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More bore for your buck!

This post was largely written by good friend of the blog Warren S however I have added some parts too.

Seeing the picture recently of the 14.5 diameter tunnel boring machine to be used in the construction of the Waterview motorway connection started me thinking about the cost of infrastructure and the difference regarding tunnelling for road and tunnelling for rail. Actual costs are hard to come by but certain aspects are evident.

The cost of the Waterview TBM is given as $54 million. I suppose this cost is not great in the overall scheme of things, because the overall cost of this project is roughly $1.4 billion according to the NZTA. The original cost of $54 million will have a residual trade-in value of around $10 million when its Waterview work is done. That is a write-off of some $ 44 million.

Oct 2013 Open Day Alice 3

I then thought I would compare this TBM with the ones they are using in London for Crossrail. They are all made by Herrenknecht though the U.K. ones come from Germany while our one was manufactured in China to the German design.

Right now Crossrail are using eight TBM’s all simultaneously boring away somewhere under London. These machines are less than half the size of what is being used at Waterview at 7.1m in diameter. Being smaller they also come in considerably cheaper at about $20 million compared to the $54 million for our monster. And interestingly with Crossrail 85% of excavated material is being moved by rail or barge – not by road – so eliminates messy roads during construction. Combine this with the fact that there is also less spoil to remove and less concrete needed to make up the tunnel lining and the costs for tunnelling are likely to be significantly cheaper.

Crossrail is scheduled for completion in 2018 with a capacity of 24 trains per hour or roughly one every two to three minutes, that’s similar to what we can expect from the City Rail Link. While we could probably debate all day the merits of what train technologies to use, using our new EMUs an example each train could easily accommodate 750 passengers. At 24 trains per hour that is a capacity of 18,000 people per hour per direction through a rail tunnel. By comparison if we’re lucky the Waterview tunnels – at three lanes wide – will be able to carry about 6,000 vehicles per hour per direction or about 8,000 people if vehicles were carrying a high occupancy rate.

So some of the benefits compared to a motorway sized tunnel are:

  1. Smaller and cheaper TBM to do the job
  2. Less excavation required for rail.
  3. Rail will be more efficient – one line equivalent to two and a half motorway lanes or better.
  4. We are not left with a sole reliance on a motorway system can lead to stagnant chaos and long delays when there is an accident as happens frequently. An efficient metro at least gives us a viable alternative.

Being cheaper and having more capacity definitely raises some questions about how we deal with a future Waitemata Harbour crossing. We have seen traffic volumes on the bridge decline over recent years while at the same time more people than ever catch a bus across the harbour. Further once Waterview has been completed it is likely to take even more pressure off the bridge. At the moment the plans are to build a combined road and rail tunnel which might be similar to below however it is expected to cost roughly $5 billion.

With traffic falling – and potentially continuing to do so – it has removed the congestion/traffic growth argument from the debate and the NZTA have now shifted the discussion with them now saying that a new crossing is needed so the clip-ons can eventually be replaced. The problem is they are being hammered at constantly by heavy trucks (although replacement isn’t needed for some time yet). If the main issue is the clip-ons then we need to be asking if the problem is really worth us spending $5 billion just to avoid having to close two lanes while they are replaced. So what’s the alternative?

A rail tunnel under the harbour.

The idea is fairly simple, we build a much cheaper rail tunnel under the harbour to at least Takapuna, if not further up the busway and linking into the Aotea station on the city side. That provides a massive increase in capacity across the harbour and we use that extra capacity along with other tools like road pricing and demand management to encourage as many people as possible to use the rail services. We then close the clip-on lanes (one side at a time) and replace them.  That could leave us with replaced clip-ons and with rail across to the shore without the astronomical price tag currently associated with the harbour crossing project.

Conclusion.

The Waterview motorway connection would appear to be a high cost ‘gold-plated’ project but it is the last link in that chain. After that I believe we have a strong chance of achieving long term value for Auckland with the CRL and ultimately a rail tunnel link to the North Shore.

