It’s interesting to see that people are still ignoring the signs that say Grafton Bridge is for buses only. A NZ Herald article explores the issue further:

Lucrative bus lane

New bus-only lanes on Grafton Bridge have helped swell Auckland City Council coffers by $1.7 million since they were introduced in December.

More than 11,000 drivers have been stung for using the bridge between 7am and 7pm, when both lanes of the central city bridge are reserved for buses.

A senior councillor admitted the signs alerting motorists to the change were inadequate.

“The signage needed to be upgraded, without doubt,” said transport committee chairman Ken Baguley.

“I’ve suggested to officers that, with the benefit of hindsight, you’re not alerted to the fact that it’s a bus lane very well.”

[rest of article here]

I’m surprised the number is that low actually. The one time I caught a bus across Grafton Bridge, on my way to the opening of the Newmarket train station, there was someone on the bridge taking photos of cars travelling across it when they shouldn’t have. In the mere time it took the bus to cross the bridge I saw three or four cars travelling across it in the opposite direction. A cool $600 of revenue in just a couple of minutes.

While obviously it’s important for the signs to be clear, I think that the high number of people crossing the bridge in their cars does show a bit of contempt for public transport amongst car drivers in Auckland. Hopefully the $150 fine is useful ‘education’ for them. I also wonder whether the hours of operation for the route being bus only (7am-7pm Monday-Friday) confuse some people into thinking that it’s OK to cross when it isn’t.

From another perspective, it’s quite a useful source of funding for council. Maybe once we have the Super-City operational we’ll see that funding going back into public transport services.

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57 comments

  1. They have since changed the signage to the red “No entry” with white bar (with a long-winded list of exceptions, i.e. buses, cycles, valid only during 7am-7pm….)

    Seems to have reduced offending SOMEWHAT.

  2. So for a project that cost about $50 mil it has already recouped about 4% of its cost in just over 2 months, not to mention the other benefits that were gained by it being done. I wonder if the fines were taken into account when doing the BCR, I would say not but perhaps they should be in the future 😉

  3. I am at that intersection two or three times a week… In all the months since it has opened I have seen one, ONE! change of lights that didn’t not make money for the council, at the moment this thing is a gold mine for them…

  4. I travel on Grafton Bridge each day on the bus and the amount of offenders has gone down by about 50% since the No Entry signs were erected. Does the money from when the police issue fines still go to the police or to the council?

  5. was on the bridge once coming from the hospital end, january i think it was and we had 4 cars in front of us!!!! the other thought that i have had that is that is you have consulted google maps and got a map to the hospital or museum as you don’t know the area it will tell you to go across the bridge, it was also doing this when the bridge was closed off!!!!

  6. @Simon, I believe it goes to the issuing authority but it could go to the council as it is a council bylaw not a parliamentary law…

  7. Can I make a suggestion, paint the damned lanes green!

    It frustrates me that they have so many bus lanes that are basically unmarked. The council blames the cost of the green paint treatment (expensive to put on and it wears of easily), but it is their own fault for voting not to pave buslanes in red chipseal.

  8. Or simply people could read. The large electronic signs at each end of the bridge are pretty clear when its open and closed to cars.

  9. Does anyone know if Grafton Bridge is also for motorbikes and bikes, or is it really buses only? Many city bus lanes have “Bus only” signs, but on some roads with bus lanes every 3rd or 4th sign shows buses + motorbikes + bikes are allowed, so I take this as an invitation to use my scooter on any bus lane in the city. But I’ve always assumed Grafton Bridge is a special case. And not keen to pay $150 to validate my assumption !

    On the positive side for motorist behaviour, use of cars on the long bus lanes on Symonds Street (which were car lanes earlier in 2009) is pleasingly low.

