Every month we report on what’s happening with public transport patronage however Auckland Transport also report on many other metrics too such as how roads are performing. In this post I’ll look at some of those other metrics.
Instead of just measuring traffic volumes, AT use a measurement called Arterial Road Productivity which is a based on how many vehicles, how fast they’re travelling and how many people they have in them. To me this seems like a very bad metric primary because it only seems to count people in vehicles. It could also be interpreted as encouraging bigger and faster roads as a way of improving the metric which goes against many of the city’s wider goals. In saying that another way to improve the result could be improving vehicle occupancy so therefore bus lanes which speed up buses carrying more people will improve productivity. Regardless it seems that AT is performing quite well and is above target.
The second metric is AM Peak Arterial Road Level of Service and as you can see even then around 80% of arterials aren’t considered congested.
The next set of charts look at how a number of key freight routes are performing. For each of these routes AT have a target for how long it should take to travel. As you can see for almost all of the routes the target has been at least met and some such as on Kaka St/James Fletcher Dr/Favona Rd/Walmsley Rd the target has been significantly exceeded. If the results here are indicative of other parts of the road network then they certainly don’t support calls from the freight industry for significant projects such as the East-West link.
Parking obviously plays a big role in transport and AT measure occupancy rates for both on street and off street carparks. On street parks are only measured quarterly and the result is based on top four busiest hours of the day at each of the three sites around the city centre. The last survey occurred in August and as you can see at the upper level of AT’s target. This suggests there’s possibly room to increase prices to better manage demand.
Occupancy at AT’s off street carparks have dropped quite a bit recently which is almost certainly attributed to the change in parking prices at the beginning of August.
One area that isn’t looking great is road safety with the number of deaths and injuries 6% above target.
While AT don’t publish monthly traffic volumes, the NZTA does for some selected state highways. The one we look at closest is the Harbour Bridge which is currently experiencing a growth rate of around 1% p.a. Compared to the other state highways that the NZTA publish this appears incredibly low as most are experiencing growth of around 5% annually – although off a lower base.
Overall – with the exception of road safety – it seems that our local roads are not performing too badly.
Thoughts of Sydney are inseparable from images of its harbour:
It’s naturally beautiful, but also much of what has been added around the harbour increases its appeal, particularly the Opera House and the Bridge:
The bridge is not only beautiful, and massively over-engineered, but also is an impressive multitasker; trains, buses, general traffic, pedestrians, people on bikes. All catered for.
Despite that when looking at the bridge its mostly covered with cars in terms of moving people the general traffic lanes are the least impressive of the three main modes, as shown below in the am peak hour:
It is its multi-modality that makes it truly impressive, some 73% of the people entering Sydney on the Bridge from the Shore at this time are doing so on just one of the train lines and one bus lane; a fraction of the width of the whole structure. So not only does it shame our Harbour bridge aesthetically it completely kills it for efficiency too.
The Bridge has always been impressively multi-modal as the first toll tariff shows, and it carried trains and trams from the start:
In 1992 it was supplemented by a pair of two lane road tunnels that up the cross harbour tally for this mode to match the number coming over by train [bridge plus tunnels = 12 traffic lanes], but that wasn’t done until the population of the city had hit 3.7 million. The high capacity systems on the bridge saved the people of Sydney and Australia from spending huge sums on additional crossings and delayed the date they were deemed necessary by many decades. But anyway, because the additional crossing is just road lanes it only adds around 10% extra capacity to the bridge. To think that the government here and NZTA are seriously proposing to spend multiple billions in building a third Harbour Crossing in Auckland with the population only at 1.5m, but not only that but they are planning to build more capacity for the least efficient mode; more traffic lanes.
