Today is the April edition of the Auckland Transport board meeting and as usual I’ve gone through the board reports to see what interesting snippets of information they contain.

Before I get into what’s in the reports, first I need to address what’s not. The closed session is chock full of reports which is disappointing for an organisation that has promised to be more open and transparent. Items in the closed agenda included:

  • Rail Operations Tender – Transdev’s contract expires next year and AT will be putting it out to tender instead of just rolling it over. I understand a number of groups are interested in it so it can hopefully drive some big improvements in opex costs.
  • Integrated Fares – obviously a massively important piece of work that is needed as soon as possible. Last we heard AT were investigating two different zone options.
  • Annual Fare Review – In the face of rising patronage I’m hoping fares don’t go up (well perhaps except for cash fares).
  • Dominion Rd
  • CCIF – Seawall – this is the replacement/upgrade of the seawall along Quay St.
  • Auckland/Wellington Public Transport Comparison – this appears to be a financial comparison and bound to be related to the rail operations tender.
  • CRL
  • EMU
  • Rail Strategy – Level Crossings Programme

On to the reports that are available.

There appears to be a growing recognition that AT are going to have to start some serious discussions about project prioritisation in the coming years with a new version of the ITP and the next LTP coming up and that there isn’t just an unlimited money tree, that the council has hidden away somewhere, not even one for roading projects.

AC’s Budget Committee met on 11 April to consider the direction of the upcoming Long Term Plan. AC staff have advised that they are likely to be aiming for annual rates increases lower than the 4.9% forecast in the 2012-2022 LTP, and that this will require a significant reduction in the planned capital programme for the AC Group. AC has since issued guidance to CCOs and departments about the information requirements and timelines for this process.

Work on preparing financial data for AT’s long term plans (Integrated Transport Programme/Regional Land Transport Programme/Long-term Plan/Asset Management Plan) is continuing. The ITP Project team has compiled an indicative programme of capital projects, and Finance is forecasting a corresponding operating programme. Work on modelling the renewals and maintenance programme is well underway.

The make-up of the final programme will depend on feedback from consultation, prioritisation, and expected revenue from AC, NZTA and external sources. Trade-offs will need to be made between different types of projects, and between renewals and new capital expenditure.

Moving on to projects underway.

  • AT say that work on the Tiverton-Wolverton upgrade is now almost complete and work should be taking place on some parts of the alternative cycling route in May but with some revisions. They say two sections of shared path are being built and I’m keen to know if that is a downgrade from what was originally promised.
  • For the Dominion Rd parallel cycle routes construction is targeted to start in May and be finished in the spring.
  • While we finally have an additional bus lane, work is continuing on getting a permanent busway built along Fanshawe which will include an interchange station to serve Wynyard Quarter.
  • AT is wanting to amend the existing designation for Penlink and renew the construction and operation consents. While it does seem to be moving ahead, I do wonder if there is any actual desire to build the project any time soon or if this is just AT keeping the project active for other reasons.
  • On the East-West Link the update shows one of the major problems we have with transport in this country. The project is being rushed ahead with decisions being made and routes chosen yet there still hasn’t even been a business case done. By comparison the CRL with a business case that’s been reviewed multiple times with a fine tooth comb languishes due to ideology.
  • Work is continuing on both the Manukau and Otahuhu bus interchanges. With Otahuhu, Auckland Transport are also saying they’re working on another project in parallel to improve pedestrian connections to the station which is great news. I think improving station access for people walking and cycling fits in the low hanging fruit category.
  • AT have some feedback on users impressions of the new Mt Albert and Panmure rail stations. For satisfaction both stations had 97% of people rate them between 6-10 out of 10.
  • On the Beach Rd cycleway AT say they intend to have it completed by September and the first stage will involve the route from Grafton Gulley to Quay St via a Mahuhu Crescent and Tapora Street.

Moving on with AT’s seemingly renewed focus on improving PT. We’ve talked before about the Deloitte report that looked at how much patronage the current plans might deliver which showed patronage falling short of the councils targets for 2022 by 39 million trips. Rather than just work to lower the targets the board have decided to see what can be done to meet them. It’s been decided that with so much focus and investment in rail that has happened in recent years and is planned for the future that there’s probably not a lot more that can be done that isn’t already underway. As such the biggest opportunity for AT to increase their chances of hitting targets is to improve buses. They will be investigating further – including possible business cases for a number of initiatives around better buses.

