Improving access in the Southwest but also including connections all the way up to Botany is one of the key areas our transport agencies are focusing on right now through a programme called the Southwest Gateway. There are already some early works for this with a significant upgrade of Puninui Station already underway and there are other works to come such as priority lanes on SH20B.

These early improvements are due to be completed by 2021 but they are also part of two longer term projects. These are:

  • Airport to Botany Rapid Transit – a busway from the Airport to Botany via Manukau
  • 20 Connect – upgrades of SH20, SH20A and SH20B

A year ago the NZTA and Auckland Transport consulted on these and they’ve finally come back with the results but also more detail on the projects and a new round of consultation along with more detail on the early improvements so let’s look at those. There’s also this new video about the programme.

Early Improvements by 2021

As mentioned, the Puhinui Station upgrade is underway and work on priority lanes along Puhinui Rd and SH20B will start soon. That will enable a bus to run from Manukau to the airport via the Puhinui station on a direct and frequent route, replacing the current 380 service. There is now an indication of what impact that will have on the wider bus network.

  • The Manukau to Airport service will be called the AirportLink using the orange theme of the current 380. They say it will be 10-12 minutes from Puhinui to the Airport.
  • The 380 name will be retained and still run from the airport through to Onehunga but notably not diverting to Mangere Town Centre.
  • A new frequent route, the 36, will run from Onehunga to Manukau via Mangere and Papatoetoe. This looks like it picks up the Manukau to Papatoetoe leg of the current 380, replaces (or duplicates) the Papatoetoe to Mangere leg of the 31 route and adds the connection to Onehunga.

Overall these seem like relatively good changes.

I also like that they’re showing this graphic of travel times and costs to get around. Once the early improvements are up and running this should be advertised, especially at the airport.

To keep those times consistent the priority lanes being looked at also include Puhinui Rd and Lambie Dr. These will only be at peak times though, running 6-10am and 3-7pm on weekdays in both directions. They say they won’t run them 24/7 in part to retain and increase on-street parking raising questions about how serious they really are about prioritising public transport.

There are also improvements to walking and cycling planned including a shared path on Puhinui Rd and a protected cycleway on Lambie Dr.

SH20B will include priority lanes along a shared path and road safety improvements such as median barriers, and speed limit reductions.

Airport to Botany Rapid Transit

After the early improvements in 2021 the plan is to start a staged delivery of a busway to Botany. In the previous consultation it was preferred that the route go via Manukau Station Rd to interchange with the Manukau bus station, as opposed to via Ronwood Ave for a slightly more direct journey. The consultation also asked about whether the busway should go via SH20B or bizarrely detour all the way up Mangere and use SH20A. The only surprise was that only 80% preferred the SH20B option, it should have been even higher.

Not mentioned in the documentation, Puhinui station will be further upgraded with a new bus bridge over the rail line to avoid short diversion via Bridge St but also put bus/train users right at the door to the train station for even easier transfers.

On Ti Irirangi Dr the busway will head up the wide central median and it is expected the travel time from the Airport all the way to Botany will be 36-40 minutes. This would be likely be competitive with driving at peak times. At Botany the busway will connect to the Eastern Busway, the first stage of which from Panmure to Pakuranga is under construction. All up the busway from the airport will be about 18km in length but interestingly the map above suggests the A2B busway could be extended further north.

And here’s what it could look like with it being used by “fast, electric modern vehicles”. The buses shown in the are Vanhool’s ExquiCity buses which can be up to 24m long and are already in use in a number of cities around the world. Particularly on the airport route where some people will have luggage, articulated buses like these will be much better than double deckers. There is also advantages to having more doors per bus.

There is no timeframe given for when the post 2021 works will happen by.

20Connect

The final piece of the Southwest Gateway puzzle is 20Connect which aims to upgrade the state highways. This will include widening SH20 and upgrading SH20B to 4-lane expressway standard with a separate corridor for rapid transit. Two new ‘motorway to motorway’ ramps are planned too with southbound ramps from SH20A and SH20B to SH20. The ramps are described as being needed for:

  • SH20A to SH20 – to get heavy vehicles off local roads (presumably those using Kirkbride/Massey Rd to access the motorway)
  • SH20B to SH20 – to enable the rapid transit buses to run more smoothly through the motorway interchange.

In addition they say walking and cycling facilities will be added to SH20.


The new round of consultation is open until Sunday 8 December and there will be a number of open days between now and then starting with Saturday (see link for details).

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87 comments

        1. It won’t be “good” if it runs at a loss because it can’t attract enough patronage to cover running costs.
          Besides; the busway in the middle could be used as a railway corridor in the future (when there’s enough patronage to justify it).

