Takapuna is already one of Auckland’s most strategically important locations and that is only set to continue if the various plans, such as The Auckland Plan, The Takapuna Centre Plan and the Unitary Plan are ever realised. This is also why the centre is one of the key focus’ of Panuku Development Auckland. The various plans for Takapuna understandably focus on the core of the centre itself, and some of this includes the potential development of council own sites like the Anzac St carpark and the old Gasometer site.

As many of you may know from past posts, I spend my weekdays working in Takapuna, I see daily the huge potential the place has but I also think there’s a corner of Takapuna that seems to have been forgotten and left out of the discussion. This corner is Anzac St from Fred Thomas Dr to Auburn St.

Currently, from what I can tell, there is nothing in the council’s Long Term Plan that would see Anzac St upgraded, in other words changes could be more than a decade away

In this post I wanted to look at some of the reasons I think Auckland Transport need to consider making some changes to the street

The Unitary Plan

The Unitary plan allows for a lot of development in the Anzac St corridor southwest of the Takapuna metro centre. It almost exclusively zoned for Terraced Housing and Apartment Buildings (THAB – orange).

What’s more the corridor is ripe for development with a lot of older single storey dwellings and importantly, THAB development is already well underway. The houses that were renovated in the first series of The Block have already been moved off the site (or are about to be) and piling is already underway for. For example this image put together by reader Jochem shows some currently proposed and underway.

It wouldn’t surprise me that if over the next decade, we saw at least half a dozen more proposals developed and built. All up this could see thousands more people living in this corridor in a fairly short space of time and so Anzac St could see a lot more people walking, cycling and even catching the bus. If nothing else, we owe it to the thousands of potential new residents with a street environment that is no so hostile to them.

New bus network

Takapuna is already served by a large number of buses and that won’t change with the New Network, under which most reach Takapuna using Anzac St. From what I can tell – and we’ll have to wait till the tender process is complete to see the exact numbers – we have Takapuna served by 7 routes – although one route passes Anzac St twice so effectively 8 routes. This document also tells us just how frequent the routes are. The routes and their all day/peak frequency are listed below:

  • N6 – 15 minutes all day, 15 minutes at peak (frequent route)
  • N25 – 30 minutes all day, 15 minutes at peak (doubled route)
  • N30 – 30 minutes all day, 15 minutes at peak
  • N32 – 60 minutes all day, 60 minutes at peak
  • N41 – 30 minutes all day, 30 minutes at peak
  • N42 – 30minutes all day, 10 minutes at peak
  • N46 – 30 minutes all day, 30 minutes at peak

Based on this, in each direction there are about 17 buses an hour using Anzac St all day and 27 buses an hour at peak times. I’m not sure what the rules are now but an AT document from about 2011 looking at how to determine if a route should have a bus/transit lane suggests that over 15 buses an hour should at least be considered for one.

I think it’s fair to say that at the very least, Anzac St (and Taharoto Rd) needs to have bus or transit lanes installed.

Walking and Cycling

Like many arterials in Auckland, Anzac St isn’t the most pleasant street to walk down. It has in places some relatively narrow footpaths that are set right next to the traffic lanes and they often contain obstacles such as power poles or stormwater catchpits that further narrow down the space available for people on foot.

Things are even worse for those on bike. Many of the roads that approach Takapuna, like Taharoto and Lake Roads. Those two roads already have at least painted cycle lanes but in both cases the lanes stop short of the actual town centre. I’m sure I don’t have to explain how silly it is to have bike lanes short of destinations. In the case of the western side, that was extended slightly last year to be just after the start of Anzac St.

I already see a number of bikes in and around Takapuna and I suspect the centre has the potential to be one of the most popular destinations by bike if we were to build the supporting infrastructure it needs.

How could it be upgraded

The Anzac St corridor is advantaged over many other arterials in Auckland by not having to also cater for on street parking. By my estimations, the street is 24m wide giving plenty of space to play with. Below is one option for how I think the road could be upgraded while all fitting in that 24m width.

