Auckland’s transport history is littered with mistakes and missed opportunities and one of the biggest in recent times was that after spending around a decade and hundreds of millions of dollars widening the Northwestern motorway, a busway, or any other form of rapid transit, was not included or even future proofed for. There are a variety of reasons for this, which I won’t go in to in this post, but even before the widening had started it was patently obvious that full a full rapid transit route was needed.

In 2012, now Transport Minister Phil Twyford was quoted as saying:

“My view is that we are going to need a full-service busway there within a decade,” he said.

Instead of a busway as initially envisioned, the government promised to instead build the route as light rail but with that (or now light metro) initially focused on getting to the airport, that’s left the northwest in limbo despite being one of the areas most in need of rapid transit. Finally plans are back underway to do something about that.

Tomorrow the Auckland Transport board are being asked to make a decision on the “North West Rapid Transit Corridor Indicative Business Case” (IBC). The IBC was completed a couple of years ago and it recommended a staged approach to building a busway along SH16 but it was never endorsed by the board due to the subsequent light rail discussion. The key reason for looking at light rail for the corridor was because the IBC only assessed up to the edge of the city centre, effectively assuming there were no capacity constraints within the city.

But even though light rail is the longer term goal, we should be looking to how we can get bus improvements in place in the interim and could be upgraded in the future if/when light rail happens. As I understand it, endorsing the IBC is about moving the process along to do just that. The plans were described as a ‘pop-up’ busway a few weeks ago.

A “pop-up” busway is being considered for Auckland’s northwestern motorway, where improving bus priority has been one of the city’s slowest-moving projects.

NZTA’s board is expected later this month to consider a “quickie” plan to turn unconnected sections of motorway shoulder bus lane into a continuous priority lane.

The idea is to boost the attractiveness of bus services on a route where a proposed light rail line could still be decades away, but where rapid growth is underway.

“We are committed to rapid transit out west, and while we work through our plans for light rail, we are looking at how we can improve public transport and ease congestion,” said Phil Twyford, the Minister of Transport.

Twyford said the proposal included new interchanges – understood to be at Te Atatū and Westgate – where other bus routes intersect but don’t connect with those on the motorway.

Building a couple of stations and using bus shoulders along the motorway is the same process that took place on the North Shore before the Northern Busway was built. In that case, initially just the Albany and Constellation Dr stations were built, opening at the end of 2005 and helped to start building usage. The busway south of Constellation Dr didn’t open till February 2008 and by that time those buses were carrying about 750k trips annually which would be better than many bus routes even today – today the busway is carrying 7.9m trips annually, more than any of the individual rail lines.

There have been a few changes to how the busway is reported over the years but regardless, there has been huge growth in usage

It’s good that something is being done but the devil will be in the details of just what’s proposed. For example, in the case of the Northern busway the full Albany and Constellation stations were built but there have been some the plans for Northwest could just be some very basic temporary stations. The IBC’s first step was to also build the busway itself between Te Atatu and Lincoln Rd. As to the stations themselves, those two do make the most sense as are where there are potential routes to connect to.

Back when the New Network was originally being consulted, AT showed this high-level view on what difference a busway would make to the design of the network.

At the time AT planned on building a station at Te Atatu on land left over from the motorway widening, perhaps not unlike what could be proposed. But that plan was strongly opposed by some residents and AT gave up on the idea and there are now houses being built on it.

The big advantage of buses is they make it cheaper/easier to stagably develop infrastructure. We’re currently seeing that same thinking in place with the Airport to Botany route with the early package of works being the Puhinui station upgrade and initial bus priority along SH20B, Puhinui Rd and Cavendish Dr. It also begs the question of if we should be doing something similar on the SH18 corridor too.

Seeing as these things seem to progress faster if you put them in a programme of work with an important sounding title, perhaps we could call it the Northwestern Gateway.

SH18 is increasingly congested which results in local roads clogging up too, making buses on them even slower
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  1. The unfortunate part about Te Atatu to Lincoln Rd Busway will be the cycleway almost certainly being torn up and more houses removed. Much of this could have been solved 10 years ago and these comments were made to NZTA staff in CLG meetings prior to NW motorway upgrade.

  2. The photo has only 34 cars forming the traffic jam. Those people could easily fit in one bus. Why isn’t the left lane a bus lane for three mini buses serving a diversity of destinations, leaving the few not catered for with the other lane? That would be a cheap, fast and efficient solution to congested multi-lane roads throughout the country.

    1. What’s your plan John? The photo shows SH18. Are you proposing people park at Westgate, get in a mini-bus to ride along your left lane bus-lane and then get of and if they were not going to your diversity of three destinations perhaps they could all start walking sideways and chanting in unison “What are we going to do now?” like Spike Milligan.

      1. No miffy, I think John may be suggesting that the whole car-based transport system that we have become overly dependent-on and have allowed excessively to shape the way we live and move, is actually incredibly inefficient and needs a total re-think starting 20 years ago.

  3. As always in Auckland, this is the barest of bare minimum, the most base choice that is proposed, and if this pie in the sky proposal ever happens I am going to take a well-educated guess that this will be the high tide mark for alternatives to private cars for a large chunk of West Auckland.

    And “proposal” is a keyword here as this is a Phil Twyford announcement, a man infamous for promising Light rail to Huapai, now due in less than 8 years, Light Rail to Mt Roskill from Wynyard, due to open in 2021, walk, bike, pogo stick, take your pet monkey for a run over the Harbour Bridge even sooner and 100,000 homes in 10 years.

    All these promises were, of course, were a fictional as little green men from Mars who live in Phil’s garden shed! So what’s the chances now??

    1. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to see that this ‘interim solution’ will be all the North West gets. The Greens, who were prepared to bring down the Govt over a tunnel in Wellington, have said zip.

      1. It concerns me how quiet the Greens have been on transport since Russell Norman left. Climate-change, water-quality and child-poverty seem to be the limit of their advocacy now. The “tunnel-tactic” in Wellington was Julie Anne Genter, as Associate Minister of Transport, standing up for the principles of the current Government Policy Statement on Transport. Her stance can hardly be equated with ‘bringing down the government’. Just not kow-towing to the roads-lobby as so many Ministers of Transport before have done.
        I fear that without Ms Genter the Greens would by now have lost all interest in transport.

        1. Her interest in transport is about limited to bikes.
          I wrote to her about the 3rd main (or even 4th) and she wasn’t interested in it. The Green Party are a bunch of hypocrites only interested in their socialist manifesto and pushing for legalised weed.

  4. What’s worse in this case is Phil Twyford supposedly represents Te Atatu.
    He was elected as THE Te Atatu MP and as such his primary reason for being in parliament is to act for these interests, he is not a list MP elected primarily to represent all.

    With the above being the case and his access to transport staff there should be full information in public realm of what is going on with North West metro or at least as much mention as the metro to airport.

    As it stands he may do more for Te Atatu if was no longer the local MP.

        1. It took a Christian MP (William Wilberforce) to persuade parliament to abolish slavery in 1833. Religion in politics has its uses.

    1. The list of MPs for Te Atatu is Phil Twyford, Chris Carter, Brian Neeson and Michael Bassett. Honestly Te Atatu doesn’t deserve a vote if that is how they treat the privilege. They are as bad as those people in Epsom.

      1. Nope, Phil is the constituent MP but as of 2017 he was not holding a reassuring lead, in fact, I would suggest it was bordering on marginal. And that was in a climate of voters looking to change the government at the time.

        As I have said previously, I cannot help but wonder if Phil has finally woken up to the fact his non-delivery on absolutely everything he promised and the farce that is his electorates transport options may cost him his well-paid job!

        The nagging thought I have though is even as obvious as his predicament may be, he probably doesn’t see the writing on the wall and this proposal is someone else’s doing.

