Where are my bus lanes
It seems quite impossible for Auckland Transport to lay down something as simple as some bus lanes to support the New Network as Southern Auckland is finding out. The saga goes all the way back to 2015 when NZTA were to start the Takanini Motorway Interchange upgrades as part of wider Southern Motorway works.
Back then (see: Auckland Transport and NZTA on New Bus Lanes in the South) Auckland Transport were to provide bus lanes from the Takanini Interchange to Walters Road along the Great South Road so the 33 Great South Road bus could travel freely in the peak times. But no that was not going to happen with Auckland Transport.
We move onto 2016 and wondering where are the bus lanes on the Great South Road.
So I ask Auckland Transport (see: Auckland Transport Reply on Great South Road, Takanini Issues. Bus Lanes Coming!) and we get a reply of 2017 including some cycle ways as well.
Roll on to 2017 and still nothing so I ask again (see: Oh For Some Bus Lanes Auckland Transport (They are actually coming)) and get a reply for late 2017.
Roll on late 2017 and still no bus lanes down the Great South Road so once more we go ask (LGOIMA Request into Papakura Bus Lanes – AGAIN. Where Are They?). The answer this time is 2018.
Here we are into 2018 and still no bus lanes down the Great South Road. Time for another pile of questions to Auckland Transport: Great South Road Bus Lanes Set for Late 2018 after Internal Squabbles in Auckland Transport. The reply this time was late 2018 after internal squabbles between the Infrastructure Division, Metro Division and Active Mode division – same as we got with the Manukau Bus Station and why no bus lanes exist on Manukau Station Road.
Finally we roll onto the current situation and this is the latest from Auckland Transport in regards to bus lanes:
Subject: Bus lanes along the Great South Road
Customer Reference: CAS-632297-H5V3Y6
Thank you for your enquiry regarding the possible installation of bus lanes along the Great South Road, between Beautmonts Way and Walter Strevens Drive. At the outset, we apologise for the delay in response, as we are currently working through a backlog of cases.
As you may be aware, Auckland Transport (AT) is currently in the process of rolling out a New Network for the entirety of Auckland. Our Infrastructure and Facilities team is currently prioritising funding for stops critical to the New Network for Central and North Shore, which is the next phase to be implemented.
Please be assured that your comments have been forwarded to the Infrastructure Project Team for consideration and review. Bus lane initiatives coupled with greater bus service frequency and capacity (including double-deckers), are already proving successful with public transport patronage continuing to steadily increase, contributing to reducing the rate at which congestion increases. Consistent timing for special vehicle lanes across the region provides for improved awareness and compliance while ensuring a balance is achieved to increase the number of people using each road and the average speed of all users.
Unfortunately due to the New Network projects currently being worked on, we are not in a position to confirm if the Great South Road will definitely have a bus lane installed, however we will investigate and consider your proposal when we are able to.
While I understand that this may not be the outcome you were looking for, I trust this information is of use to you. Thank you for taking the time to provide your feedback, which we encourage because it provides the opportunity to identify and prioritise customer-focused improvements across the public transport network.
Basically we won’t get them at all.
Roll onto to the Auckland Transport Alignment Program:
The proposed Mill Road corridor provides an additional strategic north-south corridor for southern Auckland, connecting Manukau and Drury to the east of the Southern Motorway. It connects future residential development in the south with employment in the north, particularly around Manukau. Once complete, it will also improve access to new employment opportunities in Drury South.
Even with the public transport network absorbing around 20 percent of new trips and the Southern Motorway widening discussed above, major forecast increases in car travel are expected to create chokepoints on roads around Papakura and Drury unless there is investment in the Mill Road corridor.
Added capacity along the Mill Road corridor also helps other key routes in this part of Auckland:
Less pressure on the Southern Motorway allows it to be the key route for inter-regional freight movements and other longer trips
Less pressure on Great South Road assists plans to reallocate existing road space to bus lanes.
Source: ATAP 2018 page 27
So Papakura now has to wait a DECADE until the Mill Road upgrades are complete to get some bus lanes – some TWELVE YEARS after the New Network rolled into South Auckland in 2016!
To make matters worse here is the Regional Fuel Tax documents on the matter:
It aims to deliver greater corridor productivity (i.e. carrying capacity and average speed) through the provision of enhanced bus priority and resilience. Immediate routes that have been prioritised in the first five years are: Sandringham Road, New North Road, Mt Eden Road, Remuera Road and Manukau Road.
Southern Auckland waits again (while the Isthmus gets everything else) with congestion on the Great South Road gets worse every day while we have no alternative as the 33 bus gets stuck in said worsening traffic.
I have submitted to the Regional Fuel Tax document the request for reallocation:
Project 1: Bus Priority Improvements
I disagree with this project due to the priorities listed on page six of the Regional Fuel Tax document. The entire Great South Road and Manukau Station Road should also be priority one for bus lanes due to:
- Southern Auckland was first to receive the New Network in 2016 yet has not had the infrastructure built to match what was earlier stated by Auckland Transport in supported the Frequent Service Network
- Per the ATAP document and fact sheets:
- Southern Auckland is now the largest sub region of Auckland and will remain that way
- 2018: 550,000 to Central Auckland’s 460,000
- 2028: 650,000 to Central Auckland’s 550,000
- 2038: 710,000 to Central Auckland 610,000
- Southern Auckland is set to grow at 30% to the Isthmus’s 29%
- Isthmus does have the largest employment centre – the City Centre that employs 15% of Auckland’s population
- Southern Auckland has the four of the five heavy industrial complexes (Airport, East Tamaki/Highbrook, Wiri and Drury South) with the Airport complex expanding rapidly
- Southern Auckland houses one of Auckland’s three Nodes under the Auckland Plan 2050 and historically our second (minor) city centre – Manukau City Centre
- The Great South Road is the primary north-south road spine (apart from the Southern Motorway) and Manukau Station Road is the main access road to the Manukau Bus Station
- 50% of Southern Auckland residents commute within Southern Auckland for work according to Ministry of Transport 2013 study into commuting patterns
- Great South Road should be used for local or even sub regional trips (just as is intended by the Mill Road project in ATAP) freeing up the Southern Motorway for inter-regional traffic
So I ask that the RFT and RLTP be juggled to have bus lanes on the Great South Road starting from the Puhinui Road intersection all the way down to the Queen Street intersection in Papakura as well as bus lanes down the entire length of Manukau Station Road to allow Frequent Service Network busses to travel along the Great South Road and all busses using Manukau Station Road to access the Manukau Bus Station.
Doing this would promote the following Government Policy Statement strategic directions:
- Access: that is allowing greater access to the bus network through more reliable service running provided by the bus lanes
- Safety: More people that choose to travel by bus means less cars on the road and less risk from congestion to other road users
- Environment: like Access and Safety having the busses travelling more reliable in key transport areas like the Great South and Manukau Station Roads allows for environmental benefits as more users switch from car to bus thus contributing less to Climate Change emissions
Interestingly the Infrastructure and Metro divisions in Auckland Transport are being dissolved and replaced by new divisions in the restructure started by the AT CEO. Maybe the new divisions could be a bit “faster” in rolling out the bus lanes the South is desperately waiting for? In the mean time inept would be an apt term for Auckland Transport.