Tomorrow the Auckland Transport Board meet and as usual I’ve picked through the main reports looking for any bits of information that I find interesting. First up the items in the closed session

Items for Approval/Decision

  • Tamaki Ngapipi – AT say this will be publicly released soon and my guess is it will be a decision as to whether to proceed with a signalised intersection like AT staff want or a roundabout like the local board want.
Tamaki -Ngapipi Signalised Option
The signalised intersection AT want to build Tamaki Dr & Ngapipi Rd
  • Real Estate Inventory Optimisation
  • Assignment of Lease to Ferry Building Limited

Items for Noting

  • Deep Dive – EMU post implementation review – Hopefully this is something that will soon be made public but it almost seems a bit soon to be doing a post implementation review giving they’ve only just rolled out and AT are still meant to be fixing issues like dwell times.
  • AT Metro subsidy – this could be another fascinating paper, especially in light of the fact farebox recovery has been improving rapidly of late thanks to the roll out of the EMUs and surging patronage.
  • CRL update

On to the main business report – comments are based on the order the items they refer to appear in the report

AT have been saying for a few months that some of the options for renewing their rolling stock insurance. They’ve now done that and the saving ended up at $130,000 which is more than they had been saying. The news on the sale of the old trains seems to be about the same as it was last month.

AT signed off their Regional Land Transport Programme (RLTP) in July however occasionally things come up that require them to add a variation. They say they can add minor changes themselves but major ones need to be consulted on and as such they’ve added two projects to the current RLTP. One is the Auckland Transport Alignment Project which meant to be about coming up with a transport programme that can be agreed on by both the council and the government. The other one they’ve added is from the NZTA and is SH20B to the Airport for which the NZTA say they need to undertake an overarching strategy for the corridor. Perhaps they’re lining this up as a project to fill the void when the current tranche of projects finish.

Project updates

The upgrade of the northern part of Albany Highway is on track for completion late next year which AT say is well ahead of schedule. They say significant sections of off road cycle and footpaths are now open for people to use with more to come before Christmas.

Consultation on stages 2 and 3 of the shared path between Glen Innes and Tamaki Dr will happen in early 2016. That will see the path extend as far as the Orakei Train station

Early 2016 will also see the consultation of quite a few walking/cycling projects including

  • Stages 2 and 3 of the shared path between Glen Innes and Tamaki Dr will happen in early 2016. These are the stages that will see the path extend as far as the Orakei Train station
  • Waitemata Safe Routes which will involve three separate routes, one from Westmere Shops to Grey Lynn, one from Coxs Bay Reserve to the NW Cycleway and one on Richmond Rd to link the two together.
  • New Lynn to Waterview Shared Path which will take place in late January.

All Electric trains have been provisionally accepted into the fleet and had software updates over Labour Weekend to address a number of performance issues with the traction control and passenger information systems.

A council decision on the Newmarket crossing project (closing Sarawia St) is likely to happen in May 4 months earlier than expected. AT say that at the time of writing the report only two submissions had been received on it, one in support and one neutral. Submissions would still have been open at the time of writing that though.

At Parnell AT say the platforms should be complete by the end of November but won’t recommence on the station till next year once Kiwirail do their part of the work on the station (they need consent to bring in the old Newmarket Station building and refurbish it). AT are seeing whether they can get some funding to build a link from the station to the developments in Carlaw Park – something that should have been core part of the project. They also say the new owner of the old Mainline Depot site (Summerset, who will build a retirement village) have made requests to amend the station access which AT is reviewing. All of the station works aren’t due to be completed till June next year.

Other updates

Over the years I’ve seen a lot of complaints about the traffic lights in New Lynn in the local papers. AT say that after a review and incorporating feedback they’re going to make some changes to them to “improve flow of traffic through the town centre” which will apparently enhance “public transport reliability and pedestrian accessibility”. I find it odd how much the report talks about it all being about pedestrians when the real reason is about driving – pedestrian washing if you will. They will

  • Removal of signals to the access way at McCrae Way and Great North Road
  • Trial camera detection on a pedestrian crossing at Memorial Dr to “optimise the use of the intersection for pedestrian movement and traffic flow” in other words to stop people crossing the road from holding up cars.
  • Trial removing signals at one of the intersections of Ward St (not sure which one).

