With the election of a new Government, we can have a little rethink of several proposed projects. One of these projects is AMETI, also now known as the Eastern Busway. This is a project that has been underway since before Auckland Transport existed and all political parties have supported yet seems to make little progress. Naturally, it’s also included in our Congestion Free Network proposal, along with bus rapid transit up Pakuranga Road to Howick.

Getting it Done: The first priority for the new Government is getting both AT and NZTA to bloody well get on with it. This project has been around for years but has just stalled at every opportunity and recently has had to be re-notified because the traffic modelling was so old. We need to get going much faster on this project, delivering as much as possible preferably by the time the City Rail Link opens. East Auckland has seriously poor transit options at current this is a much-needed piece of infrastructure.

Rethinking the Flyover: A serious rethink of the Reeves Rd flyover needs to be done. It is hugely expensive and will be a blight on what in the future could be a fantastic town centre. It really is the 1960s thinking as many countries are ripping down flyovers as we discuss building one. One of the serious obstacles in the way of rethinking the flyover left Parliament last term and with a change in Government, the political pressure won’t exist anywhere near to the same extent. The other obstacle which is the outdated way we do traffic models, as well as the large under modelling of transit demand, is also something that can be overcome.

Reeves Rd Flyover

Pakuranga Rd Bus Rapid Transit: In the CFN 2 we proposed BRT on Pakuranga Rd. Adding a Bus Rapid Transit upgrade to Pakuranga Rd would be a smart move complementing the upgrade to Ti Rakau Drive delivering high-quality transit for a poorly served area. By bringing Pakuranga in scope the project would better serve most of East Auckland. Pakuranga Rd id was zoned for decent scale in the Unitary Plan with much of the length being zoned for Apartments or Mixed Housing Urban. Pakuranga Rd in most sections is 3 lanes each way with a median as well as extra stacking space at intersections and is a little bit of a traffic sewer. A re-think of Pakuranga Rd could deliver a multimodal high quality and amenity boulevard with centre running BRT and appropriate signal priority, protected cycleways, footpath/crossing upgrades and much more trees all very easily as well as affordably especially if the savings from cancelling the flyover are used within the existing corridor.

Centre Running BRT – NACTO

A flyover dies, a boulevard lives. Fair Trade.

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  1. Yes this change to Pakuranga Rd would make for a much more liveable city.

    Re modelling : NZTA have said they don’t allow for new trips as a response to new roading capacity because such a response is unlikely. Genter understands just how far reaching are the effects of this blatantly incorrect modelling. My question is : for the sake of our cities, our health, our economy and our planet, how is the government going to kick out these dinosaurs and usher in the use of modern models?

    1. “NZTA have said they don’t allow for new trips as a response to new roading capacity because such a response is unlikely.” Ermmm – WTF?

      1. They are still going on their modelling guidelines, which are narrowly written, based on narrowly focused research. There are some smart people in NZTA on this topic, but they do not get the budget to collect adequate data and study this issue properly.

        At this point I find myself wondering if we should even have separate assessment guidelines and adopt best practice guidelines from another jurisdiction. And arguably no model deals with the behavioural change behind induced demand well, because they assume behavioural choices are fixed. Best practice is to change the planning process to one that is less model driven.

        1. The way they do it, all options are run with the same number of person trips regionally. So a traffic inducing road comes out in the model as miraculously uncongested. An option with no road expansion conversely appears highly congested with poor travel times. The resulting bias in the bcr’s is obvious.

          Deciding between options would be more accurate without the models. The models are better used to predict allocation of the trips once a decision of option has been made. This would actually be cheaper.

          I can’t believe this is a budget issue. It is politics, all about supporting the road construction lobby.

        2. If I understand you right, it seems like they are not only assuming the total number of regional trips remain the same but are also assuming that people won’t even switch from an alternative route to the new road?
          Both assumptions seem pretty crazy to me. Sure it means the model will produce benefits in travel time savings but has no bearing whatsoever on what I would consider normal human behavior.
          Do some of these decision makers totally disregard the fact that they took a different route to get to the office or came in later or earlier or are working from home etc… And then sit down in front of their model and pretend that they are working on a transport problem in a city on a different planet populated by aliens who behave in ways that are quite different from humans?