  10. I think New Zealand’s most expensive toll road at $150 for 100 metres on Grafton Bridge is an excellent foreboding on what may be in store for road tolling. It should be formalised with booths, payment options and advertising. If only the Holiday Highway got that kind of toll…

  11. I am totally disgusted that the Council have been allowed to get away with this. I think the signage on the Bridge is unclear and inadequate and I think that the 11472 drivers that have been fined so far would agree with me that the signage is confusing. I have started a group on Facebook and I have written to the NZ Herald, The Ministry of Transport and the Council to try and get something done about all of this. I am disgusted that instead of making changes they have made 1.7 million profit instead. I watched the Bridge just last week and saw 4 cars in the space of 2 minutes pass over the bridge so even though they say they have now improved signage it is still not working.

  12. Again, why can’t they just paint the bridge lanes green. Would anyone miss the fact the were driving in a buslane if it was bright green?

  13. Amy – What part are you disgusted about, the fact that it is now a busway during the day or the fact that so many motorists are so stupid they can’t read the signs. Also this project has been talked about and advertised for years so its not like it just changed overnight to being bus only. There is no excuse for driving over it other than laziness in which case I see no problem with fining people. Also there was signage saying it was a busway that was up to NZTA standards, it is the drivers responsibility to read these signs.

    It sounds like you have been caught driving over it, if that is the case pay up and stop complaining, you were in the wrong and the council has every right to do this.

    uroskin – I agree, formalise it and let people drive over it if they want to pay the large fee. The same could be done with other bus lanes, perhaps we could even get innovative and charge a monthly fee for buslane use i.e. pay $1000 a month and you get to use buslanes as much as you like without getting fined, I’m sure there would be a couple of people that would pay.

  14. Ok so if the signage is clear why are so many people still driving over it?????????????
    I hardly think that amount of people are just ignoring the signs…

    I agree paint the lane green or make it a Bus Lane only no cars at all.

    1. Its the same reason as why so many people run yellow-turning red lights, speed, don’t indicate etc.

      General ineptitude, pure laziness and the idea that they won’t get caught. Probably mostly the latter than anything else.

      There are the following:

      1 large electronic sign at the Symond St end (can’t remember if there is one at the Park Rd end)
      2 large ‘No Entry’ signs at each end also featuring exceptions below
      1 large overhead sign on K Rd indicating lanes including a ‘no entry’ on to Grafton Bridge
      1 large overhead sign on Symond St southbound indicating the same thing
      1 large ‘no right turn’ sign on Symond St northbound (although thats occasionally ignored too)
      and a multitude of ‘Bus Lane’ paint on the road.

      If you can’t follow ALL of those, then it actually scares me you have a license as obviously your skills at assessing road conditions are nowhere near up to scratch.

      I also wonder if you know what the speed limit is on there too. That is also clearly signposted there.

  15. The could also consider switching off the regular traffic light signals during 7am to 7pm and use only the ‘B’ light.

    I.e. while it is busway only the lights only show the B signal, the normal green light being used only after 7pm.

    Personally I think they should just get rid of car access altogether, Car drivers have the new six lane Grafton Rd Bridge exclusively for their use 600m to the north, and Kyber Pass Rd 600m to the south.

  16. Amy I’ll join your group if you make it your stated goal to paint the lanes green…

    E-mail David Hay at the Auckland City Council he is in charge of the Transport committee, e-mail the TV and radio news stations about your facebook page and plan a demonstration on the Bridge (notify the Police and the news) otherwise your just using the website to vent…

    1. I have emailed the Auckland City Council Transport Committee and they did not want to know me. I told the NZ Herald about the Facebook group and I emailed the Ministry of Transport. As for a demonstration I was hoping for a little support first. Personaly I think that the Bridge should be Bus only.

  17. Ok so if the signage is clear why are so many people still driving over it?????????????

    I would say most people reckon they’ll be able to get away with it.

  18. Well I don’t know Amy. It’s probably a combination of factors and certainly council should be doing all it can to make it as clear as possible the road is for buses only. From my observations the signs are fairly obvious – particularly with the big Variable Message Sign (VMS) in operation.

