An exciting announcement from Auckland Transport today:

The Proposal

Auckland Transport proposes to introduce a T3 Transit lane West-bound on Onewa Road at Northcote during evening rush hour traffic. Feedback is sought from the public.


To meet the demand of forecasted growth in the southern-western suburbs of North Shore City, Auckland Transport is looking to future proof the local transport infrastructure. This means improvement is required for major arterial roads such as Onewa Road (pictured below) to help ease the predicted pressure the road network will face.

Transit lanes have been introduced in Auckland in recent years following the example of many cities around the world. Auckland Transport is investing in bus and transit lanes, as part of a region-wide effort to improve public transport system.

Transit lanes are managed lanes that increase corridor efficiency by offering a predictable travel time for carpool vehicles, buses, motorbikes and cyclists. The public transport network is essential to Auckland – as a modern and growing city, we need better connected and more frequent passenger transport services.

Currently approximately 200,000 trips are undertaken on the Auckland’s passenger transport networks each day. By 2050, because of population growth, this is forecast to increase to 600,000 trips each day.

The objective of the Onewa Road T3 transit lane project is to improve effectiveness of the existing west bound lanes by increasing people carrying capacity instead of vehicle carrying capacity.


Currently a T3 transit lane operates eastbound Onewa Road between the hours of 6.30am and 9am. Buses and high occupancy vehicles can accordingly avoid much of the extensive queuing that forms along Onewa Road in the morning peak.

It is common practise to have a similar lane configuration in the opposite direction during the evening peak period to accommodate the similar tidal travel demand. Examples of transit lanes operating in proximity to the project area include Lake Road southbound and Akoranga Drive in both directions.

The legacy North Shore City Council had previously investigated improving the efficiency of Onewa Road in the westbound direction during the evening peak, and proposed the implementation of a T3 transit lane.

This proposal has now been assessed against the Auckland Transport bus priority policy, and based on traffic survey carried out in March 2012. The survey results showed that 48% of passengers travelled in 7% of transit vehicles (buses and vehicles with three or more people).

Project overview

The proposed design solution intends to improve transport efficiency of Onewa Road in western direction during the evening peak period.

The proposed T3 transit lane is part of building more efficient public transport network. This change will mean faster and more reliable travel time along Onewa Road, because buses and carpool vehicles carrying three or more occupants are less likely to be stuck in traffic.

The existing westbound carriageway is 6.5m wide and provides space for on-street parking and a single traffic lane. The existing single lane configuration when transformed to two lanes will provide for greater ease of travel.

The added lane will effectively serve as a means of prioritising higher occupancy vehicles along the proposed route. This will allow a more effective use of the available road space and improve efficiency and reliability of public transport system. The proposed scheme will also reduce travel time to most vehicles using the general traffic lane.

While Auckland Transport has been around for almost two years now, this is the first new bus or T3 lane they’ve introduced (aside from stupidly downgrading Remuera Road from a bus lane to a T3 lane). Hopefully this is the first of many new priority lanes.

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  1. I like that they also propose to upgrade the cycle facilities at the same time. Maybe there will even be enough space to give the transit lane enough width that slower cyclists can use the shared path, and the faster crowd which is happy to mingle with crs can stay in the lane…

    I presume there will be off-peak parking in the transit lane?

    1. Do they propose doing anything aside from saying the footpath is now a cycle lane? That’s not close to being an upgrade cyclist experience In my mind.

      1. My experience with Auckland Transport is that they will NOT accept new shared paths with less than 3m width, and various other tweaks, so yes. Also note their comment here, which implies construction work:

        “The proposed road widening will include an associated pedestrian/cycle shared path, vehicle crossings and drainage improvements.”

    2. They are doing nothing of the sort. Painting a picture of a bicycle on the footpath and claiming it is a cycle lane is bullshit. It also ignores the fact that as far as cycling goes, onewa doesnt really lead anywhere. It is just a very long motorway onramp. If you are not a car, that section of onewa does not connect any two places.

      1. Ironic that the motorway widening undertaken to accomodate bus lanes destroyed much of the foreshore and the path that cyclists and pedestrians could access – a path should be reinstated along the foreshore with access from the bottom of Onewa Road at the interchange so its less of an extended onramp for vehicles… and while at it get on with providing a bike path across the bridge.

  2. I hope there are extensive bus and transit lanes introduced around the local hubs that will be introduced in the bus network redesign.
    Areas like New Lynn, Henderson, Manukau, Otahuhu and Onehunga are in need of at least peak bus lanes to ensure efficient movement.

