Official Information Act Requests Return from NZTA on SH20B Improvements and Airport to Botany Rapid Transit

Timeline of events

 

Yesterday the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) had sent back two more of my Official Information Act requests on Airport to Botany Rapid Transit (the Southern Airport Line) and improvements on State Highway 20B (Puhinui Road) to the Airport. Auckland Transport are now overdue to report back on the same OIA but once they have replied I will post it up for your reading.

The easiest way to work through this is publish the SH20B Improvements OIA first then the NZTA Airport to Botany Rapid Transit OIA next, then the time line on where things have gone since 2016 through to now.

State Highway 20B Improvements:

REF: OIA-3931

Dear Ben

Request made under the Official Information Act 1982

Thank you for your email of 21 June 2018 requesting the following information under the Official Information Act 1982 (the Act):

  1. What will the SH20 and SH20B Southern and Eastern Airport Access Improvements entail (that is what do we get)?
  2. The timeframe for the SH20B and Eastern Access Improvements?
  3. Will there be integrated planning and coordination with Auckland Transport are also meant to deliver the Airport to Manukau section of the Airport to Botany Mass Rapid Transit line in the 2018-2021 time period
  4. Will the SH20 and SH20B Southern and Eastern Airport Access Improvements be future proofed to allow the eventual delivery of bus rapid transit or light rail transit that would alongside SH20B?
  5. Could NZTA take over the delivery of Airport to Botany RTN via Manukau and Airport Access Improvements (Investigation, Route Protection and CAPEX) – Progressing bus rapid transit from Botany to the Airport via Manukau ($258m) given a large portion of the route runs alongside a State Highway corridor. If so what would be the procedures to get the ball rolling for this to happen to allow a fully integrated land use/transport planning and Transit Orientated Development package along the corridor?

 

Please find below the answers to your questions.

  1. What will the SH20 and SH20B Southern and Eastern Airport Access Improvements entail (that is what do we get)?

 

The State Highway 20 and State Highway 20B Southern and Eastern Airport Access Improvements are the subject of a current single stage business case – 20Connect. The purpose of the business case is to identify the issues being experienced on the three State Highway 20 corridors (SH20, SH20A and SH20B), analyse a range of options to address these issues, and identify a recommended option, based on a range of requirements.

The broad elements that are being investigated as part of the business case include:

  • Improving the capacity and connections on, around, or alongside, the state highways for cars, trucks, buses and bicycles
  • Optimising the existing network
  • Providing more choices as to how people and goods travel to and from this area
  • Identifying ways to influence the demand on the network
  • Ways to help people plan their travel and choose travel options.

 

  1. The timeframe for the SH20B and Eastern Access Improvements?

The purpose of the business case is to determine the scale, form and timing of each improvements. The business case is expected to be completed by early 2019, and subject to the approval of this business case, a timeframe for any recommended improvements will be confirmed.

 

  1. Will there be integrated planning and coordination with Auckland Transport who are also meant to deliver the Airport to Manukau section of the Airport to Botany Mass Rapid Transit line in the 2018-2021 time period?

The NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport are working closely together across both the 20Connect and Airport to Botany Rapid Transit Network business cases to ensure outcomes are well-integrated.

 

  1. Will the SH20 and SH20B Southern and Eastern Airport Access Improvements be future proofed to allow the eventual delivery of bus rapid transit or light rail transit that would alongside SH20B?

The aim of the 20Connect and the Airport to Botany Rapid Transit Network business cases is to identify what is needed now, and into the future, to address the transport issues in this area. This will include considering different modes of transport such as bus and light rail.

 

  1. Could NZTA take over the delivery of Airport to Botany RTN via Manukau and Airport Access Improvements (Investigation, Route Protection and CAPEX) – Progressing bus rapid transit from Botany to the Airport via Manukau ($258m) given a large portion of the route runs alongside a State Highway corridor. If so what would be the procedures to get the ball rolling for this to happen to allow a fully integrated land use/transport planning and Transit Orientated Development package along the corridor?

Currently, the Transport Agency and Auckland Transport are working together on the two different business cases led by each agency respectively. There is currently no plan for the Transport Agency to take responsibility for the business case for the Airport to Botany Rapid Transit Network. The Airport to Botany project is owned and delivered by Auckland Transport, and Auckland Transport has not requested that the Transport Agency undertake these works.

–ends—

 

This lays out the foundation to what is coming between the Airport and Manukau in both terms of road and transit modes. The Business Case will be out early next year with the Airport to Botany Rapid Transit case out soon after that (mid year). Thankfully the agencies (NZTA and AT) are working together to deliver an integrated program for at least the Airport to Manukau section of of the Airport to Botany Rapid Transit Line (Southern Airport Line).

