The Case for the Northwestern Busway
I was interested to read Josh Arbury’s update on the Northwestern Busway. ARTA have up until recently been reluctant to entertain the idea of a second public transport spine in West Auckland, claiming that it will take patronage away from the Western Rail Line, but seem to be warming to the idea.
A North Shore-style dedicated bus way on the Northwestern Motorway is exactly what the people of Te Atatu and Massey need to get out of their cars and on to public transport. With over 60% of West Aucklanders commuting to other parts of Auckland on a daily basis, the public transport services offered to those westies who don’t live near the Western Rail Line is abysmal. For example, if you catch a bus from Westgate to Britomart, it will most likely take just over an hour – even in rush hour, it’s only a 30 minute drive. Not only do the buses have to travel at the same speed as the traffic (the bus shoulders are useless on this front, as buses have to merge back into the traffic at almost every bridge or off-ramp), but they have to take in loops through all the surrounding suburbs, making the journey painfully slow.
With up to five lanes of motorway planned for the not too distant future, there is more than enough room. If bus ‘stations’ were located at every on-ramp, these could connect with local bus services to and from Henderson, Te Atatu Peninsula or New Lynn, or park-and-ride facilities. It would stand a excellent chance of moving faster than the traffic, which would be the key to increasing patronage.
Public transport is not going to be for everyone (I hardly expect trades workers with ladders on top of their vans to jump on a bus) but if more CBD workers were motivated to get out of their cars and catch public transport, it would free up the motorway for those commuters who don’t the a choice.
With planned expansion of the Northwestern Motorway and the completion of the Hobsonville Deviation, there has never been a better time to build dedicated bus lanes out west. I just hope that the Transport CCO (which will be based at Waitakere Central) will see sense in a Western Busway too.