Auckland’s city centre is currently seeing unprecedented levels of construction and that also means unprecedented levels of disruption and orange cones. When the current building boom eventually ends, the city will be a fundamentally different place from what it was even just a few years ago.

Despite the constant fears of carmageddon from so much disruption, from the media, public and even many of those working within the transport industry, one of the things we’ve already experienced from the likes of the City Rail Link works is that the carmageddon never comes. As Patrick highlighted back in January, Albert St is currently carrying just 10% of the volumes it used to and yet Auckland Transport’s monitoring of travel times even shows that most key routes through the city are actually faster than they were before the CRL works began.

As well as tracking travel times, Auckland Transport also track the number of people entering the city for a number of years and we’ve posted the details before. One of the most notable changes we’ve seen is that over the last few years was in 2017 when on an annual basis the number of people accessing the city centre by car in the AM peak fell below 50% for the first time. It ultimately fell to around 48.4% and stayed at that level for all of 2018.

The most recent major change to city street capacity for cars occurred over Christmas/New Year when Auckland Transport kicked off their downtown works programme. This will result in significant new public space being provided along the waterfront and has seen much of Quay St narrowed to one lane per direction – and it will stay that way. I’ve been keen to see what impact the Quay St changes have had on those mode share numbers, while being cognizant that it takes some time for people to adjust to the disruption.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago and the Herald ran a story on the impacts on travel times of the Quay St changes. It included this quote from Barney Irvine from the AA which seems to dismiss the idea of dissolving traffic.

“There seems to be a view in some quarters that, when you choke off access, vehicle trips just ‘dissolve’ as people find new ways to get around, like public transport or walking and cycling,” Irvine said.

“The reality is, piles of people who drive do so because they have no choice – they need their vehicles for work.

So, earlier this week I asked AT for the latest data. Not only did they provide the data but celebrated it as well.

A record number of Aucklanders are leaving their cars at home in favour of public transport to get into the city centre each morning.

Auckland Transport’s Group Manager Metro Services, Stacey Van Der Putten says 48 per cent of people used buses, trains and ferries to get into the city between 7am and 9am in March. “This is a new high, up two per cent on February and a six per cent increase on January.”

Last month, 767 fewer vehicles drove into the city in the morning, despite 4,000 more people making the trip.

“It’s great that Aucklanders are getting the message that there are options other than driving. In fact total public transport patronage for March was just over ten million trips, another record.”

What’s not mentioned in this part is that the percentage of people using active modes has also increased and combined meant the number of people driving to the city was the lowest it’s been with just 43% of those arriving in the morning doing so by car.

If we simplify this to access by car and other modes and look at it as a 12-month rolling total we get the graph below.

There will of course always be monthly variation but perhaps what’s even more telling, and directly goes to the question of dissolving traffic, is shown in the graph below. It shows the the total number of people, as opposed to the percentage, accessing the city centre in car on a 12-month rolling basis. As you can see, in just over 3 years the average number of people entering the city centre by car has dropped by over 5,000, going from 42k to 37k – more than a 12% decrease. So not only is the share dropping but the quantum too.

Interestingly, Heart of the City spending data shows that over the same timeframe, the amount of money people are spending at city centre retailers has increased by about 8.5%.

Of course city centre access isn’t the only thing the AA have been complaining about recently and earlier this week it was bus lanes that were in their sights.

Auckland Transport’s CCTV cameras are doling out 220 infringements a day to motorists caught driving in bus lanes.

Hi-tech 24-hour cameras, covering 40km of Auckland CBD bus lanes, issued 80,574 infringements to drivers from March 1, 2018 to the end of February 2019.

The cameras racked up $11.3 million in fines over the 12-month period, a staggering $4m jump from 2017 when AT issued $7,318,200 in fines for bus lane infringements.

Automobile Association spokesman Barney Irvine said 220 infringements a day seemed high, underlining concerns about whether the rules were clear enough for motorists.

Irvine said the 50m distance was too short.

“We all know how difficult it is to judge distances by sight alone. No doubt there are specific sections of bus lane where a lot of people are getting pinged for entering the bus lane too early to make a left turn.

