The Auckland Transport Board is meeting today and as usual I’ve had a look through the papers to see if there is anything interesting. Below is the collection of items or comments that caught my eye.
The rest of this year is going to see a lot of debate about long term plans emerge
Auckland Transport’s 30-year Integrated Transport Programme, the 10-year Regional Land Transport Plan and the Transport content of Auckland Council’s 10-year Long Term Plan, must all be adopted (as draft for public consultation) by December 2014.
The next steps in the consultation process, as endorsed by the Board in February 2014, are:
- Submissions process timed to align with Auckland Council, in Jan/Feb 2015
- Online consultation, also in Jan/Feb 2015
- Replace formal Hearings with more informal Transport Conversations in March 2015
The last bullet point is quite interesting, does that represent a reduction in the public being able to have a say in the future development of transport in the city?
On the key projects there are a few interesting comments these include
- For the Lincoln Rd upgrade – In response to public consultation, an additional analysis of cycle facility options is underway – this is good as the cycling facilities that were suggested as part of this mega road widening were pitiful and didn’t even meet the engineering standards AT are implementing.
- The name for the East West Link has been changed to East West Connections as – The word “link” created confusion with people incorrectly assuming that the programme was one project on one road and consequently was changed to “connections” to better reflect that this programme will comprise several projects to improve the transport network across the area. – I find this one particularly interesting given the constant ongoing confusion we see around the City Rail Link which is really about improving the entire regional rail network. Even the mayor still calls it a loop at times giving the impression it’s just about trains going around in circles. Perhaps it’s time to change the name of the CRL to actually reflect what the project is doing.
- With the electric trains CAF are building them faster than expected and are currently 4 ahead of schedule. AT are saying we will start seeing the trains on the Manukau and eastern lines in August when from memory that wasn’t meant to happen till September or October. On the performance of the EMUs AT say that the punctuality in June returned to above the average for the network and changes to the signalling system to allow faster running is under testing.
- At Panmure the new station as seen the number of people using the station surge. A press release out today shows the numbers even higher than in the report with usage of the station up 73% on the same time last year and up 57% since the station opened in January. It’s seen the station rise from the 18th busiest in 2013 to 10th. As a further comparison AT say that in 2003 only around 100 people used the then Panmure station (in a slightly different location), now an average of 1116 are using it daily. We’ve also had anecdotal evidence that entire busloads of people from eastern suburbs are transferring to trains at the station for a faster ride to town.
Each month AT now give updates on spending on Road Corridor Maintenance. It’s mostly a fairly dull part that gets skipped over however I did notice some interesting comments in relation to why the spend in the Central and West areas were below forecast. In the Central area AT spent $67.8 million vs a budget of $73.3 million and in the West they spent $29.6 million out of a budget of 32.7 million. In both cases they said the difference was due to a reduced level of expenditure on consultants (although for central it also was the result of deferring work on Orakei Rd). Other parts of the region ended up on or ahead of forecast though which negated the savings.
On Public transport they say
- HOP card usage is up over 60% for buses and at 75% for trains and this is of course before the fare changes from early July kicked in which should drive that even higher.
- They say bus on time performance is improving with the changes to timetables that they have been making and that this is based on results measured from AT’s real time tracking systems. They say that from July they will be measuring bus punctuality based on these measures rather than the tinpot dictator style self reporting by operators that they have relied on for years.
- They say that to the 4 July there were almost 12,000 subscriptions to the free WiFI at train and busway stations and ferry wharfs.
Of course as usual it’s the closed session that has all of the really interesting information including
- An update on the CRL
- An update of the next ITP
- An update on the disposal of the diesel trains
- City Centre Access options