An expanded and well-connected rapid transit network is at the heart of Auckland Transport’s plans for supporting growth in existing urban and future urban areas.
The plan builds upon the success of existing rapid transit, with the Northern Busway and electric trains helping increase annual passenger numbers by about 20 million in just 5 years.
More rapid transit services will provide Aucklanders with more choice for travelling: a reliable, frequent and connected service that is free from congestion.
What a rapid transit network is
AT defines a rapid transit network, or RTN, as the highest level public transport service that gives fast and consistent regional access, to provide a reliable and superior alternative to driving, in order to allow people to travel efficiently, and reduce traffic and emissions.
The RTN exhibits high frequency services all day (at least 7am to 7pm) every day (7 days a week) and operates on a dedicated right of way.
Current rapid transit network
In the last 10 years, all of the growth in people travelling into the city for work at peak times has been on public transport, with the number of cars staying the same.
50 per cent of journeys into the city are by public transport and this is growing.
The Northern Busway currently gets people from Albany to the city centre at much faster times than cars. At peak, a bus takes under 30 minutes, a car 45 to 48 minutes.
The fastest choice between Panmure and the city is train, consistently a journey of about 18 minutes. Cars or buses on routes with minimal bus lanes can take between 35 and 45 minutes.
Proposed rapid transit network
The proposed rapid transit network includes rail, light rail, and busways that are completely or mostly separate to traffic. It is high frequency, at least every 10 minutes, and offers very reliable journey times.
Rapid transit can move large numbers of people relatively free of congestion. A rapid transit line can carry between 10,000 and 15,000 people an hour in each direction. That is the equivalent of about 5 motorway lanes.
The long-term plan is to add 166 kilometres to the existing 82km of rapid transit lines: an extra 41km in the first decade, a further 84km in the second decade and another 41km in the third decade of the plan.
New rapid transit services are targeted at areas where a lot of residential and employment growth is planned. This includes both existing urban Auckland and areas identified as future housing and business areas, eg around Kumeu and Whenuapai, Silverdale, Drury and Pukekohe.
The aim is to connect large numbers of people with areas that will have large numbers of jobs.
Rapid transit network projects
The City Rail Link (CRL) is key to expanding the rapid transit network. The CRL will join up the rail network and allow more trains to operate, more frequently, with faster travel times for all of Auckland.
The rapid transit network will be connected to a network of frequent buses (at least every 15 minutes, 7am to 7pm every day) by stations that make it easy to transfer. These have already been built at Panmure and New Lynn, with new stations being built or well advanced in planning at Manukau, Otahuhu and Rosedale. Find out more about the new public transport network.
Simplified fares, introduced in 2016, have made it easier and cheaper to connect between different services with an AT HOP card.
2016 to 2026
Over the decade, we plan to add an extra 41km to the existing network.
- City Rail Link.
- Light rail - Wynyard Quarter/Britomart to Mt Roskill and Owairaka.
- Crosstown train line - Henderson to Otahuhu.
- Northwestern Busway (Northwest RTC) - Massey North to Britomart along the Northwestern Motorway.
- Eastern Busway - Botany to Panmure.
Northwestern Busway (Northwest RTC)
Last year the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) identified the Northwestern Busway as an early priority. The ATAP Recommended Strategic Approach provides the most recent strategic direction for RTN projects, which will be refined through project planning and investigation. Download the ATAP Recommended Strategic Approach on the Ministry of Transport website.
2026 to 2036
Over the decade, we plan to add a further 84km to the network.
- Southern train line - Pukekohe to Papakura.
- Northern Busway (Northwest RTC) - Grand Drive and Redvale Stations.
- Northwestern Busway (Huapai to Massey North).
- Eastern Busway (Airport to Botany via Manukau).
- Airport train line or rapid transit (to be determined - the map shows both options).
2036 to 2046
Over the decade, we plan to add another 41km to the network.
- Upper Harbour bus rapid transit - Henderson to Constellation.
- Isthmus Crosstown bus rapid transit - New Lynn to Otahuhu.
- Potential light rail expansion (Britomart to Three Kings and Onehunga).
Future travel time improvements
Airport rapid transit to the airport employment area, which is predicted to see a large increase in jobs, will mean that an extra 250,000 residents will be within 45 minutes on public transport.
Westgate to the city centre will take 35 minutes on the Northwestern Busway.
The Eastern Busway (Panmure to Botany) will allow a 45-minute journey on public transport between Botany and the city centre.
The timing of rolling out the rapid transit network is dependent on funding.