79 comments to More bore for your buck!

  • Bryce P

    And given that most heavy trucks are heading further North, why won’t they be using the WRR that is being built for them at a substantial level of investment?

    • Does anyone know whether Dangerous goods are able to be taken through the Waterview Tunnels?,
      I know Victoria park was built to a high enough spec ( including an evacuation route for people if trapped, but I cannot find anything about whether Waterview will be built to a similar spec,
      (I’m thinking that it is not being built with any escape or connecting galleries, so its unlikely to meet dangerous goods standards)

  • SF Lauren

    We have a few issue here.

    Firstly if you want to compare a full capacity rail line to a full capacity road waterview would be 30,000 people per hour per direction. The fact is though that people like space.

    The next point is the the capacity of one link on a transport network is not what is important. If it was we could run just one massive train twice a day and expect people to walk the rest of the way.

    The next point is that the ideal capacity of the harbour bridge is in the range of 100,000 a day. Given we have been over this for some time it is clear people are already being turned away by congestion. It’s like having a plan that seats 50 passengers and looking at a graph that tells you only 50 people fly each day and therefore those 50 seats are all that’s needed.

    • no one is being turned away by Congestion on the harbour bridge, because there is none, usually even at peak times. Going north bound there is a queue at the Onewa off-ramp that can cause issues. Southbound constraints largely removed with Vic Park tunnel.

      • SF Lauren

        I’m sorry but you are gravely mistaken. All the ramp meter signals and transit lanes that have been installed have been put in there with the specific goal of holding congestion back from the motorway and the bridge so that they remain free flowing even though the demand is in excess of the capacity.

        It’s very short sighted to treat one section of road in isolation of everything around it.

    • That is irrelevant SF, because quite clearly people in Auckland and around the world are more than happy to fill up trains. However on the roadway, nobody in the history of motordom anywhere in the world has been able to achieve average occupancies of even two people per vehicle for peak commuters, let alone whatever mythical figure full occupancy might be.

      In practice you could easily achieve 18,000 people an hour on a transit railway, but you’d be very lucky to get even 8,000 an hour through waterview in the peak direction.

      If you want to talk about theoretical limits that are unachievable in Auckland in practice, then they have some rail tunnels in japan that run double deck 18 carriage trainsets every 120 seconds that can move 150,000 people an hour each way, but obviously we’d never claim that would be achieved here.

      Yes car drivers (and truck drivers, couriers etc) drive primarily so they can drive by themselves direct to where they are going without having to worry about anyone else. That’s fundamentally what the road tunnel is for and there isn’t any value in suggesting otherwise.

      • Come on, no one is talking about a farmers driveway, we’re talking about the North Shore/SH1 corridor serving a population of a quarter million people. I’ve seen projections for not too far in the future that suggest we will have to do something pretty significant with the busway.

      • Yes, Richard, ‘people like their space’ alone in a car, but are happy to share public space on Transit vehicles.

        Insane and totally unaffordable to build a city for everyone to always take their car with them wherever they go, small provincial town, ok, but not a city.

  • Chris

    Isn’t it a bit premature to be advocating for a rail tunnel under the harbour before even designating bus lanes across the bridge?

    • NZTA are going through designation process for road tunnel now. Can’t let such an expensive project become inevitable in the public minds. The CFN proposes rail about the 2030 date, buslanes on Harbour Bridge would be useful within the next few years. Main issue is the St Mary’s Bay on and off-ramps. May need to build over/underpasses here to get buses through so not as cheap as it seems. Other option is to close them of course, which would do wonders for traffic in St Mary’s Bay but maybe cause issue elsewhere. For example people taking CBD exits then looping back around.

    • Geoff Houtman

      Good point. A brt light metro across the existing bridge could save us $4.5 billion.

