In the announcement of the next steps for light rail last week, Transport Minister Michael Wood confirmed that part of the investigation over the coming six months is not just about the City Centre to Mangere route but that whatever is chosen will also form the basis for future extensions to the Northwest and the North Shore – as also envisioned in ATAP. In this post I want to focus on that shore connection.

Late last year Waka Kotahi completed the latest of many studies into Additional Waitemata Harbour Connections. At the time the main area of interest was the high-level programme that will be implemented over the next 30 years, as well as some of the key findings about the analysis of road options.

As shown below, the long-term programme involves three key steps: enhancing the busway, providing a rapid transit connection and then making some form of road enhancement.

AWHC Programme

Some of the findings around what the ‘road enhancement’ should be were quite interesting – highlighting the extremely high cost of a road tunnel, and the quite marginal impact any form of extra road capacity would have on travel times:

Setting aside the small matter of whether we want to spend $10 billion on inducing more traffic into the city and creating hardly any improvement in travel times, some of the work done in the business case on the second component of the programme – the rapid transit connection – warrants further analysis and a bit of questioning.

The business case looked at different rapid transit options in two phases – first through a broad assessment of options like:

  • Just enhancing the busway through station upgrades and better bus priority in the city, and doing no more
  • Turning the Northern Busway into some form of “Advanced Busway”, presumably using larger, tram-like buses.
  • Upgrading the busway to light-rail, and building a light-rail spur to Takapuna
  • Heavy rail on a completely different alignment to the busway (presumably in a really long tunnel)
  • Converting the busway to light-rail and then extending it in a tunnel right through the isthmus to Onehunga before linking up with the Onehunga-Airport light-rail system.
  • Building an ‘on-street’ light-rail system that follows key arterial roads (Taharoto, Forrest Hill and  East Coast roads) from Takapuna up to Long Bay

As per the earlier diagram, the busway enhancement was taken forward as a key part of the programme, but was considered insufficient alone to meet forecast future public transport demand. Therefore, at some point in the next 20 years, an additional rapid transit connection was seen as necessary. In the graph below it seems like the increase in bus volumes from 78 per hour to 110 per hour, almost one every 30 seconds, are enabled by the busway enhancement – but growing demand means at some point in the late 2020s through to mid-2030s demand exceeds capacity of the system. When this happens you can expect to see overcrowded platforms and buses getting in each other’s way, leading to slower and less reliable trips. A higher capacity crossing – some form of rail – would therefore be needed.

The business case’s second stage of analysis looked at a shorter list of options – each in addition to the busway enhancements.

A few things caught my attention about these options:

  • The ‘red’ option is pretty similar to what we’ve outlined in the past in the ‘Congestion Free Network‘ and other posts on here but instead of having a branch from Akoranga to Takapuna, the line serves Takapuna directly, like we talked about here. This is good in the sense of linking Takapuna with areas north and south more efficiently, but probably adds a huge amount of cost in the form of a long tunnel under Takapuna and between Takapuna and Smales Farm.
  • The ‘green’ heavy rail option is oddly different to the heavy rail option assessed in the earlier phase. This one terminates at Smales Farm, which means most of the North Shore would continue to be served by buses and heavy rail would only have two stations (Takapuna and Smales Farm).
  • The ‘blue’ light-rail option is essentially the same as the red option south of Smales Farm, but weirdly between Smales Farm and Albany it goes onto an elevated structure directly above the busway. Goodness knows why you would ever go to the trouble of building a massive light-rail viaduct right on top of a busway and serve no new areas than what already have rapid transit access from the busway.

The different options (including variations of the ‘blue’ option above that ended at Smales Farm or extended all the way to Albany) were modelled to compare forecast use in around 30 years’ time:

What’s noticeable from these results is that only the ‘busway to LRT’ option (the red option) sees rail meeting the bulk of public transport demand from the North Shore, with the busway playing a supporting role (given it would only exist as a busway between Smales Farm and the city). This seems sensible – in most cities around the world the higher capacity mode meets most of the demand and lower capacity modes play a supporting role. The other options seem like they would really struggle to stack up – with the massive new rail projects only serving a very small share of demand.

One potential issue with the ‘red option’ is that its capacity only just meets 2048 forecast demand levels. Unlike the other options, where the rail crossing’s capacity is fully ‘in addition’ to the busway, in this option converting the busway to light-rail means some bus capacity is lost. However, the other options seem like they have a huge amount of unused rail capacity – which I suspect means in their current form would really struggle to pass any ‘value for money’ test.

In terms whether the line should be light-rail, light-metro or heavy rail, or whether the harbour crossing should be a bridge or a tunnel, the business case briefly discusses these issue before summarising some of the key findings:

While there’s some useful stuff in here, I find myself with just as many questions as I started off with. Things like:

  • Should we really put much effort into upgrading the busway if we’re serious about a future rail crossing in a decade or so that will vastly reduce busway demands?
  • Why did the business case spend so much time looking at frankly bizarre options like putting a light-rail line right above an existing busway?
  • What’s really limiting capacity on a single light-rail line that serves the North Shore? If it’s the city centre (which I’m guessing is the case) then couldn’t that issue be fixed another way, by having two routes through the city or eventually tunnelling?
  • Is it really worth all the tunnelling to provide direct access to Takapuna from the north and the south, compared to a branch line from Akoranga like in the Congestion Free Network?
  • Would ‘light metro’ provide enough extra capacity to make the ‘red option’ work in the long-term?
  • At least some of the push for a duplicate corridor north of Smales Farm seems to be coming from concern about the disruption to the busway during construction. While not ideal, surely our planners and engineers are capable of coming up with ways of working around that, like they did when the harbour bridge was damaged. A couple of years of disruption is nothing on outcomes that will shape the city for a century or more.

I can’t help but get a nasty feeling that the rapid transit options looked at in this work are all far too expensive – relying on lengthy tunnels that either won’t ever be affordable or worse are simply a trick to get a road tunnel back on the agenda. In the past it was a case of building a motorway and maybe some PT/Active mode improvements will be tacked on but with the harbour crossing at least, it feels the opposite, building a rail line in order to tack on an even more expensive road.

With the new Light Rail Establishment Unit kicking off, I hope their work looks at more realistic and affordable options – such as involving a new PT and active mode bridge across the harbour and a single rapid transit corridor that meets the bulk of demand, supplemented by buses where it makes sense to do so.

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  1. I mean the key question is, is a bridge definitely off the table? Because the recent noises suggest not, and if not then heavy rail is out of the question isn’t it? Surely a light rail system running every 2 minutes is still a huge capacity lift over the busway

    1. Good question. A lot of focus has been put on consenting a new bridge and presumably preserving the historic views of the existing bridge. But what if the existing bridge cannot last forever? Do we understand its structural condition? If a new bridge is eventually required, why not a composite road and PT structure. If not, why not build an immediately parallel PT/active transport bridge of matching aesthetics, for minimal visual impact.

    2. Not necessarily.
      1) Not the same need to build such a tall bridge anymore.
      2) Bridge technology has improved immensely allowing for greater spans. A new bridge could start from Wynyard and end at the toll plaza etc giving it twice the span of the existing one.

      So lower bridge and longer means you reduce the gradient immensely.

      Couple that with adding in pedestrian/cycling lanes (which you can’t do in a tunnel) and it becomes an interesting prospect.

    3. If the light rail had a dead end then turning a train around every 2 minutes would be remarkable. If it connected to another line you would need a lot of trains to run them every 2 minutes for the entire line

      1. Why not both, terminating tracks, and through running tracks. Run half terminating on siding platforms and half keep running through. Or whatever balance makes sense.

    4. This report seems to imply that we should spend an extra 8 billon on tunnels because some people don’t like a bridge. Maybe they should pay the extra 8 billion then?

    5. They should build a new bridge with pillars for the skypath. How did a project like this get so far down the planning process with out the abilitity to build it

  2. In terms of staging, surely you can just build one section between stations at a time and somehow divert the buses past the construction site using the motorway shoulder or something?

    1. It depends on the final track construction style. Perhaps if it was concreted in so that on the surface it was flat, like legitimate tram tracks then the busses could run on the completed track sections still.

  3. Going directly to Takapuna will leave the same yawning gap that we have now in the NEX service (between the Bridge and Akoranga) and require a massively expensive tunnel – I feel like a decision is being made here first and then the workings are being done backwards to figure out how to justify it.

    It needs to be said point-blank: For the same money, we can either have a tunnel, or the entire North Shore can have a Light Rail network – main branch along the busway and probably a few offshoots or loops near ECB/Constellation. A tunnel is a literal money pit, if we’re going to spend that money, let’s get something transformational with it.

    1. Yeah, noone seems to want to have the fight on a new bridge, because it will be a decade of fighting over designs/colours etc. But if we could get a PT/Walking & Cycling bridge built next to the existing in a few years……

      Otherwise a bridge seems the ideal solution as we can then have an Onewa station and just have a branch to Takapuna with an underground station rather than bleed the budget dry for a huge tunnel

    2. Yes four options and they made connecting to Takapuna common to all. That looks like bias to me. Takapuna as Metro centre has always been a mistake and there is no need to throw good money after bad. Just link Takapuna with bus lanes and let them live with it. It is far more important to increase capacity elsewhere on the shore.

      1. The onewa interchange is much more important and would improve transit for way more people than a takapuna station.

        1. Hi Jack. An Onewa station SOUNDS great but how would it work? I suspect most people passing through are happy with their current destinations. Adding some extra buses sounds easier than stopping hundreds of buses at a busy transport junction

        2. It would make it a lot easier to get between the western side or the North Shore and any of the locations along the busway. Assuming that any rail option passes through the city centre to the SW or NW, an Onewa interchange would also allow much faster journeys from the western North Shore.

        3. Yes the lack of this station ruins the network around it.

          From Birkenhead going to Onewa would be by far the fastest option to go to places on the busway, and probably also to Takapuna.

          You could also have a better network for going to the city. There’s a few directions to the North Shore (Birkenhead, busway, Esmonde Road) and a few directions to the city centre (Ponsonby, mid-town, Britomart). Currently to move between all those directions you need separate lines for many of these combinations:

          Coming from resp. Birkenhead, the busway and Takapuna we have 97R, NX and 82 to the city, and 966 and 866 and… nothing to Ponsonby. Note that you cannot connect between 82 and 866.

          If you can connect between those at Onewa you can serve the same patterns with much less duplication. It will be much easier to serve all those combinations with frequent lines.

          Now, thinking about it, it would have to be a pretty big station, but there’s an entire former toll plaza over there.

        4. It would require extending the busway to that point which would benefit every busway user. Have a double island platform, potentially cross platform for the most popular exchanges.
          The trickiest part would be the interface between the bridge and the station, and the fact that busses should probably be on the center lanes soon, something that will have to be solved regardless.
          So yes, current busway users would have to stop at an additional infill station. But if you’ve noticed, the stops on the busway are very quick. Current busway users would gain significantly better access to Onewa road, one of the busiest bus routes of the city.
          And anyone on onewa road would gain much better access to the busway north and Takapuna, instead of the current situation where it is very often quicker to catch the bus accross the bridge to victoria park and get on a NEX bus and go back across the bridge again.
          There are a number of of other benefits, I think some of the most important is off peak travel, consolidated lines that could support decent frequencies all day are important for living on transit.
          I’ve got a few pages of notes and illustrated images, just need to consolidate and fact check all my stuff and it could potentially be an article (if GA would publish it). And maybe get someone who is actually in the know about civil engineering to look it over and sanity check it.

