Transport : AT grilled by Greypower

By Jim Birchall

East Aucklanders rely too much on the car and the new AMETI Eastern Busway would go a long way in addressing the issue of congestion, a recent Greypower meeting heard.

Representatives from Auckland Transport (AT) were at the November 22 meeting.

Duncan Humphrey, director of the AMETI (Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative) project conceded east Auckland had become “car-dependent” and that “the infrastructure is not there”.

He said the new busway needed to be “special, attractive, different, akin to a rail system” in order to serve the community more efficiently.

Humphrey also promised expediency with the project and stated a relationship that works with suppliers is the preferable model and the project would be sped up by going to market, alleviating the use of contractors.

AMETI/Eastern Busway’s Reeves Road Flyover are key components of AT strategic vision for the area. Photo sup

Renata Smit, manager AT airport access programme, addressed the issues surrounding transport to the “big employment hub” at Auckland Airport.

One major issue was businesses which “can’t fill jobs due to (the airport) being too difficult to get to” prompting Smit to lay out plans for rapid transport from the airport to Botany.

The solution, according to Smit, is the 18km long new transport link, which hopes to provide a 30-40 minute travel time between Botany and the Airport.

A voice from the floor asked “why is the train line not extended to the airport?”

Smit said the cost was “significantly more” (in real dollars extrapolating the projected $1.6 billion cost by 2.5 times) to alter the existing spur line and so was not feasible.

AT development manager Ben Ross produced AT-generated figures that showed an increase of 16 percent on bus journeys taken to termination at Panmure station.

The contentious issue of the T2 lane on Pakuranga Road was raised, with AT appearing comfortable with the innovation.

Another speaker expressed concern that bus stops would be in the middle of the road as part of the project on Ti Rakau Drive and asked whether there would be a pedestrian crossing built to accommodate those with limited physical capabilities to reach the stop safely. This was confirmed by AT.

Following this was a comment from the floor that the crossing would impact turning traffic and create bottle-neck situations. The idea of an underpass was mooted as a solution by a Greypower member but was shut down as a concept due to cost.

In a release AT had this to say about the imminent works;

The Airport to Botany Rapid Transit project will deliver a new rapid public transport link between the airport, Manukau and Botany, which will improve accessibility in the southern and eastern areas of Auckland and provide an important link in the rapid transit network with connections to the rail network at Puhinui and Manukau stations, the Eastern Busway at Botany Interchange and light rail at the Airport.

Airport to Botany will significantly improve transport choice, reliability, and journey times in the south and east of Auckland. A good public transport network helps cities evolve by providing better connections and improved accessibility. Reliable, affordable and efficient public transport has major economic, social and environmental benefits.

Airport to Botany Rapid Transit is one of three projects in the Southwest Gateway programme. Auckland Transport, the NZ Transport Agency, and Auckland Airport are working together on the Southwest Gateway programme to improve access and allow for future growth in south and east Auckland.