Despite some very small and (seemingly) reluctant steps by Auckland Transport to close off parts of the city centre to traffic on New Year’s Eve, there was still a dangerous and very messy situation with cars mingling with thousands of revellers as midnight approached:

This is not an isolated problem. At the start of 2018 there were similar problems in the city centre due to roads not being closed off to traffic when they should have been:

Auckland is to be serious about hosting big public events, closing off streets in a meaningful way is going to have to be something we get much better at. For example Sydney closes most roads early in the afternoon

One thing that is exciting about the council’s Access for Everyone proposal, that Councillors unanimously voted to support late last year, and encouraged AT to start trialling as soon as possible. Not only will it help make many parts of the city centre more pedestrian friendly, as part of the proposal, the city is divided up into a series of independent cells and cars cannot travel between them. This should make it easier to close of different parts of the city depending on the event.

It’s worth noting that it’s not just cars that get priority over thousands of people, Stuff reporter Todd Niall was on the waterfront and noted that thousands of revellers were held up from crossing the Wynyard Crossing bridge so a single yacht could pass through. I understand the priority for boats was set when the bridge was built but with the waterfront getting more popular, perhaps it’s time to reconsider those rules.

Not giving enough priority to pedestrians wasn’t the end of it though. Afterwards it seems there was a pretty horrific lack of public transport services for getting people home. A Stuff article on New Year’s Day highlighted the plight of some people who had to wait hours for a bus:

Albany woman Colleen Fairweather said she was one of hundreds milling around Britomart after midnight, waiting for only a handful of buses.

Fairweather had travelled into the CBD by bus to watch the fireworks and thought her trip home would be easy.

Her route planner app showed there were plenty of buses to the North Shore scheduled, but few arrived, she said.

Instead, there were queues snaking along Quay St and around the corner up Queen St – including older people and children, she said.

An Uber home would have cost her $160 due to surge pricing, so she waited.

Fairweather said only three northbound buses arrived in 90 minutes, each quickly filling with passengers.

It was 2.30am before she got home, she said.

“It was such bad planning. They know people will be out [on New Year’s Eve].”

Jamie Killick, from Sandringham, gave up up waiting for a bus after an hour and Ubered home for $60.

“I know there were in fact massive delays … The buses were just disappearing from the board and not coming at all,” he said.

He said that a No. 70 bus scheduled for midnight arrived about 1.30pm, while he was at the bus stop.

A bus driver noted

Well I was driving a bus last night. Left Customs St nr Commerce @1am & didn’t reach Mayoral Dr off Hobson until 1.45. Allowing traffic in central city main prob – total gridlock

And part of the cause for this again comes courtesy of Todd Niall as everyone tried to drive home.

Some of this stems from public transport services just not being good enough. Just look at the minimal extra services Auckland Transport were running on New Year’s to ferry these thousands of people home. It’s no wonder many instead choose to drive. On a night like New Years, we probably need close to a full peak hour level of service. On top of that, all of the peak time bus priority measures should be activated too.

It’s useful to compare and contrast this with how other major cities around the world run public transport over New Year’s. London provides free public transport travel from just before midnight until 4.30am on New Year’s Day – and operates most tube lines at something not too short of normal frequencies. Sydney runs thousands of extra services on their bus, rail and light-rail networks.

Part of the problem is we’ve seen this story before. For large events, and particularly for free ones like New Year’s or the Lantern Festival, Auckland Transport has long struggled to provide sufficient public transport services to meet demand. The only events where a lot of PT is put on tend to be large concerts and sporting events where the organisers are required to pay for them, these are the ones where travel is included free with an event ticket.

My point here is not specific to New Year’s, but rather to highlight that Auckland Transport don’t yet seem to realise the importance of public transport to more than just commuting and trips to games at Eden Park or concerts at Mt Smart stadium. I think that part of this is cultural – most AT staff now use public transport for commuting or for the odd trip to the rugby once or twice a year but probably little outside of that. This under-appreciation of the growing role of public transport for a wider and wider variety of trips gets reflected in the ongoing lack of improvements to off-peak rail frequencies (even though the rail network is a core part of the frequent PT network) and how most of the rail network still gets shut down for weeks at a time in December and January for what seems to just be routine maintenance.

