Reeves Rd Flyover decision: The details

A few weeks ago Auckland Transport announced that the Reeves Rd Flyover was back on again. I happened to be looking through some info for the AT board meetings and found that they’ve published the paper that was used to make that decision. As you’d expect, it contains quite a bit of interesting information.

The report states that AT, the NZTA and the Council have been reviewing the project and its sequencing since late 2014 “in light of its strategic changes that now express the desire to prioritise rapid transit”. The also says the review “identified potential risks with the flyover in terms of providing value for money”.

The original plan for AMETI was that the Reeves Rd Flyover would be built first, followed by the busway from Panmure to Pakuranga and then from Pakuranga to Botany. This would have meant we’d be waiting for many years for even the first section of the busway, and given Auckland’s history we’d be just as likely to have some political change cancelling the vital public transport component anyway.

So AT say they’ve been looking at ways to bring the busway forward, and came up with two other options. In both of them the Panmure to Pakuranga busway would be built first, as among other things, it’s the most advanced with a Notice of Requirement already lodged.

The two options differ as to whether the Reeves Rd Flyover or the Pakuranga to Botany busway section came second. This is shown below but under the assumption of no funding constraints.

AMETI sequencing options 2016-04

The two options even had different busway designs, which AT say was a result of needing a different layout if the flyover wasn’t built.

AMETI Busway at Pakuranga with Flyover

Below shows what they would do if the flyover wasn’t built:

AMETI Busway at Pakuranga without Flyover

As we now know, AT have gone with option 1, which staff say performs better overall based on a multi-criteria analysis that looked at:

  1. Economic Efficiency;
  2. Transport networks performance;
  3. Ability of option to enable ‘planned growth in accordance with the Auckland Plan and Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (PAUP);
  4. Ability of option to maximise opportunities or reduce risks;
  5. Construction impacts and disruption; and
  6. Rating against the Transport Agency’s Strategic Fit Assessment.

AT have then further refined the preferred strategy to even out construction impacts, and to reflect a more realistic cash flow.

AMETI preferred sequencing option

You’ll note that to meet the timeframes AT want, there is a shortfall of $172 million of funding. They also say the timeframe is influenced by the CRL:

The optimal time for completing the busway will be as soon as CRL enables additional train frequencies (i.e., capacity) through Panmure. This is programmed for 2023/24 financial year. However, the available funding envelope within the current Long Term Plan (LTP) is inadequate to complete the entire AMETI programme by 2025 ($172m shortfall). This will impact on our ability to complete the Busway by 2025.


One of the big factors in deciding the options was the impact each of them would have on travel times. AT’s preferred strategy is effectively the bright blue line, which for the future options is generally modelled to be the best performer.

AMETI Travel time modelling

But this chart raises a couple of big issues for me, and it’s not even directly related to the flyover. Why in all scenarios are the buses expected to take so damn long? Based on the figures earlier, we’ll be spending close to $500 million on building a busway from Panmure to Botany, which includes reducing side street intersections and wider stop spacing. Yet even in the best case scenario, it is still expected to take 26 minutes to get between those two locations, that’s also almost twice as long as driving. Further at a distance of around 7 km it also represents an average speed of just 16km/h. If this is the outcome, then AT need to do better.

Oddly the Howick to Panmure bus times are around 17 minutes, despite only getting normal bus lanes and the route being about 2km longer, making buses from Howick almost twice as fast.

The comments from AT about improving the performance of the network are also countered somewhat by the quote below, which will be based on the fact that building the flyover will still see the traffic reach the intersections just down the road a little faster. It also makes me question just how accurate those car travel times will be, even a decade from now that seems fanciful that traffic will be better.

Introducing the Flyover will however release a bottleneck in an already congested transport network and there is a risk that this may negatively impact on the overall network performance.

Those travel times are also bound to have an impact on the use of the busway, and the modelling below suggests that at peak around 5,000 trips will take place on it in 2046. Looking closely that it seems about 3,450 will be towards Panmure in the AM peak. That might not sound like a lot but it represents about a full double decker every 3-4 minutes. Like other transport models, this one is also probably under-predicting the usage, especially since the area is a bit of a PT desert.

AMETI patronage modelling


It also appears that AT and the NZTA are looking to join the South Eastern Arterial (SEART) to the East West Link. That would give a motorway or near-motorway road all the way from Pakuranga to Onehunga and the airport:

The road user benefits provided by the Flyover are not dependent on providing more capacity at the SH1/South Eastern Highway (SEART) on-ramp. However, to potentially release significant wider network benefits, AT- in collaboration with the Transport Agency, are currently looking at the possibility of better connecting Pakuranga, Onehunga and SH20 by linking SEART with the proposed East West Connection. The investigation of this work is still in early stages. Key findings will be presented to the Board in due course.

As a final comment, it is good that AT have agreed the section of busway to Pakuranga is still going ahead and before the flyover, but there are a lot of hurdles to pass yet.

