One part of the City Centre Future Access Study that is particularly interesting to look through is Appendix C – the deficiency analysis. This effectively highlights in more detail what ‘the problem’ is in terms of future access to central Auckland. In particular, it highlights the difficulties arising from the future number of buses on certain parts of the network and was undertaken during the relatively early stages of developing CCFAS – so apparently doesn’t look at certain issues later dealt with in more detail, like the application of public transport crowding in the modelling.

Given the discussions of the last few days, and in particular some of the concerns about CCFAS raised by the Minister in relation to the impact of currently planned project, it’s worth noting that the deficiency analysis outlines the projects assumed to be constructed in the transport modelling runs:

The following committed transport schemes were included:

  • Rail electrification;
  • AMETI early stages (including SE Busway);
  • Waterview connection;
  • Integrated ticketing and fares;
  • New bus network implementation with PTOM;
  • Puhoi to Wellsford RoNS.

In addition, a number of other schemes that are currently not funded were also included, as follows:

  • Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing (in 2041 only);
  • AMETI later stages;
  • East-West link;
  • State highway upgrades and removal of bottlenecks.

The impact of all these projects being included in the modelling is also noted:

As a result, the reference case scenarios used as the basis of this deficiency analysis included a large amount of road-based transport infrastructure investment outside the city centre. This therefore presents a ‘best case’ for the wider network in both 2021 and 2041 as there is currently no guarantee that some of the schemes listed above will be funded.

So not only are all the currently proposed/under construction motorway upgrades included in the analysis, a pile of additional motorway projects that aren’t yet funded (like AWHC and the East-West Link) are also assumed to be constructed. I do wonder whether the mess the city centre becomes in the transport modelling results might be partly because of the impact of AWHC but let’s set that issue aside for now.

There’s then a lot of discussion about the realistic capacity of bus corridors, which is critical to the issue of whether or not buses alone can handle the increased travel demands over the next 30 years. This is because the number of buses along many inner city streets increases pretty dramatically over time – even with the rationalisation of services that occurs with the introduction of the new bus network. Here are the anticipated bus volumes in 2021:


And then in 2041:


If it’s a bit difficult to read, the busiest section is on Symonds Street between Grafton Bridge and Wellesley Street – having 199 buses and hour in 2021 and 262 by 2041.The deficiency analysis then goes on to outline the problems which arise from such high volumes of buses:

…a key threshold that underpins this analysis relates to the operational capacity of a bus lane. Background research has indicated that 100 buses per hour is a reasonable threshold capacity for a single lane with no indented stops, and that the capacity can be increased to a degree with the provision of indented stops but space requirements at the stops themselves and the delays experienced by buses at junctions limits the effectiveness of increasing service capacity in this way. 

…It should be noted that in the context of this analysis, such a threshold should be regarded as an upper-limit for the desirable efficient operation of a bus service rather than an absolute limit. There are many examples of bus corridors around the world operating with a combined frequency of more than 100 buses per hour, but … there is also much evidence to suggest that once this threshold is exceeded, the performance of the network in terms of delays and journey-time reliability begins to deteriorate.

 Since service reliability is often identified as the most critical indicator in passengers’ perception of the quality of service, and consequently the demand for that service, there is a strong case to be made that such thresholds should be seriously considered in the planning of any bus network.

Clearly in the city centre itself, the sheer magnitude of future demand means that relying on buses alone simply cannot work due to the sheer volumes of vehicles that would need to traverse the key corridors. This is what leads to the requirement of closing off these streets to anything but buses in the Surface Bus Options looked at later in the report, but I’ll leave that further analysis for another post.

Moving further through the deficiency analysis work, it becomes clear that the problems with bus capacity exist not only on the inner city streets, but are actually much more widespread throughout Auckland. Using ‘volume to capacity’ ratios, which compare the PT demand with a realistic level of capacity supplied along that particular route, we see that demand absolutely swamps the amount of available capacity. Once again, first in 2021:


By 2041 it’s a real mess:


The ratios seem to be worked out by a comparison of future demand with the currently proposed future bus networks. If frequencies on the bus network were ramped up to provide more capacity to bring the ratios down, then the city ends up having to be hugely swamped  with buses – like shown in the earlier diagrams, creating a nonsensical transport outcome. This creates the conundrum which sits at the heart of improving future access to the city centre: either the buses are enormously (and impossibly really) overcrowded or you need to run far too many buses for the city’s streets to cope with.

