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.
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.