The reality of the massive impact the construction of City Rail Link will have is becoming ever more apparent as we get closer the start of works in November. Auckland Transport have already started installing new bus lanes on a number of roads to enable buses to avoid potential congestion caused by the works and now they’re detailing the changes to bus routes themselves.

Any bus route that travels on Albert St north of Victoria St will be affected. This means most of the bus routes that access the city centre from the North Shore, West Auckland and some of the routes on the isthmus are being changed. The changes take place from 18 October – which happens to be the same day the new network for the Hibiscus Coast rolls out.

For some unknown reason AT haven’t produced new versions of the route maps so it’s difficult to show the changes – AT you should really do this – however, they have produced maps showing where stops for individual services are moved to, an example is below.

CRL bus stop changes

From what I can gather the key changes are:

  • Most North Shore buses that currently use Albert St – all the NZ Bus and Ritchies buses will instead travel straight down Wellesley St, on to Halsey St and then Fanshawe St
  • Birkenhead buses will still use Albert St but only for a shorter section
  • Buses from the West and services such as the 030 will loop turn around at Victoria St and then head back out west via at least part of Hobson St.
  • The Inner Link will still use Victoria St but shift to Queen St between Customs St and Victoria St
  • Some citybound buses from the shore will use a new stop outside the new Fonterra building instead of outside the Air NZ building

To me the big impact of all this is it effectively splits the PT provision in the city centre into two separate largely unconnected hubs. At Britomart  we have the trains, northern express and a few other services that cross the city while 500-800m south there are the services for most of the North Shore, West Auckland again along with a handful of others. I say unconnected as it would normally be faster walking along Queen St than catch a City Link bus between the two.

This change presents me personally with a dilemma around how I get to work. I travel through the city on my way to work in Takapuna and currently catch the train to Britomart then will often walk to Albert St to transfer to a bus that goes directly to Takapuna. With the changes that are happening I see myself as having three main options

  • Walk the ~800m between Britomart and Wellesley St and then catch a bus to the Takapuna – another factor is that these buses run about every 15 minutes. (red below)
  • Catch the Northern Express from next to Britomart to Akoranga and walk about 1.6km to work from there. During the peaks the NEX runs every 10 minutes counter peak. (purple below)
  • A combination of the two above, catch a Northern Express bus to Fanshawe St then transfer to a Takapuna bus. The risk here is in introducing yet another transfer to the journey.

CRL bus transfer options

Of the first two options it is either an easy transfer to a more frequent service but with a longer walk vs a shorter walk but a less frequent service. I guess also a forth option is I could do the NEX option and leave a bike at Akoranga to ride between there and Takapuna.

That fourth option also highlights perhaps something else AT should think about and would allow them to finally put into practice some of the ideas we’ve heard about at many Auckland Conversations – quick, cheap and temporary facilities. Basically Queen St between Britomart and Wellesley St is flat and very easy riding. AT could easily take at least one lane and turn it into a cycleway. At each end a fleet of bikes could be waiting allowing people transferring between these two hubs to jump on one and ride safely between them, effectively a rudimentary bike share (they could even worth with Nextbike on it). That would not only remove some of the negativity of the changes but also make the transfers more fun and might help towards other goals such as getting more people on bikes.

A shot from a reader of the new bus lanes on Hobson St that have gone in.

Lastly these changes are just the ones needed for the works that will get the tunnel to Wyndham St. More changes including changing these ones will obviously be needed again when it comes time to build the rest of the project. Hopefully the government will come the party on this project soon because while the disruption will be painful, if they drag out a CRL decision it will be akin to pulling off a plaster slowly and spread the pain out over a longer period of time.

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57 comments

  1. For your specific case Matt, one little-known feature, and impossible to view on just one timetable, is that various services between Akoranga and Takapuna (843, 911, 922, 945) combine to create a frequent connection with a bus every 10-15 minutes (8 per hour – more frequent than CBD-Takapuna buses!) all day on weekdays. So add to your list of options: train to Britomart, NEX to Akoranga, then Akoranga to Takapuna.

