Auckland Transport has collated feedback on the draft Regional Land Transport Plan from the two weeks of consultation that took place recently. More than 18,000 submissions were received, which is pretty impressive for a two week consultation period. Generally it seems there was good support for the RLTP in the feedback, a stark contrast to the disastrous earlier version of the RLTP the AT Board rejected in January. For example, when asked about specific projects most people mentioned public transport:

It is also possible to look through some of the more detailed feedback provided by organisations and key stakeholders – which is all collated here.

Perhaps one of the most heartening things to read in these submissions is the support for public transport from organisations that have often been much less supportive in the past. One submission that’s particularly interesting is that from the Automobile Association (the AA). In recent years have been the AA have been fairly supportive of both public transport and cycling investment. That’s quite different from the organisation’s views of the past. What makes the AA’s submission especially valuable is that they based it on a fairly large survey of AA members:

Generally AA members are older than the average Aucklander and may not immediately come to mind as the strongest of public transport supporters. However, the survey information shows they do support public transport generally – and the city to Mangere light rail project in particular:

I wonder whether such strong support for light-rail, especially from a demographic that has not traditionally been the strongest of public transport supports, might reduce the willingness of some to use this project as a political football.

Providing a rail link to the Airport has long been very popular with the public, so to some extent I’m not surprised with the survey results. It’s still good to see though.

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  1. Good to see. I have noticed the shift of articles in the mag lately to quite a lot of coverage on cycling etc. Wonder if we can see the age breakdown of this survey? Many members maybe coming into retirement age & have had enough of driving through congested city roads & would welcome a free ride on LRT.

  2. Someone should tell Mike Lee, he is slagging off light rail as “trollies to the airport” at every opportunity and talking about heavy rail instead, and he is getting some cut through.

    1. It is very difficult to understand Mike’s agenda with this. He is also using very odd and inaccurate numbers and scenarios to back up his curious campaign. I too at first thought the obvious answer for the Airport was to extend the existing network until I looked at it in depth, and am still surprised that Mike with all his experience hasn’t come to the same conclusion.

      The combination of the Puhinui interchange and shuttle which turns every southern and eastern line train into a ‘train to the planes’, and LR through the Isthmus and Mangere make for cost effective and much wider catchment and choice set of airport connections for more people at more times, than a single low frequency direct service on the existing network. And the Puhinui service is due to be operating late 2020, and will expand eastwards to capture that catchment too.

      A key, and perhaps rather technical and subtle point here, is that any new direct rail service on a branch from the southern lines has to take service from other destinations to occur, even post CRL train slots on our little two track system will always be finite. CRL is due to open at 18 trains per hour each way (rising to a max of 24 after more investment), 6 tph each way on our three main lines. That means if say 4tph go on new airport line then that’s 4tph no longer heading to Manukau or Papakura… which makes for plenty (too much) capacity north of Puhinui and not enough beyond there, and lower frequencies when we need higher ones.

      So a transfer at Puhinui is the best way to use our current network efficiently and add the Airport elegantly. And the way that i’ll likely get there from the city centre- a train every 5 minutes to Puhinui plus an efficient and modern transfer. Fast and reliable.

      The Light Rail option will certainly be better for the 1/2 million or so people on the Isthmus plus those in Mangere, to get to the Airport, and of course between those points and the city centre. And will be an alternative option from the city and Wynyard too.

      This combination really is best, and we must remember the Airport is not simply a destination for people in the city centre, so I don’t get why Mike is pushing an infrequent limited stops one seat ride for city centre businessmen, over more choice, for more people, from more places, for more types of journeys. We want a full interconnected network, not one or two specific market routes.

      1. I can’t ever imagine the word ‘elegant’ being associated with a transfer from a train to a bus. Messy, inconvenient, bothersome perhaps but certainly not elegant.
        Your tph numbers don’t add up either, CRL starts 18tph rising to 24tph and with improved etcs to 30 or higher tps. Three lines at 6tph fills the 18tph CRL but with 4tph for an additional airport HR then thats 22tph which will fit in a 24tph CRL. So your point is neither key, somewhat technical or subtle, just simple sums.

