Botany rapid transit busway project still on track

Local commuters may one day be able to utilise the future Botany to Auckland Airport rapid transit project. Times photo Wayne Martin

Work is continuing into the feasibility of a $1.8 billion rapid transit public transport connection between Botany and Auckland Airport via Manukau.

The business case phase of the project began in 2018 and is expected to be completed later this year.

The connection is part of the Southwest Gateway Programme and is being jointly delivered by Auckland Transport, the NZ Transport Agency, and Auckland Airport.

It’s intended to improve accessibility for public transport users in East and South Auckland and provide an important link in the city’s rapid transit network.

Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan says following approval of the project’s business case, it will progress into a pre-implementation phase, including route protection and consenting.

There is currently no funding allocated to that phase, he says.

Commencement of the work is subject to funding being allocated to it in the next Auckland Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP) 2021-2031, which is being drafted.

“Several mode options, including using buses and light rail, were investigated and assessed as part of the business case,” Hannan says.

“The recommended mode for the airport to Botany corridor is bus rapid transit operated with articulated electric buses.

“This mode best matches the forecast demand for the airport to Botany rapid transit line and provides flexibility to build the rapid transit corridor in stages.”

Construction of the full Botany to airport rapid transit facility is proposed to take place in stages between 2027 and 2035. Times photo Wayne Martin

Hannan says the project’s design could accommodate light rail in future if demand exceeds current forecast.

Howick ward councillor Sharon Stewart says the council’s funding of projects will be limited in 2020-2021 due to the passing of its emergency budget as a result of the financial impact of Covid-19.

“It is a shame so many projects are being put on hold because of Covid-19,” she told the Times.

“This [the Busway] is a project that is important to people living in the Howick ward … as a large number of our people work at the airport hub.”

Stewart says she welcomes further funding being considered for the project as part of the RLTP, but she wants it to be considered sooner rather than later.

“I will be supporting this in the long-term plan. This is where the rubber will hit the road.

“The airport to Botany rapid transit will help east-west connectivity in south Auckland [and] will make it easier for people to travel across the city rather than just north-south.

“It will also help develop the public transport network to serve the new housing being built around Flat Bush.”

Howick ward councillor Paul Young says transport infrastructure is a “huge priority” for east Auckland and the rapid transit project will provide a congestion-free transport option from the east to the south of the city.

“The east has been waiting a long time for better transport options. We need to prioritise the delivery of the airport to Botany rapid transit project.”

Young says the project is a great opportunity to explore new transport options such as trackless trams or autonomous rapid rail transit.

“We should modernise and be innovative.”

Hannan says construction of the full Botany to airport rapid transit facility is proposed to take place in stages between 2027 and 2035 but is subject to funding in the next RLTP 2021-2031.

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