The following OIA on the Southern Airport Line fleshed this out more:

 

Botany to Airport Mass Rapid Transit Delivery per ATAP (from NZTA)

REF: OIA-3942

Dear Ben

Request made under the Official Information Act 1982

Thank you for your email of Tuesday, 26 June 2018 requesting the following information under the Official Information Act 1982 (the Act):

  1. What exactly is the project delivery of the Manukau to Airport via Puhinui Station section of the Botany to Airport MRT line. That is what does the budget allocations and works entail (what do we get)?
  2. When are the works likely to start for the Manukau to Airport section of the Botany to Airport MRT line
  3. Will the entire Botany to Airport MRT line be future proofed for Light Rail?
  4. What walking and cycling improvements will be done along the entire Manukau to Airport section of the Botany to Airport MRT line especially along the length of SH20B
  5. What is the forecast start date for the Manukau to Botany section of the Botany to Airport MRT
  6. What steps is NZTA taking with other partners including Auckland Transport, Auckland Council and Panuku Development Auckland to enable full integrated land use/transport planning (noting this from the NZTA CEO Report – February 2018 (Slide 5: The City – Airport light rail project will be: an integrated transport urban development project)
    1. that is Transit Orientated Developments around the Botany to Airport MRT line given these opportunities were missed with Manukau Bus Station (delivered by AT but part funded by NZTA), and is expected as a matter of policy in the Auckland Plan 2050, and the GPS 2018
  7. Will NZTA be engaging with the community and stakeholders to help deliver TODs as mentioned in question six above?

 

By way of background for your request, the NZ Transport Agency, Auckland Transport, and Auckland Airport are working together to plan for and deliver access improvements to and from the Auckland Airport area.

Auckland Transport is leading the Airport to Botany Rapid Transit project, working in collaboration with the Transport Agency and Auckland Airport, as well as other key project partners and stakeholders.

The project is currently in the early stages of business case development. The purpose of the business case is to assess how access issues in the area can be addressed, and to identify a recommended option based on a range of requirements.

The business case will be complete by mid-2019, and there will be opportunities for the community and public to inform the work alongside this. Project specific information will be clearer as the business case is developed in more detail.

The broad elements investigated will identify how the Transport Agency, Auckland Transport and Auckland Airport can collectively:

  • provide an improved public transport link for people between the airport, and south and east Auckland, and the Auckland city centre via a transfer to rail at an enhanced Puhinui Station
  • improve access and transport options for people in the south and east of Auckland, and to major employment zones in these areas, and
  • support growth opportunities at key locations along the route, particularly around Manukau, Botany and the airport.

 

While the business case work will identify improvements that can be undertaken in the medium to longer-term, the Transport Agency together with Auckland Transport and Auckland Airport, are also seeking to progress early improvements along the Airport to Manukau section of the route to provide more immediate benefits to people accessing the area via this corridor.

In regards to your specific request, we have the following comments.

  1. What exactly is the project delivery of the Manukau to Airport via Puhinui Station section of the Botany to Airport MRT line. That is what does the budget allocations and works entail (what do we get)?

 

The Airport to Botany Rapid Transit project will be delivered in stages.

The Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP 2018) has allocated funding for the first decade as follows:

  • Funding for Auckland Transport to complete the Airport to Botany Rapid Transit investigation (business case) by 2019. This will inform subsequent work to seek route protection for the project.
  • Funding to deliver a range of early improvements to improve airport access by 2020/2021. Along the Airport to Manukau corridor this encompasses: o A new bus/rail interchange at Puhinui Station (led by Auckland Transport).
    • Bus priority lanes between the Airport and Manukau City Centre via Puhinui Station (delivered by Auckland Airport, the Transport Agency and Auckland Transport in accordance to each agency’s road network area).

 

  • Funding to complete the Botany Interchange by 2025/26 as part of the AMETI (Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative) Eastern Busway programme. While not within the Airport to Manukau corridor, the proposed new Botany Interchange is an integral component of the Airport to Botany Rapid Transit project as this interchange will be the connection point for the two rapid transit lines serving the East Auckland area.

 

  1. When are the works likely to start for the Manukau to Airport section of the Botany to Airport MRT line?

The Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP, April 2018) and the RLTP indicates implementation of the full Airport to Botany rapid transit facility to be a second decade project (post-2028).

It is anticipated that the business case work being progressed now will provide more clarity on timeframes in due course, as the purpose of the business case is to determine the scale, form and recommended timing of proposed improvements. The business case is expected to be complete by mid-2019

the Manukau to Airport to Manukau section, targeting completion by 2020/2021, with delivery being undertaken by Auckland Airport, the Transport Agency and Auckland Transport.

 

  1. Will the entire Botany to Airport MRT line be future proofed for Light Rail?

The aim of the business case is to identify what is needed now and into the future to address the transport access issues in this area. This will include considering different modes of transport rapid transit, such as bus rapid transit and light rail, and what future proofing should be incorporated as part of the project.

 

  1. What walking and cycling improvements will be done along the entire Manukau to Airport section of the Botany to Airport MRT line especially along the length of SH20B?

The Transport Agency, together with Auckland Transport and Auckland Airport, will be investigating walking and cycling facility improvement opportunities along this corridor as part of the business case work. The form the walking and cycling provision will take, and timing for implementation, is still to be confirmed.

 

  1. What is the forecast start date for the Manukau to Botany section of the Botany to Airport MRT?

Please refer the response given to question 2.