      Unless Council is determined to get us to a 200% of rates debt of course!

  • Warren S

    SFL – You completely overlook infrastructure cost and value for taxpayer money!!!

  • SF Lauren

    Oh the other point is the price.

    If we use extremely conservative costing that put the price at more than twice what recent experience has told us a road crossing is $4 to $5 billion.

    The other option is to close the busway for 3 years and spend $5 billion to put in an incompatible rail system with the rest of the network so we can add capacity to a route doesn’t even need it for another 50 year’s.

    So we either spend this money to resolve one issue or spend it to resolve nothing but create a whole heap of disruption while we are at it.

    Meanwhile we would have stuffed up our chance to build a Sydney style regional line up north to orwea and replaced it with a Melbourne style metro line that takes twice as long as driving when it comes to long distance trips.

    • Bryce P

      You’re not telling the truth re light metro speeds and assumed build costs. Very poor form SF.

      • SF Lauren

        Trolling … comment deleted.

        • Bryce P

          I can but only base costs for a skytrain type system on what Vancouver has spent building theirs. You’re the expert (although I assume you haven’t designed a skytrain system?) but the figures from Vancouver cannot be ignored. As for speed, you’re last paragraph suggest slower speeds.

          • SF Lauren

            Trolling … comment deleted.

          • Bryce P

            There you go, wilfully writing incorrect information about the cost of the CRL. The $3B for the CRL includes the cost of double tracking the Onehunga line, rolling stock and future adjusted pricing if I recall correctly. You know this already but are still posting incorrect information.

            As for Skytrain, the pricing is not decades old as they are still building new lines. Also, there is nothing special about the infrastructure underpinning the lines be it elevated, at ground level or underground.

          • Bryce P

            The CRL, as priced at this time, includes the Onehunga double tracking and rolling stock.

            Adverse effects on roads?

            As for steel truss’ and fabrication, we have plenty of experience. There are bridges and flyovers all over the place. As for the automation, the skytrain system is pretty much a package from Bombardier and is proven so no need to reinvent the wheel. And ordering trains? Signalling? I don’t know why you think that is so difficult as we’ve just done that recently.

        • Wow, so you’re saying a 16km route to Albany, mostly in existing corridors, will be two and a half times more expensive that they Canada Line in Vancouver (another useless ‘incompatible’ system, apparently), which included 9km of tunnel, 7.4km elevated, a 600m river bridge and 1.4km at grade and sixteen entirely new stations (eight of which are underground)?

          Things must be pretty rough if we only get 16km of refitted corridor for the same price as the Canadians could build 46km of entirely new elevated and tunnelled metro.

          • SF Lauren

            Trolling … comment deleted.

          • Yes it does use different track, power systems and train specifications from the other lines in Vancouver, they are totally incompatible from each other and the heavy rail commuter line. One is Bombardier ART with linear induction motors, the other is Hyundai-Rotem with conventional powered wheel motors, while the commuter line is locomotive hauled diesel.

            Yes I’m a huge fan of their network, just pointing out how completely irrelevant your snipe about putting in an ‘incompatible rail system’ is. It really doesn’t matter if one line is incompatible with another line it doesn’t run on. FYI the London underground has four different classes of line that are incompatible (let along the overground, national rail, DLR and the other elements of their transit system), Paris about seven. Even Melbourne has two train specs that can only every run on half the network each, not that it means an ounce of difference to the function of the network.

            If Canada can build 18km of brand new light metro, mostly in tunnel with the rest elevated, with a main and branch line and sixteen stations for C$2 billion (2009 figures), why would a much lesser task take five billion?

          • SF Lauren

            I am a troll.

          • Well done. The first step in Trolls Anonymous is admitting you have a problem. You are on your way to a new life.

  • kbilly

    If you’re gonna take the clipons off, you may as well replace the whole bridge. It’s stupid to put new clipons on the old bridge.

