An interesting report goes to the transport committee on Wednesday which looks at how the land use plans on the North Shore as identified in the Auckland Plan would be impacted by various options for improving rapid transit (RT) in the area. Over the next 30 years there are expected to be an extra 750k-1m people living in the Auckland region with 85-120k of those living in the area of the old North Shore City. To achieve that growth there are going to be a number of infrastructure investments, especially when it comes to transport or the set targets may not be achieved.

The report confirms that providing we improve how buses move around the city centre that there is sufficient capacity in the busway until around 2041. One of the improvements to the city centre that is listed as needed is the City Rail Link which will have the effect of removing a large number of buses from the South and West from the cities streets which will free up that space for additional buses from the North Shore. With the busway moving an increasing number of people over the harbour bridge each morning along with the completion of the western ring route in 4-5 years time, we should also see the need for another harbour crossing pushed out to a similar timeframe.

The report starts with the assumption that the busway has already been extended to Silverdale and that the city side improvements have been completed to allow for up to 250 buses per hour to feed into town. It then goes on to look at a number of different routes and  technologies for futuredevelopment options but also notes that  experience, particularly in Australia, shows that bus based RT systems don’t get same level of land use change as rail lines/stations do. The options range in cost from $1.5b all the way up to $15b and all options were put through an evaluation matrix and the heavy rail options came out with the best results. All of the options considered are listed below:

There are quite a few options there and I think we can all agree that the options costing $13b+ are simply not going to happen, even though they came out the highest in the evaluation criteria. The conversions of the busway to heavy rail still very highly and at $2.5b (which I assume includes the cost of the crossing) actually seems fairly reasonable, especially if we can hook it into the existing network with something like the X pattern we have discussed on here before.

The report to the council also includes an image from the Auckland Plan that we haven’t seen before, presumably it will be in the final version of document which is being worked on at the moment (the content has already been signed off). It seems to show that thinking is starting to shift within the council that any future rail connection interface with the existing rail network at Aotea rather than at Britomart.

There is quite a bit of detail in the report but in all it is good to see some thought going into when we will likely need to start making improvements, that is unless the good folk of the North Shore start to increase their usage of the busway at a faster rate than predicted which is something that could very possibly happen.

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  1. Not sure who did this study but I’ve never seen any peer-reviewed journal articles that draw the conclusion that Australian experience shows that “bus based RT systems don’t get same level of land use change as rail lines/stations do.” In fact I’ve read journal articles (from South America) that suggest the opposite.

    I’ve also seen some back of the envelope analyses from Brisbane that found a land value uplift of about 20% around SE Busway stations, which is in the same ball-park as rail-based systems – as far as I know. Not saying they’re wrong, just that I have not seen/read any evidence to suggest that they’re right.

    It’s an often repeated but rarely justified mantra that rail-based systems generate more land value uplift …

    1. I have to agree here too. Sounds like nonsense to me – go look at Bogota where there are skyscrapers all along the bus corridor. The SE Busway is along a freeway corridor, so it wasn’t exactly a magnet for TOD – a rail line would make little difference either – because it is a freeway corridor, not because the vehicle has rubber tyres.

      The other thing is, heavy rail might be much more expensive due to the more stringent demands on curves and gradients (this might not apply if skytrain is used). Personally I think the Northern busway is good, if you are going to replace it, consider a bogota style system with tri-arctics and high floors capable of carrying 270 people per bus. Buses can run at 20 second intervals, which is better than *any* headway on any rail system on Earth. That gives capacity around 30 000 pphd, which is plenty.

      The other thing is, if a busway is cheaper, you can induce development by simply using the money saved by *NOT* building a rail system to provide development subsidies and developer charge exceptions around the busway stations to get exactly the same effect.

      1. Not to nit pick too much Bris but in Bogota they built the TransMillenio to where the skyscrapers were, they didn’t pop up after the route was built.

        The problem with using the Bogota model is simply that Auckland’s busway currently ends at Akoranga station, 7km out of town on the wrong side of the harbour. Tri-articulated jumbo buses might work great on the busway proper, but would be a disaster merging onto the motorway, exiting onto Fanshawe St and working their way through the CBD. You’d need to allocate a lane of the motorway just to the buses, plus a Bogota style four-lane arterial busway from the motorway to the CBD, and find some way to turn those triple-artics around. It might be feasible, if unlikely, to do that with a major reallocation of roadspace to buses, or otherwise you start looking at bus tunnels and new bridges and the like.