AT are now using Bluetooth to monitor travel time data in real time across six city centre routes. The NZTA also use this technology to monitor travel times on the route to the airport and explain it a bit in this press release.

Bluetooth Monitored City Routes

One interesting bit of information that normally stays behind the scenes appears in this board report. It is an explanation about ATs traffic counting programme. They say it costs them $678k annually to count traffic and have 1882 programmed for this financial year with 643 completed by the end of September.

Public Transport

Integrated Fares are now not due till July 2016.

AT are still evaluating the tenders for the new bus network in South Auckland

AT say they’re consulting with schools who have school bus routes that duplicate existing rail or bus routes. The intention is to remove the school bus routes with children obviously catching a normal bus or train instead.

The Puhinui station upgrade is due to be completed by the end of the month.

The Park Rd bus lane between the Hospital and Carlton Gore Rd is due to be completed in December – I hope they have some enforcement lined up so that people will stop parking in it

Apparently there is new journey planner software being implemented today that will finally allow for multi-modal and multi trip journey planning.

Forward Planner

Something I haven’t really covered in the board paper posts before is the boards forward programme. This highlights the subject of papers going to the upcoming board committees and next full board meeting. Like the closed session there are some very interesting topics. For example

CFC on 3 December – Customer Focus Committee

  • ATAP update
  • Car Sharing Policy Framework*
  • Draft Statement of Intent
  • Berm Planting Policy Update
  • Station Gating*
  • Security & Fare Enforcement*
  • Annual Fare Price Review*

CRC on 3 December – Not sure what this stands for

  • Potential Purewa Station
  • Joint review of AMETI Delivery Strategy – update and key next steps
  • East West*
  • Penlink – Confirmation of Notice of Requirement*
  • LRT Strategic Case*
  • CRL – Albert Street ramps

The items with a * are also due to appear in the next closed session of full board meeting. That also includes a few other papers too such as

  • Northern Busway Station Preferred Option – although it appears this may be moved to next year.
  • PwC – Value for Money Report – As I understand it, this is looking at AT is delivering value for money in how it operates so could be very interesting.
  • NZTTL Briefing Paper – NZTTL is the NZTA organisation which owns and controls the back end systems that HOP uses.
Share this


  1. I’m really peeved at the review of the traffic light system in New Lynn – already it feels like I take my life in my hands when I walk across the road, even with the green man flashing. I assume the argument being made is that drivers are so frustrated by having to stop so often that they’re more likely to race through red lights, and giving them even more free rein might settle them down a bit, but I fail to see how this is a positive move for pedestrians at all.

    1. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Always. Lots of drivers complain to Whau local board who put pressure on AT, so lights get pulled out. If more pedestrians spoke up, then maybe AT would make different decisions.

      1. That is half the problem. The people get what they ask for. No one ever says “Thank-you mr engineer for making it safer to cross the road, please do this more often.” All engineers ever hear is complaints about how they know nothing about moving cars and are doing a crap job and how it took 2hrs to get through one set of signals. So AT does what gets asked for. Why else do you think AT is finally building more cycleways? Because a lot of loud people demanded it.

    2. I’m annoyed too. New Lynn is currently an example of how it should be done in metropolitan centres. It’s currently nice for pedestrians and cyclists between Great North rd and Clark st, and cars are given less priority, which is how it should be to make a place nice to actually live and walk/cycle around in. If they want cars using this area as a thoroughfare, being able to speed through the centre of New Lynn, I don’t understand that, because cars should be led around the area by using either Clark st or Rata st.
      These changes, in my opinion, fly in the face of The Whau Local Board Plan 2014-2017 which has two Local Board Plan outcomes that strongly relate to transport infrastructure provision, and the enhancement of public and private space alongside transport corridors. These outcomes are:
      – In the Whau, its 20 minutes by walking, cycling and public transport, to everything we need.
      – Outstanding development in New Lynn, Avondale and, along our main roads.

