Anyone keeping track will know there’s a heap of projects planned to happen in the CBD in the coming years, projects like the CRL, the Victoria St Linear Park on Victoria St and City Centre Bus improvements to support the new bus network to name a few. As Cameron Brewer would say – where are the vehicles on Quay St going to go?

It’s a valid question and while some might say “who cares”, it is an issue we have to deal with. Wisely Auckland Transport realised the importance of dealing with the east-west streets in the CBD as whole and that’s where the City East West Transport Study (CEWT) comes in. As the name suggests the study looks at the key east-west roads in the CBD. I first heard about the study some time ago and now have the study thanks to a LGOIMA request. The full report is here (44MB)

The overarching purpose of the CEWT Study is to develop a strategy for the effective management and direction of the city centre’s key east-west corridors over the short to long term horizons, in a manner that supports the City Centre Masterplan and other key strategic initiatives.

The way I see it is that while the City Centre Master Plan and other strategies lay out the the vision for the future, the CEWT study looks at how everything in would work in reality. It’s a non-statutory supporting document that sits beneath the Auckland Plan and Integrated Transport Programme and feeds though to the Regional Land Transport Programme and associated investigation, design and implementation work streams. It is also influenced by other strategic plans, such as the City Centre Masterplan and Waterfront Plan.

The core focus of the study was the following east-west corridors:

CEWT Roads

Most importantly the study has looked at how the corridors are used and that currently they are each required to support all modes of transport. One of the key outcomes is that in the future each route will have a different focus. In effect this means the east-west streets in the CBD will be specialised around different modes.

The preferred direction will see a different emphasis placed on each of the east-west corridors in terms of their key functions and mode requirements. This strategy of having variation in mode emphasis across the corridors is a marked departure from the existing situation, where each of the corridors is providing a generally consistent function and form.

The proposed network strategy will in some instances require changes to the form of these  corridors. In terms of kerb-to-kerb width, the greatest changes will be on Quay Street and Victoria Street which will be reformed to facilitate important place-based transformation shifts as previously envisaged by the City Centre Masterplan.

To deliver the preferred overall strategy, a vision and direction have been developed for each of the east-west corridors.

The overall preferred strategy is below (click to enlarge).

CEWT Preferred Option

There is a constant focus on pedestrians across all streets but other than that each one is different. Quay St has a public space focus, Customs/Fanshawe a movement focus with buses and cars, Victoria a people focus, Wellesley a Bus focus and Mayoral/Cook retaining a car focus.

A key consideration in coming up with the solutions is the need to create a resilient transport network. The authors note that even if streets were wider that it wouldn’t help move more traffic as the constraints are generally at the intersections. Further they say that when something happens that e.g. an accident, that currently all vehicle based transport networks are affected. By providing dedicated bus and cycle lanes it means that the non-car transport networks can continue to function which is important as they are likely to be responsible for moving up to 70% of the mode share.

The reallocation of road space is bound to be a hot button issue for some however the authors have also looked at how each corridor is being used. The graph below looks at a few of the roads and shows how much space within the carriageway (so not including the footpaths) is currently dedicated to general traffic or buses vs how many people are expected to be using each mode. As you can see on all but Fanshawe St 100% of the road space is dedicated to general traffic meaning buses get caught in congestion. Yet by 2021 it’s expected that on Wellesley St 89% of people will be on a bus. As such the plan is to drastically increase the allocation of road space on Wellesley St to buses.

CEWT Road space allocation

This is great to see and moves towards that great quote from Enrique Peñalosa that “a bus with 80 passengers has 80 times more right to roads space than a car with one

However while the overall direction has largely been decided the study notes there are still some fairly specific and meaty issues that need to be addressed. These are:

CEWT Areas of Clarification

For each corridor the study lays out the strategic direction, corridor space allocation, how it performs against the overarching goals and future work required to achieve the preferred direction. Here’s each of the streets.