Reeves Rd Flyover back on the books

Auckland Transport has had an on-again/off-again type relationship with the $170 million Reeves Rd flyover in Pakuranga. Yesterday they announced it was definitely back on again and sees them running back to the idea that before we can build any PT or cycling infrastructure, we must first build a massive road as compensation.


Work will begin soon on the design and consenting for the Reeves Road flyover and Pakuranga to Botany busway in east Auckland.

The projects are part of the Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI), which is aimed at giving residents of the eastern suburbs better transport choices.

AMETI will deliver rapid, high frequency public transport between Panmure, Pakuranga and Botany. Roading improvements at traffic bottlenecks in Panmure and Pakuranga allow the busway to operate reliably and help manage growing traffic volumes.

The start of design and consenting work follows a comprehensive review of the timing of future Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI) projects by Auckland Transport, the New Zealand Transport Agency and Auckland Council. It included more accurately modelling the traffic impacts and bus travel times on the main roads in the area.

The review concluded the best order for future AMETI projects to be built is:

  • Panmure to Pakuranga – busway, Panmure roundabout replacement, walking and cycling paths. AT recently lodged an application for consents for this stage, it is expected to be publicly notified by Auckland Council within the next few months.
  • Reeves Road flyover, Pakuranga town centre busway and bus station.
  • Pakuranga to Botany busway.

It also concluded that improvements may be needed on Pakuranga Road between Pakuranga and Highland Park to further improve bus journey times between Panmure and Howick.

Auckland Transport Group Manager Andrew Scoggins says this timing for construction will ensure journey times for both public transport and general traffic improve while the various stages are delivered.

“The Reeves Road flyover will not solve traffic congestion in the area. However it is highly effective at offering significant local congestion relief on the roads outside Pakuranga town centre. Shifting traffic off those roads allows the busway and cycle lanes to be built on them.

“Although the full busway could be opened first, the final evaluation of options showed it would create increased congestion for general traffic until the flyover is complete,” Mr Scoggins says.

The review also showed that the full busway between Panmure, Pakuranga and Botany, as well as the Reeves Road flyover, needs to be open by 2025 to minimise future increases in congestion. Current long term plan funding from Auckland Council would only allow for this full network by 2029.

It’s good to see them saying the busway needs to be completed all the way to Botany, and completed sooner than the current funding allows. As it is, AT have taken way too long just to lodge the consents for the busway from Panmure to Pakuranga – for which they currently don’t expect to start construction till 2021 going through to 2025. If they’re going to get the section from Pakuranga to Botany built within that timeframe too, then they’ll have to get cracking on designing the busway. Also welcome is the recognition that Pakuranga Rd needs to have bus lanes at least to Highand Park. I wonder if that’s a piece of work that could help congestion in the shorter term.

The same can’t be said for the flyover. The project has had quite an odd history. Back in February last year Auckland Transport surprised everyone by announcing that the $170 million flyover had been deferred, with the money they saved being used to advance the busway faster. One of the reasons they gave for this was that they realised, for the flyover to make any real difference, it would also require the grade separation of the intersections of the South Eastern Arterial with Waipuna Rd and Carbine Rd, effectively turning the route into a motorway. AT also cited the difficulties of consenting, which had only a few months prior seen the Basin Reserve flyover fail to get consent.

The deferring of the project led to politicians at both the national and local level, many of whom are not known for their support of PT projects, kicking off a frenzy of lobbying for the flyover to be built and built sooner. This included lobbying the government and NZTA to declare the road a State Highway, so it could get 100% NZTA funding.

Then a few months later in April, AT announced they’d made a mistake and that the board had never agreed to deferring the project and that deferring it was only one of a number of options. That meant the flyover was back on the table. This was definitely an odd turn of affairs. I will say that I later saw the board minutes from when the project was discussed, and that it’s correct that the board never approved deferring it but agreed to look into the options further.

That the project is now back on the agenda, and seemingly bring fast tracked, can most likely be put down as a win for political interference.

Reeves Rd Flyover

In an age where smart cities are rushing to tear down flyovers and replace them with better spaces for people, it’s absurd that we’re still trying to build one. At the very least they should be building the busway and seeing what actual impact it has before committing to this project.

AMETI busway notified

A newsletter update from Auckland Transport yesterday finally provided some news on the next stage of AMETI which will see significant improvements to public transport and active modes. This includes a busway between Panmure and Pakuranga and much improved walking and cycling facilities. AT say they’ve lodged the Notice of Requirement which means the process is finally moving forward again, a year after they announced the final design for the busway. The bad news is that while they’re now going through the NoR process, at this stage there will be no funding for the project till 2021 despite it being one of Auckland’s top transport priorities.

Significant progress has been made on the plans for major transport improvements between Panmure and Pakuranga.

We have lodged a Notice of Requirement (NoR) application to designate the route for the proposed Panmure to Pakuranga busway and other transport improvements.

The project includes the first section of New Zealand’s first urban busway, so buses can travel on congestion free lanes between Panmure and Pakuranga. It will allow quicker, more frequent and reliable buses on lanes separate to traffic, increasing public transport use.

