This is a guest post from reader Bryce Pearce which purely coincidently was scheduled just after AT announce that the New Network will roll out to the Hibiscus Coast in October and that more double deckers will start running on the Northern Busway from January

You may, or may not have heard that under Auckland Transport’s ‘New Network’ the NEX bus service on the Northern busway is to be extended to the Silverdale Park’n’Ride, where it will link with local bus services. Hibiscus Coast New Network Confirmed

While this alone is very good news for the Hibiscus Coast, the question that needs to be asked is – why is the final stop so far away from any walk up catchment?

That’s a good question and, luckily, there is a very simple solution – extend the Northern Express (NEX) bus service to the ‘new’ Silverdale Town Centre.

Doing so would enable a very reliable journey from Silverdale to anywhere else (incl areas on the rail network via a transfer at Britomart) on a frequent basis. It also brings the NEX within walking distance of quite a bit of the Millwater area (forecast to have 10,000 residents) and also ties in well with development within Orewa itself.

Another benefit of this location is that, rather than the shared path alongside Hibiscus Coast Hwy to the Park’n’Ride, it offers a very easy, quite flat, 2.5km ride from the Orewa Town Centre utilising the Te Ara Tahuna Cycleway

How great would this link be to access the stunning, and very popular, Orewa beach on sunny days and pretty much all summer (there is a great selection of food and beverage in Orewa these days).

Silverdale Catchment

There is an existing on-street stop in front of the Silverdale Town Centre that would be appropriate to use as an interchange stop. This has the potential to be expanded and some quality shelters added. This would allow for an easy transfer from/to the N91 / N95 services that would use the same stop (rather than going all the way to the park’n’ride) with the added advantage that it would be much nicer for people to await or alight from services at a shopping centre rather than a station on its own, next to a busy road.

Another advantage of the Silverdale Town Centre location is a central location to add an Auckland Transport Service Centre to assist students and other concession holders with their validation and ticketing requirements. This is very needed in this area right now.

Extending the NEX service through the Silverdale Town Centre would allow other routes to terminate there and save a 4km detour to the Park and Ride. This would allow a more operationally efficient service for all services and potentially allow more frequency and alternative running routes.

Post implementation of the Silverdale Town Centre extension, there is some good justification for the extension of the NEX service right into the Orewa town centre itself.

The 895X could easily be terminated at the Silverdale Town Centre interchange, with passengers changing to the NEX, and allowing for more frequent services between Waiwera, Orewa and the CBD. This could be very beneficial in allowing access to the Waiwera Hot Pools off peak and in weekends.

Here is the map I have drawn out for the following services (using the same colour scheme as the AT map): NEX / N95 / N91 (which would be the same as the N92).

NEX Extension

The remaining question is: Why are Auckland Transport opposed to extending the NEX to Silverdale Town Centre?

This explanation from AT explains their reasons.

There were a number of suggestions for changes to the termination point of the NEX, including Silverdale Centre, Orewa, and Millwater. But to take the NEX through congested local roads would affect its reliability and therefore the quality of the service, and so the NEX will terminate at HC Station in the recommended network.

The budget for the expanded park and ride (and shelters?) is $5.9M. This will add just under 400 car parks but will do nothing to remove vehicles from Hibiscus Coast Highway (it may even add vehicles). Why not instead spend a large chunk of that on bus priority measures along Hibiscus Coast Highway? Measures that would make a far larger difference to a much larger number of bus users.

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  1. Good idea. The park n ride can still be used by those coming down from the North (I’d like to see a service to Puhoi/Warkworth added too).
    I do see their point about delays to NEX due to congestion on HBCH. AT is apparently looking at extending East Coast Road past Bunnings/Pak N Save up the hill to connect to the back of Silverdale. This would provide a bypass that buses could use (provided it doesn’t get blocked by cars from Millwater – which is unlikely now that Millwater has it’s own motorway ramps).

  2. I understand the issue was the light phasing that can be 2-3 phase changes to get out of Silverdale TC onto the main road to the city. AT did some research and were pretty uncomfortable even though a lot of them really wanted to serve Millwater and new Silverdale TC a lot better. If there was a bus lane or bvus priority coming in/out then this might have been a goer.

