A key milestone in the construction of the City Rail Link will occur in mid-2021 when the Wellesley St / Albert St intersection is reopened again, having been closed since March 2020. A few days later the Victoria St / Albert St intersection will be closed to enable construction and is expected to remain closed until mid-2023. City Rail Link also say the of the reopening

the exact timing of the reopening to be confirmed following coordination with Auckland Council’s Te Hā Noa Linear Park project. This timing will also coincide with the streetscape and urban realm improvements for the intersection.

This closure is one of the key drivers of the current plans to get cars out of Queen St as more of them will need to use the street while that intersection is closed.

As part of the change, Auckland Transport are currently consulting on some changes to Wellesley St in order to prioritise buses – consultation closes on Friday.

The Wellesley closure in March 2020, resulted in several bus routes being rerouted due to this work and many of these will now have to return to their original routes. The closure of the Victoria Street/Albert Street intersection will also mean moving bus routes that currently use Victoria Street.

Given the volume of buses to be re-routed and general traffic that will be re-directed away from Victoria Street, bus priority measures are essential to ensure people can still get into and around the city centre.

A map summarising the changes is below and the main change is adding bus lanes to Wellesley St which will really help improve reliability. For the section between Queen and Albert Streets AT are also proposing to remove general traffic entirely and say the road corridor will be narrowed . Also, there are a few issues with some of the roads on the map, though I think these are just a mistake and AT aren’t actually planning on recreating the central motorway junction a bit further north or shifting the area around Britomart further into the harbour.

What’s exciting is that these changes will be useful long after the CRL is finished and hopefully will help reduce the sightings of the Wellesley St Bus Sausage.

Wellesley Bus Sausage

One key addition I’d like to see is the westbound lane extended as close as possible to the intersection with Victoria St and Halsey St as that section can be the source of significant delays, especially in the evening peak.

It would also useful if AT were to make it harder for drivers to use Federal and Elliot Streets which would really help them become more pedestrian friendly. As it stands they’re often used by drivers trying to rat run to avoid congestion elsewhere. One simple potential change, and that would fit in with the council’s goals around Access for Everyone, would be to remove right-turn access to Federal St.

Here are the plans for the Albert to Queen St section which highlights the footpath being widened is on the Northern side outside Smith & Caughey’s.

As it stands, the proposal goes some of the way to realising the vision for the street as articulated in ATs City East West Transport Study back in 2014 which suggested Wellesley should get bus lanes its entire length with the central section becoming bus only.

The strategic direction for Wellesley Street is to become the primary east-west public transport spine across the midtown area of the city centre, providing a high capacity and quality bus route while enhancing the capacity and quality of footpaths for pedestrians and to support adjacent land uses, especially in the core to either side of Queen Street.

It is expected that dedicated bus lanes will be provided along the full length of Wellesley Street, which will enable separate allocations for bus movement and stopping.

Within the central core full implementation of this vision will require the removal of general traffic between Albert and Kitchener Streets / Mayoral Drive and a reduction in carriageway width to facilitate increased provisions for pedestrians and place making.

Finally, this consultation is not about the (much needed) changes planned for Queen St which will see two bus only sections added to Queen St to help prevent through traffic, though hopefully we’ll hear more about that soon.

This consultation closes on Friday so jump in and support it.

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17 comments

  1. By far and away the most problematic section of the bus routes to the Shore is the Halsey St/Fanshawe St corner – right opposite AT -a huge, pusy, suppurating sore right on their back side.

    It is problematic because of the huge volume of cars that enter the bus lane, often illegally of course, and impede the flow of buses so that they can spend 5 traffic light phase changes moving round the corner.

    Has the consultants report that happened about two years ago produced anything yet?

    This is the “low hanging fruit” that AT should be onto, to show that they are even contemplating taking PT seriously.

