Auckland’s city centre has been growing strongly with more and more people living, working or studying there. On top of that, over the last 10-15 years we’ve seen a significant shift with more people now arriving in the city centre each morning by public transport than by car. There has been strong growth in walking and cycling in recent years too.

Back in 2012, the council signed off a City Centre Masterplan that contained a number of visionary projects, such as the Victoria St Linear Park. Six years on and the plan is due for a refresh, not least of which because some of the assumptions are now well out of date. One of the prime examples of this is the city centre population which was forecast to reach 45,000 residents by 2032 but the latest numbers suggest is already over 57,000.

The Council are planning to soon start consultation on the refreshed plan but last week released this video on the plans for the coming decade.

In an article on their online magazine they say

Auckland’s city centre and waterfront is in for a huge transformation over the coming decade as work starts on more public open space, green parks, pedestrian-friendly thoroughfares and the installation of a modern and efficient public transport network.

The work will reconfigure Auckland’s waterfront into a more people-centric destination and progressively turn over Auckland’s central city to people rather than cars. Work also includes construction of infrastructure for the America’s Cup which is helping turn previously industrial areas into people-friendly spaces.

Mayor Phil Goff says, “We are transforming Auckland’s city centre and waterfront. Reconnecting people to our shoreline with more public, open space, places to sit, walk and talk.

“The nature of our central city is changing. It used to be empty and inert, but now we have more than 50,000 people living here, thousands of students and visitors, and 120,000 workers piling into our centre each day. It is a destination and a community, and we are making it world class.

“Our central city is important not only to our region, but our country too, generating up to 20 per cent of Auckland’s GDP and 7 per cent of the country’s economic output.

“Previously, we’ve built around the private vehicle, but the city centre’s growth simply cannot be met by dedicating ever more space to roads and car parks. So we’re giving the city back to the people with more public transport options and pedestrian-friendly streets and open space.

“We’re reconnecting Auckland to its waterfront. For decades industrial areas such as the tank farm have dominated our shoreline. Those are already coming down and making way for America’s Cup bases and a new waterfront park. We are also making Quay Street a pedestrian-friendly, green, tree-lined boulevard connected to open space at the bottom of Queen Street and around the ferry terminal.

“After the America’s Cup we expect to begin work on light rail up Queen Street and make it a destination rather than a through road with plans for more shared space and pedestrian laneways in surrounding streets such as High Street and Federal Street.

“The Linear Park, connecting Victoria Park through the city to Albert Park will be a wonderful addition to Auckland allowing cyclists, pedestrians and scooters to move about our city safely.”

Mayor Goff says High Street clearly needs an upgrade because large numbers of pedestrians are squeezed onto narrow footpaths by relatively few cars. This month the city centre business association, Heart of the City, will engage with the High Street community, asking them what changes they would like to see.

“Cars will continue to be a part of how we move about Auckland and we will need to ensure service and emergency vehicles have access, but with 37 per cent growth in city centre workforce and a five-fold increase in residents since the year 2000, public space and streets need to be rebalanced towards people.

“Our public transport system is already carrying the load, with the majority of people now entering the city centre by bus train and ferry rather than by car, and we need to transform our city centre to accommodate that.

“Our work in the central city is indicative of transformative work taking place in urban centres around Auckland.

“In Takapuna we are building a vibrant town square in place of a car park, the recent acquisition of the wharf in Onehunga begins the ball rolling on potentially building something like the Wynyard Quarter on the shores of the Manukau Harbour, and we are transforming Panmure and Manukau with more housing, businesses and shared, open space built around transport hubs.

“We are transforming Auckland. Changing the way we live, move and play. It’s good for the city and great for its people,” says Mayor Goff.

Planning Committee chair Councillor Chris Darby notes the effects the change will have on the character of our city centre.

“We’re creating a variety of distinctive, engaging public spaces that celebrate the confluence of people, land and sea.

“Our new downtown will be a series of destinations, thriving with life and enticing people to the water’s edge.

“The design of the dramatic changes afoot will reflect our unique Auckland identity and celebrate our place in the world.”

“We’re also exploring options that allow people to rediscover lower Queen Street and surrounds by creating streetscapes for people,” says Mr Darby.

There are some good comments in there but I do wonder why it appears we have to wait till after the America’s Cup (and APEC) to see any changes to Queen St. It would be better, for both the pedestrians and the light rail project, if the council got the work underway sooner. Why not start by opening the street to buses, pedestrians, bikes and scooters only. With a bit of paint, planters and decking, like happens with parklets, we could temporarily extend the kerbs, bike/scooter lanes could be developed and of course there would be dedicated bus lanes. Delivery vehicles could still be allowed to use the street at set times only. The lack of impact on drivers from the significant disruption as a result of the City Rail Link works shows that there’s no reason we couldn’t do this quickly.

It’s also good to finally hear the council talking about upgrading High St. Previous discussions about it have been stymied primarily by a couple of determined retailers, at least one of whom no longer has a shop in the street. If anyone needs an example of how much better High St could be, one just needs to walk up to O’Connell to see how much nicer it is since it was upgraded a few years back.

Newshub’s Nation covered the plans, well on their show. It’s worth watching and includes some good quotes from Phil Goff, Chris Darby and others.

One with some not so great quotes though is National MP Judith Collins and they’ve now released a longer version of the interview with her. It contains some rather bizarre quotes, such as this one:

Ms Collins – National’s Infrastructure, Planning and Urban Development spokesperson – says she wants to see Auckland become a “vibrant, exciting place” with a combination of pedestrians, cycling and cars. However, she believes going vehicle-free in the CBD would be a bad move.

“No matter what people think other people should do, if you’ve got a load of groceries or you’re going shopping for anything, you’ll probably want a car to put it in unless it’s quite a small item,” she says.

“If the CBD wants to be destroyed as a shopping destination then take out all the car parking because Aucklanders won’t come. The tourists might, but Aucklanders won’t.”

I doubt many of the 57k+ residents are driving to Queen St to get their groceries or other shopping for that matter. I actually can’t imagine there are too many shops in the city that sell things so large you couldn’t carry them. Presumably she’s also not aware of the increases in sales on streets that have had parking removed and turned into shared spaces or that the downtown mall is in the process of being rebuilt and has no carparks for shoppers.

