A few days ago I looked in depth into the locations of the Special Housing Areas that have been released so far, allowing for over 33,000 new houses. The locations of these are not spread evenly around the city, or evenly amongst the greenfield areas. Therefore this should cause the council and Auckland Transport to rethink some of their priorities for transport investment. Firstly this should give further impetus to the need for some important Congestion Free network projects, which will benefit existing areas and new developing areas.

There are nearly 9,000 dwellings to be built to the North-West of the city, in areas like Kumeu. This area is currently hopelessly served by public transport. For example it takes nearly 1.5 hours to get the bus into town at peak times, and on weekends it is not much better as bus operates a hopelessly windy route, diverting through Henderson on the way from Westgate to the City! The extra development planned adds extra emphasis to the case for the North-Western Busway, which would provide a very quick link from the North-West into the city. While some would call for a diesel rail shuttle to be provided, this has been investigated by Auckland Transport but found to be poor value for money. The busway would result in a much higher frequency and much faster services than the rail shuttle, which would take over an hour. The proposed frequent bus network only shows 15 minute frequency to Westgate, however the scale of development should mean the frequent service should soon be extended to Kumeu and Huapai. The developments in this area are likely to be low density, so sites for several park and ride stations need to be investigated. These types fringe areas are the right type of areas to expand park and ride, not valuable urban sites. The busway would not just benefit new developments, but also existing suburbs along the North-Western like Massey and Te Atatu.

NW and UH busways

This 9000 houses also covers areas like Hobsonville and Whenuapai. Again the only route between the North-West and the North-Shore is an infrequent and wandering service that takes well over an hour for a 20 minute car journey. The new network offers some improvement, with a slightly more direct service, however still designed for local traffic rather than trips between West Auckland and the North Shore. This is where the Upper Harbour busway we proposed in our Congestion Free Network comes in. This will also be useful for people living in the Kumeu and Westgate areas as not all these people will be working or want to travel to the CBD, so quality links to centres in the North Shore are important too. Again the form of development is likely to mean that several busway stations with park and ride will also be required at the major motorway interchanges.

Through the southern corridor over 4800 dwellings will be built. 2200 of these are in the Addison area, which hugely strengthens the case for the Addison station that has long been proposed to serve that growing area. Another 1800 of these are in the Franklin area, which further builds the case to ensure the electrification extension to Pukekohe proceeds soon. 1000 of these are at a totally new greenfield site as Wesley, north of Paerata. As this is 5km north of Pukekohe a new station at Paerata/Wesley should proceed here with some urgency.

The 5000 dwellings to be built in the Flat Bush area will further add to congestion is the already car dependent south-eastern suburbs. While Flat Bush is in an awkward location in relation to potential rapid transit routes, the Te Irirangi Drive busway would help connect residents to the closest centre of Manukau with its brand new station and tertiary institute, and also to the mall at Botany.

Eastern busways

The need to invest in transport projects which benefit these areas, should also show the need to rethink lower value projects across the city. First of all there are less than 900 dwellings north of the existing urban area at Albany, and these are at Silverdale. Note that means there are none on Whangaparoa Peninsular, Warkworth or Wellsford. First on the deferral list should be Penlink, which has a very high cost, high environmental impacts and low economic and transport benefits. It is difficult to see why this project should proceed when there is little growth in the area. A few extra ferries to the city seem like a much better idea to improve transport for people of this area. Deferring Penlink would free up $200 million to spend on much more high value projects. The lack of new development north of Orewa is yet further ammunition against the need for the Puhoi – Warkworth Highway to proceed. The $760 million required for the project should be reallocated by the government to serve areas of Auckland that are actually growing, rather than further delaying or canceling important infrastructure like busways. Across the city there are various other low value roading projects than should be deferred or downsized to free up money for more transformational public transport investment.

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  1. Mind boggles. Kumeu? Proving incompetence is still in charge.

    The calculation on where to build seems to be..

    No people to complain + empty land + poor PT + people will need to use cars + this means road builders get plenty of work going forward = Build

  2. You obviously don’t read much about development north of Albany, or get up here much. Can I point out that there is 3500 houses going in to Millwater at the moment, another 1000 into gulf harbour by the Chinese and a 200 room hotel, 520 at peninsula golf course as well as another 470 in announced subdivisions in orewa. That’s without a number of small subdvisions around by cabra and more at warkworth. That makes over 4600 new houses planned on the hibiscous coast in the next few years and they are all selling as fast as they can be built. That also does not include the huge commercial development south of millwater for which earthworks are under way, but which I understand is seeking to change to residential as well. Your argument to defer Penlink on the basis of “little growth in the area” does not really add up with the true amount of growth already underway.

