Today the Auckland Transport board meet for their first formal meeting of the year. Here are some of the highlights from the papers going to the board.

Closed Session

The closed session is usually where most of the interesting items are discussed. There are a couple of items for Approval/Decision that stand out, such as the active modes update – I wonder if they’ll address their abysmal performance in rolling out cycleways over the last few years.

Items for Approval/Decision

  • Draft Statement of Intent 2019-2022
  • Supporting Growth Alliance Preferred Network and Progression to next steps
  • Huapai SHA transport improvements
  • Newmarket Bus Layover
  • Ormiston Main Street Link
  • 26 Ti Rakau Drive, Pakuranga (AMETI-EB2)
  • Active Modes update
  • Procurement Strategy
  • Auckland Transport Delegations Manual

In the items for noting there’s also a topic about Micro Mobility which could be interesting.

Business Report

The business report contains most of the updates. Due to the size of it, the order listed below is how they appeared in the report

Funding

A number of items are noted as having been approved for funding between November and early January. These include

  • A 291 space park & ride for Takanini for $4.4 million (about $15k per carpark).
  • Improvements to ferry services for $5.1 million which is also getting higher than usual funding assistance from the NZTA at 75.5% instead of 50% like normal projects
  • New Lynn to Avondale Cycleway for $40.3 million. This seems quite expensive but does include a bridge over the Whau River and a rail underpass

Automated Concessions

With Uni’s starting again in a few weeks, the issue of student concessions often comes up. AT say they’re looking to extend their “automated concessions solution” to AUT and Massey University by 18 February. They’re also looking to develop something similar for secondary school concessions.

Transport Officers

An update gives some recent numbers of the results of the transport officers and shows fare evasion on trains remains low.

Airport to Botany

AT say that during their consultation they spoke to about 850 people and had about 500 written comments. On the Puhinui Interchange they note that the current cost estimate is higher than expected and that the required opening date of December 2020 is challenging. They expect to lodge a non-notified resource consent in March/April.

Cycleway delays

As mentioned above, one thing that’s been noticeable over the last year or two has been ATs abysmal record in rolling out cycleways. Many of the projects identified in the previous government’s Urban Cycling Programme remain a long way from even starting. This is highlighted in by all of the orange and red in the project updates.

On Demand Services
AT are looking at an on-demand services roadmap. Let’s hope WSP-OPUS are able to bring some sanity to this obsession by AT.

The development of an on-demand services roadmap has been awarded to WSP-OPUS following a competitive procurement process. This roadmap will identify a tactical plan to implement on-demand service offerings in Auckland. It is expected to report back in Q2 2019.

The first on-demand transport (ODT) service in Auckland was launched week commencing 18 November in Devonport. An electric fleet of small passenger vehicles will provide on-demand services within a 3km radius of Devonport Ferry Wharf. The service offers customers both pre-booked and real-time pick-up. It is understood that this is one of the first ODT services in the world offering an electric fleet and real-time services.

Bus Punctuality and Reliability

In relation to bus performance, AT say:

NZ Bus and Ritchies experience bus driver shortage affecting their reliability and they are working through a range of initiatives to fill vacant driving positions, while the pending sale of Birkenhead Transport is impacting their performance and is having adverse effect on drivers with many resignations, and management struggling to put corrective actions while awaiting sale and exit from the business. Go Bus, Howick & Eastern Buses and Pavlovich Coachlines have maintained their strong performance and Tranzit have adjusted well to new PTOM measures and have progressively improved to become top performer.

This is concerning, especially as we head in to March and we’ll need all hands on deck to move into the busiest time of the year on our road and PT networks. In relation to the Birkenhead Transport aspect, Stuff reported this yesterday.

Customer Satisfaction

The latest quarterly customer satisfaction results are in. Notably, respondents on all modes seem to have asked for better frequencies, cheaper fares, extended hours of operation and more punctual services. They say that bus users are more likely than other modes to ask for better punctuality and also more likely to ask ask for better staff/drivers – but I suspect that is because they’re more likely to interact with bus drivers than they are with train for ferry staff.

