Yesterday Stuff published what is frankly an odd opinion from Mayor Phil Goff regarding public transport and a future harbour crossing.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff would prefer the city’s second harbour crossing to be built with a busway instead of a rail line.

Goff said the $4 billion tunnel under Auckland Harbour, planned for about 2030, should be built with a busway to begin with.

“Busways are easily translatable to light railways, so the two are quite compatible. You may sequence it in that order. That’s my preference,” Goff said.

Goff said he was keen for a rail line to Auckland’s North Shore, eventually, but a rail line to the airport was a higher priority.

There are quite a few things that spring to my mind from just these few lines.

The busway is an outstanding success and use of it has grown dramatically in the nine years since it opened. It now carries over 4.6 million trips annually which is not all too different to what our rail lines do.

One of the big transport issues facing Auckland and especially the city centre is how we cope with growth in public transport. As it is now many streets in the city centre have too many buses on them and are struggling to cope, let alone what would be needed if public transport use keeps growing like it has been. This is of course the main reason AT were looking at Light Rail in the Isthmus. On top of this is the city’s desire to become more walking and cycling friendly.

The NEX is popular and there can already be too many in the city with not enough space for them all

The northern busway itself still has capacity left for a while, at current rates probably till some time in the 2030’s, but even that means we’re likely to need to look for further ways of improving capacity within the next 20 years which is exactly the timeframe we’re going to be discussing the next harbour crossing. If we’re going to the trouble of spending possibly billions on another harbour crossing it makes no sense to build it as a busway if we’re only going to have to upgrade it again in few years time.

This is becoming an increasing sight on the busway

Goff campaigned on light rail down Dominion Rd and he’s quoted as saying that rail to the airport is a higher priority. I agree with him on that but it doesn’t mean we don’t discuss it for the North Shore. In fact, the two could even link up together to deliver a light rail rapid transit line from Albany to the Airport. That’s a vision I bet a lot of the city would get behind.

I also suspect Goff is underestimating the impact of converting a busway to light rail, especially the disruption it will cause. This won’t be a quick few weeks job but would likely take months or even over a year depending on how it was done and during that time the busway will be out of action. While I’m sure some of the smart people in our transport industry will find ways to minimise that, it will still be incredibly disruptive and we wouldn’t want to have to do both the existing busway and a busway harbour tunnel, even if it was possible.

It’s important to remember though that the timeframe listed, of a harbour crossing “planned for about 2030” is actually incorrect anymore. The recent ATAP work pushed the project back to completion in the 3rd decade (2038-2048), in part due to the work showing it as having a very high cost while having little impact on congestion. The current plans for the next crossing envisage a combined tunnel with road and rail combined. I can’t imagine that would be too save with buses though it and certainly not double deckers.

We believe there’s a strong case to separate out the PT and road crossings and build them separately, starting with the mode that doesn’t currently exist. This is also because a PT crossing would have considerably more capacity than any road crossing would. We also think it’s time we reconsidered the option of that new crossing being a bridge. Like the new Tilikum Crossing in Portland it could be for PT and active modes only, and would considerably cheaper than tunnel options.

Let’s hope someone tells Goff that a busway tunnel is a bad idea

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109 comments

  1. 1. The obvious issue for conversion is that an exhaust system will be needed for diesel busses but not LRT/HR, unless we are planning on running all electric busses by the time it opens (…maybe?)

    2. Less obvious is indicated in your cross section – I doubt busses could travel at speed through such compartments and double deckers certainly won’t (as you mention).

    3. Half-arsing something and changing it later always works out more costly (financially and in disruption – where will busses go during the lenthgy conversion process? by the time it’s needed there will be a huge number of people being disrupted)

    4. The AWHC is hurting the city already – Victoria Park flyover and Cook Street offramp will be in limbo for decades because NZTA won’t allow anything to change until the final AWHC designation – the areas impacted by Cook street are some of the most (the most?) densely populated in the country. A decision needs to be made and a solution put in place for the people who live there now, not the potential future needs of motorway users driving into the CBD (god help us all if people still see driving into the CBD as a sensible choice in 2040)

    Finally, the first photos is a tad inaccurate – this photo was taken on the day of the car fire on victoria park flyover and every citybound bus (mine included) sat unmoving for 20 minutes, meaning that that photo shows not neccesarily the popularity of the service so much as what a backlog of 3 busses would look like at ~4pm on a Thursday and why busses should have a separate priority route!