The NoR process provides the opportunity for any member of the public to make a submission and be heard at an official hearing in front of independent commissioners. Based on current funding construction will begin in 2021, subject to approval of the NoR.

We are protecting the route to be ready for earlier construction if funding becomes available earlier.

There are four key areas to the Panmure to Pakuranga project

New Panmure intersection

One of the key reasons for building the new Te Horeta Rd in the first stage of AMETI (the road in the tunnel parallel to the train station) was to reduce the amount of traffic using the Panmure Roundabout. That is so the roundabout can be removed and replaced with a signalised intersection which better caters for buses and pedestrians. I imagine there are a lot of drivers who would be happy to see the back of that roundabout. On the northern side of the new busway there is a 4.3m shared path

AMETI - Panmure Intersection plan - 2015

Lagoon Drive

The busway that starts at the train station will continue all the way down Lagoon Dr on the northern side, as does the shared path. The general traffic lanes will be reduced to one each way but AT say these will flow better thanks to the new intersection at Panumre.

AMETI - Lagoon Dr - 2015

New Panmure busway bridge

A new bridge will be built over the Tamaki River to the north of the current bridge and dedicated to buses and walking/cycling. That will leave the existing bridge for general traffic. The walking and cycling part of the bridge will be also be 4.3m wide and also have some viewing platforms.

AMETI - Panmure Bridge - 2015

Pakuranga Road

The busway will continue on the northern side of the road all the way to Pakuranga with some of the local roads closed

AMETI Buslane - Pakuranga Rd

For walking and cycling, on this side they will be separated out with 3m cycleway separated from the busway by a berm and 2m footpaths separated from the cycleway.

AMETI - Pakuranga cross section - 2015

The full route is shown below.

AMETI - Route 1

AMETI - Route 2

Over the years AMETI has turned into a fairly good project and it’s good to see it progressing. East Auckland really could do with some much better PT. AT could also help in this regard by getting some bus lanes on Pakuranga Rd north of the town centre.

It would obviously also be good if the government were to provide funding to get the project going. This is a much more important project (in my view) than others being funded such as the East-West Link.

While the NoR has been lodged I’m not sure when it will be publicly notified. I imagine it won’t be too far away.

East Auckland State Highways?

In the latest saga that the issue of transport in East Auckland, the local MPs are calling for some of the roads to be turned into State Highways.

Pakuranga MP Maurice Williamson is pushing for Pakuranga Rd and Ti Rakau Drive to become state highways.

Together with Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross, Williamson says he is “putting all [his] efforts” into convincing Transport Minister Simon Bridges to bring the two roads under the New Zealand Transport Agency’s authority.

Auckland Transport currently looks after the two streets.

It appears to me that the primary reasons they are pushing for the roads to be State Highways are related to them trying to find ways to circumvent the current process so they can get the projects they personally want built – such as the Reeves Rd Flyover.


Speaking at a public meeting on transport, Williamson expressed his belief that more roading options are needed for East Aucklanders.

“I want to make it clear I am supportive of public transport, but it’s such a small part of what people in this area use when getting to work compared to the private motor car.

“We don’t have any state highways, busways, double tracking trains or electrification, It’s now time for proper transport options.”

His comments about the lack of public transport in the east echoed those made by Auckland Transport chief executive Dr David Warburton at a public meeting last year.

He told those present that public transport passengers from South-East Auckland are among the most poorly served in Auckland.

Williamson showed an image of Pakuranga Rd taken from his electorate office showing traffic at a stand-still on a weekday morning.

He also presented data which showed the busy arterial route had the third-highest daily use of any road in New Zealand.

Auckland Transport has two main solutions in the pipeline to unclog traffic on Pakuranga Rd – the Southeastern Busway and Reeves Rd flyover.

Williamson is supportive of the flyover but has some concerns with the proposed busway.

“The plan to drop two lanes in some places will just take space away from other road users.

“Something is wrong here, space is being taken from cars and given to public transport.”

So Williamson’s logic seems to be that because public transport to the east is currently crap not many people use it and therefore the solution is not to improve public transport but build more roads. That’s akin to giving a two year old going crazy on a sugar rush a lollies in the hope they’ll calm down.

It is absolutely correct that East Auckland has some of the lowest public transport use in Auckland and is tied directly to the lack of quality options that exist. The lack of any form of bus priority mean that the buses that buses will always be a slower option than driving. Combine that with not enough frequency and it’s no surprise people don’t use PT much. But that is exactly what AMETI is trying and address by building a busway from Panmure through to Pakuranga and eventually Botany. The first stage of AMETI – the upgraded Panmure Station and the new Te Horeta Rd – are now complete and AT are getting ready to lodge the Notice of Requirement for Stage 2 which will see a busway extend from Panmure all the way to Botany. That will allow buses to bypass congestion and feed passengers on to trains for a very fast journey to town – we already hear anecdotal reports of large numbers of bus passengers from the east transferring to trains at Panmure

AMETI Buslane - Pakuranga Rd

AT are also talking of extending bus lanes up Pakuranga Rd as far as Highland Park – the road is six lanes wide to that point. Combining the bus lanes, the busway and expected higher frequencies from the new bus network – for which consultation is due out in October – those bus lanes will almost certainly be moving more people than are possibly if the lane was left as a general traffic lane.