The evidence from Sydney shows that what we need to add next are the missing high capacity modes. And that we clearly aren’t using the existing bridge well enough. Our bridge was never designed to carry trains, but it does carry buses, and currently these could be given the opportunity to carry even more people more efficiently. And that very opportunity is just around the corner. In 2017 or maybe even next year the alternative Western Ring Route opens, described by NZTA like this:
The Western Ring Route comprises the SH20, 16 and 18 motorway corridors. When complete it will consist of 48km of high quality motorway linking Manukau, Auckland, Waitakere and North Shore Cities. It will provide a high quality alternative route to SH1 and the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and take unnecessary traffic away from Auckland’s CBD.
Excellent, always great to invest in systems that take unnecessary traffic away. And there is no better way to achieve this than to make the alternatives to driving so much quicker and more reliable with dedicated right-of-ways. Here is the perfect opportunity to achieve that, the opening of the WRR should be paralleled by the addition of bus lanes right across the Bridge in order to lift its overall capacity. And at the same time perhaps truck priority lanes on the sturdier central lanes should also be considered, so the most important roles of highways, moving people and freight efficiently, can be more certainly achieved. Although the need for that depends on exactly how much freight traffic shifts to the new route [as well as the rail line and trans-shipping via Northland’s new cranes: ‘New crane means fewer trucks on the highway’]. Outside of the temporary blip caused by the building of Puhoi to Warkworth [much which will be able to use the WRR] heavy traffic growth on the bridge looks like it is predominantly buses.
Meanwhile our transport agencies should be planning the next new crossing as the missing and much more efficient Rapid Transit route. Cheaper narrower tunnels to finally bring rail to the Shore; twin tracks that have the people moving capacity of 12 motorway lanes. Here: Light Rail or super efficient driverless Light Metro are clearly both great options that should be explored:
But before all of this there are of course those two much more humble modes that can add their invigorating contribution to the utility of the Bridge, walking and cycling, Skypath:
The famous cycle steps on the northern side, there are around 2000 bike trips a day over the bridge [despite the steps]:
And there they were right at the beginning:
First Crossing of Sydney Harbour Bridge. Photo by Sam Hood.
The latest photos and video from the Waterview Connection project. As of last Friday the TBM had just 332 metres to go before breaking through – which should happen in the next few weeks.
Building sublevel one inside the Northern Approach Trench (NAT)
Building sublevel one inside the Northern Approach Trench (NAT)
Inside the southbound tunnel looking towards the NAT.
The playground opens in summer
Southern Ventilation Building
New shared path towards Valonia Fields, seems a bit narrow
Southern Shared Path beside Valonia Street
The August Timelapse
As you may know, the NZTA plan to replace the old Mangere Bridge which is 100 years old this year. This needs to happen as the bridge is crumbling away and according to the NZTA doesn’t have much structural life left.
One of the fantastic features of the existing bridge is its width at around 15m wide. The new bridge won’t be quite so wide but still significant compared to most pedestrian/cycle bridges and will be 8m wide for most of its length extending out to 12m wide in some places where bays will provide space for fishing. It will also be a bit higher than the existing bridge to enable small boats to pass below it.
The project has progressed to the stage that the NZTA are now seeking resource consent to build the new bridge giving us some good images to see what the bridge will eventually look like. Instead of being straight like the current bridge, the new bridge will curve slightly towards the motorway bridges.
Aerial view of the bridge from the North West
Looking at the bridge from the Harbour
You can see just how much of a curve there is in the image below
A few more images
Looking South from over Onehunga Harbour Rd
The image below I’ve joined from two separate images
As mentioned earlier the bride is at least 8m wide across the entire length however the effective space for walking and cycling will effectively be about 6m in most places due to seating and other features – although some places get a little narrower than that. In addition the design of those features creates chicanes all the way across the bridge.
If you want to submit on the resource consent it is open to Sunday 13 October.
A few weeks ago we learned that an extension to the Northern Busway was back on the cards following the last round of consultation on what the NZTA call the Northern Corridor Improvements Project. This main part of this project involves turning the section of SH18 east of Albany Highway into a full motorway and giving it a motorway to motorway connection to SH1 plus upgrading the Greville Rd interchange. Extending the busway is critically important and I hope it could be built at least at the same time as the other works, if not in advance of them. What I wanted to look at with this post are some of the other changes proposed.
