Making significant progress on getting rapid transit to the North West should be one of the key objectives of our transport agencies this year.

In early December I wrote about Auckland Transport’s plans for a ‘pop-up’ busway to get things kicked off. This would follow a similar process to what happened with the Northern Busway where it originally opened with just the Albany and Constellation stations and buses used shoulder lanes until the busway that we have today opened in 2008. As I said in that post, the will be in the detail of exactly what was proposed. Positively, almost immediately following their board meeting, AT published the paper discussing it.

AT and the NZTA are proposing to deliver a full rapid transit corridor staged over three five year intervals. Let’s look at these.

Step 1: Short-term (1-5 years)

The first step is fairly small and the proposal is to deliver just two interim bus interchanges, at Westgate and Te Atatu, along with some extensions to bus shoulder lanes. This would presumably be the minimum needed to reorganise bus routes in the area to support a trunk route along the motorway using the shoulder lanes.

The proposed interchange at Westgate appears to be on the land just north of the mall (bounded by Barbour Rd, Gunton Dr, Maki St and Tawhia Dr) while the Te Atatu interchange actually appears to be two stations, one on either side of the motorway and presumably local buses would stop at each.

All up this stage is expected to cost $20-40 million however it is noted that is dependant on land negotiation at Westgate and further refinements to the project. They also say that there is currently no funding for it in the 2018-2028 Regional Land Transport Programme and so reprioritisation of that and its successor, the 2021-31 RLTP, will be needed. But perhaps this could also be an ideal candidate for the governments upcoming infrastructure announcement – it appears Mayor Phil Goff has also asked for it to be included in that fund.

Before we can get anything delivered the paper notes it first needs to go through another business case. It is expected that recommendations from that business case will be reported to the board in early 2020 for approval.

  1. Attachment 2 outlines the concept of a staged approach to developing the infrastructure and operational improvements required to support patronage growth ahead of any rapid transit intervention. To support this, it will be necessary to update current and future passenger demands, determine preferred bus interchange locations and concept designs, land requirements, bus network service changes, estimates of capital and operating costs as well as further work to optimise bus priority on the North Western Motorway. It is planned to carry out this work through an early-deliverables Single Stage Business Case (SSBC).
  2. At this stage it is expected that the SSBC will also need to assess localised pedestrian access and safety improvements at the proposed Te Atatu Road interchange (associated with the potential use of non-operational land within NZTA’s corridor), and the location options for improvements at Westgate
  3. Additional unplanned funding from AT and NZTA will be required to deliver the improvements outlined in Attachment 2. This is estimated to be in the order of $20 – $40 million in the coming three years and will be confirmed through the SSBC.

I imagine some of the work on extending the bus lanes around the interchanges could be similar to what the NZTA did on the North Shore at Onewa Rd.

Step 2: Medium Term (5-10 years)

The paper says they will also start work to investigate more substantive changes to enable rapid transit on the corridor to be delivered in the second five year interval. The proposal envisions a full busway, future proofed for light rail, on the southern side of SH16 between Te Atatu Rd and Brigham Creek Rd. The map shows five stations in total with the addition of ones at Lincoln Rd, Royal Rd and Brigham Creek Rd. The interim Te Atatu and Westgate stations would get their permanent solution at this time. The Brigham Creek station is noted as also having a Park & Ride.

The paper noting the below specifically about this step.

  1. Given the likely time required to complete a business case, progress to route protection and complete necessary property acquisition for the future rapid transit solution, NZTA and AT will commence investigating further developments to support the future bus rapid transit intervention , alongside the early-deliverables SSBC.
  2. The scope of this future bus rapid transit corridor work will include further development of the earlier delivered interchange facilities at Westgate and Te Atatu to include rapid transit access, identify and design preferred bus interchange locations, identify land and accessibility requirements for Lincoln Road, Royal Road and Brigham Creek Road interchanges (including park and ride), segregated busway development, bus network changes and estimates of capital and operating costs.
  3. It will be critical to co-ordinate with NZTA teams working on light rail delivery due to the significant interdependencies between the projects.

AT expect to provide the recommendations into these investigations to the board for approval in mid-late 2020.

This would put the Northwest in a very similar situation to what the Northern Busway is today.

It is expected that a staged busway such as this would increase the throughput from all modes of the NW motorway at Waterview from 11,000 per hour to 16,000 per hour. So basically a 50% increase in capacity for just two lanes. It’s crazy that it was never included in the widening that’s only just been completed.

