This post originally appeared in May 2012.

Yesterday I posed the question of which piece of transport infrastructure carried the most people during the morning peak. The answer is that at the moment they both carry about the same number of people, the difference of course is that the Britomart tunnel has the ability in the future to carry many many more people in the same amount of space as I intend to show you shortly. I have mentioned before how hard it seems to be to show just how much benefit the CRL brings to the city and this post is another intended to try and show some of this information in a different way to make it easier to understand.

The data for this post came from a couple of sources, the current PT information came from the Screenline Study which counted the number of people on buses and trains that entered the CBD last year. The vehicle traffic numbers come from Auckland Transport’s vehicle counts from which there are AM peak hour counts for the roads the cross enter the CBD. I have then mixed this information together along with information we already know about the capacity of the CRL and the EMUs to put these maps together.

A quick explanation about the maps:

  • The lines represent places where people enter the CBD from, Red lines are access points from the motorways, Blue from local streets, Yellow from the ferries and Green is the rail network. The size of the line represent the number of people (not vehicles) coming via that route.
  • For the streets the bus and vehicle counts are merged into one arrow, bus patronage is worked out at approx 30 people per bus for the current map, 40 per bus for the 2017 map and 50 people per bus for the 2022 map. In reality we probably won’t see utilisation that high but I thought it would be useful to show the difference.
  • For the rail network the current count only includes people entering Britomart so other heavily used stations like Grafton and Newmarket are not included which take up much of the reserve capacity. The final map only shows the network at 60% capacity with the assumption that people would still get off at stations like Newmarket. Also before getting accused of accused of having a CBD only focus, the lines represent capacity to the Aotea station for visual purposes only.

First up here is what we have currently. The rail network is small but it is actually the 4th largest source of arrivals into the CBD when compared against each individual streets. You can also see the massive impact that buses from the North Shore and from the Isthmus and down Symonds St make, over 70% of people coming along these two corridors do so on a bus.

Next we see the what things might look like in 2017. By this time we should have all of our new EMUs running which will boost capacity as well as attractiveness of rail network. There are likely to also be significant increases in the bus network following the implementation of the planned improvements to it. In here I have assumed that only about half of the capacity of the EMUs arriving into Britomart is being used yet that line is already the single biggest on the map.

Lastly we see the impact once the CRL is opened, as mentioned the lines only represent about 60% of the available capacity as not everyone will want to head to the CBD. The capacity of the CRL absolutely dwarfs every other entry point to the CBD and it does so without impact to the surrounding streets once it has been built. It is also worth pointing out that the usage of the bus network has been greatly increased, probably more that we can expect in this time as combined it is around 65% higher than the bus patronage is now.

Going back to yesterdays post, to get the same amount of extra capacity we would need probably another 15 general traffic lanes into the CBD, around an extra 400 buses per hour or some combination of the two.

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  1. I love the Central Rail Link CRL as a product in its own right. Underground station in Aotea will in my mind transform Auckland CBD. May even need a new name for the centre of Auckland maybe ‘Queenies’

    But hey also to bring up the CFN2 again: I also need to give you credit, much more than my early scepticism of it. I re-read studied it looked at the details – fairly arrogantly – to see if there where areas I could improve.
    And it indeed turnout CFN2 is technically brilliant. Highly throughout, just as you said, and pretty radical to be honest. So as I said before I am now 100% behind getting this done.

    So now I will put a little effort into some political realms to help where ever I can. Also, next; I would like to suggest a few areas and ways we could get CFN v2 instigated at rapid speed:

    1.) Make it a 2017 election issue – as you all probably know. Can we organise a bit or coordination to get parties to make it a election issue. Include Winston Peters and New Zealand first on the solution list. He will be holding the balance of power this election so if we can get in early to make these a NZ First policy it will allow the coalition agreement to move much more quicker. Greens are already on-board in effect, so energy would be best put into NZ First?

    2.) Build the Queen St line this year. Utilising the trams & technology we have in Wynyard Quarter. Replace the EMUS in a few years..

    3.) Next extend this line to a Takapuna Station/ Depot on North Shore running EMUs over our existing harbour bridge. Takapuna is set to be a hub for North-shore busses terminating instead of going all the way to the CBD next year. It solves the biking issue for getting across Waitemata also.

    4.) Build Westgate N/W light rail track connect it to this line for now.

    Love to here but would people think it would be easier to do NthS and N/W LR before Dominion ? Patrick – whats your though on using existing harbour bridge for light rail and would this mean we could get away with no new HC for 20 -30 years?

    1. We are talking to people all across the political spectrum on CFN2

      We can’t use the Harbour Bridge the reason is NZTA would require it to be on the centre-span not the clip-ons. Due to egress reasons this would take more than two lanes meaning that in the future NZTA can’t use HV management on the bridge by only allowing HV’s on centre span. This would mean we would need to build AWHC which is a terrible project by every metric possible and would suck any budget dry unfortunately.

