On Tuesday the Auckland Transport board met again and as I always do, I’ve had a look at the board papers and pulled out what I found the most interesting.

Closed Session

The closed session is where the most interesting papers get discussed. Here are the most interesting items on the list.

Items for Approval/Decision

  • New Lynn to Avondale Shared Use Path
  • City Centre to Mangere LRT Project Update
  • Downtown Ferry Basin Redevelopment, Stage 1
  • Airport to Botany Rapid Transit: Puhinui Station Interchange

Items for Noting

  • Downtown Infrastructure Development Programme Update

Business Report

The business report is where the normal month to month information

Transport officers

The paper presents an update on the transport officers AT have hired to check for fare evaders. They say they have now hired 67 of them and are looking for more. They also give some stats on them and I was surprised at just how low the rates they’re finding for fare evasionl. Just over 1% fare evasion is a very low number

Business Cases

It seems there are a heap of projects going through the business case stage, so much so that I wonder if it will put pressure on the industry to deliver them. This is on top of projects like Light Rail which is being run by the NZTA.

  • Airport to Botany Corridor – (also includes the route protection of this corridor)
  • Puhinui Interchange – looking at what can be completed by the end of 2020 before the America’s Cup and APEC
  • Integrated Corridors – is effectively 11 business cases, one for each corridors where they’re looking at things like bus priority and safety improvements.
  • Wellesley Street Upgrade – the midtown bus corridor
  • Papakura Park and Ride
  • Long Bay Southern Corridor – includes Glenvar/East Coast Road and East Coast Road/Glamorgan Drive intersections
  • Huapai Access Improvements – Intersection upgrades of SH16 with Access Rd and Station Rd
  • Mill Road – for the new focus on the project from government/council
  • Lake Road – most likely to be transit lanes on Lake Rd and downgrading the Esmonde Rd bus lane to a transit lane.
Regional Public Transport Plan

The Regional Public Transport Plan is a statutory document that sets out how AT will run and improve public transport in the coming years. It was last updated in 2015 and is due for a refresh, something especially needed since the new Government Policy Statement and the latest funding levels which sees PT funding increased by 25% in the coming three years. For months AT have been saying it will be out for consultation in September/October and adopted in December. This is now not due till November.

Hopefully when the draft version does emerge it includes some of the improvements I outlined here.

Audio Announcements

AT have started automated audio announcements at a few stations (Onehunga, Papakura, Pukekohe and Swanson – all terminus stations) with Britomart coming by the end of October. This is intended to help those visually impaired. They’re also looking at rolling these out to other stations starting in October and will be triggered by signalling data.

AT also say from this month they’re looking at trialling them on buses.

Video Analytics

AT have been highlighting their growing capability around automated video analytics in recent months and have done so again. They say three more intersections along Albert St now have the technology working with one detecting 1608 red light runners over a period of a month. That’s over 50 red light runners a day.

They haven’t said how many intersections currently have this capability but that they are looking at rolling it out to another 20 intersections. Also, these cameras aren’t infringement cameras.

Safety

There’s a lot going on with improving safety at the moment which is long overdue so great to finally see. One thing that stood out in the board report to me was this:

Two areas have been prioritised for delivery of residential speed management in this financial year. The areas have been selected based on safety concerns raised by local residents, local crash data, vehicle operating speeds and the location of community facilities such as schools. Speed calming measures will be introduced such as speed tables, humps and gateway treatments. The two areas identified are Te Atatu south (Henderson-Massey Local Board) and Papakura (Rosehill) (Papakura Local Board). Local Boards are supportive of the schemes in reducing speeds in these areas

City Centre Access

AT have been tracking city centre access at a monthly level for some time. I don’t have the most recent data but the report notes this.

It is estimated that on average 72,436 people travelled into the City Centre during the morning peak period (7-9am) in July. The number of people entering the city centre continues to be comparable to last year. However, statistics show a 4% shift from car to PT in July compared with July 2017.

Christmas Train Timetable

Once again large swathes of the rail network will be shut down over the Christmas/New Year period for maintenance and other works. The board paper outlines what is being planned.

  • Services will run on December 25th and 26th to a Sunday timetable.
  • From December 27 through to January 6 only the Eastern Line will run, mostly to a Sunday timetable. On New Year’s morning the last service will depart Britomart at 2:30am

The other lines will be closed and this is what they say will be being done.

  • Southern Line:
    • Rail and sleeper replacement between Pukekohe and Papakura.
    • Sleeper replacement at Papakura (including the stabling yard).
    • Takanini Motorway widening project.
  • Southern & Onehunga Lines (Penrose to Newmarket).
    • Formation upgrade and sleeper replacement.
  • Newmarket Branch (Newmarket to Britomart).
    • CRL – Strand Crossover, bridge inspections and any necessary remedial work.
  • Western Line
    • Track work, formation repairs, mudspot removal, bridge repairs, and preparation work for Cycleway.