In the end it seems that Williamson like many other politicians on the right of politics these days are classic concern trolls. They all claim to support public transport as they know that’s what their constituencies want them to say but they oppose any actual public transport that comes to life and never actually provide any alternative options. They also only want public transport after they’ve built the roads they personally want.


Perhaps the only thing in favour of making these roads state highways is I’m aware the NZTA are strongly supportive of the busway plans and want it built faster than is currently planned. We also know that the NZTA don’t seem to muck around as much with getting routes designated like AT seem to. There would be a great irony if Williamson and co succeeded in getting NZTA to take over the project only to see the busway get built faster.

Reeves Rd back down?

Auckland Transport appears to be backing down on one of their best and boldest decisions – to defer the Reeves Rd flyover and use the money to bring forward the construction of the AMETI busway. This is after what I’m aware has been intense lobbying directly to the government and minister from politicians like Dick Quax and the local MPs. I understand they’ve even been pushing to try and have it declared a State Highway so the NZTA can pay for it.


Here’s AT’s press release:

Chairman, Dr Lester Levy, wishes to clarify the Auckland Transport Board’s position on the Reeves Road flyover, part of the Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI).

An AT media release dated 12 February 2015 implied that a Board decision had been made to accept a new delivery strategy, which included deferring the flyover and opening the full South Eastern Busway (to Botany) earlier. Dr Levy says the board of Auckland Transport has not made any decision to accept the proposed new delivery strategy including the deferral of the flyover. Rather the board simply noted a report presented to its December meeting which suggested a delay in the timing of the flyover, subject to further technical and funding feasibility work.

“That work to assess the feasibility of busway route options through Pakuranga town centre and how funding can be secured for Reeves Road flyover to be delivered earlier continues,” he says.

“The Board has not agreed to the proposed new delivery strategy at this point in time, as it still awaits the technical and funding feasibility. When that work has been completed the Board will be able to give this matter further consideration.

“It is regrettable that this AT media release resulted in stakeholders and the community receiving a mixed message, but I want to be very clear that no firm decisions have been made at this time” Dr Levy says.

As a comparison here is the press release they now say was wrong which clearly talks about using the money to bring forward the busway, the challenges of consenting the project and the extra cost to fix more bottlenecks created by the flyover. I’ve added some emphasis of these points but perhaps I too have read it wrong. What do you think?

Major new public transport improvements will arrive earlier for people in Auckland’s south east.

Auckland Transport is aiming to open the full Southeastern Busway to Botany sooner than the 2028 completion date earlier proposed, and AT is investigating extending bus lanes to Highland Park.

Recent work on the Auckland Manukau Transport Initiative (AMETI) has identified that the busway can operate through Pakuranga town centre without the need to build Reeves Road flyover first.

This allows funding to be used to deliver more public transport improvements sooner by deferring the $170 million flyover until next decade. Targeted traffic improvements will also be made to relieve congestion at the intersections of Ti Rakau Drive/Pakuranga Road and Ti Rakau Drive/Pakuranga Highway.

Auckland Transport AMETI Programme Director Peter King says the change means better transport choices for people in the area sooner and supports the roll out of the new public transport network in 2016.

“The recent decision on the Basin Reserve flyover in Wellington shows the challenges of consenting a flyover that has impacts on an urban area and the potential for long delays. This decision allows us to extend the AMETI transport improvements made in Panmure to Pakuranga and Botany as soon as possible while continuing to build the case for the flyover.

“Large numbers of passengers are expected to be attracted by quicker, frequent and more reliable bus journeys on lanes separate to traffic. About 7.4 million trips a year are expected on the busway.

“There are time savings from opening the busway between Panmure and Pakuranga, however they are much greater when the full busway to Botany is open. For example catching the bus and train between Botany and Britomart will take 38 minutes, 17 minutes quicker.

“The change to timing reflects Auckland Transport’s prioritisation of rapid, high frequency public transport and will not require extra funding.”

Work to develop the flyover showed its congestion benefits would be limited until further significant investment along the South Eastern Highway. It also indicated a likely increase in costs with the need to create a quality urban environment beneath it.

Auckland Transport will update the community in early March on the new delivery plan for AMETI and a potential change to the busway route through Pakuranga town centre. Following further feasibility work there will be consultation on any change to the busway route.

Consultation will be carried out on the latest design for the next construction stage between Panmure and Pakuranga, before a Notice of Requirement is lodged in April.

