The next AT board meeting is tomorrow and as I always do, I’ve been having a look at the publicly available reports to see what’s interesting. I usually cover off the items at the closed session of the board meeting however at the time of writing this post that agenda hadn’t be published online.

Board Report

The board report usually contains quite a bit of information although this month there doesn’t seem a whole lot that’s new and interesting. What did catch my attention is below.

Rapid Transit – There are two pieces of busway news. AT say they’re starting an indicative business case this month for the North-Western Busway between the city and Westgate and that it will identify the alignment and station locations. They also say they’re developing an agreement with the NZTA on planning and consenting processes for a new Northern Busway station at Rosedale Rd which will be built as part of the Northern Corridor works.

Nelson Street Cycleway – News on the next phase of the of the Nelson St cycleway from Victoria St to Quay St has been pretty hard to come by since the consultation and AT saying that they were investigating some of issues we raised. AT now say it:

has been re-scoped due to changes to some AT Metro bus routes to accommodate CRL construction; this meant that cycleway and bus traffic could not safely co-exist in parts of the planned cycle route. Design began in May for a route from Fanshawe Street to the Waterfront via Market Place. Construction is planned to commence around January 2017.

I always thought the route along Sturdee St wasn’t ideal and it seems bus changes have confirmed that. It’s great that AT seem to have come around to the Market Pl option. With an upgrade and addressing the parking I think that route will be popular.

Market Rd option

Newmarket Crossing (Sarawia St level crossing removal) – AT expect a decision back on the Notice of Requirement this month although residents who have been opposing it may yet appeal to the Environment Court.

Otahuhu Bus interchange – This is still reported to be on track for completion in August

Route Optimisation – AT say they’ve completed upgrades to 145 intersections out of the 212 they have planned for this year with the rest under way.

HOP and Integrated Fares – Integrated fares still on track for the end of July and interestingly “Development of a product transition plan will result in the new monthly pass being marketed in May 2016 for June 2016 launch”. As May has now passed I’m assuming we’ll hear something soon. The report also says AT were going to go live with HOP on Explore ferries on May 18, just 3 weeks after Explore pulled the plug on services to Waiheke. They are also working to have HOP on Sealink ferries for SuperGold use. Another positive is they say HOP use had it’s highest use ever on May 9 with 84.3% of all trips being via HOP.

New Network – The final route decisions for the Central and East Auckland new bus networks are expected to go to the board in the meeting at the end of June although at this stage it may not be rolled out till early 2018.

Bus Shelters – The new design shelters are being rolled out, particularly in South Auckland in advance of the new network although in other places too. The first intermediate size one was installed outside the Homai station.

Bus Shelter Design A Range

Managing Traffic in the CBD

A separate report to the board is titled Managing Traffic in the CBD and covers off how AT have created a dedicated team to manage the road network within the city in response to there being so much construction happening in the city over the next few years.

The City Centre Network Operations (CCNO) team has been set up to co-ordinate the operation of the transport network in the city centre both in real-time and for planned events. This team will oversee proposals for changes on the network resulting from planned projects such as the CRL and private development. The team is empowered to undertake changes on the network to manage traffic flows, pedestrian safety and public transport reliability.

One aspect that is good is that they’re noting that PT trips now account for more than 50% of trips to/from the city in the peaks. Growing numbers of pedestrians and cyclists help boost the non-car mode share up even higher.

The area covered by the CCNO team is shown below with the black dots being signalised intersections.

City Centre Network Operations Area

Having a team focusing on the city centre should be a good thing but ultimately it will depend on what their priorities are. For example, the Downtown Mall has now closed and as part of the demolition that will soon be taking place the footpath along the northern side of Customs St has been closed off (as has the eastern side of Albert St). This means that pedestrians in this area only have the northern side of Albert St to use, which itself is often busy with people waiting for buses. It seems that this in order to maintain traffic flow more than anything else. This has already resulted in people walking along the traffic lanes to get to their destination rather than wait to cross multiple intersections.

