Friday, September 17, 2010

Northern Busway "Good To 2040"

According to the New Zealand Transport Agency's (NZTA) recent investigations, North Shore's public transport needs to the Auckland CBD will be met by the Busway until around 2040 - under certain conditions....

On Monday 6th September I was Auckland Regional Council's (ARC) representative at a meeting of the Northern Corridor Steering Group. This is attended by reresentatives of: North Shore City Council, Rodney District Council, Auckland City Council, ARC, NZTA, Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA), and Ontrack. I was chair of this committee from 2001 to 2004 when its main priority was the design and start up of the Northern Busway Project. Now I'm it's ARC representative - along with Christine Rose.

A significant part of the meeting was allocated to three main items: the Third Harbour Crossing Project; the extension of the Busway to Orewa and beyond; and the capacity of the Northern Busway.

So here are some of my notes from that meeting:

* Busway patronage has increased by 6.9% in the 12 months to March 2010 in the 7:00am to 9:00am peak period.
* The Busway will cope with predicted increases in public transport demand to the CBD out to 2040, but the problem that is faced is the ability of the CBD to absorb all of that bus traffic, which would be more than 105 buses/hour. Thus work is being done on adding another street access into the CBD. At present all buses go along Fanshawe Street. That's the Busway access into CBD. Officers are working on an option where buses leave SH1at Cook Street and access the CBD along that street as well. This seems a sensible option. I raised - as I have for 2 or 3 years now - the need to connect the Northern Busway into a south bound corridor - to become the Southern Busway. This would for example go to Auckland Airport to service all of those employment opportunities there. It would also mean that buses did not need to stop in Auckland CBD. It would require rationalisation of some Southern core bus services - so that they became integrated with North Shore core services. This is the logic that has been applied to designing high capacity bus services in Curitiba. Buses do not park in the CBD - they park at the edges of the region.
* the busway clip-ons are "good for 20 years" at their present loading. The reports indicate that heavy traffic continues to be a problem for the life of the clip-ons. Especially as permitted axle loadings have recently been increased. I asked questions about SH1/ SH18/ SH20 being the preferred heavy freight route North South - given that Waterview connection is being built. Answers were not very satisfactory. Surely it is rational to take un-necessary heavy traffic off the Harbour Bridge, and route extra heavy traffic on the new State Highway corridor. That would add to the justification for it, and extend the life of the bridge clip-ons.
* Officers advised generally that heavy rail for urban environment was "hugely expensive". They provided figures of $7 billion to provide rail along the Northern Busway alignment (I recall his included the rail tunnels plus Britomart connection). However they explained that rail along SH! was not a good placement of rail in terms of integration with land uses. Rail really needed to be better connected with urban environment (Takapuna etc) to get more economic use of the asset, and if that of that route was taken - which would most likely mean tunnels through North Shore - the cost would be $10 billion.
* In any case, officers advised, whichever options were identified as best, there would need to be a staged approach taken, to incrementally increase capacity of existing system (Busway) and to prepare staged options for later increases in PT capacity - be it rail or whichever.

So that is my report of the meeting plus a couple of my questions at the time.

In hindsight I was a little disquieted by the emphasis, or underlying direction taken by officers in the advice given.

These concerns are:

* there is a reluctance to deal with the suggestion of de-loading the Harbour Bridge by re-routing heavy traffic through the new SH20, SH18, SH1 option.
* there is a sense that the third Harbour Crossing is being set up as a freight route first up (stage one), rather than as public transport rail tunnel route (which might be a later stage because it's so expensive). This may require some lateral thinking around how this corridor might be a light rail technology (and be significantly cheaper and easier to retrofit into the North Shore urban environment). But it would need to seamlessley connect with other high capacity Regional PT networks.

Anyway. A little report back for your interest.

