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.

P1050703
Note the 5 buses in this picture, each carrying more all the cars visible. However only 1 bus will probably get through on this green.

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.

Existing bus lanes
Existing bus lanes along Fanshawe Street
P1050699
Lack of provision of bus lanes results in big delays

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.

Fanshawe bus lane 1

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.

Fanshawe buslane 2

 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?

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69 comments

  1. Last evening provided another graphic example of our broken public transport system. I boarded a bus at the Civic for Takapuna. Twenty minutes later I was at the bottom of Albert St and in a further 15 minutes I was at Victoria Park.

    Is it just possible that a CRL that traverses the length of Albert Street might at least help some of this problem?

    Yes last nights traffic was heavier than normal, but it wasn;t extraordinary.

    I am having huge difficulty comprehending that the CRL will only start to be built in 2020 given that the problems manifest themselves very vividly right now!

    Yes there are competing interests for funding, but I really struggle with how the holiday highway can be more important when it seems that the only definable benefit is that it will put a cartoon of baked beans on Pak n Save Whangerei shelves 12 minutes faster each week.

    1. wow 35 minutes to leave the city, that’s embarrassing. Hopefully this would help Albert Street, as congestion issues would be partly caused by buses not being able to turn left into Fanshawe. Giving a lane on Fanshawe right from Albert should help clear up Albert itself too?

      1. I’ve sat on the Link bus for 5-8 cycles of lights waiting to turn right onto Customs Street from Albert. The whole intersection there is a mess and AT are completely disinterested in prioritising the flow of people over maximising the flow of SOVs.

  2. I didn’t say Luke that you make some great points. Most of all – why is nothing happening? Supposedly AT has a commitment to improving public transport. At least that is what Lester Levy was saying when he was interviewed at the start of this year.

    If 70% of those travelling to the Shore along Fanshawe St are traveling by bus then they are treated shoddily if not contemptuously!

  3. There are examples all over Auckland where PT is treated as a second class citizen despite carrying more people than the cars it has to share with. Basically it boils down to AT not caring how many people are in vehicle, they’re simply interested in moving the greatest number of vehicles, whether it has one or 200 people in it. There’s no other explanation for them dragging their heels on installing bus lanes on places like Fanshawe Street, allowing NZTA to build extra motorway lanes in St Mary’s Bay without including bus lanes, allowing the bus lane coming off the motorway to be shared with turning cars etc etc.

  4. Lets start a letter writing campaign to Lester and the CEO to see if that might nudge them along. They are completely silent on this issue and should be called to account.
    Fanshaw st is tied up in the grand center city master plan which will takes years if not decades to vome to fruition.
    Its not in ATs DNA to produce quick and cost effective wins

    1. Have you not considered that “hammering them” is counterproductive? That a constant stream of negativity directed at AT will turn them off PT users; that they’ll decide “these people can never be satisfied”? They’re swimming against the tide anyway trying to negate Government and NIMBY car-love; why should they bother? If you guys are going to act like baying hounds anyway, they might as well just build the Dominion Road motorway and at least have Stephen Joyce and Dick Quax praising them.

      1. these things can be done almost for free. Don’t need govt approval, funding or anything, thats why is so frustrating.
        But can give big boosts for patronage. This is not a negative post, but suggesting easy improvements.

  5. It is exactly for this reason my other half catches the bus at Vic Park, even though the Albert Street stop is much closer. It is simply not good enough.

  6. Luke,
    Agree with the proposal, I also suggest a few of tweaks at the Albert/Fanshawe St intersection as follows:
    1. Left lane on Fanshawe currently has a straight arrow marking, it must be made into left turn only (i.e. a must exit at Hobson St arrow from the start of Fanshawe.
    2. The left lane needs also needs some cross hatching or whatever to stop cars queueing back too far and stopping the bus turning left into the middle lane from Altbert, as they need a car length or so to give swing room to get the bus around the corner.If cars queue right back to the start of intersection in the left hand lane then the bus will be prevented from exiting Albert so will nullify the buslane to some extent.
    3. Does Albert also need bus lane(s) on the left lane as well to allow easy access to the bus lane?
    – I don’t know if they are there now as I seldom am down here in the PM peak.

