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Are More Road Lanes Across the Waitemata A Good Idea?

Like the news of the government at last supporting the construction of the City Rail Link which leaked out yesterday, news is now becoming widespread that John Key will also announce some kind of fast tracking of the Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing. I’m not going to speculate about the politics of these two announcements except to say that clearly various deals have been made in an attempt to get everyone both in government and in the Auckland Council to sing from the same song sheet. And that’s sweet ‘n’ all but really shouldn’t multiple billion dollar spending decisions be made a little more carefully than this?

Here at ATB we have shown before and here why any project to build additional traffic lanes across the Waitemata Harbour is not even an expensive luxury but actually an expensive disaster for both the city and the North Shore. Whatever scheme is proposed across the harbour it will cost multiple billions, and if it includes any more traffic lanes it will be even more expensive and worse than money wasted; it will be money wasted destructively.

The most recent cost benefit ratio from the NZTA is only 0.3 to 0.4 based on extremely dubious traffic volume predictions [page 49 here]. There is no money for this as all the other RoNS have left the cupboard bare for years into the future, especially in the context of a looming decline in income from fuel excise due to a drop off in driving. None of these predictions factor in other possible threat to their viability like international carbon reduction treaties or tariffs, or threats to oil supply or continued increase in liquid fuel cost beyond the government’s modest and optimistic expectations. There are any number of reasons why NZTA’s traffic predictions are likely to be too high which would quickly push the BCR quickly down from 0.3 to 0.2, 0.1 or much worse.

We have seen these predictions die in a ditch both here in NZ and recently on similar expensive road projects in Australia. Especially as any such tunnels will almost certainly have to involve tolling, and tolling on the existing route too, so they may end up with very few using it.

Then there are other issues particular to this project.

First there is the issue of the 4billion dollars we are still spending to complete the Western Ring Route. An alternative route that is yet to open.

Here from NZTA’s website:

What is the Western Ring Route?

The completed Western Ring Route will be a 48 kilometre motorway alternative to SH1 and the Auckland Harbour Bridge via SH20, SH16 and SH18. It will bypass the city to the west and link Manukau, Auckland, Waitakere, and North Shore cities.

Why is the Western Ring Route important?

Once completed and opened, the Western Ring Route will provide a bypass around the CBD for the large volume of traffic that travels across the region each day. 

And this from the NZTA WRR Project Summary:

The Western Ring Route comprises the SH20, 16 and 18 motorway corridors. When complete it will consist of 48km of high quality motorway linking Manukau, Auckland, Waitakere and North Shore Cities. It will provide a high quality alternative route to SH1 and the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and take unnecessary traffic away from Auckland’s CBD.

So, the claims go, once the huge tunnels and flyovers of the Waterview project and the widening of SH16 to nine lanes are done, then we can practically include the five lanes of the Upper Harbour Bridge as part of the motorway network. Fair enough. The ongoing WRR work then is a bit like the City Rail Link: connecting parts of an existing network for improve the usefullness of the whole. And it is all supposed to add up to traffic relief for the Harbour Bridge.

There will be really 13 traffic lanes instead of eight across the Harbour when the WRR is open then. Or do NZTA and the Government no longer believe this?

Now add the fact that vehicle volumes on the Harbour Bridge have not been growing as NZTA anticipated as we outlined here for the analysis:

Ak Harbour Bridge Traffic volumes

Ak Harbour Bridge Traffic volumes

The red line is the Business Case by NZTA to justify the need for more roadspace, but as you can see it bears little relation to actual traffic demand. But won’t that grow soon as more people live in Auckland? Well not necessarily at all because in fact more people have been travelling across the Bridge but not driving their own cars but in buses. Here are the figures:

Private vs Public transport 2004-2010

Furthermore there is more capacity to add buses to the Northern Busway and to considerably increase the numbers of people crossing to and from the North Shore. But what will eventually be required is a dedicated Rapid Transit Route which will both speed up Transit journeys and take some of this burden off the bridge.

But by just adding more traffic lanes we have the problem of what to do with additional lanes full of cars arriving in downtown. There is no space for any addition lanes through Spaghetti Junction to take them further through the motorway system, that is completely built out and at capacity, so they will all have to be dumped in the city. Anyone who has seen Fanshaw street or the other roads and city streets that lead to and from the Harbour Bridge at peak times know that there is absolutely no more space for more vehicles there.

There is also nowhere for thousands of more cars to be parked in the CBD, nor to circulate on city streets. In fact it is the declared policy of the Auckland Council to improve the quality of the whole of the central city with more Shared Spaces, sidewalk cafes, open spaces, more street trees and other improvements that are completely inconsistent with adding more cars to the mix; in fact they depend on lowering the numbers from where they are now.

To an important extent this is also true for the North Shore, spending billions on any means to encourage people to get into their cars and drive into the city will further clog up all the local roads and streets of the North Shore as they drive to the onramps. Yet the amount of traffic on these streets is already and expensive and ugly problem at rush hours.

Also parking costs can only rise with this increased demand even if more capital and land wasting car parking buildings are built, which, along with the tolls needed for the new crossing so it is unlikely that enough drivers will actually materialise to satisfy NZTA’s made up numbers.

Furthermore there are absolutely no capacity problems on the Bridge nor its approaches at any time other than at the work day peaks. This is a commuter issue only and while it may seem intuitive that adding more lanes across the Harbour would help commuters in fact it will not, and any more capacity will sit wastefully and expensively idle outside of these times. What would help commuters and other motorway users alike is a higher capacity, fast, and attractive commuter route across the harbour without the additional costs and dis-benefits of having to take your car with you and move it around and expensively store it in the city.

Now that the City Rail Link is a certainty, we know that once built, travel to the city by ferry, bus, bike, and train will be a whole lot more viable, because once there moving through or out of the city in another direction will be a whole lot easier. And because there is still a great deal of capacity in the Northern Busway, especially with the new Double Decker buses, the important thing to plan for is to link the North Shore and the City together for those commuters in the best way possible way.

While this could be bus tunnels we would still be faced with the problem of what to do with all the buses once they are in the city and because of the width and height of the tunnels required to handle buses and the technology to deal with the diesel fumes this is unlikely to offer a cost saving over building rail tunnels and their connections.

Rail that can link the new Aotea Station west under Wellesley St down to a new Wynyard Station for the growing demand at that end of the waterfront, then under the Harbour to a new Onewa Station then along side the motorway to a big bus interchange station at Akoranga then continuing to terminate at Takapuna Metropolitan Centre:

Aotea to Takapuna line

Aotea to Takapuna line

This project would seamlessly add huge capacity especially for the peaks without adding stress and cost to street level and parking amenity. It would allow city and North Shore roads to still function well for those who choose or need to drive. So the important conclusion is that adding the missing Rapid Transit link across the Harbour is the best outcome for commuters and road users alike. Adding more lanes to parts of cities is not the best way to improve driving.

In short it matters just as much what we don’t build as what we do. And John Key might feel more loved the more he promises everything anyone wants but really it’s the government’s job to be rational and not give in to demands for destructive projects, like anymore road lanes across the Waitemata. And similarly Len Brown may feel he needs to give in to this project in order to get his more vital and transformative rail projects approved, but that too is not supported by the facts, especially as this project actively works against his own policy to increase the quality of place and ‘livability’ of the whole City.

Incidentally this North Shore rail line is a very good fit with the Skypath walking and cycling addition to the Bridge; visitors to the city can choose to walk and ride one way across the Bridge and if they prefer, jump on the train at either Onewa or Wynyard Stations for the return journey. Then we would have a Harbour with all modes able to cross it, like the original inspiration for our Harbour Bridge:

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge

First Crossing of Sydney Harbour Bridge. Photo by Sam Hood.

First Crossing of Sydney Harbour Bridge. Photo by Sam Hood.

 

254 comments to Are More Road Lanes Across the Waitemata A Good Idea?

  • Sacha

    Can someone remihnd me what proportion of the region’s population are projected to live and work on the North side of the harbour in 30 years? If the western ring route handles through-traffic, then surely that’s who another crossing is for.

  • Noodle

    North Shore + Rodney is about 20% of Auckland’s population I think. Doubt that’d change too much over time.

    • Wikipedia says that North Shore City’s estimated population at the time of disestablishment was 230k and Rodney was around 100k, That gave the two a combined population of ~ 330k out of ~1.2m, so roughly 25%. The north is growing, but so is the south/east, so I think you’re probably right that the relative contribution to the region’s population isn’t likely to change dramatically.

      Auckland City was estimated as over 450k at the same time, for comparison.

      • Indeed. Especially when the South is due to take quite a bit of the brunt in growth over the next 30 years whether it be through intensification OR Greenfield development. I believe Manukau (that is the old MCC area ) was the 3rd biggest “City” behind Auckland City and Christchurch.

        Anyhow all eyes are fixed on the PM today and his announcement. I see Sky City might have some “influence” on the CRL owing that Aotea Station is right on their door step :P

        • Well by all means Sky City can pay for a connection to the station, why not?

          I still remain concerned that they will underbuild Aotea Station to save money in the short term [but waste it in the long one, with expensive rebuilds] because that station is going to be extremely busy.

          • There is some ongoing work to consider the passenger demands at each station with regard to platform size, escalators, number of entrance etc etc.

            Also this new announcement probably gives the impetus to stop chasing up every last dollar of savings regardless of the compromise on the design.

          • I have no issue with Sky City stumping up to get connections from their facility to the Aotea Station. I do wonder though if Aotea Station should have a platform length to essentially hold a double EMU-6 car set and/;or three platforms rather than two. Exchanging passengers on a 6-car set fully loaded takes long enough as it is and the third platform could give a back up clear route for either smaller trains or staggering trains through the station.

            A thought

          • At this stage, changing the Federal St entrance to be closer to Sky City will cost next to nothing. I’m opposed to the whole, rotten-fish deal that was done over the convention centre, but it will be a major destination so I have no problem with getting it as close as possible to the rail network. Maybe split the difference in cost with Sky City, but if it’s just a matter of shifting an entrance (instead of adding one) then the costs of figuring out how to make Sky City pay will probably be higher than the cost of just doing it.

          • Bryce P

            Agree Matt. Best of a bad situation?

          • MrV

            Yes to longer platform, or at least make it easy to extend in the future, and also create the possibility of allowing spanish solution.

  • conan

    It will be interesting to see how necessary the route is to residents of the North Shore once it becomes apparent that there will be a toll to use both it and the existing bridge.