    • Greg N

      The original bridge and footings were designed to take 8 lanes (i.e. have “clipons” added later), the core 4 lane bridge it has an “indefinite” life it its maintained properly.

      So if the clip-ons are removed due to having reached their design life, then simply adding to the original girder design, the extra 2 lanes on each side will give the bridge a renewed lease of life for a fraction of total replacement cost.

      • KBilly

        The original bridge and footings were not designed to take 8 lanes, fortunately the piers were capable of taking the additional load when it was evident more capacity was needed. You are correct in saying that the main bridge has more years in it before it needs replacing, but nothing has an indefinite design life no matter how well it’s maintained. As you say, the clip-ons are nearing their design life.

        So instead of wasting millions of dollars on new clip-ons only to have to replace the bridge in a few decades time, construct a new tunnel, move some traffic into that, and let the clip-ons service something they can handle like the occasional bus and cyclist. You get a better bus system, cycle lanes, pedestrian access, and redundancy if anything should ever go wrong with the bridge. You also have a means of shifting traffic to replace the bridge when that’s needed which is probably when rail to the shore will actually be needed.

        • Bryce P

          And the attitude of relegating transport spending on PT to the bottom of the list is how we got to this point in the first place. Why not try something different for a change?

          Also, the proposed vehicle tunnel has but 3 lanes in each direction. This means that if we need to remove the clip-on’s, I would put money on the fact that there will not only be 2 lanes given over to general traffic and 2 to PT. It would be required that buses will still need to share lanes.

          • KBilly

            I’m not saying PT needs to be at the bottom of the list. But the bridge is a perfect example of where trying to do things on the cheap is not always the best solution.

        • V lee

          There is no way does the main structure needs to be replaced in a couple of decades. Of course the life of the bridge is not indefinite in the true sense of the word but it will last at least well over a hundred more years with proper maintenance. There is no point planning for a replacement bridge now, Auckland will be a very different place in 2100.

          The only thing that could result in the need to replace the current bridge in the foreseeable future would be a major disaster such as an earthquake. This is a very low probability event but it is prudent to plan for it. As noted in a recent post, a rail-only tunnel would be an ideal insurance policy for this scenario. Rail will have much more scope for a rapid increase in capacity if required (taking the CBD commuters into town) while essential road traffic could use the existing upper harbour highway.

  • V Lee

    Don’t forget that this will be a political decision no matter what any business case or analysis says. The North Shore has sufficient political clout at both the local and national level that the political reality is that there will be an additional crossing built in the few decades. Rail through the upper harbour to Orewa is not going to cut it as it will miss the majority of North Shore voters. So the real question is whether the new crossing will be a rail only or include roads (a disaster).

    The pro-road bias at NZTA and many politicians means that a rail only option will only happen if public opinion on the Shore turns strongly to prefer the rail only option. It is a tall order but certainly doable. The busway patronage shows there is a big appetite for PT on the Shore. Together with the threat of tolls on the existing bridge that would result from a new road crossing you have the ingredients for a successful campaign.

    What won’t work is if people on the Shore are told they don’t need any new major infrastructure. Whether it is justified or not there is a feeling on the Shore that they are being left out and they will demand a new road crossing if they don’t have an alternative that captures their imagination. If the do they are certain to get it given the pro-road bias that exists at NZTA and in the government.

    • Sailor Boy

      Agreed here. There is a big thing on the Shore at the moment that we WANT rail, would be nice for a group to catch onto this and push it. Especially if it is presented as the choice of rail, or motorway with tolls $10+

      • SF Lauren

        Trolling… comment deleted.

        • Sailor Boy

          How does it force a transfer? The only services that will be using the busway from 2016 will be an Albany one, and a Silverdale one.

          We want rail due to the increased speed and the ease of boarding that a train offers over the current busway.