        So the discussion isn’t so much what is the best way to run the busway itself, but more like what is the best way to extend that corridor across the harbour and access the CBD. The minute you start with significant lengths of tunnel (and we’re talking a minimum of 4km) then electric passenger rail starts to have some big advantages.

        1. Yes this is the point, if we’re building new ROW, and we’ll have to, what is the best and most cost effective system? Cheapest cross harbour tunnel to build and operate? Electric rail. And remember renewable electricity is something we have in NZ (80% renewable and growing). And rail being both electric and underground in the CBD has absolutely none of the considerable negative quality of place and land use costs of a big increase in bus numbers.

          Linking a new rail tunnel to the existing network is unlikely to cost more than new underground bus infrastructure of any comparable scale and offers huge network benefits. Why build a vast and unpleasant station for diesel buses when we could instead insert a much less invasive and more efficient rail system which instantly reaches the rest of the network. Albany to airport is certainly a reasonable aim for 2030.

  2. Well clearly we do #3, which is the outlier in terms of cost and near term improvement. And we already are aren’t we?

    That gives time for the demand to firm up, so long as we can accommodate those buses over the bridge, and for the construction of the CRL to show the value of modern electric rail on it’s fully separate right-of-way.

  3. Yeah options 2 and 4 really do seem to be the only sensible options.

    Stu, looks like it’s a Beca/Parsons Brinkerhoff study

        1. Matt perhaps your last line is the most interesting point. The study says that the busway has a capacity of 12 000 people/hour and is currently running at 5 000 p/h. But doesn’t expect that to hit capacity till 2041. Really?, it will take thirty years to do little more than double? Given its growth form 0- to 5000 since it opened that seems pretty conservative. This would mean that extensions to the busway itself, improvements to the bus network across the whole city including the Shore, the increased effectiveness of PT in general, especially the attractiveness of the post electrified and CRL rail network, and integrated ticketing and fares will only have minor impacts on ridership? Chuck in population growth and rising costs of driving doesn’t it seem more likely that this issue will come around a hell of a lot earlier than the 2040s?

          Hasn’t it been growing at around 15% annually? If that were to continue it will hit over 10 000 in 2016. Is it the author’s contention that some sort of market saturation is just around the corner?

          1. A very good point Patrick. They may be anticipating a saturation based on the existing service levels and catchment… but if this new integrated bus network we’ve been hearing rumors about is half as successful as it could be, then patronage is going to grow even faster on the North Shore (and everywhere else for that matter).

          2. The report says that they expect increased employment on the North Shore to play a part in slowing down the demand for travel to the city.

          3. Matt, growing employment on the Shore has slowed growth of city bound traffic on the bridge, but has also accelerated growth of “contra-peak” travel to the Shore from the south and west, peak period traffic on the northern is significantly more balanced than on the nort-western for example, to the extent that sometimes I wonder if the MLB on the bridge is causing more of a problem than it solves, Friday evenings in particular

            this employment related travel to the Shore is one of the reasons that any new rapid transit system has to address the issue of access to Takapuna and from BOTH directions

          4. Yes Steve this is the experience from Sydney’s North Shore- growth of local employment doesn’t reduce need for connection but does balance movements. For example people inevitably don’t move when they get a new job. I have a friend living in Waimauku who has just started working in Takanini. They won’t be leaving their newly renovated property…Half of his commute each day is now counter peak…. But also business generates its own movements where ever it is, and doesn’t just work locally.

  4. Personally I think we should be working on Option 3 immediately and looking at opening Option 2/4 by around 2030. Option 2/4 could also potentially be done with metro as suggested by Nick R which may reduce the costs although there is a loss of connectivity at the CRL.

  5. Option Two then Option Four.

    Interesting study none the less there Matt L.

    I need to go make a lunch date with a certain Councillor on the North Shore this week.

    Put it this way – Option Two then Four in my eyes has just made the CRL sale-able to the North Shore citizens

    Capacity figures, 12,000 max for buses and I think I got 720 passengers every four minutes so times 15 means 10,800 one way so 21,600 both ways (or parallel running to CBD) using a double EMU set that would go down the Southern Line. Also the added effect of not turning the CBD into one giant bus park either. I am sure you go get an EMU running one way every 3 minutes if the system was automated so numbers would again increase there.