  • Bring forward busway investments and bus lane / prioritising the proposed high frequency bus network
  • Increase frequency and service kilometre coverage of the proposed new bus network and bring forward investment earlier than currently proposed
  • Fare price reduction and fare restructuring – a separate update paper has been prepared for the April 2014 Board meeting
  • Increase cost of PT alternatives including parking and congestion charging
  • Bring forward proposed park and ride provisions and improve other PT journey ‘first and final leg’ options

There are some good options in this group and it will be interesting to see the outcome which is targeted for the June meeting. The one most immediate could be the suggestion of a fare price reduction. I’ve mentioned before that I would actually prefer to see prices stay roughly the same rather than drop with the money used to fund service improvements – although I would like to see a bigger differential between HOP and cash fares to further encourage HOP use.

Lastly the report has Special Topic on the new uniforms worn by rail and customer service staff from yesterday. A few interesting points I noted from the piece were that

  • The uniforms have a grey base colour with different colour accents depending on the role, blue for operational staff and red for customer service staff.
  • As the new uniforms are of a higher quality, both from a material and image point of view, they have increased uniform costs by about 40%.
  • AT have been planning this change for months only for the company they were working with to pulled out in February leaving AT to have to source the uniforms elsewhere.
  • Due to the supplier issues AT couldn’t get exactly what they wanted but the uniforms will be improved later with items using bespoke fabric.
  • New uniforms will also roll out to parking wardens but no mention is made of requiring the customer facing bus staff do the same. I wonder if that will come once the new PTOM contracts are rolled out with the new network next year?

Some images of the uniforms are below

2014 - April - Uniforms

EMU Launch - Uniforms



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  1. Those new uniforms look a lot more smart and professional, if a little airline-ish (very similar to British Airways)

    1. So I am also presuming that staff have had an increase in their uniform cleaning allowances, because a lot of it looks very much “dry clean only”

      It is one thing to give staff new gear, but if it is more expensive or more difficult to maintain that the exisitng stuff, its gonna eventually make staff annoyed and angry about being forced to wear the new gear. .

  2. Great to see some professionalism shine though with the new uniforms. Worth every cent. I’m sure it will also help staff morale to not have to go to work dressed like a slob.

    1. Also, bring back hats for train and bus drivers while we’re at it. (Can’t see from the photo above if this is proposed or not.)

      1. Hats were an option. Most people rightly said no! It’s an out dated 19th century concept that does not imbue authority and are impracticle. The only hat that is practical for driving is the baseball style hat. Not professional looking but damned practice!

  3. Actually it’s the opposite. Staff are more concerned abut the functionality of the uniform rather than the look!
    Ties- impracticle on many levels for the on board staff. Any form of white in a uniform where, let’s face it, DIRT / GREASE / OIL is present will just show up on the uniform.
    The present rain jacket is akin to a road builders one and is too impracticle to be worn for any length of time. Shoulder Tages! Pfffft , whos’ idea was that!
    There are more bug bears but not worth commenting as it’s personal preference stuff.
    In time I’m sure we’ll see these things morph into much more practice items.

    1. “Staff” since almost everyone is a member of staff somewhere you’re basically claiming that no one in the world is interested in how they look? Clearly a huge simplification, people of course care how they look. Furthermore, where’s the grease and grime on a train? I catch trains using normal everyday clothes, working clothes, whatever and I never arrive home greasy and grimy. These people are not mechanics they’re either on board staff or their working in an office at a station. Should air line stewards all wear overalls in case they need to swap out a an engine mid flight?

  4. The new uniforms look great. Many railways around the world have the hats which are optional here at AT. I would suggest it is just loco engineers used to working for Kiwirail, a freight company. Now they work for a passenger focused group.

    Smart uniforms invoke authority, professionalism. I would be in favour of the hats being mandatory. If Swiss, Germans, French, Spanish can wear a smart hat (not as slopy baseball cap), then NZ drivers can live up to those standards too. You have $600 million of new trains to drive. Do it in style.

    1. Then you would suggest wrongly. I notice quite a few drivers come from abroad, have worked in professional T.O.C’s, none of which wore hats as mandatory. One T.O.C in the UK even got rid of them mid 2000 as they were a waste of time. I’ve never seen the Spanish Madrid metro or mainline drivers wear hats. As for the Swiss and Germans, they have a quasii military background it seems which lends itself to that type of dress style.
      We do not!

