Banks’ bus-lane plan utter madness

If you’ve been reading the Herald lately you might feel that anything anybody could ever want to say about bus-lanes has been said already.

To summarise, right now a lot of people in Auckland are being ticketed for moving into a bus-lane more than 50 meters (the legally allowed maximum) before they need to turn left.

Personally, I think the solution is simple – the council should just put a marker at the 50 metre point on  roads where people are getting lots of tickets. The claim that there are already too many signs is not very compelling given that managing signage is often within the Council’s control. What do you think?

Save Dominion Road’s Bus-Lane

As far as I’m concerned (although I do have a vested interest since, for me, it’s close to home), a much more important issue is that right now John Banks’ Auckland City Council is consulting on a plan to turn the bus-lanes on Dominion Road into a T2 lane. That would mean that all cars carrying 2 or more passengers could use the bus-lane as well as buses.

This is clearly a crazy plan since right now the bus-lane works magnificently to relieve congestion and improve mobility. As the council themselves admit it carries more than 50% of the total passengers on the road during peak times.

Also, as Rudman reports, trials of turning a bus-lane into a T2 lane on Tamaki Drive have shown that doing so actually made travel times slower (on average) for all road users – including motorists!

So, if you live in Auckland I encourage you to make a submission on this plan, asking Auckland City Council to keep the bus-lane on Dominion Road for buses only.

And while you’re at it please encourage the good part of the Council’s plan – which is to redesign Dominion Road to include a separate cycle lane.

11 Comments Posted

  1. Its necessary I guess since the accident rate involving buses has gone down. But I do agree markers are very important. No markers simply mean = tickets = more accident

  2. Thanks Lucy, I vaguely recall the green parks but can’t think of any off the top of my head. Interesting though – would it have to be widened the entire way along or nothing though I wonder.

  3. @StephenR. Lots of people don’t know this but there is land alongside Dominion Road which has been designated for a road for some time. That is why there are all those funny narrow green parks alongside the road. It’s also why a lot of the shops on parts of the road are in such dilapidated buildings – they are kind of semi-condemned.

    However, Auckland City Council isn’t actually planning to use much of this designated land to widen the road. Instead the plan is to widen the road by getting rid of off-street parking. This will create the space to allow a separated bus lane, cycle lane, and car lane. Or, of course, it could be a car lane, a T2 lane, and a cycle lane.

    And for those of you who think businesses NEED off-road parking to survive – look at Cuba Street.

  4. It might be necessary to put the intersecting street name on the sign e.g “Balmoral Rd 50m”. That would reduce any scope for confusion. (Arguably it would also be more useful for purpose of automotive navigation than a street name sign at the actual intersection.)

    A more general observation on the issue: It is a misgovernance to introduce new legal requirements or restrictions in the knowledge that people will have difficulty in complying, and without taking all reasonable steps to assist them to comply. Yet that is what Auckland City has done, and I believe that the reason for their failure to assist compliance has been their desire to extract revenue from offenders. That should be a worry, because it is one more indication that the institutions of government in New Zealand no longer see themselves as existing to serve the public good – they see the public as existing to serve the interests of government.

  5. Here’s what I said in my feedback:

    1A: Overall, what do you think of the proposal? Please provide reasons for your feedback.

    I think that the proposal has many excellent aspects to it. Removing parking from the sides of Dominion Road is an excellent idea as it allows the bus lanes to operate for extended hours and also allows for the lengthy cycle lanes.

    Extending the hours of the bus lanes is absolutely essential as bus frequencies along Dominion Road are fairly high even during off-peak times (such as every 5 minutes during weekday offpeaks and every 10 minutes on Saturdays). During off-peak times bus users are being significantly delayed by congestion, so therefore extending the operating hours of the bus lanes is excellent.

    At peak times, a huge number of buses (in excess of 25 per hour) travel along Dominion Road, and therefore improving the quality of those lanes is essential.

    I strongly disagree with the proposal to turn the bus lanes into T2 lanes, and that is detailed below.

    1B: Bus lane/T2 lane: The new plan includes changes to the bus lane. Currently the bus lane operates city bound (7-9 am) and outbound (4-6pm) in the peak hours. Under the new plan, the bus lane will operate all day, but will also be used by cars occupied by two or more people. In other words, the bus lane will become a T2 lane which can be used by BOTH buses and cars carrying 2 or more people. What are your thoughts about this change?

