On Saturday, Transport Minister Michael Wood and Mayor Wayne Brown turned the sod to mark the start of construction on the next stage of the Eastern Busway.

This milestone means construction is underway for the significant transport project’s final stretch, from Pakuranga towards Botany.

The project is being delivered by the Eastern Busway Alliance of Fletcher, Acciona, AECOM and Jacobs in partnership with mana whenua, Auckland Transport (AT), Auckland Council and Waka Kotahi.

In December 2021, the Panmure to Pakuranga stage was finished and this next stage – connecting the Pakuranga and Botany town centres – will take about four years to complete.

The project will include new paths for walking and cycling, placemaking, urban renewal initiatives and improvements for general traffic.

Following the success of the Northern Busway on Auckland’s North Shore, the Eastern Busway is expected to carry more than 30,000 people per day between the rapidly growing south-eastern suburbs and the rail network in Panmure.

Auckland Transport’s interim chief executive Mark Lambert says this project is going to deliver great benefits for the community.

“One example of this is that people will be able travel between Botany and Britomart by bus and train in less than about 40 minutes, which is 20 minutes faster than the current journey times.

“As part of our commitment to sustainability, this project will encourage the use of walking, cycling and public transport. The buses that use this infrastructure will be electric – creating a transport future for Auckland this is cleaner, quieter and more comfortable for all.”

It’s good to see the busway progressing though it’s not entirely clear what, other than the Reeves Rd Flyover, is being built.

In the press release they say it is stages 2 and 3 which is “the busway between Pakuranga and Burswood, and with an on-road connection from Burswood and along Ti Rakau Drive to Botany“. However the busway section between Pakuranga and the Ti Rakau Dr bridge are still going through the consenting process so there’s always a chance that could hold things up. It’s also not clear if the Burswood part mentioned includes the deviation away from Ti Rakau Dr.

The Burswood deviation putting buses on a less direct route.

What is definitely not included is what they call stage 4 which is the route from Ti Rakau Dr to Botany as well as the Botany Station. It’s also notable that AT have yet to even share any designs for what the Botany Station may look like and it may be some time before we do.

In the original press release, they said Stage 4 has been delayed “due to the re-prioritisation of current government funding following the extreme weather events of early 2023“. However, they later corrected that saying “AT has not yet sought funding for Stage 4 of the project, and no funding for the project has been re-prioritised“. Whatever the reason, this is a project that has been well over a decade old. That they still haven’t got the design sorted and funding requested is is incredibly concerning.

The busway isn’t coming cheap and like every project, the cost has increased considerably in recent years. The total cost of stages 2, 3 and 4 is now estimated at $1.3 billion and they say “funding options are being explored to enable completion“. Last year the government did put in an extra $200 million to bring the total crown contribution to over $600 million, with the extra money coming from the cancelled Northern Pathway.

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  1. Ok not really related but kind of it, if they hurry up and connect the end of the cycleways at Panmure to the GI shared path there would be a mostly off road cycle path to the city.

    Also, I live in Pakuranga, saying they have just started is a lie, they have been clearing houses for months now. I just hope they hurry up. I think everyone got sick of living in a sea of road cones and disruption when they did the stretch from Panmure the Pakuranga.

  2. Solving Aucklands transport issues is becoming more difficult as more suburbs are added every few months to our sprawling city. The City stretches from Warkworth, Riverhead, Pukekohe, Waiheke, Maraetai. Cleavdon. The costs of new busways, light rail, roads, motorways will be ongoing and increasing as distances increase.
    I support congestion charging and bulding more 20 storey plus high rise apartments around our stations at Henderson, Manukau, Panmure, Newmarket, Onehunga, Ellerslie. That will drastically reduce the need for more infrastuucture. The national party now supports more intensification.
    At the moment the budget is to spend Eastern Busway, $2 billion, $15 billion LR to Airport, $15 billion for new crossing, $500 million link at Whangaparoa, $500 million busway Papakura to Botany etc. AT and WK want to spend ever increasing amounts each year and harm our economy.
    We are giving too much of the budget to transport and neglecting health, education and business. Our people are leaving NZ because councils and families are spending too much on tansport and businesses are struggling.

    1. We should be building high rises in Parnell, Grey Lynn, Ponsonby before we go adding even more people in West Auckland and as far out as Henderson. The outer bits of Auckland have already done their fair share of the heavy lifting.

      If your aim is to drastically reduce infrastructure then you need to be building the bulk of your housing in the inner bits and then figuring out how to improve access to rapid transit in the outer bits that we already have – not forcing the development 20km out from the CBD instead.

      1. Yes agree.
        People living near to at Botany Hub will still have to travel for 2 hours each day.
        Those living in Drury for 3 hours. Nobody should want that.

    2. People might leave even quicker if you force them to live in high-rise blocks of flats like some sort of 1960s UK nightmare. The only market failure is a lack of road pricing.

        1. Yes. Very good.
          The upper levels and penthouse apartments are the most desirable.
          More NZ people are living in beautiful apartments and getting all the benefits

      1. The ‘market failure’ is the abstract mess of planning permissions designed to force development out to the fringes in the name of ‘special character’, while still retaining access to gold-plated transit options those in the outer suburbs could only dream of.

