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.

NW Development area

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.

Busway schematic

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.

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  1. I have no idea why NZTA didn’t include it in the SH16 project.

    Nevertheless, this is absolutely necessary, so I’m glad to see it progressing. The Northwest is the new Howick and Botany (which may eventually get transport links to the rest of the city, post AMETI).

    1. AC/AT missed the boat on this one. It’s pretty difficult to add in a wish list when projects are so advanced and contracts have been let. Had this been detailed years ago I am confident it would of been a palatable addition to SH16 suite of projects

      1. Shaun that’s not a good enough excuse for NZTA, they are supposed to be the home of the best ideas for our stretched transport dollars, yet here they are blaming others for their lazy general traffic only solution despite the clear evidence in their own previous work on a similar motorway corridor over the harbour, that the most effective and cheapest way to move people is by adding the missing transit ROW to monomodal urban m’ways like these.

        I call incompetence on their work here.

        1. Yes, NZTA should have said “this needs a busway” but, to be a little fair, they are building what previous Auckland local councils and ARC requested – a QTN as opposed to an FTN.

          What more, I bet some of the people who made these decisions back then are still in the halls of Council and AT.

        2. I’m sorry Patrick I do not agree here. NZTA could have ‘future proofed’, and to some degree they have with wide bus shoulders, but what’s the point if they don’t have anything to tie into on the local network? It is not practical to try and make changes to projects when they’re so advanced.

        3. Patrick’s point is that this should never have advanced this far without a busway. The northwestern growth now on the horizon may be “new”. The dire need for better buses out west is not.

  2. Yes we mustn’t repeat the mistakes of last century when we built huge exurban growth, SE Auckland, not only without any Transit option but also without even reserving a quality right of way for a future one.

  3. Good to see this progressing. It really is needed.

    Will be interested to see what they do with Te Atatu and if they will build the ferry terminal also. From the map it looks like the proposed bus station and proposed ferry terminal could be very close on bridge ave.

  4. Better late than never, although as other comments suggest it’s disappointing and disturbing that it hasn’t been included in the plans or most likely has been cut to progress other objectives (SH18-1 interchange we’re looking at you).

  5. Maybe I am taking a leap too far but wouldn’t it be more sensible to forget the Busway (finish the Northern one instead) and install am electric railway line from the new K’Rd rail loop and follow the motorway thru Kingsland Gully and across the mudflats and link up with the Helensville line at Kumeu. via Riverhead. The Kumeu and Helensville Basins have a huge potential as satellite cities for Auckland and what a beautiful place to live in..
    Not everyone wants to live in Len Brown’s cardboard towers in the city.
    And surely it would be a better use for the spoil from Alice’s Waterview tunneling efforts rather than dumping it in a hole in Mangere.

    1. Barney it’s the right of way that matters not what the vehicle is. Build the right of ways we need now with the vehicles we have now, as we have a lot of catch up to do, then in the future decisions about trains/trams/electric buses whatever can follow….

    2. “Rail loop” – what is that? Is it the same as the City Rail LINK?

      “Len Brown’s cardboard towers in the city” – Yes didn’t you see the new legislation forcing everyone in Auckland to live in high rise apartment blocks (made of cardboard, apparently). No? So this is just scare mongering?

      There is no reason to spend money on rail when a cheaper busway will serve just as well.

      1. Goosoid, I am surprised at you. Take this “cheapest will do” argument to its fullest extent and we would have no rail at all. I am glad countries like Switzerland, with their envy-of-the-world rail systems serving every little corner, didn’t follow your cheapskate advice.

        1. Rather than ‘cheapest will do’ think of it as playing a longer game. It is very very hard to get money for big capex Transit projects so the strategy is to break it into workable stages. This is the lesson from the Northern Busway and Project Dart. Stage one is to get the ROW, then get a busting bus system in place, then work on the upgrade.

          Project Dart just did the double tracking and signals, not [sadly] level crossings, nor electrification. If it was all those things it wouldn’t have got funded. Electrification still needs the crossings sorted, the O-Line upgraded. Then there’s the CRL, which looks sure to be cut to the bone. But the success of each of these stages makes the next inevitable…. box clever.

        2. Dave B if Auckland took your line we would have no rail, being that a cheap and effective purchase of old second hand trains saved the service. Likewise we wouldn’t have Britomart if we had listened to the people complaining that a ‘cheap’ station for old diesels was a cop out. We would have electric trains arriving, and we wouldn’t be serious about starting the CRL.

          We wouldn’t have the ‘cheap’ northern busway, we wouldn’t have any bridge to the Wynyard Quarter at all, we wouldn’t have a beach rd cycleway, we wouldn’t have bus lanes on Fanshawe St, etc etc.

          This is the reality of it works. Small, cheap but continual upgrades. Make a small improvement that gets the gains that justify the large improvement, that leads to the final complete solution. The swiss didn’t build their rail system in one go, they’ve been expanding and upgrading it slowly for 150 years. They are now building the Gothard base tunnel, but only after 130 years of running their trains up a slow winding and constrainexd route through the mountains.

        3. Agree with what you are saying. I just reacted to Goosoid’s bald statement “There is no reason to spend money on rail when a cheaper busway will serve just as well”, which gives no hint of acknowledging a longer term plan for something better.