  5. If the land at Te Atatu is having houses built on it, is the bus interchange going in the field to the north east?

  6. Take the $10 billion or whatever the government will end up spending on a privatised airport super rail, and instead spend it on 50 x $200 million bus projects like this. Run some electric articulated buses and Auckland could have world class PT to almost everywhere almost overnight.

    1. How about we as a city and nation stop pissing about with band-aids and get on with it? It is fairly common knowledge that this country’s “growth” has by and large been on the back of immigration and population growth and there has been very very little spent on proper infrastructure to cope with it. And mate, arent the consequences of this on getting around Auckland debilitating?

      Any PT solutions using a bus are doomed because they are slow, small, prehistoric vehicles, reliant on a huge amount of poorly paid and poorly treated drivers who are getting harder to come by, that are good for short runs in suburbs linking genuine rapid mass moving PT and that is about it. They are, unfortunately, and because of our insincere attempts to provide PT, the mainstay of Auckland’s PT and that is the reason most people take the car.

      This proposal has to happen because our leaders don’t give a shit and prefer cars anyway and we have reached this point of critical mass in 2019 because the current Transport Minister is useless. But what makes me worry about this is our cheapskate leaders will think “job done” and poor bloody West Aucklanders will get shafted, yet again!

      1. “Any PT solutions using a bus are doomed because they are slow, small, prehistoric vehicles”

        That’s OK because we’re mostly slow, small prehistoric thinkers.

        I love the bus.

        1. “I love the bus.”
          I don’t. It’s the one form of PT that I generally don’t enjoy (if we exclude airliners).
          But it’s a lot easier to tolerate if it’s moving most of the time at a good speed and not having to stop or slow down all the time.

        2. Daniel Eyre – It you don’t like travel on a bus than what do you like traveling on besides a fossil fuel polluting car?.

        3. To answer your question Kris (with hope of no long tangent):
          I love travelling on ferries and I generally like travelling on trains of all description,funicula’s/cable-cars and trams.

          Is there another form of PT I’ve missed?

          Oh and I don’t always like travelling in automobiles (that aren’t buses),. E.g. vans are generally unpleasant.

      2. “Any PT solutions using a bus are doomed because they are slow, small, prehistoric vehicles, reliant on a huge amount of poorly paid and poorly treated drivers who are getting harder to come by, that are good for short runs in suburbs linking genuine rapid mass moving PT and that is about it.”
        So how do you explain the success of not only many busways around the world (the one already in Auckland a good example) but many regular urban bus systems like in Paris, Berlin, Edinburgh, London, etc?

        If any bus service is convenient to enough people; it will be a success. And giving Bus services dedicated lanes increases their convenience.

        1. Sure thing a busway would be great, but what’s proposed here shaves off a few minutes at best (only along some stretches of NW motorway) and nowhere else. It still takes 30minutes from Pt Chev to the city using existing bus lanes (which by the way are not continuous either, it can take 15 minutes to get through Wester Springs west-bound on a bus on a bad day).
          This is a desperate smoke screen.

        2. A Te Atatu interchange in itself would make a huge difference for those near there to travel to Westgate day. Try doing that now via bus.

        3. There are two way – one transfer in Pt Chev and the other via Henderson. Both take in excess of 1h off-peak and not really doable during peak.
          The only saving grace is that the cycleway to Westgate is going to open soon.

        4. Don’t forget this is exactly how the Northern Busway started, it ran for a few years as only two stations and some motorway shoulders.

        5. It’s much easier getting to Te Atatu peninsula by bus from Point Chevalier (using the 132) than it is from Massey. From Massey it requires a massive meander through Henderson using the 14 and then a 131. The 131 travels along the heavily congested Te Atatu Road and is extremely unreliable.

        1. More of actual improvement could be achieved if AT simply reallocated some space to dedicated bus lanes along Te Atatū or Lincoln Rd. Much cheaper and also could be used once a proper rapid transit is build along NW.

        2. The North Shore is rapidly approaching capacity on the bus way and no one has a solution yet. Can you point to any example of infrastructure actually being upgraded from the stop-gap measure when it’s actually needed? Why should we believe this will end up being any different?

        3. Pshem, agree. Indeed, all these corridors need a consistent plan. Te Atatu Rd is also a key route to connect with the NW cycleway and is completely unsafe for kids to cycle on without fully protected cycling.

          With the space available, and all the modes needing accommodation, we’re going to have to think out of the box. In short, we need to bite the bullet to provide both bus amenity and safe cycling, and plan on a massive traffic reduction.

          Piecemeal thinking stuck in last century planning isn’t going to solve anything.

        4. This is how that kind of tack on bus lane system worked on the North Shore pre the separated bus way;

          Buses travel slowly with caution because they were using the break down strips

          Merge with the main traffic lanes at every on and off ramp for the obvious safety reasons the merging and exiting vehicles are not expecting a vehicle to cut across the ramp

          Find the bus lane is blocked by break downs, because that’s the real point of those lanes, or crashed vehicles so they have to pull out into the main lanes, somehow

          Fall victim to road works

          And do not forget, this will take years because NZTA are doing it, think Lincoln to Royal Road, Papakura to Manurewa type glacial building pace. Meanwhile they could have just got on with light rail.

          This is why “Think Cheap” is a stupid idea, waste of time and resources and precisely why this is all West Auckland will ever get because the cost will have to be justified somehow!

        5. Waspman – weren’t NZTA tasked with NW light rail? Why do you think they would have ‘just got on with light rail’ but have been glacially slow with bus lane improvements?

          I agree bus lane improvements are inferior but they are a vital first step. Even under a very optimistic scenario LR to Westgate would still be nine years away, something in the interim would be needed.

        6. Jezza, totally unsure what you’re on about but NZTA have been tasked to look at doing the tack on bus lanes. And to reword this more simple like, NZTA’s track record of doing anything is soooooo slow, by the time the tack ons are built, the LR project might as well have been started.

          In fact, tacking on bus lanes, done at NZTA speed or lack thereof will only delay LR even more.

          Hence my comment.

        7. My point was that NZTA were also tasked with LR. If they are glacially slow with bus lanes then they are likely to be even more glacially slow with LR given it is a much bigger project.

          Your claim that NZTA would have started LR by the time the bus lanes were finished just doesn’t stack up.

          Hence my comment.

        8. Because as you rightfully point out NZTA is a glacially slow organisation. They would unlikely even have any design work or consenting work underway let alone any construction started by the time the interim bus lanes would be in place, even if that process itself is glacially slow.

      3. Unless you live somewhere near one of our poorly positioned rail lines then a bus is your only option. It isn’t just West Aucklanders being shafted onto a bus; its the entire North Shore, the central isthmus, the south east, the south west, etc. The light rail projects are going to cost too much and take too long. By the time they are finished buses will have caught up and be almost as good.

        1. Any new rail project in Auckland is going to cost a lot of money but it’s essential, long overdue infrastructure. In the long run it will be cheaper than pissing away money on half assed bus based projects.

        2. Is it short sighted or just the reality of having a small population and sprawl? How many people live in walking distance of the proposed north west light rail? How many multi billion rail projects will the NZ taxpayer support building in Auckland?

        3. How many people wil live in walking distance of the proposed north west light rail in 20 years time? In 50 years, in 75 years? That’s the true myopia which has plagued Auckland since ww2. Yes, these projects have a big price tag but it looks a whole lot less scary when spread over decades. And that’s not even considering the carbon impact of continuing with the current single occupant vehicle model with a bus band aid stuck on it to give the impression of change when it’s actually BAU.

