The patronage results for June are out and like recent months the results are particularly good for the rail network. The June stats are also significant as they represent the end of financial year results for Auckland transport. The 12 month figure is the highest it has been since 1959 – although of course the city had a lot less people back then.
Auckland public transport patronage totalled 72,396,155 passengers for the 12 months to Jun-2014, an increase of +0.9% on the 12 months to May-2014 and +5.6% on the 12 months to Jun-2013.
June monthly patronage was 6,107,965, an increase of 623,266 boardings or +11.4% on Jun-2013, normalised to ~ +6.8% accounting for additional special event patronage and one more business day and one less weekend day in Jun-2014 compared to Jun-2013. Year to date patronage has grown by +5.6%.
Rail patronage totalled 11,435,085 passengers for the 12 months to Jun-2014, an increase of +1.7% on the 12 months to May-2014 and +13.9% on the 12 months to Jun-2013. Patronage for Jun-2014 was 1,039,830, an increase of 194,491 boardings or +23.0% on Jun-2013, normalised to ~ +9.4%. Year to date rail patronage has grown by +13.9%.
The Northern Express bus service carried 2,426,745 passenger trips for the 12 months to Jun-2014, an increase of +1.0% on the 12 months to May-2014 and +6.5% on the 12 months to Jun-2013. Northern Express bus service patronage for Jun-2014 was 210,069, an increase of 23,201 boardings or +12.4% on Jun-2013, normalised to ~ +9.1%. Year to date Northern Express patronage has grown by +6.5%.
Other bus services carried 53,424,378 passenger trips for the 12 months to Jun-2014, an increase of +0.8% on the 12 months to May-2014 and +4.2% on the 12 months to Jun-2013. Other bus services patronage for Jun-2014 was 4,525,656, an increase of 420,821 boardings or +10.3% on Jun-2013, normalised to ~ +7.6%. Year to date other bus patronage has grown by +4.2%.
Ferry services carried 5,109,947 passenger trips for the 12 months to Jun-2014, a decrease of -0.3% on the 12 months to May-2014 and an increase +3.1% on the 12 months to Jun-2013. Ferry services patronage for Jun-2014 was 332,410, a decrease of -15,247 boardings or -4.4% on Jun-2013, normalised to ~ -7.3%. Year to date ferry patronage has increased by +3.1%.
So rail patronage for June is up 23% on the same month a year ago while the 12 month rolling figure is up 14%, both are massive numbers. If we were able to keep up that rate of growth it would see us hitting the 20 million rail patronage target set by the government for the City Rail Link by the end of 2018. With the upcoming improvements from rolling out the electric trains to the majority of the network, the new bus network, integrated fares and other enhancements I think this rate of growth (or more) is eminently possible.
One of the important results is also to see the impact on patronage to Onehunga which has been the first to get electric trains – despite the recent hiccup. Patronage to Onehunga is up a staggering 37%. It seems the public are already responding the the improved quality of services and it’s something I’ve seen first hand with Onehunga Line trains often full in the mornings despite having significantly more capacity than the trains they replaced.
You may also remember the patronage targets for the next few years were recently reduced after AT said the already reduced targets were basically impossible. Here’s how the rail patronage result looks compared to the target.
In the end the result was only a few thousand short of the target. With only an extra 700,000 trips a year now needed to reach the newly lowered target for 2014/15 I expect it will be surpassed early. Someone should also tell Manurewa Local Board Chairperson Angela Dalton that patronage is rising as she is busy trying to say the opposite.
People will continue to abandon the trains in favour of cars until such time as there is attention focussed on security issues at suburban train stations instead of committing rate payers money into the City Rail Link,” Angela Dalton said.
Along with rail it’s also pleasing to see that bus patronage continues to grow too. This is quite important as it shows that all PT use is rising and that the increases in rail patronage aren’t simply a result of people shifting from bus to train.
