MP Pleas For NorthWest Busway


List MP and Labour candidate for Te Atatu Phil Twyford has made a plea to the Auckland Council’s Transport Committee proposing a Northwest Busway, similar to the North Shore busway and light rail there as well.

Councillors did not vote for the option - but agreed to send his presentation to Auckland Transport officers asking for consideration of bus options for the SH16 from the bus shoulder to an actual busway.

Using an assumption of a cost of $25m per kilometre including low cost railway platform stations in the central median for 14km, he estimates the total cost at $350m.  Plus a $50 million “green bridge” across the Whau River to carry buses, pedestrians and cyclists to a bus station on Rosebank Peninsula from Great North Rd at Glendene.
Twyford argued that the northwest of Auckland is currently poorly served by public transport. The Western Line does not really serve this part of West Auckland.

He gave as an example that buses to Te Atatu Peninsular operate every 15 minutes during peak times, but only hourly during off peak times and on Saturdays. On Sundays, there is only one bus every two hours connecting the peninsular with central Auckland. Buses from Westgate and Massey after often not much better- yet again having exceedingly slow travel times.

A 7am 080 express from Westgate to Britomart, a 21k distance via Don Buck Road, takes an hour compared to the 7am NEX Albany to Britomart of 17.3km via the busway of 35 minutes.

“In short, the northwest part of Auckland has a significant need for high quality fast public transport because there’s a lack of employment opportunities in the area – yet at the same time this part of Auckland has poor public transport choices.”

Mr Twyford suggested placing a busway on the northern side of the motorway could be the easiest way to do it as potential station sites are located at Pt Chev, Te Atatu, Lincoln Rd and “with a bit more effort” Royal Road, Massey. The location of a busway station at Westgate should be of prime consideration in the redevelopment there.

He sees two options between Pt Chev and the CBD:

  • The buses to follow the existing Great North Rd which has reasonably high standard bus lanes
  • The busway to continue down the motorway and eventually link into the city centre via Nelson and Hobson Sts. This might be a staging process. First stage between Pt Chev and Westgate, 2nd between Pt Chev and the city.

With the exception of Westgate stations would be kept away from current congested motorway interchanges and located instead where local roads pass over the motorway at Royal and Waimumu Rd or where they could do so (Flanshaw Rd). A station is also suggested at Rosebank.

He also suggests light rail could be combined with buses. He proposed that the busway should be built with light rail tracks pre-embedded in the surface.
“Light rail on the northern and western busway could be connected throough Britomart which actually has provision for separate light rail tracks built into its structure – currently behind walls. It would be technically possible to run the light rail over the central structure of the Auckland Harbour Bridge. In the CBD the light rail could run on the surface in ways that would be complementary to the rail tunnel.”
The MP said one big effect of the Northern Busway has been a reduction in traffic flows. Between 7am and 8am each weekday, about 8000 people cross the harbour bridge on a bus, a third of all people crossing the bridge at peak times.




  1. greenwelly says:

    “Light rail on the northern and western busway could be connected throough Britomart …
    ….It would be technically possible to run the light rail over the central structure of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.”

    I thought the general consensus was that upgrading a busway to light rail only gave you a minimal increase in capacity for a significant cost and that if you are going to upgrade a busway to tracks it really needs to be heavy rail for the $$$ to stack up??

    I could be wrong, but that was my understanding

  2. Peter in Sydney says:

    It depends upon which “expert” you quote. Surely in a land which does not have to rely on fossil fuels to produce electricity light rail should be seriously considered. Added benefits are less diesel fumes especially in the inner city, a superior ride quality from lower acceleration/ deceleration retes and if the light rail is planned properly it can be converted to heavy rail later.

  3. Ingolfson says:

    I think talking light rail when you have no light rail system to link it to is stupid at this stage.

    The busway (or at least significant operational and infrastructural improvements) are a way overdue project for the west, but sadly, Steven Joyce is having none of that, and I can’t see Council having the money available for more than some improvements around the egdes of the issue.

  4. greenwelly says:

    @Peter in Sydney, re” conversion of Light rail to heavy rail, - the issue of converting light rail to heavy rail is complicated by NZ rail being Cape gauge while light rail/ trams have historically been standard (and the new wynyard track is also standard gauge)

  5. Simon Lyall says:

    The Maxx Website indicates it is around a 15 minute bus from the Peninsular to Henderson train station.

    Maybe it would be make more sense to run frequent busses to the train station and then people can catch a bus/train from there to the central city rather than having two expensive routes both going out west.

  6. Matt says:

    Simon, that would require the installation of bus priority measures along Te Atatu Rd (there are none that I recall), and then puts people at 40-something minutes for the train from Henderson plus 15 minutes from Te Atatu Peninsula to the Henderson train station.

