The issue of another road crossing of the harbour has been one we’ve discussed for quite some time. It’s a project that many Aucklanders like to think makes sense but that when you look deeply at the details it’s not so clear it’s a good idea. Without going over everything again – you can read some of our old posts on the subject – the project is hugely expensive and yet doesn’t actually appear to provide that much benefit.

In fact the impact seems to range from actually make some key things worse – to at best not actually changing all that much. It is expected that any road tunnel would plug in directly to the Central Motorway Junction and therefore only be used by those travelling through the city or to the connections with Grafton Gully or West Auckland. That would leave the existing Harbour Bridge as a giant off-ramp.

In fact it is actually likely to undermine many of the goals the council have been striving to achieve such as increased use of public transport and a more people friendly city centre. Both will be much more difficult to achieve if a firehose of traffic is turned on to the CBD.

Westconnex
From Sydney but appropriate here too

If spending $4-6 billion to undermine your city’s goals seems stupid, equally so is the more likely alternative version from the NZTA.

One thing that is widely accepted is the need to improve the rapid transit options across the harbour. The Northern Busway is fantastic however it’s missing any priority across the bridge despite buses carrying around 40% of the people going over it AM peak. They would use AWHC to finally dedicate some space on the bridge for PT but the actual number of vehicle lanes across the harbour will be about the same as they are now. In that case we end up spending a huge amount of money to add no vehicle capacity and just to add some bus lanes. It begs the question of why bother, why not just leave the bridge as is and build a better and cheaper dedicated PT crossing.

Because of the need to improve rapid transit options we’ve long advocated for a rail first option to be considered. This doesn’t mean we can’t build road tunnels in the future should they be needed but along with Skypath, rail tunnels more cheaply, directly and immediately address the modes missing across the harbour.

Skypath Consent - From Westhaven

And we’re not the only ones. The Campaign for Better Transport have created a petition calling for a rail only option to be considered. It’s managed to pick up a good amount of media coverage and forced some interesting statements from the NZTA and the mayor. Reading between the lines and combined with what we’ve heard it highlights a concerning situation.

First up from the North Shore times

But NZTA Auckland regional director Ernst Zollner says Pitches is “misleading” people.

Rail hasn’t been ruled-out, he says.

Although harbour crossing route protection work is underway, NZTA doesn’t know precisely when it will be needed or what form it will take, Zollner says.

Previous proposed plans include twin vehicle tunnels future-proofed for rail.

….

An Auckland Transport spokesman says a public transport study anticipating future growth will be completed mid next year.

The agency which manages local roading connected to NZTA’s motorway network, says it’s investigating how public transport options would integrate into future connections.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown says central government has committed to starting a second harbour crossing within seven years.

Rail will either be part of the second crossing or complementary to it, Brown says.

Another proposal would see harbour bridge lanes repurposed to carry light rail to and from the North Shore.

The NZTA are intending to lodge designation documents for the crossing this year. That means there is no way they can be intending to include rail options within their plans. This matches with what we’ve heard elsewhere that they intend on building their road tunnels and leave the rail options to AT/council to sort out as a separate project. Despite what the mayor or AT say there is no way they’ll be able to justify spending huge sums of money on a rail crossing to the shore if we’ve just spent $4-6 billion on a road crossing.

The second piece is from the Central Leader

“At that point in time they either will build the capability for rail within the tunnels or as correlative part of it,” Brown said.

But the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) which constructs state highways says no decisions have been made.

Auckland regional director Ernst Zollner said NZTA and local agency Auckland Transport were currently working to protect a future route for an additional harbour crossing.

“While we don’t yet know when it will be required, and precisely what form it will take, in a rapidly growing region it’s essential that we protect and keep our future options open,” he said.

The northern busway serving the suburbs north of the bridge had been a huge success, and one of the benefits of a second crossing would be to continue it across the harbour.

“(It) could then also be used for rail or other innovative public transport options in future,” Zollner said.

Again this all but confirms there is no intention to build rail as part of the next harbour crossing. At best it is happening as an afterthought and only once we’ve sunk billions into some road tunnels and massively upgrading the motorways either side – something the NZTA are being very quiet about. I suspect the only reason they’ll even consider having light rail on the bridge is that after they’ve built the road tunnels they’ll revoke the state highway designation and hang the bridge asking with its expensive maintenance costs over to AT.

The AWHC appears to be a classic case of the same gung-ho roads first approach that has left Auckland in such a mess for so many decades. So let’s build a great PT crossing first and then see if we still need more traffic lanes across the harbour.

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128 comments

  1. Lucky we have an experienced business person standing for mayor who will be able to call attention to the terrible waste of scare capital this project represents.

    1. Fat chance if it is anyone representing Auckland Future or the Auckland Ratepayers Alliance. Them and their ilk will whinge and moan about any rate or tax payers money spent on PT bettering the city for all residents, yet will happily support a right-wingesque motorway tunnel project to complement their Sunday driving. Another multi-lane motorway will cost us billions and will make congestion worse, not better.

      1. Goff is also unlikely to make strong noises against it in public before this year’s election, as it’s a reasonably popular notion on the Shore and he’s searching for votes across the city.

        It’s very important though that he’s well briefed, and I would encourage the authors of this blog to meet with him and talk about Auckland’s transport, if they haven’t already.

        1. From his public statements, it seems like Goff is pretty good on transport, but a lot less good on other urban issues e.g. intensification. He seems to be willing to cave to local anti-development groups pretty easily. No doubt we’ll hear more of Goff’s (and others’) policies and visions over the next few months.

    2. Business people should stick to business and leave politics to the politicians. Who wants an unqualified person running anything?

        1. I would rather have someone who had some political experience than someone who had none. While experience outside of politics has a value, so does experience “inside” politics.