Downtown Mall - Pedestrians on Road

Forward programme

One of the agenda items is what AT call the forward programme which gives an idea of what topics will be coming to the board and its committees in the future. Some of the interesting topics set for the next closed session of the AT board meeting (27 June) include:

  • The North Shore Rapid Transit Network work that AT have been doing looking at the future of the rapid transit to the shore.
  • An electric bus strategy
  • Their future Parking platform which I’m guessing is related to the app we saw in the parking strategy video last week.
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  1. Looking at the board report there were a couple of things that peaked my interest.
    1. Mt Albert Safe Roads project- does anyone know how the mangere safe road project went? Has it been completed? And are people using it?
    2. Vector curve improvement. To be completed in June. I seem to remember a number of initiatives proposed last year to improvement the speed of electric trains, especially reducing dwell times at platforms. Have they been done and have they been successiful. My gut feeling is that trains are getting away from platforms faster.
    Does any one have any information on these things

    1. I know some have been done and more are coming. There is a timetable change due next year that is meant to capture the savings from all of the changes.

      1. The EMU improvements graph said 15 min 7am-7pm frequency 7 days a week was meant to be rolled out in the May timetable. Instead all we saw was 10 min peak frequency and 20 minute interpeak on Western, which is an improvement sure, but disappointing that we still have 30 min frequencies in the weekends and services still end at 10pm most nights despite buses running until midnight.

        There has also been no improvement to speeds on the Western Line, Britomart to Swanson pre-may timetable was 55-56 mins now all are 56 mins on the new timetable. Surely with all the stuff they have done on the EMU improvements graph they should of been able to reduce this by at least a few minutes.

    2. There is track work and ETCS updates on the Vector curves this weekend, more than likely related to the proposed changes.

  2. OMG Market place yes!

    Shame it was for internal AT reasons that they have changed the route rather than due to listening to their customers feedback, but a good outcome nonetheless.

    1. They were listening and had been seriously considering it but I think they’re might’ve been others in org that didn’t like it till this bus stuff settled it.

  3. Well CCNO looks look a traffic engineers only version of the old CCI, Centre City Integration, that was killed-off for some reason. Perhaps because it contained too many other disciplines and therefore failed to prioritise SOVs?

    Of course vehicle traffic needs to be well managed but not at the expense of the dominant and most important city mode; walking.

    So any traffic management plan for the centre city that doesn’t recognise that the fewer private vehicles there are there the better it is, including for the remaining drivers, but especially for the more important delivery, emergency, and buses, is a big mistake. It must also prioritise the more spatially efficient Active modes, including cycling.

    SOVs should not be incentivised to travel in this area, and should in fact be incentivised away from it, not through it.

    1. Given what you’ve said, i.e. vehicle traffic not at expense of walking, the fewer private vehicles the better, the logical strategy should be to actively discourage vehicle use in the city centre by deliberately making it unpleasant. I remember when some UK cities were re-introducing trams in the 90s, the fact that trams can restrict and inconvenience drivers was actually stated as one of the benefits.

      But it still seems we’re light years away from that approach here. It would be wonderful if AT actually had that as a stated objective.

      1. Yes exactly. There is a leadership vacuum from AT/AC on this point. All plans and aims for the centre city logically lead to an active policy of de-carring. Including, lets no forget, AT’s proposed Light Rail. Everything implies or requires fewer SOVs in the centre. Time to own this AT.

  4. Thanks Matt, a couple of other points spring to mind. Firstly, the Interim Transport Levy is supposed to fund 45 km of new bus lanes in the three-year period – is AT commenting on progress towards that goal in the board reports?
    Secondly, I can imagine traffic light cameras helping quite a bit in the city centre, making the place nicer for both drivers and pedestrians. At the moment, I regularly see intersections snarled up with drivers from the previous light sequence, resulting in honking, pedestrians having to weave their way around stopped cars to cross the road, etc etc. Do you know if the new city centre team is looking at getting more of these cameras to help the situation?

    1. Cameras capture the symptoms, not the root cause. The root cause is usually congestion caused by further blockages caused by poor light sequencing etc. Time AT got their act together and made traffic flow. Too hard basket I guess.

      1. Ah yes, that mythical ‘traffic light sequencing’ fix that is so obvious to most right leaning mayoral candidates yet somehow eludes the thoughts of traffic engineers.