In fact, to meet the level of PT demand in 2021, there would need to be an average of close to 100 buses an hour on all the bus access points to the city centre:


What the deficiency analysis really highlights in my mind is how ultimately we need City Rail Link in order to save the CBD from being inundated with thousands upon thousands of buses. Of course even with CRL we will still need to run a lot of buses into town, but they will be from areas not served by rail to a greater and greater extent, while over time if we’re smart enough to build a North Shore rail link rather than a daft additional motorway crossing, there will be the opportunity to further avoid massive increases in the number of buses in the city centre over time.

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  1. Repeating a comment I have made else where in reply to Mr Anderson’s remark:”Of course even with CRL we will still need to run a lot of buses into town, but they will be from areas not served by rail to a greater and greater extent, while over time if we’re smart enough to build a North Shore rail link rather than a daft additional motorway crossing, there will be the opportunity to further avoid massive increases in the number of buses in the city centre over time.”

    “My comment to the NZ Herald on the City Rail Link (was limited to 1000 characters so kept it short):
    The simple answer is we need the CRL. Without there is no (multi-modal) second Harbour Crossing, there is no airport line, no Botany Line, no North Shore Line and no fully integrated multi-modal transit system if we can not unlock a crucial part of Auckland’s transit system – the rail system. The CRL’s benefits lie far beyond the CBD where it will be built and will allow as part of the puzzle enable ALL of Auckland to travel efficiently, quickly and in an affordable across the city.
    If the Western Ring Route is the crucial part to our road network, then the CRL is the crucial part to our Mass and Rapid Transit Network – pure and simple. To do nothing is condemning the entire city to congestion, economic inefficiencies, and social/environmental costs beyond what is acceptable.
    Choice on transit mode will always remain for the commuter, but let’s make that choice on an equal level playing field for one’s journey and destination.”

    Still debating myself the merits of a multi modal Harbour Crossing but at least The North Shore Line is there.

    Basically (again from else where): “Now I know for starters if we went down this all-encompassing – whole hog approach to which the CRL is the actual linchpin, then a lot more of Auckland would be within very easy reach of a very rapid, very frequent, and very high quality rapid (rail) transit system to cross-commute across Auckland (and that has even before major bus investments such as the North West Bus-way is brought into consideration). ”

    And yes for those paying attention next door I did take a spray at my own Party with this refined comment: ” BUT it is time we take off the blinkers, time to get out of that square of conventional thinking, time to get out of this short and medium term approach and Power Shift (Auckland) – Forward.”

    Because the way I am seeing it; “conventional thinking” has us squarely spinning our wheels in the mud at the moment – all spin and muck flying but no actual progress

    So yes as Mr Anderson said, we have a bus capacity issue, and yes the CRL is the linchpin to getting everything else moving (all things considered)

    1. Without [the CRL] there is no (multi-modal) second Harbour Crossing, there is no airport line, no Botany Line, no North Shore Line and no fully integrated multi-modal transit system

      I still don’t get it. The only one of those things that is unachievable without the CRL is the airport line, and even then it could still happen. It would just mean having the line as 2tph or taking some services off other lines.

      1. Maybe one of the CBT boys can go the full length and put forward an example of a Rail Operating Proposal that encompasses ALL the lines I have mentioned above.

        But for the North Shore Line you need the CRL completed otherwise those North Shore Line Trains are not going to be going very far on the CBD side unless you want to add them into the bottleneck between Britomart, Newmarket, Grafton and Penrose which will do no one ANY good what so ever.

        And as Patrick would state, the North Shore Line and the CRL means a direct or one transfer train trip from Albany to the Airport via the CRL and Onehunga (which would be come the Airport Line any how) Lines.