        5. Yes roeland, it would be an incredibly busy station, which serves as a great point to why it should be built. There’s all the toll plaza, and perhaps shuffling the motorway to the north-west a bit would gain even more space.
          It would untangle and consolidate a lot of services and have a lot of network benefits.
          One seat is not the goal, but good interchanges to reduce the number of connections needed is important, and this station would do this great. And with the really high frequencies, the experience would be great.

          The biggest challenge would be the interaction south of the station, onto the bridge center lanes, and off the motorway onto fanshwae street from the center lanes (unless we just let busses burn across 5 lanes to get to the left exit). And add the complexity of the movable center barrier. I think sliplanes at both ends of this section may be possible.

        6. Jack you say at 1.11 that busway stops are very quick. However are they not the Achilles heel of the busway in terms of capacity. If so we should finding ways to control busway stations use not encouraging more stops if the can be avoided

        7. Yes, I suppose letting people on and off public transit services does cause capacity constraints. It is however kind of important to let people on and off I would argue.
          The Onewa interchange will be very busy. But Fanshwae street will carry the same number of busses, and is more likely to be a bottleneck because it also has to be a normal street.
          I think the capacity constrains will be for the most part dictated by the most congested busway station (ie a bottleneck), onewa interchange could fairly easily be constructed to not be congested at all and have higher throughput than any other busway station. Hence not being an issue.
          I will check the width available and make sure there is enough for passing lanes and wide platforms, like akoranga. There are other busway stations more constrained on space without great upgrade paths that would be the constraining factor. There is quite a lot of space around the toll plaza, especially if some motorway shooing is allowed by NZTA. upto 65m of width, same as Akoranga which also has 4 platforms.

        8. Waiukuan, the busway was designed with an Onewa Station and it’s never worked perfectly without it.

          It was cut out by the Northcote point locals complaining about “bus people coming into their neighbourhood” and Transit NZ needing no excuse to cut the budget. You can still see some of the earthworks they did for when building the junction.

        9. Like everything an Onewa Busway station would have positives and negatives . Designed appropriately you would get the most positives and less negatives. Ideally we would like flow of 5,000 to 10,000 per hour at peak. This is 70 to 140 buses per hour with 71 people on each bus. required . This is 100 seconds for each bus to get through the station if you had 4 busbays. If you set up to terminate the bus routes at Onewa it would take a bus 70X3 =210 seconds to unload and 70x 4 – 280 seconds to load. Add 15 seconds to pull in and 15 seconds to pull out it would take 210 +280 +30 = 520seconds. This time is not available to you are going to require some express services.

        10. Jack, yes we’d be interested in seeing a post on the subject of an Onewa busway station.

        11. Agree with Heidi a proper full post on Onewa would be nice. Helpful if had some facts. are we expecting 500 or 5,000 passengers per hour and how many are changing buses? And how many buses per hour?

        12. @Waiukuan You absolutely would not want to terminate many, if any at Onewa I would think.
          Given that most users of the Onewa services currently are bound for the CBD, forcing an extra transfer would not make any sense
          and it would significantly increase the total requirement of NX busses right at the end of their run, why would you not just continue the Onewa busses.
          It does provide some network benefits for CBD bound passengers though, a better station to transfer at than Fanshwae. Eg an Onewa road bus user on a 97 bus transferring to an NX2 to go to uni instead of Britomart (I don’t know if that’s a great example, but plausible)
          The negative impacts for existing busway and Onewa road users would be minimal. An extra 30 seconds maybe. And I think offset by the improvement to the busway by its extension. Especially the improvement to northbound trips.
          The key benefit that the station itself provides, is mostly to trips / users that are not currently served by PT very well.

          I’ve been looking for documents detailing Transit NZ’s original busway proposal, before the Onewa interchange got axed. I’ll email WKNZTA soon.
          But If anyone has it on hand that would be very desirable.
          I’m going to also email George Woods, apparently he was one of the politicians originally driving it.
          And I’ve emailed the Northcote residents association, the current people cant seem to remember why exactly / all the reasons it was opposed. Largely parking they think.
          Concrete numbers and facts would be good, although I’m no transport engineer so take it with a grain of salt. I’ll be extrapolating info from other busway stations, and I would be able to provide little to no input in terms of cost.
          I take a few more weeks so don’t hold your breath haha.
          It would be great to have it on GA if / when the time comes, thanks Heidi.

      2. Akoranga bus station is walking distance from Takapuna but the route is hostile to active modes. A shared pedestrian/cycle/e-scooter path would probably be the biggest bang for buck upgrade.

        Considering it’s only 1.5km in a straight line which intersects a few roads and two waterways I’m surprised no-one has suggested linking Takapuna to Akoranga via:

        1. I thought the light rail branch option in the CFN 2.0 was a good one.

          Especially if light rail to the Northwest is still a thing – ending up with a 2 line network, Albany-Airport and Takapuna-Westgate, each running every 4-5 minutes at peak.

          There’s a lot of denser development going up in Takapuna at the moment, so I’d think it makes sense to have a direct RTN connection to the Auckland CBD, even if it is a Manukau-style spur line with the issues that entails.

        2. These systems are popular in South America and are supposed to have some of the lowest cost per km. But can we seriously expect no opposition to a line of gondolas floating in the sky? The deep pocketed residents of that area would take their complaints about the visual pollution all the way to the privy council.

    3. BW, as a Takapuna resident I think that the spur to Takapuna is an appalling option. First, as you say the cost will be horrendous.

      Second the current level of service, although not great, will be compromised. A few light rail trips cannot replace the plethora of bus routes emanating from Takapuna. Movements from Takapuna are so much more than to the city. If Auckland is serious about reducing car trips then there needs to be connected services from Takapuna to Milford and beyond; Devonport and surrounds; and of course to Akoranga and Smales to enable movement from there in whatever direction. As you say Matt, it’s all about the network; a network connected in many cases to the bus way (light rail/metro spine)

      I had the misfortune of working in Lower Hutt and trying to rely on public transport from the city. Remember Lower Hutt is a city, or was. There is a spur line to Waterloo, but because trains also run through the other end of the Hutt, trains are infrequent. I suspect a Takapuna spur will suffer from the same problem. The maths alone suggests this. At present Takapuna buses, at peak, have about a 10 minute frequency. With a 110 seat light rail this suggests 20 minute frequency. That’s not progress. I perish to think what frequency will exist at off peak.

      The Takapuna Spur seems little more than a vanity project and should be immediately canned with money diverted to spend all over the Shore, or elsewhere if it produces better outcomes.

      1. The spur seems pointless. I you had dedicated bus lanes all the way, a trip to say Commercial Bay would be, what….12mins?

      2. Doesn’t appear that way to me re. service level?

        Assuming a 24tph capacity each way at peak on double track south of Akoranga, with 12tph going to Albany/Silverdale and 12tph branching to Takapuna, there’d be light rail service every 5 minutes at peak to & from central Auckland. A halved off-peak frequency would still be every 10 minutes. With 400-450pax units, that gives a capacity of 5,400p/h/d just to Takapuna.

        That’s surely a big leap in both frequency and capacity over the current 82 bus (every 7 minutes at peak and every 15 minutes off-peak, assuming 70 seat buses gives no more than 700p/h/d).

        Linking a Takapuna station with the bus interchange outside ShoreCity (heck, if it ends up being light metro why not put the station underneath the mall or the future town square?) would make transferring straightforward, especially if local bus frequencies are also increased.

        I would agree that a spur line to Takapuna could be extended further for more benefit – perhaps to Milford to completely replace the 82 bus, or to Devonport to alleviate Lake Rd congestion. Or the junction at Akoranga could be designed to allow northbound Takapuna-Albany services as well, to partially replace the 83 bus.

        1. Matt
          you are just making these numbers up. Evening frequency is currently 30 mins.
          “A halved off-peak frequency would still be every 10 minutes. With 400-450pax units, that gives a capacity of 5,400p/h/d just to Takapuna.”
          Why would you run this frequency given the current level of demand? And AT doing nothing to change that demand. And if you ran it at this frequency it is likely to compromise existing services.

          The bus way could at relatively small cost be converted to metro, but surely not the case with a spur line through Takapuna.

          I also don’t think that you understand passenger movements in Takapuna. At the moment you have the 82 picking up people from the metropolitan centre and Esmonde with frequent stops and good speed. It should be better if AT fixed traffic jamming at Burns Ave corner (yellow paint) and at the lights on Esmonde (cone off the bus lane).
          On the other side of Takapuna passengers are picked up from the other terrace houses/apartment zone around Lomond St and travel then to Akoranga or Smales.

          Why would you want to turn two bus routes with good frequency into one light rail with probably less stops and less frequency?

          I know that there is support for this at the highest levels, but the thought process of what it will achieve is lacking. If we want a great public transport network (like Prague or Vienna) we will achieve it with each component being fit for purpose. Expensive metro to Takapuna is not part of that.

        2. John

          Check that timetable again. The 82 runs every 15 minutes in at least one direction between 5:55am and 7:40pm on weekdays, increasing to every 7-8 minutes between 7am and 9am.

          “Why would you run this frequency given the current level of demand?” Because high quality, convenient public transport attracts ridership.

          Akoranga Station is 1.5km from central Takapuna. Surface light rail, at approx $100m per km, would cost in the region of $150m. Trenched light metro might not be excessively more expensive – the 1km New Lynn rail trench cost $120 million ($150m today, $225m for a 1.5km line.) In any case, not anywhere near CRL costs.

          I think that you are misunderstanding how light rail would operate. Local routes from Smales Farm, Devonport, Bayswater, Milford, East Coast Bays, Esmonde etc. would feed into the bus interchange at the top of Lake Rd. Ideally this is where the light rail/metro station would be located, either under Shore City or the new town square. Passengers would be able to get off their bus and walk to the light rail to get to the city (and possibly Albany as well), just like on the Northern Busway.

          Surface light rail could also have another stop to serve the apartments around the Lomond St area.

          Light rail/metro would only replace the 82 route, with a higher-capacity, higher-frequency, higher-quality service.

        3. “or to Devonport to alleviate Lake Rd congestion”

          Bus priority. To the AHB and into the city, as well as to the ferry to the CBD (the latter being a 12min ride).

          Devonport could have great links with a bit of tweaking and priority.

        4. Matt
          I know the timetable as I use the 82 extensively, day and night. Night time, often waiting an hour because one bus doesn’t turn up is a nightmare.

          It is a very good service. One trip last week was 9 minutes Victoria Park to Auburn St. It’s not going to get much better than that. Will light rail/metro be sexier and attract patronage? Don’t ignore that station/stop frequency is important. Look at the metro Purple Line in Milan. It seems critical that any future service stops at Amaia (it would be a very poor outcome if 400 odd apartment owners drove most places, not to mention those using the businesses domiciled there. The most popular stop is at the top of Burns St. It would be unfortunate to sacrifice that.