      1. There is no way that a hotel or 1,000 extra dwellings should be getting consent within Gulf Harbour. Total balls up. Ad hoc planning and development ensuring high cost remediation required after the fact.

      2. Well by taking traffic off the Hibiscus Coast Highway so more development can occur alongside it in areas ideally located for residential and commercial development, a lot of which can be served by the future busway.

    1. David, of the developments you mention, only Gulf Harbour has much relation to Penlink. The other households will tend to use SH1, with an ample two lanes in each direction. Luke’s quite correct to point out that there is a lot less SHA action in the north, and fairly limited growth potential in Whangaparaoa.

      1. I’m not saying they all do have a relation to Penlink, the article above used the lack of growth north of Albany as an example of little or no growth up here, when that is just no correct. Penlink is another story as it has other purposes like relieving congestion on the silverdale off ramp which can tail back to dairy flat at night now. The new off ramp at wainui going in will help that, but there are numerous congestion problems that do need addressing up here. Whangaparoa road is one that needs fixing and penlink is one way of sorting that. Short of buying a heap of residential and business to widen whangaparoa road, penlink is the alternative, but widening whangaparoa road does not alter the fundamental issue of one way in one way out. Already there are often big hold ups by accidents on whangaparoa road and its not unknow for the trip from silverdale to take an hour I understand.

        As for Bryce P’s comment, that’s what happens when you allow development in an area and the fact the Chinese paid 550mil for it means they will developed it. If he would like to trun time back to stop it, feel free, otherwise we need to solve the problems of now.

        1. If you don’t like the one way in, one way out, you shouldn’t have bought on a peninsula. As for the developments, I don’t remember the locals petitioning Rodney Council to stop it. No, all they could see were the dollar signs.

          1. And what I can say, after having seen this, is the the intersections at the mall are what cause most of the delays which are then compounded back down the road.

          2. Bryce, I didn’t buy down there for that very reason, but for many it is where they do buy as the cheapest housing on the coast is Stanmore bay which has to use that road. I was not up here when it all started out there, but what is going on now is just an extension of the urban sprawl that is happening everywhere and wasn’t Gulf Harbor originally a one developer idea. Maybe he should have paid for the road upgrade, but he’s long since gone bankrupt. Yes the intersections do cause most of the problems but as the road goes straight past the mall come up with a solution.

          3. Neither did I, no matter how much several real estate agents tried to get me there :-). Whangaparoa Rd has far too many intersections. Many of these could be closed as they are duplicated. The remaining ones could be signalised or receive roundabouts. The Main St through the mall should not be accessible directly on to Whangaparoa Rd but on to the link road around it. So many things that could be done to improve not just traffic flow but also liveability for pedestrians and cyclists. Also, with a bit of political will (which means never in Auckland), bus lanes down Whangaparoa Rd and linking to a frequent NEX service at Silverdale, or nearby, would give a huge boost to the promotion and useability of public transport on the peninsula and indeed the entire area as useage brings service improvements.

      2. John a chocolate fish to you for spelling Whangaparaoa correctly, You are the only person on this thread to get the fourth “a” in.

    2. Re Development North of Albany

      Millwater : Transport interchange, density, busway? No

      Gulf Harbour : Ferry is fine for some routes, otherwise drive. Whangaparoa should never have been built without a railway/busway down the peninsula.

      Peninsula Golf Course : no people? Check. Open space? Check. Connected via busway? No. It’s easy to reverse engineer concrete right? Green space? Gone

      Orewa : ideal for PT connected density? Yes, natural amenity. Is it connected? No, not really.

      cars, cars, cars.

  3. Just quickly, I think the total lack of real town planning around places such as Kumeu is appalling. There is now a rest home being built on the Eastern side of the town. Cut off from the town and shops unless you take a car. Is Auckland Council totally asleep at the wheel?

    Albany Hwy. New strip shopping being built. Totally auto dependant.

    We need to take some direction from Europe, and the Dutch in particular. They build dense towns, connected to the cities by not only roads but also quality PT. Rail lines and bus ways right through towns while main roads skirt them. A dense town centre with single house lots around the periphery. Once that’s developed, they build a new town or extend an existing one that has potential.

    Just want to scream at the utter hoplessness exhibited within the corridors of power in Auckland.

    1. Not completely cut off, they just built a new pedestrian bridge over the Kumeu River, but heck I’d give a gold medal to 80 year old willing to risk their lives crossing Old Railway Road and Riverhead Road, and (can’t remember the name of it, by the Z) and all the poor footpaths along the way to the Kumeu shops while truck & trailer units go zooming by.