        4. Jimbo Jones, the cost of high-quality public transport, be it busway or rail, is in acquiring and building the segregated corridor for it to run in. The actual mode – rail or bus – is less of a cost-factor (except that crippling safety-standards are demanded of rail while nothing similar applies to buses). Rail vehicles are a lot more expensive but they generally out-last buses by a factor of 4 or 5. Buses are cheap only if you don’t have to provide a dedicated corridor for them, but without this the service is likely to be not just cheap but nasty too.

  7. People say how Auckland’s trains should’ve been electrified “a long time ago” or that the CRL “should have been built already”; but I think that this North-Western Busway is one project that’s REALLY long overdue.
    Because the fact is that areas in the North-west of Auckland like Te Atatu and Massey have laughable access to public transport beyond the recent Hobsonville ferry. And these suburban areas were only developed due to the North-Western Motorway, to begin with. Life out there revolves around your automobile, even cycling anywhere is a mission. And I think that over time it will be as much of a success as the Northern Busway.

    And I hope that even after it’s implemented; that long term projects to gradually make it completely grade-separated from the motorway are continually funded and built. I think that this project joins the third main as a project which should really take top priority. Certainly before any thinking of other projects such as (as an example) the grade separation of the western line.

        1. Daniel, that is exactly the attitude AT want from Aucklanders. They get away with murder, we don’t expect anything better or complain and keep on taking our cars.

          Trouble is with AT’s pathetic offerings is they get an awful lot of public money including fuel taxes, so it’s time they stepped up. Hobsonville is a fully certified intensely populated suburb that is trapped without even a hint of decent alternatives to cars. That is unacceptable!

        2. Waspy is completely right in this aspect, as Aucklanders we throw the ‘better than nothing’ comment for everything (massive blank walls in CBD etc), not just transport. To have one of the biggest pre-planned suburbs in the history of New Zealand only connect to its main centre through a limited service Ferry is a joke and when our response is to be thankful for the scraps AT hand out means all we will ever get is more scraps and bandaids 🙂

  8. We all know this will, due to various penny pinching and NIMBYism lobbying, end up being unable to be upgraded to Light Rail even though the buses will still be stuck in the same traffic on the side streets (West Harbour, Don Buck, etc). I believe the same thing happened to AMETI extremely late in the piece, so this project will need to be watched like a hawk to ensure the same doesn’t happen again.

    Unfortunately the alternative is literally nothing, which has been the politically acceptable solution to date. Unsurprising when the Government’s main interference runners consider West Auckland to end at Pt Chev and anything beyond that to be not worth holding people to account over.

  9. I remain pessimistic about the outcome here. This has been talked about for a long time now and yet nothing happened.
    In the meantime – it can take 40mins to get to the city from Te Atatū Peninsula (village) at 8.45am now. A few years back (let’s say 3) one could get a free run from 8.45am onwards. The same in the afternoon, even when leaving city at 4.20pm one could get almost a free run, now the time is more like 3.20pm (and even then it starts to build up past Waterview). So the situation is definitely deteriorating.

    But we’re still talking about 40mins. That’s how long it takes for 132 to get from Te Atatū to the city in the middle of the day on Saturday, i.e. with hardly any traffic and minimal passenger loadings. A trip from Pt Chev shops during normal working day is scheduled to take about 30-35 minutes (using bus lanes along Great North Rd).
    So the bus will always remain much slower. That in itself is not a problem, as long as the service is reliable, but again – having even fantastic bus priority along NW is not going to solve this. There’s no bus priority along Te Atatū Rd neither from the Peninsula nor South side, and that road is extremely congested during peak (particularly on the Te Atatū South side). So it can take 15 minutes to cover the last 1.5km before the motorway. Currently AT allows for 12 minutes during peak between Te Atatū Rd and Pt Chev shops (and generally the bus can make it in about 15 perhaps 20mins when it’s really bad) If we end up with a setup that requires a transfer – even with a good frequency that’s always going to add a few minutes too.

    So overall – I struggle to see how this is going to be attractive to many. Perhaps from Westgate perspective, if we get continuous bus lanes that will help to improve things more. But the real issue is that even with a lot of improvements we’re still talking about 50-55 mins to cover about 15km. That’s not rapid. That’s pathetic.

    NW doesn’t need another stop-gap-measure – it needs a proper solution.

  10. I choose to be positive about this, and to hope that the Board will indeed endorse the plan. I’m sure there are enough board members who can see the need to do something urgently, and that if it can involve staged improvements to a better end goal, that it’s a clear winner.

    1. Anything is better than nothing. But on its own it makes hardly any difference. People will still have to be able to get to/from those bus stations. And AT have proven beyond any reasonable doubt when they ‘upgraded’ Te Atatū Rd that car is the only mode of transport for NW.

    2. Heidi the problem is that transport is run by political appointees, most of whom wouldn’t know a good idea if it kicked them in the arse. If we had directly elected people in positions of authority they would be facing the reality of re-election.
      Instead decisions are made by people who thought Lime scooters made sense and at the national level we have the NZTA who thought Connected Journeys was a good use of taxes.

      1. You really think that having directly-elected people to these positions will be the panacea? Remember the uncoordinated mess that Auckland’s transport was back in pre-super city days, when politicians made all the decisions? I seriously prefer the current situation, where politicians make the strategic and funding decisions and then AT gets on and implements them. Besides, the decisions that we’re waiting on right now ARE in the laps of elected people.

        We have short memories when it comes to transport decision making – and also forget just how much has changed things in the last nine years compared to how things were. Really!

        1. The whole light rail side show was started by AT who blindsided Auckland Council. It was then derailed by AT who decided it would extend to the airport.
          Fair enough, you prefer having things done by an unelected and unaccountable bunch of managers who answer to a lame board of appointees. But if you look at lengths of buslane or cyclelanes or km of rapid transit or road improvements or new stations you will see it has all slowed down since AT got involved.

        2. “Fair enough, you prefer having things done by an unelected and unaccountable bunch of managers who answer to a lame board of appointees.”

          Unaccountable how?
          Ultimately they’re employed by those elected officials.

        3. As I get older I get more cynical. It appears there is upward mobility of the money, away from the calloused hands of the doers towards the suits of the professional manipulators.
          Now it appears in any project the real money is to be made by financing, conning governments and councils to forgo their available current low interest financing, towards much more expensive defered financing, with the costs to be other peoples problem much later.
          The next biggest money making is consulting, advocating for providing a report to anybody prepaed to pay, on everything, every available option. For the actual decicion makers after s loads of money has been spent with lots of reports, advocating multitude of options, what remains is still just basically political, rather then an engineering or social decisions.
          What is left over, is so little the actual builders have so little money to get the job done they have to employ subcontracted labour under exploited conditions to have any chance of returning a profit.
          Financiers flourish, consultants get by, and actual constructors are struggling. And the Government and Councils are rendered inefficient by having to be so totally focussed on protecting their backsides.
          I am concerned that the fashion of outsourcing of so much specialist expertise in Government and Councils has not gone too far. I am concerned that both the Government and Councils no longer have sufficient inhouse expertise to define the expertise they need to purchase, or evaluate the value of their purchases. There just seems to be too many lucrative ticket clippers and responsibility shirkers in today’s arrangements.

        4. “Unaccountable how?” Because nobody holds them to account ever. The whole point of having an independent board for AT was to reduce the ability of politicians to influence what gets done. The model was a copy of the Watercare and NZTA models and was promoted by you guessed it, the CEOs of Watercare and NZTA. The boards of those organistations exist much like school boards, to rubber stamp whatever the management wants. The only reason they are there at all is so that in the case of a public outcry over inept management the Minister has a board they can sack to try and deflect blame.

    3. I have to agree with Heidi’s attitude on this one.
      I’m glad at least she’s being positive here. Honestly: I’m trying not to get annoyed at the general negativity on here towards at least any improvement in PT for the NW (that isn’t near the train line).

      Yeah it’s not a fancy light rail line. But it’s at least something and an actual start. Who knows what it might be a catalyst for?