          Why couldn’t local bus services all feed into Akoranga? Presumably that’s what it was built for as the walk up is negligible (it’s so far from anywhere apart from Rosmini) and there are about 12 bike parks.

          I remain unconvinced that a significant amount of money should be spent on a Takapuna Spur when almost every part of the network needs something.

          I suspect that patronage on all PT will not increase until we have pricing policies that cause significant numbers to embrace it. That may be even more important that the network. Responding to demand is also more economically efficient than trying to predict it, or create it.

    4. I’m also far from convinced that Takapuna is a really viable destination for the RTN. Logic suggests that as the commercial hub of the North Shore, and as a potential hub for high density housing (additional to what is already there) then it ought to be. But if you’ve ever used the frequent Route 82 bus, which is very efficient in getting there pretty quickly, then you’ll know that loads are embarrassingly light, even at peak hours. If you ever see more than a handful of people on the bus (yes, not exaggerating), it’s a shock. So investing mega-dollars to include Takapuna on the RTN could only be about catering for future post-densification demand, not at all for current demand.

      1. David
        I do use the 82 and your view of passenger numbers is way too pessimistic. On Saturdays buses can also be relatively with what seems like Gold Card passengers.
        Watching current densification around us post intensification demand is a long way away. At least 10 high rise apartment complexes have been consented but not proceeded.
        AT also has to have a fundamental mind shift around parking before PT use will increase. With them seemingly intent on providing acres of low cost parking there is little incentive for mode shift to occur.

        1. Sorry, John, I’m not convinced, as I have been observing Route 82 very carefully on both sides of the harbour for some months, in addition to using it myself on a roughly weekly basis. I do acknowledge I don’t see the morning peak loads, but I often see evening peak buses at Vic Park and they’re usually carrying truly appallingly few passengers. But I’m hoping this will change as the promised new housing developments take root.

          Part of the problem is that Route 82 serves only a very small catchment on the North Shore – basically only the area from Edmonde road to and around the Town Centre and a narrow strip bounded by Lake Pupuke and the sea between there and Milford. And much of that catchment seems to me to be a very wealthy area and I suspect most commuters use their cars – just because they can. I’m guessing that the route probably has the smallest catchment of any frequent route in the whole region. Milford itself is also not a large catchment.

          That may change – I hope it will – but for the moment I see it struggling to support the current service, let alone justifying replacement with light rail.

        2. David
          You and I might be largely on the page regarding the 82. While I think that it carries more passengers than you do, having ridden it at least 5 days a week until recently, I believe the route is wrong.

          I think that it should terminate at Akorangafor the benefit of the 82 and the NEX service. It is not sensible to run a half full 82 another 8.5kms to the city when these people could fill a NEX bus either to the city or midtown. It may also allow the NEX service to be run at greater frequency at off peak.

          Figures show that many car trips are of a short distance so in my view it is imperative that we have frequent services like Takapuna/Milford, Takapuna/Smales Farm (significant work areas), Takapuna/Milford/Devonport. Then it should be priced so that people are inclined to use it all day/everyday as so many people do in many European cities amongst other places.

      2. I suspect that most of the people that work in Taka live in the north shore. Given that proposition, its actually pretty poorly connected to the busway, and the rest of the north shore by PT. The first busway station that the 82 encounters after leaving from Takapuna is fanshwae street. Investing mega bucks in connecting takapuna to the city not that important, investing in connecting it to the rest of the north shore network would be much better. Again, big advantage of an onewa interchange, and extending the busway proper south, the 82 would visit 2 busway stations north of the bridge, and be a main link (essentially the spur).

        1. First off – missing the point that the busway is going to be insufficient for demand in the next 5-15 years. No point in upgrading or extending it; instead conversion to light rail or light metro should take place to increase capacity. Yes, this ought to include a station at Onewa too.

          Second – if light rail/metro to the Northwest is built, a Takapuna spur aids in creating an effective operating pattern. Albany-Airport and Takapuna-Kumeu, two lines every 4-5 minutes each at peak (every 2-2.5 minutes where they combine). It would fulfill the role of connecting Takapuna travellers with buses to Birkenhead and the Inner Shore.

          Third – for better northbound access to/from Takapuna, trains arriving at Takapuna could be reversed back along the spur, and then up to Albany, similar to Western Line operations at Newmarket Junction. This would also have the benefit of increasing Albany-City service frequencies.

        2. I’m not fundamentally opposed to light rail to Takapuna (though I’m sceptical about demand). But to invest megabucks to facilitate an operating pattern as Matt Bear suggests is not a good use of taxpayer dollars in my book.

        3. David, a simple T-junction at Akoranga would be a very small part of the total cost of North Shore light rail or light metro.

          I am aware that reversing trains back out of Takapuna to head north is not a perfect solution – my intent was to suggest solutions to better connect Takapuna with the rest of the Shore.

          And be “skeptical about demand” all you want – but you might want to read the main article a bit closer, or the reports on North Shore mass transit. ( The busway was forecast to be unable to meet demand by the 2030s, and since ridership is measurably bouncing back after the pandemic I don’t think that will be set back too greatly.

        4. Jack, Takapuna is the centre of most of the North Shore bus network. Buses from Long Bay to Devonport to Beach Haven go directly there. It’s a natural hub, demand centre and a potential transfer point.

          There are some odd bits, the Onewa Road to city buses can’t connect to it being the biggest one. A good takapuna spur from Onewa Rd and Akoranga fixes all that. I agree even if it isn’t light rail they should still do that busway spur with a bus via those two stations rather than the motorway and esmonde road route that misses the connections.

          Its basically a bridge between Akoranga station and central takapuna over the mangroves. I think if you do light rail through Akoranga then it makes sense to do the 1.5km branch to get to Takapuna makes a heap of sense.

          This business of trying to make it on the main line, and diverting the main line via a 6km long tunnel through Takapuna is crazy.

          All that does is save people coming from the far north having to change trains at Akoranga, people coming from Onewa or the south of the harbour still get a direct run, and people on local buses from the central north shore still get their direct bus.

          And apart from the billions of extra cost it means everyone else gets a way longer ride. It would make Smales Farm to Akoranga as long as Rosedale to Smales Farm!

        5. Not to mention that a Takapuna spur could be used as an interm terminus, to establish CBD-Takapuna service before converting the busway to light rail. Could possibly speed up the project to do it in stages like that?

  4. I am concerned that improving the bus network is not considered. 183 cities in the world use a form of Express buses whilst we run the busway as if it was heavy rail

    1. More wondering aloud here than making a serious suggestion.
      I wonder how an extension of the existing heavy rail line in the west would work that ran to the northern parts of the North Shore and possibly then on down to the southern parts and eventually crossing the harbour and back to the CBD giving a future north west loop

      1. Loops are bad, London actively got rid of theirs, and the outer link loop causes huge waits routinely at Victoria park.

        1. Loops are a great way to give a high level of service but fail or appear to fail in two circumstances. 1/ If you are trying to maintain a timetable the train or bus has to wait somewhere. That is no different to a branch where everyone accepts the unit waits at the start. So a loop appears to fail rather than fails. Think of it as a circular branch and it is no problem.
          2/ As you get closer to capacity headways a loop becomes more problematic as delays become cumulative. Auckland is nowhere near that situation on any rail existing or proposed. Buses in traffic are a different matter, loops get worse and worse all day.
          In all cases there are usually significant cost savings to loops as you can achieve more with less.

        2. Loops are great. Seoul has a great one which is the heart of their network. Just need a branch line off it to final a few trains here and there to adjust headways. Best way to create a network.

        3. Miffy, the difference there is with a loop you have to stop and wait in-service while there are still people onboard waiting to get somewhere.

          With a line or branch that wait is done outside of the timetable, so you only have people waiting to get on the next scheduled departure which you get anyway.

          Cost savings on loops only happen if you make them one way rather than both ways, but they are only useful when they are so small the time penalty of going the wrong way around is negligible.

          If it’s a two way loop then that works where you have a series of adjacent origins and destinations that are dotted along the loop, and where people only want to go a quarter of the way around or so. Going halfway round the loop is a long way to get to the other side, and going three quarters or all of the way around is pretty useless, being over three times longer than going direct… even though you are effectively spending service to support that.

          Compare that to a theoretical straight line where the route between and two pairs of stations is always the shortest distance possible, which is the most cost effective service possible and the shortest passenger trip possible.

          I highly doubt there is any part of Auckand where the suburb to suburb trips tangential around a large loop would warrant any kind of rail, not compared to the vehicle-kms you’d have to run to get a half decent service.

          TLDR people don’t want to travel in circles and loops only work for very small areas or for masses of short tangential trips.

          Anywhere you see them like London, Tokyo, Seoul, Moscow etc the networks have several direct lines cutting across the loop, and they are for the second role. In london you might use it to get from Westminster to Victoria, but you’d use the direct line to go to Baker Street or you’d connect between two direct lines to get to Kings Cross.

      2. The heavy rail in the West goes well to the West of developing areas and the added complexity and scale of connecting them with the North Shore for passenger-only services is massive, given that we need a rapid transit option on SH16 anyway and continuing that up SH18 would be simpler and far-more efficient. It would easily cost 10x as much to do this with heavy rail than it would with Light Rail once you add tunneling costs and alignment issues. I’m not sure there’s much of a case for anything other than rapid bus transit between Westgate and Constellation for the next few decades anyway.

    2. We used to run express style buses and it was flipping awful. Changing to a proper network with a trunk line and feeders was the best thing AT has ever done on the North Shore.

      1. Yes it must have been awful for passengers who got buses from their homes to work directly. I am sure they must of hated it and feel much better now especially when they wait and wait for the feeder bus to take them to finally get home.

        1. Speak for yourself, I find it much more convenient catching a NX1/NX2 from the city to the Shore (there’s one every 3-10 minutes), and then having the choice of catching local buses from two busway stations or walking home. Direct buses home from the city under the old network did not run nearly as often, so if I missed my service I had to wait or catch another route with a longer walk home.

          It’s true that local buses should be running more often than every half hour – but I concur with SailorBoy, the new hub & spoke network (at least on the Shore) is definitely more effective than the old bus network.

        2. My life got measurably better when my four-times-only-at-peak-on-weekdays express bus was replaced by a shuttle to the busway that goes every fifteen minutes, all day and night, seven days a week.

        3. It was awful for me as a person who had a direct door to door bus while studying that only left twice a day, so that if I stayed late studying, went to a bar, or needed to go home to visit an ill family member it took four times longer. The new system is much better with the absolute worst case being a single half hour wait.

        4. Both the direct buses and Hub and Spoke models have their benefits which will depend how they are weighted. If on changing you get more services to your area you are likely to benefit.
          The problem is that when Auckland Transport adopted the Hub and Spoke in 2018 , they based it on a misprint in a 2012 book.
          They went for an exclusive transfer model when it should be a Hub and Spoke with some direct buses passing through the hub without needing transfer.
          Every bus transfer takes time and even a few more seconds per person can add up to large amount of time when you consider thousands of them.
          Adding Direct Routes (which are used effectively in 183 cities) could potentially increase the capacity of the stations without the need for massive infrastructure spend.

