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Proof NZTA hates public transport?

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:2013-01-17 17.07.52 However pretty soon after that the bus priority ends and buses are forced to merge with the traffic using the onramp:2013-01-17 17.09.44During 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:2013-01-17 17.11.08 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.

73 comments to Proof NZTA hates public transport?

  • pete

    What a load of BS. There is no need for bus only lanes in those parts because the traffic is generally fast at those points, and NZ doesn’t have 100′s of million of dollars to waste on minor improvements

    Case in point, yesterday, due to rain, there was multiple minor accidents slowing traffic throughout the northern motorway. There was also road works on Fanshawe Street. Yet the 5 PM Northern Express bus was 4 minutes late to end of line. And at least a couple of minutes of that was cash paying students/tourists (bless them all)

    Money would be better spent educating ALL drivers on better and safer driving, and how to share the road with PT!

    • bbc

      So where did the 400 odd million come from to build all the extra lanes through St Mary’s Bay? This isn’t a case of a minor traffic change, this is providing capacity where it’s needed, and when 60% of people are crossing in a bus they deserve priority over the rest of the traffic sitting by themselves in single cars. Any other sane country would do it, somehow in NZ we think the car is the holy cow and can’t possibly have something else prioritised over it i.e. the movement of people.

    • NZ doesn’t have 100′s of million of dollars to waste on minor improvements

      Then explain why half of the RoNS are being built or why there are already murmurings out of the NZTA about spending hundreds of millions on turning SH18 into a full motorway between Albany Highway and SH1 just so they can make the maps look nice. They will spend 100m on an interchange upgrade in a heartbeat that doesn’t add much if any capacity.

      • bored

        What are you talking about Nick? Upgrading the link between SH18 and SH1 at Albany is a vital connection for the western route that will get a flogging when waterview opens. Whilst more lanes might not be added the throughput is vital to ensure that there isn’t huge amounts of congestion. I also believe that this will include PT improvements and an extension to the northern busway if feasible. A very difficult project through some challenging topography. I thought this blog promoted the western ring route as it could reduce reliance and traffic volumes going through the CBD or have you changed your mind? Wake up people (in the real world preferably)

    • There is room for two lanes through the ramp merge to the motorway. To have a bus lane would require a repaint of lane markings and a couple of sign changes,nothing more, a project cost measured in the thousands, not the hundreds of millions.

      • pete

        So where do the cars go then, the road is only so wide! Again, how often do the buses get delayed on these parts of the motorway? No very often in my experience, and now the cars go go fast too

        • Patrick Reynolds

          What on earth do you mean ‘where do the cars go’? Er? How about on the remaining 10 of 12 lanes… Still over 80% of the roadspace.

          • pete

            Ummm, refer to photo in OP, you will note merge lane is only two lanes wide, if one is bus only, it will get tight for cars and a breakdown space? Maybe a T2 lane at rush hour will do. Cars pay huge amount of road tax too, they can exist as well

          • pete

            A 41% busway on the northwestern would be a better investment

          • Patrick Reynolds

            Pete Peter’s argument is that with all the widening that has just been carried there that two lanes could clearly have be provided and at no more cost than was spent but clearly NZTA just don’t give a shit so they didn’t bother.

            Fuel excise is a tax, we don’t get to choose individually where taxes are spent. The excise I pay every time I buy a bottle of wine isn’t spent on making my drinking easier…. Anyway getting the buses out of the way and moving faster can make them a more appealing service which helps attract people who currently drive to take the bus and therefore frees up the general lanes for the remaining drivers. If there is anywhere in NZ that proves that it is this very route… perhaps it has worked far too well for some at NZTA’s liking…?

          • Exactly Patrick. The relative lack of congestion in St Marys Bay at the moment has little to do with the width of the motorway and everything to do with the popularity of commuting by bus. Bringing us to the nub of the issue with our ‘user pays’ transport spending regime and the apparent failure to understand that more people in buses is good for car drivers.

