A few weeks ago Auckland Transport announced that the Reeves Rd Flyover was back on again. I happened to be looking through some info for the AT board meetings and found that they’ve published the paper that was used to make that decision. As you’d expect, it contains quite a bit of interesting information.

The report states that AT, the NZTA and the Council have been reviewing the project and its sequencing since late 2014 “in light of its strategic changes that now express the desire to prioritise rapid transit”. The also says the review “identified potential risks with the flyover in terms of providing value for money”.

The original plan for AMETI was that the Reeves Rd Flyover would be built first, followed by the busway from Panmure to Pakuranga and then from Pakuranga to Botany. This would have meant we’d be waiting for many years for even the first section of the busway, and given Auckland’s history we’d be just as likely to have some political change cancelling the vital public transport component anyway.

So AT say they’ve been looking at ways to bring the busway forward, and came up with two other options. In both of them the Panmure to Pakuranga busway would be built first, as among other things, it’s the most advanced with a Notice of Requirement already lodged.

The two options differ as to whether the Reeves Rd Flyover or the Pakuranga to Botany busway section came second. This is shown below but under the assumption of no funding constraints.

AMETI sequencing options 2016-04

The two options even had different busway designs, which AT say was a result of needing a different layout if the flyover wasn’t built.

AMETI Busway at Pakuranga with Flyover

Below shows what they would do if the flyover wasn’t built:

AMETI Busway at Pakuranga without Flyover

As we now know, AT have gone with option 1, which staff say performs better overall based on a multi-criteria analysis that looked at:

  1. Economic Efficiency;
  2. Transport networks performance;
  3. Ability of option to enable ‘planned growth in accordance with the Auckland Plan and Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (PAUP);
  4. Ability of option to maximise opportunities or reduce risks;
  5. Construction impacts and disruption; and
  6. Rating against the Transport Agency’s Strategic Fit Assessment.

AT have then further refined the preferred strategy to even out construction impacts, and to reflect a more realistic cash flow.

AMETI preferred sequencing option

You’ll note that to meet the timeframes AT want, there is a shortfall of $172 million of funding. They also say the timeframe is influenced by the CRL:

The optimal time for completing the busway will be as soon as CRL enables additional train frequencies (i.e., capacity) through Panmure. This is programmed for 2023/24 financial year. However, the available funding envelope within the current Long Term Plan (LTP) is inadequate to complete the entire AMETI programme by 2025 ($172m shortfall). This will impact on our ability to complete the Busway by 2025.

One of the big factors in deciding the options was the impact each of them would have on travel times. AT’s preferred strategy is effectively the bright blue line, which for the future options is generally modelled to be the best performer.

AMETI Travel time modelling

But this chart raises a couple of big issues for me, and it’s not even directly related to the flyover. Why in all scenarios are the buses expected to take so damn long? Based on the figures earlier, we’ll be spending close to $500 million on building a busway from Panmure to Botany, which includes reducing side street intersections and wider stop spacing. Yet even in the best case scenario, it is still expected to take 26 minutes to get between those two locations, that’s also almost twice as long as driving. Further at a distance of around 7 km it also represents an average speed of just 16km/h. If this is the outcome, then AT need to do better.

Oddly the Howick to Panmure bus times are around 17 minutes, despite only getting normal bus lanes and the route being about 2km longer, making buses from Howick almost twice as fast.

The comments from AT about improving the performance of the network are also countered somewhat by the quote below, which will be based on the fact that building the flyover will still see the traffic reach the intersections just down the road a little faster. It also makes me question just how accurate those car travel times will be, even a decade from now that seems fanciful that traffic will be better.

Introducing the Flyover will however release a bottleneck in an already congested transport network and there is a risk that this may negatively impact on the overall network performance.

Those travel times are also bound to have an impact on the use of the busway, and the modelling below suggests that at peak around 5,000 trips will take place on it in 2046. Looking closely that it seems about 3,450 will be towards Panmure in the AM peak. That might not sound like a lot but it represents about a full double decker every 3-4 minutes. Like other transport models, this one is also probably under-predicting the usage, especially since the area is a bit of a PT desert.

AMETI patronage modelling

It also appears that AT and the NZTA are looking to join the South Eastern Arterial (SEART) to the East West Link. That would give a motorway or near-motorway road all the way from Pakuranga to Onehunga and the airport:

The road user benefits provided by the Flyover are not dependent on providing more capacity at the SH1/South Eastern Highway (SEART) on-ramp. However, to potentially release significant wider network benefits, AT- in collaboration with the Transport Agency, are currently looking at the possibility of better connecting Pakuranga, Onehunga and SH20 by linking SEART with the proposed East West Connection. The investigation of this work is still in early stages. Key findings will be presented to the Board in due course.

As a final comment, it is good that AT have agreed the section of busway to Pakuranga is still going ahead and before the flyover, but there are a lot of hurdles to pass yet.

