastern (heavy rail) Lines widening the catchment of that particular Airport Line. You also have the Manukau Bus Station that is THE PRIMARY bus and inter-city bus station for South Auckland (like Britomart is for wider Auckland). So the demand for trams will be there straight off the bat (even if we use smaller single car trams to start with that can be later connected up like our current electric trains). As for bus congestion not applying in Manukau? Well I do not want to get to that point unlike the City Centre and as I try to avoid in Cities Skylines (and when I don’t it is a mess to untangle).
Remember ambience is the name of the game and having busses trundle through Manukau is not my idea of ambience. Again LRT like my City Boulevard Lines are great for localised loop running to move people around an area – especially are large area that has many focal points like Manukau does inside its 600ha area.
Don’t forget that budget control measure for capacity.
Finally and again yes placing LRT down in Manukau is more expensive than bus rapid transit but once LRT is down you will not have to dig up the area again because the busses went over capacity (often too quickly).
Let’s get it right the first time every time!
San Solaria City has offered quite a few lessons for Auckland. I hope you have enjoyed this cross over with Talking Southern Auckland. I might do another cross over next year as San Solaria continues to evolve or when I start a new city on a new map.
Happy gaming and urbanism!