  3. That Lane has been in planning for a couple of years now. I think there were complaints from the shop owners of their parking disappearing for a few hours would be bad for their business.

  4. Already sent in my feedback this morning as soon as I saw it on the AT website. No doubt shop owners will complain, but the number of shops on Onewa Road is small. I hope they prioritise this and get it done quickly. Need to stop pushing it back.

  5. Great proposal. My only complaint is that it should have been done 10 years ago. Given the success of the T3 lane on the other side of the road, and given that there is enough room on the road for 4 lanes (just slap some paint and signs on), and given that there is regular congestion in the afternoon peak on Onewa Road, one has to wonder why the NSCC didn’t get around to this earlier. Surely there was more to it than opposition by a dairy, a florist, and a liquor store.

  6. I wonder why they aren’t starting it further down. The queue is often down to motorway. I guess it can be extended in the future.

    1. T lanes are the cause of congestion on many arterials as far as Ive seen… Onewa Road westbound wont be an exception. If the queue is already often down to the motorway, starting a T3 lane further down will have the effect of pushing the queue ON to the motorway more often…

      Want people to use busses – lower the price of the ticket… i already pay some of my rates to subsidise then get slugged $3.60 to go one way down Onewa Road and over the bridge…

  7. I don’t agree that rem road was a down grade. In terms of a efficiency argument, 3plus people in a car is actually a really efficient use of road space. More so than a bus, unless the bus is full at capacity. Also because on average we have around if I remember rightly, 1.2 people per car, there isn’t going to be enough private vehicles to disrupt the bus service.

    1. “I don’t agree that rem road was a down grade.”

      I think Joshua that the jury is still out on this, in fact they actually haven’t even had lunch yet or started on voting in a foreman yet, so the decision will be a while coming.

      I do note that since the T3 lanes became “active” about 6 weeks ago, that at least the bulk of the daily bus lane parkers are now not doing that any more,
      I suspect a few warning letters and some towaways fixed that. Wonder what some visible enforcement can do.

      It is also great that they are now actively enforcing the lanes in the AM peak direction anyway with cameras recording the violaters.

      That aside, whether a T3 lane is better used for a car with 3 people in it as opposed to a half empty bus I can’t really decide,

      Thinking back to the Urbaized movie the other day with the Mayor of Bogota who said that a bus load of people have the same rights to the road space as 100 cars, you could say the same about a bus load of 40 people on Rem road having the same rights to the road as at least 40 cars. So working backwards, unless the bus is basically empty, you can’t envisage how allowing cars in T3 lanes is actually more efficient use.

      Another problem as I see is that from non-T3 lanes users perspective (and AT’s enforcement wings perspective too I think), determining that there are at least 3 people in a car using the T3 lane will be a bit hit and miss – so there are still people using them who shouldn’t be. Whereas before if it wasn’t a bus in the old bus lane you knew it shouldn’t be there – no ifs buts or maybes, whereas now you can’t tell if they’re using the T3 legally or not.

      And this will encourage further transgressions as there is this natural suspicion in a lot of drivers that the car in the T3 lane next to me is not got 3 passengers and so they’re cheating so I will too.
      Which mitigates against the presumed benefits of encouraging car pooling by letting cars in T3 lanes in the first place..

      1. There are concerns that the main issue for bus users on the Remuera T3 lane will be the constant merging back & forth of T3 vehicles into and out of the lane at the bus stops. We’ll see whether that develops, but there’s at least some slight risk that EVERYONE will be worse off (including the general traffic) except the few T3 cars.

        1. From what I see with current behaviour of drivers in the T3 lanes when the non T3 lanes next to them are full then the philosophy at play seems to be (rightly or wrongly) that:
          “if you’re driving in the T3 lane – then you’re only driving in the T3 lane – so stay in your chosen lane and take your medicine like the rest of us have to”.

          Applies to obvious violaters too – SUV drivers mostly – who spy just in time (they hope) the AT cameraman, and desperately stop right in the T3 lane, flick on the indicator trying to merge into the outer lane to avoid the fine – regardless of the 3 buses up their arse – they’re the one who cause the lane problems as do the folks who park in the lanes – both effectively stationary vehicles who shouldn’t be there.

          So basically AT – forget about worries over legit T3 drivers trying to merge out of the T3 to hop ahead of a bus.
          Traffic is to damn bumper to bumper to allow anyone to merge in like that so they usually have to continue behind the bus.
          Heck I’ve even seem that some drivers won’t even let the bus merge when it needs to skip another bus!

  8. Given the amount of bus journeys across the bridge and through Fanshawe, its about time they looked at similar peak-hour (but bus-only) lanes there, at the very least.