“In these situations, rather than leaving it all to drivers’ judgment, we would like AT to look at using special lane markings to show people where they can enter the lane.”

It’s worth noting that later in the article the AA also say they’re not opposed to bus lanes or them being enforced – agreeing both are needed. But the reality is no matter how much signage or road markings AT put out, a lot of people will ignore them. AT are damned if they enforce bus lanes and they’re damned if they don’t.

The response also follows the same formula as the AA use to attack speed cameras, that it’s not drivers at fault for speeding but the policy/NZTA not putting up signs telling people there is a speed camera.

AA general manager of motoring affairs Mike Noon said better signage was needed to highlight the fact there was a fixed camera at Kauri on State Highway, just north of Whangarei, as was the normal practise overseas.

….

“I don’t support a camera issuing such a gross number of tickets. More work needs to be done on to explain the correct speed for the high-risk area. Also if there are signs about cameras it removes the ability for people to call it revenue gathering.”

The article includes this photo of the camera in question which handily includes the signage warning drivers of the speed limit.

I wonder how many of these drivers got their licence or had driver training through the AA?

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119 comments

  1. Very good news, I hope that congestion is reducing and Aucklands productivity increases. And reduce the need for mor very expensive roads.
    But I was surprised yesterday and more good news to see work being done on a 1 km length of a 3rd main line alongside a 1 km strip just noth of Otahuhu. I missed the announcement that work was to start.
    The new line will be beside platform 1 and will make the station much more user friendly.

    1. Yes that is good about Otahuhu, and I saw someone’s twitter that something is happening at Puhinui. Yet when I go to AT’s Projects and Roadworks page I can’t see any information about either works. Does anyone know if I’m just looking in the wrong place, or if AT needs to up its game?

        1. Thanks for info. Hopefully they can get platform 1 opened soon. Not 2024. Most businesses would want to get extra passangers ASAP. The long winding walk from the lights at station road to platforms 2 or 3 is offputting. An escalator or underpass would be more encouraging.

          1. Jim if you check out the photo’s of the work at Otahuhu platform 1 looks as if it is for south bound trains and if yo require a north/west bound train you will still have to use platforms 2+3 and that work has a date of around 11mths

  2. On bus lane enforcement and consistency;

    AT need to not only do this properly, on Onewa Rd they simply and uselessly never have, but also in line with their own policy which revolves around fairness.

    Khyber Pass from Park Rd toward Broadway is clearly marked and I would guess by anecdotal observation, infrequently transgressed.

    But the sensible, lawful, ethical well designed bus lane does a death around BP goes back to two normal lanes only to start again all of a sudden just past Kingdon St.

    For about a 200 metre strip on Khyber Pass from Kingdon St to Broadway, they have a racket going, a pointless little set up practically for buses but a real earner and financially wicked.

    No warning signs, it just begins with a single sign, splendidly camouflaged in all the other sign clutter helped by incomplete road markings. But AT have gone to extraordinary efforts to monitor it with fixed cameras. The arching gantry to which the cameras are fitted could easily house a large neon warning sign, but doesn’t. Ch-ching $$$$.

    And worse, the creeps know all about and yet, like a hole in the Broadway ground, do nothing to fix it!

    Its bullshit like that that makes me think bus lanes are not so much about bus flow, but revenue flow.

    1. Amendment, that lane is less than 100 meters long. Its earnings per meter may well top all other bus lanes combined however. Nice one AT…..not!

          1. There shouldn’t be a gap, but nor do I think where the bus lane starts again that it’s not clear for drivers.

    2. Kingdon Street to before broadway is the location of the inline bus stop. The point of this bus lane is to stop traffic from queuing through the bus stop.

      This is signed and marked exactly the same as the rest of Khyber Pass. It’s totally consistent with the length of the kerbside lane being bus lane except immediately before intersections. It’s marked with the signs at the start and the end. It has the large green bus lane box and bus lane lettering at the start, and the green line stripe for the full length.

      What more do you want exactly?