  2. Is heavy rail a cost effective option for the shore? What advantage would it have over light rail which would be much much cheaper, it could probably use the existing gradients and even stations of the busway.
    And is there any real disadvantage to light rail going over the current bridge than in its own tunnel?
    Not that I support a new road crossing, but maybe the PT outcome will be pretty similar regardless…

    1. My view is a light rail crossing probably makes more sense these days but I do believe it should be as part of a dedicated crossing which could be faster, more direct and not limited by any potential constraints on the bridge

    2. Capacity of HR is much more than LR. HR is faster and is more future-proofed than LR. HR is nicer to travel on than LR. Except for a tunnel under the harbour and into the CBD vs using the existing bridge and roads (good luck getting that through on the bridge) and the need to cut n cover through Sunset Ridge the costs should be fairly comparable between HR and LR (taking into account the extra capacity of HR trains).

      1. Big new LRVs on own right of way give little or nothing away for capacity, speed and ride to Heavy Rail. And are so much cheaper to build because of their ability to handle a wider range of geometries.

        1. We also need to consider (and certainly NZTA as national body) whether a northern Rail link is also being provided to allow (with future extensions) longer distance commuting from further north. If so the speed of HR is relevant.

          I would certainly prefer to live on the coast further north and commute into Auckland on a quick/comfortable train that do the same from Hamilton (and that is often considered for long distance commuter trains).

          1. Tunnels that can take Light Metro eventually as capacity demands it, but run LRVs in the near term would solve that that. Both use similar geometries that impact considerably on cost.

          2. Good point Trundler…
            as for converting LR to HR later that would take a long time with disruption and will cause big issues if PT usage keeps growing.
            Better to do it properly first up.

            Also Patrick….come on you know for a fact that the LR sets that AT wants only hold 2/3 the numbers of our EMUs and that is pushing the limit of LR sets realistically. Nothing to stop EMU’s becoming 9-car in future (besides platform length which would give capacity of around 1120 pax) or modifying them as has been discussed to make them 7-car EMUs (which would have capacity of around 870 pax – nearly double LR). Also on new lines HR would be much faster than it currently is on the other Auckland lines (and would allow for a possible future extension across Queen St and through to the University and Hospital before joining back up around somewhere near Newmarket as has been blogged on here before).

          3. Bruce who says you need a single seat ride from Aotea to Trundler’s future home way up north?.
            Couldwell be you come down from up north’ on a future HR system, and change at say Albany or points south to a Driverless LR or Driverless Metro Rail, for the rest of the journey.

            Given it will be driverless, the frequency will be fantastic, so when the HR train pulls into Albany station, the LR or whatever train is across the platform. 10 steps and you’ve changed trains.
            Works in Asian cities and will work here.

            Key thing is without a rail tunnel under the harbour sooner than later all bets are off.

          4. If the point is to have HR north of Albany then it would make sense to have the line run all the way through. Skytrain style as promoted on here is of course quite different to LR that AT is considering.

      2. Capacity of LRT is very high as long as you run it as an off-line pure rapid transit line. 300,000 + trips per day is entirely realistic (and above what we will need in the foreseeable future).

        1. “. . .as long as you run it as an off-line pure rapid transit line”
          That’s the big “if”. Without its own segregated right-of-way, LRT can end up offering little more than a slow bus service. With its own segregated right-of-way it is likely to cost as much as heavy rail.

          And the argument that LRT can negotiate sharper curves and steeper grades does not really tell the full story. So can heavy rail, if slow-speeds around tight curves can be tolerated, as they have to be with tightly-curved light rail. Or if all axles are powered as would be necessary for steeply-graded LRT. Bear in mind the CAF units are powered to be able to push a failed set up the proposed 3.5% of the CRL. Gradients of this amount and steeper can be found all over the world on heavy rail https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_steepest_gradients_on_adhesion_railways

          Light rail comes in a spectrum of shades. At its high-end there is little to distinguish it from heavy rail. At its low end, it can be little more that a bus on rails. Basically you get what you pay for, and the cheaper versions of LRT will not deliver what heavy rail can. One advantage however can be where a quality-alignment is available for most of a route but a cheap, on-street section forms a small part of it. Here, the lower-performance of LRT can be lived-with whereas heavy rail might not be feasible. Nevertheless the overall effect is likely to be a compromise http://greaterakl.wpengine.com/2016/01/13/perhaps-light-rail-is-fast-enough-afterall/#comment-194917.

          1. Except it doesn’t need to be a compromise because, once across the harbour, a dedicated route already exists, complete with stations.

      3. The good thing about LRT on a dedicated line is that there are no restrictions around use by freight etc so very short headways can be run which boosts line capacity hugely. I’m a fan of Skytrain but, if we are rolling out high capacity LRT, I don’t see any reasons why we would be short of capacity for an incredibly long time, if ever.

    3. The problem is, there is not much to see around the stations:

      Akoranga: https://www.google.com/maps/@-36.7969494,174.7606202,1400m/data=!3m1!1e3

      Apart from the AUT campus, not much to see here. And guess what, AUT runs its own bus shuttle to the city. That’s a pretty bold statement about the quality of our PT. At least it is (should be) easy to catch a bus to Takapuna.

      Smales Farm: https://www.google.com/maps/@-36.7844181,174.7497707,1397m/data=!3m1!1e3

      A golf course. And lots of parking for those offices. I hope you fancy a picnic on an empty office car park. Despite being nearby, the ‘North Shore events centre’ is a good 20 minute walk away, and almost unreachable by bus.

      Sunnynook: https://www.google.com/maps/@-36.76237,174.736822,1390m/data=!3m1!1e3

      Just some homes, and the PAUP is pretty timid about allowing anything else. If you really want to you may walk to that wasteland called Wairau Park.

      Constellation Drive: https://www.google.com/maps/@-36.7534715,174.7304563,1377m/data=!3m1!1e3

      Well, parking and the typical suburban rat maze. So close, yet so far away for all those residents.
      https://www.google.com/maps/dir/-36.7517914,174.7287249/-36.7534417,174.730862/@-36.7526204,174.7288652,584m/am=t/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!4m1!3e2.