    4. +1, we could get some sort of bus stops in 6 months. An undesigned unconsted light rail line or busway is 6 years away. Using bus stops for 5.5 years seems a lot better than the current layout.

    5. We seem to have once again got to a situation of not doing things now because we are planning on a major project sometime in the future.
      We need to keep doing little things, that add up to a big thing.
      We should be much more aggressive in extending bus lanes, and extending their operational hours. Sure buses aren’t the most comfortable but nothing else will ever have their reach out into the suburbs.
      So let’s get that continuous bus lane on the NW motorway, ASAP, and provide more bus priority once off the motorway at both ends.
      But at the same time we must continue planning for, both the design and funding for post bus solutions for the NW, Central Isthmus, and CBD to and along the Northern Busway. But we must not just stop doing bus improvements along those routes, because eventually, buses will be inadequate.

  11. Finally a dose of realism. $6B dollar for light rail is madness (and will hopefully never happen) but a bus lane to the Northwest which can be built in 5 years and continually expanded (like the northern busway) makes complete sense for many reasons, not least of which is that a solution is required fast. Furthermore it will probably cost less than $500M (total guess) which leaves a lot more money for other initiatives like an electric bus fleet (you can buy 200 of them for about $150M) and maybe even light running the length of Queen Street.

    Really hope this happens.

  12. Northern Busway is already bursting at the seams and the upgrade process will be messy (which means expensive) . Why waste time and money and build a half-baked solution? Burning money on infrastructure that has to be replaced within a few years is madness. Why not build quality that will last (and scales well beyond currently forecasted demand)?

    1. The Northern busway has had more than a decade’s worth of usage for under $300 million in expenditure, with grade separated construction that will cut costs for the eventual upgrade to light rail or light metro. It’s ridership has outstripped what was forecast. It’s been an outstanding success story.

      And you’ve got a negative opinion of it?

      1. If you only count money – what about lost opportunity? A half-baked measures are likely to last a very long time. Why not learn from the experience of the Northern busway. When the idea surfaced it was ridiculed as a white elephant. Now we know that quality attracts ridership at much greater numbers than estimated.

        1. If it was ridiculed as a “white elephant” back in 2008…
          …then this as the very best measure that was possible tog et funding for!

          Honest question: What are you even complaining about?

        2. Money is opportunity. A dollar you spend here is a dollar you can’t spend somewhere else.

          The northern busway is a perfect example. The first stage opened with just two interchange stations and some bus shoulder lanes. That cost about $40m.

          The second stage opened three years later, with the complete busway between Constellation and Akoranga, and shoulder lanes on the rest. It cost a further $250m.

          Then over the next ten years there was a range of park and ride expansions, new high capacity buses, and new station at Hibiscus coast. Those all add up to about $100m of investment.

          Then the next stage is only just underway, extending the busway proper from Constellation to Albany, and adding a new station. That package is another $400m, to be open 17 years after stage 1.

          Do you think they would have even built the first stage if they were required to fund the whole thing up front and almost two decades early, at four times the cost? I certainly wouldn’t call the busway half baked at any point, it moves tens of thousands of people a day.

        3. I’m complaining here about is that this is going to be half-best and everyone knows that. Fixing those ‘little’ issue later takes forever but still impacts the service big time. How long it took to get bus priority across the CBD for the Northern Busway buses. It’s still not there for NX2.

        4. Start on the Light rail now. Deploy some tactical solutions for now (bus priority on Te Atatū Rd, Lincoln, Triangle etc, continuous bus shoulders on SH16) – reuse existing road space everywhere where possible. Start planning LR now, put it into legislation, contracts etc.

          I understand it takes time to build things like that, but what we need is a decision that’s the strategic solution, not a patchwork of half-baked options, because once the focus is on something else – NW is not getting another upgrade for another 2 decades at least.

        5. How much do you imagine building the light rail from scratch would cost? $1 Billion? $2 Billion?
          Where’s the money to pay that loan off and cover operating costs going to come from over the decade or so it takes for this light rail’s patronage and thus farebox recovery to become enough to even cover operating costs?

        6. Sorry I’m scrolling up and some people are quoting $6 billion for a cost of light rail. That would make it one of the most expensive infrastructure projects in the history of NZ.

          And for all we know; the busway, when finished, may be perfectly fine for the North West of Auckland.

        7. That 6bil includes the LR to Mangere/Airport not just the NW part.

          A busway might be good enough. I agree. But for now the plan is for a ‘pop-up’ busway and I’m seriously worried that once the immediate need is addressed it will lose focus for years to come.

        8. Okay that’s a fair enough concern; that it might get neglected.
          But this does seem like pessimism given that the Northern Busway has been continuously improved since its opening.

        9. “ Deploy some tactical solutions for now (bus priority on Te Atatū Rd, Lincoln, Triangle etc, continuous bus shoulders on SH16) –”
          This plus two interchanges is exactly what they are proposing, two stations they need to build anyway.

        10. As far as I can see – nothing is actually confirmed. Neither scope nor timeframes. And that’s why I’m worried. Things were planned in the past too, yet nothing happened.

    2. Realistically if they go for the full on LRT from the get go we will be bouncing around the political sphere where, how, who, what funds it for another 10 years with no spades in the ground. With also the risk of a change of government putting things on hold etc. I think this initial step will give us a stepping stone to prove it’s demand etc.

      Same as the Puhinui Station upgrade, it’s getting built right now while we dither and contemplate what other mass transit if any goes to through the airport.

      Really we need the city end LRT done for the NW to connect into anyway.

      1. The other thing to consider is that LRT is expensive to build from the bottom-up. For an LRT from Scratch along the NW motorway corridor; the costs would be in excess of 1 billion (possibly even 2 billion).
        The money for that would have to come from a massive overseas loan (AKA borrowing), and that loan would incur interest.
        How many years would it take before the farebox recovery from this LRT would cover operating costs and be enough to help even pay-off the interest on the loan? Because I think we all know that, as with the Northern Busway, it’s patronage wouldn’t spike overnight but that it would slowly increase over the years. Especially given that it’s serving suburban areas of detached housing and thus low population density.

        I really can’t see how anything other than the incremental approach adopted as with the Northern Busway isn’t the best. The only thing I feel I can whinge about is that this could’ve been begun back in ~2011 if that Steven Joyce and his government hadn’t been so fixated upon their “roads of national significance” and that Waterview connection instead. But hey; there’s really no point in me indulging in something that can’t be changed now

        1. Auckland Transport costed the LRT network with Airport and Northwest lines at $6 billion, so the northwest alone is about half that.

          The farebox recovery would be over 100% pretty much immediately, most urban rail does and after spending billions of infrastructure you’d have done something very wrong if the operations weren’t efficient.

          But it wouldn’t come close to paying off the capital out of farebox, almost no transit line ever does.

  13. Make the 125x run outside peak hours when it’s not in a traffic jam every time it has to get out of the bus lane and you’ve instantly made public transport 100x better.

    Make a detour to Old Te Atatu Rd using the roundabout and now you’ve got a proper journey from Westgate to Te Atatu Peninsula (check Journey Planner times for how unrealistically bizarre they are atm).

  14. That detour via Old Te Atatu Rd doesn’t seem like much, but at peak when the onramp is congested Te Atatu Rd turns stationary. There’s no bus priority so getting back onto the motorway can take 15 minutes. What’s worse, in heavy traffic drives block Te Atatu Rd/Old Te Atatu Rd intersection which makes it very hard for the bus (or anyone else from Old Te Atatu Rd side) to actually get to the motorway. I think my personal record is somewhere around 30 mins from middle of Old Te Atatu Rd to the motorway.
    Also, because it’s a T2 lane on the onramp – during heavy traffic on the motorway cars block it anyway (and many of them with driver only, as it’s not really policed anyway). Bus can only really start going once it hits the shoulder on the motorway. Adding that detour could easily add 20-25mins to a really long journey.

