One of the key public transport projects to be delivered over the next decade is a busway from the Airport to Botany (A2B). While the full busway will take years to be built, some parts, such as an upgraded Puhinui Station and some early bus priority measures are expected to be completed within the next few years. The aim previously has been for it to be in place by the America’s Cup in 2021. That will help enable a relatively fast and reliable connection to the airport with further improvements when the full busway is built.
We’ve been hanging out for more information on what is proposed at Puhinui and I think the lack of information to date has helped feed some of the recent airport transport discussions. A previously confidential paper to Auckland Transport’s board that has recently been made public finally gives us some details about this critical project.
The station is expected to cost about $60 million and will initially be built with an at-grade bus station beside it but it is designed so that a new bus only bridge can be built across the rail corridor to integrate directly with it. They’ve completed the preferred concept design and the preliminary design is due in December with procurement due to start by the end of the year. Construction is expected to start by the middle of 2019 and be completed in the first quarter of 2021. To serve the upgraded station, the existing 380 airporter bus route will be changed and they say priority lanes will be provided along most of the route. Here’s what they say about the station
Preferred concept design option
- The Puhinui Station Interchange has been progressed as part of the Short-Term Airport Access Single Stage Business Case. A preferred indicative layout was identified with stakeholders in July 2018. This informed the Concept Design process which was completed in September 2018. The preferred concept option is shown in plans in Attachment 1 and has been endorsed by all relevant internal AT key stakeholders.
- The option provides an interchange facility between train services and an at-grade bus station as an early deliverable (first quarter 2021) that accommodates the ultimate rapid transit station in due course with limited need to retrofit. It consists of providing a pedestrian concourse over the railway line similar to Otahuhu Station, and includes escalators similar to Panmure Station.
- Preliminary Design has commenced and is expected to be completed by December 2018. A key outcome sought is for the interchange to project a “City Gateway” or “Airport” feel. A key part of this will be to ensure the rich and strong cultural history and significance of the area to Mana Whenua is reflected and embraced within the interchange design in accordance with Te Aranga design principles and in collaboration with Mana Whenua.
Use of customer insights to inform interchange design
- The interchange design has been influenced by customer insight findings collected as part of the Airport Access Programme Business Case. When discussing the proposed Puhinui Station upgrade, key messages from customers were safety, “hassle free”, seamless, easy to navigate and quality. The design has aimed to achieve this by ensuring seamless and direct connectivity between modes to reduce the “hassle factor” of interchanging and by imbedding passive safety measures such as visual clarity, quality retail activity and visibility of staffed locations.
Future proofing for future rail functions
- The interchange for delivery in 2020/21 allows for proposed third and fourth rail line alignments (as provided by KiwiRail at the time of design)
and is future proofed to allow for proposed inter-regional rail services between Auckland and Hamilton to stop (but not terminate) at the station.
Here’s what the first phase of just the station and at-grade bus interchange could look like. I like how the station canopy extends the length of the platform than then integrates straight into the bus station – although I have to think the engineers, in a bid to bring the cost down, are going to scale it all back so I’ll be surprised if it ends up looking like this.
One aspect you can see in the images above is a deck like structure protruding from the upper level, this is where the busway bridge will eventually hook into. Below is a bit more detail, first the ground level. Buses will pull in here to stops alongside the station where escalators and lifts will bring people up to the upper level. There also appears to be a kiss and ride type facility.
Next is the upper level which will be gated. Eventually when the busway bridge is built, people heading to the airport will walk up the escalators from the train platform and straight out onto the bus platform which will make for a seamless connection. It’s not clear if the bus interchange and kiss and ride facility will still exist then. One thing that’s not clear is if there will be grade separated access to the eastbound bus platform (northern side) or if there’ll need to be a pedestrian crossing on the bridge.
and some cross sections looking east and north.
It’s not entirely clear how the 3rd and 4th main will be accommodated in this but it appears they be on the outside of each of the existing tracks. I guess if needed they could have side platforms but I wonder if this misses an opportunity to create a twin island platform design, like the old Kaiwharawhara Station in Wellington. It certainly seems like Kiwirail have enough land for a second platform and tracks based on this image showing the existing land holdings and requirements.
Until the busway bridge is built, buses will use the existing Bridge St bridge, as per below.
Overall I quite like what’s proposed here. Let’s hope AT are actually able to deliver it on and do so on time