This, and another issue was again highlighted yesterday with AT promoting their event services for a Mumford & Sons concert this weekend at Western Springs.

A couple of key issues include:

  • The whole point of the new bus network is to create a coherent PT network but one that may require people to transfer to reach their destination – as a trade of for more frequently running buses. Running a few extra busway and train services isn’t a lot of use to people as an alternative if people then can’t catch a local bus to get them from a bus or train station home.
  • The closest train stations (Baldwin Ave and Morningside) are almost a 2km walk away and if you need to transfer to a Southern, Eastern or Onehunga line train you better check the timetables as the extra services depart Britomart before the extra Western Line services arrive.
  • There are special event buses to the venue but they leave from Mayoral Dr. Anyone catching the NX1 to town will have to walk all the way up there to get one when instead they could just get an NX2 for a short walk.
  • The 18 bus, which runs from New Lynn to the City along Gt North Rd right past the venue is not included in the free travel.

Right now we seem stuck in a vicious cycle where many people don’t even consider using PT for events because AT have fumbled it so many times they’ve lost trust and so they drive which only makes the problems worse.

Fundamentally public transport is becoming a critical part of what makes Auckland work, not just an ‘add-on’ for a few students, those who work in the city, and those who can’t afford a car. This needs to be understood by Auckland Transport much more than happens at the moment.

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88 comments

  1. Hey, AT seems to think closing the entire rail network for over a week at Xmas/New year is still acceptable in 2019 so, yeah.

    1. Short of night time works waking all and sundry around the works, when else can they repair the network especially the bigger maintenance items?

        1. And actually, plenty of the revellers in the city centre might not be ‘AT customers’ at all. They are simply people, deserving of safe amenity.

          Does AT understand they have a duty to all the people of Auckland, whether they are passengers or not?

      1. The obvious solution is to follow what cities that take their PT seriously do, and have rolling closures over the year. Auckland could have a maintenance programme over the whole year which closes a part of track each week, or for one week each month, or similar. The extra buses required to replace trains during that week would be shifted onto the next section, making good use of the investment.

        1. Hard to justify investing billions in rail if there is always going to be a gap in the line somewhere where everyone has to transfer to a bus then back onto a train. This would seriously put travelers off.

          Night works happen all over the world on rail lines, motorways and other roads, no reason they couldn’t also happen on Auckland’s rail network.

        1. You can’t really compare Auckland rail to Sydney. They have many lines with 4 tracks or more, Auckland is still dithering around about putting a third track between Otahuhu and Wiri.

          1. The majority of their track is still double tracked and I’m sure these sections require maintenance as well. Also a lot of their quad tracked sections don’t have platforms on all lines for all stations so it’s not a simple case of using one set while the other is being maintained.

            AT and Kiwirail have just taken a path of least resistance by using the summer closures that were for big projects to get routine works done now those big projects are finished.

          2. Following on from what Zippo said about Sydney not being the city Auckland should look to for PT service management, Melbourne too is bad. I was there in December 2018 and couldn’t get over how disjointed and dysfunctional the network is. Bus, train and tram services are not integrated and they are operational/administrative silos within PT Victoria. One of Melbourne’s leading transport advocates told me that they all look to Perth as the model. “When you arrive by train at any station on the Transperth network, there’s a connecting bus service there waiting for you!” he exclaimed.

  2. I hope I’m wrong but after the dealings I have had with AT I don’t see there being a huge change without a lot of middle management being moved on. Or ideally people having a 180 change in their view on vehicle movements being key.

    For example apparently its impossible to have proper pedestrian crossing around the Puhinui Train station as it will impede truck movements. Even though Cavendish Drive is close and is 4 lanes and 60kph. And to make matters worse there is a primary school close by that would benefit.

    1. Trying to cross Puhinui Rd there is crazy … cars tear around the bends of Bridge St. There’s a pedestrian shelter opp the dairy, that’s the only remotely safe place. I often see long queues of cars waiting to turn in and out of Wallace Rd that would be assisted by a pedestrian crossing to break up the traffic. But then I remember it took decades to get the lighted pedestrian crossing across Carruth by the block of shops. It all comes down to money.

