Tomorrow the Auckland Transport board have their first public meeting of the year before and as I usually do, I’ve gone through the reports looking for what interesting information exists. The first thing that I noticed was even before getting into the reports and that was just how much was on the closed agenda vs what was on the open one. Other than the standard reports on there every meeting, the open agenda contains just a few additional papers. However on the closed session agenda there is a whole list of interesting looking topics. The items for approval/decision is


i) Half Year Report
ii) Update on draft 2014/15 AT Opex Budget
iii) Fleet purchase and funding roll forward

Capital Development

iv) Albany Highway
v) Mill Road
vi) Tamaki Ngapipi Intersection
vii) AMETI
viii) East West Link


ix) Northern Maintenance Contract Award

Strategy & Planning

x) Draft Parking Strategy Consultation

Business Technology

xi) CCTV Convergence Project

Probably the most interesting one would be the Mill Rd item which is something quite controversial to many of the locals and the last we heard of it, the design was looking like a mini motorway. In the open session business report it’s said the project is needed due to over 3,800 houses within special housing areas being along the corridor and I can only assume they are upcoming SHA’s as there hasn’t been any on that corridor so far.

On to the items that caught my attention in the business report.

EMU testing

Based on the report, the EMUs should now have finished the testing to ensure they will actually work on our network which is great news.

Official track testing is now well advanced and scheduled to conclude mid-February 2014. The testing of the on-board signalling system has been completed with the passenger information systems (PA announcements, and passenger information displays) remaining to conclude testing.

Four trains are now capable of mainline running and fleet kilometres during testing are in excess of 15,000. The trains continue to perform well under tests on the electrified main lines which now extend from Wiri to Newmarket and also on the Onehunga Branch Line.

Trains five, six and seven are at Wiri undergoing reassembly and tests. Trains eight and nine have left Spain and are due in New Zealand in early March.

Now we just need to wait for more to arrive and be put through their paces so that services can start on the Onehunga line. Later on the report also mentions that from Friday testing will be able to commence on the line between Newmarket and Britomart and I can’t wait to see these trains parked up in the station. It also confirms when we will see these trains on each of the lines across the network.

  • Apr 2014: Onehunga Line services
  • Sep 2014: Manukau via Eastern Line services
  • Mar 2015: Southern Line services
  • Jul 2015: Western Line services

And lastly on the date in April has been confirmed as the 28th and along with that AT will be giving many of the operations a bit of a refresh to improve the customer experience. There will also be an open day near the time of the first services starting so that the public can get a look at the trains.

As part of the improved customer experience with the new EMU services, enhanced station works will be started on the Onehunga Line stations from February 2014 in the lead-up to launch of the Onehunga EMU services on 28 April 2014. This includes improved pedestrian shelter between modes at Onehunga and Ellerslie Stations, improved customer information on station platforms, station rebranding and in line with the recommendations from the Customer Experience research undertaken in the latter half of 2013, improved wayfinding signage. Platform edge warning lighting will also be trialled. New Transdev staff uniforms are being selected for initial implementation prior to the launch of the new Onehunga Line EMU services.

City Centre Integration Group (CCIG)

There had previously been a cross council group that was intended to work together on projects along the waterfront containing Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, Waterfront Auckland and Auckland Council Properties Limited. It appears that the various organisations have now agreed to expand the reach of that across the entire city centre. This should hopefully mean we get some more coherent development of projects happening rather than each organisation working in silos. Of interest:

Transport feasibility studies are due for completion in early 2014 for the Ferry Basin Masterplan, Fanshawe/Customs St Corridor, and Wynyard Bus Interchange

Integrated Ticketing and Fares

With integrated ticketing almost complete the focus is now going to really shift to integrated fares. In December the board agreed to investigate further two different options. They were a 5 concentric ring zonal model and 4 concentric ring zonal model + short trip fare. These are likely to be variations of these options. Analysis including pricing options and a business case are currently underway but it seems we won’t see anything implemented until the 2nd quarter of 2015, probably when the new network rolls out. I had been hoping we might see it rolled out by the end of this year. AT do say they are in the process of testing out a daily pass which will be rolled out in March based on geographic zones (most likely the same ones used for the monthly passes). The big question will end up being how they price the passes and I fear they will be priced so high that very few people would benefit from them.

The graph below shows the percentage of customers using HOP for bus journeys (up until early this month so won’t include Howick & Eastern. It appears the Birkenhead customers are increasingly using HOP however its Bayes buses that get the most HOP card usage with over 70% of people using a HOP card. I’m surprised that NZ Bus and Urban Express don’t seem to be seeing any real change.

HOP ticketing usage Feb 2014

Tamaki Dr/Ngapipi Rd intersection

Late last year AT went out to consultation on this intersection which is the worst for cycle crashes in Auckland. AT wanted to put traffic lights in however the local board were pushing for a roundabout. The exact details about the intersection are in the closed session however it’s noted in the board report that they have chosen to implement the traffic light option (which was also supported by Cycle Action Auckland).

Tamaki-Ngapipi intersection upgrade

Lastly a couple of the additional papers for this board meeting. One is about the establishment of a board committee dedicated to focusing on the customer experience.

An increasing number of customer interface initiatives are being developed and implemented. Following the model of the Capital Review Committee, the establishment of the CFC will give the opportunity for Board members to have greater visibility, input and governance oversight of these initiatives.

This seems like a good idea and I’m sure the committee will have a lot to do.

The other paper gives is the forward programme for the board showing what is coming up for them to discuss/decide on. Naturally the next few meetings are more fleshed out than those 4-5 months out. Some projects that I picked up were.