        1. Let me guess, you think a transfer from a train to a train is elegant but a train to a bus isn’t?

          As for CRL numbers, it needs improved ects just to get to 24 trains per hour per direction. Also, we ain’t building CRL to run the same frequencies as we do now, especially not as it makes train travel more attractive. We’ll need all the capacity we can get for the existing lines

        2. No transfer is elegant but maybe a necessary compromise. I’d prefer a one seat train journey, which the LRT seems to provide for cdb and lrt catchment areas.
          It would be interesting to see what Mike Lee has in mind as an HR alternate

        3. Mike says he prefers an express direct train via Puhinui with only 2 stops between the city and airport. A minimal catchment single purpose high cost service. Such a service would be a few minutes quicker but for so few people. Also because it could never have a frequency of a train every 5mins or less, which the transfer model will, in practice, including waiting and transferring, it won’t be any faster.

          I just don’t get why he see why he seemingly wants to die on that hill, cos it can’t be justified.

        4. Elegant because can be done quickly, does not water down frequency on existing routes, in fact requires no change to rail services except those that suit the main lines, no cost to rail network (which has no certain funding source), in fact is mainly on SH20B so is an NZTA state budget matter. Transfer at a brand new purpose built interchange between trains at 5tph to buses at 10bth could only be considered ‘bothersome’ to a bus hating rail snob. So yes elegant.

          As to math, the CRL doesn’t open till 2024 by which time frequency required on the main lines will easily be 8 tph moving to 10 if not there already, so by the time there are more millions found for new signals, more trains, and additional track there still will be no spare slots for a new branch line off the southern without taking necessary services from somewhere else.

          Well not till there’s a second CRL, which may be justified, but luckily by then we’ll have had years of transfers at Puhinui and years of Light Rail through the Isthmus and Mangere serving those communities as well as the airport. If you must have a one seat ride take the LR, or if busphobic, take the LR, or if a conventional train fan take the train to Onehunga then the LR, or… so many options.

        5. Ok, still IMHO a stretch for describing it as elegant. However,
          8 or 10tph on the 3 main lines will be intense and for that throughput signalling will largely be gone with etcs L3 on CRL.
          Although it will be positive to see the LR to airport I think construction needs to start very very soon before a different govt decides to cancel or delay it.

    2. Spending 41-45min more likely 55 mins (41-45 mins assumes speeds not achievable at peak) travelling on light rail/modern trams to the airport vs. 30 mins on Heavy Rail is Mikes point. He is very keen on the Dominion Rd route for light rail just not extending it to the airport. We have a great investment as a city in Heavy rail why do we not use the right modes of transport for the correct problems they solve? I know there has already been plenty of debate in this forum against this but that is where mike and others like me are coming from.

      1. Precisely, your argument is simply the proclaimation of faith that heavy rail is ‘right’ and ‘correct’ for whatever you’ve decided the problem is.

        Personally I think you are wrong on the first part, there is plenty of technical evidence to show that various forms of rail and non-rail transit are ‘correct’, and I think you are fetishising one issue as the whole problem (going to the airport to catch a plane) when it is in fact a very small part of a large set of problems.

        1. So a jack of all trades solutions solves this i.e. single Light Rail line? You are right we are actually talking about 3+ problems not just the airport, a Dominion Rd bus corridor maxed out, A missing airport link and areas of Auckland with missing public transport connections and more. My focus is on what is right for the airport a transport mode that is now at nearly 20M passengers per year and is targeting 40m this proposal does not properly address that demand, and does not follow international airport best practice. Don’t get me wrong I want Light Rail I just don’t want it made into a white elephant used in the proposed way. A rail/light rail corridor (land wise) needs to be locked in from Onehunga to airport regardless of any discussions ASAP hopefully we all agree on that along with Dom Rd Tram/Light Rail..

        2. Well there simply isn’t enough capacity extending the legacy heavy rail network to run a new line properly. We need an entirely new, additional corridor of transit capacity, not one that comes at the expense of the existing lines.