  2. I was re reading Gerrys statement yesterday and it became clear that what he was suggesting is that he or his advisors have read the surface bus option say that it will provide enough capacity for ~5 years after which it is swamped and they are using that as their basis for suggesting that the CRL doesn’t make sense till closer to 2030. Obviously they failed to read the rest of the paragraph which said that the option ended up worse than doing nothing.

    1. It would be interesting to get some insight into what the Ministry of Transport and the other government agencies actually think of CRL now they’ve gone through this process. I wonder whether it’s more of a “when” question to them rather than a “whether CRL is needed” question. I’m not sure whether CCFAS really addressed the “when” question in enough detail other than to say everything’s stuffed in 2021 no matter what. Perhaps the next step (detailed business case?) will start exploring that matter in more detail.

  3. This is all based on the idea that Auckland’s population will keep increasing. While you and property developers may want this, most people don’t. NZ is full of people whom emigrated in the last 150 years to have a quite life, not another busy crowded city!

    1. That is a very selfish statement pete, a very much let me in then shut the gate type of attitude.

      And why shouldn’t it keep growing? Auckland is a wonderful city that people want to live in. If you/others want a quiet non crowded city then there are plenty of other places around the county to go to. More people in Auckland will lead to it being more successful which will also benefit the rest of NZ (we already consume less govt resources than our share of population and the gap is likely to widen further).

    2. “NZ is full of people whom (sic) emigrated in the last 150 years to have a quite life, not another busy crowded city!”

      There’s plenty of quiet places around in this country. If people emigrate here for the quiet life as opposed to city life, they shouldn’t settle in…. a city.

      1. Quite right. They should find a nice quiet place in the country and then let Brownlee build his motorway right through the middle of of it.

    3. Pete, most immigrants came for the economic opportunity. Back then farming was the engine.
      The last immigrant I talked to about Auckland complained it is too quiet!

  4. Based on what we are reading, it seems even more strange that AT caved and Dominion Road has not received the full PT route upgrade. If these numbers are correct it will probably need to be rebuilt again in just a few years.

      1. Well, time dependent lanes anyway. If it gets this busy I guess they can change the times as I’m sure the return buses will start to get caught in traffic. Did ya have to mention the cycling? Still a bit bitter about that even though I don’t have to use it (it’s a route and a half).

  5. I fully agree that end-to-end buses in the CBD is not a feasible solution, but am genuinely puzzled at the large predicted passenger flows into the CBD – or do these include “through” flows as well as destination flows? – notwithstanding predicted population increase, which is probably valid. I accept that lawyers, courts, unis, ESOL colleges and a few other activities probably benefit from being close together in the central city, but that’s about it. Banks and insurance companies, for example, could locate their head offices anywhere – the 1998 CBD power failure demonstrated that point extremely well, albeit unintentionally. I work from home, however all my Auckland clients (mostly large corporates) have their head offices in city fringe areas or beyond, and I seldom need to visit them anyway.

    PS Off topic, but did anyone else attend AT’s presentation last week on the Sarawia rail crossing? Any comments?

    1. I think there’s a growing recognition that decentralisation of employment is not a good thing for Auckland’s economic productivity. Workers in the CBD are far more productive than those outside it, due to agglomeration economics.

      1. Thanks Mr A, I assume by agglomeration economics you mean clustering of competitors, which I accept and gave some examples of myself. But I don’t quite see why disparate clusters need to mega-cluster. That surely becomes a cluster- (oh, I probably can’t say that).

        Would you please provide links to evidence of greater productivity of CBD workers. Presumably travel time and costs, also office costs, would be factors as well as perceived synergies. But again, pretty well everything is done via the web these days, I’ve even bought and sold property without leaving my desk (the legal and financial bits I mean; I did go and have a quick look!). So it didn’t matter one iota where my lawyer or bank was physically located.

        1. Ah, decentralization…….isn’t happening anywhere else to any material extent, and there’s a reason for that. The idea, from a business perspective, that everything is, or can be, done remotely is a myth. Sure, there are exceptions – but they are just that. My employer has 130,000 workers worldwide and almost all offices in a in CBD location or further trying to cement them. Same with our clients (most).