        You know, the people who would actually be lumped with the cost of road-pricing, with no credible alternative to driving. Doesn’t sound like there’s much market efficiency happening there at all, just regulatory capture to the benefit of people who think West Auckland starts and ends at Pt Chev.

      2. “the only market failure is a lack of road pricing”.

        I think there are a few market failures. Here’s one: Drivers are keeping their engines idling while parked. Somehow, the cost of the practice, in wasted fuel, is failing to influence their behaviour. This is really a failure of messaging, clear regulations and enforcement. But you could call it a “market failure” – it shows that costs are not the biggest influence on behaviour.

        1. Just about every bus driver, truck driver, dozer driver, digger operator, pilot, 4WD driver, police patrol car, taxi driver, keep their motors idling all day.

        2. It’s not just wasted fuel.

          Last Wednesday I was enjoying dinner outside Otatara Chinese Takeaways, near Invercargill. A woman drove up in her Ford Ranger and got out but left the engine running. I chose not to inhale more nitrogen dioxide than necessary and moved. Her young son, in the back of the ute, didn’t have have that option.

          We just don’t care.

      3. I Live in a flat on the fringe of the City Centre now. So much better than a single-family home for my own needs. More highrise blocks = More housing options

      4. Be fair.

        The problems with high rise in the UK were largely down to councils running them as sink estates for problem tenants, without the concierge and maintenance services required by design. You could say the same for Manurewa, Mangere and Mt.Roskill, which carry more than their fair share of Auckland’s social housing and the problems that go with it, just smeared out in one dimension to make transport an issue.

        Now London mid and high-rise is in demand both as social housing and for purchase: affordable housing in upmarket areas.

        Conservative mortgage lending practices are far more of an issue than the quality of the builds or desirability of the locations.


  3. At least with the NPS-UD in force, these first 3 stations are going to be productive. Despite the expense, in 10 years there’s going to be a lot of people living nearby, with good access to the rail network, totally congestion free.

    1. Pity they had to go and ensure there’d be no good walkability in the area. We didn’t have to have enormous stroads with dystopian intersections requiring long, long wait times for pedestrians.

  4. If it’s anything like stage 1,it will be strangled by low speed limits and no traffic light priority at the numerous intersections. The buses go slower than the general traffic on Lagoon Drive.

  5. Since their Auckland Council representative is a certain ex transport minister, you would hope that East Auckland could be a little more futuristic. Imagining a world where cars do not have priority. Now that would be a busway / light rail trail worth investment. The climate change course of action is simple: 1) Electric Public Transport 2) Electric Bikes 3) Electric Scooters / Skate/Hoverboards 4) Electric (private) Vehicles. All Projects should be based on this premise, not the same “don’t mess with the cars” philosophy that has destroyed every city in the world since Henry Ford began destroying the Amazon Forest. Some of us still dream of what once was, and that it could once again be!

      1. Well, that’s 28 years ago. Not that relevant. What he’s saying and doing now is more important…

        I worry that our future transport minister in a National govt is from the same area, and he definitely is talking like Maurice was in 1995…

        1. It was 28 years ago but don’t worry he’s still spouting the same stuff.

          “….in 1995 he proposed replacing buses with taxis. Rather than softening his views, his maiden speech on November 1 [2022] suggested that since by his estimate almost 93% of Auckland commuters travelled by road (he claimed 97% on the Pakuranga Highway) then that should be the proportion of transport funding spent on roads, leaving almost nothing for public transport, let alone walking and cycling.


  6. I drove along Ti Rakau Drive the other day, a lot of houses have been demolished. However there is a median strip in the middle and parking on the sides, why not use that space instead? Seemed like a complete waste of money to me.

    1. Yes the existing road and some increases in width would be wide enough.
      But the beautiful project will take 4 and maybe 5 years

  7. I wonder what the current usage is for the completed sections, would be good to see some stats from AT. We just had March Madness & COVID had pretty much passed so wonder what figures we reached.
    Can any university students using it can comment on whether it was quicker to 70 bus to Panmure and transfer to train or just stay on the 70 all the way?

  8. Funny how AT are so quick to crack on and deliver the private vehicle flyover part of the busway project, while the actual busway part of the busway is endlessly delayed

  9. Ti Rakau Drive is a major freight route. It’s not just buses that need to be able to move well. The severance caused by the existing road is nearly as much of a problem as the busway will produce, but at least the stations will be easy to get to. And crossing to reach Edgewater College is part of the project. Demolition allows rebuild better along the corridor, as well as TOD Pakuranga and Burswood. The sea of car parks at Botany is still hard to get past.
    Could there be better ways of managing intersections that are busy at times than long-cycle signals? Still hard to get better intersections that don’t hold up people on foot or bike while static queues of cars and trucks idle to take their turn.

    1. Shorter more dangerous orange phases. They way people run red lights I think that would be a bad idea. There is only so much you can do apart from grade separation. Where is the freight coming and going from?

