Auckland Transport want to roll out 40km of new bus priority measures over the next 3 years to speed up buses, make them more efficient and support the new bus network being rolled out across the region. This is fantastic news as the lack of progress AT have made to date on rolling out bus lanes has been a regular cause for concern for us and since AT was formed in late 2010 only bus lane added across the region has was on Fanshawe St earlier this year – something we campaigned on.

FANSHAWE ST red and green

AT say they are targeting for 15km to be added this financial year and the remaining 25km over the following two years adding to the 88km of existing bus and transit lanes around the region. The works won’t all be bus lanes, in some cases they will be improvements to stops, kerb realignments or pocket lanes at intersections. Many of the improvements are also about making the existing bus lanes work better by addressing the missing gaps in them. The focus so far has been on the routes that make up the Frequent Transit Network which are the routes that will have buses running at a minimum of every 15 minutes from 7am to 7pm, seven days a week (below). As part of the new network AT are also rolling out a new contracting model (PTOM) for which stringent KPIs have been set in the areas of punctuality and reliability and these new priority measures play a critical role in operators being able to meet those KPIs.

New Network

And here are the list of the key projects bus priority projects over the next three years. AT say a road on the list doesn’t mean there will be a bus lane along the entire corridor but that these are the corridors that have high levels of congestion for buses and have priority measures identified that will increase the operational efficiency and customer experience.

Bus Priority works

The cost to roll out these bus priority measures is $12-15 million over the next 3 years which seems like fantastic value when compared to many other transport projects. That cost is made up of $2.2 million of capital expenditure (CAPEX) in this financial year and $5-6 million in the following two years as well an additional $500,000 in operational spending in those years for investigation and review. The big issue though is that currently following two years projects are not included in the base transport programme and so will need funding to be made available.

One thing that does help is they say recent stakeholder engagement internally and with NZTA, Local Board, business associations, emergency services and local residents has been positive. These are also not the end of bus priority measures and AT are conducting a systematic investigation of all future RTN routes.

It’s great to see AT finally getting on to this. I don’t know if any economic evaluation has been done but the benefits from freeing up trips for thousands of bus users per day must be huge, especially when you consider it will cost just 10% of some motorway interchange projects. It’s also about the same cost as the NZTA are about to spend on adding one lane to the motorway northbound at Ellerslie.

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22 comments

  1. This is great news. What a shame it is going to take three years though. Maybe it could become a good student employment operation and give them a job over the vacation time. Just a thought.

  2. Firstly this is great news. But I do wonder why the eye watering amounts for transport projects. Anyone know how much it costs per 100m to lay the paint/ materials for bus lanes? Wonder how much of this is contractor profit.

    1. If the bus lanes and /or cycle lanes are separated off where possible with epoxy stick on kerbs you wouldn’t need green paint in these areas.

      1. Thinking more about this and more bus lanes and priority which is fantastic do we even need green surfacing what about a paintrd bus symbol.Just want to keep costs down and get more lots more also more flexible 2 make changes

  3. Sounds great; but wont it take years of consultation / begging with business owners and car drivers to implement any of these plans?

  4. There are some AT signs on Meola road advertising the Outer Link – one of them says something about wave to all the cars stuck in traffic. Ironically it would be difficult to wave to the cars stuck in traffic from the Outer Link, because the bus would be stuck in exactly the same traffic.

    1. Good news but; yeah a 3 year time-frame is a bit of a stretch, as usual for PT projects. Shouldn’t take that long to do a bit of widening and throwing a lick of green paint on the road. If it was for cars and commercial vehicles I bet that would be done in a matter of a couple months after proposal.

      1. Once again a lot of these problems can probably be thrown at the feet of central government. What’s the bet that every little change to the road corridor has to be consulted on with affected parties under the LGA? Its the bureaucracy created by legislation, and often competing legislation, that creates all these delays.