  9. “bus load of people have the same rights to the road space as 100 cars, you could say the same about a bus load of 40 people on Rem road having the same rights to the road as at least 40 cars” – not the same thing at all, having 3+ people per car is around as efficient in term of fuel, and people per m2 of road space, than a bus that is 3/4 full. In technical terms anyway. So basically if we can enforce it, it should be allowed. However I do agree there is difficulty in enforcing this, and that is where we could have problems.

    1. You are mixing up two totally different things. We have a democratic society, and that includes a lot of other things than just the argument about fuel efficiency. PEOPLE should be given priority, NOT vehicles, no matter their fuel efficiency. That is an important consideration, but not the primary one.

      Also, according to your argument based on fuel efficiency, I, as a cyclist, deserve the most space and priority of anyone.

  10. This is a good move.

    My only wish is at the same time, they painted yellow lines on both sides which would apply 24/7, not just the peak hours where it would be T3.

    The traffic on this road on the weekends is enough to justify.

    I do feel sorry for the flower shop. They will lose alot of business.

    1. Why will the flower shop lose business? They are going to install parking on the side street immediately adjacent to the shops. Also, do you not feel sorry for the liquor store?

      1. It will lose business as go around the corner just isn’t as easy. Stupid but that is my view of humans. Had a look as I went past yesterday – there may be the opportunity for them to put a few parks beside their business, though not sure if this will be allowed. They have a big loyal following but losing just 5% of custom takes quite a lot of the profit line.

        Dont feel sorry for the liquor store. Dont know why, just dont.

    2. The last thing we want is for the road to be four lanes of general traffic during off-peak times. T3 during peak and on-street parking off-peak is a good compromise – as long as the peak hours of operation are long enough (particularly in the evening).

  11. Jonathan Coleman won’t like this. He’s been fighting against the T3 down Onewa since it was introduced.
    They should definitely remove the on street parking from Onewa Rd. while they’re at it.

    1. At least one of the local councillors is against it aswell – one of the Gillon’s. Asked what their solution was on Twitter but didn’t get a response so will have to dig out their email address.

  12. I think the whole road should have 4 permanent Lanes ,
    No Parking at all, cycles on a lane on the VERY wide footpaths.
    I think in am 3 lanes should go down to bridge , inside by footpath should be T2 and other 2 for other traffic and one lane coming up to BIRKENHEAD. Just like on the bridge.
    Then at night reverse the whole procedure.
    We live close to town for a reason [ so we can get there quicker] If we wanted to spend hours on the road we could live in Rodney
    We shouldnt be penalised by having T3 lanes on a high volume road at all.
    This should be safer and smoother for all.

    1. Marylin, putting bikes on the footpath is not safer, but drives a 20-25% increase in bike/car crashes at driveways and intersections

    2. Merilyn, I would have to question quite where you expect three lanes of traffic to go once they reached the motorway? There is only single merge lane on-ramp to the bridge, that is the constraint. Having three lanes of traffic leading to it instead of two isn’t going to get anyone over the bridge quicker. If the ramp can’t clear two lanes of traffic quickly in the morning peak what makes you think it can clear three?

      If you’re really concerned about getting to town quicker, why not catch a bus or carpool in the T lane? That’s easily the fastest option. No matter what you do with the traffic lanes, you’ll never move more people or get there faster than with the bus lane. Most people travelling down Onewa Rd in the morning do so on the bus, if anyone is getting penalised by the transit lane it is them. It should be a bus only lane with no traffic to hold them up.

      1. Just a reply to Nick R we now have a 4 lane bridge at the bottom of Onewa road so 3 lanes could carry on over that and the T3 lane could go in the bus lane and the other 2 merge at the lights. of course islands etc may need to be shifted.
        Or people coming off the bridge in the am could go off at Stafford Road.
        other option for those coming off at Onewa from takapuna could go across to sylvian in am to free up the onewa bridge a bit morwe ?
        Lots of things can happen. I would use the bus if I could get to the Hospital on it and then pick up my grandson at Parnell school after work by bus?
        But thanks for the suggestions.

  13. From what I remember of catching buses from Birkenhead, they were always very crowded, especially at peak times, so I can understand the impression that catching one might be a ‘penalty’. That might have changed since last year, though I doubt it somehow. Catching the ferry was infinitely more pleasant.

  14. Merilyn a merge downstream of Lake/Queen would just make things miles worse.

    The Onewa problem is caused by two sets of lights being in close proximity and limiting the throughput of the road at peak times. However, the T3 lane copes with this capacity restriction extremely well and Onewa Road is now carrying far far more people per hour than it ever has before. It’s an incredibly efficient road.