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  1. So great to be able to get more detail at this stage of the game, and to see the funding gap is smaller than I thought.
    Could GYP properties be approached by AT to consider ramps from Reeves Rd Flyover directly into a basement carpark, perhaps similar to Sylvia Park?
    Is there not significant potential with Pakuranga to boost some collaboration between all stakeholders, to secure funding from multiple sources, resulting in much needed exemplar transit orientated redevelopment?
    Please keep us up to date on all aspects, I know we can rely on you for that. Thank you.

  2. Any manager or anyone in responsibility who approves major capital expediture like this where the supporting data has major holes in it as identified by Matt should not be there postion. A level of responsibility is required which is clearly lacking. Did no one question the public transport time? In the commercial world heads would roll for such incompetence.

  3. The optimal time for completing the busway was12 months ago when the eastern line was electrified.

    The 2015 observed am journey times must have been done during the school holidays, they show a 16 minute am journey time from Howick to Panmure. This has no basis in reality.

    I often get the 6:40am bus from Howick to Panmure, at least twice a week I’ll miss the 7:09am train. It’s never below a 25 minute journey. At the claimed 16 mins, I should be able to get the 6:59 train. In hundreds of journeys I never have and this is pre-peak, it must be much worse at 7:45.

  4. Well this reversal is simply the result of political pressure by uncomprehending local politicians at all levels. Williamson, Ross, Quax, et al. I had a very interesting ‘discussion’ on the matter with Williamson at the Transport Select Committee. Heaven help us; he was transport minister in the 90s, twice! The godawful mess in his electorate is in no small measure literally his fault, yet he is moving levers in the background -as he proudly told me- to keep delivering more of the same.

    The more they try to optimise driving and delay improving the alternatives the longer and deeper the unbalanced mode distribution will continue in SE Auckland; and the worse and worse driving will be there, and in the rest of the city. This area has the city’s lowest PT mode share, so therefore has the greatest capacity to shift. But first there has to be real options delivered for people to make that choice; it needs to be a rational choice. The urgent spend should target a 10% mode-shift in the shortest time.

    The flyover is a huge money hole, that won’t work, and anyway is simply a Trojan horse for more place ruining motorways they think they want… Still there’s no money, and many a slip twixt cup and lip……

    1. And the flyover is so UGLY. I’m staggered that there hasn’t been a local protest movement form to oppose it on those grounds alone. I thought we had gone beyond constructing such monstrous monuments to the car, but it seems not.

  5. How on earth does a sepearted busway average 16km/h over 7 km and a car 26km/h? The Dom Road buses manage better speeds than that with far denser stops and awful bus lanes. Throw the model out.

    1. Because it’s not designed as rapid transit.

      It has far too many stops, unlike the northern busway which has stops every couple of kms, this will have stops every couple of hundred meters. All with single door boarding and the obligation for the driver to stop to do cash fares adn handle cash.

      It’s also not a properly segregated busway and needs to go through various sets of lights where it’ll be held up, like the top of Harris Road. It’s also limited to be a maximum speed of 50kms an hour, unlike the northern busway that goes to 80kmh.

      1. Seriously!? I was under the impression that the stops would be spread out more such as what is being proposed for Dominion Rd light rail. A stop every 200m is ridiculous for rapid transit.

          1. That sounds more like what I saw. I imagine any speed issues will come down to the quality of light phasing it gets through the Reeves Rd and Pakuranga Rd intersections.

      2. Well seen the locals seem to be keen on elevated structures it’s a shame they’re not campaigning instead for SkyTrain type grade separate Rapid Transit system down the middle of the highway; that’d blow the journey time issue out of the park. Make taking Transit so effective and cool, the old men could then drive free on the existing lavish road space without half the current traffic in front of them.

        We’ve dreamed up quite a few variations on this, but as the locals are stuck in a sort of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ of auto-dependency and know no better (at least their politicians are) it’s not been something we push…

        1. ‘as the locals are stuck in a sort of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ of auto-dependency and know no better’

          An anecdotal tale, but spent a few days last December in AC hospital and sharing my room was an older man whose 30ish son came to visit him. After around half an hour of the merits of various GT3 models conversation switched to the traffic in this area (where clearly they both lived). The first suggestion from the son ‘they need to build light rail from Manakau to Penrose stations. You can get to the city really quickly from those places. Building more roads isn’t going to help anything.’ From there it was really about the best route, not whether it was a good idea.

          1. Yes, well all surveys show the public to be well ahead of the politicians on this, but then they keep voting them in, possibly on other issues, but also an absence of well constructed alternatives?, especially at the local level.

          2. So few people vote in the local elections that it really doesn’t matter what most people think as they aren’t translating that into a council that represents those thoughts.

          3. There were no elections for councilors in the Howick ward last time round. Quax and Stewart elected unopposed. There hasn’t been a contest since 2010.

            I’d be delighted if someone stood against them and raised issues like this.