          So banks and insurance companies could locate their offices anywhere? Really? The fact they don’t is just a massive oversight? In almost every country? No, it’s whats best.

          agglomeration in CBDs just works. So Lets stop wasting our breath on this one.

          1. Cities work. They are wealth generators, and the more city-like they are the better they work. Yes each one is specific in detail, and some are more or less intensely centralised than others but there is no mystery here, they work through concentration. That’s the whole trick of the city. Therefore setting out to strangle the centre of Auckland further, as has was done in the late 20th century, will simply keep it underperforming as a city. It’s a dumb idea and only a bunch of idiot small town buffoons like Brownlee and co could seriously hold it and persuade themselves that they’re working for the good of the nation.

            When it comes to urban motorways these too are simple; they disperse what’s good and concentrate what ain’t. They are anti-city. They are dispersive and not agglomerative. Enough already.

        2. As a lawyer in the CBD, I can tell you that it is very important for lawyers, insurance, accountants and other professionals to be clustered together, just as it is excellent for IT professionals and creative industries. It makes it easier for us to interact with other lawyers as well as seeing clients and visiting them. Emailing and telephone are very useful tools but they dont meet all our needs especially when it comes to marketing and cross-pollination of ideas.

          Beyond that, young lawyers dont want to work out on the fringes in general. Many young lawyers come to Auckland from the provinces (like me, though not so young anymore) and they came here because they want to work in a big exciting CBD. Being stuck out in a business park on the fringes wont appeal to most of the people who want to work in commercial law firms and litigators need to be in the centre for access to the courts.

          Even if the economic agglomeration benefits were debatable, I believe most people like to work in a dynamic CBD. But notice I said “most” not all. Perhaps you enjoy sitting at home by yourself working. Personally it sounds like one of Dante’s levels of hell.

          Also, most people would prefer to travel to their office via an efficient, frequent PT system. Again, not all but most. I think the 3 to 1 ratio of pro versus against comments on the recent NZ Herald poll demonstrates that.

          1. And further to that, professionals tend to enjoy what the city has to offer at lunch time and after work. Many modern jobs aren’t so much of a turn up at 9am, eat your sandwiches at 12, go home at 5pm arrangement. In my office we do a lot of our meetings with clients in cafes or over breakfast, we meet regularly with clients across the city, some of our staff guest lecture at the university, others study there, often we go for drinks after work, or find somewhere for dinner if we work late.

            Arguably the young educated ‘talent’ of this world won’t work anywhere else, and you can say the same for the top brass. Can anyone see the chief execs of all our largest companies driving to a office park out the back of Albany every day? If we don’t maintain and grow our central city we won’t keep good people in Auckland and we won’t attract large companies to set up shop.

            I’m certain we can reduce ‘pressure’ on the Auckland CBD by decentralising the jobs, education and facilities, but we’d only be decentralising them to the CBDs of Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne!

  6. Some heresy
    It is all about bus capacity … and the CRL will solve it. Really??

    So what does the CRL actually do?
    Let’s boldly assume that with the work in the Britomart throat this Christmas and whatever work is necessary on the Western line to allow 6 tph is done. There would then be 6 tph Western line, 2 tph Onehunga, and 3 tph each of Southern, Eastern and Manukau, and leaving Britomart able to cope, but completely full, and a bit fragile regarding performance.

    Suppose the CRL is complete and let’s assume that conservatively we can operate 18 tph through it.
    So at the southern portal we have up to 18 tph. So – 6tph West (because we have spent no additional money to increase capacity on the Western line, 6tph terminate, and 6 tph go to Newmarket and beyond .

    At Britomart we have 18 tph heading east – let’s say 12 towards GI and 6 towards Newmarket.
    On the Southern line, therefore there are 12 tph, 2 diverge at Onehunga (no more, because we have spent no money there)
    At Westfield Jn there are 22 tph on a flat junction … and even ignoring freight off Southdown that really is not going to work.

    The conclusion is that the radial routes cannot handle the full capacity of the CRL.

