Happy New Year and welcome to 2016 – a year in which I think we will continue to see Auckland transform towards a better city. While not an exhaustive list, here are some of the things I think will be big discussion points during year.

ATAP

The alignment project between the council and government is likely to be a massive story of the year as it will effectively set the transport agenda for at least a decade. There are a couple of milestones throughout the year where information will be released publicly on progress and the final outcome will be known around August – just in the lead up to the local body elections.

Local Body Elections

Discussion in the middle of the year is likely to be dominated by the local body elections taking place – voting closes 8 October. We already know that current Mayor Len Brown isn’t standing and so far the main candidates that are Mark Thomas, Phil Goff and Victoria Crone. Todd Niall from Radio NZ has recently conducted some good interviews with each of them. Along with the mayoral race it will also be interesting to see what happens at the councillor level as when it comes to council decisions the mayor is only one vote. Having a council that is actively supportive towards better urban policies will be crucial if Auckland is to continue to improve.

Public Transport

It’s going to be another busy year with public transport.

New Network – In October the new network in South Auckland will be implemented (barring any further delays) and along with the upgraded Otahuhu Train station and associated bus interchange. AT will confirm the new routes for the North Shore, Central Auckland and East Auckland and tendering on those plus West Auckland will likely start in 2016 – although not implemented till 2017 or later.

Otahuhu Interchange aerial overview

Integrated Fares – In the middle of the year we should see integrated fares finally roll out making it much easier and for most cheaper to use PT in Auckland.

RPTP Integrated Fares Zones Map

Rail Service improvements – I expect we’ll see a number of rail service improvements throughout the year. This should finally mean 10 minute frequencies on the western line, something that was originally promised to occur in 2010 when double tracking was finished. In the south we should see off peak frequencies improve in line with the New Network.

Parnell Station – If all goes to plan we should also see the Parnell Station open later in the year.

Parnell pic June15

City Rail Link – It’s going to be a busy year for the CRL. Works on shifting services are already under way and during the year we’ll see the tunnel itself be started – likely around May. The rumour is that later this month the government will give their blessing for the project to start sooner than the 2020 date they originally indicated although I believe it’s likely they will only provide their share of the funding from 2020 onwards. The rumour ties in with what we’ve been hearing for months that an announcement was close and effectively down to finding the most politically convenient time to announce. I think they may tie in some other infrastructure announcements, acting on the calls by the RBNZ for the government to spend more on infrastructure in Auckland.

3D view of temporary Briotmart station CRL2
The temporary entrance to Britomart that will be built while the tunnels are dug.

AMETI Busway – AT should lodge consent to build the section of busway from Panmure to Pakuranga this year and we’ll undoubtedly hear more around the issue of Reeves Rd Flyover which AT seem to be back to saying is needed before the busway from Pakuranga on to Botany is built.

AMETI Buslane - Pakuranga Rd

Light Rail – We will undoubtedly hear more about light rail this year and given the pace at which AT seem to be moving on it, it wouldn’t surprise me if we got a decision on it later in the year – probably after ATAP. One of the advantages the project has over many others is that it should need very little in the way of consenting as it mostly uses the existing road corridor.

Queen St LRT_800

Rail to the Airport – Rail to the airport will likely be a bit talking point over the next few months as the airport say they need a decision on what the connection will be so they can finalise their future plans. If you’ve been reading the Herald over the last few days, you will have seen discussion of light rail the airport – something we covered back in August. I’ll have more on this next week including some details not previously seen.

Rail to Airport - July 15 - LRT vs HRT routes

Walking and Cycling

The government’s $100 million Urban Cycleway Fund is a use it or lose it deal so if AT/NZTA want to spend all of it that has been allocated to Auckland they’ll really need to get those pedals turning and get stuff done. I suspect this will mean a focus on getting the consultations for projects out of the way early on so the rest of the year and next year can be focused on getting stuff built.

Auckland urbancycleways map 2015-18

Skypath – We’ll get the outcome of the environment court appeal to Skypath this year. I’d be very surprised to see them overturn the decision. Similarly, I suspect we’ll hear more from the NZTA about Seapath which is connection alongside the motorway from the bridge to Takapuna.

Skypath Consent - From Westhaven

Roads

Waterview/WRR – In March we’ll see the Te Atatu Interchange works completed. That will also include an extension of the NW Cycleway from Te Atatu to Henderson Creek to link in with the existing section there. I also think the NZTA and their contractors will try to get the Waterview tunnels open this year. Construction will start on the section between Lincoln Rd and Westgate.

Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing (AWHC) – I think we’ll hear a lot more about AWHC this year. The NZTA say they are working to protect the route – although from what we hear they only plan on building a road crossing. Late in the year AT said they had started a piece of work looking at the future of rapid transit on the North Shore which will tie in with the AWHC route protection. We believe that the focus of the entire project should shift and a PT only crossing be built first before re-assessing whether another road crossing is needed.