Behaviour Change Trial

A separate paper and presentation going to the board gives some results of a trial that took place in August to change travel behaviour using automatic number plate recognition from video analytics to fed travel information to roadside signs. Some of the high level conclusions are shown below.

  • 43% of the respondents recalled seeing the VMS signs, compared with 26% who recalled seeing the advertising campaigns
  • One in ten of those who saw the signs said they did something different to their commute, i.e. acted on the message
  • Bus patronage increased 3.5% in the trial period compared to the same period the year before
  • Peak T1 lane journey time during the trial fell ~4% to 23.4 minutes, from 24.5 minutes in June
  • Early morning (7:00am) T1 lane journey time increased to 13.0 minutes, from 11.3 minutes in June

They say they’ve now installed similar number plate recognition on Esmonde Road, Manukau Road / Pah Road, and Constellation Drive for future behaviour change projects. They’re also looking at it for other roads such as Tamaki Dr.

Regional Public Transport Plan

The RPTP was consulted on late last year, our feedback is here. AT don’t say how much feedback they have given a summary of the key areas of feedback – the amended document is here. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear they plan on making any real changes to the document.

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54 comments

  1. There is something Mickey Mouse with the project schedule for cycleways. There is too much green. Either the baseline is shifting, or AT ar giving wrong progress figures. (I remember reporting progress on my projects as they slipped, it would go 80%, 90%, 95%, 97%, 98%…..)
    Is someone independent reviewing the reported progress?

  2. Victoria Street cycleway redesigned in December and has been waiting on approval since – 3 months of dithering.

    Too scared to do commit to anything since westmere?

  3. Anyone know what’s happened to the direct 253/252 dominion road buses? They have started following the normal meandering route down view and mt eden road, which takes 60% longer. The new network improvements didn’t last long

    1. They’ve been rerouted so that they can be operated by double decker buses, as there are clearence issues along the previous route via Ian Mckinnon Drive and Upper Queen Street. It’ll be nice to have some extra capacity on these routes in the lead up to March Madness. Apparently the route change is only temporary but I guess time will tell…

      1. may as well just cancel the route the route and add the capacity to the 25L & 25B route, far less confusing than having two route numbers for the same routes.

        They put out some comms about it this afternoon, nothing like announcing a route cancellation 2 weeks after it took effect. Wonder how many people got stuck at the bus stops north of the view road turn off waiting for busses that were never coming.

        Lets hope it really is temporary, the Ian McKinnon route is so much faster. I’d rather stand on a fast single decker than sit on a slow double decker.

        Also weird that the double deckers were doing the route with no apparent issue before they found these clearance problems.

  4. Matt you need to spend a lot more time engaging with the Board meetings of NZTA.

    This is where the power of transport politics is, where the many upcoming legislative reviews and changes will hit, where the current regulatory framework is centred, and of course where all the big passenger rail decisions will reside.

    https://www.nzta.govt.nz/about-us/about-the-nz-transport-agency/our-board/board-meeting-minutes/

    If you look through the minutes of the October 2018 Board paper, the minutes clearly forecast the dire regulatory mess that put some many personnel and legislative changes in motion in December 2018. And then there’s light rail OMG.

    So it’s worth keeping track of where these Board debates go.

  5. Wow, Birkenhead Transport is for sale?? That place is an institution. And worse Ritchies are looking at buying it. That can only be bad news for Auckland ratepayers and to have another behemoth of a company having all of the contracts takes us back to the bad old days of Stagecoach/NZ Bus domination. Is it that AT are all too powerful making the business itself unattractive to remain in? I can only imagine their demands versus the recompense is not good from an operators stand point.

    As for the shortage of drivers. Why oh why can the wonderful promised land of the free market not solve this? Supply and demand can be met by making the job more attractive with, oh I don’t know…crazy shit like better pay and conditions. Strange but under our form of economic management when it comes to solving issues like that with that logical market solution they want government intervention to carry on the low pay exploitation. I can only imagine the likes of Ritchies etc are lobbying hard to bring in people from 3rd world countries under some kind of skill shortage bullshit. https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/102773716/government-should-decline-ritchies-request-to-hire-110-migrant-bus-drivers-union-says

    It also begs the question, if Ritchies are struggling for drivers, I can only imagine their low ball tenders are underpinned by poor driver pay and conditions which reflects back to the predicament they are in. And we the users are punished for what is the fastest race to the bottom thanks to the PTOM.