        • “The road is only so wide”

          Twelve lanes wide to be precise in this location. Setting one aside for the 1/3+ of people crossing the bridge by bus at peak time isn’t much to ask. Frankly if 11 general lanes on the motorway isn’t enough for a city the size of Auckland isn’t enough, no number will ever be enough. But that’s the futility of mono-modal investment for you.

          Now I’d tend to agree that the bus delays along this stretch aren’t too bad at present, but three things to remember: (1) the Northern Busway is meant to be a part of the rapid transit network, yet this isn’t section has no bus priority at all – 40km/h is good for buses generally, but it aint “rapid transit”; (2) there are only going to be more buses in future coming over from the Shore and therefore an even greater demand for bus priority; and (3) The relative promptness of the NEX has nothing to do with the width of the motorway through St Marys bay and everything to do with the 6.2km dedicated right of way on the other side.

          Point is that with more sensible lane allocation we can further improve journey times for the large numbers on the bus, ensure greater reliability and less variation in journey times, all while still retaining a full eleven lanes for general traffic.

        • Pete, cars from Fanshawe already have to merge down to one lane. It would just be a case of moving the merge point for the two general traffic lanes back about 100m.

          I.e. currently there are three lanes from Fanshawe (well four when the peak lane is open), one bus and two/three for cars. The bus lane merges into the first car lane more or less straight away, then that lane merges with the remaining general traffic lane before joining the motorway proper. With a little application of paint, this could be reversed so the two car lanes merge together first, allowing the bus lane to extend past onto the motorway proper.

          There is a screenshot for the Auckland Council GIS viewer (go here, switch on historic aerial photography and zoom in: http://maps.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/aucklandcouncilviewer/) showing an interim arrangement where two lanes clearly continue through the pinch point on to the motorway. So it’s perfectly possible to have the outermost as a bus lane, and still keep the same amount of general traffic lanes coming on as we do today.

          That also shows us the current single lane point is in fact 8.5m wide, more than enough to get two lanes though.

          As for “so where do the cars go then?”, the simple answer to that is there are five lanes on the motorway, so the cars go on the other four. Or maybe they still use all five and the buses just get the chance to bypass the ramp merge and merge in at the foot of the bridge instead.

          Or if the question was directed specifically at the Fanshawe St onramp, during the off peak you’d have one lane for buses and two for cars, in the peak it would be one lane for buses and three for cars. Much the same as it is today.

          • Oh and I don’t think that NZTA ‘hates’ public transport, more like doesn’t understand it, tries to avoid it and is maybe a little scared of coming to terms with it.

          • Gian

            yeah Nick, like when you have that weird looking mole but you’re too scared to go to the doctor to find out you might have a cancer. So you just go on trying not to think about it as if it doesn’t exist uintil it’s too late.

          • SteveC

            Nick, not to mention getting slapped around by the Minister of Transport, who knows for certain that buses have wooden wheels and go on dirt roads

  • bbc

    I was coming across the Harbour Bridge yesterday and was thinking about this exact same ridiculous issue and how obvious it was that PT is clearly despised by NZTA. Traffic was moving slowly through St Marys Bay and all the buses (and there were a lot of them were stuck in amongst it). The situation didn’t improve on Fanshawe Street where the bus lane has been removed heading into the city and on the otherside of Fanshawe St heading North there are big stretches where buses have to share with the traffic heading to the bridge. Then you reach Customs Street and buses heading down from Albert Street were again stuck in amongst cars and those wishing to turn right from Albert onto Customs Street were sitting through several phases before they could even turn – something that has happened to me alot when on the Link.

    Everytime I drive over the AHB and through St Mary’s Bay I think to myself how pathetic it is in NZ that we can have 12 lane roads, that the majority of people are being carried by bus and yet we have people in charge that refuse to even dedicate a measly lane in each direction to PT. This is probably one of the key PT corridors in the city and we spend hundreds of millions adding capacity for cars and not a dime is spent on PT.

    It’s a pathetic myopic planning and to be honest is pretty much indicative of the entire attitude in NZ of private vehicles to PT.

