On Friday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Mayor Phil Goff, along with Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter and a host of local Councillors and local board members, joined Auckland Transport to announce plans for a new Northern Busway station at Rosedale. This will be built as part of the NZTAs recently approved Northern Corridor project, which will see the busway extended to Albany. The Northern Corridor project also includes a shared walking and cycling path from Albany to Constellation station and this passes to the side of the station.
I really like the design for the station and how it straddles Rosedale Rd with access from either side. That’s going to make it so much easier and more useful for local access. Let’s hope the entrances on side don’t get value engineered out, like AT did with the Karangahape Rd station. One aspect I’m not clear on though is the point of the overbridge between the platforms. Surely people wanting to access the motorway side platforms (northbound) would just go down to the plaza below.
AT say the station is going to cost approximately $70 million, although that includes property purchase and local road improvements. It would be interesting to see a more detailed breakdown of that cost as it seems quite high. By comparison, the recently completed Otahuhu station cost $28 million and the nearly complete Manukau Bus Station is $35 million. Construction is due to start in 2019 with the station, and presumably the busway extension, opening in 2021. I also understand the busway extension has been future proofed for a future potential conversion to light rail. The existing busway was geometrically but this extension will also include additional future proofing, such as moving services out of the way. The level of future proofing that can be achieved with this extension could play a key role in the discussions around what and when things are built alongside SH16.
It is expected to be used by around 4,000 passengers a day, although it’s not clear what year that will be in or if it’s actual passengers rather than trips beginning or ending at the station. Either way, that’s not too bad likely more than most stations are today. Here is what AT say will drive that usage
Approximately 5,200 jobs will be located within an 800m walk of the new station. An additional 14,000 residents and 12,000 jobs will be located within a 10-minute feeder bus trip and another 10,000 residents and 3,000 jobs will be within a 15 to 20-minute trip.
While the images show lots of buses, it’s not clear if AT have any plans to improve connecting buses here. The new network, due to roll out next year has only one service passing through and it’s not even at connector level (every 30 minutes).
One thing that is positive is that AT are being clear that the station won’t include park and ride, saying:
Auckland Transport’s Chief Infrastructure Officer Greg Edmonds says plans for a park and ride were included in the initial investigation but Auckland Transport has decided against that.
“There is a need for additional park and ride facilities, they generally help with congestion but one at Rosedale would actually increase congestion on local roads and would be less cost-effective than sites like Albany or Silverdale.”
They do say however that they are looking at a 500 space multi-storey carpark at Albany. The main issue I have with this is that parking is generally a very expensive way to add ridership. We can likely expect those 500 carparks to cost in excess of $12 million and even if every single space was used by someone not currently using public transport, would likely only add around 250k trips annually. To put that in context, the busway is now carrying more than 5 million trips annually and grew by over 600 thousand trips last year alone. In reality it is likely to draw some usage from people already accessing the busway by other means. It wouldn’t be so bad if AT were to charge a fee for the use of park & ride. Of course this seemed to be the key aspect the Herald focused on – they didn’t even turn up to the announcement.
The busway extension is really the first and only major PT project initiated by the previous government – they had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the CRL. But for some time it looked like the motorway works would happen without the busway being built too. Councillor Chris Darby posted this on Facebook noting that including the busway helped with the motorway construction too.
Perseverance furthers they say.
When the Northern Corridor Improvements (NCI) project was announced three years ago it lacked the obvious need to extend the hugely successful separated Northern Busway through to Albany Station, with a new station at Rosedale Rd. The project primarily connects SH18 (Upper Harbour Motorway) to SH1 (Northern Motorway) at Constellation interchange and the Busway no-show was a glaring omission.
I got on the blower to then Minister of Transport Simon Bridges and NZTA’s Regional Director and told them politely they were a couple of laggards. After a bit of of toing and froing the Busway extension was in the options mix but not confirmed. Then the dear old engineers discovered that if you built the foundations for the Busway it could be used for a more efficient and less costly build of the motorway connections themselves, i.e. it could be used as a construction staging area.
Back to the Rosedale Station, at the launch Phil’s Twyford and Goff both spoke well about the value of projects like this. Goff talked about how the busway had saved us from needing another harbour crossing, which can be translated as saying the busway saved us from billions in cost. Twyford talked also talked about the busway and how important it was in changing the conversation about transport in Auckland. Again, it was positive about how clear of a direction he’s giving on the future of transport in Auckland. You can see the speeches here. You can also see the joint statement from Twyford and Genter here.
Overall this is a good project and will be a welcome addition to the network, along with the busway extension itself.