The first thing that strikes me is that if the NZTA and AT actually built all of the components mentioned at about the same time then this project could actually end up being one of the more multi-modal projects in Auckland. This is significant as many projects claim to be multi-modal but most just put token efforts into improving the situation for PT and active modes.
The key part of the project will be the motorway works which will be the upgrading to SH18 and the interchange however as you can also see it involves adding extra lanes to this section of motorway pushing it to four way. Overall it seems like they’ve gone with concept 2 which is a vast improvement from concepts 3 and 4 which were shown back in November. For the busway they went with concept 1 of keeping it on the eastern side and only crossing over at McClymonts Rd. Given that they appear to be thinking of building a dedicated on-ramp from Albany Highway I thought they might have integrated the busway with that to get it to the Western side.
How the NZTA deal with the local roads in the area such as Paul Matthews Rd is still under consideration. They say there are two general options, a bridge with an underpass or an underpass with intersections. These are best shown in the image below.
I like how they make the motorway to motorway ramps look small when in reality they’ll look a lot more like the monstrosities at Waterview towering over the local community. It will be interesting to see how the local community from about this.
Along with the busway extension one new feature that hasn’t been talked about much is the proposed walking and cycling which will go alongside the the busway. The NZTA are also looking at a cycleway along SH18 at least as far as Albany Highway and CAA say that this is shown as a dotted line as it is currently falls outside the existing road designations. I also like that they highlight the plans for the rest of the local network although some of the “existing facilities” are probably a bit of a joke given what we’ve built in the past.
Given the NZTA say they are looking at is the potential for a new busway station in the Rosedale/Lower Albany area, some more improvements to the cycle facilities on surrounding roads such as Rosedale Rd could make this a popular station to bike to.
The NZTA are consulting the public on their latest set of plans and the first event is tomorrow. The dates and times are below.
- Westfield Albany – Sat 5 Sept and Sun 6 Sept, centre court location, all day
- Local businesses’ coffee drop in session – Tues 8 Sept, 7.30-8.30am, Café Noir, 7A Triton Drive, Rosedale
- Local businesses’ coffee drop in session – Weds 9 Sept, 7.30-8.30am, North Shore Cosmopolitan Club, 65 Paul Matthews Road, Albany
- Unsworth Heights community event – Fri 11 Sept, 2pm-6pm, Meadowood Community Centre, 55 Meadowood Drive.
- North Harbour Business Association Expo – Thurs 17 Sept, QBE Stadium (stand 80)
Feedback this round of consultation closes on Friday 18 September.
Below is a different look at the busway extension. One area to submit on will be to push for this and the walking & cycling path to be completed ahead of the motorway works. That would then give people from north of Constellation an option to avoid any motorway congestion as a result of widening and interchange works while benefiting those already using the bus with a faster and more reliable journey.
As most of you are probably be aware, we’ve long suggested that we need to change our thinking about any future Waitemata Harbour Crossing. A $4-6 billion road tunnel and dramatically widened northern motorway which will only serve to flood the city centre with cars at a time when we’re trying to make it more pedestrian friendly.
Instead we’ve suggested that we need to look at completing the missing modes. These can provide a form of resilience in their own right, much like the BART tunnels in San Francisco did after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Soon Skypath will provide the missing active mode piece of the puzzle which leaves just a transit crossing as the missing component.
Given any new crossing will almost certainly be in a tunnel we believe that any dedicated transit crossing should be a rail one. This is for a number of reasons such as having greater capacity, not needing to deal with fuel emissions and from a purely political point of view, the idea of rail to the shore is a popular one. As we understand it, the current plans will see only one new crossing built – a road crossing. The NZTA have told us they will leave space in the designation for a rail crossing, either as a combined road/rail tunnel or separate tunnels next to the road ones. None of the options would include connections on either side of the harbour so regardless a rail crossing is a completely separate project and one for which the justification to build will be destroyed thanks to the new road crossing.