    2. Swiss and German conductors don’t wear hats – perhaps they once did, but I’ve never seen one wearing a hat for the last 10 years that I lived in those two countries.

  5. Not wanting to see more money spent on roads but is there any proposal to sort out Tamaki Drive, Between the Parnell baths and Ngapipi Rd, its now flooding far too regularly as its sunk in places. The salt water destroys cars and buses in no time should they drive through them, in fact any ferrous metal.

    1. Can’t see many good options for Tamaki Drive. Raise the seawall higher to limit waves breaking over it? Lose the views that make it worthwhile walking and cycling along there.

      Raise the whole road as is being done with the NW Motorway causeway? Staggering cost and also lose all the trees that make it worthwhile…..etc.

      I think we should just enjoy and remember Tamaki Drive as it is now and reflect upon the possibility that in a hundred years it will probably be under water twice a day.

  6. What’s with the shoulder stripes? Why does he have them but she doesn’t… Is it because he is a sergeant, while she is still a private?

    I like the old train driver photo. Ads for dodgy diet products typically pose their subject in unflattering light, ask them to stick their gut out, and ask them not to smile. Similarly, AT have asked their driver to slouch, filled up his pockets (both shirt and trouser) so that his trousers sag and bulge, and to wear his belt buckle off-centre. Then they’ve gone around and wrinkled his shirt, and posed him in front of a cluttered background. All they needed to do was photograph him in black and white on a gloomy day, and they would have mastered the art of the “before” image.

  7. New uniforms look a bit like those worn by ATAC bus drivers in Rome combined with Russian uniform shoulder boards (pale blue for KGB; red for infantry). Soon the only people wearing suits will be transport staff, bankers, accountants, lawyers and executives and I’m not sure I’d want to be associated with the first four occupations by way of dress.

    1. “Soon the only people wearing suits will be transport staff, bankers, accountants, lawyers and executives”

      The last time I wore a suit to work was 1994, and that was only because I was in London and the English tend to be a bit old-fashioned. Now I don’t even own one, although I do keep a tie around just in case. It often comes in to play when Australian colleagues are in town and we’re doing a sales presentation to a potential new customer. We sort of huddle to decide if we’re all wearing a tie, or none of us are. Most of the time the answer is “no”. Suits project an image-trumps-substance message to customers… By dressing neatly but informally, you’re suggesting that you’re genuine, confident, and know what you’re talking about.

      In terms of public transport, a uniform is useful as a sort of worn identification card. But it doesn’t need a tie, a hat, or sergeant’s stripes.

      1. I wore a uniform while working for First Great Western in their Cardiff office doing admin, similar to the one illustrated here. I also wore a suite while working in admin for the NHS. I am now a British Airways Aeronautical Engineer. Even though I maintain jet engines at Heathrow I have a tie as part of my uniform.

  8. I hope any new rail operation contract has the teeth to penalise the operator for poor punctuality, as well as be rewarded for on time performance. And by “on time” I mean within a minute of scheduled time.

    1. Lol. Good luck. Not with current mixed fleet and even then there are many variables not in the T.O.C’s control that can make trains late.

    2. I would prefer a two-tier punctuality target. No later than 5mins for 98% of services, and right on time (i.e. within a minute) for at least 90% (and out of all scheduled services, not just the ones that ran). That would be realistic for a full EMU service, but in the interim I would go for 5mins/90% and 1min/75% of all services (LE above has a good point that mixed fleets etc does make it difficult to achieve punctuality).

  9. yes, reminds me when Zambesi designed Air NZ flight staff uniforms which turned out to be very impractical. I hope Mr Edmonds was not involved in any of that.

  10. “Tiverton – Wolverton They say two sections of shared path are being built and I’m keen to know if that is a downgrade from what was originally promised”

    No, it’s not a downgrade, if anything a slight upgrade based on concerns we (CAA) raised with them (though most of the route remains on-road, but at least in quieter streets).

    What is really depressing about this project is that it went from “We will build it early, first summer of the project” to still not even being started two years later. And mind you, the works they are talking about are totally off-line from the main works. They could have done them at any time in the last couple years. They just didn’t give this one whiff of priority.

    Harsh? Yep. But on this one, fully necessary. Every time I met with the 2 project managers, they have been very nice and constructive. But without results, one eventually concludes after a while that one is just being told to go play, the adult stuff (roads) comes first.