        3. To clarify, they do assume there is movement between routes, and even between times of day, and modes. So they do show some movement between PT and car use, which could be in either direction. This is why they say they are including induced traffic, yet admit to including no new trips.

          They also assume there is a regional increase in trips over time. But this gets allocated to all the options as if the project has no impact on it.

          Todd Litman’s chart of types of generated traffic http://www.vtpi.org/gentraf.pdf shows types of generated traffic. The only types of generated traffic that NZTA allows for are the ones listed here as having small cost impacts.

        4. And yes, I agree about adopting models from elsewhere. Behavioural change and land use change is critical in the models. Other places have had to come to grips with modelling where one city merges into others – often in other transport jurisdictions or even other countries. Probably in these places it’s a matter of knowing the limits to the models and using them for tiny bits of the process.

      1. Increasing capacity yes but most of the benefits of roading projects are from travel time savings. If increasing roading capacity simply generates new trips and does not result in more than short term congestion relief then they would need to remove the travel time savings benefits which would make most of their business cases fall over.

      2. No. More trips might just mean four car trips where there were none, eg parent dropping a child at a rehearsal, going home, then picking up later. Whereas without the added road capacity and induced traffic, it may have been safe enough and pleasant enough for the child to cycle or walk alone.

        1. 1) Most models don’t use variable person trip rates but there is a good argument based on time availability and household budgets they should. Person trip rates over 24 hours are normally assumed as fixed. However the number of trips that stay intrazonal vs interzonal will depend on the travel costs on the network.

          2) The only new trips (induced traffic) in models from a road improvement will be from a) mode shift to car & b) intrazonal car trips becoming interzonal car trips

          3) If a road improvement decreases travel times then car travel trip lengths will increase everything else being equal. There is what seems like induced traffic from this effect which can include 2b).

          4) The real issue is not the models. They are a simply tools and respond according to the pricing & values incorporated in their calibration.

          5) The main issues are:

          5a) travel is a derived demand and almost purely a result of spatial land use location. Blame the urban planners who write the zoning rules and force car dependent travel. We need to get rid of land use zoning & go to effects based planning as the RMA originally intended.

          5b) we don’t price peak period travel, ie congestion tolls, & thus suffer excess demand & low PT patronage. We have to build very expensive infrastructure just to support the peak hour demands.

          5c) We underprice travel. There is no air pollution tax, ratepayers likely pay too much & freight trucks too little.

          5c) land use policy (& construction methods) mean that land use response to travel costs is very inelastic. Ideally additional floors could be added anywhere until the cost of the marginal floor left no profit & wouldn’t be built. I.e. That means I could add a floor to any apartment building next to the school so the kids could walk to school rather than being driven, or I could add a floor to a building next to the train station so I could take the train & not pay the congestion tolls.

          Anyone that can invent a modular building system like this deserves to make a fortune.

  2. It has always seemed odd to me that Waipuna bridge was not built to line up with the highway and connect to it at the T intersection you can see in the background of the image of the Pakuranga plaza above. Unless of course the flyover was always proposed. I expect it was to catch traffic from the newly developing East Tamaki (there was no road to Botany from East Tamaki at that time as there is now, or even a Botany for that matter). It is a blight. we also haven’t been able to work out why the new Apartments advertised just south of the plaza on the corner are only two storey when higher densities have been zoned. It turns out the area is built on a swamp and larger buildings would require more expensive foundations. It would be interesting to see if any consideration was given to geo technical restrictions when zoned for the unitary plan. As an aside there is a major issue out East with the axing of the school bus services. There was zero consultation and I understand there have been shouting matches in meetings between staff at several schools in the area and AT staff who seem rude and condescending. Several schools are used as transit hubs to move several thousand students around the area. Some bus times are now 90 minutes later meaning some schools who act as the hubs have to pay staff for this time to look after several hundred pupils. AT staff couldn’t care less as everything is now set for the rollout. We need some democratic accountability with CCO’s.

    1. Change in school services was in all New Network Consultations. The consultations were at bus stops, online and posted to peoples homes.

      1. But surely AThave to take student start & finish times into consideration? It’s not a schools responsibility to enable transport options, it’s the responsibility of people paid to develop transport options in Auckland and they are the ones that need to take these effects into consideration.