        5. For those who like Maths here is how a direct route is faster for passengers, requires less buses and de-congests busy bus stations.
          For example say you had 60 people on a feeder bus approaching a busway station and there were 20 more wanting to board. For simplicity sake all want to go to the CBD, that it takes 3 seconds to get on a bus and 1 second to get off.
          The feeder takes 60 seconds (60×1) to unload passengers and 240seconds (80×3) to load everyone. So the curb is in use for 300 seconds or 5 minutes.
          The direct bus takes 60 seconds to load then leaves . So the passengers have a faster journey, the busway station is de-clutered and less buses are required

        6. Here is the actual maths.

          If you have 12 L shaped routes that each take an hour end to end with 75% of their time on the busway then you can run each service once an hour with 12 buses. Your average wait time is 30 minutes.

          With those same 12 buses, you can run a bus every 10 minutes on the busway and every 24 minutes on the end of the L. Your average wait time is 17 minutes including the transfer.

          This is *even better* for people who aren’t going into the city though. Previously you had to catch your L shaped rote and swap to another L shaped route. That journey had a 60 minute average wait time including the transfer, now it’s 15 minutes.

          The bottoms of the L can (and have) also be paired so that buses travel through from one end to the other. Previously that journey had a 60 minute average wait time including the transfer, now, it’s 12 minutes.

          This is the maths that the new network is based on and it’s why we saw a massive jump in bus journeys immediately after the new network was introduced.

        7. Sorry but you missed a vital bit-carrying lots of people to the CBD. if it is busy my route would do better as you only have half the frequency of buses in my model. You have them every 10 minutes whilst mine is every five minutes ( 12 per hour is every five minutes)

          Mathematically I prefer this model as it is easier to hold in your head,
          Consider a CBD at the South end the busway running north for 40 minutes and three feeder routes of 20 minutes each. Plan routes with 36 buses.
          There are three direct routes so 12 buses each. A round trip is 120 minutes so each is 10 minutes apart on the feeder section and 3min20seconds apart on the Busway.
          The Express and feeders can set up how they like. If they had 24 on the busway for an 80 minute round trip they would be 3.333 minutes apart and the 4 feeder buses on each route would be 10 minutes apart. So identical. The difference would be once the network got busy . The express feeders would lose so much time unloading and loading they would not be able to keep to schedule

        8. What particular three direct routes from the CBD are you referring to? There were certainly more than 3 on the old North Shore bus network, and a lot of these were reduced in frequency and (as Sailor Boy & Riccardo say) easily took longer than the current busway-to-feeder transfers. What you’re describing is closer to the current North Shore network, with the NX1/NX2/866 busway services supplimented by the 82 route to Milford and the various routes splitting off at Onewa Rd.

          The Northern Busway will not have capacity to handle demand by 2030-2035, regardless of running a hub-&-spoke or direct network. Light rail is the next mode up in terms of capacity, and has the potential to meet demand to & from the CBD until the 2060s.

          Light rail can run at peak frequencies of every 2-5 minutes. LRVs have multiple pairs of doors and level boarding, so it’s easier for passengers to get on and off more efficiently than the present double-decker buses.

          A hub-&-spoke network is simpler to operate, simpler to understand (especially for tourists or new users), and ensures redundancy. If I miss a NX1 from Britomart I know the next one is no more than 10 minutes away. When I used to catch the 891X home from the city, it only ran every half hour at peak. If I missed it, I had to wait, or find another bus at a completely different bus stop with similar low frequency.

        9. Sorry for the confusion. The three routes are just for modelling so numbers are divisible.
          Which part of l the Northern Busway do you think will meet capacity first?
          The replies here run a common thread. Low frequency of buses bad high frequency good.

        10. It’s not what I “think”. Once again, as explicitly covered in the above GA article, it’s what official modelling shows, for the busway as a whole.

          Yes, higher frequencies are better. One of the biggest deterrents to wider public transport use (based on discussion I have had on a Facebook group) is having to wait 20-30 minutes for the next bus and train, whether taking a direct journey or transferring at a bus station.

          You’re not going to convince people to get out of their cars with a direct bus route for their journey, if that bus can only run every 30-60 minutes. Why should they plan around a rigid bus timetable or wait at the bus stop for that long when they could just drive anyway?

        11. The simple fact is you can’t justify high frequency all-day service on express routes to the city, because in Auckland the small section of suburban catchment (often less than a quarter of the route length) can’t furnish enough passengers to justify the cost of running them every fifteen minutes all day. At best you might manage one an hour.

          But make them a quarter the length just shuttling back and forth to the station, with a quarter the cost and a quarter the buses on the road and you can. Same base demand, same resources, but you have four times better service levels so you get more patronage.

          This also means you can optimise you service capacity on the trunk. Instead of say sixty buses an hour each coming from sixty separate little suburban catchments, each running once per hour and being 10% full, you can have twelve buses an hour that are 50% full that come every five minutes on a trunk that everyone uses.

        12. Hi John D
          The benefits of having a bus run from the suburbs through a busway station and carrying on the busway to the final destination depend on the numbers using the route. For example Browns Bay to Constellation to Britomart would be more likely to work than Browns Bay to Constellation to Newmarket. Therefore 60 little catchments would not be your typical use. If it were to be introduced I would recommend 6 routes Long Bay, Browns Bay and Mairangi Bay to Britomart and Auckland University.

          Sorry I have not quite followed your maths. I will say that busway to suburb is an hour and the main trunk is an hour. I will say there are 240 buses to use. I would have 60 4 hour loops with buses one hour apart. If you wanted to have the feeder routes with buses 5 minutes apart you could only supply 10 of them and you have no buses going to the CBD.

        13. You’re misunderstanding of the maths might be from not understanding the context. Feeder routes aren’t really an hour long each way on the North Shore, routes only get up to an hour when they run into town and back or do an overlay service. The only ones that get up around an hour run time each way are the routes that connect to the busway at both ends, so effectively they are two feeder routes that run through to eachother.

          And feeder routes five minutes apart is a pretty huge leap from direct service sixty minutes apart. Why not fifteen minutes?

          In your theoretical timings, the trunk running every five minutes for an hour each way (two hours return) would use 24 buses. Out of your 240 buses that leaves 216 buses for the feeder routes. Say those are half an hour each way (one hour return), you can run 54 suburban feeder routes, each every fifteen minutes.

          I can guarantee that 54 routes will move a lot more people where they want to go that 60 routes that only come once an hour.

          Do the math. Fifteen minute frequency shuttle to five minute frequency trunk: Average wait 7.5 mins initial + 2.5 mins transfer = 10 minutes, range 0 to 20 minutes.

          Hourly direct service, Average wait 30 minutes, range 0 to 60 minutes.

          We have actually tested this you realize? The busway was designed for branching direct service to the city centre and ran that way for its first ten years. There is a reason they have successively removed the direct routes to run a rapid transit network plan with connection: its more efficient, works better for users and more people use it as a result.

        14. Sorry John the maths has got a bit lost in translation .I will try again this time with two examples to increase chances of success. I will try to make it realistic but ultimately it is a model as you want to keep the maths simple rather than dividing by 23 or the like.

          So I am going to say the express portion is Albany to Britomart 45 minutes. Then there are 6 feeder routes which take 15 minutes one way. I am going to say you have 48 buses. For the direct route each route will have 8 buses for a 2 hour round trip so every 15 minutes. On the express portion the 6 routes are all going the same way so the buses are 15/6 = 2 ½ minutes apart.
          Now if we did feeder and express method we could put 2 buses on each feeder so 15 minutes apart. This would leave 36 buses for the express service. The express is 90 minutes around so you would have a bus every 2 1/2 minutes. The two services are identical

          What about a 30 minute express and 4 feeders of 10 Minutes. 32 buses. Feeder and express first. 24 for express gives you 24 buses in 60 minutes one every 2 1/2 minutes. 8 for the feeders is 2 for each feeder of 20 minutes cycle so one every 10 minutes. What can the direct do? Well 4 round trips of 80 minutes. So 8 buses for an 80 minute trip. Feeders is a bus every 10 minutes. Express 60 minute trip with bus every 10/4 =2.5 minutes.

          Both identical. This may be a surprise to some but if you think objectively the model compares the same number of buses in the same loops going at the same speed. The only thing we can control is how much is on feeders and how much is on express. Some of you will have seen maths for buses following different routes but that does not apply here.
          So where is the difference?
          Well we have to drill down to more detail and look at the interchange between feeder and express compared to a direct bus passing through the same station on a busway.
          Assume it takes 3 seconds to get on a bus and 1 second to get on that we are looking at a busy stage with 60 people on the feeder and 20 waiting at the station to get on. For the direct bus it stops and spends 60 seconds for the 20 people to get on then leaves. The feeder bus spends 60 seconds getting every one off and then leaves. The express loads all 80 people on over 240 seconds then leaves. So this part of the journey is three minutes slower for passengers and uses 4 minutes of “curb” time of the busy bus station. As stations the places where busways hit capacity the using the feeder and express system exclusively will cause the busway to fail many years before the direct method. I would be interested to read any journal publication that says other wise.

        15. The proposed limit of a bus every 33 seconds means buses will be 720m apart in the 80 km/hr sections. Therefore the roads are not likely to be the problem the stops will be . Hence using methods to de-congest the buses at stations could extend the life of the busway.

        16. The busway has entirely separate mainline and connector platforms (once constellations second platform is open) Circulating buses from one side to the other requires them to drive through flat intersections with give way conflicts across the mainline. Driving a local bus onto the mainline section is far more of an impact of capacity and reliability than passenger loading time. That is why they’ve fixed the last remaining mainline conflict point at constellation.

          Putting local buses on and off the busway would be a massive backward step on capacity, not to mention the efficiency issues of having mostly empty buses running up and down the busway all the way to town instead of optimizing the trunk.

          Most of feeder routes will not be full if you run them at decent frequencies, except at maybe an hour or two at peak.
          Terminating them at the stations to aggregate their loads on the trunk allows you to move as many people as possible on the busway.

          The point isn’t to run as many buses as possible, the point is to run as many busloads of people as possible.

        17. Sorry I meant how is the 83 being managed at Constellation when th new set-up is finished?

        18. I found this to add to the conversation

          “While not universal, one group of services that seem to be frequently underperforming are peak only services. Of the 24 routes below their target range, 11 are in this category and include the 125X, 171X, 221X, 223X, 22A, 243X, 248X, 24W, 333X, 504, 72X. Given these services are often some of the most expensive to operate and with AT potentially needing to cut back some routes, these are surely some of the prime candidates.”

          Underperforming relative to what AT expected. So maybe they were expecting too much. And I cant be bothered downloading the stats and finding out myself. But you could if you felt so inclined. Answer the question weather these express services are any good, by finding their boardings per service hour.

        19. The 83 is the exception to the rule as it’s the one route that still moves on and off the busway proper, although now it will no longer share the same outbound path as the NXs and it’s not encumbered by the trip into town and back.

          As Jack points out if you want to evaluate the real world performance of L shaped express routes all the data is here, boardings per service-hour is a good measure of cost effectiveness, and boardings, punctuality and reliability of usefulness.