Step 3: Long Term (10-15 years)

There’s specific no detail given in this paper about the third interval but this is when it expects light rail would be delivered. This would presumably involve delivering it along SH16 from the city to Te Atatu and then converting the busway built in step 2.


Finally it appears the traffic engineers/planners are already eyeing up the opportunity dedicated rapid transit may provide them with this comment in the paper.

In addition, in sections where a separated busway was to be built an opportunity would arise to re-purpose the existing bus shoulder lanes on SH16. This could provide for high occupancy vehicle lanes, freight lanes or other purposes that may improve the throughput and effectiveness of the state highway.

I’m looking forward to seeing that early deliverables business case and hearing more about the project soon, including hopefully that it is included in the infrastructure spend-up.

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84 comments

    1. I think NZTA was working on this in the background (on the assumption it would be light rail) – but it was much less advanced than the CC2M Line and that they had a team of people working on it – the bizarre way light rail has been progressed has unfortunately held things up for the NW Line as well. I’m hoping once we get some clarity around delivery of the CC2M Line, delivery of the NW Line will also be clearer.

    1. Yes I agree that that would help for things out that way, especially during peak, tons of people drive to Swanson PNR which is overloaded, especially during busier periods like March madness, and is only going to get worse. If that doesn’t show demand for it, I don’t know what will. Clearly its popular, and thats just PNR users. Im sure plenty of local people would walk up especially with all the new housing, and plenty would transfer from the 125/125X to avoid the diabolical congestion between Kumeu, Westgate and the city. It would also remain a very logical connection, I live along the western line, wish I could just take a train there, instead if have to dork around with 3 transfers and try and time it right to catch a very infrequent bus for the last leg – its really quite difficult. You also can’t take your bike, like you could in the train.

      With the SHA’s going on, this is just bound to get even worse, year on year. Meanwhile a rather cheap, comparative to many other PT projects, solution gets basically ignored because some people have a real passion for the project not happening – bizarre if you ask me, as it mostly comes from pro-PT folk.

      1. Yes. Very important to get it done sooner even if it’s not perfect. The cost of congestion personally and to the economy is very high

    2. How is that cheap? We have no spare rolling stock. Significant network upgrades are necessary to even allow passenger trains past Swanson. It also only provides for a relatively small area.

      1. Excursion trains with passengers have gone beyond Swanson a number of times in 2018/2019, they also used to run hourly to Waitakere station (beyond the tunnel) before then too. Theres nothing stopping it apart from AT’s lack of interest. They could fit fire suppression if required or apply for an exemption since the tunnel is only slightly longer than the requirement for that (50m per end from memory).

        There are ADL rolling stock, which I believe there are enough of (10? from memory), Pukekohe only uses 2 or 3 generally to run Papakura-Pukekohe. Even if they have done something with those, its not hard for them to get on top of it to have 2 available for Swanson to Huapai, 1 as a spare. Also once Pukekohe is electrified in the next few years, all the units will become available.

        Waitakere township, Kumeu/Huapai and beyond is actually a rather large area, and population is growing due to SHA’s. Congestion between Westgate and Kumeu is horrendous, and the bus sits in the same congestion. Its easy to overlook if you don’t live or travel there but its significantly worse then many other areas across a fair distance.

        1. What’s preventing this is an appalling cost benefit. Just cos track is there does not mean it costs nothing to run trains. This has been studied and checked over and over. Trains, old ones, new ones, whatever, are very expensive to run, and need high utilisation rates to make work. And I don’t mean break even, or make money or anything like that, I mean not be many times more expensive and lower value than buses.

          I know there’s a hard core of obsessives that will never accept this for Kumeu to Swanson, but it remains the case. The best hope really for this route is an extension of electric service with NAL upgrades (more track, tunnel upsizing, wires, eventually. Also would critically remove a forced transfer at Swanson.

        2. Have you even seen the cost benefit analysis in the business case? It makes a lot of wild assumptions that are pretty laughable. It also doesn’t really consider the minimum approach at all, which would work as a start.

          The only obsessives I have seen are those against it. Despite claiming to be pro-PT, and despite the overwhelming community support and councilors and MPs onboard.

