We have come quite a long way in improving Auckland’s public transport system over the last decade, but there are times when you realise that – perhaps sub-consciously more than anything else – there are some who think that public transport still isn’t important and that it’s OK to treat those who catch the train or ride the bus or ferry as second class citizens. It really pisses me off to be honest. Let’s take a look at the latest example:

Buses normally allocated their own lane along one of Auckland’s heaviest commuter routes will have to vie for space with cars during months of post-Christmas roadworks in Fanshawe St.

The city-bound bus lane between the Northern Motorway and Nelson St will be opened to general traffic while the road is narrowed between next week and March to make way for a $415 million electricity supply upgrade for Auckland and Northland.

Although two lanes will remain available to traffic from December 27, commuters from the North Shore will be urged to avoid delays by using the motorway’s Cook St or Grafton Gully exits to reach downtown Auckland.

What’s really frustrating about this proposal is that during peak times, it is the Fanshawe Street bus lane that actually carries the majority of people travelling along the corridor. Let’s take a look at the numbers from the 2012 CBD Screenline Survey:

fanshawe-street-modeshareThe first line shows the key point – that along Fanshawe Street in the AM peak 65% of people are using the bus lane, which means that around 17% of people are using each of the other two general traffic lanes. But Transpower’s project means that it’s the poor sods using the bus who miss out on having a really critical bus lane just so the vastly lower number of people driving in their cars don’t have to squeeze down to one lane inbound. This is despite Mike Lee, chair of the Transport Committee, highlighting in a letter to Transpower that this was exactly what he didn’t want to see happen:


To be honest I’m not surprised that Transpower is showing such contempt for public transport passengers. The Northern Busway has been completely stuffed this whole year with the various sections of it being closed repeatedly – once again I can’t see Transpower getting away with closing two lanes of motorway (the equivalent of what’s carried on the Northern Busway at peak times) yet for some reason they can get away with stuffing around bus passengers all year long.

What is disappointing though is that presumably Auckland Transport have approved the closure of the Fanshawe Street bus lane, because at the end of the day it’s their piece of infrastructure. The closure is scheduled to go right through to March, traditionally the busiest month for public transport travel in the whole year, and Auckland Transport will know the impact of this on the attractiveness of public transport for people coming from the North Shore. They will know that the Fanshawe Street bus lane carries nearly twice as many people during the peak period as the other two lanes combined. Yet seemingly they don’t care.

No wonder public transport patronage is falling.

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  1. From what I have heard, many in AT pointed this out. However due to the nature of the closure, apparently some moddelling suggested that if if were left as one vehicle lane and one bus lane, the backup on the motorway would prevent buses from reaching the bus lane anyway. But that’s hearsay.

    1. The very easy solution to that is to reinstate the recently removed peak “Shelly Beach Rd and Buses Only” restriction during the AM peak on the Harbour Bridge.

  2. The powerline works on the Northern busway have maybe added 30 seconds to each trip, if anything at all. The Transpower contractors have handled it very efficiently. I hope they have a good plan for Fanshawe Street?

  3. Could it be done as a T2 lane and a car lane. This is not ideal but would seem to be a lot better than buses been treated equally to cars.

  4. Additionally, wouldn’t traffic be better eased during these road works by keeping the bus lane as a bus lane, and encouraging car commuters who use Fanshawe St to use buses instead? Would be far more space-efficient and would result in a higher carrying capacity.

  5. Seems like a great opportunity to test a different street configuration- one more closely aligned with the CC Master Plan goals.

        1. Central bus lanes have the advantage of reducing conflict with cars turning left or coming out of side roads – most bus lanes in Auckland end at intersections to aid car movements. There would of course have to be works moving the shelters to central islands. Personally I find island stations nicer as you have your back to the car traffic and have a barrier between you and cars rather than having to sit there facing all the traffic driving past you.

        2. Makes for a nicer street too. You have the large mass of the buses in the middle, then the lesser mass of cars, then cyclists and finally the pedestrian realm at the outer side.

  6. Put simply, if you need to go down from 3 lanes to 2 why would you remove the lane which carries 65% of people and not one of the two which combines carry 35%?

  7. So despite all this being pointed out someone at AT still went ahead and shut the bus lane? To be honest they should be seeing the effect of getting rid of one of the general car lanes, Fanshawe Street is massively over-engineered as it is.

      1. I understand in terms of people throughput it has a bias towards PT, however, in terms of a street it has a clear private transport focus. It doesn’t even have dedicated bus lanes in both directions solely for the use of buses for instance, and all pedestrian crossing options have been made as difficult as possible, or removed.

        1. There is no doubt that this part of Auckland has been horrendously disfigured by having to cater to so many private vehicles at peak time. It embodies everything that is wrong with transport infrastructure in Auckland. It should be a nice quarter of the city being so close to the water and Victoria Park.

          I try and avoid that area as much as possible. As you say, even something as simple as crossing the road becomes a real chore and you feel that you are a third class citizen unless you are in a car.

        2. As a user of buses on Fanshawe St, it very rarely clogs up for the buses, even though there are no dedicated bus lanes. The cars tend to leave the left hand lane alone, and/or give way to buses. Things work best with common sense politeness, not just big fat RULES!