    Right time for some lobbying 😀

    1. The existing lines will be able to operate at one EMU every 3 minutes, so that would be the base case for any Shore line. That’ll give around 15,000 an hour per direction. If you go with a fully automated technology then the sky is almost limit, 75 second headways are used in places overseas.

      I’m not so certain that 12,000 pax per direction per hour is possible on our busway, not without further optimization at least. As it is we get bus congestion at stations at the height of the morning peak, often I’ve been on a bus that has had to wait for a queue to clear to access Sunnynook for example.

    2. That 720 pax is based on a 6 carriage EMU. It seems silly to arbitrarily limit the economic load of the EMUs in this way.
      In Sydney, the maximum train length is 8 carriages, in Perth it is 9 carriages, for the London underground and sub surface stock it is 8 carriages, For Bombardier Electrostar EMUs operating on commuter services out of London, the train length regularly goes to 10 or even 12 carriages.

      A 12 carriage Auckland EMU operating to/from the North Shore will carry 1500 passengers. At an EMU every 3 minutes, that is a theoretical capacity of 30,000 an hour per direction. Of course, the limitation here is station platform length. However, given that the Wellington network was built 60 years ago around 9 carriage trains, it seems crazy that for the city rail tunnel stations in particular, Auckland should limit train length to 6 carriages. This is all the proposed 170m length platforms will accommodate.

      Perhaps the gradients involved preclude longer station platforms for this first tunnel. However, it is worth looking at 240m platform lengths for 9 car trains to see if feasible. Certainly, longer platform lengths should be integral to any future North Shore railway lines and cross city links of the sort that Patrick Reynolds is proposing.

      1. FWIW commuter trains on the major JR lines in greater Tokyo run to 15 cars, including two double-decker cars for the Green (first-class) cars. Some through-run through Tokyo from north to south(-west) as the Shonan-Shinjuku Line, and are inevitably packed at peak times…

      2. You’d have to consider whether the trains would operate through to any existing part of the network, if that’s the case then you’re basically limited to the same six carriages. Likewise you could start having some issues around platform length, and curvature. It would be pretty hard to accommodate 340m long straight and level platforms on the busway corridor.

        To flog my hobby horse a little more, one of the great benefits of automated operation is that the marginal cost of running two six-carriage trains is the same as one twelve-carriage train. Add in the fact that computerised control allows for some very fast headways you can achieve the same mega capacity without the demands for very long stations. So instead of twelve carriages every three minutes, you have six carriages every 90 seconds. Same capacity, twice the frequency and only half the land needed for stations.

  6. What is the cost of heavy rail tunnelling from Wynyard to Aotea station and then on to ????? grafton/beach road where ever ????
    Is this cost included in the 2.5 Bill heavy rail option?

  7. I wonder where they got a 12000 pph capacity limit for the busway? They dont provide a reference, but manage to find one for the capacities for the other modes. Based on 250 buses per hour, and double decker buses, we could expect a capacity more like 20,000.

    1. 250 buses per hour is unrealistic on our busway. It would be possible to run 250 an hour down the busway lane… but not to have the stop at stations, load passengers, merge onto the harbour bridge, pass through traffic lights, run along Fanshawe St, turn around at Britomart etc.

      1. “The report starts with the assumption that the busway has already been extended to Silverdale and that the city side improvements have been completed to allow for up to 250 buses per hour to feed into town.”

        1. “The report starts with the assumption that the busway has already been extended to Silverdale and that the city side improvements have been completed to allow for up to 250 buses per hour to feed into town.”

          Do the maths on that and you end up with a bus every 15 seconds operating down the North Shore busway. I cannot see how that is possible without substantially rebuilding the North Shore busway into a full on Bogota or Curitiba system. Even if one discards double articulated buses due to the physical impossibility of fitting them into the CBD, each busway station would still need substantial modification to handle a metro level of through-put. Busway station passing bays in both directions would need to be heavily modified to merge traffic in safety to achieve a 15 second headway. I suggest that in practical terms, this would mean 4 laning the busway, and potentially also, exclusive use of the current harbour bridge or a 4 lane bus tunnel under the harbour. Looking at 15 second headway through an undersea tunnel for buses, the safety concerns would be massive.

          Busways and bus priority in general have a huge role to play in Auckland PT. But, looking long term, the future of the principle North Shore rapid transit corridor lies with rail, whether that be heavy rail or automated light metro.

