There’s some good news and some not-so-good news in a NZ Herald article on the Dominion Road bus/T2 debacle that I have written a number of blog posts about in the last few months.
It seems as though the proposed changes to the road – including the removal of on-street parking, the creation of lengthy cycle lanes down both sides of the road and the bus versus T2 issue has created a lot of controversy and anger in the area. The article outlines this:
Auckland City leaders, including Mayor John Banks, are backing away from radical changes to Dominion Rd which have had the local community in an uproar.
Mr Banks has confirmed that he will today accept a Save Dominion Rd petition – which organisers say has been signed by more than 5000 people – and that he intends supporting the petitioners.
The petition calls for the city council to abandon plans to remove all street parking along 4.5km of Dominion Rd outside peak hours. Neither do the petitioners want the road widened for cycle-only lanes, nor the introduction of restrictions against right turns.
The changes have been listed in an $83 million package of proposals on which the council has received 1250 submissions in a consultation round due to close on Sunday.
While I don’t agree with many of the things the petitioners are asking for, I think it’s positive to see so many people getting involved in the issue. It would have been interesting to see if the opposition had been quite so overwhelming if the council had stuck with the initial idea of making the lanes for buses only, rather than T2 lanes. The idea of a four-lane highway with no on-street parking to slow vehicles down is pretty scary and I’m not surprised the community has risen up against that.
The article continues, with the organiser of the petition confirming that the biggest fear is that Dominion Road would be turned into a soulless highway:
Petition organiser Penny Hickey said yesterday that the community would be happy with some simple changes, such as a possible minor extension of hours for existing bus lanes, and running these through intersections where general traffic is allowed to occupy two lanes each way.
But she said local residents and business owners had been horrified by a council proposal to turn them into 24-hour lanes, and to open them to any vehicle with two or more occupants, while banning all parking.
“This road has been blighted for 20 years by designation and held back from investment,” said Ms Hickey, a resident of a side street off Dominion Rd who teaches English to migrants.
I think that Ms Hickey’s suggestion of extending (perhaps to 7-11am and 3-7pm?) the hours of bus lane operation would be a useful first step – encouraging more people to use the excellent bus service that is provided along Dominion Road. Extending bus lanes through intersections is also a great idea, as it is intersections where buses often experience the most significant delays.
But I also think it’s worth recognising that these measures are a bit of a “stop-gap” and delay – rather than resolve – finding a longer term public transport solution for Dominion Road. Personally, I think that solution should be the placement of a modern light-rail tram line down the middle of the street – providing a significant boost in capacity and also benefitting the local businesses and residents in the same ways that light-rail systems around the world have proven to be fantastic tools in encouraging intensification, redevelopment and greater economic activity along their routes. I think it must be recognised that removing street parking from Dominion Road will always be difficult – and rightly so in many respects as local shops depend on it (or at the very least think they depend on it). In order for the parking removal to be accepted I think there will need to be something pretty significant given in return that will help these people out.
Something like this should do the trick.
Wouldn’t it be great to see trams like that running down Dominion Rd. The council have really just shot themselves in the foot with their plans and now they are doing what they should have done in the first place, left it to the new council to decide.
Matt, I bet they heartily regret even touching the issue. All pain for absolutely no gain.
Whats more it will probably cost them votes in the election because of it
I’m pretty sure John Banks and cit rats wish they had never heard the word bus lane! I find it ironic that a lot of the bus lane fuss has actually been stired up by cit rat councillers complaining about being fined to drive in them and also John Banks making comments that they are always empty – the votes they lose because of the debacle they rightly deserve for damaging the PT cause.
One real major difference between a T2 and a tram line is that when no tram is coming the tram lane becomes a de fact footpath, allowing easy crossing of the road and providing a safe area to wait for a gap in traffic to cross the car lane – this is not provided by a T2/T3 or T anything lane as there will always be cars hooning down it.
Indeed, the tram line can serve as a defacto raised median for pedestrains, and/or a flush median for drivers. One of the benefits of putting tram tram in (or central bus lanes) is that you don’t need to account for the median between the traffic lanes so that saves widths.
For example, the inadequate skinny bus lanes on Dom Rd at the moment are nevertheless wider that most tram tracks (which only need about 2.9 to 3.0m each).
How about using some private enterprise to get some pubic transport working? i.e.
For example how about a tram down Dominion road paid by all the shops along Dominion Road with any receipt from those shops being able to be used as a ticket onboard.
Also having some major sponsors of the tram with discrete marketing on board for example : Charlies Orange Juice Tram, with posters onboard.
Or perhaps all developers down the road paying to help fund the tram as the value of their properties go up?
Maybe in conjunction with this, charge cars for using the road, increase parking prices which go towards the tram.
Have the government give gst exemption on all fairs.
Make the tram into a charity reducing it’s needs to pay taxes and allow people to donate to the service.
Supply Wireless onboard, for a fee.