    Will people understand a bus lane not in the left hand lane to start with?
    So I suggest also this lane be painted green all along its length at least to Hobson St anyway, and probably all the way to the Motorway, so that its clear what lane to avoid. Its no good if cars on Fanshawe go into the middle (the bus) lane thinking that the left lane is the bus lane and thus clogging it up, then fighting to go up Hobson – when the opposite is true.

    Also what about the AM peak – what do you suggest be done there?
    Any takers for my idea to use one lane from the Lower Hobson Street flyover to speed buses onto Quay Street using Fanshawe instead of Sturdee St as now?

    1. Will people understand a bus lane not in the left hand lane to start with?

      There’s one on Beach Road eastbound for the right turn into Anzac Avenue, and people understand that just fine. The green paint is the big thing, I think.

      1. Thats my point – its painted green its entire length.so its clear to all that (in a pirate voice) “Aye me lads, there the bus lane be”.

        Currently AT only paint Bus lanes with any solid green paint at intersections and for a few metres only with a diagonal “stripe” to show how the bus lane starts, and then every few hundred metres another green patch with “Bus lane” on it – and that type of marking would not be advisable here as you want it abundantly clear.its a bus lanes for its entire length as it would be too easy to miss it otherwise.

    2. yep good ideas, there wanted to keep it a bit light on detail for now but just show generally possible and easy. Especially like the idea of hatches at the intersection.

  7. Also very much lacking is inbound on Sturdee St from where it splits from Fanshawe, up to and including Customs St. I don’t know about the morning, but evening inbound buses (of course including those about to become outbound buses) can be severely delayed here – sometimes it takes longer for the NEX to get from Sturdee to Britomart than it does getting from Constellation Station to Sturdee.

    Then of course, these bus lanes should continuously link up with the Central Connector busway up Anzac/Symonds.

    1. Why not route the inbound NEX along motorway past Fanshawe off ramp, to exit at Grafton/Port exit and then along Beach Road onto Quay St – existing bus lanes along Quay will speed the AM and PM trips?
      Might bypass some of the bottlenecks.

      1. Sorry???? 100s Nth Shoreans exit buses at Air NZ stop & the next 2 stops – Fonterra will have a 1000 workers & the current 100s ASB workers in the Viaduct. All that is needed is bus priority for the corner of Quay & Lower Albert

  8. All well and good installing bus lanes; the problem is that AT/NZ Police don’t monitor them so they become convenient congestion by-passes for self-entitled SOV motorists, and there are plenty of those in Auckland.

    1. Agreed but for this short a stretch of road and given how important it is for the NEX
      They could in the longer term install permanent bus lane cameras to capture those trucks and cars (i.e. not buses) who drive in them illegally.

      Once its better known that this stretch is permanently monitored, they will keep out of them.

  9. Excuse my ignorance, but I don’t understand the problem at Fanshawe St/Halsey St. The left lane is already left turn or buses. Is the idea that this should be extended, or that something should be done about drivers who suddenly realise that the lane turns left and block traffic trying to change lanes into lane 2, or that they illegally enter the bus lane at the traffic lights.

    I could not support the idea that a long queue of traffic turning left should need to weave across a bus lane in the last 50m. Wouldn’t it be better to put the bus lane into lane 2 then?

    1. Have a look at 3rd picture down, lane works for no one. Most bus lanes left turning vehicles allowed in the last 50 metres, why no do it here too. Also this could encourage some to take Hobson St/Victoria St and avoid stretch altogether. Maybe not ideal long term solution, but this is about quick fixes.

  10. Absolutely true. Bus lanes will completely increase the punctuality of buses. No point going through with a revolutionary new bus network in 2016 if no extra infrastructure is added by then.

  11. Fanshure St could be widened a bit between Hobson St and Nelson St on the southern side. At the moment there is a wide footpath which doesn’t get much use.