    2. “but at least the stations will be easy to get to. ”

      If that was only true. Gossamer Drive gets supercharged with extra traffic lanes, and then there’s two tiny footpaths. No cycle links to get to either the station OR the new protected cycle lane – this is the only side road for a whole suburb to the north! – and no ability to provide them without bowling more houses. Fail. Fail. Fail. Cars first design.

    3. Streetguy…

      “Ti Rakau Drive is a major freight route.”

      Freight benefits hugely from vkt reduction – which could have been achieved if they had reduced the number of traffic lanes, along with using all the other levers (eg LTN’s, parking supply reduction, pricing, parking price increases, etc). The only reason the designers wouldn’t consider reducing the number of traffic lanes is that they continue to use bad models, which don’t correctly model traffic evaporation. Thus, they think there’ll be an increase in congestion that will slow freight down. In fact, the opposite is true. So much traffic evaporation is likely to occur that congestion would stay the same – or only slightly increase – but elsewhere in the network (the other part of the journeys for these trucks) there is in fact a reduction in both vkt and congestion. So the total journey is quicker.

      “Could there be better ways of managing intersections that are busy at times than long-cycle signals? Still hard to get better intersections that don’t hold up people on foot or bike while static queues of cars and trucks idle to take their turn.”

      Yes. With fewer vehicle lanes, with intersection diets, with vkt reduction – the signal cycles would be far shorter. Better for everyone.

      If only this was the last of the dinosaur designs. Unfortunately, no. The paradigm shift hasn’t happened yet.

      But we could get there – if staff encouraged management to make the leap, and management gave correct information to governance, and governance bothered to listen.

  10. Hey just thinking about the comment that was made here the other day (last Friday’s roundup) about the health costs of us not adopting the Euro VI diesel standard… is this new knowledge? If not, then should it not have been taken into account when our standards were last upgraded in a cost-benefit sense, statistical value of a life etc?

    1. The study in question was released last year: https://www.transport.govt.nz/assets/MoT-Euro-6-modelling-final-report-4-July.pdf

      There is a reason that the EU made new standards. It’s known that not only Euro 5 not sufficient, it’s an incredibly leaky standard and the real world performance is actually several times worse than the official test results indicate.

      My understanding of the timelines is that we have simply made no upgrades or reviews of our standards since Euro 5 was quite new and we implemented it. Nothing after Dieselgate either.

      Unfortunately the recent “Clean Car” standards didn’t look into toxic pollution at all, just carbon.

  11. The statement that the buses that use this will be electric is quite interesting to me.

    While I suspect that this won’t be the case I wonder if they are planning to not run any double deckers on this route? Or if they expect to be able to have some and sufficient numbers of electric double decker buses.

    More likely I expect this is just cheap politic point scoring exercise. Ticking the basic box of “electric is good” without the realisation that diesel bus is a lot better than a bunch of electric cars even. Which to me highlights that so much of this plan is not very well thought through.

    1. Some of the rail replacement buses are full electric. Amazing acceleration and so quiet. Suspect it was a modified ice chassis as it seems a bit squirmy at speed

  12. 10 traffic lanes at that intersection, this is not a transit project; is a traffic expansion project plus indirect greenwash. Climate crime.

  13. Interesting that Stage 4 / Botany Interchange is still left hanging. With the proposed bus network, this is the key loading point for the busway that is coming. Unless the bus network is changed to deliver through services that start / finish to the east and south of Botany, there is a real risk that the busway won’t deliver on its forecast patronage, as connection environment at Botany will be awful.

    1. The key will be how they get buses in and out of the Botany interchange from places like Howick. Some express buses could even bypass the interchange altogether.

  14. Another chance this bloody Government seeking chance to spend ! Such a short trip would need more than 1.5 billions!

  15. Out of curiosity I checked current journey times between Britomart and Pakuranga and it shows me over 50 min. So how come after completion it will be suddenly 40 and that’s for all the way to Botany (so much further than just Pakuranga)? Am I missing something?

      1. oh I see. I understood it as direct bus connection thanks to the busway. So the busway actually connects you to the train (when it’s running) to then transfer and go to Britomart and if everything aligns then it’s 40 min? Well, my enthusiasm cooled down now haha and tha’s years away anyway

  16. draw a 600m circle catchment around each bus stop. What percentage of these single dwellings will catch a bus daily? Absolute madness. It works in large cities where 10km from cbd it’s still apartments. This is Pakuranga not Paris.

  17. I looked up the current travel times from Britomart to Pakuranga out of curiosity, and it takes more over 50 minutes. Thus, why would it be 40 after completion, and that too for the entire distance to Botany—far beyond super mario bros wonder —? What am I missing here?

    1. Probably because you can’t get the train from Britomart to Newmarket currently and there will be more right-of-way ie busway m, after Pakuranga by then.
      Why am I replying to a bot?

      1. Oh it’s the Eastern line the fastest and direct to Panmure where you change to bus normally so this weekend it’s only operating south from The Strand Station only as afar as Otahuhu.

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