          • V lee

            There is no absolute requirement for the shore rail to use busway corridor although this would be by far the cheapest option. But as KBilly commented earlier cheapest doesn’t mean the best. The great problem with using the busway is that it runs right next to the motorway and that removes one of the greatest benefits of rail. That is the ability to intensify around the rail stations as no one wants to live next to a motorway. Intensification along the rail corridor looks to be a big winner out west, one of the few areas that the unitary plan hasn’t been gutted due to public opposition.

            The geography and built environment is rather challenging but perhaps alternative routes need some more serious consideration. If rail is planned to run through some of the more desirable areas of the Shore a bit of the opposition to intensification may melt away. At the moment it is completely unclear to most out here on the Shore how all those extra people would be transported out of areas like Birkenhead and Brown’s Bay which are kilometres away from the busway and connected to it by narrow, already congested roads. Even the parts of Northcote and Milford where intensification is proposed are at least 2km away from the nearest possible busway station, which I would say is getting to the limits of what most people would be happy with walking for their daily commute.

          • Yes walking catchment is a problem. However, if we concentrated on creating good cycling links to busway/light rail stations, 3kms is only a 10min cycle ride.

            Integrating cycling and PT is really the big missed opportunity in Auckland and where our cycling money should be concentrated. I am hoping to have a post on that soon.

          • Sailor Boy

            I actually prefer an alignment under Glenfield Road after what has happened with the UP, but I think the choice will be a line to Albany on the busway or a motorway.

      • KBilly

        I WANT a zip line that I can take me to work. I think a zip line network will be pretty popular… also congestion free!!

  • SF Lauren

    Trolling … comment deleted.

  • Anthony

    Waterview is being built with interconnecting cross passages. They will be made once the TBM has done it’s job.
    This is to meet the same fire evacuation standards as VPT was built to.
    In terms of hazardous substances, both tunnels have sumps and have to handle fuel spills, etc.

  • obi

    “The problem is they are being hammered at constantly by heavy trucks”

    If this is the case (and it seems sensible that it is), then why not restrict trucks and buses to the middle lanes? You could implement that next week for the cost of a few signs.

    If you were really keen, you could close the clip-on lanes completely late at night when the traffic volume is low. It might just be a few cars, but surely any reduction in vibration is worthwhile in the long term.

  • Jimn

    Maybe an unpopular idea but – why not build rail to the shore now instead of the CRL? It would remove the britomart dead end, increase the number of people living near a train station, and potentially add a new city station near wynyard. Is this a bigger bang for buck than the CRL?

    • V lee

      That would force all the trains from the Western line, Eastern line etc to head over to the Shore. There definitely wouldn’t be enough passengers on the Shore to support this. The big benefit of the CRL is it lets trains run East to West, South to West etc through the CBD.

      More definitive plans for rail to the Shore is likely to reduce opposition to the CRL over here though. At the moment it is seen as of little benefit to the Shore but if it was clearer how the Shore PT network would be linked into the CRL this perception would be alleviated somewhat.

    • There is a much better return on investment from the CRL. That has been planned since the 1920s and would instantly tranform the rail network, just as the same type of scheme did in Perth and Sydney. The inner city stations, especially Aotea, will revitalise Upper Queen sStreet and

      One of the big advantages is the decrease in travelling time.

      There is no doubt there are benefits to rail to the shore but they will be limited without the CRL first.

    • Nick R

      The problem with doing the North Shore line instead of the CRL is that it doesn’t actually stop Britomart being a dead end, not with regard to the existing network at least.

      Unless you link the end of the new tunnel back to the existing network then it will continue to have the same two track restriction as today. You might add two tracks to the north shore, but nothing changes for the network south of the harbour. You’d still be limited to about twenty trains a hour for the combined Southern, eastern, Western, and Onehunga lines even if you add another 20 trains an hour to the north shore.

    • Another point is that it is unlikely rail to the Shore will be compatible heavy rail so it would not be possible to just continue from Britomart to the Shore. So the existing lines would still terminate in a dead end at Britomart and North Shore riders would then have to change to the (likely) light rail system to the North Shore.