    1. And even if you don’t catch the bus all the people that do free up the rest of the road for the much less efficient drivers, so no car user should begrudge the bus lanes; it would be soooo much more congested without those buses being faster and therefore attracting more people and giving you all that road space.

  15. T3 lanes are a waste of space. All it does is push drivers onto minor roads and create rat runs. You can see it on every day of the week around Onewa Road. It’s just a policy exercise by traffic planners who don’t see the effects on local communities. Take a look at Rodney Road / Queens Street. These local roads have traffic busting to get onto Onewa after diverting through Little Shoal Bay, which of course is a 15km/hr reserve with play areas. Big SUVs powering through the reserve, making illegal turns onto Church Street / Faulkner Road is what T3 results in. If you add a westbound T3 lane, traffic flow through the reserve will increase in the afternoons when kiddies are about in the reserve. Better to create 2 clear lanes westbound on Onewa Road and make it a clearway between 4 and 6pm. Oh and do the same eastbound for gods sake.

    1. Shard god, I’m afraid, knows you are wrong. Yes there are more cars than buses, but the buses move more people than the cars on an equivalent amount of road space. Without the buses drivers would be even more stuck. And without bus lanes buses become too ineffective to do their great work of making more space for keen drivers like yourself. Properly understood that lane you can’t drive in is your, the drivers’, best friend. You just need to remember the math is all about how many people are moved not how many vehicles.

  16. Shard, you are totally right. This T3 lane will push even more traffic on Little Shoal Bay and the surrounding streets. Why call it a reserve but create policy that conflicts that, show traffic planners are out of touch with the real world. Reynolds, creating a T3 lane isnt magically going to create more people taking the bus, most people prefer their private transportation.

    1. Flat wrong Simon, more PEOPLE are moved by buses in one lane than are in cars in two or more. Fewer vehicles, but more humans. I know it may not look like it as the general traffic lanes are always full of cars often not moving well, but they are not, at an average of 1.2 people per car, moving as many people per lane. I understand your preference for driving but that does not make it rational or fair that you must have access to the entire roadspace at all times. And, of course, it is those people choosing to take the bus that enables the road to shift as many people as well as it does, thus making your choice to drive still be possible. If all those people were driving you and everyone else would have a much harder time driving here. The buslane is helping you, whether you believe it or not.

    2. It’s not magic Simon, it’s pretty rudimentary transport planning. Creating a T3 lane prevents car traffic congestion from delaying buses. That makes the buses faster than the congested traffic, and it means the journey times are more consistent and much less liable to experience sporadic delays.

      So yes, faster and more consistent trips by bus do create more people taking the bus.

  17. Well I can see that this forum has a fair number of evangelical buskers singing the praises of the traffic planning hierarchy… I’ve lived in large cities overseas and yes, I too have supported public transport for over 20 years. However I now choose to pay a premium to live closer to the Auckland city centre to reduce my car transport time with options for using the ferry sometimes.

    The fact that in the morning it sometimes takes me 25 minutes to travel ¼ mile from Rodney Road onto Onewa Road is a direct result of the T3 bus lane. It’s a personal choice and I yes I just have to live with it even if i think i would be better off in London. But for planners to add to this problem in the full knowledge that the Little Shoal Bay route (and probably others as well) will experience more rat runners in the afternoons as well as the mornings is not an acceptable outcome.

    The transference of traffic from main arteries through reserves and minor roads is not good planning whichever way you look at it. If you want some really progressive planning, start lobbying businesses to operate flexible start times as happens in Europe.

    The first stage of improvements TA would do well to consider as identified above is to make 2 lanes westbound all the way from Church Street to Highbury and trial a clearway between 4- 6pm (with parking as indicated for affected businesses). Then see what happens… and that’s all you have to do for now. There’s no need to paint the town red – traffic planners should learn to live with asymmetrical road layouts.

    One issue this forum has neglected, is to identify what happens when westbound Onewa traffic is waiting to turn right – into say Gladstone Road or Woodside Avenue or Kauri Glen? With a T3 lane on the left, just one turning car will create chaos. Perhaps the planners already have a scheme to limit right turning cars?

    That said, I agree that both buses and cars have to co-exist in a reasonable compromise – as unfortunately there is not sufficient population density in Auckland to support heavy public transport solutions.

  18. The AT link still works and it says “AT invited public comment on the proposal in September 2012. The changes are planned, but not currently scheduled.”… Not good. It’s getting worse. I think they’re waiting until the congestion gets to the motorway, at which stage NZTA will dictate the rules, and things will happen pronto…

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