  1. Potential connections further north? Oh god, don’t tell me they’re actually thinking about connecting up Howick with a loop back to AMETI? That’s starting to sound dangerously like ‘functional transit’ for East Auckland.

    1. I’m a bit disappointed we’ve gone to “potential connections further north”, previous releases on this were more explicit that these would happen in the longer term.

  2. No more additional street parking on Lambie Drive.
    This will be the DHB and some public institutions (funny how its the public institutions being so myopic with parking) wanting more parking for their office workers.

    So the message to AT and the DHB is simple
    Catch transit.

    1. It’s insane to retain/increase on-street parking on Lambie Dr when the entire area is a bleak, unwalkable desert of surface-level carparks.

      1. Is there a current bus route from botany to airport? If so, what is patronage like?
        There are plenty of very well used bus routes in Auckland that could do with this kind of upgrade. Shouldn’t those be at the top of the queue?

  3. It seems to me that there needs to be a frequent bus service from Panmure via Otahuhu Station to the airport. This could incorporate the existing 313 Panmure to Otahuhu Station service and would mean direct access to the airport by public transport for large numbers of people in the south east.
    At the moment there is no direct service from Otahuhu to the airport.

    1. Surely anyone wanting to travel from Panmure to the Airport would catch a train then the new Airport link bus at Puhinui.

      I agree Otahuhu to the Airport is a bit of a gap though.

  4. If the buses are to be articulated I wonder how they will navigate the Manukau bus station. Or will they use the bus shelters on Davis Avenue and never go into the bus station. It sort of looks like that on the diagram. Good to see the new 36 bus to Onehunga via Mangere this will be a speedy trip compared to the 313.

      1. Actually except one the 361 isn’t frequent and another frequent the 35 uses the big bus station building. The current 380 also uses it due to the fact it’s more likely to be people with airport luggage & travelling from further afield etc I guess and perhaps not enough space at the Davies Ave pass through stops for more than 2 service.

  5. The Ti Irirangi Dr busway looks very reminiscent of the “98 B-line” busway running through Richmond in Vancouver that was built in the late ’90s,

    …..Of course its all been ripped up now and replaced by the Canada line Sky train…..

  6. So, how would this actual be funded?

    Also whilst I’m glad to see that we’re going with the SH20B route, does this mean that objection from local Maori groups to the construction of an additional bridge over the creek at the edge of the airport has ended?

      1. Of course it’s required, there’s absolutely no point having priority lanes from the highway to the Pukaki Bridge then dumping buses into general traffic gridlock over the bridge then crawling the last km or so round the terminals.

        It’s be the worst kind of half arsed planning. Needs to be done properly, dedicated bridge and bus lanes all the way round the airport

        1. If there is no point having lanes covering less than the full route, then that instantly renders all Auckland bus lanes pointless (including the Northern Busway).
          Priority lanes for everything except the bridge would be a great improvement compared to the current setup which consists of, IIRC, a few token metres eastbound at 20B/20 intersection. The current bus in general traffic is the half arsed option. Even that was an improvement over the previous situation of no usable service Manukau-Airport (the couldn’t be arsed option)…

        2. They could easily give buses signal priority over existing bridge, saving many millions, while also showing us they actually do mean to deliver modeshift.

        3. If it was ‘a crawl’ over just the bridge … then that’s fine for now. priority on either side of the bridge and as said above, light signals when needed to allow buses ahead of general traffic would be a workable compromise. Then if another bridge is needed in the future it can happen.

      1. We are not supposed to go across two lanes. Mexico clearly doesn’t have that rule.
        Whoever did the picture above clearly didn’t know it will never be marked as a zebra.

        1. In any case, that crossing in Buenos Aires is not a “zebra crossing” in the sense that zebra markings are used in NZ. It’s a signalized crossing.

          On the other hand, that “no zebras across multiple lanes” is either Auckland-specific, or at least something that’s up to the council to decide. Wellington has multi-lane zebras, at least in the vanishingly rare circumstances that they allow zebras at all. So if AT decided they did want a giant zebra crossing this time they’d be free to do so.

        2. @ Miffy
          “Whoever did the picture above clearly didn’t know it will never be marked as a zebra”
          A mistake, IMO. Look closely, its got lights too. Reckon they found out after doing the stills renders & before doing the video. 2:10 in the video shows the same scene, but no zebra just usual NZ road markings for traffic light controlled intersection.

          @Stephen
          There’s a great (I mean terrible) example in Porirua in a 70 km/h area close to a double lane roundabout.

