This is What the New Waterview Tunnel Has Done To Travel Times

It’s been a month since the new Waterview Tunnel opened and everyone I know out West is still buzzing about how the traffic has cleared up. Personally I just keep my head down and watch Netflix on my phone as my bus driver chauffeur blasts down the bus VIP lane.

Travel demand on State Highway 1, which is the busiest section of road in the country has now dropped by around 7% with a corresponding increase on SH20 and SH16. This redistribution is resulting in a more efficient motorway system with around 8,500 fewer hours each day of total travel time on the motorways alone.

The only complaint about the new tunnel are the digital 80 signs, giving us the slowest piece of motorway in the entire country.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges came back with some figures about what the long awaited tunnel has done to our commute, and the other statehighways.

“Around 60,000 vehicles are using the Waterview Connection each day, with more than 2 million vehicles now having travelled through the twin tunnels between the suburbs of Owairaka and Waterview,” Mr Bridges says.

“People now have a choice between State Highway 1 and the Western Ring Route and that’s helping to rebalance the city’s travel demands and is making both the motorway system and local roads more efficient.”

“That’s seen average travel times between Papakura and the city in the morning peak slashed, with journeys that used to take up to 70 minutes now consistently taking 56 minutes. There are similar benefits in the evening peak. It used to take up to 55 minutes from the CBD to Papakura, while it’s now consistently taking an average of 48 minutes,” Mr Bridges says.

New arrivals into the city from the airport are also having a better time of it.

“Prior to the Waterview Connection, journeys from the Airport to the CBD in the afternoon peak would take an average 44 minutes via Manukau Rd and Gillies Ave. Now, via the Waterview Tunnel, they take 27 minutes and via the Manukau/Gillies route they have also dropped to 34 minutes,” Mr Bridges says.

All this is good news, but it only feels like a bandaid, more roads won’t fix mounting congestion around the city, only a reliable solid public transport system with plenty of options will get us out of the hole we’re digging for ourselves.

In the meantime though enjoy your commute!

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