I’m currently working on some information for a post in the next few days but as a result of that work I thought I would pose a quick question for readers and to make it easy I will make it multiple choice quiz. Which of these two bits of transport infrastructure do you think currently carries more people into town during the morning peak?

A) The Nelson St traffic sewer. This 5 lane beast of an inner city road is fed directly from two motorways which means it is always busy.

B)  The Britomart tunnel. Two tracks wide this tunnel currently handles the arrival of about 18 trains per hour in the peak

Image care of Jon C of the former AKT
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32 comments

  1. I am hoping the answer is Britomart. The main thing which sticks in my mind though is how incredibly horrific Nelson Street is. My word!

    But how do we do anything about it?

  2. Interesting capacity comparison. Have you got stats for Wellesley St and Port motorway offramps as well for the morning peak, given that they feed cars into downtown Auckland too.

      1. Hi Matt,

        Are you able to publish these statistics? They would be incredibly interesting. I have taken bus surveys at both Fanshawe street and Simonds street recently.Its obvious that cars carry a very small fraction of the people, but I would like to know what effect the other roads entering the city have on the total peak CBD entry statistics. I know a few years ago 57% of those entering the CBD used public transport, but would be interested in how this percentage has changed.

  3. From some quick mental arithmetic I’d say they’re probably about the same currently, perhaps just a bit higher on the rail?… but the difference is the motorway ramps have very limited potential to move more, while Britomart could easily grow heaps with the capacity of the emus.

    1. Yes and I know which one I would prefer to ride to work.

      …actually, come to think about it, maybe it’s not so clear-cut.

  4. Britomart tunnel by a little bit??? but look how much room just one road route into the CBD takes up. Madness. A horrible part of Auckland.

  5. Providing all the lights are Green on that piece of de-facto motorway, I would say Nelson Street moves more than Britomart does currently unless you have all the fully laden 6-car sets enter Britomart at once rather than over the 2 hour traditional peak.

    So any progress on turning Hobson and Nelson Streets into those boulevards?

  6. I’m guessing the trains carry more people into the city than Nelson St.

    I don’t understand the view that Nelson and Hobson streets are somehow a bad thing. They are extremely effective at quickly clearing traffic to/from the motorway. Any erosion of what they currently offer will result in increased traffic congestion on the motorways in the mornings, and increased traffic congestion on CBD streets in the evenings. There are plenty of other streets within the CBD to turn into places for pedestrians and cyclists, but the motorway entry/exit streets should be left alone.

    1. Yes Geoff as traffic sewers they function adequately where they fail is as places. They are an example of total domination of place by movement. The value of the city degraded to the needs of the periphery.

      1. Of course they are dominated by movement, they are roads. They are not supposed to be anything else, or places for people to hang out. People have the rest of the city for that.

        If Nelson and Hobson are slowed, traffic congestion will greatly worsen throughout the city, lowering the quality of life over a much wider area.

        Leave these streets as they are – the means by which to clear traffic as quickly as possible for the good of the CBD.

  7. I don’t see anything wrong with Nelson St. Or Union St. It should remain as it is until the CRL is built and then reviewed. One way streets are far more efficient at moving vehicles and have lower delay for pedestrians to cross at the lights versus any two way street.

    1. yes, however the percieved segregation issues are greater for pedestrians on one way streets this wide than 2 way streets the same width.

      My guess is that Britomart currently brings more people into the CBD in the morning peak than Nelson St.

    2. See above. You are still thinking like the only purpose of a street is movement. Wrong. Streets are places too. Hobson/Nelson must be two-wayed and otherwise improved to bring the balance back from being motorways all but in name. Currently they are not streets at all.

      1. Motorways don’t have traffic lights all the way along them. Perhaps highway would be a better term. The primary purpose of those streets are movement, getting people in and out of the city. Two waying them would guarantee gridlock for the whole CBD sooner in the peaks. But I suppose it would push people to work elsewhere or live in the city.