      As I’ve stated before, it’s becoming obvious that AT don’t seem to care about Nor-west Auckland and I’m getting sick of it. (I’m going to try and contact one of the Local Board members this week to see if they are interested in taking the issue up)

    2. Bryce P re learning from Europe. I have been trying to convince Labour/Greens to make this part of their KiwiBuild plans.

      Basically that they should compulsory purchased rural land at rural prices for transport links -PT and road plus the land for a dense Dutch style new town (like Houten). The inner core being KiwiBuild homes and the zoning around this core stipulating that the less dense private housing developments have cycle lanes connecting to the public transport hub in the new towns core.

      I think this would provide the affordable housing -both kiwibuilds and private developments plus the multiple transport modes that many kiwis want.

      It would also give a clear democratic choice for voters in comparison to Nationals car only SHA.

      1. Cool Brendan, I’ve done the same. If we’re serious about providing low cost housing then this is the way to do it.There is a big piece of land near Dairy Flat, sandwiched between SH1 and the Dairy Flat Hwy that would fit the bill nicely.

      2. I am from Canterbury and can think of some good places down here too. This idea could work in other cities and big towns too…. I really hope this becomes an election issue.

  4. If we had the northwestern busway, I’d use the bus when I’m too chicken to ride my bike, definitely. This would change the lives of many in Pt Chev, Te Atatu, Henderson, Massey, Westgate, Kumeu… It could be the beginning of a real transformational solution for Lincoln Rd. This is the transport project that I most want to see built. I think everyone who lives out this way would agree

    1. Agree. I live near Lincoln Road. Off peak times, PT travel times to the CBD are horrible. Ironically the Ritchies Westgate and similar services are best for me. They don’t meander along Te Atatu Road so much. And also people in Pt Chev etc don’t seem to use them as much as the Go West services (I think this remains the case even with everyone using Hop since many of these paid cash anyway, I never understood why since both went in to the city and used nearly the same stops but whatever). Plus if travelling very late, GO West only had the 136 service meaning a journey in to New Lynn. Still even with the Richies, it takes about 45-50 minutes just for the bus compared to what would be a 20 minute car journey. AT themselves seem to know this well hence their use of a shuttle service.

      Peak times things are far better because we had a preview of the Northwestern service in the form of the 36F as it was then called. Well they weren’t so bad. Despite the pitifulness of the shoulder lanes, when they existed they did help a bit. Plus on the journey to the city, the ability to skip past some of the traffic by travelling along the left side along Lincoln Road also helped. At least for me, even with the extra time it took to get to the bus stop confidentally in enough time to catch the bus and the few extra stops, you could at least match if not beat the time. AT have now reduced evening peak Flyer (now called Express) services from 4 to 2. I can understand cutting the 3:15PM, I don’t think ti got that much use. The 4:35PM I don’t understand, I haven’t used these services much in a while but AFAIK it was generally at least half full.

      And again, although I haven’t used these services much, but I’m pretty sure even the offpeak ones they would still normally beat the train services (except for the 135 perhaps, but good luck getting a feeder service even from Henderson so you’ll need to walk from Sturges). I don’t think electricfication alone will be enough either. The CRL should ensure the train services beat current bus services but who knows if or when it’ll be introduced.

      So yes, the NW busway, even if it’s mostly using shoulder lanes will be a great benefit. I still don’t know why they decided to upgrade the motorway without apparently giving much consideration to adding a proper busway but whatever I guess. I do hope they get the feeder services right. Of course given how long it’s going to take to upgrade Lincoln Road, and the existing level of congestion there, the benefit for those like me will be more limited compared to what it could be. But it’s not like you’re better of in a car, particularly since Te Atatu isn’t generally much better.

  5. The SHA is actually in Huapai, past Kumeu. This is an important distinction to make because it means negotiating the extra traffic lights now in Kumeu, it means there is a train station 2 mins walk from the SHA but of course, electrification only goes to Swanson, and it means all those houses have leap frogged the RUB and will replace rural land and activities.

    There is already talk of a bypass, but the northern part of the SHA is restricted by the river, which floods fairly regularly, the highway and the railway line so it will be interesting to see what else will be lost and how much it will cost to connect these houses to anywhere.

    I’m concerned that yet again, there is talk here of park and rides as if the land in these areas is less valuable than in the city. Kumeu, Huapai, Riverhead, and to a lesser degree Hobsonville were the only areas of Prime or Elite soils near Auckland. Destroying productive land is not something that can be replaced, food isn’t grown in the supermarket!