        20. Hi Jack And John

          The figures are interesting but does not tell you how much time is spent transferring passengers from one bus to another . It would be interesting to get these figures just for the peak hours, and also for the 881 when it ran,. The 881 was a picture book example of what I am describing. It ran the feeder portion from Torbay to Albany, it treated Albany like a normal bus stop then ran to Britomart ( Picking people up as appropriate) . It then used Britomart like a normal bus stop before running like a normal bus past Auckland University, Auckland City Hospital to Newmarket.
          At peak it usually was totally full at Constellation or Sunnynook, leaving people behind. Once it even left people behind due to a full bus at 11:30 am at Smales Farm. So there is plenty of demand for these services. Of course none run now so you cannot see their numbers. They gave a faster trip for people as they did not have to transfer. They freed up the Albany bus station as no transferring people meant the network had good flow. The impact becomes increasingly important as a network becomes busier AT proposed peak is a bus every 33 seconds. At 60Km/hr that is a bus every 550 metres. So it is not the road portion that causes limits it is the stations. Getting people quickly through the stations is the key. Making thousands an hour transfer between buses is not.

        21. I understand your point Waikuian. And am inclined to agree, there is scope for extending some services, say nx1 or 2 or a similar service (nx3 anyone?) further across to Newmarket say. And in the future, there will probably be even more. Say if we had god tier bus priority, connect the 70 and the nx2 (only half joking). Or just extend the nx2 further somehow without stepping on the toes of say the 70 and having double the busses running on a route, which would be very sub-optimal.
          But this is a fine balancing act. We want busses to be decently full for as much of their route as possible.
          The 881s downfall was that in order to significantly increase capacity on the core areas where it was filled up they had to run services from Torbay where for all of the feeder route they were reasonably (relatively) empty and would be even more so if they increased capacity to fully serve the core areas.
          A lot of the demand for the destination was the University’s so that’s essentially why they created the NX2 to replace it. Have reasonably full busses for most of the route. From Albany to the University’s. And the 83 to serve the 881s old feeder portion. ( I presume, I haven’t fact checked)

          Forcing transfers only makes sense when there are other considerations to be made that come first. Better bus utilisation for example. And where it wont have a wildly negative impact on the busway.

          Albany is an example where there is huge scope for increasing the size of the station itself. With grade separated walkways etc. It’s not a super efficient layout, and with only (admittedly long) 2 platforms at the moment. Some stations wont be so lucky, so avoiding terminating or having transfers there wouldn’t be very advisable, sunnynook comes to mind.

          But I think axing the 881 was a good move. The tail and head of the route were under utilised, and in order to meet demand on the core it would have been ever more so. There was huge demand like you said on the core route, that we can now serve fully with a hub and spoke model. Admittedly for users that lived in Torbay in your example, this pattern is worse, but overall it makes our busses more efficient, and allows people further in to always get on the bus. So overall its a win.

          Now I dont have boarding data for stations for the 881, but I rode it a few times from Albany to the uni, and most people got of at the uni, and got on along the busway. So I feel i got a reasonable idea of its demand.

          My point is there are a lot of downsides to the old model, and the negatives to the hub and spoke are mostly able to be mitigated through other simple means for the time being.

        22. The time being only last to2030s when the stations fall over. What then? Running local bus through the stations onto the busway avoids transfers and increase stations capacity.

        23. The other way if looking at this is how many people can board on the busway? I will say we board 30 at Albany, 30 at Constellation, 10 at Sunnynook and 10 at Smales. It takes 3 second to board so it takes 90 seconds to board at Albany and Constellatiion and then allow 30 seconds for the bus to leave and the next to line up so 2 minutes in total. So in an hour 30 buses can pick up. Say 4 busbays gives 120 buses picking up 30 which is 3,600 per hour at Constellation and Albany. First sunnynook it takes 30seconds to pick up 10 people. Then 30 seconds to pull in and out so one minute. 60 per hour xten equal 600 x 4stops equals 2,400. So 3,600jfor Constellation and Albany. 2,400 for Smales and Sunnnook give 12,000 per hour max. You could get some more by loading at 2 doors. What could you do other than build more stations,which get inefficient if they become too large. You can use Express buses ( toaviid 30 second delays) or run local buses straight on the busway. Which is more efficient

  5. I have multiple concerns and questions.
    a) the perceived upper limit of an LRT system is very low, link light rail in Seattle would be a better model to design the system. At least from a max capacity corridor perspective. Plus like you said Matt, not every vehicle has to connect through to CCTM, even some trains terminating on seperate platforms downtown, and the rest continue to saturate CCTM would be a valid solution in the short term. Perhaps light metro is needed on this corridor in order to have acceptable max capacity.
    b) none of the new PT crossings take the shortest route, from Wynyard to northcote or an onewa station. Is there some bogey monster in that bit of rock specifically? Not connecting to an onewa road station is also not ideal, I have been trying to write some kind of longer form (longer than a comment) piece to champion this route.

    Overall really unusual choices that hamper most of the options looked at.

    1. The report seems to be based on a new bridge being in the “too hard” basket so everything has to be a tunnel to Taka

      1. Lol new bridge like the one we already have but narrower and more moder is too hard.

        Ten kilometre long tunnel under the city centre, the harbour and takapuna, that’s much easier!

        1. Yup, they haven’t even bothered looking at tunnel-related variants which seems incredibly lazy. And leads to very random outcomes that are shown above

        2. I mean, even if an underground isthmus route is chosen, surely a bridge would still be possible (& less expensive) with the line transitioning from bridge to subsurface tunnel at Wynyard?

          Similar to the Skybridge that the Vancouver Skytrain uses to cross the Fraser River, which goes from a trenched section to a suspension bridge with 45m clearance.

  6. The existing busway surely won’t have any services running underneath it or overhead, right? It’s basically already a blank-slate, grade-separated corridor. In that case conversion to light rail using prefabricated track sections should be fast.

    I mean way back in 1968, with significantly less mechanisation than we have now, it was possible to lay 7km of track in a single day.

    I don’t think disruption to the existing busway during construction should be considered as a reason to not convert it to light rail. It should be something that can be staged outside of peak hours and to minimise bus disruptions.

      1. Ah, that’s unfortunate but not an insurmountable problem. Moving them would be simple (but not cheap). Or there may be an engineering solution that allows the light rail to go on top with the joint pits still being accessible.

        1. Given the Northern Busway was future proofed for light rail I’m guessing these cables have been located to allow for this?

        2. “Future Proofed” doesn’t mean what you think it means. It doesn’t mean “designed and built with easy conversion in mind”, it means “basic geometry that’s probably not impossible to retrofit something at a later date”.

  7. Lightrail allows the road to be multipurpose. The road can be used for both buses and Lightrail, thus minimises disruption during construction staging.
    With the current busway construction going on between Constilation and Albany, why not install the Lightrail tracks planning for the future, thus making it multipurpose for the bus way and Lightrail.

    I also agree with you on building a new PT & active mode bridge. Love the views going over the bridge each morning.

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one excited by the idea of an active mode bridge. Within engineering constraints, I’d love to see what a linear park-style bridge looked like with light rail, trees and a pedestrian boulevard.

      1. You have sold me on the park-bridge.

        Also, no funky looking towers or supports. Make it as flat and unobtrusive as possible, both to limit the visual impact of the bridge itself and enhance the park-like design.

  8. When I was working in various industrial jobs in South Auckland I would always have fellow workers who would commute by car from the shore none used public transport. Before we race off and spend more millions on more studies could we set up some experimental services too explore just what is possible and acceptable for the commuting public. For example I would suggest a peak time bus from the shore running across the bridge to somewhere like Ellerslie Train station. So from there there would be good access to Southern and Onehunga trains and buses to Panmure and Botany. It would completely bypass the CDB and Newmarket in just the same way as the motorway does in fact it would use the motorway. Most Industrial jobs are 8 am to 4.30 pm so maybe there would only be a couple of services each way. And there would always be the option of using the network as a backup in the event of missing the dedicated point to point service. So could we have a yearly trial if it doesn’t work then it can be dropped and we can move on with planning for more cars across the bridge.

    1. I agree Royce. Two lanes of the motorway bypass the city so there appears to be a need for transport bypassing the city.
      Analysis of 2013 census data showed more people travel from North Shore to work in the rest of the city isthmus than to the CBD.

      1. Bang on. In all the time I lived and studied in AKL I never needed the city but like many others I lived north of the bridge and worked beyond Newmarket. Likewise I later lived south of it but still did some contracting work in Albany. I feel that forum is often too CBD focused at the expense of the rest of the city. Having lived in Denver, Hamilton, London, Rome, Cardiff, MK and Lyon I really notice this. London too was CBD centric but over the last 10 years the city has realised that more happens in the periphery then in Westminster/Chelsea/The City.

    2. Rowe,l am all for trialing stuff,before a massive commitment. There is currently an LTA trial being run in Onehunga,involves restricting access to some roads.The opposition has at times been slightly feral,bit like the US,”take my gun,lose my vote”,some of the local board members have tried to have it stopped.
      So the question is ,how do you trial,something,that would need,bus priority,presumably removing carparking,etc,to get residents of North Shore to their work in say Penrose,the locals will tell them to get stuffed.
      This stuff requires leadership,Auckland has none,(all of Auckland’s transport policy is being run from Wellington).Goff will only back something, if there is a vote in it.It is heartening to see some councillours opposing projects that are politically popular,but are ultimately” wrong ” for Auckland.

      1. Why would it need bus priority it can just take its luck in on the motorway. And why would it involve loss of parking in Ellerslie the bus would just stop at the bus stop.

        1. “Taking its luck on the motorway” is what the 72X to Howick currently does, and it gets caught up in peak hour traffic – thus being held up and made less convenient for commuters. Effective public transport requires priority (bus lanes, busways, light rail medians, etc.) so it’s not held up by cars and can thus run to schedule.

          I appreciate the point you’re trying to make about a CBD bypass service, but honestly I think that goal is much better achieved with mass transit & easy transfers than a limited-hours express bus service. More frequent, more convenient public transport into/stopping at the CBD should also encourage revitalization of the central city for jobs, leisure, and living options.

          For example, in future:
          1. Local buses feeding into RTN stations every 15 minutes at peak.
          2. North Shore light rail every 4-5 minutes at peak to central Auckland.
          3. Easy cross-transfer transfer at Aotea Station to the Southern Line or Onehunga Line, every 5 minutes to Penrose.

    3. There’s already a really good way of getting from the North Shore to Onehunga, Panmure and Botany. Bus to Britomart, train to Panmure or Onehunga, plus bus in the case of botany.

      I’m not sure an express bus to Ellerslie would make any material improvement to these commutes. It would be very unreliable in it’s running time between the bridge and Ellerslie, which would be a problem for connections to the infrequent Onehunga trains.

      1. I think it will be easier for public transport newbie to accept as most people just don’t get having to change between modes or buses. Also it misses out that drag from the bridge to Britomart the 100 metre walk and the descent into the station the wait for the train its all a bit much for someone who is used to arriving by car. And I am still debating as too whether Ellerslie is the right destination as it doesn’t connect to Great South Road buses. Maybe it could come off at Greenlane and terminate at Otahuhu. So all stops on the Northern Busway express to Greenlane all stops to Otahuhu.

