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Quick progress on Fanshawe Street bus lane proposal

In early February the blog set out to once again highlight Auckland Transport’s lack of progress on implementing any bus lanes, and highest priority we thought was fixing the Fanshawe Street westbound, which consisted of a few isolated and dysfunctional sections, but mostly had nothing at all. We proposed a quick, easy fix solution, just consisting of reallocating some general traffic lanes, so the 70% of people in buses would get a faster road home.

This post gained the attraction of several councillors, and was followed up by the Campaign for Better Transport. This resulted in the proposal gaining the attention of  Auckland Transport Board chair Lester Levy, who asked for further investigation, which found the idea was feasible. This was announced in early March, and then they said the timing would be about three months.

However this afternoon Auckland Transport have sent out a new press release, showing that detailed design has been completed, and the design sounds very similar to what we proposed.

Bus commuters heading home along Fanshawe Street are to get a new predominantly kerbside bus lane.

The shore bound bus lane will start from Albert St and connect to the existing bus lane beside Victoria Park to keep buses moving to the northern motorway through this key traffic corridor.

Auckland Transport public transport group manager Mark Lambert says Auckland Transport has weighed up options for implementing a bus lane and believes that a kerbside lane after Hobson Street is the optimal solution. Between Albert and Hobson Streets the bus lane will be in the second lane from the kerb to allow for the heavy volume of traffic that turns left to access the southern and western motorway entrances.

“Further along the route, there is a significant traffic movement left into Halsey St which requires additional queuing space to operate effectively,” says Mr Lambert.

Seventy per cent of the people who travel on Fanshawe St at peak are in a bus and there’s a bus about every 40 seconds.

Mr Lambert says Auckland Transport has given priority to installing a new interim bus lane for shore bound commuters while longer term plans continue to extend the Northern Busway to and from the city centre.

 

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Multiple buses stuck behind a few cars will soon be a thing of the past here

What is really exciting is that a follow up email to their communications people revealed that the bus lane would be implemented between Easter and Anzac weekend, less than 2 weeks away! This is only just over 2 months since our blog post, and only one month since they agreed it was a feasible option. This is a very exciting development, as many of our frustrations with Auckland Transport relate to the speed at which they are able to implement their plans, and they do have plenty of decent plans around public transport improvements. Lets hope this is a sign of change within the organisation, and ensures they keep moving on implementing quick win projects, notably bus lanes, but also opportunities around walking and cycling infrastructure as well.

 

39 comments to Quick progress on Fanshawe Street bus lane proposal

  • Bryce P

    This is absolutely amazing and congratulations to all involved. Now, where next?

  • Great stuff AT and great to see you are starting to listen. Could there be hope for Auckland yet?

    But even bigger credit to you Luke and to Cameron Pitches. This is a real example of people power.

    Give yourself a big pat on the back – many people will benefit every day from your drive and enthusiasm.

  • Jacques

    Cool! Now let’s hope they apply similar reasoning in other parts of downtown. Also, it’d be nice for AT to give credit where credit is due.

  • Sailor Boy

    Good. I look forward to getting to work on time

  • Northshoreguynz

    Let’s hope this is the start of a beautiful friendship.

  • Jacques

    One place where there’s a definite need for a bus lane and it’s easy to do is on the motorways, esp. the NW motorway. What was the reasoning behind the removal of the bus lanes there again?

    • Bryce P

      They’ll be back as part of the rebuild Jacques. (Well, to Te Atatu anyway). Built wider and smoother as actual bus shoulder lanes.

  • Fantastic work Luke! And great leadership from the Chair Lester Levy down to the teams working on the solution.

    Here’s to more quick interventions across the city- in fact to a whole new culture of responsiveness and dynamism at AT. They might have to get used to us praising them!

    AT is well placed to being the proactive force in the new Auckland; it’s possible.

    Just in time too with the Queen of speedy city transformations visiting next month- JSK.