      1. No it’s not signed exactly the same, as per my original comment. Clearly you have never seen it.

        And if the point was to be clear to exclude cars it fails miserably.

        1. The signs and road markings look identical on streetview, Waspman. There’s obviously something that would make a difference for you though – what is it? If it’s more warning signs in advance of the actual sign, I think that that would just add to the signage clutter. Anything else?

          1. I believe Waspy’s issue is the lack of an advanced warning sign as used elsewhere on Khyber Pass. Seems contrary to complain about sign clutter while wanting more signs …

          2. The road marking is broken up, the advanced warning does not exist, the one sign that announces the start of the bus lane is lost amongst many other non related signs and the Kingdom St intersection is busy for vehicles in and out both ways plus pedestrians. That takes ones eye of the start of the lane absolutely.

            I promise, it’s poorly executed.

          3. I think if there is a lot of clutter of signs, intersections & people are newly driving through a changed area or area they are not familiar with it can lead to mistakes but I think the fast speed of 50 km/hr is what makes it hard. If it was 30 kms/hr drivers have more time to take everything in. In saying that the green on the road is the best visual if you ask me. Stay out if in doubt then intricate signs about times of the day etc can be read in slow time or if you regularly commute a section of road. If the road is all slowed up at peak and queuing then you have more time to read the signs anyway.

          4. Grant, one big sign on the camera gantry, which is handily before the lane and out of the background mist of signage and distraction and the lane would be clearly marked and compliance would be excellent. I will safely assume compliance on Grafton Bridge lifted once it was signposted properly.

            But when its a chameleon in the background I wonder what AT are really trying to achieve.

    3. Why don’t they have this Khyber Pass one 24hrs, less clutter. If it’s outside these hours probably not congested anyway with general traffic & if an event is on, the buses have an advantage. This is especially more useful since the new network. Oh just see on street parking further up, well the ones that don’t have on street parking part time could at least be 24hrs.

      1. Newmarket needs the traffic evaporation that removing all those on street parks would bring. It’s an excellent area for public transport, and desperately needs cycle lanes. The on street parks are just a PITA for any good design.

  3. One does wonder about the quality of driver training.
    When I first learnt to drive my parents paid for some lessons and I can remember my driving instructed saying it is perfectly acceptable to do 55-60km/h on a main arterial road (It was a 50k zone). This was about 25 years ago.
    I let that influence my thinking for a while.
    I am thankful to the posts and comments on Greater Auckland plus some others whom I resect for helping me relize how important the speed LIMIT is.

    1. I remember the same thing and that was only 15ish years ago. Doing just on 50 kph with L plates guaranteed being tailgated and ocassionally overtaken.

    2. That’s interesting to hear. I did my test in 1997 a few years after you and just before you. It was very clear in the test with the Police Officer that if I exceeded the speed limit I failed, there was no suggestion of a minimum speed. I realise you are talking about an instructor not a test.

      When my brother did it a few years later the new system was in place and he had clear instructions to stay within +- 5km of the speed limit.

  4. The AA are bang on with their speed camera comment. In the UK they have extensive signage warning you of the camera, so of course everyone slows down. The goal of slowing traffic at a spot where speed was a problem is met, and the problem eliminated.

    In NZ the problem remains, and they profit from it. If the government is serious about road safety, it will adopt the more effective method of slowing traffic, which is to put up the camera warning signs.

    1. There are warning signs everywhere. Red circle with a white centre and a number in the middle.

      I’m astounded that when it comes to pedestrians and cyclists the answer is always education and enforcement, usually paired with even more constraints and rules. But when it comes to drivers the idea of better driver training and enforcing the rules we already have is an anathema.

    2. Yeah the point of not saying “Speed Camera Around The Corner” is that you’re meant to drive below the speed limit all the time, not just when there’s a speed camera.

      1. Exactly. Cameras are at their most effective when they are covert, with both fixed cameras for known problem spots and mobile cameras to ensure drivers don’t know where they all are. Then a few cameras can usher in lower speeds throughout a much larger area. In theory, throughout the country.

        Responsible drivers don’t exceed the speed limit, so they don’t need a sign to tell them there’s a speed camera there.