All up a good result for PT and in other good news Cycling continues to grow strongly at the sites monitored by ATs automatic cycle counters. For June the result was up 11.4% while the 12 month rolling figure was up 10%
Considering the heightened discussion surrounding the traffic on the Harbour Bridge it’s also worth highlighting what’s happening with traffic on the bridge. As you can see vehicle volumes continue to struggle to get above 160,000 trips, something that was a regular occurrence before 2007
Auckland Transport are starting consultation tomorrow for a series of walking and cycling improvements to Northcote. All up there will be 5.2km of improvements from the intersection of Taharoto Road and Northcote Road through to the Northcote Ferry Terminal. Along with improving cycling facilities AT also specifically say it’s about improving links to the eventual Skypath which is great to see. A map of the route to be upgraded is below.
The improvements are generally in the form of a mix of on road cycle lanes and shared paths, which most people will say aren’t ideal. Some of the changes are:
- An off-road shared walking and cycling path on either side of Northcote Road from the Taharoto Road/Northcote Road intersection to the Northcote Road/Ocean View Road/Lake Road intersection
- Improvements to walking and cycling facilities at the Northcote Road/Ocean View Road/Lake Road roundabout
- An on-road cycle lane on either side of Lake Road and an off-road shared walking and cycling path on the eastern side of Lake Road from the Northcote Road/Ocean View Road/Lake Road intersection to Exmouth Road/Raleigh Road/Lake Road intersection.
- Improvements to walking and cycling facilities at the Exmouth Road/Raleigh Road/Lake Road roundabout
- An on-road cycle lane on the western side of Lake Road and an off-road shared walking and cycling path on the eastern side of Lake Road from the Exmouth Road/Raleigh Road/Lake Road intersection to the Lake Road/Onewa Road intersection
- Improvements to walking and cycling facilities at the Lake Road/Onewa Road/Queen Street intersection
- An on-road cycle lane on either side of Queen Street from the Onewa Road/Queen Street intersection to the entry to the Northcote Point Ferry Terminal
The maps show that the on road cycle lanes on Queen St will be protected by parking a first for Auckland. AT even say the plans will see some on street parking removed which is something sure to raise the hackles of some locals.
While there are bound to be a number of specific issues with the plans the one that stands out to me the most is the section around Onewa Rd. where the cycling facilities seem to basically end and dump people back on to the road. I’m sure some of you will be able to highlight all of the issues in the comments.
Overall it’s good to see AT at least planning to roll out more cycling improvements across the city. For a long time it’s felt like not much was happening but there seems to have been a bit of a surge of progress on projects in the last few months which it would be great to see carry on.
Another series of consultation events that will happen this week will be for the East West Link and the replacement of the Old Mangere Bridge.
Communities will get the chance to have their say about two significant transport projects in their area – the East West Connections and the replacement of the of the old Mangere bridge.
The NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport say there is an open invitation for people to attend three community days planned for later this month. Two of them – at the Onehunga night market (Thursday 24 July, 6pm-10pm) and at Sylvia Park shopping mall near the foodcourt (Sunday 27 July, 10am-1pm) – focus on the East West Connections project. The third – at Waterfront Road Reserve, Mangere Bridge (Saturday 26 July, 10am-4pm) – will focus on both the East West Connections and the next stage of replacing the old Mangere bridge.
The Transport Agency’s acting Highways Manager, Steve Mutton, says the community days deliver on earlier commitments from the Agency and Auckland Transport to work with local people.
“We want to build on the great feedback we’ve had from people to replace the bridge and carry that on into the East West Connections programme. This is the latest step for us to ensure that we fully understand what people are experiencing when travelling in Onehunga, Mt Wellington, Otahuhu, Penrose, Mangere and East Tamaki,” Mr Mutton says.
Community input will help the Transport Agency and Auckland Transport develop their East West Connections programme to improve commuter and freight links, public transport and walking and cycling options over the next 30 years.
“We have already identified freight issues that need immediate attention in Onehunga-Penrose – that’s a key priority given the area’s importance for jobs and the Auckland and New Zealand economies. We will be working with stakeholders and the community in coming months as investigations progress for those improvements.
“But we are not losing sight of the issues people are facing in the wider area. The vibrant communities in the area are likely to experience a growth in the number of people who chose to live and work in them. The predicted growth will put additional pressure on the existing transport network”
“We’ve already identified the need to improve reliability of public transport between Mangere and Sylvia Park – there will be other areas for improvement. We want the conversation with local people now so that as we progress with improvements in Onehunga-Penrose, we can also continue to work with communities to address their issues,” says Mr Mutton.
