Welcome to 2021. After wrapping up 2020 before Christmas, here’s a look at some of the things we can expect to see in 2021.


Lots of projects to be completed

While we will continue to see and have to deal with the impacts of COVID, one big theme this year is we’re finally going start to see the benefit of all the disruption that the city has been experiencing with the completion/opening of a lot projects all around Auckland.

This is in no particular order.

Chief Post Office and Rail Network Repairs

Te Komititanga opened in December and in March the refurbishment Chief Post Office building is expected to be complete once again providing a grand entrance to Britomart. By then the repairs to the rail network that have been happening for the last five months and resulted services being slowed and many being cancelled should be complete.

Downtown Improvements

In addition to the CPO, over the next six months or so we’re also going to see the other downtown projects be completed. This includes

  • Quay St – expected to be completed by April but with planting ongoing till June.
  • Te Wānanga, the new public space over the harbour next to the Ferry Building – expected in May
  • The redevelopment of the Ferry Basin – Also due around April
  • The Lower Albert St bus interchange – Is now largely complete but only a few buses are currently using it till other works complete

Puhinui Station

The fantastic new Puhinui station is expected to be completed by the middle of 2021 and will make it much easier and faster to get to the airport by public transport. Along with the station will be the new bus/transit lanes on SH20B and on Puhinui Rd and Cavendish Dr.

Later this month the existing 380 service will be split into two routes, the 38 which will run from Onehunga to the Airport and Airport Link which will replace the Airport to Manukau leg and use fully electric buses. Once Puhinui station is completed this will shift to using it.

Eastern Busway Stage 1

The first stage of the Eastern Busway from Panmure to Pakuranga, which includes a new bridge over the Tamaki River as well as walking and cycling improvements, is due to be completed later this year.

Meanwhile, Stages 2-4, which covers Pakuranga to Botany and includes major stations at Pakuranga and Botany should make progress throughout the year but construction isn’t expected to start till 2022.

Karangahape Rd

The Karangahape Rd streetscape improvements have felt like they’ve dragged on for a long time but they too should be completed this year. Some of the already completed parts look great so we’re looking forward to the rest being completed.


Projects making Progress

As well as projects being completed, there are a number of prominent ones that will see substantial progress. These include:

City Rail Link

The CRL will continue to make progress this year but is not due to be completed till late 2024. There will be many milestones though and in April a big one will occur when the tunnel boring machine starts work. The first tunnel is due to be completed before the end of the year at which point the TBM will then be dismantled and sent back to Mt Eden to start on the second one in 2022.The most visible progress, or at least the most disruptive, will be at the Aotea station. The works at the Albert/Wellesley St intersection will be finished in the middle of the year at which point the Albert/Victoria St intersection will close. This will also see a number of bus route changes and hopefully some progress on getting cars out of Queen St.

New Lynn to Avondale

One of the many tasks over the Christmas rail shutdown has seen a new rail underpass built between Chalmers St and St Georges Rd. The whole project is not due for completion till early 2022 but by the end of this year I assume will be largely complete.

Northern Busway Extension and Rosedale Station

Significant progress has been made on the Northern Busway Extension as part of the Northern Corridor project, which is hard to miss if you’ve travelled the motorway between Constellation and Albany any time recently. The entire project isn’t due to be completed till mid-late 2022 however we should see one small part in operation before then – the new platforms at Constellation Dr, which makes the station look a lot like the stations at Akoranga and Smales Farm and would help in easing the bus congestion the station currently suffers from.


Projects starting construction

Third Main and Electrification to Pukekohe

Technically these projects have already started with some initial works but we should see them kick into gear this year. One thing I’m particularly interested in seeing is what gets done with Middlemore Station.

Papakura to Drury Motorway Widening

Waka Kotahi will be starting the $423 million project to widen the motorway between Papakura and Drury to three lanes each way, much like they’ve only recently completed with Manukau to Papakura.

