Auckland Transport’s consultation on the Midtown bus route options has shown overwhelming public support for a more green and cycle/pedestrian-friendly city centre.
The consultation centered on a new outbound route for the Midtown bus services travelling across the city centre between Wynyard Quarter and the Learning Quarter (universities). Wellesley Street will be used on the inbound route, but there were three outbound route options.
More than 2200 submissions were received on the bus route options and the clear message from Aucklanders was that they wanted bus routes that also balanced the opportunities for a pedestrian and bike friendly city. In particular, this feedback sought that buses were not required to use Victoria Street, thereby enabling greater quality space for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as green space.
Mark Lambert, Chief AT Metro Officer says public transport is working for many Aucklanders. “In March for the first time more people entered the city centre using public transport than came in by car.
“The challenge is to provide more, reliable and faster public transport without compromising the quality of city space. We have re-examined the proposal and come up with the ‘cross over’ which we believe offers the best of both worlds.”
The results of the public feedback and further options analysis were discussed today at a workshop with the Mayor and councillors. Planning Committee Chair Cr Chris Darby says that making the best use of scarce road space, particularly to improve public transport and encourage mode-shifts, is a constant challenge.
“We need to think more laterally and be open to any and all ideas and suggestions. It’s especially pleasing to see that the option firming up for this route has come out of very positive engagement with the community. This option creates ‘two great streets’ – one that provides for the Victoria Street Linear Park, and Wellesley Street, which facilitates bus priority through the city and to the universities. Collaboration externally with our many Aucklanders, and internally, across the Council family, have led to a superior outcome."
The new option, which was not part of the initial consultation, removes the need for buses on Victoria Street by swapping some major bus route groups within the city centre and developing a new bus facility in Grafton Gully. This option is still at feasibility stage and AT intends to further investigate, in particular assessing the operational requirements to ensure the proposal can work and will develop up the design of this option – in conjunction with Auckland Council investigating design options for Victoria Street – and bring this for further public consultation next year.
In September, Auckland Transport will present these emerging investigations as part of a cross-Council reporting to the Planning Committee on progress on the City Centre Masterplan.