Tomorrow could be quite an important day for the city. Up before the councils governing body is the final version of the 30 year Auckland plan and while it isn’t a done deal, we hopefully won’t see to many changes. You can read the final draft here and it starts about half way down in Chapter 13. If you haven’t been reading much about the plan here is a high level summary of what it is about:

The Auckland Plan is the strategy to make Auckland an even better place that it is now and create the world’s most liveable city. It is also the plan through which we prepare for the additional one million people and around 400,000 new homes we may have to accommodate by 2040. Population, housing and business growth over the next 30 years will provide Auckland with important opportunities and resources to be even more liveable.

We have covered the plan, along with the changes to it quite a bit over the last few months as councillors have debated and tweaked it following the various rounds of consultation. I and my fellow bloggers haven’t always agreed with every part of the plan or the changes being made to it but overall I think the council have done a fairly good job and it help to make the city a much better place. The plan is pretty big at almost 300 pages so with this post I am just going to look at some bits of the final transport section. This section seems to have been one that has swung around like a pendulum a bit, first it came out talking about a lot of PT improvements (although was really a bit of PT wash). The revised drafts that came out contained a lot more focus on road projects which led to a bit of publicity and now things seem to have swung a little back towards PT.

First up the strategic direction.

The first thing I noticed here is the the PT trip targets has increased even further that what it was only a few weeks ago with the aim now being 140m trips per year on PT by 2022. That means in the space of a few short weeks we have gone from not having a patronage target at all to having quite a decent and challenging one (based on population projections that would put our trips per person per year close to 80).

Here are some maps of the strategic transport network by 2040 and the key projects will take place to reach it. One thing you will notice is that a NW busway has now been added which excellent.

And here is the final list of major projects by the decade they happen in:

First Decade: 2011 to 2020

  • Public transport service improvements, including bus services to the airport
  • Integrated transport ticketing and fares
  • Rail network electrification and increased train frequencies to 10 minutes
  • Western Ring Route, Newmarket Viaduct and Victoria Park Tunnel completion
  • Removal of pinch-points in the strategic road network to improve throughput (such as widening from Hill Road to Takinini on the Southern Motorway and others)
  • City Rail Link completion
  • City Centre transport improvements (as described in the Auckland City Centre Master Plan)
  • Completion of the Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative and the East-West Link between State Highway 20 Onehunga and State Highway 1
  • Arterial road network improvements (with a focus on the movement of Walking and cycling infrastructure improvements (includes completing 70% of the regional cycle network)
  • Ferry network extension to Hobsonville and Beach Haven
  • Route protection:
    • Dedicated rail corridor to the Auckland Airport
    • Additional Waitematā Harbour Crossing (road and public transport) Rail to the North Shore
    • Avondale-Southdown rail corridor
  • Construct the Pūhoi-Wellsford Motorway Phase 1; Pūhoi to Warkworth
  • Complete electrification of rail to Pukekohe

Second Decade: 2021 to 2030

  • Construct rail to Auckland Airport
  • Continue improvements to the arterial road network (with a focus on the movement of public transport and regional freight)
  • Complete construction of an additional harbour crossing (road and PT)
  • Construct improved rail and road access to the port
  • Extend the Northern Busway from Constellation to Silverdale and from Onewa to the City Centre with bus lanes on the Auckland Harbour Bridge
  • Triple-track the North Island Main Trunk rail line (the Port to Westfield to Papakura) for rail freight
  • Construct the Warkworth-Wellsford motorway
  • Improve airport road access – SH20A and 20B
  • Complete the regional cycle network
  • Continue removal of pinch-points in the strategic roading network to improve throughput
  • Continue City Centre transport improvements (as described in the Auckland City Centre Master Plan)
  • Route protection: o Constellation-Westgate-Extend the busway from Botany to Flat Bush to Manukau
  • Investigate extending the ferry services along both the north- eastern coastline and the southern coastline especially for recreational and leisure opportunities

Third Decade: 2031 to 2040

  • Renew optimisation initiatives to take advantage of technology developments
  • Construct busway along SH16 between Lincoln interchange and Waterview interchange
  • Construct the Avondale-Southdown rail connection
  • Transport infrastructure and services in place in new greenfield areas to support their development.