    1. Would it be quicker to walk out to the motorway bus station than take a feeder bus. Sort of sounds like it. I often walk if a particular route is traffic bound. Its not much of an advertisement for public transport I know but sometimes its quicker and whats the option sit stationary in a car or bus or move on your feet. Still I haven’t being to Te Atatu for 20 years so what would I know.

  15. The might as well get on with it and while they are in the planning mode they might want to consider express buses from the Te Atatu stop or station to the Airport and Manukau bus station via the motorway and Waterview tunnel. Possibly stopping in at Onehunga if its not going to cause too much delays. Thirty minute frequency in the first instance but better as patronage improves.I see there are bus lanes on highway 20 and 20a.

    1. Could be a good idea. I’ve often thought a few stops (as well as or instead of the Onehunga one) along Stoddard Rd would make a good cross route. Get back on at the Dominion Rd interchange. Not sure which would be worse at peak time getting on and off at Onehunga or Stoddard though?

      1. Could you put the stops on the motorway with stairs going up to an overbridge or in the case of Onehunga a stop close to the port where there is a pedestrian tunnel under the motorway which would allow access in both direction. There could also be stops at Mangere Bridge and possibly Mangere town center onto the motorway overbridge. In both cases there is bus stops close to the overbridge. Onehunga would be about 5 mins walk from the railway station depending on how long you would have to wait at the lights on Neilson street.

        1. Yes, wonder if that would work, more infrastructure cost of course.

          Fiddling with Google drive times to compare the difference between getting on and off Stoddard Rd and/or Onehunga using typical driving times at around 7 am going south (not stops like a bus would of course) I get:
          Baseline not exiting the motorway: 6-10 mins typical driving time
          Stoddard Rd (off at Maioro St, back on at Dominion Rd) 10-20 mins
          Onehunga through existing bus interchange (& past train) 12-18 mins
          Onehunga just loop past train station 9-16 mins
          This is about as bad as it got at peak rush. I think in the reverse direction it had about the same differences. So you would end up adding on potentially 12 mins to get off at Stoddard with two stops say.

  16. Why not build a bus right of way, but size the construction so that Light Rail could be built on it in due course.

    And I suggest for least disruption that when the Light Rail upgrade occurs it occurs from the most Western end and so causes the “least” disruption. Like this: build light rail from (say) Kumeu to Westgate causing that bit of bus right of way to be unavailable. Once it is commissioned, all passengers use Light Rail to Westgate then transfer to bus for the remainder of the journey. 2nd stage, build light rail from Westgate to Lincoln, all bus traffic diverts for this stage and rejoins at Lincoln. And continue in Stage 3 (Lincoln to Te Atatu) Stage 4 Te Atatu to Rosebank etc. By the time we are close to the City there are enormous stretches of Light Rail out West.

    Maybe try this up on the Northern using Light Rail (for example) from Orewa to Albany and then in Stages to Akoranga then on to a new route to the CBD.

    1. The problem with that is as time goes on the sections closer to the city centre will increasingly be the busiest which you then have to disrupt as well eventually. Not only that the LRT sections further out west which will prove popular will then want to also transfer to a now getting disrupted section.
      I think, generally (always?) it’s done the other way around (city dense areas first) as it also can be the most justified as the benefit to cost should be way higher due to much higher ridership.

  17. “There have been a few changes to how the busway is reported over the years but regardless, there has been huge growth in usage”

    Can you refresh our/my memories Matt on how the counting of the busway stats have changed since the Northern New Network if at all?

    1. Pre-AT HOP (and initially Post AT-HOP) they counted Northern Express bus service usage only, and apportioned any multi-ride tickets (aka 10 trip and monthly multi-zone “paper” passes) on a guesstimate basis in terms of actual usage as to when, how and where used. This caused the slow ramp up in the graph above- the red bars.

      They counted NEX trips only on the basis that they were counted under ARTA because these were true “Rapid Transit Network”/RTN trips so were the only ones included as part of the “RTN” (Rail and NEX) figures. For ages AT used to have the “Rapid” number of monthly statistics/patronage data consisting of a total of Rail and Northern Busway usage only.

      With normal bus usage [even if they actually used/travelled on the Northern Expressway to get to the City at some point] continuing to be counted separately (as part of the non-Rapid/RTN bus network).

      Then some time after AT HOP came along AT started counting [because they now could] all journeys that used the Northern Express as “Northern Express” trips even if they weren’t Rapid on the basis that even if they’re mostly surface streets on the North Shore, when they hit the busway they become “Rapid”. Thats the purple bars in the graph above.

      Then the New Network came along [the Yellow bars] and more passengers on the buses can more easily use the Northern Expressway.

      So as Matt said a lot of growth due to reporting changes (generally making the patronage data a lot more accurate than it was – and likely closer to the actual patterns of usage that had been in place all along).

      The NN has put more passengers able to easily use the buses on the busway than before, further increasing the usage, and this giving more benefits of the Busway to those bus passengers on those buses who use the busway for part of their trip even if their particular bus they got on or off on the North Shore doesn’t travel on the busway at all or isn’t a Northern Express bus service.

      So a lot of jiggery pokery with reporting the numbers has gone on for years.

      But the usage pattern make clear that people have worked out that no matter what the usage numbers say, the busway and the services that use it work for them hence why they use it more and more over the alternatives.

      1. Those reporting changes explain some of the growth, but the majority is explained simply by passenger growth. Quite simply it has become a lot more popular over time, not a starting revelation either.

  18. The proposal mentioned in Stuff several weeks ago is less than the Stage 1 proposal in the 2017 business case: which was establishing a busway between the city and Pt Chev and between Lincoln Road and Te Atatu, before filling out of the busway over a number of years after that.

    If they’re approving the whole business case, does anyone know if they’ve done anything further to see how they will handle the increased buses in the city. As of 2017, the business case hadn’t looked at it in detail saying it was ‘out of scope’.

    Full assessment of the bus issue might potentially tip the assessment back over to making light rail more favourable. Or if they’ve decided they can handle increased buses from the north-western, it would be interesting since the Dominion Rd light rail was originally being justified as a means of avoiding problems with buses on Symonds St.

  19. I have another thought.
    How about the government builds high density housing en masse in and around centers. A mix of social rental, affordable rental, and market rental.
    Providing affordable options near employment would disincentivise development in these far flung locations.
    Isn’t a fundamental issue here that too much housing is occurring ‘way out there’. Building PT to these ‘out there’s locations isn’t really addressing the issue.

    1. Yes, building high density housing in more central locations is important. Thing is, we have sprawled, and now we need to retrofit the roading infrastructure into something that works. Madness that we’re still sprawling. It has to stop. But we still need to provide decent transport to the people stuck in that traffic.

      1. “Madness that we’re still sprawling.”

        Allowing denser residential developments in already long-developed areas (like Massey) isn’t “more sprawl, it’s the opposite.

        1. Oh, I agree. I meant where we’re sprawling, that’s mad. I tend to agree with you about development, Daniel.

    2. “Far flung”? Massey et al have existed for decades and they aren’t going anywhere. I’m not sure what the argument here is? “I don’t think you should have built houses here so we’re just going to ignore the hundreds of millions of dollars in congestion costs as well as the carbon consequence of not having an alternative to driving”?

      Do you work for NZTA, by chance?

      1. No chance.
        Just throwing out another possibility, we live in a country that allows for freedom of speech, last time I checked.

    3. Those “out there” locations that this will provide transport to were developed as suburbs of detached housing over 50 years ago.

      Why not develop areas adjacent to transport nodes with more dense housing? It might develop further into more employment destinations in their own right, and surely not having to commute so far to work in the first place is the best outcome?