  6. I am in full support of a congestion free network, but I question the wisdom of having Auckland develop a dependance on buses for long distance transport into and out of a growing CBD. Buses inherently have a lower capacity than trains or a light metro as proposed by Nick R for the North Shore, and will contribute to increasing bus congestion on the surface streets of Auckland CBD. In addition, once a busway is at capacity, the city’s reliance on the busway means that it will be very difficult to then upgrade it to a light metro, due to the significant disruption during the construction period.

    Auckland’s Northern Busway was modelled after the extensive busway network in Brisbane, but one only has to look at proposals for a AUD$5.5 billion two level rail/bus tunnel under the CBD there to see the significant expenses and inefficiencies associated with having a city reliant on buses to transport large amounts of people into their CBD.

    I realise that a Northwest busway is an order of magnitude more effective use of transportation funds than most of the projects currently being thrown around by the Ministry of Transport, but would it not be preferable to get it done right the first time and push for a light metro for the Northwest? Admittedly I don’t know how much more this would cost than a busway, and I realise that there are other projects which deserve higher priority for funding, but it would be cheaper to build a metro line the first time, than to build a busway only then to have to upgrade it to a metro.

    1. Reliance on buses for many new routes is simply a reality in Auckland. 60 years of investment in nothing but motorways means we’ve got to try to use those assets as best we can as they are hogging the best ROWs. But also we can’t think of extending rail until the capacity issue at the core is sorted. As the core drives demand, and always will (and is a good thing!).

    2. I think youve misrepresented brisbanes pt issues. The proposed bus-rail tunnel in Brisbane is more about solving cap issues on rail network than it is about issues with bus way. Those issues could be solved much cheaper, indeed mainly through a network redesign that removed wasteful duplication and used hcvs on the bus way.

    3. Agree in theory, but considering the bus way is probably going to be mostly in the shoulder, I don’t see how rail is a realistic option in the short term. As I mentioned in another post, the CRL would be great as well for my particular case, but I don’t see it happening any time soon.

  7. Statement of Imagination

    1. Replace all trunk roads with railway, cycle way, green ways.
    2. Replace all motorways with railway, cycle way, green ways
    3. Run public milk floats from trunk roads to houses, residences etc. These carry people, pets and goods ( which are delivered by train). High frequency, free, fund them through milk sales etc.
    4. Keep pool cars in parking buildings on the perimeter, so people can go away on holidays. These are connected by train, ( see trains connected by milk float)

    Collectively, what do we spend on “the private car system”. I bet it is a large number.

    Apologies for going off topic.

  8. One special housing area that isn’t mentioned anywhere is a new area to the north of Walmsley Rd/Favona Rd in Mangere, next to the inner Manukau Harbour. I saw an article in a paper the other day about 1600 houses being built there starting next year. The new network doesn’t have a high frequency bus service going hear this area, maybe that will come…

  9. Personally this is an example of where the CFN is a bad thing for Auckland; Kumeu gets a frequent network, yet Royal Oak. Hillsborough, New Windser, Lynfield, Blockhouse Bay, Three Kings, etc don’t. The focus seems to be people who choose to live as far from the city as possible.

  10. Firstly most of those areas are served by the Roskill Rail and Dominion Roast light rail. Secondly this is only the top tier network. Very difficult to meet this category on residential streets as need dedicated ROW. Of course the CFN also assumes a high frequent bus network underneath feeding and serving other corridors.

    1. I think the model is upside down; you don’t see people in Zone 1-2 of London or Manhattan driving to work unless they are really rich; we should aim for the same scenario in Auckland. It is far cheaper to provide decent public transport to the close suburbs than to the outskirts of the city; yet in Auckland we still think of PT as something that only people with a one hour commute should consider.

  11. The diesel rail option actually hasn’t been properly evaluated, as the report referred to was flawed in many ways, due it being prepared by the same company planning the new bus network. Trains never stood a chance under that mob, they tailored the report to articifically stack the numbers against rail by grossly overstating the rail costs, and understating (in fact ignoring totally) the roading costs. It was also done with population predictions that fall well short of what the SHA’s will deliver.

    So back to the drawing board AT needs to go, with an independent and unbiased evalutaion being required.

  12. The areas you mention already have frequent bus services that are reasonably competitive with the car, at least if heading towards CBD. Frequent network sorts most of the issues of connectivty, but of course effect would be lost of all local services were shown. At same time we are advocating for bus lanes and better connectivity for these other routes.
    Disagree that PT concentrated on outer suburbs. The census maps clearly show inner suburbs have highest PT mode share. Areas an hour away have awful service if not near a rail line, so no one chooses to use PT if they have other options. Hence need for new busways to serve these areas.

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