          Tired of defeating the same tired excuses over and over again. Rinse and repeat. *sigh*

        3. You’re not going to attract passengers using the noisy, vibrating, diesel exhaust smelling totally worn out ADLs. They are history, next you’ll be calling for a Silver Fern back from the museum. It would work with modern DMUs like the CAF Civity which I think would be useful around the country, useful enough to justify a reasonable order of 20 – 30 units.

        4. The alternative is a smelly and potentially noisy diesel bus throwing you around for around 45-90 mins often stuck in congestion. I would rather take 15-20 mins of an old ADL train and then electric train the rest of the way, just like most Pukekohe people do every day and many train users did before electrification.

        5. Bingo Peter N.
          The costs are minor (especially if you take the value of life from accidents on this dangerous road).
          The only people opposed to it that I’ve seen is LR fanboi’s on this blog!
          The argument from some is that it wasn’t successful before… well Auckland now has a functional electric railway network with enough frequency to Swanson to make it appealing enough for connectivity to Kumeu etc. the population of Kumeu etc has exploded (and is still rapidly growing) while the congestion is some of the worst in Auckland. The other argument is that it would be too slow to appeal… bollocks! Takes 1 hour from Swanson to Britomart currently (and will be less with CRL). Add on 15 mins to Kumeu etc. That versus sitting in stop start traffic for at least an hour to get to the city. For those only travelling as far as Henderson or New Lynn, the train will be faster!
          LR fanboi’s are running scared of HR because they know it makes the case for LR weaker (at least in the short term).

        6. “LR fanboi’s are running scared of HR because they know it makes the case for LR weaker (at least in the short term).”

          HR’s dire cost-benefit results kills itself (put on tinfoil hat and insert HR BCR conspiracy theory here). It doesn’t need LR.

          Just be thankful there is a better alternative rail solution.

        7. @AKLDUDE

          Most people that could use that service would have to drive to Kumeu anyway (give it 10 mins for driving and finding parking). The service would have to terminate at Swanson, as simply the DMUs could not keep up with the EMUs, with works at Mt Eden and only one track would make it hard if not impossible to keep the 10mins frequency. So one has to transfer there, might be 5 mins wait citybound, but definitely much longer (on average) west bound (let’s say 15mins). Plus 1h trip to/from Britomart. We’re already in 90mins+ territories here. I know some people that live around there (Whenuapai, Riverhead), from their experience the drive can take up 90mins on a bad day, down to 45mins on a good one, mostly – somewhere in between.

          Now let’s think about other aspects:
          – reliability – well we know that one, we had those DMUs running, now they’re just a bit more clapped out, so overall – not great, with 30 mins frequency at best – one broken one can make your trip 2h, assuming it doesn’t break on the single track.
          – cost – the DMUs have to be stabled and serviced somewhere. One of the arguments for electrification to Pukekohe was to get rid of the non-electric rolling stock due to cost to service and support them. In fact AT was so desperate that they wanted to run the EMUs as battery powered ones. Having a handful of DMUs is never going to be cheap.

        8. So you’re including a long amount of parking time for an area with plenty of space yet not including that in the drive time to the city – can take 10 minutes just driving up and around a parking building.
          The drive from Kumeu is dire… can burn through $25 of petrol a day just to get to/from Westgate in that congestion then you have to sit in the Western traffic.
          I’ve had journeys take an hour just from Westgate to the tunnel let alone the rest of journey.
          Not everyone is going all the way. Train is faster to Henderson and New Lynn etc as I mentioned. Yes they will transfer at Swanson. Easy to do there. There is also conveniently a maintenance yard in Henderson.
          1h20 rail consistently at around $11 vs minimum 45m-2hours driving and costing around $55 each day in petrol and parking.

          As for C/B of HR… this is existing HR which is still in good enough condition (further north on the NAL isn’t). Only cost is rolling stock and operating costs and a couple of platforms.

        9. Running a regular bus service from Huapai to Swanson to connect with the trains to Auckland would be quick to establish and probably be as fast as a DMU shuttle, at a fraction of the capex and opex cost. Such a service would also help establish what level of demand there was for PT services from Kumeu/ Huapai to West Auckland

        10. AKLDUDE – you are making the wrong comparison. The correct comparison would be between HR and running a NW express bus between Kumeu and the CBD using the interim bus lanes and then once built the busway.

