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The next 10 years are expected to underline Auckland’s performance as the fastest growing major city in Australasia. 

The city is expected in that time to grow by some 300,000 and its population is forecast to reach 2.3 million by 2043 – an increase greater than the rest of New Zealand’s population growth combined and requiring 400,000 new homes. 

For Auckland to be successful, it needs a safe, reliable and integrated transport system, where people have choices about how they move around. 

The NLTP 2018-21 focuses on ensuring people have improved choice for how they access employment, education and services, today and tomorrow. This means continuing to develop strategic connections for public transport, private vehicles, walking and cycling into and across the busy urban centre, and shaping more liveable communities with appealing transport links that bring neighbourhoods together. 

One outcome from the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) is a new collaborative culture for prioritising the projects and initiatives that will deliver the best outcomes for Auckland. Together with its local government partners at Auckland Council and Auckland Transport, the Transport Agency is working to ensure the city grows in a smart way, with new communities being safely and effectively connected by a range of transport choices. 

Central to this is the need for a rapid transit network to unlock critical housing and urban development opportunities, giving communities better access to jobs, health, education and recreation. The project to deliver light rail between the city centre and Māngere is a first for New Zealand that will provide a modern, integrated public transport system with seamless connections. This is an opportunity to create a great transport system that can be part of the fabric of the city and can improve people’s lives, through transformational projects and initiatives that leave a legacy for future generations. 

The NLTP will invest in the infrastructure and operation of the public transport network as patronage continues to grow. This includes extending the Northern Busway and supporting the introduction of more electric trains.

Key corridors around the city will continue to have strategic importance, especially as the city grows and changes. The Northern Corridor Improvements project will complete the connection for the Western Ring Route to the north, the Southern Corridor Improvements will result in a safer route between the city centre and the south, and the Transport Agency will continue to build the 18-kilometre extension of the Northern Motorway (SH1) from Pūhoi to Warkworth. 

These investments will help to make Auckland a better place to live, work, visit and raise a family by providing safer transport choices, better access and a transport system that is easy to use.

Map of Auckland region

Improving safety

There is significant opportunity to improve the safety of people, whether they are on foot, on a bike, in vehicles or using public transport. There is agreement at both local and central government level that a renewed focus on safety is required, and the NLTP will invest in key initiatives for action with Auckland Transport.

This will include the Urban Road Safety Programme and the introduction of new safety and red light cameras, which will address the highest risk roads and intersections.

The Safer Communities and Speed Management Programme will address safety and operational deficiencies and implement a strategic speed management approach across Auckland’s road network.

The Transport Agency is working with local government on the introduction of new road safety education and awareness programmes. Key to the success of these programmes is its partnership with NZ Police to reduce road deaths and ensure everyone gets to their destination safely.

The Transport Agency investment programme will also include SH16 Brigham Creek to Waimauku Safe System Enhancement, to improve safety and efficiency.

Rapid transit network

The NLTP 2018-21 will invest in expanding Auckland’s rapid transit network. The Transport Agency’s first significant rapid transit project, the Northern Busway, started operating in 2008 on Auckland’s North Shore.

Moving forward, light rail is being investigated for several key routes. The Transport Agency is leading the delivery of the light rail programme. It is working in partnership with Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and HLC, to give people more choice about how they travel and to support the creation of more accessible communities.

The City Centre to Māngere corridor will be light rail, and largely unaffected by road traffic and congestion. It will likely have fewer stops than current bus services, but provide a step-change in capacity and more frequent, reliable services to improve access to two of the biggest employment areas in Auckland. Residents in neighbourhoods along the route, including the city centre, Dominion Road, Mount Roskill, Onehunga and Māngere, will benefit from better connections and amenities.

Investment from the NLTP 2018-21 will also progress work on a second new rapid transit corridor to improve access to the growing northwestern suburbs. This will provide a critical connection for these suburbs to provide a high capacity, frequent and reliable public transport service.

The wider plan is for an integrated rapid transit network. For example, the Auckland Airport area will have more options to travel between the airport, the city centre and the eastern suburbs.