The Panmure to Pakuranga projects include:

  • Replacing Panmure roundabout with an intersection with traffic lights and more direct pedestrian crossings.
  • Panmure to Pakuranga busway on lanes separate to traffic congestion.
  • Panmure to Pakuranga shared cycle/foot path separate to traffic.
  • Second Panmure Bridge for busway and shared path.

More on the Reeves Rd Flyover Decision

Auckland Transport held the first of their community nights yesterday to discuss with locals the AMETI works. They’ve also released a copy of the information boards they’re using online. Crucially the documents give a hint in to the reason behind the recently announced decision to delay the Reeves Rd Flyover.

The plan for years has been for the busway to turn right off Pakuranga Rd into Te Rakau Dr. After stopping at the bus interchange the busway would then carry on towards Botany and would do so by shifting to a busway in the centre of the road. That shift would occur at the intersection with Reeves Rd and would need it’s own phasing. The issue – as explained to me – was that because of the other demands on the intersection the but phase wouldn’t be frequent enough and would have created huge delays. The flyover was to get some of that traffic out of the way.

AMETI Pakuranga

The image above suggests that AT is looking at alternative routes for the busway with one of them going around the back of the mall. In many ways this is quite an elegant solution. Going around the mall doesn’t add to much to the time it would take for buses but gets them out of that Te Rakau/Reeves intersection thereby negating the need for the flyover. Where the busway crosses Reeves Rd it could be via a very simple intersection that phases quickly as there would be no turning movements and the shift to the centre busway would just occur a bit further south.

It’s innovative thinking like this that AT should be applauded for as it gets the outcomes for much less money. Of course not everyone is happy with the decision. MPs Jamie Lee-Ross and  Maurice Williamson along with Councillor Dick Quak have been very vocal in condemning it and I understand have been lobbying the Minister to intervene and get the flyover back on the agenda. I certainly hope AT do a good job of explaining their reasoning.

AMETI busway closer

Auckland Transport have announced that they are close to a final design for the Panmure to Pakuranga Busway and that there will be community consultation about it this week.

AMETI Buslane - Pakuranga Rd

Busway for east Auckland a step closer

Quicker, frequent and more reliable bus services for the east are a step closer with Panmure to Pakuranga busway design plans near finalisation.

Public information days and neighbourhood meetings are being held next week and information has been sent to people in the project area to get feedback before consents are lodged in late April.

The key project is the Panmure Station to Pakuranga town centre section of the South Eastern Busway. Construction is likely to start in 2017, with the busway due to open by 2021.

Auckland Transport recently announced it is aiming to open the full busway to Botany by 2024, four years earlier than previously planned, and extend bus lanes to Highland Park.

The Panmure to Pakuranga projects include:

  • Replacing Panmure roundabout with an intersection with traffic lights and more direct pedestrian crossings
  • Panmure to Pakuranga busway on lanes separate to traffic congestion
  • Panmure to Pakuranga cycle and foot paths separate to traffic
  • Second Panmure Bridge for busway and shared cycle/foot path.

Auckland Transport AMETI Programme Director Peter King says large numbers of new passengers will be attracted by buses travelling on congestion free lanes every 5 to 10 minutes between Panmure and Pakuranga.

“Buses currently get caught in the same congestion as cars, meaning people have limited choice. Providing a quicker, frequent and more reliable option is expected to shift large numbers out of cars to ease pressure on the roads for journeys that can’t be made by public transport.

“The recent experience with the new Panmure Station and electric trains shows significant growth comes with higher quality public transport.

“Another major feature is separated cycle and foot paths which will make it possible to cycle between Panmure, Pakuranga, and on to Farm Cove and Pigeon Mountain by connecting with the Rotary Walkway along the coast.

“We encourage people to come to the information sessions, return written feedback forms or give feedback online. This will help us finalise plans and reports as we intend to lodge consent applications in late April,” Mr King says.

The consents process will provide the opportunity to make a formal submission to Auckland Council on the projects and be heard at an official hearing.

The open days are:

Pakuranga open day
When: 12 March 2015 from 5pm to 9pm.
Where: Pakuranga Plaza Centre, Aylesbury Street.

When: 14 March 2015 from 10am to 1pm.
Where: Panmure Bridge School, 76 Kings Road, Panmure.

You can also give your feedback online below until 29 March.

Lagoon Drive cycling and busway image

It will be good when this finally gets underway. East Auckland desperately needs some good quality PT improvements and given what we’ve seen in other areas of the city this is likely to be very popular. This also comes just a few weeks after AT announced that they were delaying the Reeves Rd flyover which has allowed them to bring forward the completion of the busway.

Reeves Rd Flyover dies

For the second time in less than a month Auckland Transport have been able to surprise and delight us with fantastic news. The first was the announcement they are seriously looking at light rail for the isthmus and now the wonderful news that they’ve killed the Reeves Rd Flyover. Not only that, they are putting the $170 million they save by not building the flyover into getting the AMETI busway built sooner plus are looking at putting bus lanes up Pakuranga as far as Highland Park.


Major new public transport improvements will arrive earlier for people in Auckland’s south east.

