Earlier this year Auckland Transport consulted on what should have been a relatively straight forward change to improve buses along Mt Eden Rd. It involved adding some new bus lanes, extending the hours of operation of them, amending some parking on streets surrounding the town centre, and lengthening the bus stops in the middle of the village. The bus stop changes were to add more capacity and to prevent buses getting unnecessarily caught at the lights or blocking the intersection. They would have removed just six carparks from the centre, three on each side.

Unfortunately, the whole thing turned into a giant mess with the local business association and others campaigning hard against the proposal. Despite HOP data showing that more than 1,800 bus passengers beginning or ending their trip at the village, they even went as far to suggest the bus stops should be removed from the village completely.

The business association wanted buses to pass through but not stop in Mt Eden

Auckland Transport have now released the results of the consultation. Overall, they received 759 pieces of feedback with 63.2% saying they were either ‘Very Happy’ or ‘Happy’. Of that, the single biggest area of feedback was the 300 responses supporting the extension of bus lanes.

As a result of the feedback, here are the final decisions AT have made. The second to last one is the bus stops. They will:

  • End the P60 zone beside Valley Road/Oakland Road, and not near Rautangi Road at as originally proposed.
  • Install a P120 restriction, Monday to Saturday, 8am to 6pm along the western side of Mt Eden Road, north of Valley Road up to 391 Mt Eden Road to free up these spaces for short term parking during the week.
  • Increase the proposed P120 restriction on Poronui Street to P180.
  • Introduce a graduated tariff in the Essex Road carpark of $1.00 per hour for the first 2 hours, increasing to $2.00 per hour thereafter with no time limit.
  • Retain the existing P5 on Stokes Road outside the public toilets.
  • Not ban the right-hand turn from Mt Eden Road to Pencarrow Avenue. We will monitor this turn after we install the new length of bus lane and will reconsider introducing the right turn ban if issues arise.
  • Investigate the potential for introducing an additional pedestrian crossing in or near the village.
  • Incorporate advanced stop boxes for bikes at the Essex Road / Mt Eden Road / Stokes Road and Balmoral Road / Mt Eden Road intersections.
  • Remove one car park on Mt Eden Road just north of Poronui Street to improve visibility for motorists exiting from Poronui Street.
  • We also received feedback about our plans to extend both bus stops in the village. This change is an important aspect of the planned bus improvements. We will still be extending these bus stops, however we have reviewed the design with the aim of reducing the length of the extensions. With the new design we will only remove four parking spaces (two on each side of the road) instead of six (three on each side of the road), as originally proposed.
  • The parking restrictions AT will be implementing around the village on the side roads will prevent all day parking in 76 currently unrestricted parks, and prioritise shorter visits (i.e. P60, P120).

So it appears they’ve tightened up the proposed bus stops a little and added two car parks back. Overall this all seems sensible and good outcome, especially compared to the ridiculous idea of removing buses from stopping in the village, as the business association proposed.

AT say the changes will be made later this year and are all fairly straight forward, being just street signs and paint.

Finally, the report notes strong support for the addition of bus lanes just north of Balmoral Rd. One interesting graph in the feedback report shows the time to travel northbound through the Balmoral Rd intersection, from Wairiki Rd to Kingsview Rd, a distance of about 500m. The two lines show the average travel time for January vs March 2017 and as you can see, in March the travel time is almost eight times longer.

It would be interesting to see a graph like this for a lot more locations around Auckland.

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40 comments

  1. Good to hear that the good people of Auckland who use the Mt Eden Road corridor are not going to be held to ransom by another petulant NIMBY group.

    1. Maybe, one day, we’ll get a post over here which will not have residents associations or business associations look like the new incarnation of the tobacco lobby.

        1. I’m still smarting from my (ex) Resident’s Association asking Bike AKL for support for their proposal to remove bus lanes from their suburb, so yes. Shoe fits – they are being criticised for what *many* of them do.

