In the latest saga that the issue of transport in East Auckland, the local MPs are calling for some of the roads to be turned into State Highways.

Pakuranga MP Maurice Williamson is pushing for Pakuranga Rd and Ti Rakau Drive to become state highways.

Together with Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross, Williamson says he is “putting all [his] efforts” into convincing Transport Minister Simon Bridges to bring the two roads under the New Zealand Transport Agency’s authority.

Auckland Transport currently looks after the two streets.

It appears to me that the primary reasons they are pushing for the roads to be State Highways are related to them trying to find ways to circumvent the current process so they can get the projects they personally want built – such as the Reeves Rd Flyover.


Speaking at a public meeting on transport, Williamson expressed his belief that more roading options are needed for East Aucklanders.

“I want to make it clear I am supportive of public transport, but it’s such a small part of what people in this area use when getting to work compared to the private motor car.

“We don’t have any state highways, busways, double tracking trains or electrification, It’s now time for proper transport options.”

His comments about the lack of public transport in the east echoed those made by Auckland Transport chief executive Dr David Warburton at a public meeting last year.

He told those present that public transport passengers from South-East Auckland are among the most poorly served in Auckland.

Williamson showed an image of Pakuranga Rd taken from his electorate office showing traffic at a stand-still on a weekday morning.

He also presented data which showed the busy arterial route had the third-highest daily use of any road in New Zealand.

Auckland Transport has two main solutions in the pipeline to unclog traffic on Pakuranga Rd – the Southeastern Busway and Reeves Rd flyover.

Williamson is supportive of the flyover but has some concerns with the proposed busway.

“The plan to drop two lanes in some places will just take space away from other road users.

“Something is wrong here, space is being taken from cars and given to public transport.”

So Williamson’s logic seems to be that because public transport to the east is currently crap not many people use it and therefore the solution is not to improve public transport but build more roads. That’s akin to giving a two year old going crazy on a sugar rush a lollies in the hope they’ll calm down.

It is absolutely correct that East Auckland has some of the lowest public transport use in Auckland and is tied directly to the lack of quality options that exist. The lack of any form of bus priority mean that the buses that buses will always be a slower option than driving. Combine that with not enough frequency and it’s no surprise people don’t use PT much. But that is exactly what AMETI is trying and address by building a busway from Panmure through to Pakuranga and eventually Botany. The first stage of AMETI – the upgraded Panmure Station and the new Te Horeta Rd – are now complete and AT are getting ready to lodge the Notice of Requirement for Stage 2 which will see a busway extend from Panmure all the way to Botany. That will allow buses to bypass congestion and feed passengers on to trains for a very fast journey to town – we already hear anecdotal reports of large numbers of bus passengers from the east transferring to trains at Panmure

AMETI Buslane - Pakuranga Rd

AT are also talking of extending bus lanes up Pakuranga Rd as far as Highland Park – the road is six lanes wide to that point. Combining the bus lanes, the busway and expected higher frequencies from the new bus network – for which consultation is due out in October – those bus lanes will almost certainly be moving more people than are possibly if the lane was left as a general traffic lane.

In the end it seems that Williamson like many other politicians on the right of politics these days are classic concern trolls. They all claim to support public transport as they know that’s what their constituencies want them to say but they oppose any actual public transport that comes to life and never actually provide any alternative options. They also only want public transport after they’ve built the roads they personally want.

Perhaps the only thing in favour of making these roads state highways is I’m aware the NZTA are strongly supportive of the busway plans and want it built faster than is currently planned. We also know that the NZTA don’t seem to muck around as much with getting routes designated like AT seem to. There would be a great irony if Williamson and co succeeded in getting NZTA to take over the project only to see the busway get built faster.

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  1. One thing I can visualize out East is a rail line that connects somewhere along the Eastern line and linking to Manukau maybe. From there it will loop around so people can get around the area without having to go into the city. Look at the video Begin Japanology – Railways it will give ideas for developing our rail to that of a country where rail is number 1

    1. This busway is the start of exactly that. A high frequency, grade separated public transport route around East Auckland connecting into the rail network at Panmure, Ellerslie and Botany.