AWHC - Indstry Briefing

East West Link – The NZTA and AT have already said they’ll be looking to applying for consent for the project this year.

East-West Preferred Option

Reeves Rd Flyover – As mentioned earlier I think we’ll hear more about the Reeves Rd flyover this year – something the local councillors and MPs have been lobbying furiously to be prioritised, including trying to have the road declared a state highway. One of the main issues with the project is that the flyover itself doesn’t achieve much and AT have said it would just stuff up Carbine Rd and Waipuna Rd intersections unless they were also grade separated at considerable cost

reeves-rd-flyover

Development

The building boom that we’ve been starting to see in Auckland will continue strongly in 2017. One of the hot spots for this will be Albert St where we could potentially see 5 separate towers being built, many of the current buildings being renovated and of course the CRL tunnels being built.

CRL Growth Corridor

Housing will remain a big discussion point as will the Unitary Plan which the independent panel will provide their recommendations on. Both of these topics will likely become key hot topics in the local body elections, spurred on by the herald who recently declared two storey town houses “high-rise”.

All up 2016 is going to be a busy year.

Lastly, if you’re looking for a new years resolution, why not make it one to help support us by joining Greater Auckland.

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79 comments

      1. I think rail to the airport would have to be one of ATs lowest priorities, so I can see why they are looking at the light rail option due to the significantly lower price tag. I don’t think it’s light rail vs heavy rail, it’s light rail vs do nothing (unless the government pays for it which is unlikely at least in the short term)

        1. I’d see it as Heavy Rail or might as well do nothing because the other option (light rail) would make things a hell of a lot worse than painting 24/7 bus lanes down the Sky Bus route.

          Heavy rail from Otahuhu to the Airport is the most logical, efficient, fastest and best connectivity route there is.

          1. The only real difference between heavy rail and light rail is a 6 minute journey time difference (although light rail will most likely have higher frequency so for turn up and go passengers it might take the same amount of time). Is that really worth 1billion when there are so many other PT projects needing that money?
            I’ve been to a few airports in my time and any kind of rail is great, in fact I think I would prefer a light rail or metro line with high frequencies over a heavy rail lower frequency service. Buses are never even close to rail in almost any way, without rail I’d probably just take a cab.

          2. The six minute is deliberatlely cooked and both would have to operate 8tph. Heavy is going to be significantly faster.

          3. Concur

            The 6 minute figure (like the rest of the LRT case to the airport) is cooked to suit a certain bent by the brains trust in AT (the same brains trust bring using the Manukau Interchange that the community doesnt want as a Sawtooth design).

            Heavy Rail from Otahuhu to the Airport would take around 39 minutes or even less if you went:
            Airport
            Airport Industrial Park
            Mangere
            Mangere East
            Otahuhu
            Newmarket
            Britomart or

            Middlemore
            Manukau/Papakura
            http://voakl.net/2015/12/30/to-auckland-transport-here-is-your-heavy-rail-to-the-airport-route/

            Remember Airport to Britomart or Manukau is designed for rapid efficient connection between the two points. Not stopping everywhere else along the way like LRT would.

          4. Yes, the others are right JimboJones. The numbers have been cooked to make LR look better. Also for everyone outside of central Auckland LR will be a lot slower than the HR option (particularly those to the South).

          5. Currently a bus from Denbigh ave to Civic Centre takes 31 minutes at 8am. I don’t think its that unreasonable to assume that light rail will be a bit quicker than the bus (less stops, more priority), so lets say 29 minutes to Aotea
            A train from Onehunga to Britomart at the same time takes 27 minutes, so lets say its also 29 minutes to Aotea.

            So the only real difference between light rail and heavy rail for those travelling to Aotea would be the time it takes to get from the airport to either Denbigh ave (light rail) or Onehunga (heavy rail). I think 6 minutes difference is probably fair, maybe even a bit high.

            So I don’t see why you think they are cooking the time difference? Is it just an assumption, or do you have some evidence?

          6. We can go around on this one as much as we like
            And no there is no assumption at all either. I have LGOIMA’ed Auckland Transport on the full methodology of the LRT vs HR to the Airport comparisons.

            It will be back next month.

          7. Remember Jimbo that congestion will be getting worse along central corridors (even with priority and LR is unlikely to go faster than 50km/h along its shared part of route anyway), HR to Onehunga will however be faster once they sort out the issues with the EMUs and double track the line and less congestion into Britomart with it being a through station.

          8. AT have cooked the books

            If you look at the new Herald Article AT claim LRT down Dominion Rd to the Airport would take 44mins and Heavy Rail would take 39 mins only a 5 mins difference. http://m.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1

            Yet here are the figures they presented to CBT

            They estimated Heavy Rail between 35-38 & Light Rail 46-49 so since they presented that to CBT Light Rail now travels faster than their fastest estimate and rail travels slower than its slower estimate interesting huh
            So the real difference could be up to 14 minutes travel time not 5 minutes.

            I have posted the slide they gave to CBT on Transportblogs facebook page.