    • swan

      Really conan? The CRL users will be getting a subsidy that, if applied to vehicles going over the crossing, we wouldnt need a toll. Fair is fair right?

      • conan

        I’m not providing commentary on whether a toll is fair or not, more that it is very likely. And no point tolling just the new route as no one will use it (a la cross habour in Sydney). So if one route is tolled the other will need to be. Hence a need for a sensible discussion on all of these projects with all of the costs, the benefits and the issues laid out clearly.

        • swan

          “Hence a need for a sensible discussion on all of these projects with all of the costs, the benefits and the issues laid out clearly.”

          Exactly!

          Instead we have a situation where there is considerable ambivalence around both of these major projects (they will both be NZs biggest ever transport projects), there is work going on by professionals in the background and then suddenly (or not so suddenly in the case of Len Brown and the CR) the politicians just want to make desicions based on what is trending on twitter.

          • Clearly Key the populist is poll watching, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t right to follow the people in the case of the CRL. They are and he is.

            The AWHC not so much, see above. Anyway that looks more like vested interests to me, ie the road lobby, there will also be the stupid east/west motorway announce today… so much red meat for those still living in the past but still powerfully connected.

        • Well NZTA are in a big bind re tolling.

          Legislation says there must be an adjacent free route if a project is to be tolled but they rightfully fear being left with a huge unused white elephant as people stick to the bridge to avoid the toll. Examples up linked to in the post above.

          But to get the legislation changed to toll both routes would definitely lead to a George Wood led revolt on the Shore…. Swan is already apoplectic, oh the unfairness! [Tolls of National Significance anyone?]

          The tolls will have to be high too, especially if they are building a high quality transit route as well. Which I struggle to believe, as each of these projects undermines the viability of the other! It’s madness.

          • The issue of tolling opens a more interesting question. To what extent could we extend the life of the bridge indefinitely with road pricing, not so much to raise revenue but to spread the load on the bridge and discourage low value journeys?

            Especially with variable tolling that charges say nothing at times of low demand but ramps up as traffic gets heavy. Efficiency through road pricing. Of course we’ed need that alternative Transit route so people could actually exercise a choice.

          • The free route is the Western Ring Route

      • Swan you really need to get a little more sophisticated in your understanding of who benefits from public transport subsidies, the true costs of auto-dependancy and how we all bear them, and recover from your selfish obsession with PT subsidies. NPV is a poor god to prey to all day.

        • swan

          Patrick,

          Thanks. While we are at it, you need to get a bit more clued up on:

          1) Consumer sovereignty
          2) Revealed preference (hint – people vote more carefully with their dollars and bodies than the pens at the ballot box)
          3) Pigou and the generally accepted most efficient ways to deal with externalities (hint – dont swallow the spider to catch the fly)
          4) Paternalism
          5) Pareto
          6) The enlightenment (particularly of the good folk of Edinburgh)

          • Ooooh I’m all for Pigou; especially in the need for a decent carbon tax, then just think of the billions that could remain unspent on pointless uneconomic motorways.

      • NZTA’s own numbers say that it’s rail users who’re subsidising road traffic, to the tune of $17/passenger in decongestion benefits to road users. Why shouldn’t the road users be paying back some of that benefit?

        • swan

          Matt,

          But why swallow a spider to catch the fly? Why not just allow an equilibrium supply/demand balance to be found on the road network by road pricing. That option is cash positive. And then we can OBSERVE the benefit of driving or not driving to rail and car users via REVEALED PREFERENCE.

          If their is $17 of benefit in getting the marginal driver off the road, then there is a huge surplus available to us via road pricing. Because it wouldn’t take $17 of incentive to GET the marginal driver off the road. At $34 a day I don’t think anyone would drive in the peak at all!

          • You can’t reveal a preference in the absence of one of the options. In other words people can’t choose to take a train that isn’t there. Too much cute economic theory; not enough reality.

          • swan

            Well at this point in time rail requires perpetual, substantial subsidies. If we get to a situation where – if rail existed it would be able to wipe its own nose, then sure let the government intervene to provide if no private provider is willing to do so.

            I used to live in an apartment in Manchester. Outside my window were no less than three separate rail viaducts, and two canals (including a ship canal), all financed by the private sector. The consumer is indeed sovereign!

          • Sacha

            Swan, roads also require perpetual substantial subsidies (or do you think they magically build and maintain themselves). Let’s not get back into that silly argument again.

          • Subsidies that:
            1. Make economic sense [don't conflate the financial and the economic]
            2. Are about to become much lower per passenger and of much higher economic value with electrification and expansion of the network.

            Also all your your UK rail companies had to be saved by the taxpayer, but you know that.

          • swan

            The Manchester-Liverpool line didnt have to be saved by the taxpayer. It had served its use and was no doubt a complete success in eyes of the original developers. The fact a century later central government decided to nationalise instead of letting it cease to trade is really of no relevance to the original developers. No doubt many of the industries that it was built to serve had ceased to trade a century later.

            Sacha,

            Why dont you read my comments? That is a complete non sequitur.

          • HaHa- precisely, so without the taxpayer you wouldn’t have been staring at any rail lines out your window. This is the very point. Outside of the crazy boom-bust era of rail the economic good of these services have proven very hard to capture financially by the private sector. Economic value is not the same as financial return. Again.

          • swan

            The fact of me observing them out my window in 2010 is not the salient fact. It is the fact they existed at all was my point.

            “Outside of the crazy boom-bust era of rail the economic good of these services have proven very hard to capture financially by the private sector.”

            Indeed.

      • Sailor Boy

        Swan are you trying to argue that 150,000 crossings on a 5.2 billion dollar project with not tolls would be a lower level of subsidy than 100,000 on a 2.8 billion dollar project which has ticket charges?

        I think your maths might be off there.

        • Swan

          You will get your 100k for the CRL about 20 years after opening so a bit different. Anyway, obviously I do not agree with a toll free crossing, just pointing out a difference.

          • Sailor Boy

            My 100k? 2.86 billion paid for 2/3 by 1.5m of us is $1400 each. Let us double that to cover capital costs. $2800. A cost to run the trains every year won’t be 1.5bover the 100 year useful life.

  • Bryce P

    Agree with almost everything here apart from terminating at Takapuna. Doing so adds another transfer for the rest of the ‘shore. If you have already transferred from a feeder to the NEX at Constellation, why would you want to transfer at Akoranga? Or are you suggesting the NEX continues over the bridge as per today? I believe any ‘shore rail must replace the busway.

    • A line to Takapuna is just a first stage allowing you to build it and get it going before pushing on with replacing the busway at a later date.

      • If you built it to a dedicated passenger metro standard you could afford to run it up the busway from day one. There are several metro systems you could simply bolt in to the busway, they can handle the horizontal and vertical clearances, grades and curvature of the existing busway.

        • Sailor Boy

          Good luck getting Rail from Sunnynook to Constellation, no matter what the form, the buses barely manage.

          Not to mention the cost, and the fact you would need to extend the bus way into town.

          I think the rail to Takapuna is the obvious start, we still need to run the NEX and other buses, but the rail needs to run alongside until we get rail all the way from Akoranga to Albany which DOES need to happen in one go.

          • That’s a peak grade of 1:25. It’s only 1:30 if you regrade it evenly. There are grades on the Vancouver rail network of 1:18, so not a problem at all.

            The problem with buses on that climb is power output, not adhesion. Not a problem for a metro system like Bombardier ART.

            Akoranga to Albany does not need to happen in one go, what makes you say that? It can easily be staged out station by station.

          • Sailor Boy

            Your comment implied that there was no rebuild necessary, do you have a source for the gradient and the skytrain?

          • Bryce P

            You could cut and cover the line to get it quite a bit lower. This leaves the bus part of the station (at Constellation) as a transfer point for the ‘bays’ buses.

          • Sailor Boy

            Ok, so we need to do reconstruction works.

            I like the idea of DLM but I worry about the possibility of fuyure integration.

          • Nick R

            Nope no rebuild necessary, you could lay the track straight in the busway. The grades, curvature, width and vertical clearance are already what can be easily manage by that technology. That’s how you can go to constellation in one go, because it needs no structural changes or construction, just lay the tracks in the busway. You could close down for six weeks one summer and reopen as a metro line.

            This sources suggests the max grade is 6.5%, or 1:16.5.

            http://www.honolulutransit.org/media/13064/20090624-metro-vancouver-rapid-tranist.pdf

          • Sailor Boy

            6.5% is the maximum grade, but what speed, what length and with what run up? Coming out of Sunnynook the grade goes straight to 1 in 20 and stays there all the way to Sunset road

            If it can be done it definitely should be. It could be down with third rail power too as the busway would be fully isolated.

            6 weeks probably isn’t possible, but 3-4 months might be, especially as you would need to rebuild constellation station to get the trains to fit. If DLM can make the gradient then it should be DLM. Then Takapuna can be a later project.

          • The maximum service grade usually refers to what a fully laden train could climb from a dead stop. So if it could do a hill start on 1:16 with a full load of passengers it could easily handle a 1:20 bank out of Sunnynook.

            Yes third rail would be ideal, one of the main benefits for an automated light metro is that it doesn’t have overhead line and can therefore easily fit under existing structures. For example the Vancouver units are a mere 3.275m from rail to roof, and without a pantograph they need only 3.5m clearance.They are also 2.65m wide, and without drivers they don’t need wing mirrors, lineside signals or anything else. That means you can easily fit two tracks in a very narrow corridor. Again in Vancouver they run them in a 7.5m wide corridor, which includes an emergency accessway between the tracks. Compare that to the busway corridor at 10m wide and rail corridors that need to be about 12m wide.

            At constellation I would expect you’d add a new island platform to the east and keep the exiting platforms for bus interchange…. so you could probably keep most of it open the whole time. Perhaps not 6 weeks, but it could be easily staged over a few months. Buses have the remarkable ability to be rerouted around construction zones. I would still go to Takapuna as stage one, because that can be done totally independently of the busway, then stage two would be up to constellation/albany. With the metro line to Akoranga and Takapuna, it would be easy to temporarily reroute most of the buses to those stations while Smales and Sunnynook were shut down. Constellation could stay open although you might simply route all the buses down the motorway shoulder or East Coast Rd to Akoranga.

          • Sailor Boy

            I might get in Len’s ear about this the next time I am at a meeting that he attends.

    • Well not so Bryce in most cases, as the re-designed bus network there would involve feeder buses joining the NBW for the connection at Akoranga, others of course connecting to Takapuna, and Onewa. The network and the infrastructure would be designed to minimise the number of connections required for the most people and to make them as easy, comfortable, and efficient as possible.