          Also the population of Kumeu may well be exploding but it is tiny in the context of a city, it has gone from being the size of Alexandra to the size of Morrinsville.

      2. A bus that can just sit in the same traffic as everyone else?
        Or one using a busway that might be built in what 10 years? Meantime HR could be up and running in months.
        As for Kumeu, it’s not just Kumeu, the whole NW has exploded. It might not be the trendy inner suburbs popular with many here but it still deserves to have public transport just like everyone else.

        1. I’m not sure you have even read the post if you are thinking the bus is sitting in general traffic lanes on the motorway.

          The NW definitely deserves decent PT, which is why I don’t support an hourly rail shuttle to a rail head nearly 1 hour from Britomart, that misses a large chunk of the NW anyway.

          The train trip will be around 80 mins. A bus could probably drive backwards along the shoulder lanes and still match this, plus it could be run at much higher frequencies.

        2. 17-20 minutes (varies on direction) Huapai to Swanson under the old time table (freight go through there significantly faster (around 12 mins), watched several on train tracking – but obviously passenger rail will have the stop at Waitakere). Source: http://www.helensville.co.nz/downloads/Helensville%20Rail%20Service%20-%20Final%20Timetable.pdf

          Then its 52-54 minutes (varies on direction) from Swanson to Britomart under the current timetable, but once the CRL is complete that will reduce substantively. Source: AT Journey Planner

          So thats 69-74 minutes. Pukekohe shuttles allow 5 mins for transfer. So 74-79 minutes if following that. Source: AT Southern Line timetable

          CRL is an 8 minute reduction to Britomart on the Western Line, so 66-71 minutes post-CRL. Source: https://www.cityraillink.co.nz/crl-travel-times

          Where the bus 125X from Huapai at peak has taken over 2 hours from time to time to get to the city. Yes – there are days where its fast but those are few far between.

          A top of that, its just a really good connection between the western suburbs at the NW, and will be useful even after the NW RTN is developed.

          Its not one or the other, its lets just get on with both. Swanson to Huapai trains will cost pennies to get up and running compared with much of the other projects.

          Yes its easy to discount Waitakere township, and Kumeu/Huapai and beyond as not much compared with the rest of Auckland. But its a real issue for people who live or travel there, and time and time again rail has been fought for by locals just to get the cold shoulder by AT and pseudo-advocates being overly cynical for absolutely no reason.

    3. Unless you’re talking about running diesel stock (to the Strand or something): This would require electrification, which would NOT be cheap alone even without including the necessary added cost of increasing tunnel sizes.

    4. Utilising the mainline as far as Huapai for rail services would mean either:
      1) using diesel-propelled rolling stock, which would have to terminate at the Strand
      2) Electrifying the line (and probably relaying the tracks and sleepers) as far. That alone would cost hundreds of millions even without considering having to increase the size of the Waitakere tunnel. How would that be cheaper?

      1. Terminate at the strand? are you having a laugh? There is plenty of capacity at Swanson to handle an hourly boarding, even during peak times if you organize it properly i.e. move out of service trains down-line, or if you really need you could extend one of the platforms and make it a “3rd” platform. ADL’s are not very long.

        1. Erm… …people might not find having to transfer at Swanson too attractive a prospect. Certainly less attractive than at the Strand. Example why: What if it’s raining?

        2. Seriously, a train an hour!? That will make sure it won’t succeed. It would be pretty easy to have bus using the NW bus lanes or busway in the future leaving Kumeu every 15 mins, a far better option to get to the CBD.

        3. Well if I was going to take a train from Huapai to Auckland’s CBD; I would rather terminate at the Strand than have to transfer at Swanson even when it’s not a rainy day.

          And extending a platform would still be an extra cost. There’s curves as both ends of Swanson’s platforms.

        4. @ Jezza; Call me mad, but I still think that in the future; the train line could even feed the bus services if an interchange was built at Kumeu

  1. Meh… reorganizing the shoulder lanes is mostly just paint, maybe a bit of seal here and there. Could be done overnight, but they keep dragging their heels,the NW having continuous treatment (like the northern shown in the video), has been talked about for quite some time…

    Having a Te Atatu interchange would be great, you could essentially remove routes 132 and 133, also remove 134 between the interchange and the city (keeping the Te Atatu South/Henderson part). Make the 131 the 13 frequent. Then renumber 110 to WEX and also have that as a frequent route, having it stop at the interchange.