          1. Brisbane’s Cultural Centre (Class B ROW with traffic lights at either end of a bridge) currently does 9000 pphd with buses every 20 seconds in peak hour.

        2. Well what a completely unfounded assumption. My understanding is that even 100 buses an hour requires two bus lanes each way on surface sections to adequately work around stops and intersections.

          So for that we’d need at least a dedicated bus lane over the bridge, possibly two, leading to at least two bus lanes at the Fanshawe off ramp and probably three bus lanes each way right along Fanshawe St into the CBD. Not sure where those are going to stop or turn around at a rate of one bus every 15 seconds either. Are they suggesting some sort of busway tunnel in the CBD or what?

          Hmm, another thing that stinks with this report.

          1. Cityside, you can send the buses over a number of different routes – they don’t all need to head past britomart. Seriously, when you are talking about an alternative of $2.5bn, you have a lot of money to play with.

          2. That’s true, but the do have to exit the motorway and head along city streets. There’s only a couple of corridors where you can do that. To get 250+ a hour you’d need double bus lanes on Fanshawe St and Cook St… that would effectively require closing the Cook St off ramp to anything but buses.

    1. Exactly. That’ll knock a couple of billion off that unneeded 3rd harbour crossing.

      They’re not looking at ALL the options.

      Should we tell them?

      1. It seems to me that they were not actually trying to compare apples with apples and wanted to make the heavy rail option look like the most effective. Note: All of the ‘light rail’ options have spurs and loops therefore making it appear more expensive than the basic ‘heavy rail’ option.

          1. Well it seems to me that they have gone out of their way to make ‘light rail’ (lets assume metro as per skyway) appear as an expensive option compared to ‘heavy rail’.

          2. It’s clear the report is a puff piece for heavy rail. Weasel words are strewn thoughout the report. “There is a view that…” “Some believe that…” “There is general consensus that…”

            I am getting sick of the public sector in NZ paying for these sorts of “reports to order”

          3. There is a real lack of good process in this report, it’s arse-hat backwards. For one they’ve got a bunch of route options, and bunch of technologies, and a bunch of service topographies, and never really the same thing twice.

            If I were doing this report I’d establish where I’d want stations or interchanges, then work out some options for service patterns to service those, which should generate a few reasonable alignments. Then the next step would be to look at each alignment with every technology. Where, for example, is the “fully optimised busway converted to light rail” option, or the “busway east and west branches” option.

            It really does look like the purpose of this report was to make an uprgade of the busway to heavy rail look reasonable by comparing it to a selection of ludicrous non-options.

  8. It is a pity the report authors didn’t check the literature on busway capacity. A Google search for “Brisbane busway capacity” brings up the following excellent piece of work:

    http://eprints.qut.edu.au/43698/1/Sumeet_Jaiswal_Thesis.pdf

    A major loading points, this study indicates that a 3-bay busway station has a capacity of only ~100 buses per hour. The maximum timetabling at Brisbane’s Cultural Centre busway station is 3 buses per minute, and at this rate buses I’ve seen buses banked up 7-deep waiting to enter the station. Yet the report authors believe they can stretch it to 4 buses per minute out of the North Shore busway.

    Another thing I noticed in Brisbane was that while some buses had standees, others had empty seats. The average load appeared to be ~40. This is because the busway serves many routes, some of which are lightly patronised and others heavily patronised. So the people-carrying capacity of the busway should be estimated for a bus load of ~40, not the registered maximum load for the bus (ie a ~4000 passenger per hour maximum). This capacity could be increased slightly by turning the lightly-loaded routes into feeders, bus stations with more loading bays and double-decker or articulated buses on trunk routes. So at 5000 passengers per hour with occasional bus station congestion, the North Shore busway would be not far short of capacity already.

    Early congestion of busways not long after construction is not unique to Auckland – Brisbane has experienced it:
    http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/busway-faces-gridlock/story-e6freoof-1111114531589
    Busways are therefore a great way to develop PT, but should be designed for eventual conversion to rail.

    1. Brisbane has a couple of choke points. These could be fixed if there weren’t governments managing it. BTW, the Cultural Centre is a 4 bay station.

      Ottawa is also experiencing congestion, as is the Sydney Harbour Bridge bus lane (carries about 350 buses/hr). I’m less familiar with the Ottawa system, but in Sydney a few wholly inadequate moves have been made to address it.