      And eventually the rail line would replace the NBW too when volumes justify it.

      • Bryce P

        I disagree. Under the new network I thought the whole idea was to transfer from a local, feeder bus, to a RTN. With the Takapuna situation you would transfer from a local bus to a bus RTN to a rail RTN. Doesn’t make sense. Does Takapuna have the patronage, by itself, to justify the termination there? Also it has the potential to create another Manukau, whereby, once the line is extended to Albany (or where ever), a ‘branch line’ will be left over. Do we want another branch line?

        • Yes Bryce but what I am saying is that this would be adapted to fit with the significant change of the new rail line. It’s not going to be tomorrow. And it will still operate under exactly the same principles. The New Network across all modes will be constantly evolving over time, especially when new infrasture opens.

          Clearly there will be changes to bus routes and train running patterns when the CRL is open too, and the Shore Line will be as big a if not a bigger change than that.

          • Bryce P

            If the idea was to terminate at Akoranga I can see the point of it but spending a not inconsiderable amount of cash to get into Takapuna doesn’t appear justified to me. I think spending that money to extend along the line to Smiles would be more beneficial (and thus creating the platform to extend further along the busway corridor.

          • Well Takapuna is a Metropolitan Centre in the UP, is expected to keep growing up, has congested connections in all directions, because they are all road based. With a rail line connecting to and through the City Centre we can expect it to thrive and become our own version of North Sydney [still smaller, of course]. It is also a passing point for local buses up and down the coast, Narrow Neck, Belmont, Milford, etc… another option from Akoranga.

          • Bryce P

            All the more reason for a dedicated bus corridor through to central Takapuna. In time there is no reason why that could not be replaced with a shiny LRT line to Akoranga.

          • Sailor Boy

            Bryce, If you extend rail to Samles then you cannot run buses from Smales to Akoranga, and so you would need to go to at least Constellation.

            Takapuna currently doesn’t have the patronage to justify a rail line, but that is because the bus service is appaling and it hasn’t gotten it’s 20,000 new residents yet.

            The reason That Aotea to Takapuna works is that it gives the busway, the rail, and the motorway all operating at the same time, that you can’t acheive if you go to Smales.

            This wil involve no more transfers than before as the busway will still rn all the way to town, and for many it may involve fewer.

          • Bryce P

            Why would you need to run buses from Smales to Akoranga if there was rail there? Smales becomes the end of the line and the major interchange until extended. And if the idea is to just run the rail into Takapuna and keep the busway then the business case falls apart. There is no way there is justification for a $2B + tunnel to service Takapuna.

          • Sailor Boy

            The quote I saw on NZTA was 1.4b fol rail Aotea to Akoranga. That asset will still exist, we just get a relatively cheap spur to Takapuna, which services a metropolitan centre that doesn’t exist as well as halving PT time to Aotea from Akoranga, and you keep the link to britomart.

            What does Smales offer over Akoranga?

          • Bryce P

            Only that it heads in the overall right direction. The Manukau spur creates problems, service wise, and so too will Takapuna if, in the future, we run rail along the bus alignment. $1.4B to Akoranga so rough guess of another $1B to Albany? A branch line to Takapuna is not going to be cheap. There are a lot of properties in the way. Long term I think you would be best leaving the termination at Akoranga if funds don’t allow extending to at least Constellation. Nick would know more about the impacts branch lines (especially short ones) have on services than I do. I’ll go back to ‘Human Transit’ and see what the oracle would do :-)

          • Sailor Boy

            You can put 30 trains an hour each way through twin tracks that can be 5 minute frequencies on The Takapuna line, and 3 minute 20 seconds on the Albany line. We can do cut and cover across the park at Akoranga, and along Anzac road, so would only need about 100m of bored tunnels.

          • Yes we can but the increase in opex would be eye watering.

          • Sailor Boy

            How would the opex of that be higher than running 30 per hour from Albany to Aotea, and a dozen buses an hour ectra from Takapuna to Akoranga?

          • Bryce P

            Ok, so rather than just buying 12 EMU’s (estimate – 6 each way for 10 minute or less frequency) for a single line to Albany, we would have to nearly double the order so that we can also keep good frequencies to Takapuna. That is a lot of extra CAPEX and OPEX (drivers). Buses running in their own corridor between Takapuna and Akoranga would have a trip time of about 10 to 15 minutes (incl wait time) so we’d need 2 to 3 buses to achieve a 10 minute frequency. There would be some additional services required at peak times perhaps so an extra bus would get the frequency down to 7 or 8 minutes (if my napkin maths are anything to go by).

          • Sailor Boy

            I am thinking that seeing this is going to be finished in 2030 you are going to be looking at a hell of a lot more demand than that. Currently there are enough people on the busway in the AM peak to fill a train every 10 minutes, what is it going to be like with the new busnetwork, and extra 600,000 Aucklanders, and intensification.

            Bearing in mind that Takapuna to Aotea would be a 15 minute trip we would actually only need 3 trains to cover a 10 minute frequency on that line.

            Why would you have drivers?

          • By then we won’t require drivers but electricity and maintenance still cost. Think about how many people there will be on other parts of the shore by 2030. I think 1st need (not want) will be to replace the busway. Other lines should come after that. LRT at street level would be more than sufficient for Takapuna. I think where the line links to at the city end is of more importance.

          • Sailor Boy

            Bryce, you are ignoring the cost aspect completely.

            We are building rail across the Habour and need to decide where it is going. Either it goes Aotea to Akoranga, Aotea to Takapuna, or Aotea to Constellation.

          • Sailor Boy

            There is no way that we will ever get it up to Constellation all in one go, there is no point having a line to Akoranga but not pay the extra 100m to get to Takapuna.

          • Oh, well that’s a very poor idea, and duplicative, inefficient.

    • Gary

      I was thinking it was the other end of the line that needs to be looked at in the graphic presented; the blue line from the North Shore needs to be extended to connect with the Southern line somewhere in the Parnell area to create a seamless North-South link. There would also be a possibility of a University station with this option that could be partly exposed in the Grafton Valley area to keep the cost down?
      That would mean the CRL would be on the East-West line with connection at Aotea station

  • swan

    This is what we get when transport spending becomes political. Enjoy your lunch today everyone – you made it!!

    • Oh we will all be Swan and the generous amounts of bubbles too as well.;)

    • Whereas the road fest of the last 60 years has always been based on careful economic considerations with no thought of politics or ideology (possibly the longest and most boring Tui billboard of all time).

      Unfortunately, the reality is and has always been this:
      “Slow train coming: the New Zealand state changes its mind about Auckland transit” – CE Harris
      trid.trb.org/view.aspx?id=1157257‎

      • swan

        No not the last 60 years but we did have a golden age of Transfund from 1996 until 2008?

        • You mean this Transfund? From Paul Mees paper “The American Heresy: Half a century of transport planning in Auckland”
          http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~cthombor/Pubs/AKtransportMees.rtf‎

          “Such enthusiasm as there is for public transport comes primarily from politicians and community groups, rather than the Auckland Regional Council’s transport planners. But even these moderate views incur severe criticism. In May 2000, the head of Transfund called for “a more balanced debate on public transport and roads” and expressed concern that roads were not receiving sufficient attention in transport debates in Auckland! (NZ Herald, 9/5/2000) In January 2001, a former Auckland City Council transport planner criticised plans for a rapid transit system, comparing them to “the body counts of the Vietnam War, the miracles of Soviet productivity.. and the claims of Mao’s great leap forward.” (NZ Herald, 4/1/2000)”

          That doesnt sound like a Golden Age to me. Yes we have Britomart and the Northern Busway – crumbs from the table compared to what has been spent on motorways.

          • swan

            Those sound like some wise heads. What a shame we have descended to such a farce in little over a decade.

          • Starnius

            Gagging here. There’s something to be said for such people now having to hide their views under greenwashing or be laughed out of the room. Not that they don’t still have enough supporters.

          • Sailor Boy

            Ah Swan, you really are a little bit blind aren’t you.

            The Waterview tunnels will be heavily subsidised, as is the Northern Gateway, as is the SW motorway, and as is the upper Harbour Motorway, but libertarianism doesn’t apply to roads.

          • Yes – you must be distressed that the “farce” of rail is also being supported in almost every developed country in the world. Amazing that all those leaders with all their information and research havent learnt what you have – that only roads with cars on them are a valid mode for transport.

            I used to be a libertarian when I was younger until I realised that, like communism (and I say that having lived in a few former Communist countries), it is an economic ideology that ignores reality in favour of that ideology. No matter what the outcome, the important thing is that the rule book is adhered to.

            Social libertarianism is however fantastic and the only way forward.

  • I’m struggling to find it again but I recall that the modelling by NZTA claims 10% reduction in traffic on the core of SH1 after the completion of the Western Ring Route. That is huge.

    If it occurs. And that would include the bridge, and particularly freight traffic?

    Perhaps our friends at the agency can help find that report?

  • Gary

    That breakdown of ‘Person trips over the harbour bridge’ data looks pretty useful. Any idea why it stops in 2010?

  • Adam W

    Imagine a train station near a really nice beach!
    In summer Takapuna could become one of the most busy stations on the network!

    • Absolutely Adam – imagine finishing work, jumping on the train at Aotea and getting off at Takapuna for a drink at a beach bar. Not many cities in the world where that is possible.

      Takapuna would explode.

      • The heads of the residents of Takapuna will explode at their pretentiously-precious suburb suddenly being easily accessible to the hoi poli from suburbs south of the deity-installed barrier that is the Waitemata Harbour :P

        • Takapuna Biz association are all over it however, very keen.

          • Of course they are – they are thinking with their heads (and balance sheet), not some hysterical reaction based on nothing but ignorance and a rural based outlook.

            Same all over Auckland – the business associations love the idea of intensification and development while resident associations (dominated by NIMBY baby boomers) have a knee jerk reaction against it.

          • Sailor Boy

            *Rich white NIMBY baby boomers*

            We need rail to Takapuna though, If they get rail then I will have to live there, It is the perfect spot.

  • SDRidley

    Heres an idea (not sure if anyone else has thought of it before).

    – Build the tunnel with 6 lanes or road and two rail lines
    – Convert the northern busway to rail
    – Extend the rail to the airport
    – Then remove the harbour bridge

    I know there are challenges such as needing an interchange with the tunnels (the one under the harbour and the vic park one) at fanshawe st along with not having a backup route close by.