As this could take some time, AT should look at what options they could implement to get a solution like this sooner. Perhaps that means some improved footpaths

Are you familiar with Anzac St, what do you think should happen to it? Like me do you think it needs some attention?

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  1. In most places I’m all for Buslanes however it is very rare indeed (at least currently) for the stretch in blue to be congested. Probably would be a waste to put in buslane at this stage. There are other places around Takapuna that could do with some green paint.

    1. in general you’re right, however at any time of the day traffic does queue back westbound from the Anzac/Taharoto lights delaying buses turning left into Fred Thomas, so I think it’s a case of targeted bus priority rather than a blanket approach

  2. It’s also unique in that it has no flush median, AT usually use them as a reason to refuse cycle facilities, citing a lack of space, yet there’s always space for a median strip.

  3. I live close by and was thinking recently how all the new development will be fronting a really poor street environment. Wider footpaths, street planting and bike lanes essential first step. Bus lanes to follow if congestion impacts on bus travel time.

    1. Yes walk and bike to work, the beach, the market must be encouraged here, as well a the spatial efficiency of Transit; business as usual just cannot possibly work with the coming higher numbers of people.

      What a great place for people to live, work, and play, but not with that inefficient, low capacity, and unpleasant vehicle funnel as access.

      As shown, separated bike lanes to not only stimulate bike use, but also to make the walk appealing by separating it from the bus and car traffic. Get those buses moving efficiently and more will use them too; Takapuna will boom, and could do so without choking on traffic if we fix these streets.

    2. We should be ahead of the curve with the bus lanes and get them in now. The problem with waiting until there is congestion is it just increases the pain for drivers when they are installed, which increases the chance of complaints that will make them harder to get approval.

  4. The old Gasometer site is a great location for the Waitemata third crossing (rail only) spur Takapuna Station and should be reserved by Council/ Auckland Transport for this purpose. From there it is only a short straight walk to the beach.

  5. Search ATs Website for “ATCOP” for the newer rules on Bus/T2/T3 lanes.
    AT don’t always follow their own rules however, but at least its codified somewhere in their d(r)aft Code of Practice document.

    The basic rule is that once more than 50% of the people [not vehicles] being moved in a corridor are using PT [or HOVs] and the average speed of said vehicles is too low then Bus/T3 lanes should be considered.

    But also why does the Bus lane need to be 3.6m wide, considering it has a 0.8m protected separation from cyclists? Meaning that each bus lane actually eats up 4.4m of road space.

    If road corridor space is too tight as some suggest why not reduce the width of the bus lane back to closer to regular lane width (3.0m), i nthe process saving 1.2m of road width there [over 2 lanes], to allow space for the cycleway.

    Of course as soon as you want to improve the streetscape, ATs “flow at all cost” minions will want to bang in a median strip, thus preventing any improvement for cyclists or peds. While ensuring that SOVs are never held up.

  6. Wow so even with the new network there are still bus routes that are only hourly at peak. Looks like an unnecessary line on the map making it look more confusing than it needs to. And how much is this service subsidised?
    Also what’s with the N prefix? Is this city wide or a special north shore thing? Why have different numbering schemes for different areas?

    1. These are services that provide an access role only, ie an option for those who cannot walk further for a service. And very, very heavily subsidised; it’s a social service after all.

      1. I think that’s the issue that I was hoping the new network was going to fix. Auckland is always trying to get some service to everyone with almost every service being bad, instead of getting a good service to the majority and no service to the minority. It might seem a bit harsh but if you are reliant on PT it would seem reasonable to live somewhere that has good PT.

        1. I disagree, what about the elderly person who wants to stay in family home but can no longer drive, or divorcee who needs benefit to bridge gap to job but needs to stay in family house to qualify for benefit?

          The new network significantly reduces the coverage share of the transit pie to feed the coverage side.

        2. I tend to agree with JimboJones, for elderly who want to stay in the family home still had the choice. They need to way up the disadvantages and advantages of their decision, if it means getting a $5 taxi to get to efficient public transport and another $5 to get back, they have to consider this as one of the disadvantages and possible savings if they were to live closer to more intensive routes.