  19. I think it is a combination of factors, the fact you could drive over it before, the fact no matter how much you publicise something some people do not seem to know, non-English speakers, people ignoring signs in general and people risking it…

    That is why the green paint is such a good idea, it is well know and even tourist or non-English speakers would be deterred…

  20. Well, really. Advertising, spending several weeks handing out information brochures (instead of tickets) only, having bus lane road marking, and bus lane signs (and now, “No entry” signs), having signs leading up to the bridge as well as at the bridge itself, having big VMS signs standing there for months and months…

    While I agree that bus lane greening would be good, the existing situation still doesn’t make for a good excuse to still drive over. Locals should know better, and if you are a foreigner or out-of-towner, you should be looking out for signs even more. I agree with Jarbury that people just think they can risk it.

    Mmmh, maybe motorway sized “No entry” signs would be the next step up.

    “The could also consider switching off the regular traffic light signals during 7am to 7pm and use only the ‘B’ light.”

    No, they can’t, because that would make use of the bridge by bicycles, motorcycles and mopeds illegal. Also, I do not think it would help much.

  21. They could put a gate with swipe cards acces and give the bus drivers cards (gates open after 1900 hrs) or perhaps armed guards with licences to kill non bus users, Berlin Wall style..?

  22. Vandem – yes it is. The exception signs at each end allow motorbikes, mopeds and cyclists.

    Ingolfson – There already are motorway sized ‘No Entry’ signs at each end

    Jeremy – that seems to be what Amy is advocating as she clearly can’t read signs otherwise.

  23. “Ingolfson – There already are motorway sized ‘No Entry’ signs at each end”

    Mmmmh, I will have another look, but they seem normal size to me, not the ones designed for motorway use where you have to be able to spot the sign from far off (but then, there probably aren’t any “No entry” signs of that size for motorways 😉

  24. Amy, that pic says it all.

    If you can’t read that, you shouldn’t have been able to pass the eye-sight part of your driving test.

    Not to mention the other 7 signs which inform people they can’t use it.

    Lets be honest here, like most people you thought you could get away with it, you got caught, so pay the fine and stop whinging.

  25. I don’t deny that the signs are there or that they are necessarily hard to see, it is easy enough for us to stand there and say the signs are clear but when you are in a moving vehicle I think it is different. I just think that by the time you see the signs you are pretty much already entering the Bridge and there is no way to turn around once you realise you are in the wrong lane. I just find it really hard to believe that 11000 people have just ignored the signs and have decided to risk it.

  26. It was actually not me that was driving I was not even in the car at the time it was my partner. If it had jsut been a few thousand people that had been caught I would have to agree that maybe they were just ignoring the signs but more than 11000 people… really??

  27. Thousands of people drive faster than the 50km/h speed limit every day, you might say just about everyone because they can usually get away with it. Likewise people gun it through orange and red lights all the time. The idea that people won’t break a road rule is pretty rediculous.

  28. Do you include the signs on Symond St and K Rd that are about 150m before the bridge in that category? The rather huge gantry signs which indicate what goes where including a big red ‘No Entry’ sign for Grafton Bridge?

    I could accept it if it was 1 sign, or maybe 2. But 8?! And that includes electronic signs. Also, experience tells me that over a period of 6 months that yes a significant proportion of that 11,000 people would have been doing a sneaky. You see it all the time at traffic lights and the early use of various buslanes.

    Also, I believe there was a 2 month grace period at the beginning so the majority of locals should well and truely know by now that its probably not the best idea to use it.

  29. Two reasons I can think of why 11000 would drive over it
    1. People are lazy, give the option of driving over Grafton or taking a detour many obviously pick the shortest route.
    2. Coupled with the first point I think many motorists just see it as a god given right to drive on any road they want. As such they don’t recognise buslanes, on ramp lights or any other change in road use that wasn’t around when they were born.