    • Except that having so many additional lanes could drag many drivers back into their cars and off public transport, with the resultant traffic volumes then being used to justify keeping the AHB open.

    • Connecting the tunnel to the CBD would be a dogs breakfast of expensive ramps and other structures. Probably better to leave the bridge for access from the Shore to the the city, and let the tunnel be a pure bypass.

      There might be some scope to remove the clip ons etirely though, take it back to the original bridge.

  • SDRidley

    True. Well it was just a dream :-)

    Also aren’t they going to have to remove the clips in the next 25 years and then the bridge goes back to 4 lanes?

    • Starnius

      No. NZTA has stated that with normal maintenance, the repaired clip-ons (they spent some millions on internal repairs in the last couple years) now have an “indefinite” lifespan again, i.e. from a planning perspective they are as good or bad as the rest of the bridge.

  • SF Lauren

    The short answer to the question is no, at this point in time we don’t really need more road lanes across the harbour and just adding more capacity the existing crossing is not a good idea.

    However that is not what the project is about, the primary focus is to address various existing deficiencies and improve route security. As we have it, the existing crossing is already rather high risk and one little issue shuts the northshore off from central Auckland. Add to that the clip-ons will need replacing and so we are left with little choice

    • I know this is your area, so I just wonder – once the WRR is finished, to what extent can that alternative route through the Upper Harbour Highway to the N Shore deal with a problem with the existing bridge?

      Not viable or practical?

      • SF Lauren

        The thing with the western ring route is that it is a bypass and so little use for people going from the lower half of the northshore to the upper half of the southshore (as I call it). You would be looking at a 40km detour on a route that is already very busy and unable to take another 5 lanes of traffic, SH18 is only 2 lanes each way for example.

        As for the cost of fixing the deficiencies, the BCR sort of tells you that. What the BCR does not tell you however is just how fragile the current link is.

        • Although 60+ plus years of smooth running does tells us something about that….?

          • SF Lauren

            Where do you get the 60 years of smooth running from? The bridge can hardly last a week without there being an accident resulting in major delays.

          • Starnius

            “Where do you get the 60 years of smooth running from? The bridge can hardly last a week without there being an accident resulting in major delays.”

            Under that logic, pretty much ALL of our motorway network should be trashed, because there’s hardly a week when any of our OTHER links around town don’t experience the same issues. Stop shifting goal posts – we were talking about major disasters closing the route permanently, or for weeks or months on end, not the odd 1-hour extra of delay. If unexpected delays were the “route security” key issue, we should ahve pumped several billions into our RAIL network many years before, because that’s even worse in terms of pure dependability.

          • The entirety of Auckland’s motorway spaghetti is only a moderately-serious crash away from utter chaos. It doesn’t even have to be a proper serious crash (the police definition is one or more people at status two – serious injuries and unstable condition – at which point they do the full criminal investigation thing) to grind the city to a halt.

            Hell, it doesn’t even have to be a crash; the other day there was a truck broken down in lane 1 just north of the Market Rd offramp, in the morning peak, and it turned the motorway south of the site and the roads feeding the motorway into a spreading parking lot. The AHB is far from alone in being vulnerable to gridlock due to lane blockage (and f*&king rubber-neckers!)

          • SF Lauren

            Starnius and Matt, you will find most of the network is notable less critical than the harbour bridge. If there was an accident on any other section of the motorway you are looking at a 1-2km detour, not a 40km one.

            And starnius we are talking about route security as I said at the start, I have not moved the goal posts but rather you chose that to mean a major disaster.

            You comparison to the rail network is actually very valid however you have it the wrong way round. Currently for rail if your train was 15mins late you would think it’s the end of the world. For a road if a trip took 15mins longer most would not bat an eyelid. However if it took 3 hours long like what can happen on the harbour bridge its a real issue.

            So in a way a new harbour crossing is like the CRL. Both will increase redundancy meaning they are able to handle small issues without failing completely, like they both do currently.

          • Sailor Boy

            I agree here, the route security is probably one of the bigger pluses of the second crossing. It is nice for people who are forced to drive that it is worth them going home if the bridge is blocked.

            It is ridiculously expensive though, and I would like to at least see the AHB go to 5 general lanes if it does happen.

        • Starnius

          Route security for a major disaster (i.e. the Harbour Bridge falling down or being closed long-term) DOESN’T need to be as convenient as the existing bridge. I mean jeez, this is a very low-likelihood event, and the alternative route would work fine, just, as noted, add 40 km. Fine. During and after big disasters, things dont work as well as before. That’s a given. You just don’t spend 4-6 billion just on the off-chance that some people in an unlikely event would get 40 km less to travel.

    • That does lead to one main question: are the current deficiencies and route security issue worth a $3-$5 billion (or whatever) spend to address, and are there better/more affordable ways to do that?

      There are also other questions that need to be asked in that regard, like whether the western ring route is not an adequate alternative for occasional problems, and when exactly would the clip ons need replacing (NZTA says indefinite life with lane management), and whether they could be replaced without an alternative.

      I had heard one guy suggesting that the could be replace in situ in sections using the existing ones as a scaffold, and maybe there is the option of removing one at a time and managing six lanes on the bridge temporarily.

  • axio

    My speculation….
    – 6 lane motorway/tunnel from Onewa to duplicated Victoria park tunnel – improves freight movements and non-CBD movements
    – AHB reduced to 6 lanes general traffic. – thus reducing traffic coming into AKL CBD and encouraging bus usage.
    – dedicated bus lanes on AHB providing a more complete busway
    – addition of skypath
    Still quite the increase in traffic lanes, but at least not CBD bound.

    • Starnius

      And still a stuffed Spaghetti Junction, and more encouragement for car use overall, thus rendering the “benefits” of the project moot.

  • Will the existing Harbour Bridge become an Auckland Council Road then?
    It means they will be responsible for its expensive maintenance, and eventual clip-on removal or replacement.
    Another great shifting of liability.

    • The Council’s response would, almost certainly, be to close the Bridge to traffic and start calling for tenders for its removal.

      • Sailor Boy

        Tht would be impossible. North Shore citizens would revolt big time. I could see the council refusing to take the ‘asset’, or removing the clip ons, but not removing the bridge.

        • The Council doesn’t get to refuse to take the asset. The government would legislate Council ownership if necessary.
          As for the Shore, there’d be an alternative route. There’d probably also be quite a lot of support for removing the AHB for reasons of visual amenity.

          • Starnius

            They WOULD get added subsidy for maintenance, though. That said, it could still be a poison pill, if such a large asset was unwanted.

          • Sailor Boy

            You certain about he council being able to force ownership by law? The government would be the only entity in NZ that could.

          • Matt Clouds

            Starnius, the current government have been cutting the maintenance funds paid to local government in order to provide more money for the RODS. Being forced to own and maintain an “asset” with far less money than the original owner had for the same maintenance is still a huge money sink no matter which way it’s diced.

            Sailor Boy, read again, carefully, what I wrote.

          • Sailor Boy

            So the government would go to the effort of changing property law to offload the AHB?

          • Not property law, per se, just the law around the process for shifting ownership of former state highways onto local government. Hell, they might even make a specific law for the situation. Remember that we’ve seen an entire local government structure effectively abolished, and that abolition is continuing through a second round of local government elections, because they wouldn’t play the government’s ball. Forcing a council to take on a roading white elephant is utter child’s play by comparison.

  • Michael M

    When can we get bus lanes over the harbour bridge and how difficult would these be to implement? Would this add capacity or is the bottleneck Fanshaw St?

  • Melon

    Is there a possibility they will design a dual purpose light rail/automobile tunnel? That might make it a little more logical, especially looking 50+ years down the track. Remove the clip-ons, make a dedicated busway on the AHB, and extend rail to Takapuna and further north as and when required. Am I dreaming?

    • The project is for a road tunnel with ‘future proofing for rail’, yeah right. No chance baby, as each of these projects undermines the case for the other.

      It’s swamp the city with cars OR build the missing Rapid Transit link.

    • Sailor Boy

      Why the hell would we want light rail?? It’s no better than a bus. Heavy rail or bus lanes only please.

      • Because ignorant people say “light rail” because it’s a buzzword they’ve heard somewhere.

      • Melon

        Not sure if you’re being sarcastic… At some stage buses are going to have to plow straight into traffic and traffic lights in the CBD, interacting with all the commuter traffic that comes to a grinding halt during rush hour. That’s unless you build ‘bus rail’ and have buses running separate from cars all the way through to Britomart, which would be both a) logistically nearly impossible seeing as the new tunnel will spew more cars into the CBD and b) would carry less numbers than light rail could. Trains have much greater capacity and don’t have to stop at traffic lights. I don’t have a problem with buses, but they become less effective in future scenarios involving more cars.

        Patrick – how much life does the harbour bridge have left in it? If the bridge has to be replaced in the next 50 years (???), this tunnel will be a replacement rather than an enabler of an automobile orgy, so it would make sense to put a light rail line there.

        • As has been said, the AHB’s life is effectively unlimited if it’s maintained (barring a significant natural disaster or some large-scale human misbehaviour). It certainly won’t have to be replaced within the lifetime of pretty much everyone who currently drives a vehicle across it.

          • Melon

            I don’t quite get what that ^ means; it’s unlimited (as in, for hundreds of years), or unlimited in the sense that is won’t need to be replaced before middle aged business people die?

            If it can last >100 years, which I think is what you’re saying, then another harbour crossing for cars should be second in line behind sorting out dedicated public transport options to the shore.

            Genuine question: instead of a new harbour crossing, how do you propose to get people and freight across the water in fifty years time?

          • Matt Clouds

            100 years or more. Which is effectively unlimited, because by the time replacement is necessary the modality of transport will have changed completely. Personal jet packs will likely become a reality within my lifetime, and I’m shy of my mid-30s.
            Freight is a different matter, but there is a harbour, which means, like, boats, and shit. You know, old school.

        • Sailor Boy

          @Melon, Fanshawe street could be realigned to a 4 lane avenue with median bus lanes like AMETI is planned for, and then you never have the issue of traffic and have a total of 6 lights which are phased for movement along that route already.

          Light rail doesn’t offer capacity over a dedicated bus way.

          If you are going to all of the effort to build rail tunnels from Akoranga to Downtown and rebuilding Sunnynook to Constellation then why not do heavy rail and actually get a capacity increase?

      • It depends on what you mean by light rail. Some people mean trams when they say light rail, others mean something more like this:
        http://transportblog.co.nz/2011/10/17/art-light-metro-an-affordable-solution-for-new-rapid-transit-in-auckland/

        • Sailor Boy

          I find it incredibly inaccurate to call that light rail.