    2. Do you have a response in writing that this is why they won’t provide proper pedestrian crossings at this location? It is not in line with the new GDP which puts safety as one of two core priorities, so it would be good to follow up that past decisions made under the old GDP must now be overturned.

    1. Nothing wrong with cars, but any system where overuse of cars causes significant delays and inefficiencies to move people around, deserves criticism.

    2. Jeremy, why would you say that? If I go to Eden Par for a big rugby event, or a concert at Mt Smart then, presumably for safety reasons, the streets are closed off. It seems 40,000 were expected in the city. It seems entirely reasonable that parts of the city be closed off.

    3. I would say most of the thousands of people on those streets would hate being crammed in for the sake of a few people in cars.

      1. That actually happened on Park Road at the Lantern Festival. All the people walking in from Grafton bridge were crammed onto the footpath, while the three adjacent lanes were closed for most traffic anyway.

    4. You got me, I hate cars so much it must be why I’ve just gone out and bought a nee one.

      Cars are great for many things but, and this is the critical point, they not great for everything. Some of the things they’re not great at are include when they’re going somewhere when lots of other ones are going to the same place (like with commuting and events). They’re also not great in environments like those seen on NY with lots of people in dense urban areas.

      Cars work best when fewer people use them and PT the opposite.

  3. The Wynyard crossing is infuriating. Been held up there many a time waiting for a yachty to putt on past and then a second sometime after that.

    A better solution to that bridge is needed.

  4. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that there were always going to be issues on New Year’s Eve in central Auckland:

    Both Western and Southern Lines not running due to maintenance. I live along the Western Line and would have expected some quite major works to be happening along the corridor. Pity that they could still operate freight trains but not reopen passenger services for just one night.

    The night timetables are really not that good, two additional services after midnight, an hour apart, is a futile attempt of moving people and doesn’t nearly meet demand. Buses should run to at least 3am on similar evening frequencies.

    Traffic in the city should have been closed off from no later than 6pm to 4am. There should no reason to drive around the city that evening except to park. Some roads could also be closed exclusively for buses.

    Hopefully AT can get this right in time for 2020.

    1. For events in the city where it’s obvious that any vehicle movement is going to be serverly restricted AT needs to look outside the circle at do things like running ferries to Devonport and then operating special buses from there to all points on the shore, and running a shuttle train service to Orakei and Newmarket and then run special buses from these stations to all points east, west and south.

      1. Peak hour should be a good pattern to use for any event near the city centre. An event out of town like the Western Springs example Matt used is a bit trickier but should just involve the normal daytime pattern with beefing up the lines that go to the venue.

  5. It was a fairly ho hum fireworks display anyway. Not sure why people bother going to watch anymore. Waste of public money really. I had more fun lighting up my Warehouse sparklers and setting off the neighbors dogs.

    London, Sydney and Dubai all had pretty decent displays.

    Just one time I’d like to see one of Gandalf’s red dragon fireworks. That’d be nice.

    1. Yeah, you are right. Although ATEED regularly spends our money on fireworks displays every year for various events. AFAIK the new years displays are sponsored by Sky City. I do wonder what kick backs they get in kind for their efforts.

  6. The entire city was a mess from about 10pm. We walked down from K’rd to see all the street closures.

    Cars were parked everywhere, no footpath was safe from parked cars, crazy acceleration and speeding around the thousands of people on foot, every intersection has multiple red light runners pushing through bustling pedestrian crossings. Police just watching it happen every phase at Victoria and Albert, mostly there to jostle people back onto the footpaths.

    Felt very vindicated in the decision to avoid cycling….

    We got to Queen Street, still full of cars at 11:30pm, and it was such a crush we gave up on all of that and went back up to Federal Street where it was crushed but at least we wouldn’t get run over.

    Giving up on the streets actually being closed as promised, we wandered back up to Hopetoun bridge for the fireworks. Multiple cars stopping in the middle of the bridge, parked to watch the fireworks on a blind rise. Fortunately an unmarked police car moved them on. Watched the queue of cars stuck trying on the motorway trying to head down Nelson Street get longer and longer as they celebrated the new year in their cars.