  2. So, there’s a plan. Which is great, but we’ve heard it all before. But there’s no money – what a surprise. And of course yet another business case has to be delivered. So let’s wait some more. Just in case it turns out to be someone else’s problem, right?

    Some quick measures could be applied with just a bit of paint and effort. T2 on Te Atatū Rd from both sides, T2 along Triangle Rd. Turn more shoulder on SH16 into a bus shoulder (I admin some of that might require to move some barriers slightly), add bus priority through the intersection of Great North, St Lukes and Western Springs on-ramps. Better policing of bus lanes along Great North Rd. But of course that would mean making life worse for those that drive and it’s illegal to do that, right?

    I’m saying all of this because the intensification out west is happening very quickly. Have a look at this trade me listing – one house turned into 5 new townhouses: https://www.trademe.co.nz/a/property/residential/sale/auckland/waitakere-city/te-atatu-peninsula/listing/2436916510 – and this is happenign all over. And how are the residents are going to get anywhere? Obviously drive, as there are no other options.

    1. Triangle Road can barely fit a car and bike in most places – how are you going to run T2 lanes? What would happen when it hits the roundabout or bridges? There isn’t enough continuous space along Triangle Road to make this work.

      1. Only the bit closer to Lincoln Rd to speed up the local bus in the mornings. I presume here that the “rapid” bus would go on to the shoulders along the SH16 between Lincoln and Westgate.

        1. I think most of that congestion is caused by traffic getting on the motorway at Lincoln Road turning left and it’s often back past the bridge pretty early. Tweaking that part of Triangle would require some major works. Reckon you’d be better running shuttle buses around the Westgate suburbs to Ranui or Sturges Road stations tbh.

    1. Nope. I’m not sure what the plan is there. Due to large number of on/off-ramps (and the interchange with SH20) there’s not a lot of shoulder along the motorway either. I suspect AT will want to push the buses along Great North Rd, but that’s not great either: a lot of traffic lights and a lot of stops make the 7km trip from Pt Chev to city quite long – about 30 mins at peak. To achieve comparable times to NEX (about 30mins from Albany to the city) this stretch shouldn’t take more than 15mins.
      Some sort of express pattern (only stopping at Pt Chev and Grey Lynn) could perhaps help (but also the bus lanes are missing through Western Springs.

      1. The diagrams show the buses traveling along the motorway, not GNR, using “potential bus priority lanes”. Could be good, could be bad depending on how they execute I guess.

        1. With so many off/on ramps which force the bus to merge back into (stationary at times) traffic this will be very unreliable. I used to catch the 132x that follows the motorway there. At times dispatch was asking the driver to take GNR to speed the trip up.
          Personally I think having an ‘express’ pattern along GNR is the best of the bad options available.

        1. Yes, they should get continuous GNR bus lanes up and running asap.

          One advantage of having the buses entirely separated from the cars is that the excuse against improving priority for pedestrians at lights is that the buses will be held up. By having the buses in separate lanes the buses and pedestrians can share priority appropriately.

          However, AT are intending to work on GNR in Grey Lynn to accommodate car transporters instead. I’m not sure where that leaves bus lanes. Or safe cycling. Or improved streetscapes.

          We need joined up thinking here.

    2. Well there are peak buslanes on GNR from Pt Chev 7-10am, 4-7pm. So with a little work to sort a couple of gaps (esp at MOTaT) this part of the route is already good. And of course serves destinations en route, which the SH route doesn’t, though could be quicker with proper priority. But that would be costly; why not use GNR at least till volumes become unmanageable?

      The urgent problems are further out, esp lack of stations and huge gaps in the shoulders on 16; NZTA did the absolute bare minimum for PT while supersizing there, functionally useless in fact, they have to go back fix this mess. Urgently.

      1. I hope that they gradually move towards separating enough of it from the motorway as possible. Even if it includes constructing parallel bridges at Te Atatu (over the Whau river), etc.

        1. There’s a real challenge there – the corridor is basically maxed out after the last motorway widening. One thing visible from all the analysis so far is that the part along the causeway is being pushed back further and further out. Obviously we could consider re-using existing traffic lanes, but we know that will not happen unless hell freezes over (or rather in current climate – heaven catches on fire).

        2. There is an historic brickworks site right next to the northern side of the bridge in Harbourview Reserve so I don’t think a second bridge would get sign off. Note there is also a significant local roost site for threatened wading birds like the wrybill on the southern end of the horse paddocks.

