One of the items I had on my list to write about this year was to ask what was happening with the AMETI busway. That’s because since at least as far back as September 2015, the notice of requirement for the Panmure to Pakuranga section has been listed in AT’s board reports as being due to be lodged within the next three months. In April last year they even put out a press release saying they’d lodged the notification but nothing was heard since. Well now they’ve finally said the project is open for public submissions.
The Panmure to Pakuranga section, otherwise known as AMETI Section 2A, includes a number of big changes, such as:
- The notorious Panmure roundabout will be replaced by a signalised intersection
- About 2.4km of urban busway from Panmure to Pakuranga – an urban busway means there’ll still be some at grade intersections, as opposed to the Northern Busway which is grade separated, although some current intersections with Pakuranga Rd will be closed.
- The route will have a mix of shared paths or and dedicated bike facilities
- The busway and walking/cycling paths will be accommodated on a new, dedicated bridge crossing the Tamaki River
- Changes to how side roads in Pakuranga interact with Pakuranga Rd, this includes linking some cul-de-sac’s together so only one intersection is needed.
The busway can’t come soon enough. East Auckland is easily the poorest served part of the urban area when it comes to public transport and as such it’s no coincidence that PT usage is low leading to a high reliance on driving and of course, congestion. The low use of PT is easily seen in this map of census data based on journey to work data showing East Auckland being equivalent in usage to rural areas. The busway will help extend decent quality PT further into the east, especially when combined with a quick, easy and free transfer at Panmure to the rail network.
Here are a couple more images suggesting what the project will look like.
Stage 2A is shown in the map below in yellow and is the first stage in what will eventually be a 7km busway that extends all the way to Botany. AT have also said they plan to put bus lanes up Pakuranga Rd towards Highland Park and that too and combined, will make PT much more useful and reliable in the east.
In their press release, AT do say they’ve made some changes to the design based on earlier feedback and that the changes include:
- Changes to the design of the Panmure intersection.
- Adding in a U-turn facility on Queens Road in Panmure.
- Moving the proposed new Panmure Bridge 5m north to future proof the upgrade of the existing road bridge.
- Widening Williams Avenue in Pakuranga to allow parking on both sides and two lanes of traffic.
- Improvements to property access along the route.
Along with the public submissions opening for this stage of the project, AT have also released a new video of the project.
In both the video and the press release there are a couple of things that caught my attention, the biggest of which was the positive language used. For example from the video:
- “Imagine getting into Auckland City from Pakuranga in less than 30 minutes”
- “A new congestion free urban busway will provide a fast, reliable travel alternative”
- “When the busway is finished, you can travel stress free between Panmure, Pakuranga and Botany”
While the press release said
Auckland Transport AMETI Eastern Busway Project Director Duncan Humphrey says the project will deliver the initial stage of New Zealand’s first urban busway, allowing bus travel on congestion-free lanes between Panmure and Pakuranga.
“AMETI is aimed at improving transport choices and better connecting residents of east Auckland to the rest of the city.”
“The Panmure to Pakuranga section of AMETI will allow buses to travel on congestion-free lanes. It’ll mean quicker, more frequent and reliable buses on lanes separate to general traffic, making public transport more attractive and improving the quality of service. It will also see major improvements for both cyclists and pedestrians giving them safer, more direct connections.
It’s fantastic to see AT using the term “Congestion Free”. When we created the Congestion Free Network back in 2013, one of the key aims was to get AT to improve how it discussed and presented rapid transit. We encouraged them to embrace the network and terminology and it appears they’ve done just that.
The video also highlights a couple of other things too, that the existing Panmure Bridge will be replaced in about 20 years with a fourth general traffic lane added – which seems odd given the changes above will leave Lagoon Dr with only a single lane each way for general traffic. It also shows that AT are still pushing on with the Reeves Rd flyover, at a time when many cities are, or are planning to tear down similar structures.
As part of the notification, AT are holding some open days for the project. The details are
|14 February 2017||6.30am – 9.30am||Panmure Station, mezzanine level|
|16 February 2017||4pm – 9pm||Pakuranga Plaza (outside Farmers)|
|18 February 2017||6pm – 10pm||Pakuranga night markets, Westfield (under The Warehouse)|
Overall, it’s good to finally see some progress on this project which has been on the books now for over decade. AMETI was born out of the failed pushed for an eastern motorway by the likes of John Banks. It started as a scaled down version of that motorway plan but positively, over time it has morphed into a more balanced transport project although it still retains some of its heritage in the likes of the proposed Reeves Rd Flyover. The biggest concern however is the timing, even this section of busway (if the consent is approved), is not expected to start construction till about 2021.