There will always be the Collins’ of the world but I suspect most Aucklanders would be pretty supportive of what’s planned. Overall this is positive and we really just need to get on with it.

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123 comments

  1. Bit of an issue with the proposal, mmm, how do I put this…

    The cruise ships need to off load the “ablutions” when in port, when this occurs there is somewhat of a meaty aroma cloud at that end of the pier. Extending the ferry terminals into the zone as proposed I think needs work. Its ok 90% of the time when the off load occurs, but some days if the wind is in the wrong direction its horrific.

    1. That’s pretty substandard. Is the cruise industry really paying for its infrastructure and resource use? I see large numbers of these passengers arrive, eat on the ship rather than locally, and are taken on ferry and bus tours out of the city centre, the profits of which are probably going to foreign tour companies. And I wonder if the cruise ship terminal shouldn’t be somewhere else – like the eastern end of Waiheke? – from where ferries could transport each tour group to its destination, including the city centre, if that’s where they’d like to come.

      Some cities are making a fair go of cycle tourism – the infrastructure needs of which are really worth paying for by the city, because its infrastructure benefits the residents, and has positive effects on the environment, rather than all the pollution and damage that the cruise industry causes.

      1. I’ve raised that exact point before with the cruise industry its not the tourism low impact “gold mine” many crack it up to be.

        Especially when they all tend arrive at peak times [height of summer] when the tourism industry and port facilities are already totally overloaded. And sometimes 2 or more cruise ships can descend at once.

        Catering for the peaks like this is expensive, and the main beneficiary/benefits seems to be Ports of Auckland for berth and other fees. None of which the ratepayer sees directly.

        But many of the dis benefits caused are directly borne by the rater payer.

        An obvious one – like having a large chunk of the wharf semi-permanently fenced off for exclusive use by cruise ships and passenger. A wharf we paid for yet cannot use all of.

        And don’t forget the pollution those ships emit 24×7 as they’re in port – those huge funnels spout diesel fumes which is not much better [and sometimes a lot worse] than a whole fleet of aging diesel buses and trucks.

        And thats in our downtown, in our lungs and everywhere else. Yuck.

        So whiffy odours from emptying the ships bowels? Not so bad in comparison.
        At least its temporary.

        Not like the money sinks these cruise ship facilities are.

          1. The IMO has mandated that ships move to low sulphur content bunker fuels in short order. Causing conniptions in the shipping industry.

            So yes, in a year or so the fumes will be a little cleaner – but not much.
            We’re talking a “Euro 0” versus “Euro 1” level type of improvement.

            I know in California they have these huge “Funnel extractors” at the dockside that lower over the ship funnels [cruise and cargo] to capture and filter the air pollution from the ships to meet California clean air act requirements. Seems kind of expensive way to fix a problem.

            It would be better to not invite the problem into your house in the first place…

            But we let these itinerants into our lounge and visually and physically clutter and pollute our “shop window” frontage because thats what we’ve always done.

            At least they don’t burn coal any more, but thats a small compensation.

          2. Imagine ships that didn’t have the vast numbers of entertainers aboard, didn’t have the theatres, the swimming pools, the dance floors, the accommodation for the entertainers, the casinos, the multiple different dining options. Just basic accommodation. They could be much smaller for the number of passengers, and use correspondingly less fuel. I’d be surprised if they didn’t put the carbon footprint per passenger mile at substantially less than flying, rather than being more, as cruise ships are.

            I wouldn’t have such a problem with accommodating that sort of ship in our port.

    2. The positioning of the ferry berths definitely ‘needs work’. The berths extending all the way along Queens wharf is not at all useful for the majority of passengers. At present the ferries are a short distance from the downtown area however the plan shows the furthermost berth some distance from the present ones. Shame about those passengers with an added 500m or more to get to their boat. Will this be totally covered and which service will be inconvenienced the most?

  2. “There are some good comments in there but I do wonder why it appears we have to wait till after the America’s Cup (and APEC) to see any changes to Queen St.”

    I think that AC have decided that in order to better ‘sell’ light rail to the public they’re holding back place making improvements to the corridor. Admittedly it’s a fairly cynical view, but given that they could do it overnight with a few cones and signs if they wished (see the recent closure for Diwali) it’s hard to see it as reasoned policy.

    1. This is exactly what I’ve realised – AC staff are using Light Rail as a crutch for taking the necessary step of removing cars from Queen St. Removing cars would make it a much Healthier Street – AC shouldn’t have to be pushed to do this on busy Queen St, given what they know about how Healthy Streets contribute to healthier populations and cut the public health bill. Delaying the move because they don’t have the guts to do it now is costing the people who live and work in one of the most densely populated parts of the country, in terms of early death and illness. And Council have this information. Not really acceptable.

      Pragmatically, making the move now is a no-brainer – it will be such a success, that it will convince more people of the benefits of removing general traffic from busy places, making Council’s job easier in many projects. And the benefits of light rail over buses will also be far easier for the public to see if they do it staged like this, instead of seeing all the changes come at once.

      Council, step up. Remove the cars from Queen St now.

    2. Who was the idiot who invited APEC back? Did some committee decide the City Centre economy was doing too well and needed to be absolutely devastated for a week?

      1. Who invited APEC ? Likely to have been the last National Gov, judging by the timing – prob John Key. He gets a nice shirt out of it, so why not?

        1. Well you’ve got to justify the convention centre and the consequent beggaring of the vulnerable somehow. But as you point the PM of the day gets an ugly shirt so it’s obviously good value.

    3. I don’t think that is a cynical view at all. If lower Queen Street was converted to a largely pedestrian and shopping precinct then introducing light rail may meet some resistance as it undoubtedly would remove pedestrian amenity.
      Instead of being a ‘place’ it converts to a Train through route.
      Safety then also becomes a concern, pedestrians need to be constantly aware of LR trains having the right of way.

      1. Pedestrianise here means buses, service vehicles, bikes, scooters, and pedestrians… not just pedestrians. It is a process towards Light Rail replacing those buses; it will always be a Transit Mall, not just a vast footpath. There is no danger here to LR from getting the cars out.

