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Source: Auckland Council

Auckland Transport (AT) and Auckland Council have released the City Centre Bus Plan, outlining proposals for the next 10 years to ensure the bus network continues to meet the needs of Aucklanders.

The bus network in Auckland has undergone many changes in the past five years and patronage has improved significantly as a result. However, as the number of trips on buses to the city centre continue to increase, more bus services are required.

This plan seeks to deliver the outcomes of the City Centre Master Plan (CCMP), which prioritises the city centre as a place for people, so we can all enjoy a safe, vibrant and well-connected city.

The plan proposes three key steps:

Step 1: Create two dedicated east-west bus corridors on Customs Street to Fanshawe Street and on Wellesley Street, which is more efficient and has safer stops.

Step 2: Establish dedicated facilities for bus customers. These facilities would include safe and comfortable waiting spaces, facilities for drivers and bus charging facilities.

Step 3: Create bus routes that run through the city centre, rather than ending there. This would free up at least one kilometre of kerbside space that could be repurposed for public spaces or other city centre needs.

Councillor Chris Darby, Planning Committee Chair, says that greater convenience, increased capacity and improved air quality are at the heart of the new plan.

“There’s a growing desire of Aucklanders to avoid numbing congestion and take advantage of seamless bus corridors to their places of work and education in the city centre.

“New crossover routes and new off-street bus interchanges complete the mix to make the city centre even more accessible for people living and visiting there.”

He adds that the proposed plan makes room for 50 per cent more people travelling on buses through the city centre.

“It’s yet another component to delivering on the CCMP, providing an accessible, green and liveable city centre.”

Chair of the Auckland Council Environment and Climate Change Committee, Councillor Richard Hills, says the proposed plan aims to make bus journeys more reliable for current users and make it an attractive travel option for more residents across Tāmaki Makaurau.

“More people on buses also frees up road space for those who need to use it.

“It will also lead to better outcomes for city centre residents, and businesses too, by ramping up the rollout of our zero-emissions bus fleet, requiring less road space for layovers and creating safer, more pedestrian-friendly environments to get to and from the bus, to work, education, retail, hospitality and cultural institutions.”

AT’s Chief Executive, Shane Ellison, says that buses are part of the city centre’s lifeblood and even after City Rail Link is completed, buses will continue to be an important means of access. He says that most Aucklanders who use public transport arrive in the city via bus.

“Now more than ever, we need a greater focus on trains, buses and ferries as well as walking and cycling so Aucklanders can contribute to tackling climate change. We need to steer our transport thinking towards moving people rather than moving vehicles. This proposed plan would support the vision for Tāmaki Makaurau as a place for everyone to enjoy.”

AT’s Network Service Development Manager, Pete Moth, says that there are some exciting initiatives in the proposed plan that will deliver substantial benefits for city centre bus users, but it won’t happen overnight.

“We acknowledge that travelling on buses in the city centre can be a frustrating experience for some and that making transfers between buses in the city centre can be difficult and confusing. We want Aucklanders to be aware of these changes, to know they are part of the plan that will make the buses and the transport system in the city centre better for all.”

He says the proposed plan will benefit both businesses and residents in the city centre.

“By freeing up more than one kilometre of road space in the city centre, we can give space back to the city centre for people and remove buses from unsuitable streets, often outside businesses and residences. This will improve air quality and streets such as Commerce St would be entirely free of buses under this plan.”

As AT progresses through the business case and subsequent delivery phases, there will be formal consultation on the specific proposals outlined in this paper.

At this stage AT is asking for feedback on whether the public thinks the proposed City Centre Bus Plan will help deliver the CCMP.

Feedback is open until 19 September 2021.

For more information on the City Centre Bus Plan, visit AT.govt.nz/CityCentreBusPlan

MIL OSI