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 intersection that will replace the Panmure roundabout

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

Date

Time

Venue

14 February 20176.30am – 9.30amPanmure Station, mezzanine level
16 February 20174pm – 9pmPakuranga Plaza (outside Farmers)
18 February 20176pm – 10pmPakuranga 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.

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74 comments

    1. Nonsense Stephen – everyone in urban Auckland deserves decent public transport, not least because they are already paying for through their rates. It’s hard enough being handed Quax and Williamson, but to then deny them the public transport they’ve bought is just cruel. Also don’t forget that not everyone gets a vote (young people for example).

      1. I wouldn’t say east Auckland got handed Quax and Williamson they were clearly voted in by a majority of voters. Either east Auckland wanted them there or didn’t care enough to vote.

  1. It is very disappointing that this stage stops short of building the station at Pakuranga Plaza. Looks like poor strategy to me, it surely needs that point to introduce people to the service, indeed to the whole idea of Transit at all. As Matt points out above this is all about bringing a system and services to an essentially ‘greenfields’ area, in the sense that the lifelong absence of useful Transit here means that the natives out there are almost entirely unfamiliar with what it is and how to use it. It is vital to make the idea of trying it as easy and welcoming as possible.

    A nice big new station, clean and modern, with staff, on that highly visible corner is the best way to achieve this. Expect a slower ridership start without this.

    Yes I see how that’s a tidy place to end from a project point of view, but aren’t we getting beyond being engineering led to becoming customer led at our institutions?

    Please.

    1. Only a relatively small (7700 sqm) – and pretty odd-shaped – part of that corner is owned by Council. Could build an RTN station on it, but not a generous one. Maybe they have been trying but not yet agreed on a larger footprint with the property owners of the mall? That’s my conjecture only, though.

      1. I fear it is actually tying the next section to the place ruining and money wasting flyover. Which again is dated thinking; we can’t build any other networks until we ‘finish’ super sizing the driving network. This is exactly backwards. In fact we build the alternative networks in order to avoid wasting money and place on ghastly 20Cth century relics like flyovers…

    1. What is your issue with the Reeves road flyover? It probably should have been built with the SE h/way along with a flyover of Carbine rd.

      1. Flyovers are a poor outcome in an urban area that negatively affects the areas around them. This is why many cities are pulling then down and finding both traffic and other outcomes improve.

        But given you probably don’t care about the asthetics of it, how about the cost. Will easily be $100m+ and AT have previously said it doesn’t make sense unless you then spend even more to upgrade other intersections.

        1. Our government rewrote the book on flyovers at Waterview. They love them, couldn’t get enough of them in fact! But having said that a flyover to go from Ellerslie Panmure Highway to Lagoon Drive makes a lot of sense. Traffic lighting this intersection is going to be a colossal cluster f@%k that will hold up traffic like never before.

          1. Please no, Panmure is a town centre in the Unitary Plan, that is likely to do quite a lot of heavy lifting so a flyover is the last thing the area needs. There are good North-South (Te Horeta Rd) and East-West (Waipuna Bridge) alternatives.

      2. A lot of money tied up moving traffic through to the next bottleneck alongside the fact it is being built right in the middle of an area zoned to be a town centre with relatively high density housing.

    1. AMETI is short for the Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative. It started as a combined project between the old Auckland City and Manukau City councils after the Eastern Motorway was canned

      1. Yep I know that but there were undoubtedly variations considered

        Acronyms often have specific connotations e.g. SADARM (Seek And Destroy ARMour)

        1. AMETI grew out of ETI, (Eastern Transport Initiative) which has the hastily concocted project created from the ashes of the former Eastern Transport Corridor Motorway project (The ETC), the plans and costs for building of this cost John Banks [if I recall] the mayoralty election race at the time.

          ETI was an Auckland Council project to salvage what they could of the motorway designation along the land from Mt Wellington Road north under/over/ through St Johns Road and across Hobson Bay to come out somewhere near the Parnell baths.
          Because after the motorway project got caned (and thus canned) by the commissioners of the RMA hearing, they were told to do something with the corridor or the motorway designation will be lifted from the land within 10 years. Hence ETI.

