Lower Hobson viaduct to go!

Out of all the exciting plans and strategies for Auckland’s future that we’ve heard about over the past few days, perhaps the one proposal that gets me most excited is the prospect that the horrific Lower Hobson Street viaduct might be demolished. You know the one: We have done some pretty horrible things to our city over the years (Mayoral Drive, Nelson Street, Victoria Park flyover etc.) but I struggle to think of a more horrendous piece of infrastructure than this viaduct: particularly because of its prime waterfront location and the fact that it’s right next to the historic Tepid Baths building. Along with the “traffic wall” of Fanshawe and …
25 Comments

Auckland Council shuns sprawl

Some detail on critical elements of the Auckland Spatial Plan are starting to emerge in the media, although the Plan itself won’t be released for consultation until September 20th. On Monday the ‘Element Magazine‘, which was included in the NZ Herald, noted the following about one of the key issues the spatial plan will face – whether Auckland grows through intensification, sprawl, or a mix of the two (and what kind of mix): Element magazine questioned the mayor on the sweeping changes proposed in the Auckland Plan and his intentions to drive growth of the sprawling city back into the core of the region by innovations and incentives. Firstly, we …
47 Comments

Wynyard Tramway extended to Britomart within three years

It’s heartening to read in today’s NZ Herald that plans are advancing quite quickly to extend the Wynyard Tramway loop over the Viaduct Harbour and to connect with Britomart transport centre in the relatively near future. Waterfront Auckland planning and design manager Rod Marler said the carnation-red heritage trams were a great short-term attraction for capturing the imagination and emotions of Aucklanders but the tram tracks, future-proofed to take light rail, offered a bigger opportunity along the waterfront. The tram extension is expected to cost $8.1 million plus the cost of a new crossing, which is expected to be a lot less than the $47.3 million cost of an earlier …
25 Comments

Guest Post: Why are there cars on Queen St?

This is a Guest Post by regular commenter Patrick Reynolds and was originally published in Metro magazine Queen St, from the water to Mayoral Drive, has an unusual and unexpected feature for a city street in Auckland. It’s easy to miss but it’s true: There is not one vehicle entrance to a building from Queen St. Not one car parking building, not one loading bay, not one ramp to an executive garage under a tower block. The only way to enter a building from Queen St is on foot. There are a few very short term road side parks among the bus stops and loading bays, but really every car …
32 Comments

More detail about the City Centre Master Plan

I’ve discussed the City Centre Master Plan a few times on this blog previously, as it’s a pretty exciting document which seeks to transform Auckland’s City Centre from the car dominated place it is now to a truly world-class downtown, dominated by people rather than vehicles. An article in today’s NZ Herald provides a bit more information on what will be in the plan, which goes out for public consultation at the same time as the draft Auckland Plan: on September 20th. A copy of the draft Central City Plan, marked “not to be distributed”, includes plans for temporary road closures of Queen St, then at lunchtimes within three years, …
11 Comments

High Density Sprawl – not an oxymoron?

The most commonly cited characteristic of urban sprawl is its low-density. In fact, density is often used as the sole way of determining whether a city is sprawled or not – and (following on from that) whether a city’s urban form is conducive to public transport or not. However, you only need to look at a comparison of the density and auto-use of many different cities around the world to see that things might be somewhat more complicated than that: Overall city density is actually, I think, a fairly poor indicator – except at the extremes – of whether a city is dominated by urban sprawl and whether it has …
9 Comments

Tracking Auckland’s buses

An excellent new blog about public transport issues in Auckland has been started up by Suresh Patel. One of the most fascinating elements of the new blog is that it allows us a bit of an insight into some of the inner workings of Auckland’s public transport system, because Suresh is undertaking a Teacher Fellowship scheme, looking into the effectiveness of new technologies used by Auckland’s public transport systems. Suresh has some fascinating insights into how our current public transport systems utilise various forms of technology, in particular how buses are tracked around Auckland. In a recent post, we are provided with a really interesting look at the RAPID system, …
15 Comments

Overloading Albert Street

One consequence of the recent bus route changes has been to shift even more bus routes onto Albert Street – as the 020, 030 and Inner Link have been shifted off Queen Street, while the 005 has been shifted off Hobson Street and Queen Street. At first glance that is not a bad thing: Albert Street has bus lanes while neither Queen nor Hobson streets do – so these routes should enjoy faster travelling times than they used to. However, it has seemed to me after a few days of observations, that Albert Street is really getting to the point of being tremendously overloaded in terms of the number of bus …
28 Comments

Our street network working against us

The City Rail Link (CRL) is a vital project for the city however as we know the government commissioned review has rejected the business case for it. While many of us know that the review has many flaws, some of the recommendations made about how to improve the BC for it are sensible, in particular the need to get more people using the existing rail network. Some of the more commonly suggested ways to increase patronage are things like better feeder buses, more park and rides and also having higher residential density around stations. Of course there are downsides to each of these, feeder buses can be costly to run, …
19 Comments