A study into the future transport needs of Auckland reveals a looming crisis as the city’s population growth exceeds the ability of the transport network to cope.
The City Centre Future Access Study (CCFAS) was commissioned by Auckland Transport and warns of significant delays and congestion on all routes into the city centre within the next 10 years*.
The CCFAS follows a request 18 months ago from then Minister of Transport, Steven Joyce, for Auckland Mayor Len Brown to develop a robust and achievable transport programme for access into the city centre.
The study was completed in consultation with central government officials and depicts an access crisis for the city centre if public transport is not reshaped and strengthened.
The CCFAS identifies the City Rail Link (CRL) as essential. It says that bus-only investment will provide for short-term benefits but in some cases will be ‘worse than doing nothing’ for private vehicle travel times.
Len Brown says two thirds of New Zealand’s population growth over the next 30 years will be in Auckland and meeting this growth will require significant investment to complete the strategic public transport networks.
“We must complete the CRL without delay. It is an essential investment for the whole of Auckland because it doubles the capacity of the rail network and improves access to our town centres adjacent to rail,” says the Mayor.
“The city centre will increasingly be the focus for high productivity jobs and the CRL enables this growth.”
The CCFAS also shows that in less than a decade bus volumes will need to increase by 70 per cent on key routes. This means insufficient road capacity and bus improvements that fail to meet demand by 2021.
Central to the Minister’s request was the need for Auckland Council to investigate alternatives to the CRL. Of the 46 potential alternatives, two options, a surface bus priority option or an underground bus tunnel, were taken forward for further investigation.
The CCFAS found that a bus-only solution would require the acquisition of more than 230 properties to improve bus corridors on the approaches to the city and would require the equivalent of two city blocks to store buses during the day..
Neither option performed as well as the CRL across the access indicators.
The study also found that private vehicle speeds in the city centre at peak times will more than halve, reducing to seven kilometres per hour (km/h) by 2021 and down to five km/h by 2041.
For rail, the outlook is particularly bleak. Post electrification there are no options to increase peak train services to Britomart.
Auckland Transport Chair Lester Levy says the best solution is one that integrates the use of the entire transport network.
”The study underlines the importance of the CRL to improving the entire transport network. It provides a logical and factual basis on which the work already underway can continue.”
* The predictions take into account the assumed completion of all planned road improvements and are based on medium population growth projections.
Notes for editors:
Auckland population, using a medium growth forecast, is predicted to be 2.2m in 2041, an increase of about 730,000 people
An extra 400,000 dwellings will be required, with 70 per cent in the metropolitan urban limit
Employment and residential numbers in the city centre are expected to almost double by 2041. Employment to more than 200,000 people and residential to 140,000. In addition, city centre student numbers are expected to increase by 30 per cent to 35,400
In 2021, the city centre will account for 17 per cent of Auckland’s gross domestic product (GDP) and this is estimated to grow to 25 per cent in 2041
City centre public transport use is predicted to increase by 47 per cent in 2021
A bus-only solution would require 20 per cent more buses in the city centre in peak hour
Meeting the forecast demand in 2021 will require 199 buses on Symonds Street per peak hour and 250 in 2041, compared to the current 125
Parking, loading and taxi zones on dedicated priority bus corridors would need to be removed
Car travel times to the city centre from the southern growth area are likely to increase by 25 minutes between 2021-2041.
The full report can be viewed as a PDF on the Auckland Council website.