    • Sailor Boy

      Also, I would suggest that rail to Smales along the Busway, which is all you will get for 2.5B if you choose heavy rail would actually put FEWER people within catchment of the rail network than the CRL, especially if you add jobs to residents.

  • Jeff

    Long time reader here although I very rarely comment.

    I don’t think that the way you are handing the comments in this thread very well. There are a whole lot of issues of post integrity that you bring up by editing SF Laurens post like has been done here.

    I largely disagree with the positions he takes on the blog, however I don’t think that this is the way to approach moderation, as:
    1) it makes the thread extremely difficult to follow, due to replies left without the original comment for reference.
    2) it creates a perception that admins are able to edit peoples comment and put words in peoples mouths, which degrades trust in the entire system.

    I agree that there are issues with comment thread hijacking though. Maybe a way of dealing with this would be use of a up/down vote system as seen on other sites with lowly rated comments hidden behind an ajax call. Alternatively a similar process could be admin controlled. The key difference to the current situation being that visitors are still able click through to see the comment if they choose to. General experience however indicates most visitors won’t however. Also replies to hidden comments will also be hidden disincentivising thread hijacking.

    This would of course require a change of comment feed architecture. I would appreciate though if in future if you edit comments to insert “trolling… comment deleted.” such as in the comments above that you include an “edited by admin, on ” type tag to make it clear what has occurred.

    • Jeff

      I was just checking back here and noticed that the comment is awaiting moderation. I have no problem with it not being displayed in the thread as it was intended more as feedback to the moderators in any case.

    • Sailor Boy

      Well said Jeff, an edited line seems like the best solution for this issue. Deleting comments did not work at all.

  • Matt

    Does the motorway tunnel really have enough space underneath for regular NZ rolling stock with overhead electrification (though a tunnel would generally use conductor bar rather than wire) with a continuous platform and walkway for emergency evacuation? If not then you are into bespoke stock which is going to increase cost and reduce operational flexibility.

    Whilst it might seem a nifty idea, the problem with combining infrastructure in this way is that you are putting all your eggs in one basket. If the tunnel is damaged through terrorist attack/fire/earthquake both road and rail are screwed. IIRC, road tunnels are statistically far more likely to be damaged in this way than metro tunnels. And as you say, larger diameter tunnels are exponentially more expensive and complicated to build and more vulnerable (as the forces on them are greater). It seems to me that the rail tunnels are a green veneer to help justify motorway tunnels.

    As you say, it would probably be far better value for money to spend the money on a pair of far cheaper rail tunnels and a decent rail service for the North Shore. If rail is done well you shouldn’t have to indulge in expensive demand management or tolls, people will simply use it as it will be more convenient than driving (and probably cheaper as fuel prices rise).

    • Nick R

      No it doesn’t have enough room for regular heavy suburban rail, the suggestion is to build it as Aucklands first metro line using a rolling stock specifically designed for long sections of tunnel, steep grades etc.

    • Sailor Boy

      Most importantly members of the blog generally support your idea of twin track rail only tunnels instead of the motorway.

  • Jon

    There is no value in building rail to the shore at the moment. Light rail which is the only track comparable with the existing bridge would be a waste of money as it won’t fit in with the rest of the system. There is nothing light rail can do that is not already done better by buses.
    Building a heavy rail at the same time as a new road crossing does make sense because it future proofs a crossing for a time when the population has migrated north through urban sprawl (a thing you all don’t want but that is inevitable).
    You will never be able to put a heavy rail line anywhere except north following the motorway and a spur to takapuna and Albany. Birkenhead, beta haven etc would require extensive tunnelling as onwa rd gradient is far too steep. The bays would have a similar problem and a property grab to have rail through devonport and bays water would cost billions.
    There is a real need for a new road crossing as the clip ons are knackered and capacity is full. To suggest traffic is in decline is to ignore the growth trends in the recent census and common sense. Auckland must and will build the new road tunnels, a rail tunnel may or may not be part of the construction but even if dug we will not use it for years.
    Aucklanders will pay a toll on both the tunnel and bridge and accept this as the fairest system as it should not be a burden just for home owners.

