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.