      Albany: Not applicable. Albany was built for cars, not for humans.

      Not that I have anything against trains, I’d still choose it over whatever marginal improvements in roads we can get for the same cost. But for now it would get us into that odd situation where we have a train, and it’s unreachable for most of the Shore.

      1. roeland the spine of the Shore RTN is perfect for bus transfer; bus routes at high frequency running east-west each stopping at a station along the way. This provides not only great station access [integrated fares coming remember] but also great local access throughout the Shore. And so cost effectively too as these buses and drivers will no longer be spending hours crossing the bridge and adding to, and getting stuck in inner city traffic.

        Additionally, up zone around stations. That’s what they’ve done, are doing, in Sydney; I’m planning a post on this.

        1. I think you’re way overestimating how good public transport is on the North Shore.

          Here is what I learned from living in Milford for a while. Suppose it’s 6pm and you’d like to catch a bus to town. In theory you could catch the 858 or 839. But in practice those buses are only 1 per hour, and that bus may or may not be 30 minute late. The other option is walking to Smales Farm (about 1.7 km).

          Either way, if you want to arrive in less than an hour from now, driving is your only option. That usually takes under 30 minutes. It might take 45 minutes if there is really terrible congestion, but that still makes it a quicker and more reliable option than the bus. That is how bad PT is right now.

          The “New Network” will be somewhat improved, but the map still doesn’t resemble a “network” by a long shot. At least the east coast bays gain some frequent services. West of the motorway it looks more or less identical to the current map.

          And yes we could also have another round of hysteria about 3-storey high-rise towers. What can we learn from that PAUP map? That golf course is not going anywhere. On the other hand there is a plan to allow intensification in Northcote centre but it doesn’t look like it will have any half-frequent connection to the busway. Oops.

    4. with the Shore’s topographies, is heavy rail even achievable? I’ve never seen a convincing alignment for heavy rail that goes anywhere useful

      happy for others to show their greater knowledge in this area

      1. Well adapting the busway ROW is the obvious and only available route, but why wouldn’t we add the more adaptable and still fast and high capacity Light Metro system, or indeed LRT?

        There is no need to use identical technology as the rest of the system as it would connect by transfer, not through running, so as to add total capacity without removing capacity from current (post-CRL) routes.

        This is exactly what they are doing in Sydney with both a new Metro in the Northwest and city, and LRT, neither will run on current rail lines.

        1. Bear in mind Patrick that the lack of connectivity being built-in to Sydney’s system is pretty controversial. Be careful how you embrace that as an example of how things should be done in Auckland. Incompatible systems may not seem like a problem from today’s viewpoint, but they can become a source of hindrance and regret in the future which is vastly harder to correct by that stage.

          1. Yeah I get that, but remember AKL’s little two track network will soon become very well used, even post CRL, the Newmarket Junction will still be a problem.

            Eventually I see the need for CRL2 a North South through city tunnel connection, but not for a while yet. And it is important to get over the near term hurdles first.

  3. Can anyone stop the road tunnel juggernaut though? Is there any local or central government politician (outside the Green party) willing to say ‘no’ to the road tunnel? It just feels like an inevitability to me.

    1. Can anyone stop the juggernaut?
      Time and change of political will or change of Government. All will mitigate against it as reason takes over maybe even Cost Benefit analysis.

      1. its got the same inevitable feeling to it as transmission gully does in the capital. everybody thinks its a marvellous idea without wondering where all those extra induced trip private vehicles are going to go when they reach the cbd.

  4. Could there be a super-silver-lining-possibility here?

    1. Build road tunnel. Bury cars.
    2. Convert harbour bridge into an amazing PT (bus AND rail), walking, and cycling transport link, where you can enjoy the view while whizzing from shore to shore? Maybe with one car lane either way.

    I’m thinking: rail through the centre spans (double tracked), bus lanes on the inside of the outermost, then cars on the outermost. Should be spare space for some walking tracks.

    1. Except the only way from the shore to the city will be via the bridge, so I guess it will be 3 lanes each way for cars. But yes light rail over the bridge would probably be nicer than going through a dark tunnel, wouldn’t it?

      1. NZTA are saying that double decker buses are stressing the bridge so there is no hope for the very big Light Rail Vehicles AT are planning on to use the bridge. Anyway, we have a road optimised bridge, leave it be, add the missing mode on a new route. Zero disruption to the existing route while the new one is added. Anyway what on earth are the chances of any budget for LRT for the Shore once $4-6 billion has been blown on the road monster? And not just the Shore, anywhere in Auckland, the rest of the country will rightfully be wanting its turn after such a blow out. The opportunity cost of this is enormous.

        New Transit tunnels with twice the capacity of road tunnels: Convert the Busway to the much higher capacity LRT, fed by ultra high frequency buses running across the spine of the RTN route, which also adds really high quality local connects east/west across the Shore. They may not believe it yet, but upgrading the RTN also upgrades everything else, and all without flooding local Shore roads with extra induced traffic. It will also free up and optimise the existing driving routes; on both existing road crossings.

        1. Oh and I completely agree with you by the way, but unfortunately I think a second crossing is almost a forgone conclusion…

        2. How can NZTA be claiming the double decker buses are stressing the bridge? Don’t trucks use the bridge? Surely a double decker bus is less stressful for the bridge than the equivalent number of cars? What am I missing?

          1. 60 cars place less stress on the Harbour Bridge than 1 double-decker bus (the weight is spread through 3 axles rather than 120) and the force exerted is multiplied exponentially by the mass (which is why LR will be even worse in that regard). Trucks also cause a lot of damage (I’m opposed to the bigger trucks we now have) but they do spread their weight through more axles for the most part (8 axles) Double-decker buses are great and Auckland needs a lot more of them but in this particular case yes they are stressing the bridge to a certain extent.