  2. If we deliver more passengers to Panmure, will there be enough seats to get them to the next place they want to go? (Not necessarily the city)

    Time for moar trains?

  3. As a resident of the east I know exactly how bad the traffic. Both pakranga road and ti rakau drive are standstill speed at morning. Commuting to the nearest panmure train station took 35 minutes and using bus to city took one and half hour. It is really bad here.

    I totally agree a bus lane will help. However they should not take away any existing lane as the road is already so baddy congested.

    Not all place are reachable by pt and sometimes people still need to drive.

    I suggest they should have NEX type express bus that move quickly instead of bus that stops at every local stations.

    Even better is they start to think about some rail connection via botany to flat bush, takini.

    1. There would still be two lanes each way on Pakuranga Highway which is lavish by most standards so plenty of capacity for those that want to drive. The plan is for more of a NEX style service. Bus stops will be at stations not stops every few hundred metres.

  4. This is some stunning circularity….”I am supportive of public transport, but it’s such a small part of what people in this area use when getting to work compared to the private motor car.

    “We don’t have any state highways, busways, double tracking trains or electrification, It’s now time for proper transport options.”

  5. What a buffoon. Does anyone take him seriously anymore after all the stupid things he’s done in the past few years?
    Its clear as day that the only reason they would want them to be state highways is so National has control over them and not AT.

  6. I’m a tradesman and that area of Auckland is the worst part of Auckland to get too, not because theres not enough lanes but because there are far too many cars all trying to get onto the southern motorway etc. Adding more lanes is only going to make it worse, the only roading upgrade I would do is to grade seperate the South Eastern Motorway/ carbine rd intersection as it’s poorly designed and dodgy as hell. A busway will remove cars from the pinch points and allow commercial vehicles to get around alot easier on the current network.

    1. Sounds like some common-sense stuff Lloyd, and said by someone who needs to drive each day. I’m getting sick of having to live as our politicians in Wellington say we should.

  7. “I’m supportive of public transport but..” is like saying “I’m not a racist but….”

    I live in Howick Village and work in the viaduct, I use public transport every day, it’s limited but it can be made to work.

    Very few people transfer from buses to trains at Panmure, this is because the bus system is dreadful. If it was a dedicated bus that ran with high frequency to and from Panmure only, it’d work.

    Right now the existing city bound bus is dual purposed as a train extension. It doesn’t work, especially heading east, quite often you wait for ages and then get on the bus that you walked past at Britomart, and it full and you have to stand. Sometimes you don’t even get on.

    More ferries would also go a long way. 2 hour gaps between them in the day is far too long

    1. Better connections to Panmure Station is great for those who work in CBD, but useless for everyone else. At the very least the buses need to continue to Ellerslie Station to give access to those working in Penrose and Newmarket

  8. I never realized how good life was before cars and trucks took over the roads, I grew up when rail took all heavy goods, it was far less stressful than the madness I see on our roads with a transport system grown from a horse drawn 15kph delivery system into a clogged up pollution spewing rat race, it’s time to wind back the clock.

  9. I live in Pakuranga. My Children don’t drive. They use buses and mixed rail to Panmure then buses to Pakuranga. They would have better transport options if there was a busway along Pakuranga Road than the existing 6 lanes. Building a Reeves Road flyover would do nothing for our family. Such a flyover would impact on the option of putting a light-rail flyover past Pakuranga Mall on Te Rakau Road.

    If Maurice really wants to provide his electorate with transport options he should be looking short-term at bus only routes and long-term at light-rail. Remember that Te Irirangi Road was built to handle light rail on the central reservation. Light rail Panmure to Manukua with loops via Howick and Te Rakau Road should be on Maurice’s list of things to do to stay in Parliament.