        1. I don’t think we should even bother catering to people who think a 100m walk between modes is a hurdle

        2. Are you saying Kraut we should not bother to supply PT to people who struggle to walk?

        3. Of course not, I’m saying it’s inevitable that these short transfer distances cannot be eliminated – and obviously designed as best to allow those with disabilities to navigate it easily – and someone who uses their existing as a way to bash the system as being inefficient is probably a lost cause to PT and should be ignored

        4. Kraut said ” I’m saying it’s inevitable that these short transfer distances cannot be eliminated” What I am saying is some short transfers CAN be eliminated. There is enough volume from East Coast Bays suburbs to Central Auckland to add in direct services through the busway stations. This is not only beneficial to the people using the service but also to the entire network as time is not wasted at busy station transferring passengers. This increases the through capacity of the stations and the speed of movement for everyone. Many years ago someone commented that the University students should just walk from Britomart instead of having the 881 take them to uni. Imagine the chaos tomorrow if all North Shore Uni Students had to get off and on at the Britomart bus stops. Direct services enable boarding and disembarking to occur away from “Hot spots” like Britomart and busway stations.

        5. Waikuian, the problem with direct bus routes is that they are more expensive to run, can’t operate as frequently, and only intuitive to regular users (one of the main & justified criticisms of the old bus networks in Auckland).

          Hub-&-spoke enables more economic operation with shorter routes, higher frequencies, and is easier to understand especially for new riders.

          Also, since the busway needs to be upgraded to light rail by the 2030s, running busway services into the North Shore suburbs is going to be an impossibility at that point. Better to increase the frequency of feeder bus routes from each station, in my opinion.

          I do agree that transfers are better consolidated closer together, at stations or town centre hubs, to make transfers more convenient and accessible. At the same time a short distance shouldn’t put off most commuters – for example, if light rail stopped in front of Britomart at Te Komititanga Square.

          The way to make transfers most convenient is frequency. Local buses every 15-20 minutes meeting rapid transit every 5-10 minutes.

        6. 15-20 minutes waiting at a busway or LRT station is still not good enough is it? Somewhere like the Shore really needs to be getting to 10 minute frequency for local buses, otherwise you just waste endless time at transfer stations

        7. Generally agreed, although:
          – A 15-20 minute local bus frequency doesn’t necessarily mean a 15-20 minute wait. If a train line runs every 5 minutes and a local connecting bus runs every 15 minutes from a station, the transfer waiting time would be no more than 10 minutes.
          – Also, multiple routes with overlapping walkable catchments could be used or promoted to effectively create higher frequencies. E.g. the 901 and 907 routes from Constellation are timetabled to give 15 minute frequencies to Unsworth Heights, with a good (if improvable) deal of overlap for the respective 10-15min walking catchments.

        8. Four train station have being closed on the southern line Wiri Mangere Westfield and Southdown making the line pretty useless for workers who work at premises along the line. There is need for bus services along great South Road to fill these gaps. Really there is a need for station bridging buses all the way from Homai to Newmarket. Problem is Newmarket is a very difficult place to get too for a bus but good by train. Also it is not a good place to start or terminate a bus service either. I fear we will never be able to run a usable public transport system for workers outside the CDB unless we can solve this sort of problem. I expect we could find many other work destination that are effectively car only. We will never solve our car dependence unless we are prepared to experiment a bit to provide services around the bottle necks. My suggestion was aimed at that. I fully endorse using feeder buses to stations on the busway my concern is with what happens at the other end of the busway. There is a limit to the number of changes that should be required for any journey.

        9. @Royce. I keep saying that the current 321 “Hospital” bus should be run for a longer span (doesn’t start early enough to cover when trains not running yet & only runs to about 7pm and doesn’t on weekends at all) at a say 20min frequency when it’s currently 30mins for this and other reasons. It’s pretty sparse but I know it duplicates a number of other routes but this one runs through a lot of the transfer points & could also be another good backup when the train lines are out especially unexpectantly. If it happens in peak there is usually no extra buses available to help with the load of people that suddenly can’t use the train lines.
          It would help through the Otahuhu, Penrose, Ellerslie, Greenlane area mostly which used to have stacks of buses pre-new network with all the direct services that would run up the Gt Sth Rd.

        10. Yes I agree with that Grant my idea is to extend the 321 bus service to the super clinic at Manurewa from Middlemore via Papatoetoe, Puhinui and Homai. Not sure if it needs to run weekends but definitely earlier and later. The dog legs to Greenlane and Otahuhu to a certain extent slows it down but maybe that’s not too much of a problem as most passengers would only use it for short feeder to the nearest station or bus interchange. For example come off the 70 bus at Ellerslie then change to a South Bound bus in the vicinity of the now defunct Southdown. Or train to Homai then bus to workplaces in Wiri. Of course an express bus from the northern bus way to Ellerslie could also feed in. And then of course you still have passengers to the hospitals plus now we would have one more.

      2. One of the problems with going through the CBD is we do not want excess buses into the CBD. If we can easily reduce the number of people catching buses from North Shore to Britomart and onto southern directions by providing a bus straight there why don’t we? It takes 8 minutes to get from The Harbour Bridge to Ellerslie via the motorway . It takes about 20 minutes going Fanshawe to Britomart to Train.

      3. Firstly, CRL is coming and will shorten and spread out transfers from busway to rail in the city, many bus routes will be able to directly interchange with aotea, which will be a better, faster change and will offer a faster route, and higher rail frequencies. This will vastly improve the attractiveness of long north south routes from what they are today. Combined with hopefully more bus lanes in the city the direct motorway route will be less of an advantage. There is some value to express services. But it’s a lot further along than people think. Adding express services when you’ve got 10 minute frequencies on a route would be detrimental overall. 6 busses per hour, presume you turn 2 per hour into express services. This leaves you with 15 minute frequencies on your route, and half hourly express services. Not an improvement. If you’re running busses every 4 minutes, running a couple express busses per hour could be an improvement imo. Say a northern express^2 where it stops at the 3 busiest busway stations. However these express services have to end and begin at major “hotspots”, that is what the University offers, it’s a massive consolidated destination. With semi consolidated hours.
        “ Direct services enable boarding and disembarking to occur away from “Hot spots” like Britomart and busway stations.”

        You can’t expect to people to flock to a direct bus service that doesn’t put them either at a huge destination (uoa has 43,000 enrolled students, plus staff, most of which are in the city campus, and that’s just one uni) or put them at a big distribution network, like a PT hot spot. Off the top of my head I can’t think of many other consolidated destinations on a remotely similar scale to the University’s.

        1. Yeah the Uni argument from him doesn’t make any sense, frequency is the key, as well as priority while moving through the core. The faster busway users can get onto trains, the better.

          Although I would like to see how Aotea is going to work with buses as there are only 2 main entrances, rather than say 4 corner entrances like NY Subways have, meaning road crossing will be required?

        2. Hi Jack . Journey planners 25 minute trip from Fanshawe street to Ellerslie Train station involved only 2 minutes of waiting for a train. The train journey will be the same length so unless the lines are speed up or there are express services the CRL will not make much difference.
          I agree it is not as simple as simple as the AT head saying put in Express services. There needs to be careful weighing up of each one and what times it would operate. For example at peak you could run buses express every 30 minutes from The University to Silverdale only stopping at Albany and Silverdale. This would be one less bus stopping in Constellation at peak time and if you missed it you would still have your normal service.
          In his Bus Rapid Transit book Professor Munoz explains how express buses can take pressure off stations and is used in 183 cities in the world . This is summarised here

    4. As a Torbay-Greenlane PT commuter… I’d love that. Google maps once suggested I catch the 064 School Bus (Albany-Busway-Market Road-Remuera Road-Victoria Ave).

      1. What kind of time does that take, out of interest? Because on the face of it, it looks pretty simple, Busway to Southern Line

  9. Waka Kotahi have “weaponised” the bicycle,by rejecting the cycle way on existing bridge,and are using it ,to justify a 2nd bridge,which will be much easier to tack vehicle lanes onto.The tunnel option does not suit them,there’s the pesky detail of extra truckloads of dirt,when you add vehicle lanes.They will never give up on justifying adding more vehicle lanes.

  10. The busway alignment and grades were specifically designed to enable conversion to light rail. The complicating factor will be the twin 220kV cable laid along its length to improve the grid resilience. The cables are laid with thermal backfill but it’s the locations of the pulling and joint pits that are likely to be a challenge when converting modes.

  11. Why are we even talking about another labour crossing? Why not just put the rail over the existing harbour bridge – we now how induced traffic works the other way – you constrict capacity and traffic evaporates – So use a lane of the harbour bridge for 2 rail tracks.
    And as for what Tyrol of rail, in NZ we are blessed (cursed) with a narrow main gauge track a gauge that is suitable for light rail or heavy rail right? Why can’t we just build a rail line over the existing harbour bridge that heavy light or whatever rail can use. And of course a spur light rail line on the existing roadways off to Takapuna and even down to Devonport.
    And if 2 rail tracks take up more than 1 lane of the bridge, perhaps the left over space could be incorporated into the sky path for active travel. Ideally the sky path would be on one edge of the bridge, but could heavy rail use the clip-on lanes?

    1. Aside from the issues with adding new load to the existing Harbour bridge (which I discussed replying to your other comment Peter) – I’m not convinced by the concept of interoperable tram-trains in Auckland.

      Running more lines on effectively the same network will reduce service frequency on each line. And if there’s a choke point where light rail meets heavy rail, all lines on the network are at risk of being disrupted by any incident or accident.

      The advantage of separate heavy and light rail networks is that both systems can run at higher frequencies (every 5mins at peak, every 10mins all day) and are independent so that delays or closures on one will not impact on the operation of the other.

      1. Running more lines on effectively the same network will reduce service frequency on each line”.

        This. Why is there such a devotion to doubling down on HR at the expense of the wider network? We need new rail networks and LRT is rail too.

        1. I suspect it’s those in favour of ‘one-seat rides’ everywhere.

          But it seems to me that a short, accessible transfer between two lines running every 5 minutes would be way more convenient time-wise than waiting up to 10-15 minutes for the next direct service.

        2. Kiwis go to London, Paris, Tokyo, etc (or did) and rave about getting around the city, hopping between tube lines.

          Then come home and want a one seat ride everywhere, if they want spending on trains at all….

        3. Person coming back from holiday, progressing to 12 hours later:
          “The transport in Europe was so good, we loved taking it”
          “I would take pt in auckland if it was any good”
          “I dont support bus lanes that would improve PT because it would make my drive longer”
          “Something something free lunch”
          “Aucklanders like their cars too much”

          Same can be applied to bike lanes

  12. You know when you ‘if it looks wrong, it probably is’.

    All those dog legs out to Takapuna before heading north look wrong….

    It’s on (the beginning of) a spur (peninsular), it should be captured with a spur. Why should the rest of the shore suffer to incorporate some bizarre side mission?

    1. If the goal is to enable Albany-Takapuna travel, I feel that a (somewhat) better solution would be to send at least some Takapuna spur services back to Akoranga and then north, somewhat like the Newmarket dogleg on the Western Line.

      If it’s more City-Takapuna service/capacity that’s the goal – there are other options. Frequent bus/BRT from Devonport. A ferry terminal at Takapuna Beach. Retaining some bus services from Milford/Takapuna to the CBD.

      1. The existing ferry takes longer to get from Devonport to Britomart than the bus takes from Takapuna to Britomart. A ferry won’t be faster.