    • V lee

      It is simply not true that buses are equivalent to light rail. Light rail will give much more capacity, loading speeds, much fewer drivers needed etc. Certainly heavy rail could only go down the busway corridor but there are possibilities to push light rail into other areas (although still challenging).

      There is also nothing inevitable about sprawl (even if you want there to be). In any case there is no reason sprawl to the North of Albany has to lead to everyone funnelling through the current North Shore and then over to the city across the harbour. For example, a heavy line to service Albany and further North (if it is ever needed) could be built much cheaper by going down the upper harbour to join the Western line rather than through a tunnel under the harbour.

      • Bryce P

        This is what has been suggested for a possible North Shore line. It’s what Nick refers to as ‘light metro’. Not light rail but not heavy rail. Fast (80 – 100 km/h), plenty of loading capacity, light (as it isn’t intended to mix with freight), and can be run on the same kind of grades, widths and gradients as a busway. Also runs driverless therefore achieving a lower operating cost.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SkyTrain_(Vancouver)

    • - The CFN is not advocating for Shore rail now but by 2030. The busway is doing a fine job for now.
      - The existing busway is graded for light rail and is ideal for that. Heavy rail would cost a lot more.
      - Many cities run different kinds of rail through their metro system. It doesnt have to be all compatible. It would just mean that Shore travellers need to transfer at Aotea station (post-CRL). The Shore light rail could be extended to other areas as well, possibly as surface light rail (though then would need a driver).
      - The bridge is not at capacity. You will find that, largely thanks to the busway, traffic is dropping on the bridge at peak times.
      -NZTA have said there is plenty of life in the bridge. There is a very good post on this blog about that and also info on the NZTA website.
      - There is no imperative that Auckland keep building more road capacity. We have tried that for the last 60 years and we are still going. Why dont we try something new?

      If you do a bit of wider reading (not just the NZ Herald) and dont just accept that the direction of the last 60 years is a blue print for the next 60 years, all sorts of things become possible and even desirable. So many people complain that we are not in a good place transport wise and then want to keep doing the same thing that got us here – crazy.

      • V lee

        Exactly, I recently had the pleasure of spending a couple of weeks in Copenhagen. It really brought home what can be achieved with good design and forward thinking. Heavy rail, light rail/metro, buses, cycling, pedestrian only streets all working together in an efficient and seamless fashion. All in a city with a similar population to Auckland. Certainly we have different challenges than the Danes with our hilly geography and relative lack of wealth but I can’t understand why anyone would want to continue with sprawling further and further out and building more and more motorways. Having spent time in LA as well, I for one know which model I would prefer to emulate!

    • “To suggest traffic is in decline is to ignore the growth trends in the recent census and common sense.”
      Well then this graph might scare you, traffic volumes are less than they were a decade ago

      • I find that the phrase “common sense” is code in NZ transport debates for “I coudnt be bothered to look for, or couldnt find, any evidence to support my position but I must be right because I want to be and anyway me and all my mates at the pub reckon this is the way to do it”. Pretty complex code I admit. Gerry Brownlee is the master of this.

      • V lee

        I think that graph underlines the fact that congestion across the harbour is not due to the bridge itself being at capacity but rather the motorways leading to and from the bridge. More lanes under the harbour is not going to change this at all as you won’t get any more lanes running to or from the crossing(s).