    2. Not sure about your NIMBY reference. Are you a supporter of making Auckland central suburb retail areas into full length bus depots or trying to come up with designs that compliment the area and don’t destroy it? Mount Eden has been used by a number of cheap commuters as a park and ride as it sits on the boundary of zone 1 and 2. AT has really stuffed up here by allowing the shoppers car park to now be used as a full day carpark encouraging this behaviour. Mount Eden residents were not against the bus stops just there design.

      1. That will be rectified by getting rid of unlimited parking and charging usage.

        Mt Eden isn’t a full bus depot and won’t be still after the upgrade is complete.

      2. Paul, have you read AT’s parking strategy? If the shoppers’ car park is being used as a full day carpark to the extent that it is too full for shoppers to find a park, AT should have put more measures in place to prevent this. You could follow this up with them. Same thing is happening in some other places, despite one of the important parts of the strategy being that they are consistent across the city.

  2. I wonder how many customers the businesses alienated with their focus only on car drivers?

    Really interesting graph at the end there, Matt. What a huge difference a slight increase in overall traffic makes.

    1. I do wonder if customers are alienated, or in general have a memory lasting only until the next outrage.

      It’s a shame that unless we have a sociologist here who can advise on international experience, we’ll never know.

      My feeling is that people express outrage, then quietly “forget” their outrage when convenience is at stake. IMO people tend towards laziness 🙂

      1. Yes, the long-lasting changes are probably when people change their habit or travel patterns because of the outrage. This certainly happens.

    1. Yes. 7 to 10:00 and 16 to 19:00

      NORTHBOUND BUS LANE AND CLEARWAY HOURS
      Current hours New hours
      7am – 9am (week days) 7am – 10am (week days)
      No parking will be permitted on the road on Mondays to Fridays, from 7am – 10am, where bus lane and clearway restrictions apply.
      SOUTHBOUND BUS LANE AND CLEARWAY HOURS
      Current hours New hours
      4.30pm – 5.30pm (week days) through the village
      4pm – 6pm (week days) outside the village 4pm – 7pm (week days)

  3. “the ridiculous idea of removing buses from stopping in the village, as the business association proposed.”

    Part of me wishes they had actually trialed this, that it had a disastrous effect on businesses and then they publicly called out the Business Association on it for their views afterwards. A message to all these other idiotic associations who object to the loss of a few carparks on the basis they are what is keeping all the businesses in the area afloat.

    1. This very thing happened out west. There was a major bus stop right in the old Westgate shopping centre. This stop was also great for going to the new mall. At the recent overhaul of western services, that bus stop got abandoned, and buses including the 14T and 14W from Henderson now stop in side streets hundreds of metres away from both malls and a long uphill walk to the new one.

      I now refuse to go to either centre and told the mall management why. Just didn’t make sense, but somewhere in the back of my mind I recall that AT or the council were in a dispute with the developer of the new mall before its construction even began.

      1. Thanks, that ties together a few stray bits of information. “In the same street, AT has also had to abandon an existing bus interchange, because when it bought the road, it did not buy the footpath on which the bus shelters are built, and the developer was now calling time on it.” Was there any public outrage at the developer when the article came out, for such regressive antagonism?

        1. I wasn’t aware at the time of any publicity, or public feedback. I live on the North Shore, so if it made news in the Western Leader I would never have been aware of it. At least I now know why the bus interchange was taken away. Perhaps it will get reinstated when the dispute gets settled. It’s hard to see how the developer could make use of a footpath. Kind of smacks of a tit for tat… we’ll insist on our right to deny you the use of the footpath until you decide to write off our debt to get it back.