          But then again I’m not very socialist in my ideals, it would be great to have high frequencies on all routes, but until we have the funds to do so we have to pick our routes strategically.

        3. If the council thinks some people shouldn’t get public transport then logically they also need to deduct the AT portion of their annual rates bill, plus don’t charge them the transport levy. Either that or send them the equivalent sum of money in petrol vouchers, since petrol is what the council is compelling people to consume when depriving them of proper public transport.

        4. The people that live in areas where public transport is functionally impossible… are also living in areas where they almost certainly don’t cover their share of their roads or other infrastructure either.

          Its not that everyone deserves the same outcome, it’s that everyone deserves the same expenditure per person. If you live on a remote and cul de sac where a bus would have to divert five minutes in and five minutes out to serve a dozen houses then your expenditure is spread pretty thin. Compare that to a dense linear road where a bus would pass a thousand rate payers in ten minutes. Its simple geometry.

        5. Jimbo – that wasn’t my read of the new network. I thought the idea was to get rid of infrequent services that ran all the way to the CBD, and services that duplicated rapid transit and use this resource to beef up frequent services.

          The aim was not to have loss of coverage as there will always be the social component of PT, the idea was to have these services converging on a suburban hub so that passengers would transfer to rapid or frequent routes.

        6. I had hoped the idea was to get aucklands PT frequencies up to much better levels. It seems like the new network still has mainly 30 minute services which is a joke.

        7. jimbo – You may find some of the 30min services financially perform very well. Remember that’s the minimum frequency – many will operat 15mins or higher during peak periods if as/when demand warrants. And those that do well are candidates for frequency upgrades. The 60 min routes on the other hand are all about coverage. You may not value coverage, but many people do, and they stated as much during consultation. I think its reasonable their views are listened to even though, like you, i believe that the network will progressively evolve towards fewer, higher frequency routes.

        8. Stu, consultation is a waste of time. I can tell you now that no one wants their bus service removed just like no business or household wants their car parks removed. But at some stage AT have to try and do what is best for the greater good, even if it isn’t popular in the short term.

        9. Jimbo and Stu – there was coverage in the NN design both before and after the consultation, and I think there always will be until we have fully autonomous cars (if ever).

          The problem with the consultation was that these ‘coverage’ routes went from connecting up with frequent routes to running parallel with frequent routes and sometimes having 3 or 4 of them replace a frequent route. Jimbo, this I agree was a very frustrating outcome from the consultation.

        10. hi jimbo — I don’t believe consultation is perfect, but nor do I think it is a waste of time. There are several areas where consultation resulted in improvements to the network. In terms of the balance between patronage and coverage services, I tend to agree with your emphasis on the former.

          Caution is needed when removing service. To provide a personal anecdote/example: In the early 1990s my grandmother — who depended on bus services — made an active choice to purchase a unit close to a bus stop. When bus services were subsequently reorganised in response to falling demand, her service got cut and she was left with an 800m walk to the nearest stop.

          Now I appreciate that you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs, but I would suggest there is a value in consultation, if only to mitigate against these sorts of situations.

          hi jezza — you are absolutely right. My personal feeling is that there is less coverage service in the NN, even the total coverage is about the same.

  7. Very timely post – there will be a whopping number of buses along Anzac St, plus it’s getting intensified up the wazoo. I’m using technical terms here. Bus lanes should be a high priority, with other pedestrian and cycling improvements planned for the next few years as well.

  8. It would be good to also think about wider access from other areas around Shore that feed into Takapuna.
    Currently I commute from Browns Bay to Takapuna. Mostly I ride but some days I catch the bus. East Coast Rd needs buslanes and cyclelanes it’s entire length (the shared path for cycles really doesn’t count). Beach Rd also needs some attention, getting from Rothesay Bay to Campbells Bay on Beach Rd can take 40 mins. Until some of these issues are factored in, people will always drive.
    Anecdotally, I do see a lot more riders now, especially in summer.

    1. Also, while we’re talking about Takapuna, I can’t believe there still isn’t a pedestrian crossing leading to the new children’s playground on the beachfront.