    • bored

      another misleading post….

      out of the so called 12 traffic lanes that you identfy, lanes 1, 10, 11 and 12 are not traffic lanes but are in fact just off and on ramp lanes, lane 5 is also only open when the 5th lane across the bridge NB is in place.

      There are generally just 8 traffic lanes through this section, with priority bus lane measures included where possible, safe and realistic. THere isnt room to provide dedicated bus lanes and ensure that the road network doesnt grind to a halt.

      Unfortunately ‘just doing a bit of line marking’ isnt the only thing that is required to implement dedicated vehicle lanes and shows an uninformed point of view

      Nobody will argue with your thoughts that it would be great if everybody used public transport, but unfortunately that isnt the real world, we dont have endless amounts of money and we dont have enough physical room to cater to all the ‘special or self interest groups’.

      Maybe they should have filled in more of the harbour and built on top of that?

      • “Nobody will argue with your thoughts that it would be great if everybody used public transport, but unfortunately that isnt the real world, we dont have endless amounts of money and we dont have enough physical room to cater to all the ‘special or self interest groups’.”

        Without digging in to the issue of the number of lanes (you may well be right, I haven’t had time to read through and am not an expert on this myself) – can I just point out that lumping bus passengers as a “special interest group” when they now make up a third of all peak time travellers on the bridge is, well, a bit of a stretch?

        Your phrase ‘self interest group’ interests me also – I take it this means that people who like buses will demand bus lanes, people who ride bikes want bike paths, and so on. Car drivers are another large and influential self interest group of course. Well, fair enough, we’re all human and thus self-interested – it’s the job of professionals in policy fields like transport to find the best way to balance those competing demands and make a system that works for everyone overall. So why should we have a setup where the self-interest of car drivers is satisfied at everyone else’s expense – even when that ends up making the whole thing work worse for car drivers themselves, along with everyone else?

        Also, this:

        “Maybe they should have filled in more of the harbour and built on top of that?”

        A pretty silly wee guilt trip there. Part of the point being made above is that it’s not a zero-sum game where buses will always be additional to cars – improved bus facilities can actually help to take the car trips that people would rather not take *off* these highways, so people who do want to drive will actually get there just as fast, or even faster, with bus priority lanes in place. Otherwise we end up playing the dumb game where we have to add more and more car lanes, possibly eating up more and more harbour. Or is it only bad to have to fill in more of the Waitemata when it’s for buses instead of cars?

        • bored

          your assumption regarding my meaning of self interest groups is correct. but your response is blinkered.

          A lot of people (including) myself would love to commute via public transport, but it just isnt possible due to the topography of the city and public transport isnt in the position, and wont be for a while, to replace the majority of car journeys.

          The replacement of vehicle lanes withdedicated bus lanes through this section of SH1 would cause carnage and I dont think would mean that car owners would then instantly think that they best starting using the bus.

          As far as car drivers as a self interest group that is just nuts, i would think that if car drivers were asked why they dont use public transport, the majority of them would answer that they would like to but it isn’t possible. Have you tried getting from Birkenhead to Albany and back to do a 9-5 on public transport? i tried, got fed up and jumped in the car.

          i agree with the philosophy of your zero-sum game analogy and effects of different modes on each other, but generally when all else is equal.

          Ignoring time frames for one second, even if we banned all cars off the road tomorrow, how could you possibly provide a public transport system that meets peoples requirements? People would be doing a lot of walking and wasting a lot more time.

          • Dan

            Somehow providing a dedicated bus lane on a large, multi-lane road which has a very high proportion of bus users leads to banning all cars off the road and the impossibility of providing a decent bus service from Birkenhead and Albany. Fascinating stuff.

          • Twice as many people catch the bus along Fanshawe St at peak times than drive along it in a car. So for the piece of road in question the bus has already replaced the majority of car journeys.

