Traffic Lights – more harm than good?

There’s an interesting article in today’s NZ Herald that looks at the traffic effects of when there was a power cut last Monday, with a specific focus on why having the lights turned off might have actually made traffic better. Here’s the article: Flow-on effect of no lights By Heather McCracken 4:00 AM Sunday Jan 31, 2010 The same intersection at 4.50pm last Monday, during the power cut (L) and at 4.50pm on Tuesday, when the traffic lights were working (R). Photos / Supplied by Studio TDES It should have been a commuter’s worst nightmare: a rush-hour power cut blacking out traffic lights across Auckland. But reports of a free-flowing commute …

A Question

This may well be the shortest blog post of all times, but it is to raise a question that I have never had properly explained: Why is is that Sunday’s public transport service levels have to be worse than Saturday’s? In all my catching of public transport over the years I’ve seen no real evidence that patronage is much less on a Sunday than a Saturday, except for in the evening. So why can’t we just have a “weekend timetable”, rather than separate, complex and confusing timetables that separate the two days? If we were really smart we’d match up the off-peak weekday timetable with the weekend one, so that …

New York Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

New York is finalising plans to create the first, of half a dozen BRT lines in the city, on First and Second avenues. The lines are not “true” BRT as they will not be fully grade separated or prioritised such as the lines in the first city with BRT, Curitiba, Brazil (or Auckland’s own Northern Busway) but rather similar to our green bus lanes only with stations to speed up loading. What can Auckland learn from this process? Here is a look at what the streets might look like when finished: This is “Option B” of the two under consideration by the NY Department of Transportation in the project named the …

Onehunga Line: the good and the bad news

Well there is some good news to report on the Onehunga Line, and some bad news (well, no news is bad news in this case). The good news has emerged from the answer to a parliamentary question about whether the Onehunga branch would be included in the electrification project – which was a point of debate back in August when it seemed like there would be some serious cutbacks to electrification. Here’s the question, and its answer: David Shearer to the Minister of Transport (16 Dec 2009): Will the Onehunga Branch Line be electrified, as part of the Auckland rail electrification project? Hon Steven Joyce (Minister of Transport) replied: Yes. …
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Costing the Holiday Highway

The announcement of the Puhoi-Wellsford motorway on Wednesday detailed the cost of that road to be $1.4 billion. Here’s the relevant part of the press release: …$1.4 billion strategic upgrade of State Highway 1 from Puhoi to Wellsford… It would seem to me that this is the cost of the whole Puhoi-Wellsford stretch, and not just the Puhoi-Warkworth first stage. It seems as though the second stage is the more complex (or at least that’s what NZTA are saying), so perhaps it might be realistic to expect the Warkworth-Wellsford bit to be the more costly, particularly as it’s a bit longer that the Puhoi-Warkworth stretch. So let’s just say perhaps …

Dominion Road – yay, a world-class bus route

As I have mentioned previously, Dominion Road probably already has one of the better bus routes throughout all of Auckland. But it’s about to get even better! From February, there will be inter-peak buses going along this route every 5 minutes between Mt Roskill shops and the CBD. Yes, that’s a service at 5 minute frequencies. Here’s a link to the new timetable, and an extract from it: I am thoroughly impressed.

Holiday Highway confirmed – despite low BCR

There were some interesting announcements yesterday on the Puhoi-Wellsford “holiday highway”. While the first stage to Warkworth is being brought forward for completion within 9 years (that may sound like a long time, but at least half of that would be construction time, so the first step of construction might happen within the next four years), the second stage between Warkworth and Wellsford seems to have sensibly been pushed off into the never-never. It is also interesting to see that the cost for the project is now given as $1.4 billion, whereas before I had seen figures of above $2 billion. I wonder whether this $1.4 billion simply covers the …

Puhoi to Wellsford: BCR of 0.8

Yes, the benefit to cost ratio has come back with a negative return as demonstrated in page 8 of the NZTA project summary statement (hat tip: LucyJH): A BCR of 0.8 meaning at a cost of $2 billion dollars it will return $1.6 billion to the NZ economy. I have to say even this I find this highly dubious and think some very creative accounting has gone into the calculation, I’m looking forward to seeing a breakdown. Remember both the USA and the UK, whose BCR systems ours was based on, have changed the way they calculate BCR making less favourable to roads to reflect reality, we haven’t and this project still returns a negative …

Can you build your way out of congestion?

Whether or not it’s possible to “build your way out of congestion” is a fundamental question that transport planners all around the world grapple with. On the one hand, we seem to have been building a lot of “transport stuff” over the past few hundred years yet our cities seem as congested as ever; while on the other hand it seems quite crazy to suggest that building transport projects is pointless as no matter what you build, you’ll never actually be able to make a difference to congestion. Perhaps a useful term to consider is that we have to “run fast to stand still”, and that transport infrastructure needs to …

Discounts for Newmarket Train users

While my comments on the Newmarket station have been mixed, and there are still certainly some unresolved issues relating to timetabling and trackwork, it does seem as though some thought and effort is going into getting people to try out the station and getting people to consider new ways in which to get to a place like Newmarket – which has excellent public transport connections and a shortage of parking. ARTA and the Newmarket Business Association have teamed up to get a variety of retailers to offer discounts to those who show that they arrived via the train. Here’s the press release: Newmarket train station users get premium shopping deals …