Quay St

The strategic direction for Quay Street is to become a multi-modal harbour edge boulevard with a predominant emphasis on public space and pedestrian movement within the city centre core in the west and balancing pedestrian and cycle provision with a continued emphasis on freight movement for the Ports of Auckland in the east.

Quay Street Central will be transformed as a landmark harbour edge street between Lower Hobson Street and Britomart Place that unites the CBD Engine Room with the waterfront, as envisaged by the City Centre Masterplan and Waterfront Plan.

Quay Street East will also enhance pedestrian and cycle connections but will see an increased multi-modal emphasis, with maintaining appropriate freight access to the Ports of Auckland a key consideration.


CEWT Quay St Central 1


CEWT Quay St East 1

Fanshawe St

The strategic direction for Fanshawe Street is to strengthen its public transport functions by becoming an urban busway corridor, providing for frequent, fast and efficient bus connections between the North Shore Busway and the City Centre, including Wynyard Quarter.

The urban busway will need to be designed appropriately to reflect its city centre context and to provide much improved north-south pedestrian connections across the street, facilitating its role as part of the Harbour Edge Stitch Transformational Move envisaged by the City Centre Masterplan and Waterfront Plan.

In addition to these key public transport and pedestrian functions, it is intended that sufficient general traffic capacity be retained, reflective of its position as a key gateway into the city centre from the Northern Motorway

CEWT Fanshawe St

Customs St

The strategic direction for Customs Street is to maintain a multi-modal corridor that provides access, both for buses and general traffic, into and across the downtown core of the CBD Engine Room, while also maximising pedestrian capacity and quality.

Improving provision for the north-south pedestrian desire lines across the street is seen as particularly important, to support adjacent land uses and strengthen walking connections between the city centre engine room and the harbour edge.

CEWT Customs St

Beach Rd

The strategic direction for Beach Road is to strengthen its role as a multi-modal corridor providing access for buses, general traffic and pedestrians between the city centre and the eastern fringe.

It will also provide a high quality dedicated cycling connection between the Grafton Gully Cycleway and Quay Street Harbour Edge Boulevard, as a key link in the proposed Auckland-wide cycle highway network.

CEWT Beach Rd

Victoria St

The strategic direction for Victoria Street is to become a broad tree-lined linear park between Albert and Victoria Parks, as envisaged by the City Centre Masterplan.

The linear park will be the city centre’s urban green link and principal east-west walking route across the midtown area. The linear park will provide a significant place-making function, with a series of green public spaces for rest, play and social activity for residents, workers and visitors to the City Centre. It will be integrated with and enhance the main entrance to the future Aotea Station planned for Victoria Street, delivering a landmark public space outside what is planned to be Auckland’s busiest rail station.

As a slow street Victoria Street has the potential to support an east-west cycling function as part of a midtown cycle route linking to regional cycle routes (such as the Grafton Gully Cycleway) to the east and west of the city centre core.

The Victoria Street linear park will become a key asset and attractor for people working, living and visiting the dense midtown core of the city centre, and strengthen the identity and legibility of the city centre as a whole.

CEWT Victoria St

Wellesley St

The strategic direction for Wellesley Street is to become the primary east-west public transport spine across the midtown area of the city centre, providing a high capacity and quality bus route while enhancing the capacity and quality of footpaths for pedestrians and to support adjacent land uses, especially in the core to either side of Queen Street.

It is expected that dedicated bus lanes will be provided along the full length of Wellesley Street, which will enable separate allocations for bus movement and stopping.

Within the central core full implementation of this vision will require the removal of general traffic between Albert and Kitchener Streets / Mayoral Drive and a reduction in carriageway width to facilitate increased provisions for pedestrians and place making.


CEWT Wellesley St Central


CEWT Wellesley St East-West

Mayoral Dr/Cook St

The strategic direction for Mayoral Drive and Cook Street is to become the principal east-west route for general traffic across the midtown area of the city centre, complementing the public transport role of Wellesley Street and walking, cycling and place-making emphasis along the linear park on Victoria Street.