The community day at Mangere Bridge on 26 July will also be a chance for people to see the proposed design for the new bridge connecting Onehunga and Mangere Bridge.
“The earlier feedback from the community was a catalyst for the project and guided the bridge design,” Mr Mutton says. “We’ve worked hard to integrate the community’s requests, and we’re optimistic that they will be pleased with our design when they see it.”
Some features of the original bridge will be retained, with the new structure curving towards the motorway bridge. It will be high enough for small boats to pass underneath. A wider span also means that some form of opening for larger craft is not precluded in future. Two artists have been commissioned to incorporate the area’s history and values into the design through art.
“Replacing the old bridge and the East West Connections are two very different projects with one similar outcome – helping the Transport Agency and Auckland Transport get the best solutions to improve the area’s transport network. We want to hear the views of people to help achieve that,” Mr Mutton says.
On the East West Link it will be interesting to see if they actually show what they plan to do for the project or if they will just talk about the need for it. This is especially the case as I know they showed business and road lobby groups exactly what they plan to build about 7 months ago.
We can get a bit of a background as to what they will show from some of the information on the AT website including this image which highlights all the issues they’ve identified in the area.
For a big click the photo or for the original it’s from here (5MB).
This image (on the NZTA website) shows all of the projects going on in the area.
As for the Old Mangere Bridge Replacement this newsletter shows a couple of impressions of what it may look like.
Auckland Transport is holding an open day to discuss their plans for a shared path between Waterview and Mt Albert which was required as part of the Board of Inquiry for the Waterview Connection project.
Auckland Transport is about to unveil plans for a new walking and cycling link between Waterview and Mt Albert.
Delivered as part of the Waterview Connection project, the shared path will add to Auckland’s growing cycling and walking network, connecting with the north-western (SH16) cycle route and existing shared paths to Onehunga and New Lynn.
Auckland Transport has investigated a range of options, talked with property owners and developed a concept design for the path. We’re now ready to show our designs to the public, so come along and give us your thoughts.
The Waterview shared path will be around 2.4km long and around 3.5 metres wide, running from Alan Wood Reserve off New North Road, following the route of Oakley Creek and connecting with Great North Road (map attached).
Two new bridges will be built along the route – one across Oakley Creek and the other over the western rail line – to connect communities to the path. There will also be easy access to the path at various points along the route, such as Phyllis Reserve and the Unitec campus.
Details on the Waterview shared path will be revealed at two public open days – the first on Wednesday 23 July, 3pm to 7pm, at Metro Football Club, in Phyllis Reserve, Mt Albert; and the second on Thursday 24 July, 3pm to 7pm, at Avondale Baptist Church, 1288 New North Road, Avondale. The project team will be on hand to answer questions.
AT’s Community Transport manager Matthew Rednall says the shared path will be great for the local community.
“Not only will it mean safe traffic-free links and improved access to local schools, colleges and other community facilities, it’ll be a great place to get some exercise,” he says.
“The path will be well lit and have a low gradient to make it safe and easy to use.”
Construction is expected to begin in late 2016 and take around 12 months to complete.
This is the route the path will take
I’m please to see this being progressed however there are already a number of questions in my head about this project.
- Why is it only starting construction in late 2016. This seems especially odd considering how fast the NZTA seems to be moving on the Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr Cycleway which has construction starting in a few months.
- The route seems more about recreation than transport with the indirect route it takes and sharp slow speed turns – AT have said that this is to provide links to the community, not build through the sports grounds and that closer to the creek isn’t suitable for building.
- Will AT be installing lights on the intersection of Soljak Pl/New North Rd/Bollard Ave? New North Rd is a high volume four lane arterial road that without any kind of crossing is going to be difficult to cross.
- We’ve started seeing a lot of design being incorporated in pedestrian/cycle bridges in recent years, the concept for the bridge across the Oakley Creek that AT have on their website seems to shun that completely.