        1. Yes. Thanks Alan – I had no idea. The consultation process is being misused if people are having to get involved just to retain basic services like getting kids to school.

        2. Kids can still get to school they just use the bus routes everyone else uses which will have better frequency and span as well as better quality buses.

          Having School Buses is an inefficient use of OPEX when we are already running general services especially when these school buses were not well patronised in East Auckland.

          I doubt bus times will be 90min later because the frequency of most bus routes is increasing and all services except commuter focused mainly express buses operate all day frequencies over below 60min with most either 15, 20 or 30min at that time of the day.

        3. OK, so that sounds better. Just would need to check that the pedestrian amenity supports the use of public buses by students. From what I remember of East Auckland, it’s as bad as everywhere else in suburbia.

        4. “From what I remember of East Auckland, it’s as bad as everywhere else in suburbia.”

          Disagree, East Auckland is the worst of all parts of Auckland. 🙁

        5. In which case, I can understand that the loss of school buses that take the students right into the school will annoy the parents. Of course the solution is to improve pedestrian amenity. But this has to come first. Indeed since AT’s Andrew Allen says we can’t afford not to focus on safety, surely the changes are starting next week. 🙂

    2. Regarding only 2 storey development in a higher density zone – Terraced house and apartment (THAB) zone allows for upto 16m but a developer will build what they feel they can sell. So a lot of the THAB zone won’t end up actually being apartments, but just a slightly greater density than the other zones.

      1. Yes, and experience so far is that they will continue to build standalones, meet none of the stated objectives of the zone, and fail on building coverage and permeability rules. Yet council will still grant consent.

        1. I think that’s unfair. Many developers are starting to build terraces and mid-rise apartments. However, unfortunately many developers and builders aren’t at the scale that they can actually fund midrise. It’s one of the big negatives of our construction market which has half a dozen giants and 100s of companies started by competent tradesmen who want to keep control of the full business and work on site, but nothing in-between.

        2. Sorry – I was meaning that where they have continued to build standalones, the council has been consenting them despite the permeability and building coverage rules not being met. And despite the very clear zone objectives not being met. I believe a post is brewing on this subject.

        3. No development ever complies with every rule. However, I agree that proposals which fail to meet the objectives of the zone needs to be more stringently assessed.

        4. But isnt the fact that the UP only ALLOWS density, instead of forcing it? And I think that is the right way. It would be going a step too far – jumping from one extreme to another, if we moved from prohibiting density to requiring it.

          Think of the (in my view, just) challenges that the Unitary Plan would have seen if it actually required you to build a three-storey home on your plot of land when all you wanted was something else. Sure, stop the processes that prevented your neighbour from doing three storeys – but that doesn’t mean you should be forced to do the same. Tax/rate the land higher, especially in town centres and THAB zones – but everywhere according to the same formula – based on its value, if you want to prevent land banking or ridiculous non-development. That is a fairer process than requiring density.

        5. Yes, I understand about “allowing” and not “requiring”. The problem arises when people are still trying to get higher density but they’re not doing it with good design, just with development types that they know, and which cover too much surface area for the amount of housing provided. So we get standalone houses where the house, driveway, footings, paved areas end up being the whole site. The developer submits incorrect calculations. The council approves them because they aren’t required to check the calculations. Then when it is pointed out to them that the calculations are incorrect they come up with (incorrect) excuses to save their own hide.

          The situation would be avoided if the council looked at a submitted design and realised that a development that doesn’t fit the objectives is unlikely to meet the building coverage and permeability rules, then check them before granting consent.

        6. The plan allows density but doesn’t force it. But all developments break some rules. The council should approve developments that break the rules only if the development meets the objectives of the zone.

        7. Some of the areas zoned THAB are currently low density neighbourhoods of detached houses so it’s probably going to take a few waves of development before THAB is fully meeting its potential. Currently caught between objectives for the zone on one hand, and fitting with ‘existing urban character’ on the other.
          Also, once the alternative-height-to-boundary rule has been sorted out, it should mean narrower/smaller sites can be developed closer to the max height. From what I have heard this might be finalised within the next 6 months

      2. Not sure if this is part of kiwibuild or not, but if its just funding thats the problem is there a way for the govt to provide some additional financial backing? And then share in the profits to reinvest back into other expenditure?