    Immediately after the fireworks the motorway filled up with people scrambling to leave, and now a massive traffic jam the other way.

    1. dr, the situation of parking seems to be a much wider problem than just the city.

      We notice in Takapuna that many motorists choose to park wherever they want including in gardens, on berms and footpaths. As a ratepayer I resent that I will have to pay for the reinstatement of some of these areas because of the damage due to parking. The Auckland Council pool is a classic example where after many years of the lawn being dug up the area now has bollards.

      This last weekend people had avoided parking on yellow lines by parking inside them on the footpath. The option for pedestrians was to either walk through a garden or onto the road to get past that car.

      In August I emailed an OIA request to AT. Here are excerpts from the reply.

      “Thank you for your email dated 30 August 2018, requesting information about the Auckland Transport (AT) Parking Strategy in Takapuna. I note your first correspondence dated 30 August 2018. I apologise for the delay in this response, as it did not come to my attention until the 12 Dec 2018.
      AT are currently not enforcing on vehicles that are parked on the grass berm. AT recently reviewed the management of parking on berms and the necessary legal pre-requisites i.e. signage. Following this review, it was established that AT could not, in good faith, issue infringement notices for berm parking, as specific signage is required to enforce vehicles parking on berms. For more context, any signage must be approved through the AT Traffic Control Committee with supporting resolutions before it can be installed.”

      How can it be that every single berm is required to have signage? Could the legislation not be amended so that parking on berms is automatically illegal? Given that many pipes run down/across the berms would that be sensible? Do footpaths need to have signs that there is no parking? Or bus lanes?

      I was going to comment, but form your own opinions.

      1. I was chasing this in a couple of spots and eventually signs got put in on a few streets (who knows if enforcement ever happens though). I understand that it’s an central government law thing – being New Zealand, you can park wherever you like, unless a sign/road marking says otherwise and not on footpaths, so AT has its hands tied until (if) that changes, as you noted.

        The parking in the city was illegal in all (existing) senses.

      2. This is a serious issue. Parking on berms reduces safety for children and other vulnerable users. It is also illegal. Vehicle parking on a verge, vehicle crossing, footpath, cycleway, traffic island or flush median breaks rules 2.14, 6.7, 6.14, 6.9, 6,6 of the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 (as amended up to 2017):

        2.14 Driving on lawn, garden, or other cultivation
        A driver must not drive a motor vehicle on a lawn, garden, or other cultivation adjacent to, or forming part of, a road.

        Breaking one of these rules breaks S4 or S10 of the LTA 1998. They are stationary vehicle offences enforceable by a parking warden or police officer (S2 and S128E of LTA 1998).

        AT has been tied up in knots about signage. It is a sore indictment of the sluggishness of our systems that this hasn’t been fixed yet.

        But I don’t know why the Police won’t enforce it, signs or no signs.

        1. +1 Heidi.

          The Police could make this a (sorry to mix animal words) cash cow scapegoat, simply by fining everyone that parks on a berm (like they should be doing in the first place). So much so that it becomes a “public” issue, and AT moves to actually do something about it and own the problem.

          1. I think it would be highly appropriate at present, though. We have unprecedented parking problems stemming from unprecedented car ownership and from an unresolved legal situation that is hopefully temporary. Given the safety implications, the Police should step in.

          2. @Zippo if the car is parked in the middle of a general traffic lane I think they would, it seems a double standard. They care about motorist safety but nobody elses safety when it comes to parking. Dangerous parking should be treated like dangerous driving. Parking longer than the time limit or without a valid parking ticket is a job for parking wardens, but dangerous parking should be the job of police… or at least a shared responsibility.

            The amount of times I have seen dangerous parking on NSAAT lines, footpaths or flush medians being totally ignored by police is really irritating. Wardens seem to be just as bad though, seemingly focusing on their active callout rather than roving and issuing notices/ordering towies on sight of issues.

        2. I guess with enough creativity / bad faith you could argue that pulling in and out of that berm doesn’t really count as ‘driving’ (takes care of 2.14), and the berm is not a footpath or special vehicle lane (note there is no rule about parking on berms specifically).

