The City Centre Future Access Study was originally conceived by Steven Joyce when he was the minister of transport as a way to explore the alternatives to the CRL, especially those involving buses. I think he was so adamant that once his officials, under fairly strict instructions, looked at the issues that they would be able to find holes in it. Unfortunately for him and the government it appeared that this strategy backfired as the study, on which the MoT was deeply involved ended up suggesting that the CRL was the best option to solving the access issues into the city centre. Along the way those involved ended up looking at 46 options before narrowing their scope down to the three best ones for more detailed study. So with this post I thought I would just highlight all the options that were considered to show just how exhaustive the list was. The options fall into one of four categories:

  • Underground Rail
  • Surface Bus
  • Underground Bus
  • Other

Looking at these main categories a bit further we have

Underground Rail

The only option considered is the CRL seeing as quite a bit of work on alignments and other rail options took place in the original business case.

Surface Bus

The options were further broken down in to three categories,

  • Best use of existing infrastructure:

1a – Heavy reliance on Queen St

1b – Heavy reliance on Symonds St

  • Enhanced Bus operation – this builds on the previous options with additional bus priority through things like double bus lanes, bus priority at intersections etc.

2a – Albert St – Double bus lanes the entire length of Albert St and Vincent St along with Wellesley St being bus only and double bus lanes on part of Symonds St. Single lane bus lanes on various other CBD streets.

2b – Hobson St – Double bus lanes on Hobson St in both directions, other elements similar to 2a.

2c – Bus only Queen St – Double bus lanes in both directions on Queen St from Britomart to K Rd.

2d – One way bus circulation – Buses would enter the to the CBD from what ever direction then loop around the CBD on double bus lanes that are on Customs St, Symonds St, K Rd, Pitt St, Vincent St and Albert St before heading back to where they came from.

2e – Two way loop – same as above but with buses going in each direction meaning double bus lanes each way.

2f – Dedicated CBD bus loop – Similar to the previous option but would also use Wellesley to have buses do a figure 8 through the CBD. It would need a handful of major interchange stations at various points.

  • Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) –

Surface BRT – This would be dedicated busways within the CBD and would need both a north/south and east/west component. The study looked at BRT options both with and without the original CRL business case’s suggestion of busways on feeder routes like Dominion Rd as they only concentrated on the CBD. All options would require things like grade separation of the busways. There were four potential North/South routes identified and three East/West routes from which 12 combinations were possible and a total of 24 options when assessed with and without BRT options on the feeding streets. The corridors identified were:


      • Hobson St
      • Vincent/Albert st
      • Queen St
      • Symonds St


      • Fanshawe St/Customs St
      • Victoria St
      • Wellesley St

Elevated BRT – adding to the BRT options, the study also considered an elevated BRT option using the best combination from above which was Wellesley and Symonds St, the elevated part would also be extended to some of the key approaches.

Underground Bus

This used the BRT options as the basis for investigation and the solution would require either a tunnel going North/South, East/West or possibly one of each. The bus tunnel would be required to be 2 lanes in each direction to give enough capacity for the number of bus movements needed and there would be three stations, one in the middle and one near each end. Crucially they say that while it would reduce bus impacts on the surface, surface bus lanes would still be required. The bus tunnel options considered were:

4a – Victoria Park to Grafton – This is similar to the bus tunnel option in the original CRL business case.

4b – CRL alignment – A bus tunnel with the same alignment as the CRL.

4c – East-West tunnel – under Wellesley St from Victoria Park to Symonds St but would also require pretty strong bus priority where it emerged at each end.

4d – Two Tunnels – A combination of options 4b and 4c with a major interchange at the corner of Wellesley and Albert St.

Other Options

This looked at a wide variety of other options this included:

  • Ferries – Considered as complementary instead of an alternative to the land based options.
  • Increasing car capacity – ruled out due to the significant extra road and parking space that would be required. Crucially it would reduce the number of people that could enter the CBD compared to the PT options.
  • Above ground heavy rail – ruled out due to the gradient issues.
  • Light rail – A light rail shuttle connection between Britomart and Mt Eden using one of two routes.

5a – Albert St – Using the roughly the CRL alignment to get to Mt Eden

5b – Queen St – Running light rail straight down Queen St and a few back streets in Newton to get to Mt Eden.

5c – Light rail network – Expanding on the option above, the light rail network would be extended down a few of the key routes that feed into the city centre with the most practical being Gt North Rd, Sandringham Rd, Dominion Rd and Mt Eden Rd.