We believe that a rail tunnel could be built for much cheaper than a large road tunnel and that the money saved on the tunnel itself could then go to providing rail connections on the North Shore. There are actually a number of ways rail could be connected to the North Shore. I suspect many in the wider public would just see it as an extension of our existing rail network however this is our least favourite option. Other options include a Vancouver Skytrain style Light Metro system and AT’s recent infatuation with Light Rail also presents that as a potential option. I should point out that at this stage I don’t have a clear favourite but I do very much like the extra coverage that might be able to be achieved with the latter option.
To gain consent for the road tunnels the NZTA will have to show that they’ve properly investigated alternative options. This the failure to do this was one of the reasons they got tripped up over the Basin Flyover. We do not believe that the NZTA have properly investigated a transit only crossing as an option. This view was once again highlighted this week when they pointed us to a 2010 document which claimed a rail crossing would be astronomically expensive. By that I mean $11 billion+ expensive.
So how on earth would a rail crossing cost $11 billion? Here’s how it seems some of their thought process have gone.
They Say a rail alignment has to take in both Takapuna and Albany in a single alignment. The location of Takapuna being someway to east of the motorway is an issue and one of the reasons it’s not served by the busway. They also note that a rail corridor along the existing motorway would require substantial work to modify including pushing retaining walls by back 3m. In addition they note that other areas of higher density are not right next to the motorway – this is no surprise as motorways tend to push density away.
Next they dismiss high level operating patterns they effectively say buses are better because you can run them on lots of different (infrequent) patterns including express buses straight to the city. In contrast rail would require some people to use feeder buses – oh the humanity. Of course this was from all before the new network which in large part will see a lot more of the system operating like the rail diagram.
Taking the above into account they then try to join them all together in a rough alignment as is shown below, squiggling all over the North Shore. As you can see the line goes all of the place in a bid to serve various pockets of population and development.
As I’m sure you can imagine, getting consent for a project like this would be no easy task. Such an alignment would also create even more severance issues in many places on the shore. To deal with that the authors of the report state that the rail line would instead need to be underground. An entirely underground North Shore line, you can almost hear the dollar signs racking up.
Unfortunately it doesn’t stop there. Once in the city they want to send it somewhere else – ideally to link up with the existing rail network. Two options are shown for this, trains either going via Britomart then another tunnel up through the city to Newmarket or going via Aotea. The Aotea option is shown below.
So to get rail to the shore the NZTA are saying that we need a tunnel from Newmarket all the way to Albany, no wonder it will cost so much.
Lastly it briefly covers whether the project could be broken up and staged. Once again the short answer is no because it would limit the benefits available.
All up this appears almost like some kind of hatchet job deliberately designed to make rail look like a much inferior option. Given all the changes that have occurred in transport in just the last five years it seems it would be a good idea for the NZTA and AT to go back to the drawing board on this project and come up with some fresh thinking. We’ve been told that work is going on between the two agencies looking at what the future of the Rapid Transit Network on the shore is but it sounds like that is limited by not questioning whether the road tunnels happen. I also wonder if it will end up looking something like this from 2012.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how the NZTA had shortlisted three groups of companies to build the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway.
One of our biggest complaints about the project is that despite repeated attempts over many years – including Official Information Act requests and via the CBT in the board of inquiry process – we’d never seen the business case for the project. Well the afternoon of that post the agency finally published it (4.6 MB) – although a heavily redacted version of it. As you can see by the revision history below this document has been around for a long time and has been frequently updated. The total document is over 160 pages in length.