          9. Except that it does. Dominion Road isnt going to be suited to express running or even long distance running for LRT to the Airport.

            We are looking at two different systems achieving two very different things.

            Heavy Rail is already present and extending it (via Otahuhu) allows limited stop services for airport running.

            LRT via Dominion Road would be serving commuters and tourists on intra isthmus running.

      2. I was primarily thinking about their enthusiastic support for the East West Link motorway, AWHC, and Penlink, and their delay of AMETI and refusal to build the Western Busway. Weird priorities at Auckland Transport.

        1. Bit harsh on AT there: The NW Busway is NZTA’s call, it’s on their RoW, they built the Northern [with stations funded locally]. There was, of course, a different government then, and NZTA is a government creature. It is good however that NZTA have pushed for inclusion of extension of the Northern Busway with all the road widening there, after Brownlee cut it from the programme.

          What is so frustrating about the NW however is that they have all the data of the Northern; the fact that it is its work that keeps the bridge and the motorway flowing at all.

  1. Quite apart from all the other reasons that these are bad projects, our government committing the nation to rapid and profound de-carbonisation in Paris last year means that neither the Reeves Rd flyover nor the road harbour crossing can possibly go ahead. As both will induce more vehicle journeys and therefore carbon emissions they are simply impossible. Especially as both can be replaced immediately by Rapid Transit systems on adjacent routes. The first step to reducing emissions is to stop investing in structures and systems that committ us to private vehicle mobility and dispersed urban form.

    1. ” As both will induce more vehicle journeys and therefore carbon emissions” I’m not sure about that correlation – by the time a second harbour crossing is built I wouldn’t be surprised if the average car runs off the same clean green electricity supply that public transport will.

      1. That, of course, summarises the government position: delay and hope. A position that would be more convincing if they were aggressively encouraging the uptake of EVs. But also, as a necessary parallel, actively replacing the remaining FF electricity generation, as there simply isn’t time to wait for the possible replacement of the whole fleet with EVs at our current rate: ‘In fact, pace is now the key word for climate. Not where we’re going, but how fast we’re going there. Pace – velocity, speed, rate, momentum, tempo. That’s what matters from here on in.’ http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/13/paris-climate-talks-15c-marathon-negotiating-physics

        Even with some EVs, or even 50% EVs using finite capital to build more driving amenity will be to continue towards a climate disaster. Urban mobility is one of the few areas [along with electricity generation] that is immediately available to the nation to change our ways. Funds must be used for the AMETI Busway not the [largely pointless] flyover and electric rail Rapid Transit Harbour Crossing before any more road lanes are added.

        We need to have that 100% EV fleet before encouraging more driving.

        1. But there is also the problem that electric cars produce a hell of a lot of pollution when built (as does any car) and includes many parts (such as tyres) that still use a lot of fossil fuels. If we were subsidising conversions from FF to electric, that would be a lot more environmentally friendly and it is not that hard.

          Then of course, you have the space problem. Everyone will still want large cars and models like the new Mistubushi PHEV SUV show that the market will supply that. So even if we were able to replace the current fleet with EVs (which we can’t), the roads would then just be clogged with EVs instead of ICE vehicles.

          The answer as always is less people in cars and more people on trains/trams/buses/motorcycles/scooters/bicycles.

          We have to admit (along with almost all the rest of the English speaking world) that we bet on cars to be the transport future and we lost. Europe (especially Northern Europe) bet largely on public transport/cycling and they won the bet.

          Cars will always be a part of the transport picture, as they are in Europe, but a much smaller part. I also think shared cars will rapidly come to replace the current ownership model. Young people in particular seem to have much less of a need to own stuff. They just want to be able to use it when they need to.

      2. I think I’ve read somewhere that the government wants AWHC built by 2030. That’s 15 years away. The average age of vehicles in the NZ fleet is around 12 years, meaning that it takes around 12 years to turn over 50% of the fleet.

        So in order for the “average” car in 2030 to be electric, the overwhelming majority of the new (or imported used) cars purchased in NZ over the next 15 years will be electric vehicles.

        Why do you think that is a plausible outcome given previous market trends?

        1. I don’t think it will be long before new electric cars will be price competitive with petrol, and in that case who would buy a petrol car considering the much higher running costs and maintenance costs? Hybrids that use electric for short trips and petrol for longer ones will probably be the immediate future, full electric might be a battery technology away.
          Who would have predicted the massive take off of smart phones 6 years ago?
          But I agree with Patrick that the government would be silly to bank on electric cars to meet their climate commitments.

        2. And I also think by 2030, driving a petrol car will be looked down on as much as smoking is now. Once we get anywhere near 50% electric, attitudes could change very quickly. Of course a lot of people might not be able to afford to convert, but if it was standing in the way of the government meeting its environment targets we could see some big subsidies.

