West Aucklanders can look forward to faster and more frequent bus trips into the city with work on a $100 million plan for dedicated bus lanes on the Northwestern Motorway starting today.
The project will see the construction of new bus interchanges at Te Atatū and Lincoln Rd, and later a major bus station at Westgate.
The plan to extend bus shoulders on the Northwestern Motorway was first mooted in November 2019 after the Government scrapped plans for building light rail from the central city to Westgate.
By the end of next year, the bus shoulders on the motorway will be extended from 13km to 20km between Westgate and Newton Rd, just before Spaghetti Junction.
At the same time, the new bus stop at Te Atatū and Lincoln Rd off-ramps will be built, enabling commuters to connect between local services and new express services.
The bus lanes and stations are a hybrid of the hugely successful Northern Busway. This has separated lanes for buses, six stations and carries 7 million passengers a year beside the Northern Motorway.
Once the interchanges are up and running, work will start on a major new bus station at Westgate, which is due for completion in 2026.
The project comes as frustration grows at the lack of transport and other infrastructure in northwest Auckland, which is expected to grow by more than 100,000 people over the next 30 years with more than 40,000 new homes.
Politicians and officials turned out in their droves at a sod-turning ceremony at Lincoln Rd today to mark the start of works.
Auckland mayor Phil Goff said the improvements add up to a more efficient, reliable and convenient public transport alternative to cars, which will reduce congestion, carbon emissions and support more housing along SH16.
The Northwestern motorway on SH16 has been likened to a giant parking lot at rush hour, with the morning crawl into the city taking up to an hour or more.
Transport Minister Michael Wood said the improvements will make a real difference for commuters and shave about 25 minutes off a bus trip from Westgate to the city.
"When complete, 170,000 more people will able to access the city centre within a 45-minute bus journey," he said.
Waitākere councillor Linda Cooper said West Aucklanders have been crying out for this project for a long time.
"This is very much a case of build it and the people will come," she said.
Auckland Transport deputy chairman Wayne Donnelly said to reduce the impact of works on traffic flow work will be carefully planned and staggered over the 14-month construction period.
"We anticipate that most, if not all of the work, can be carried out without impacting peak traffic," he said.
The West Auckland transport project comes two days after the new $68mPuhinui railway station was opened.