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Not a single metre of new bus lane in two years?

I was wracking my brain last night thinking about an interesting question – has Auckland Transport actually added a single metre of bus lane in the last two years since they came into existence? They’ve certainly wound the Remuera Road bus lanes back to being T3 lanes and, looking at the November board papers, it seems they’re even chickening out on creating a new T3 lane on Onewa Road westbound in the evening peak:Given that the Council has made it quite clear that improving public transport is close to the number one priority it has, it seems utterly incredible that Auckland Transport have been so useless that they haven’t managed to add a single metre of new bus lane in over two years from what I can remember.

The thing about bus lanes is that obviously they’re really cheap to put in, just a lick of green paint and a few signs, but they take a bit of courage because generally you need to either take away space from general traffic or you need to remove on-street parking. But the benefits are truly enormous:

  • Faster travel for public transport users – attracting more people onto the bus
  • Shorter journey times for the buses themselves mean significant operation cost savings because you don’t need as many buses on the road to deliver a certain service frequency
  • Much more reliable travel times for public transport user – which is extremely important as we shift to a public transport network that is based around transfers between services reliability is going to become increasingly important to ensure you don’t miss your connecting service

The really strange thing is that Auckland Transport should be far better than the old councils at delivering bus lanes, because it is Auckland Transport itself who benefit from them. Back in the “old days” I imagine getting a single metre of bus lane must have involved massive negotiations because for the council (who had the responsibility of putting them in) there was no real benefit, only grumpy car drivers and businesses who lost their parking. Yet we still managed to get a fairly extensive network of bus lanes in Auckland City and a few T2/T3 lanes on the North Shore. It always surprised me that supposedly “eco” Waitakere City didn’t have many bus lanes, it surprised me less that roads-mad Manukau didn’t have anything much at all.

Clearly there are a few projects in the works that will improve things for buses in the longer term – like a major rebuild of Dominion Road and the AMETI busway. However there are still an unbelievable number of “low hanging fruit”, like bus lanes along Manukau Road, through Newmarket, along Fanshawe Street at its city end, along Victoria and Wellesley Streets on their western sides and in many many other locations. It’s just truly astounding that absolutely no progress has been made on bus lanes along these streets in the last two years.

Come on Auckland Transport, you can do a lot better than this.

43 comments to Not a single metre of new bus lane in two years?

  • Anthony

    New Lynn transport centre kind of got converted into a bus only area.

    I don’t think you will see bus lanes along Manukau Road in the short to medium term. It is the key route to the airport and carriers a lot of freight (I wish it didn’t, huge trucks are not pleasant). Putting a bus lane along there would result in traffic rat running even more on local streets and it is pretty bad already. The main route will be The Drive and Gillies Ave past or very close to at least 4 schools. Once the Western ring route / Waterview tunnel is finished then I can see it working well as a bus lane.

    • New Lynn is also a crazy driving and parking spend-up on huge proportions. If that is the model for advancing Transit amenity, and Panmure is the same, well Ak will struggle to ever get balance in its movement options….

  • Harvey Specter

    Pretty crap performance really.

    Re Onewa Road – the explanation is a bit brief. Should we take that as most responses were from residents who didn’t want to lose their on street parking??? Will be interesting to see the full report in Jan.

  • The Herald’s campaigns can partially be blamed I think.

  • Luke C

    Bus lanes and priority around future major interchanges like Otahuhu (x2), New Lynn and Manukau will be required to get the best out of the RPTP. Auckland city generally has reasonable priority on its roads that have high frequncy buses, however outside of that is is hopeless. Now we are seeing a big expansion of high frequnecy services we really need to be looking at extending these bus lanes all over the city. Surely peak only bus lanes that are parking at other times don’t affect local residents too much?
    Would be interesting to know if scare campaigns were run by someone to say that that residents will be losing parking 24/7.

    • Well Brewer, and the other self appointed guardians of SUV ROW claim that the Council’s plans to improve Quay mean driving will be banned so all possible lies will be told I’m sure.

      • bbc

        That project is also postponed, most likely because Brown doesn’t want it to blow up as a debate during the election year, so we can thank Brewer for successfully delaying both the tram extension and the Quay Street upgrade, both projects he has been attempting to score political points with using lies and half-truths.