  9. The report does not show a heavy rail station at Onewa Rd. It would be possible for a station to be incorporated into the interchange area. This would allow Onewa Rd bus traffic to transfer. Given the congestion in the area it surely must be a worthwhile addition?

    1. A station at Onewa Rd is essential for any extension in my opinion. There is such a huge part of the suburban public transport network left unconnected without one.

  10. I think a bus every 15 seconds across Harbour Bridge may be doable. (How many there are now would be interesting I think it may be 100 an hour). Part of the how to is not running them all into Fanshawe. The 962 and 966s go off at Ponsonby now (about 5 an hour). I feel some buses could go off at Port exit and go to Hospital/Newmarket directly. Also think could have some going direct to Ascot hospital (number of offices on this site (also would be drop off for South bound train and then go to Greenlane hospital.
    So to get 250 per hour would say 120 to Fanshawe, 43 to Ponsonby/Pt chev/UNITEC, 43 to port/hospital and 43 going South.
    Alos some of theUniversity bound buses could skip Britomart stop althogether. One nearly did the other day – no one got off a full bus burt someone pushed the button and we all spent a minute oro so stopping and pulling back into peak traffic)

  11. A question: What is the current ferry capacity from the North Shore and what is the possible ferry capacity? Another question: how well are the North Shore busway stations managing at the moment?

    I still think that 12,000 passengers/direction/hour [250 buses] is a reasonable back of the envelope # for busway/bus system capacity from the North Shore. The point is you wouldn’t direct all the buses into the Britomart area, but some would head for the midtown, as at present, and some could even be directed up to K’Road. Ottawa’s system manages a little less than this in the central city (11,000 pax/direction/hour), because of decisions taken when the busway was first opened in 1983. I can reference this # if anyone is interested.

    1. Ross the issue with ferries is the limited walk up catchment at both ends, a well located stop or station has a 360 degree catchment, for a ferry terminal, half the catchment is fish

      and despite an uncontested right of way, ferries aren’t that fast

  12. There are some pretty stupid options here and some obvious ones which have not been considered.

    There is the logical option that links the west to the east. Surely Akoranga is the hub with a western circle loop of Highbury, Nortcote, Glenfield and Wairau Valley and a logical norh south running eastern link up east coast road that could have a spur to constellation drive and albany whether that be bus, light or heavy rail.

    Whats the bet that the consultants preferred option was determined before the report was written or all logical scenarios assessed.

    Seems to be another trasnport focussed solution hoping that land use will follow it. Histroy on the North Shore has told us otherwise and the Auckland Plan is signalling otherwise!

    Start again please with this report!

  13. One of Nick R’s comments earlier in this thread highlights what I think is the critical issues: where the Northern Busway actually currently ends is actually at Akoranga, quite some distance from the CBD. Yeah sure, in theory you can run 250 buses per hour along the Constellation to Akoranga section of the busway, but you don’t have a hope in hell of running that many buses effectively along a mixed traffic lane through St Mary’s Bay northbound, you don’t have a hope running that many buses over the actual harbour bridge. Neither along Fanshawe Street.

    If we think about the Northern Busway actually only being between Akoranga and Constellation, and then start thinking about how we could extend RTN levels of service from Akoranga to the CBD, then rail becomes much more competitive as an option. It’s not duplicating something we already have, it’s actually providing something we desperately need (RTN from CBD to Akoranga).

    1. It’s worth remembering that the number of people crossing the harbor bridge in the peak is currently around 12000 per hour in total. So if you got to 12000 pph on the busway, there would be tumbleweeds on the motorway, and hence ample justification for a full RTN ROW along the existing motorway corridor into town. Even with a 40% increase in total passenger volumes you would still end up with far less total car movements than now.

      1. Of the 15,000 people travelling over the bridge by car in each peak, what proportion of them are going into the central city and what proportion are travelling further afield into the isthmus and South Auckland?

        As I’m trying to do some modelling of these numbers, any assistance gratefully received. At the moment my modelling also allows 4,700 from the North Shore/Islands via ferry.

    2. Are you talking about numbers of people both ways or one way. Here are the actual numbers about peak time traffic flows on the harbour bridge (note that it’s per hour):

  14. Bit of update from todays 881 .
    Left Albany 0708. Full by Smales (Left about 5 people behind at Akoranga) no one off at Britomart.
    Got to 2 Symonds St (Auckland University)at 0740.
    Note 2 red lights on Northern busway and near hailing when on Fanshawe also.
    So still some room to move but agree with Mr Anderson,the predicted numbers increase means current “hardware” of Busway, and limited buslane accross bridge will reach max. Probably lost 30-50 seconds at Greville Road which happens every day at peak.