    1. also on your walk, you can go straight across Barrys Point from Des Swann, and there’s a double driveway that will take you straight to the Little Shoal Bay walkway, a minor, but pleasant deviation from your marked path

      when the Busway opened, the 911 switched from Barrys to Fred Thomas, losing 2-3 regular passengers on the service I used to catch, it seems absurd that the route should switch from a substantial employment node to a basically deserted route, but ARC at the time refused to even consider a re-routing

  2. With the inner link moving to Queen Street, adding to the AirBus and the inner link already there, bus lanes along the length are now way over due.

    Removing left and right hand turns from Queen Street would further reduce cars driving along its length and improve bus journey times. I was disappointed when the plans above were released by AT and nowhere did I see bus lanes on Queen Street mentioned. There will certainly be increased bus disruption by car drivers who have switched to it from Albert.

      1. “For some unknown reason AT haven’t produced new versions of the route maps so it’s difficult to show the changes”

        Do you think that maybe upcoming Queen St changes are the reason for that situation as you noted:

      2. Well that’s good to hear.

        This evening I was again reminded of the ridiculousness of the current situation. The inner link was slowed because of a street full of SOVs, unnecessarily on Queen Street, and light phasing that ignores buses sitting waiting at traffic lights in favour of turning traffic movements.

        Having bus lanes along its length, combined with no left or right turns, would turn the city link into an extremely quick and handy bus, rather than the complete annoying drag it is at present. Running the inner link up here to Victoria Street will likely add at least 5-10 mins c.f. to its current journey time up Albert Street, so is a real must. AT can simply not state they’re prioritising buses in the central city if Queen Street doesn’t get bus lanes.

    1. Yes Queen St just has to be used to get through this. I know it’s problematic with the desire to firm up pedestrian priority there. But there are huge opportunities too; frankly it is time to work towards its ultimate pattern: people + Transit north/south. Which is to say to prepare for the LRT pattern. And remember there are four lanes. Full time bus lanes look easy enough, the crawling City Link might actually function if these were installed. As mention above all the turning options at the intersections need to be evaluated; many removed. With Wellesley going bus-only the ‘problem’ of QueenSt really is reduced to the Shortland and Victoria St intersections. How about only East/west for Vic, ie no turning into Queen? And Shortland slowed with shared space at the bottom. The traffic will disperse and reduce.

      There does need to be work put into the delivery issue too for all of the Centre City. Delivery deserves priority over cars. And of course it can also have time based priority/restrictions as is common elsewhere in the world.

  3. Dominion road buses terminate at the exact same useless place so you’re not that hard done by. I really think they need a place in the city where you can catch a bus to almost anywhere, without that there really is no turn up and go capability as no one knows where to turn up to.

          1. The first Britomart plan was horrendous; all car parking, nasty underground bus station, and heritage buildings demolished. Thank God, well actually Urban Auckland, that vile beast was killed.

      1. The best place for an interchange would be at the proposed Aotea station, as it has plenty of underutilised land which could be developed into a good interchange, it has easy connection to roads and the motorway. The drawback is that it would not be convenient for ferry, but a one stop journey on the CRL would get someone to the ferry and it would need to wait until after the CRL has been built.

    1. Who are you talking to about Dominion Rd buses, They certainly aren’t much use to me.

      The problem with a single space is it would take up a large amount of space as Daphne says but also be very heavily congested with buses around it. I understand AT looked at things like putting western buses around Britomart but they believe it would make things so congested that buses would be completely unreliable.

      1. when working on an accessibility study of the Waterfront area, I identified that the majority of bus routes terminating in the Britomart area covered (but didn’t exactly duplicate) areas also served by rail, but that many of the buses terminating uptown covered the Central Isthmus, giving a quite imbalanced service to the Downtown area

        thus merely shifting Dom Rd buses to Britomart wouldn’t cut it, you’d have to undertake a thorough revamp of service terminals and shift some Britomart service to the Wellesley St vicinity

      2. Matt just saying at least this change is temporary for you, us Dominion road users have had this problem forever 😉

        I’m not saying that a central bus station would be easy or cheap, but I think people often underestimate how much of an impact ease of use has on PT uptake. If you did a survey of Aucklander’s asking how to get a bus from the city to a set of selected locations I doubt many would have a clue. If there was a central station then everyone would know. And it would obviously be much easier to transfer.