    1. My understanding was buses had issues with inner city stop capacity in the future so there was a need for step change to rail of some sort. Northern busway was future proofed for light rail and alignment has, I think, been confirmed as still the best to serve the NS so why not go for light rail on the shore and link up to Dom Road and airport. Lets go.

  2. I’m really looking forward to the cross harbour PT business case coming out. Hopefully it will give some backing to the obvious idea that rail is needed here in the same way that SMART gave some backing to the less obvious idea that LRT was better than heavy rail for airport access.

  3. Not sure where your proposed PT and Active mode bridge would depart the southern shore of the harbour. The Wynyard Quarter Development is probably too far advanced to now provide a high intensity bus or LRT corridor. A low level viaduct further west would sever access to the strategically and economically important boat yards and super yacht berthage.

    1. Original NZTA drawings I saw showed an underground station at Gaunt street before heading to Aotea – not surface level at any point.

  4. Its hard to understand Goffs rationale. He thinks the route to the airport (a somewhat marginal route in terms of patronage) has a higher priority for rail than the north shore *even given* a harbour crossing. This highlights the need for clear objective parameters for determining appropriate mode and right of way application for given corridors.

    1. To be fair the the SW, the reason for the low patronage is because even at peak a bus is every 20m and can take up to 1hr 40m from Mangere to CBD which results in everyone driving, providing a RTN to the SW will connect the existing residents/large employment centre north of the Airport which is growing massively.

          1. Exactly the entire route is significantly less than half the patronage demand from NS. Hard to understand his position.

          2. Well no, it’s about the same as the whole north shore is today…. and the shore already has a busway. I can see why you would focus on the new and unserved corridor first… but anyway in my opinion they should link the two corridors into one north south line.

          3. Yeah I get that, just pointing out that a) it’s by no means insignificant and b) doesn’t have any rapid transit, while the Shore already has a busway.

            So the question is, do you focus on the corridor that has no rapid transit first, or do you double down on the one that already has it for potentially twice the benefit?

  5. He seems to be assuming that busways are automatically cheaper than LRT, but wouldn’t a busway tunnel be more expensive than a rail tunnel, given the extra width and the ventilation needs? Someone should explain that a rail tunnel is actually the cheaper, easier option here. Unless he’s thinking in terms of a road+PT tunnel (in which case the ventilation is needed anyway) but that would need even more tunnel diameter than even road+rail. Staggeringly expensive.

      1. Maybe Goff’s not just thinking about the tunnels themselves, but the total cost of the project? HRT would be way more expensive to get up and running, not just for the tunnels, but because of the additional track, stations, catenary, etc. needed along the entire length of the existing busway, whereas if it were just little one-lane bus tunnels with big fans/vents (or even electric buses?), then once the tunnel pops up at Esmonde Road you’re done. Not my preference at all, but that could be his angle.

    1. yeah the way I think about it:
      – A bus bridge would likely be cheaper than a rail bridge due to reduced point loads etc.
      – A bus tunnel would likely be more expensive, however, due to width and ventilation etc.

      I’m not for/against short bus tunnels to get through busy/sensitive areas. But long tunnels don’t seem to deliver value-for-money.

  6. Do we really need another road crossing? There are just no more space for private vehicles into the the central junction. Let the next crossing be dedicated to public transport.

    The North Shore line will need to branch when in the CBD. First Branch need to go through Wynyard Quarter and join the Queens Street Line. Second Branch will go through and intersect with Aotea Station and continue towards University, Hospital, Museum and Newmarket Train St.

    1. Nope, it was taken out in stage 3 modelling in ATAP and nothing bad happened, I assume the only reason it was put back in was because politics i.e don’t want to cancel it in report, 2038-2048 for what used to be a P1 project basically to me means its been shelved which is why this announcement was hmm.

      Tbh I think they will complete the designation and watch nothing happen on it, then in future PT/Road components separated because having the same alignment for both makes no sense from a PT perceptive resulting in rail done first.

