Missed Transit Orientated Development in #OurManukau – How Not To Design a Bus Station as there Was No Integrated Planning Whatsoever!

Silo’ed thinking costs South Auckland opportunities


The Manukau Bus Station is a project of missed opportunities, silos not talking to each other and the final consequence being no integrated planning whatsoever done for a core piece of infrastructure in the Core of South Auckland.

The entire Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act request can be seen below but in short:

  • No proper bike infrastructure as that was another department to do
  • No apartment tower above the bus station as that required too much thinking
  • No bus lanes on Manukau Station Road as that would impact car flows (that is to be remedied per another post on bus lanes)
  • The routing of the through busses like the 33, the 361 and soon the Airport series was an after thought in station design


So in the end a lesson from Auckland Transport on how NOT to do integrated planning (or rather when the silo rules).

Without further ado the LGOIMA:


Dear Mr Ross

Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 (LGOIMA)


Thank you for your request for information dated 8 April 2018 in relation to the budget and decision breakdown of the Manukau Bus Station (MBS).

Auckland Transport’s (AT’s) response to your request for information is as follows:


The bus bays of Manukau Bus Station


First Budget:


Press release when Manukau bus station started “The Auckland Transport project, which will cost $26 million to construct, is funded by the Government through the NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Council.”


AT project website

“The project is funded by Auckland Council and the Government through the NZ Transport Agency at the expected construction cost of $35 million (approx).”

AT press release from opening

“Mr Goff says the new $49 million station represents a significant investment in a joined up public transport system for Auckland”

So why did the budget go from $26m at the announcement of the project in 2015-2016 to $49m at the end of the project?


The $26M noted back in 2015/2016 referred to the expected value of the construction contract only. This was not a full project cost.

A summary below is provided to provide transparency over the many aspects of the project;

  • $26M quoted in the 2015/2016 press releases reflected the value of the anticipated head construction contract at the time of writing.
  • $35M (approx.) quoted on the AT website includes the aforementioned head contract in addition to all costs through design and consenting phases, resource consent and building consent costs, internal staff time cost, IT costs (supply, installation and commissioning of CCTV, VPID, VPRDs and Emergency Help Points) which are contracted direct by AT, and other ancillary costs associated with a major project such as the MBS.
  • $13M was the value of the land.

$35M (approx.) quote on the AT website plus the land value of $13M gives a total project value of $49M as quoted in the 2018 press release at the time of opening the Manukau Bus Station.


380 Airporter at the Manukau Bus Station


Decision and Design Questions:

1) Why was the saw tooth design chosen rather than the linear design when it was known the station would need to serve through routes like the 33 Great South Road bus, 361 Otara, Manukau, Manurewa Bus and the soon to be built and operational Airport to Botany Bus Rapid Transit Line (Airport to Manukau as stage 1 with the line going out to Botany later as announced by Minister Twyford on 31 of March 2018 (see: https://voakl.net/2018/04/01/regional-rapid-rail-and-the-southern-airport-line-a-virtual-go/ for more))

There was limited land available for the new station so to meet requirements for current and future expansion of services the angled bus parking option was chosen as being the only workable solution that provided sufficient bays for the number of urban routes commencing and terminating at the MBS plus space for intercity bus stops and minimising bus – pedestrian conflicts. The current arrangement does not preclude bringing other routes or services into the station, meanwhile the present arrangement focuses on cost efficient and customer centric bus operations.


2) How will busses that will be on the soon to be operational Airport to Botany BRT Line be accommodated at the Manukau Bus Station?

The Airport to Botany Rapid Transit line via Manukau is part of a long-term plan. It will be implemented in stages and details around delivery timing are still to be confirmed.

Auckland Transport is planning to have a dynamic bay allocation system in Manukau within the next 2 years. The benefit of the Dynamic bay allocation system is that it will increase the capacity of the bus station, and will allow a potential Airport to Botany Bus Rapid Transit system to use the station.


2a) How will the Bus Station facilitate the incoming Airport to Botany BRT Line

AT does not know how the BRT will come into the station until the investigation comes up with some options. The bus station in itself will have sufficient capacity for the additional buses, as per the previous response.