  15. Before deciding what to do people should have a close look at the Perth-Mandurah railway line and the Perth-Joondalup railway line which run along the medium strip of freeways. These railways work really well other than being a bit overcrowded at peak times, but this is a measure of their success in attracting people away from their cars. There are a lot similarities between Perth and Auckland in size and urban density. On the Perth-Mandurah railway line they replaced an existing busway.

  16. I hate to point out what may seem obvious, but does the North Shore NEED railways? The tracks can only be used by trains, any blockage screws up all operation and where they pass through at ground level, neighbourhoods and access (by foot or vehicle) gets broken. Roads can be used by anyone – even on foot or bicycle! I understand that hills aren’t train-friendly, and there are a lot of them over here. These discourage walking as well – who wants to get in a muck-sweat just getting to the next transport mode-change?

    We have a nice busway, but many people have a walk of over 30 minutes to get to it, because the local buses still run the same routes as 10 years ago! If we have a spine busway, use that for N-S travel and have feeder services going E-W. Regularly. And often! Increasing parking charges, taxes and inconvenience for motorists will only encourage a shift to PT if there’s a carrot or two in the mix as well.

    How about a survey at the Park’n’Rides to see if feeder buses could stop people even bringing their cars to the Busway? What’s the best route for feeders?

    Thre’s no need to spend on billions railways when what we already have isn’t being utilised properly as it is. Sort out the subsidies for the local buses, sort out the routes and forget buses as a money-maker; it’s a public service – an enabler for all those nice ratepayers to spend & earn money all around the region and pay taxes every time they do.

    Forgive me if this is off-topic, but why do we need a railway? Can we afford a railway? Isn’t there a better way?

    1. What you are not taking into account is that trains are much prettier and cooler than buses, and that means the extra few billion and loss of reliability is totally worth it.

    2. There is defiantly a need to provide better feeder buses for both our train and busway sations.

      Currently the busway, however, under performs as it is limited by it’s slowest section – over the bridge and through fanshawe st, so to make the busway work properly as part of a Rapid Transport Network (RTN) it needs dedicated lanes over/under the harbour, and into the city, plus something linking it to the rest of our RTN (the rail lines). This would clearly require a lot of tunnelling, and tunnelling is cheaper for a rail line than a road/busway, and for the small cost of upgrading the busway we could take advantage of this saving.

      Plus with driverless trains the main operating cost (staff) is heavily reduced, allowing us to run a much more frequent service with trains than busses.

      Trains are also higher capacity and as Swan touched on have a better public image in this car-dominated society.

      Busways are, however, a very effective stepping stone and at ground level can be a lot more cost effective than a rail line, and this is why you will find people in this blog supporting a NW Busway.

      Does this answer your question?

    3. Don’t worry Use, a full ground-up redesign of the bus network is underway right now based around feeders and connections. That will do wonders for the busway system and indeed everywhere in Auckland. We will have the buses completely sorted out within the next couple of years, from what I’ve seen it’s going to be simply revolutionary. Also the park n ride review is also being done, and I’d be surprised if it didn’t show most people park n ride from nearby suburbs where a decent bus connection would let them leave the car at home rather than at the station.

      Talk of a North Shore railway is based on a longer timeframe, a decade or two ahead. A good busway and a good railway are much the same from the users perspective, feeder buses, connections, parking and whatever is the same whether the vehicle runs or rubber tyres or steel wheels. At that point the discussion becomes about capacity, performance and operating cost. One of the key reasons we might want to upgrade to rail is the fact that trains can carry about 800 people per vehicle and driver, while buses can only carry 50 or so per vehicle and driver. That means on a very busy corridor you need to employ sixteen times as many drivers with buses and you do with trains. That’s sixteen times the staffing costs, a huge impact on marginal operating costs.

      Also the busway could eventually hit a peak of how many buses (and people) it can carry per hour, while the peak of a railway would be higher. Switching to rail might allow perhaps twice as much patronage.

      So yes we need to sort out the bus network, and AT are doing so. No we don’t need a railway in the near future, the busway is doing a stellar job. But sometime in a decade or three a rail line might be a good idea to cut operating costs and/or move more people than the busway can handle.

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