One consequence of the recent bus route changes has been to shift even more bus routes onto Albert Street – as the 020, 030 and Inner Link have been shifted off Queen Street, while the 005 has been shifted off Hobson Street and Queen Street. At first glance that is not a bad thing: Albert Street has bus lanes while neither Queen nor Hobson streets do – so these routes should enjoy faster travelling times than they used to. However, it has seemed to me after a few days of observations, that Albert Street is really getting to the point of being tremendously overloaded in terms of the number of bus routes it has to handle. Furthermore, Albert Street’s bus lanes aren’t actually particularly high quality.

The map below shows in green the extent of the Albert St bus lanes, as far as I can ascertain. While they are reasonably continuous, major pinch-points exist around the corner with Victoria Street for southbound vehicles and around the Customs Street intersection for northbound vehicles. Having so many West Auckland buses turning right into Victoria Street, then using Hobson Street to get up to Pitt Street, rather than just going straight up Albert and Vincent Streets, is a bit bizarre and probably slows then down a lot. But ultimately, I think by having most buses from West Auckland, the North Shore and (now) the Western Bays all using one route in central Auckland is problematic. Particularly because, unlike Symonds Street, its bus lanes aren’t of a particularly high quality either.

Another weakness of Albert Street is that it has no bus stops between Wyndham and Wellesley streets on its souther side: a core part of the city centre where people can’t even get on the bus. This is due to the stupid slip-lanes in both the two blocks, which not only destroy Albert Street’s urban form, but also narrow its roadway width and prevent the location of any bus stops.

 In short, we’re asking too much from a street that, while in some respects is pretty good for public transport (in terms of its proximity to many high-rise buildings where people work and less conflict with pedestrians that Queen Street) is certainly not ideal.

There are two steps that I think should be taken to improve this. The first is to send all those West Auckland buses up Albert & Vincent streets, rather than take the huge dogleg via Hobson Street. This should speed up their trips times quite a lot. The second is something I’ve been talking about for a while now – to shift all the North Shore buses other than the Northern Express to travel via Wellesley Street – along a route somewhat similar to this (though I haven’t yet resolved how to turn them around at the university, so let’s just set that issue aside for now): Dedicating Albert Street to West Auckland buses, while making Wellesley Street the main route for North Shore buses, should also help make it easier to understand Auckland’s bus system – along with the obvious advantage of providing a direct link between the North Shore at the university (with some buses extending to the hospital, Newmarket and potentially beyond). But perhaps most importantly, it would ensure Albert Street can operate more efficiently for all users, as it wouldn’t be quite so overloaded.

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  1. It is somewhat alarming that Auckland transport doesn’t appear to be doing any planning for extending bus lanes on Albert Street and elsewhere where there are pinch points – I would have hoped that after shifting so many buses there that this would be a priority.

    1. There are lots of high level plans for future bus priority measures around the central city, but there seems to be a gap between those plans and actual implementation.

  2. If this is a reaction to how congested Queen St is then it is the wrong one. Queen St being four laned all the way is an absolute sitter for bus privilege, and even more effective as a PT/delivery/emergency corridor with private cars removed. Albert struggles for sufficient width for both PT ROW and general traffic, but the car cannot easily be removed as it has a huge amount of car entrances to parking buildings but Queen St has none. The obvious solution is to create full PT privilege on Queen and operate it as a shared space, it is both a pedestrian destination and a good harbour to hinterland connector for PT. It is of little use as a conveyor of private cars; they really have nowhere to go and therefore have to accommodated with clogging turning cycles all the way along.

    Have the buses been removed for some longer term plan to pedestrianise Queen. I would be very carefully about full pedestrianisation: big heart of the city main streets like Collins or Bourke in Melbourne work very well as PT and pedestrian privilege; surely this is the way to go? Especially as the bus fleet is updated and the diesel fumes trapped in the Queen St gully can be reduced.

    Also I think the slip Sts on Albert as well as its narrowness have charm; it’s just that we are trying to ram too much general and bus traffic through there. Of course real ROW, like an underground railline heading west would help remove a huge amount of both cars and buses from this route…..

  3. Pushing North Shore buses all the way up the U of A and AUT is not sensible. It would concentrate more buses in an already congested bus area, one supposedly meant to be pedestrian and cycling-friendly, but which in fact is quite dangerous (not least because of Auck City Council’s previous strategy of insisting that buses and cyclists share the same tight lane – rather than dedicating separate space for cyclist. The Central Connector is terrible in this regard).