          IMO you should not be allowed to mount the kerb at all, unless you’re pulling into a driveway.

          Not that it matters though. You see cars parked on the footpath all the time, everywhere, which clearly breaches 6.14. Parking in loading zones is not enforced either which is a massive PITA for people who actually need them.

          It looks like a cultural issue to me — it is just not considered reasonable to enforce parking rules. Even the slightest inconvenience to drivers is considered totally unacceptable.

          1. I have no trouble getting AT to ticket cars parked on the footpath in my suburb. I think the problem is people expect AT to be out patrolling every street which simply isn’t realistic. If you give them a call they are more than happy to come out and earn a bit of revenue.

          2. IIRC there was a case some years ago where an authority ticketing vehicles on berms was overturned by a judge because there was no signage specifically forbidding it. So to enforce they would have to put up signage . . . everywhere.

          3. Why isn’t it realistic, they should be roving, there is plenty enough of it to come across it at least every km. Having to call every time is never ending.

            If they don’t have enough people they should get appropriate funding and hire more, create more jobs and reduce safety issues in the community, seems like a win-win to me. Better then wasting money on many of the other garbage things they tend to come up with like helicopters and rideshare.

        3. Heidi, the police do NOT have the time and most importantly the resources to attend to parking infringements.

          And the kind of people who park like arseholes as described are the very same good god fearing Mr and Mrs Jo average Kiwi who go to work, vote and own investment houses, and who see silly things like traffic laws as optional and not applicable to them and who whinge like infantile Mother F’s the moment they are caught.

          These dickheads are the same ones who will demand to know why such a police officer who holds them to account, “are they not out catching murderers”. Real wankers!

          However Auckland Transport earn a living from parking are far better placed to deal with this, fiscally speaking.

          Well not unless we start resourcing our police properly anyway!

    2. The tiny sidewalks on Hopetoun Bridge were filled with photographers and people walking on the road amongst speeding cars from 11pm. Understandable as the best place to see the only free public countdown with full bridge lights and skytower, which were advertised as being synchronised this year. No traffic management. Then the police helicopter almost ran into someone’s poor drone it seems. ‘She’ll be right’ and so it goes.

  7. I would say that security (and probably hygiene – AT doesn’t want drunk punters puking on the buses) is what stops a comprehensive nighttime service. both of these things are fixable with a bit of effort (and cost) but AT just don’t give a damn unless it happens on a weekday in the working year between the hours of 6am to 10am and 4pm to 7pm.

    Closing the rail corridors for weeks is simply an outrage. What if you live in Sunnyvale, use the train, and look forward to your two weeks off so you can take leisurely train journeys to Silvia Park or downtown? Not on your nelly if AT have anything to do with it. Commuters only need apply.

    The idea of closing downtown to traffic from 6pm or 7pm to 4am or 5am every night is an excellent one!!!!

    1. I am in Sunnyvale… super reliant on the train as the only alternative is an hourly super indirect bus which almost constantly comes through upto 20 minutes early (the 152).

      They don’t even sent the RBWx (express rail bus) to Sunnyvale, they skip it even though travel time would be the same…

      Rail bus is really too infrequent and doesnt even really cover the rail operating span properly… like you cant even get in to work in the city for a 7am start… and the Journey times suck. You really need both RBW and RBWx running all day.

      On new years you need probably every 15 min until 3am if rail buses rather than just 00:05 and 00:35 which leaves a crowd of 100s unable to fit at Britomart….

  8. One final thing about AT’s Xmas/New year rail closures. AT’s middle and up management will not doubt all live in that ‘other’ New Zealand – the same one inhabited by politicians and Radio New Zealand and all the rest of the pampered middle class managerial elite – which has the money to bugger off to the holiday home for 2-3 weeks over the Xmas break.

    Track closures at Xmas/New year? Shouldn’t be a problem, everyone is at the bach or camping at the beach anyway.

    In it’s own way, the summer rail shutdown is symbolic of the wider class disconnect that now exists between the privileged world of the well paid managerial class and the rest in NZ.

