Auckland: a fresh start?

And so, a year and a half after the Royal Commission into Auckland’s local government reported back its findings, the Super City begins. It’s goodbye to Auckland City, Manukau City, North Shore City, Waitakere City, Rodney District, Papakura District, Franklin Districts and (perhaps the only one I’ll be sad to see go) the Auckland Regional Council – and hello to the new Auckland Council. Over the past 18 months I have taken an intense interest in how this whole process has panned out. From my initial thoughts on the Royal Commission’s report, to concerns I had about uneven ward sizes and my fluctuating opinions on the creation of the Auckland …
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CBD Tunnel on “The Nation”

TV3’s political show “The Nation” has this week focused on the rail plans the Super City has, and the government’s response to those plans. There are a couple of videos well worth a watch. First, a story outlining the details of the CBD Rail Tunnel – with interviews of Len Brown, Mike Lee, Christine Fletcher and others (click image to be taken through to TV3 website and watch the video). I’m glad that the media has finally done some decent background research into this project. The potential cost of $2 billion rather than $1.5 billion is concerning though – originally in 2004 it was costed at $500 million. However, I’m …
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Urban sprawl – not the way of the future?

I have long argued against urban sprawl as a pattern of development, because of its inevitable car dependency, its poor sustainability and its general soullessness. With the government undertaking a serious overhaul of planning regulations that relate to urban areas – potentially making it easier for our cities to sprawl – I read with interest an article from the USA which argues that our changing demographics and cultural preferences mean that the demand for sprawl is simply unlikely to be there in the future. Instead, as our population ages and as younger generations place greater emphasis on living in vibrant and exciting town centres, we may already have more than …
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Will “Auckland Transport” be a secretive agency?

One of my biggest gripes with the decision to hand transport matters in Auckland over to a semi-independent “Council Controlled Organisation” as part of establishing the Super City was whether that agency would end up doing most of its work in secret. At the moment (well, until Monday when the new Council is formally established) there’s quite a bit of information available on what transport stuff the various councils are up to. One of my best resources has been the agenda and minutes of the ARC’s Transport and Urban Development Committee, as well as what the Regional Transport Committee got up to over the last couple of years as it …
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Council structure announced

The make up of the new Auckland Council was announced today by Mayor Len Brown. The structure of the council, and the chair of each of the committees, sub-committees and other forums are outlined below: Structure and appointments: Committees of the Whole Strategy & Finance Committee – Penny Webster Accountability & Performance Committee – Richard Northey – CCO Strategy and Appointments Sub-Committee – His Worship the Mayor – CEO Review Sub-Committee – His Worship the Mayor – Tenders & Procurement Panel – Jami-Lee Ross Regional Development & Operations Committee – Ann Hartley – Social & Community Forum – Cathy Casey – Culture, Arts & Events Forum – Alf Filipaina – …
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St Lukes – the ultimate planning failure?

On Monday next week the new Auckland Council formally comes into being. The agenda for its first meeting has already been uploaded to the new Council’s website. Let’s hope such timely uploading is a sign of good things to come! Much of what’s included in the agenda for the Council’s first meeting is standard “house-keeping” stuff – although it will be interesting to find out the structure of the different Council committees, including who ends up chairing them. But hidden as the last agenda item in the meeting is the first difficult decision the council will need to make: whether to approve the St Lukes Plan Change or not. Auckland …
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Jan Gehl – Cities for People

Looks like I’ll have to get this book: Product Description For more than forty years Jan Gehl has helped to transform urban environments around the world based on his research into the ways people actually use—or could use—the spaces where they live and work. In this revolutionary book, Gehl presents his latest work creating (or recreating) cityscapes on a human scale. He clearly explains the methods and tools he uses to reconfigure unworkable cityscapes into the landscapes he believes they should be: cities for people. Taking into account changing demographics and changing lifestyles, Gehl emphasizes four human issues that he sees as essential to successful city planning. He explains how …
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Washington DC Metro Photos

For some reason, while I had always planned to post a selection of photos from my visit to Washington DC as part of last month’s holiday, I never quite got around to it. It seems to be a relatively slow day for transport news, so here’s some great rail eye candy from the Washington DC Metro:While I knew about the concrete “vaulted” design of the stations, I wasn’t actually aware that all the underground stations had this design. One might think that the repetitive design would become boring, but actually I felt it was really good – giving a consistent feel to the system as a whole and making it …
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On-time PT stats: too blunt a measurement tool?

Humantransit has a thought-provoking blog post on whether measuring “on time performance” is really the best way to gauge the effectiveness of public transport in providing what its users want and need. Here’s a couple of interesting paragraphs: I have a great deal of sympathy for transit executives trying to deal with on-time performance, because many of the causes of delay are outside a transit agency’s control. Still, there are two major problems with the measures of “on-time performance” that prevail in the industry. 1. They are not customer-centered. They report the percentage of services that were on-time, not the percentage of riders who were. Because crowded services are more …
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What’s wrong with this picture?

Anyone able to guess where this might be? Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/craigsyd/with/5113726486/ Believe it or not, this is the sole pedestrian link between Auckland’s second busiest railway station and the main shopping street adjacent to that station. This is the link between Broadway and Newmarket train station. If you didn’t know exactly what you were looking for, you would miss this. In fact, I’ve missed it a few times even though I knew exactly what I was looking for. Where’s the signage? Where’s the visual clues that we spent tens of millions of dollars building this flash new railway station? Why does Auckland so often screw up on the easy stuff when …
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