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.
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.