    If we boil that number of fines down a bit lets look at some figures, a typical month has around 21 working days in it. With around 4000 fines a month that is less than 200 cars a day. I would also be interested to see how this compares to buslane offending in other parts of the city. I remember when I used to go up Khyber pass in the afternoon there was always people there filming cars and I would usually see a couple of people getting caught (this was with green lanes painted the entire way).

    The other thing is how many of the fines issued are actually paid and have any be challenged in court? We all know there is a large number of people who just ignore them and add the fine to the pile. Are the council doing anything about repeat offenders?

  30. @Jeremy I know but if they were challenged then the council would defend themselves.

    Also the people talked to in the video seemed to know they were wrong and indicated they were risking it rather then not knowing about it

  31. Would a 24/7 bus only restriction be easier to understand?

    That could help remove confusion – you could then remove the straight ahead lane marking arrows (mentioned in the linked video above) and make things more obvious.

    “No cars” is easier to understand than “No cars between 7am-7pm Mon-Fri” and is easier and faster to read and take in.

    As mentioned by Nick R, cars have plenty of bridges either side, the easiest being Grafton Rd.

    Pedestrians are banned from the next bridge down, the Wellesley St East bridge, so why must cars have full (or any) access to Grafton Bridge and *every* other bridge?

  32. “That could help remove confusion – you could then remove the straight ahead lane marking arrows (mentioned in the linked video above) and make things more obvious.”

    No, you cannot, even then. New Zealand Road code requires them even in a 24/7 situation, for buses and cyclists. You’d first have to create some sort of exemption that allows it.

    Closing it all the time would also “solve” a problem with an even worse fix (the bridge is empty enough in off-peak hours to allow cars, so why aggravate motorists?).

    Greening the starting parts on both sides would be a good mid-term fix.

  33. Amy I’m with you.

    I got booked for crossing it on the 2nd Jan. I do not live in Auckland (thank God!) I was just there for the ASB Tennis. I had no idea that cars could not use the bridge. I came from K Rd way (just like the TV3 news clip) NO obvious signs anywhere in the approach to Symonds St intersection. Like the clip I was 4 or 5 cars back from the lights. There were no signs to be seen from back there. I am in unfamiliar territory, lanes are narrow, cars going every which way. Your brain is fully occupied just dealing with all this so there is no way you will notice a PATHETIC A3 size sign 30m away on the other side of the intersection until your right at the entrance of the bridge and its too late to turn around.
    As far as I am concerned this a case of entrapment and the council should not be allowed to get away with it. I am not stupid, I have good eye sight and I would not have crossed if I’d known it was for buses only. The signage was woefully inadequate on the 2nd Jan and it seems only in mid Feb that they tried to improve it but its still no where near good enough. 11,000 infringements in 85 days confirms this as does adding one “No right turn” sign cutting the number of infringements per day in half.!

    If they could spend $50million upgrading the bridge surely they can find a couple of hundred grand to put a few decent large electronic signs up high where they can be seen by drivers 2,3,4,5,6,7 cars back!?

    I believe all the existing infringments should be reversed & repaid and no more issued until significantly obvious signage is installed. I know this will not happen but to me the council is act like the Sherriff of Nottingham.

    Trickster: You seem to have all the answers. You’d get on well with the wollies that created this rediculous situation. All piss and wind and you would not know common sense or practicality if it you tripped over it. You should apply for a job at the council, that is if you do not already work there which I suspect you do.