In Hong Kong some of the malls (and the central mid level escalators) had Octopus (there integrated ticketing smart card) reader/writers inside. I’m not sure of the details but I understand that if you went to that area and passed your card over the reader you get refunded for a some of (not sure of details) your travel. Im not sure what the values/requirements to qualify were but I think the system can handle pritty much anything.
Im hopefully we can have some of these in Auckland, it benefits PT riders and allows retailers to encourage more foot traffic past there displays. Although its a little off-topic i think dressmart would be a good place to trial this given that they already pay for a free shuttle bus. Say a $2 refund could be given with the pre-requite of a Bus/train trip terminating at onehunga having been completed in the last hour.
On the topic of dominion road, my preference would be to hold off doing the upgrade untill we can afford light rail. A light rail designed street scape must be much nicer than a busway designed one. I home we have grass between the tracks, I think that would look awsome.
that meeting would be quite interesting
That’s another huge difference with tram tracks – you can have grass growing around them and it makes a huge difference to the street – rather than a barren wasteland it can look pretty green.
There’s a fine example of this a lot closer to home too:
Wouldn’t there be a tendency for this to get overgrown and burst in to flame on a hot Melbourne summer day? I think I’ve seen sparks coming off the overhead wire interface gadgets (pantograph?) before.
Yes the pantographs arc at gaps between circuits in the overhead, which is almost always at intersections. They don’t seem to actually spark though, just arc between the two wires.
@Anthony – the simple solution is to allow NZTA funding to be spend on rail projects, then money can be spent on what gives the best outcome rather than at present where it’s a case of what big roading project can we blow all this spare cash on.
Talking to Kiwis, I got the impression that in most people’s minds there is an either-or choice between EITHER public transport OR private cars. It’s as if New Zealand is so far removed from the rest of the world that bicycles simply don’t register on the radar. Yet safe, high-quality bicycle paths are not costly (especially if the street is being repaired or upgraded anyway) and it’s a winner for local businesses because the street looks more vibrant and feels safer so more people want to spend time there.
As Chair of the Eden Albert Community Board I forsaw the difficulties inherent in the current proposal, particularly getting by in from businesses and residents.
I deliberately inserted into a resolution from the Board which supported the Dominion Rd project a suggestion that Council investigate extending the bus lane hours and running the bus lanes through the intersections (as you have suggested in your post). This would be a good step forward for everyone concerned, and as the ONLY elected representative to use the buses along Dominion Rd on a regular basis – something that would benefit me personally along with everyone else on the bus! I have been stuck at the Valley Rd intersection because someone decided that they needed to get one car ahead of everyone else – and in doing so, incoveniences 40 odd people on a bus.
I inserted this suggestion as a face saving measure for all concerned. It was then a pity that the C’n’R voted against my suggestion but that’s politics for you. Having voted against my suggestion makes it difficult to consider it at a later date.
Hey, but at least we know that 5,000 people feel that not doing anything for cycling is solving a problem. Yeez, we have so far to go yet!
“How about using some private enterprise to get some pubic transport working? i.e. For example how about a tram down Dominion road paid by all the shops along Dominion Road with any receipt from those shops being able to be used as a ticket onboard.”
Uhm, we have no trams in Auckland – and I expect getting even basic trams running along Dom Road would cost on the order of half a billion (because you’d be (re-)introducing a totally new traffic mode, with all the set-up costs falling onto the first project, from consenting, to driver training to building new depots. Not even thinking of the costs of putting in the rails and overhead lines and buying flash new trams).
That half billion is just sliiiiightly more than some hundred shopkeepers can afford in a recession. And why should they pay for it? The factory in South Auckland doesn’t pay extra to get a state highway/motorway to their door, nor does the lawyer in Queen Street pay any extra.
“Or perhaps all developers down the road paying to help fund the tram as the value of their properties go up?”
That makes a lot of sense, but it is already being done, and would not cover all of it unless it was a pretty high value (and even then, all you can do in this form is recoup costs later, you can’t really ask for the money up-front)
“Maybe in conjunction with this, charge cars for using the road, increase parking prices which go towards the tram.”
Good idea, but congestion and parking charging is lethal in politics – possibly even more so than such plans like Dom Road. The Londoners almost kicked out their mayor over it, didn’t they?
“Make the tram into a charity reducing it’s needs to pay taxes and allow people to donate to the service.”
Well, if you believe National, PT is already a charity case! Despite the fact that roads suck up much more money…
“a suggestion that Council investigate extending the bus lane hours and running the bus lanes through the intersections (as you have suggested in your post”
Well, would that not need road widening and parking removal too? I also assume it wouldn’t do much for cyclists. Good to hear you are using PT, by the way.
It’s about 17 kms from Britomart to where SH20 crosses Dom Rd…
The ARC costed each km at $4.2 m as part of the waterfront proposal, you need a tram every 720m to run 5 minute frequencies at $2 m a tram so:
17 x 4.2 +
17,000 / 720 x 2 =