        I would expect traffic volumes to start rising again though now as the Victoria Park tunnel has removed a major choke point so there is now more spare capacity across the harbour. This increase in volumes will stop again once the new tunnel and repurposed viaduct reach capacity again of course. Which probably won’t be too far in the future. I would also expect the growth on the busway to fall off a bit as well in the next few years unless the upcoming bus route review brings about some major improvements to the PT system. Removing the Victoria Park choke point has removed a significant portion of the journey time benefit that buses previously had over cars.

      • Jon

        I hope we all can agree that the graph shows a recovered upward trend post 2011.

        The dip is because of the GFC and would no doubt be linear to any economic data over the same period.

        The recent census showed growth in Auckland on the North Shore and city which will go hand in hand with increased demand for crossing. Replacing the bus lane with light metro would be an expensive waste of time. How would you manage PT while the bus lane was being converted to rail? Running light rail up Onewa would put additional stress on that choke point as you would be taking out needed road space. The way to be rid of the Onewa rd congestion is for the new crossing to serve traffic north of north cote and leave the existing bridge to serve north cote, Birkenhead, bays water, beachaven, and public transport, walking, and cycling.

        People want to use there cars and cars and buses provide better transport convenience than a single central rail line that won’t deviate from the north corridor. One day urban sprawl will justify rail north but right now a rail service to Albany is a waste of money as it doesn’t solve problems, it’s just a toy to replace a bus network that’s working fine.

        A second road crossing will solve problems, is needed and wanted by Aucklanders, and has been green lighted by the Govt. fortunately no amount of crying by the tree huggers and nimbys will stop this progress.

        • No we can’t agree that it shows an upward trend since 2011. First of all one year does not make a trend. More importantly is the monthly figures show that in fact things have levelled off again at an average of ~159k vehicles per day which is still less than the average 163k vehicles per day in 2003

          The big change that has occurred has been the busway which is now carrying 41% of all people across the bridge during peak times. For those heading to the CBD the share on buses is now over 50%

        • KLK

          Yes, because you have to be a tree hugger and nimby to want a better outcome than what we have now. I’m neither but if that’s what you want to label people who want things to improve, so be it.

          Your answer to congestion is more road capacity, inducing more driving and cars, which will induce….the same congestion. Have you been living somewhere else for the last 60yrs? It hasn’t worked mate – wake up.

        • V Lee

          How does the GFC cause traffic volume reductions of this scale? There was no way unemployment was that high. The traffic volume dip began in 2006 and the GFC wasn’t until 2008. It is just nonsense to say this is due to the GFC. Guess what did start operating in late 2005? Parts of the busway of course. You may find it hard to believe but large numbers of Aucklanders prefer to travel by PT at least for their daily commutes. If efficient options are built they flock to it in droves.

          How are you going to get all those cars to and away from the new road tunnels? Onewa Road is already at peak capacity at peak times, the one lane on Onewa flows directly onto a dedicated lane on the bridge. There is no way you can fill the existing bridge with traffic from Onewa road. Are you advocating for Onewa Road to be turned into a motorway?

          And where are all those cars going to go once they get to the across the harbour? More road tunnels will just turn the city into one giant traffic jam.

          Perhaps you should try thinking about the issues for a while rather than just blindly following the party line and resorting to name calling.

          • Jon

            The Onewa. Traffic will use the bridge while anything north of northcote would use the tunnel

          • V Lee

            The bridge is NOT causing Onewa congestion, traffic SPEEDS UP once it gets on to the on-ramp to the bridge (I travel on Onewa every day). Onewa Road is congested because it is a one lane road and traffic is joining it from Lake Road and Sylvan Road, necessitating traffic lights. Even a fifty lane bridge after Onewa will make absolutely no difference to Onewa congestion. To move more cars on Onewa you would need to buy up a whole lot of properties along it and widen it. Is this what you are calling for? Given the options of a motorway down Onewa Road or rail I’m sure most residents in Birkenhead and Northcote will opt for the latter.

        • Ok after reviewing some info it appears Jon is the same person who has previously commented under the names of Phil, Gary and probably a few other names.

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