The Planning Paradox

Whilst I like to think of myself as a “public transport advocate”, in my ‘day job’ I’m a planner. This has influenced the angle to which I view transportation matters, and as I have explained before, has really determined many of my opinions on transport. But leaving aside transport for a moment, it’s also interesting to think about why I got into planning, and where I wish land-use planning could be different – in much the same way that I wish transportation policies and priorities could be different. I remember when I have a job interview for my very first job as a planner I got asked the question “why …

Progress on Avondale & New Lynn

I went through Avondale and New Lynn today, so decided to take just a few photos showing progress on the upgrades to the train stations in both these suburbs. I think most of the current focus is on getting the areas around Newmarket and Grafton sorted out, as there weren’t  a huge number of workers around, but it is clear that progress is being made on these upgrades during the rail shutdown period. This photo is taken at Avondale looking west towards the St Jude’s Street level crossing. In the foreground is where the future Avondale station is being constructed. I think this station will open around the middle of …

The Annual Traffic Jam

The NZ Herald reports that the new Orewa-Puhoi motorway has done little to fix congestion heading northwards on the worst day of the year for traffic jams heading that way – December 27th. Instead of the bottleneck being through Orewa, it’s now where the two laned motorway cuts down to one lane – proof perhaps that road-widening generally shifts rather than solves congestion? Holidays start with a 25km traffic block Thousands of motorists spent hours stewing in traffic jams between Auckland’s Northern Gateway toll road and Warkworth yesterday. Traffic started banking up north of Puhoi at about 10.30am, and three hours later was jammed for about 25km from Warkworth back …

Kingdon Street station goes

After some last-ditch efforts to save the Newmarket West station, it appears as though today the station is being demolished. From Auckland Trains: The debate about Kingdon continues this morning. A dismayed ARC chairman Mike Lee, who had made a last minute plea for talks on the issue, called it “stupidity” and said: “As the saying goes ‘worse than a crime – a mistake.’” And Campaign for Better Transport spokesman, Jon Reeves, told of the news, said: “And that was that. And in a few years time ATA (ex ARTA) will suggest a station for direct west services…..” The debate is now over in that, by the end of today …

Merry Xmas

Well Merry Xmas everyone. I’ve finished with work for the year and a couple of weeks of very nice holidays beckon. It’s likely that my posting will reduce in frequency over the next couple of weeks, particularly in early January as I’m likely to be out of Auckland for a few days. I think it’s unlikely there will be any major transport stories, although it will be interesting to follow the works done to the rail corridors over the Xmas break. As a Xmas present here’s a truly awesome video of Vancouver’s recently opened “Canada Line“:

Biggest Transport Stories of 2009

As we’re getting pretty close to the end of the year, we have the opportunity to look back at 2009 in a holistic manner. I suppose that overall it has been a topsy-turvy year for transport – with some particular highs and particular lows. I’m curious about analysing what people think was the biggest (or perhaps the series of biggest) transport stories for 2009. Here are some ideas I have (going somewhat chronologically): The opening of the Orewa-Puhoi Motorway. Massive traffic jams and Steven Joyce’s announcement that he wanted to extend the motorway to Wellsford. The cancellation of the Regional Petrol Tax, throwing into doubt rail electrification, integrated ticketing and …

Airport Wakes up to Importance of PT

After quite some time when nobody was really sure what the Auckland Airport company thought about the idea of a rail link from there to the CBD, it does indeed appear as though the airport has finally realised that this might indeed be a good idea. Importantly, they have made their voice loud and clear that it is not acceptable for the Regional Land Transport Strategy to predict that an Airport Line will not be constructed until 2031-40. Here’s the full press release: Auckland Airport calls for accelerated public transport solutions Auckland International Airport Limited (“Auckland Airport”) is calling on regional transport planners to accelerate improvements to Airport-related public transport …

Auckland vs Wellington – the transport battle

One of the most interesting aspects of following transport this year has been the emerging divide between what central government in Wellington wants to be the direction for transport to take, and what the Auckland Regional Council – and increasingly other local politicians – want. Perhaps most obviously, this difference shows up in the respective transport strategies of the two parties – the Government Policy Statement and the Regional Land Transport Strategy. Let’s compare paragraphs from their respective introductions to get an idea of the gap we’re talking about here. First, the Government Policy Statement: The GPS closely reflects the modal choices that are realistically available to New Zealanders. Approximately …

Waterview Connection route changes AGAIN!

An interesting announcement by NZTA today that the preferred alignment for the Waterview Connection motorway link has changed again – and quite significantly so.Here’s the full press release from NZTA: Fewer affected homes and less disruption for revised Western Ring Route Design improvements for the Waterview Connection section of Auckland’s Western Ring Route will require fewer houses and significantly reduce disruption to residents and commuters on Great North Road. The NZ Transport Agency Board has confirmed a final alignment for SH20 from Mt Roskill to the Northwestern Motorway that will reduce the number of houses affected to 205 compared to the 365 estimated in May when the combined surface tunnel …

Balancing transport

As a planner, a lot of my work is based around the much-maligned Resource Management Act, and various aspects of it. This piece of legislation generally finds itself being attacked on multiple fronts – whether it’s from land developers considering it as far too much “red tape” for anyone’s good, or whether it’s from environmentalists thinking that it’s far too weak in protecting the environment. Probably they’re both right, and perhaps that says that it’s doing its job not too badly. After all, resource management and planning is all about balance. About finding the right balance between letting people “do stuff” to provide for their, and society’s, wellbeing; while at …