    1. George Ernst may well be taking the heat here for the government, and of course the out-of-control highway planning section of NZTA; Highway Network Operations, a part of NZTA who don’t seem to have yet discovered they’re in the 21st Century.

      1. Perhaps. But it’s hard to characterise his agency’s attitude to these projects as anything other than reckless enthusiasm.

        If there were more people against the RONS and its sequel: RONS 2 Fast 2 Furious, then we’d see stronger language in reports and briefings. We’d also see political chatter, more leaks, and more well briefed journalists. When the Minister of Education puts up silly policy, reasons why this policy will fail quickly find their way to the pages of the Dominion Post. I don’t think it’s the obligation of any public servant to commit career suicide, but people who want to shift government policy or the implementation of that policy have a number of options.

    2. No doubt he is being told what to do, say and think by the government. Perhaps his personal views differ, but if he wants to keep his job he must toe the line.

    3. Ernst Zollner used to be an Urban Planner with a rare sense of good design and a vision for the future – we had him in Wellington City Council for a while, and there was great talent and hope there that he would be part of a push for a better design future in our buildings. The Force is strong in this one… But then he went to work for the Government – first in one department, then another, and it seems that he has succumbed to the Dark side within Transport. He is Jedi no longer…

  5. Aren’t the bridge ‘clip ons’ getting close to their economical life in the next 5 to 10 years and need to be replaced?

    Light/heavy rail tunnel would be a cheaper option in regards to construction but it also would reduce amounts coming into the city.

    With integrated AT Hop fares across the rail/bus/ferry network starting Jul 16, it would a cheaper option than driving a car across the bridge and all day parking in the city.

    We have to take into account, the world is now officially 1% hotter which is 50% of the agreed amount of 2% limit agreed at the last year’s global warming conference.

    1. Not this piece of crap again – “the clipons are falling”..

      No the clipons have indefinite life left in them, if they are maintained to the same standard as the rest of the bridge.
      That information is from NZTA, and was most recently stated in sworn evidence they presented to the SkyPath hearings.

      And is still so even if Skypath is added to the eastern clip-on.

        1. And container truck and trailers with 40 foot containers on them each aren’t? Yeah Right.

          I’m quoting what NZTA told the Skypath hearing and what they’ve said publicly.Double Deckers buses are not some new fangled tech thats never been on the bridge before.

          Anyway, do a back of the envelope calculation for sanity:

          A double decker loaded to the axles with 100 passengers – each weighing 120Kg – which is 50% more than IATA use for calculating weights of passengers on airplanes BTW will weigh 12 tonnes.
          [AT has a general passenger limit of 90 passengers on a double decker – so that 10% allowance, and I doubt there lots of DD buses loaded with nothing but 120Kg passengers either].

          Even so thats well under half the weight of the average 20 footer, let alone a 40 footer.

          I don’t believe an empty double decker bus weighs that much more than an empty 40 foot container truck either, so the combine weight of DD plus 12 tonnes of cargo is less than your average container truck thundering over the same bridge.

          So if what you say is true, then NZTA are talking about is “trucks in general” are stressing the harbour bridge clip-ons – which is not what they told Skypath hearing commissioners in their sworn evidence.

          So someones telling porkies.

          1. The motivation from NZTA to make this claim is that they are scrabbling around for any excuse to build these tunnels. Why? The only two sources of pressure that make any sense is government and from the professional ambitions of their own teams…?

          2. I think this all comes down to a combination of vested roading interests who do not want facts to get in the way of their plans, and the misguided but stubbornly-persistent belief that Kiwis love their cars too much for anything but moar roads to be common sense. Hence we plough on with the same basic policies despite years of evidence that they are failing to deliver the objectives we want.

            Oh, and a belief that electric vehicles will inevitably solve climate issues, thereby ensuring that we don’t renege on our signed-up CO2 targets despite pursuing transport policies that are otherwise counter to what is required to achieve them.

            Human folly knows no bounds.

          3. The trailer of that truck is carrying its load on, generally, three axles with double wheels on each, plus an additional two or three axles with single wheels on one and doubles the rest for the truck itself. The bus is running on three axles total, two with double wheels and one with single. The bus itself ain’t too far different in weight from the truck and trailer, but with probably half the number of axles.

            It’s all about load per axle, and although the truck has a lot more load it also has a whole lot more axle and tyre over which to spread that load.

          4. Axle weight is relevant for pavement design. For bridge design, both axle weight and total weight are relevant. For the long spans of the HB total weight of vehicles will be of the most significance.

          5. No matter how you cut it the live axle weights and total weight of a DD on the bridge, even one packed to overfull with lots of heavy people, will not come that close to the container trucks that routinely use the bridge and clip ons right now.

            So any claims NZTA are now making about “stress” from DDs on the bridge more relate to “political spin” rather than engineering facts.

            And of course, once the rail tunnels are built, the number of DD’s using that bridge will drop (proably not to zero, but will still drop) substantially – their trips being replaced by LR or Metro rail.

            So even it was stressing the bridge, it manageable for a few years until the rail tunnels open.

    1. Build rail tunnels first, but do not give the go-ahead for any extra road provision before 2050, unless traffic volumes and CBD congestion have doubled before then.
      There. John Key should be happy to announce that!

    2. Yes, divide into a two stage project. Stage 1 = rail tunnel plus all the land reclamation needed for the road. Stage 2 (when needed, as by Harbour Bridge traffic volumes reaching a certain number) built

  6. My pick is that NZTA will say this (after much thought and expensive consultants reports):

    A combined road tunnel with allowance for rail (running in the space underneath the road deck) will need a tunnel this big (say Y metres) in diameter and cost at least $X Billion and take Z years to open fully.

    A road only tunnel built to the same spec as the WRR tunnel pair will cost only $(X/2) Billion, will need a smaller diameter (2/3rds of Y) and take (Z/2) years to build because less earth is dug out (like half as much).
    We know the costs of this option because this is the same sort of tunnel we built for the WRR project. So we know the costs will be contained.

