Despite Dockline Tram being hard work from a business point of view, Operations Manager, James Duncan, is an unflagging optimist. “We are still hoping to be extended to the Voyager Maritime Museum within two years. Plans have been put forward to then proceed further along Quay Street to the wharf where the cruise ships arrive. We would then be on doorstep of the tourist heart of downtown Auckland. The trams would be the most convenient link with Wynyard Quarter giving us a real reason to operate.
Another possibility would be to provide a morning shuttle service to Karanga Plaza for the ASB employees. A special fare could apply. James is confident the two veteran trams would handle the task. 2500 employees are expected at the ASB when it opens mid-2013.
“The long-term Auckland plan is to have a modern light rail system going to Saint Heliers. It should go ahead owing to Aucklanders increasingly using public transport. They’re fed up with gridlock. Light rail vehicles are able to carry more people, are predictable and can offer a frequent schedule. I have ridden on light rail systems in Britain and mainland Europe. They have all proved their worth, ’’ says James. In the meantime he hopes the Dockline Tram extension across the Viaduct Basin can be agreed to soon. So many opportunities are at stake.
Dockline has struck a good deal with the Railway Enthusiasts’ Society to promote Thomas Days at the Glenbrook Vintage Railway. The trams carry appropriate Thomas advertising.
“Another worthy agreement is with MOTAT for the museum to sub contract a couple of our tram drives for busy days. We have had no problems when our paid staff work alongside MOTAT volunteers.
“We are also negotiating with Wynyard Quarter restaurants to offer a pre-dinner tram rides with drinks and canapés.
“At present, weekends are the busier days. Families turn up to the popular childrens’ playground. The children typically demand a tram ride before they go home.
Wynyard Quarter progress
James says it’s a wonderful development with many activities including the Friday silo markets. “Silo movies are also a big hit. It’s like a drive-in. A recent screening of ‘The Sound of Music’ attracted over 2000 people. The sound quality and the image projected onto one of the silos were excellent.
He says the Daldy street redevelopment will be superb . “It will look beautiful right outside our tram barn door. In the meantime we are getting shaken by the machinery cleaning up the old oil depot.”
The Wynyard cafes etc are doing well with Rushworth and next door Gelato offering discounts to patrons presenting tram tickets. “The new ASB will have a ground floor of retail shops. We need novelty-type stores to complement the cafes and bars and to attract cruise ship passengers looking for something different.
“Our staff of five part-timers are just right for us at present. It’s all working well.”
I spot James’s trammie uniform hanging neatly and ready for use. He spends one day a week driving the trams to keep his hand in.
As on previous visits, I am impressed by the neatness of the tram barn.