        3. Stephen one of my first jobs 30 years ago was ripping out non-complying multi-lane zebras after the TR11 standard came in. Zebras were only allowed across one lane due to all the people getting maimed on multilane crossings. One car stops for the pedestrian and obscures the view of the other driver who keeps going. My projects were to reduce roads from 4 lanes to 2 at zebra crossings. Someone else put crossing signals on the roads that stayed 4 lanes, and there was a hell of an argument about sites where the road stayed 4 lanes and the zebra was removed but no signals went in. Some claimed it was safer to have no crossing than an unsafe one. I claimed we should put crossing signals anywhere the road was 4 lanes and had a zebra crossing previously. I lost.
          Any multi-lane crossings that are still zebras are because nobody knows better or where they are wilfully stupid.

      1. And I was amongst those who strongly disagreed with those “right thinking commenters” back in 2007.
        There’s a big difference here. The northern Busway was both meeting an existing demand and providing an enormous improvement installing some form of mass transit where none previously existed.
        Who really wants to take a bus between Auckland airport and Puhinui staion and/or East Tamaki?!

        1. a) people going to the airport from anywhere on the southern or eastern lines, or any of the buses routes that converge at Manukau or Botany.
          b) People who live in Botany, East Tamaki, Ormiston, Flat Bush, Manukau or Puhinui.

        2. If you look at the census journey to work data a significant number of workers in the airport area travel from this area so there is definitely demand. It also doesn’t have mass transit at the moment so it meets both of your criteria.

          However, I agree it probably won’t reach the numbers of the Northern busway as it doesn’t have the population of the North Shore or an anchor as big as the CBD at one end.

        3. I just can’t believe there are that many people willing to take a bus along that route to begin with let alone over a taxi, hire car, someone picking them up in a car, etc.
          Take a bus to Puhinui station to then catch a train? No thank you.

        4. Clearly a comment from someone who doesn’t know the area or hasn’t been there lately or used the 380. Of course there is demand.

    1. Daniel , over the years that I have gone overseas (8) , I have only been taken to the Airport twice by private car , twice with a taxi shuttle and the rest (12) by bus as I found this was a cheaper and easier means of getting there and the next time it will be even cheaper with this new set up .

  7. This design is atrocious. South Auckland gets constantly lumped with dangerous road design. Council are going to have to pull their heads out of the sand and finally demand the shake up at AT required. How can this get through AT’s processes? Where’s the Safety Team? Whoever signed off on ripping lines of trees out in order to fit four lanes and a shared path needs to have their head checked:

    https://www.google.com/maps/@-36.9906836,174.8510118,3a,75y,277.98h,102.04t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sF8q7NMy0CuehaxAsIGlteA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    This is not a design for Healthy Streets, for Vision Zero or for a Low-Carbon transport network. This is a design for car dominance and people be damned.

        1. If you only knew what exotics I’d been fighting to protect recently! (Including nearly contacting you for advice!)

          As you’ve said before, exotics are fine in the streetscapes, and we need to find places for natives where there can be enough space for the supporting plants. Maunga come to mind.

          I dunno what these are from streetview. Do you know?

        2. No I genuinely can’t tell from the image. I have read more about the Maunga and come to the view that since governance was given as a treaty settlement then I should shut up about it as it is their business and not mine. The point of governance is it is their choice and their right to denude all the hills if they want. Mrs mfwic’s ancester bought a large chunk of One Tree Hill off a chief. He ran sheep on it until Logan-Campbell swapped it for better land in Penrose. That hill at least was bought not stolen.

      1. hang on, on Puhunui Rd are they pulling out cycle lanes to fit in parking and forcing people on bikes to cycle on the footpath (but calling it a shared path?
        How is that better for people on bikes and people walking?

    1. The twin row of palms on Te irirangi drive was always temporary and the centre island was always designated for rapid transit. (light rail at the time I recall). Much was made of this when it first opened. I am hopeful they will sell the palms rather than simply rip them up and dump them. I wonder if the lack of consistency in design safety is caused by not using the same teams for all of the designs. The corporate memory never gets time to develop.

      1. Yes, those ones aren’t so much what I’m worried about. The dehumanising of the residential Puhinui Rd is more my concern.

        What’s the tidal flow of traffic like here? Is this a good place for a dynamic lane in order to keep the number of lanes on Puhinui to three and therefore not have to remove the trees?

    2. Pray tell how the existing residents will be able to leave their properties and go to their workplaces and so forth if they don’t have a way to leave. Every trip can’t be done by electric bus or LRT. AT needs to retrofit a transit option into the existing road space. Granted their parking space increases are a pretty stupid idea and they should just keep the bus lanes in permanent use (That way when the transit option is upgraded there is no issues about providing new parking options then taking them away). To not provide a space for the public transit option means AT would provide an useless service and entrenching a Low Carbon transport network.