        1. I don’t agree, mostly. A big city centre bus singularity may seem attractive from ‘able to transfer to anywhere’ point of view, but it also pushes the biggest destination; the city itself, further from each route. It’s the same thinking that leads to city terminus train stations like Britomart in its current deadend form. The very thing we are working hard to undo. It would by definition have to be somewhere and occupy a whole block. This thinking is how we ended up with the useless Strand station, so far from anywhere that all journeys needed a final additional transfer.

          I do agree with Steve C above that Britomart proximate stops should host buses from areas not served by rail to increase likely transfer utility and reduce duplication, in particular this would mean the Shore, solving Matt’s particular issue (though I reckon a bike at Akoranga is the best move- Multi-modal as!)

          1. Surely the Britomart model is better than no connectivity? Would you prefer the western train line to terminate at Civic Centre, the eastern line at Britomart and the Southern line at Wynyard Quarter, with 800m walks to transfer? And no sign posts telling you how to transfer, no big stations, just basic stops with little signs beside them?
            This wouldn’t be acceptable for a train network, I’m not sure why we think it is for buses.

          2. Patrick, not sure I quite understand what you’re saying here but central city bus interchanges are essential from a legibility and a connectivity perspective. You’re correct in that it doesn’t need to accommodate all services in one location, and it definitely doesn’t need to be offstreet, but a central bus interchange is essential.

          3. One central interchange is essential? Maybe if your city is the size of Christchurch and has a whole lot of low value land near the City Centre. Buses do need to stop at locations where other routes cross for transfers, and indeed these need to be legible, and, in the city some of these are likely to build into significant hubs, but they don’t all have to terminate in one place. In fact I see no virtue and some considerable disadvantages in some vast bus terminus. Not least of which in our strangled little city centre there is no clear or desirable place for such a thing. Undergrounding is one attempt at a solution to this but still the surrounding streets will become clogged with buses too and the spatial requirements of buses at quantity underground then make the alternative of running underground trains viable. And this is where we are in Auckland.

            Isn’t this the plan to concentrate stops in a number of interchanges, like on Wellesley? Other concentrations at Wynyard, Customs St, and Symonds St. I’m just arguing for this solution over dreaming of a massive one terminus for everything.

            Buses, trains, trams, crossing over each other, but not all meeting at one place. A distributed grid over a singularity; As a pattern; more London than Christchurch. I think that suits both the physical and the social geography of the city.

            But it is going to be hard to make it work in the short and medium term while we build the new routes, as this post and Matt’s connectivity problems show. Before CRL and LRT we need the buses more than ever in the city, just as it will be harder to route them. We will still need them afterwards too, but that will be easier both after the construction disruption and with the huge new capacity of the spatially efficient systems.

          4. I think there’s some confusion over language. It wasn’t clear to me that JimboJones was using “a central station” to mean “one” central station. I certainly was not suggesting we should have all services terminating at one point. But most services that travel to city centre should connect with most other lines that also travel to the city centre at some point – as per NN.

          5. The problem of needing that one single interchange, and Matt’s transfer problem above, and the Airbus problem, and the problem that Britomart is kind of in a corner of the CBD, are all solved by adding bus lanes to Queen Street. They better be coming soon. A route map where some lines terminate or pass by Civic Square, and others by Britomart with the red buses connecting the two would still be legible enough.

  4. It is not clear from the information provided so far whether inbound routes from the North Shore are affected from Oct 18. If they are this will impact many people who transfer from North Shore buses to trains and buses leaving from Britomart. Fortunately I have the option of using bus and ferry instead.

      1. Thanks Mike. So why isn’t AT highlighting the changes to inbound stops on Albert St? Hobson St alternatives? Detailed route descriptions and maps urgently needed in both directions.

        1. It is a work in progress – more (significant) changes to bus routes will happen in early 2016 so I believe they will wait to upgrade the overall route maps after that time. A major advertising drive will take place next month in the CBD though

          1. All the information relevant to the 18 October changes needs to be on the website now. Partial information is less than helpful. The website is where I expect to find all the information I need to plan my journey, not pasted on the bus shelter where I get off in the morning, in a hurry to make a train connection, or on the bus information board where I can’t read it.