        1. And that’s the crux of the problem here. Anything that’s too hard gets pushed out to be done in some sort of ‘undefined’ future. Enough of those and the net results is easy to predict – not enough users, hence no incentive to actually push further.

          In many cases the corridors are wide enough for a proper bus priority, it’s just AT that decided that we have to have 2 car lanes (and not even a car and a T2/T3 lane).
          Of course AT can claim that there’s no issue with lack of bus lanes through Western Springs westbound. On average the bus only takes 5 mins to cross those 500m. But what this doesn’t tell, is that once there is an accident somewhere or the motorway is simply blocked – that 500m can take 15 minutes, mainly of being stationary). Which makes the service extremely unreliable and the experience frustrating to users (and as such – less attractive to any new potential users, because after all who wants to be stuck in traffic on a bus if they are stuck in the same traffic driving?).

          I know that we have to keep on pushing, but it’s so frustrating to see that so many relatively easy solutions are not being done because it would upset the the status quo. We don’t need just those big things being done either. Even having a quality corridor with no way of reliably getting to/from it is not going to solve anything. And those things could be done separately, as they’d improve existing service as well.

          I do hope that the business case can actually be delivered in the next few months, but with no funding this initiative has no chance of actually taking off in the next 12 months. Which means if we have a change in the government – that’s basically the end of the line, since without NZTA this just can’t happen.

  3. Bearing in mind that the plan is not to do anything along the causeway for foreseeable future I don’t think that is a lost cause. At the same time – the Te Atatū station is only short distance away, with an actual priority along SH16 that could also work.
    What sort of use do you see for a station near Rosebank (or Patiki)?

    1. Agreed – I doubt they’d change that though. Station is on south-eastern side of interchange. Have you seen the just-built cluster at Royal Road for cyclists though?

    2. They could dig up a parallel tunnel to let the buses get from the motorway bus shoulder into the proposed Te Atatū bus station 🙂 I think the cycleway tunnel is not high enough for buses 🙂

  4. funny looking at the Esmonde Rd bus lane video, I have not seen one bus use the section (onewa to esmonde) before the ramp. They all just use the left highway lane (ignores the empty bus lane right next to them) then turn into the bus lane for about the last 5m that’s on the off ramp to turn right into Esmonde Rd.

    1. I’ve been on plenty of buses that use it. The bus shoulder has a 60KM/hr speed limit, so they don’t use it if the traffic is flowing, as it would be slower.

  5. So that’s it then? Light Rail is gone?

    Time to get the 12 minute extension of the Western Line up and running. As Peter says, there’s no ban on passenger trains in the Waitakere tunnel, and never was. KiwiRail have confirmed this in writing, and numerous passenger trains have operated through it in recent times.

    Kumeu could have trains by the end of 2020, we just need AT to pull finger, now that we have absolute confirmation that light rail isn’t happening.

    Will the CFN2.0 be replaced to no longer show light rail to Waimauku, now that we know for certain it isn’t happening? Will GA be lobbying for light rail to still proceed, like they would be if it was National who dumped it, or do we roll over and accept it is gone, because it was Labour who dumped it?

    Actually, considering light rail to Kumeu has gone from not happening, to a promise, to not happening, was it ever really a serious plan, or just an election bribe to be dropped once elected?

    1. Geoff perhaps you should read the paper and the previous post. Light Rail is still the plan for the Northwest but this is to get some improvements in place sooner in a staged way, which is what we’ve suggested for some time.

  6. While I’m sure something needs to be provided along this route, it does seem like a typical Auckland PT solution – along a motorway, beside the water, with barely anyone living in walking distance of a station, the main purpose being to enable sprawl. Mangere/Mt roskill light rail was going to be our first decent urban rail line where people would actually walk to the train instead of feeder buses and park and ride. But I think it will end up being all about moving people long distances just like everything else.

    1. It’s not an either or. LR to Mangere is being held up for a number of reasons, it’s not a reason to delay building a rapid transit corridor to the NW.

      1. It’s always an or because the supply of money is finite. At one stage AT were considering light rail on 4 roads through the isthmus which would really help create a proper compact city. I’m guessing this one project would cost more than those 4 original projects combined and really just promote sprawl. The priorities seem all wrong to me – all the money has been and still is being spent on motorways and rail to the outskirts.