        1. If the speed camera is placed at an accident black spot where speed is often a contributing factor, then the target is to slow people down. I would argue that lighting the thing up like a Christmas tree so its really obvious it’s there would be more effective than a covert camera.

          By the same token, covert mobile cameras have the advantage by being movable over a larger area and trying to influence driver behavior by not knowing where they will be placed.

          Both have their place, depending on the outcome you are trying to achieve.

          1. Yes, that’s correct. What the AA is failing to acknowledge is that both flagged and covert cameras help drivers to lower their overall speeds, covert cameras dramatically more so, and that road users have a right to safety more than drivers have any kind of right to be warned about a camera.

            Given the poor safety record in Northland, anything that brings awareness of the need for lower speeds is good. The drivers getting tickets here either:
            – knew about the camera and they paid a voluntary tax, or:
            – didn’t know about the camera and the ticket will have raised their awareness of lowering their speeds everywhere in case they don’t notice a camera another time.

            In that article, the AA’s Noon said: “The issuing of $4.8 million in tickets should be ringing alarm bells and there should have been an intervention before that occurred to see what else could be done in that area to help people slow down. The volume of tickets is identifying a failure,” Noon said.

            Speed cameras are an effective intervention. What he’s calling for is an intervention that will have a less-universal effect on drivers’ behaviours. The ‘failure’ here is by drivers not taking their responsibilities about appropriate speeds seriously. That shouldn’t be being supported by the AA. He also said

            “Also if there are signs about cameras it removes the ability for people to call it revenue gathering.”

            This is classic AA circular arguing – they’re telling the public that it’s revenue gathering by saying the public will think it’s revenue gathering. It’s like telling the public that speed limits aren’t ‘credible’ because the public think they’re not ‘credible’.

            It’s a well thought-through technique that the international motorists’ bodies have honed to a fine art, and share amongst themselves.

          2. Yes totally agree. I think also that in more urban areas the street design should be such that the speed limit is more naturally met if it is a black spot. Rural roads too, but there is only so much money to go around. Ideally one day we will have good speed limits & design throughout the whole country, but not every rural road can have an expensive makeover to help prevent accidents.

    3. Oh Dear Geoff! The speed limit stops speed problems, its not that hard to not speed.

      Your theory is like saying it’s ok to steal, just not near a police station.

      I grew up in the UK and have seen this problem first hand, people slamming their brakes on when they realise there is a camera, I’ve seen crashes that happen because of this.

      Perhaps adding something on Speed Limit signs to inform that cameras are in operation in the area, rather than pointing out where the camera is could work.

    4. Geoff
      An accident can happen anytime any place. Are you suggesting that we put up extensive signage and install speed camers on every corner and stretch of road in the entire country where speeding could potentially cause an accident?
      And speeding is dangerous everywhere not in a few limited locations where there happens to be a camera.
      The goal is to get drivers to obey the speed limit everywhere all the time.

    5. Geoff after watching a program on sky over Xmas they stated that the AA in Britain was originally set up to warn motorist of police speed traps and then later they assisted with breakdowns

  5. Irvine’s comment, “There seems to be a view in some quarters that, when you choke off access, vehicle trips just ‘dissolve’ as people find new ways to get around, like public transport or walking and cycling,” is, like so many of the AA’s comments:
    – attacking a concept that they want to debunk,
    – disregarding the research on the subject.

    “Some quarters” = huge metastudies across the whole of the US, and across the whole of EU, and many others besides.

    Since the AA won’t use the evidence to form their policies, they are just an ignorant force of resistance to change. The stupid thing is, their members will benefit from the changes coming to our transport. Only the automotive industry might get hit if people aren’t so dependent on their cars.

    1. “The stupid thing is, their members will benefit from the changes coming to our transport. ”

      Heidi, that’s only half the picture. AA, the organisation, is very much dependent on people driving cars. From their website, “an incorporated society that provides a range of services to its members including free motoring advice, breakdown services, vehicle repairs, driver licensing, driver training, travel maps, accommodation guides and bookings, insurance and finance.”
      There is much more than just their member’s interest involved here.

