The NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport boards have come to an important agreement on the next steps for mass transit in Auckland.
Both boards have agreed that there will be a staged, integrated transition from bus to light rail transit from the Airport to the city centre, based on future demand and capacity, and to commence route protection for this important gateway corridor between two of Auckland’s key growing employment areas.
Further work will be done to assess key operational elements, required trade-offs, flow on effects, transition impacts and network resilience issues.
The NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport will work together with Auckland Council to determine an integrated approach that enables a progression from the current bus services and bus lanes, to improved bus services in the short-term. This will potentially be followed by higher capacity buses and a dedicated bus mass transit right of way, before a transition to light rail transit could occur.
The timing for this transition will be based on demand, capacity and funding.
The most recent Advanced Bus Solution study commissioned by the NZ Transport Agency is a useful input into existing data and builds on previous studies such as the Central Access Plan, the South-Western Multi-modal Airport Rapid Transit Study and the Auckland Transport Alignment Project, with Auckland Council.
Transport Agency Auckland Regional Director Ernst Zöllner says:
“We are collaborating to ensure that transport works for Aucklanders, businesses and visitors, and that it also delivers value for money. Further work will be undertaken to identify how, over time, a transition from the current bus services and bus lanes to higher capacity mass transit and a dedicated mass transit right of way could occur.”
“We have also taken immediate measures in the 2015-2018 National Land Transport Programme to deliver improved public transport solutions around the greater Airport area, which supports a package of short term improvements being developed to address urgent access issues.”
Auckland Transport Chief Executive David Warburton says:
“This is a positive and constructive next step in bringing the Auckland Transport Alignment Project to life. The parties involved are now in agreement that urgent action needs to be taken and we will commence route protection for mass transit.”
“The agencies have agreed and confirmed through various studies that Dominion Rd is the preferred route and we all acknowledge not only the importance of the Airport Precinct and the city centre, but the public transport access and connectivity that is needed along the route.
“Any transition plan needs to consider the lead time required for transition steps such as construction timeframes, and the continued operation of the network in delivering the best value for money option."
In parallel, work will be undertaken to progress route protection of the south-eastern connection from the Airport to Manukau City Centre and east to Botany to ensure good connections to the Airport and its surrounding employment zones.
The NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport will also continue to work with Auckland Council and Auckland International Airport Limited to jointly develop and implement a package of short term access improvements to the Airport.