Auckland Transport is aiming to open the full Southeastern Busway to Botany sooner than the 2028 completion date proposed earlier AT is also investigating extending bus lanes to Highland Park.

Recent work on the Auckland Manukau Transport Initiative (AMETI) has identified that the busway can operate through Pakuranga town centre without the need to build Reeves Road flyover first.

This allows funding to be used to deliver more public transport improvements sooner by deferring the $170 million flyover until next decade. Targeted traffic improvements will also be made to relieve congestion at the intersections of Ti Rakau Drive/Pakuranga Road and Ti Rakau Drive/Pakuranga Highway.

Auckland Transport AMETI Programme Director Peter King says the change means better transport choices for people in the area sooner and supports the roll out of the new public transport network in 2016.

They say the project is deferred but I understand it’s effectively over and that is pretty much confirmed by the comments in the rest of the press release – which I’ll cover shortly. This is a great outcome and we’ve suggested it a number of times, especially when talking about the how we can cut unnecessary costs from the transport budget. A few of the reasons why it’s good include:

  • It means there’s no longer going to be a hulking flyover cutting a swathe through the town centre, an area ripe for intensification – including some decent zoning provided for in the Unitary Plan.
  • Saving $170 million is a huge boost when the cities budgets are already tight.
  • Getting the busway sooner means the benefits from it start to flow sooner and these are likely to be huge. This is especially important in East Auckland which has the worst PT in Auckland and consequently the lowest PT use.
  • AT are now looking at including bus lanes up Pakuranga Rd as far as Highland Park providing even more benefits to PT in the area.
  • Along with the busway, AT’s plans also include high quality cycle lanes which will also be completed sooner.

Reeves Rd Flyover

I been told in the past the key driver was for the flyover was so that buses didn’t get held up at the large intersection of Te Rakau Dr/Pakuranga Highway/Reeves Rd. This location was also where they planned to move the busway from the side of the road to the centre of it. To address the intersection this AT say they are looking at a potential change or route through the Pakuranga Town Centre which would allow buses to bypass that intersection entirely. With buses no longer affected by the intersection the need for the flyover disappeared. I wonder if it means it will also help save some of the homes on and around William Roberts Rd. I think a potentially slightly longer journey for buses through or around the back of the Pakuranga Town Centre is probably a reasonable compromise if it means we don’t have to build the flyover.

Reeves Rd Flyover - Pakuranga Rd end

Some of the other justifications for the change in approach are also particularly telling:

“The recent decision on the Basin Reserve flyover in Wellington shows the challenges of consenting a flyover that has impacts on an urban area and the potential for long delays. This decision allows us to extend the AMETI transport improvements made in Panmure to Pakuranga and Botany as soon as possible while continuing to build the case for the flyover.

“Large numbers of passengers are expected to be attracted by quicker, frequent and more reliable bus journeys on lanes separate to traffic. About 7.4 million trips a year are expected on the busway.

“There are time savings from opening the busway between Panmure and Pakuranga, however they are much greater when the full busway to Botany is open. For example catching the bus and train between Botany and Britomart will take 38 minutes, 17 minutes quicker.

“The change to timing reflects Auckland Transport’s prioritisation of rapid, high frequency public transport and will not require extra funding.”
Work to develop the flyover showed its congestion benefits would be limited until further significant investment along the South Eastern Highway. It also indicated a likely increase in costs with the need to create a quality urban environment beneath it.

So AT have learnt from the outcome of the Basin Reserve Flyover which is great to see and it’s this reason why I suspect the project has actually been killed rather than just deferred. I think it’s also telling that they note the flyover would have just shifted the congestion further along South Eastern Highway, a point that many projects seem to forget.

Ti Rakau Dr central busway


A few other thoughts have struck me about this decision

  • For years AT’s engineers have been saying that the flyover is the only solution but now they’ve found another way. Will the same thing happen with the St Lukes Pohutukawa?
  • AMETI started out life as a road fest designed to try and replicate as much of the Eastern Motorway proposal as possible. Over the years it’s slowly morphed into almost exclusively a PT project which is what was needed. I think AT deserves a lot of credit for this as it was only really once they came into existence that things really started changing. I suspect that 38 minutes from Botany to Britomart will be quite compelling, especially in the peak and that time could get faster still with the CRL which would see trains running at higher frequencies which means reduced transfer times.

2014 – A Year in Review Part 3 – Roads

In the third in my series of posts wrapping up the year I will look at what’s happened with roads this year.

Roads of National Significance

The RoNS have continued as they did last year with one notable exception.

Western Ring Route

The Western Ring Route works are in full flight now as will be evidenced to anyone who drives along SH16 with roadworks in place from east of Western Springs all the way through Northwest of Lincoln Rd from 5 separate projects.

  • St Lukes Interchange
  • Waterview Connection
  • Causeway upgrade
  • Te Atatu Interchange
  • Lincoln Rd Interchange

The TBM working on the Waterview connection has broken through with the first tunnel and in December made a start on the second one. At the same time the most visible part of the project has been the large yellow gantry has been building towering ramps that will connect the tunnels to SH16 in each direction.