      • Bryce P

        Using the idea that those lanes over the bridge are on / off ramp lanes also means the the left hand, west bound, lane on the northwestern is an off ramp lane as it exits at Te Atatu :-)

        • Bryce P

          What’s that, 10 km of dedicated off ramp

          • Bryce P

            What I mean is that if the left hand northbound lane on the harbour bridge only serves as an on / off ramp then the left hand, westbound lane, is also just an off ramp as it ends at Te Atatu. It shows the comment that the lanes on the bridge that you see as just on / off ramps can be compared to many parts of the motorway. In fact cars other than those joining or leaving the harbour bridge use those lanes as well. The lanes are not dedicated the whole length as just on or off ramp lanes.

        • bored

          Bryce P…. On/off ramps over the bridge? What are you talking about?

  • mm

    that pedestrian bridge over St Mary’s Bay looks a lot nicer up close than it does driving underneath it.

  • Mr Plod

    Great post, Peter. Keep stirring the pot.
    The basic question is; do you believe roads are there to move people or vehicles? If it’s people, the vehicles that carry the most people using the least road space get priority. If it’s vehicles, no one gets priority and the invisible hand of the market sorts it out.
    With a name like NZTA where they have to consider the needs of goods transport as well as people transport you shouldn’t be overly surprised that only way they can do that is to come from the perspective that roads are their to move vehicles and what sort of vehicles & what’s in them and how efficiently they move their contents (people or whatever) is really no concern of NZTA. (unless there is some compromise to structural wieght dimension limits.) People step up perform to the labels and incentives we give them so NZTA’s position here doesn’t surprise me.

  • Ewart Barnsley

    Hi, this is Ewart Barnsley, media manager here in Auckland for the NZ Transport Agency. During construction of the Victoria Park Tunnel, the NZTA consulted with bus drivers and their companies and conducted separate investigations to see if a dedicated bus lane northbound through St Marys Bay was feasible. The idea was dropped on the grounds of safety. Most buses leave the Northern Motorway at Esmonde Road. Because of the number of motorway lanes available on the North Shore, a dedicated bus lane through St Marys Bay would mean that the vehicles would have to “weave” or change lanes once they crossed the bridge to exit at Esmonde Road. Most buses prefer to get into the correct lane before they cross the bridge so that they can leave the motorway safely.

    In terms of overall support for public transport in Auckland, the NZTA’s funding for Auckland Council and Auckland Transport projects is extensive. Some of the big ticket projects supported by the NZTA include the roll out of integrated ticketing, funding of the city’s electric trains, the upgrade of Dominion Road and the Council’s AMETI (Auckland/Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative) project. All are designed to improve the city’s public transport infrastructure. Last year, the NZTA released the 2012/15 National Land Transport Programme, which commits $890m in funding to support public transport in Auckland.

    • Harvey Specter

      Thanks for your comments.

      The biggest hold up from what I have seen is actually where the Curren St onramp merges into the Motorway. the two clipon lanes normally come to a standstill, then quickly free up after that. Given Curren Street is also used by buses, it isn’t a case of just setting the light frequency to much slower.

      Where any other options considered to solve this problem

    • Jordan Brewer

      Yes $890 million out of a total budget of 12.28 billion. That’s 7.2% of the total budget.

      Even if we presume that Auckland’s share of the 12.28 billion is 4 billion, given that Auckland’s population is approximately a third of the country, $890 million is still only 22.25%.

      Thanks NZTA

      • Not bad for a mode that carries less than 5% of all trips, and none of the freight. Bear in mind that most of NZTA’s revenue comes from legally hypothecated motoring taxes – i.e. road users from RUC, FED and MVR/L fees. Users of public transport don’t pay a cent towards it.

        Only in the lunatic fantasy world of the Green party are modes that carry so few to gain so much subsidy from the vast majority of people for whom public transport is not and cannot be a reasonable option for their trips. For example, a significant portion of the population of south Auckland (few of whom hold these views) do not go to work by public transport, but by shared private transport. However, because they don’t work in the precious CBD, its convenient to ignore them (seek to tax their commutes more with a regional fuel tax), except for the tokenism of throwing a near useless branch line to a shopping centre because it looks good on a map.

        • pete

          Well put. Most people I know don’t work in the CBD or near any PT. Also what about trades people, they can’t use PT easily either

        • I think you are misunderstanding what the aims of reforming Pt in Auckland are.