AT will also be taking the opportunity to carry out maintenance and upgrades at stations while the overhead power is isolated

Forward Planning

AT sometimes list the papers that are expected to go to the next board session. Some of the interesting ones flagged for the next closed session of the board meeting include:

  • Low Emission Bus Roadmap
  • PTOM Agreements and New Network Implementation Review
  • Acquisition of Howick and Eastern Bus Depot, 380 Ti Rakau Drive Burswood – this is likely related to the Eastern Busway project
  • Cycling Programme Update
  • Speed Bylaw & Statement of proposal – this most likely refers to here the proposal to reduce speed limits on Queen St.

Is there anything notable that I missed from the reports?

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58 comments

  1. I hope they do a proper job with Puhinui rather than rush something through by the end of 2020. I can’t see many of the APEC delegations catching the bus and the train to get to their hotels, and probably the same for the type of spectators that come to see the Americas Cup.

      1. If AT and NZTA do light rail and heavy rail separately, there would be competition to see who does a better job, the result would be better quality.

        Where as if NZTA do both, there is no competition.

    1. I would expected full shelter and luggage friendly integration.

      I would expect a lot of backpacker traveler would use it. So it will be good to have traveler information, and convenience stores selling sim cards etc.

      Internationally there are generally an outlets mall a station away to airport.
      So there is a possible business case for an outlet mall.

    2. Surely only a rapid bus connection can be done between now and 2020?

      Wouldn’t APEC delegations be taken to/from hotels in mini-vans, private taxis and cars, even if there was a direct rail-link?

      What is wrong with a Bus-train interchange for everyone else, provided its direct and seamless?

      Notwithstanding the above, I hope we can get a rail spur off the Southern Line or the continuation of SW LRT, eventually.

    3. What they should do is lay a double track plus gantry’s to the airport and then say use the trams from Motat and Ferrymead as a stop gap measure . I think it would similar to what they have in San Francisco with there Street cars where no 2 are the same and it could also be a tourist type of attraction that would take over from the closed down Wynyard Quarter tram
      As long the track gauge is the same and with the hiring it could generate cash to those providors

  2. Happy with speed humps and tables, but can we get out of the habit of digging a small dip in front of them to increase their impact? Car splitters can’t handle this and I can’t imagine it’s that pleasant for bikes with thin tyres either. The height of the table needs to be part of the actual design, not jerry-rigged by having a dip in front of them.

  3. Not sure how confident I’d be in that fare evasion value. They operate in pairs and often use the same strategy as the old Ticket Inspectors, walking through the carriage asking for tickets from the previous station. I think it would be pretty easy to avoid them if you really wanted to.

    1. As an exercise, try and remember all the faces of the new people in your section of the train. It is remarkably easy.

      As a more advanced exercise, try and see if you can discern behaviours that new arrivals tend to have but people who have been sitting for a while rarely possess. Again, not really very difficult.

      Whether these can extend to covering three carriages is up for question but it’s not that easy to not be noticed. Easier, I think, to exit the train before inspection.

      1. I’ve seen them miss people who boarded at the previous station and don’t hold out their card or ticket on a number of occasions.

        They may be good at spotting suspicious behaviour but with only two of them in a three car unit I don’t think it is that hard to move to the other end and get off at the next station.

        1. So even if it’s 6% fare evasion, the price to try and eradicate it exceeds the price of the evasion. Not great economics.

          1. I think down at that level there is no price of evasion, rather you just stop someone travelling for free. But the alternative for the last few percenters isn’t that they go out and buy a ticket, its that they don’t travel.

            Ergo the actual financial cost of a few percent fare evasion is nothing, and spending more to try and stamp it out is a dead loss of operation funds.

          2. Maybe if you just look at the loss of that fare in a silo.
            If however you include the improved experience for paying customers (eg more free seats/less crowded, less anti-social behaviour) then you will likely be getting more paying customers wanting to use the service.
            Further to the anti-social behaviour comment, you would also likely save hundreds of thousands each year from damage (graffiti/etchings/other damage) caused by anti-social behaviour (which is well known to correlate with fare evading as fare evaders have no respect for the law already).

          3. Also that’s not counting the social costs of assaults, or psychological issues customers have following a confrontation with anti-social behaviour. Nor the costs of things like rape when someone gets followed off a train by one of those individuals etc.

          4. I’m not for a minute suggesting we need to spend more money to stamp it out, just an observation that I’d be very skeptical of the figure AT are quoting.

            I do think we could be using the resource we have better though.

