Tomorrow I’m giving a presentation to the Auckland Council Transport Committee, on behalf of the Campaign for Better Transport, about bus priority measures in Auckland – why they’re necessary and where priorities to improve them should be. The presentation is somewhat in response to a lot of opposition to bus lanes that emerged at the last transport committee meeting – particularly from some of the North Shore Local Boards, as well as Councillor George Wood and (perhaps most determinedly) the Orakei Local Board.
Some of the presentation, which you can read here from page 6 onwards, was formulated out of a couple of my recent blog posts – and the feedback in comments from those blog posts was really useful in putting it together.
I won’t run through the entire presentation in this blog post, but just comment on a few of the key slides. The first is obviously looking at the big picture and thinking about the massive role that buses have to play in boosting Auckland’s public transport patronage over the next decade, if we’re to get anywhere close to the aspirational goals the Mayor and Council has set: As you can see, even with fairly optimistic patronage forecasts for rail and ferries, in order to boost total patronage by the kind of levels desired, we will have to make catching the bus a lot more attractive and get a lot more people choosing to take the bus.
Indeed, if you look at Auckland’s past patronage trends, what happens to bus patronage has an enormous effect on whether our total patronage goes up or down: After discussing some bus priority success stories (like the Northern Busway and Dominion Road), the presentation moves on to summarising the key reasons why improving bus priority is a good idea: Perhaps the key reason is the last one: that it’s cheap and fast to do. I have long said that the single thing Auckland could do to increase its public transport patronage the most over the next couple of years, at relatively low cost, would be to significantly expand its bus lane network. It’s worth remember though that bus priority measures do not begin and end with bus lanes: you can also have buses communicating with traffic lights to ensure they get the green, you can get stop boxes at intersections to help buses get a head start on other vehicles, or you can go right the way up to providing infrastructure like the Northern Busway.
Some priority routes for improvements are suggested: a few in the suburbs but particularly in the city centre as that’s where bus numbers are highest and the amount of delay from having no bus lanes is most acute:
As I said earlier, improving bus priority is not just about bus lanes, but also about improving signals so they give priority to buses, as well as identifying choke points for bus routes and eliminating them. So a few suggestions are provided in that respect: It will be interesting to see how things go tomorrow. If you want to come and see, the meeting is in the Reception Lounge of the Town Hall from 2pm onwards.