      For Dominion its not a matter of ease rather its a matter of CBD Bus Congestion and what works from a Network Ops POV, the issue is we need to do something in the immediate future in regards to Bus congestion on Symonds Street & Wellesey Street, since NW services use Albert which will be fine with the Western NN rollout, NW LRT is not priority.

      1. OK thanks Harriet, so what is the recommended action plan from readers if we can help get it going sooner than 10 years +. Is it now effectively solely a central government funding issue?

        1. Realistically it is a Crown funding issue due to AC Revenue-Debt ratio limits and lack of ability outside rates which rises are very unpopular to raise any extra revenue.

      2. In regard to Symonds St, they need to have some of the New North and Sandringham Rd busses avoiding Symonds St by using Ian McKinnon Drive and Upper Queen St. The people going to the CBD need a “fast finish” bus rather than one that grinds its way down Symonds St. Same in reverse. There used to be a bus that did that some years ago. Makes sense to separate some of the people who need to go to Symonds St, from those who do not. With integrated ticketing it is easy to change buses (perhaps at St Lukes – and the top of Mostyn St) for those who need to.

  2. I would personally focus on getting one of the two Airport Lines done and dusted by the time the CRL opens in 2023

    Reason for that is:

    the Southern Airport Line starting as a bus connection then going to full Light Rail just makes sense especially as the next project off the rank post City Rail Link. The Southern Airport Line fulfils three key aspects lacking in transit to the Airport complex:
    Connecting Southern Auckland and Howick workers to the Airport whether via Puhinui Station if coming up on the rail line or via Manukau Bus Station if using local South Auckland busses or the bus from Botany
    Connections to the City Centre, Northern Busway or the Western Line via Puhinui and Britomart Stations on the Southern or Eastern Lines
    Tourist connections from the Airport to Puhinui Station to then either go north or south on the rail line or to Manukau Bus Station to link up with Inter City busses

    Getting the Southern Airport Line off the ground would be a good quick win as the City continues to prepare for the Light Rail Line from the North (at least 10 years). With help of Central Government there is no reason to get the Southern Airport Line running by 2020.

    quote context:

        1. Agreed Patrick, I personally would also like HR via Otahuhu looked at properly after the Puhinui busway is up and running.

        2. Let’s see, announced Budget 2017, NoR in place by October, construction starts November for the summer construction season, bus lanes and priorities in place by March 2018 from Puhinui to Manukau Station, Interchange and physical busway in place by December 2018, operational January 2019.

          Given the Government can move that fast with a road it can very well move with that bus way.

          All that is left in AT to tender out the bus service at 5 minutes in the two main peaks and 10 minutes for the rest of the day.

        3. Lets see, ask AT to tender a bus service next month to connect to Puhinui and continue to Botany now using the existing roads. The times for this service mean they the will often be in demand outside peak traffic. Just use the roads that are there now.

  3. Yeah surely a bus between Puhinui is a no brainier asap> make it an electric bus – to make it all sound a little more Electronic- Eco system to the CBD? Air -line little loop?

  4. Can some one please tell me if we can have Light rail over the existing harbour bridge and what are the details about such an proposal?

    1. Hello Scott

      We can’t use the Harbour Bridge. The reason is NZTA would require it to be on the centre-span not the clip-ons. Due to egress reasons the LRT would take more than two lanes meaning that all centre span lanes would be used. This would mean the NZTA can’t use HV management on the bridge by only allowing HV’s on centre span as the clip-ons wear. We can keep the clip-ons going forever however this will require HV management at some point. This would mean we would need to build AWHC which is a terrible project by every metric possible and would suck any budget dry unfortunately.

    2. What Harriet said, but also the existing Harbour Bridge was designed for road vehicles only, it’s optimised for them, let it do that job. A dedicated Transit only new harbour crossing is the ideal next step. It is what’s missing across the harbour, and keeping each route to its specialised function will be more efficient and effective.

      We soon will need more capacity cross the harbour and, clearly, the next crossing should take the most spatially efficient and cost effective form; rail. That is the clear conclusion of the ATAP analysis.

    3. The harbour bridge was constructed to only deal with road traffic although it has had serious problems. The northbound clipon box girder has been close to failing snd was strengthened in 2009 and heavy truck traffic limited to 13tons. Despite this the life expectancy is 20 years (2030) or maybe up to 40 if more traffic restrictions are implemented. The western ring road completion should reroute traffic. There was some suggestions that an additional AWHC, bridge or tunnel, would start construction in 2015.
      I didn’t see the harbour bridge clipon replacement in ATAP so perhaps NZTA prefer the road tunnel AWHC to reduce bridge traffic.
      In theory a replaced box section clipon could have a lower rail deck or a surface rail to replace two road lanes. However, its unlikely we will see any rail over the harbour bridge.