  8. Britomart.

    I doubt most cars travelling Nelson St at peak time carry more than 1 person. So, while it may look jam packed at peak time, there might only be a couple of hundred people on the road.

    That’s my guess anyway.

    1. The limited research I’ve found previously on passenger occupancy suggests a peak-hour density of 1.7 occupants/vehicle. If we call Nelson St five lanes, times 1000 cars/lane/hour (I’d say that half the motorway lane capacity is fair enough, given the speed limit is halved but for all other intents and purposes Nelson St may as well be a motorway), times 1.7 occupants, we get 9.5k people/hour. Pretty lousy, really, compared with a track corridor entering Britomart that’s not as wide.

      1. Halving the speed doesn’t halve the capacity. In fact, you tend to find that maximum capacity (in veh/hr) is at lower speeds than the free speed. 1000 vehs/hr per lane at 50 km/hr translates into a density of 20 vehs/km – pretty sure we fit more than one car every 50m at peak times in Auckland!

      2. I think your estimation is a bit high Matt. For a start peak vehicle occupancy is more like 1.2 to 1.3, not 1.7. Secondly Nelson St isn’t the primary constraint, it’s the intersection between the motorway and Nelson. So there are two motorway lanes feeding Nelson, each with about 2,000 vph. The fact that the ramps tail back to the motorway suggests the intersection can clear even that, so Nelson is probably carrying about 3,500 vph.
        Multiply that by the occupancy and my estimate is about 4,500 people per hour.
        So I retract my claim above, the 18 trains an hour have to be smashing that. If not they’re averaging less than 250 people per train, which seems low even for our clunkers.

        1. “For a start peak vehicle occupancy is more like 1.2 to 1.3, not 1.7.”

          Not if a lot of those vehicles are buses.

          1. 1.4 is the daily average, but as that paper indicates peak hour commuter’s cars have a lower occupancy, and it is trips during later in the day that are higher.

            So in terms of the busiest hour of the morning the figure will be somewhere between 1.17 and 1.37, probably around 1.3.

            Table 3: Weekday occupancy is lowest in the early morning and higher in evenings
            Leaving time Average
            occupancy
            Up to 7:30 1.17
            7:30-9:30 1.37
            9:30-14:59 1.42
            15:00-18:29 1.41
            18:30 and later 1.61
            All times 1.41

  9. I think also the road was in its current configuration prior to the building of the top of town slums. Rather than try to block back the motorway pull down these dumps. Grand talk of a sense of place will not escape the grim reality of the minimum standard shoe boxes. While on this rant, I understand the city make the peolpe who live in the apartments no longer dry clothes outside as is looks not in keeping with the aspirations of the town hall beurocrats. What’s the chance these apartments have suitably designed aircon for drying inside? Their lives must be made a misery by the “worlds most liveable nonsense”.

    1. Grum, don’t you think the road layout was a major factor in all that?

      Developers built their racks of student shitboxes there because the land was cheap and available. The land was cheap and available because it was low value and had nothing of note built on it. I would argue a huge part of that was due to the six lane noise and fume soaked death strips. That kills foot traffic which kills retail and commercial. No people, no customers, just high car volumes.

      Nobody is going to refit, replace or year down those blocks as long as those factors haven’t changed. If we want to fix that part of town we need to turn the streets back into something vaguely human to boost land values, then wait as the market slowly gentrifies and diversifies the area.

      1. I vote for Nick’s suggested improvements followed as soon as possible by Grum’s mass demolition plans.

        BTW: it is not the council that bans hanging clothes up but the building body corps. With all the exhaust fumes from these roads and the nearby motorways I think there are a lot of people that wouldn’t choose to hang their clothes outside though.

  10. I would say 18 trains per hour with bit over 200 per train is about 20×200=4,000/ hour
    Nelson street 1,320 per lane per hour but as has lights on it make 650 and really only 4 lanes 650x 4 = 2,600 per hour
    Britomart wins

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