        1. I was thinking of the linear park concept, cars and busses gone, service vehicles only at certain times, after hours. Bikes, scooters and pedestrians, children, families ok. Let Albert and Symonds be the transit malls.
          I also realise this won’t ever happen as AC now appear committed to Queen Street becoming a transit mall. I just would like AT to get the LR underway, early works, ASAP, before a new govt cans the whole idea.

        2. Any ideas, Patrick? Goff’s team are referring to light rail as the thing that will get cars out of Queen St. How do we shake them out of that mindset, so they understand getting the cars out will be better done earlier?

  3. Some good things coming up but as usual it always seems to take much longer than it needs to. Once Queen Street has become car-free I am sure Aucklanders who use Queen Street (like me) would wonder why it wasn’t done years ago.

    In regards, to the viewpoint Ms. Collins represents I think by in large it can be ignored because these people don’t actual come into the city and it won’t really affect them. If they did, they would realise that the city is not what they imagine it is. As it has been articulated here Auckland has gone from a big town to a small city and, therefore, needs to do “city thinking” rather than “town thinking”. What might be great for Wellington or Christchurch will be a disaster for Auckland and vice versa.

  4. Congratulations from us down here in Wellington – we want Auckland to succeed as much as you do. The vision that the video paints is beguiling – i hope y’all get on with it as soon as possible, so we can experience seamless public transport from the airport to the waterfront. Looking forward to experiencing that great harbour of yours again, traffic free!

      1. As an old, pale, white male, I can remember when we had electric buses in Queen Street.
        They were called trolley buses.
        The council of the day (the 1980’s ?) got rid of them because the overhead wires were
        ‘unsightly’ .
        I think the buses concerned ended up in Wellington.

        1. It wasn’t the council that got rid of them but the ARA as they moaned about the cost of upgrading the lines and infrastructure and then sold the buses they had bought to Wellington , who have now said and done the same thing

          1. I think the last trolley bus was in 1980. They got rid of them just in time for the second oil shock when diesel prices rocketed. The Farmers free bus lasted longer but not as a trolley. They continued it as a diesel service from Wyndham St near Queen St to Farmers and another one up to Beresford St. Farmers Hobson St was a relic of another age staffed by people who thought haughty was appropriate customer service. New Zealand had changed and the Farmers shops in suburban areas had changed with the country. You could get friendly helpful service. Somehow Hobson Street failed to make that change.

        2. “I think the buses concerned ended up in Wellington.”

          Yep, the whole of Auckland’s new trolley system (buses + new overhead equipment) that was ordered was sold to Wellington for near scrap value without ever being installed.

          Buses saw very little use as trolleys in the capital and were then stored for years before being converted to diesel. Some were in service with Mana/Newlands on peak services until July this year.

        1. Yes successful through English planning rules that would be considered draconian in this country. Here people have something we like to call choice. Make Queen St shitty and all the people who are able to choose will all piss off somewhere else.

          1. It’s already shitty and full of people. 100s of pedestrians packed onto footpaths with 10 cars with one person using 80% of he space. How much more shitty could it get?

        2. Ummm, actually….. from what I understand, there is a proposal to remove all buses from Oxford St (in London, I presume that is what you are talking about). Seeing as they have the Tube (metro/Underground) running just under the street, and will also soon have CrossRail (Heavy Rail, high speed) also running under the same road, then Mayor Sadiq Khan has proposed to ditch the buses from Oxford St. Too many of them, it seems.

    1. Clearly Bernard Orsman could do with the help of a good sciene editor. This is not the first time pollution in the CBD has been discussed. PM10, PM2.5 and NOx have been a problem for a long time and create a hazardous walking and cycling environment. The biggest probelm is vehicles with diesel engines. We are the only OECD country without emmissions testing as part of a WOF (or equivalent), and similarly for ships https://www.victoria.ac.nz/news/2017/03/new-zealand-lags-behind-in-international-shipping-law While it would take some time to introduce a testing scheme, we could start by simply banning super polluting 2-stroke vehicles like the EU and others. Ultimately we have signed the C40 Fossil-Fuel-Free Streets Declaration to procure only zero-emission buses from 2025 and to ensure that Auckland’s city centre has zero emissions by 2030, which should solve the problem but it’d be nice to have some relief before then. http://ourauckland.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/articles/news/2017/10/mayor-commits-to-a-greener-auckland/

  5. Twyford’s statement about light rail: “It’s been proven internationally as the best way to retrofit cities with rapid transit without the need to demolish swathes of houses. In fact 75 cities around the world now have, or are building, light rail networks” is very good. It uses the “change behaviour” technique that people are comfortable with change if they realise other people like them are doing it too.

    I’m sure Goff could use similar words about removing cars from Queen St, too, if he was thinking proactively.

  6. For all his faults, you’ve gotta hand it to Len Brown when he started works on the CRL without Government funding and backing, imagine if he had waited and how far it would be off, thus putting a lot of these things off as well. It’s a shame there isn’t such vision or bravery (or ego) within the Council now to start these works early knowing they are going to be built eventually and at a greater cost.

    If a Labour MP picked up and Lemon and said ‘this is a Lemon’ Judith Collins would argue that its an Apple. She is THAT guy..could not imagine a Government with her at the forefront, it would be tragic!

    Why do we need to wait 10 years or so for High Street, surely its a simple thing being as its been on the cards for a long time and its surely just a carbon copy of what has already been rolled out across other areas of the CBD?

    All this fluff is nice to see but it’s sadly a long long way off for things that were needed yesterday..

    1. +1
      If they keep postponing it, this will never happen.

      By the time they try to propose light-rail, the political landscape may changed. Light rail may be cancelled.
      So at that time they may wait for something else.

      So after 20 years nothing will be built.

      1. If those people out pass Swanson have to wait 20years for Light Rail why doesn’t AT use HR to get it running as a stop gap measure as the platforms are still there . Otherwise it millions of ratepayers money just siting collecting dust and weeds .

        1. Waitakere tunnel is doesn’t have electrification and is too low to allow that – so would have to be lowered or run Diesel rolling stock which we don’t have anymore.

          Either way though an HR service from beyond Swanson doesn’t quite make sense until after CRL anyway – even from Swanson the difference in travel time train v car is very small. CRL travel times make this a better proposition.

