Mt Eden Rd is one of Auckland’s busiest bus routes. There are around 2.3 million trips a year on the services that use it and over 2 million of those are on weekdays – this also doesn’t include the Outer Link or Skybus.
The route was one of the earliest corridors to get bus lanes, however, back when it was installed not all bus lanes were created equal. One stretch of bus lane, southbound just before Mt Eden village is one of the most useless in the city, only operating between 4:30 and 5:30pm. Perfectly timed to end just the after work rush comes through. Apparently this was a compromise to placate local business concerns about the impact on parking in the village.
We’ve wanted to see this bus lane fixed for years and finally Auckland Transport are planning to change this and make a number of other improvements. They’re currently consulting on the changes and it’s important they get support.
Overall there are four changes they’re looking to make.
- Increase bus lane and clearway operating hours along Mt Eden Road.
- Change bus stop layouts in Mt Eden Village.
- Extend bus lanes along Mt Eden Road, between Plunket Road (south of Balmoral Road) and Kingsview Road.
- Change parking restrictions in Mt Eden Village.
AT say they’re standardising bus lane hours across the city so we can expect these times on other lanes in the future too. For Mt Eden Rd
- Northbound, towards the city, will become 7am to 10am
- Southbound, away from the city, will become 4pm to 7pm
This is a big improvement, especially in the PM peak. The current shorter hours result in some people changing when they travel simply so they can have a reliable journey and not risk getting held up in traffic. This can help to create crowding on some services.
Along with the increased operational hours, AT plan to plug one of the key bus lane gaps. Currently the northbound bus lanes stop either side of Balmoral Rd subjecting buses to congestion and delays. AT plan to fix that, as shown below.
Existing bus lanes
Proposed bus lanes
To implement this it will effect right turns to Pencarrow Ave which is bound to get some feedback. AT say doing this will also improve flow for general traffic.
Mt Eden Village Bus Stops
As part of the changes, AT want to extend the length of bus stops in the village to be able to cater for two buses at the same time.
The longer bus stops will require the removal of three carparks on each side, six in total and is already looking to be the most controversial aspect of the changes. The local business association want the bus stops pushed out of the village centre all together.
Mt Eden Village is a busy, vibrant crossroad boasting over 1.42 million transactions each year and with a strong focus on food and beverage options. Many food businesses offer street-side dining, a not-so-pleasant experience when diesel buses dominate the village.
Hundreds of pedestrians pass through the village each day, many of these, our precious school children. Bus schedules are fickle and the over-flowing of buses across our main intersection creates a dangerous environment for all!
Our research tells us that bus commuters don’t shop on the day they use the bus. But instead shop at another convenient day and time when using a personal vehicle or walking
We propose that the bus stops are completely relocated to just the other side of Valley Road.
Even if this was true, and local business associations have a tendency to make statements like this up, my guess is that people don’t bother with shopping because it’s been such an ordeal to get through the village centre due to the lack of bus priority. By the time they’re through the village just want to get home and not have their bus battle traffic again. This is an issue that would be resolved by improving bus lanes. In reality of course, buses done right are pedestrian fountains and would be delivering large numbers of people right the door of those shops.
AT are proposing make a number of changes to parking in the area which they say follows a two year study of parking in the area. I won’t list all the details as they’re on ATs website but one interesting thing I noted was including some carshare only carparking. The text about the parking study also highlights the problem with the business association’s complaints about removing parking for bus stops.
Over the last two years, we carried out a comprehensive parking study in and around Mt Eden Village in consultation with Mt Eden Village Inc (local business association). The study showed that overall parking availability isn’t the major issue in the area. However, it highlighted that several streets within the village experience high demand for parking. Approximately 90% of parking spaces in these streets are occupied during peak times. The study also found that on average vehicles are parked for one hour in the village. This suggests that the existing 30 minutes time limit often doesn’t meet visitors’ parking needs.
With the bus stop changes already getting push back from businesses, it’s important that AT don’t back down or delay making improvements to this key bus corridor. Submissions are open until Wednesday 28 February.