        • jonno1

          So bbc you are saying that Mr Brown is being deceitful and manipulative. That’s a pretty serious allegation, which I hope you can substantiate. Wouldn’t it be in his best interests to have an open and honest debate, not to hide his true intentions purely for political gain as you imply? And if Mr Brewer and others are telling “all possible lies” as Patrick claims, then surely the best response is “the truth”.

  • Anthony

    Are AT holding off more bus lanes until they have finished their network design and have signed off? While there are some roads you can safely guess will always have a lot of buses, others may have service reduction in favour of other modes (train or ferry) or others roads. It would make senses to take a whole network approach to the changes, rather than piecemeal changes, it is also likely to be more cost effective which is something that is being driven from the top down at the moment. The current rates increase is at about 2.9% and it sounds like Mayor Len Brown wants it around 2%. It would be interesting to compare that to other councils.
    It isn’t a slap on a coat of paint and you are done job. They need to consult local residents, businesses and road users, it is likely the local board will get involved too. Depending where it is they may need to take traffic volumes and commission a feasibility study (e.g. Manukau Road would most likely need a study). Once that is approved, you may need to widen the road, then they need to have the road remarked which can be expensive, that green stuff isn’t cheap and requires full traffic management and lane closures unlike normal road markings. I understand that adding a Bus phase /advantage (B light) is at least $5k an intersection and then there is all the signage.
    If you look at say Great South Road from Newmarket to Greenlane that would start to add up in cost very quickly. Would it not be best to tie all this into the new network that is being designed?

    • Steve D

      For a lot of potential bus lanes that might be sensible, but for routes like Fanshawe Street, New North Road through Kingsland, Onewa Road, Broadway – they are all going to be busy bus routes no matter what happens. No reason not to start now.

  • I am sort of the opinion that the tram extension shouldn’t happen until the operation is taken over by AT (currently run by the ChCh tram operator, IIRC) and one can pay with a Hop card. It shouldn’t be a tourist trap. Also, modern rolling stock.

    • bbc

      For the tram to become more than a tourist route it has to be extended, once that’s done we can install hop readers and bring in some modern rolling stock.

    • JohnP

      I’m pretty skeptical about the tram extension too. Long-term, it would be neat to have a tram network again, but from Wynyard to Britomart is only 900 metres, and it’s a nice, scenic, flat walk anyway – 10 minutes at a leisurely pace. It’s hard to imagine a tram would save much time if you have to wait a few minutes for one.

      Will people use the tram line between those two places? How fast would the tram actually travel? What would happen with Te Wero Bridge and would boats still have priority? I’m asking these questions because I don’t know, so if anyone could fill in the blanks that’d be great :-)

      • JohnP

        Should clarify my comment here – I’m skeptical about this particular tram extension, when there’s nothing else being added. When it’s also possible to take the tram lines east down Quay St, or elsewhere in town, I’d start to think of it as more practical for everyday use.

      • From memory, part of the Wynyard planning process allowed for the bridge but ease of access for boats is part of the planning conditions. How that can be expected to continue if there are high frequency tram runs in the future, combined with increased pedestrian use is beyond me and I believe the marine users will come a distant second unless the courts hold AC / Waterfont / AT to the planning conditions. Of note, I discovered a paper online from the submissions part of the Wynyard planning back in the ARC days and I must say the ARC opposed, I guess, 99% of all submissions from the marine industry. That’s telling.

  • Luke C

    I’m sure the next stage of the tram extension gets it to just to the start of Quay Just by the Maritime museum. The 3rd stage would be onto Britomart, and needs to be done in conjunction with Quay St upgrade. It is the 3rd stage that needs to modern LRV’s and non-tourist operation.
    This is a project that I would rather see delayed, and done to a high standard (ie mostly 2 tracks) so it can provide a link to high quality to Wynard.
    I don’t think there is an urgent need for this, however cool it will be. However as Wynyard becoems more developed it will really help tie it in with the rail network.

  • mm

    it would be good to see some Manukau Road bus lanes or something else to help the buses keep to time. I was waiting this morning at Royal Oak Pak’n’Save for a midtown bus at 8.25am – it took 20mins for any bus to turn up – not the kind of behaviour that encourages people onto buses, especially in a relatively busy time of day and on a frequently used route!

  • How about the proposed bus lanes down Queen Street? Have just spent 25 minutes on the bus from Town hall to Britomart with pedestrians overtaking us.

    • B-Lanes Ago

      Bus lanes are already in Fanshawe St. But private cars should be banned in weekday Queen Street – cheaper than bus lanes.