CEWT Mayoral Dr -Cook St

Overall the City East West Study is fantastic and shows progress is starting to be made on how we structure our and think about streets in our main urban area. It recognises that in the city centre pedestrians are the priority followed by cyclists and buses. There is obviously a long way to go before we see all of this realised but it is a good start and AT should be commended for this. There’s a lot more in the study to go through yet so there will be more posts on this in the future.

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  1. Fantastic work. And a very clear of illustration of how movement priority determines place quality.

    When can we start? I guess the Beach Rd cyclelanes are the first tentative steps along this path.

    A great vision, and a practical one. Does rather render Rudman a bit harsh in this morning’s paper.

    1. This is brilliant on so many levels. Thorough, people-centred, and considered as a system.

      As JSK would say – just do it!

  2. I see they now show dedicated cycle facilities (as opposed to shared with peds or cars) on Quay Street. That is a major win for cycling.

    Still a bit uncertain about Victoria Street cycle facilities – must have a closer read. Looks like it might have a Copenhagen lane one way (on the uphills?) and trusting the slower-speed idea downhills / elsewhere?

    1. Victoria Street looks so straight and obvious on the map, but is a bit of a roller-coaster, grade-wise, especially the eastern bit up to Albert Park (which is perilous even on foot, if you’re wobbly on your legs/ elderly/ tiddly/ wearing heels). Perhaps if the whole road was carless, there’d be space for some clever zigzagging?

  3. Looks like a really well thought through strategy that will go a long way towards achieving our vision for the city centre and making the new bus network actually work.

  4. Would really like to see graphically what is planned for Symonds St especially around learning quarter up to K Rd/Motorway intersection. At present it can be very dangerous in the bus lanes, with very busy bus stop areas and bus lanes sharing with a lot of cyclists and small motor scooters etc. Can be very dangerous for all and would love to see rectifying this as a priority. A dedicated 2-way cycle, scooter lane, would be a fantastic interim option.

  5. Still looks like too many 4 lane roads in my opinion. How is anyone meant to cross Customs Street with 6 lanes? Why is quay street still 4 lanes? The report mentions that its the intersections that are the problem, so why not narrow to 2 lanes between intersections and give peds a chance to cross (without having to walk to the nearest ped lights)

    1. “How is anyone meant to cross Customs Street with 6 lanes”

      It’s wider than that now. This isn’t going to remove the Barnes dance intersections that exist.

  6. Looks good, except for it sounds like they want to remove the existing bus lanes on Quay St! They should still narrow it down, but make one lane each way for buses, and one for general traffic. This can then be extended back to the Ngapipi Rd and Tamaki Dr intersection.

      1. Thanks, but even then you would still want bus lanes to at least Tangihua St for all the Tamaki Dr buses. I think it should be possible to add a cycleway along that section without removing the existing bus lanes. If they can’t then it should have to be one car lane and one bus lane. Google map link here (I assume this is what they are referring to as the eastern section).

        P.S. The comment software seems to have changed from this morning back to how it was.

  7. When can this start, can they go with some quick wins using cones as discussed at the presentation earlier in the year?
    Also They should go bold and completly remove cars from Victoria Street – that would make a great path between one edge of the city and the other and fit in nicely with a car-less Queen St

    1. They should go bold and completly remove cars from Victoria Street – that would make a great path between one edge of the city and the other and fit in nicely with a car-less Queen St


    2. Still need to provide some level of access to the building on Victoria St, especially if Queen St is eventually pedestrian only or with a transit mall. In happy with what’s suggested here.

  8. A couple of questions:

    They seem to be counting the islands between traffic as pedestrian. Do you want to encourage more jay walking. Our city blocks aren’t that big.