  5. I think we do need some form of a centralised bus station. I am an infrequent bus user and have on numerous occasions been unable to find the transfer bus I need in the city. They used to be there, but it turns out the stop switched months ago – I get there, only to discover its moved again to somewhere else. Even bus drivers don’t know, unless they were sending me on a wild goose chase on purpose. Finding a bus in the CBD (ie close to the train or ferry stations) should be almost instinctual, not a quest.
    Taking up Patrick Reynold’s point above about no central bus station (and I’m not yet convinced) then surely it makes sense to turn Queen St into our bus way. Ditch the street side car parks (widen the footpaths, with shared spaces for 5min loading) with one exclusive bus lane and one for all other vehicles in both directions and then ~voila!~ Queen St becomes your ‘bus station’. Strangers, tourists, and me can simply be told “you want the bus for XYZ? head to Queen St and walk up/down and check the bus stop signs, you can’t miss it”

    1. We can’t put 400 buses an hour down Queen St.

      Us Customs St, Symonds St and Albert St for Buses, isthmus buses use Symonds, West buses use Albert, North and East are split between customs and Wellesley. All buses load on these streets, simple. Four bus corridors, al lintuitive with far fewer routes so easier to remember.

        1. The Regional Public Transport Plan, 400 buses an hour enter the CBD in the peak.

          Requires at least 3 and probably 4 corridors for that many vehicles + LRT conversion to reduce total numbers.

  6. Very difficult to follow. Why are all west buses now using upper Hobson St (and getting tangled up in the motorway traffic), rather than Mayoral and Vincent?

  7. This will be a shambolic mess!! Bus commuters will be lost to cars. Queen Street has to be de-nuded of non essential vehicles & the Link buses increased – with bus lanes – so that they don’t get caught up as they do now – often for 40 minutes. The Wellesley Street bus stop for the Bays/Takapuna is currently a joke & there is no more capacity for the many extra people who currently board at the 3 Albert St stops.

      1. Be nice to see the whole ferry thing regulated and brought properly into the new network with hop etc. Should cost the same to catch a ferry and bus to Takapuna vs bus only.

  8. You do not need to ban all cars from Queen Street but we should ban private cars from using at least one block of Queen Street (even a very short block) – this would make it impossible (or at least illegal) for the endless parade of non-essential traffic to drive the length of Queen Street as it always has but still allow those with business in the street to have access, and leave the street fully accessible for public transport, taxis and (at appropriate times) delivery vehicles.

    1. Considering there’s absolutely no destination as such for a car on Queen Street, there’s really no need for them to be there at all. It’s just used as a route between places and in allowing this creates a fairly unpleasant main street. Easily solved though.

    2. The lower end, for sure. If we are going to run LRT up Queen, then let’s set aside the space now (two lanes down the centre, presumably) and make that buses only. That first block should be an easy win.

      1. For buslanes they’d need to be kerb-side, and it would be a step in the right direction. The stops are already adjacent to the outer lane, buses would be able to move so much more quickly. How they handle turning traffic then becomes the issue.
        There are too many turning options with their own lanes for general traffic on and into Queen.

  9. I only catch one bus in Auckland, and that is the Airport bus, so I can get the heck out of there. But I find it really weird to go to Britomart, which is clearly the main interchange, and search for the airport bus – consulted my AT app on my phone – and find that the bus goes from about 3 blocks up on Queen St – just outside the BNZ. As a tourist to Auckland, with heavy bags, I find that…. unhelpful. I also find it frustrating that the last time i was on it, it took nearly 20 minutes just to get up Queen St and onto Symonds St. Need Queen St bus-lanes! And a better starting point! If AT could sort that out, it would be greatly appreciated. Actual trip from there on, on bus, actually very good and relatively fast.

    1. Guy, the Airbus leaves from the Ferry Building, right across the road from Britomart. But you probably missed that in your haste to leave this grimy hellhole us poor saps are forced to suffer in.

  10. AT is holding public open days to give you more detailed information about phase 2 of CBD transport changes which will require significant changes to Albert Street and the Britomart area. All of the buses that currently use Albert Street, Lower Queen Street, Tyler Street and Galway Street will be relocated to other roads in the city centre..

    Where: Council Chambers, Auckland Town Hall, Queen Street.
    When: Saturday 3 October, 11am to 2pm.
    Tuesday 6 October, 4pm to 7pm.

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