Penlink

At least according to when the NZ upgrade programme was announced, it’s likely we will see the $411 million Penlink start later this year too. One thing to watch will be what the end design ends up as. The NZUP said it would be a two-lane toll road, which is more than sufficient for the anticipated traffic volumes. However, locals are continuing to push for a more expensive four lane version.

NW Bus Improvements

I’m perhaps more hopeful than sure on this one but we should see works start on the plans to improve public transport on the Northwest.


The Other Stuff

Some of the other stuff we should see this year.

ATAP Refresh and Long-Term Plans

This year is the point in the three-yearly cycle that many of the long-term funding plans get refreshed so we will likely see a lot of discussion about the refresh of ATAP as well as the Council’s Long Term Plan and the Regional Land Transport Programme. We’re not expecting to see anything radical in these but the big challenge will be how council and government address the funding issues brought about by COVID.

Unitary Plan Refresh

With the National Policy Statement on Urban Development removing parking minimums and requiring significant upzoning, we should hopefully this year see some information from the Council on how they plan to respond to it.

Climate Emergency Response

Late last year the government declared a climate emergency and this year we expect to hear more about what their plans to do something about it actually are. This is particularly important for us given that transport is the largest source of emissions in Auckland and one of the largest nationally.

Light Rail

We will almost certainly hear more about the government’s plans for Light rail this year. Will they stick to the expensive metro model or go back to something more like originally proposed? More importantly, when will construction start?

Skypath

This is meant to be the list to start construction this year but I suspect we won’t see it.

COVID

Finally for today, the impacts from COVID will continue to be seen, most notably in places like the city centre and on public transport as well as with funding.

There will of course be a lot more that happens this year.

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40 comments

      1. Uggh, I was really hoping to see *something* starting on Skypath.. it is well overdue as it is.

        And a freaking one-off truck crash derails better cycle infrastructure of course. 🙁

    1. Maybe that was just an oversight.

      I think it is a safe prediction though, it looks like it is good go go but it has looked that way for many years now. Lesson learned: if you want to build a bikeway, don’t build it through a rich neighbourhood.

  1. After 5 months of go slow and 7 weeks of no service at all, it appears the Pukekohe shuttle is STILL crawling along at 40km/h max for the entire 19 km.

    1. There needs to be a public report on how this was allowed to happen and what exactly will be done to prevent it in the future.
      I don’t necessarily want heads to roll, perhaps there is some really weird science going on that hasn’t happened exactly like this in japan Australia etc at any point over the last couple centuries. I seriously doubt it though, if its just incompetence then we would need to axe some people and bring in some actual professionals capable of running a rail network.

      They’ve been saying oh the track is really old that’s why its being replaced in all their videos, blaming the age almost entirely. This is simply not true everywhere though. The Britomart entry tracks for example are being replaced, that is pretty new track. It sounds like they just didn’t do the most basic preventative maintenance.

      1. I think it is probably fair to say that, regarding the Railways in NZ, we have:
        a) not got / no longer got the in-house experience / staff
        b) not got the money / maintenance budget

        The railways in NZ have been starved of funds for years and have lost most / nearly all their specialist knowledge. Mostly through the activities of the 90s and early 2000s, those companies that ripped off the NZ tax-payer and pulled money out of the system. It is like NZ just has railways as a hobby activity, rather than a core activity. Is it changing under Labour? Too soon to tell. Fingers crossed.

      2. My understanding is a report has been doing but is not public yet but basically puts it down to Kiwirail maintaining the network as if it was a little used freight network. This is due to both a lack of knowledge and also lack of funding. The lack of knowledge meant they didn’t even know there was an issue to address

  2. As long as we can see where the fourth main goes, the third main project is a great step, otherwise we’ll continue to see the little as possible/just in time approach to infrastructure that holds transit back.

  3. And the H2A Te Huia is suppose to start revenue service in early February , as of yet there is no start date .
    Has anyone heard yet ? .

