NZ bus lane disaster

A council candidate says the closure of an Auckland bus lane will have a negative effect on public transport

September 17, 2013

The closure of bus lanes on Auckland’s North Western Motorway this week has been described as a disaster by Waitakere Ward Council Candidate Christine Rose.

Rose, who is a user of the bus services, says the New Zealand Transport Agency’s tunnel-visioned approach will drive more people into their cars as bus travel times become longer and less reliable.

She says bus passengers are now right down the pecking order.

"This latest move might as well be deliberate economic sabotage given the negative effects it has - congestion costs will increase and employers are unlikely to accept repeated excuses that ‘my bus was late’ because passengers fail to get to work in time."

Rose says it is unrealistic to suggest commuters take the bus instead of their cars given the three years of congestion ahead as the agency widens the North Western Motorway.

"If you’re going to be stuck in general traffic you may as well be in your own car, sadly I’m sure we’ll see more people deserting buses in favour of their own more comfortable and flexible private vehicles," she says.

"This is a disaster for public transport use."

Rose says the best and most cost-effective solution would be to dedicate an existing road lane to buses, even at peak times, thereby maintaining and improving bus users’ service.

NZTA Highways Manager Tommy Parker acknowledges that the long term closures will have a significant impact on people using the route.

He says new bus lanes are expected to open in stages from 2015 as the project progresses, and they are working with partner Auckland Transport - and Auckland bus companies - to do everything possible to reduce delays and keep people moving.

"One option for Northwestern regulars is to leave the car at home and take the bus to help reduce the number of vehicles using this tight space over the next few years," he says.

"There is going to be a lot of disruption as our work accelerates. But at the end of the day when our job is done the Northwestern will be a much improved motorway whether you drive, catch a bus or walk and cycle."

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