The Eastern Busway (previously known as AMETI) will extend Auckland’s rapid transit network out into the east and southeast part of the city – extending from Panmure out to Botany:
Unlike other parts of the rapid transit network, which run all the way into the city, the Eastern Busway essentially ends at the Panmure station (although over time it may be extended to Ellerslie). In the past there has been a bit of discussion around whether the Eastern Busway should instead be light-rail and extended all the way into the city. One of the big arguments for this is around the capacity of Panmure station. Not so much the capacity for Panmure to handle the level of buses, but that the Eastern line post CRL will at some point become so busy that East Auckland bus users will be unable to transfer to rail, thus unable to leverage the heavy rail network as currently proposed.
There are a few reasons not to worry:
Getting the CRL Right
For a long time, Greater Auckland has been pushing to make sure the CRL is done right by building the second entrance at Beresford Square, as well as making sure all CRL stations (especially K Road) are future proofed for longer trains. These concerns have been taken seriously by Council, and CRL are now investigating future proofed platforms which we hope are included as part of the final works package. Matt has also suggested the ability to modify seating to a more metro configuration in the future if needed allowing higher capacity trains.
What this means is that getting the CRL done right drastically increases the capacity of Panmure to handle Eastern bus users well into the future. This is also another argument for getting the CRL done right as doing so could potentially save a lot of money not having to build a whole Eastern Light Rail system in the future.
Running the Right Post CRL Pattern
The current Post CRL running pattern is a confusing mix of things, however, what it suggests after the CRL is upgraded from 36tph to 48tph the additional western services instead of also being sent to Newmarket or Onehunga are sent east. In the Auckland Rail Development Programme 2015, they only go as far as Glen Innes, however, in CRL Procurement Docs they go as far as Otahuhu.
While I am not sure if they should go as far as Otahuhu as we don’t want too many trains unnecessarily clogging Westfield junction, we definitely shouldn’t stop the extra services short at Glen Innes. If Otahuhu works, that is great, however, if rail modelling shows their are issues the trains could terminate at a turn-back at an upgraded Sylvia Park Station (At the same time we could add gates, a better concourse to the mall, as well as access to Carbine Rd dramatically increasing the catchment of the station).
By making sure we run the services further than Glen Innes we increase the capacity of Panmure station by 6 trains an hour each way dramatically increasing the capacity of Panmure station. As these are short runners as well the trains are not likely to be busy by the time they reach Panmure as well thus providing plenty of capacity.
Regional Rapid Rail
If both of the above became not enough a further option exists which would be to stop Regional Rapid Rail trains in the future at Panmure, this would not only give Regional Rapid Rail access to the Eastern New Network but also some further overlay capacity for Panmure. We would just have to be careful that Eastern users do not crowd out Regional Rapid Rail users.
All in all, Panmure has the potential to have plenty of capacity for eastern bus users well into the foreseeable future.