Every weekend we dig into the archives. This post by Matt was originally published in June 2016.

Takapuna is considered one of Auckland’s key metropolitan centres – which the Auckland Plan describes as:

Metropolitan centres, such as Takapuna and Manukau, will accommodate a large proportion of the city’s future residential, retail and employment growth. Generally these areas will serve a sub-regional catchment and be supported by efficient transport networks.

Outside of the city centre there are 10 existing or future (emerging) metropolitan centres across the region as shown in the map below from the Auckland Plan.

auckland plan development strategy

The comment about these centres being supported by efficient transport networks is interesting as one thing you may notice from the map above is that all metropolitan centres sit on the current or proposed Rapid Transit Network of rail lines or busways with the exception of one, Takapuna. This is also confirmed with the latest version we’ve seen of Auckland Transports proposed rapid transit network.

Rapid Transit Map

As I’ll hopefully explain below, I think Takapuna needs to be added to our rapid transit network.

As a major centre and urban area within Auckland, Takapuna is quite unique being situated next to both a beach and a lake and those factors help to make it a very desirable location. With the strategy of developing the area the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan allows for quite a bit of development by way of the Metropolitan Centre (pink & purple stripes) and Terrace Housing and Apartment Buildings (Gold), although we’ll have to wait till later this year to confirm the final zones and rules. Much of the area including most of the THAB has already been listed as a Special Housing Area.

PAUP - Takapuna

Zoning is one thing but we’re already starting to see a lot of proposals for the area popping up, particularly on and around Anzac St. Here are some of them:

Whether these exact proposals all go ahead remains to be seen but over 30 years many will and so it’s quite likely the area will look very different in the future. Regardless we can count on the centre itself looking quite different with Panuku Development Auckland looking to “unlock” it including developing some council sites such as the Anzac St carpark.

Takapuna Centre Plan - Anzac St carpark concept

Takapuna has the chance to become one of Auckland’s urban jewels but accessing it can be already mixed bag when it comes to non-car transport. Its geographic location means the highly successful busway sails by about 1.6km away. Currently the primary bus services linking the Takapuna and the city are made up of a number of routes from the mainly the East Coast Bays that funnel through Takapuna – although given they often have long windy routes and little bus priority it means trips to the city can have very poor timekeeping at times.

The new network deals with Takapuna by way of a frequent route (N4) that starts in Milford and a couple of routes that pass through Takapuna on their way to/from Akoranga Station. In the city the N4 route will go via the middle of town.

North Shore New Network Takapuna

Even with the new network, accessing Takapuna by bus from the city – like I do on a daily basis – can extremely frustrating. It’s not so bad for those that can start or end their journey in the middle of town but for those like me need to get to/from Britomart, the changes to accommodate the construction of the City Rail Link mean that it now requires two buses or one bus and a long walk. Some of the issues will be resolved by the completion of the CRL which will link in with North Shore buses along Fanshawe St giving a direct connection.

AT’s info on the services show that the N4 route would run ever 7-8 minutes in the morning and afternoon peak along with every 15 minutes during the day. With the level of growth planned that might not be enough and while more services could be added, just like in the city centre there are some real issues with not enough space on the roads.

When it comes to PT, Takapuna needs a better long term solution, and it needs to be a RTN in my view.

Using a bike to access Takapuna can be equally arduous. The main approach roads of Taharoto Rd and Lake Rd have painted cycle lanes (despite the former being massively wide) but those cycle lanes stop short of the centre itself leaving riders to brave the roads which can be particularly unpleasant on Anzac St. That of course could be fixed and along with Skypath and Seapath would provide a cycle route to the city or elsewhere.

So what options are there to include Takapuna on the RTN? We know that AT have recently been looking at RTNs to the North Shore but we don’t yet know what’s been recommended, or in fact any details about it. Despite that I think there’s quite a good chance some form of light rail will be seen as the preferred option to eventually be used on the busway and if we did that it could allow us the ability to send light rail spur off to Takapuna, perhaps something like the route below. It would require a little work and a bit of property acquisition but seems doable.

Takapuna Spur LRT idea 2

From Akoranga the route could head to the city then perhaps join up with one of the isthmus routes shown the RTN map earlier. We’ve suggested in the past that this spur could even be part of the first stage of any rail connection the shore with the second stage seeing the busway converted.

With Takapuna already a popular destination and that only likely to increase in the future with both residential and commercial developments this route is likely to be quite popular. Even today buses in the middle of the day can get very full, especially in summer.

So what do you think, should we start thinking about light rail to the sea?;

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  1. Let’s recall those oh so informative talking points from three years ago:

    Should be a light rail loop line Smales Farm – Takapuna – Akoranga
    Actually this should be monorail
    No it should be heavy rail
    Takapuna is full of gated snobs so this will be a siege
    Downtown is overinvested given it only has 30% of Auckland’s employment waah waah waah

  2. There more I look at this, the more I feel that Smales Farm is just in the wrong place and we should double down on developing Akoranga.