          • Nick R

            It’s confusing as there is no definition, but in some placed thats is light rail (I.e anything lighter than a full mainline railway). In others it can mean nothing more than trams on street.

        • Melon

          Having googled it, what I consider ‘light rail’ is apparently heavy rail. I always assumed light rail = passenger train, heavy rail = freight, trams = trams. Now Doloras’ jibe about my ignorance for daring not to know the semantic differences between a six-car light rail system and six-car heavy rail system makes a bit more sense.

          • Melon

            Oh, and metro = light rail under the ground.

          • Sailor Boy

            Not really.

            Light rail generally refers to trams and LRT above ground. Metro refers to driverless trains operating on their own track at very high frequency. ie Paris’s underground, or Vancouver’s skytrain are metro.

  • Melon

    Sorry Sailor, I was implying that pre-google I also thought metro = light rail, rather than heavy rail. I left that off the previous comment. I thought any passenger-oriented form of train (excluding trams) came under the term, ‘light rail’. Apparently not, it would seem.

  • goosoid said, “Absolutely Adam – imagine finishing work, jumping on the train at Aotea and getting off at Takapuna for a drink at a beach bar. Not many cities in the world where that is possible.

    Takapuna would explode”.

    I believe that you are absolutely right, but the success of such a line will also depend on intensive development in Takapuna -bring it on. My submission on the unitary plan suggests 18 storeys in the area stretching from Akoranga station. Anzac St, Lake Road and Esmonde. It’s a large area, but not much of it is buildable (see a google map).

    An advantage is that quite a chunk of this area is commercial and presumably they won’t be averse to customers residing on their doorsteps.

    And the route for the light metro line? What about through the vacant land near Akoranga at elevation and then up Huron to conclude somewhere near the town centre? This central route will allow developments on both sides of the track to access it – this in my view is not possible with a route up Anzac St. I believe that Nick has estimated this to cost about 80 million. Why could this not be the first part built? It will immediately open up Takapuna for immediate development because the rest of the trip along the busway is a relatively quick trip in morning rush traffic.

    Yes I live in Takapuna, and I don’t have a self interest such as a business. Development for Takapuna is right because the beach is an asset that should be shared with all Aucklanders -as it is already. It is also potentially a real tourism asset.

    • Sailor Boy

      Huron is probably the better option to be honest. But why not just cut and cover rather than elevate?

      • I imagine that elevating is way cheaper than cut and cover.

        • Sailor Boy

          In the same way that cutting a big gash in you stomach and stapling it together is cheaper that actually getting a tummy tuck.

          I heard that cut and cover was exceedingly cheap.

          • Bryce P

            Elevating has it’s place. I wouldn’t discount it for pieces of a route using skytrain. In fact, if elevated skytrain was used for the Pakuranga – Botany – Manukau PT route there would be very little need to spend a lot of money on property purchases, grade separation at intersections etc. Go back and have a look at the skytrain video featured here last week:

            http://transportblog.co.nz/2013/06/18/the-impacts-of-vancouvers-skytrain/

            The cost effectiveness cannot be under valued.

          • Sailor Boy

            Pakuranga, Botany, Manukau should be elevated as it is a long section of rail track going down a busy arterial road, so the impact is minimal. Takapuna would be a short section of track going through high density land use on quieter roads where the entire thing could be one by cut and cover buying about 5 properties which could be easily redeveloped.

          • Bryce P

            Have you read ‘Human Transit’ yet? The Takapuna branch would complicate an otherwise very straightforward line. If you want to spend money on a fancy version of PT for Takapuna, an LRT / streetcar line would be more useful and cheaply allow another 4 or 5 stops (every 500m or so) to maximize the efficiency of the line.

          • Sailor Boy

            I have read all of Human transit. I don’t think that 5 minute frequencies on a takapuna ,line and an Albany line would worry Jarrett Walker though.

          • Perhaps a street car line is a possibility, although to be successful it would need to have priority. I guess it depends on how much development will occur. A few significant developments and growth could be quite rapid, although that hasn’t happened in the last few years

          • If we built a line along the busway route and then had a huge jump in patronage at Takapuna to justify a branch then fine, add a branch line, but the major patronage as of now is coming from the ‘spine’ not a single suburb. Building Takapuna before the main line doesn’t make sense to me. If cash is the problem build to the nearest busway station.

          • I i would love to catch a bus to town and transfer to a train right into Takapuna but I don’t see that as a priority. I would imagine a local feeder bus route would be suitable for quite some time to come.

          • Sailor Boy

            Newton probably doesn’t justify a station at the moment either.

            I think that Takapuna should happen ASAP, if purely for urban development reasons. If the choice were Samles or Takapuna it would be easy, Albany or Takapuna would be easy, but Albany and Takapuna would b absolutely worthwhile.

          • Bryce P

            Takapuna 2006 Census – 2811 residents. Te Atatu Pen 2006 census – 11688. A regular feeder bus will do fine until development happens and a line can be justified. Get a route designation in place in the meantime.

            In the meantime, we hear of buses going through stops on the busway because they are full. You really think Takapuna is more important? Just from a OPEX point of view, the savings on a line to Albany, would be huge.

          • Bryce if you read Jarrett Walker carefully you will see that his warning about branch lines is to do with how they inevitably lower frequencies ‘downstream’ of any branch. As a rule this might be considered to be a bad thing, and certainly a lot of branching causes all sorts of issues for network planning. Sometimes however this is exactly what is needed.

            Take for example the issue of the proposed branch off the Western Line to Mt Roskill. It has four main purposes:
            1. to serve the local area with two new stations Owairaka and Mt Roskill, offering new connection options and to encourage local place quality and further good local redevelopment .
            2. to ‘cut off’ a whole lot of long distance bus riders from filling the buses through the busy further-in suburbs by offering a quicker and and more direct option into the areas around new city stations [and beyond], thereby leaving more space for those passengers on the bus routes closer to town, esp on Dom Rd; helping with capacity issues by offering a high quality alternative.
            3. to allow higher frequencies on the inner portion of the Western Line than further out [ie not taking from services to Swanson- but adding more capacity on the section covered].
            But also:
            4. to balance the network; to give somewhere for one of the three southern sourced lines to terminate then return. Either a Manukau City, Papakura/Papatoetoe, or Onehunga/Airport line can terminate here without messing with other patterns.

            With the Shore Takapuna is indeed a destination and a source in itself. It has a lot of potential to turn a whole lot of at grade car parks and low rise low value buildings into efficient taller buildings, becoming a little mini-North Sydney. However Takapuna has connection issues already without this future development; it can be hard to get to. It will be 8 minutes from Aotea Station by rail. How cool is that…? lunchtime swim and meal by the ocean anyone? But also any service to T is to add capacity and frequency to Wynyard, Onewa, and Akoranga. In other words it serves a network purpose without having to run trains all the way to Albany [once that line goes there] as well as generating it’s own traffic.

            Sure you could just run services to Akoranga as there is clearly the space there to build some sort of additional track for the bounce back, but it is our view that actually taking a spur to the Metropolitan centre where a whole lot of people, businesses, and attractions are is the much higher quality option.

            We are used to discussing urban rail in this country on the assumption that there can never be any money to invest in long term quality capital works in order to do anything properly. Well John Key has just changed that for good. While I am not promoting profligacy with our investments it is clear we can now have more balanced discussions about all transport modes and not simply ones [like most of this thread] where all the creativity and imagination goes into how we can do Transit on the cheap, but rather how we can do it as well as possible. You know, like how we think about motorways.

            A future with fewer new motorways means other modes can have that quality of attention.

          • The fact that branching splits frequency can be used to advantage. Demand and loadings across rail lines are not even, almost invariably the loading increase the closer you get to the city. In our case trains are fullest approaching Newmarket and Britomart. In other words it can make sense to combine lines closer to the city and separate them further out. A route to Takapuna would do that, it would relieve the Albany line at it’s most crowded points: Akoranga, Onewa and Wynyard (hypothetically).

            Plus anchoring that line at the suburban end makes a lot of sense, as you can use your counterflows to take people to the Takapuna mini-CBD which is really the greatest density of jobs and retailing outside the CBD, and one that has plenty of potential to grow due to the strategic position and proximity to the beach.

          • Sacha

            “lunchtime swim and meal by the ocean anyone?”

            If that’s the aim, be interesting to compare cost-benefit with improving the at-grade trip around Tamaki Drive to the Eastern Bays.

          • Bryce P

            Patrick, I’m not suggesting the idea of a branch line to Takapuna is a bad one. The issue is priority and timing. If the choice is to extend a skytrain type system to Smales or to Takapuna, Smales is the logical choice as it can be extended along the busway from there. The price to build the line to Takapuna will be quite a bit higher I suspect than to build to Smales. In fact, you might find you could get a line to Sunnynook in which case you would chip in and take it to Constellation. I know this would be cool. I love Takapuna. I have friends in Takapuna. It is probably the city beach I visit the most but I also know there are other people on the ‘shore. Busway patronage keeps climbing. Moving to high frequency metro rail could potentially silence some of their calls for another vehicular crossing, something that Takapuna, by itself, will not achieve. Those 3 minute (?) NEX buses cost lots to run in man hours. If they could be replaced by a driverless system the wage bill alone will be significantly reduced thus freeing up cash which may then enable a Takapuna line.

            Surely there is some opportunity in Takapuna to create some bus priority as an interim measure? Are there bus lanes and light priority along ANZAC St or Fred Thomas Drive? If not, there should be. That would be a very cheap, short term fix to some of the travel times.

            As for Mt Roskill, there are plenty of posts from me supporting this as I see it can take a lot of load off Dom Rd / Sandringham Rd etc. The population base this proposed line covers is significant, as is the apparently low price to make it happen.

          • Bryce P

            And remember I was the one talking up Takapuna while everyone was rabbiting on about Milford :-)

          • I agree there is a discussion to be had about the details and staging of the best ways to add a rapid transit line to the Shore. Remembering that there is already a functioning RTN on the Shore with extra capacity; it just stops at the waters edge and becomes buses in traffic. A good example of the advantages and disadvantages of the flexibility of buses as RTN providers.