    1. There is a national shortage of bus drivers which are aging like the trucking industry. There is has been no incentive by the bus and coach industry to attractive younger drivers with better wages and career paths.

      I do agree with you, under POTM contracts, drivers are expected to be available for 10-12 shifts and get paid for 8-9 hours works out of the 10-12 hours as majority shifts are split to reduce working conditions and over time.

      The driver shortage is a major problem in Wellington as well.

      1. I’m seriously wondering if this sector could be first cab off the rank for a “fair pay agreement”

        Pros
        It would be highly visible,
        Would have a positive impact on transport (Wellington it currently beset with services being cancelled at short notice due to a lack of “driver availability”……
        and would bring security and structure to a very fragmented industry..

        Although the flip side is that it would cost councils and Central government more as they are the ultimate funders..

        1. I don’t know the details of the MBIE’s new Fair Pay Agreements scheme, but to me, a decent wage with decent conditions should be something we all agree everyone deserves. Service, quality and safety are all affected if we don’t, too.

        2. I guess it depends on whether we want the government to be setting wages and conditions based on whatever they feel is decent, or businesses to be setting them based on supply and demand. I’m sure history would tell us that the latter works better – with some minimum conditions imposed by the government. Maybe those minimum conditions need improvement.

        3. I think you need to study history a bit more Jimbo.
          The driver shortage is typically what happens when pay and conditions are left to the “market’. It results in a race to the bottom.
          Just look at how much of the pie goes to capital now instead of labour as a direct result of the devastation wrought by Douglas.
          But then it was always meant to shift money from the poor to the rich; it’s succeeded.

        4. The countries that we often refer to as successful generally let the market decide what something should cost and what someone should be paid, but have strong regulations to ensure this isn’t used against the public.

          An example would be bus drivers having their wages set by the market, but there being strong disincentives for failing to deliver a service such as PTOM which I believe fines operators when they can’t run a service because they are short of drivers.

        5. harrymc I think the market will work correctly. The bus companies have screwed the drivers too much, now there will be a shortage, and soon the bus companies will have to pay more or improve conditions to get more staff. It will eventually end up at an equilibrium where both sides are reasonably happy (demand = supply).
          If instead some government do gooder had decided that all bus drivers must get $30 an hour and 4 day flexible weeks for example, there would be a lot of people wanting to be a bus driver. All of a sudden every other job would be demanding better and better conditions. That is until the economy falls over and we become Venezuela.

        6. Jimbo, look at the direction things are heading, though. We’ve an economy that’s based on exploitation and growth, with the profits going to fewer and fewer rich people, many overseas. More and more people in insecure jobs and with stagnating wages.

          Jezza, I have to point out that there’s nothing successful about economies that are, through their very obsession with economic growth, heading the whole planet towards collapse.

          Right now, we are wasting our taxes so that principals can travel overseas to recruit teachers while other countries are doing the same to take our teachers. There’s an example of a system that needs to have some major correction: we need to pay teachers more, train more teachers, and keep our own teachers here. Not subsidise the travel industry and employment agencies.

          Both this situation, and the situation with bus drivers, have come about because people are too concerned about keeping costs down and don’t follow through to the consequences of doing so. There are inefficiencies involved whenever wages are too low. We’re people. We should make the system work for all of us. And that means using economic tools for our purpose, and adjusting them when they don’t work, not following the economic tools as if they have some sort of superior ability to work out our values for us.

        7. Heidi – I agree with most of what you say there. However, there is a difference between the relentless search for growth and the free market. The latter has been around a lot longer than the former and has proven to be the most effective way of allocating resources, making sure enough bread is grown to meet demand for example.

          The free market of course needs parameters to work in to protect people, such as the minimum wage, maximum working hours etc and to protect the environment (we’ve failed miserably on that one).

          What we don’t need is a bureaucrat deciding that bus drivers should be paid $26ph, fast food workers $24ph and labourers $20ph.