  20. If this is IBC is approved – I presume next stage would be to develop a more detail business cases for individual segments. But how would they be funded (both BC and actual work)? ATAP talks about 1.8bil for light rail but not much more about NW.

  21. Disclaimer: I worked on the NW Rapid Transit business case and used to write for Greater Auckland. Take that into account as needed.

    At the end of the day, responsibility for what’s happening (or not happening) lies with politicians and transport agencies. However, GA really needs to think about its role in this clustershambles. The idea of NW light rail was proposed in the second version of the Congestion Free Network and then adopted as policy by the Labour Party. Arguably, if GA hadn’t put out that proposal, design and delivery of a busway would have rolled on.

    So what happened, and was it foreseeable?

    From my perspective (noting disclaimers above), changing the scope of the project from a busway (which we know we can deliver as a series of standalone projects) to light rail (which was wrapped up in a larger project) imposed a series of risks, including:

    * Increased complexity leading to the potential for delays
    * Increased project scale and scope leading to greater potential for cost blowouts
    * Interdependencies with other projects that offer synergies and cost savings on paper, but not necessarily in reality.

    It’s pretty well established that larger projects are more prone to cost blowouts and delay (see eg Bent Flybjerg’s work). Unfortunately, NW light rail hasn’t even made it to the point where we can find out what will go wrong during contracting and construction – it’s been derailed in the planning and funding stages!

    It is fair to say that a NW light rail line, completed to schedule and cost, would provide various benefits that a busway would not. But delivering those benefits was never a sure thing, and I think more weight should have been put on delivery risk when looking at the idea.

    1. “ Arguably, if GA hadn’t put out that proposal, design and delivery of a busway would have rolled on.”

      What makes you think anything would have happened with a busway instead? No other public transport business case from that time has gotten funding or started work either. In fact they’ve delayed and slowed down the lot.

      If they didn’t start work on a light rail design when that was the government policy pledge, why would they have started design of a busway that was not?

      The mistake was to put the county highways board, sorry NZTA, in charge of public transport and expect they’d deliver anything except more roads.

    2. Is it the same 2017 business case going up? Or have they been working on it e.g. on settling the question of bus terminating capacity in the CBD – which had a cost running to billion in the original CRL business case and the Central Access Plan PBC.

      I agree delivery and cost risks don’t get looked at nearly enough. The NW RTC did look at constructability issues and at least had a P95 cost, but they didn’t give any details on what it was looking at or how it was developed. The light rail projects seem to have gone well in Australia without too many issues, but I agree there would be more scope for things to go wrong than there would be for a busway, just because we haven’t done them before.

      I think the risk of demand varying from forecasts doesn’t get looked at well enough either.

      1. They laugh or they pity us. “Poor Auckland; completely beholden to its car dependency, and unable to pick itself out of its misery because transport is so politicised.”

        1. The worst part of this, is that even with it’s very poor non car transport provision, Auckland, is improving non car transport provision spectacularly compared to the rest of New Zealand.
          Wellington that used to be enlightened in public transport provision seems intent now on joining the provinces, clamouring for yet more roads.

        2. “Poor Auckland; completely beholden to its car dependency, and unable to pick itself out of its misery because transport is so politicised.”
          No offence: But the world doesn’t really look at New Zealand much let alone Auckland.
          They’d look at a dozen cities in North America and say that before looking at New Zealand.

        3. @Don Robertson
          “Wellington that used to be enlightened in public transport provision seems intent now on joining the provinces, clamouring for yet more roads.”
          Unfortunately, Wellington with its employment opportunities attracts ignorant oinks from provincial NZ.
          It’s generally people who grew up in Wellington (or its satellites) who oppose things like the Basin flyover, getting rid of the trolleybuses, the second basin tunnel, etc. But people who move to Wellington from some provincial city or town bring their backward, limited thinking with them and often can’t shake it.
          A great example is this absolute clown called Tony Randle (from some small town in the Waikato) who despite being repeatedly proven wrong and repeatedly shot-down by the actual experts; just won’t give up in his mission to promote himself and his dream of turning the Johnsonville line to a Busway because he’s so convinced that he’s ultimately correct.

      2. In 1991 I worked in an office in London where the team in the room next door to ours were working on Crossrail. It was first proposed in 1941 and it is expected to open in 2021. Good things take time I suppose. (sorry Mainland).

      3. To be honest with you; turning infrastructure into a political football is a political trick all over the world.

      4. “Countries that just get on and do light rail (or heavy rail) must look at us and laugh”

        The difference in Australia at least is that the light rail projects that have gone ahead recently have had good economics – the Gold Coast and Sydney CBD projects had benefit-cost ratios (BCR) well above 1. While other projects that had shaky BCRs didn’t proceed. I’m not sure if they were stuck in limbo for several years before getting cancelled.

        The NWRTC business case found a BCR of just 0.72 for light rail along SH16. I haven’t seen a published BCR for the Dominion Road leg.

        1. Correct. A few years ago I worked on an evaluation of the proposed Green Square LR scheme in Sydney. The BCR was sub-economic (although not a total disaster), and so I am not amazingly surprised that the project hasn’t proceeded further.

          A few years ago, Auckland Transport put together an early-stage business case for Dom Rd light rail, with a BCR of 1.0. That seem to have vanished from their website, sadly.

          Having worked on a few light rail evaluations and read or reviewed a number of others, my conclusion would be that light rail is a good idea in some contexts, but not others. For an urban corridor like Dom Rd, it’s probably the best way to increase capacity, speed, and reliability, without totally sacrificing urban amenity. Elsewhere, other options can deliver similar outcomes at a cheaper price.

        2. From the most recent modelling I’ve seen the demand from the Northwest corridor is stronger than that on the isthmus.

          Also the NW business case has a fatal flaw in it, it just assumes there’s unlimited capacity to deal with buses in the city centre. Had that constraint been considered I suspect the outcome could have been very different.

        3. Yes, agreed they had to include the costs of accommodating buses in the city to make a fair comparison between light rail and the busway.

          I know there is the issue of where to park the trams, but if there was a reasonably inexpensive solution for that, then it looks like the Pt Chev – City leg of the light rail could have a strong BCR. While they didn’t publish a light rail BCR, that leg of the busway had a BCR in the range of 1.6 – 2.7 (including wider economic benefits, but ignoring any CBD bus terminating costs). The overall cost estimates for the light rail weren’t that much more expensive than the busway, and like the busway the light rail would give good time savings across the Pt Chev to city section.

          And if that meant you had fewer buses travelling into the city then it may give an opportunity to redistribute buses there and relieve the Symonds St issues as well.

        4. The ‘trams’ park in the depot, they just pause in Queen St. Driver changing ends at the bottom by Customs St, LRV heads back out again, no parking, no looping around…. this is major advantage of LR for the bus drenched AKL city centre. Fewer bigger LRVs right into the heart of the city, replacing heaps of buses, freeing up many streets, for buses serving other places. The alternative is an infinity of buses.

        5. Of note: we use the terms “bus” and “busway” for the NEX, and it is doing fine.

          I’m expecting the same will apply to trams. Nothing wrong with using common English to talk to people.

        6. I wasn’t clear, I was talking about the location of the depot for overnight parking.

          The argument against staging the light rail – such as just building the Pt Chev to city section first – was that they wanted to put the depot out west somewhere, and so they argued that you would need to build the whole light rail in one go. But if it was possible to get a depot close to the city for relatively little expense then a staged light rail could stack up well economically. And if you put in a staged light rail you may be able to relieve the problem of buses on Symonds St as well.

          I also wasn’t clear when I said “they didn’t publish a light rail BCR”. I meant they didn’t publish one for the Pt Chev to city leg alone. As I mentioned the other day, they did publish one for the light rail as a whole.