          5. I had a chat with a couple of ticket officers at Britomart while waiting for the train recently. Asked them what their instructions are with regard to dealing with evaders and targets and methods. They confirmed my suspicion that they’re in a “soft-start” mode. Going easy, lots of warnings, looking the other way, only pinging the repeat offenders and troublemakers and building a data profile of offenders. I should imagine that their figures will change quite a lot once they ramp up to a more aggressive pursuit of fare evasion. On the other hand, the installation of gates at more stations may be effective in preventing many hopeful evaders from entering the system in the first place. I know that at my station, Manurewa, there has been a marked reduction in questionable behaviour since gates went in.

  4. I take it that means with the Christmas rail closure the pedestrian overbridge at Henderson will be closed again for the duration.

  5. The business case for Waikato transition rail is due to go before the NZTA tomorrow. When is this document likely to be available to the public?

  6. As to automatic audio announcements on platforms, there seems to have been something like this in place for quite a while now. It also seems to be completely mad. Often when waiting at places like Ellerslie, I have heard nonsensical messages such as “the next train for Britomart is leaving Onehunga, Sylvia Park, Middlemore”. I sometimes wonder if I am the only one who hears this rubbish, as I have never seen anybody else comment on it. The messages seem completely random.

    1. These messages seem to operate intermittently at most stations across the network and are transmitted simultaneously to every station on a particular line (except Britomart and possibly Newmarket which have their own announcements). I’m pretty certain they are done manually instead of automatically so, although they are a somewhat useful, it will be much better for them to be replaced by clearer automated announcements.

    2. … that’s not mad. It’s perfectly accurate. They’re talking about three different lines. At Ellerslie you’d then know that the Onehunga and Southern lines are 2 or 3 stops away respectively.

      1. But they also talk about trains on the Eastern Line which is completely irrelevant to Ellerslie. I have never heard announcements like this on any other rail system… It also might say next train to Britomart is just approaching Otahuhu and Takanini (i.e. I assume it is talking about two Southern line services following each other). Most confusing and strange.

        1. That sounds like they have pressed the wrong button and broadcast to the wrong station. I can’t say I’ve heard the wrong line being mentioned, but they are often quite garbled so I may have missed it.

  7. Anyone else annoyed by the minutes counting down to departure that appear on the Britomart boards and elsewhere? Train doors close 30 seconds before departure, but the minutes remaining is based on the departure time. This means that if, for example, scheduled departure time is 10:40 and the current time is 10:38:45, the time remaining is displayed as 2 minutes, whereas there is actually only 45 seconds left before the doors close.

    This is a fundamental program coding error that misleads customers. If the countdown can’t be displayed accurately in minutes and seconds, the next best solution is to simply deduct 1 minute from the displayed minutes. Could be done with an additional one or two lines of code.

    1. I have been caught out by this. Whoever is responsible for this misinformation should be censured, demoted or removed and their manager also demoted or preferably shifted to parking meter enforement.

    2. It depends on what end you have come from. If you approach from the main entrance the TM generally keeps their door open for passengers to board. However, if like me you approach from the eastern end I agree it is misleading. TBH it annoys me more that the doors are all closed at my end and by the time I get to the other end that door is being closed as well.

    3. The real time display is a waste of time at Britomart as they appear to just be countdown to the scheduled time. Often a train will be a minute or two late leaving as it waits for a clear signal, this is generally not reflected on the real time display. Occasionally they appear to be manually updated if the inbound service is late running, but this is inconsistent and generally not accurate.

      The one time these would be really useful, when the network is having a meltdown, they switch these screens off anyway and no one has a clue what is going on.

      1. “…just be countdown to the scheduled time.” My question to you is, does the display mislead customers about how long they have before the doors close? Answer yes or no.

        1. It sure does, it has no relationship with when the doors will actually close and when the train will leave.

          Any system that accurately informs when the doors close would have to be able to read the TM’s mind. Some stick with military precision to the 30 second rule, others are more liberal and close the doors maybe 10 secs before departure.

          I don’t think it is viable to have real time information at a terminal station as there are so many factors that influence when the train will close it’s doors and leave.

          1. It’s been my experience, and I travel on all four lines, that the 30 seconds before timetabled departure is adhered to closely, with the few exceptions probably being when the TM spots a passenger running to board.

  8. Low Emission Bus Roadmap – Electric and hybrid bus?

    Yes please replace all city link to electric bus.

    Some of the new bus has noisy engines when idling, Maybe the bus operator just buy the cheapest bus within the spec.
    The new spec should have a higher emission standard regarding to noise and fumes.

    1. Reading though an article in wellinging new diesel bus shocked me.

      NZ is still using EURO III standard, which is from (1999/2000)

      The world has already moved on to EURO VI (2013/2014).