          1. I hope you’re right about the pace of transition!

            But I guess I’ve got a more pessimistic view for several reasons:
            1. Car manufacturers have invested a lot of money in manufacturing capacity for petrol cars. While some plants will be retooled for EVs, others won’t. And the ones that don’t retool won’t give up market share without a fight. If EVs start gobbling up the market, petrol car manufacturers are likely to discount to remain competitive.

            2. There still seem to be some technical, infrastructural and perceptual issues to be resolved with batteries. There is still a significant trade-off between weight and cost, for example. And rolling out charging/battery distribution infrastructure isn’t as straightforward as it seems – ideas like battery swap stations have failed commercially in the recent past.

            3. Analogies to smartphones are somewhat instructive but also (I would argue) misleading with regards to timeframes. A new smartphone costs $100-$1000 and lasts a year or three. A new car costs $10-100,000 and will last for 20 years. I’d expect people to be a bit more conservative on larger, more durable purchases.

            Again, I hope I’m wrong!

  2. Hopefully the new Harbour Crossing will be both Rail and Road, or Busway and Road. The road could be for cars only. Larger vehicles and Trucks could use the Harbour Bridge, while people commuting on cars and PT could use the new crossing.

    1. Well Dillon we have 13 general traffic lanes across two bridges over the Waitemata. More traffic lanes will just mean more driving (what is fed, grows). What we do not have is a Rapid Transit route across the harbour. We failed, unlike Sydney, to include one with first crossing, nor its expansion, nor the second crossing. The time is over due to add this missing mode across this route. And to do so directly, not build 6 new traffic lanes, so we can dedicate a couple on the existing crossing to buses. Just build the cheaper transit tunnels directly, leave the bridge to do the job it was designed for; vehicles. Direct electric rail tunnels, feeding to tracks on the converted busway, with a spur to Takapuna. Profoundly reduce the number of buses on the bridge and in the city, link the Shore Transit services through Wynyard and the rest of the city, super direct and fast. This is the best way to fight both congestion and emissions city wide, and improve urban form in the city and on the Shore.

  3. This all reads very like back to the future. This is all like the predictions for 2014 not 2016 to me.
    Seemingly from this list of whats coming this year, its obvious that so much delay to so many projects has occurred.

    And themes we were sure were buried in the past have come back with a vengeance (East/West motorway, AWHC, Millwater, Penlink, cheap petrol).

    Government and Auckland being at sixes and sevens transport and just about everything else-wise, ongoing talk of an “accord” – maybe its little more than détente. All in the lead up to the elections due on October.
    Even then you half expect the cold war will begin again in earnest unless the Right wins the mayoralty.

    Really seems like we have collectively frittered away the last couple of years – with little progress to show yet.
    Yes we have some, cycleways are beginning to show, and the EMUs are finally doing the job they should have been doing years earlier – if the government hadn’t delayed it.

    But the current plans all seem like a hasty rear guard action is being fought, especially around the PT front, the threat of the whole transport syste being overwhelmed any moment is palpable.
    Each March brings a new ever increasing tide of patronage and traffic congestion, which we only just manage to cope with and hope next year is no worse. Yet we never learn or provide alternatives, shrug our shoulders and say “its March Madness”, like its ordained from the heavens.

    Kiwirail is still fighting for its life, but now with half serious proposals to close it down for good for re-use by trucks coming out of treasury.
    Along with serious suggestions of “NZ should build infrastructure to help prop up the [tanking] economy”, all sounds like depression-era make work schemes. Without the “public good” element being properly evaluated or even included in some cases.

    Meanwhile the rest of the world, has signed up for seriously de-carbonising the world post 2020.
    While here the long predicted downsides of so many of the past choices we have made (and not made) are now beginning to become more difficult to avoid or mitigate, Especially if we continue to think and act in the same way we have as if thats “the only alternative”.
    so it seem, we act like NZ is back as it was in 1956 not 2016 when it comes to transport and urban development/planning policies.

    The only difference I can see from start of 2014 is that the, then futuristic, predictions of driverless cars has gone from “still likely decades away” to “they’re arriving next week” – at least in some of the more weak minded peoples minds.
    MoT officials being one obvious example, but they’re not alone.

    All without any serious consideration being paid to whether its ever going to be a reality or not, or how it will play out in a NZ specific context.
    Those who should know better swallow whole the BS from overseas proclaiming a bright future with driverless cars that are so cheap to use so who would ever own your own one?
    And so therefore all congestion will be solved instantly without need for proper Public Transport – instead we’ll have Public-Private Transport (PPT) giving the best of both.

    MoT says without any blushing tat we’ll have platooning trucks using the railway corridor to do all the freight haulage in NZ. Everyone will Uber everywhere in cities, when they’re not all working from home that is.
    So no one will ever use buses, they’re still “loser cruisers”. Ports will compete for business with each other in a ever virtuous circle of prosperity for all. And roads will magically decongest as a result.

    So any investments we make now or in the lead up to this wondrous new future that doesn’t aid them to deliver this outcome are ipso facto bad for NZ.

