I didn’t get a chance to go to the open day on the Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI) today, but I have got hold of the information boards that were presented at the open day. So it is possible to see how things have come along a bit since the last design. The latest concept (more information here) has a few changes, the main one being that we now appear to actually have a busway (looks like someone finally got the message that bus lanes do not constitute an RTN). Here’s an overview of what’s now proposed for the Panmure section: A number of concerns were raised at previous public open days about the earlier design – mainly because it seemed to be recreating, by stealth, a smaller version of the old Eastern Motorway: which was supposed to be well and truly banished forever.

The diagram below shows point of concern raised during previous consultation, and how the new design responds to that: There seem to be two big changes to the design: both of them very positive in my opinion. The first is that the main intersection, where the current roundabout is, has been simplified greatly from what was previously proposed. The current proposal is shown below:

The second major change, which is very noticeable in the map above, is that a two-way busway on the northern side of Ellerslie Panmure Highway and Lagoon Drive is now proposed. This is a huge step forwards from what we previously had – which were basically glorified bus lanes. While this is perhaps not yet true RTN, as the busway will have to stop at intersections, it’s a huge improvement compared to the previous proposal.

Some more detail of the busway is shown below: While this is definitely a vast improvement on what we had before, there are still some huge unanswered questions about how the project as a whole will adequately provide for the Southeast Rapid Transit Network: which should be its highest priority.

  • What happens further east than the limits of the photo above? Will the busway continue across the Panmure bridge into Pakuranga? How will a busway be provided along Pakuranga Road and through the mess that exists around the Pakuranga shopping centre in order to get to Botany?
  • How much time will this really save for someone trying to catch a bus from Botany to the CBD? If it only knocks a 60 minute trip down to 55 minutes – is it really worth the effort or should we be looking at something else entirely?
  • What happens to all these bus users once they reach Panmure? Are they all expected to get on a train to make their way to the CBD or will we see some high quality bus priority along the Ellerslie Panmure Highway and then along Great South Road?

The drawing on the right in the image below suggests that the route will simply return to having standard bus lanes east of the Panmure area (which means it would really just be a QTN not an RTN):

Ultimately, I still think that all of these bus priority measures miss the entire point of why we have such a huge traffic problem around this part of Auckland: because there is such incredibly poor public transport east of the Tamaki River. Because so many people are forced to use their cars, and want to skip through Panmure to miss congestion on the southern motorway, we end up with the current mess of a situation. And really, the only way to do something about that fundamental problem is to build a proper Southeast Railway Line.

All of this AMETI bus priority stuff is like papering over giant cracks. Lots of effort, but in the end ignoring the fundamental problem.

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  1. An intersection 8 lanes wide? Seems like another appalling replication of Botany downs. No, no, no. This is an urban design disaster.

  2. I imagine the scene depicted in the bottom right image would get pretty messy if the traffic lights failed.

    Anybody know what sort of traffic light favoring for buses there is going to be? I thought RTN’s had to be grade separated at intersections, If they got 100% green lights would that be good enough?

    1. I imagine there would be some level of bus priority. However, the supposed link between buses and traffic lights that’s meant to exist at the moment never seems to make any difference.

  3. While this is definitely an improvement there are still things that I think could be done better, why not put the busway on the southern side of the road, that way it can pass through those intersections so buses would have a free run all the way from the bridge into Panmure. The busway could also be grade separated under the current roundabout to the stops on the northern side which would have the advantage of removing buses from the intersection and less space would be needed.

  4. “What happens further east than the limits of the photo above? Will the busway continue across the Panmure bridge into Pakuranga?”

    As they say in the document admin has linked to, that (Panmure bridge upgrade including a busway) is being investigated again.

    Which also means that the cycleway over the bridge which was to come next year is pretty much impossible to achieve now until they decide on this matter. Sigh.

    And yes, a busway on the southern side seems more sensible. Maybe they felt the crossover would be easier to do at the eastern end?

  5. The railway station is on the northern side, so I think that figures strongly in their preference for the buses to travel on that side. I’m sure that could be worked around though.

    1. That is why I think a simple cut and cover tunnel under the intersection could work quite well, it would only need to be for buses as all cars and pedestrians would be on the surface, it is something that should probably be considered regardless of what side the busway is on. In terms of cost, doing it at the same time as the other works would mean it would probably only cost $10-15mil. It would mean the busway and buses could operate more efficiently by reducing the chance of bus congestion at the stops (i.e. they won’t get bunched up at the lights then all try to pull into one bus stop at the same time), it would also help to simplify the intersection even more as well as needing less land.

      A couple of other things. They should be ensuring they leave enough land for potential future rail tracks as it is already getting harder and harder to fit freight trains in between the commuter ones. At the very least there should be space for one additional track but ideally two.

      Also even if your proposed eastern line was built I can still see this busway being quite important to link between Panmure and Pakuranga, I think ideally it should continue to Ti Rakau Dr where it then goes to bus lanes up Pakuranga Rd to the Highland Park station and down Ti Rakau Dr to the Botany Town Centre Station.

  6. I hope there is enough room reserved for an additional 2 tracks on the eastern line. One for a dedicated freight track to/from the port and another track so the future southeast rail line express passenger trains can zoom past trains stopping all stations on the eastern line.

  7. I do have to wonder how long it will take people to cross the road if the intersection is going to be 8 lanes accross. I wont make a good walkable environment!

    I also don’t see much benefits for cyclists, maybe the diagrams don’t show cycle lanes very well but what they have proposed is rubbish!

    This proposal should be more about getting people out of their cars than anything else!

    1. I guess perhaps I’m quite positive about it because it’s a huge improvement on the previous design. I agree that the intersections are getting far too wide, although not quite sure how you could cut back the width.

  8. The busway certainly is good news. While it may not be what is desired once the busway is extended by a bridge across the Tamaki River to the Pakuranga Road/Ti Rakau drive intersection it will start to actually be useful (especially if combined with a short bus tunnel under the Ti Rakau Drive/Pakuranga road intersection and SE highway Ti Rakau Drive intersection.

    A long term idea could be extending the busway to junction of Remuera Road/Ladies mile and puttin bus lanes on Remuera road to newmarket and ti Rakau Drive to Botany, allowing a fully seperated buslanes/busway from Botany to the CBD.

    It will also be an excellent compliment to the SE rail link if built under Joshua Arburys favoured route

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