    1. Agreed. You could hook it up to East Tamaki with so little work that it’s frustrating that it’s not even on anyone’s radar. LRT in the East has be a discussion that starts happening now, or else it will end up in the ‘maybe one day’ pile like LRT on the North Shore busway – it might make sense to take a low cost option now in the interim but in order to develop and progress the area, you need a future-proofed solution ASAP.

      1. Surely East Auckland gets to piggyback in on the discussion about LRT on busy routes in the Isthmus? This route will obviously need to be LRT at some stage in the future. I guess the question is just where to stop at the western end; Panmure, Ellerslie, or Wynyard.

        1. No one is talking about it – you could argue decent councillors would be trying to get the residents out there as many additional and new services as possible, but that relies on those councillors not disregarding them purely on ideological grounds alone. LRT from Howick to Panmure would be fantastic, or as Patrick suggested, something even more direct. But I wouldn’t expect much given that some elected officials out there don’t understand what public transport is/can be used for.

          1. I think it is important to clarify the timeframe over which I see LRT happening. I see this being a 20 year goal, with the busway as an interim. Use the labour cost savings to finance a PPP to build LRT on busy corridors but this necessitates high ridership first.

  10. Wouldn’t it look visually better if the busway were down the MIDDLE of the road, rather than be at the sides? It looks unbalanced from the picture.

    1. yes of course you *could* draw the busway down the middle of the road, and it may very well look more “balanced”.

      However, given that the busway is *actually* being built on the northern side then this would seem to misrepresent what was actually planned :).

  11. Making them state highways will simply mean that maintenance and road improvement funding will come from the government instead of the ratepayers, but that will then take any decisions as to what will happen on those roads out of the locals’ hands and hand it to bureaucrats in Wellington, who are at present too busy with their RONS and the like to worry about local roads in East Auckland. And let’s not forget that the seats are not marginal in any shape or form, so do not qualify for election candy bribes

    1. Id not be surprised to learn of a second batch of rons on the drawing board for when the first batch are nearing completion if the status quo is maintained in parliament.

    2. You should take a look at the Pakuranga Town Centre plan and see what the Council thinks the Pakuranga > Howick highway needs in the way of PT. This isn’t something you can pin solely on Williamson and Ross, there is no vision or imagination from anyone when it comes to dealing with anything further east than AMETI.

      I know it’s easy to hone in on vocal pro-road Nat MPs but even the Council has dropped the ball on this one.

      1. The principle problem is that the Town Centre’s only chance is to intensify with commercial and residential towers and proper Rapid Transit connections. The RTN route between the Train Station at Panmure and Botany TC as planned is good, and buslanes must extend towards Howick too, but if the flyover is built the former will be unlikely to ever happen. Relegating Pak TC to also-ran status in the suburban centre competition stakes.

        The refusal to reserve Transit corridors through here AKL in the 1960s and 70s when it was empty farmland was a spiteful and absurd act of Motordom triumphant, a stupidity that has now come how to roost. The only possible RTN route now is Pak Highway, but like the Harbour Bridge buslanes would shift many more people there and speed general traffic.

        The other option is a much better but much more expensive elevated and/or tunnelled rail line from Manukau City, Botany, Pakuranga, and across the Tamaki Estuary to the eastern line at Glen Innes. Something that Williamson et al ought to champion in order to get the area looked at properly. Shame they have no imagination nor ambition of what could be beyond today, only much worse.

      2. AMETI goes to Botany, there is very little further East than that. There are also shoulder bus lanes proposed all the way to Highland Park. Although a busway is useful, I think it is excessive through this area.

        1. AMETI really heads more south than east. Along towards Howick you’ve got schools, Lloyd Elsmore Park, Pigeon Mountain, Howick itself and then the Eastern Beaches/Mellon’s Bay etc. If you had rapid transport options to get to/from there then you’d eliminate a huge amount of the driving traffic as it stands now. A LRT route along the Pakuranga Highway is well overdue, as is one along to Botany and through East Tamaki. The busway is a good start.