    2. Most frequent new network corridors still lack bus lanes, even in South Auckland where the new network is due in 2 months. I thought these bus lanes were mostly targeted at frequent corridors on the new network.

  5. Under resource consents it notes:
    East West Link Enabling Works – So it begins.
    Great North Road Bus Lanes – I wonder where these are?

    Under outlines plans of works:
    Waterview Shared Pathway (Stage 1 and 2) – Still little visible progress aside from Oakley Creek bridge abutments, and turning Harbutt Reserve into a gravel carpark.

    First time I’ve noticed the “AT Metro” branding for PT.

    1. New bus lanes on Gt North Rd have been painted both ways from Veronica St to circa Larch St (New Lynn-Avondale). There is no signage as yet, though.

    2. AT Metro has been around a while, iirc appeared on the first double deckers. Been on the “trial” station signage on the Western line for a few months (Fruitvale, Avondale, etc).

      Progress on WSP can be seen from the train, vegetation clearance and earthworks opposite and next to Pak’n’Save.

  6. AT is upgrading the bus shelter on Fanshawe Street right next to the Victoria Park just before entering the northern motorway. Do you think it will be the new design? I think it is more sensible to install the new design now then later since they are upgrading..? just thought to mention this. Cheers,

  7. New bus shelters have just been installed outside the YMCA on Pitt St where the stop is being moved around the corner from Vincent St, but they are just regular old glass adshel shelters, not the new ones.

    Edit: Also they’ve put in two of them, when it could have been one of the intermediate or even major shelters instead.

  8. Really looking forward to seeing what NS rapid transit looks like.

    Ffs seriously Sarawera is still being consented why do these people get to hold things up so much.

    1. There is no new rapid transit on the shore aside from another station on the busway. Without an overhaul of NZTA and that seemingly will only happen with a change of government, there will be no additional rapid transit to the shore, instead NZTA and National are rushing ahead to being works on the $6 billion+ additional Waitemata cars only crossing.

      1. Auckland Transport are working on it.

        NZTA can’t plan or fund rail from NLTF, so they are leaving it up to AT to plan it. I suspect AT will plan LRT.

        The only reason people are kicking up a stink is to keep them all on there toes that we are watching.

  9. If you changed the angle parking on Market Place to parallel parking you could run a separated two lane cycleway down the middle. The car lanes would be narrow, which should ‘calm’ traffic and reduce rat running. If you raised the cycleway slightly it could run right over Customs St West into the Market Place Plaza opposite, which would also require vehicles at the Customs St West – Market Place intersection to slow down. I presume the majority of cyclists would proceed right onto Customs St West and then left onto Lower Hobson St to connect with the Quay St cycleway?

    1. Would be better to one one way cycle lanes down each down no? There are destinations on the road itself, down the middle implies the cycle lane is purely to get through rather than allow local journeys and increase access and usefulness.

    2. Cycles and traffic don’t mix. The sooner people accept that and build separate cycleways AWAY from roads the better. Wasting road lane space for cycles is plain stupid and just adds to making the city a worse place to traverse.

    3. Given Councils plan for 30% car mode share for wynyard quarter, i expect most cyclists will be turning left onto Pakenham St, at least that’s what they should be planning for if they believe their own plans.

  10. I like the wording they used for the CCNO group. “manage traffic flows, pedestrian safety and public transport reliability”

    Manage traffic flows is first in the list so probably the priority and probably just means private cars. You can technically make things safe for pedestrians even if it is very inconvenient. You can make public transport very reliable, but always slower than any other mode and cyclists are forgotten as usual.

    Why would AT want to discourage vehicle traffic when they get income from car parks?

    1. That’s probably an accurate interpretation.

      But somebody correct me if I’m wrong but I’m quite sure the parking business is a loss for AT.

      1. Parking fees have nothing to do with it. It’s a drop in the bucket and represents a very poor return on the land it occupies. That is not what motivates higher levels of AT to be so attentive to SOVs in the city.

        They want to do a good job, and some define service levels to these drivers above all else as defining their sense of performance. They are, after all, their peers.

        How many of the Board or senior management group ride a bike? [I know of one] How many use Transit predominantly? How many drive only?

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