          1. AT still have 60 odd SA/SD;s siting in the yards in Taumarunui and a number of ADL’S floating around Auckland somewhere and July last year there was a petition for it to be reinstated to Huapai so who says it won’t work besides the Bean Counters ? and nay sayer’s . And if you are worried about freight trains KR only have 1 return a day . and whats CRL got to do with it as they are only going to Henderson

            https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/nor-west-news/94567264/campaign-launched-to-increase-pressure-for-trains-to-huapai

          2. For a Huapai to Swanson shuttle the only suitable/available dmus would be a couple of the ADL sets. Of the ten, two are parked up in Henderson apparently partially stripped and out of service. The remaining eight are providing the Papakura-Pukekohe shuttle service. Although at any time there always seems to be two or three of them parked at Westfield.
            Perhaps a couple of these could be used for an hourly Swanson-Huapai shuttle, two should suffice as the distance is not too great. Or perhaps get the Henderson two refurbished.
            In any case these ADLs will likely be useful well into the future, say for a Pukekohe-Waiuku shuttle or extending western service/shuttle to Helensville

  7. Just. Get. On. With. It.

    Waiting until after America’s Cup means 2030 becomes the more realistic time frame. God help us if we win and then have to defend it in Auckland again, we’ll never get anything built.

  8. Herald is reporting that particulate pollution has risen in Queen St reversing a long term decline. The Buses should never have been put there. The sooner all traffic is gone from Queen Street the batter.

  9. Its an (ongoing) exciting time for the city and especially residents who are watching the city transform before them. These are all additions that will make big changes in how the city functions and feels, the only complaint about them is that we want them yesterday!

    ‘Lots of residents’ is perpetually being used as a stat, and while it’s positive, there is some discomfort around our booming population stat being used to justify projects that aren’t really providing us what we need, rather they are used as reasons to upgrade the waterfront or continue to close off public spaces for private use.

    We also pay the City Centre Targeted Rate after all.

    For instance, there are no plan for more green space (or ensuring access to green space – commercial interests always override residents needs without due consideration) and still no schools in the City Centre (compare both aspects with Hobsonville point, population approx ~4000 vs our ~57,000). How does the Albert Street upgrade make residents’ lives better? We’re also still spending most of the money away from where residents live (around Union, Hobson and Nelson)

    We’re going to keep pushing hard for residents’ needs in all these areas (which, good news, are good for everyone!), especially the young, old, infirm, prams etc. who currently are largely ignored in planning still for reasons that still baffle.

    The big projects like these in the video are the relatively easy ones – we have members sitting on ACCAB who are across what is going on, and get on very well with HotC and the Councillors involved (it was our member decrying the Albert Street upgrade, not HotC!). ADO and council are actively involved so there are generally going to be good outcomes there.

    The challenge we have are the myriad of smaller projects that don’t seem to come across the ADO or Council Planning generally (remember the NX2 route? Shortland/Princes Upgrade? Halsey/Fanshaw bus lane etc.) and need someone banging on ATs door constantly reminding them about the CCMP, RaSF, Waterfront Plan etc. etc. That’s what we’re pushing hard on to make sure we get better outcomes for anyone on foot/cycling and where we have some optimism about the AT restructure – too often we submit/discuss on a road change and any feedback outside purely road aspects (e.g. CCMP, cycling, footpath upgrades) are assigned as out of scope and ignored. These silos are what are holding the city back and we will be chasing up as soon as is practicable around how these reorg can help us with this ongoing battle.

    We’ve already been waiting many years for some of these projects (looking at you Nelson/Hobson), some seem to be endlessly delayed or pushed back into the next decade (Linear Park, High Street, Wellesley Street/EW bus link) and lots that are just bad (Albert Street, CRL stations with inadequate bike parking etc.). Queen Street pedestrianisation is again arbitrarily tied to a project instead of just happening. Still can’t get the missing leg of the pedestrian crossing on Hobson/Cook street because motorway congestion is prioritised above the needs of the city. But things are happening and videos like this provide hope for the future, the vision is there, we just need the money and priority to follow!

    (Also, remember we don’t have a CBD – it’s called the City Centre because there is a LOT more going on than accountants in suits.)

    1. Yes the amount of neglect in the Nelson / Hobson Street area is just bizarre.

      Equally bizarre are those missing pedestrian legs. The one on Cook Street is for many people on the logical walking route to Myers Park, the only green space reasonably nearby. But in terms of sheer embarrassment it is probably topped by the missing pedestrian leg at the Lightpath entrance.

      Once you move out to the suburbs you all of a sudden see footpath renewals (and resurfacing) everywhere. Just because they can, I guess. You’d almost think the council collects more rates from those few houses along those footpaths than from those apartments on Hobson Street.

      1. There is a natural attrition, but we need to make sure people have the choice – at the moment people really do not so we don’t know how ‘natural’ that attrition is.

        That said, most kids go to Freemans Bay school, and girls can get to AGGs, but the link (Wellington Street, Union Street) is absolutely atrocious – kids crossing the Nelson Street mouth regularly get driven at by red light runners and AT and NZPolice are completely unable or unwilling to do anything about it. Kids also need to somehow cross the Motorway onramp that is perpetually blocked by cars. As a result it is absolutely mandatory for parents to accompany kids on the short walk, you’d be crazy not to with how things are, and that’s really sad – cities should give kids lots of autonomy, not tie them to their parents for fear of death.

        We and the School themselves have been banging the drum on this for a long time now, but still no action – AT refused the school a footpath upgrade (uneven, lumpy, crumbling, pot-holls etc) even, saying it was ‘compliant’.

        To their credit, there has been a big uptick in Police presence outside AGGs on Howe and Freemans Bay School on Wellington Street – watching for red light runners and with speed cameras. The behaviour on both only changes when the police are watching though.

        1. AT’s exclusion of Wellington St from the lower speed area was indicative of their fear of upsetting NZTA. It needs to be fought hard.

          1. Especially annoying considering a) it was closed for years without issue b) it completely ruins the traffic in the area and c) NZTA has the lights on an extremely slow cycle as the on-ramp ruins the motorway flow anyway. (items x,y,z probably relate to pedestrian safety in the area)

            No one wins with the current arrangement, but any modelling will predict a traffic snarl up from Whangarei to Hamilton, cats marrying dogs, etc.