When I was out looking at the trial bus shelters on Sunday I was reminded of an issue that plagues our footpaths – clutter. Symonds St where the bus stops are suffers from this quite a bit but by no means is it alone. In the case of Symonds St the footpaths are made quite narrow by the presence of the bus shelters and is made worse by a mixture of
- Light poles
- Real Time Displays and electrical plinths
- Bus Stop and bus lane signs
All this can make it quite difficult for people walking to get through the area, especially if a lot of people are trying to get on a bus and it must be terrible for someone in a wheelchair or mobility scooter. Some examples of the clutter on Symonds St are below.
Real time Displays, sign poles and even a car to get around – the car belonged to one of the guys finishing the installation of Shelter B and there wasn’t enough space for someone in a wheelchair to get around
Looking straight on you can’t actually see down the footpath thanks to the light pole.
And from a different angle you can see again the light pole, real time display and further down sign poles blocking the path.
One example I experience every day is on Albert St while waiting for my bus to Takapuna. The bus stop pole, light pole and bus stop board combine to completely block the view up the road (note buses usually stop with their front doors between these two poles).
Auckland Transport should really have a programme to identify and fix sites like this to improve the pedestrian realm and waiting experience for PT users.
I’ve seen plenty of other examples recently and I know many other readers have too judging by our twitter feed.
Back in May Auckland Transport announced that they were going to trial three different bus shelter designs on Symonds St. They are seeking public feedback on them with the intention of eventually rolling out the winning design across the region.
Yesterday I decided to go and check out the three options and all three shelters I liked and didn’t like about them.
This was my favourite when AT initially announced the designs and one of the reasons is it was quite different to what we’re used to seeing. Some commented in the original post that the wood would make it feel too dark and be less safe compared to the greater use of glass in the other designs. Personally I really like the addition of the wood including the structural support with the engraved Pohutukawa motif.
I guess the only concern was the size of the glass on the front of the shelter for those times when the rain is coming in sideways.
This one is perhaps a bit of a dark horse. I thought it looked bland and boring in the initial images but it turns out it’s a case of actually having to see it in the flesh. Even the photo below doesn’t really highlight it that well. The real design feature is above the shelter with the roof having quite a retro feel to it, curved at the front and with fins out the back. The front kind of reminded me of an old tram. The shelter itself has a heap of seating and one big glass panel for those really rainy days which is good.
The biggest issue with this shelter is how well the retro design holds up over time. It’s cool now but will it still be in 10 years-time? (Although I guess you could say this about all the designs). Because it’s hard to get the feeling for the shelter in this image the one below is the render from the AT Website which shows the design feature a bit better.
In our poll Shelter C was the second most popular design due to it appearing to have more design to it than B and more glass than A. In real life I didn’t really like the design that much and it seemed a bit busy and not that inviting. Perhaps it is too similar to what we’re used to seeing. Also like Shelter A it only had two small glass walls on the front to protect from heavy rain. One aspect I really did like though was the panel at the end of the shelter which was used to give more information. In particular I liked how it laid out the areas the buses that use the stop serve.
Just for a comparison, here’s what the old shelters look like.
After viewing them in person I still think that Shelter A is my favourite, Shelter B lifted itself to my second favourite leaving Shelter C as my least favourite.
But not all bus stops are created equal, most will be much smaller than the ones above while stops in Neighbourhoods are likely to be larger. The images below are the renders for the other versions of each design.
A trial of these shelters is being installed at the Silverdale Park & Ride, presumably until the full station is built.
I think Shelter B carries the design idea through the best while Shelter A seems pretty standard with what we have now.
What’s interesting about all three of these stops is they bend around the corner which makes them quite prominent which would definitely help in making bus stops more visible and a key part of Auckland’s future.
Again my favourite is Shelter A which seems much more prominent and interesting, it even looks like it has some cycle racks behind the centrepiece part. Like in the original pictures Shelter B is difficult to see so hard to know exactly what it would look like in person. Shelter C just doesn’t look like it scales as well on the large stops.
Of course all of this is just my opinion and everyone can have a say so make sure you do. The AT website has more info including some more detailed info about each design. The consultation is open till 22 August and I would recommend going and having a look if you can, as it certainly changed my thoughts about Shelter B.
I ran a poll when the trial was announced and I’m going to repeat it again to see if anyone’s views have changed.