  7. A busway?? Goffs dreaming. It has to be rail from the start heavy or light. No point in the usual think small that we do in NZ and build it and then have to redo it again in a couple of years..

  8. While I agree with Phil Goff on his point about rail to the airport being first and I hope it is heavy rail, the PT link to the shore needs to be rail even if it intially only as far as Akoranga station forcing a mode swap for NS bus passengers.
    Before the rail tunnel can be designed there must be a decision must be set in stone to whether the north shore rail is going to heavy or light.

  9. Stuff building a bus way tunnel, build the bridge. Who cares about the moaning people claiming the beautiful Waitemata harbour views will be lost. In reality the bridge (if not as ugly as our current one) will add to the harbour views.
    And this is a city now, not a beach side village,
    A city that is struggling to fund needed transport infrastructure.
    Just build the bridge and to rail grade put the bus way on it.
    Yes the tunnel would be nice but to expensive for this city right now. And you will miss the views.
    The views you only see when you aren’t driving.

    1. I would have thought cities build tunnels and beach side villages build bridges?

      Aside from that I think the Anzac Bridge would look great, however I don’t think the new and existing bridges look very good beside each other.

    2. I think part of the problem that a bridge with rail has is to get the correct gradient you’d have to start it in Spaghetti Junction. This would result in quite a lot of expensive rerouting of the junction which would have to take place without closing the junction.

    3. What is the aversion to building a bridge? Many cities have beautiful wide bridges and a new one can be made a feature of Auckland. Not sure it helps the case for rail though – as with the existing bridge it can be difficult to get a rail vehicle from the prevailing land height up to a bridge deck and off again, and underground into the city.

      1. I agree with this, I think a second bridge would be great. Especially one for PT, walking and cycling which could be slim and light and spectacular… and comparatively cheap.

        Difficult for heavy rail yes, but not for light rail. LRT can handle the steepness of the existing harbour bridge, and could likewise run on a similar profile bridge built nearby. That’s about twice too steep for heavy rail though.

  10. The busway tunnels in Brisbane have a 50 km speed limit, but these are relatively short. So does the Lyttleton tunnel in Christchurch. For bus users it would represent a downgraded service, from Harbour views to a slow tunnel.

    To minimise the disruption of conversion to rail, could such a tunnel be built with rails in place ? Seattle has a combined light rail/bus tunnel.

    1. I have been thinking about this for a while. What about a significantly cheaper to build, and cheaper to maintain, bridge that has rails and 3rd rail electrification embedded in the design from the start? Then, after we gradually lay rail on the busway corridor, we simply start running LRT.

  11. Goff’s rationale is straightforward. He’s got a huge funding hole and a government with a deeply entrenched attitude of a) keeping full control of Auckland via choking it’s funding and b) deeply entrenched Randian opposition to public transport. Unless he puts up rates by 16%+, Goff’s only option is to is propose a crazy plan that involves paying less in the short term and much more in the long term in order to get something built.

  12. Politicians should not express a desire for a particular technical solution; they should identify a functional requirement and leave it at that.

    Reminds one of Hitler’s meddling into German WW2 tank design

  13. I think that Patrick’s previous comments (months ago) really drove it home to me, and it needs to be driven home to Mr Goff as well. Namely:
    A) the bridge is not full, it is the approaches either side that are clogged.
    B) the bus way works fine on the bridge as it is, you don’t need a new busway.
    C) bringing new cars in and letting them get off in Auckland CBD will be a disaster, especially as
    D) the squeeze point Central Motorway Junction is packed to capacity already and cannot take any more vehicle throughput.

    That’s pretty much it.

    Second crossing NOT needed for cars, NOT wanted for cars, and the logical thing to do is to put through a completely different mode of transport i.e. Rail makes sense. Nothing else.
    Can this please be brought very plainly and carefully to Mr Goff’s attention?

    1. “Can this please be brought very plainly and carefully to Mr Goff’s attention?”
      Yes it can -email him.
      You are absolutely right. Dumping a higher volume of cars into the city just won’t work; and conversely dumping a far greater volume of cars ex city side onto the Northern motorway is just madness.
      Despite the current success of the busway (and for whatever reason growth figures are misleading) it is an inferior service to rail with congestion problems at various points. As Patrick says numbers are almost comparable to the worst train line and so it seems investigation of light metro/rail should commence now.
      Is it practical to start construction from the end that is currently not built i.e. Albany which seems a cheaper option than building a busway and then laying tracks.