Over the next year we should finally see the Lincoln Rd section completed and I imagine significant progress on the other projects – although they are still a few years from completion.

Puhoi to Wellsford

In 2014 the NZTA were issued with consent to build the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway – a road even the NZTA’s analysis says is only really busy during holiday periods. Amazingly we’re still yet to see any real economic analysis for the project which is likely because it’s terrible based on the work we saw before the government named it a priority. The government of course continue to claim it’s all about the economic development of Northland despite the existing toll road – which saved more time than this motorway will – not making any difference.

Confirmed route

Over 2015 we’re likely to see the NZTA working towards a PPP to get this project built however it’s not likely we’ll see any construction start.

Basin Reserve Flyover

Perhaps the biggest surprise of 2014 was the Board of Inquiry declining the NZTA’s application to build a flyover around the edge of the Basin Reserve. In the end the commissioners hearing the case concluded the impact on the local community from having a massive flyover was just too much after it was able to be shown that most of the benefits the NZTA claimed the road would provide were actually attributable to other projects.  The decision was embarrassing for the NZTA and the government seeing as it was using the governments new fast track process which means the decision can only be appealed on points of law – which the NZTA are doing.

Basin Bridge Image 1

I’m not aware if a date has yet been set for the appeal but it is likely to be later next year.

Transmission Gully

Also in Wellington, the first transport PPP was signed in July for the construction and operation of Transmission Gully, another project with a horrific business case. Initial works should have started by now however won’t really ramp up till next year. The PPP will see the NZTA paying $125 million a year for 25 years once the project has been completed. Unlike many PPPs that failed overseas, for the consortium building the road there is little risk as all the demand risk sits with the NZTA, in other words we pay providing the road is open – and if it is damaged from a something like an earthquake we have to pay at least some of the costs of that too.

Other RoNS

The other RoNS projects in the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Christchurch have continued along. I’m not sure of the progress of all of them however the Tauranga Eastern Link is meant to be completed in 2015.

Auckland Motorway Projects

In 2013 the government announced a series of additional motorway projects for Auckland. The widening of the Northern Motorway between Upper Harbour and Greville Dr has just been completed and in November started consultation on ideas for further changes to that section including a motorway to motorway interchange between SH1 and SH18. Some of the ideas are absolutely massive in scale such as concept 3.

Northern Corridor Improvements Concept 3

Of the other projects, works to grade separate Kirkbride Rd moved ahead and earlier this month the NZTA announced the contract had been signed with construction starting in January

We haven’t heard much about the other accelerated project which will see the southern motorway from Manukau to Papakura widened but I would expect we will do in 2015.

In addition to the accelerated projects the NZTA has now made a start on widening SH1 Northbound between Ellerslie-Panmure Highway and Greenlane – a project that’s been on the cards for a while and for which the Ellerslie Station platform was narrowed a few years ago to accommodate.

Accelerated Regional Roads

In addition to the RoNS, and to shore up their support from some rural communities, this year the government announced a spend up of over $200 million on a number of regional state highway projects that can’t get funding due to it being sucked up by the RoNS. The Funding for these projects is coming from the proceeds of asset sales the government has undertaken. Some of the projects appear to be of low value however not all are.

Govt Accelerated Rural Road Package


Auckland Transport started the year with the opening of the new Panmure station and in November they opened Te Horeta Rd which is the new road running alongside the rail line and Panmure station from Mt Wellington Highway to Morrin Rd.

East West Link Connections

In October both AT and the NZTA launched consultation on ideas for the East West Link after calling off a proposal for a motorway through Mangere right at the beginning of the year. They haven’t announced the results yet but I’m fairly certain either option C or D has been picked as the option they are proceeding with.

EW Option - Option D

Mill Rd

In November AT announced they have come up with a route for the Mill Rd corridor and will be working towards securing a designation for it. The most disappointing aspect for me about the project – other than some of the case for it has likely been destroyed by the fast tracking of the SH1 widening – is that even with a brand new corridor, AT are still designing a crap outcome with features like unprotected cycle lanes or shared paths and pedestrian/cycle unfriendly roundabouts.

We’re still driving less

One positive trend I have started to notice is our transport institutions are starting to take notice of is that we’re driving less. In the last few months in particular it’s started to be mentioned in publications such as the Briefing to the Incoming Minister and in research papers.


What have I missed?

2014 – A Year in Review Part 1 – PT

With the year fast coming to a close this is the first in a series of posts wrapping up what happened this year. In this post I’m just going to look at the changes we’ve seen with Public Transport.

While 2013 was very much a lull year while many projects ticked on in the background, 2014 has arguably been one of the biggest years for PT in Auckland for some time. This has largely been thanks to two major projects seeing significant milestones.