            We are happy to fight, but NZTA won’t engage and central government has still failed to accept or respond to our petition (https://www.ccrg.org.nz/petitions/victoria-quarter) from January – just tentative ‘maybe we can meet one day’s, so we have no one to fight with!

            We’ve reached out to Phil Twyford also – if he wants to be Housing and Urban Development minister we figure he should understand the needs of the most Urban population in the country, but again, no response to requests from us.

          2. d) NZTA, claiming to be attempting to reduce travel times in the costly Victoria Park to Newmarket project, managed to increase traffic numbers but not reduce travel times at all. This outcome was exactly as research would predict; all we can surmise is that the use of erroneous travel times to support the business case for these sorts of projects is an underhand way of ensuring projects that increase traffic volumes are funded. In turn, these increased traffic volumes support the ‘need’ for extra road capacity, in an ever-increasing spiral of maintenance contracts to the road construction industry.

            This extra traffic on the motorway means extra traffic in the vicinity, and extra danger to people. And we paid dearly for the privilege. This focus on capacity must stop. It is killing us and killing our city.

            Good on you for the pressure you’re using.

          3. My understanding is that it’s not NZTA that are preventing the on ramp being closed. It’s a residents association in another part of Auckland who are concerned about traffic displacement to their area. I think NZTA would prefer for it to be closed.
            The were some articles about it in the Herald when NZTA proposed closing it permanently.

          4. Cheers for setting me right on that – yes, I’ve found https://www.planning.org.nz/Folder?Action=View%20File&Folder_id=269&File=CRONWRIGHT_Sarah.pdf

            “the final decision on the on-ramp’s future was heavily influenced by the views of the community rather than solely being a technically driven decision.”

            Sounds like a round two could involve some community education BEFORE the consultation, and the needs of the most densely populated part of the country, plus the PIR of the Victoria Tunnel to Newmarket project, could inform some of that education…

          5. Hmmm… the issue of the Curran St on ramp being overloaded is a real one, of course. But the solution to that isn’t to endanger the city centre kids trying to walk to schoo over the Wellington St on rampl, it’s to relieve the Curran St on ramp of all the people ratrunning through the inner west to avoid the overloaded NWM.

            I have long asked for Meola Rd to be blocked to the private car. Motions Rd now needs the same since the ratrunners are using that. And there are probably many others that would effectively free up the Curran St on ramp for locals.

            As for the AA’s position: AT can utterly trash that one. Jeff Tumlin held a workshop last year in which he explained the tactical urbanism opportunities offered by road works. This approach is best practice. There isn’t any case for arguing against it on the basis of drivers’ rights.

            There’s no such thing as drivers’ rights when children are endangered.

          6. IIRC for a while in 2011 (during the rugby world cup) the Curran Street on ramp was the only way to go to the North Shore from a large area, spanning from Ponsonby to the city centre to Newton. That must have been a rather unpleasant time to be on Ponsonby Road.

            I guess some people don’t want that situation back, but they won’t because now the Fanshawe Street on-ramp is open again.

            So now it is open, but only some of the time. Every time is a surprise. During peak the metering is so slow that it is practically useless. You sit in that queue forever, then you have to block the footpath to get any chance to get on. Why bother at all.

            The onramp itself is also dodgy, with a short merging lane right in front of a tunnel and no shoulder.

        2. I came within 50cm of being hit, along with my two preschoolers, crossing Nelson Street recently. I wrote to Auckland Transport about it, asking for safety improvements. Their response included the following:

          “We have identified there has been one reported crash related to the pedestrian crossing in the past five years, which suggests it is operating relatively safely. As you may appreciate, we are unable to analyse the causes and contributing factors behind near misses, or crashes that have not been reported to the police.

          “We have previously been made aware of the issue with red-light runners at the intersection and modifications have been made to the signal phasing in the morning peak, to reduce the incidence of this behaviour. Unfortunately, there is not enough time to allocate a green signal for each approach to service all of the vehicles at this intersection in the morning peak period.

          “Based on our assessment, we consider that the traffic signals and road markings are clear to drivers and as such, we do not propose to make any changes to the pedestrian crossing or intersection at this stage.

          “The situation to which you refer of vehicles failing to stop for pedestrians during the green man phase and running red lights, is caused by inappropriate driver behaviour and there are no further engineering measures we can take to prevent this from occurring.”

          Which, you know, filled me with rage and frustration.

          1. Was this after the Road Safety Business Review came out?

            Was this before or after they admitted none of the red light cameras were working? Hard to change driver behaviour when you’re not enforcing the rules.

            Was this before or after they adopted Vision Zero? Or rather, put themselves on the ‘road to’ Vision Zero.

            “there is not enough time to allocate a green signal for each approach to service all of the vehicles at this intersection in the morning peak period.”

            Obvious solution to that one. Man! This has to go to the government. They have directly put the needs of traffic flow before the needs of children crossing safely, in the most densely populated part of the country. That’s contrary to the GPS.

            That is so bad. It makes me so angry. Anthony, can you send the AT letter to Pippa Coom at the Waitemata Local Board – she might be concerned enough to take it up with AT. And I’m happy to write to whoever I can, too. You can email me at [email protected]

            A friend’s mother in law was hit recently on a stretch of road that I’d been campaigning to get safety measures on. It’s just got to stop.

          2. I want to reiterate what Roeland said. This; “and there are no further engineering measures we can take to prevent this from occurring.” is bullshit.

            Reducing lanes is an engineering measure. Putting the junction on a platform is an engineering measure. A red light camera is an engineering measure.

          3. It gets better. Or worse, depending on your sense of irony.

            After the anger had subsided, I thought, “That’s not a very Vision Zero response. What are AT doing to communicate Vision Zero principles to their staff, if we are still getting this type of thinking?”

            So I sent them an LGOIA request. It looks like I don’t have the exact text of my request, as I submitted it through their “contact-us” page rather than by email. But it went something like, “Please provide me with copies of internal communications you are using to disseminate Vision Zero thinking and principles among Auckland Transport staff. I would particularly appreciate seeing any design or engineering guidelines that you are using, but my request is not limited to these.”