Lastly there is also a bit of information on the top three projects, most of it isn’t new so I won’t paste it here but I think that one important bit of information is this line from the CRL part:

Eighty per cent of submitters on the Draft Auckland Plan who referred to the CRL supported its construction.

80% support for such a large and costly infrastructure project is pretty impressive. I wonder what level of support the various RoNS would get if subjected to the same process?

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    1. We can’t afford them all.

      Wasn’t there some discussion here (or AKT) way back saying that this looked like a huge wish-list and Council were asking submitters to comment on which ones they prefer?

      Looks like the wish-list got dropped into the shopping cart and we’re heading for the checkout.

      We can’t afford it all.

      Unless we borrow 275% of our rates take. That’s a stupid idea though…

      1. The project we need to dodge is the additional road harbour crossing, to be completed in the second decade according to the plan. That means the bullies are planning it now. Unfortunately it will have the vast NZTA machine behind it with all their clumsey design and reality denying assumptions.

        Any additional car lanes across into the city would be a total disaster, as well as being insanely expensive. Must be stopped.

  1. I agree with lucyjh. Even if we could afford all these projects, do we really want to dedicate such a large amount of money towards transport infrastructure?

    Also, why is the SH20-SH1 East-West Link such a priority all of a sudden?

    1. I agree that’s the crazy late addition from the road and trucking lobby: where are the endless years of studies to prove need? It should go through the same process that PT projects have to, where is the evidence that an upgrade of Neilson street won’t meet the needs here? Especially as the claims I’ve seen all emphasize how the freight traffic is serving local businesses; how does a bypass do that?

  2. NZTA must be horrified by this East-West proposal coming out of nowhere. It is obviously going to need to be a state highway so 100% NZTA money. But they have no spare cash.


  3. “One thing you will notice is that a NW busway has now been added which excellent.”

    This confuses me because it vaguely parralels the rail line. I thought the strategic direction was to move to a hub and spoke model which would suggest the bus routes should be feeding people to the West Auckland railway stations rather than in to the center. And isn’t one of the arguments in favour of the rail tunnel the issue around having too many buses feeding in to the CBD? If so, then why make the problem worse with a new busway?

    1. Actually Obi the strategic direction is a bit more like a hub and grid model. It’s not assuming that every long trip should be funnelled onto the railway, only those where it makes sense to do so. In this case it make sense to route many trips onto the SH16 corridor too.

      If you look at the NW busway corridor it is really about servicing the Massey-Westgate-West Harbour-Hobsonville-Whenuapai corridor, and perhaps picking up places like the Te Atatu peninsula that are very close to the northwestern already. This is quite a big chunk of city, and furthermore it is earmarked as one of the major growth nodes. This is all pretty far from the Western rail line. For example West Harbour to the nearest rail station at Henderson is about 12km, run that bus along a SH16 busway instead and you’re be past Pt Chevalier in the same time, instead of just starting a longer and more circuitous trip.

      The western rail line is great for west Auckland, it almost perfectly bisects the city out that way. But it’s not especially useful for the upper harbour area. Southeast Auckland has three rapid transit corridors on the plan, it makes sense that northwest Auckland has three also, given the similar area and population to be services.

      There are two other key benefits of a NW busway, one is that it provides a nice direct route for rapid public transport out to Huapai-Kumeu, the other is that the section between about Lincoln Rd and Westgate can also be utilised by services on the west Auckland to North Shore rapid transit corridor.

      1. So the proposed busway is essentially a second (vaguely) parallel trunk route to West Auckland. That makes sense to me. In your opinion would it make more sense to plan this as one of the smart rail lines you’ve been talking about recently, rather than a busway?