At a high level the business case confirms that the primary driver for this project is the simple fact that the government designated it a Road of National Significance (RoNS). The distinct impression I’m left with is that it’s a project about a decade too early and as such one that has massive consequences for a lot of other more beneficial projects. This is also backed up by the timeline of events showing that prior to being named a RoNS there was very little work – only a high level strategic study – that had been done on the project. One comment I think is particularly pertinent is below. Compare and contrast that statement with how the government have
The RoNS projects represent a ‘lead infrastructure’ approach. This means the Government is investing in infrastructure now to encourage future economic growth rather than wait until the strain on the network becomes a handbrake on progress.
Compare and contrast that statement with how the government have treated the City Rail Link for which they are requiring the rail network to be bursting at the seams before they’ll even consider funding.
From there it almost seems like the authors are trying to find reasons to justify the project – something that becomes clear when looking at the economic analysis. One of the big reasons for needing the motorway is the fact that in the Auckland Plan the council identified a lot of potential for greenfield growth. What’s not mentioned is one of the reasons the council put growth in Warkworth was because the NZTA/Government said they were going to build the motorway. A classic example of the motorway industrial complex at work
Another key reason is the often cited need to improve the Northland economy – even though the road stops well short of Northland. The improvement in the economy is supposedly about the fact that a motorway would allow a lot more freight to move in and out of the region. Yet the business case seems to give conflicting information about just how much more freight will be moved. In the executive summary it says:
Freight volumes between the regions are forecast to increase by 70% by 2042 – referencing the Ministry of Transport’s 2014 National Freight Demand Study which I talked about here.
Yet in the body of the report it says
Freight volumes are forecast to double by 2031, with the vast majority of this increase being carried by road vehicles – referencing the 2008 version of the National Freight Demand Study
The problem with both of these figures is from what I can see the 2014 freight study doesn’t support either of these claims. The tables below show the 2012 volumes vs what is forecast for 2042. Also of note is that of volumes leaving Northland, 7% go by rail and 60% by coastal shipping. Excluding the freight that stays within Northland, I’ve calculated the change in volumes at just 43% out to 2042, well short of the claims in the business case. There are also high and low forecasts with the increase range being from 38% to 48%.
As for why some of the potential increase in freight couldn’t go on rail, the main reason they give is that the rail network doesn’t have much available capacity. It seems to be the NZ way that a road with ‘capacity constraints’ get huge sums of money thrown at it while a parallel rail route with capacity constraints is left to rot and threatened with closure. The NZTA justify this position by effectively saying that even if the rail route was upgraded that it is unlikely to have much impact on road demand.
It seems the most valid of the justifications is that the road has a poor safety record and it suggests the road is the 16th worst in NZ. My issue with this is that by waiting for a full motorway solution to be built we will continue to have crashes in the future. Had the NZTA not been under a political directive that the road must be a motorway then it’s possible safety improvements like we’ve suggested in the past could have already happened by now.
One of the most interesting sections is how they say the preferred route performs against the project objectives. This is on page 43 (actually page 51) of the report. Some of the impacts are
- Compared to not building it, traffic volumes increase from 25,000 to 29,000 vehicles per day in 2026 and from 30,000 to 42,000 vehicles per day in 2051.
- Even in 2051 the road will achieve Level of Service A meaning the road will basically feel pretty empty almost all of the time.
- They claim it will produce $9.1 million in crash reduction benefits in its opening year. Unfortunately no mention is made of what happens to the existing road which will still have all its existing safety issues.
- In 2026 travel time will improve by 17 minutes in the PM peak. This is shown below and amazingly they say that with the new motorway it will take just 10 minutes to get from Grand Drive in Orewa to north of Warkworth. That’s a distance of about 24km so suggests vehicles travelling on average in excess of 140km/h.
Also in the wider section they’ve included the following table on the risks to the project from a 2010 study. They noted that it’s highly likely that the project’s costs would outweigh its benefits and that traffic volumes would be lower than needed to justify a motorway.