      1. Yes Scott this is a disgrace. Apparently Council’s aim is to connect Hurstmere with the beach by walking; unless it seems if this gets in the way of cars moving to the car parks of the bars and restaurants.
        And surely this piece of road should have a 20kph speed restriction.

      2. According to Richard Hills this morning on Twitter, the ped crossing has been approved by AT. Chris Darby took it up with them and it’s going to be implemented this year or the next. Not sure why a painted crossing takes so long though.

  9. @ Warren – Yes the old Gasometer site should definitely be reserved for a future rail service. In the mean time temporary structures could probably use it if needed (but there is vacant space around so no urgency).

    @ Scott G – Yes East Coast Road should be widened in it’s entirety to 2 lanes each direction plus cycle lanes (once the Northcross-Torbay Heights section is done soon there won’t be too much left too do). Should have a T3 lane in each direction – but a bus lane is probably not needed since there wouldn’t be too many cars with 3 occupants so the buses should flow smoothly.

      1. I have found some indication this (east coast road widening) could happen in 2017, but doesn’t seem like that’s likely. I found a plan from 2012/13 that looks like a disaster (and I am generally pro wider roads): https://at.govt.nz/media/imported/4717/longbay4.pdf – cyclists will have to cross four lanes to turn right into Glamorgan. It’s bad enough as it is trying to cross one lane. I hope that Auckland Transport’s renewed focus on cycling will mean they can provide a right turning light from the left if they do implement this plan.

  10. Matt, I believe that an upgrade is planned for Anzac St. It is my understanding that Council owns a small strip of land at the front of the Squirrel building and the two houses next to it. (information from a real estate sales person so may or may not be correct.) I was lead to believe that this was for an “improved” turning lane into Barrys Point Road, but I am struggling to see that this will be helpful to anyone.i

  11. We live a couple of streets from Anzac St and so would be affected by bus lanes there. Bring them on. At most times of the day Anzac St (and Taharoto) are not congested and so these streets could cope adequately with just a single car lane. Such bus lanes might ensure that the current woeful adherence to the bus timetable between Smales Farm and Takapuna is improved.
    The current apartments that have been mentioned will indeed be game changers for Takapuna and to that list can be added Summer Gardens just slightly further up Anzac. Now is the time to establish those bus lanes so that they are a real option once residents start to move in. I would be amazed if only 6 further developments occur in the next decade.
    I do feel sorry for the residents of Killarney St as more people will seek to use this as a direct route to Milford. It will become even more of a race track than it is presently at commuter times.

    1. Killarney St definitely needs it’s slip lane into Hurstmere Rd turned back into a T junction. It’s downright dangerous.

  12. Matt, I had a chance to ponder over your proposal and it will never work. I saw AT announcing their success in anticipating completing 19km of new bus lanes in the year to June 2017. At that rate of progress AT would never be able to justify about 6 km just for a small area of Takapuna (Anzac, Taharoto and Fred Thomas) let alone to be able to afford the paint. For an organisation charged with progressing the advancement of public transport they are doing an appalling job (although I accept others may feel this is giving them too much credit.)
    I will post later on the disgrace that is Fred Thomas Drive.

  13. For me Fred Thomas Drive remains the biggest mystery in Takapuna’s public transport system. For those unfamiliar with the area Akoranga Station can only be accessed from FTD from most directions. Akoranga is one of the keys to moving people by public transport.
    And yet the layout of FTD seems if it has set out to make the movement of buses and cars to Akoranga as hard as possible and the changes occurring currently seem to be to even surpass current miserable outcomes.
    But I am only trained in business and so therefore have no clue about designing transport systems, so perhaps a roading engineer might explain to me how its supposed to work? Why for example is all the right turning traffic to Akoranga (ex Anzac) stuck in the stalled traffic heading to the motorway? If there was a right turning lane would much of the congestion be removed? Is the roundabout wide enough to allow two lanes of traffic to proceed at once? Why is traffic ex Akoranga heading to Esmonde stuck in traffic crawling to the motorway? Yes I know that these are only peak time issues, but isn’t this when public transport needs to function best?

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