  • In March the closed session will see papers on AMETI, Mill Rd, Dominion Rd, integrated fares, replacing parking ticket machines, selling the diesel trains. At the capital review committee a few weeks before three is also a paper on AT’s rail strategy.
  • In April there will be closed session discussion on the seawall in the city centre, SMART (rail to the airport), Mill Rd (again), AT’s rail strategy, Papakura – Pukekohe electrification,

I’ll post about the patronage results separately.

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  1. Would be good if AT got parking machines that take AT HOP the same as Wellington’s do with Snspper. Will help get the card out to more people and might have a positive impact on PT patronage at the same time

  2. Have we heard anything more about Parnell railway station? I bumped into an acquaintance whose wife works in operations for KR, and he said that the station isn’t even on KR’s roadmap. That does not bode well, given that the station just keeps on being bumped further and further out into the never-never.
    At current rates of progress we’ll be opening the National-funded CRL that commenced construction in 2021 before we have a train station at Parnell :/

    1. Last we heard was construction in 2015. But there does seem to be a lot of enemies of this project…. Mind you KR have done the track work, it’s all platforms and approaches and the bridge, oh and the twee installation of the old Newmarket Station building. Other than the bridge and the trackside edges of the platforms all of the work is away from the operational area to be sufficiently distant from KR’s processors you’d hope…? Nothing between the tracks as they are side platforms.

      It is designed to work with the EMUs, the old diesel bangers struggle enough up this slope, but that’s still no reason to not be getting on with it. And now that the new student accommodation building is open including the pedestrian approach from the Stanley St direction, it really ought to be going in….. think of those students heading to Dresssmart in Onehunga or up to the Grafton campus….

      Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who sees the value in this station; it has the potential to swing Parnell on its axis if done properly.

        1. Takanini is on hold while the Rail Strategy is finalised. That Strategy should outline:
          1) Grade Separation of level crossings
          2) Glenora Road Station
          3) Fate of Te Mahia and Westfield Stations
          4) What to do with Takanini
          5) Manukau Rail South Link at the request of the former Transport Committee in the first term of the Council

  3. Why so much in secret? What do they have to hide?

    Why can’t they be open and honest about their intentions for the East-West Link, for example? It was their closed decision-making that put them against the people of Mangere and Otahuhu, and against the Council they are supposed to be ‘accountable’ to.

  4. I’m very glad to see that the EMUs are on track, so to speak. Credit to all the professionals who have worked diligently to make this project a success.

    I’m not surprised that HOP card usage on NZ Bus is hovering at around 50%. There are very few retailers across Auckland.

  5. Can someone explain to me why the eastern line is the second line getting electric trains? It seems to be the last one to be made ready. Why not the southern line? I hope there is a good reason for this. The southern seems to be ready but a lot work is still needed on the eastern line ( I’m not sure of the state of the western line… Kiwirail map was out of date when I last looked at it)

    1. I’m not sure but I think it could be because like the Onehunga line, less EMus are needed to be in service to have the whole line running on electrics and I strongly suspect AT don’t want a mix of electrics and deisels on the same line for operational reasons.

    2. It’s not “the Eastern Line”, it’s “Manukau via the Eastern Line” which is rather different. Manukau gets three services an hour for the two peak hours morning and evening. Replacing all its trains with EMUs only needs eight EMUs to have four six-car sets (Manukau gets full-length trains, right?) running the line at a time. At a 47-minute return journey, including turnaround at Britomart, it requires four trains to meet a 20-minute service frequency.

      Onehunga is first because it only needs three EMUs to meet a half-hourly peak service. Manukau is second because it’s the second-fewest number of EMUs to replace all services.

  6. Half hourly peak service – wonderful stuff! Compare the northern busway with minute intervals at peak. Little wonder that such a high percentage travel to the city from the Shore by bus.

    What AT should now be focusing on is driving fares down. While the fare from Akoranga is almost reasonable beyond that causes many younger people to drive to say Ponsonby, parking for free and walking. This well patronised busway service is almost certainly subsidising other poorly conceived routes.

    Lets have the consultation period now on the Shore regarding the new routes; get it sorted and be ready to move on when AT has deemed it is appropriate.

    1. Onehunga cannot really handle more than half-hourly, since it’s a single track which takes 12 minutes to traverse in one direction including stops. Even if the EMUs cut that down to 10 minutes (unlikely) it’s still a push to get even three return services an hour down that line safely. Once it’s double-tracked as part of the CRL/airport link projects that frequency can increase, and it’s possible that there’ll be some building of passing loops in the nearer-term future, I suppose, which would allow a slight increase.

  7. Oh fabulous! There’s no intersection problem that CAN’T be solved by more traffic lights, according to AT. Useless goons, even the locals don’t want it and would prefer a roundabout. When they added lights to the intersection of St Heliers Bay Rd and Apirana Ave, despite locals and traffic experts preferring a roundabout, the reaction from the Council after the predicted traffic snarlups occurred, was literally “Well oh it ain’t great, but it’s too late now”.

    So now Tamaki Drive is going to back up even more during the peaks, affecting everyone from precious cyclists to bus users. You gotta wonder if AT is in the pocket of “Big traffic lights” – they crave more control when things are, often counter-intuitively, much better off when you actually let go. Most posters on here won’t care, because by the sounds of things you’re a bunch of westy cyclists who consider Tamaki Drive their birthright for weekend high speed cycling, but for locals driving and using buses. this is going to seriously suck. Of course, cyclists will just run the red anyway…

    Rant over.

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