    How do these interact with existing or proposed bus routes. Ie. Buses from the shore don’t normally cross the whole city. The interchange and turn around routes need to be considered ( I assume they are in the report)

    1. Jay walking isn’t a thing in NZ, it’s perfectly legal to cross roads wherever unless there’s a pedestrian crossing nearby, which in Auckland is more or less never.

      1. I know it’s not illegal but I think it should be discouraged. We don’t want to become like Wellington where even a bus company director is dumb enough to step in front of a bus.

        There are traffic controlled crossings at every intersection and, with the exception of fanchaw street, each block is relatively small.

  9. I had heard that AT were contemplating the need for a bus interchange on Fanshawe St / Halsey St to cope with all of the Wellesley St through traffic, and having the ability to deliver a turnaround point as well as a midtown link for Shore customers. Also could have been a future train station below to serve the growing Wynyard Quarter (and onward to the Shore). Looks like Fonterra have got into the prime site first though, so will be interesting to hear what AT’s plans are for 100+ buses coming through Wellesley St in the morning peak. Maybe further down at the Caltex site?

    1. Caltex site could be easily repurposed, but Fanshawe Street is surely wide enough to simply take 80% of the lanes for a bus interchange.

  10. There’s no discussion of heavy transport from what I can see above. Which is strange, as it has a major impact on amenity and use patterns, and is rather important in and of itself. Is the plan to make it all use the CMJ?

    1. @George:

      That’s Quay Street: “with a continued emphasis on freight movement for the Ports of Auckland in the east”. But yes, other than access to the port, freight should be using the motorways.

  11. No vision of extending the Wynyard Quarter tram to at least Britomart so that it could perform a commuter function? (or better extend it to S Heliers)

  12. I love how the pictures don’t show any traffic. But in reality it will be pack with trucks and cars. Victoria and Wellesley will be PT only as East/West links. Quay St and Customs are both at capacity in the peak periods. No idea where the Quay St volumes go to.

    I think it is silly how you make Quay a boulevard with nice trees and what not (when it will still be full of traffic) and you keep Customs as a polluted 6 lane monster.

    This “vision” is more of the same with some trees thrown in.

    1. Victoria will be traffic only actually, all PT is shifting to Wellesley according to this study.

      Quay St volumes can just go. Maybe they actually just use the motorway ramps that were designed to free up Quay st. But hopefully they just stop driving through town altogether.

      I’m not worried about Customs St, at 9.01am it’s completely empty. If commuters want to sit all jammed up for the same hour a day that’s up to them, but it’s like a ghost town 22 hours a day. But I agree they should do more, take back a lane each side for the footpath and trees, no need for six lanes. We’ll always have exactly as much peak congestion as we design for, and a tumbleweed alley the rest of the time.

      1. The issue with using the motor way as opposed to driving through the city is that the traffic jams to get onto the motorways can be worse. Not suggesting these changes shouldn’t go ahead though.

        I think the key to these/any changes is to work out what the new bus routes will be – you cant design a system without knowing that. EG. where will all the buses that currently use Victoria street go – up to Wellesley? But what if they then go down Albert to get back on to Fanshawe? What will their new route be? Looping though a bus only Queen Street?

        1. Harvey, take a look at ATs New Network, this east west study is designed for it (see the appendix). The bus network has been entirely redesigned, almost two years ago actually, and will have nothing on Victoria street nor anything looping around. Consultation on these changes happens next year with the public, and has been ongoing with city stakeholders.

        2. So all buses from the shore will now only go to Britomart and terminate there? Everyone wanting to go to the Uni, mid town or uptown will have to transfer? Or are they just the ‘main services’?

  13. K’rd doesn’t appear to be included in the plan. It should be in scope as it provides connections to State Highways, is an important public transport corridor and is Auckland centre for funky where people want to hang out and do stuff. The end bits currently resemble virtual motorways with almost no street life.

    1. The Waitemata Local Board has been consulting recently on the draft K Road plan (among others). It has some interesting points in it, and talks about maintaining and enhancing its edginess. Check it out.

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