      NZ emission standard is just so out of date.

      1. All of the Tranzurban fleet are Euro VI as required by GWRC for new operators. NZ Bus and Mana we’re allowed to have a percentage of Euro III/IV whilst new buses are procured but even then only for a defined time period.

        The emissions profile of the fleet running Metlink services is now lower than when the trolleys were operating alongside the old old buses (NZ Bus 5xx, 6xx and 7xx predominantly)..

      2. The various bus operators seem to have adopted significantly different philosophies when it comes to procuring buses for their Auckland PTOM contracts. Some have chosen to go with really high-spec buses, in terms of both emissions standards and general build quality, like the latest models from the ADL Enviro series. However, other operators seem to have merely ordered the cheapest buses that will fulfill their contractual obligations, which are far worse for both passengers and the environment, such as the awful BCI buses which have invaded Auckland’s streets in recent years. I hope AT learn from this and impose higher standards for a variety of factors when the PTOM contracts next come up for renewal or retendering.

        1. The double Decker in NEX and 70 is quite comfortable with good trim spec and cleanness. The western and southern bus are less so – cheap seats, cheap trim and poor suspension and high interior noise.

          The new contract should have higher standard around exterior noise and emission, as well as passenger comfort such has interior noise, vibration, harshness, air quality, seat ergonomics and trim level.

      1. Nik, I don’t have a picture of what 7km looks like, but already 2.2km has been delivered and another 2.6km under construction. It looks as they will smash the target.

  9. During the Penrose to Newmarket rail line closure is the Remuera siding, mentioned in previous AT board meetiings, being installed?

      1. It will be some time before the Remuera siding comes about. Possibly not until after the CRL is operational, as it is not needed until peak express services are scheduled and as we know, that requires the third main. An extra crossover into The Strand depot is being worked on already and should be mostly done by January.

  10. 1.3% fare fare evasion. I am very very skeptical about that number. Yes more gates equals better compliance but there are not that many and I have watched it happen with monotonous frequency that;

    Evaders see the ticket inspectors and do not board and wait for the next train.

    They board and see them and get off and wait for the next train.

    They see them board and move around the train and get off and wait for the next train.

    The odd one becomes particularly confrontational and the evasion goes undetected.

    They claim the ticket machine malfunctioned. An absolute classic!

    All of the above displaces evaders but it does not count them.

    And does checking tickets from Britomart really count? You have to pass gates to get on although I acknowledge you may on occasion be riding them for fun and have come into Britomart non ticketed!

    But probably the real reason is that there are so few Transport officers, full stop. 67 divided by an approximate 18 hour shift 7 days per week, not counting sick leave, annual leave and other time out for any other reason, grouping together on very few services for protection, which explains why I see them only once in every 10 trips at absolute best and even then I am not guaranteed to be checked so it means that also means the chances of getting caught remains very low.

    And if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a noise? AT will bet the train on it that it does not!

    1. You should see the ticket inspectors work in Olso, there’s no gates at any station but everyone must tag on or have a valid pass. The inspectors work in gangs of 10-15 people, often they are in plain clothes, they mob the train or tram, everyone is checked regardless, the fines for not having a valid ticket are high, approx 220 NZD, you get 14 days to appeal, if you don’t pay after one warning letter the fine goes up the debt collectors are called in.

      IMO fines in NZ are never high enough to deter people from fare evasion, speeding and other ticketable offences.

      1. Very different to what we have here. There was a guy in front of me today who got checked, he faffed around for ages trying to find his ticket hoping the officer would give up. When he found it it was a child’s ticket, he was asked for ID and just put his headphones on and ignored the TO. She just told him he needs to buy an adult ticket in the future.

        I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt but the TOs appear to just be the old ticket inspectors with a new uniform.

        We will have to get a lot tougher once LR is introduced as it wont be possible to gate the busy CBD stations/

      2. Have you not seen people being put off trains here? I have on three occasions in the last couple of years, all of them on the Western Line at off peak times. In one case, there was a large inspector contingent with very burly officers because the offender got stroppy.

    2. While yes a number of people lie about the ticket machines, I have been caught out by it a number of times by it just not accepting my bank card, rejecting notes/coins or other things. Theyre not exactly the most reliable device… they need more of them just in case… Most stations only have 1 per platform… or total. Online topups with the overnight delay or auto topups with the requirement to always have money in your bank account – are not practical for many people…

  11. Good we have a train to help ease the crazy car use of shoppers at Sylvia Park during the Boxing Day sales etc and for regional travellers from the Manukau bus interchange.

  12. Another interesting item from the Board meeting is that AT have just done an exercise on elasticity of demand with changes in PT fares. It will be interesting to see where this does, or in my view, doesn’t go.

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