    1. You’ve got to be kidding? Widen a road that is already 6 lanes wide, even more when you include sturdee, to provide a lane for buses that already carry 70% of people? We should be reducing road capacity in the city. It’s poorly used because of the lack of crossings and the fact that it has a dozen car lanes. This article was about quick fixes not massive road widening.

  12. Having used the NEX bus four times this week exiting the city in the afternoon/evening the only time it took less than 15 minutes between Quay Street and Beaumont Street was when I was on the 730pm service, with the 5pm one on Thursday taking nearly 25 minutes – considerably longer than it would take to walk. This route is a total joke and carries almost all buses going to the North Shore. The NEX is supposed to be part of the “rapid transit” network but never will be until this is fixed along with the Esmonde Road exit and the total disaster at Constellation.There should be a dedicated 24 hour bus lane the length of Fanshawe Street and it should be tweaked at Halsey Street to ensure left turners at Victoria Park do not block it. I support a “painted” bus lane immediately and if there are queue jumpers put a curb barrier in place between the bus lane and the general traffic!! I support a campaign to progress this.

  13. Just paint the damned things, Auckland Transport.

    Totally agree with writing letters and emails. Copying Councillors on things you write to AT is a good one. Harder to ignore you when they know they are being observed.

    1. Contact councillors Chris Darby, George Wood, Wayne Walker and John Watson, and local board people. Richard Hill has transport portfolio for Kaipatiki, Jan O’Connor for Devoport-Takapuna. I understand AT looking into longer term solution here, but need movement asap.

  14. Go Luke! Any chance of having a dedicated bus lane across the bridge at peak times too? Otherwise we might be just moving the bottleneck.

      1. Bridge isn’t too bad most of the time, but agree will eb required soon. George Wood actually asked this of NZTA at the transport committee last year, and they said they were monitoring the situation. Easy southbound as just make western-most lane a bus lane at peak, but north bound harder to deal with Curran St and Onewa Road on-ramps, really need to grade separate these for it to work effectively.

  15. Here is the latest information from the chairman of Auckland Transport Dr Lester Levy. We actually also talked about this project today at a workshop and I was assured that it was still proceeding”

    CBD Bus Infrastructure Requirements Fanshawe Street

    Lester Levy (AT) [[email protected]]

    Actions
    In response to the message from Councillor George Wood, 14/01/2014
    To:
    Councillor George Wood
    Cc:
    Councillor Penny Webster‎; Councillor John Watson‎; Chris Darby ‎[[email protected]]‎‎; Councillor Wayne Walker‎; Councillor Mike Lee‎; Councillor Christine Fletcher
    Inbox
    Monday, 3 February 2014 4:55 p.m.
    Hello George

    Thank you for your e-mail below requesting the following information:

    1. When the $15.562 million identified in the current Auckland Council long term plan to be spent over the years 2013/14 and 2014/15 will be spent?

    2. Does Auckland Transport still recognize that the Fanshawe Street bus stops in the Vicinity of Victoria Park have major problems and there needs to be steps taken to rectify these problems with urgency?

    3. How is the $1.5 million earmarked in the 2014/15 Auckland Council annual plan to be spent?

    4. Does Auckland Transport recognize that the Victoria Park bus station is one of the busiest stations on the Auckland public transport network and is an appalling facility, especially when it is dark and raining in the winter afternoons at the peak traffic period?

    In questions 1 and 3, you have referred to allocation of budget to the “CBD Bus Infrastructure Requirements – Fanshawe Street” project in the Long Term Plan (LTP) and an apparent re-allocation in the draft annual plan. The project associated with this budget line is about the design and construction of infrastructure along Fanshawe Street between Beaumont and Lower Hobson.
    When the LTP was compiled in 2011, there was little information about what infrastructure would be required, but it was necessary to ensure an allocation of budget. Therefore, a rough order expenditure profile was proposed for the LTP, and is reflected in the $15.562m for 2013/14 and 2014/15 that you’ve quoted in question 1.