    1. There was a quick solution from AT to help buses at Halsey/Fanshawe turn left, but it appears everyone complained in consultation. Apparently, cyclists said it was unsafe and residents wanted to change everything, bus passengers probably said it wasn’t enough and car drivers probably said it was too much.

      What should have been a cheap road marking exercise would have turned into a whole intersection rebuild. So the project got scrapped. I’m guessing we will have to wait until the Fanshawe Bus/Light rail corridor gets built.

  2. As part of this will we finally see buses from isthmus go further than “midtown” (which is really upper town now that everything decent is centering around the water and Britomart).

  3. I know they’ll probably say “outside the scope of this consultation”, but while they are doing this, it would be nice if they could resolve the pedestrian priority crossing the entrance to Federal and Elliot Streets. Both of these look like continuous footpath as the vehicles entre what is supposed to be a ‘shared zone’. Some drivers treat the footpath like pedestrians have priority, but others assume vehicles have priority and just speed in here.

    It’s quite difficult, even with kids who pay good attention, because the footpath loos so continuous. When my kids are paying attention, they are very good at distinguishing between footpath and road, and applying appropriate road safety behaviour to each. When the footpath lacks differentiation, and drivers treat them as part of the road, it becomes much more dangerous. As an adult, I can look at drivers or make eye contact and work out what they are likely to do. My kids aren’t that socially skilled yet.

    I’d really like to see marked pedestrian crossings at all of these roads turning off an arterial – both sides of Federal, and Elliot.

    1. There was some consultation last year about changing the law so that pedestrians always have priority over turning traffic (as it is in most other countries), which is a really obviously needed change to legislation but I’m not sure whatever happened with that. That would basically change the minor approaches to all intersections into de facto pedestrian crossings. It would require a massive education and enforcement blitz.

    2. Absolutely, all of these so called sahared zones are complete rubbish. Fort st, britomart areas as well. Very few cars wait for you, many speed along, some go the wrong way down one way streets, and all the spare areas have couriers, ubers and other entitled cars parked over them so that they look just like any other street.
      And with the endless use of grey stone everywhere no one has a clue where these zones start/end. Complete opposite of Dutch style design for roads, bike lanes and footpaths.
      If you want a pedestrian friendly area then it needs to be fully blocked off, otherwise car drivers just abuse any space they can find.

      And the final picture looks so nice because there are no cars in sight. In reality this will be clogged up

      1. The other day on Elliot street I saw an Uber driver get on his horn because a big group was in his way. Slammed on his brakes and everything, they’d been walking there long before this car turned the corner and showed up. I think it’d help a lot if that street had some bollards to prevent through running.

  4. Good to see the linear park getting a mention. I had feared Auckland Transport may have tried to sneakily kill it off again.

  5. It is noticeable how different the picture of the proposed Wellesley St is (your final picture) from the actual Wellesley St (the bus sausage picture – truly horrifying). Clearly in the bus sausage pic something is not working – so my question is: what, realistically, is the change that is suddenly going to make those buses flow and not be jammed up in the sausage maker? There only appears to be 4 cars caught up in the sausage machine, so it is not that there are too many cars. What gives? What needs to give?

      1. You’re onto something there Miffy. Hadn’t spotted the road cones before – but you’re right. By my count, just one bus at the bus stop, and another possibly 17 buses parked in the road. Definitely room for improvement there !

        Seems to me that a Light Rail system wouldn’t get so stuffed up here, especially if it was grade separated. But clearly too many bus decks on the dance floor.

      2. That bus ‘lane’ is actually a pocket that would fit two whole buses. Yes it’s coned off but Albert Street and the right turn into it is closed, and the buses are simply using the closed turn lane instead to drive ahead.

        In this case opening the bus pocket (let’s not call it a lane when it’s two buses long) would do precisely nothing, except having two lanes of buses trying to fit into the same single lane ahead that’s full of cars.

  6. What we should be doing is removing all traffic from Federal Street to give space for bus stops and turning lanes along Wellesley Street.

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