        7. Yes depot location could be a problem, there was talk initially (regarding City-Dominion Rd route) of an interim light depot in Wynyard & a heavy one in the Roskill area where LRT vehicles would have to be trucked to as required.

    3. Peter if risk was missed or not accounted for it is that any mention of rail brings out all of the spruikers, train spotters, enthusiasts and nutters. These people are very good at diverting debate into the technical merits of the type of carriage, propulsion, number of bogeys etc and effectively stall projects dead.

        1. No, miffy is rightly pointing out that “the type of carriage, propulsion, number of bogeys etc” are not actually relevant until a corridor and mode are selected.

        2. Are they not serious technical aspects that people wouldn’t raise unless they were very important?
          For one; they will effect a system’s loading gauge (thus clearances & potential expenditure).

        3. No, at corridor selection stage they are not important. Corridor disctates vehicle specification for independent rail systems, not the other way around. The only case in which it works the other way is extensions to existing systems, but then the vehicle specification is (or should be) prescribed, and isn’t up for debate.

          To demonstrate this, try and think of an example where the carriage layout (for example) is more important than the corridor.

        4. “Corridor disctates vehicle specification for independent rail systems, not the other way around.”
          And there’s no consideration on constraints during that corridor selection?

          If consultation from people who know about “the technical merits of the type of carriage, propulsion, number of bogeys etc.” is so worthless; why is it ever sought and heeded?
          Things happen for a reason.

        5. “And there’s no consideration on constraints during that corridor selection?”
          Carriage layout, propulsion, and number of bogeys do not constrain the corridor. Selecting a mode (which does constrain a corridor) is part of corridor selection.

          “If consultation from people who know about “the technical merits of the type of carriage, propulsion, number of bogeys etc.” is so worthless; why is it ever sought and heeded?”
          It’s sought and heeded out of habit.

          “Things happen for a reason.”
          Things also *don’t* happen for a reason. Often I feel like public transport is derailed by trainspotting types. Airport rapid transit being a classic example.

        6. “Carriage layout, propulsion, and number of bogeys do not constrain the corridor.”
          Yes they do. They effect clearances and possible turning radii

          “It’s sought and heeded out of habit.”
          “Habit” being… …the established course of action.

          “Things also *don’t* happen for a reason.”
          Hahahahah are you seriously going to stand by that?

          “Often I feel like public transport is derailed by trainspotting types. Airport rapid transit being a classic example.”
          Instead of going on “feelings”, how about facts instead?
          “Rapid transit” means transit on an exclusive right-of-way. I’ve never heard of anyone proposing this for Auckland. Are you getting it confused with Mass transit (which has come forward leaps and bound in Auckland in the last two decades)?

        7. Before we continue, it’s probably worth noting that it’s literally my job to do these assessments.

          Bogey configurations don’t constrain the corridor. They may constrain the route and easement, which is why they are usually selected at the route or easement stage. However, the selection in then done in tandem: if we choose this route, we need these vehicle specifications, if we choose this route we need this more stringent specification.

          Habit is the established course of action. That something is a habit is neither positive or negative. A healthy breakfast is a positive habit, smoking is a negative habit. Considering carriage layout at too early a level is a bad habit.

          Yes, I am going to stand by things not happening for a reason. Paralysis by Analysis is the reason that many things don’t happen (the Dominion Road bus lane and streetscape upgrade is a good example.

          Feeling is a synonym for opinion, if you want people on this blog to stop using opinions then there wouldn’t be many comments.

          Rapid Transit has no agreed definition, as transit seperation is a spectrum. The proposed light rail from Onehunga would meet almost any definition of rapid transit, the surface light rail will operate on exclusive lanes, separated from traffic by kerbs, with priority at crossings. That meets a lot of definitions of rapid transit.

        8. Rapid Transit is defined in the Auckland Regional Public Transport Plan, which is a statutory document. In this definition Rapid Transit has specific characteristics and service levels. Rapid Transit has a legal meaning in Auckland, and it is therefore the term Auckland Transport use and have always used in their plans and business cases, including the one linked to in this very post.

          Mass Transit is basically a slang term occasionally used by NZTA so they don’t have to meet the definition of Rapid Transit but still want to make it look like they’re thinking of doing something. But it is not defined in policy or law, and does not exist in any document or contract in Auckland.

        9. @ Ricardo:
          Mass Transit is a synonym for public transport. It’s more common in American English while the term public transport is more common in the Queen’s English and its derivatives. The term is about 75 years old.

          Rapid transit pretty much means forms of rail-based public transport/mass transit that have their own dedicated and independent corridors (which is what makes them rapid).

          That’s the definition as accepted in the English language. As you’d find in a dictionary.
          And yes I know that there’s also “bus rapid transit” (like the Auckland busway) where they run buses down their own dedicated and independent corridors to get the same benefits of actual rapid transit.

          Yes I believe I’ve (*cough*) discussed this absurdity of Auckland transport deciding it can have its own unique definitions of “Rapid transit” on this board before. It was funny enough the first time.
          Why on earth anyone else would choose to use their definition here instead of the terms as accepted in the English language is beyond reasonable thinking (for reasons including that Auckland transport may well not even exist in a decade’s time).
          But hey; it’s no loss to me if you want to do that (and serve to cause confusion).

        10. @ Sailor Boy:
          “Bogey configurations don’t constrain the corridor. They may constrain the route and easement, which is why they are usually selected at the route or easement stage. However, the selection in then done in tandem: if we choose this route, we need these vehicle specifications, if we choose this route we need this more stringent specification.”
          So in other words; considerations of “the type of carriage, propulsion, number of bogeys etc” are of some importance.

          “Yes, I am going to stand by things not happening for a reason. Paralysis by Analysis is the reason that many things don’t happen (the Dominion Road bus lane and streetscape upgrade is a good example.”
          I think I may have misunderstood what you meant. I (rationally) thought you meant that things happen in this world without any underlying reason. But it seems that you meant that things don’t occur for reasons, which is a negative and silly way of looking at it, as what has actually happened is that something (different) has occurred and of course for a reason.

          “Feeling is a synonym for opinion…”
          Erm actually no it isn’t. They’re two entirely different things. Although feelings (of whatever vague definition) can be a basis for an opinion.

          “Rapid Transit has no agreed definition, as transit seperation is a spectrum.”
          Erm… …I’m seeing pretty much uniformity beyond Auckland transport’s contrived definition.

          “The proposed light rail from Onehunga…”
          Oh FFS! You’re actually STILL going on about that?! Does your entire existence revolve around that never likely to ever actually happen thing or something?
          I thought you live in London or something? When I lived there for those years I never had enough time to do all that I wanted to do let alone had enough time to obsess over something back in NZ!

          “…would meet almost any definition of rapid transit…”
          Erm except it was supposed to be at-grade along Dominion road.

          “it’s probably worth noting that it’s literally my job to do these assessments.”
          With a sincere but probably futile intention to not cause personal offence: You don’t behave like it…

      1. All rapid transit in New Zealand is at grade, including the Auckland and Wellington rail networks and the Norther busway. They all have level crossings or signalised intersections on their dedicated corridors.

        It’s not grade separation that makes them rapid transit, it’s the dedicated running way.

    4. Peter I wondered if that would come up in the comments when I was writing the post. The CFN envisioned LR as a long term solution, not something to jump straight to. In fact I even recall speaking to Phil Twyford and JAG in December 2017, at the announcement of the Rosedale Station about how they need to put it in as a busway first but design it to be upgradeable.

      But even if we hadn’t put it on the CFN, I doubt we would have been much more advanced on the project than we are, especially given the general disarray with many other projects, not least of which light rail on the isthmus itself.