On Monday Auckland Transport are launching the next consultation for the New Network and this time it’s the turn of Hibiscus Coast. AT say the changes to the network are planned to go in early mid 2015 which could make the area the first to change to the New Network as the South Auckland changes aren’t due till later in 2015. As a reminder about the changes being made with new network watch this video from Auckland Transport
The first and perhaps most significant change to the network is that AT will extend the Northern Express (NEX) to a new busway station. AT have already started on this and built some of the Park n Ride planned however I believe it has been halted due to another challenge to the Environment court by a local land owner. It’s proposing NEX services running at 30 minute frequencies off peak and with 15 minute frequencies during the peak which it is describing as 6am-8am and 4:30pm – 7pm. They say services will be timetabled to ensure reliable connections with local services.
Where the Hibiscus Coast differs from other parts of the region is that there are no all-day frequent services and services that are a minimum of half hourly are made up of a two lower frequency for part of their journey. The full map of proposed services is below (click to enlarge).
At first glance one area that seems less than ideal is how buses are treated in relation to the Silverdale Town Centre. Going to the busway station some buses enter the town centre before doubling back and then going to the station while other buses skip it inbound and only go through outbound. All of this is because vehicles aren’t allowed to turn right out of Silverdale St or Wainui Rd. AT say that if a proposed new road gets built it will allow them to send all buses though the centre in both directions however as an interim measure perhaps they should just signalise one of the problem intersections and then have all buses run a logical route through it.
The consultation will open Monday for a month.
Here’s the press release
More buses more often, new bus routes and extending the Northern Express to Silverdale, these are some of Auckland Transport’s proposals to boost public transport options for the Hibiscus Coast.
Anthony Cross, Public Transport Network Manager says the Hibiscus Coast is getting some notable service improvements. “Extending the Northern Express to Silverdale is huge, outside peak hours that will cut 30 minutes off the journey time to Auckland’s city centre”.
There will also be a new bus service for the growing area at Millwater plus buses every 30 minutes between Orewa, Silverdale and Manly, seven days a week.
More frequent local services, and a number of new or trial bus routes are also some of the benefits residents can look forward to under the New Network.
“We’re also building a new busway station at Silverdale which will become a key interchange for the Coast. We are increasing the Park and Ride car parks too,” says Mr Cross.
“The New Network will change the way people travel – it is a fundamental shift in the principles behind how we plan the public transport network. There will be a few challenging years ahead of us as we consult and implement, but in the long term it will make a very positive difference to Auckland’s public transport system.”
Consultation on the New Network for the Hibiscus Coast runs from Monday 14 July to Thursday 14 August.
Following consultation, changes are planned to take effect in early-to-mid 2015. There will be an extensive information campaign ahead of the changes, and the new timetables will be available ahead of time so that passengers can plan their journeys.
In coming weeks, Auckland Transport will have people in local markets, shopping centres, and transport hubs and on the streets on the Hibiscus Coast talking to customers about these changes and getting their views. A series of information events have also been planned.
For more information on the New Network for the Hibiscus Coast go to www.AT.govt.nz/newnetwork
The New Network is a region wide public transport network which is proposed to deliver bus services at least every 15 minutes throughout the day, seven days a week on major routes between the hours of 7am to 7pm. Services will connect better with train services for those customers who require connections.
South Auckland was the first region to be consulted on the New Network in 2013.
Auckland Transport have said that they are focusing efforts to design the northern end of the CRL from Wyndham St to Britomart.
Design of the Britomart end of the City Rail Link is being progressed with Auckland Transport asking the construction industry to register its interest in the work.
The focus of the design work will be on the downtown section of the City Rail Link, from Britomart through Queen, Customs and Albert Streets to Wyndham Street.
It is the area that most affects other planned and proposed inner city development by Auckland Council and private developers.
“It’s a sensible next step to get design certainty for the part of the CRL that will most affect everyone else’s plans in the city. It is also important to have the design advanced so any consents can be identified and applied for,” says AT Chief Executive David Warburton.
Auckland Council Chief Executive Stephen Town says “this next step is important as it will ensure the sequencing of city centre improvements is well planned over the next 3 years.