The Southwest Gateway Programme will build on the investment from the NLTP 2015-18 to improve access to Auckland International Airport and surrounding areas, including Airport to Botany Rapid Transit and 20Connect. These projects will provide more choices for people and freight in their travel to and from the airport and surrounding areas both in the short and longer term. Improvements may include bus priority along SH20B to Puhinui rail station, an upgrade of the station, improved capacity and connections along SH20/A/B, interchange upgrades and rapid transit between Auckland Airport and Botany.

Connecting communities as the city grows

Transport Agency projects on Auckland’s public transport, road, walking and cycling networks are increasingly integrated and creating a safe, connected system that offers great transport choices.

Much of Auckland's strategic road transport network is now complete, but the Transport Agency is working to create targeted improvements at the same time as it prepares for the networks that will be needed to connect growth areas and ensure they are great places to live.

In Auckland’s south, the Southern Corridor Improvements project will deliver the widening of the Southern Motorway (SH1) between Manukau and Papakura. The SH1 Papakura to Bombay project will begin work to provide a third lane in each direction between Papakura and Drury, aiming to improve journey reliability, safety and network resilience.

On the North Shore, the Northern Corridor Improvements will see substantial progress (estimated completion 2022), completing the final section of the Western Ring Route and providing a new continuous motorway link between the Northern and Upper Harbour Motorways. Improvements along the Lake Road corridor will provide a better corridor between Devonport and Takapuna.

In Auckland’s west, improvements will be made to Lincoln Road to accommodate additional transit/bus lanes, intersection and safety improvements, and footpath widening.

Looking ahead, the Supporting Growth programme has been established to investigate, plan and deliver the transport services needed to support future urban growth areas over the next 30 years. Through this collaborative programme with local government, the NLTP will invest in the initial preferred network that has been identified, including the Matakana Link Road connection between Matakana and SH1 near Warkworth. The Transport Agency will continue a staged programme of route protection processes, and future delivery of projects will then follow in line with ATAP’s priorities and the release of new land for growth.

Improving walking and cycling

There is an upswing in cycling with 38 percent of Aucklanders riding bikes in 2018 – that is more than 518,000 people now cycling. The past three years have seen the continued implementation of the Urban Cycleways Programme, and more people on bikes means a more active population as people choose to access and see the city a different way, and leave the car at home.

The walking and cycling programme will be strategically planned and delivered to achieve maximum impact for short trips to the city centre, public transport interchanges, schools, and local and metropolitan centres. A new footpaths regional programme will construct new and widened footpaths.

A number of key infrastructure projects will enable more active ways for people to move safely and easily. SkyPath and SeaPath are key links in Auckland’s walking and cycling network which will both be delivered by the Transport Agency, enabling project efficiencies and improved coordination. There will be investment to progress the SeaPath project, a shared path between Esmonde Road and the Auckland Harbour Bridge, as well as SkyPath, a shared path across the bridge itself. Work will continue on the Glen Innes to Tāmaki Drive shared path, and investigations will begin into a Manukau Harbour Crossing dedicated to walking and cycling.

Enhancing public transport

Auckland’s public transport users are making around 90 million trips annually on buses, trains and ferries, the highest patronage recorded in the city.

The NLTP 2018-21 will continue to invest in Auckland’s public transport network, with new electric trains to provide for growth and reduce crowding that would otherwise occur. There will be electrification of the rail line from Papakura to Pukekohe, provision of a third main line between Westfield and Wiri and an upgrade of Westfield rail junction to provide better separation of passenger and freight services.

A programme of works to improve the performance of the city’s rail network includes an upgrade of the Onehunga Line to accommodate higher frequency services and longer trains. The works also include progressive improvement and removal of road/rail level crossings to better manage safety risks, allow for more train services and reduce road congestion.

The bus network carries the most passengers of any mode in Auckland, and the Transport Agency will invest in city centre improvements. They include bus priority lanes along Wellesley Street and a new Learning Quarter bus interchange. In the downtown area, there will be new bus interchanges on Quay Street East and Lower Albert Street in conjunction with the City Rail Link and Auckland Council’s downtown projects.

The Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI) will deliver new dedicated busways and cycleways to improve access and safety in the area, unlocking housing development opportunities. Over the next three years work will focus on the Eastern Busway from Panmure to Pakuranga, including the Reeves Road flyover.