  14. Obviously optimising transfers when using public transport is what we need to be aiming towards. Forcing a transfer from train to bus to cross the harbour, which is already the case, will only create the same inefficiencies. When a full rail network is in place, anywhere will become easily accessible, with perhaps only one or two interchanges at stations, as in other cities around the world. Only with rail can you create these efficiencies. Having a mayor not believe only shows how little he understands public transport. If I had an electric bike I probably wouldn’t understand it either, to be fair, but I am not the mayor of anywhere.
    Please adjust your opinion Mr Phil Mayor Person

  15. I actually think a bus tunnel is a good idea. Could be built maybe for ($1bn) and cheapest first step option. widen the busway from Onewa Road to Akoranga to two lanes in each direction, then have the tunnel start just south of the Onewa Road interchange. Build a tunnel around 4kms in length to surface near the maritime Museum on the corner of Quay and Hobson streets. Busses continue down Quay Street to Britomart. Almost no buses on fanshaw street e.t.c. Much faster, and with potential for underground bus station near the junction of Jelicoe and Daldy streets. And when we build the road crossing we can build it with a heavy rail link (I don’t want to compromise with light rail)

    1. Given that the rail only tunnel was costed at $1.8b and a bus tunnel would have to be far larger diameter and fully mechanically ventilated, your estimate is off by a factor of 2.5-3.

    2. The thing I like about a train in a tunnel going under the ocean, is that it is demonstrate ably and inherently safe: it goes on tracks, and can go smoothly and fast, and won’t wobble and doesn’t touch the sides, and doesn’t crash. Putting any sort of rubber wheeled vehicles through a tunnel is always more scary – crashes can and do occur because people make mistakes, and its generally pretty horrible when it does. Fires, melting, burning, fumes, disaster scenarios etc. All very undesirable. This applies mainly to cars, because buses can conceivably go through a guided bus tunnel with concrete tracks to stop the bus moving around too much, but still: a double-decker? Fast, through a tunnel? To be honest, that scares the shit out of me. I’ve been on a double decker through a very short tunnel and your heart beats faster. Its a little bit scary every time.

      But a train in a tunnel? So smooth and uneventful, you just fall asleep ….. Do it once, do it right, do it with a train or light rail. Forget any mention of buses, cars or trucks.

  16. Tunnels will never be upgraded to light rail Heavy rail. All those who disagree please comment below. There is no way a 3 lane road tunnel will be fitted with rail running next to fast moving cars… Such a joke. Phills be conned by NZTA that it can be.. It never will be. Also Build a Bridge.. With enough width for Rail and walking. No problem

  17. What do buses do for anywhere that already has buses? Relatively little except for adding more vehicles to move the same number of people. The key to unlocking PT on the Shore is LRT, nothing less will do.

  18. Sydneys airport stations have very low usage in spite being on a direct connection to the CBD. By passenger boarding numbers they rank around the 50th busiest stations and thats including passengers who just want to get from one terminal to another ( its the quickest way)

    1. The reason Sydney’s airport stations have low patronage is because of the extortionate “station access fee” charged under the PPP model of operation.
      In 2011, the government decided to subsidise the station access fees at the two non-airport stations on the line (Mascot and Green Square), leading to a surge in surge in patronage. The same needs to be done to the two airport stations to get their usage up. Rail is by far the best way to access the airport.
      http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/train-passengers-to-sydney-airport-line-governments-coffers-to-tune-of-100m-20160301-gn7c3y.html

      1. Taxi from Sydney CBD to airport: About $50.
        Airport train from CBD: $16.40.
        So you are saying making it $8 will lead to a surge in patronage ? The real issue is passengers dont like hauling their luggage around a station and train line.
        Auckland is an even less likely place for a train link as the airport company will always win with the huge space for profitable car parking (More space than Sydney)

  19. Where is the railway it connects to either side ? There isnt one.
    Using a similar system to the O-bahn busway in Adelaide you can have buses running up to 100km/hr in narrow channel like that for a train.
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O-Bahn_Busway

    1. The problem with O-Bahns, being unsignalled and driven by line-of-sight, is their propensity for nose-to-tail collisions. In a long tunnel this is bad news. Conventional railways have gone to great lengths to develop signalling and automatic control systems to avoid such accidents. If rubber-tyres are seen as a ‘must’, then there are various versions of rubber-tyred metro which can be chosen-from but these also run as signalised, electrified trains not as uncontrolled (albeit guided), diesel buses.

