The City Centre Future Access Study was originally conceived by Steven Joyce when he was the minister of transport as a way to explore the alternatives to the CRL, especially those involving buses. I think he was so adamant that once his officials, under fairly strict instructions, looked at the issues that they would be able to find holes in it. Unfortunately for him and the government it appeared that this strategy backfired as the study, on which the MoT was deeply involved ended up suggesting that the CRL was the best option to solving the access issues into the city centre. Along the way those involved ended up looking at 46 options before narrowing their scope down to the three best ones for more detailed study. So with this post I thought I would just highlight all the options that were considered to show just how exhaustive the list was. The options fall into one of four categories:
- Underground Rail
- Surface Bus
- Underground Bus
Looking at these main categories a bit further we have
The only option considered is the CRL seeing as quite a bit of work on alignments and other rail options took place in the original business case.
The options were further broken down in to three categories,
- Best use of existing infrastructure:
1a – Heavy reliance on Queen St
1b – Heavy reliance on Symonds St
- Enhanced Bus operation – this builds on the previous options with additional bus priority through things like double bus lanes, bus priority at intersections etc.
2a – Albert St – Double bus lanes the entire length of Albert St and Vincent St along with Wellesley St being bus only and double bus lanes on part of Symonds St. Single lane bus lanes on various other CBD streets.
2b – Hobson St – Double bus lanes on Hobson St in both directions, other elements similar to 2a.
2c – Bus only Queen St – Double bus lanes in both directions on Queen St from Britomart to K Rd.
2d – One way bus circulation – Buses would enter the to the CBD from what ever direction then loop around the CBD on double bus lanes that are on Customs St, Symonds St, K Rd, Pitt St, Vincent St and Albert St before heading back to where they came from.
2e – Two way loop – same as above but with buses going in each direction meaning double bus lanes each way.
2f – Dedicated CBD bus loop – Similar to the previous option but would also use Wellesley to have buses do a figure 8 through the CBD. It would need a handful of major interchange stations at various points.
- Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) -
Surface BRT – This would be dedicated busways within the CBD and would need both a north/south and east/west component. The study looked at BRT options both with and without the original CRL business case’s suggestion of busways on feeder routes like Dominion Rd as they only concentrated on the CBD. All options would require things like grade separation of the busways. There were four potential North/South routes identified and three East/West routes from which 12 combinations were possible and a total of 24 options when assessed with and without BRT options on the feeding streets. The corridors identified were:
- Hobson St
- Vincent/Albert st
- Queen St
- Symonds St
- Fanshawe St/Customs St
- Victoria St
- Wellesley St
Elevated BRT – adding to the BRT options, the study also considered an elevated BRT option using the best combination from above which was Wellesley and Symonds St, the elevated part would also be extended to some of the key approaches.
This used the BRT options as the basis for investigation and the solution would require either a tunnel going North/South, East/West or possibly one of each. The bus tunnel would be required to be 2 lanes in each direction to give enough capacity for the number of bus movements needed and there would be three stations, one in the middle and one near each end. Crucially they say that while it would reduce bus impacts on the surface, surface bus lanes would still be required. The bus tunnel options considered were:
4a – Victoria Park to Grafton – This is similar to the bus tunnel option in the original CRL business case.
4b – CRL alignment – A bus tunnel with the same alignment as the CRL.
4c – East-West tunnel – under Wellesley St from Victoria Park to Symonds St but would also require pretty strong bus priority where it emerged at each end.
4d – Two Tunnels – A combination of options 4b and 4c with a major interchange at the corner of Wellesley and Albert St.
This looked at a wide variety of other options this included:
- Ferries – Considered as complementary instead of an alternative to the land based options.
- Increasing car capacity – ruled out due to the significant extra road and parking space that would be required. Crucially it would reduce the number of people that could enter the CBD compared to the PT options.
- Above ground heavy rail – ruled out due to the gradient issues.
- Light rail – A light rail shuttle connection between Britomart and Mt Eden using one of two routes.
5a – Albert St – Using the roughly the CRL alignment to get to Mt Eden
5b – Queen St – Running light rail straight down Queen St and a few back streets in Newton to get to Mt Eden.
5c – Light rail network – Expanding on the option above, the light rail network would be extended down a few of the key routes that feed into the city centre with the most practical being Gt North Rd, Sandringham Rd, Dominion Rd and Mt Eden Rd.
- Personal Rapid Transit – Not considered to be a realistic solution to CBD access but a potential option to get people around the CBD.
- Elevated rail – Using the option promoted by the Greenways Project of an elevated line from Britomart to Victoria St before turning south and travelling above the motorway till it gets to Newton. Due to the alignment intermediate stations were considered not to work.
- Travel Demand Management – Not considered an alternative as would be part of any of the other options.
- Walking/Cycling – Considered to happen as part of other options
- Intelligent transport systems and other incremental improvements – This is using technology to inform people of conditions either on the road or PT network to allow them to manage their travel, this is considered to take part in the other options
- South-West train services – Considered to be analysed as part of any bus options.
As you can see, the CCFAS investigated quite a few options and only what were considered the best of each example was taken forward for further analysis as one of the short-listed options. In rejecting the CCFAS study, Gerry Brownlee in his press release said
Mr Brownlee says he had expected a broader review of potential transport solutions for Auckland than the relatively narrow case studies in the report released today, which include a rail tunnel (the CRL), some enhanced existing bus services, and underground bus options.
It would be good to know just what else could have even been considered.