Last week I asked our readers what roads in Auckland would benefit from new or improved buslanes. One that came up a few times was Fanshawe Street, and as I walk along here everyday I see many buses being held up in general traffic where there are no bus lanes.
Fanshawe Street is one of the busiest bus corridors in the CBD, carrying all of the buses to and from the North Shore. A 2011 Auckland Transport study found that buses carry an impressive 78% of people in the AM peak and 72% of people in the PM peak. This surely suggests that it should have a full length buslanes on both sides of the road, however there are only a smattering, with the big issue being buses heading out of the city. However amazingly the 2011 Auckland Transport study hasn’t led to any improvements in nearly 2.5 years. Eastbound there are buslanes from Beaumont Street to Market Place, and along Sturdee St as far as Hobson St. However westbound is really lacking with lanes only from Halsey to Beaumont St, and a pathetic little bypass leading up to Halsey St where buses can use the clogged left hand turn lane.
So I thought I should have a look at how easy it would be to get a quick win with improved painted lanes along here, and the answer came to very easy. Starting from Albert Street, the first section is probably the trickiest. Because the first intersection is with Hobson St, the way one street south, there is not much point adding bus lanes along the southern most lane. However the next lane is a joint straight and left turn lane, usually used by traffic heading straight. So this is the obvious lane to be converted to be a bus lane. For the 3 lane section at the start some lane rearrangement is required, however again this is just paint.
The next section between Hobson and Nelson is a real no brainer, as is probably the scene of the worst congestion, with buses bunching at the bus stop just before Nelson Street. Very easy to add a painted bus lane to the southern most lane. With no left turning traffic the bus lane will work really well here, as buses do not have to merge with left turning traffic, as usually happens at intersections.
The next section from Nelson to Halsey Street is notionally supposed to be shared between buses and left turning traffic. Though only tiny signs indicate this. In reality traffic waiting to turn left into Halsey Street backs up, and stops buses getting to the token lane by the traffic lights. When the section does flow freely, quickly is clogged by queue jumpers. So the solution should be to make this a full bus lane, with right turning traffic only able to access the lane in the usual final 50 metres.
All these could be achieved in a few months at very low cost (paint and signage only) but deliver major benefits to to the thousands of people who travel by bus down this corridor every day. So why not Auckland Transport?