          Even if Auckland completely chnaged its culture and became a real transit city like Copenhagen, still in Copenhagen over 30% of people drive to work. Noone is suggesting that 100% of commuters are going to switch to PT.

          You are throwing up straw man arguments. If investing in rail is such a crazy option you need to explain why almost every other city over 1m in the developed world, and a fair number in the developing world, are doing the same. Are they all crazy? Even LA and Houston, bastions of auto dependency, are investing in light rail and metros.

    • Dan

      Ewart Barnsley! Man, you should go back to doing being a proper journalist rather than a shill.

    • Mr Anderson

      What weaving problem? Buses follow left lane all the way.

      • No they don’t. They can’t. Lane 1 northbound is Stafford Rd only. Lane 2 northbound is Onewa Rd only. To exit at Esmonde Rd they have to be in lane 3 northbound, which is very definitely not the left lane until after Onewa Rd.

        • Mr Anderson

          Stafford Rd is not exit only. Onewa Rd drops one lane.

          • SteveC

            I think that there is a bit of terminological confusion here, with the barrier in the central position there are four lanes coming off the bridge but there are five lanes northbound approximately from the gantry at the Stafford Rd off. In the PM peak this allows for five continuous lanes from the bridge.

            Stafford Rd IS exit only (there is no Stafford Rd onramp) and the leftmost motorway lane is continuous past this exit, so no loss of motorway lanes and the buses can continue through. Thiere IS a facility for vehicles from the motorway patrol centre to access the motorway north of the Stafford off, but this isn’t available to general traffic.

            The left hand lane continues to the Onewa offramp, where it is a lane drop, i.e. five motorway lanes drop to four. This requires buses heading up the motorway to move across into lane two and they can then move onto the bus only shoulder lane immediately after the Onewa off-ramp. They have to merge back into traffic before the northbound Onewa on-ramp, but then can rejoin the shoulder lane after the Onewa on-ramp when it is continuous until well into the the Esmonde/Akoranga offramp.

          • Hamish O

            @Steve C

            Exit only generally means a lane that drops off as it exits – i.e. Onewa Rd, and has nothing to do with there being an on-ramp or not.

        • Greg N

          From looking at Google Maps,

          the bus lane starts in shoulder of left lane from Onewa Road off-ramp exit, and merges with Onewa Road on-ramp traffic latter and goes all the way to Esmonde Road offramp, so to echo Mr A – what weaving is required?

          The only “weaving” I see actually happening is not that from the buses but from Barnsley/NZTA as they try and justify a crap arrangement.

          Note: There may be there is a merging issue with traffic at Curran St on-ramp and if so its something that the NZTA can manage courtesy of the the Curran St on ramp lights – which they manage.

          And if changes should be made here to manage traffic, it should be to add a bus lane “bypass” of the Curran St on-ramp lights so that buses there can always get onto the bridge going north. That way Curran St traffic is, when needed, made to wait to allow buses from Fanshawe St to use the left hand lane/shoulder.

          The only problem then is if the bridge lanes are full so the buses are stuck in traffic – and short of making that left lane bus lane only (or T3 or something) all the way across the bridge to Onewa, there is not much to be done about that.

  • lisa

    Ewart, thanks for your post.

    It is good to see NZTA defend themselves. Sometimes a lot of people arent aware of what actually goes on behind the scenes and how much thought and effort goes into providing a ‘balanced’ transport network that benefits the whole community and not just specific groups.

    • Lisa it is hard to see the quantity or the quality of the thought but we can all see the quality of the output and there is absolutely no way the transport spending in NZ can be described as ‘balanced’.

      • lisa

        Do you not see that your statement is the exact problem i mention?

        • Au contraire Lisa: Show us the evidence of balance; where are your figures? How much on state highways, how much on roads, how much on the active modes, how much on Transit?

          • Harvey Specter

            What is NZTA roll vs Auckland Council. I though public transport and city roading fell primarily on the Council with only the motorways falling on NZTA.

            Happy to be proven wrong.

