The NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport are aiming to speed up bus movements on Auckland’s busiest motorway, by creating a continuous bus lane using the motorway shoulder usually reserved for emergency vehicles.
The new lane will be created on the Northern Motorway (SH1), from just north of the Auckland Harbour Bridge to the Esmonde Road turnoff, where 130 buses an hour travel in peak time between the city centre and the Northern Expressway.
“The Government and the Transport Agency have made improving public transport a priority so this project will help speed up peak time bus journeys, encouraging more people to leave their cars at home and use public transport,” says the Transport Agency’s General Manager Customer Design and Delivery, Charles Ronaldson.
Work to create the north-bound bus shoulder lane will be in two stages, starting at night on Sunday, 2 December. Buses will start using a section of the lane from Friday, 7 December and it will be fully operational from Monday, 13 December.
“This is a peak time measure. When traffic is light, buses can still travel in the main traffic lanes with other vehicles. But in peak time, when there’s heavy congestion and traffic is backed up, bus drivers can opt to use the shoulder lane,” says Mr Ronaldson.
“It will mean quicker and more reliable journey times for bus passenger during peak time.”
North Shore Ward Councillor and Planning Committee Chair, Chris Darby welcomes the innovation.
“These changes will help to get commuters moving more quickly and easily on our buses. It’s a smart move designed to maximise and increase travel time benefits for people choosing public transport” says Cr Darby.
Auckland Transport’s Group Manager Metro Service Delivery Stacey Van Der Putten says, “The number of journeys taken on buses on the North Shore has increased by 12 percent over the past year, this means that we have to continue to make sure buses can travel across the city as smoothly as possible.
“At the end of September the new bus network provided 44 percent more bus service on the North Shore. By providing a dedicated lane for buses between the Harbour Bridge and Esmonde Road, this will mean that no matter how busy the traffic is, bus passengers can get where they need to go easily and on time.”
Buses travelling over the harbour bridge heading north currently use sections of the motorway shoulder but have to merge in and out of the left hand lane as they pass the off and on ramps at Onewa Road. Now they’ll be able to use the marked bus-only shoulder lane for an uninterrupted and quicker journey.
As they pass the Onewa Road onramp, buses will merge with vehicles approaching from the left. At Esmonde Road off ramp, one of the three right turning lanes will become a dedicated bus lane.
For the safety of all road users, buses will travel at less than 60 kph in the shoulder lane as they pass slow-moving or queueing traffic.
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