    1. With the completion of the bus ‘New Network’ rollout in Nov 2018, the AT Metro network is supposed to be a set of fully integrated bus, train and ferry services but as was demonstrated over the Xmas-New Year period, when one part of the network shuts down, the rest of the network doesnt take up the slack to compensate.

      Network resilience is all about coordinated planning and service interoperability. Until AT Integrated Networks sets up a team that manages service/network design including timetabling for all modes (AT’s Network Development Team under Pete Moth would be best placed to do this in my opinion), the siloed approach to service provision will continue and it will get worse year on year.

      Large sections of Auckland’s population still know little if anything about the AT New Network…they dont know even the most basic things – that they dont get charged within a fare zone each time they get off a bus and get on another bus.

      Its this lack of constant, practical communication with customers coupled with the lack of a trimodal approach to PT network/service design and provision, that keeps AT Metro operating as a network in name only. When you use the ‘Metro’ moniker, you need to act like one, 24x7x365.

      1. So is the logical move to increase the Network Development team’s scope to include designing the network for events, track and other maintenance, and of course, transfers, first and last leg, and wayfinding?

        What about the communications side, Rob? Should each team be in charge of their own communications?

        Eg network development, corridor development, safety, parking etc?

        1. Heidi, the Network Development team’s core strength is in PT service integration. They should be the one team responsible for bus, train and ferry service integration including timetabling – ensuring that the rail spines operate at the 10 minute frequencies AT promised some time ago and that rail and ferry services tightly integrate with frequent and connector bus services.

          The depth and breadth of the Network Development team’s collective knowledge and experience in bus service integration with train and ferry services is such that they are in my opinion (based on 5 years of working alongside them during various consulting assignments I’ve done at AT), the team best placed and able in the organisation, to design ongoing, integrated bus, train and ferry services. The team could certainly play a role in designing the AT Metro network to be real world-resilient, by being the internal facilitating entity that workshops with the Day of Operations team and other teams responsible for bus, train and ferry service delivery, ways of coordinated working that achieve better service performance during planned and unplanned service disruptions. With their 5-year’s experience in the design, communication and rollout of the New Network, Network Development certainly are the team best placed in my opinion, to design better service transfers and should be a key ‘partner’ within AT for the design and implementation of first and last leg network access solutions.

          As for wayfinding, because it is now part of the AT Customer Experience division and the design of wayfinding solutions in both physical and digital forms is inextricably linked with service marketing, customer service, customer communication and non-fare revenue generation, that’s a separate kettle of fish to sort out and is thus not what the Network Development team should be burdened with at this point.

          How best to conduct customer communications/engagement for road corridor, parking, PT, walking and cycling – be those customer interactions pre, during and post-service/infra build, is a work stream that the Integrated Networks and CX divisions of AT will have to figure out who does what, where and when…and complete that work stream with a structure and a set of methods that actually works ‘in the field’, within the next 6-9 months. I have my views on how to best get this done and that’s a discussion for another time.

  9. Great article Matt. I agree that AT doesn’t seem to have the ability to properly manage the streets nor provide an effective public transport system as alternative to people using their cars for large free public events.

    The inadequate management of the streets rest solely with AT. Whilst not wanting to let AT off the hook, as I don’t think that their senior management actually properly understand public transport, how much is the lack of public transport for free events due to lack of funding? The lack of funding for public transport rest with the politicians, as funding is a political decision.

    I will give the politicians some leave way if the AT management didn’t tell the politician beforehand that the public transport on New Years Eve would be inadequate? However this has happen every year and if the politician had any smarts they would have realised it was inadequate.

    I’m not going to hold my breath that AT will get it right for the Lantern Festival.

    1. Why would the politicians care? They’re on holiday at this time, it doesn’t affect them, the Auckland CBD is the last place any politician or manager wants to be on NYE.

  10. With budgets locked down a year in advance, if demand forecasting was piss poor then I doubt there would be much wiggle room for additional services at short notice. Good news is a comprehensive “lessons learnt” report will be written and circulated (and ignored) at AT – they might even splurge and use the colour toner!