        1. Good point – the current ferries are probably better placed to serve their surrounding catchments (and taking pressure of the buses feeding into Takapuna).

        2. That doesn’t make sense Sailor Boy. The ferry takes 8 to 10 minutes to get from Devonport to Britomart depending on water traffic. Its realtively because it spends most of its time in maneuvering around wharves at 5kts and only has about one nautical mile at 12kts in the middle. So that five minutes of steaming and five minutes of departure and approach.

          The 82 bus takes 22 minutes to get from Hurstmere Road to Hobson Street (it doesn’t go to Britomart) at the best of times, and over 30 minutes during peak traffic. To get to Britomart you need to add on another five to ten minutes to change buses at Victoria Park or on Queen Street, or walk.

          The old Takapuna wharf location is 6 nautical miles from the downtown ferry terminal, 1/3rd of that in the 12kt zone and 2/3rds unrestricted.

          A quick sum, 2 miles at 12 knots is ten minutes, 4 miles at 20 knots is twelve minutes. Departure and approach five minutes. So something like 27 minutes. Thats competitive if you are departing from the northern end of Takapuna or going to Downtown, and very competitive if you are doing both.

        3. Having said that I think the CFN plan of making takapuna wharf a stop on the Gulf Harbour to downtown ferry is a great solution. No extra boats and just a slightly longer route. Makes getting to Takapuna from Gulf Harbour way easier too, as well as between downtown and takapuna.

        4. ..and if the Ferries were the same price as the rest of PT then we’d be onto an even bigger winner.

          Would love to commute by a cheap, Electric Ferry every day, the dream.

        5. The ferry takes 8-10 minutes moving, however, you have forgotten to add the time between the last entry and actually moving and the time to tie up at the other end.

          The bus currently takes well under 20 minutes. Hop off at Fanshawe Street and swap to the NEX or any other bus going to Britomart. A ferry wouldn’t even be competitive for travel between the actual wharves. If either trip end is further away, then you are even worse off. Transfers to rail are even better by bus as the bus will stop on top of Aotea Station.

          A Takapuna ferry would only be useful to link Takapuna to Gulf Harbour and once Penlink is built even that would be faster by bus.

  13. irrespective of the mode I’ve often wondered if the construction of a second harbour crossing shouldn’t be used as a chance to improve the connection of the Devonport peninsula. I would take a bridge from Akoranga to the end of Walters Street, Hauraki. Then run a solid causeway down to the end of the Bayswater peninsula, reclaiming some land for a new suburb. From the end of Bayswater peninsular across Ngataringa Bay to the end of Stanley Point I would see a bridged causeway. At Stanley point I would tunnel under the harbour coming up around the intersection of Parnell rise and SH16 to connect into the motorway system or the Parnell section of railway line.

  14. I think it’s pointless to look at new fancy rail options while we are fiddling with 1 (one!) line project of light rail for 4 years now. At best if the construction for that one starts the other options will become labour promises (probably unfulfilled in the future) for the next election and nothing more

  15. Why didn’t the business case look at the obvious options? Converting the existing busway as far south as Onewa Road to LRT and running on street on two routes through the city centre or converting it to metro and running under the city to the universities or the hospital?

    Something has clearly gone wrong in their longlisting if that wasn’t considered or in their MCA if that didn’t make it to the short list.

  16. In looking at the timeframe of this decision, should not greenhouse gas emissions and the Paris objective of achieving “net zero” by 2050 be a consideration? If so, which options meet this objective operationally (hint: road options will fail). As for construction, which option has the smallest “footprint” and embodied energy? Each cubic metre of concrete has an embodied energy of about 5 GJ. So using more concrete than we need to is not a good thing. Similar problems with asphalt and steel, which also have far shorter lives. If we are serious about reaching net zero, we should be preferring the transport options that have the least impact, while still doing the job.

    1. Asphalt cement is arguably one of the most recyclable products known to man.

      Cracked, tired and potholed? No problem – Heat it up and let it reflow.

      I don’t know how much we recycle asphalt here, but in many countries none goes to waste. Energy intensive to make, but less energy intensive to recycle than many other materials.

  17. One big lobby group seems to have been missed here. The road transport lobbyists want another crossing as they abhor the ring route, so politicians may bend to that allowing more cars in. This must be resisted. However, there was talk of a new bridge. Perhaps a new bridge for buses and trucks only, but tolled for trucks (and could have the cycleway) could appease the truckers who are unlikely to go away otherwise. The old bridge should be able to cope with “just cars’. We also need to reduce the use of buses as much as possible as tyre dust is becoming as much a problem as carbon emissions. Tyre dust’s micro-plastics are the second greatest polluter of our oceans currently, so we need to be careful how they are used. I believe that we must also future proof our transport, so as I believe, in time, rail will continue on to Warkworth, either directly or via Kaukapakapa, that it would be easier to build HR in the first place so that it is a case of adding onto the existing line. I would also support a light rail system from Long Bay to Takapuna and Smales Farm, possibly even share the harbour crossing tunnel? If this was promoted now the future for the North Shore would be less likely to be like the current South Auckland Southern Motorway enlargements parallel with Mill Rd projects we have.

    1. The road transport lobbyists abhor anything other then road based transport solutions.
      They want to sell more and more road vehicles, preferably cars and trucks but are prepared to accomodate some buses as a comprimise.
      They want to build and maintain more and more roads and decentralised office and retail parks on greenfield sites. Sprawl to them is ongoing income.
      They are well resourced, both with money and strategic placement of “friends”. They largely have the backing of a compliant media that is heavily dependant on advertising from this sector.
      Mode shift to public transport is a threat to their livelihoods and so they are reacting accordingly.
      I strongly suspect as a rearguard action they agitate for any public transport solutions, and cycling infrastructure to be gold plated, they call it “future proofing” knowing that this will curtail further encroachment into “their” territory.

      1. I agree. I am just suggesting that they are thrown a bone to gnaw on, but with a toll for them, so they don’t persuade the politicians to build another road route for cars.

  18. Sorry for all the spelling mistakes in previous post, but what do we need a second crossing at all – just “Take the Lane” of the existing harbour bridge for rail – Seriously what is wrong with that?

    1. Because the Harbour Bridge was not built with rail in mind; furthermore additional strengthening works aren’t really feasible anymore.

      It would be able to handle light vehicles indefinitely with usual maintenance, but it seems carrying heavier buses and trucks could become more of an issue – hence moving North Shore mass transit to a second crossing and encouraging more road freight to use the Western Ring Route.

      1. Matt OK if heavy rail on the existing bridge is out, what is the difference in weight between a light-rail group of carriages and 2 or 3 heavy trucks in convoy on the bridge?

        1. Light rail is capable of handling gradients up to 10% – see the Sheffield Supertram in the UK, on Netherthorpe Rd.

          But that’s not the reason why adding light rail to the Harbour Bridge is not viable. It’s to do with extending the bridge’s lifespan by minimizing the number of heavy vehicles using it.

          Light rail vehicles can weigh around 50 tonnes. According to the NZTA, the largest allowable single heavy truck + trailer should weigh no more than 44 tonnes loaded.

          The NZTA have indicated that the Harbour Bridge cannot be realistically strengthened anymore to carry heavier vehicles. This means that a rail crossing of the Waitemata Harbour would need to have its own second bridge, or a tunnel.

        2. @matt bear. The maintenance and strengthening issues relate only to the clip-ons. The centre lanes are fine for heavy traffic indefinitely and built much stronger than the clip ons. Which were an engineering experiment and a bit of a failure.

          There is also the fact that total vehicle weight doesn’t really matter, weight over length is much more important. The lrvs might be 50 tonne total but if they weight less than the equivalent end to end of suvs over their length, it actually might not matter. Not sure what popular lrvs density is though.

          We could build 2, 2 lane tunnels for cars, and give 4 of the bridge lanes to pt and walking / cycling. Be that light rail / non mainline heavy rail / metro. And have a permanent solution.

          This would be a non ideal solution however because the tunnels with ventilation, and such width would be more expensive than twin rail tubes.

        3. Jack thanks for that – this points the way to a solution – light rail 1 or 2 of the central 4 lanes, foot and bikes using one of the outer ones and motor vehicles evaporated through having less space. No need to build another bridge which in this era of climate emergency has a pretty massive footprint in itself, let alone the long tail of induced emissions (or electricity requirements) through allowing people to keep car commuting in significant or increasing numbers.
          Even if all vehicles on the road were zero emission EVs, it is simply very inefficient cart one (or 2) people around in 2 tonnes of metal taking up 10m2 of space. Just make better use of the existing bridge and restrict car commuting with a congestion charge is the way to go I think.

  19. I am still in favour of the simplistic solution.
    By pass Takapuna, although a spur could be added later.
    Extend the central isthmus, Dominion Road?, mass transit solution from Britomart via Fanshaw Street through the Wynhard Quarter replacing the City Link service, thence by short undersea tunnel and convert the existing bus way full length.
    A refinement could be to have the tunnel surface on the Western side of the motorway and provide a bus transfer station at Onewha Road. The mass transit route would then need to cross SH1 above or below to join up with the existing busway formation. Perhaps a cut and cover station a la Mt Eden CRL?
    I still think the GA Congestion Free Network plan of some years back is still fundamentally sound and a good compromise between quality, and extending the reach of the network.

  20. Considering that the Northern Busway should reach capacity in the next 5-15 years, I think combining North Shore and Airport rail lines in a single project could be a good idea.

    I can see it making the upcoming choice of light rail vs light metro more complex though, especially considering that the Northern Busway to LRT option is forecast to just meet demand in the report, and that seems to be based on 400-450pax units running every 2-3 minutes.

    Does Auckland:

    1 – Build both lines as LRT first, with provisions to be converted to LM at a later date via a new CBD-Onehunga underground section.
    2 – Build the CBD-Airport LRT first, followed by North Shore-Onehunga LM, at which point the Onehunga-Airport section is converted.
    3 – Build both North Shore & Airport lines as LM from the beginning? (And in that case what happens with Isthmus buses/surface light rail?)

    It seems like any of those 3 options would end up with similar overall costs.

    1. Hi Matt Bear
      When you say the Northern Busway should reach capacity in the next 5-15 years what do you mean? Capacity of the stations? The road between stations? The CBD part? Each have different impacts and potential solutions.

      1. The network as a general whole – vehicle capacity, station crowding, right-of-way capacity (especially off the busway from Onewa Rd to the City.)

        Figure 14 in the article above forecasts that demand (the number of people riding the busway) would exceed the capacity of buses running every 30 seconds by around 2030. Even articulated buses and a complete advanced busway would also be unable to meet demand by 2035-2040.

        When opened the busway was forecast to reach capacity around 2041. In 2017, due to faster-growing actual ridership (17-22% per year over 2012-2017), that deadline was brought forward to 2026-2030.

    2. Just build HR from Pukekohe to Silverdale via the airport. Higher capacity (50-50,000 per hour). For those distances HR is best. Later, build LR from Long Bay to Devonport and/or Smales Farm.

      1. The Northern Busway is not built to carry heavy rail; also it is too steep (particularly between Constellation and Sunnynook). An alternative route would be necessary, as the NZTA investigated in their 2019 report – it could cost as much as $20 billion for a single line.