  • Personal Rapid Transit – Not considered to be a realistic solution to CBD access but a potential option to get people around the CBD.
  • Elevated rail – Using the option promoted by the Greenways Project of an elevated line from Britomart to Victoria St before turning south and travelling above the motorway till it gets to Newton. Due to the alignment intermediate stations were considered not to work.
  • Travel Demand Management – Not considered an alternative as would be part of any of the other options.
  • Walking/Cycling – Considered to happen as part of other options
  • Intelligent transport systems and other incremental improvements – This is using technology to inform people of conditions either on the road or PT network to allow them to manage their travel, this is considered to take part in the other options
  • South-West train services – Considered to be analysed as part of any bus options.

As you can see, the CCFAS investigated quite a few options and only what were considered the best of each example was taken forward for further analysis as one of the short-listed options. In rejecting the CCFAS study, Gerry Brownlee in his press release said

Mr Brownlee says he had expected a broader review of potential transport solutions for Auckland than the relatively narrow case studies in the report released today, which include a rail tunnel (the CRL), some enhanced existing bus services, and underground bus options.

It would be good to know just what else could have even been considered.

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  1. Wow it really did look at every option including the kitchen sink. No wonder the previously sceptical Ministry of Transport felt there was little alternative to going along with the CCFAS findings. Seems the Minister is about the only person who doesn’t get it.

  2. The minister obviously expected a broader review to include Star Gates, teleporters, and autonomous flying cars. Why were these obviously superior alternatives excluded from the study?

    1. Nah,
      They missed the flyer saucer option as well as the tele-presence using remote controlled avatars and of course the submarine docking bays at the Ferry terminal option.

      And this is all bunk anyway as everyone knows we’ll all live at the beach and work for 5 hours a week max due to the impending life of leisure generational change which is due about now…

  3. Perhaps if the report mentioned “hot pies” will be available at every station on the CRL Gerry would have said “it’s a no brainer”?

  4. As I am currently in the Chrischurcg CBD and becoming pretty familiar with the minister’s work here perhaps the problem with the CRL is that it doesn’t involve enough demolition for his taste? But seriously, what else could be looked at? I guess he might prefer just ignoring Auckland and hoping that it stops being so urban and successful as it doesn’t suit his ideology?

  5. I personally don’t think enough of our taxpayer dollars have been poured into exploring zeppelin-based transport options. And I’ve heard no discussion at all about dedicated hang-gliding corridors. Good on Gerry for speaking out against the sinister bureaucratic conspiracy that is trying to foist an efficient, working public transport system on the people of Auckland.

    I think Gerry’s preferred option of “everybody drives their own car everywhere” is clearly the best solution and it’s not even mentioned in the report…

    1. It was actually included in the report — as per the above post: “Increasing car capacity – ruled out due to the significant extra road and parking space that would be required. Crucially it would reduce the number of people that could enter the CBD compared to the PT options.” I guess Gerry didn’t read that part!

    2. As a sometime steampunk reader, zeppelins would be awesome! Can we have automatons too? Because I for one am pretty bored with housework.

    1. You, I hope, are joking.

      And what about moving walkways? Step on in Balmoral, and “walk” into town at 30 km/h. I think we should study that too as an option, instead of doing something as stupid as building something that’s already shown to work.

  6. seriously, this issue ought to be the subject of some searching questions to the Minister of Motorways in the House, I trust that Julie Anne and Phil Twyford routinely cruise this blog quietly in the background!

    1. Indeed. Julie/Phil if you’re reading, pass these onto Gerry in question time please on our behalf:

      1. Does the Minister stand by his statement from the 13/12/12 press release that he expected a broader range of options to be considered in CCFAS? If so, which?
      2. Does the Minister stand by his statement from his letter to the Mayor of Auckland from 13/2/12 that he was comfortable with the proposed scope of the study?
      3. Does the Minister stand by the work of the MoT and NZTA officials who contributed to CCFAS and agreed that the CRL was the best performing option?
      4. Is the Minister aware that the ‘increasing car capacity’ option would reduce the number of people able to enter the CBD? If so does he advocate a halt to central city growth in Auckland?
      5. Can the Minister present an evidence base for his claim that changing workplace practices will have a substantive impact on central city access issues?

      1. And:
        ” Can the minister advise an alternative to the CRL option, which has been determined as having a more favourable BCR ratio by MoT and NZTA officials than the one chosen by the MoT and NZTA?”.

  7. “Crucially it would reduce the number of people that could enter the CBD compared to the PT options.”

    But it’s the quality, not the quantity, James. So long as the *right* people can drive into the cbd..

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