      1. Interesting though, with their magazines…almost at odds with either Barney or the organisation. Their more later magazines feature a fair amount of cycling articles. They are also introducing an e-bike breakdown service etc. Seems they are basically broadening their service slowly. They tend to have a lot of ads for holidays not really featuring non motor vehicles such as trains, boats cruises etc. The last edition featured a graphic about all modes sharing the carriageway responsibly. The editor & many other contributor are women, not sure when that had changed.

  6. As much as I usually disagree with the AA and as one of those misguided fools who drive through the CBD once or twice a year, I find their response relatively reasonable. Knowing when to change into the bus lane to turn left is a problem, regardless of my (lack of) ability to judge distance, because it also depends on everyone else. If you change lanes too early, you risk a ticket. And if you leave it too late, someone (and eventually everyone) from behind you will have decided that it was time and prevent you from changing lanes. While it would not stop those who knowingly break the rules in an attempt to save a couple of seconds, painting some sort of shared turning lane with an obvious place to change lanes onto the bus lane would indeed be helpful.

    1. I agree that we need 50m marks. The fact is that most people are pretty poor at judging distance and drivers get impatient.

      Adding a lane marker is easy and cheap and removes arguments of revenue gathering.

      1. impatience is not a quality that goes with driving a car, Perhaps our licence testing should incorporate some psycometric testing to weed out people who plainly dont have the patience to operate safely

        1. Perfect. No excuses then.

          Although I’ve found that many, many motorists don’t realise that you may not cross a solid white line, only a dashed white line. So maybe more education required there too.

          1. Yea I’ve never been able to find anything on that in the rode code. The SH20 tunnel obviously has signs saying no lane changing, but it doesn’t seem that the Road Code treats broken white and solid white lines any differently.

          2. I think that is not true over here.

            If you enter the Victoria Park tunnel, you’ll see signs telling “no lane changes”. These signs would be redundant because the lanes have solid lines in the tunnel.

            The signs also have a black instead of red border, I thought that means they’re not binding (I think the technical term is “advisory” instead of “regulatory”).

          3. My understanding is that as a general rule you shouldn’t cross a solid white line if you can avoid it. but i don’t think it is illegal to cross a solid white line otherise it would be yellow.
            But if it more than just a guideline then I would be most interested to know.

          4. As noted above, there is no law about crossing solid white lines and the ‘don’t change lanes’ signs are just advisory.

            You cannot get a ticket for changing lanes in the tunnel.

            But! If you ignore these advisory devices and cause an accident, you are garner more likely to be pinged with dangerous driving rather than it being just an accident.

          5. I looked into this a year or two ago. The rule on crossing white lines varies country by country, and is exceedingly inconsistent across the world. In New Zealand I couldn’t find a rule that made it illegal to cross a solid white line, only recommendations that it is usually better not to. If anyone does find something definitive for New Zealand, I would be grateful for a reference.

          1. There is an explicit gap there 🙂

            There has to be solid lines at the intersection so there is no space for a dashed line, hence just the one gap.

    2. “And if you leave it too late, someone (and eventually everyone) from behind you will have decided that it was time and prevent you from changing lanes.”

      I find people preventing you from changing lanes is a common thing around Auckland, not just for bus lane situations. The aggressive attitude seems to be that everyone is a commuter and knows the area well – if you’re changing lanes at the non-PC moment you’re assumed to be diddling the other drivers instead of suddenly realising that you’re in the wrong lane (after not being able to see any arrows on the road because they’re all covered up by cars).

      Visitors to Auckland must find it awful; certainly as a very infrequent driver, and not going to the same regular places, I find it stressful enough as an Aucklander. I know women older than me who have given up completely because it’s too aggressive. Which is fine most of the time, but when they do need to drive, they become dependent on someone else to drive them.

