Media release: 30 May 2013
Rail services between neighbouring Waitakere and Swanson stations will be replaced with a regular bus shuttle service once Auckland’s new electric trains are operating on the Western Line.
As the Western Line is only electrified and double-tracked to Swanson and no funding is available to expand or cut through the Waitakere tunnel to extend the electrified network, an alternative public transport option is needed.
Auckland Transport’s decision to provide buses in place of a diesel shuttle service was based on a number of factors, including the high relative cost of operating and maintaining a diesel service in comparison to a bus service, low demand for public transport services at Waitakere, capital cost savings and comparative travel times (seven minutes by bus versus five minutes by train).
Auckland Transport’s Public Transport Operations Manager, Mark Lambert, says the large injection of ratepayer funding needed to retain a diesel service along the 3.9 km stretch between Waitakere and Swanson stations could not be justified when a more flexible and accessible bus service could be operated for significantly less.
Buses between Waitakere and Swanson are the best and most cost effective option, providing a $20.8 million cost-saving over 25 years, he says.
An estimated $3 million would also be required to upgrade Swanson and Waitakere stations to provide the infrastructure to support a diesel shuttle. A further $3 million would be required to refurbish two diesel trains to provide the service. Annual operating costs for the diesel shuttle would have been more than $1.5 million.
Mr Lambert says studies show that more people from the Waitakere/Bethells area already forego Waitakere Station to park and ride at Swanson, where rail services are more frequent.
“Once electric trains are in service and running more frequently in and out of Swanson, we expect this trend to be more pronounced,” he says.
Residents will be invited to provide feedback on the new bus services proposed for their area prior to all electric trains being in service by mid-2016.