            One option is to start with a line from Aotea to Akoranga and have Shore buses operate in what could be described as ‘L’ shaped patterns. So instead of local Shore bus operating as feeders to the busway stations and dropping passengers at at say Constellation or Smales, they would simply join the Busway at these points and use it to Akoranga where there is the space for a fully integrated interchange of scale. They would then head back out on their routes up the busway and into the Shore hinterlands at very high frequency and efficiency, because they will not be in the city or on the Bridge stuck in traffic, and are still using the class A ROW of the Busway for a good part of their service. This would be the pattern with or without the train continuing to and from Takapuna.

            Otherwise, of course, conversion of the busway could be considered the priority, but remember this would still mean a lot of users transferring from local buses but at all the current busway stations and not just at Akoranga [and a new Onewa one]. So either way it’s still a single transfer to get onto the new rail system for most.

            Adding Takapuna would offer a no transfer ride for all those at this centre, as well as connect with all the buses from both North and South that already converge there, taking some of the load from Akoranga, which, apart from the long bridge towards the AUT campus has no real walk-up catchment.

          • Bryce P

            I think running local buses along the busway would negatively affect service patterns and not allow the current level of service while at the same time pushing up labour costs.
            Given the projected price of a vehicle tunnel, I feel we must be advocating for a rail network to Albany as the only viable alternative. As the estimates of pricing to build this line are well under the price of a vehicle tunnel we could perhaps offer up the idea of a Takapuna branch as a ‘sweetener’ for the program? We would still be billions of dollars under the price of the proposed AWHC.

            Go for gold! Using a Takapuna branch line, in conjunction with the UP, may actually improve the BCR.

          • I think that a line to Albany is the primary goal, However seeing as we (will) already have a busway from Albany to Akoranga then it makes sense to focus the first stage on completing the bit we don’t have, i.e. Akoranga to the city. Nonetheless, we don’t have a rapid transit station in Takapuna either, which is the regions foremost metropolitan centre, so there is a lot of sense in taking the first stage to Takapuna via Akoranga.

            End result is two lines, one to Takapuna and one to Albany, but in the short term the existing busway would work well to feed passengers into the metro line, and Takapuna would make an excellent transfer point for the Devonport, Belmont, Milford area.

          • “I think running local buses along the busway would negatively affect service patterns and not allow the current level of service”

            I can’t imagine why you might think that Bryce. It’s a busway, you know, a way for buses. There would no longer be a lot of buses heading all the way into town on the busway once the rail line is in, so the busway is there ready for this lower transfer based pattern.

            Connections are good, fewer connections are even better where that can be achieved without lowering frequency.

          • Bryce P

            Ok so the 2 scenarios for the rest of the shore (say I lived in Torbay) would be a) a local bus from Torbay to Akoranga or b) a local bus from Torbay to Albany, transfer to NEX, on to Akoranga and transfer to rail.

            Under option (a) the frequency would have to be reduced. Under option (b) there is an added transfer. In both cases this is a poorer result than they will have today or under the RPTP.

          • Sailor Boy

            No Bryce, the options are Torbay to Akoranga or Takapuna and then rail to Aotea, or a Bus to Albany, and then the NEX to Britomart.

            If we build the Takapuna section first it is a relatively obvious sensibility to continue to run the NEX. If we build the line to Smales, then we force the transfer.

            I think everyone would agree that rail to Albany all at once is the best, the next best is Aotea to Constellation, however it becomes a bit of a question after that as running to Smales or Sunnynook really disrupts Busway services in a way that going to Takapuna simply doesn’t.

          • I was assuming option a, local buses run to Akoranga or Takapuna. That means that buses that currently terminate at Albany, Constellation or Smales would have to run down the busway to Akoranga… however, in that scenario you would not need to run the Northern Express at all. So there is no need to reduce frequency as you have a heap of resources from the NEX (no longer running all the way over the bridge and into the city) to redistribute back to local lines. In fact it would probably allow an increase in frequency as those buses would be doing more of their running on the fast and reliable busway proper instead of the harbour bridge and city streets.

            It’s and easy stage, having said that I think we can more or less do both ALbany and Takapuna off the bat. Do the rail through to Takapuna as the first stage, drop the NEX and reconfigure all local buses as L Shapers to Akoranga and Takapuna. Then stage back from Akoranga to Smales, Constellation and Albany, cutting the bus services back to the new terminus as each stage opens. End result is no main line buses, they all feed into the rail.

          • Bryce P

            @Nick. Understood although, with the extra distance for each local bus to run, does that not increase the running costs? And removing NEX buses, which run at a commercial return (right?) seems like a retrograde step. I would love to see a service pattern.

            @SB So you’re suggesting we build a $1.5B rail line to service Takapuna, a line that can carry thousands of passengers every hour, carry on running NEX services across the bridge and then extend the line later? Gosh.

          • Bryce, not running slowly through the city means that bus runs on the Shore will be shorter, quicker, and more efficient. Not the other way round.

          • Bryce P

            Sorry Patrick, I don’t understand what you’re trying to say. SB was indicating keeping the NEX all the way to the CBD, so avoiding a extra transfer, and also running trains just from Takapuna to the CBD.

          • Bryce P

            And on thinking about it, forcing the transfer might not be such a bad thing as it gives people a sense of what they could have, once the budget becomes available, and then it gives them a reason to lobby the council. If, for instance, the line went as far as Smales, the local buses from Sunnynook could run all the way to Smales with buses from further out (Constellation, Albany, Silverdale etc) transferring to a shortened NEX (terminating at Smales). Then extend the line as funding becomes available. I still 100% believe the spine should be the first priority.

          • Bryce if slapping a Light Metro Line up the busway is as cheap and easy as Nick says it is you may very well get your wish; it may turn out to be pretty simple compared to getting across to Takapuna… although I still maintain on the face of it this is a very important node to connect to the Rapid transit network.

          • Bryce P

            Hey Patrick, I’ve never disagreed that Takapuna will be important. I’ve even argued that it could be, in future, an extension of the current CBD much the same as HK, and rail would play a vital part of making that happen as an alternative to a destructive motorway into Takapuna. It makes more sense as a metro center than Albany even though Albany has more land. Hence my concern that the Milford argument was taking focus off Takapuna. In time Milford will develop. Of that I am certain, It’s just that I don’t see a need to fight that battle now before Takapuna has been developed properly. (mini sprawl?)

          • @Bryce, yes extending the length of the local runs increases running costs, but removing the NEX reduces running costs. It’s basically just moving the route-kms from one bus to another along the same alignment. The NEX is a gross contract, AT pays the operator to drive the buses to schedule and keeps all the revenue themeselves. Any profit or loss sits with AT. So if they cut the NEX the have a whole pile of savings on the contract they can use to boost the local routes.

            At the end of the day you’ve got a whole lot of bus routes on the shore through to the city (some patterns require at transfer at a busway station). If you cut all those all 12km short (round trip) at an akoranga metro station you’ve saved four or five thousand service-km a day you can reinvest in boosting the length and frequency of local runs.

            Consider the existing network, almost nothing terminates at a station, it all runs down the busway, through Akoranga to the CBD. Cut those at Akoranga and turn the buses straight back around and send them back to the suburbs. You could instantly boost frequencies across the board by about 50%.

          • Bryce P

            Nick, most of the those local ‘long runs’ will have been getting changed under the RPTP anyway right so there should be plenty of capacity to feed Akoranga (or wherever). I still think, given the popularity of the NEX, that there is the place to start :-). If the NEX is popular using buses, imagine modern, cheap to run, fast rail with WIFI……… :-).

          • Sailor Boy

            The L shaped configuration would work well if we were expecting to go to the next station every year or 2. And getting the NEX out of the CBD would then be a clear choice. I just unfortunately do not feel that we will ever be in that political climate. National won’t do it because it isn’t a motorway, and Labour/ Greens won’t do it because they won’t be able to get any votes off of the North Shore.

          • Bryce P

            I don’t think the powers that be should under estimate the allure of a quick train trip into town. On the days that I bus into town during the day, there are plenty of, shall we say, non stereotypical, people getting on and off the NEX. I think people are starting to ‘get it’ and the NEX has shown the way.

          • Sailor Boy

            I completely agree that it has changed the mindset. But would any of those people vote for Labour / Greens if they built the railway? And would National build it to appease them, or just build a shiny motorway instead?

            I really want this rail to happen but I fear it is going to be a long battle.

  • axio said, “6 lane motorway/tunnel from Onewa to duplicated Victoria park tunnel – improves freight movements and non-CBD movements”

    Where are you going to find freight on the North Shore? There simply isn’t that sort of industry. If you don’t believe me stand on the overbridge at Akoranga for half an hour – you won’t even have to take your shoes and socks off.

    And that’s the very reason that heavy rail would be a complete waste for the Shore.

    • The freight is to/from Northland, not the North Shore as such.

      I would rather see a rail tunnel, as the existing bridge would likely have all the required road capacity for decades to come, if a rail tunnel were built. A road tunnel will just make driving easier, and undermine both the existing busway and any future prospect of rail.

      • Nick R

        There is already a freight line to Northland.

        • Torbayite

          There is also the shipping option from Marsden point or Bay of Islands to Auckland for freight.
          A sail boat can get from Auckland to Russell in under six hours!!

        • You misunderstood Nick, I am pointing out to Sailor Boy that the CRL will not free anything up for freight. He seems to be of the belief that Britomart has freight trains.

        • Bryce P

          A slow, poorly maintained one……

          However, if the NS line were to be LRT (skytrain) then the savings could be put into fixing the NAL for freight. A skytrain type system would be able to follow population densities on it’s way along the coast and almost leave the motorway and head along the old East Coast Rd. Perhaps?

          • Sailor Boy

            Population centres are actually along Glenfield road, especially under the UP.

          • Bryce I hesitate to get into mode arguments but Skytrain is Light Metro which is generally not what is meant by LRT because it needs to be grade separate, using a third rail power source, whereas LRT is often at grade in mixed traffic. Basically big trams [what Americans call Streetcars, as opposed to cars that use streets, of course].

            Remember this shot? None of these are Light Metro [Skytrain]; LRT, Bus, Tram [streetcar]

            This shot is from Potland and here is a description of the LRT from the wiki page:
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MAX_Light_Rail

            General description
            In parts of the MAX system, particularly in central Portland and Hillsboro, MAX trains run on surface streets. Except for on the Portland Transit Mall, trains run in reserved lanes closed to other motorized vehicles. On the Transit Mall, trains operate on the same lanes as TriMet buses (although MAX trains have traffic priority). Elsewhere, MAX runs within its own exclusive right-of-way, in street medians, alongside freeways, and on former freight railroad lines.
            Where the tracks run along a street, intersections are generally controlled by traffic signals which give trains preemption. Where the tracks occupy a completely separate right-of-way, level crossings are protected by automatic crossing gates giving trains the right-of-way. A three-mile (4.8 km) section consists of two tunnels below Washington Park. While this section has only one station, it is 260 feet (79 m) below ground level, making it the deepest transit station in North America[27] and one of the deepest in the world.