        8. The combination of a shortage and low wages seems oddly common. Teachers, nurses, bus drivers, midwives, truck drivers, you name it.

          I thought the usual pattern through history is to have a small and rich elite with all the capital and assets, and the rest living in poverty. Maybe we’re just evolving back to that pattern.

        9. Heidi: I agree, but I’m not sure that the problem is the free market. It could be globalisation, it could be excessive immigration, but personally I blame high house prices which are making ‘low wages’ look so low. And I believe the reason we have high house prices is because we have an extremely regulated housing market.

        10. Corporate welfare is one problem. The accepted wisdom that GDP must be in a certain range is another. Allowing companies to make money with polluting activities so that people can’t just live simple good lives with less money is another. I have absolutely no problem with using the free market as a tool. Within the framework that we are a society first, and always were a society first, before people used a currency let alone developed the concept of a free market.

        11. Jimbo the problem is business only supports supply and demand policies when it suits them. The rest of the time they band together to pay the same wage without competition (monopsony) and when that doesn’t work they demand the right to import people from other countries so they don’t have to lift the wage to the efficient price.

        12. It seems to be that both ends of the unbridled free market versus complete centralised government control have both considerable strengths and weaknesses. Communisim allowed a Russia that suffered greviously in WW2 to be able to seriously challange the USA only 10 years later. The free market USA, however proved more durable in spite of sluggish social reform and severe social inequality. Occupying the middle ground, the Northern European democracies have combined impressive economic growth and unequalled social reform. Our problem is how and where to set this middle ground for New Zealand. In our society this is the purpose of our democracy selecting our parliamentary representatives. But the quality of the required voting descisions is both a function of the presentation and information available to voters, a function of a balanced free press and the design of the electoral system. MMP may well be an important ingredient in the spectacular recovery from the total disasters of two world wars to stability and prosperity for Germany. In NZ it has meant we have avoided the disasters that first past the post has given the UK and the USA and to a lesser extent Australia.

        13. Has anyone noticed that the sectors of the economy where there are complaints about worker shortages just happen to be those where government has a significant hand; nurses, doctors, teachers, bus drivers… (Although to be fair there are plenty of complaints about the shortage of tradespeople too). I haven’t heard any complaints about a shortage of retail workers.

          Who in their right mind would train to be a bus driver? Probably not long until that job gets automated.

    2. Yes interesting when there is a general shortage how much better a different business seems to manage it’s staff keeping them happier, eg compare Go Bus & NZ Bus or Ritchies. From my personal experience on our local Go Bus route (bar one driver) seem to be the best drivers & friendly staff I ever come across. Also I think Pavlovich seem good. You can guess what happens when say Ritchies get short of staff….they then max out the existing staff and things start to fall apart including a higher than average crash rate.

      1. I don’t think the friendliness of drivers or lack thereof is a litmus test for wages and conditions as Go Bus have had their share of unrest.

        The fundamental issue is using private profit making operators to drive down costs versus the reward for winning a tender. For example that they now have to have a fleet with an average age of 10 years and no buses over 20, of a certain criteria in terms of equipment in a bus, ticketing, GPS, air con, etc, means to make a buck costs have to be cut.

        So far its drivers who are carrying savings and we are seeing the issues there and no hope in sight however I really hope it does not extend to safety and maintenance. There have been questions asked there outside of Auckland in terms of bus safety. And should be well known hoping the NZTA policed Certificate Of Fitness system is no guarantee a bus is safe.

        But for Birkenhead Transports owners to be pulling the pin, after 80 years, must mean there are deep issues in our public transport provision system!

        So it may well be time for council owned bus companies to return!

        1. Could be they just have a number of newer drivers, but management can make a big difference I’m sure. Agree though things are pretty tight.

  6. According to the New Lynn to Avondale Shared Path website, the cost is $26mil. Maybe the website hasn’t been updated, or the number reported at the meeting was inaccurate?
    It says public consultation raised safety concerns about the level RR crossing. So instead of a single road/RR crossing, they are adding an underpass and then running a bi-directional cycleway across a dozen driveways with limited sight distance on the side of St Georges…

    1. The original design crossing both St Georges Road and the railway was just bad and was highlighted strongly in consultation.

