Northern Busway Extension Action


Progress this afternoon on getting serious about extending Auckland’s Northern Busway by another 16 kilometres, to serve the communities of Silverdale and Orewa.

NZTA announced plans for the next stage of investigations into options for the extension.

Significantly, it’s appointed engineering consultancy BECA to investigate the route for a dedicated buses-only link from Constellation Drive on Auckland’s North Shore to Silverdale, and to test this route against other options for extending the busway.

The project will be built in stages, with the section between the Constellation Drive and Albany Stations the first priority.

BECA’s investigation will take all year.  NZTA says that the new Auckland Council and Auckland Transport body will be consulted as the investigation proceeds into the future development of one of the city’s most important public transport routes.

Construction is still officially “some years away” but NZTA’s Regional Director for Auckland and Northland, Stephen Town said that there was a need to protect land now for the route because any busway extension will have to be built in an area of Auckland that is developing rapidly.

“Public transport is critical to contributing to economic growth in the region by reducing peak time congestion, and we’re planning now to ensure the busway continues to meet Aucklanders’ needs in the future. Demands from development pressure need to be taken into account and we need to protect a route now so that we have the required land available to us later when we are ready to extend the busway,” Mr Town said.

BUSWAY: North Shore busway is a runaway success

The Northern Busway is currently 6.2 kilometres long, re-joining the Northern Motorway (State Highway 1) at Constellation Drive, and includes four purpose-built stations. The busway opened in February 2008, triggering an immediate and ongoing rise in passenger numbers and providing quicker peak time bus journeys between the North Shore and Auckland’s CBD.

The stellar growth trends of the Northern Express continue month by month- for example  patronage was up by 20.6% last August and by 20.9% on the previous year to 31 August.




  1. Nick R says:

    Hmmm, I really can’t see the need for an extension beyond Albany. Some park and ride/interchange stations sure, but a busway? Is there really that much congestion on the motorway north of Oteha Valley Rd to justify a busway?

    The only reason I can see them aiming for this is if they anticipate a large amount of car-based suburban development behond the current urban growth boundary, which seems perfectly possible under the current administration.

    Lets hope the design standards make is suitable for heavy rail.

  2. Matt L says:

    Nick I’m surprised at your stance on this. the NZTA is actually doing something good here by trying to determine the best route and have it protected so that if we ever do need to use it, it can be easily built which is something rare for PT in Auckland.

    Personally I think they should build the extension to Albany then have buses run along the motorway to an off line station in Silverdale. If it was built or at least planned then I would also have much less issue with more development around the Dairy Flat area as it could be designed as a nice TOD with the developer levies going towards paying for the busway construction.

    And yes, I seriously hope it is designed so that it could be used for heavy rail as well.

  3. Sam says:

    what about at least bus lanes over the harbour bridge and through St Marys Bay. Apparently buses now carry nearly 40% of Harbour bridge commuter traffic… so surely they deserve at least one dedicated lane out of the 8 available. It seems stupid to me that it should stop just before the section where congestion gets REALLY bad

  4. Nick R says:

    Matt, building the extension to Albany then running the buses along the motorway to stations at Silverdale and Orewa is exactly what I had in mind.

    But no evalation of transport needs would come up with a result that says a busway is requried next to the motorway to Silverdale. It appears NZTA are doing this on their own accord, perhaps it is due to political pressure. A ‘greenwash’ for the Wellsford motorway perhaps?

    I can’t blindly support any project just because it is for public transport, thats not good planning or economics. Spending money in the wrong place is worse than spending no money at all. Say they spend another quarter billion extending from Albany, not only is that a quarter billion that isn’t spent where it is most needed, it also leave the city with a white elephant that screams failure and lessens the chance of the right thing being done.

    I would agree with Sam to an extent, if the busway needs extension anywhere it is toward the centre of the city, not outward from its fringes.

    Designating a corridor further north would be a good idea (along with various other places), but thats about it for now.

  5. How would they deal with Albany (station)? Build a flyover? Relocate? There’s an interesting question. It seems good the NZTA is doing this anyway. The points raised about motorway running are interesting. I reckon the bus lanes over the bridge would be great even in the off-peak. Off to uservoice to post it.

  6. Nick R says:

    I’ve seen some older concepts, and it involves crossing the motorway just after Rosedale Rd on a viduct, crossing over the interchange and then entering a tunnel to near the existing station. All looks very expensive, and if they are building a tunnel it makes you wonder why they wouldn’t relocate the station to somewhere useful, like under the mall/mega centre near the university and/or the stadium.

    I think they should work up some plans, designate a corridor but then sit on this one until it can be done as a railway, I just don’t see the urgency.

  7. Andrew says:

    Extend to Albany, sure, but there seems little point in any more than a land designation north of there.

    I’d rather see a proper Northwest busway.

  8. malcolm says:

    I wonder what Stephen Joyce thinks about that…

  9. JohnDee says:

    How about an O’Bahn type busway for at least some of the route.

  10. DanC says:

    The land should be set aside immediately for the busway further north. Also what should be changed is a dedicated bus lane all the way to Britomart at rush hour(s).

  11. Nick R says:

    I found one reference to this at the NZTA website, it suggested a busway extension from Constellation to Silverdale (not Orewa) would cost around $800 million in mid 2009. No indication how much was for the difficult extension to Albany and how much further north, we might be looking at a billion dollar project here.

    I can think of a few public transport projects more worthy of a billion dollars than this.

  12. Joshua says:

    Nick R - I thought that was what they were doing, designating the route, this busway definately doesn’t need to be built yet, and I would say not for a while. But designating the route is crucial. Protect the route then sit on it I say, which by the sounds is what is happening.

  13. Nick R says:

    I think designating a route to Albany is important, but further north I wonder if there is any need. Presumably it would simply run in the existing motorway corridor.

    Having said that, there are other routes that need designation a lot more, for example the SW and Airport line, a busway or rail line to Botany, or a NW busway (yes I realise these things aren’t necessarily NZTAs responsibility) .

  14. ingolfson says:

    Indeed, let’s protect the route - and that needs at least basic investigation and design to have occurred, or you end up with useless land in the worst case.

  15. Steved says:

    Interesting, this should be called Northern Railway with buses used to feed the stations, hence more people will in my opinion would use the system, and it is going only a matter of time where the buses will not be able to cope, as I believe more people will park there cars and ride to the city.

  16. Jon C says:

    @Malcolm It’s Steven not Stephen BTW. Joyce is a fan of the North Shore busway and says it means rail isn’t needed on the Shore. He said in August…

    Rejecting the idea of a North Shore rail link, the minister said last year he visited Brisbane which “has arguably the best system in the world” with around 3 or 4 times the number of passenger numbers that the North Shore busway has. It was a similar busway but the Brisbane was not at capacity yet.

    He had asked the authorities in Brisbane if they would put heavy rail on it (which it had been designed for) and they said they wouldn’t until it was full because heavy rail was inflexible.

    “The great thing about a busway is you can take buses on and off at different lengths and they can travel on the local roads as well and people don’t have to change. So they had all these good reasons which suggest to me we have to think very carefully before you would throw that away and the cost would be just phenomenal and there would be a very big question as to whether central government would choose to pay part of it or all of it and therefore that has to be factored in to what is being proposed by various candidates.”

    He considered North shore rail may never be necessary.


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