      Lastly, I’ve been reading the Whau Local Board meeting minutes for the past half year or so and have not read anything about these proposed changes until now. Thanks to transportblog for highlighting this, but how come I have to find out about it this way? Not cool.

        1. Surely there should be modelling of pedestrian travel times in addition to vehicle travel times when revising the traffic light sequences.

          The pedestrian lights should be phased with the train real-time departure times, so that pedestrians get a green light in time to catch their train. If this isn’t done, pedestrians watching the red man and a near-empty road as their train pulls into the station may make unsafe decisions.

  2. “Apparently there is new journey planner software being implemented today that will finally allow for multi-modal and multi trip journey planning.” Is this a reference to the software that runs the journey planner on the AT website? That software has always done multi-modal journeys.

      1. there’s this thing called “google maps”. I find it works excellently pretty much everywhere :). In fact, GM allows me to navigate my way to switzerland from the netherlands via public transport quite effectively. If I so choose.

        P.s. Cue people saying google maps transit planning function doesn’t work in “city xyz”.
        P.P.s That’s because city XYZ don’t make their feed publicly available in a suitable format..

        1. Hell yes. I never use AT’s thing, google does it all and does it properly (integrated realtime would be nice though). Was weird going to Melbourne and having to install a bunch of dinky little apps to get around.

          1. I was in Auckland the other day, and used it. You’re right – it really is absolute crap. Incredibly badly thought out. Nice of them to make it, but really, when it is that bad, why bother?

    1. Yes they are indeed very relaxed about it, but this endless delay is hitting Devo ferry users hard.

      You would think that AT could at least level out ferry fares as an interim step – to be equitable with the isthmus, our HOP cards should deduct $2.50 per trip, not $4.40. That change would take maybe five minutes to implement?

      1. I suspect programming time is not the obstacle to implementing IF for ferries.

        Including ferry fares in integrated ticketing will cost buttloads. Many millions of dollars. Plus Fullers will probably need more boats to cope with demand. The latter’s not a bad thing, but it takes time to procure million dollar vessels.

        Given funding constraints, and NZTA’s farebox recovery policy I can understand why it’s not a priority for AT. More specifically, they seem to be focusing on getting the rest of the network performing efficiently first, so that they can subsequently afford to extend integrated fares to ferries.

        Thems the breaks.

        1. Crikey Stu, if that’s true then it’s truly appalling from AT! It would mean that the bias against ferry users is by choice rather than by tardiness.

          That choice would be illogical given that removing the fare bias against ferry users would increase public transport take-up, reduce Lake Road traffic, and reduce bridge and CBD car congestion while still comfortably exceeding the 50% target for farebox recovery. I believe that fare equality probably costs less for ferry users than it does for bus and train users, not more.

      2. The lack of subsidies on many ferry routes is the issue – it means Fullers can charge whatever they like and they are also not being forced to make monthly passes available on HOP cards. That is why you need a separate Fullers card for monthly and 10 ride ferry tickets.

        1. Yes I agree, but AT can also charge what they like – a HOP card could easily deduct the right fare like it does on the bus and train, which is $2.50 for a trip of that distance.

          1. Not really. Devonport, Stanley Bay and Waiheke are fully commercial routes which are now protected in legislation (which AT opposed). That means they can’t come in and undercut Fullers with a subsidised service.

            Overall ferries achieve about 80% farebox recovery. If users are paying I’m not sure why any organisation would deliberately reduce that when it’s not likely to lead to a commensurate increase in usage – but will almost certainly lead to a need for more vessels which adds additional opex (ferries aren’t cheap to run). In fact Auckland is quite lucky in some ways as the ferry operators use their vessels off peak/weekends for sightseeing. This allows them to spread their capex and some if their opex costs out. Any new vessels just for PT will see AT bear the full cost which would be considerable

          2. I wonder what is the cost of a boat compared to a train. AT seem to have been ok with train capex.

            I’m not sure what you are saying there Matt, will subsidised fares increase usage or not? They can’t both not increase patronage and require more boats. Are the current boats capacity constrained at the moment?