      • bbc

        Bus lanes only extend along part of Fanshawe Street

        • KLK

          It is still beyond belief that there aren’t bus lanes – at the very least during peak hour – over the bridge in both directions and the length of Fanshawe St, given the amount of people using the route by bus.

          I really can’t take AT seriously until that no-brainer is addressed.

  • Dion

    The city-bound bus lane on Mt Eden Rd was actually extended about a month ago – it now starts just after Duke Street rather than Peary Rd. Granted, it’s only about 200 metres…perhaps not even that, And really it should have been done years ago.

    • That’s a bit like those orphaned 5m stretches of bike lane you see here and there… aspirational, i guess….

    • Peter M

      Or this great one from the former Manukau City Council: http://goo.gl/maps/ilO4X

      Surprised the buses were even given a few metres of their own lane given how much that council hated public transport.

      • B-Lanes Ago

        Thanks Peter M for the photo. That tiny bit of Bus Lane is a disgrace. Reminds of the small amount of bus lane on the NW motorway which the former “Eco” city allowed & wondered why the buses were empty.

        • bbc

          NZTA (Tranzit back then) would have been the one ‘allowing’ the tiny bit of bus lane, nothings changed between now and then. Today they plan to spend 800 million widening a small section and won’t bother putting in anything more than some bus shoulder lanes, apparently the city needs 11 lanes of traffic lines but doesn’t have the demand for any bus infrastructure. :-/

      • While the bus lane may only be that long, that isn’t the full picture.
        There is a left only lane back from those traffic lights all the way up the hill and buses can proceed straight in the left only lane at the lights. The bus lane there is to help with merging with general traffic.
        https://maps.google.co.nz/maps?hl=en&ll=-36.905967,174.889458&spn=0.000002,0.001321&t=h&layer=c&cbll=-36.905928,174.889548&panoid=FZQxvT9n4zqK8ikdd6O2dw&cbp=12,211.3,,1,-0.96&z=20

        From that point onwards the road is not wide enought to fit in 2 traffic lanes and a bus lane without widening it.

        • bbc

          How is the road too narrow? From thence on it is 4 lanes and shortly afterwards becomes 6+, at the very minimum one of those lanes in each direction should have been a T3 lane. The benefits of doing this have been shown time and time again.

          • Anthony

            The problem with the 6 lane part (Ti Rakau Dr to Glenmore) is that they are basically very long left turning lanes, at each end you would end up with a lot of conflicting movements and congestion without creating a lot of benefit (all you need is 1 car in the left lane trying to move to the middle lane by Ti Rakau Drive to hold up the whole left lane a phase). Pakuranga Road is basically a nightmare. You just need to look at what they are planning for Ti Rakau Drive for buses to see the area has some big issues.

            Pakuranga Road would need a wide area study which ties into the new bus network and AMETI projects, as under AMETI there is a fly over from South Eastern Highway to Pakuranga Road. Ideally you would see bus lanes along most of Pakuranga Road, a full study would look into all the issues, such as what happens when you change 1 traffic lane into a bus lane, where it needs to be widened, etc.

            For the 4 lane part between Glenmore Road and Gossamer Drive the road is not wide enough.
            http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/motsam/part-2/docs/motsam-2-section-2.pdf

            Manual of traffic signs and markings (MOTSAM) – Part 2: markings
            Section 2: PAVEMENT MARKINGS
            2.02 Lane Lines
            2.02.02 THROUGH LANE WIDTHS
            (c) Urban Roads:
            Which is on page 8.

            “4.5 m is the desirable lane width”
            When it meets these (and some other points that don’t appear to apply)
            – adjacent to the left hand kerb on multi-lane roads when parking is prohibited (this will be the case with a bus lane)
            – adjacent to a parking lane 2.5 m or less in width (this is the current case)
            – where through traffic is intended to pass right or left turning vehicles without disrupting the traffic flow
            – where cyclists share the lane with motorised traffic

            You either need to widen it from the left or middle of the road.

            To widen it from the middle you will need to remove the street lights, dig up the median and depending if there is road surface under it or just dirt either dig the whole thing up and build a proper road surface or just relay a smaller median. Relocate the street lights somewhere, likely to be each side of the road is it will be getting pretty narrow.

            Or on the left you will need to move all the services, drains and storm water, dig it all up and do a full road build and then a re-lay all the services and drive ways.