      1. Nose to tail bus collisions ? The electronics that is available in cars now fixes that problem, a O-bus would be a trivial cost to have it.

          1. They are probably thinking about driverless buses, but that shouldnt affect the overall tunnel dimensions and features. Trains too can be driverless – but for buses can reduce the running costs for the short time daily peaks

          2. Maybe this is the “advanced” buses NZTA are trying to push on AT? – Do they actually exist?

            But really, is a fleet of say 100 guided, automated, signalised, electric buses travelling on a dedicated route between Albany (or Silverdale) to the Airport really cheaper than a fleet of say 10 or 12 guided, automated, signalised, electric trains travelling on the same dedicated route between Albany (or Silverdale)?

  20. Thats because the Northern busway to Albany exists now. The climb out of the tunnel would be too steep for Trains unless you want to end up in Parnell

  21. Where does Phil Goff get this from: “Busways are easily translatable to light railways, so the two are quite compatible.”?
    He should stick to politics and not try to meddle in transport-engineering.

    And please – no North Shore or Airport main-lines in-the-street. We want this to be rapid transit. Do it properly!

    1. Thats what the existing North Shore busway is designed to do at some stage by the Transport Enginners at ARC. That where he got the idea from.

        1. Thats why they have engineers. I can think of 5 things to do when its built to make it easy, one being a sufficent power supply running through or be fitted. The road bed is pre designed for track conversion ( check out pictures of O-bahn roadway) etc etc. When I lived in Melbourne it was amazing what they could do with the tram rail lines while traffic and trams continued around them ( or at night)

          1. Yeah… naaa. Not in a tunnel. Buses going round tram tracks on a road in the open is one thing, but that just ain’t gonna work in a tunnel – at all. Ever.
            Do it once, do it right.

          2. No, you don’t get it. Working in tunnels is different from working out in the open. Doesn’t matter whether it is day or night. You can’t “go round” a work zone in a tunnel – its a dangerous, constricted site that is not resolved by putting up some plastic cones and redirecting traffic for a few hours. Doing some simple maintenance on existing rails in tunnels at night is achievable during a (say) 6 hour possession period, but you wouldn’t be able to convert a bus tunnel to a rail tunnel without a complete closure of the tunnel to traffic for months and months on end.

            And so if you had somehow managed to create a successful bus network through a harbour tunnel, you would then have to put all your passengers on hold for a while (realistically, probably up to a year) while the roadway was ripped up and new tracks and power and controls are installed through the tunnel. It would be the most stupid way of doing things. Goff should not be saying such things – he needs to know that this is a really dumb proposal. Sort of reminds me of the NZ First politician who said that we should build a bridge across Cook Strait. Ummm, no.

          3. I’m no construction engineer, but I can’t see how you could do it apart from closing the tunnel for a year (maybe six months working round the clock) and putting all the buses back on the motorway. Otherwise your only option would be to build a light rail tunnel with embedded track that buses can drive on, then come back at a later date and remove the asphalt and commission the already built tracks. But that would be expensive, effectively building both the light rail kit and the busway kit.

            The cost difference between building a light rail tunnel and a busway tunnel is negligible, the cost of course is in what you link it to. However if Auckland is in a position to build a billion dollar tunnel then you’d hope its ready to do the rest of the line too.

  22. Definitely needs to be rail from day one. I’ve done a nerdy spreadsheet based on the all the new network proposed frequencies in morning peak to get a count of the number of buses entering the city. I based it on assumption of post CRL & Wynyard to Dominion Rd LRT (via Queen St) so I counted link buses but not the City link or Skybus. Including buses that pass through into Newmarket there will be one bus every 15 seconds entering the city! Pretty much every bus that enters I guess has to leave as well, generally the same route, some will switch to another service or for peak ones I guess some not in service ones. Was an interesting exercise.