          Then Manukau City got in on the failed ETC act and wanted to do its thing, its own way, in a completely isolated from what Auckland City Council was doing way. So much sniping ensued back and forth between the two councils separated by a river over who would do what and which ratepayers would pay for what. Or more to the point, whose set of ratepayers was not going to pay for building the pipe dreams of the other council.

          Eventually the two mayors of the two war-ing councils came together and hammered out with their planners and such a kind of compromise.
          And out popped the bastard child of a project, forever called AMETI [The Auckland Manukau ETI].

          The name was supposed to give the impression that these two formerly at war councils were (now) at a kind of peace and thus had found amity.

          In truth it was a load of bollocks if ever there was one, because Manukau City in particular stalled and stalled on upholding its end of the deal, could never find the councillor votes to allocate the money to do the prep or design work on its side of the river, and it, via its councillors (Quax and co) kept shoving car only plans at the regional council for the lions share of the funding. Where do you think The Reeves Road flyover abomination first came from?

          And so AMETI still is to this day – the bastard, orphan child of a midnight tryst between the mayors of two now long defunct councils.

          At current rate of (non) progress, it will be another 20+ years before AMETI as conceived is even finished, let alone the (better) variants.
          Some 50+ years after it was first needed.

          And it will then remain and unloved memorial to [lack of] balanced 20th Century urban planning and stand as a permanent reminder, to all, why Auckland needed a SuperCity long before now.

          In hindsight the forced amalgamation by the then Labour Government of the day, of the various fragmented Auckland Borough councils in 1989 should have gone all the way to form the SuperCity as well, there and then. We’d be at least a lot further along with getting proper rapid PT out in the South East corner of the city by now.

  2. I like the Panmure roundabout as it is.

    Also, my thoughts anyway – Build a Pedestiran/PT Bridge directly across from Panama Road to Highbrook (Behind Fisher & Paykel)
    This would help to ease motorway traffic & those wanting to connect at Sylvia Park.

      1. Bigted – Commuters along Otara/East Tamaki/Landfill side wouldn’t need to travel up and along Waipuna/Ti Rakau/Panmure Lagoon end, instead they would travel a shorter distance cutting through Highbrook and then connect at Sylvia Park.

        These are only my big dream ideas – But Ideally Sylvia Park would be another hub like Panmure, as it’s closer to the new Otahuhu station than Panmure.
        Imagine also if you would if the South Eastern highway had PT stations sitting on and above Sylvia Park that only PT only could pull into, taking some cars off travelling along Waipuna/SE highway.

        1. “Imagine also if you would if [Lagoon Drive/Ellerslie Panmure Highway] had PT stations sitting on and above [Panmure] that only PT only could pull into, taking some cars off travelling along Waipuna/SE highway.”

          This project is exactly what you are asking us to imagine, just on a better corridor.

          1. How about both then?
            Giving Eastern suburb residents options to travel along opposite ends of the lagoon?

            It’s would also provde a future link for residents of the failed Springpark development to get to Eastern suburbs without having to clog up the Mt Wellington offramps.

          2. “How about both then?”

            I think eventually it will happen, but Lagoon Drive needs to be a far higher priority and there are a lot of competing demands for funding in Auckland.

          3. I agree with getting AMETI prioritised over my other suggestions. Commuting through Pakuranga/Waipuna sucks big time.

    1. It’s not great if you are a pedestrian wanting to get from the Panmure town centre to the train station, or attempting to cycle through the area. Good riddance as far as I’m concerned.

      1. Nah pedestrians and cyclists can just travel a little bit further away from the existing roundabout and cross the road from further inside the respective roads leading up to roundabout.

        Removing the roundabout and replacing with traffic lights is going to lead to increase in road rage, red light runners, window washers.
        Trust me on that 🙂

        1. Sorry, pedestrians and cyclists are fed up with this kind of comment. We can take massive detours (or our lives into our hands) – but drivers can’t wait for a few extra seconds (no, the roundabout is NOT congestion free). They have the “right” to get road rage, and therefore need to be coddled so this doesn’t happen.

          Red light running drivers? Must not touch them/risk them! Red light running pedestrians / cyclists? Those scofflaws deserve what they get if they don’t take the detour!