            They responded yesterday, thusly:

            “Thank you for contacting Auckland Transport (AT) requesting information regarding our implementation of the Vision Zero approach.

            “The intent is absolutely for AT to adopt Vision Zero as mentioned publicly. However, the AT Board has not officially adopted Vision Zero yet. To do this we are currently conducting the due diligence to determine how we might do this and what this would mean for AT and partners. We anticipate this to be considered for formal adoption by the AT Board early in 2019. AT is fully committed to road safety and reducing trauma on our roads, and this is our top priority.

            “We therefore do not hold the information relating to Vision Zero that you have requested other than what has already been made publicly available at the following links:
            • The road to zero http://ourauckland.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/articles/news/2018/9/the-road-to-zero/
            • Agenda of Planning Committee – 4 September 2018
            http://infocouncil.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/Open/2018/09/PLA_20180904_AGN_6737_AT.PDF
            • Agenda of Orakei Local Board – 16 August 2018
            http://infocouncil.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/Open/2018/08/OR_20180816_AGN_7718_AT_WEB.htm
            • Maximise safety and environmental protection.
            https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/plans-projects-policies-reports-bylaws/our-plans-strategies/auckland-plan/transport-access/Pages/direction-maximise-safety-environmental-protection.aspx

            “Your request is therefore declined under Section 17(e) of the LGOIMA as the information you are requesting does not exist.”

            So … they intend to adopt Vision Zero once they have done due diligence, about, I guess, the negative consequences of not killing people? I don’t know.

          4. I have also lodged an LGOIA request for any safety assessments undertaken of the Nelson St/Union St pedestrian crossing, particularly relating to pedestrian and cycling safety. I haven’t heard back on that yet, but it must be due shortly. AT also told me that they were seeking information from LTNZ to respond to that request, as LTNZ holds some information.

          5. Heidi – their reply was dated October 10, so just a month ago now.
            I have written to Pippa Coom about improving walking and biking safety at this intersection, and on the route to Freemans Bay Primary School. I mentioned AT’s response to me in general terms. Pippa indicated she would take it up with them again, so I’ve sent her a full copy of Auckland Transport’s reply this weekend.

          6. Far out, Anthony. They committed “in full and without question” to adopt Vision Zero this year. But from this response you got yesterday, it is clear this commitment will not be fulfilled.

            “the due diligence to determine how we might do this and what this would mean for AT and partners”

            As I understand it, this is spot on. Disregarding the effect on vulnerable Auckland road users like your preschoolers, the decision makers in AT have willingly kowtowed to industry partners who don’t actually want to make changes.

            Changes that might affect motorists on Nelson St, for example.

            They should have adopted Vision Zero in February, and taken action then. Instead they’re doing fucking due diligence on the effects it’ll have on their industry partners? FFS.

            Well before last month, everyone at Auckland Transport should have been given enough education around Vision Zero for the statement you related (“there are no further engineering measures we can take”) to both stick out like a sore thumb and result in disciplinary action.

            What do you do about an organisation that both fails to meet the commitments it makes, and fails to follow the Governmental Policy Statement on Transport? I’m at a loss.

      2. Auckland Girls’ Grammar School must be made co-ed. This is an example of why the board-directed model fails: the board represents the existing families at the school instead of the potential families who live in the area. In this case, the zone extends to Sandringham!! And despite the huge zone, 83.5% of students are out of zone.

        Here’s an obvious way to provide an inner city secondary school. I don’t understand why it didn’t happen yesterday.

        I understand AGGS provides a niche quality education for pasifika girls. But the issue of better education for pasifika girls is a city-wide one, and needs to be tackled everywhere, not by taking the only MoE owned public school in the inner city and retaining single-sex status, effectively cutting out boys in the area from any close public school.

        1. I’ve heard completely (unsubstantiated) rumors from a colleague that sends his daughter there that there is the possibility of it being changed (and linked to Freemans Bay)

          I have no idea how factual or realistic that is though.

      3. A thought, how hard would it be to create a school on a few lower floors of a commercial building? PE spaces would be tricky unless there was a large forcourt or terrace available, which a lot of buildings have on their podium.

        Otherwise a city centre school built from scratch is going to compete for land with skyscrapers at skyscraper land values.

        1. Another thought, the city centre needs more green space. As long as it’s available to the public out of school hours, the provision of an inner city school complete with a field, courts, and a playground makes a lot of sense. Even if the schoolrooms themselves are in the bottom stories of a highrise building. Just needs converting one of the many at-grade carparks to green space.

          1. If you incorporate astro-turf, it could be rented out at night for recreational leagues (futsal, touch, etc)

          2. That’s something I’ve been mulling over too Heidi although I was thinking a publicly owned and run facility that the school has private access to as well as first refusal on booking times (At least within school hours)

          3. The Auckland Performing Arts Centre on the grounds of Western Springs College seems to work well in this way, and the MoE and Council are looking at the possibility of a large Council-run gymnasium on the grounds, too, for which the school would have certain booking rights (I haven’t heard latest plans, so don’t know where that’s got to). It just needs to not work out like the Philips Aquatic Centre in Mount Albert Grammar School, which has been available to the public, but has an end date for the arrangement – 2025, I think? Council is now going to have to foot the bill for another one somewhere else. So no timelines should be part of it.

        2. That’s how the Unlimited Discovery school in Christchurch works. Though it is now getting a new building.

          Auckland could really do with some of the alternative schools that concentrate on self directed learning. Auckland is very poor on alternatives other than the Steiner Schools – that don’t suit everyone philosophically..

          1. The concepts could also be incorporated into mainstream schools, if they weren’t still being stifled by Tomorrow’s Schools..

          2. True Heidi and that would be great. But the Unlimited Discovery concept is so much more than mainstream schools can ever provide with parent participation.

        3. The current Central Police Station on the corner of Cook and Vincent Street is up for sale. The Police are moving to College Hill. They say they haven’t found a future for it….

          That would be perfect for an inner city school. With a bit of work, they could create a big gym on the basement floors.. Also near to Myers Park, the Aotea Square, the CRL stop at Aotea, and walking distance to Vic Park.