    1. When I started my first job in Auckland City in the mid 70s ( Transport Planning, so we got a bus pass) there were far more buses going through the Upper Symonds St bottleneck than now, including trolley buses which had their own issues. You seem to think buses lined up in the streets is a bad thing.

      1. It’s not just the buses, it’s the space they take up and the volume of other types of traffic. Buses going straight ahead in a lane means cars can’t turn left, so they back up. Buses have less room to maneuver around cars on odd angles queuing for a lane they can’t get into, so they get stuck. And so on and so on.

  23. If we were going to build the crossing as PT only soon then I agree with Goff it should be bus first. Build a bridge and it will be significantly cheaper. But I have no idea why he has said this, unless NZTA is asking for AT to pony up for the designation or something similar?

    1. And where exactly are all these buses going to go when they emerge in the Wynyard Quarter? One every 50 secs or so in peak? And how are the upmarket tenants of that area going to view that plan? Will there be walls like St Marys Bay.
      Logic says it has to be rail and it should connect at Aotea Station.

      1. +1 and Maggie Barry as North Shore M P needs to get on board with this. So far she seems to be a slow learner………………….!

          1. Road pricing won’t create more corridors or kerb space for buses, most of the approach corridors are already bus lanes, and every spare piece of kerb already has a bus stop on it. And if anything it would just greatly increase the demand to run even more buses.

          2. Of course not, but there isn’t any spare space for new bus stops. Any space that was free has been used up already.

            Take a walk through the city some time, any street, and walk along looking at the kerb space. Exclude any sections with driveways, loading docks, loading bays etc, exclude any that have pedestrian crossings, exclude any sections within 10m of an intersection (legal requirement), exclude any that are on side streets or lanes that don’t have an 18m radius curve both in and out (but needs that to turn a corner), exclude any that are shared spaces, exclude any that are already bus stops or taxi stands… then start finding 19m stretches that are free. Each 19m section gets you one bus stop plus the minimum required to pull a bus in or out.

            Report back with how many you find please… there are many people who would love to know where to put more buses.

          3. Off the top of my head the entirety of nelson and hobson could be using access lanes for properties. Similar for vincent greys wellesley.

          4. There is probably some space there, but not as much as you might think…I would suggest actually taking a look. That is the lengths you have to go to start finding something that might be reasonable, but then you are in the case of you bus stop dropping off on the far side of Nelson St, that’s pretty damned far away from where most people are going.

          5. I really think we need to be putting in at least one underground or something bus depot regardless of LRT & CRL. In some ways these will just feed more PT use so it’s even more needed. Bottom of Nelson St at the current Tournament Parking Farmers is not that far away for walking to downtown/Britomart or Queen St etc etc, especially if we pedestrianise/improve the walkability of the area. I’ve posted comments on this blog a couple of times now with this location. The fact that it’s between the one way Nelson & Hobson St would provide fast bus access from a lot of the current or new network routes. I wonder what on earth is been investigated in the “Learning Quarter” area for a terminus, be interesting to know especially given the large number of students/buses that use Symonds St.

          6. Relevant to all this I just found Bus Reference Case Report here (revised pdf) here: https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/light-rail/ stating: “With the streamlining of service and elimination of many “special market” peak express routes upon
            implementation of the New Network, this transfer point will become more important, and should be
            designed to maximise the ease with which passengers can connect between services.
            The Fanshawe Street transfer point at Victoria Park will require upwards of 12 bays in either
            direction to accommodate 2018 volumes (not accounting for growth, not including the Link
            services, and assuming some flexibility of use between morning and afternoon peak periods) if all
            of these route groups are to stop on Fanshawe Street—this is equivalent to the entire block face
            between Halsey and Daldy Streets. While this would potentially work on the south side”

        1. ‘ city can’t handle all the current buses as it is’ Whats wrong with some hustle and bustle with crowded footpaths and buses lined up. The journey is main criterion, fast and separated from the traffic. I think you are being a bit precious about buses at footpaths and and even if there was a bus every 15 secs during peak but averaged over half a dozen arterial routes thats fine.
          Stand on a busy road and count number of vehicles going past in 15 secs, you might be surprised

  24. LR and cycle / walking options on a new bridge. New tourist attraction, new development, all the new stations with higher density zoning around them – think of the economic stimulus!