  1. What steps is NZTA taking with other partners including Auckland Transport, Auckland Council and Panuku Development Auckland to enable full integrated land use/transport planning?

The Transport Agency is working together with Auckland Transport, Auckland Airport, Mana Whenua, Auckland Council and other organisations such as Panuku Development Auckland to develop the business case, which includes opportunities for achieving full land use and transport integration.

 

  1. Will NZTA be engaging with the community and stakeholders to help deliver TODs as mentioned in question six above?

As the business case progresses, Auckland Transport will work with key stakeholders and the community to identify desired improvements and opportunities in this area, including land use and transport integration opportunities such as Transit Orientated Developments.

 

—ends—

 

Source: @TransitSleuth
Could the Southern Airport Line be like this? Yes it can

 

As noted earlier the business case will be out in the middle of next year with all cards back on the table (Light Rail or bus) after the Light Rail card was removed late last year.

This has led to a rather interest timeline for the Southern Airport Line with Light Rail on the cards, then off the cards then back on the cards again.

These extracts were from 2017 Jacobs report ordered by Auckland Transport into Light Rail between the Airport and Botany:

LRT Concept Alignment_FINAL_May 2017

 

Note:

  1. I have written in previous blog posts why Light Rail should be down Manukau Station Road rather than Ronwood Avenue to make best use on the Manukau Rail and Bus Stations
  2. As the OIA has shown it was always considered to do interim improvements by bus then move onto Light Rail

 

After that report was published we had a change of Government and change of priorities with City Centre to Airport/Mangere to be accelerated but bus from Airport to Manukau to continue:

Southern Airport Line can be done
Source: Auckland Transport

light-rail-acceleration-strategy-report Northern Airport Line Case – Auckland Transport October 2017

 

So LRT was to happen then got put off for a high risk acceleration game of speeding up the Northern Airport Line. With a bit of agitation (still on going) and realisation that the Northern Airport Line being accelerated would be rather risky attention turned back towards Airport to Manukau Rapid Transit.

 

This from the NZTA CEO Reports in February and March 2018 to the NZTA Board:

 

Noting that City Centre to Airport/Mangere won’t be primarily for Airport passengers (and that matter workers) the following comments were made last week to the Herald by the NZTA CEO:

Auckland’s $6 billion plan for modern trams could extend to Kumeu

Major changes are on the way for Auckland’s $6 billion light rail programme, including extending the modern day version of trams to Kumeu in the northwest.
In an exclusive interview with the Herald, NZTA chief executive Fergus Gammie said the plan for trams from the CBD to Westgate will probably be extended to Kumeu.
Gammie also revealed that NZTA believes that the best route between the CBD and the airport is by train to Puhinui and transferring to buses or trams for the 6km leg to the airport.

quote context: http://pllqt.it/IHxvGz

 

The language has changed from busses to the Airport to now busses OR trams

The previous language can be seen here:

Labour has promised to build light rail from the CBD to the airport and West Auckland within a decade, described as a “game changer” by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Labour’s plans for fast public transport separated from vehicles, known as rapid transit, also include a busway running from Botany to Puhinui train station, and onto the airport.

quote context: http://pllqt.it/Bv5QvV

……

Source: Light Rail for Botany to Airport (Southern Airport Line) Inches Closer Thanks (and Thankful) To Proactive NZTA

 

And the OIA’s came back yesterday (hopefully AT will come through today as they have the project at this point and time) showing the planning work is being done and again we will see which card while both back on the table will be the card dealt. Given LRT was deemed viable before the acceleration situation also mentioned above and that NZTA have said Light Rail is a proven and viable solution that meets future needs, connects well to other modes (like heavy rail), and will allow the certainty into the investment of land (200 of the 600 hectares of Transform Manukau land is owned by Council or the Crown) that will allow the support for growth and enable urban development and renewal (does Twyford still want 100,000 residents inside Transform Manukau) Light Rail does become the natural option with proper integrated planning especially into Panuku’s Transform Manukau.

Light Rail to Airport and Manukau
Source: Auckland Transport and NZTA

 

 

The Wheels are turning for the Southern Airport Line. Given constraints and wanting to get decent planning done for the Line (as it is more than a transit line it is also a prime Community Builder – see: The Southern Airport Line – More than a Light Rail Line – A Community and City Builder Too!) having the bus lanes in place for the first few years while that planning gets done and then start pounding that iron (alongside when SH20B is widened – following the Dig Once, Build Right, First Time, Every Time motto) is most acceptable for me.

 

Airport and bus line up
Source: https://www.scribd.com/document/365399828/Southern-Airport-Line-LRT-Alignment-Proposals-and-Final#

Rich pickings and benefits for the South along the entire Airport to Botany corridor should we go Light Rail for its entire length – preferably within Decade 1. NZTA have stated that Light Rail is a proven and viable solution that meets future needs, connects well to other modes (like heavy rail), and will allow the certainty into the investment of land  that will allow the support for growth and enable urban development and renewal – so:

LETS DO THIS

 

The Southern Airport Line through Manukau City Centre. Black – Heavy Rail, Blue = busses, Grey = possible LLRT route

 

 

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