          • NZTA:

            Our role and priorities
            Updated: 11 December 2012
            Our role in improving New Zealand’s land transport system extends from planning and funding activities, supporting public transport, building the networks that connect communities, to ensuring the people and vehicles that use our system are safe to do so. We have a number of priorities in carrying out this role, including improving road safety, freight efficiency and the effectiveness of public transport.

            http://www.nzta.govt.nz/about/who-and-what/what-we-do/role-priorities.html

          • Luke C

            NZTA provides roughly half of all finding for council roading and Public Transport projects too, so therefore they all have to be approved by NZTA. Therefore only PT projects that NZTA approve can realistically get off the ground, and if you are council why pay 100% for a project, when you could get 2 projects for the same amount of money.

          • Ingolfson

            Also, the link from the City to the Shore is a state highway. Thus, public transport on this link CANNOT be Council – it will pretty much always depend on NZTA.

            Lastly, 2/3rds of New Zealand’s transport funding is either directly NZTA controlled, or is NZTA-subisides. And that ratio is even though over 50% of Council’s rates money goes towards transport! So NZTA / Ministry of Transport have a massive lever which with to influence local provision of transport as they want it, no matter what local Councils want…

      • Anna

        The term “balanced” started during the seventies. It is a euphemism for in increasing roading capacity and paying lip service to pt. the new euphemism for “balanced” is multimodal or one system. Our transport network and modal balance is a direct reflection of what we pay for. There wl be no fundamental change to the network until such time as we start investing as a priority in pt. Reallocating existing roading space to pt instead of building additional capacity the only financially viable way forward.

        • bored

          i use the term balanced in the most realistic sense ie. provide PT infrastrucuture where it is feasible and appropriate and accept the fact that you cant serve everyone so provide some benefits for car users in the meantime. i also agree that multi-modal can also create competition where it isnt helpful.

          But as i have said previously the PT network isnt at the level that you can start really reducing capacity of other modes. it can be quite chicken and egg and easy to think that if we remove capacity for cars that people will be easily able to just jump on a bus instead and have the same flexibility and convenience but that would not work in Auckland at the minute.

      • Anna

        The term “balanced” started during the seventies. It is a euphemism for in increasing roading capacity and paying lip service to pt. the new euphemism is “multimodal” or “one system.”Our transport network and modal balance is a direct reflection of what we pay for. There wl be no fundamental change to the network until such time as we start investing as a priority in pt. Reallocating existing roading space to pt instead of building additional capacity the only financially viable way forward.

        • Anna

          Oops slight technical hitch with repeated blogs. The premise of building roading capacity as the ‘priority’ represents what many believe is the ‘realistic’ way forward. In fact it is what has dominated transport thinking for quite some time. But in Auckland is it possible to realistically accomodate the individual transport choices of an additional 700,000 plus prople by increasing the size of roads? Or is it it more realistic to accommodate transport demand by by prioritising improvements that are a more efficient use if an existing resource? we have reached a point in time in Auckland where chicken meets egg. From now on in pt should be the priority.

      • Anna

        The term “balanced” started during the seventies. It is a euphemism in increasing roading capacity and paying lip service to pt. the new euphemism is “multimodal” or “one system.”Our transport network and modal balance is a direct reflection of what we pay for. There wl be no fundamental change to the network until such time as we start investing as a priority in pt. Reallocating existing roading space to pt instead of building additional capacity the only financially viable way forward.

  • Bryce P

    Build the rail tunnel under the harbour and take rail to Albany. There, fixed :-D

  • Ingolfson

    “would mean that the vehicles would have to “weave” or change lanes once they crossed the bridge to exit at Esmonde Road. Most buses prefer to get into the correct lane before they cross the bridge so that they can leave the motorway safely.”

    Which seems to me to miss the point. During free-flow traffic conditions, buses could still “get in the correct lane” as they prefer. It’s the “traffic jam” conditions where we need bus lanes, so buses can get to the head of the queue.

    Also, how can we find solutions for weaving safety issues for motorists (the usual solution NZTA proposes are expensive fly-overs…) yet we can’t do it for buses?