So what about the economic assessment, they were right that the costs would outweigh the benefits. Assessed over a 40 year period and a 6% discount rate it achieves a BCR of just 0.92 or just scraping over 1 if wider economic benefits were included. Hardly a massive economic saviour. Unfortunately almost all details about the assessment have been blacked out.
There’s no mention of what impact tolling would have on the BCR however they do say this.
An initial toll revenue forecasting exercise has been carried out based on the forecast traffic volumes and light and heavy vehicle mix, and using the conservative price assumption that the same pricing is applied from NGTR. [Blacked out section]. The conservative price assumption was used to produce a lower-end forecast.
This analysis suggested a conservative tolling revenue forecast in the first year of operations (2022), net of collection costs and diversion (but excluding the costs of the tolling gantry equipment), of around $10M, growing to $17M in 2030 and $28M in the last year of the P-Wk PPP concession. The total nominal tolling revenue over the PPP period was forecast at $440m. The potential tolling revenue profile based on this analysis is presented in the figure below:
They suggest this may just cover the operation and maintenance costs of the road.
Lastly the project is going to be built as a PPP. There’s quite a bit of information as to why they think it should be a PPP which you can read though if you’re interested. What caught my eye was Appendix G which covers off where risk sits between the NZTA and the contractor. Below is just the first part of the table.
The Canada St bridge which will soon start to be lifted into place is going to be a fantastic addition to Auckland, opening up the old Nelson St motorway off-ramp to use by people walking and cycling to the western side of the city centre. Not only does it provide a useful function but it looks good too. The off-ramp might not have been a high priority route if it hadn’t been for the fact that the infrastructure was sitting there unused for around a decade. As such it represents part of the change Auckland is starting to experience, making better use of what’s available to get more out of our transport system. What happens when those walkers and cyclists get to the off-ramp is going to a different story though.
The old off-ramp should mark a fantastic arrival to the city centre as people glide above the motorway below while able to admire the fantastic views out to the Harbour Bridge and the North Shore. It appears now though that this experience will be severely constrained thanks to massive 3m high barriers that will turn the off ramp into more of a trench. The barriers have only just started going up but thanks to the temporary construction walls it’s not hard to imagine what things will be like when finished.
The thick black poles are the part of the permanent barrier structure and will eventually hold glass panels. As you can see from the images below, due to their size, on some angles they combine to create a solid wall, obscuring any view. They will also likely make the off-ramp feel narrower than it actually is.
And on the southern of K Rd
And this is where the cycleway joins the Pitt St/Nelson St intersection
We first heard rumours about this a few months ago and tried to get the NZTA to change their mind but were told it was too late and that the barrier had already been ordered from Germany.
Just why we’ve ended up with such a disappointing outcome appears to be the result of some overzealous process following/box ticking with those working on the project scared about people throwing objects off or worse jumping off the bridge. I think there might be merit in that argument if it wasn’t for the presence of so many other bridges around from which the same thing could happen – many of which are higher above the motorway than the old off-ramp. So I took a little trip to highlight them.
The closest example and the one with the lowest barrier crosses right above the off-ramp and is where first photo above were taken from – Hopetoun St.
Next up Wellington St is a bit higher and more bulky but doesn’t feel onerous or like it impedes.
And Upper Queen St which is a similar height and with a similar but slightly different design. Of note the bridge was recently upgraded when the cycleway was added so if there was some technical requirement to have higher barriers then surely they should have changed then.
Using the same design as Upper Queen St is Symonds St which is even higher above the motorway.
Probably the highest barrier (other than K Rd) was on one part of the Newton Rd Bridge. The first section below is the part that crosses over Ian McKinnon Dr and has an addition to the base barrier while the second image is over the motorway itself and doesn’t have the extra addition.
Lastly here’s Bond St and again what appears to be a pretty standard height barrier.
All of the examples above are clearly been in place for some time. They seem to strike good balance between safety and not being too obstructive. Sure it’s entirely possible that something or someone could go over the barrier yet if I can only think of one example recently where there’s been an incident from any of these bridges. It’s a shame the NZTA has taken such an overcautious approach to the off-ramp, in the process removing some of the elements that would have made the route so special.