  25. I think Goff is playing the long game here, given it is a while before he faces re-election anyway. He is throwing out an unpopular idea and getting the public against it to help build an argument against the government. It’s worth remembering no politician in any position of influence will still be around when this tunnel is finally built.

  26. Several people have referenced the SMART project. Latest official word from AT is that SMART is now cancelled and in their words: “this project has now been handed to the light rail team to further investigate. So SMART is no longer a live project” – not sure when this decision was made but the above quote is from the AELB Agenda published last Friday (Item 12, p.33)

  27. Little off topic a bit but thinking longer term, the NW “bus way” should just be done straight to LRT? It could be elevated above all/most of the NW motorway then cross over to the New North Rd at about where the Kingsland heavy rail station is in so joining the already planned LRT route down Ian McKinnon Dr/Dominion Rd. Seems it’s not too step to cross at that point, saving money get the project done sooner and give the inner west more frequency. Provides connection point with HR & buses in the west. Would this give enough capacity though sharing the route at that point?

    1. The great advantage buses have is stageability. And in our absurdly capital constrained environment [gov policy] this is a clincher. Unfortunately. That is the essence of Goff comment; he’s not talking about what is efficient, effective, or even value for money, but what he just might be able to get…. Tragic. But not necessarily permanent.

  28. I haven’t read all the comments on this so someone may have said it already. That tunnel cross section with space for only one track isn’t very sensible. It would be better to have two spaces in the lower deck for light rail so that you can have build one line each way now and be able to double that latter. The harbour will be a bottleneck for trams at some point in the future just as it is a bottleneck for cars and trucks now.

    1. Probably won’t be a problem for the rail given it is so efficient & could handle 5 (or less?) min headways in the future, but the same can’t be said for the traffic lanes.

      1. So each line has a capacity of around 5000 people per hour at 5 minute headways or 8000 if you get 3 minute headways (I dont think AT could manage that). Why the hell would anyone building a tunnel provide for only one track each way? Imagine if they had only built two traffic lanes each way on the Harbour bridge- oh wait a minute we are that stupid.

        1. You could have a good point that even LRT wouldn’t cope on one line unless it was really frequent/designed well. Using say their 2046 prediction (as linked to above) showing 12,000 in the one hour peak one way, yet the LRT line to the airport SMART study showing max of “5000 people per hour at 5 minute headways” as you say. You could run short runners closer together to the city centre on it’s own right of way I’m sure from a current busway station location, but don’t think we could manage say 2 min headways if running through the streets from Takapuna or on to the airport through Dominion Rd? Sounds like need something even better, certainly not buses anyway!

        2. Maybe because a rail line each way has the capacity of a twelve lane motorway bridge?!

          One track each way in a tunnel can easily handle 20-30 trains an hour, be they light rail or heavy rail. Say it’s 24 an hour (one every 2.5 minutes), and you use those LRVs with 410 people each, that’s 10,000 people an hour each way. Make them 140m long LRVs like they run in on street in Dallas, and that’s 22,000 people an hour. How much do you need exactly?

          Grant, bear in mind that 12,000 one hour is absolutely everything PT crossing the harbour from the North Shore, not necessarily one line. We already move about 6,000 an hour on buses over the harbour bridge, you don’t necessarily have to stop running buses just because you add rail for example.

    2. Good point. The diameter of the tunnels might have to be marginally larger, but not by much. However, I tend to agree with the points above that the PT tunnels should be separate from any road tunnels*, to allow for resilience (if one set of tunnels has to be closed close, it’s likely that the other set of tunnels can still remain open (twin tubes, one for each direction of travel, makes head-on collisions impossible).

      * The overwhelming view here is that if any additional crossing is to be built, it should be PT-only (the “missing mode” – and also smaller diameter tunnels if tunnels, or smaller-width bridge if bridge, so cheaper) – and the document Patrick links to shows all the growth in crossings being by PT, with road traffic continuing to reduce (your many previous valid points about modelling notwithstanding).

      Back to the tunnel cross-section drawings: there doesn’t seem to be sufficient overhead space for catenary wires; maybe they envisage wireless trams/trains (like in Bordeaux) in the tunnels?

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