        3. @Matt L – I’ve been on Fanshawe Street more than enough times to know the situation with bus lanes theres. Perhaps you should go and pay the area a visit, you’d realise that Fanshawe Street extends from the bottom of Albert Street all the way until the motorway starts. Between Albert Street and Halsey Street which is probably over 2/3rds of Fanshawe Street there is no bus lane going West. On the section of Fanshawe Street between Halsey Street and Customs Street and Market Place there is a bus lane along part of the way which then ends to provide extra lanes for cars turning right. There is then a partial peak time bus lane on Sturdee Street going East but none on Fanshawe Street. Looking across Sturdee and Fanshawe and counting the lane used for parking we have upwards of 10 lanes of traffic in this area and yet patchy or no bus lanes. Coming off the motorway there’s no bus lane and then going onto the motorway there’s a short stump of a bus lane. For a bus route that is drawn on maps an part of the RTN, that has such a massive number of lanes, and which is carry almost 2/3rds of all people passing through on bus, the situation is absolutely appalling and AT and AC should be ashamed especially since they only recently did all this massive widening for basically no benefit as far as I can see.

  8. AT is planning to take 120 daily services Takapuna to the CBD permanently out of the.Fanshawe bus lane to turn right @ Vic Park into Halsley and up Wellesley then off to Onehunga. It pays lip service to bus lanes. . Join Devonport-Takapuna Bus Users Facebook page

    1. Pretty sure that plan also involves new bus lanes all along Wellesley Street so won’t be any different in terms of travel speeds. Off topic anyway.

    2. Yep that route will have to have bus lanes all along Fanshawe, Halsey and Wellesley. Given the number of bus routes they propose for that corridor it must have them. How exactly is more buslanes lip service to bus lanes?

      1. I assume that plan would also include free transfers so people who wanted to go to Britomart could easily transfer to a bus at Akoronga, or the Wynyard Quarter interchange, and as buses would be so frequent they would only have to wait a minute or 2.

    3. A bus route from the North Shore to Onehunga?!? OUTRAGEOUS. All the North Shore buses will end up in Onehunga where the poor people will steal their wheels and set the vehicles on fire.

      1. It will also make it a lot easier for all the thieves to come over from South Auckland to the shore steal stuff and catch a bus all the way back.

        1. But, but… to get from Takapuna to Onehunga that bus would have to pass by Wynyard, Victoria Park, the centre of town, the university campuses, the hospital, Grafton and Newmarket!

          We all know that people from Takapuna only ever go downtown, so why would they waste time running the bus past all those other places?

        2. Nic, running buses from Takapuna to Onehunga may be part of a socialist CONSPIRACY to expose the baby boom noveau riche in Takapuna to poor people in Onehunga, so that the former feel GUILTY about hoarding so much wealth.

          Either that or AT think that running buses between Takapuna and Onehunga provides a useful north-south cross-town connection between key locations on the Shore and major destinations in the city centre and south along GSR/Manukau Rd, without the route being so long as to become unreliable.

          I know where B-Lanes Ago would put their piles of hoarded money.

        3. On a slightly more serious note this is a taste of the opposition that will come when specific service changes come up for consultation next year. Vocal people will be disappointed that they are losing there direct service from A to B, not realizing that many more people will benefit from the changes.
          AT needs to do a good PR job (I mean real PR, not bs!) to ensure people see the huge benefits of moving to a network model
          The worry is what happened in Wellington this year. Jarret Walker helped prepare a great network plan, but large community opposition meant GWRC have largely thrown it in the bin, and going ahead with very minor changes, putting off big decisison about CBD (Lambton Quay) congestion for another day.

        4. That’s fine as long AT listen and act on genuine concerns and issues. Presumably the “many people” benefitting from the changes are quite capable of standing up and saying how great it all is? Incidentally, none of my circle of acquaintances, including many bus users, was even aware that there was a service review underway which suggests that the publicity so far has been inadequate.
          The Wellington situation was predictable in many ways – removing the Seatoun trolleybus? Not a chance. Real concerns about the quality of the proposed interchanges weren’t properly addressed either which was bound to lead to negativity about transfers.

        5. It was actually a concept service review, and the detail of routes will be done in local bunches over the next few years.
          Agree about the interchange issue in Wellington, having a budget of a couple of million for that was definitely ridiculous, AT are much more switched on about that, with planning for interchanges underway.
          I guess the issue with people benefiting is that they don’t use bus services regularly as they don’t meet their needs.
          Ensuring a quality conversation is important, so both sides can explain and listen.

  9. Qiute obviously there is little knowledge of the Takapuna CBD bus users. 75% disembark at Downtown & get other connections to the hospital, Parnell or Onehunga or they work in the CBD. In the afternoon buses are often “delayed” arriving from over the bridge. Imagine the delays buses will encounter arriving from Onehunga.
    The cost of new bus lanes Halsley St to Onehunga & return? Many, many millions. Is it budgeted for? Haven’t seen it.

  10. They now will get a direct service to the University, Hospital, Newmarket and can change at Akoronga for Downtown, however will be less than 10 minute walk anyway.
    Main issue I think will be about connections to the rail-network. People will need an extra change to get to Britomart, however this only really counts if they head east. Can change to Western at Grafton and Southern at Newmarket/Onehunga, however this needs to be advertised. Might lose a few people who commuted from Takapuna to Ellerslie etc as they will have slower journey, but this balanced by much clearer timetables.

  11. Britomart is the Auckland Transport Interchange. Bay/Takapuna to CBD currently links to that. The Lower part of Queen should be all buses – no other traffic allowed. To drop passengers at 1km away at the Civic to suit AUT & UNI who can now get direct links via regular 886 buses is not the answer. Layover in the CBD don’t exist for the Northern Express- they drop off & pick up every 10 minutes. Shuttles from Takapuna should be doing the same. Aroranga Station does not exist for Central Takapuna-Hauraki passengers. They want to keep the 15 min express service- not an all day excusion walking
    2km to Akoranga or catching an unreliable connection from Birkehead via Akoranga.

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