        1. Of course. It will be written by PWC at great expense, be very long with lots of nice picture and use lots of big words normal people never use and not really say anything new and no one will ever read it.

          1. They would probably need it in their PWC “lessons learnt recommendations” report before they will considering a lessons learnt report for that. Probably rank 256 but only after the 2019 review as their media team just noticed that negative article. They also have zero vision so good luck with that.

  11. It’s not only that the level of service for many events is poor – It’s also the cost.

    Basically as soon as you are travelling with more than just yourself – It’s cheaper to drive. Off-peak fares would help with this.
    example of the Latern Festival or New Years eve – Heading into the city with 3-4 people in a car, from say Howick, is WAY cheaper than 3-4 people using a bus/train return journey.

    1. Good point 01James. This is absolutely true for most of Auckland, and that is on top of wondering how to get home from events that run late. For a family in Devonport to get to the Lantern Festival and back is about $55 (bus/ferry/bus) and with half-hour waits between ferries could take an hour and a half each way.

      We’ve got to get to the point in this city where public transport is frequent for everybody and fairly priced for everybody, but we are nowhere near that yet. Until then, we are just pushing people into cars and then complaining about the traffic!

      1. And to get to a point where AT parking at least covers the cost of capital.

        It would be even more helpful if AT were to take account of some of the strategic directions in their Parking Strategy such as: “reduce car travel to contribute to reduced energy consumption etc” and “reduce dependence on car travel.”

        Who would imagine after you read the AT Parking Strategy that AT operate their parking operations the way they do? Sometimes the policy and operation are polar opposites.

    2. And given a lot of people heading to the city on NYE are likely to drink alcohol, there is always the increased risk of drink drivers on the roads.

  12. I think it’s worth clarifying that their announcement of closing streets to traffic was entirely lip service (save for skycitys patch of federal st). No traffic was being diverted and the takeover of Victoria Street by pedestrians for 10min around midnight happened despite polices efforts not aided by them. +1 that the priorities of the people planning seem the opposite of those being planned for

  13. Why is it only the NEX and trains included in event ticket price? It seems I am subsidising those people to get to events while also having to pay my own bus fare!

    1. Yes indeed, AT could easily enough include all public transport users – for events in Sydney all public transport options are included in the ticket price, so we can surely do the same. The no.18 bus situation at the Mumfords concert described above does not need to arise.

  14. Does anyone know what the maintenance crews do for the rest of the year while the rail network is in operation? Must be quite expensive having a team of experts sitting around waiting for a rail network shutdown…

    1. They mostly work at night, from what I understand. And a lot of the work they were doing this close down can’t be done during the night (due to noise).

      Also, the same team what would be doing this maintenance are probably looking after the upper north island tracks as well.

      1. Thanks, that makes sense. I’d be interested to know how other cities around the world that don’t have holiday shutdowns cope with the noise issue.

  15. Completely unsurprising from AT and the Police.

    Running buses at $3 a trip and 100 passengers would have to be profitable, so the excuses regarding funding hold no water and it is ludicrous to have Queen Street open to vehicles. It’s ludicrous to have cars there any day at any time. Just sick of the lack of ambition and imagination from AT in the city centre.

    1. AT just don’t care about anything other than the flow of cars 24/7. Its ludcirous private cars should have been allowed anywhere near Queen St. Its the second year in a row and no one will be accountable. Someone should lose their job.

      PT and people centric streets in the CBD is just lip service or at best, something they will implement grudgingly and at a glacial pace, hoping everyone forgets.

  16. There isn’t any mention of seniors as a user group. The objective of giving us free journeys is presumably (among other things) to get us off the roads and onto public transport. After certain events, Queen St is full of us moving from venue to buses.

  17. When comparing the Christmas shutdown to other cities’ rail networks, I think its best to avoid bigger ones like Sydney. A more realistic comparison would be Dublin which has a similar population and rail network: the DART which carries approx 20m passengers per year, predominantly carries commuters and has recently moved to ten minute frequencies.

