The Auckland Transport Board meet tomorrow and while it might be earlier in the month than usual due to Christmas, there’s no shortage of information. As usual here are the things that caught my attention.
The closed session is once again packed with reports, some are listed as being due to commercial sensitivity and others to allow free and frank discussion with the information released later.
Items for Approval/Decision
- Diesel Rolling Stock Sale
- Managing 2014/15 Programme
- Dominion Road
- Bus Service Commercial & South Auckland Tender
- PT Fare Annual Review
- Street Lighting Acquisition
- Te Mahia /Westfield
- Southern Station Review
Items for Noting
- Deep Dive – Service Provision Options
- CRL Update
- Heavy Rail Strategy update
- Service Extension Options
- Te Atatu
- EW Connections
- Draft Statement of Intent 2015-16
There are a number of quite specific items there and one I’m surprised about is the annual fare review seeing as we just had fare changes implemented in July that resulted in fares for bus and train trips using HOP reducing. The Te Mahia / Westfield stations will be about whether AT close them as proposed in the new Bus Network. They are the two least used stations on the network with each having less than 100 people use them per day.
Onto the board report
Funding was approved for property purchase and construction for the $26 million Te Atatu Corridor project which will widen and upgrade parts of Te Atatu Rd and Edmonton Rd. Included in the project are some walking and cycling improvements however they are inconsistent. In some places cycle lanes will be on the street while in other places they will just be shared paths. I guess there wasn’t enough room for proper cycling facilities after the addition of a 2.5-3m median.
Funding was also approved for the design and construction of the Upper Harbour Cycleway. As someone who rides along this road weekly the improvements are welcome although I suspect they will ignore the biggest issue along the route being the Upper Harbour Dr/Albany Hwy intersection which is possibly the most dangerous in Auckland. Fixing that is likely dependant on a future 30m+ of an upgrade to that section Albany Highway.
Later on in the report an additional mention is made about the awarding of a number of service contracts. Two are singled out as providing much better value than anticipated with a combined saving of almost $5m compared to what had been budgeted.
- Security Guard Services and Patrols – Contract awarded to Armourguard. The successful tender resulted in a saving of $2.1m compared with the two year budget forecast
- Public Transport Facilities Cleaning – Contract awarded to City Cleaning Services. The successful tender resulted in a saving of $2.7m compared with the two year budget forecast
For specific projects AT are working on the ones that caught my attention are:
Auckland Transport is progressing a planning strategy to ensure ongoing security of the Penlink corridor. This involves lodgement of an alteration to the existing Penlink designation and a suite of consent applications to allow up to four lanes on the Penlink alignment to reflect the updated design, and to extend the lapse date by another 15-20 years to align with the current draft ITP. Some changes to the existing designation boundary are proposed, however, the majority of the proposal will fit within the existing designation footprint. Notification is proposed in early 2015 due to the Christmas and New Year period. Key Stakeholder engagement is continuing and two open days are also proposed to provide the general public with an opportunity to discuss the project and planning process in more detail.
Discussions on alternate procurement methods continues with interested parties. These will be brought to the Board if they progress to any substantial proposal.
I can understand the need to retain the designation but quite where AT will find the over $350m needed for Penlink is unclear.
Devonport Wharf Transport Interchange
AT say the project completion will be delayed by two months to May 2015 after the contractor encountered construction difficulties below the Wharf Boardwalk.
Otahuhu Bus-Train Interchange
Enabling works are underway and AT say the project is still on track for completion at the end of next year which they say is “to align with the expected roll-out date for PTOM (South) in February 2016“. This suggests that the roll out of the new network has once again been delayed as it had been due to roll out in the middle of next year.
City Centre Integration
City Centre bus infrastructure planning is focussing on the Fanshawe St Busway, Wynyard Interchange and Downtown Interchange. A series of workshops will commence in December with the University and AUT to progress issues and options for the Learning Quarter Interchange and east-west bus corridor.
A City Centre Transport Framework is being developed with NZTA to collate and map out transport initiatives and issues across the city centre, as context for future development. Completion due mid-2015.
It’s good to see the Fanshawe St busway progressing as that will help further improve the PT experience for bus users from the North Shore. It is particularly important as at peak times 60-70% of all people using Fanshawe St are on a bus despite buses only having 22% of the space in the corridor. While the amount of space buses have won’t change, what should improve are the bus stops which should become more station like.
Swanson Park and Ride
AT say the tender should be awarded by now with construction starting soon. They are expecting the project to be complete by April next year. It will see 136 new car parks added to Swanson station for a cost of $2.5m. It will include improved lighting, signage, CCTV, additional platform shelters, walkway canopies to the footbridge and stairs, and new platform surfacing and marking.
Other PT improvements:
AT say they are continuing to do shadow running of test trains on the Southern and Western lines. Electric trains will be introduced to the Southern Line in early 2015 with a fully electric timetable by April which I assume means the Western Line too.
The Manukau interchange is being targeted for completion by early 2016.
The usage of HOP dropped slightly to 70% in November which has attributed to less university and secondary school students using services due to exam breaks.
AT have a special day pass for use during the NRL 9s in late January which includes discounts to some tourist attractions. They can only be purchased from Ticketek, are $25 and as yet don’t say how discount from the attractions purchasers will actually get.