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Bus access to SH16 to improve

We have been fairly critical of the NZTA for choosing to close the bus lanes along SH16, slowing buses considerably which not only makes the bus services less attractive but results in increased operational costs due to needing to run more buses to maintain the same level of service. However it wasn’t just the motorway bus lanes that have closed as the Bus/Truck/T2 lane at the Gt North Rd on-ramp had also been closed meaning that buses have had to struggle just to get on the motorway.

Well the NZTA have announced that they will be doing something about it the interchange at least. Here is the press release.

The NZ Transport Agency is opening a new westbound priority lane to improve access for Aucklanders from the Great North Road intersection with the Northwestern Motorway (State Highway 16) this Sunday, 20 October.

The dedicated lane at the intersection can be used only by buses, trucks and T2 vehicles which carry two or more people. The lane will join the new bus, truck and T2 lane on the westbound on-ramp to improve access to the motorway.

The Transport Agency’s State Highway Manager, Tommy Parker, says it is the latest initiative the Transport Agency and its Auckland Transport partner are implementing to help keep people moving as work accelerates to complete the Western Ring Route.

“It is one of a number that have already been introduced or are planned to keep disruption to a minimum, and they will all be monitored to ensure that they are effective. This Sunday’s initiative will benefit people who carpool, or who rely on public transport. It is expected that the priority lane will return bus travel times through this section to what they were before our Western Ring Route construction work began,” Mr Parker says.

The Transport Agency say introduction of the priority lane this Sunday is weather dependent.

“All going well we will have it operational in time. This change is being made amongst some comprehensive construction work and it will take some time for people to get used to the new driving layout. For everyone’s safety, we ask them to drive with care and to be patient.,” says Mr Parker.

Completing the Western Ring Route is one of the Government’s roads of national significance to provide better city and regional transport options. There are five separate projects underway or planned to join the Northwestern and Southwestern Motorways.

The Transport Agency says that the projects will cause disruption and it advises people to use its www.nzta.govt.nz/stayconnected web site to stay informed about changes so that they can better plan their journeys.

My understanding is that the Bus/Truck/T2 lane that going in a case of the agency re-marking one of the lanes on Gt North Rd on the downhill stretch of Gt North Rd to the motorway onramp. That should hopefully allow buses to bypass any congestion caused by cars queuing to get on the motorway. Buses will still have to battle it out with general traffic once on the motorway however the NZTA has also reduced the number of westbound lanes through the Gt North Rd intersection to two so that may help keep the causeway flowing better. It’s good to see the NZTA are starting to work through these issues, perhaps there is hope for them yet.

Bus-Truck-T2 lane

One question is, does turning one lane into Bus/Truck/T2 lane also count as the first new priority lane in Auckland for over three years? I guess it probably does and it will hopefully be retained once the motorway works have been completed. It does raise the question though, if the NZTA is prepared to use a bit of paint to install a priority lane, why can’t Auckland Transport do the same elsewhere?

20 comments to Bus access to SH16 to improve

  • Christopher T

    The key word in this rather over-egged announcement is, of course ‘trucks’. But then again, I guess, NZTA has to look after the interests of its masters, the Road Transport Forum NZ so it hardly comes as a surprise. Oddly enough, the one uncongested piece of transport infrastructure going north is the North Auckland [railway] Line, but that doesn’t count because, as of now, it’s not privately owned, even if it’s being run as a profit-making concern.

    • I think the main reason for theses ramp-signal bypass lanes is so that heavy vehicles don’t need to stop so close to the merge point and are travelling at a decent speed when they enter the motorway and can merge safely (remember that the ramp signals can be on when the motorway is flowing at up to 80km/h). At the Port to Southern connection ramp the lane can only be used by trucks presumably to make sure the bypass lane doesn’t become congested.

      As far as I know this and Neilson St Southbound are the only places to have the lane extended off the on-ramp and on to the adjoining local road.

      By the way I thought I saw that the truck picture on the sign for the SE Highway on-ramp had been replaced by ’3.5T’, which would include a lot of not very truck like vehicles – e.g. SUVs towing larger boats.

      • The pic is from the Gt North Rd onramp before work started. From what I’ve seen there are/were Truck/T2 lanes on Gt North Rd westbound, Church St northbound and Mt Wellington Highway northbound.

  • Wasn’t a eastbound bus lane through St Mary’s Bay installed during that three-year period as part of the VPT project?

  • KLK

    T2? Really? That’s probably 30% of the cars on the road. So combined with the trucks, this will do stuff-all for bus amenity.

    T3 I could have lived with, albeit grudgingly.

  • Fred

    Wow amazing how quickly a bus/transit lane can happen. Isn’t it?

  • Steve F(GEN X Civil).

    A glimmer of hope. Time to blast right through and open a lane for buses/truck the whole way throughout the grid…so no grid lock.

    • They are constructing a bus lane on the motorway as part of these works.

      • Starnius

        They are slightly improving an existing bus shoulder. “Constructing” it would imply they are adding something that wasn’t there.

        • Bryce P

          Not quite correct, The bus lane will be a real lane that (unfortunately) will also serve as a breakdown shoulder as opposed to the usual breakdown shoulder that gets pressed into bus lane service. Hopefully, any breakdowns in peak traffic flows will be cleared very quickly, much like the Harbour Bridge. Vehicle accidents should be left in the traffic lane (and the lane closed) rather than being shunted into the bus lanes.

          • Yes, currently we have a partially formed, narrow motorway shoulder that buses can run on sometimes, in some parts. After the widening there will be continuous fully formed full width bus lanes that will serve as the breakdown shoulder.

            It’s not as good as a full busway, and every now an again buses will have to pull around a broken down vehicle, but it’s certainly better than what is there now.

  • SF Lauren

    After driving through here in the weekend I was surprised to find that the reality was rather different from what has been claimed.

    Of the entire 4.5km causeway only about 500m of bus lane has been removed in either direction. What has also be skipped over is that in the westbound direction the number of general lanes has been reduced from 3 to 2 over great north road.

    And on related point. In the NOR design the great north road bypass lane was effectively removed and not one sole seemed to care at the time. It’s just pure luck NZTA decided to switch the tunnel ramp over meaning the bypass lane was able to be of use again.

    • Did you not read this part of the post

      Buses will still have to battle it out with general traffic once on the motorway however the NZTA has also reduced the number of westbound lanes through the Gt North Rd intersection to two so that may help keep the causeway flowing better

      As for the bus lane, I think they have only closed it on the parts they are working on but the rest will close in the future. Also not sure if the remaining lane is long enough to really be effective other than to jump a handful of cars.

      • SF Lauren

        I was more referring to the previous post and what’s been presented in the media.

        Obviously this article written yesterday did not contribute to my surprise in the weekend just been.

  • shorty

    Here’s a great opportunity to put some more paint down and promote cycling as the cycle-way will remain open thanks to strong advocacy from CAA

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