    Welcome to 2016, Auckland[ers]. It will be, without a doubt, one of the most productive years for transport this decade.

    1. EMUs are finally doing the job they should have been doing years earlier – if the government hadn’t delayed it.

      My understanding was that the original intention was to have electric locomotives used with the existing carriages on the Southern line. My question to you, are we better off under the current all EMU rather than the original proposal ? ie under National we have a better outcome ?

      1. Yes roll out was effectively delayed by a year or two but I do think we have a better solution now with an all EMU fleet. Much better from an operational perspective and remember the EMU order was upped from 38 to 57 to compensate for not getting electric loco’s which wouldn’t be used after CRL is built as those old carriages don’t have a good enough fire rating.

      2. I agree the delay of the EMU purchase will eventually produce a better outcome, but it’s only because AT then went and purchased 57 3 car sets in one lot, from the same supplier, with 10 years of maintenance included. Rather than the proposed mix of locos and EMUs.

        But as I recall that upping of the quantity to 57 meant AT had to buy the trains fully instead [via a 10 year? interest bearing loan from the Government] of being gifted them “outright” as Wellington was.

        However that delay meant Kiwirail could and did drag its heels on the electrification – supposedly that was originally planned for completion well before the end of 2013. And they signed a 3 year deal in 2011. And completed it years later than planned.
        So even though the first EMUs arrived in service in May 2014, it took quite some time before they became fully operational. It was sheer luck the CAF found its order book half empty so could devote more production lines to building the EMUs, else we’d still be awaiting the last of the EMUs in 2016, instead of getting them quite ahead of time.And would be faced with the mixed running situation we’ve had to suffer through for the last 2 years.

        This time last year however KiwiRail was just finishing up the overheads on the Western line if I remember correctly, before that finished you couldn’t run EMUs out west.

        But now we have equivocation on when/if we’ll be buying more EMUs top deliver the level of service thats becoming very apparent thats actually needed, for both pre and post CRL running patterns

        However, while the EMUs are undoubtedly superior, the operation of them by Kiwirail, Transdev and of course AT leaves much to be desired. Some of this is perhaps around legacy issues like Transdev and KR being involved in the electric trains in the first place.
        But no matter who wins the tender to operate the trains – you get the feeling that with AT running [scared of] PT like they do, that it will simply be “same shit, different operators” for both bus and trains for years to come.

        And this is at the very time we are digging the crap out of the city for CRL and other construction works. When we really need the EMUs to be able to carry those hoardes into and through the CBD as the buses get overloaded – we find they’re already struggling with the needed frequency, all thanks to seemingly intractable train operator management issues, long dwell times, bad ETCS implementation, and the Britomart tunnel bottleneck.

        1. Greg the increased cost of the extra EMUs was about $140m of which the government paid $90m outright and the council had to take out a loan for the rest. They left the existing loans as they were which was a $100m interest only loan for 50 years for the Depot and a $400m interest only loan on a 35 year term for the trains. The government agreed to the extra purchase and funded it as AT were able to prove it would be a better option long term from reduced maintenance costs, operational costs etc. plus of course electric loco’s could only be used till CRL so would have only had a short life.

          And yes we benefited from CAF being able to open a second production line to get them here sooner. The cost to AT for opening that line meant they could get them all implemented sooner.

          http://greaterakl.wpengine.com/2012/05/22/financing-the-emus-is-the-government-clipping-the-ticket/

  4. Thanks Matt for the Mayoral candidate videos. I think Phil Goff had a more informative interview over at Interest.co.nz
    http://www.interest.co.nz/news/79111/phil-goff-addressing-aucklands-housing-shortage-without-upsetting-nimbys-getting-cosy

    Would Transportblog be able to do video interviews of the candidates too?

    The candidates all seem to be highlighting that transport and affordable housing as key issues so it would seem appropriate for this website to be part of that conversation.

  5. Matt fantastic work again last year [2015]. I couldn’t resist looking back to your previous forecast http://greaterakl.wpengine.com/2015/01/01/2015-the-year-ahead/ and noticing that you were little braver then, actually predicting pax figures for the rail network: 14-14-5 mil. Not doubt you are as delighted as everyone to have been a little wrong on the low side, actual: 15.1 mil end Nov 2015. It might be fun to have a go at that number for the year ahead too. Last year Nov to Nov saw growth at 22.6% and 2.78m new trips [cf year to Nov 2014 17.5% 1.8m]. Stunning result.

