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629Re: WorldTransport Forum Comment on WTPP Vol 12, No. 3

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  • Roland Sapsford
    Jul 23, 2006
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      Recently Auckland, New Zealand has just completed a busway complete with
      stations on the North Shore of Auckland Harbour. This is a distinct
      dedicated route with one lane each way and is not a guided busway.

      Auckland is a sprawly city of 1m people somewhat similar to Perth in
      density. The busway is performing well in terms of patronage, and park
      and ride stations are full especially at the northern end. The bulk of
      patronage growth has been through car and bus journeys to the stations
      along the way. The route runs parallel to an existing 6 lane motorway
      and has been built by Transit New Zealand - the national highway
      building authority - which is very experienced at contract management.

      I mention all of this in preamble to the fact that the most
      disappointing aspect of this is that the per km cost has been around
      three times that associated with equivalent light rail and the land use
      footprint of the corridor is considerably larger.

      The Brisbane situations is complex and has involved the expansion of
      both rail and bus services. The busway in part functions to get buses
      past highway congestion and performs this role quite well. I understand
      operating costs have been higher than projected, but I am unsure as to
      the extent of this.

      As someone with considerable experience in transport debates (and
      someone who helped ensure the above project proceeded) I am concerned to
      see busway proponents in this country and elsewhere adopting the kind of
      misleading and hyperbolic claims I normally associate with the highway
      lobby. Curitiba for example is often cited as a bus-based system; they
      have the same issue of capacity on routes versus flexibility and to
      achieve high capacity their trunk buses operate very much like trains.
      A large study team from New Zealand went to Curitiba a couple of years
      ago and produced quite a detailed report on a wide range of urban
      sustainability issues.

      The best place for information on impacts of road versus rail
      construction is Europe, where there has been significant construction of
      both major roads and major rail projects in the last two decades. In
      general impact of construction relates to the land footprint, rather
      than mode. This is particularly important in cities, because a major
      economic rationale for cities is to maximise the opportunities for
      interaction while minimising distance travelled. Highways have very
      limited peak volumes in relation to the land they occupy, when compared
      with rail especially, and so have much higher adverse economic impacts
      in urban settings where peak corridor volumes are high.

      As to tunnelling - its really hard to generalise. For highways it is
      generally a matter of relative cost. The impacts are considerably less
      than cut and fill for example! Tunnelling costs tend to be higher than
      daylighting (though this depends on the cost of fill disposal) but the
      local impacts are far far less. Whether tunnelling is viable depends on
      huge range of factors that are highly localised (eg geological

      Best wishes
      Roland Sapsford
      Wellington, New Zealand

      Jay Corrales wrote:
      > Hi Ken,
      > What do you think about the Bus Rapid Transit system in Brisbane, AU?
      > While I prefer rail, it seems that the BRT system offers a lot in the
      > way of flexibility. Also, when running on the alternative fuels or
      > even electricity, I believe it can be very clean in regards to emissions.
      > Although I am not versed in the impact of roads. If anyone has any
      > insight in regards to the impact of road building vs. rail
      > construction (and also the effects of tunneling), I would be much
      > appreciative.
      > Sincerely,
      > Jay Corrales
      > Move San Diego Board of Directors
      > San Diego, CA, USA
      > Ken.Crispin wrote:
      >> We would like to see more focus on rail rather than road, as it is
      >> the much cleaner environmentally sustainable mode of transport that
      >> leaves a smaller footprint on the environment also.
      >> Ken Crispin. Project Manager.
      >> Citizens Environmental Advocacy Centre In'c.
      >> Napier. NZ.
      >> clean.air@... <mailto:clean.air@...>
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