AT the transport committee tomorrow there is a further update on work to get a North Western Busway built, something long championed by this site. The report recommends that a staged approach be taken to the development of a busway rather than to build it all at once with the first stages being to get some decent bus lanes along key routes along with some proper interchange facilities. Over time as the population and number of buses increase there will be more justification for a dedicated busway on some parts of the route. Here is the executive summary:
- The Auckland Plan provides for significant growth in the number of people and jobs within the northwest part of the Auckland metropolitan area over the next 30 years. Although there will be an increase in local employment opportunities, the growth in both population and employment in this part of Auckland over the next three decades will required additional public transport infrastructure along State Highways 16 and 18.
- The Auckland Plan’s transport chapter included the provision of a busway along State Highway 16 between Westgate and Waterview as a second and third decade project. However, there will be significant upgrades to bus services, the construction of bus interchanges and the provision of improved bus shoulder lanes along this corridor in the shorter term.
- It is considered that the most cost-effective way of implementing a busway along State Highway 16 is through a staged approach, which provides infrastructure upgrades when justified by demand or in response to land use change. This approach enables best value to be extracted from already committed public transport upgrades along the corridor, while also building demand over time to help justify larger scale expenditure.
- Full implementation of a busway will require analysis and an evidence base to justify route protection and construction. At this stage analysis has been undertaken to establish the need for a busway at a strategic level only.
- The report asks the Committee to support a staged approach culminating in the implementation of a busway along State Highway 16 between Westgate and Waterview, with infrastructure being progressively upgraded in a cost-effective manner to enable a high-speed, high-capacity and very attractive public transport option for people living and working in the northwest part of Auckland.
One of the key needs for improvement in the North West is simply the amount of growth expected there in coming years. The number of dwellings in the corridor between Te Atatu and Kumeu is eventually expected triple over the next 30 years and there will be more people living in this area than do on the North Shore today. While there will also be a lot of additional jobs in the area, it won’t be enough for everyone so there will still be a lot of demand for trips to other parts of the region. Here are the figures from the councils development strategy:
At the current Auckland average of 3 people per household that equates to around 370,000 people living in the North West so there will be a huge number of people that need to get around. The new bus network will help with this by providing a high frequency route along much of the motorway which along with more traffic lanes, is getting better bus lanes as well. The report also makes mention of a couple of bus interchange facilities that are gong to be built, one at the Lincoln Rd interchange and one at the Te Atatu Rd interchange and some of the local bus routes will also feed into these interchanges.
Sadly while it should be possible to get a busway from Westgate to Te Atatu, it seems like it is now too late to get one from Te Atatu to Waterview due to the environmental impact if the causeway was to be widened further. The other alternative is to reclaim some car lanes but I imagine that will be quite a protracted battle. Early modelling that is being undertaken for the City Centre Future Access Study, a study that will be key for the CRL, suggests that at the busiest section there will be around 4600 passengers heading towards the city.
It is good that the council and others are starting to recognise the importance of this project, especially with the growth projections for the future and I think that the staged approach is the most sensible way forward. I’m looking forward to hearing more about the plans for the interchanges and the new bus network will really help in showing the need for further improvements.