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Spineless AT gives up on Remuera Rd bus lanes

Brian Rudman didn’t hold back in his column yesterday criticising Auckland Transport for folding under pressure of the utterly retarded Orakei Local Board, and agreeing the get rid of the Remuera Road bus lane and turn it into a T3 lane:

To eastern suburbanites stuck in rush-hour traffic on Remuera Rd, it seems there’s nothing more infuriating than being passed on the inside by a busload of commuters from less-salubrious suburbs to the south.

Local politician Ken Baguley has been on his hind legs about the inequities of it since the Remuera Rd buslane was first signalled at the old Auckland City Council back in February 2008. For four years, he and his fellow “victims” have been banging on about the evil bus lane, and finally they’ve worn the transport bureaucrats down.

Last week, Auckland Transport (AT) raised the white flag and proposed a compromise which the locals grabbed.

Instead of having to live with a nasty bus lane, Remuera will be graced with a T3 lane instead, an exclusive lane for Mummy to rush her two kids back and forth to school in the Remuera tractor, which buses will also be allowed to share.

While Remuera Road is not exactly a Dominion Road or Fanshawe Street in terms of the number of buses it carries, it is an important and increasingly popular bus route. In fact, bus use in Auckland is booming at the moment, which makes Auckland Transport’s decision even less logical, as Brian Rudman’s article points out:

 What’s depressing is that AT’s backdown comes on the heels of burgeoning public transport patronage figures. If these statistics signal anything, it’s that as new life and regularity are pumped into Auckland’s long-neglected public transport network, new customers do, in rapidly expanding numbers, climb aboard the buses and trains and ferries.

The actual performance of a bus lane compared to a T3 lane  obviously remains to be seen – and for that reason it’s good that this is just a trial. But the principle behind this just feels like a step in the wrong direction, especially when we are likely to need to significantly grow the bus lane network over the next few years.

I thought we were meant to be improving public transport in Auckland, not undermining it? Auckland Transport need to grow a spine on issues like these.

22 comments to Spineless AT gives up on Remuera Rd bus lanes

  • JeffT

    I note that Ken Baguley is the ACC’s Transport Chairman. I trust the position isn’t being used to influence
    private vehicle use over public transport. More information should be required on the decision making for this situation.

  • Ben

    Mean while I am having a very bitter debate with my fellow National Party supporters on congestion charges. They want it except when they have to pay for it. Fighting the good fight for better transport yet again

  • AT: spineless, clueless and the patsy of the roading lobby. Has been that way since ARTA days, no change in sight. Symptomatic of the backwater that is modern NZ.

  • Adam

    Crazy

    1) Glen innes/Panmure area is identifed as one of the main growth areas for auckland
    2) General motorists disobey t2-t3 lanes much more than they disobey bus lanes
    3) Cyclists use bus lanes to, sharing it with T3 makes Remuera road a lot less appealing to cycle

    Can someone start a movement here please? :)

  • Oh, and while having a rant,

    Council should enforce bus/cycle lanes more randomly.

    Every day there are bus lane cameras at

    Vincent Street
    Symonds Street
    Quay Street
    Khyber pass
    K Road

    Usually filming no offenders,

    At the same time,

    Triangle Road
    Great North Road Grey Lynn
    Broadway

    Are having massive problems with parking/queuing in bus/cycle lanes.

    These are just the areas I know, am sure there are other areas of high offending/low enforcement and high enforcement/low offending.

    Randomize and collect revenue!

    • Simon

      Of course as soon as the bus-lane cameras come out then the media will start complaining about “revenue gathering” and how people who are “just going to turn the next corner” are getting unfairly caught.

      I got a bit bored a couple of weeks ago and started filming people people sneaking along the bus lane while I waited for my bus. I noticed that as soon as the traffic in the main lane stopped then people would start darting down the bus lane. Around 75% had their indicators going as the went straight on road after road.

      I don’t think my video is good enough to convict anybody but with a slightly better camera it should be possible. I’m sure there are plenty of students who would be happy to stand by the side of the road between 7am and 9am in return for 10 or 20 percent of the fines.

      • Simon

        Sorry, not sure where the link went:

        • AC

          I used to live on Invermay :)

          That footage is damning!! If you could make out their number plates they would be bang to rights.

        • Peter

          Simon, my guess is that AT are so terrified about the public backlash if they start properly policing the bus lanes that they don’t bother. The real problem is that the general public hasn’t been educated properly about the benefits of bus lanes – they don’t realise that they carry more people than general traffic lanes along quite a few arterials, or that they ensure the buses operate reliably and quickly, or that they help reduce bus operating costs quite significantly (by speeding them up).