      1. Yes, I find the exact opposite. If you need to change lane no matter how busy traffic is then there is always a considerate driver within a car or two parallel to you who will slow and open a gap for you to move into. I have found that even in worst congestion or fast flowing traffic than in general drivers are considerate. Aggression is very very uncommon. Sure there are idiots and drivers who think they always have priority but thankfully they are few and far between.
        I always friendly wave when someone gives way and I don’t bumper ride front vehicles.
        My observations in over 30 years driving and commuting in Auckland is that impatience leads to stupidity.
        That applies to drivers but also or more to other road
        users including pedestrians and cyclists
        I think your views are rather cynical.

        1. That’s great your experience is different. My experience, unfortunately, is in line with the conclusions of the Road Safety Business Improvement Review, which found that:

          “Analysis of possible factors in DSI increases
          Underlying road user behaviours, related enforcement levels and the extent of separation of different road users are clearly among the key factors in the deterioration of performance.”

          We probably won’t get anywhere with preventing unnecessary deaths if we don’t open our eyes to what our people are doing, and take the necessary steps to improve behaviour.

        2. When I started visiting Auckland 20+ years ago, that was my observation too.

          It’s not often that I drive in peak traffic any more, but I find that observation to still be true with a caveat: Don’t be indecisive once the opening starts to form. 🙂

    3. Come on – the “limit” is 50m, and AT have said that they don’t enforce unless people travel more than 70m in a bus or transit lane. I just don’t buy the argument that people cannot judge the distance sufficiently well. If you really are concerned about your skills in that area, move into the lane in the last 25m. That’s still plenty of time given the speed that many general traffic lanes travel at peak hours. But yes, if it helps, paint a stripe across the lane at the 50m mark.

    4. You’re all missing the point. I’ve seen this plenty of times as well. It is not possible, even if you want to, to turn left at a traffic light without breaching this rule.

      If you would actually wait until 50 metres before the intersection with entering the bus lane, drivers behind you will enter the bus lane, drive to the stopping light, and form a queue. That queue will often be longer than 50 metres. And they cannot let you in even if they want to, because the queue is not moving (it is waiting at the traffic light).

      Additionally, the left turn often has a separate phase. Often you have a red arrow while pedestrians are crossing. So now there you are — on your left is a queue waiting for a red arrow, and behind you are drivers who have green light and who you are blocking.

      1. I see where you’re coming from. The “correct” way to queue would be to remain out of the bus lane until the legal limit, however without more enforcement of lane infringements that won’t happen.

        Traffic will reroute or drivers will adapt. It’s that transitional period when behaviour is changing that will be unpleasant, but driver behaviour needs to change anyway. We’re still rather backwards as a whole.

  7. Looking forward to the reallocation of lots more road space in the city centre. On-street carparks changed to cycle lanes and bus lanes will assist this modeshift hugely. So many more people can use the space on bike, scooter or bus than the few people who get to leave their cars in the space.

    I guess it’ll be resisted due to the car bias “from the media, public and even many of those working within the transport industry,” but really, it’s a no-brainer and should be happening asap.

    1. I’d just love to know who is “many of those working within the transport industry”. Is it Barry’s workmate talking over coffee?

      I’m currently working with engineers covering every field there is, including a half dozen transport engineers – Not a single one of them is car-crazy. Similarly small sample size to the AA perhaps? 🙂

      1. Snort!

        Why do you think AT and NZTA don’t accept how its road building is preventing modeshift to sustainable travel? Why do you think AT are preventing traffic reduction measures being incorporated into streetscape improvements that need them?

        They may not be car-mad, but there are plenty of AT and NZTA staff who do not accept induced traffic or traffic evaporation. In denying these realities, they deny the role they have played in mucking up this city’s transport.

        1. Oh Heidi!, you just created opportunity for me to wail and lament the lack of PT in Kumeu. But I won’t go there except to say in response to
          ‘Why do you think AT and NZTA don’t accept how its road building is preventing modeshift to sustainable travel? ‘
          Because there has to be another mode that can be shifted to. Road building is the only sensible option when pollies and their supporters stubbornly refuse to support easily implemented PT on extant resources.

          1. And don’t you think that enforcing bus lanes throughout Auckland would speed up bus travel so that it becomes a viable mode to shift to for many? That’s the point.

