Go-Ahead For Busway And Interchange Upgrade
Mayor welcomes go-ahead for Busway and Interchange
December 23, 2003
North Shore City's Mayor George Wood says the country's first Busway has passed a major hurdle and he is welcoming a decision today that effectively gives the major public transport project the final go-ahead.
Mayor Wood says the Government's transport funding agency, Transfund, announced today that the Busway and Esmonde Interchange Upgrade projects have been approved following a major projects review. The approval is dependent on bus stations and feeder bus services being developed in tandem with the facility.
The review was part of a new requirement on the Government's funding agency to look again at projects worth over $20 million to ensure they align with the New Zealand Transport Strategy.
Transfund, which finances Transit's programme of work, has completed a review of the project which means Transit, the Government's roading agency, can now formally submit an application for funding for the projects. The Busway involves the building of a two-way dedicated motorway for buses that will run alongside the northern motorway and connect with five Busway stations. This is part of the development of a North Shore bus rapid transit system to improve travel around and across the city by public transport.
The city council has already begun construction on two of the Busway stations, and the Environment Court confirmed all the necessary designations for the entire project earlier this year.
Mayor Wood says he is delighted that the project can now proceed at pace. "We will have no problems meeting those minor conditions and the new Auckland Regional Transport Authority will help deliver the integrated management the Government is seeking," he says.
"We just want to see this interchange upgrade completed as a priority and the new Busway facility up and running as soon as possible. We can't afford any more delays, as Auckland's transport problems are urgent. This interchange upgrade will assist greatly with improving traffic flows and it's an integral part of delivering a more efficient transport system for our city. We want to give buses an uncongested run down the motorway and make services faster and more frequent," he says. "We have to make public transport a first choice, rather than a last resort."
George Wood says the council wants to get more people onto buses and ferries and out of their cars. "It's about moving more people, rather than more vehicles, and getting maximum and more efficient use of our current roads. But we are not going to be able to do that unless the frequency, reliability and coverage of public transport services improve," he says.
Mayor Wood says his council was annoyed that a project that had already been approved and was ready to go had to be revisited by this review process.
"It has taken us nearly two years to get through the resource consent process. We were always confident the project would pass the new test as it is completely in line with the new transport legislation and strategy. Now we've passed this review, I expect some urgent action from Transit to get bulldozers moving some dirt."