There’s an article in yesterday’s NZ Herald which notes ridership on the Wynyard Quarter tramway has, unsurprisingly in my opinion, dropped away quite a lot in the past few months.
Figures given to Auckland Council member Cameron Brewer show the two heritage electric trams carried fewer than 20 per cent of forecast passengers over their 1.5km circuit in March, when patronage slumped to 1933 people.
That was well below October’s figure of 15,322 – after which patronage previously boosted by the Rugby World Cup plummeted to 2391 before rising to 4357 in December and then falling again.
But council organisation Waterfront Auckland said yesterday that the figure for April – which was not given to Mr Brewer – rose to 4664 passengers after a successful Easter holiday programme for children.
As the tram is currently rather overpriced and goes from nowhere to nowhere, it’s unsurprisingly that hardly anyone catches it. I certainly haven’t been on it and don’t really see the point of it while the only route is takes is a loop around Wynyard Quarter. However, the whole point of the Wynyard Quarter tramway was to be a “beach-head” as many people described at the time, to just get some tracks in there before Wynyard got built up, get things going so it was then possible to look at options for taking the tramway to Britomart and then potentially elsewhere.
Which means that it’s pleasing to see later on in the article that thought is being given to extending the line to Britomart – so that it can actually be linked in with the rest of the network and serve a useful transport purpose:
The council had also included $8.2 million in the first year of its draft long-term budget for an extension of tramlines across Viaduct Harbour.
There will always be endless arguments about trams versus buses, but I think if you ask most Aucklanders they generally consider the ripping up of our tram system to have been one of the biggest mistakes in the city’s history, and the effect of ripping up the tracks on PT patronage was disastrous. The vertical line in the graph below shows approximately when the tracks were ripped out:
Of course the network was quite extensive back then and just as a reminder, here is a map of our former tram network:
If we can get the tram tracks across Viaduct Harbour to Britomart then we really open up the possibility of further extending trams in the future – most likely up Queen Street and potentially in the longer term along Tamaki Drive. We also provide a really good transport link from the main PT hub of Auckland to a fast-growing employment area.
We’ve had a bit of time for the trams at Wynyard to be a tourist plaything. Now it’s time to make the infrastructure actually useful.