        1. In short, yes I would say building a busway to the NW is higher priority than putting LR down Sandringham Road.

        2. “Promote sprawl” – those houses are already there. The horse has bolted. The inner city will fight against higher density tooth and nail. It’s too late. Either we further strangle housing supply indefinitely, push up prices and drive more young Aucklanders out of Auckland because we *might* come up with a working model of density at some vague point in the future, or we take the pressure off and build outside of the central isthmus.

    2. Sprawl has already been enabled rightly or wrongly. May as well give people a decent pt option. Don’t forget Westgate is a metro centre that’s in a PT desert…it needs more than what’s it got if it’s to become the residential and employment hub that was intended.

  7. Once any sort of busway is built you can probably kiss goodbye to light rail. No government going to want all the hassle, disruption and expense of conversion to LR. A busway is a kind of runner-up prize. Should do it right first time.

    1. An alternative view is that the transformation from car-centric to sustainable mobility planning is going to march on over time. Other cities’ transformational stories, young people demanding better, older people moving out of the public conversation, steady modeshift, climate awareness growing…

      Right now we’ve got individuals, teams, organisations, mindsets that are obstructive. Getting a bus service up and running at this stage of the transformation process is the best thing we can do for people in the short term, given these dinosaurs. But it may also be the best way to bring forward the light rail. By allowing more people to modeshift now, even though it’s not to the superior and better solution, it’s still giving them options. And that changes how they view transport when they vote, attend public meetings and make submissions, etc.

      1. Problem is Heidi that we have an endemic culture of short-term fixes that eventually get so downsized that the longer-term option eventually requires you to start from scratch. Has the process LRT is in convinced you we have the capability to deliver a smart, upgradable interim solution? Or are we just likely to get a politically expedient one designed to head-off well-deserved criticism in an election year? Auckland and North West Auckland specifically deserves better.

        1. We’ve actually proved we can deliver a busway in the past and are currently building one, I’d be much more confident in delivering another busway than light rail.

        2. I’m convinced our capability is completely unknown because there’s politicking, undermining, intentional delaying, wasteful make-work going on. I also think the best work being done is not appreciated at the moment, and won’t be until it transfers to projects on the ground, which is fair enough. But some very good reforms are happening. Incredible that it’s so hard.

          I also know from overseas that this isn’t unusual and that the way through seems to be visionary leadership, which can be either at city level or government, and it can be a politician or someone appointed to lead the change by a politician.

      2. “Other cities’ transformational stories, young people demanding better, older people moving out of the public conversation, steady modeshift, climate awareness growing”

        Well in NZ’s case; that’s a negative thing. It may not be the case in Auckland but across the rest of NZ; younger people are the most pro-automobile and anti-PT of all! Many Kiwis born after 1985 (who never ventured overseas) have never even sat on a train in their lives and have no desire to and think that riding the bus is some severe indignity.
        And don’t imagine for a second that they correlate automobile dependency with climate change.

    2. How does that work when converting a busway corridor to some sort of light rail would be less disruptive than converting a road (like Hugh Watt Drive) to a motorway, especially given that the buses could merely run… …on the motorway… …during the interim period?

      If there’s not enough patronage/demand for the considerable investment in light rail; building it as light rail out of the box wouldn’t be “doing it right first time” as it would run at severe losses.

    3. Completely agree. If the busway happens there is no way they’re gonna upgrade it. There will be constant delay at best (saying ‘oh we just built the busway and it works great, LR is not a priority anymore cause people can use the bus’). Busway is essentially the easiest solution for the government to say that they’ve done something and make at least some of the people to shut up about light rail. Of course each election they will probably use the same promise of building the light rail anyway. Unfortunately unless someone new in politics really passionate about public transport emerges (or some new party) then Light Rail to NW (and possibly anywhere else) is essentially dead.

      1. As I understand it the issue about future conversion has already been thought about.
        For example the Nothern busway extension is designed with no services under it so it’s a case of just taking up the surface, keeping tracks and installing wires.
        There’s even been thought this could go further for the Northwest to include laying tracks and then filling them in with temporary materials. This way when you extend light rail from the city you only need to remove that material and install the power supply.

        1. The idea of temporarily filling in the tracks has potential. Get the cost benefits of staging upfront, and the light rail capacity in the end.