  4. I am happy they are pushing this through, to often the slightest noise and the council backs down. Its like they haven’t read basic reports on change – the natural human reaction to any change is to reject it since it changes what is a known quantity (doesn’t matter what change it it, believe rejection is the natural reaction in 70% of people). That knowledge explains why education and communication is a key. Most change management models thus emphasise that the first step is always to first present a situation where there is a definite understanding that something must be done (Kotter/Prosci/Mckinsey 7S etc etc).
    Having seen the communication from the council, I believe it is based on the councils business planning process and that is not how you introduce change.

    It is clear to me that there is a need to run these projects as normal change management people would run organisational change projects, doing so would reduce alot of resistance and friction. Presently it is my strong belief that there is a distinct lack of “organisational change management” competency in the council and that the processes are thus following practice and that it is a prime contributor to constant resistance. Sometimes I almost wonder if its a bureaucrat with an engineering degree who runs the communication with affected people. Its for a lack of better words, shocking how unstructured and unprofessional consultative letters are etc.

    —————————————-

    Having spent a considerable amount of money in the village wineshop throughout the years I got disappointed when one of its staff members whined about this particular change. If it was up to me all carparks should be gone.
    However after speaking to him, his main gripe was the exhaust fumes from standstill buses. That it limited the business opportunities. That it provided an inability to keep open doors and provide a welcoming “French village” environment in the shop. A fair comment.

    I think we need to start a serious discussion about the buses we run on these high frequency routes.
    How we can get rid of the old diesel destroyers (Incl our “new” Dennis junk that cant be sold in Europe). These buses pollute, alot, and with them being close to the pavement and standing still for a substantial amount of time at a popular busstop like Mt Eden there is a need to provide a much better solution to their exhaust fumes than what we presently do.
    Electrical buses/hybrids/ whatever that works in Auckland needs to be decided now based on evidence. Based on best practice from Europe and Asia. Who has checked with Stockholm for example, thats a city as hilly as Auckland, how have they handled their electrification of their busfleet?

    We can not be held hostage by a few well connected business people who needs to have their suppliers clued up enough before progress is taken on a new busfleet.

    1. The buses are disgusting, and because lots of people walk to the fare boundary the bus stops there for an age.

        1. Mt Eden Buses are a bit of a victim of their own success – 2 years ago the fare boundary was at Fairview Road. This became one of the busier stops but that’s just because people drove in and parked around the streets there. Now that the fare zone is forwards, the issues around Fairview have cleared up, but the village centre is now the park and ride. It’s a victim of it’s own success because with 2 minute frequencies at peak, the 274/277 is really the best bus service to get into the city (NEX is a close 2nd).

    2. Excellent points. Re electrification: maybe the business case for bus fleet electrification needs to include the win that comes from AT not having to face such business resistance, and the costs involved with that? (As well as all the public health and climate change benefits, of course.)

    3. Hopefully they will move through faster with all these improvements and so that issue will be less. Agree though bring on the electric buses (they are trialing a couple of for the city link currently, though obviously diff ones needed for this route).

  5. To me the real issue in all of this is how unrepresentative lobby groups like “local” business associations can be. In this case the survey results show that they are not even representative of local residents. These groups are given far more credibility than they deserve.

  6. As a local, this business association nonsense infuriated me – but was a wake up call to make sure I provide feedback on EVERY thing that is happening around my area in future.

    BTW re the association’s claims they must preserve the historic aspects of the village – I found this picture on their own website indicating two buses simultaneously in Mount Eden is in fact one of those historic artefacts, and should therefore be preserved…

    http://www.mounteden.co.nz/gallery/graham-stewart-heritage#!Graham_Stewart_TROLLEY_BUS_6___MT_EDEN_SHOPS

  7. In my submission I mentioned the addition of bus lanes just north of Balmoral Rd. Is ludicrous to have 2-3 turning cars (with 3-4 occupants) go though an orange light and block the left hand slip lane for an entire north-south cycle, while 2 almost full buses (100+ people) heading north have to wait for another cycle.

    1. Josh, coffee is not good for your car. Get it a water bottle and fill it from your kitchen sink instead. Much healthier…

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