One of East Auckland’s busiest roads could be the key to unlocking local residents’ access to fast and efficient public transport.
Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross is pushing for the creation of a rapid transit busway from Botany to Auckland Airport via Manukau that would run along Te Irirangi Drive in Flat Bush.
He says it’s logical for it to connect to the Eastern Busway, which will go from Pakuranga to Botany and is now under construction.
“When Te Irirangi Drive was built it was made wide enough to accommodate a busway or light rail,” Ross says.
“A rapid transit corridor down Te Irirangi Drive will benefit local public transport users but it will also alleviate congestion for car users by getting vehicles off the roads.”
Ross recently met officials from the New Zealand Transport Agency and Auckland Transport (AT) to get an update on a number of important projects, including the busway.
They told him about plans to improve public transport in east Auckland through construction of the Eastern Busway as well as the Airport to Botany project, which is being led by AT.
Ross says he’s used his voice in Parliament to question Transport Minister Phil Twyford on behalf of the local community about the busway.
He was an elected member of the Manukau City Council when the Eastern Busway, then known as AMETI, was first announced in 2006.
That project has taken too long to get under way and he wants to ensure similar delays don’t happen with the busway between Botany and the airport, Ross says.
“It’s great to see the Eastern Busway finally being constructed but we spent so long talking about it before the work started.
“Howick and Botany have often been forgotten when it comes to public transport. That isn’t good enough.”
Ross says traffic congestion on local roads is still a major problem and addressing it is one of his main priorities.
“We aren’t going to begin to tackle this challenge without encouraging more people to get out of cars and onto public transport.
“That won’t happen until the latter becomes a better option than taking a car. It’s got to be fast and efficient, easy to access and affordable.”
AT says it’s identified Te Irirangi Drive as the “best and most direct route” between Botany and Manukau.
The agency says the project will improve access between east and south Auckland as well as to the major employment areas of the airport and Manukau.
It will also significantly improve travel choices, reliability and journey times and support growth opportunities along the route.
A new $60 million rail and bus interchange being constructed in Puhinui is expected to open in early 2021 and is being delivered in two stages.
The first stage is an “early deliverable” of the airport to Botany rapid transit project.
It forms part of the wider Southwest Gateway programme which also involves the NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Airport.