    So, therefore a road only tunnel is the best option as it can be built and open for half the price of the road/rail option, in half the time. The rail option can use the bridge once we open the tunnels.

    Oh and by the way, because the road tunnels won’t be built to explosion proof spec o save time and cost, all existing dangerous goods will have to continue to use the VPT and harbour bridge as they do now.
    Which means that there will be no room for more than one rail track on the AHB as it will exceed weight limits.

    Prove me wrong – NZTA and John Key when the announcement is made about “funding” the CRL tomorrow.

    1. I’m fairly certain that all of what you said is true, Ernst Zollner’s statement notwithstanding.

      Just look at how his NZTA flatly rejected a low-cost freight-priority option for the EW connection.

      1. Also NZTA have very poor form with ‘future proofing’ for rail, Airport/Mangere route anyone? Unless forced they will go to no additional and, what as highway builders they consider to be, ‘unnecessary’ expense.

        1. Much needs to be made of what “future proofed for rail” really means. As we now know it means NZTA will take the money and deliver nothing useful. Transport Blog and CBT need to mention this in media at every opportunity.

    2. A 3 lane car tunnel has a large enough diameter to fit metro rail below. If rail is not installed the space would largely have to be back filled with gravel.
      A large cost of car tunnels are the bridges and ramps required to connect at each end

  7. “In that case we end up spending a huge amount of money to add no vehicle capacity and just to add some bus lanes. It begs the question of why bother, why not just leave the bridge as is and build a better and cheaper dedicated PT crossing.”

    Or indeed, why not just add bus lanes to the existing bridge.

    1. ” why not just add bus lanes to the existing bridge.?”
      Because there is an utter paranoia about losing any existing general traffic lanes, Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, there is an official belief that traffic will not be reduced by high-quality rapid transit provision and volumes will only ever increase.
      And of course this becomes self-fulfilling if you massively invest in more road-capacity and totally down-prioritise any rapid transit schemes.

      1. Currently, there is no need for southbound priority (bus lanes), but there is definitely a need for northbound as that’s where buses get stuck. And the stupidest thing is that the bus lane on SH1 southbound between Shelly Beach Rd and Fanshawe St is unnecessary – instead, it should be on the other side of the motorway (northbound) as that’s where the congestion is. NZTA where’s your logic ?

  8. In a funny way a second harbour crossing should significantly boost public transport usage. Its almost certain to be tolled, and the toll would also have to be on the existing crossing. Even if it is only $2 each way, that is another $4 a day to drive, it will make a big impact.
    And even if they do build a road only tunnel, light rail over the existing bridge sounds like a pretty good option assuming its possible.
    And most of those awful cars get hidden underground.
    Not the best use of money granted, but there could be some pretty good outcomes…

    1. LRT over the bridge will never be funded after blowing billions on this daft plan, even if possible. It is a red herring, dangled in front of the public to sweeten the pain of stupidity.

      And even if there were the funds; how could more spending on the same area be justified from an equity angle?

      1. Even if its just dedicated bus lanes over the bridge, buses would be able to compete on price and speed with cars even for those with free parking.
        But I hope they will ‘throw in’ light rail over the existing bridge to make the whole thing more palatable…
        Not that I care, I never go to the shore anyway…

        1. If permanent bus-lanes were put on the bridge then the movable lane barrier system will probably be discontinued as there would only be 2 lanes in the off-peak direction. This means only 3 general lanes going into the city during the peak when previously there were 5. The traffic on the bridge may slow down considerably, so this could make the bus a lot more attractive.

          1. Exactly, bus lanes nor LRT on the bridge aren’t options. The missing dedicated RTN is what is required next. This is the most efficient, highest capacity, and cost effective crossing. And must be the next one.

          2. Well whats “worse” two lanes contra peak or three lanes peak? If a 4 – 2 split would work better (1 less lane each way) then presumably they would/could do that. At which point you would be going from 5 lanes to 4 but with all buses in one lane, and huge addtional capacity in that one lane for patronage growth. In other words adding bus lanes to the bridge would INCREASE its capacity. So I dont see the issue. Not to mention the impending opening of the WRR. A good time to add the lanes I would think.

          3. My understanding, verbal from NZTA staff, is that the 3-lane contra-peak direction is more subject to delay currently than the 5-lane peak direction. This could be verified…?

          4. Patrick that would be my observation, bridge generally busier counter peak as fewer lanes. It’s also backed up by data the NZTA sent me last year showing bridge volumes by hour and direction. More vehicles per lane counterpeak

          5. Thats my observation too. The relevant question is – if the peak traffic was in four lanes would it be more or less congested than the contra peak traffic in three lanes.

          6. The road tunnel may improve things for the counter-peak traffic as presumably a good portion of it won’t be commuters heading in and out of the city but traffic passing through, thus that traffic will in the tunnel and not on the bridge. However the WRR should also help with this. And perhaps more importantly a rail tunnel could easily carry enough commuters into the city that the harbour bridge will no longer need 5 lanes peak.

          7. My experience is, yes, there is a lot of “variance” counter-peak. The bridge is usually flowing, the congestion is mainly on the motorway north of the bridge. Sometimes it’s free flowing by 6pm, or just a small delay of maybe 5 minutes, sometimes you get a lot of delay even after 6:30.

          8. I feel like none of the comments above have considered the bus lanes to be peak only. Why not have a 6-9am bus lane going South and a 4-7pm bus lane going North – you’d still have 3 lanes general traffic counter-peak and 4 lanes peak direction. You’d only take away one lane from the peak direction, but you’re giving the buses priority and make the Northern Express even more competitive. With some electric signals this could be achieved easy enough I’d imagine. Maybe combine it with a T3 lane to keep the opponents silenced.
            Obviously this would be a short-term patch until we build the rail tunnels.