    And, of course, there’s a heap of city beyond Te At that is similarly poorly-served. Like, all of Massey/Hobsonville/West Harbour .

  7. Simon Lyall says:


    The loop should take 20 minutes off that the train time which will improve things. There should also be scope for bus priority measures on Te Atatu Rd to improve the TA->Henderson time.

    The idea is that the busses will act as a feeder for the trains rather than duplicating their route ( Slower, with reduced loading and frequency for both).

    Obviously this requires the trains to be relatively fast and frequent.

    As you go further North to Massey, Hobsonville you have the problem that whatever you do you have to go a long way around the harbour. Maybe a busway up Lincoln road North to Hobsonville might work?

  8. Patrick R says:

    The key thing is the designation of the route as an RTN, not a fight over mode. Although having said that, lower cost, flexibility and ability to stage the introduction makes a busway the obvious way to go.

    Option One in my view: secure the ROW from Westgate to Pt Chev then buslanes on Great North rd makes for the quickest low hanging fruit for a new RTN/QTN in an area that desperately needs it.

    Also the way to go out of Britomart is the CRL so that old lightrail mash-up at Britomart idea should be consigned to the dustbin with all the other half-baked AK transit plans.

  9. kris_b says:

    I’ve spent a lot of time taking the Te Atatu Peninsula buses, and they are dire.

    My experience wasn’t helped by the fact that I was travelling in the opposite direction, from K-Rd to the Peninsula and back again in the evening, so was totally stuck with hourly service only. Even worse, if I missed the 5.45 bus back to the city, there wasn’t another one until 7.45.

    It’s also really slow, with a lot of fluffing around in backstreets around the northern end of the peninsula, then stopping at most stops on the way back in between Pt Chev and K-rd. On a bad run, you’d stop at every single stop - highly frustrating. Average trip time was at least 45 minutes, plus a heap more waiting since the route was horribly unreliable and 15-20 minute waits were common, with longer waits not unusual either.

    Travelling via Henderson is a stupid idea. There is simply no room for bus lanes along most of the route to Henderson without buying up probably a hundred million in houses - the bulk of the direct route is winding 2 lane suburban road, and it’s also insane to travel so far out of the way. An off peak journey from Peninsula to CBD is just over 15 minutes by car. Peak time car travel from Peninsula to Henderson is more than that.

    I’m not so sure a fully grade separated busway is the way to go, but certainly something bigger and better than shoulder lanes could achieve much of the benefit for a fraction of the cost.

    One thing I’ve never seen mentioned is the possibility of a ferry service - supposedly Hobsonville is going to be a 20min ferry to the CBD, Te Atatu is much closer but I suspect the water is too shallow for a ferry terminal to be possible.

  10. Evan J says:

    A cheaper way to speed up the buses would be to have a one-way busway, to operate in the direction of the rush hour traffic. I have noticed on the Northern Motorway that quite a few buses don’t bother using the busway when traveling light in the opposite direction of the rush hour traffic. It would mean doing away with the bus stations, but that probably wouldn’t be a problem on the North Western Motorway. For a busway to work properly there would need to be dedicated bus lanes on the city arterials so any buses coming or going to the busway weren’t snarled up on the city streets. I can’t see any point in light rail. If fuel or pollution becomes a problem, wires can always be strung along the busway and trolley buses reintroduced or some sort of hybrid trolley-diesel.

  11. Ingolfson says:

    kris_b - a ferry to Te Atatu is highly feasible - Te Atatu was once supposed to be Auckland’s next industrial port! And anyway, dredging can take care of such issues as water depth.

    No, the problem is that during off-peak, a ferry would be a lot slower than all but the “back street” buses described above (so people would still drive), and while it might have an edge during the peak hour, that won’t help any Te Atatu residents that need to go to, say, K Road, or Newmarket.

    Not dissing the ferry idea, it has merit - but at best, it is a complementary measure to better public transport on the SH16 corridor itself.

    If they were serious about it, they might not build a full busway - but start with the occasiona fly-over ramp that removes the buses from waiting at the interchanges.

  12. San Luca says:

    I’m not convinced with the green bridge idea

  13. Patrick R says:

    San Luca, your opinion might be interesting if it came with an argument.

  14. Adrian D says:

    So you can all visualise a carpark on prime land in Te Atatu peninsula full of cars from outside the area. Is this to be another park n ride and how well does the ferry do from West harbour. I agree something needs to be done about the system we have but not on land that people in Te Atatu have fort to keep as open space. I also wonder what this will cost under the new rating system being an improvement on an existing.


Leave a Comment


XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>