    So, let us examine it from the other end of the telescope – how much more capacity could the radial route throw at Britomart, thereby requiring the CRL?

    Western line.
    Other issues have held the service provision at 4 tph. Arguably, if those issues are solved there could be 6tph here. Equally arguably, with the improvements to the layout at Britomart from the work this Christmas, Britomart could cope with those two additional trains per hour.

    The single lead junction at Penrose and the single line mean that this line is at capacity. Getting to 3 tph would be relatively simple and would improve the pattern by putting the whole timetable on a 20 minute pattern.

    Southern, Eastern, Manukau
    Together, these form a 20 minute pattern. The Manukau and Eastern form a ten minute pattern with a Southern in the gap in one 6 minute window and a freight in the gap in the subsequent six minute window. Currently, in some peak hours, two of those three freight opportunities are used. So, unless more capacity is built from Westfield southwards (or there is a willingness for Port of Auckland to shut in favour of Tauranga) there can be no increase in frequency of passenger services on the south, east or Maunkau lines.

    So with no capacity on the radial routes able to push trains at the CBD, the CRL just improves accessibility to the CBD, journey time and performance. On its own, it does not allow more trains to run. It does not help get buses off the road. To get buses off the road a variety of schemes on the radial routes need to be completed in addition to the CRL.

    Suppose instead, the route to the North Shore were built. As discussed in other threads, let’s assume that it is a line to Albany, and spur to Takapuna, with stations at Viaduct harbour and Aotea Sq, and joining the main line at Parnell. Assume it is built in acknowledgement of a future CRL so as to complement it once the latter is built. Again assume that the Western line is sorted to allow 6tph.
    Now divert 3 tph from the Western line to Albany, and 2 tph off Onehunga to Takapuna.

    So, with the CRL alone, we have created no additional trains per hour into the CBD, no busses are taken off the roads.

    With the North Shore line alone, there are the following effects:
    Performance at Britomart is improved (because 5 tph have been removed)
    There are 75 coaches per hour worth of rail capacity (assume a coach is 50 pax and a 6 car emu is 750pax) provided between the North Shore and the CBD
    On the down side, Generalised Journey Time between the western line and CBD is worsened by 5 minutes because there is a split choice of CBD station to use

    So are we really sure that the CRL first is the right answer? If the problem really is too many busses in the CBD, I am not so sure.

    [This may be better as a separate stand-alone subject – but I shall leave that to the admins to move it if they so desire …]

    1. Your numbers are a bit off Richard.

      Capacity of the network now is 6tph from West, South and East (the plan is to eventually start all eastern line services from Manukau). What is limiting that at the moment is a lack of rolling stock not infrastructure. I believe the works at Christmas will add some more slots but is mainly intended to provide breathing space as at the moment, one late train can through the whole system out. The base level of the new signalling system all the way out to Swanson and Papakura allows for 15tphpd at a minimum with some sections higher, like between Britomart Newmarket. Currently the trains enter britomart and then have to reverse back out which means that every train takes up two slots in the tunnel and on the Quay Park junction.

      With the CRL each train would be passing through so only takes up one slot on the junction and tunnel with the termination points spread out around the network (Swanson, Manukau, Onehunga, Papakura etc.) so it allows for more trains to run. Those 20 trains per hour turn into 20 trains per hour per direction which greatly enhances capacity.

      A connection to the shore before the CRL would allow some or all of those trains to be extended but you aren’t going to see huge increases in capacity as you are still funnelling 4 lines on the southern side of the harbour into one line over the harbour.

      1. How about the assumption that the CRL and it’s approach junctions could only handle 18tph! They could easily handle 18tph *per direction*, or 36tph in total. Quay Park currently does this. The CRL would allow the three main suburban lines to more or less double frequency (excluding Onehunga and Manukau unless their junctions were doubled, but that’s easy enough).

        1. Sorry – all my tph were ‘per direction’.

          You think that the suburban lines could double their frequency with no enhancement? So 12tph each way to the Waterfront and 10 each wat to Newmarket at Quay Park Jn – 22 tph over the diamond crossing? Then 9 tph each way at Westfield – 15 tph over the diamond at Westfield Jn, plus some freight, and fit in 3 freight per hour each way at Otahuhu and up to 15 tph over the diamond at Wiri?