  5. Finally-starting to changing the priority on corridors on road width that is already there. This should have been phase 1 as you can achieve widespread change for peanuts with no widening. The focus on this first should have been just as important as AMETI-reason 1 gets the entire network up and running for minimal cost. Improving public transport speed and efficiency. Changing behaviour-higher patronage sooner. When capex goes to implementation of Class A rapid transit less pressure on car mode as some/most of the change has already occurred and less need for car width/land acquisition/extra bitumen width that we just don’t need long term and also highlights the spending priority for rapid transit not creating piecemeal public transport corridors as expensive and very slow/painfull tack ons. It should be hit all in one go-including separated cycling if possible-even if it is just symbols/lines and then roll out the green paint or stick on kerbs later. One global plan as above-name the roads and just do it. AT have governance over the road reserve end of story. The problem for some and the solution for all is that it would change behavior (giving people viable options) sooner than people think and reduce fuel use/reduce car use/unclog motorways/less emissions/less bitumen width very fast which is not the current political thinking. In short implement this whole bus network/cycle network with the best of what we have – it will save Billions, get a massive spike in patronage and change everyones thinking on public transport/cycling. Too much consultation and not enough go forward.

  6. I think this Frequent 15 Minute network is a massive leap forward and obviously a lot of thinking behind it. Same could be said for the 2030 Congestion Free Network plan which highlights the main spine that needs to go Class A rapid over the next 16 years. The more I think about it both the frequent and the rapid networks need to launch at the same time. The rapid plan has less links and is more the heart of the network. Whilst only about 5% now truly rapid or Class A think very important remainder of network has a bus lane and these buses just pick up/drop off at key centers as shown on the 2030 map. A separate team needs to manage the resourcing but the buses themselves just keep going at maximum speed and rotation so trips to main centers are as fast as practicable. Not only bus lanes but advance signal loops so not held up at traffic lights would be recommended . Rapid transit is currently growing at 18% growth and obviously a preferred mode of travel vs standard bus network at 8%. Extra buses will need to allow from the lack of class A network but I don’t see why not the benefits of this rapid core cannot be realised. This rapid core is the bus equivalent of the city rail link to the existing rail network and will make a dramatic improvement to speed, quality of service, and frequencies on the high demand lines which will attract current car drivers into this network and to the other rapid linkages like rail. An adaptable bus rapid fleet of approx 400 buses (40%) on the network is also ready to fill any void in the frequent system or if there are any issues in the rail network . Right now car congestion is costing $1.25 b per annum and to get the roads uncongested is about a 1 in 3 mode shift required out of a car.With a frequent and rapid bus system working together with all the other alternative modes in particular maximising access to rail believe this is achievable but this rapid bus system which isn’t planned yet needs to launch in 2016 to improve the quality of the whole alternative mode network and attract car drivers.

  7. How do we get to a 5 star public transport system the quickest and smartest way?
    2014 new electric trains up from 1 star to 2 tick
    2015 Finish bus interchanges do bus priority on main routes 2 star to 2.3.
    2016 Implement Planned Bus Frequent Network -15min frequency not sure demand on existing bus fleet . This will take us 2.3 to 2.7. Drop fares to $10 all day pass or $110 monthly similar to Calgary. This takes us to 3.2 star. Then using 400 buses on 24hr hire install the 2030 full rapid network with full dedicated bus lane and priority signals this fleet fully controlled by AT frequency down to 5 min approx.use takes us to 4 star with practically no extra cost. Then we get a new green bus fleet 4.5 star. Then we convert rapid routes from bus lane to class A busway now 5 star but this part will take a few years, then you have CRL kicking in also now it is a transport symphony under full control and not tied up in network or fleet knots that can’t escape and be a real contender with the car even with their 60 years of all the food, and chairs at the table.

  8. Road markings have been repainted citybound on New North Rd from just after the flyover and onto upper Symonds St to close to the bridge over the motorway, just this week. The new road markings make it look like they have bus lanes ready-to-go along most of this route, just needs the greening, signage and bus lane labels. Couldn’t find any info on the AT website to say if this interpretation is correct though. Could this be the first result of this initiative? Should be handy time-saver on this route, so long as cars backed-up further through the flyover or Khyber Pass Rd (where there’s probably no room for bus lanes without bigger physical works) don’t cause more delays for buses than what the bus lanes prevent.

    1. Yes, there does seem to be bus lanes being installed in the city-bound clearway on New North Road from its intersection with Charlotte Street.

      Concerned that AT has no website information, evidence of consultation, or even Rd signs about these changes.

      Also concerned that this particular bus lane may actually delay buses on New North Road beneath the Ian McKinnon Drive Overpass in the new queue of cars stuck behind those wanting to turn right into Mount Eden Road.

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