      2. The counter to that is busways are cheaper, thus generally get built sooner. If we went straight to LR to the North Shore we would probably still be debating funding, what crossing to build and whether the North Shore would actually use PT.

        Instead we have a had a busway in place for 12 years now.

        1. “The counter to that is busways are cheaper, thus generally get built sooner. ”

          Not quite. Busways are easier to stage, thus the first stages are cheaper and the generally get started sooner.

          Overall they are no cheaper for the same length of guideway and same number of stations, it’s just that it’s easier to do half a busway… or indeed 10% of one. People seem to forget that the first three years of the Northern Busway was just two stations and mixed shoulder running on the motorway, which is exactly what is planned for the Northwest. Starting with two stations and buses on the motorway doesn’t prevent the next stage being LRT any more than it prevents it from being BRT.

          So further to that, I would say we’ve had *half* a busway for 12 years now, they are currently building another quarter at the outer end end, and there is no real plan to do anything about the inner quarter.

          This has been a huge boost on the North Shore where the inner part across the harbour is the most difficult bit to build. However it’s the opposite on the NW, the inner section is easiest and cheapest to build so maybe that makes staging out LR a bit more cost effective.

        2. Agree, yes I should have been more specific with why they are cheaper.

          While you are right that there is only half a busway, it probably achieves about 80 % of what a full busway would for a fraction of the cost.

          I agree the benefits are not as great for the NW, but there are still some benefits to staging, such as avoiding further widening of the causeway. In the future it may be more politically acceptable to take some existing lanes for LR or the route may be sufficiently popular to justify the cost of an elevated section above the motorway.

      3. “If the busway happens there is no way they’re gonna upgrade it.”
        On what basis do you say that given that the Northern busway and railway corridors have seen continual improvements?

        “Unfortunately unless someone new in politics really passionate about public transport emerges… …then Light Rail to NW… …is essentially dead.”
        Oh c’mon. Was it ever really “alive” to begin with? All I remember was some vague promise from Phil Twyford.

  8. “They also say that there is currently no funding for it in the 2018-2028 Regional Land Transport Programme and so reprioritisation of that and its successor, the 2021-31 RLTP, will be needed.”

    So just do it. What is the priority – doing this or the addition of some road somewhere or another that will cause more emissions?

    Last year the plan in Takapuna was to sell part of the gasometer site and with the money construct the new car parking building. The site didn’t sell and yet money was found to build the car park – no public wringing of hands about some other more worthwhile project being impeded, it just happened. Coincidentally the sum was about the mid point of what is required here, $25 million.

    If there is truly an inclination to do this it will happen.

  9. “young people demanding better, older people moving out of the public conversation, steady modeshift”

    Heidi, this is not helpful about older people moving out of the public conversation – many of my colleagues around my age are deeply concerned about the effects of global warming, not just for the effect that it may have for their children, but also for themselves as they see that the level of emissions is increasing. Surely this issue is so large that it needs the cooperation of many to effect significant change?

    I believe that “steady modeshift” needs to be amended to “significant and steady modeshift” because a percentage or two every year is just not going to cut it in Auckland because largely there is little else happening. The easy one like decarbonising the grid, which will achieve significant change, appears to be about 10 years away.

    I see that even Cr Hill today was suggesting that Auckland Council was not doing enough (could they do any less?) in the reduction of emissions space. I don’t believe that the RLTP has the mix of spending right between PT and roads.

    1. Yes, significant and steady modeshift, from cohesive, long-term sustainable planning.

      And fair enough on the other point. I’ll refrain from saying that, then, if you don’t think it’s helpful. As I’ve said before, there are many older people taking climate action, and I imagine they will make sure they’re still in the public conversation far longer than those peers of theirs who prefer not to think about climate change. They are a minority, though, whereas climate-awareness is high in those young people who engage in the public conversation. My point was more about the changing trends in the conversation, which is different from using trends to prejudge an individual.

  10. Good to see something actually happening with this project. Any public transport right of way improvement will make a big difference along here. Will be interesting to see how much the short-term improvements make which should be a gauge of latent demand for quality PT around/to/from the NW.

  11. There is a historic brickworks site right next to the northern side of the bridge in Harbourview Reserve so I don’t think a second bridge would get sign off. Note there is also a significant local roost site for threatened wading birds like the wrybill on the southern end of the horse paddocks.

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