          That’s arguing institutionalised status quo, even institutionalised violence (might makes right). Sod that. Pedestrians and cyclists have rights.

          1. No I’m not really arguing for status quo. The AMETI is a must and I’m not wanting it to be cancelled.
            It’s just in regards to roundabouts vs signalised intersections and whether traffic flows smoother?
            Don’t most of the roads linking to the roundabout have zebra crossings on them anyway?

            We’ve seen a few times in CBD for example when traffic signals have broken down and motorists have to apply the give way rule, and then media comments on how traffic flows more smoothly than traffic lights.

          2. Stephen – it seems to me that what you are saying is that those who drive through the area are more important than those who live in the area, who you say can just walk the long way round the roundabout, so drivers don’t loose any time.

            As a local I disagree, however AMETI has taken into account both, by first building Te Horeta Rd to remove North-South traffic from the roundabout, which means it doesn’t need to handle as much traffic as it used to. This means pedestrian amenity for locals can be improved, alongside allowing the busway to be built.

            There may well be window washers, I’m concerned that we would make decisions on entire transport projects based on whether it will attract window washers.

          3. I get what you’re saying @Jezza, but aren’t those who live closer to Panmure hub already automatically convenienced by default?
            For me to see you’re asking me if commuters from outside Panmure area and travelling through are more important than locals who can walk/bike locally, in which I would say YES, they are more important than locals.

            I’m just throwing in theoretical curveballs into the mix for discussions sake 🙂
            Could you not put priority bus lanes running around and directly through the roundabout?

            AMETI – A must!

          4. Stephen you’re at least 7-10 years too late.

            Those discussions were had and designs concocted and sent out for several rounds of public feedback long before the Supercity was formed.
            The answer back then as now is, no you can’t do that with a roundabout and have it work the way you suggest.

            And you are wrong to suppose through traffic is automatically of higher importance than local traffic.
            I say this because Auckland Councils UP has marked this [and lots of other locations] as a town centre, which means that long term “place creation” here in Panmure in and around the bus and train stations is considered a more important function than it merely acting as a traffic sewer to/from Pakuranga and further east.

            Traffic from going to or from the east of the Tamaki River can and should use Waipuna bridge to get where they’re going.

            This corridor is now intended by design to be a major PT corridor, with a small serving of traffic on the side. Its not a motorway.
            So you don’t need on or off ramps.

            So, if you you want to relitigate these discussions or second guess those decisions now with curveballs, then I suggest you go buy a time machine and set it for about 7 years ago.

          5. I dont like the intersection design and can think of a few improvements, but a roundabout is not working and will definitely not work when AMETI is built. Roundabouts are great when you have constant flow from all directions, however when you have peak flows and dominant flows it becomes complicated. Not only that but to fit Busway slip lanes, cycle lanes, two general traffic lanes in each direction with different locations we are talking one massive roundabout intersection. Just not practical in this situation.

          6. Putting aside my AMETI rants, I posted earlier in the morning about ideas for Panama Rd and Sylvia Park.
            I’ve had this idea of a possible pedestrian/PT only Panama Rd route connecting Highbrook?

            https://ibb.co/jTytWF

            And also Sylvia Park bus station running along the SE highway. It would use the existing highway as is. Seeing as a new office tower is being built alongside the highway I reckon in future something like this could be considered?
            eg. Joining up the new office tower, SE bus station, Eastern line station, and upper level behind H&M/Kathmandu

            Keen to hear feedback/scrutiny – Good and bad 🙂

            https://ibb.co/hqK6ka
            https://ibb.co/gZ7sQa
            https://ibb.co/iGyz5a
            https://ibb.co/iHjHrF
            https://ibb.co/dPJz5a

  3. When this is built, there will need to be substantially more trains through Panmure at morning peak or they may well be full by the time they get to GI.

    1. There will likely be Otahuhu to Britomart via Panmure and Newmarket short runners to increase capacity in the inner suburbs.

        1. Short runners provide more capacity without more trains as there is not the requirement to send 6EMUs all the way to Manukau and Papakura when extra 3EMUs could be slotted between on short runs and do two runs (so effectively the capacity of some extra 6EMUs during peak) in the same time as the full runs.