            Road building in Auckland’s situation is not a sensible option, no matter how you like to pretend that if you don’t get the PT you want, it’s the second best option. It’s not. In Auckland, it’s literally making our kids sick.

          2. You are right Heidi, I support road improvements because I don’t get the PT mode I want. I don’t want LR in 20 years, I don’t want busses in 5 or 10 years, I want trains in 2 to 3 years but I can’t get that. What’s left? Roading improvements, fix potholes, resurface rough patches, straighten corners, repaint road markings and maybe get some bicycle safety improvements.
            BTW I travelled to Waiuku yesterday, from Swanson by emu to Papakura, DMU to Pukekohe, it as a nice relaxed comfortable trip.
            Then bus Pukekohe to Waiuku, uncomfortable smelly, cramped seats, frequent stop starting, blocked by traffic, frustrated driver (but he was friendly). You will never ever convince me that bussing is better PT option than riding on a train.

          3. Very good Nick, that’s your suggestion for the fast growing NW Auckland, anyone who wants access to PT should move home? I’d rather get some decent roads sorted out to ease driving to nearest PT terminal at Swanson.

          4. No that’s my suggestion to your incessant whining on every damned post demanding a rail line be built to your house immediately.

            And quite frankly, you can fuck off claiming that only a train line at your door counts as ‘access to PT’, or that the train station is your nearest PT terminal. Four fifths of Aucklands PT users don’t use the train. What makes you so much more special than everyone else?

            If you want a train now, move to where the trains are. Otherwise you’ll have to catch a bus like the rest of us. Spoiler alert: traffic is shit everywhere, your neighborhood isn’t special.

          5. Well said NickR, sums up your fuckwit attitude perfectly. God forbid any suburb ofAuckland that desires better PT, especially one that has a fully operational railway right through it that could be used for rail PT.
            Instead because four fifths of Auckland don’t use the train then Kumeu has no right to expect to use the train.
            Wonderful fuckwit logic, keep up the good work.

          6. Bogle I’m on your side with this , There are people on this blog that have moaned about the added cost of the CRL but none have said anything about all the $millions of infrastructure that AT/MAXX/AC built on the NAL from Waitakeri through to Helensville which is just sitting there waiting for a DMU to come along and start using them .

            The only work that may be needed is upgrading a couple of the DMU’s and replacing a few of the sleepers under the rails and getting the ballast machine to level the track otherwise everything is still in place . And after watching Nwes hub Nation this morning there was talk of double tracking the Nal through to Oakleigh if they build the loop to Marsden point

          7. Bogle Nick.R wrote the report that recommended/justified the demise of train services to Waitakere. Just thought you should know that.

          8. Royce, I’m not aware of any reports recommending the closure of Waitakere rail station.
            However, the vehemence from NickR and PatrickR toward any suggestion of HR PT to Huapai makes me suspect there is some other issues at play here. None of their objections look like deal breakers. For advocates of PT to take this stance continues to astound me.

          9. There’s no issue at play except that I think it is a bad concept to waste a lot of money on. And if you waste all the money on bad ideas you don’t get to do the good things that will actually work. That just sets everything back.

            It better to do nothing at all that to spend up large on something that sets you backwards.

            If you go off and spend tens of millions on setting up a little shuttle line that is destined to fail, then millions a year running it…then not only have you wasted the money on something with tiny benefits, you also don’t have the money left to spend on anything else.

            Furthermore, you need to consider the human capital. There aren’t actually a lot of people working at AT or the government to do public transport. That’s a fact. If you task them to setting up one thing, they can’t be working on another. Likewise with political capital, if you burn that on a bad idea, you’re neighbourhood has to wait a generation before it gets another shot because no local or central politician will get behind it again.

            Remember the destined to fail Helensville trial? You didn’t need to trial it, everyone knew it would fail because the basic requirements for success weren’t delivered by the trial.

            But they spent the money, it failed… and now it will be another decade at least before anyone bothers with anything for Helensville again.

            But by all means go for it yourself. If you can create a case for investment and find the money, we won’t stop you. In fact if you can get evidence that all the previous studies and business case work were wrong and it’s actually a sound idea, then we’ll get right behind you.