    When thinking about where buses are concentrated in the city, it would be worth starting with where cyclists can and do ride – the ridges and across the least steep valley-ridge routes. Albert Street is one of those less-step paths up from Queen Street and more buses on it is problematic. Its bad enough fighting through the Outer Link buses on this route now. If cycle lanes can be provided, great, but its hard to imagine this happening any time soon.

    1. I’m actually proposing to take buses off Albert Street and put them on Wellesley Street, which doesn’t seem to be a major cycling route. The buses would probably turn around via Grafton Road rather than via Alfred Street, because we don’t want too many buses going through there.

      In terms of improving cycling, you’d be best off pushing for a fully grade separated cycleway next to the motorway I think. Symonds Street is always going to be ugly.

  4. From Wynhdham to Victoria St is about 160 metres, yet the bus lane is only 40 metres long. This chokes the route and causes congestion as the buses merge in and out and should be fixed.

    The south bound bus lanes ends over 100 metres from the intersection with Victoria because that’s where the right-turn lane starts. Do we really need a right turn lane 110 metres long? It also has 2 right arrow phases in a cycle, holding up northbound buses heading down Albert St. Does the right turn really need that priority, when most buses carry on straight?

    If they rejigged the intersection a bit, including reducing the green phase length coming out of the slip lane, they should be able to get the bus lane all the way through the intersection with time saving and decongestion benefits. Come on Auckland Transport, with all the route changes it’s time to do it!

  5. There can’t be any problems, because the Minister of Roads feels that we should be able to get many more buses into the city rather than build a rail loop to increase PT in Auckland

  6. What if you took advantage of that slip lane from Wyndham to Victoria by forcing all cars down it?

    You’d have to move the southbound bus lane into the middle of the road from Customs St, but you’d then get good space for a platform across the road from the District Court building. Buses could then swap back over to the shoulder lane by having a separate phase at Albert/Victoria to cross over.

    1. I was considering those options when I looked at that particular photo. Though the little back lanes have a lot of potential to be quite interesting places in the longer term so I’m not sure whether you’d really want to squeeze heaps of traffic down there.

  7. Why not route all the west bound express buses straight up Hobson st and avoid Albert st altogether.It would not be much further than today,for most passengers to walk and would be closer to the growing Victoria st and Viaduct areas

  8. I agree with outwest, two-waying Hobson Street would provide an excellent opportunity to put high-quality Central-Connector-style bus lanes in both ways, and hopefully to provide a better pedestrian environment on Albert Street.

    1. It can’t be a bus lane as cars come up the slip lane from car parks (and some from Queen St).

      As I mentioned above if they just shortened the right turn bay you should be able to get bus lanes all the way through the intersection at Victoria St which would alleviate the worst problem.

  9. With regards to turning the buses around at around at the university. One option would be to loop around Queen St, Wakefield St, and Mayoral Dr or another would be to loop around Albert Park and return along Vctoria St

  10. I’d be happy with pretty much anything that makes my cycle commute on this road less like the Death Star canyon run.

  11. Not to mention that Albert Street itself is taking an absolute hammering from the current traffic volume; I can see gaping great cracks in the road right now, from four storeys up.

  12. Moving 020 and 030 buses to Albert Street has made me realise how unfriendly Albert Street is, the bus stop behind Aotea Square faces and backs onto carparks, it is a truly uninviting environment and I for one probably wouldn’t feel safe catching a bus home from there late at night. Discontinuing and moving our buses from Queen Street has caused such an inconvenience and just doesn’t make sense to me!

  13. Auckland Transport have clearly been getting ideas from you admin – the City Rail Link website now contains future proposals for shore buses which almost mirror what you propose here

    see page 18


  14. Except that plan proposes to send all North Shore buses via Victoria St rather than Wellesley street. Which seems stupid.

    1. And how bad are their maps and visual communication in general….? That one on page 18 the CRL is invisible, yet it’s in a doc that claims to be explaining and ‘selling’ the whole idea of the thing… Good that the bus routes are drawn like tube lines, and colour coded, but so then should the backbone RTN rail line…

    2. Victoria St is effectively a dead end, well has a narrow exit road bisecting a park that should not have more traffic, three sets of very close traffic lights east of Queen, and is a steep one at that. A lousy route for buses.

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