A few days ago I took a broad look at how Auckland benefits from its bus priority measures, as well as where we might see further bus lanes in the future. In this post I want to focus on what might be our first steps towards expanding the city’s bus priority areas. The critical areas which generally meet the requirements outlined by Auckland Transport for being a candidate for bus priority measures.
A lot becomes fairly obvious simply by looking at our existing bus lanes (or T2 lane in the case of Tamaki Drive) - focusing on the isthmus area for now (thanks to commenter “Miggle” for doing the hard yards in compiling this): While there are quite a number of bus lanes around this area, what becomes fairly immediately obvious is their discontinuity. Dominion Road, north of Mt Albert Road, and Great North Road – between Pt Chevalier and the CBD, stand out (along with the Central Connector) as the most continuous – but even they have critical gaps. Buses along Dominion Road get held up at the various town centres along the route because the bus lanes simply run out. The same for Great North Road, where the bus lanes run out at critical points like the Grey Lynn shops and around the intersection with St Lukes Road.
For other important routes, like Mt Eden Road and Remuera Road, the gaps are bigger. While it’s likely to be a struggle even keeping the level of bus priority we have along Remuera Road (the locals get annoyed at not being able to drive little Timmy to school easily every morning), Mt Eden Road seems a pretty obvious candidate for some improvements to the extent of its bus lane system – with there being a huge gap just to the north of Mt Eden Village. Within the city centre there are also critical gaps in the bus lane system: like along Fanshawe Street between Albert and Hobson streets, or along Sturdee Street (which is supposed to be part of the Northern Busway RTN).
Then there are street which have a large number of buses, but very little priority (if any). Manukau Road is a pretty obvious example of this – having a very surprising lack of bus lanes. Customs Street in the city centre is another example: being a street that must carry hundreds of buses during peak times, but without any form of bus lanes along its entire length. Great North Road through Waterview is also a long stretch of road that really needs bus lanes (and will get them to some extent from the Waterview Connection project).
So as a first step of expanding the bus lanes network within the isthmus, the map below shows the key improvements that I think should be prioritised (the numbers don’t necessarily indicate which ones should happen first – that’s an interesting debate to be had): A brief description of the proposals are outlined below:
- Customs/Fanshawe/Sturdee street bus lanes – between Nelson Street in the west to Anzac Ave in the east. You probably need 24 hour bus lanes in each direction along here due to the sheer volume of buses. The western part of the route acts as an essential part of the Northern Busway connection between Britomart and the harbour bridge.
- Wellesley Street. Described in further detail here.
- Karangahape Road between Ponsonby Road and Pitt Street (and turning into Pitt Street). Over 100 inbound buses travel along this section of Karangahape Road between 7 and 9 am. Although there’s some level of priority in the lane with all the bus stops, this really isn’t good enough for a street that carries so many buses. Pitt Street has plenty of width to provide high quality bus lanes to link with Vincent Street.
- Great North Road through Waterview. The Waterview Connection motorway project will add some bus lanes at the northern end, but it should be a priority to extent these right back to Blockhouse Bay Road, because buses experience huge delays along this stretch of road every day. Plus there are a lot of buses using this corridor from west Auckland.
- A pretty short stretch of Sandringham Road, from the shops south to Mt Albert Road. This would be pretty simple to implement.
- This applies to the two sections of Mt Eden Road highlighted in red. As one of Auckland’s two b-line routes, the extent of bus priority along Mt Eden Road is pretty pathetic, while there is plenty of room in the road reserve to add the bus lanes without taking general traffic lanes away (particularly in the northern gap).
- Manukau Road. Although many Mangere bus routes should probably terminate at Onehunga rather than running all the way into town, we will always need a high frequency route along Manukau Road and it deserves quality bus lanes to support that route. I must say I was pretty damn surprised to discover that Manukau Road doesn’t already have bus lanes – at least in the same way that Mt Eden, Dominion and Sandringham roads all have.
What have I missed – and what might be priorities in other parts of Auckland?