            Why can’t AT subsidise a service? I’ve never heard of a business turning down a subsidy before.

    1. Yep. I guess it used to be called Selwyn Station when the idea was all those students coming in from across town could get the train. Seems a long time ago.. now Selwyn is so popular locally it has a zone and a waiting list.. so not much demand from them for a station at the bottom of the playing fields.

      So all those Glendowie-ites who never really gave a stuff about the students, but just wanted to drive to a big fat park n ride in the Purewa Valley, have had to change tack.

      It’s hard to believe this is at the AT Board level, it must be 30 years too early. Build it when the third line goes in.. and configure the tracks to exploit the EMUs’ hill climbing to get the station up as close to St Johns Road as possible. A new station would make much more sense as a trenched interchange there than it would 50 m vertically down in the valley and well away from any houses or businesses.

      In any event there would be a monumental backlash against any efforts to put access roads and buildings in the Purewa Valley. With a bit of luck and some more years of hard work, it’s on its way to becoming a Regional Park.

      Meanwhile, Meadowbank Train Station looks like it could get more accessible including from Kohi thanks to the GI-Tamaki Path..

      1. Agreed. Any new station in that location now would have a pretty poor walk-up catchment so not worth the investment at this stage, it would just become another isolated station like Meadowbank. However it is promising to see HNZ intending to intensify some of their properties a stone’s throw away from Meadowbank station.

  3. Parnell must have a safe and direct way to cross at the Station, not only is it an important part of its function to complete the route between the Uni and the strip via the RTN, but it is irresponsible to not provide a solution while stimulating the need for a cross track movement. The station will enhance a natural desire line and therefore very dangerous behaviour that must be avoided.

    1. Yeah I’m surprised about the amount of level crossings there are in order to get to and from Auckland’s suburban stations compared to Wellington where it’s mainly Subways or Bridges.

    2. I’m not sure what you mean by that. There’s an existing tunnel under the track for the path that goes from Parnell to the Domain, right where the station is being built. It’s been there forever.

        1. There is a path off the up platform to that tunnel. And the tunnel and path either side were upgraded during a shutdown earlier this year.

          1. Path from the platform up to the tunnel and back to the other side adds about 400m walk, and it’s all (currently) remote, poorly lit and without shelter.

  4. Ah, the mystery of traffic lights.

    A thing you often observe in Auckland are queues at right turn signals. That queue then gets green light for 3 seconds, followed by a 1.5 minute green phase for traffic going straight. What you see then is a quite liberal interpretation of that ‘green phase’: during those 3 seconds, 1 or 2 cars leave during the green phase. Another 4 cars go during the amber phase, and another 1 or 2 cars go during the red phase. For a total of 7 cars.

    Pretty close to 100% behave like this. No mystery here: if that queue is 20 cars long, and a full cycle takes 3 to 4 minutes, 2 cars every cycle means waiting more than half an hour, and 7 cars every cycle means 10 minutes. Most people will figure this out and apply that more liberal interpretation.

    At least we’re not doing it nearly as poorly as in Belgium.

    A lot of intersections are just simple 2-lane streets, without turning lanes or slip lanes. And the standard way to do traffic lights is just a green phase for one road, followed by a green phase for the other road. Simple enough.

    So how is that going to work out? Imagine you arrive at traffic lights at a side road to the right (I’ll mirror the situation to NZ, where we drive on the left). There is just a single lane for all traffic, and approximately 1/3d of the drivers wants to turn right. What happens then at green light? There is maybe 1 or 2 cars in the front going straight. The next one wants to turn right, but has to give way to opposing traffic (which also has green). So he has to wait until the light turns red, holding up all traffic behind him. After that he, and maybe 1 or 2 cars behind him that also already crossed the stop line can go, and the rest has to wait until the next phase (we don’t apply the liberal interpretation over there. People tend to get fined for racing red lights).