          1. So you want to reduce frequency to Manukau and Papakura, that’s a dumb idea and would only serve to free up capacity by putting people further out off using trains. If you’re thinking we could fit short runners in without changing frequency then you must not understand that Britomart is at capacity for train movements

          2. No Matt not the frequency just the capacity by adding extra frequency (and capacity) from Otahuhu to town where it is currently short.

    2. I think this was one of the reasons used to justify delaying this project, is that the CRL is needed first to allow capacity to run more services through Panmure.

      1. I know there is no capacity at Britomart, but you could try short runners to the Strand from Otahuhu. The problem might be lack of trains and drivers and it might require a third line from Westfield to Otahuhu 3rd platform

        1. That third line is on the plans after CRL is built.No reason why it can’t be built now except for money.

          The third main would be a more effective upgrade however

          BTW how set in stone is the 12 March timetable change?

          I’ve been hearing something

          1. It will be set in stone by now I’d have thought. We’ve heard a lot of things about it, some of which now aren’t happening and some which are so you’ll have to be specific about what you’ve been hearing

          2. We are 30 odd days away from the timetable change but there is still no roster acceptable to the workers, the roster must be finalised and out 14 days before it begins (EOB 25 February for a March 12 change).

        2. Except people do not want to go to the Strand. Running a passenger railway is about moving people, not just trains.

          It is mind boggling that the 3rd main isn’t built already. Such a tiny sum in the scheme of things. Rail just doesn’t figure in all this grand talk of multi-modality by our agencies.

          1. But it is not really about the strand. It is about servicing the stations inbetween. Also the area around the strand is more developed since the last time they tired it. the strand is closer to the innovation park on the site of the old Carlaw Park and it is faster to get the Uni than Britomart. New apartments building is going up across from the Strand. I doubt if no one want to go there is correct but I agree that it would not be as popular as Britomart. However it would increase the options for some travellers wanting to go to Sylvia Park, Panmure or lower Parnel area,Carlaw park and the Uni (also it would be useful for the Vector area).
            That area of Auckland is developing and most of the infrastructure is in place.
            I agree the third main is a priority but this upgrade would be cheaper (remember that lots of money was spent for the RWC to make the Strand a serviceable station and that line has been electrified already). It will be like a Parnel station for the eastern line. Britomart can not take any more and Newmarket junction is too busy for more services. Beyond adding a few new carriages sometime around 2020 there is not much ability to add capacity. However, this could work… especially if you use the old rolling stock. The other option is to add a service from manukau south. Which would involve building roughly 200 m of lines and overhead traction plus stealing 20 m off Kiwirail freight loading zone at Wiri.

          2. Arum HOP data tells us that while there is a fair bit of intra-line travel on the western line, the other two main lines, and particularly the eastern are very Britomart focussed. You may recall that terminating at the Strand was tried from the 1930s and we know how well that worked. Britomart really is the big attractor in our current system
            So you are rushing to work in the city, and discover your train is stopping 1km short of that destination? Yes for some people that’ll be handy, but they probably got on the previous or following train that took them to Britomart. And there isn’t even good access from the Strand platforms to the Link bus.

            And for once and all can we drop this nostalgia for old rolling stock. We currently have an acceptable level of reliability on our tight little two track interlined system the last thing we want to do is to throw all sorts of old bangers into the mix.

            Sort the dwell times and other issues that are keeping the current rolling stock from being run more efficiently and for heavens sake order more EMUs.

          3. Currently there is not $500 million available for new trains. It is not in the budget so unless we borrow the money or cancel other projects or the government lends it to Auckland it is difficult to see how more EMUs can be ordered.
            So if you want more services you need to use what we have. For some people the strand may be better (ie if you work at the national library or AECOM or Babbage or a number of business east of Anzac street). Within the next year the number of apartments in this area will increase significantly.
            The model that was suggested was to run some additional short run services to the strand. Not replace existing services. people can chose what to use.
            It is not that I think the past was great but realism that the is not the money available for large scale projects for the next few years. So it would be better to look at were we can make affordable gains to service. Reality not fantasy has to play a part in proposal. The Auckland lines are already running a mix fleet when you consider the freight trains.
            dwell times need to be improved but I am skeptical that improvements will be used to speed up services. My gut tells me they will be used to improve realibility in the time table.

