One Auckland street is set to receive 68 new traffic cameras, installed to monitor a controversial transit lane.
Onewa Rd, the main road on to the Harbour Bridge for residents of Northcote, Birkenhead and surrounding suburbs, has long been plagued by traffic snarl-ups.
Now the 2.3km stretch of road will be criss-crossed by 68 new cameras designed to catch those illicitly using its T3 transit lane.
The cameras will be split across 17 sites for the 17 "transit zones" on the road.
An Auckland Transport spokesperson told the Herald that each zone requires one unit for remote monitoring and will contain:
• 1 camera to see if a vehicle has travelled through the whole zone.
• 1 camera to monitor the transit lane sign.
• 1 "side occupant camera" to monitor a vehicle's passengers.
• 1 "front occupant camera" to collect number plate details and confirm occupants in front seats.
Kaipātiki Local Board Chairman John Gillon said enforcement was needed but he was "shocked at the size of the hammer they are using to crack this nut".
He said that residents of Onewa Rd who had a genuine need to move in and out of the T3 lane would be negatively impacted by the camera network, citing the case of an elderly resident who was already apprehensive about leaving her home after being ticketed for being in the transit lane after pulling out of her driveway.
Gillon said the changes would leave her essentially housebound until the T3 restrictions were lifted at 10am.
An Auckland Transport spokesperson told the Herald that safety of its staff was one driver of the shift to remote monitoring.
Previously, the T3 restrictions have been policed by Auckland Transport staff operating cameras set up at random points along the road.
"Remote monitoring of bus and transit lanes allows AT to provide a more consistent way to enforce the rules without the need for our staff to stand at the side of the road for long periods of time, in sometimes adverse weather conditions and at the risk of being abused by upset members of the public," the spokesperson said.
The T3 lane itself is the subject of passionate debate in the area, with Gillon saying his personal view was that a trial should have been completed to explore whether a T2 system was more suitable, to put the matter to rest.
He said he supported the move to shift commuters on to public transport, but that the road was coming to a "saturation point".
He said there was a "huge number" of people who would always need to drive their car down Onewa Rd, to travel beyond the city or so they could drop off and pick up children.
Gillon said congestion issues on Onewa Rd would be an ongoing issue, with the population of areas such as Beach Haven and Birkdale swelling after changes to Auckland's Unitary Plan.
"The situation's only going to get worse," Gillon said.