        Speaking of which, I noticed a few days ago that Boris Johnson has decided to make all Tube trains driverless within the next couple of years. I think the motive is to stop Tube drivers striking and bring London to a halt for a few days every year or two. But is shows the technology is mature.

        1. Yes, however the busway is the logical first step. One of the main reasons I like the driverless light metro is, apart from being driverless, they can easily be retrofitted to the lax geometry of our busway(s).

          So build the most important and easiest bits of the busway now (say Westgate to Te Atatu), then upgrade the whole route to automated metro rail in the future once patronage has grown and the city has filled out up there. Same thing with the Northern Busway, and same thing with AMETI-Te Irirangi Dr.

          Driverless technology on grade separated routes in perfectly mature, it’s been used the world over for decades. I doubt Boris is primarily concerned with strikes and unions, the simply fact is that labour accounts for the lions share of any public transport operating costs. Going driverless could halve the operating cost of tube trains, that means either a much more balanced budget at the town hall, or twice as much marginal service for the same price.

        2. One thing to understand is that there is currently something like 80k who live in the corridor near the NW motorway for who using the rail network simply isn’t practical. By 2040 that number is expected to grow by over 100k so there will be a pretty sizeable catchement up there.

          Also Nick, yes it is to do with unions, I saw a comment from him directly saying that if he is re-elected the city won’t buy any more trains with drivers cabs so the city isn’t held to ransom by unions. Yes opex costs probably play a part in this as well but he did single out unions as a key reason for it.

        3. I think union the bashing here is simply a Tory ‘energising the base’ as the Americans say. There hasn’t been a problem with the unions recently. It’s more like a happy side benefit to the opex savings- which are potentially huge.

  4. It’s a real stretch to say that the busway duplicates the western line. Te Atatu, Massey, Westgate and future residents in northwest growth areas are a LONG way from the rail system.

    1. Yes and the NW busway. My feeling is that these dates will be subject to change to reflect changes in perception of needs and changes in the political climate… Which is to say a less backward looking government than the current one, one that evaluates needs more objectively and not just by mode, will enable more funding to be available for PT projects as it all won’t be going to negative cost benefit motorways.

    2. It is a long wait and meanwhile we’re supposedly getting 2 motorways each costing 1-3 billion dollars. That sort money money would get us some major PT improvements over the next 10 years. It’s still a complete roadfest no matter which way you look at it.

        1. Patrick- can you not refer to it as Puhoi? It sounds like a real project.

          Holiday Highway is more honest…

          Hope everyone opposed it in the LTP submissions last week?

        2. The final route (as opposed to the “indicative route” which we have at the moment) for Puhoi to Wellsford is due to be announced any day day now. That’s when the real campaign starts. At present, any corresp. with NZTA, Minister, local MP’s and councillors is a waste of time as they all say “wait until the route is finally announced”. We’re promised end March/early April.

  5. Surely there is economic evidence that a rail connection is a necessity? Business travellers and frequent flyers spend less time in traffic and can also work on the new wi-fi enabled trains. Visitors and tourists are delivered straight to the heart of the city (Britomart) which will become a buzzing international shopping district.

    Instead, we’ll have a decade of roadworks and by the time these ‘essential’ new roads are built, the population has grown and spread again and it’s time to build some more.


  6. Stoaked to see the NW Busway included in the plan.
    However, what I do not understand is why the NW Busway stops at Waterview? I would have thought this Busway would lead straight into the Auckland CBD, linking up at a central Bus interchange. What’s the point in a Busway that that forces buses onto suburban streets?

    1. Well those “suburban streets” are the Great North Rd bus lanes, which indeed to lead straight into the Auckland CBD. A route right into downtown would be nice, but a very expensive proposition. The point is to greatly improve bus speed and capacity by bypassing congestion. A busway stopping at Waterview would still do that, much like the Northern Busway (which stops at Akoranga) does.

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