    I inquired with them as to how often they do day time closures for maintenance and got the reply below:

    ‘Maintenance works on the DART line are almost exclusively carried out at night time. This is due to the frequency or the train services which prevent the safe access to the track for labour and plant during the day. Maintenance works are carried out each night throughout the week, commencing when service terminates and ceasing at start up of service early the following morning. This would be commensurate with the requirements for maintaining a highly utilised track section which as a result requires considerable on-going maintenance to allow services to operate. Rare exceptions of day time working would be in the case of an urgent or emergency issue that may arise and this may necessitate temporary stoppage or cautioning of trains.’

    1. Wonder how they get on with when it’s near residential areas, especially quite dense ones. I noticed the Newmarket level crossing removal was done all very planned and careful to avoid noise at night when possible but still some done I think.

      1. My flat in Dublin was just a few metres from the Dart at a section where it was elevated. I was never woken by the Dart at all. Traffic noise was louder although to be fair, despite the busy road, I think emergency vehicles were the only thing that did wake me. I was in a modern building so the sound insulation was great.

          1. Afraid not, double glazed glass doesn’t do much – the air gap is too thin to effectively dampen sounds, especially low frequency ones. It’s a good heat insulator though. Triple glazing doesn’t do any more either – the total thickness of glass and the total air gap from outside to inside is all that counts, so it’s really not night and day. My old apartment had painfully thin glass form the 1920s and I installed cedar shutters – this was far more effective than double glazing has been for us – we’re on level 17 of a brande new apartment block and can hear people talking loudly on the street and the buffoons with loudhailers are just as loud as they were on level 5 in the Dilworth Building. Sound travels in straight lines and without anything to absorb or deflect it, it will keep going a long way, so even being on level 54 of Pacifica probably won’t help.

            A council bureaucrat or anyone else telling you that noise issues in the city are solved by double glazing and modern building standards are not correct, especially when council mandates air vents that usually end up opening onto the street facing side (being in my kitchen is like being on the balcony)

            See bottom of page 23 https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/noise-control-manual.pdf

            Double glazing is like the bicycle helmets of noise – the true causes of the issues (noise in this case) are ignored and the costs are put on the victims, in a way that is ineffective anyway.

          2. So it was probably the massive brick walls and small windows that were key in my case. And there is a huge difference between well-sealed windows and poorly sealed windows.

          3. The chief difference is that other countries do not have our tolerance for people driving extremely loud vehicles through cities. Exhaust noise rules are obviously not enforced here. If a motorcycle is producing who knows how many dB then no amount of walls or windows is going to block that out.

            Even single pane glass makes a difference in blocking out noise from outside. The most important thing is not having any gaps. Tough luck if you are in an apartment without any ventilation system and you need to have your window open for some air.

  18. AT & the related rail network agencies do this so wrong on so many levels I won’t really comment any more through lack of time & good comments above have already covered it. Key thing is they need to get out of their head PT is not just for weekday peak commuting.

  19. If I was the organiser of this weekend’s Mumford and Sons event, I’d be annoyed to hear that the included fare they are forking out for in the ticket won’t actually get the concert-goers to the concert. It’s not just the obvious 18 bus that has been left off, it’s:
    – all those buses along Great North Rd,
    – the 650 cross town (to get you there, not back, unfortunately)
    – the 105 (Not FTN, but every 20 minutes)
    – the Outer Link (FTN – similar walk as to the train)
    – the 66 (FTN – similar walk as to the train)

    Perhaps they should be advised, and see if they can demand better?

    1. Yes why the selective routes and not all buses? I guess to control costs, but it’s so stingy & also just hard for people to figure it out in a hurry or be burnt by it, so hey let’s just take the car.

  20. Is it time and a half or double time for bus and train drivers in Sydney, London, everywhere else outside NZ, or just standard hourly rate? In NZ the pay rates go up massively from midnight on December 31st, so there has always been a reluctance to employ extra staff on January 1st.

  21. Part of the problem was that AT eventually closed both sides of Victoria St simultaneously. No more cars could muscle into the crowds but neither could any of them get out. The lanes of traffic in each direction were trapped, many of them with their motors still running. God knows how emergency vehicles would have manouvered round them if one of those rogue drones had dropped a bomb. You would think that AT would have worked out by now that New Year is something that happens at predictable times.

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