        Compare that to a light rail conversion of the busway, costed at $3 billion-$5.5 billion.

  21. A general comment on any future Northshore lines and for that matter any new high capacity RTN lines before I digest this more:
    I suspect we should be emphasizing city shaping more rather than meeting current and expected patronage numbers on existing routes. This is especially more relevant given the amount of housing demand we are likely to experience for the foreseeable future.

  22. Have other ‘capacity easing’ methods been looked at to get a few more years out of the busway?

    What about 50% discount for off-peak fares?
    Free off-peak fares?

  23. So no consideration of building the shortest possible underwater tunnel, then conventional underground rail through a newly-intensified Devonport?

    (Leaving the busway exactly as is.)

    1. An option that would not increase capacity between Akoranga & Albany?

      An option that would be more expensive (due to the longer tunneled length), disruptive, and likely to come up against opposition from Devonport residents who tend to be quite resistant to major intensification or development?

      I’m not opposed to such a line, or to intensification in the Devonport area – but I feel that’s more realistically a long-term goal, and one that could get ‘stuck’ trying to accomplish at present. Tunneling to Onewa Rd, then rebuilding the busway as light rail + a Takapuna spur, seems to be the more economical and more deliverable project at the moment.

      1. Matt Bear
        Do you mean between Albany and Akoranga because I have never seen a lack of capacity going the other way?

        1. … I was referring to Albany & Akoranga as end-points, not to a specific direction of travel. You’re making a strawman argument there.

      1. It’s going to happen at the same time that Ryman add another 3 stories to their retirement village at Ngatiranga Bay.

  24. Can you provide links to directly access the graphics in this post or improve the resolution so that information on the maps can be read clearly?

  25. Is there a reason why a ferry service is never discussed when a harbour crossing is proposed? A 2 minute frequency service would surely be possible, with Amsterdam style barge ferries, and of course not operated by Fullers. Thus removing the need for another bridge or tunnel, and billions of dollars. Has Fullers destroyed any positive thinking regarding ferries?

      1. There are a lot more wharves than just Devenport. Northcote and Birkenhead are similarly direct routes.

        1. Those people already have access to ferries. Or is the argument that we don’t need to address the Northern Busway congestion because more people are going to use bus services to get to additional ferry services in small pockets of the Northern Auckland suburbs?

        2. Most of the ferry services of the inner harbour (north) are for locations far away from the Northern Busway. Same for Gulf Harbour.

          Different catchment, different solution I would have thought, though bound to be some overlapping areas.

  26. Why does light rail have to be separate from the busway. Light rail tracks can be buried in the street, like at Wynyard Quarter, so what wrong with burying them in a busway. They probably can be buried in the asphalt on the harbour bridge – save on another harbour crossing.

    1. The goal is to get heavy vehicles (buses, trucks, light rail) off the harbour bridge, since there’s not much more additional strengthening that can be done. Trying to retrofit light rail on the existing structure would likely be prohibitively expensive & disruptive, and require more long term maintenance, so I assume that long-term a second harbour crossing would be more economical.

      Trying to run both buses and light rail on the same corridor would not be good for service – it would limit the frequency of light rail from the city to Albany & Takapuna, it would limit the line capacity, and it would make the line vulnerable to disruption. A bus breaking down on the corridor would halt all light rail services.

  27. Still not seeing anything the justifies a Takapuna rail spur. Not in my lifetime, anyway.

    I suppose an argument can me made of a route that goes through to Milford and follows the coast, linking up all the bays, say to Browns Bay. But for many out that way, they would be an equal distance to the existing busway (converted to LRT). Just seems a nice to have and in many ways, duplication.

    I am not sure there is a viable route anyway and it would be eye-wateringly expensive.

    1. As of the 2018 census Takapuna Central had a population of 2370 (which will grow, thanks to the new apartments going up in the area).

      Manukau Central had a population of 771, and it has its own heavy rail spur.

      Besides, it seems like you’re considering Takapuna light rail only as a means of meeting existing demand – not as a way of inducing demand and encouraging new development/intensification in its catchment. Central Takapuna is zoned for high-density mixed use development surrounded by residential terrace/apartment zoning, and light rail would enable this full development potential to be unlocked in a transit-oriented manner.


      1. Manukau transport hub was developed to be the major bus/rail interchange for the south. Its not just about local population numbers. Takapuna offers no such opportunity for the north.

  28. They do need to be looking at a combined RTN and active travel bridge. We can’t build a new bridge for active travel and then say the RTN connection has to a more expensive tunnel because another bridge wouldn’t work visually. And the cost of adding on active travel to an RTN bridge would probably be a lot less than the cost of a stand-alone active travel bridge.

  29. The problem with this is that the tunnel across the harbour will probably take 20 years to build and the final cost will probably be 100× the initial projected cost.

  30. If its a pt/ walking cycling bridge I hope they look at pt chev to chatswood adjacent to meola reef.
    Run light rail through the western north shore and then over another bridge to
    hobsonville. Leave busway as a busway and provide north western light rail and north shore light rail in one go.
    Will also split traffic on onewa rd with half going west to connect to light rail rather than everyone heading east in the morning to the bridge or busway

  31. I wrote the below in another similar blog, repeating it, slightly edited.

    I don’t understand why we would remove the performing and acceptable transport routes like the NX with something else – why not keep both.

    The focus needs to be on providing effective and efficient commuting. Taking cars off the road is a sign this is a success – putting people in public transport benefits the commuter and the person whose best option is a car.

    I want to see more debate on a Rail Link from the new Aotea Station, to a new station (maybe) in Wynyard Quarter (1) (to link this area with Auckland and South via the CRL), from Wynyard, North to Highbury/Birkenhead via a rail tunnel, (2) through to North Northcote/Hillcrest (3), through to Glenfield etc… Another form of transport, running in parallel (ish) to the roading network. The catchment there is deep in congested road territory, it enables a huge amount of intensification options, plus taking cars off the commute in to the motorway improves existing car and bus journeys. The options to develop this further north are endless and allow for many additional “spokes”, e.g. Northern Northcote to Takapuna, on to Belmont, Highbury/Birkenhead out to Birkdale + Beachhaven. This would connect this whole area cleanly and efficiently and avoids funneling down an already narrow corridor.

    Keep the Northern Express route – the feeder roads are already well developed with bus routes, these buses will eventually become auto-driving, electric, frequently commuting buses – let this play out, why remove this bus route. If you take commuters off the back suburbs and off the motorway it is a win for the existing motorway commuters, busses are faster etc etc

    Materially reduced traffic on the existing bridge means you could swap a lane out for a sky-bridge for foot traffic and bikes, reduced traffic on the way into the motorway/cycle lanes means bikes are a safer option.

    It will cost an absolute packet, it will never be cheaper than today (something called inflation).

    1. “It will cost an absolute packet, it will never be cheaper than today (something called inflation).”

      I see arguments based on this reasonably often.
      We should spend some actually crazy amount on something because over the next 100 years it will be worth it and its cheaper now that it ever will be.
      The counter point is, if we spent that same amount of money on other more modest projects we would get far more use out of the same amount of money (or more realistically spend less and get the same overall result). Some or most of these other projects will likely have to be done anyway too, and the cost inflation will apply to them equally. might as well build the more efficient projects first.
      That is what the business case / BCR mechanism does, tries to find reveal the optimal place to spend money to get the benefits now and in the medium future.
      Now there is an argument that we should shift from a 30 year standard time for BCR measurements to something like 40 or perhaps even 50.
      But these will still reveal that having huge asset largely idle and costing lots of maintenance for 50 years before beginning to stretch its legs is a massive liability and should be avoided heavily.

      As for your ideas regarding the form of the rail network. I raise a few counter points (other than unbuildability due to cost, and the political capital required to eat such a cost).
      a) Interlining with the rest of the rail network through a connection to the CRL is not good because the capacity is needed for the west, south, and east of the city. If we intensify these areas around these rail lines we will meet the full capacity of CRL before actually that long (30 or so years).
      b) “The options to develop this further north are endless and allow for many additional spokes”. If these spokes are interlined with CRL’s capacity constrains then you’d be looking at a really poor frequency and as such poor experience. If you’re not going through the constrained city center, then these routes will almost certainly be able to be served by busses on good bus routes with decent priority. Which would be an order of magnitude cheaper.
      c) why not free ourselves from the shackles of heavy rail standards and allow steeper grades, different signaling systems, and different rolling stock and move to a light or heavy metro system like Sydney metro or a Vancouver skytrain. Interlining with CRL and the rest of the heavy rail network is unrealistic anyway due to capacity constraints. Good transfers are a feature not a bug.

      Also I disagree with your point “The focus needs to be on providing effective and efficient commuting.”
      While the road network has traditionally been under the most pressure doing the commute rush hour, we should really be trying to improve the off peak experience for PT as well. Living on transit, with no car, or one for the household is a good goal for the city. If we cater perfectly to the commuter crowd but little to nothing at other times we still have to store multiple cars per household and clog residential streets. And provide massive parking lots at shopping centers and weekend destinations. We would also use the PT assets much more effectively if they were being used all day, rather than mostly at peak. All this is not to say we shouldn’t massively improve the commute experience, we should. But its not the sole focus any more.

      1. I don’t disagree with most of what you said, though a few points to clarify and and observations:
        – That is what the BCR mechanism ‘tries’ to do, it isn’t a foolproof silver bullet and a number of assumptions and material extrapolations have to be made ( as with anything ).
        – If we are speaking about multi-billion dollar projects, the focus should absolutely be >50 years. A tunnel feels to me, as a non-engineer, like a fairly permanent structure, a 100-year horizon “vision” doesn’t seem inappropriate.
        – I haven’t, and I haven’t seen anyone else imply this was the best project for the countries money(!?). The suggestion is for an alternative thought to the topic of discussion being rail alongside the motorways.
        – A connection to CRL doesn’t mean it has be the same track, or the same rolling stock, it can be a transfer as you suggest. An in-station transfer from rail to rail is far more appealing that having to get out, walk 5 mins and then catch a bus, or vice versa, in my opinion, hence a desire to connect to the existing network.
        – If North Shore residents could get to a number of locations South of the bridge with one ( ish ) platform changes, (and South of the bridge residents heading North) with the reliability (relative) of frequent rail schedules this would surely see an increase in users off-peak.
        – Not being able to intensify around a rail line for fear of reaching capacity on the network speaks to the absurdity of current infrastructure planning. This is absolutely where intensification should happen and the developers who benefit should contribute more than average.
        – I am assuming you are objecting to the word ‘commute’ because it implies a 9-5 commuter. This is meant in the context of a commute from (A) to (B), time of day agnostic, I realise this is a slightly incorrect use of the word. Agree, you have to design a system with others in mind other than the 2x 2hr periods a day it gets peak usage. However, by default, improving PT for the 9-5 commute will also improve the experience for the off-peak commuter and provide them further, car-less options, as well other non-commute type journeys off and on peak.
        – It would be difficult ( happy to proven wrong ), to design a system that experienced consistent average usage throughout the day, some thought has to be given to peak capacity sizing.
        – the proposal as a whole is a suggestion to not focus on doing more transport down the same paths we currently do transport down, it doesn’t have to those routes, but in the spirit of PT resilience that was a starting point for discussion.

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