  3. The Reeves Road Flyover is completely unecessary. No country in this day and age builds that kind of structure to sort out a suburban intersection traffic flow issue. Get it off the planning books. Its an utter waste of money and a sledgehammer to kill a flea.

  4. Incidentally other jurisdictions are now substantially modifying their transport modelling guidelines to better reflect induced demand. See the UK DfT WebTag on induced demand. Caltrans are changing their regulations on project assessment to mandate consideration of induced demand and things like street level activity. See

    The difficulty is that it will take some serious allocation of human resources and a budget to change this. (Re)Building a strategic model of a city the size of Auckland is a years work for a team of 2-3 experienced mathematicians and engineers.

    1. Thanks Scott. Great links. Just 2 – 3 people? Just one year? That’s not much of an investment! Mill Rd so urgently needs a remodel.

      1. Heidi that is 2-3 full time doers (analysts) who have skills in short supply. Management and data acquisition is in addition to that. You could easily spend $1-2 million in total. The point is it needs a separate budget. The existing AT modelers would be occupied full time by all the existing project modelling required. Building a new model would need a dedicated team working off line.

        Overall though, your point is right. Compared to the construction budgets for projects, we often do not spend enough on the analysis of options and demand before we make a commitment to designing and building something.

        1. +1, even if you had two mid-level analysts working for a full year, that’s $1m in fees. If you brought them in house you might get down to $600-700k

        2. Note that the cost depends a lot on data acquisition. You could spend half the budget commissioning surveys.

        3. If the 2 million spent on the new model meant that we could avoid building just 1 unnecessary $200 million project, that alone would be a tremendous 10,000% return on investment!

  5. That flyover is a very expensive way of eliminating one set of traffic lights. Some better coordination of traffic lights would probably achieve close to the same benefits. Money would be better spent elsewhere.

  6. Best solution is light rail Panmure to Manukau via Te Rakau and Te Irirangi, No road widening needed. New bridge for bikes and light rail from Queens to Kerswill over the Tamaki River. Keep the light rail elevated along Pakuranga Road to the Mall and bring rail down to ground on Te Rakau. That’s the only flyover needed. Much narrower than a bus lane. Money saved on width will give length for similar costs.

    1. Can I also suggest light rail along Waipuna Bridge from Pakuranga mall all the way to Onehunga?

      Stop outside Mt Smart for concerts, perhaps link it up to new proposed Airport/CBD rail?

    2. Maybe one day, but best not hold up the busway version with another whole lot of consultation & planning etc. Better to invest in the Botany to Manukau, then on to airport LRT route first.

        1. So to get to the city you have to generally catch a bus to a light rail station then transfer to heavy rail. Ie little gain to no gain. Whereas the busway allows bus all the way to panmure before transferring. Better to have busway soon then only LRT convert once it goes all the way to the city.

        2. All the 711 and 712 passengers would have to have two transfers just to get to the CBD. I can’t see there being much regret with the proposed busway, it’s not limited by city centre space constraints so it will be possible to run high frequency long articulated buses if needed to allow high capacity with fast boarding.

  7. AMETI as currently planned isn’t perfect and for sure the flyover is a waste of space, but there is no appetite for delays to re-think, consult and redesign. It’s already years behind schedule most of it should have opened last year according to the original plans.

    Just get it bloody built, if it’s imperfect, so be it. i can make my peace with the flyover if it’s the price of construction on Panmure to Pakuranga with buslanes up Pakuranga Rd.

    1. Reeves road flyover – a turkey.
      widening roads to reduce traffic? Dumb
      Elevated light rail Queens Road – Kerswill Place = Pakuranga Road – Te Rakau would allow a speedy travel route, save a lot of houses and the line through Panmure would give that tired shopping centre a real boost. Adding foot/cycleway to the bridge would connect cyclists in East Auckland to Auckland – the Ameti solution is to mix the cyclists with a bus route – another dumb idea.
      Ameti sucks.
      Ameti is a tired concept causing environmental blight.
      get light rail started immediately – put Ameti into the east-west highway basket for stupid ideas.

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