A newsletter update from Auckland Transport yesterday finally provided some news on the next stage of AMETI which will see significant improvements to public transport and active modes. This includes a busway between Panmure and Pakuranga and much improved walking and cycling facilities. AT say they’ve lodged the Notice of Requirement which means the process is finally moving forward again, a year after they announced the final design for the busway. The bad news is that while they’re now going through the NoR process, at this stage there will be no funding for the project till 2021 despite it being one of Auckland’s top transport priorities.

Significant progress has been made on the plans for major transport improvements between Panmure and Pakuranga.

We have lodged a Notice of Requirement (NoR) application to designate the route for the proposed Panmure to Pakuranga busway and other transport improvements.

The project includes the first section of New Zealand’s first urban busway, so buses can travel on congestion free lanes between Panmure and Pakuranga. It will allow quicker, more frequent and reliable buses on lanes separate to traffic, increasing public transport use.

The NoR process provides the opportunity for any member of the public to make a submission and be heard at an official hearing in front of independent commissioners. Based on current funding construction will begin in 2021, subject to approval of the NoR.

We are protecting the route to be ready for earlier construction if funding becomes available earlier.

There are four key areas to the Panmure to Pakuranga project

New Panmure intersection

One of the key reasons for building the new Te Horeta Rd in the first stage of AMETI (the road in the tunnel parallel to the train station) was to reduce the amount of traffic using the Panmure Roundabout. That is so the roundabout can be removed and replaced with a signalised intersection which better caters for buses and pedestrians. I imagine there are a lot of drivers who would be happy to see the back of that roundabout. On the northern side of the new busway there is a 4.3m shared path

AMETI - Panmure Intersection plan - 2015

Lagoon Drive

The busway that starts at the train station will continue all the way down Lagoon Dr on the northern side, as does the shared path. The general traffic lanes will be reduced to one each way but AT say these will flow better thanks to the new intersection at Panumre.

AMETI - Lagoon Dr - 2015

New Panmure busway bridge

A new bridge will be built over the Tamaki River to the north of the current bridge and dedicated to buses and walking/cycling. That will leave the existing bridge for general traffic. The walking and cycling part of the bridge will be also be 4.3m wide and also have some viewing platforms.

AMETI - Panmure Bridge - 2015

Pakuranga Road

The busway will continue on the northern side of the road all the way to Pakuranga with some of the local roads closed

AMETI Buslane - Pakuranga Rd

For walking and cycling, on this side they will be separated out with 3m cycleway separated from the busway by a berm and 2m footpaths separated from the cycleway.

AMETI - Pakuranga cross section - 2015

The full route is shown below.

AMETI - Route 1

AMETI - Route 2

Over the years AMETI has turned into a fairly good project and it’s good to see it progressing. East Auckland really could do with some much better PT. AT could also help in this regard by getting some bus lanes on Pakuranga Rd north of the town centre.

It would obviously also be good if the government were to provide funding to get the project going. This is a much more important project (in my view) than others being funded such as the East-West Link.

While the NoR has been lodged I’m not sure when it will be publicly notified. I imagine it won’t be too far away.

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  1. If a mayoral candidate were to come out hard and strong in support of starting this ASAP I think it would really swing a lot of votes. Would be interesting to see what council projects would have to be scrapped to get it done by 2020 for example.

  2. Not (just) about available Council money – the NZTA provides so little PT co-funding which is one reason it ain’t going forward fast. Category of PT-cofunding small and oversubscribed.

  3. The 2nd picture showing the pakuranga road section doesn’t appear to have a link after the bridge to the rotary walkway, shared cycle path which goes along the tamaki river all the way to HMB. There’s also a 3 year old bridge missing from this photo over the large inlet. In reality this waterside cycle path is the main bike route out of the east, the existing panmure bridge disconnects it from the rest of the urban cycle ways. From panmure station it’s not that far from the new GI/ CBD route.

    1. Yes this project should be great in many respects. Cycling link from East through to the currently being built Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive Shared Path. This is planned to be finished late 2017 to late 2018, so surely this should be sped up to coincide with this opening!? Far future light rail all the way to Botony then around to Manukau City.

  4. Also, this project is totally lacking in ambition and scale. The traffic problems from the east in the morning aren’t between Pakuranga Plaza and Panmure; this section of road is pretty much congestion free already.