3) Given the housing shortage in Auckland why was the Manukau Bus Station not making use of a Transit Orientated Development opportunity and a developer brought on board to build an apartment tower above the Manukau Bus Station?

  • To bring other parties in at the time would have extended the investigation and development process with subsequent delay getting the Eastern Network in place.
  • The development opportunities were not clear at the time.
  • The transform Manukau plan undertaken by AC and Panuku Development Auckland for Manukau has been an ongoing exercise for Council.
  • Future proofing directly above the bus station was considered impractical due to having no demand at the time from developers for the space. Foundation costs are large and requirements were not able to be established without understanding what the future development demands were. The MBS site has not been identified as being most suitable for housing, commercial and variations in use would have large impacts on design. It was decided to prioritise AT’s mandate of providing a 1st class public transport service and consider other development options once area transformation plans are finalised.


4) According to the Auckland Transport consultation report from 2016 (measuring the consultation taken in November 2015) most of the reactions to the design of the bus station were negative or neutral. Why did those designs then proceed rather than a redesign consistent with submissions?

The designers have taken into account the general nature of these comments and incorporated them where practicable. Specifically;

  • Sustainability measures include the use of raingardens and rain-water retention tanks, LED lighting, the use of natural light and natural ventilation;
  • The design of the operational area caters for double-decker buses.
  • Some of the detailed design elements such as atmosphere, comfort, space, retail availability, lighting, rubbish, and fences;
  • Accessibility within and around the bus station particularly for hearing- and visually-impaired passengers;
  • Amenities within the bus station such as locations of Hop Card kiosks, ATMs, WiFi, and toilet facilities; and
  • Weather protection including extended canopy coverage
  • Where relevant, comments are passed on to other programmes for attention.


5) 62% of submissions said cycling facilities needed to be improved. Why was this not done and adequate cycle parking facilities provided for a bus station that is meant to be the core part of the South Auckland Bus Network

Cycle parking needs were decided in consultation with Bike Auckland in line with the current and future expected need. While limited cycle parking is provided at each end of the building there is more than sufficient provision based on current observations. It should also be noted that there is additional bike parking available at the MIT building. Space has been made available to expand the provision for bicycle parking as and when required.

The MBS is a building and bus network related project. Cycleway’s and further cycle network initiatives are being undertaken by other AT programmes.


6) Why was bus lanes not added on Manukau Station Road to facilitate ease of bus movements to and from Manukau Station especially in the afternoon peaks?

AT do have a project to install bus priority measures on Manukau Station Road and the intention was to have these in place in time for the opening of the bus station Unfortunately, the project has taken much longer to develop than originally anticipated mainly due to anticipated impacts on general traffic and SH20. Due to constraints on this corridor it would be necessary to remove a general traffic lane in each direction in order to provide bus lanes. This is expected to increase queuing and delays on the corridor that could impact on SH20 and the wider bus network. Therefore AT is taking more time to undertake detailed modelling to better understand the likely impacts, and to work with key stakeholders to ensure the impacts are appropriately managed.




That last one on the bus lanes was the clanger more than the apartment tower on top of the bus station. I do not know what Auckland Transport was thinking but that is the entire idea of bus lanes – to get busses moving and indirectly the reduction of a general lane means less car traffic (the reverse of induced demand with adding of general lanes). SH20’s problems are caused by Manurewa and Takanini interchanges which are being fixed at the moment so that should have no bearing on any bus lanes down Manukau Station Road.


I point Auckland Transport to this chart:



Notice the car is at the bottom  of both pyramids?

Basically who cares about the cars and get that bus lane put in there to the bus station especially as Stage One of the Southern Airport Line is due to be operational 2021 between Manukau and the Airport with Botany following soon after.


The LGOIMA shows what silo thinking does and why Integrated Planning is so sorely needed. An opportunity was missed with Manukau and I am not going to miss it again when the Southern Airport Line is built very soon!


Airport Access Study 2020
Source: Auckland Airport Access by Auckland Airport, NZTA and Auckland Transport