    1. They’re waiting for confirmation of when track work in Auckland is complete and AT services are back to normal. Ewen Wilson from Hamilton City Council is estimating early March at the moment.

  4. SkyPath keeps receding to the horizon year after year. It’s a real example of what gets progressed in this city (motorways) and what doesn’t. Even after all the talk of the last couple of years. I know its a new year, lets feel positive etc, but I’m feeling a bit disheartened about cycling projects in Auckland.

  5. Its a while off completion, but I am interested to see the impact of the third main. Specifically whether this allows for express services for the longer distances like Puhinui (airport express?) and Pukekohe. And of course the link with the Hamilton service.

      1. It’s about allowing increased commuter services and freight services to run without causing disruption. All three tracks will be electrified with bi-directional signalling there will definitely be the opportunity for AT to run express services.

        The post CRL running pattern has peak express services from the south, although oddly they stop at all stations on the section with the third main.

        1. “The post CRL running pattern has peak express services from the south, although oddly they stop at all stations on the section with the third main.”

          Doesn’t sound very express. Got to be worth its while:

          Pukekohe, Papakura, Manurewa, Puhinui (change for airport/southern/Manukau), Ellerslie (Onehunga) then Newmarket (western) and Britomart. You could probably get from Pukekohe to Britomart in 30mins.

        2. From memory they will stop at Pukekohe, Papakura, Manurewa, Puhinui, Papatoetoe, Middlemore, Otahuhu and Panmure, although I imagine Drury and Paerata would be added to this too.

  6. Happy New Year. Great to see the blog starting again.

    There’s not much in the way of cycling happening.

    What about speed limit reductions?

  7. With the widening of the motorway at Drury does that mean they will be raising the bridge over the railway line so that it can be Electrified ? or will they lower the track .

    1. The tracks are to be lowered. Last I heard the completion date was a
      vague ‘ two to three years’ but I suspect it will be the latter, 2024.
      Preparation work has started – over the Xmas break several stands of
      macrocarpa were felled, a few km of temporary road laid alongside the
      track, and rail work done at Paerata.

  8. Does anyone know why the frequent crosstown, what is now the 66, terminates at Sylvia Park as opposed to Pakuranga? In the original RPTP 2012 frequent network, it was pitched to start at Mt Albert and end at Pakuranga, so I can only assume it’s something to do with route length.

    As a user, it’s quite an irritating omission from the East Auckland Network though, as it means a dogleg up to Panmure and then a range of local/connector-frequency services in order to get to Sylvia Park, Penrose, etc.

    It also makes trips to places like Sandringham and Mt Roskill more frustrating on weekends, as you’ll end up going into the CBD to transfer if you want to stay on the frequent network (the missing crosstown 65 bites again).

    There were also blog posts on Transportblog from before 2012 proposing that crosstown route, so I assume it wasn’t a crazy flash-in-the-pan suggestion.

    This is a completely non sequitur from the post topic, but I thought someone on here might have the answer — considering that I wasn’t a particularly keen PT rider with consultation that far back.

    1. There’s nowhere to turn buses at Pakuranga at the moment. When the 2012 plan was written they were potentially expecting the Eastern Busway to be open by the time the new network was implemented?

      1. That seems reasonable, the facilities at Pakuranga are terrible for being an interchange currently. What worries me is that the new interchange as part of the EB project isn’t due for completion until 2025/2026.

        I’ve often seen the Panmure-bound 711 drivers do dodgy maneuvers to go through the Plaza carpark instead of the mapped route — always seemed like that was fine though.

        Was picturing that it wouldn’t be much work to make that official and have a lay-by in that carpark area.

        1. There’s already existing bus stops along the route, I assume the only issue would then just be the CX of forcing people to transfer at Pakuranga as the facility stands today, which is pretty bad — 700m walk between the A/B and C/D stops.

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