          Yes, you could create a timetable to have that frequency of service, but what would you wish to sacrifice to acheive that frequency? Journey time or performance or both?

          1. I said more or less double, simply taking the existing frequencies and doubling them probably isn’t the optimised allocation of slots.

            How does this sound, 10 tph on the western running through the tunnel to become 10tph on the southern, and vice versa. Pair that with 10 tph on the eastern running through the tunnel and Grafton to become the Onehunga line, with most of those bouncing at Newmarket and 3 or 4 running right through to Onehunga (whatever it can handle with a passing loop at Te Papapa).

            There we go, doubled the frequency to 40 services a hour. No one section of track or junction requires more that 20tphpd, which is perfectly possible as the current operation of Quay Park shows us.

            Why would you run freights through at peak time? Schedule freights during the 20 hours a day when the suburban network isn’t running a full frequency.

          2. Perhaps I would run freights at the times of day that the freight customers want freight trains to run in order to get their desired delivery or departure times at Palmerston North, Wellington and Christchurch, in order for railfreight to remain competitive with sticking the freight on lorries instead and driving it on roads – roads that are ever straighter and faster because of the government’s determination to spend money on RONS..

          3. Unfortunately the full third main (Wiri – Otahuhu) was delayed when Kiwirail announced they were deferring a bunch of projects, and laying off lots of staff. They admitted it would cause big trouble when we have EMU’s every 5 mins in each direction all day between Puhinui and Westfield, but fudged it over.
            Seems like they are building the northernmost part of it, but not the section through Middlemore. However this will still cause big trouble for AT’s timekeeping as freights will still have to fit through during the day. Much of Kiwirails traffic is containers to/from Tauranga and Hamilton, and as these are short runs need good wagon utilisation so trains are run 24hours.

        1. I counted something like 17 vehicular level crossings on that line, each of which would effectively be shut by a schedule of 15 tph each way, and each an enciouragement for dangerous car driving induced by the frustration of not being able to get across the crossing.

          1. What’s the problem for trains? They have the ROW. Really only in NZ would we think like this, just like we do about pedestrians…. Why this default idea that cars must never give way. If the road is too inconvenienced then an engineering solution can be bought from the vast road budgets….

          2. The problem for trains is exactly that – that the trains are being managed to avoid overly inconveniencing the roads. To get the full capacity of the Western line, without introducing increased risk from car drivers runing the lights at level crossings with a significantly increased level of train service, or trains spading the lights protecting those crossings, all those road crossings (and all the pedestrian crossings) would need to be closed, or the line bridged or tunnelled. For 17 crossings, that is looking like a bill of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

          3. Newsflash Richard, the CRL costing includes grade separation of level crossings on the western line, and the Onehunga branch for that matter. You’re beating up hot air about nothing, the project has already accounted for these.

          4. Liz, sadly, it would be a Pyrrhic victory. The loco engineer would be traumatised, that morning’s or evening’s train service would be completely disrupted, the train set would be out of service whilst repaired, and perhaps apart from the few who actually witnessed it, none of the other car drivers would be deterred from crazy manouevers at level crossings in the future.

          5. Nick, fair enough, though other than the Onehuna line I have never noticed the specific inclusion of those improvements to radial route anywhere before now.

            I still think that your 20 tph will involve ‘heroic’ train planning at all the flat junctions. But I’ll set that aside, and go back to my original point with equally heroic train numbers.

            Take your increased level of service on the radial routes, 10tph Western, 10 tph Eastern, 10tph Southern 4 tph Onehunga, so 19 tph total of growth on existing routes.

            If I were to have a similar North Shore level of service – say 18 tph out of Britomart – 10 tph Eastern, 8 tph Newmarket/ West, 4 tph and from the North Shore Takapuna-Onehunga, 8 tph Albany – Southern. so 10 tph growth on existing routes and 12 tph new North Shore routes.

            I still wonder if the North Shore option abstracts more people out of buses than does the CRL as a first stage.

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