    1. They presumably designed and/or approved the new bloody Silverdale TC, terrible access included. Be fantastic if they could address that, for improved bus access or otherwise.

    2. My point is that either the connecting buses or the NEX services need to be run along the HC Hwy, and either can be held up, so why not actually reduce the number of buses moving along the area from Whangaparaoa Rd to the Park’n’Ride? If this means an extra NEX service needs to extend past Albany then does the added amenity outweigh the cost?

      As an aside, there are terraces being built right next to my proposed town centre stop right now.

  3. Personally a bit disappointed with how low frequency the “new network” is for HC. & Waiwera still hourly despite heavy use to visit the springs…

  4. I am not a fan of Suburbia but would happily live in Orewa if it meant a short stroll to the bus stop and a 30-40min ride on a busway to the CBD.

    Work in the city, live near the beach and a congestion free ride in either direction. What a life.

  5. Definitely agree with this. There’s no real coherency to Silverdale at the moment – the old town is sort of awkwardly positioned but far from the new houses, schools and shops. It would be great to see a proper hub go in here before locals end up stuck with another Botany Town Centre.

  6. I thought the Silverdale Bus Centre (currently Silverdale Park’n’Ride) was about special bus lanes looping under motorway off-ramps so buses could get off and on motorway without waiting for traffic lights etc, so as too keep to a tight timetable. Feeder buses from new Silverdale TC, Orewa, Whangaparaoa etc would keep it busy

    Remember many people use the current Silverdale Park’n’Ride arrive from north and west of Silverdale, and plenty of them are kiss n’ riders

    Currently no buses to west or north of Silverdale

      1. There are services along Dairy Flat and also, under the ‘New Network, there will be buses from Warkworth. Any other problems need solving? 🙂

  7. At first look I totally agree with this idea
    Boxes that this ticks are
    1) Silver town centre is a place to go to. Human transit pg 163 states “Is C [a connection place] a place that will attract high ridership itself, so that we get the maximum ridership benefits from the high level of service that we’re proposing to offer only there?”. I go to STC and would be happy to send my children to STC. I know of few people who would want to go to the current Silverdale Park and Ride as a place.
    2) I feel most people who travel from the CBD to the Silverdale off ramp each day will also go past the Silverdale CBD. Yes some will go West in the direction of Kaupakapaka, some will go North but I feel the majority will go to Orewa and Whangaparoa.
    3) Yes the buses will not currently be fast between the motorway and Silverdale town centre in heavy traffic. In lighter traffic the flow will be reasonable. Fanshawe Street probably has been slow on some occasions. But suggesting stopping the NEX as Westhaven Marina to avoid this would make no sense. If the NEX to Silverdale is very popular there is the option of bus lanes, ways, T2/3 lanes to speed it up.
    4) If approached correctly the local business could be supportive of the NEX ending at TBC. The swim school has had to add additional car parks, which would have a cost. Houses could be built nearby with limited car spaces due to the benefit of guaranteed transport to Auckland CBD.

    1. I just checked GIS and it appears that the current reserved corridor from the park’n’ride to Silverdale Town Centre and all the way to Orewa itself, is wide enough to fit bus lanes in. If there is enough political will.

  8. Also it would mean people who live close to the Northern Busway or Fanshawe street could work in the Sliverdale CBD easily without needing a car at all.

  9. Moving ahead what would be good to know (rahter than guess is)
    1) How many peole from Whangaparoa/Orewa work in the CDBD and how do they get there. Maatt L ‘s post Census 2013: Auckland Travel Patterns is the way to go – can this be followe futher to get the
    2) How many buses per 1/2 hour at peak travel from Silverdale South and North to Sivlerdale (i.e travel toward and from CBD at peak times)

    What would be good would be if someone who catches the bus could find out what people catching the bus think.
    I did this as a petioion for 881 buses in one side A4 side page.People filled it in on the bus and returned it to me. Details would be what time they would catch the bus in the morning/evening from STC? What suburb they live in and theeir desitination. (TRYING TO THINK WHAT WOULD BEUSEFUL FOR AT/BUS COMPANIES IN PLANNING SERVICES RATHER THAN JUST A LISTOF NAMES.

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