    1. I doubt any other party would do things differently. I do however support rail to the shore and using a tunnel seems a good thing. Rail over the bridge most likely won’t happen for engineering reasons so no point getting emotional over that idea.

      1. Greens would do things differently, if given a chance. Labour also would give more scrutiny to unfavourable Benefit-cost analyses and tax-and-spend mega-projects (the very attitudes that National purports to have). However Labour has seemingly been swept along by the National-led ‘Think big roads’ spend-up so you are right, there would probably be no challenge from them.
        NZ First – who knows. They say they support rail and oppose ‘big roads’, but I can see them aligning with National if it is to their electoral advantage.

  9. The new rule should be that if you want to introduce a new toll road, you can only do so once a RTN alternative has been provided for. So that would mean making sure the Busway a true RTN from start to finish, instead of the 41% which is now.

    Still, I would rather it didn’t go ahead and surely once the NZTA have to be transparent about the costs of dealing with the cars once they exit at either end, this thing (as a road-only option, anyway) will be sunk. Basin Reserve flyover, anyone?

  10. I think this all comes down to a combination of vested roading interests who do not want facts to get in the way of their plans, and the misguided but stubbornly-persistent belief that Kiwis love their cars too much for anything but moar roads to be common sense. Hence we plough on with the same basic policies despite years of evidence that they are failing to deliver the objectives we want.

    Oh, and a belief that electric vehicles will inevitably solve climate issues, thereby ensuring that we don’t renege on our signed-up CO2 targets despite pursuing transport policies that are otherwise counter to what is required to achieve them.

    Human folly knows no bounds.

  11. 6 lane motorway tunnel at $4-6 Billion, with a theoretical max of 85,000 vpd, or a LRT line at $2-3 Billion, with potential of 300,000 + passengers per day. Which one makes more sense for a rapidly developing developing city?

        1. Based on what highly used lines are doing. The Bangkok MTS (Skytrain) has had a peak of 750,000 trips in a single day over 2 lines so a 325,000 average. The 8 lane AHB is currently carrying around 160,000 vpd but only because of the movable barrier.

          1. Bridge is currently pretty efficient because of movable barrier and Busway.

            The completion of Waterview will also make the Upper Harbour Bridge more useful too, while also dumping more vehicles onto all AKL road networks.

  12. Have any tests been done about the noise levels for rail going over the existing bridge? I know the electric trains that go over Sydney Harbour bridge are bloody loud and annoying. Any Waitemata Harbour crossing for rail should be underground.

  13. The busway is good but buses are NOT rapid mass transport and never will be. North of the harbour is screaming out for a rail link and so is West Auckland via the motorway route. Slim to nil chance with this government sadly.

    1. Buses are indeed rapid mass transport but they need to be run in their own corridor as per a dedicated rail line. The Northern Busway (off line part) is proof. Trams / LRT suffer the same issues as buses, if they are run in traffic.

    2. how do you define “rapid mass transit”?

      I struggle to square your comment with reality. Some facts for you to consider:
      – The Northern Busway currently carries 4-5 million odd passengers per year at average speeds which are comparable (or even faster) than Auckland’s rail network.
      – During peak hour, approximately 5,000 passengers per hour cross Auckland’s Harbour Bridge on buses. I think that’s comparable to what the Eastern rail line carries at peak.
      – The South-eastern busway in Brisbane carries ~12,000 passengers per peak hour and ~10-15 million passengers per annum
      – The City of Edinburgh achieved 120 million PT trips per year with what was – until very recently – a bus-only PT system.

      Experience shows both bus and rail are effective mass transit technologies – which is best depends on the context.

  14. Under normal circumstances I would be totally for building a new road, but I’m not entirely sure the problem of this road is trying to solve. Doesn’t seem to be adding substantial capacity, and even if it did, there are bottlenecks at the end of it, at both ends, and off-peak the traffic on the bridge is not nearly as bad as other parts of the motorway network. I’ll probably wait until I can see a more detailed design before I have a final opinion, but inclined to agree it’s not a great use of money. I would’ve thought it would have been better to do something like add another structure under the bridge for public transport whether it’s rail or bus I’m not concerned, but that would be a better use of money based on the roads at either end where the traffic is going to go.

    If they were building a proper Eastern motorway and it was going to link via tunnels with an Eastern motorway that’s a different story, but this is no concept of actually where the extra traffic is going to go at either end in what I’ve heard so far.

    1. Exactly. Going north during the evening peak we have 5 lanes on the bridge that eventually narrows down to 2 lanes once you hit Albany. This causes a lot of congestion and you get a big cue of traffic.
      How is adding an extra 3 lanes to the existing 5 going to make things any better? You will now have 8 lanes of traffic eventually narrowing to 2. There will be demand to add extra lanes along the entire northern motorway. How much will that cost? and how feasible will it be now there is a busway on one side.

    2. If a bus could move 500-1000 passengers at a time with one driver, accelerate rapidly, comfortably cruise at over 100 km/hr aka the EMU’s, they would be, but they struggle with 65 single decker and probably less than twice that with a double decker at slow slow speeds and spend an eternity loading passengers. They are a very base poor mans PT and mass rapid transport they’re not!

    3. You’re right Stefan, and the point has been made on this blog before that the AWHC actually adds NO additional capacity (the existing bridge and St Mary’s Bay reclamation and Victoria Park viaduct and tunnel effectively become very longwinded (and expensive) on/off ramps to the CBD, which already exist as is).

      So it’s an even more stupid scenario than the first graphic in the post above (hard to imagine that was possible, but so it is).

  15. This and the CRL is exactly why Auckland’s transport plan to accommodate a 30% increase in the population will fail, because it fails to actually add any where near the additional capacity needed, and I am talking real capacity and not theoretical capacity (i,e as in a railway line is capable of servicing so many passengers a day, we should not include the people it can theoretically service in addition to the people who are in walking distance to the train station because those people will never use it), it only helps people commute to the Auckland CBD which is not synonyms with aucklands transport demands which have people commuting from and too many locations, and is an extremely costly manner of providing a marginally larger capacity regardless… We cant meet aucklands future transport demands with expensive transport options.