      2. 1. Travel time at peak wouldn’t be different as the LRT route will be separated from traffic

        2. 30 minutes for HR is only achievable if it is run as an express service. That would be even harder to justify as the only ones that benefit from it are the ones going to city. It means most Aucklanders will have to transfer anyway, even if they’re near a rail station. It’s also unlikely to be able to run at a decent frequency as won’t have the patronage to support more services.

        3. Mike claims to support LRT on the isthmus but it’s a lie, evidenced by the fact he’s voted against it at council.

        4. Post-CRL we’re going to need all the network capacity we can get just to service the existing lines and stations. There’s no reason a new route has to be the same mode. Cities add multiple modes all the time e.g. London has been building crossrail and it’s completely different to all their existing rail modes.

        1. Dominion Rd is not grade separated that is the big delay point. Not sure how you can speak on Mikes behalf by saying he is lying, which vote were you talking about as I have raised that very question to him previously and his answer was only airport LRT has he voted against? Had had also introduced a number of LRT projects including one from Tank Farm to Britomart which was turned down. 30 mins would include up to two stops and it has been costed.

        2. Grade separated is irellevant. Our heavy rail network isn’t grade separated, it’s riddled with level crossings.

          The LRT will have dedicated, separated lanes with priority at signals. Functionally this is exactly the same as the heavy rail: it run in it’s own lanes the whole way, and cross traffic is stopped in advance to let it pass level crossings.

        3. Nick, not sure if you have seen the impact of lack of grade separation in a shared road space with LRT/Trams such as cities like Melbourne where you get people in cars crossing from minor and some major intersections blocking the tram lines Not consistent but pretty regular and does slow the average speed down (in the non-grade separated zones). As for level crossings HR does not stop for them! Nick as I said I am for LTR/Tram, but we need to be evidenced based with this.

        4. Yeah look Paul I lived in and studied transit network design in Melbourne and am very familiar with their historic tram system. The key fact is it is an old tram system. No priority, dedicated lanes few and far between, mostly just little trams trundling along in mixed traffic, stopping at every intersection, sitting in queues behind traffic, people having to walk out into the street to climb up the steps. Melbourne is the last thing we should every try and copy or replicate in Auckland. It is a good thing we are not doing that.

          Here is an absolutely critical point for you. Auckland is planning a new light rail system, not a tram. I know you ideologues like to call it trams and talk about Melbourne, but its a completely different system in almost every aspect. All you do by equating the two is to show your ignorance. Every time you mention “trams” you look like an idiot. You might as well be moaning about horse buggies.

          Yes HR does not run in traffic and will not stop for level crossings, and LRT will not either. That is exactly my point. Auckland is not planning an old tram line, it is planning a light rail system. One that does not run in traffic and will not stop for level crossings.

          There will be no cars crossing in front at minor intersections, there will be no minor intersections. The only intersections will be a few major ones that are signal controlled, with signal preemption that stops traffic in advance of the train running through without even slowing down.

          If you are going to argue any further you should actually understand what is being proposed. If you are going to start a ranty club to moan about it in public you should at least do your homework first. Yes, you need evidence. Go read up then come back to the discussion when you have some.

        5. A separated lane doesn’t have to mean grade separated, a bus lane is separated and light rail would likely go further. For example, in Seattle, the tracks are separated from the road with a kerb

          On the Gold Coast they use buffers

          This would leave just the large intersections and t hat can be dealt with by using signal pre-emption, something both of those cities above use too.

          As for Mike, yes he voted against because of the associations with the airport but that means voting against all light rail. He’s also voted against buying more electric trains because he disagrees on timing of rail electrification to Pukekohe. Both are cases of throwing the baby out with the bathwater rather than working towards other solutions.

          As for Wynyard to Britomart, yes he wanted that but refused to listen to any challenge to the practicality of it (having frequent vehicles crossing a bridge that will open on a semi-regular basis isn’t great for reliability).

          So yes only two stops, therefore some kind of express service.Most Aucklanders, even those near a rail line, would therefore have to travel on an all stop service to somewhere like Puhinui where they can transfer to the airport service. Ot means they’d get most of the way to the airport no differently to what the can do now. That’s not going to stack up when you consider the costs and benefits. In cities, even those with bigger airports than ours, it is very hard to justify express services. Look up what happened in Toronto. My guess is you’d struggle to justify more than two services an hour on this and therefore having to wait would be slower for most people.