    Result: about 5 cars can pass each cycle, probably less than 200 cars per hour. Even that quite low amount of traffic can result in looong tailbacks.

    1. What you see is the result of putting all eggs into the car basket. If everyone needs a car to get around, everything is clogged up by cars. And then pedestrians get shafted in the name of traffic flow some more, resuting in yet MORE cars. if you think waiting for a 2 minute cycle (no traffic lights in Auckland use 3-4 minutes) is long, think about what it means for pedestrians, for which 2-3 traffic lights can easily make up 50% or more of the time of what should have been a short trip across to the next street over.

    2. Time yourself next time. Cycle times are usually between 60-120 seconds. Nowhere would use 3-4 minutes. Also, a green phase only 3 seconds long is similarly almost unheard of.

      1. I have timed that a couple of times. Most cycles are around 2 minutes. Shorter cycles are pretty rare, except on Hobson and Nelson Street where the cycles are more simple due to those streets being one-way. A few of the cycles on Wairau Road in Glenfield on the other hand are definitely over 3 minutes long.

        I didn’t time right arrow signals. Maybe it’s 6 seconds. Most of them are very short, only enough to let a few cars at a time drive through. Some of them vary depending on the time of the day. Sometimes one of them is set to ‘ultra short’ mode at the wrong time of the day. When you arrive in Birkenhead coming from Glenfield and traffic is backed up until Pupuke Road, then you know it’s that traffic light again.

        And after living in Auckland for a while, you learn what areas have those little “unwritten laws”. On the North Shore the aforementioned “liberal interpretation” is one. You’ll surprise a lot of people if you actually stop for an amber signal. Similarly, down in Penrose, it’s ignoring red left-turn arrows. You will get some quite angry drivers around you if you don’t.

        And for pedestrians, yes I know. I pretty much don’t register the red man anymore. I used to ride my bicycle to work, and I quickly learned which signals I can safely ignore. Walking in the western half of the CBD is incredibly cumbersome if you’re too timid to jaywalk.

        Both issues could do with some thinking.

    3. You are correct. The green light for right turning cars, followed by the green light for cars going straight ahead, is the most efficient in my opinion.

      Go to the intersection of Gillies Ave and Owens Rd; it is an absolute nightmare whenever someone wants to turn right, but there are on coming cars, so they hold up a line of traffic behind them. Hardly efficient at all.

      1. Where this creates a problem eliminate the right turn that will encourage drivers to either go through the intersection and make three left turns or they will find an alternative route. That is the philosophy of the Copenhagen experience that will reduce congestion.

    4. “AT say they’re consulting with schools who have school bus routes that duplicate existing rail or bus routes. The intention is to remove the school bus routes with children obviously catching a normal bus or train instead.”

      When I started high school (many years ago) the then Auckland Transport, or whatever it was, informed us that there would be a new route, as well as a new school bus route. The school bus route was 90% the same as the normal, new bus route.

      The school bus was, unsurprisingly, unreliable (no timetable, rock up to your stop as early as you can and hope your bus hasn’t gone) and crowded and noisy.

      So what did kids do? Many took the normal bus route. The result? School buses at capacity, and increased use of ‘public’ bus routes by school students meant that a lot of the general public couldn’t actually get on the bus, because it was so full.

    5. Whilst attempting to leave Princess Wharf last week only one car could go forward on the green light. This was because it was ‘rush hour’ and the tail from Lower Hobson Street ran all the way back to Quay Street. And the drivers on Quay Street would ignore the lights and just drive forward onto the ramps, meaning those of us leaving PrincessWharf had nowhere to go.
      Auckland has (IMO) an acute problem with drivers proceeding into an intersection when the way is not clear. This is illegal (as it it invariably results in cars queuing across intersections, and drivers sheepishly trying to pretend they had no idea the light would turn amber/red before they crawled through) and could be cured by some dedicated ticketing by enforcement officers.