    So last year 1m new trips were added every 4 months, if that continues this year, 18m ought to be cleared before the years end, ~3m new trips at just under 20% growth rate. Is it reasonable to expect this? A slightly slower rate but a higher number. Last year saw the completion of the New Train roll out, what have we got this year? The Western Line finally going to Rapid Transit frequencies, and hopefully off peak frequencies going to at leat every 15min on the 3 main lines. With those service improvements, integrated fares, new Interchange Stations and ideally later services in the evenings and fixed dwell times, this number could be on the low side too…? Note that the stunner last year was the Eastern Line at 40%, the first one to get the new trains and higher frequencies, which suggests that the pax improvement from this upgrade is a multi year phenomenon [Eastern Line New Trains 10mins at peak in Dec 14; still 20mins off peak though]. The Western Line could be big in 2016, depending on when AT finally deliver those overdue 10 min frequencies. [note 22.6% on 15.1m is 3.4m = 18.5m]

    What do you all think? Any optimists prepared to call 19m?, or any who agree with the MoT that the recent growth from the new trains is due to stop any minute? After all extremely cheap petrol and easy finance on new cars right now…

    1. Yes I did think of adding it in but just had so much other stuff to cover. And yes I was looking back at those predictions too and was very happy to have been wrong (in a good way).

      I do think growth will slow a little, sustained 20%+ growth over 2 -3 years is a difficult thing to do. The biggest reason for this is simply capacity constraints at peaks which aren’t going to disappear any time soon. I think we’ll perhaps settle down a bit to a ~15% increase – so perhaps up to about 17-17.5m. Interestingly AT’s SOI target for the year to end of June is 16m and we seem to be on track for about that (15.1m with 7 months to go) and their target for year to June 2017 is 17.8m.

      I’m also not convinced the team at AT who run rail operations necessarily grasp the importance of frequency which makes me nervous to even predict they’ll do anything about the southern/eastern line off peak.

      1. I’ll add that I think bus patronage growth will slow down a little too till we roll out the South Auckland new network later this year. When that happens it might even drop for a while before rebounding and growing stronger in 2017

        1. Yes Dec and Jan will be up due to reduced shutdown, Feb will also be up due to the extra day (leap year) – although interestingly there are only the same number of working days as last year. Easter is in March this year not April and that will have an impact on the numbers – only one less business day due to way weekends fall though. I think 16m is more likely to be around April.

          1. Rail at 20m in March 2017:
            – March Madness
            – Dwell time resolved
            – 10 minute frequency on Western Line
            – Increased off peak frequency
            – Short xmas shut down for Dec 16/Jan 17

            My concern is the structural limits surrounding supplying enough seats and coping with the infrastructure build disruption.

          2. Off peak frequency and span [hours of service] need fixing along with dwell times. There is a lot of opportunity to grow pax off peak. The New Network and fare integration will surely build use too. Yes the disruption at Britomart will be a problem right up to CRL completion. Upon opening the CRL pax will explode, an interesting question is what is the likely upper limit before then? Assuming more trains before the CRL can our little system cope with 30 million trips per annum? It would need to develop a less Britomart focussed pattern to achieve that, this I think is likely.

            Why am I so interested in this? In the changing AKL, Rail and Busway pax are a good proxy for urban vibrancy and economic strength, or at least as good as some others, like density growth, City Centre residents, and building consents.

          3. @Patrick, I think the harder question is what the next rail/transit project will be after the CRL.

            LRT for the Isthmus will probably be under way by then, so will it be the Shore, will it be the airport or will it be both? and will it be Heavy Rail, Light Rail or something more like Sky train (Vancouver)?

            If you were going to be visionary in getting Auckland moving, what would you be doing?

          4. Nik, good question, but I prefer to think in terms of the RTN than in just rail mode, and in those terms the NW Busway, extending the Northern, and AMETI, should be/are happening contiguously with CRL. After that I do agree with AT that LRT I [Queen/Dom] is a priority, and should be underway and running before the CRL is finished. Then the Mangere/Airport or Shore issue is complicated. On the one hand the Shore already has a functioning RTN [except over the harbour] with capacity, although not without issues at the city end. So that would suggest that the public are right to want Airport rail next [as they consistently say in surveys]. However, the push for yet another road crossing of the harbour, especially from the political establishment, means that money may be available for that route earlier than any other [regardless of need], and converting what is currently a vastly expensive and destructive road project into a new rail one is likely to more feasible than finding funding for either rail mode through Mangere.

            Additionally, I predict that if LRT I is able to be launched soon [and if a PPP and considered necessary as a workaround for the disruption to the western line of CRL works, that is likely] then to have a wildly popular [which it will be] new system terminating downtown the logic of flipping it across the harbour next will be compelling [similar logic against city terminating networks that makes the CRL so logical]. Furthermore the Mangere/Airport situation is messier: I don’t find LTR to the airport convincing, but they have so messed up the rail RoW, yet the growth of airport really is getting to the point that an RTN connection is urgent….

            In short the political power of the Shore is likely to win that contest with Mangere and an ambivalent Airport Company [even if it is true that they are beginging to realise the need in ways they never did before].

            The contest over the Harbour Crossing is the major issue facing Auckland over the next few years in transport; AKL has not been properly engaged with on the options at all, and it is time for that to happen with major projects in the city. NZTA should not just be sailing on with its own programme here, pouring huge resources into one extreme answer to this question and creating momentum.