      So the alternatives are Provide for Private and Public transport (2 dedicated lanes each way) plus the Shared path which may result in the loss of a few trees which could be mitigated by planting more trees in the surrounding side streets or in the adjacent properties, Force Public and Private transport into the same lanes which is what we have now which helps entrench High Carbon transport, Transform the route into a Public Transport only route and who cares about how the existing residents can travel outside Public transport hours and area of operations or Create a new corridor for the Public transport with the associated destruction of property and environment.

      The design while not perfect does more to help with the transport of people creating the option for enhanced Low Carbon transport than keeping things as they are. The loss of trees needs to be mitigated to help with Healthy streets. The providing of enhanced Public Transport options will go a long way towards Vision Zero and helps towards a low Carbon transport network. It isn’t perfect but it is a vast improvement and a worthy first step towards a Low Carbon Transport network.

      1. I never said anything about removing the ability of residents to leave their properties, and don’t think that’s an option.

        The problem is bigger than just here. There’s a full-blown failure to recognise that the problem we have of limited road corridor width can’t be fixed by trying to squeeze everything in.

        There’ll be different solutions in different locations. And this is not it.

    3. Looks like some sort of competition between these people and the Lincoln rd team to come up with the widest road possible. Meanwhile AT still claims they can stuff light rail down a 20.1m road reserve of Dominion Road.

  8. 10-12 mins from Puhinui to the airport is not bad considering currently the 380 service is timetabled at 15 mins from Wylie Rd to the international terminal. Looks like they are indicatively showing a straighter bus route at the terminal end.

    1. I wonder how many bus stops there will be for local passengers or will it run express on Lambie drive and Puhinui road. Also inside the airport itself for workers with destinations other than the terminal. That would slow things down a bit.

  9. Ben Ross will be happy with this. The rest of Auckland won’t. 25 minutes to reach Manukau? Really? 3rd world rapid transit.

    1. Yeah, that baffled me, it’s basically 13 mins from Puhinui to Manukau. I assume they have to allow time for the bus to circle in and out of Puhinui station but it still seems very slow.

      1. Jezza it says they are going to put a bridge over the rail line so passengers can either board or get of the buses on the top floor of the station , instead of going up then down to board the airport buses .

        1. Those times are for when the new station at Puhinui opens along with the bus lanes in 2021. The bridge over the line is not part of this project and is a future proposal.

    2. A branch off the NIMT to Airport would do nothing to shorten trip times from Manukau or Botany, however. This plan means this route to the growing east (where many airport staff already live) will eventually become rapid.

    3. I’ve just looked at the video again and the graphic they show at this point: https://youtu.be/vkvefDjBdrc?t=106 shows a different time which seems more correct than the graphic in this post as 7-8 mins from Puhinui Station to Manukau Station. I suspect that static graphic is an error or perhaps means Manukau Central wherever that is so includes a 5min walk.

  10. This looks like a really good progress. The network is starting to actually appear out of all those lines. The westie in me feels very envious about this whole thing.

  11. Of course 20% of people consulted wanted to go via Mangere. That’s where they live and work. They are commuters who want the bus to take them to/from their destinations. They don’t want to go via the airport which may take longer.

      1. I would think that the sports stadium is the “cathedral of our time”. Albeit; not so well frequented in the past two decades…

  12. I think it’s good how they have combined the existing 380 & 31 into that other cross service. Best you could do probably with crazy car centric arc road layout around there. So easy to get confused until you know it better.

    1. 380 will no longer divert to mangere town centre? Half the passengers transfer there to other buses (me included). Or will the 32 bus route be extended to airport via westney rd?

  13. Hang on. Proposed bus lanes along Lambie Dr end at Cavendish Dr I see in the details plans. How is that going to work or is there some further along already towards & from the station or are they not necessary there?

  14. A shame that the A2B public transport project is being incorporated into a motorway widening project also … Hopefully the SH20 and 20B widening parts are much much later down the pipeline …

    1. I think we’ll be seeing more of this. If you can package a road widening project up into a bundle with some public transport, the business case looks better and as a whole, seems to meet the goals of the GPS. Whereas if they’re kept separate…

  15. 10-12 minutes from Puhinui to the airport seems really slow. It’s only 7km, so that’s an average speed of 35-42 kph. I would have thought with the priority lanes it should be running at 80kph in the segment outside of suburbia in the western half.
    And the time taken to get from Puhinui to Manukau is a bit bizarre. If you transferred to the train, it would be 3 minutes running time from Puhinui Station to Manukau Station. Why does this think it will take 13 minutes to do that trip?

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