The first trains arrived in 2013 but this year saw them carrying paying passengers for the first time starting with the Onehunga line at the end of April. Electric trains then started running to Manukau in August before a full timetable upgrade earlier this month that saw improved frequencies – especially off peak. We don’t yet know the impact the most recent change have made however the earlier changes have shown the sparks effect in action in Auckland with those two lines seeing massive growth compared to last year – in the case of Manukau patronage is up 50% on the same time last year.

The fantastic news about the electrification story is that the biggest impact is yet to come which will happen the Southern and Western lines go electric by the middle of next year.


Integrated Ticketing

After years of delays and issues, integrated ticketing was finally rolled out to all PT services meaning you can now use a single card to pay for any trip across Auckland, regardless of who operates it. That is especially useful for anyone who has multiple options for which service they catch or those who catch transfer between services. It’s hard to say for sure but integrated ticketing is likely to behind some of the spectacular growth we’ve seen this year as from memory, internationally it’s been credited with patronage increases of around 7%.

As with electrification the best is yet to come and in 2015 we will hear more about the real game changer of Integrated Fares. That should simplify the fare structure significantly and mean you pay a single fare for your trip regardless of how many services you catch to get to your destination. It makes transferring much much easier and is needed for the New Network to work. From what I understand Integrated Fares requires some significant changes the HOP system and as such is not likely to roll out till around this time next year so it won’t really start having an impact till 2016. In the meantime Auckland Transport have already started making some positive changes including increasing the HOP discount in July that meant if you were using a HOP card then for most trips (except ferries) fares actually got cheaper.

Hop Card


Other than the two key projects above there’s been a lot of improvement in the PT space. Here are some of the other things we’ve seen this year.


Patronage has grown very strongly this year and has been one of the best years we’ve seen. We’re obviously still waiting for the results for December however for the 12 months to the end of November patronage has increased by 5.685 million (8.2%) to be over 75 million trips. Within that the star performers have been the Rapid Transit Network which is made up of the rail network and the Northern Express which combined have grown by 17% (2.166 million) compared to the same time last year. 2.166 million trips. On the rail network Auckland achieved two milestones at the same time with patronage surpassing Wellington for the first time and also passing the 12 million trips mark. That occurred only occurred in September however growth has been so strong it’s possible we will pass 12.5 million in December. However the regular bus network hasn’t been standing still either with that seeing a 7% increase (3.485 million). By mode the changes are:

  • Bus – 3.817 million (7.1%)
  • Train – 1.835 million (17.8%)
  • Ferry – 32,900 (0.6%)

AK Total Patronage Nov 14

Down in Wellington patronage has had a spurt of growth for the first time in a while with the total number of trips rising above 36 million for the first time.

WG Total Patronage Nov 14 Bus Lanes

This year for the first time in Auckland Transport’s four year history we saw them implement a new bus lane. It occurred on Fanshawe St after a great post from Luke highlighting why it was needed and while small has made a big difference to buses leaving the city towards the North Shore.

In November we learned of a lot more bus lanes that Auckland is planning over the next three years which should really help improve the customer experience for bus users and improve operational efficiency.

City Rail Link

It feels like news has been relatively quiet on the CRL this year although the project has definitely moved forward. Earlier this year the project received approval from the independent commissioners which means for the first time in the projects 90+ year history there is a designation in place. Some groups are challenging that aspects consent and they should be heard by the environment court in the first half of 2015 however that is unlikely to stop the whole project.

In the meantime Auckland Transport have been moving forward with the project and the first section – the enabling works which will see the tunnel dug from Britomart to Wyndham St – should kick off by the end of 2015. AT have already put out a tender for the works and that should be awarded in the next few months. Positively, while the council and government still debate over when to provide funding, it seems everyone is in agreement that the enabling works should kick off now as they are needed for Precinct Properties to build their redevelopment of the Downtown Mall site.

Perhaps the biggest news about the CRL was that AT have dropped the Newton station in favour of an upgraded Mt Eden station.

AT Metro

Just a few weeks ago AT launched a new brand for PT called AT Metro and to accompany it all buses will eventually have a unified livery rather than each operator having their own brand.

Double Decker

New Network

Three more consultations for the New Network occurred in 2014 following the South Auckland network in 2013. This year there were Hibiscus Coast/Warkworth, Pukekohe and Waiuku and West Auckland. One major issue that has emerged with the new network though is the lack of progress on interchanges with the West Auckland network suffering the most from this.

West Auckland With and Without Interchanges


The first stage of AMETI which will eventually see a busway from Panmure all the way to Pakuranga and then Botany was completed at the beginning of the year with the opening of the new Panmure station and interchange. It is already having a significant impact with patronage at the station up as much as 100% in some months compared to 2013 and that is only likely to continue as more improvements are made.

Panmure Station 1

MIT/Manukau Station

The Manukau station opened back in 2012 however since then it has been a bit hidden away thanks to the construction of the MIT campus that sits above it – which was subject to delays thanks to the collapse of the construction company building it. Those issues are now over and in June the MIT campus opened providing a spectacular entrance to the station.

MIT dyptych


So what did I miss?