I went for a walk around the northern portal of the Victoria Park Tunnel today (in between rain showers) to take a closer look at something which has caught my attention the last couple of times I’ve driven through the area – the incredibly poor provision for buses heading northbound from the city towards the Harbour Bridge. Back in December I highlighted that the Northern Busway is actually just a “41% busway”, with one of the more glaring gaps (red indicates no bus priority whatsoever) being for northbound buses through St Mary’s Bay:
Aside from a few buses which join the motorway from Curran Street, all buses which head over the Harbour Bridge use the Fanshawe Street onramp. For a while the buses get a good lane which enables them to bypass the ramp signals (are those signals ever used?) as you can see in the photo below: However pretty soon after that the bus priority ends and buses are forced to merge with the traffic using the onramp:During the PM peak there are five northbound lanes for general traffic the whole way from the Fanshawe Street onramp through to the Harbour Bridge – yet even though buses carry over a third of passengers crossing the bridge at peak times NZTA can’t bring themselves to dedicating a lane for bus users so we’re able to bypass the congested cars? As I said, it’s not like there’s a shortage of motorway width or lanes in this location: Twelve lanes of the traffic and it’s only that 12th lane, an inbound bus shoulder lane, that is dedicated to public transport.
Every time I hear NZTA go on about trumpeting how something they’re doing will improve public transport I find myself thinking of St Mary’s Bay and how, even when they were spending $400 million on the Victoria Park Tunnel and even though they widened the motorway here to twelve lanes they couldn’t bring themselves to putting in even a measly little bus shoulder lane for northbound traffic through to the Curran Street onramp to bypass the congestion through St Mary’s Bay. Even though this is meant to be part of the Northern Busway. Even though over a third of people coming over the Harbour Bridge at peak times at on the bus.
Sadly, the fact that NZTA could build a project in just the last few years that shows this much disdain for public transport is, to me, proof that they really do hate public transport.