          As for there not being ‘much out there’, there’s sort of tens of thousands of people with SFA access to decent rapid transport, which is the whole point. Those cars getting on the Pakuranga/Penrose overbridge are coming from somewhere.

          1. Somewhere, but not East of Botany!!

            Agree it would be good to get a busway/LRT up to Howick too, but I think we need to celebrate the small steps too, and buslanes leading to the busway to Panmure is definitely worth separating.

            What’s your ideal solution here?

          2. I’m impatient as all hell, but I’d start by linking Panmure, Pakuranga and Sylvia Park using light rail (on the assumption that future LRT will be able to use train tracks like they do in some Australian cities). From there to Manukau via Botany I guess. Howick would have to come later, but as has been said earlier, definite timetables for this stuff would be a big step in the right direction.

          3. I feel that a busway is ideally suited to this corridor and urban form actually. Demands are solid but peaky and the urban structure is quite fragmented/polycentric.

  12. I used to live out east and absolutely needed my car to be able to get to work in Ellerslie. My hours ruled out public transport.

    Moved out south and don’t own a car anymore

  13. It would be interesting to know why AT doesnt enforce parking restrictions in the New Lynn shared spaces. They are littered with parked cars from dawn to dusk…

    1. Apparently the space is not vested to Council yet, and there has been a stuff-up in the legality of signage or traffic rules. This according to the staff who are supposed to enforce in this area. Sounds like an almighty mess that someone should take ownership of from AT and Council, but I think the likelihood of that is pretty low…

  14. I remember the Eastern Transport corridor.. As I was living on Pakuranga Road at the time as was due to loose 6m off the front of my section.. I elected to move out… They said it would happen within 5 years of 2003… Yeah Right!…
    Footnote.. Now have sold up, and am moving to Tauranga to get away from the Auckland (lack of direction) Madness.

    1. Good luck Dave, but Tauranga is just Auckland auto-dependent madness on a smaller scale- for now. As it grows it will hit problems, as Christchurch has, way sooner because there are no Rapid Transit Corridors there at all. It’s just like a big Pakuranga. Same goes for Hamilton.

      In fact I’d say broadly speaking we are seeing our cities divide into two groups: Christchurch, Hamilton, and Tauranga v Auckland, Wellington, and Dunedin. The first group on totally dispersed, auto-dependent sprawl model, and the second on mixed urban/suburban one; dense cores with surrounding suburbs and less totally reliant on driving as the only functioning movement system.

      Auckland because of scale, geographical constraint, and historical good fortune [we kept the rail corridors!], Wellington because of geographical constraint, and the good fortune to have kept a functioning rail network, and Dunedin because of historical form and small scale.

      Maybe Christchurch will revive its cycling strengths and get that bus system humming to such a meaningful level that this classification is muddied, i hope so. But there seems to be so many barriers in the way of that in the pattern of the rebuild so far. Tauranga and Hamilton are doomed to their 20th Century forms; in fact it seems central Hamilton is still contracting, loosing out to suburban mega malls, so is very late to the urban revival.

    1. perish the thought!

      But more seriously, my hunch is that Williamson is too right wing and would get walloped by whichever centre candidates emerge (regardless of whether they are centre right or left). For example, if it was say Goff versus Fletcher versus Williamson, then I suspect both Goff and Fletcher would receive more votes than Williamson.

      I have a email somewhere from Williamon where he states that “rail is going the way of the slide rule” and that we’ll all be driving and flying everywhere in the future. Hence, I suspect his “support” for public transport is fairly thin!

      But even if he is elected, the important thing is the overall make-up of Council. A Council dominated by pro-public transport and walking/cycling councillors would render the mayor’s views almost irrelevant.

      1. Surely Maurice has shot himself in the foot too much to be able to run for the Mayoralty? His latest “comedian” MC role would seem to have backfired spectacularly – surely he would now only have a minuscule level of support (him and his Mum) for Williamson as Mayor?

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