          I would love a “did you know…” PT information campaign, perhaps mainly done through advertisements on the backs of buses:

          1) Did you know that the Fanshawe Street bus lanes carry over 70% of peak time people?
          2) Did you know that the northern busway carries the equivalent of 2.5 lanes of traffic?
          3) Did you know that the Onehunga Line has 98% reliability and gets you from Onehunga to town in under half an hour?

          And so forth…

        • Andrew

          Geez, you could get half those losers for misleading use of an indicator. Cheap trick – signalling left then not turning.

          AT (by legacy of the old North Shore City Council) routinely enforce the Onewa Rd T3 lane. I also see semi-regular use of cameras on Sandringham Rd (although not often enough, and not around/past Kingsland Station where most of the abuse seems to happen).

          I think you guys in general are being a bit harsh on AT for changing this to T3. I’d be angry at them if they made it T2 (there’s a huge difference), however my biggest disappointment with them is lack of enforcement. This needs toughening up, although probably best ramped up gradually, and not as a noticeable blitz.

          • Peter

            Andrew, as I said it’s more the principle that I have an issue with. The council talks so much about improving public transport, yet here we see Auckland Transport specifically making PT provision along Remuera Road worse than it was. We should be taking big steps forward, not taking (albeit relatively small) steps backwards.

          • Max

            After it is changed to T3, they will advocate for T2. And it will already be even less enforceable than a bus lane, because for a T3 lane you need to be able to prove that the guy DIDN’T have a third person in back. Easy, eh? Not many lawyers live in Remuera after all, so they will all pay their tickets, rather than contest it loudly in court and in the pages of the Herald.

  • AC

    ”Symptomatic of the backwater that is modern NZ”
    Sigh, NZ can be soooo backward, the more I travel to other cities the more I see how far behind we are with sensible transport planning. Depressing.

  • Greg N

    Like I said earlier and I’ll keep saying.

    There are three major problems with the Remuera Bus Lanes as they stand (whether they’re T3 lanes or bus lanes).

    1. They don’t go the full distance of Remuera Road – they are broken in the middle by a strip of no bus lanes between Remuera Village and Market Road (more or less), so the buses may speed up a little in the first bus lane, then have to fight their way through normal traffic for 1.5 Kms until Market Road, then all the way to Newmarket. Net saving, I estimate maybe 5 minutes over the total journey if you’re lucky.

    2. The bus lanes between Meadowbank and Remuera village are full of illegal parkers during operation so their practicality as bus/T3 lanes is nixed by each and every parked vehicle.

    2. AT didn’t enforce the lanes for about 6 months or more as they stood anyway – AT said that the ACC got the designation legally wrong when they passed the bus lane by-law so they were unenforceable. So AT had to change the law (and signage) anyway for Remuera Rd, so making it a T3 lane is nopt such a cave in as might be thought.

    So its either that or AT gives up and doesn’t enforce the HOV lanes on Remumera Road anymore – which is even more of a defeat.

    Also while roadside cameras will deal with those who drive in them near the camera, they don’t fix the problem of parked vehicles blocking the lanes before or after the cameras – either by parking in driving in them. To do that you’d need on bus monitoring of infringers.

  • Matt L

    This was actually signalled almost two months ago so it is odd that it has taken so long to come up and is sadly probably too late to stop
    http://transportblog.co.nz/2012/02/15/auckland-transport-feb-board-meeting/

    Once it is in place the local board will go crazy if the “trial” is removed and will then start pushing for it to be downgraded to a T2 lane

  • TerryB

    Very depressing. What’s especially depressing is the attitude Bob describes that “congestion charges are fine so long as they don’t apply to me”. Rank hypocrisy.

  • DanC

    It is certainly a step backwards. Shame.

  • Geoff

    I don’t think it’s a big deal to allow T3 here. For starters, the bus lane has the available capacity. Then there’s the simple fact that very few cars have three or more people in them.

    If it encourages three or four car drivers to get into just one car, then so be it. That’s a good thing right?

    • Won’t happen, Geoff, it’s just a licence for cheats to feel they can use it anyway, afterall how much more roadspace does a car with one person in it take up than one with three? Get the logic? Anyway the great advantage of the car is personal point to point travel; this is why carpooling never works as well as you’d think it should, it undermines the best thing about the mode. Hell, if you’re going to have strangers in your car you might as catch the bus!

  • Chris Harris

    The other thing that people bang on about is the “empty lane syndrome” i.e. it makes sense to have the road chocka, supposedly, as otherwise all that asphalt is going to waste. The problem with this reasoning is that quality of life and property values tend to decline as traffic increases (a tendency documented by Julie Ann Genter, among others). Somebody should remind the Remmers brigade about that. If you think having full lanes is good for QOL and property values, try moving to Te Atatu Rd.

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