          Where I have problems with the “PT must be done as cheaply as possible” approach, is that we don’t see the same attitude towards road-building. Schemes that can aptly be described as “gold-plated” seem to get ushered through as of right. And for sure, with the present government setting the scene, it is a forlorn hope to expect any more than the dregs to trickle down to public transport. But if we achieve the change-of-government that most on this blog are hoping for, then the ground rules might just change.

          I believe we should lift our game and our expectations of what quality PT is all about, and be prepared to demand it “as of right”. True, we may not get it and we may have to settle for less, but we should stop habitually belittling ourselves and what we so strongly believe in as poor beggars worthy only of a crust.

        4. Dave, I am a huge fan of rail and would like to see more. However, ignoring political reality is not the way to make progress – as true for cycling at Cycle Action as for public transport.

          I also think you are undervaluing busways and even bus lanes. I took the Northern busway for the first time last Friday. I was just blown away by how good it is. Britomart to Constellation Drive in 23 minutes – the bus was full from Fanshawe. The main problem is the acres of parking around the stations when it should be apartments or terraced housing.

          And remember that the BRT systems in places like Curitiba/Bogota have been so successful they have actually becomes victims of that success because of constrained capacity – this is where rail comes into its own.

          One day for sure the Northern Busway should be replaced by driverless light rail like the Singapore MRT/Vancouver Canada line. But there are still many people saying that the Northern Busway is a failure, mostly because it was empty at 8am on a Saturday morning when they went past. The fact it is exceeding 2020 projections is not known widely.

          Rail will come but for now we need the ROWs designated and the best way (politically, not technically) is to use busways as the Trojan horse. If we ignore political reality and are not smart about it, we will shoot ourselves in the foot. The CFN is not only good sense, it is (maybe more importantly) smart politics.

        5. Switzerland has great trains but I couldn’t work out what it all meant on the platform when trying to get back to the airport in Geneva, with different lines all using the same platform, and the displays not looking very different or having different colours. But then it wasn’t tailored for tourists and visitors I guess.

        6. That is strange! I always find Switzerland’s integrated public transport system very easy to use in comparison with what many other countries seem to offer. For instance, platform allocation is clearly shown on all the posted timetables and this hardly ever changes from what is advertised. Contrast this with Britain, when at a busy station you may often not know which platform your service will be on until a few minutes before departure. Or worse, they will advertise a certain platform in advance, then announce a change at the absolute last minute!

          Switzerland has a lot to teach the world about how to do thiongs well!

  6. I thought the whole point of Norsga (Massey North, Hob Pt, Hob Corridor, and the future Stage 2 developments) was to develop sufficient employment in the west that Westies didn’t have to load up the Holden with a crate of Red to head into town for work (as a westie, I am entitled to make such comments)?

    That sort of traffic modelling indicates that Norsga is likely to be a failure. The boat park at Hob Pt (first all industrial, then 50% industrial, now 20% industrial) shows failure.

    1. If there you develop heaps of employment out west. That just generates more traffic as people drive in from the north east south and further west. Just look at smales farm. Without the busway theyd be stuffed

      1. I went to Ellerslie on the train yesterday (from Britomart). I used to work there 10 years ago and the change in commuting patterns, while not really surprising to me I guess, was still astounding. The Central Park Business area has grown considerably in the 10 years and alongside the inevitable students getting off at Ellerslie, there were a lot of workers who had hopped on the train from Britomart. This virtually never happened 10 years ago. Now if only the business developers would create nice environment for these workers to walk from the station to their workplaces, things would be much nicer. Right now it is a network of carparks and driveways. I’m betting some neighbouring apartments wouldn’t be unpopular as well. We’re on the brink of something here even if some of our local and national politicians can’t see it.

        This is something that can be repeated on the NW busway. The areas closest to the busway will get developed into business parks and apartments thus creating local employment opportunities. Vancouver shows just how this happens. What an exciting time. Now we just need the transport networks and planning changes (Unitary Plan) to make it happen.

        1. I agree Bryce. I lived in Ellerslie for 6 months and took the train every day. There were large numbers of people getting off in both directions.

          Ellerslie is ripe for a TOD. Maybe then we could scale back some of those huge arterials (that are practically empty 90% of the time) and bring some human scale back to the area. Living there was so unpleasant after coming back from Europe that my wife almost had us leaving Auckland. The traffic is choking the area to death.

  7. I would still like to see the train services extended to Kumeu-Huapai given the cost is so low using existing diesel services, the tracks are there, the platforms are there and the rolling stock is available. The busway is a 10 year wait away, the rail services can be rolling there almost immediately and service a different area, free of congestion. I know some here are passionate about the busway, but it is still 10 years off, or longer.

    1. +1
      And I, likewise, would like to see a proper extension of our truncated rail system in Wellington instead of the planned Bus Rapid Transit scheme (or even the revival of the Wellington Tram network which the Greens have just announced)

    2. Costs would be very high for such a diesel service when we will soon have retired all (or almost all) our diesels. For same money your could run fast AND more frequent bus shuttles to the first electrified rail station on the line…

      1. +1. Provide a frequent feeder bus first.

        That’d be significantly more useful (and cheaper) than an infrequent diesel shuttle.

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