    I think that turning the bus lanes into T2 lanes is an incredibly poor idea. Dominion Road is one of the most heavily used bus routes in all of Auckland City, both at peak times and off-peak times. More than half of the people travelling along Dominion Road at peak times travel along the bus lanes, and they are provided with an excellent service at the moment: hence the popularity of buses along Dominion Road.

    North Shore City Council has recently analysed whether turning the Onewa Road T3 lane into a T2 lane would be a good idea. Officers have shown that doing this would result in more than half the vehicles along the corridor at peak times being buses or transit vehicles: thereby completely removing the entire point of the priority lane as it would become more congested than the general lane. It is likely that turning Dominion Road into a T2 lane would result in the same outcome: completely ruining the best bus lanes in Auckland City.

    While there may be some value in having the lanes as T2 or (more preferably) T3 during off-peak times (outside 6am-10am, 3pm-7pm), if the lanes were T2 during peak time it would completely ruin the bus lanes as outlined above, and actually reduce the carrying capacity of Dominion Road.

    1C: At the moment the planned T2 lane, that is, the lane for buses and cars carrying 2 or more people, is being proposed to operate from 6am to 7pm. However, we want to get your opinion on when the T2 lane should operate. What should the hours of operation be for the T2 lane

    There should not be a T2 lane.

    1D: How should the T2 lane be used outside of its hours of operation?
    Well I would say “there should not be a T2 lane”, but that’s not an option so I said for parking, rather than end up with a 4 lane highway.

    1E: Cycle lane: The new plan includes a separate cycle lane. The cycle lane will merge with the bus lane in the shopping areas at Valley Road and Balmoral. What are your thoughts about this change?

    Merging the cycle lane is not ideal, but I see why it is necessary. I fully support the provision of the cycle lane along the route.

    1F: Right hand turn restrictions: The new plan will prevent some right hand turns from Dominion Road on to adjoining roads. These will include George St, Lisnoe Ave, Bellevue Ave, Elizabeth St, Herbert Rd, Ewington Ave, Dunbar Rd, Tennyson St, Queens Ave, Hazel Ave, Foch Ave, Kings Rd, Donald Cres., and Cambrai Ave. What are your thoughts about having these right hand turn restrictions?

    I think it is logical to remove right-hand turns along these roads as right-turns are currently quite dangerous.

    1G Parking removal: The new plan also removes parking on Dominion Road at any time. This is to allow safe operation of the separate cycle lane and T2 lane. Plenty of parking will still be available on side streets and in the shopping areas. What are your thoughts about having parking on Dominion Road removed?

    I think that parking removal is a necessary part of the plan to improve this route for buses and cyclists in particular.

    I do think that removing parking and simply replacing it with lanes that will generally be used by cars will effectively turn Dominion Road into a wide four-lane semi-motorway (like Balmoral Road). This would have terrible results for the town centres like Balmoral and Valley Road, making them very unfriendly for pedestrians as cars will zip through very quickly. Therefore, this is just another reason to ensure that the lanes are for buses only.

    1H: Are there any other comments you would like to make about other aspects of the proposed design?

    Further consideration should be given to placing the bus lanes in the centre of Dominion Road. This would eliminate many of the problems associated with the current bus lanes (conflicts between cars turning into and out of driveways with buses, conflicts between pedestrians and fast moving buses on footpaths etc.)

    Dominion Road should be considered primarily as a public transport corridor (this is outlined in the Council’s arterial plans) and therefore the best part of the road should be given to buses: that being the centre of the road.

  6. Jeremy, good point. Thing is by adding a dedicated cycle space we might end up with the bus lane sharing space with the car lane or vice versa.

    I think the plan might also be a bit of a bust for the 2+ people cars because they’ll be behind buses which are stopping quite often! Not much fun waiting for that all the time.

  7. We probably only need to put markings on the roads where people are getting heaps of tickets (i.e., it is clearly hard to judge the correct distance). Symonds Street, is a good example of one of these (from my own experience).

  8. @Stephen R, not as dangerous as the current situation where we have a SHARED bus/cycle lane – only in Auckland…

    I live on Dom Rd and gave up my car last year simply because it is the only route frequent enough to do so, if they go forward with their stupid plan there goes my advantage in choosing the bus to get to the city quicker…

  9. That 50m is allowed at every turn, be that interstection, side street, driveway or car park. Are we to mark them all?

  10. Hi David: Signage could be as simple as —–50m——– painted across the lane, or hatching for the 50m to give a visual clue?

  11. And while you’re at it please encourage the good part of the Council’s plan – which is to redesign Dominion Road to include a separate cycle lane.

    Eh? Is there space for that? Sounds kinda dangerous…

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