  • Greg N

    I hope they also don’t forget to police it after they set it up – a bus lane full of illegally parked or “just using the bus lane” cars will make a mockery of the whole subject.
    So AT need to do some visible enforcement so that people get the message its not for driving your car/truck/taxi in.

    • Particular problem is the interlacing of left turners and straight ahead running buses on the stretch leading up to Halsey St. It doesn’t work well for either currently; buses waiting for the light block the left turn lane and the drivers getting set to turn block the buses.

      The bus lane back from the intersection needs to be longer: Thing would be to give that straight ahead buslane more length, ie move it over earlier at expense of adjacent general lanes both shunting north and shortening the right turn lane….? workable?

      Looks like there’s some room to shunt things along in order to enable an earlier separation of the left turn lane and bus lane:

      Looking harder at that image and it looks like a bit of a Google Fail. I think google have made the raised median wider than it is. Still there is space there, though how much is not clear.

  • V Lee

    Great news! The quote from Mark Lambert does seems to point to it being status quo between Nelson and Halsey St i.e. not a real bus lane here and left turning traffic and queue jumpers blocking the busses. But the new bus lane between Albert and Nelson will make a big difference. Great to see AT moving so quickly on this, the speed is almost unbelievable for a government agency in NZ.

  • This is great news all round. Big congratulations to Luke for coming up with the concept and taking the time to do a such a convincing post. Even faster to implement than AT Chair Lester Levy said it would take!

  • Helen

    I am reading this while sitting on a bus that is stuck in traffic on Fanshawe St. Only just stopped myself cheering! Well done everyone and thank you for all you do to make this city a better place.

  • George

    Excellent work from all involved. A win for thousands of people every week.

  • Sacha

    Thank you Lester Levy and your team. More quick wins, please.

  • Love it. Well done everyone. The best thing about this is the ratchet effect: once this is done this fast, this one time = no excuses not to work this fast next time…

  • Christopher T

    Excellent work and congratulations. Now all we need to do is get those dinosaurs at NZTA to do something about bus lanes from Fanshawe Street and across the bridge. Sort of like getting pigs to fly.

  • Braw

    Well done Luke and well done AT. This is great news and shows that things can happen quickly where there’s a will. I’m hopeful for the next 3 years and beyond; the legacy roading projects of the previous council’s will be harder to justify financially given the public and political pressure for more and better public transport, walking and cycling facilities. Bring it on.

  • Sam B

    Looks like work has started already: lane configuration on Fanshawe between Albert and Hobson is already changed showing where the bus lane opens up between lanes 1 and 2. Just needs to have the “bus lane” labels and signs added for that section.

  • This is a good result not just for thousands every week, but thousands every day. There are, as the figures show, a very significant number of Shore-ites who use the bus way every day. In my opinion one of the deterrents to even greater patronage has been the appallingly slow homeward journey. The proposed change will help.
    However, for the very significant number who catch the bus from mid-town, Albert St remains a very significant problem. It will be interesting to see if freeing up Fanshawe helps this.
    Could this small move regarding bus lanes indeed be an attitude shift on the part of AT? My experience of Auckland only dates back to the seventies, but I have watched predominantly only the addition of more roads and the widening of existing roads. And it hasn’t worked because generally congestion is worse now than it has ever been. Of course an alternative is to raise the pace of building roads to see if that helps, but in some areas there is simply not the space tot do so and in other places it simply shifts the area of congestion.
    International experience suggests that efficient public transport can successively move a large proportion of commuters and AT’s own figures of 70% travelling to the Shore by bus in peak is very impressive. At 70% the room for growth seems somewhat limited, but what economic value would it represent to have a greater number use the bus way for solely Shore bound trips. The implementation of the proposed new bus routes seems a far greater priority than the very distant implementation date that is proposed. At the very least the consultation period should begin almost immediately. Pick up the pace AT because this groundswell for change is not going away!