      2. I wonder if growth will actually increase as word of mouth keeps spreading and as using the train becomes more ‘normal’ for Aucklanders. I’m predicting a 30% increase this year…

  6. Can anybody explain why it will take 8 years to build a busway to Pakuranga, I mean it took them less than a year to build the new Suez Canal but we can’t build a short busway until 2024 is that a joke are we really that bad builders and planners.

    I

    1. Funding is spent elsewhere, massive roading projects hoover it all up. $1.5b to seal of the rest of the Onehunga foreshore has to come from somewhere. There are opportunity costs to the on going massive roading binge. PT capital works have no secure funding source, so they are forever delayed as the roading projects they would prevent the need for are built first. It is an irrational and backwards policy that is unfortunately deeply embedded into the current system. A big hangover from last century that desperately needs reviewing. We now need a PT first policy in Auckland; 1. because our PT systems are so incomplete after a 60 year road binge, 2. because it is proven that there is huge latent demand, ie it works 3. because this is our best hope to keep our widespread and vital road networks functioning, and 4. because this is also the best way to fix our poor started urban form to improve productivity and connectivity, to build a 21stC shaped city.

      1. Sometimes I think the best solution is to secede from the rest of NZ and become Hong Aucklandpore, the rest of NZ just doesn’t understand our needs and always criticise/blame us for everything 🙁

        1. Harriet, I know what you mean but in many ways that isn’t the issue here; both on the Shore and in SE Auckland, the dominant political figures at central and local gov levels are aggressively pushing for these backwards projects. They truly believe this is the answer and get reelected repeating it. These are mostly such auto-dependant places that the already failed idea that connectivity and place issues can be fixed with ever more roading and parking is still dominate. Through the windscreen of your car stuck in traffic it seems self evident that just more lanes and another parking building will ‘solve’ all your problems. After 60 years of selling this idea and building whole institutions to sell and deliver it this supply-side only model is largely an unchallenged orthodoxy. It is great that AT and NZTA contain people that understand that the alternative systems are desperately need, particularly to help the existing road systems, but at the political level these are thwarted, or at best made dependent on duplicate poor value and usually place destructive additional driving systems happening first. The Pakuranga flyover is a perfect example of this.

          Hong Kong and Singapore [so often quoted as a model by none other than Steven Joyce, the architect of the anti-urban RoNS programme] do indeed have the advantage of being city-states uncomplicated by rural economic needs and political forces, however I am confident that Auckland can thrive within New Zealand, to the whole country’s advantage, but only if it is allowed to develop different city-shaped infrastructure.

          1. Watch these same people bitch and moan about other areas getting better PT and becoming more prosperous – even though they continue to vote for more roads themselves.

  7. Why don’t we currently have 4tph off peak on the three main lines?

    We have enough trains, and surely enough drivers?

    This is probably the change that can do the most to drive patronage growth.

    1. We do on the Western except at Lunch, Onehunga can’t do that due to single track.

      The Eastern & Southern Lines are only 3TPH at Manukau, Orakei-Sylvia & Homai-Puke. Between Puhinui-Westfield it is 6TPH due to the shared track maybe that is why.

      1. What will be the network capacity (in tph) once CRL is complete (assuming more trains ordered)?
        How does double tracking Onehunga/extending to airport affect the network capacity?

        1. It nearly doubles it so between 36-40tph. This means we can run 5 min frequencies on the main lines, and 20 min freqs at Onehunga.

          Won’t make a difference for Airport Rail. The running patten would change from Puke-Manakau via CRL, Crosstown (Henderson to Otahuhu), Western Line & Onehunga Line to

          Puke-Manakau via CRL, Crosstown (Henderson to Otahuhu), Swanson – Airport via CRL & Onehunga.

          1. Yes, with full ETCS implementation 48tph is the design capacity of the CRL. 24 trains each way or a train every 2.5mins. Splitting to 12tph on each line; Western-CRL-Mangere/Airport and Southern-Grafton-CRL-Panmure-Manukau; a train every 5minutes each way, doubled where the lines overlap [CRL and where the southern and eastern meet]. Massive capacity, massive frequency, massive convenience and connectivity. All without a single vehicle on the streets above.

            So at peak that’s 36k-48k [crush load] people every hour to the CRL stations…. So post CRL -and rail to the airport- the rail system is the key basis for Auckland’s growth. Add LRT to the Isthmus and the Shore, Busways NW and SE and Auckland has a true Rapid Transit Network to act as the backbone of a functional PT system. True resilience and capacity to complement our vast State Highway and local road networks.

            The amazing thing is how within reach this transformation is. It just requires political will to prioritise these projects over the competing and non-transformative planned massive road projects and we could have a brand new much more efficient, resilient, and competitive city in just 15 years.

        2. Extending the O-Line, and double tracking it, helps running pattern as it is planned to be the southern end of the western line. So: West- CRL- Newmarket- Onehunga- Mangere- Airport. 6tph. But with no O-Line extension/double tracking only half of those trains can go to Onehunga, so terminate at Newmarket, or Otahuhu instead.