      1. Sometimes when turning right, it’s hard to see whether there is any space on the road until you enter the intersection.

        Sometimes, when you stop at a green light because there is no space on the other side, you get a hostile honk from the gentleman behind you. Sometimes there is a tailgater behind you and don’t want to risk being rear-ended, so you allow your car a greater stopping distance, thus entering the intersection.

        This contributes to a culture of ‘i’m scared of the driver behind me so I’ll block up the intersection’.

        Why not ticket the honkers and the tailgaters?

          1. That would be under failing to give way to a pedestrian – 35 demerit points.

            However, as probably noted on this blog, police are more interested in the people who enter an intersection when the amber light is closer to red rather than green, as well as those people doing 61km/h on Great South Road.

            Would love to do an OIA for how many tickets were issued for tailgating and anti-social road behaviour.

  5. “Integrated Fares are now not due till July 2016” – by ‘due’ they mean by July 2016 they will have come up with another excuse to delay it.
    Does anyone know what the holdup is? You can’t tell me its technical; I could have written the software from scratch by now on my own, and didn’t they buy an existing product from Thales that should already be able to do this?

    1. For the Hibiscus Coast they already have the new network in place (which should be good except there isn’t integrated fares. This means that people are paying a lot more than they should and certainly a lot more than they were with the old network. As an interim measure AT really should be reducing the price of non-NEX fares by 25% until integrated fares come in).

  6. Let’s hope they go with the roundabout for the Tamaki project. So much artificial congestion created in this city due to excessive use of traffic lights.

    Also glad to see New Lynn on the table. It’s a disaster. Though I have little hope of the problems being fixed

    1. Let’s hope they go with traffic lights for the Tamaki project. AT say that it will cause less congestion (“artificial” or not), and be much, much better for people just trying to cross the road.

    2. What’s the disaster at New Lynn? I’m not that familiar with the area, so trying to get my head around what the current problem is.

      1. Still trying to be a multi-lane corridor in the middle of a town centre.

        I’ve done my bit for congestion, it’s such a mess that I won’t be going back 🙂

  7. New Lynn is already incredibly pedestrian unfriendly – try walking to New Lynn New World from Tiverton/Wolverton. You’ll be waiting 3+ minutes to cross at every light, and there are multiple intersections. Seems weird that laziness (i.e. using a motor vehicle) is prioritised over active exercise. Odd incentive, really.

    And re: the unwritten laws above: if nobody “bent the rules”, we’d actually have better flow. People would go IMMEDIATELY on a green not 3 seconds later because they would know there are no people running the amber/red.

    If someone gets angry at you for obeying the law, either call the cops or take to them with a baseball bat. I recommend the former, but some people prefer the latter. Never be ashamed of doing the legal thing.

  8. Can’t they just get a platform open at Parnell? We don’t need to put an historic building on it first. Nice to see the oldies at the new retirement village benefitting from PT (take note St Heliers) but please let’s open the platform!

    1. You want it open with no pedestrian amenity (eg shelters) and without timetable improvements that will make journeys longer fit existing users? Needs to be coordinated with those things first.

        1. And then close the station while the permanent facilities are built, then reopen it, all the while making sure that passengers (and staff) are aware whether it’s open or closed or open again…

          Sounds like fun!

  9. Sorry that I’m a bit out of the loop but I’m sure someone here will have answers.

    1. What is the expected catchment for Parnell station compared to other stations and what will be the effect on trip times? Is Parnell station a “good” thing?

    2. What’s the deal with train doors taking years to open after the train has come to a stop? On the Munich U-Bahn, for one, if you hold the button as the train is coming to a stop the door will open a split-second before it actually stops and I’m pretty sure that’s never harmed anyone.

    3. Are all buses going to be eventually rebranded as AT Metro? E.g. Ritchies, H&E, Waka Pacific, Go West etc.


  10. Regarding dwell times: I was riding the Paris Metro this weekend and on various lines you can open the doors before the train even comes to a complete stop, should you wish. No
    unnecessary waiting!

Leave a Reply