    1. Bruce and Amy here here I am with you .I too have been recently stung by the Grafton bridge furore. I also live out of town and had no idea that the Bridge had been recently closed to cars etc. I lived in Auckland 10 years ago and drove over that bridge hundreds of times so why would I have any reason to think anything had changed after so long let alone notice the woefully inadequate and ambiguous signage which bears no mention to Grafton Bridge itself! I wrote a letter to the council explaining the situation but oh no a warning wasn’t adequate for them they still demand I add to their 1.7 million plus dollars of extortion money! Seems like they are very reluctant to kill off such a nice cash cow – the councillors who set the bylaw must be making a commission with every crossing! This all begs the question what sort if clowns shut off a perfectly good bridge in the first place? It’ll be interesting to see the new bylaws that the new so called “Super City” (or should that be “Super Circus!?) council dream up, I shudder to think. But rest assured the next time I visit Auckland I shall keep my eyes peeled well before the Auckland Harbour Bridge for any pathetic miniscule excuse for road signage lurking just beyond my peripheral vision…
      Amy when is the protest?

  34. Agree with Bruce – I was there last week and was heading to the duxton. Our directions didn’t show what motorway exit to take so we ended up in newmarket and headed up carlton gore road then down grafton road and turned left onto the bridge to head down k road (looked logical on the map). The car in front of me also went across the bridge and I was busy checking in all directions for traffic, especially anyone turning right that I’d have to give way to. I’d like to see pictures of approaching the intersection from that side because I didn’t notice any signs – exacerbated by the fact that the lights turned green as soon as we approached so I didn’t have the opportunity for a longer look around. If there was green paint I think I would have realised – it was only once I saw the words bus lane only painted on the bridge itself and the guy with the camera that I thought I shouldn’t be here. There should be one warning per vehicle then a $150 fine – it seems harsh to fine instantly

    1. They are there on a gantry, but somewhat unclear, and are permanently on cross, even after 7. (in my experience anyway)

  35. Darren’s idea makes a lot of sense. Issue a warning the first time, then fine only from the second time on. It’s the repeat offenders, not the first-timers (since it isn’t really a safety issue – cars are banned for capacity reasons).

  36. I agree with Darren’s idea also. I went over the Bridge without realising I wasn’t allowed. There were two of us in the car at the time and neither of us recall seeing the signage. I have written to the Council 3 times so far since my infringement and received no response at all. The signs clearly need to be a LOT more obvious.

  37. I noticed on Sunday that there was an extra set of lights above the normal street lights. They looked like a normal street light but were on their side. They weren’t turned on at the time so I couldn’t see what they indicated but I wonder if this is to show what lanes were open.

  38. I also crossed the Gradton Bridge from ‘K’ Raod without realising that the once public road had been closed to cars. What a horrible surprise to receive the council’s letter demanding name and details of the driver involved. Try to see the Senior Officer – no way. Write a letter – get an infringement notice and fine. Hey, we are human and make innocent mistakes sometimes. A warning letter would be better received.

    There has been equally unfair criticism by other bloggers here of real people, living real lives and trying to do the right thing. People will be concentrating on the actual traffic and be working off old knowledge. There was a lot more going on with me on that day and I will only say “Real people will find themselves travelling onto the bridge because the mass of indications are so confusing and the written signage too verbose – the insignificant sized lettering can’t be read when in a hurry or looking out for the red-light-runners”. Little wonder that people will assign a different meaning to anything they see as ‘the burr’ they just passed by.

    Comparing the ‘K’ Road and Grafton Bridge signs to those of some other Auckland bus lanes (i.e. Dominion Raod) you see a totally different story – clear illustrations. NZTA legal sizing and wording.

    To those who believe signage is adequate – try finding something you are not looking for. It just doesn’t happen every time, if at all.

    1. I disagree. The signage a no left turn/right turn/entry sign depending on direction approached, and then the smaller text underneath describes the conditions when it apply. If there is not enough time for you to read the text you should go with the illustration. I go over the bridge most days on my bike and there is really a lot of signs.

      Regarding finding something your not looking for I was the understanding it is a legal requirement to look for signs.

      Yes one warning per registration would have massively reduced the number of people feeling hard done by such as your self. This would have been a politically smart move.

