Feedback sought on Holiday Highway

NZTA’s consultation process for constructing the Holiday Highway has kicked off in a rather interesting fashion – as they’re inviting people to help “uncover Dome Valley’s secrets”. Here’s the media release: Uncovering Dome Valley’s secrets – NZTA needs your help! The new Puhoi to Wellsford road of national significance is about the future but the NZ Transport Agency says planning and construction of the route also has a lot to do with its historic past and its present day environment. One area attracting attention from the NZTA as its consults with local people about the new highway is the Dome Valley, which includes a section of the existing State Highway …
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Parking and St Lukes

There’s a particularly large planning application (in the form of Private Plan Change 8) working its way through the Auckland City Council system at the moment, which relates to the possible expansion of the St Lukes shopping centre. The proposed expansion is pretty damn big – upping the possible size of the mall from around 45,000 m2 of floor area to a maximum of 92,500 m2, of which some would be office rather than retail. Similarly, the already rather large 2,018 space carpark would be increased to match the growth of the mall – to something near 4,000 spaces. Along with 1100 others, I made a submission on the proposal …
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Simplifying bus routes: the east isthmus

Continuing on with my series of post about simplifying the structure of Auckland’s bus network, I thought that after a couple of reasonably simple routes (Sandringham Road and New North Road), I thought I’d take on a really horrible challenge: the eastern isthmus area of Auckland. Why do I say “really horrible”? Well, this is what the existing route structure looks like (focusing on the area to the east of the motorway): As someone recently put it quite aptly, it looks like someone threw spaghetti at a map of Auckland and that became the route network. Apart from Ellerslie-Panmure Highway, Remuera Road and (to a lesser extent) Tamaki Drive, there …
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More on the Auckland Harbour Crossing Issue

Given recent discussions on future options for crossings of the Waitemata Harbour, it’s quite amusing to note that on Friday NZTA announced a further study into considering whether a bridge or a tunnel should be considered as the preferred option for an additional harbour crossing. This new study is effectively a sop to proponents of the ANZAC Bridge idea – as NZTA has done this exact same thing previously: and came to the conclusion that there should be road and rail tunnels built as the preferred future option. There are some interesting elements to the NZTA media release that deserve some further mention, and I’ll work through these bit by …
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The benefits of making off-peak PT useful

On Friday I had a meeting in Manukau City, and our work car was being used by someone else, so I thought I’d honour my public transport commitments and catch the bus down there from the CBD. The weather was utterly horrible, but I can’t really complain about the bus trip in terms of its reliability – in that it showed up at both ends exactly when expected, it arrived at Manukau City pretty much exactly on time and so forth. Furthermore, when I boarded the bus and offered a $10 note saying “Manukay City thanks” the bus driver asked whether I was coming back the same day, and then …
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Embracing Congestion

In a few posts recently I have hinted at the need for us to fundamentally re-evaluate the way we approach transport policy and planning. Just quickly I will briefly summarise a few posts I have made previously on the issue: From reading David Owen’s excellent book “Green Metropolis“, I noted the ecological disadvantages of reducing congestion, because making driving easier just encourages people to drive more – and as a result both pump out CO2 emissions and other pollution from their vehicles as well as generally living in unsustainable low-density sprawl. From reading Anthony’s Downs’s excellent book “Still Stuck in Traffic“, I noted the futility of trying to solve congestion …
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Thoughts on Land Use/Transport

As an urban planner, with a particular interest in transport matters, I find myself fascinated by the meeting point of land-use planning and transportation planning – the questions of whether land-use patterns drive transport or whether transport drives land-use patterns, whether it’s both, how they interact with each other and so forth. If we look at how one arrives at land-use outcomes (or, put more generally, how our city ends up) there are probably three key matters for consideration: Matters that drive demand for redevelopment in certain areas (and not in others). Planning rules and the restrictions they apply. Intermediary matters making it more or less difficult to develop (incentives, …
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Central bus lanes idea spreads

The idea of putting Dominion Road’s bus lanes in the middle of the road, rather than at its edges, seems to be gaining traction – with a NZ Herald article today discussing the matter. Some extracts from that article: Auckland’s Dominion Rd could have bus lanes running up and down its centre, just as trams did until the middle of last century. The idea has been raised by Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee, amid uncertainty over kerbside bus lanes introduced in 1999. Although he has criticised a decision by Auckland City’s transport committee to consult the public on whether to open the lanes to all vehicles with one or …
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How do Auckland’s Bus Subsidies Work?

The process by which Auckland’s bus system is organised seems very very complicated, with strange relationships between ARTA and the different bus companies, which seems to vary according to route, and even down to particular services. This is my understanding of how bus subsidies work in Auckland: – Routes and services are identified by ARTA via documents like the Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP). – If a company wants to run the service and doesn’t think they’ll need a subsidy for that route/service, then they can register it and operate it as a commercial service. Up until relatively recently, ARTA had pretty much zilch control over how these services operated and …
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