Auckland Transport wants to be in a position to progress work in the downtown area so other city development can proceed without unnecessary delay, once CRL construction funding is approved.
Dr Warburton says engaging early with the construction industry in this way is routine on major projects to ensure a cost effective design that minimises adverse effects.
It’s basically the section shown below (although without needing to take all of the Downtown Mall site like originally thought)
Precinct Properties want to develop the Downtown Mall site and they have already agreed to build the tunnel under the site at the same time, this saved AT from having to purchase the whole site. It makes complete sense to then also join in that part of the tunnel to Britomart and to get it at least under the Customs St/Albert St intersection. The reason for that is there are a lot of plans in the area that will hinge on the CRL being completed so that they don’t have to be redone in the future. This includes:
- The upgrade to Quay St to be a more pedestrian friendly area.
- Changes to Customs St to accommodate the new bus network and some of the traffic from Quay St.
- Potential changes to Lower Queen St and QE2 square
AT have also said they are likely to have some new images available in a month or so relating to station designs which will be exciting to see.
A few days ago I looked in depth into the locations of the Special Housing Areas that have been released so far, allowing for over 33,000 new houses. The locations of these are not spread evenly around the city, or evenly amongst the greenfield areas. Therefore this should cause the council and Auckland Transport to rethink some of their priorities for transport investment. Firstly this should give further impetus to the need for some important Congestion Free network projects, which will benefit existing areas and new developing areas.
There are nearly 9,000 dwellings to be built to the North-West of the city, in areas like Kumeu. This area is currently hopelessly served by public transport. For example it takes nearly 1.5 hours to get the bus into town at peak times, and on weekends it is not much better as bus operates a hopelessly windy route, diverting through Henderson on the way from Westgate to the City! The extra development planned adds extra emphasis to the case for the North-Western Busway, which would provide a very quick link from the North-West into the city. While some would call for a diesel rail shuttle to be provided, this has been investigated by Auckland Transport but found to be poor value for money. The busway would result in a much higher frequency and much faster services than the rail shuttle, which would take over an hour. The proposed frequent bus network only shows 15 minute frequency to Westgate, however the scale of development should mean the frequent service should soon be extended to Kumeu and Huapai. The developments in this area are likely to be low density, so sites for several park and ride stations need to be investigated. These types fringe areas are the right type of areas to expand park and ride, not valuable urban sites. The busway would not just benefit new developments, but also existing suburbs along the North-Western like Massey and Te Atatu.
This 9000 houses also covers areas like Hobsonville and Whenuapai. Again the only route between the North-West and the North-Shore is an infrequent and wandering service that takes well over an hour for a 20 minute car journey. The new network offers some improvement, with a slightly more direct service, however still designed for local traffic rather than trips between West Auckland and the North Shore. This is where the Upper Harbour busway we proposed in our Congestion Free Network comes in. This will also be useful for people living in the Kumeu and Westgate areas as not all these people will be working or want to travel to the CBD, so quality links to centres in the North Shore are important too. Again the form of development is likely to mean that several busway stations with park and ride will also be required at the major motorway interchanges.
Through the southern corridor over 4800 dwellings will be built. 2200 of these are in the Addison area, which hugely strengthens the case for the Addison station that has long been proposed to serve that growing area. Another 1800 of these are in the Franklin area, which further builds the case to ensure the electrification extension to Pukekohe proceeds soon. 1000 of these are at a totally new greenfield site as Wesley, north of Paerata. As this is 5km north of Pukekohe a new station at Paerata/Wesley should proceed here with some urgency.
The 5000 dwellings to be built in the Flat Bush area will further add to congestion is the already car dependent south-eastern suburbs. While Flat Bush is in an awkward location in relation to potential rapid transit routes, the Te Irirangi Drive busway would help connect residents to the closest centre of Manukau with its brand new station and tertiary institute, and also to the mall at Botany.