  39. I put four spelling mistakes into my previous text to illustrate the point that a person doesn’t always find what they are not looking for. The brain can subconsciously correct according to its training. Likewise if someone has known the bridge only as being public access, then they may not be looking for anything contrary to their beliefs. This is all the more applicable to us who are getting older. So please everyone, don’t be too quick to pass judgement. Despite what our legal obligations may or may not be, there are messages here revealing that all is not right and something needs to be done.

    Let’s all get behind this idea – the council should be paying attention to what we are saying and since there are still instances of bridge incursion by people, for whatever reason, the council should be more lenient and give a warning before fining.

    There is another angle to the legality of the signage. Can anyone add constructively to this forum by looking through the NZTA regulations and confirm that the ‘NO ENTRY’ sign should not be placed on the traffic light pole and that wording on the exception signs is smaller than regulation and of a non standard layout. The signage related to the Grafton Bridge bus lane appears to be different to other bus lanes and it would be nice to have confirmation of that also. Thanks.

  40. Specific exemption had to be sort from the NZTA relating to the no left turn/no right turn/no entry signs. I think that the lettering size is legal but do not know of the specific statures sorry. My personal preference relating to signage would be to have a signal integrated into the traffic light, such as a green B (for bikes/buses) which operates instead of the standard green during the bridges hours of operation. I haven’t yet worked out how to integrate the letter B to an arrow signal.

    I think this would add clarity while minimizing signage clutter.

    Relating to the council I understand there was a warning period which has long since expired. Given how long the Grafton Bridge has a been a buslane and how much damage has been done to the councils reputation already they are unlikely to back down on that. When we have the new supercity council enforcement policy will need to be unified across Auckland. Some changes might be made at this point.

  41. I’ve spent more time, going way out of my way to look at this intersection and have found something new each time. Did you know there was a very faded white BUS LANE marking on the road at the northern entrance to the bridge that can only be read going up Symonds Street? It appears as spilt paint from last century to car drivers approaching from ‘K’ Road and becomes hidden under the car’s bonnet when one drives towards the bridge. An interesting thing can happen when one drives towards, or concentrates on, the bridge – those arched side barriers, like the walls of a tunnel, focus attention to the end of the bridge, like to the light at the end of the tunnel. Little wonder people coming from ‘K’ Road see little else than the green light. I have yet to look for this from the Park Road end…

    I can confirm that most of the Grafton Bridge bus lane warnings are very different from those relating to bus lanes up and down Symonds Street. The only exception is the one on the bridge itself – hidden by a tree and out of the ‘down the tunnel’ view. The council has something serious to answer for. Apart from hiding the most applicable and commonly understood illustrated sign, it has broken the ‘Human Factors’ rule regarding commonality of signage and a few others in the process…

    The idea of ‘B’ lights is very good. If there is anything that we all seem to focus on – it is traffic lights. The idea has much merit and I know it would have attracted my attention to something being different from the expected. However, the ‘B’ light has to be white – according to the rule of commonality. There are other reasons also…

    Having had time to think about the further implementation of improvements, I can say that it can be done and I hope that a requested meeting with the Auckland City Council will happen and that a way to resolve the issue will be reached. It is election year and council has to do something to appease angered rate payers. Keep your fingers crossed.

    1. Anyone that can’t read signs like this probably have missed many danger warning signs, speed limit signs and should not be driving!

  42. “However, the ‘B’ light has to be white – according to the rule of commonality. There are other reasons also…” I was modeling this off bus advance lights. They are green, why the link between bus lanes and white?

    Relating to your comment improvements, It is now a long time after the bridge has been open to cars. Several signage upgrades have already occurred. Initially the traditional bus lanes signs were installed (along with giant electronic temporary signs). It was determined this was insufficient so the council added the no turn /no entry signs (after gaining approval from the NZTA). More recently a overhead gantry with red crosses on it has also been added. Don’t get the idea that the council has ignored the issue.

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