Along with information about the Downtown open space options, the agenda for the councils Development Committee (19 MB) contains an update on the Northwestern Busway. This seems like especially good timing considering the NW busway is something that has been suggested would be cut as part of the next Long Term Plan.
The busway is currently listed in the Integrated Transport Programme as being built sometime between 2021 and 2031 however the report highlights that it is likely to be needed sooner than that. This is primarily a result of the council’s decision to allow for a lot of greenfield growth in the Northwest. They say that up to 80,000 dwellings could be in the area by 2041 which would equate to over 200,000 residents and that’s just the greenfield growth. On top of this the local board for the area (Henderson-Massey) were perhaps the most progressive of all boards when it came to the Unitary Plan and pushed for many areas to be up zoned above what was originally in the plans. This will likely see a lot more people also in Te Atatu and other locations near the SH16 corridor.
In addition to the residential growth the council expects that up to 60,000 jobs will be in the area by 2041. While that’s a lot it’s nowhere near the amount of people who would be in the area so most people are likely to still need to travel for employment or study and that will put huge pressure on transport networks. All of which means that the busway is likely to be needed even sooner that the current plans suggest. It’s also correctly noted that the North West is quite a distinct corridor to that served by the rail network.
The report notes that modelling suggests that by 2041 there will be 30,000 trips across all modes from West Auckland to the city centre and fringe areas in the morning peak alone. That’s an absolutely massive number and as a comparison only around 20,000 are expected from the North Shore.
The NZTA is currently building upgraded shoulder lanes between Te Atatu Rd and Waterview which will come in to use in 2016 and apparently the NZTA will also build bus shoulders between Lincoln Rd and Westgate by 2018. However it is expected a full busway will be needed and AT believe the best place for that to happen is on the Southern side. The graphic below shows the busway as proposed and the shoulder lanes planed for SH16 in the meantime. It also shows bus lanes on eventually on SH18 as well.
Based on this the busway would be almost 7km which is similar in length to what the Northern Busway is. One difference to the Northern Busway though is the number of stations, many of which would likely be similar to Sunnynook and provide for local access rather than being large interchange stations (those are likely to be Te Atatu, Lincoln Rd and Massey North). Speaking of Te Atatu it appears to confirm that any future bus interchange would be on the South Western side of the interchange.
The ITP has the project listed at $376 million however AT say they are now working on a business case to understand the full costs and benefits of the busway.
I think it’s great that the busway is being progressed but I can’t help but feel like we missed a golden opportunity to get it implemented as part of the SH16 project.