          4. I’d be surprised if new trains haven’t been ordered by the end of this year.

            Arum – you are right, there would be people who would use The Strand, but it would be a relatively small number, and it would be unlikely to have much impact on capacity of the existing services running into Britomart. I don’t think apartments around The Strand are particularly relevant as they would more likely provide counter peak passengers, which is largely irrelevant. Irrespective of arguments around bringing back old trains, I doubt the number using these short runners would justify the costs of running them or the risks to existing operations through clogging up Westfield Junction.

          5. Arum. There is money. In Wellington. There is a strong case for it to be directed this way. Energy should be spent on this and not wasted on short term sticking plaster ideas. I get that rail people have been forced into this syndrome by decades of underfunding, but this is a new world now, and it’s important to not self limit. The clinching argument is that more trains plus more efficient running is essential to making the getting the highest value out of the existing asset and especially the recent investment in upgrading it. Good money after good. ATAP supports this, therefore it is aligned with the agreed strategic direction at all levels of government.

            Especially for the citywide decongestion and economic efficiency benefits.

  4. Could you guys do a post for what (if any) plans there are for the Highway heading up to Highland Park/Howick? There are a heap of schools on this route and rapid services along here would go a long way to relieving congestion. I recall the old Pakuranga town centre plan was a total dud but haven’t seen much other discussion, and AMETI largely leaves this section of road untouched.

  5. It’d really make sense if we could extend the new Tamaki / GI cycle path down to this, giving a safe route from Pakuranga into the CBD.

    I’ve recently started experimenting with a cycle commute from viaduct to howick village, at 70 mins it’s decent, but it’d be better if the gaps were filled in. AMETI does a lot towards this

    1. Ameti is a really crude, expensive and suburb wrecking solution to this issue. A Queens Drive- Kerswill Place bridge would solve the cycle commute issue elegantly.

  6. Anyone have comments on the cycling aspect of the main Panmure intersection? Just trying to imagine cycling through from Pakuranga on to the GI shared path. For more confident riders would it be better to leave the shared path and just cycle on the road so you avoid multiple crossings at the Panmure end? I guess they will have a bike crossing where the shared path ends so won’t be too bad.

  7. Having looked at the NOR plans in more detail, I think we are lacking a bus stop/station at the proposed Church Cres intersection with the busway. This bus stop/station would provide good access to the busway for all the residents in that ‘Golden Triangle’ part of Panmure (zoned for more intensification), and is appropriately separated in terms of distance from the next stops in either direction (Panmure Station and Williams Ave/Pak Rd intersection). Without this stop/station, it’s still a considerable walk for these residents to either Panmure Station or Williams Ave.

    Such a stop location would also obviate the need for the feeder bus in this part of Panmure.

    1. +2, good spotting. Especially given there is a footbridge across the lagoon mouth there so it would pick up people living on Watene Rd, Waipuna Rd East etc as well.

    2. Yes seems a massive gap between stations there. Thinking out loud: Could almost have one if it were necessary instead/as well as across from the pools….fairly close to the Panmure interchange but a walk up the hill etc. Catchment is pretty weak all along Lagoon Dr having the water on one side but with that walking bridge it would be great as you say with Church Cres. Gap between the Pakuranga two stops is only ~500m and I note they are dropping the current ones near Kerswill Pl. Yes so a nice 600m walk over the new bridge to a Church Cres stop from Kersill Pl sort of area.

  8. Ameti is not NEEDED. Money dedicated to Ameti would be better spent on light-rail and a cycle-light-rail bridge from Queens Drive to Kerswill place with an elevated light rail continuation along Pakuranga Road-Te Rakau and over the Waipuna-Reeves intersection. Light rail could then extend via Te-Raku and Te Irirangi at ground level to Masnukau City and along Pakuranga Road to Highland Park, Howick and/or Meadowlands. The money saved on not purchasing dwellings for destruction would be significant.

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