    In late 2013, following 12 months of public consultation and analysis, Auckland Transport adopted the statutory Regional Public Transport Plan 2013 (RPTP), which sets out the strategic future direction for the public transport (PT) network, and now allows Auckland Transport to develop and analyse detailed options for this infrastructure. As an important part of an integrated city centre programme, a holistic approach to this is being undertaken and covers:

    •bus priorities including bus lanes,
    •bus stops and shelters,
    •a possible new bus interchange on the Wynyard Quarter side of Fanshawe Street and linking to Victoria Park,
    •up-grading the bus stops adjacent to Victoria Park is a component of this project.

    As a consequence of this options analysis, which is not yet complete, the proposed expenditure profile in the LTP has been revised. It is this that has led to the inclusion of $1.5m in the draft annual plan for 2014/15, as you have identified in question 3. As further information becomes available through the options analysis, further amendments to the expenditure profile will be made before the annual plan and revised LTP is submitted for final approval.

    The expenditure for the 2014/15 financial year will be for identifying a preferred option and starting design for an integrated Fanshawe Street PT solution. The expenditure for future years will be for completing the design and then construction of the infrastructure. While the planned completion date is the 2016/17 financial year, this will be dependent on the option selected for implementation. This project is being coordinated by the new City Centre Integration Group (CCIG) to ensure coordination with other city centre projects.

    The concerns you raise in questions 3 and 4, regarding the importance of the bus facilities along Fanshawe Street to sustain good customer service, are shared by Auckland Transport. We are looking at interim improvements to the Victoria Park shelters, ahead of the upgrade noted above, while seeking to avoid unnecessary expenditure if the Fanshawe St bus infrastructure can provide the necessary solution. We are currently progressing a trial of new architectural designed and customer focussed shelters that will form the basis of a rollout of new shelters across the region as part of the New Bus Network. We will look at whether we can use some of these concepts as an interim solution at Victoria Park, or as a minimum, to provide more shelter in the short-term.

    If there is further information you need, please let me know.

    Kind regards

    Lester

    Dr Lester Levy
    Chairman
    Auckland Transport

  16. “The expenditure for the 2014/15 financial year will be for identifying a preferred option and starting design for an integrated Fanshawe Street PT solution. The expenditure for future years will be for completing the design and then construction of the infrastructure. While the planned completion date is the 2016/17 financial year, this will be dependent on the option selected for implementation”

    Is it me or this means we will spend 15 millions between 2013 and 2015 but you won’t see any bus lanes until 2017?

      1. Not quite, those are financial years. So it might not start until 2015 calendar year and could open 2016 calendar year, although presumably not that quick.

        What they are saying is it that it will take two to three years to go from planning to consultation to design to construction to being open and used.

    1. Most of that cost is going into the bus station they plan to build on Fanshawe Street at Busway standard. They could of course be installing short term bus lanes at proposed here tomorrow if they really wanted.

      1. Actually I have a feeling most of that cost is going in to design and committees and fees and consultants and high salaries. “if they really wanted” is the key here isn’t it? But why actually do something when you get paid anyway?

      2. That, unfortunately, is very unlikely. Temporary lanes would have costs but the benefits would only acrue for a year or two, rather than the usually twenty or thirty years. Therefore very unlikely anyone would sign off on that budget expenditure.

        A constant problem, can’t do nothing now because of some big project that might happen years from now.

        1. Surely lots of temporary lanes will be required for the CRL, with Customs St being taken out of action, followed by Victoria and Wellesley. To avoid unacceptable delays will need bus lanes along the route, or speed up buses in other areas to compensate. Busway needs to open 2016 calendar year to help avoid CRL construction disruption. If you are correct though at least might push AT to build busway sooner rather than later.

        2. Ok so how about we “trial” (for 12 months) like they did for the Remuera “T3” lanes), which seem to have become a permanent fixture now.
          Then see how they go, that way its temporary.
          If it works well, then they can extend it a bit more, presumably up to the CRL construction period/Busway completion.

          However, I also think that there is some grandiose plan to put PT links over Te Wero bridge to allow buses to travel through the new developments to Fanshawe st that way.
          And wouldn’t that make any bus lanes along Fanshawe a moot point if so?