      1. I do think parts of the NW busway would be under construction at this point if the project hadn’t been rolled into light rail. As a counterfactual, you can point to the Puhinui Station and SH20B upgrades, which are under construction now but actually were *less* advanced in terms of planning and design in late 2017.

        There were a couple of big changes between CFN1 and CFN2. Changing NW to light rail was one of them, but another was to remove the maps showing staged development of the network in favour of focusing on the end state. So although there’s plenty of nuance in the discussion of the network, you don’t get that by looking at the map!

        It’s obviously all by the wayside at this point, but I think there’s a reasonably strong case for rethinking the entire approach on the NW corridor, and that won’t happen if people are unwilling to admit that the current plan isn’t working!

        1. I disagree that something would have been under construction by now. One thing Puhinui has going for it is there was no need to purchase land which is something that would be needed on the Northwest and therefore complicate things more.

          As for your other comment, we’ve been saying to the ministers the current plan isn’t working every time we’ve seen them over the last year or so and that something (like described in this post) needs to happen urgently.

  22. Just reading through some of the negative-toned comments on this article: I’m getting the impression that a lot of people are annoyed that this isn’t some light rail out of the box.
    I have to ask (with the most polite intentions): Did anyone REALLY ever expect any such thing to happen? That anyone would fund the billions needed for a system out of the box like that for suburban areas with low population density?
    I know that Twyford and the Labour party may have promised it. But surely nobody was naive enough to take his word for it? C’mon; politicians make cheap promises they have no intention of honouring all the time and always have.

    1. Yes, because they already did fund it, almost two years ago after signing it off in ATAP. The government has set aside $1.8b for light rail in Auckland, in addition to around $400m NZTA has for early implementation.

      The problem is useless Twyford and his NZTA buddies have managed to not put together a plan to spend any of it, and its starting to be picked apart for (surprise surprise) more rural highways.

      So there is the first $2.2b for light rail sitting around going to waste.

      Meanwhile the mangere line and the northwest line are going backwards. One has to ask what the hell is going on, and how quickly can Twyford get fired and someone capable replace him.

      What kind of incompetent minister can’t deliver a already agreed programme that is already funded and already supported by the stakeholders?

      1. Light rail is only partially funded. The two lines were estimated to cost $6 billion between them with just $1.8 billion funded ($2.2 if you include this $400k).

        At best this would have seen LR running to Mt Roskill in the south and Pt Chev in the west, doing nothing for congestion issues in the North-west.

        1. Labour party conference has just signalled big infrastructure spend coming up with government borrowing interest rates at its lowest in history. This is the time to invest big time i long term projects as they are saying. Be interesting what they announce in details coming up to Christmas and the election. I suspect busway at best for NW though.

        2. One thing people might want to acknowledge is that the current government has had to maintain contracts and arrangements that the previous govt made.
          Things COULD be different if they win a second term (I said COULD, not will).

      2. The point is the money to get started on the programme has been there lying fallow for the last 18 months, and instead of getting started Twyford has managed to backpedal the whole programme and go off to get smoke blown up his arse by Quebecois financiers selling economic snake oil.

        Sure it’s not the whole 6b for the whole deal, but it’s about a third which is all they could spend in the first term anyway. If he’d spent that and started digging 18 months ago we’d be talking about the shovel date of stage two already and have the final stage designed up.

        1. The $1.8b was for the next ten years, not all was available for the first 3 years in government. With design and consenting having spades in the ground 18 months ago on NW LR would have been extremely optimistic even if this government was onto it.

          Largely agree with your comments about Twyford though.

  23. Speaking solely for myself – I’m definitely annoyed by all of this. I live in Te Atatū Peninsula. In the last 10 years we’ve been through a number of ‘upgrades’:
    – motorway widening towards the city – good 3 years of misery, horrendous traffic jams and zero priority for buses.
    – continuous widening towards west – the area around Lincoln road has been in state of some sort of upgrades for majority of this passing decade
    – “new bus network” – that turned out to be basically some window dressing. Whole of West got ONE high frequency/priority route (more like 3/4 as 14 split further out west anyway). Zero bus priority for that route too. Absolutely zero bus priority for any other bus route. It’s not really a “network” either. My partner works nearby Lincoln rd – try plugging that into the journey planner (from Te Atatū village to Te Pai place) – 4.5km – an hour on a bus (transfer via Henderson) or walk for 25mins from Te Atatū Rd.
    – Upgrade of Te Atatū Rd – took two years. All we got was a median. No bus priority at all and a really dangerous ‘cycle lane’ – basically paint only.

    From my personal perspective Te Atatū Peninsula now becomes an island twice a day. the only way out is via the motorway interchange (even if going towards Te Atatū South). In the morning the citybound traffic block the interchange completely, in the afternoon it’s the west and Henderson bound traffic. Even if one is trying to go towards the city in the afternoon it gets stuck there anyway (obviously no bus priority either, so the bus is not much better).

    So yes, I’m negative about this as the proposal is being watered down even before anything starts. That means that by the time it comes to delivery it will turn to absolutely sweet bugger all.

      1. I’m negative that the overall proposal is being watered down already. Having a station at Te Atatū and Westgate doesn’t seem sufficient to fix this particular route I talked about anyway. That was more of an example of an ‘upgrade’ that turned out to be completely useless. Similarly – try getting from Te Atatū Peninsula to Rosebank, where many companies reside. But that’s quite predictable – basically from AT perspective there’s only one application for their “network” – to shuffle people in and out of the central city.
        I have absolutely no faith in AT being capable of pulling this off. Also because most of the corridor actually belongs to NZTA, which is under much stronger political pressure, so once the government changes – any non-committed projects will quietly cease to exist.

        1. Te Atatu Peninsula has so many transport design options, too, if AT could only shake its car dependency off. With vision, it could easily be an exemplar sustainable suburb, and that would cost us all less in the long term, too.

          I guess where I’m coming from is that although getting a shoddy interim improvement might delay a proper fix, there’s just as much chance that not getting the shoddy interim improvement will result in delaying a proper fix. But this way, at least you’ll have had the shoddy interim improvement.

        2. The current proposal is to do *nothing* until LRT is built. Bus stations at Te Atatu and Westgate is hardly a watered down version of nothing. You’re making perfect the enemy of better.

    1. If you’re gripe is about the previous government failing to build a busway or about the current government muddying the waters with the LR proposal further delaying action then you have a fair point.

      However, griping about an interim bus solution that will be delivered before either of these would and is an improvement on the current situation makes no sense. Even under the best case scenario of LR by 2028 an interim bus solution would likely have been the first stage.

  24. I absolutely agree on both counts, but it just feels like even the shoddy fix is already being diluted to a point where it’s actually useless anyway. Basically – a re-run of the ‘bus shoulders are as good as dedicated busway’ by NZTA.

  25. I’ll repeat myself once more here. Yes, for the last 10 years things got worse (both due to AT and NZTA). Now we’re aiming (not even planning) at having a a half-baked solution at best in the long run. Of course it could be upgraded once there, but frankly what are the odds? How bad will Northern Busway get before anyone starts seriously talking about upgrading to light rail? the ICB reckons that in 20 years busway will not be enough (that without taking movements of buses around the city centre into consideration). We’re basically setting ourselves for a failure in the long run.

    What I struggle to understand is how is it ok to spend a billion dollars on a 4 lane Puhoi to Wellsford motorway but but spending the same amount of money on a system that’s going to unlock whole of NW is too much and we should settle for a-few-mills-top job at best and also build this in stages, you know, just in case.

    1. ‘Now we’re aiming (not even planning) at having a a half-baked solution at best in the long run.’ There is nothing in this announcement that says plans for a busway or light rail have been shelved.

      Incidentally there was a three year gap between the interim station and bus lane solution beginning and the full Northern Busway opening so there is precedent for the next step happening pretty quickly.

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