The Northern Corridor Improvements will deliver an extension of the successful Northern Busway to Albany Park and Ride, running in both directions along the eastern side of the Northern Motorway. A new station is also proposed to be added at Rosedale.

There will also be new and expanded park-and-ride facilities, completion of the Future Ferry Strategy for Auckland and redevelopment and construction of a new downtown ferry terminal.

More resilient and efficient

A key strategic approach of ATAP is to make better use of the existing network, and to explore new opportunities to get more out of what is already in place. This means looking at the whole Auckland transport system and understanding the way people want to interact with it, as well as a programme of optimisation to improve the efficiency and reliability of people’s journeys.

New technology is opening up opportunities to do this. Transport Agency investment in the Intelligent Transport Systems Programme will use emerging technologies to better manage congestion, improve safety and influence travel demand. The Network Optimisation Programme will provide a package of targeted small-to-medium scale infrastructure projects to optimise routes through synchronisation of traffic signals, optimising road layout, dynamic traffic lanes and managing traffic restrictions. Another key initiative is the Bus Route Priority Phase 1, which involves implementation of bus priority measures along the Frequent Service Network to improve capacity and speed.

While the Auckland Transport Operations Centre is able to effectively manage incidents and emergencies, there is an ongoing programme of work to strengthen its capabilities to reduce disruption and delay. Core technology upgrades will support and enhance systems such as Journey Planner, web and mobile applications, asset management, CCTV and network upgrades to improve performance, resilience and safety of customers.

As the climate changes, there will be an investigation to determine how to address the impacts of sea level rise on Tāmaki Drive, and improve the resilience of state highway and local road networks.

Investment highlights

  • Work will get underway to deliver light rail between the city centre and Māngere, and to Auckland’s northwest. Light rail will provide a high capacity, frequent and reliable public transport service, and enable accelerated urban development along these corridors.
  • Access to Auckland Airport and surrounding areas will be improved through the Southwest Gateway programme. This work includes Puhinui rail station improvements, investigation 
  • of rapid transit measures between Auckland Airport and Botany, and identifying improvements along state highways 20, 20A and 20B to improve journey reliability and provide more transport choices.
  • $240m will be invested in the Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI) Eastern Busway improvements.
  • Work on SH1 will continue on the main access routes into the city from the north and south. $500m will be invested in the Northern Corridor Improvements project, improving access and safety, extending the Northern Busway and completing the Western Ring Route. Investment in the Southern Corridor Improvements will make for a safer route and more reliable journey times.
  • The Public Private Partnership (PPP) will continue to build the 18-kilometre extension of the Northern Motorway (SH1) from Pūhoi to Warkworth to improve safety and access to the north.
  • Safety highlights include $67.2m for SH16 Brigham Creek to Waimauku Safe System Enhancement, to improve safety and efficiency. $33m will also be invested in safety improvements in the Dome Valley north of Warkworth.
  • Through the collaborative Te Tupu Ngātahi Supporting Growth Alliance programme the NLTP will look to confirm and protect transport networks that are needed to support the development of new future urban growth areas over the next 30 years. There will be $46m investment in the Matakana Link Road connection, and $140m for the SH1 Papakura to Bombay programme.
  • To encourage a continued increase in people cycling in Auckland, $31m will be invested in SeaPath, a walking and cycling connection between Northcote Point and Esmonde Road, Takapuna. There will be $67m to develop the SkyPath project across the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and investigate a dedicated walking and cycling crossing of the Manukau Harbour to replace the Old Māngere Bridge. $56.6m will be invested to complete the Glen Innes to Tāmaki Drive shared path.
  • Investment in new electric trains to provide for growth and reduce crowding that would otherwise occur. Investment will be allocated to the electrification of the rail line from Papakura to Pukekohe, and $119m for the provision of a third main line between Westfield and Wiri and an upgrade of Westfield rail junction to provide better separation of passenger and freight services. There will also be funding for the removal of road/rail level crossings to better manage safety risks.
  • The NLTP includes co-investment in many local roads around Auckland, including $68m for Lincoln Road in west Auckland. These upgrades will improve travel time reliability. There will also be investment in city centre bus improvements, including bus priority measures and new interchanges.