  17. I am all for doing things well, but surely part of ‘well’ includes timeliness. AT seem unable to do anything promptly, but the low hanging fruit of especially bus and bike lanes. Especially where parking or driving road space is required to be repurposed. The organisation seems stuck at some critical level on this issue.

    Additionally, it is distressing that they are continuing to put a great deal of effort at high levels lobbying to have their PT ridership targets lowered instead of that same energy being redirected into quick and extremely cheap fixes like these which would clearly have considerable positive impacts on the speed and therefore appeal of existing bus services. And therefore is bound to attract more uses.

    These look to me like leadership issues.

  18. As a SOV user of this exact route at a.m. and p.m. peaks, I’m in total favour of this. Busses shouldn’t be getting caught in car mess… and car mess is worsened by having to account for busses. Best to give each their fair space… and fast. Consultation is overused in current-day New Zealand. Not every opinion needs to be heard… sometimes the right thing is obvious and should just be done quickly and cheaply.

    This becomes an especially big priority if SOVs are discouraged from Quay St… there’ll be even more traffic to get through the eastern end of this route.

    Aside: The left lanes of the bridge, northbound, flow pretty well except where the St Mary’s Bay on ramp messes things up. I’m not sure a bus lane would be needed if that on-ramp could be eliminated (but I don’t have any ideas).

  19. It’s incredible that we have to wait another 3 years before seeing any bus lanes on Fanshawe Street. We’re well into ideological anti-PT territory when the mode carrying 70+% of people during the peak is treated the same as hundreds of SOVs. AT and MoT use the line that cars carry more people as a whole to pump more money into that mode, but you never hear a pip from them when it’s the opposite. Instead we have $50 million projects such as widening Lake Rd to allow a few cars to reach the next bottleneck faster moving through the funding pipeline a lot quicker…..priorities priorities. What does AT think the outcome will be of a project designed to get more cars onto the motorway and onto the bridge and onto Fanshawe Street when the street is already groaning under the pressure and the only way that pressure can be relieved is completely ignored.

    1. I agree the $50m on Lake Road seems excessive. However, the word is that the extra lanes will be dedicated to bus/cycling lanes to coincide with the 10 min frequencies from 2016 on the 813 bus.

      But, shhhh, dont tell the auto dependent residents – they still think they are getting a dual carriageway all the way to Esmonde Road.

        1. Yeah – good question Bryce and we might not like the answer.

          I have suggested that requiring investment in a good parallel cycling route might be a nice compromise. Especially a bridge from the end of Francis Street across to the church on Esmonde Road. That would create a good cycling/walking link to Akoranga busway station as well as allowing an off road cycle/walking path through the park opposite the church to Takapuna centre.

          Then confident vehicular cyclists can play Tour de France in the shared lane while utility cyclists can use the separated parallel route. Problem is that Lake Road is on the ridge and the fastest direct route.

          We will have to wait and see.

        2. We need to not back down on this. Lake Rd is the centre of the spine. It is the logical place for a main cycle path. If you can’t imagine your child riding along there then it is not good enough.

        3. Already they believe that combined shared paths and 4.5m wide bus/bike lanes planned to be built along GNR (Rata/Ash St) are of good enough quality. They are not. While we continue to accept the road/path half assed approach, AT will continue to do this. It needs to stop. Now!

        4. I hear you Bryce. But unless it is fully separated Dutch style cycle paths, it is not good enough for children.

          I just question the likelihood of auto dependent Devonport peninsula residents accepting less space for their cars to install a separated cycle path when they are already recovering from the shock of having to accept bus lanes (which I am afraid will end up being T2 or T3 anyway).

          I wonder whether a parallel good quality off road route may be a fight we could win from a cycling POV.

          I know this is heresy and we shouldnt accept less but I am just trying to be realistic.

  20. There are no outgoing bus stops for North Star buses between Albert St (opp the Standford Plaza) & Victoria Park 1 3/4 km’ Why – because car is KING with Auckland Transport.

      1. That stop is only for the Northern Express!! AT says that due to the traffic there is no room to expand the stop. Only wet winter nights many catch the Northern Express at that stop and disembark at Vic Park to catch their regular bus

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