Here’s a couple of my favourite comments from twitter when I highlighted this issue yesterday.
Fantastic news out of Wellington yesterday with the High Court rejecting completely the NZTA’s appeal of the decision by the Board of Inquiry to decline consent for the Basin Reserve Flyover
The High Court today dismissed the NZ Transport Agency’s attempt to overturn the rejection of its controversial plan to build a 300-metre concrete flyover alongside the Basin Reserve.
In a decision released this afternoon, the Court stated:
The Transport Agency has not established that in its decision the Board of Inquiry made any error of law … Consequently the Agency’s appeal is dismissed.
The Board’s decision does not contain any of the errors of law alleged.
The Transport Agency had appealed against the Board of Inquiry’s decision to decline consent for the $90m flyover alongside the Basin Reserve.
The Government set up the Board of Inquiry process as a way of fast tracking consents for large projects to stop them being held up in years and years of appeals. The only appeals were allowed on points of law.
Some of the key reasons consent was declined in the first place was
- That while the project would improve the cities transport system that it would do so at the expense of heritage, landscape, visual amenity, open space and overall amenity.
- They are uncertain how the plan would have actually accommodated for Bus Rapid Transit as proposed in the Spine Study.
- That the quantum of transport benefits were substantially less than what the NZTA originally said in lodging the NoR as they included transport benefits from other projects.
- That while North/South buses would be sped up, that the modelling doesn’t show any impact effect of this on modal change.
- That while there are some improvements for cyclists it’s mostly in the form of shared paths which will introduce potential conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists.
- That the dominance of the bridge would cause severe adverse affects on the local area and the mitigation measures proposed would do little to reduce that. They also found the new building proposed for the Basin Reserve would exacerbate this.
Some of these are likely to have massive implications for other projects such as the Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing and the Reeves Rd Flyover. For example it likely means that the NZTA are going to have include not just the tunnel and direct connections in their consent for AWHC but also all the associated road widening of the Northern Motorway and Central Motorway Junction – which we understand is substantial. It could also stop the idea of building a combined road and rail tunnel across the harbour as the NZTA would have to consent the connections on either side. This will likely be why they’ve told us that they will not be including rail in current consent process.
Coming back to Wellington it will be interesting to see how the NZTA respond. It’s time they gave up idea and started thinking about other solutions.
We were rightly dismayed when the previous Transport Minister vetoed the desperately needed extension of the famously successful Northern Busway as part of the big spend up on SH1 on the North Shore. We suspect NZTA were too, as they know that the Busway the single most effective tool for reducing congestion and increasing access and human happiness for the travelling public on this route. And is a vital part of the booming Rapid Transit Network. Additionally this extension surely also helps streamline the general traffic lane design through the SH1/SH18 intersection and beyond. NZTA must be keen to not have to factor in growing numbers of merging buses from shoulder lanes etc.
So we are very pleased to find that the agency has found a way to return this logical part of the project to the programme and out of the shadow of ministerial whim [presumably the change of Minister helped?]:
Here is the full document.
Bus users report that their journeys between Constellation and Albany Stations can currently take up a disproportionately large amount of the total trip because of the absence of any Transit right of way; the buses of course are not only themselves delayed but are also delaying other road users here.
The extension will not be a minor structure but as it adjacent to commercial properties it is hard to see how the usual forces of compliant will be able get much traction against it, but it will still need public support at the consultation phase, so Busway users, let yourselves be heard.
We understand the current Busway is built to a standard to enable upgrading to rail systems, we would expect this standard to be continued on this extension, as this does look like the most logical way to next cross the Waitemata Harbour.
Finally, because this is a) spending on the Shore b) not ratepayers funds, and c) not spending on a train or a bike, even the venerable George Wood will be in favour of the proposed extension.