    All of these are projects are ‘white-elephant’ projects which achieve nothing but create a lot of jobs, grease a lot of pockets, and constitute good election slogans to win campaigns. The result is that the Council will innevitably be forced to impose punitive congestion taxes to force everyone who can to catch slow and expensive public transport, because auckland will be in complete gridlock as a result of their poor planning and foresight. So much for being a world class city, we are going to transition to a overcrowded high-cost, high-pollution, high-gridlock, low-quality of life city. At least we will have lots of diversity contributing to our economy and making us a better country…

    1. With all due respect, this is a post written by someone who hasn’t done a lot of research on this subject. There is a link at the top you should check out.

      Even now, most trips to the CBD require a trip back to the suburb from which the rider came. So its not just about getting to the CBD is it.

      And good luck adding capacity (extra lines) to the current network without the CRL. That’s arguably its primary purpose, releasing the bottleneck that is Britomart. Rail to the shore or airport or east Auckland can’t happen with out it.

      Finally, the CRL is but one part of a multi-pronged approach, which includes light rail on the isthmus and buslanes from the NW and SE (Ameti). Not to mention cycleways (including across the bridge). But it is an extremely important part if we are deliver 10min frequencies and free up buses which will be getting clogged in the CBD.

      Would be nice to hear some of your solutions though. I would also be interested in hearing why people within walking distance of a train would not use it.

      1. I think it is you who is missing the point, we are talking about a 1/3rd increase in the population of Auckland and you are claiming that the increased transport pressures they will put on the transit systems in place can be met solely by improving transport links to the CBD, despite the fact that relatively few people work in the CBD already, implying that all these extra people will live along those transport routes and they will all work in the CBD, and I don’t think that is the case KLK. The city needs to strengthen the transport links and arterial roads in general and not just to a commercial zone where a small percentage of people work if we want to avoid gridlock, even with development being encouraged around auckland, people aren’t suddenly going to move within walking distance of their jobs, they will still commute large distances and they will need transport links to sustain that.

        Regarding future railway developments there are no current or proposed plans that I am aware of, infact all plans that I have seen indicate the removal or non-addition of railway corridors in the case of the Airport and N.Shore areas, personally I suspect there might be an economic case at the very least for extending the railway to the airport, but there is a difference between fantasy and what is actually being proposed and so I don’t think it is appropriate to make an argument for the CRL based on the effect it will have on the viability of railway extentions that are not going to happened. I have discussed the CRL in one of the recent threads and suggested that i would like to see a cost-benefit analysis on this because it is not cheap, and I suspect the additional capacity is going to come at a step price on a per patron basis.

        Me personally, I am not a professional city planner, what I can postulate is that we are going to have to work on a large number of transport bottlenecks, new motorway corridors like the eastern corridor, widening arterial roads, creating large European-style high-capacity intersections (i.e. large roundabouts which people hate) and adopt an approach which promotes multiple modes of transport if we want to jam an extra 1/3rd of the population of Auckland in here. Most of the work would probably not be cheap, because you will have to consume expensive residential and commercial real-estate, it is important to note it would be far from the first time a major city has done this and widened it roading network. This has happened many times in Europe and in some asian countries. The city would also need to sprawl in all directions. Ofcourse none of this will happened, there will be no action to prevent deadlock and within a decade the city will be in gridlock. Time to pack your bags and leave, Auckland is becoming a truly diverse asian city, with all the associated transport, pollution and housing problems, the way this has been dealt with in other countries is with congestion taxes, car taxes and the like.

        1. Why do we need another business case, with CCFAS and all of the other work done to model the needs and demands of transit, spending more time studying the problem won’t solve it. The solution has been selected, lets just build it.

          The only transport projects I can see that need a business case are the RoNS, which don’t seem to have much rigor applied to their spending at all.

        2. Jacob:

          Few people work in the CBD? My understanding is its the single biggest employment zone in the region, followed by the airport. By why be fixated on workers? What about students? Tourists? Regardless, everyone travelling into the city at 9am as a worker – and there is a lot – is travelling back out again to the ‘Burbs at 6pm. So to say its CBD focused is ignoring half of those trips. And analysis on this site last year shows that there are millions of trips that start and end nowhere near the CBD. Its has regional coverage but capacity is constrained by the bottleneck at Britomart that the CRL will solve.

          I never claimed everyone would live above transport nodes, but you claimed no-one would use the train if they did. The trend of increasing rail patronage disagrees with you and that’s before we have development around stations.

          And then there are buses. Due to grind to a standstill from congestion unless we can get people onto trains (where proximity for transfers allows), which will fill capacity meaning we need more, which is where the CRL comes in. See Nik’s comments on the CCFAS below. The cost benefit analysis – compared with 40+ other options – has been done.

          But the CRL is only one arrow that is being fired here. The others cover the rest of the region. Busways, cycling networks, better pedestrian amenities, light rail.

          “new motorway corridors like the eastern corridor, widening arterial roads, creating large European-style high-capacity intersections (i.e. large roundabouts which people hate)” – so road only options then? I can’t help but think that exposes your real thoughts on this – PT is largely wasted unless it has an “economic case” but then you presumably see no financial barriers to laying tarmac to our hinterland to service suburbia. Hasn’t worked for 60yrs, or in the “Asian-cities” you seem to resent. At least you had the decency to mention congestion charges for cars.

        3. “Auckland is becoming a truly diverse asian city”

          Your racist undercurrent is showing, mate.

          /in before NO YOU ARE THE REAL RACIST FOR NOTICING SOMEONE ELSE’S DOG-WHISTLE RACISM!