1 comment:

Lucy said...

thanks for this joel. Interesting to hear there is no plan to reroute trucks onto SH20. I thought there would be since the fragility of the bridge has always been used as a justification for the project...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Northern Busway "Good To 2040"

According to the New Zealand Transport Agency's (NZTA) recent investigations, North Shore's public transport needs to the Auckland CBD will be met by the Busway until around 2040 - under certain conditions....

On Monday 6th September I was Auckland Regional Council's (ARC) representative at a meeting of the Northern Corridor Steering Group. This is attended by reresentatives of: North Shore City Council, Rodney District Council, Auckland City Council, ARC, NZTA, Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA), and Ontrack. I was chair of this committee from 2001 to 2004 when its main priority was the design and start up of the Northern Busway Project. Now I'm it's ARC representative - along with Christine Rose.

A significant part of the meeting was allocated to three main items: the Third Harbour Crossing Project; the extension of the Busway to Orewa and beyond; and the capacity of the Northern Busway.

So here are some of my notes from that meeting:

* Busway patronage has increased by 6.9% in the 12 months to March 2010 in the 7:00am to 9:00am peak period.
* The Busway will cope with predicted increases in public transport demand to the CBD out to 2040, but the problem that is faced is the ability of the CBD to absorb all of that bus traffic, which would be more than 105 buses/hour. Thus work is being done on adding another street access into the CBD. At present all buses go along Fanshawe Street. That's the Busway access into CBD. Officers are working on an option where buses leave SH1at Cook Street and access the CBD along that street as well. This seems a sensible option. I raised - as I have for 2 or 3 years now - the need to connect the Northern Busway into a south bound corridor - to become the Southern Busway. This would for example go to Auckland Airport to service all of those employment opportunities there. It would also mean that buses did not need to stop in Auckland CBD. It would require rationalisation of some Southern core bus services - so that they became integrated with North Shore core services. This is the logic that has been applied to designing high capacity bus services in Curitiba. Buses do not park in the CBD - they park at the edges of the region.
* the busway clip-ons are "good for 20 years" at their present loading. The reports indicate that heavy traffic continues to be a problem for the life of the clip-ons. Especially as permitted axle loadings have recently been increased. I asked questions about SH1/ SH18/ SH20 being the preferred heavy freight route North South - given that Waterview connection is being built. Answers were not very satisfactory. Surely it is rational to take un-necessary heavy traffic off the Harbour Bridge, and route extra heavy traffic on the new State Highway corridor. That would add to the justification for it, and extend the life of the bridge clip-ons.
* Officers advised generally that heavy rail for urban environment was "hugely expensive". They provided figures of $7 billion to provide rail along the Northern Busway alignment (I recall his included the rail tunnels plus Britomart connection). However they explained that rail along SH! was not a good placement of rail in terms of integration with land uses. Rail really needed to be better connected with urban environment (Takapuna etc) to get more economic use of the asset, and if that of that route was taken - which would most likely mean tunnels through North Shore - the cost would be $10 billion.
* In any case, officers advised, whichever options were identified as best, there would need to be a staged approach taken, to incrementally increase capacity of existing system (Busway) and to prepare staged options for later increases in PT capacity - be it rail or whichever.

So that is my report of the meeting plus a couple of my questions at the time.

In hindsight I was a little disquieted by the emphasis, or underlying direction taken by officers in the advice given.

These concerns are:

* there is a reluctance to deal with the suggestion of de-loading the Harbour Bridge by re-routing heavy traffic through the new SH20, SH18, SH1 option.
* there is a sense that the third Harbour Crossing is being set up as a freight route first up (stage one), rather than as public transport rail tunnel route (which might be a later stage because it's so expensive). This may require some lateral thinking around how this corridor might be a light rail technology (and be significantly cheaper and easier to retrofit into the North Shore urban environment). But it would need to seamlessley connect with other high capacity Regional PT networks.

Anyway. A little report back for your interest.

1 comment:

Lucy said...

thanks for this joel. Interesting to hear there is no plan to reroute trucks onto SH20. I thought there would be since the fragility of the bridge has always been used as a justification for the project...