      1. Don’t forget that the clip ons sit on the same foundations as the original bridge, so if you load new clip ons with extra weight and stresses you may overload the piers. Likelyhood is you’d have to construct new foundations next to the existing ones to do anything interesting, i.e. basically just building a pair of new bridges next to the existing one where the clip ons used to sit.

        At that point you just skip the clip ons and build a new bridge, no?

        1. From:
          There is a statement that LR over the harbour bridge is possible:
          Its looking at the fatigue issues with the clip-ons and states:
          Despite these fatigue problems, an interesting facet of the bridge was highlighted in a design study done on the clip-ons by Ministry of Works & Development on behalf of the Auckland Regional Authority. This study determined that there is capacity on each of the clip-on bridges to carry a light rail line as well as two lanes of light traffic. Heavy lorry and bus traffic would then use the main centre bridge.

        2. NickR, I’m no supporter of an NS LR where an AWHC is tunelled but the possible use of the harbour bridge for LR would appear NOT to be an issue for the bridge foundations. If it was then, as you say, a new crossing is the solution. I wonder how feasible new bridge clip ons with LR tracks would be compared to a rail tunnel. Without proof I should think that would significantly lower CAPEX and a much shorter time to implement.

  5. Off topic, but it is the weekend. Has Auckland public transport grown to a point where it needs a dedicated transport police? Twice in as many days on the Southern line this week I saw instances of lawlessness that in the first case (apparently a gang of young teenagers in school uniform damaging a tag on/off pillar before boarding the train and running riot up and down it) caused the train to stop at the next station until the police (quickly) arrived and in the second (a man smoking and listening to very loud hip hop on a boom box) the female train manager doing nothing because of the guys aggressive body language. In both cases, passengers felt unsafe.

    I wonder how many such incidents would be contained and/or prevented by a transport police? I know on the weekends and later in the evening you often see Maori wardens on the trains, but they have no statutory powers.

    1. Transport police (actually an equivalent, effectively like a parking warden on transit) will be trialed later in the year, hopefully the legislation allowing them to exist is pasted in the mean time. Train managers (female or not) are not allowed to do anything irrespective of aggressive body language or not, train managers are required to run the train on time and there have been plenty find themselves suddenly out of work for challenging these people.
      The biggest problem is lack of discipline and personal responsibility, these people know nothing will happen to them so they push the line a little more.

      1. Are you seriously saying train managers have lost their jobs for challenging obnoxious passengers? That is the definition of ridiculous!

        1. Yes.

          There have also been TIs sacked for fighting back during assaults and drivers for leaving the cab to assist other members of the train crew.

  6. NO please. I could not go near Metros with Transport Police. If it is serious it’s a policing matter and they need to be charged & jailed. But if its minor then – come on public stand-up for a few things and tell them to behave!

    1. In most countries Transport Police are still police they just don’t necessarily have training for things like road policing, domestic policing etc. They simply are trained to keep passengers and property safe and to issue fines/notices etc.
      Thing is we don’t have regular police resources to take care of our trains etc and it would be a waste to use normal police for such a specific/limited role.

      1. I have lived 40 happy years on this planet and the only big mistake I see modern society failing in: Is the paradox of people wanting more safety and security to their detriment. Grow a good community cultivate standards is the honest solution. More and more thugs with power to harass. i.e. transport police, Maori wardens, Fishing officers, inspectors and even lock, bars, fences, barbed wire, security cameras and even WIFI passwords are the end of civilisation.

        1. So we should just get rid of Fisheries Officers and just let the ‘sense of community’ ensure that we don’t take more fish than is wise?

          I think we would have a few species extinctions quite quickly.

    2. The Maori Wardens do a great job on the Western Line. There were a bunch of kids kicking up on the train last time we came back from Glen Eden at night and some young fellow the size of a garden shed just came and smiled at them. Instant good behaviour!

      1. Ironically Lindsey these Maori Wardens were set up to be community, and good behaviour ambassadors. Now the National Party want to change the law in parliament and give them more powers. Its a European idea on controlling people: Let the Wardens use the soft powers of influence they have now as shown by your example. Change the law and they will start asking to look in bags, asking where people are going, thinking they have power that makes them better than the public. No Maori Wardens is an example of soft community influence now.

        1. Maori Wardens are not getting any more powers than they already have, the law change allows Transport officers (with all the powers of parking wardens) but there is no extra powers being given to existing train staff.

  7. All the fans of a Puhinui interchange probably haven’t considered what a nightmare it is to access the station, let alone the dog leg on Bridge St.

    1. I think the fans of the Puhinui interchange see those issues as things that would be solved as part of constructing an interchange.

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