  • General

    You guys are so funny.

    I pointed this issue out to you guys numerous times over the past 5 years before the project even started construction, and each time people said there was no point as the buses flow freely anyway.

    Now that it is complete you all get up in arms that something you specifically said was not required was not provided.

    It truly is great to see that you are not at all interested in better transport, just moaning about transport.

  • Lloyd

    How about dedicating the left hand lane of the motorway from Otara to Northcote? This is the sort of dedication given to buses in Seoul. In that city the bus is the king of the road and car and truck drivers are there only at the generosity of the bus drivers.
    Merge? – Cars just let the buses go.
    Car driver slows a bus? – Total social shame, and the bus driver will explain this very loudly and publicly if he can.

  • Simply put, NZTA has been told by their political masters to refocus their priorities on more roads.

  • SimonL

    I’m really confused by Ewart’s comments, even though I’ve never driven over the bridge.

    Where exactly is the buses weaving? If they start in the left lane, they can stay in it until they get off the motorway at Esmonde Rd. Seems that he’s referring to a different proposal, perhaps of sending the buses via lane 5, which would have weaving.

    • Hamish O

      Lane 1 is exit only for Onewa Rd. Lanes 2 and 3 can exit at Esmonde.

      • SimonL

        Oops, my bad.

        I wonder what it would cost to add a lane between Onewa Rd and Esmonde Rd? And is it really that much of a problem to have buses needing to merge right between Curran St and Onewa Rd?

    • I don’t get it either. Drove over the bridge today and there are two lanes that exit to Esmonde – the right hand clip-on lane and the left hand lane on the original bridge. Neither lane would be that hard for a bus to move to after the onramp at Fanshawe. And anyhow even if the bus stayed in the leftmost lane, there is a distance of at least a kilometre between the bridge and Esmonde northbound – plenty of time to change over one lane for the Esmonde Rd exit. To me this is another example of NZTA faux “concerns” about anything to do with giving public transport priority on the motorways.

      • Feijoa

        I also struggle to understand why a bus company would not want a lane there – the buses I go on are forced to change lanes all the time and cope. But if merging and weaving is such a problem on motorways, how about the NZTA urgently rectify the stop-start of the Northwestern bus shoulder lanes and make them continuous?

        Perhaps the CBT could do a regular survey of PT operators asking them where they want improvements – it would be very interesting to hear what they think the problems are as we get almost zero publicity from PT operators making requests vs. constant noise from the road transport forum.

  • bored

    feijoa, who would pay for the improvements that the PT operators ‘want’ ?

    • Feijoa

      If the ideas stack up, then under the current system NZTA or the councils would. The suggestion was to help find better ideas for where these same funds could be spent.

    • Bored it is precisely because we do not have limitless funds that we must invest more cleverly: roads and driving is the most expensive way to achieve movement in cities. For example the Northern Busway at 200mil ish has taken enormous pressure off the Harbour Bridge and certainly delayed any demand to blow 5+ billion on further road crossing. The point of this post is to show that by continuing to improve that asset we can continue to bank these savings. Of course there is a reasonable suspicion with NZTA promoting further road crossings that it, or at least parts of it don’t want this bus route to keep improving and therefore undermine their case for playing with those 5 bil on an engineeringly challenging project…..

    • Hey Bored, are you paid to put your National Party political opinions on this blog? Because you spend a whole lot of time here! Most people are interested in improving the current system (hence the name of the blog) yet you simply troll your “pro car” (whatever that is) opinions and claim those who want an efficient public transport system for Auckland are “special interest”. The percentages spent on public transport versus roads says it all really and Auckland has been held back by lack of investment by those over-concerned by personal taxation for too long. I live in London and the thought of coming back to Auckland, taking a huge pay cut, struggling to find good affordable housing and sitting for hours a day in angry Auckland traffic makes my skin crawl.
      New Zealand has the lowest taxes in the OECD – the money should come from lifting the top tax rate to 39% for those earning over $120,000 and introducing a much needed capital gains tax, which will also take the heat off the housing market. I look forward to your reply!

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