Good news yesterday with Auckland Transport signing a $100 million contract to build the Eastern busway between Panmure and Pakuranga. The busway is long overdue and will be a critical part of finally helping to serve the urban area of Auckland with the lowest levels of public transport use.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Mayor Phil Goff today joined Auckland Transport officials to sign the contract with New Zealand-owned construction company Fulton Hogan.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says, “For too long we have under-invested in public transport for east Auckland. As the area has grown, the roads have become more congested without suitable alternative transport options. The $1.4 billion being invested in the Eastern Busway from Panmure to Botany helps rectify this. It will be transformational for the area.”
Using the busway and the new Panmure rail station, commuters will be able to travel from Botany to Britomart in less than 40 minutes cutting travel time by more than a third. More people on public transport means fewer people in cars and less congestion.
The Eastern Busway is the second biggest transport infrastructure project after the City Rail Link. Mr Goff says, “The first section from Panmure to Pakuranga represents $275 million in spending with around $700 million of the total project cost funded from the Regional Fuel Tax which has enabled construction to be brought forward.”
The Eastern Busway consists of several major pieces of infrastructure, including completing the busway between Panmure and Botany, stations at Pakuranga and Botany, the Reeves Road flyover at Pakuranga Town Centre and better space for people walking or cycling.
A reduction in journey times and better accessibility to other parts of Auckland will improve the range of employment and leisure options for people in Auckland’s south-east. These factors were included as part of a report showing that AMETI Eastern Busway will generate around $680M of additional GDP over a 40-year period.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford says “This project is a great example of central and local government working together through the 10-year Auckland Transport Alignment Project to unlock Auckland’s potential. This contract means we are another step closer to having a congestion-free network.”
Construction begins in April and will take approximately two years. Parts of Lagoon Drive and Pakuranga Road will be widened to create a dedicated, congestion-free busway, similar to the successful Northern Busway. Panmure Roundabout will be turned into a safer signalised intersection, there will be new paths for walking and cycling, improved public spaces and reserves, a second bridge across Tamaki River and several intersection will be improved.
The contract with Fulton Hogan also signals a strong commitment to “social procurement” with specific clauses around environmental standard, minimum wage payments and recruitment practices targeting youth, Maori and Pacific people.
Auckland Transport Chief Executive Shane Ellison says, “This is AT’s largest infrastructure contract and follows a rigorous process involving a number of extremely well-qualified companies. It has been an important part of our approach to apply socially responsible guidelines so we can ensure positive community results that cover areas beyond transport, including employment, waste management and youth training.”
AT has also been working closely with Mana Whenua to recognise the cultural significance of the area through design new public spaces, reserves, enhanced streetscapes, landscaping and Mahi Toi (art works) along the project route.
Graeme Johnson, CEO NZ, Fulton Hogan says, “We’re proud to have been awarded the contract. We are a New Zealand owned business, employing more than a thousand staff in the Auckland region. This is a major route upgrade for Auckland and our team bring the experience required to deliver this project successfully in a challenging and busy network environment, with a key focus on the health and safety of both the public and our team.”
One of my major concerns with the busway is just how long it’s taken to get to this point. The first stage, the new Panmure bus/train station was opened five years ago. If we’re going to be successful in delivering not just the rest of this busway but also all of the other major PT projects we need to build, we’re going to have to get better at this.
AT say once complete the busway could move about 7,500 people an hour, that’s not much fewer than arrive at Britomart on trains every morning but it also highlights why it’s so important the council and government agreed to future proof the City Rail Link for 9-car trains.
Once construction starts it means we’ll have three major PT infrastructure projects underway at the same time (CRL and Northern Busway extension) and the possibility of more soon with the Puhinui interchange, the third main/electrification to Pukekohe and light rail.
I’m looking forward to being able to ride the busway in 2021.