    Buses suffer further east, between Highland Park and Pakuranga; this does absolutely nothing for this.

  5. The delay is all the more regrettable as the absurdly over built East-West mini motorway is being fast tracked at the same time. This shows a failure in distribution of resources in Transport infra investment in Auckland between types of projects that is frankly arbitrary and backwards.

    East-West should be the higher value lower cost version [there’s a $1 billion difference!], and AMETI should be preceding it. There; funding issue solved.

  6. Interesting the renders show that all the acquired land is to be turned into “open green space”. Why not run a row of terraced houses down there, fronting onto the shared path and with vehicle access from a rear lane?

    Thats about 900m long there, you could get over a hundred new homes in.

    1. I did a back of the envelope calculation and came of with 700 apartments as part of 4 storey development. Right on cycleway and busway, local centre….

    2. I believe it is because AT aren’t allowed to under their powers as a requiring authority under the RMA which is limited to providing physical and social infrastructure (roads, rail, airports, schools etc). Their reasons for being classified as a requiring authority are limited to the delivery of transport matters only so this leads to issues under both the RMA and Public Works Act as to what they can do with the land. Basically housing (even state housing) isn’t considered a public work for which a requiring authority can designate land.

  7. Can the busway to Botany be built as light rail instead? And if so how much extra would the light rail cost?

    1. You could probably add another $40-50 million a kilometre for light rail infrastructure, plus the fleet and a depot and operations centre. Wouldn’t think it works for such a short stretch (relying on multiple transfer at each end) but it might be a longer term goal for a longer line?

      1. As light rail the bridge would make more sense as an extension of Queens Road to Kerswill Place. No houses would need to be destroyed, especially if the light rail tracks continued along Pakuranga Rd as an elevated track and on over Te Rakau Drive past Reeves Road – all above the the existing roading system. A spiral could bring the cycle track down to ground level and the Rotary Walk path at the Tamaki River end of Kerswill Place.
        This solution would not produce a bus lane, but would provide a potential leap in both cycle access over the Tamaki River and the first portion of a light rail link between Panmure and Manukau City.
        A potential light rail extension of such a link would be along Pakuranga Road towards Highland Park and Howick

        1. Just building light rail to run Panmure to Pakuranga or even GI to Botany, doesn’t make sense. Far more logical to do Panmure (or GI) to Manukau Railway Station. Now that is a route that makes a lot of connections and eliminates quite a few buses.

        2. I always thought the roundabout would still work quite well if there was one lane going each way in a tunnel under the roundabout connecting Lagoon Drive to the Ellerslie-Panmure Highway.

  8. Ahh well… glad I sold my house next to the speed camera in 2003 when they first announce the East-West, as that was “supposed” to go through my front living room.
    Do feel sorry for the people on the north side of Pakuranga Rd.
    Might be another 10-15 before they actually make it happen?

  9. Wonder what they going to do with the “required land take” extra bits that don’t seem to be needed around Basin View Ln (north of the pools). Do they typically just sell it back with new reshaped titles? Anyway looks like some good spots for apartments.

  10. I would prefer a rail line from GI through Pt England then through to Botany which is actually doable on a smart alignment due to space, from Botany it is a straight shot down the massive median on Te Irirangi Drive to Manukau. It would actually be cheaper than you think, I mean the whole area was once going to have a 6 lane motorway & the rail line is always built to GI & the Inner East was the most expensive & controversial part of it.

  11. If funding is a problem then using say half of the land-take on the north side for housing would not only be wise land use but also reduce the net cost of the project considerably.

    1. Our BCR / funding system specifically prohibits including later resale of part areas to be included in cost/funding applications! Probably some reason in it (projects could go the other way and speculate on land price bubble which then disappers) but it leads to sometimes weird outcomes where very valuable land is treated as if it was impossible to later sell off the 90% you don’t need (or don’t need permanently, as around Mt Eden construction areas for CRL).

      1. The above fact – and the fact that it wouldn’t be AT who’d decide what gets built there – probably also reason for the rendering of the busway showing just trees along route properties acquired. My guess will be that that isnt going to happen (no development along unneeded busway properties). Anyone know what proposed Unitary Plan zoning of the strip north of busway east of bridge is?