          1. Yes, interesting information. The police have an office on Jervois Rd, really close to College Hill, which is closed more often than it’s open. The site, complete with parking, has been crying out for development. Ugly as. Do you know where in College Hill they’re going to? Could it be they’re going to the Jervois Rd site? If not, that’s a spot that Ockham or similar should make something lovely with.

          2. Hi Heidi, 13-15 College Hill. Corner of Gudgeon Street and College Hill, just a stone’s throw from Victoria Park.

          3. The Police building is built like a castle. One of the architects once told me they designed it to be defendable during civil unrest.

    2. Here’s a little tidbit that most people don’t realise:

      According to NZTA reports, 16,000 vehicles drive down Nelson Street each weekday. Presumably these same 16,000 people drive back up Hobson Street each weekday too.

      But… Stats NZ latest population projections for the Auckland Central West area unit show that 23,300 people live in the Nelson-Hobson area.

      So in simple terms, there are substantially more people already living along Hobson and Nelson, than drive along them each day. You certainly wouldn’t know it from the way the traffic lanes dominate everything.

      1. So, you mean, if we reduce that to, say, 4,000 cars arriving and leaving each day, that’s, say, 8000 people who could shift to supporting our public transport network and 4000 who could move into the city centre?

        That would make the road network less congested, the public transport system more frequent, and the city centre more vibrant and iveable. Let’s do this! 🙂

        1. Yes, everyone driving along that route can just jump on a bus. Wave a magic wand and commercial vehicle drivers can just stick their deliveries on the seat next to them, and people trying to get home after ten hour days can tack 90 minutes on at each end just like that.

          1. Commercial vehicles make up around 7% of traffic. So that’s something like 1,100 commercial vehicles a day, and 14,900 cars with one or two people in them.

            Make no mistake, those two lanes are a huge motorway based ten lane couplet for single occupant peak office commuters in cars.

            And I take PT home after a ten hour day almost every day. It’s the same as when I do an eight hour day, or a half day.

          2. You wouldn’t do it overnight, but there is no reason for that much traffic to be travelling through the most densely populated part of the country.

  10. There’s no mention in the video about halving the amount of pavement in the city centre, as per the expert they brought to advise, Jan Gehls.

    Agree with the CCRG – for residents, the focus would be different to what the video shows. The most urgent work is to get NZTA out of Hobson St and Nelson St.

    1. I noticed the other morning this week when the lights were out at Nelson/cook, the queue on the motorway went back to greenlane. Queues on the motorway are very high risk because of the speeds of vehicles in adjacent lanes. So Nelson st is somewhat justified from a safety perspective but Hobson st isnt. NZTA shouldn’t care if the whole CBD is blocked up. But AT metro probably will. I wonder if we could do the the whole moveable barriers thing on Nelson St during the day from 10am to 5am weekdays and all weekend to remove a few vehicle lanes to create temporary space for random reasons.

      1. While the backup to Greenlane is to be avoided, the mechanism for avoiding it should be traffic evaporation while increasing access and people-flow. The solution should never have been to have a multilane highway through the city.

        Three lanes of traffic from NWM and three lanes of traffic from the SM feeding onto 3 lanes on Nelson St. That’s excessive, utterly ‘uncivilised’ in Buchanan’s terms. One bus lane from each direction, and one general traffic lane would still have superior people-flow capacity, and would seriously reduce the traffic on Nelson St. Nelson St itself could then go down to 2 lanes from 3, with wider footpaths.

      2. Well I don’t think we can continue to trash the city centre to satisfy someone driving in from Greenlane – that model is clearly well past its use by date and completely unsustainable. Keep building more lanes on the motorway (and in the city centre) and this is exactly what we will continue to get. The motorway is already blocked so I think the alleged risks are little more than NZTA/road engineers smokescreen. Since NZTA don’t care about us in the slightest, Residents don’t generally care either if the motorway is blocked up, and it is totally justified, indeed a necessity now from a city centre safety and pollution perspective to have fewer lanes, slower speeds and fewer vehicles. No clever movable barriers shifting the problem around are needed – permanent detuning and re-allocation of space is the answer.

        1. Taking Nelson down to 3 from 5 lanes would probably work ok.
          You could make Hobson St 2 lanes only overnight without impacting the motorway, but there would be lots of buses stuck in the gridlock across the whole CBD. At least for a few months until people find alternate transport, or till mobs of angry lawyers take council to court for some random reason.

          But you definitely don’t want to make them two way roads. Just makes it worse for everyone. Guaranteed.

  11. Yes, we should leverage the America’s Cup 36 to bring forward development in Wynyard and the waterfront, this is great.

    BUT, it shouldn’t be at the expense of fine grain projects that benefit the thousands of city centre residents, i.e safer crossings, traffic calming, parks, better pedestrian and cycling connections that are so desperately needed around the likes of Nelson and Hobson street.

    We’ll be keeping an eye on how the City Centre Targeted rate is split up so key projects don’t suck all the air out of the room.

    Holding back on cheap trials is a missed opportunity; bollards, paint and planters could be easily deployed to test what happens. A good trial will show how great High street could be and bring together support.

    As for shopping in the city centre, no one is going to Queen street to pick up fridge. It’s small objects that can be carried by foot. Even those that drive and park, still have to walk to the shops.

  12. Why is the revitalisation of Takapuna not due to start until 2020? Yes I know that Council wants to build another car park before it happens, but AT’s recent parking survey shows that parking is not at capacity around the Town Centre. And if it is at capacity, then AT has the solution in its Parking Strategy to create space by raising prices. Alternatively they could reduce the amount of long term parkers in the area. A consultant report in 2014 said that this would be the best way to approach the situation. They made reference to the AT Parking Strategy that provides that it is not AT policy to provide long term parking. It is probably no surprise that AT have achieved nothing in four years – long term parking was 50% of the total then as it still is now. Or Panuku could start by building on just a half of 40 Anzac St leaving the rest initially as car parking. None of this stuff is hard to work out.

    The Town Centre block is dying. Last weekend I counted eleven empty premises in just this short block. A long term shop owner from this block expressed to me that he didn’t see a future for Takapuna retail. Takapuna deserves a much better outcome than is currently being delivered by Panuku/Auckland Council just sitting on their hands, or each others hands. The revitalisation of Takapuna will not come through more car parks; it hasn’t happened so far, so nothing is likely to change. Panuku should immediately get on and build the apartments that will breathe life into the area.