            You may also need to put in parking bays for people that park on the road currently.

            Please don’t think I am against bus lanes, cycle lanes or T2/T3 lanes, I am not. How ever a lot of the time it isn’t just a case of slapping down some paint.

            You get other roads which are wide enough to do, like Great South Road between Newmarket and Greenlane and Onewa road, there are a few issues there like raised islands that need to be moved or removed (this may create a safety issues for peds) and on street parking, I can see a few shop owners and residents being a bit unhappy about it, it is likely they would need to provide parking bays.

            Auckland Transport is primarily concerned with liability and safety. Everything else comes second to those.
            There are multiple teams, each is generally only concerned about their area, and if the safety team finds an issue with something it may put a stop to it even if it is a good idea.
            Then there is also where the money comes from to pay for it.
            A lot of stuff got cut when Len needed to find a heap of money for the city rail link.
            Short term pain for long term gain?

  • Ari

    bus lanes are hard to put in because they are hard to justify to local boards who are elected by people who mostly don’t use PT. simple democracy at work. as a driver, I don’t see the benefit in bus lanes so I’m going to fight any suggestions of one. catch 22. need to increase patronage before you can roll out more bus lanes.

    • bbc

      T3 lanes are a good interim measure as they can still be used by cars and at the same time allow better bus priority.

    • bbc

      Besides local boards are pretty much ineffectual sham representation, they have no ability to do anything at all. Look at the Waitemata local board, it’s full of people who would like more cycle lanes in the city, they vocalise this but Auckland Transport are the ones making the decision and they clearly aren’t interested. A related post to this bus lane one would be how many metres of cycle lane have been built in the last few years since AT was established? Not many if any.

      • B-Lanes Ago

        50% of rates are spent by AT – yet elected Local Board representatives have only one person (usually a former council PA ) they can connect with. AT now has little accountability at all.

        • bbc

          Just as Hide intended, not to worry, the Local Government castration bill has just been passed into law so there will soon be nothing that the council can do except build pipes for poos and wees anyway.

      • ingolfson

        As for cycle lanes in the last 2 years or so:

        Don Buck Road is currently under construction (1.5km of cycle lanes, both sides).

        Lake Road cycle lanes have been extended, and now cover all but the last 5% or so.

        The current construction of the AMETI overbridge includes cycle lanes (and a busway, incidentally).

        The coming construction next year of Albany Highway and the AMETI deviation road includes cycle lanes.

        Cycle lanes were marked through some longer local sections of Tamaki Drive, such as Kelly Tarlton’s and some intersections.

        Cycle lanes are included in the Glenfield Road upgrade being finished sometime this year.

        A couple of the Manukau Central roads got new cycle lanes (though that areas is horrible for cycling otherwise, so they aren’t helping much).

        Some shared paths are being provided as part of the Tiverton-Wolverton project that has started some months ago.

        A shared path and some cycle lanes were built on Waiheke from the ferry terminal up to the first village.

        Several of the rail bridges being reconstructed around Auckland received cycle lanes across them as part of the projects.

        I probably forgot quite a few. Stuff is happening – though a long way from being connected up yet.

  • Ari

    you need local board support to put bus lanes in but you also need other things as well such as the numbers to justify a bus lane.
    plenty of cycle lanes are being put in along new roads. it is now standard to accommodate cyclists at new intersections.

  • Geoff

    Hi, Perhaps the most bizarre contribution to bus lanes can be found on SH16 , citybound between Westgate and Royal Road. A beautiful new section of QTN-standard bus lane was built over a year ago as part of the motorway extension. However, no bus has been allowed to use it yet because of the way it merges into the motorway lanes before the Royal Road overbridge. Buses continue to sit in slow moving traffic, overlooking the empty lane. Build it – but they are not allowed to come.

    • Sounds like an even more expensive form of PT washing by actually building the lanes but not allowing any benefits to come from them. I bet if you could go back through the old marketing material that the NZTA produced for the project they would have talked these lanes up quite a bit.

    • Bryce P

      That’s a bit unfair Geoff. I’m not saying it’s good but once the rest of the WRR rebuild is done I’m sure it will be connected properly. If the old Waitakere CC and ARC had identified that they would have liked a bus way along the NW a few years ago, we wouldn’t be having this discussion but back then they believed bus users from Westgate etc should be transported to Henderson Rail Station to be swept into town on a train.

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