          1. Or we could do your idea Patrick and go to Airport via Otahuhu then it would just be extending the crosstown purple line to the Airport 🙂

          2. “Build the link from Sth Line to eastern line and send them to Panmure. The land is still there.”

            Until the East-West motorway uses it for itself, and precludes that option forever…

  8. Hopefully AT follow through on kids 12 and under travelling free offpeak with a Hop card holder, or a family pass. A sure-fire way to increase rail patronage for zero marginal cost, considering rail is gross tendered. Right now many families aren’t using rail on the weekend because of the cost.

  9. This year will be an interesting year for me as after 10 years of not owning a car and instead using public transport, I will be buying a car for the first time. This is a big thing as until fairly recently I was pretty much an ambassador for public transport.

    While I agree there has been improvements in the rail service, the bus service has been neglected to the point that on-time performance has reached rock bottom on some routes. Over the last couple of months more than half than half the buses I have caught have turned up and/or arrived at my destination up to 30 minutes late, and many of these incidents are on routes that have had on-time running issues for several years with no effort by AT and their predecessors to try and improve the situation.

    While I am pleased to see the new bus network being developed, I am not sure if it will make a difference as the new bus network only solves routing issues without dealing with the real day-to-day operational issues which is probably where much of the issues lies. AT needs to invest a lot more effort into performance monitoring and responding to regular late running much more quickly.

  10. Don’t understand the Light Rail proposal to the Airport. It’s going to be slower and in B Class ROW, whereas the rail will be in A Class ROW and thus not subject to car traffic at intersections.

    Also don’t understand the difference in costs for LRT and Heavy Rail to the Airport. Are they assuming that they can use the existing bridge for LRT but need a new bridge for the Heavy Rail??

    It is worth looking at Perth – when the heavy rail was put down, they strengthened existing bridges and put the train over that. In one location they added extra spans in between the gap of an existing bridge.

    1. Surely this same consideration applies to all PT projects. Why put in a busway when you can put in light rail? Why put in light rail when you can put in heavy rail? Why go above ground when you can go underground? Of course the big factor is cost. In this case light rail is half the price with a massive $1 billion saving with just a 6 minute journey time increase.
      I’m guessing part of the reason for the cost difference is the airport end where the entire heavy rail option would need to be underground, whereas at least some of the light rail option would be above ground (probably including the station). And yes I imagine light rail can use the existing bridge and heavy rail cant?

      1. Capacity is also an issue as LR will be full of commuters do not a lot of space for airport pax or vice versa. Remember Auckland is still rapidly growing and will hit 2 million people quite quickly and continue to grow from there. Meanwhile Auckland Airport is also growing rapidly in 4 ways: Domestic growth, NZers travelling overseas more, tourism to NZ growing rapidly, Auckland become a transit hub between Australia and N.America/S.America/Pacific Islands, Asia-S.America (with stopover in Auckland potential). Brisbane is a good example of HR to airport. Perth is also about to do HR to airport. Both are quite comparible to Auckland.

      2. Who says LRT is half the price, it is only half the price if Queen St. to Mt. Roskill was already built which is isn’t. If we are comparing the costs then we have to include the cost for the whole route not compare an extension to an existing rail line to the cost of an extension to a Light Rail line that doesn’t exist.

        Its 8-14 mins difference actually in the presentation they gave to CBT they cooked the figures a little for the Herald.

        1. The comparison remains valid still, it’s either half the cost for the airport extension alone… or twice as much new transit for the same price.

          On one hand you get an mangere-airport line and fixed up onehunga branch. Or for the same price you get a mangere-airport line *and* a dominion Rd light rail line *and* Queen St-Wynyard LRT.

          That’s pretty compelling (although it does assume the costs are right, I seems like their should be cheaper ways to do the heavy rail, keeping a few level crossings for example)

          1. Level Crossings is easy, shut them down & move on. Lets be honest traffic isn’t criss-crossing from Church to Neilson so why trench and keep them. The only crossing worth maybe trenching and keeping road access is the Station Rd. O’ Rouke one.

            The other question is do you need to double track the whole thing, surely long passing loops where possible will work for the short section which is the Onehunga Line, then double tracking from Onehunga onwards.

            Personally I like Patricks idea going via Otahuhu then you can have both a City – Southwest – Airport Service as well as extending the Purple Crosstown line to the Airport via Southwest.

    1. Yes I read that article. Glad they favour HR over LR. Also noted their comment about the mayor. 2020 isn’t that far away and as you mentioned it does require CRL before airport rail can be used. That said nothing to stop them starting construction so that they are both ready to go about the same time.

  11. That AWHC image is absolutely comical. Can someone explain to me what it’s supposed to achieve?

    To my untrained eye it looks like nothing is being bypassed, it’s just spreading the amount of cars into more lanes, that are then dumped onto the exact same places in the CBD and Northcote respectively?

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