    It’s like light rail in Queen St – just do it!

    1. Takapuna Town Centre has been dying for years. I don’t think the car park that Panuku is building will bring people back to Takapuna either. In the article about the Development of Auckland Goff says “In Takapuna we are building a vibrant town square in place of a car park “. That is a joke when Panuku’s Town Square is more like an alleyway and the bulk of the car park site will be covered in high-rise developments. The council-owned car parks close to the beach would be a better site for apartments. It will be interesting to see how popular with buyers are the new apartments in Auburn and Anzac Streets? And whether the footpath-upgrade and one-way system on Hurstmere Road enhances the retail experience?

      1. You can’t complain about people not coming to Takapuna and complain about housing being built so that people can already be in Takapuna. I also disagree that Takapuna has been dying for years. There are far fewer empty shops and a very diverse hospitality offering in comparison to 2005-2008. As much as people hated the sentinel and other apartment developments of that era, they have breathed a new life into the town centre and the latest batches of apartments will continue to do so.

        You’re absolutely right that the car parks facing the beach should be redeveloped as housing. However, that development should happen *as well* as redevelopment of the Anzac Street car park, not instead of it.

  13. There are a lot of things missing:

    -The Victoria Precinct is still ignored.
    -The alley way networks near Durham St west is still neglected, there should be lane way connection from Mills lane to Elliott st, from queen st to albert st.
    -Albert park tunnel?

    1. As an aside, A revised set of project options for the City Centre Targeted rate programme (TR8) is coming to ACCAB this month so it will be interesting to see council officers suggestions, but more importantly is an opportunity to influence those project choices and priorities across the whole city centre, not just the big ticket regional projects that swallow up large amounts of CCTR budget, (currently $$ flowing off the waterfront) but don’t necessarily deliver great local on the ground results for residents spread across the city centre ( eg Nelson & Hobson streets as has already been mentioned here)

  14. Also council should start charging land banking tax. The commercial development intention has cooled off recently, this may continue for the next few years.

    So it is very likely the vacant land in Shortland St, NDG and St James will be left untouched for the next 10 years.

    1. Yes, the second half of that article seems to articulate well that there won’t really be any true economic benefit to Auckland/NZ from hosting the Americas Cup. But at least we’ll get the ratepayers/taxpayers onside to pay for all that infrastructure, right?

          1. Makes you wonder why getting the cars out of Queen St and humanising Nelson and Hobson St wasn’t ‘on the books’. I like this tweet from Francis McRae

            Hosting an event to fix a city’s infrastructure is like throwing a party so that your hungry kids can eat the leftover pizza

    2. Also, in that video [in link] Darby talks about how the Tanks are being removed from the Tank Farm and how eventually, after the Americas Cup, that will become a large park. But given that Goff is also saying he’s expecting all the infrastructure [for the Americas Cup] to pay for itself if we retain the Cup for 2-3 ‘defenses’ Does that mean we won’t be getting the park until then? What happens if we lose the Cup this time round? Do we ‘hold’ the land in case it’s needed again if we win the Cup again?
      I think this highlights the folly of building our hopes and dreams around a diminishing international yacht race. [Larry Ellison, owner of Oracle, having lost the AC has already announced plans for a new International Yacht Racing Regatta – The ‘F1 of Yacht Racing’]

  15. I think we can kiss goodbye to Queens Wharf being an open public space. Its going to be a full-time ferry/ship terminal with the changes proposed. Pretty busy.

    We need to reclaim Captain Cook Wharf for green open space.

    Bledisloe Wharf would be perfect for a park and would provide a “book-end” to compliment Wynyard Point. But the Port isn’t moving anytime soon.

    1. Agree – it is going to be totally infrastructure focused, unfortunately it looks like the wharf is being divvied up to suit interests other than well-thought out public space that people want to use – where is the overall planning? – not helped by POAL’s refusal to move on, and 2 mooring dolphins consented for 35 years for some reason.
      Everyone has well-developed plans except there is no well-developed plan for public space. The southern end will be completely flooded with vehicles, and am told the central corridor will be needed for ongoing and increased buses and cruise support,as will all the southern end where we already have buses parked during cruises. Vehicles will also need to access the western side for ferries. Don’t think the lady with the pram will be hanging around that southern area with all the vehicles and pollution (Quay St bus terminal also right near by).
      There needs to be a well-thought out plan for public space – not this ad-hoc-ness. Remove the cloud Bring back shed 11 and put it (without its side walls) at the southern end of where the cloud is, and the Northern end can be proper open public space, that doesn’t permit vehicles nor get privatised at the drop of a hat.

      1. Personally, I like the Cloud. But its big and takes up too much space, so should be moved somewhere else (CCW, surrounded by greenery and trees?)

        The return of Shed 11 I am agnostic about. But it should definitely be open and green on the point.

        1. Yes the size dominance is the main problem but also the skin has a finite life – especially in that location – it gets really brittle. And its a pig in winter to heat – you get a really good interior rainfall effect when they fire up the gas heaters!
          Shed 11 is not going to last forever in storage unfortunately it is degrading – it just seems like a confluence of favorable conditions and a good reuse of something that everyone likes – a big old shed!

  16. I wish Queen St could be reimagined by artists and architects, not by traffic engineers and property developers. Same for Takapuna come to think of it.

    1. The delay on Queen St is a disgrace. Who would possibly object? Its not like there is on-street parking there to keep retailers afloat. Anyone who uses the street for a purpose (PT, cyclists, walkers, delivery and emergency vehicles) would be better off for the changes.

      The Council has no kahunas.

      1. The community does though. I think this might be a perfect opportunity for community-led development. The idea has such broad support.

  17. It’s not the handful of 2-stroke scooters causing the pollution problem, banning them will have almost no effect other than allowing the authorities pretend they are actually doing something. The problem is diesel vehicles of which diesel buses are a big contributor. Now I know they’re supposed to Euro 6 or whatever and maybe they are when brand new, but after a few years, they are nowhere near that standard. It’s noteworthy that the decline in air quality coincides with all the extra diesel buses jamming up the Civic area, we desperately need electric PT.

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