  • Sailor Boy

    Any word on what they plan to do on Customs St yet? I catch the uni bus a fair bit and it is frankly ridiculous.

    • Well there is a plan or rather plans for a proper shake up there but the problem is that also becomes the reason to do nothing in the short term. We may need to get active on the advocacy for interim measures there too.

      • bbc

        The failure of Customs Street actually has repercussions all the way back up Anzac Ave and Symonds Street with buses being backed for very long lengths of time. Add to that cars abusing the bus lane at the bottom of Anzac Ave and it’s quicker to exit a bus up by the uni and to walk the rest of the way. One major failure is the intersection of Symonds St, and Anzac Ave where the bus lane doesn’t start right from the intersection, instead remaining usable for cars. As a result the left hand lane is usually full of cars attempting to get into the central car lane. Last week I saw buses backed right up past the uni as none of them could get across the road due to cars blocking the entrance to the bus lane. A bit unclear what I mean, but I’m referring to this here:

        https://www.google.co.nz/maps/@-36.850196,174.772453,3a,75y,30.93h,88.53t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1ssq2gWyqIeZvsJTcE1kR-bw!2e0

        This would be another quick win and would have major positive benefits for the whole Central Connector in the afternoons. There’s no reason for two lanes here, it simply results in two lanes of jammed cars, and an empty bus lane on Anzac Ave because all the buses are stuck on Symonds Street. The bottom of Anzac Ave is also in major need for changing, why the left turn lanes can’t be given to buses rather and the central lane turned into a left turn for cars is bizarre. Instead cars are given major priority here to the disbenefit of the hundreds on buses.

        https://www.google.co.nz/maps/@-36.846284,174.771689,3a,75y,347.21h,83.14t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sbAYJbL8ctttrynQEud0Q3Q!2e0

  • Max

    “Seventy per cent of the people who travel on Fanshawe St at peak are in a bus”

    Here’s to getting it to 80% with this…

    • bbc

      It’s crazy when you have stats like that and yet AT still insist on mixing bus lanes with left turning car lanes to aid the 0.1% who at peak are turning left. How can you take a transport body seriously when they simply ignore the reality of what’s happening merely to benefit cars.

      On a related note, I it looked to me like Fanshawe Street was completely resurfaced and repainted this week, the section West from Albert Street at the very least. Why did that occur and the status quo simply painted back on top?

      • Sam B

        I think the lanes have already been repainted differently, presumably to allow for the bus lanes. For part of the route anyway, eg Albert to Hobson.

        • Luke C

          Resurfacing may well have been pre-requisite of bus lane painting. Surface was a real mess. Silly putting green paint down on broken surface. And they only painted white lines, nothing that needs to be repainted.

  • Ari

    I don’t see how this will make much difference except in a small fraction of day. If Halsey St gets blocked up by left turners as it usually does, then the bus lane becomes less useful. And if Albert St is blocked up by left turners, then the bus lane is less useful again. And the rest of the day when traffic is light, the bus lanes are again useless because they are unecessary.

    • bbc

      It’s about slowly buy surely filling in the gaps in the bus lane network, AT appears too timid to do much more than small steps. Biting off small easily achievable improvements like this is the best way forward. Especially considering the major upgrade of Fanshawe Street into a proper bus way has been kicked down the road another 3 years by AT due to their desire to widen roads elsewhere for cars.

    • Brendan

      Fanshawe St has more lanes than some parts of the motorway network – so you could probably say the same about the current lanes for cars.

      “And the rest of the day when traffic is light, the car lanes are useless because they are unnecessary.

  • Has this happened? I get the bus every day and haven’t noticed it turning up any earlier.

    • Luke C

      yep sure has. Depends where you get on. Benefits everyone traveling from the city to the North Shore, especially in the evening peak. Have heard of this saving people 5 minutes. Depends on time of day, traffic and a whole lot of other factors.

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