The need to invest in transport projects which benefit these areas, should also show the need to rethink lower value projects across the city. First of all there are less than 900 dwellings north of the existing urban area at Albany, and these are at Silverdale. Note that means there are none on Whangaparoa Peninsular, Warkworth or Wellsford. First on the deferral list should be Penlink, which has a very high cost, high environmental impacts and low economic and transport benefits. It is difficult to see why this project should proceed when there is little growth in the area. A few extra ferries to the city seem like a much better idea to improve transport for people of this area. Deferring Penlink would free up $200 million to spend on much more high value projects. The lack of new development north of Orewa is yet further ammunition against the need for the Puhoi – Warkworth Highway to proceed. The $760 million required for the project should be reallocated by the government to serve areas of Auckland that are actually growing, rather than further delaying or canceling important infrastructure like busways. Across the city there are various other low value roading projects than should be deferred or downsized to free up money for more transformational public transport investment.
This post is an update on two of the three key busway projects in Auckland at the moment, the extension of the Northern Busway to Albany and a busway along SH16 (the third one is the AMETI busway).
Northern Busway Extension
The Northern Busway has been an outstanding success since opening fully in 2008. Despite only being grade separated for 41% of the route it has managed to exceed patronage projections and defy the doubters who claimed it would be a waste of money. It’s even had the remarkable success of significantly changing mode share with the number of people crossing at peak times on a bus increasing from 18.5% in 2004 to 41% in 2012.
NZ Herald Cartoon 14 Feb 2008 – The day after the busway opened
One of the most crucial projects we need to be getting on with is the extension of the Northern Busway from Constellation to Albany. When the government announced it’s package of motorway projects in June last year the associated map included “Northern Busway Improvements”
It’s also mentioned on the NZTA page for the Northern Corridor improvements as component 5.
In July we found out that the plan to extend the busway was estimated to cost about $250 million and that the busway would actually stay on the Eastern side of the motorway to make it easier for a future extension to Silverdale (which would cost an additional $300 million. It would be connected to the Albany busway station by a dedicated bridge across the motorway.
So it should be about to be constructed right? Unfortunately not.
Papers released by The Treasury show the project isn’t part of the government funding package anymore.
The Northern Busway
25. An extension to the Northern Busway was previously included as part of the Northern Corridor package of projects.
26. The NZ Transport Agency has advised it would need $250 million to deliver this project on accelerated timeframes but that investigations and route protection for the project can continue without additional financial assistance from the Crown.
The point 27 which has been withheld is “to maintain the current constitutional conventions protecting the confidentiality of advice tendered by ministers and officials”
From conversations I’ve had it appears the NZTA were quite keen to get on with the busway extension and had expected to get the go ahead to do so but were stopped by The Treasury who pulled the funding for it at the last minute. I suspect that’s what point 27 refers to. My understanding is now all the NZTA can do is to make sure that the motorway plans they do proceed with leave enough space so that they don’t stop the busway from happening at some point in the future.
I guess we won’t know exactly why funding was pulled and I notice none of the other motorway projects have had parts stripped out of them. It appears to me that this is just a continuation of the single mode focus that has dominated the transport discussion for so many decades and it’s both hugely frustrating and disappointing. It’s also an insult to anyone who lives on the upper North Shore or up by Orewa/Whangaparaoa and who wants better choices in how they get around.
We’ve called for a busway along SH16 for a long time and it is a key part to the Congestion Free Network.
It’s also an idea that seems to continue to gain some traction. In my view it’s a project that will become increasingly important as large greenfield land gets developed in the North West. The area already contains ~40,000 dwellings and it’s been estimated there will be additional 80,000 over the next 30 years. To put it another way it will grow by about the size of the North Shore.
In March last year Auckland Transport proposed a bus interchange station at Te Atatu between the motorway and Titoki St however it seemed to have a couple of major flaws like requiring all westbound buses to cross the motorway twice just to access the station. There was also significant community opposition to the proposal and in the end AT dropped the idea and went back to the drawing board. In a response to an OIA request initially to the NZTA but passed to Auckland Transport they say:
There’s no information about what that new interchange station may look like but it’s positive to hear that they are now looking at full busway along the route – although I suspect only from Te Atatu west. My guess is we might hear more about the project later this year when the consultation for the new network in West Auckland happens.
Of course even with a full busway is chosen who knows if or when it would be funded. In my mind it should be an NZTA project like the Northern Busway however considering how difficult it appears to be to get the extension to that funded we could be waiting a long time for a Northwest busway.