  11. we have heard about the Glen INnes to the City Cycleway, from time to time, which was one of the fagship projects. This now seems to have disappeared into the ether. Any chance of getting an update and letting us know what is planned and where it may go?

    1. It is actually also mentioned in the Business Report if I remember right. Investigation for the design are ongoing, that’s all I can say at this stage…

      1. GI to City could be an awesome cycleway if the quite pleasant train trip is anything to go by. I’d love to see cycle ways sprawling all over Auckland that could make family trips out to explore the city easy and safe to do by bicycle.

        1. There are some brutal hills unless they plan to put the cycleway in the rail corridor. I’ve bicycled through GI heading back west many times, and it’s a long grind up before going back down to the water.

          1. Yes, the plan is to follow the rail corridor, presumably to link the existing Orakei-Meadowbank cycleway to Glen Innes (and Panmure) at one end, and extend it to the Parnell Baths area at the other.

            I guess that involves one reasonable hill at St Johns Rd, but little else. If they swung it as far south as possible and included an underpass of St Johns Rd it would be pretty manageable. It would be 25-30m elevation change, but you could ramp it up over the best part of a kilometre each side.

          2. And make it wide. 4m plus. And a separate footpath. You just know this will be super busy really fast.

          3. Pretty sure there’s a pilot tunnel through the hill that would fit a bike and could be widened.

          4. I would use it, but the hill between GI and St Johns would put me off straight away. I don’t mind hills, but the thought of that at the start of my ride or the end of the day would be a deal breaker, as I am sure it would be for 90% of people who would use it who aren’t members of the lycra brigade.

          1. Could be a fantastic piece of infrastructure if done right. The hill is an issue: St Johns road at the pony club is ~70 m, roughly the same as the Domain. Long haul up either from GI or Orakei boardwalk. On the other hand, that’s the only hill.. and all the roads through this area are also hilly, and miserable to cycle on, with no cycle lanes, depsite oodles of space. So Bryce you make a very good point: this will be a massively popular route for commuting and leisure: on foot or two wheels. 2.5 m shared path would be undercooked you would think. Interconnection with the communities either side of the Purewa valley is also crucial.. e.g. access to/from Meadowbank train station from the Kohi side, or to/from Selwyn College and the eastern beaches from the south side. How to get across Hobson Basin is another challenge.. ideally, straight across and dead flat next to the railway embankment! If I understand Max’s comment, CAA is on to it…

          2. Railway on the Meadowbank side is ~2 metres above the high tide mark as it crosses the Orakei basin, it then rises to the tunnel altitude which is I assume about 35m above sea level, so it has a 33 metre rise over 2 km (lets says its only 1.5 km so thats at worst a ~2.2% grade).

            So assuming the cycleway follows the train tracks and then rises to the underpass (if there is one), then the cycleway will need to ride 60m over the same or similar distance, (lets say 2km), so thats a 3% grade if spread evenly over the distance – not a show stopper by any stretch, even if the crossing is done at St Johns road level with no underpass.
            On the GI side, the grade is lesser – GI station is about 20-25m above sea level, so not that much lower than tunnel portal elevation, but it is a shorter distance from tunnel to GI station and that makes the grade steeper than the GI side.

            For cycling, the GI side will be the grade that is the issue, rather than the Meadowbank side as the Meadowbank side has more “distance” for the rise so tends to make the grade lower.
            On the GI side, the cycleway should stay on the Eastern side of the tracks as that has a less of a hill where the tunnel portal is, so the cycleway can rise the 25 or metres to St Johns road crossing with a less steep grade if it uses that side of the rail-line. The other side has quite a hill on it, so would not be practical for cycling or walking I think.

          3. Yep no big deal. And if it was there is plenty of room to build the cycleway as a switchback or two up the hill, trading some extra length for lesser grade.

  12. I understand the rail operations tender being a closed discussion. Nothing is more commercially sensitive than tenders for services, and it’s normal and proper for that to happen out of the public eye.
    The rest of it, though, looks like secrecy for secrecy’s sake.

  13. SwissRail always provide a full length mirror in the train crews dressing rooms with a notice stating that this is what the passengers see. I think that it is up to the train manager to discipline crew on their dress. I noticed yesterday that some of the women looked as though they had had a hard night of it. I’m afraid that the jury is still out on the ‘Bovver Boots’.

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