          1. Silly comment Daphne, and please: No shouting needed here. It is not racism, it is a simple statement of fact. Auckland is in the Asia-Pacific area, and has a large population of Asians and an extremely diverse ethnic make up – therefore, it is, without doubt, becoming a diverse Asian city.

      1. Bryce lets take a a hypothetical situation you have two Points, Point A (residential) and Point B (comercial) connected by a railway corridor which hypothetical can handle 250K people on each side of the commuting window, what if only 200K people live within the railway corridors catchment area in Point A, what if some of those say 50K actually go commute to Point C which isn’t connected to the railway coridoor, the theoretical capacity may be 250K but that doesn’t matter, there are only 200K people there and only 150K actually live and work within the catchment area, maximum capacity in reality is only 150K, furthermore in reality not everyone will use that mode of transport, some people might drive, so citing a figure of 250K would be misleading.

        And that is the point isn’t it bryce, we aren’t in tokyo or paris or london, we don’t have that sort of population density so we can’t pack those sorts of numbers on the railway routes and our railway coverage is not as good so there are many areas that are not covered making it a a non-suitable mode of transit right of the bat for many people. So we shouldn’t be throwing those sorts of figures around like they apply to us, because they work in Bangkok or Shanghai. We need to take into consideration the number of people who live and work within both sides of the catchment area of the transport route, and the number of those whom may be willing to use that particular mode of transport, and then to compare the cost of that system to other proposals to increase transport capacity.

        1. That same logic (stacked, to deliver a preferred result) could apply to a road too.

          The problem with your analogy is there is excess capacity on the rail corridor and no growth expected in population in total, population living on the corridor, nor rail usage on that corridor. You are presenting a single moment frozen in time. In that scenario I would agree, expansion is not necessary.

          Auckland has (well almost) reached capacity on its network and is expecting more growth. And your solution is to widen roads to solve that problem.

          Personally, I don’t know why we need “European-style high-capacity intersections” without the density of Paris or London….

        2. Jacob.

          Investment in RTN systems alters landuse; density forms around stations through TODs; Transport Oriented Development. But this won’t happen without the network
          Access to stations is extended through bus interchange [see the huge rise in Panmure pax now for example], bikeways, drop-off zones, and park’n’ride.

          But also not everyone needs to use the alternative route to benefit, it just needs to be attractive and useful enough to attract a relatively small shift from driving to significantly reduce pressure on roads, especially at the peaks. This is what we are beginning to see in Auckland, as is the case all over the world in cities with these systems. Many more people cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge on trains and buses each morning than drive in cars, in fact only 18% of the people accessing the Sydney centre city in the morning do so in a private vehicle.

          It works, it is working here. Already less than half those accessing the AKL City Centre on weekday morning are in a private vehicle, so if all those on trains, buses, and ferries, drove, there would be total gridlock: We invest in good Rapid Transit for the drivers sake. And the only way to increase access to thriving urban centres is with the spatially efficient alternatives to driving. You want to keep driving, but also want a strong economy in AKL? Invest in Rapid Transit.

        3. Jacob,
          A rail connection has many times the capacity of a road and takes up less space. Yes not all that capacity is needed right away but lets consider the options for your scenario of 150k people needing to travel from point A to point B. Lets say currently there is only enough capacity to comfortably carry 100k on the existing roads and rail options. Two solutions are proposed: Widening the road to accommodate another 50k but this will mean that houses will have to be knocked down to make space. Or option B invest a similar amount of money in the rail corridor but you get an additional 150k of capacity bringing it up to 250k total.
          Say option A gets chosen and in 10 years time the population has grown and the demand is now 200k. But the capacity is only 150k. If you decide to continue with option A you will have to spend all that money again to widen the road, knock down houses, only to get an additional 50k capacity and no room for growth. This is what Auckland has been doing for 60 years, and predictably growth in demand is outstripping our ability to add capacity with a roads only approach.
          Conversely investment in a high capacity rail corridor will not only leave room for growth but will take cars of the road freeing up capacity for those trips not serviced by rail. So we get the additional capacity we need right now + room for growth + freed up capacity on the roads for other transport trips + the option of extending rail to other areas making it even more efficient.
          Are you really sure a roads only approach is the better way to go?

  16. “If spending $4-6 billion to undermine your city’s goals seems stupid…..”

    But the motorways are not controlled by the city. That’s the whole problem – Auckland’s transport aspirations continue to be wrecked, because NZTA and central government control the backbone of the transport system, which affects everything else in the city.

    It’s time to challenge the notion that just because 8% of Auckland motorway traffic is through traffic it should be in the hands of Wellington. Auckland should be in full control of all transport modes within the jurisdiction of Auckland Transport. Only then can cohesive and integrated transport and land use planning goals be met.

    1. Geoff’s comment is along the right lines for a comprehensive and effective transport plan for Auckland incorporating all modes – not just moar roads
      .
      The government however, control the major revenue stream primarily through petrol taxes and are unwilling to invest a reasonable percentage in transit presumably because they see no votes in it. And they take no notice of the trends, which together strong statistical evidence clearly indicate the benefits to be attained by strong investment in the rail transit sector for quality of place in NZ.’s largest by far city. Without proper reform of the MOT and NZTA Auckland will be the poorer and this is a blot on the management by the government of the transport portfolio.

    2. Only if all local governments gain the same rights. Auckland is not “special”. (And I say that as an Aucklander of 40 years living here)

  17. If we get a second road connection I will never vote National again as every day I will notice how the quality of life in Takapuna has deteriorated due to greatly increased traffic volumes at peak periods.

  18. I think this argument is pretty spot on in regards to adding more lanes to the harbour crossing, frankly when I first heard about this it was extremely confounding, because we already have a harbour crossing what is adding more lanes going to do to it… I mean if it terminated somewhere else then maybe…

  19. Well, we still have the ability to drag it through the courts on the same basis that the basin reserve flyover got squashed. Let’s see how the business case stacks up when they’re forced to include 8 lining to Albany in the project costs.

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