Views sought on busway’s design

Once completed, the Eastern Busway project will provide 7km of free-flowing bus travel from the Panmure train station to Botany. Times photo Wayne Martin

East Auckland residents will soon have the chance to share their views on the design of the latest stage of a major infrastructure project.

Auckland Transport (AT) says the next phase of the Eastern Busway to be constructed runs from Pakuranga to Botany and has a budget of $867 million.

Additional funding has been assigned to prioritise the project’s delivery.

The busway is part of the region’s rapid transport network and will create separate lanes for buses to connect commuters from Botany, Pakuranga and surrounding suburbs with the rail network in Panmure.

It includes cycling and walking paths, safety, environment and roading improvements, and the Reeves Road flyover.

Consultation with property owners and the community will soon begin on the current design of the busway from Pakuranga to Botany and will continue in early 2022.

Feedback will help the project team better understand the “local context, the needs of the diverse and growing east Auckland population and the impact of the proposed changes”, AT says.

Meanwhile, the Panmure to Pakuranga section of the busway is almost complete, with its opening planned for mid-December 2021.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff says the busway’s benefits will be “wide-ranging”.

“As well as enabling people to get around more quickly via public transport, it will increase access to jobs and education, attract investment and growth and enable urban development.

“The Eastern Busway project will also help address traffic congestion and reduce carbon emissions helping us to achieve our climate change goals and contributing to improved air quality in our region.”

AT says the busway’s Panmure to Pakuranga section is almost complete with its opening planned for mid-December.

When the entire project is finished it will provide 7km of free-flowing busway from the Panmure train station to Botany, AT chief executive Shane Ellison says.

“This ‘turn-up-and-go’ rapid transport service along with safe, separated walking and cycling routes, will make it easier to connect with the wider Auckland region and enable people to get to school, work and the shops.”

More than 10km of protected cycleways and footpaths will run alongside the busway.

Parts of Ti Rakau Drive will be widened to make space for the busway and five bus stations.

The station designs include parking for scooters and bikes and green roofs that will collect solar energy and rainwater.

“We’re working together with mana whenua so when the new bus lanes are built we’ll restore and enhance the landscape with more trees, planting and rain gardens that capture and reuse storm water,” Ellison says.

Site investigation work is taking place to help planners understand the ground conditions and locations of underground services including water, electricity and gas pipes.

The information being gathered is critical to support development of the design, AT says.

Construction is expected to start in 2022 and to be completed in 2026 subject to consent approvals and the easing of current pandemic restrictions.

The announcement the project is back on track is “welcome news for east Auckland”, Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown and Botany MP Christopher Luxon say.

“The Eastern Busway and Reeves Road flyover have been talked about for too long and the time now is for action.

“We’ll be working closely with AT to ensure this project fits the needs of people in east Auckland and ensuring everyone has their say in the final design phase.”