    1. Akoranga is a garbage tip, literally. They filled in mudflats by dumping garbage there.

      You can’t build on it, basically.

      1. You can build on anything if its on bedrock (eventually) and the piles go deep enough (34 meters in Wynyard Quarter and that seems profitable).

        I remember watching them build the Akoranga station and they piled it up with stuff for months before it sat there for many months more settling before they could start.

  3. I get the feeling that buses will quickly become almost as capable as light rail over the next decade or two. By the time they build the current light rail projects, I doubt there will be any need to lay rails here.

    1. Jimbo
      I think that you are absolutely right that buses are the answer. I suggested a post to GA along these lines a week ago and this post seems like retaliation.
      The simple answer to get better connectivity is to run the 82 from Milford to end at Akoranga Station. With the same resources a 30 minute frequency can be transformed into 10 minutes – the turn up and go often referred to.
      Already Takapuna to Akoranga vis Anzac has a maximum frequency of 14 minutes.
      Save the money on a Takapuna light rail spur and either improve connectivity to Devonport; better cycling infrastucture; or perish the thought, “lower PT costs.” If we are serious about PT then let’s make a real attempt to get people using it.

      1. Just for clarity I don’t support buses all the way. A light rail from the city to the Shore and Albany makes sense. I have seen and riden the Curitiba bus system and it doesn’t seem to have limitless capacity. I believe that Curitiba is now planning light rail. While the Curitiba buses hold 270 people they don’t seem to have the benefits of light rail. Maybe there are things about bus transport that I am not aware of.

        1. That system takes up a hugely wide corridor, that is one disadvantage. Another is one drivers wage per 270 passengers compare that to light rail.

        2. I think it would take an awful long time for the extra operational costs of buses to equate to the extra infrastructure costs of light rail.

    2. Without route prioritisation/protection the entire way. A bus based service on normal road corridors is doomed to fail and end up in a endless trap of congestion.

      Seems that Aucklanders and AT too, will only accept and honour/enforce street level rights of way, when its on rails.

      I guess the “might is right” philosphy comes into play. You can’t expect something on rails to move out of the way, so you won’t stop on the tracks.

      Bus lanes? Not so much protected or prioritised anywhere.

      They’re considered fair game in Auckland for all sorts of reasons, for all sorts of road users to park/stop in – whenever and wherever they choose.

      The argument they make is that they “have” to stop here, and the bus when it comes, can always move around them.

      So yes buses may come a long way in the next 20 years, but we need solutions that work today, tomorrow, and are able to still deliver in 20 years.

      Not sure current bus-based solutions are up to the task, even today.

      1. I think it is mainly businesses who lobby AT for parking etc. they are only happy to give us their parks if it means they get a quality PT corridor that will increase the number of potential sales. I’m not convinced it has to be on rails.

      2. That is simply because we choose not to enforce bus lanes.

        I’ll give a related example. The Danes have so-called Copenhagen lanes for bikes. Commonly cited as a best practice way to build bicycle infrastructure. What nobody seems to realise is that they are not at all ‘protected’. There is only a small kerb, and one of the features is that you can easily mount it on a bicycle.

        So, build one of those in Auckland and it will be equally useless, because of no enforcement. Same goes for footpaths. No enforcement, so often you have parked cars blocking it.

        Put cameras on buses and see what happens.

  4. Would there be any stations/stops between Akoranga & Takapuna in this design? Barely long than 1.5 kms so I guess not.

    If so I wonder if it would be worth it, considering the extra benefits, to have it underground from about Auburn St Reserve (about 1 km length to Akoranga). In fact if it was the whole length, it could be a driverless system making it cheaper to run & unlocking a lot of space above for good land use.

    Underground station at Akoranga so passengers can interchange with a separate surface LRT that would replace the existing busway.

    This could then be expanded in the future in stages via a harbour tunnel all the way to Wynyard then finally to Aotea, all underground.

    1. Grant, I think that you have neatly encapsulated why light rail is not the best option. Two stations 1.5km apart mean that there will be a considerable walk from many parts of the terrace/apartment housing zones. The walk to a station from the lower end of Lomond/Killarney is considerable as it is from towards Esmonde Road.
      While I accept that Takapuna is a busy bus stop (5000 people per day on the last count I saw) that doesn’t seem to suggest a great frequency, even if you triple that. Remember the tripling anticipated for Takapuna is for the whole of the catchment.)
      I am all for great public transport for Takapuna, but not at the expense of elsewhere and tunnels will suck a huge amount of revenue that might be better spent elsewhere. Some of our posters from out west suggest that there might be a good place to start.

      1. Point taken re the expense re underground version but I don’t think that is a considerable walk to quality transit, would be 850m from lower end of Lomond/Killarney. If it was surface level you could have a middle station between Barry’s Point & Fred Thomas & not have that problem at all.

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