  12. Oh dear, some genius thinks a massive spend up on a traffic light controlled intersection taking the place of the roundabout at Panmure is a good idea. This is a very complex multi road intersection and anyone who thinks lights will improve things is either on the take from traffic signal companies or is an idiot. Of course the brief could be to worsen traffic flows because AT really love and want traffic jams. With the new bypass lane via Morrin Rd the roundabout has been a lot better. What is it about Auckland roading engineers and traffic lights, they are a major contributer to Aucklands traffic woes.

    And I do have my doubts about improving traffic overall by having a dedicated bus lane. Yes it will improve travel times in the bus but are they planning to quadruple plus capacity too? Because as the North Shore has proven the buses can’t cope with passenger numbers, bus lanes or not. We need something far more substantial than buses.

    1. Bus lanes aren’t about improving traffic, they’re about improving buses.

      Like the north shore, traffic probably won’t get any better, but thousands more people will catch the better bus instead. Not sure what you mean about not coping with passenger numbers, they north shore buses move about as many people as a six lane motorway.

      1. The ultimate purpose of improved PT is to reduce congestion, not make it worse. The removal of the roundabout and replacing with traffic lights leaves me cold as Auckland traffic engineers really struggle with things like timings and phasings. I have seen very few roundabouts replaced in Auckland by lights that have improved anything. Drive late at night on empty roads and see how many green lights that turn red as you approach with nothing coming the other way or how one arrow phase lets through a few vehicles before you wait minutes for the next phase. And that intersections go green for the next to go red. Its mindless and hugely contributes to the chaos. This intersection will still be a massive and equally as challenging to traverse, only it will be controlled by lights.

        And what I mean about capacity is the lack of room on buses. There are several posts on this site recently and in the Herald taking about people being left behind at stops all over Auckland with AT using old Jap Import buses to try and fill the shortage, unsuccessfully. It happens on the Northern Expressway frequently. And how does 3 stops in from the city and the bus is at capacity sound? Hence we need something more than buses.

        1. No the ultimate aim of PT is to make congestion optional, not to reduce it as such. Or another way of saying it is it is to reduce the impact of congestion, by making it irrelevant for most, or more, at least.

          Anyway the Nash Equilibrium tells us that when you make an alternative to driving so attractive that many switch from driving, that will improve the driving option sufficiently to make switching back rational for some, for a while, and back again, and so forth…. In this way the quality of the PT and Active alternatives do ‘reduce’ congestion, however a better way of stating this is to say that the quality of the alternatives do set the speed and the constancy of the driving option, via the Nash Equilibrium.

          A really good thought experiment about this is to consider a more rational next Harbour crossing: If we build a rail crossing of some sort, utilising the current Busway with a station at Wynyard then Aotea, then this will be so direct and so fast to the big employment centres in the city even compared with the freest of free flow traffic, that it will soon become by far the best option for Shore dwellers to get to work [or shop, or play] in the city that the bridge is likely to remain more than sufficient as currently run for decades to come. Which will then also mean it will also remain a good option to take, switching the pull back to the drive [all else being equal; like parking supply and cost], but then that will lower its utility and optimise the PT option again; and so on.

          Thanks Mr Nash.

    2. The removal of the roundabout us also to reduce the massive severance for pedestrians and cyclists. It ain’t all about cars anymore. Plus, the crash record wasn’t too flash either – way too large to slow speeds like a roundabout should.

    3. It will be interesting to see if it does cope well with general traffic by the time it’s complete, with population growth, if there is not a general shift to more PT & cycling use etc. It will certainly be the mode of choice from the East in morning peak to get into the city/to the west side.

    4. More Double deckers will fix that.
      Busway itself hasn’t hit capacity yet. Its the carrying capacity of the vehicles is the issue.

      1. Double Decker’s will fix capacity a bit but we are talking about half as much again capacity than a standard tandem axle single decker bus. The down side of DD’s is slow dwell times and that they are not overly quick on the road anyway. It is still a stop gap measure in real mass rapid transport out to Howick and Botany.

  13. Pros: Goodbye, Satan’s roundabout. Rapid Transit in the East! At long last.

    Cons: As Patrick mentioned, not being funded near soon enough, only built to current need (future proof and build the Botany lines now) and it looks like there’ll still be lane management on the main road bridge.

    Also the Pakuranga town centre plan doesn’t allow for much going up towards Lloyd Ellsmore/Highland Park – in fact it’s diabolical – which will greatly reduce AMETI’s effectiveness.

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