            Key difference is that because Light Metro is grade separate it can then, like any rail system with complete separation and not sharing lines with other users like say freight services, be driverless. And therefore run at a significantly lower operating cost, especially for night, weekend, and holiday periods. Obviously this is not the case with LRT that run at street level in traffic for even part of its route.

          • Bryce P

            I’m not suggesting it is LRT. I still believe skytrain is the right mode for the North Shore line. Run it in it’s own corridor. Driverless, efficient, electric, ability to shorten headways to cope with increases in patronage. What’s not to like about it? By running along East Coast Rd, I envisioned as a elevated system, not at street level. On thinking after that post (which was just a question really), I think it best to leave it in the central corridor and run buses along the coast to feed it.

          • TheBigWheel

            Good points well made by Bryce P and Patrick. The only downside really as far as the Shoregoes is the need for a tunnel, but that’s a $ bn difference, potentially a killer.. to offset against the opex disadvantage of LRT or tram-train. Capital deferral could be a big issue (opportunity?) for creative alternatives..

            Same general issue in East Auckland, will we really need elevated Skytrain type fully segregated rail / metro along Ti Rakau or Pak Highway and Ti Iririrangi etc in the next 20-30 years? Even if it is desirable, is it remotely realistic? Where will it connect to the current rail system? How to get across the Tamaki river? On the other hand there looks like plenty of room for tram lines. At least as far as Panmure along the AMETI alignment, then pick up the Eastern Line. Maybe tram trains offer an intermediate step between the bus lanes and elevated rail?

            Thinking about the AWHC ..this blog puts a compelling case that no road tunnel is justified, but there is the reality that AC and Central Govt are supportive. And there is no guarantee of a rail tunnel. At some point capex constraints will bite.. Even doing rail and road tunnels as a one-er to gain project synergies would nevertheless incur very significant on-costs.

            So.. Build the tunnel for cars, and put rail on the bridge.. sound do-able? Either trams or LRT fully segregated should manage the gradients and curves. No?

    • Sailor Boy

      But heavy rail does a good job carrying people, and we may one day integrate the systems.

      • Nick R

        Heavy rail does a pretty good job of moving passengers, but the mainline freight geometry can be a constraint. Purpose designed passenger metro does an exception job of moving passengers.

        • Sailor Boy

          Heavy rail does just as good a job of moving passengers and fits 280km of existing track. Given that the option is to rebuild Sunnynook to Constellation for heavy rail, or for DLM I don;t see why DLM is better, or why we would be constrained by freight?

          • Bryce P

            If, for example (and I’m not sure on costs), for the same money as building heavy rail to Akoranga we can build a line to Albany, using skytrain tech, wouldn’t we be silly to not do so?

          • Sailor Boy

            I very much doubt we can do that for 1.4b plus the section from Wynyard to Aotea.

        • Bryce P

          C’mon Nick. What’s your best guess for a price to get a skytrain line from Auckland Uni (or even the hospital) to Albany? $2.5B?

          • Nick R

            Less, I think we can get a light metro line for the university to Albany plus branches to Takapuna and Greenhithe for under two billion, assuming the busway is extended to Albany first.

            Fancy that, a whole metro network for less than half the cost of a motorway tunnel.

          • Sailor Boy

            Yeah, my very little estimate, almost at the bottom of this page said 1.5 billion Aotea to Albany as a conservative guess.

  • And light also metro does a wonderful job of carrying people at a much reduced cost. Certainly light metro will achieve the required capacity according to Nick R’s figures.
    And as has been stated there is already freight rail available.

    • Sailor Boy

      We aren’t talking about freight.

      Is DLM really going to be any cheaper? Also what will you do when we want to link up to the rest of he rail network?

      • Way waaay cheaper. Light Metro can easily handle the existing grades, curves and clearances of the busway. It can be fitted straight in.

        Our heavy rail cannot handle the grades (requiring big cut and fill, new viaduct at Tristram, perhaps a tunnel at Constellation), it cannot handle the clearances (rebuild every road underpass) and it also requires a wider corridor than the busway, so there would need to be 2-3m widening right along. In other words, reconstruct the entire corridor.

        When it comes to new corridors we get the same benefits, grades twice as steep are possible, tighter curves, narrower corridor (7m is sufficient) with lower bridges/underpasses/tunnel roofs. Tunnel cross sections could have half the area, and more importantly they could be build as cut and cover just below the roadway. No need for deep level bored tubes if the grades aren’t an issue.

        In terms of operating costs, not needing staff automatically slashes the opex . Furthermore the lighter vehicles mean the power required to move them is much less, about half too. The entire Vancouver network is run by four people in a control room. So at the end of the day, for the same operations budget you can run two to three times as much service frequency. A fifteen minute headway suddenly becomes a five minute metro service.

        To link up you connect at the same stations, where people can change trains. That is what people will need to do most of the time anyway, to get between two lines involves hopping off one train and on to another. It doesn’t actually matter what kind of trains those are. For example, the London Underground uses four (I think) different classes of trains that are not interoperable, each only runs on it’s own line. But it doesn’t stop the network functioning just fine. Even in Melbourne they have two classes of trains that can only run on half the network each, not that you would notice.

        • KLK

          Yes, light metro is a debate worth having. I think if we see a future with more than one line on the shore, then it becomes something to think about, particularly if the main line, when it comes south over the city, can continue on as an additional line – and I’m thinking the SE line through Botany etc on the way to Manukau.

          There are places where additions to the existing network makes sense – Onehunga to airport, Avondale-Southdown – but others where for reasons of cost we are going to expand the network quicker through light metro

          • OT but why not make Southdown – Avondale – Westgate as skytrain system? That way the grade issue almost goes away and you get a cross town line. Freight is a potential issue but that line was always going to be troublesome anyway.

          • KLK

            Is the “sky train” an elevated system? No thanks. Absolute disaster aesthetically. You might not run the trains on the ground, but the support struts for the elevated base need their own designation so why not just run the thing on the ground.

          • Bryce P

            skytrain doesn’t have to be elevated. As long as it has a secure corridor it can run as a mix of at surface, tunneled or elevated. That’s, and the driverless feature which allows very tight headways, is a very key feature of the system. Lower operating costs.

          • Sailor Boy

            I just don’t get elevated. There is no way that it can give significant savings over elevated.

          • Bryce P

            Really? Think about running it over an existing, divided road. The amount of land required for the line is vastly reduced.

          • Sailor Boy

            How is it reduced at all. to build a 10m corridor you need a 10m wide tranch or a 10m wide road surface. If you are working in a constrained corridor I can understand repossession costs, but we aren’t this is a park, some light industrial land that is about 100m wide and a massively wide road.

          • Bryce P

            Because if it is elevated the width of the track carrying part is wider than the base. Without knowing for sure, and only going off photos so far, the base would only be as wide as the average 3 to 3.5m wide median strip. A single lane and with the ability for vehicles to still use the median for turning bays.

          • Bryce P

            Park? Which park? Sorry, I got lost in the conversation.

          • Sailor Boy

            We are talking about Akoranga to Takapuna here.

            The ‘park’ is between the driving range and Rosmini college.

            Also, I understand that the elevated line only need 3m at ground level, but a cut and cover would need zero. Over most of this route we have a corridor wide enough to lay triple tracks, and the bit where the cuncil doesn’t own it would be cheap to buy, and would have to be bought regardless.

        • As John F Kennedy famously said, “I look at things as they might be and ask why not?” There seem so many compelling reasons for light metro that this might well be a catchphrase to action for this project.

          Most importantly as you state, light metro will deliver high frequency because it can, due to the lower operating costs. By comparison a 15 min frequency train service to the North Shore would actually be a retrograde step compared to buses that currently run every 2 minutes at peak.

          And there will be three billion in change compared to a second road crossing. That should be enough to build something in Northland that will give people a reason to visit and use the holiday highway.

          • Yes, it is a no brainer and you would need to be an ideological fanatic with a loathsome hate of rail based transport to oppose it. Unfortunately…

  • Torbayite

    Future planning by ensuring rail options to the North Shore are Important for the future.
    I feel increasing the bus share accross the harbour bridge ( as shown in the 7-9 Graph in Patricks post at the top) can be a key lever for this.
    What can be done this year? Integrated ticketing and AT HOP
    Also I feel a small increase in the Southbound bus lane at Greville On ramp so the bus gets round the merging T2 lane traffic!!

  • How does light metro connect to the rest of the network? It simply comes in at another level at the connecting station just as another line might. I don’t see any reason why the network has to match – I believe that the Vancouver system doesn’t. If it makes sense to develop any new portions of the rail system in a different fashion because it is considerably cheaper then it should be done.

    • Spot on. Who says PT advocates aren’t budget aware? :-)

    • Sailor Boy

      Vancouver has one peak only commuter heavy rail track, hardly a fair comparison, I like the idea of DLM especially if we can put it on the bridge, but I want to know it isn’t going to be ripped out and replaced with heavy rail while I am still alive.

      • Bryce P

        The Canada line coped with 287K passenger trips in a single day and I’m guessing they can do better if they need to. I can’t see North Shore needing that kind of capability any time soon. A key point to remember about skytrain is that, I understand, it operates at a profit. Yes, PT operating at a profit. You want lower fares? There’s your system.

        • Melon

          Assuming this is all correct, how do you get the council on board?

          • Bryce P

            Good question and I’m going to do some fact finding on skytrain. If the wiki claims of profitability can be proven then the opportunity to build a skytrain line all the way to Albany for less than the price of a vehicular tunnel, and the opportunity to run the line at a profit or small loss has to be taken seriously by both local and national government. Surely! The govt wants farebox recovery? Well, from what I have read, skytrain does exactly that and more.

          • Sailor Boy

            You would also need to be absolutely certain that it can be built on the existing busway with no work, and get a rough cost for tracks. Check if it could cross the bridge. And get a cost to cut and cover from St Mary’s Bay to Brtiomart or Aotea. If you want to actually make this happen I would be happy to help try and do the research and promote the idea. Many of my friends on the Shopre are keen to have rail tomorrow.