        2. I’m a local. I’ve been arguing for an elevated light rail line across the Tamaki River, Queens Road – Kerswill Place – Pakuranga Rd – Te Rakau Rd for years. Bloody Reeves Road flyover monstrosity will need to be demolished to make such an elevated route work. What I want to know is how long before the local politicians realise there are votes in public transport?

          1. If elevated light rail over the roads was built there would not have to be any taking of private land. Ameti seems to be a land swallowing proposal, as does the Reeves flyover.

  6. Whenever you see a ‘multi-criteria’ analysis it is simply jargon for “this is the answer we wanted when we started”. It is a long winded way of changing the outcomes from the more rational assessment methods to include their own prejudice, self interest and career ambitions.
    To explain their terms
    1/ Economic Efficiency; -this means the B/C analysis based mainly on travel times but including operating costs and safety.
    2/ Transport networks performance; -this is actually already included above but is used to bias outcome towards their goal.
    3/ Ability of option to enable ‘planned growth in accordance with the Auckland Plan and Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (PAUP); – Given that is already in the model then again this criterion is to bias the result to what ever the hell they want.
    4/ Ability of option to maximise opportunities or reduce risks; – did the B/C give the result we want? If not claim some big risk.
    5/ Construction impacts and disruption; -if all else fails just say it can’t be done
    6/ Rating against the Transport Agency’s Strategic Fit Assessment.- Do we want to do this? If not give points to what ever the hell we like.

      1. I don’t have stats to hand, but from my own experience I’d say only about 40% of the traffic that enters the south eastern highway at Pakuranga actually flows through onto the motorway.

        Large volumes head off to the industrial areas off Carbine Road or through church street towards Onehunga, again another area of dense employment.

        1. I can just see the southern motorway & part of SEART (leading to Penrose section) from kitchen window at home, all I know is it slowly crawls in morning peak about the same pace as each other, esp if an accident/breakdown on the motorway.

          1. Yes so now they turn their attention to getting that expanded, the idiots. This game never ends of course. Well not until the spatially efficient alternative is built.

    1. In their cars, fighting for the right to drive through YOUR backyard.

      It is the great irony that the suburban car flood trying to enter the city daily leads to ever-increasing motorways and arterial roads damaging the living quality closer in to the city. They get their cul-de-sacs, the inner isthmus gets 10-lane motorways and six lane arterials.

      1. Indeed. The ex-urban sprawl double-whammy. First it creates yet more car dependency, then if there’s enough of them all those ex-urban voters impose their 1950s world on the rest of us. Densification is a numbers game, a race no less.

    2. Many of the benefits of this great edifice could have been gained far more quickly and cheaply when the Mobil petrol station between Cortina Place and Te Rakau closed. If Cortina Place was opened onto Te Rakau for left turns then the lefts at the Reeves Road intersection with Te Rakau could be eliminated from the light phasing. This wouldn’t eliminate all the phasings that the flyover could potentially remove, but it might lower the irritation of motorists waiting to turn onto the Waipuna Bridge to join the queue on the bridge so they can get to the queue at the south-eastern on-ramp so that they can join the queue on the southern motorway. see? simple – build the flyover and mr Howick motorist commuter will be in downtown Auckland instantly. duh

  7. Surely rather than look at travel time by mode, they should be looking at average travel time (and compare against costs)? Their fancy analysis basically says if you reprioritise some road space to buses (and dont build more road capacity), you might get additional congestion (although apparently not a huge amount). Well, duh. That is expected, it doesnt tell you whether the option is successful or not.

    Its like doing some modelling to look at the effects of enabling more cesarean sections in a birthing unit. The analysis indicates more stomach scars in the “more cesarean” option, with stomach scars being a key decision criterion, so the option is canned.

  8. The chart for bus journey time is a big issue.

    For that kind of money, I would expected an NEX like rapid transit.

    If the bus is going to stop for every traffic light, stop for every bus stop few hundreds meters apart and have a minute dwell time each, it is not rapid.

    The journey time of the bus need to be faster than car at peak time and on par with car during off peak. Otherwise very few people will use it.

  9. Is there any propsect of making up the $172m shortfall to allow everything to be completed by 2025 through a targeted rate increase on businesses and homes in the Pakuranga/Botany area (as well as businesses around Carbine Road?)

    1. Hahahahaha: The MOAR ROADZ politicians are also the NO RATEZ ones. Good laugh though.

      Their big game is to try to so supersize this road as to get it called a State Highway, then, bingo, it gets paid for by tax (or asset sales) and not rates. They are so jealous of Wood who can promote the destruction of his neighbourhood by tax rather than rate….

      1. Thanks. I also take it we got a very high chance of the Panmure-Pakuranga busway being built by 2021 (if not a near certainty), right?

        1. Yes that’s the compromise; a good bit, then a bad bit, then a good bit… if there’s the money.

          Of course if they stuck to the previous plan; build the Rapid Transit first and fully, then the case for the place ruining, expensive, and ineffectual flyover evaporates.

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