      However there still doesn’t seem to be any adequate crossing of St Jude Street planned, looks like just a refuge.

    2. With the increase in cost I’d wondered if a grade seperation project might have been oncluded. It’d be great of the cycleway could be straight and level (with the rails). I’d hope that the configuration allows for this in future.

  7. Cycleways construction behind schedule again. Early 2019 is now. Things should be happening on GI2T and Tamaki Drive.

    This is heartbreaking, really is.

    26 TI Raku is an interesting item. That was supposed to be an apartment block, but it’s never been built

  8. On ferries:
    1. Rumour is the extra ferry funding includes an extra morning sailing for Hobsonville
    2. 2021 for integrated ferry fares is a long time to wait!

      1. Great to see more servies, but problematic that they’re earlier. I worry about capacity on the 7:45 service with people opting out of the now 25 minutes earlier departure on the previous service.

  9. What is happening with the 40km of bus lanes or whatever it was? Has it been completed (I’m sure it should have been by now) or just quietly dropped off the radar? I haven’t seen much…

    1. Indeed, would be good to see a graph showing the km completed and the km promised at each stage in time. And the work they’re doing to get it to become a nice smooth graph – which would indicate a steady work flow for contractors, building capacity in the process.

      1. Heidi
        Last year when I sent on OIA request about bus lanes I received a nice bar graph back in response. Memory says that delivery was slightly ahead of target.

        In the same request I asked AT to compare delivery of new bus lanes kms with delivery of new road kms. Unfortunately they missed that part of the question.

        1. Heidi
          It would be interesting to see the net addition for bus lanes. As you know, as part of the Lake Road revamp AT is considering changing the Esmonde Road bus lane to T3; and presumably because the bus lane then morphs into the Northern Bus Way to also change that to T3. In total that probably represents a loss of about 5km of bus lane / bus way.
          This is very unhelpful if AT is serious about mode share and particularly unhelpful given that population growth in Takapuna is estimated at 300% over the next thirty years. And a RTN mixed in with T3 traffic – isn’t this a retrograde step?

        2. Aren’t there any criteria for when there should be T3 lanes or bus lanes?

          Onewa Road does not have transit lanes at all between the motorway and Lake Rd (towards Northcote). Despite the amount of buses coming through there in the morning (must be well over 30 buses per hour by now).

  10. After a bit of a slow down, it seems will have a pile of cycleways all coming together at once “soon”. Perhaps with all the roading contractors starting to scratch around for new work in a few years, it can be directed into an even bigger cycleway building frenzy?

    1. Yeah, if they get built. Until I see actual construction I’m not expecting any documented timescales to be met.

      Been disappointed too many times before

  11. The cycle infra progress is so slow, Victoria St hasn’t progressed at all. Te Whau is very slow going with only some of the on-land bits. “Henderson’s Future” has been in consultation for almost a year, can only imagine how long detailed design and implementation is going to take… Avondale to New Lynn has been taking an eternity, nevermind the rest of the rail corridor cycleway…

    We need to throw out the pencil pushing/red tape and get some doers onto these projects. Everything seems to be getting delayed with consultations, reports, consents, business cases and all this other stuff… its just impracticable – all these things need to be slimmed down and streamlined so construction can get pumping quickly and get our streetscapes and parks into the 21st century already…

    When is someone in AT going to stand up and say enough bull, let get on with it?

  12. This is worrying. It’s not just Auckland having a driver shortage. Are low pay and bad conditions the problem there too? https://i.stuff.co.nz/national/110529728/fifty-trains-cancelled-as-wellington-is-gripped-by-a-chronic-driver-shortage
    As with today’s unannounced Auckland bus strike if public transport is unreliable people stop using it. Three angry people at my bus stop this morning said they would go back to using their cars as at least they would be able to start work on time.

  13. One bit of good news maybe………
    Saw a whole lot of survey marks along Puhinui Rd to the airport from SH20 today.
    Does that mean the bus lanes are getting closer?

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