          • Bryce P

            Personally, I don’t think we’ll get it over the bridge but doing a tunnel just for a skytrain system would be cost effective. It only needs quite a bit smaller bore than that required for a heavy rail (much less so than a combined 6 lane vehicle and 2 lane train tunnel). I’ll find the numbers and post back :-)

          • Bryce P

            Skytrain Evergreen line tunnel – 9.84m single bore tunnel. Now it’s not under water so I have no idea if that affects the required dimension but think about the Puhoi tunnels for a second and you’ll realize the difference in required sizes. That’s a lot of digging. Here’s a link: http://www.tunneltalk.com/Evergreen-LRT-29May2013-Vancouver-confirms-Caterpillar-as-TBM-supplier.php

          • It will never go over the bridge. Needs a new crossing, anyway the bridge works fine for vehicles. Add Skypath and otherwise leave it be.

          • Sailor Boy

            “The 11km Evergreen Line LRT project, which upon completion will fully integrate into the existing Skytrain system, will connect Coquitlam city centre to Vancouver via a connection with the Millennium Line at Lougheed. The project comprises elevated and at-grade guideways, a 2km bored tunnel, seven stations, power substations and train operating systems.”

            Constellation, Sunnynook, Smales, Akoranga, Onewa, Wynyard, 6 stations.
            Length 10.7 km. tunnel section 3km.

            That section of the project is almost exactly the same except that 6km of it may only need track laid. The extra length of tunnel would probably balance that. 889m CAD is approximately 1bNZD So a 1km tunnel to Aotea, plus a 3km extension to Albany is less than half of the project again. Construction costs are 1.5bNZD to have DLM from Albany to Aotea. Plus 12 trains to operate 5 minute frequencies. Why are we not doing this?

          • TheBigWheel

            Hmmm.. not sure about that?

            Let’s take a trip on a how-we-can journey for a fraction of the cost of a tunnel.. Even a single bore 10 m one. Never mind a dual reading tunnel for $5bn.

            What IF the light rail vehicles were tram-trains that operated as trams over the HB? As they could on any other street. Potentially on a dedicated lane shared with buses? The buses already carry more than enough percentage of the people crossing the HB in rush hour to justify a bus lane. Sure there would be issues about lane crossings.. unless they could use the outer clip on lanes.. but these are very solvable challenges in the context of a tunnel budget, even a 10 m bore.

            For that matter, the entire Northern Busway could be operated as a combined tram / bus lane.. no need for boring old either/or modal arguments.

            Now imagine the very same tram-train travelling from Albany town centre.. along the busway, over the bridge, along Fanshawe St, along Quay St, and then onto the train tracks at the old Strand Station (a Vector arena stop?) and because it’s a hybrid diesel + 25kVac power supply.. we didn’t need masts and wires over the bridge and now it can use the wire we already have on the southern line. So, continue up to Newmarket, Ellerslie, Penrose.. and now we can get rally creative and at Kings College we can simply and very cheaply turn off onto some new tram tracks up the conveniently located ramp onto Massey Road.. head through Mangere East and along to George Bolt Memorial Drive.. turn left (finally maybe we need some grade separation) and pile down either grass shoulder to AKL.

            Voila!! Albany to the airport by rail for a TINY sum of money.

            All the more do-able if we get the fancy junction SH18-SH1because that, combined with Waterview, makes the WRR more attractive (and undermines further the business case for a reading tunnel) and takes pressure of the HB and the CBD approaches.

            Just thinking.. The thing I dislike about the whole package announced on Friday is that it’s so old fashioned, big spend, totally devoid of innovation. Very un-kiwi in fact. How about some more out of the box thinking! Save a few $bn or five?

          • The bridge is fully used at the peaks, if you advocate taking even one lane from general traffic there you will simply feed the machine that wants more traffic lanes elsewhere.

            Anyway, trains are fast, trams are not. Standard Rail, or Light Metro will be 6 mins from Akoranga, 8 from Takapuna to Aotea. That is an unbeatable option.

            The only race isn’t to see who can spend the least capex, there also needs to be an understanding of the quality of what we get for each quantum of investment too.

          • Sailor Boy

            How is operating a bus and a rail vehicle better than just rail?

            You will have to pay drivers and have longer headways than with DLM, and have lower capacity that DLM or heavy rail.

            You’re using diesel which is always bad.

            I just don’t see any advantage to DLM other than a tiny bit of cost basicall consisting of the tunnel from Onewa to Aotea.

          • TheBigWheel

            Yep, lower speeds than trains but not by much considering there are so few stops on the busway esp from Akoranga. Can use wires instead of diesel of course. Light weight catenary lower voltage dc all standard practice worldwide.. good for 80 km/h I would think in tram operation with no traffic lights or stops.

            I don’t know about losing a lane.. is it necessarily negative? Surely if there were a dedicated continuous bus (or bus/tram) lane more people will use the bus (or tram) as it will be way faster than it is today.. thereby freeing up space on the remaining lanes? What do we have today.. 41% on buses over the HB at peak IIRC? What would that be if each and every peak time journey were say 10 mins quicker than today (how long is the hold up?) How much would it need to be to justify dedicating a lane?

          • Sailor Boy

            If we are going over the bridge then why not DLM?

        • Forget using the bridge as a change, we already run buses over it. If you want to expand PT use on the Bridge NZTA will turn around and say that means we need to blow $5bil on extra car lanes next to it. Taking over general lanes for Transit on the bridge WILL NOT SAVE MONEY on this route. The only way to building cheaper capacity across to the Shore is [after Skypath] for the next crossing to be the missing Rapid Transit mode only.

  • TheBigWheel

    Sorry that was to Patrick.. from whom I thought the “never” was uncharacteristic.
    I like SB’s thinking. Just taking a different track so to speak.

    • Sailor Boy

      sorry to bite your head off quite so much. I just never got the idea of tram trains the just seem to be the worst of both worlds.. At least with DLM I can see the advantages in certain situations.

      • TheBigWheel

        Worst of both worlds or best of both worlds?! Some people hate buses but will use trams. And they’re good for luggage / bikes / prams / wheelchairs.

        Sure a tunnel and fully grade separate rail is better but maybe there is more flexibility here. Kassel, Paris, Stuttgart etc found these solved problems by linking otherwise separated trips. I’m no expert but maybe AK has some similar challenges? Besides the rail network could be leveraged more this way.

        • Sailor Boy

          How is it better than DLM Albany to Aotea, and regular rail to the airport?
          It won’t be much cheaper, and fer more expensive in opex.

  • Sailor Boy

    Wow, just saw that skytrain can do 75 second headways, also known as 48 trains an hour.

  • Melon

    I have three days here at ‘work’ where I have sweet FA to do. If there’s any facts/figures about LRT that you want looked up, I’m more than happy to spend half a day researching. I also live in South Korea – I could possibly take a trip on the LRT line in Seoul and report back?

    • You should take a ride on this one and report back, it’s the latest application in the world:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EverLine

      I’ve ridden the same technology in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, but not the skytrain itself.

      • Melon

        Sounds like a plan. They also have the U-line (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U_Line), but I think this line should be a bit easier to get to from where I live. This looks like much more fun than the piece, “Why manual-transmission buses in Asian cities are pointless and dangerous”.

        • Oooh please ride both, I’d love to see a comparison of the Bombardier ART and the VAL!

          • Melon

            I’ll see what I can do. The lines are at precisely opposite ends of the massive area that you can broadly call ‘Seoul’. I might be able to do the U-Line before I leave here in six weeks; the Ever-line should be pretty easy.

      • KLK

        Being based in KL I’ve used the LRT here a few times, though not that much as it goes nowhere near my office or my house. Its a nice ride, though must be fairly old now as far as technology goes.

        Would be quite happy to see these moving around Auckland, just at ground level (or under it)rather than elevated – its an absolute blight on the city really (there are other elevated rail systems too, including a monorail).

        If its cheaper but offers the same capacity benefits then i think we need to look at it seriously for “new” lines, and especially a future north shore network that goes over the Waitemata. The expensive heavy rail can be for extensions (onehunga-airport) or enhancements of the existing network. Transfers between the two (light metro and heavy) shouldn’t be an issue, especially if we expect transfers between two different modes (bus and rail) to be easy once integrated ticketing and pricing is sorted out.

        • Vienna handles transfers between modes really well. There are a handful of all-modes stations where you can switch between bus, S-Bahn and U-Bahn, and the two inter-city heavy rail stations are integrated with U-Bahn and adjacent to S-Bahn and bus. The U-Bahn stations which don’t have S-Bahn connections inside have stops just outside The hardest bit is knowing which station you need to get to in order to switch to the correct mode and line, and it’s there that their stellar network maps come into play.

          Auckland is partway there with Britomart bringing everything together, but the maps are utterly, utterly useless and the spreading-out of buses across the bottom of the city is completely destructive to integration of modes. That must be fixed before we get too much further down the path of network reorganisation, because even to seasoned users of Auckland PT it’s an abysmal attempt at an experience which often leads to (from the user’s perspective) sub-optimal mode choices because it’s impossible to penetrate the maps and find another stop which might get one onto a service leaving sooner that’ll get one to the same place. Thinking particularly here of the bollocks around 5xx vs 4xx buses (I have no idea where 4xx buses leave from!)

    • Sailor Boy

      An approximate cost per lineal kilometre for cut and cover. And for laying tracks on an existing corridor a cost for underground stations and overground satations, and elevated track construction?

      If you have time haha.

      • Melon

        Hmmm. There’s two ways any analysis can go; a) costing the system separately from the planned new tunnel (ie how much it would cost to implement on top new harbour crossing, while using the same tunnel) or b) how much it would cost to build the line with a rail-only under-harbour tunnel. Before last week, I would have said option ‘b’, but if both Len and the Central Government want the tunnel, then option ‘a’ might make more sense.

        • Melon

          Clarify: option ‘a’ assumes the tunnel infrastructure is already there, so that section doesn’t need to be factored into the cost equation.

        • Bryce P

          I believe we need compare the 2 options including the build cost of the tunnels. A road tunnel that happens to allow rail is going to be very, very expensive. We need to show just what can be achieved, in terms of total cost and value for money, using Light Metro only vs roads and light metro.

          • Melon

            Fair point. OK, will get to work on that tomorrow then.

          • Bryce P

            Based on Canada Line, a trip time from Albany to the equivalent of Britomart (slightly longer but less stations) by Skytrain would take 24 minutes. By NEX that trip would take 36 minutes. That’s a big saving in time.

          • Bryce P

            And a quick calc of Westgate to downtown shows about the same travel time for Skytrain (24 minutes) but, by bus, the trip takes 50 minutes. How hard a sell would that be?

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