          Overall I’d suggest you look at LRT implementation in Seattle. Airport to city is almost identical in length to Auckland. It also includes about the same amount of on-street running. Their vehicles are capable of speeds similar to our EMUs and does that trip in less than 40 minutes. The single LRT line is now carrying more trips annually than our entire rail network. They’re in the process of building a number of extensions and new lines to create a whole network.

        6. Just out of interest what tracks does Mike plan to run these express services on? There are plans to triple track between Wiri and Westfield but there are already services that need these tracks.

          Has he budgeted the cost of further triple tracking and possibly quad tracking Wiri to Westfield. I imagine that would add quite a lot of cost to the airport line if this had to be factored in.

  3. Good to see a shift in AA. Thanks for the link to the submissions, Matt. I just had a read of Universal Homes’ submission. Quite thoughtful. I appreciate:

    “Apply RFT funding to invest in Urban Cycleways for Fred Taylor Drive and Don Buck Road that will immediately support growth in Redhills as a prioritised area over the RLTP’s 10-year horizon.”

    However, they’re also calling for ‘improvements” to the arterials and for park and ride facilities, which pretty much sums up why I’m opposed to greenfields development.

    1. As a 1st stage parking at park and ride should be charged across the network of park and ride at the target cost recovery rate for public transport farebox recovery, currently 50% of the costs of provision including capital and land costs. Otherwise it is a distortion that has the effect of reducing funds for actually moving people.

      1. Yes. That’s looking at it from an economic point of view. From an urban planning point of view, their call for park and rides will physically work against their call for improved and safer active mode links to the public tranport hubs.

        1. Looking it more as a first stage, transitioning away from providing them for free towards council abandoning providing parking provision to free unsubsidized enterprise.

        2. Here I stand to applaud these common sense suggestions. Public transport should be an alternative to car driving, not a discounted petrol voucher, redeemable for free at your local paved paddock. We must cease enablement of no cost options for the car obsessed at the expense of the progressive.

        3. They really should be kept separate. For example in Kumeu the main LR station should be in the middle of town with good active links, while there would be an additional station, say in Huapai that has a PNR to catch all the people that live further out and cannot easily be served by PT or active connections.

  4. I think a lot of people [AA members of all ages included] are just desperate to see something happening.

    And while they may never use it, they know others will and that will in turn make their trips easier.

    Its not rocket science – they know that.
    They know its not cheap.
    They also know that the present situation is not working and is not sustainable.

    And lastly they now realise that building more roads is not the answer anymore, even if it they believed it was the answer – before.

    Thats what really got CRL over the line in the end – everyone got sick the endless arguing on the sidelines about exactly how many $ Billions it was costing to build Lens train set.

    Once the realisation came that not building it will cost even more – the arguments against simply vanished.

    I think the same is happening here.

    So basically the AA members are saying – “why the hell don’t you just get on with it, already”.

  5. >Generally AA members are older than the average Aucklander and may not immediately come to mind as the strongest of public transport supporters. However, the survey information shows they do support public transport generally – and the city to Mangere light rail project

    Why wouldn’t they support a direct link to the airport they are likely to be able to ride for free on the Goldcard…

    in 2013 AA’s average membership age was 52, it will be a bit higher now, and given the 10 year timeframe for the Airport section, most will have qualified by the time it has finished…..

    1. The Dominion Rd light rail will become very popular. A joy to ride and get downtown. Without a car get off at your favourite shop, walk further to the gallery, the casino, the Mt Albert tunnels or the Aotea centre and then catch the LRT or the train home for a lovely day out.

  6. Not all the organisation feedback is included. For example, Bike Auckland’s submission on the RLTP is very frustratingly not included, apparently because we only lodged on the last day (???).

  7. Call me cynical, but I bet that AT will look at the above graph and think, a hell of a lot of people want us to spend money on motorways, arterials etc and so will do just as they have: one third on PT and the other two thirds on roads. And that is why we have only 4% growth in PT ridership.

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