            Why not work out how much it would cost, then hold a meeting in your community to propose a targeted rate to pay for it?

          10. Bogle this constant bitching about Huapai rail in every post is getting boring and frankly close to breaching our comments policy https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/user-guidelines/
            I agree with Nick, perhaps you should go and do some analysis on your own first. In my opinion, it is incumbent on you and others who want to see it to prove it is a good idea and a good use of money.

            To help you get started though, here’s some details for you
            – It is about 15km from Swanson to Huapai.
            – During electrification, AT said to me it costs ~$8 per km for fuel and maintenance of diesel units (vs $3.66 for electric). I’d assume these have gone up https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2013/10/24/electric-trains-a-lot-cheaper-to-run/
            – To run half hourly services from 6am to 11pm (to meet the last train) is 35 services per direction, so 70 per day
            – That works out at over 383 thousand kms per year at a cost of about $3 million – however would probably be a bit more as would need to run some late night Friday/Saturday services
            – However, those costs don’t include the cost of staff. I’m guessing here but I’d assume it would need at least 6 extra drivers (to cover breaks, leave etc.) and same again for train managers. That will easily add another $1 million (or more).
            – Then there’s the cost of keeping the trains and stations clean, keeping HOP machines topped up, lights on, security, insurance and probably a host of other costs.

            My guess is you’d be lucky to get any change out of $5-6 million and that’s before you take into account any capital costs associated with it all.

            And what do we get out of all this. In the best case scenario right now you’ve got a 20 minute journey to Swanson, probably a 5 minute wait and then a 52 minute journey to the city. So about 1hr17 all up. That’s not very attractive. Going in the opposite direction you’ve always got the risk that your train will be late and you miss your connection giving you an extra 30 minutes to wait. That’s not a service that’s going to attract a lot of usage.

            So what’s the alternative? From some calculations I’ve done, the average bus costs about $5.50 per in-service km they run. So for the cost of a 30 minute shuttle service between Swanson and Huapai, you could run 1 million kms of bus operations. That’s enough to run a bus from Huapai to the city and back every 15 minutes from 6am to 8pm. Alternatively, you could run a bus every 10 minutes return from Huapai to Swanson, potentially also serving Taupaki, from 6am to 11pm – even the rail line doesn’t operate that frequently. Both those options would likely generate a lot more usage than the rail shuttle would.

          11. MattL you have stated the running costs work out at $8/per km , What type of train set was this based on ? . was the DMU’s [ADL’s] or the SA/SD’s as after reading this post from GA posted October 2011 :-

            https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2011/10/10/electric-trains-technical-details/

            It stated the following :-

            “One interesting development is that it would seem the latest thinking is to operate the diesel shuttle services with ADL trains (the smaller ones that currently operate the Onehunga Line services) rather than with locomotive-hauled SA/SD trains.This makes some sense as the ADLs are probably cheaper to operate than the SA/SD trains. However, it does mean that we will end up with a heck of a lot of surplus carriages by 2015 once the full rollout of the electric trains comes online and in service. One does wonder what use they will be put to, as they have quite a bit of life left in them.”

            So wouldn’t the DMU’s be cheaper to run then ? It would be nice to know and then have them only 1/2hourly during the peak and hourly the rest of the time

          12. I don’t recall. Knowing AT, I suspect it was just averaged out across the fleet but even though the ADLs were probably cheaper to run, that was the cost 6 years ago and those costs would almost certainly have increased since then so $8 per km would seem like a realistic starting point. Also another cost not considered would be the additional track access charges AT would have to pay to Kiwirail to run services.

            Even if you run them hourly off-peak, you’re still looking at a lot of cost for (what would probably be next to no usage. You could still run a lot of buses for that and that would provide a much better quality service

          13. Matt, I think you have made a simple error in your costing, diesel fuel cost $8/km for DMU yet you quote an all up per km cost for in service bus as $5.50.
            How can that be correct when they use similar size/power Diesel engines. Distance travelled for both is similar and staffing costs would similar because it would be 2 to 3 buses equals one DMU capacity. Other factors you list as cons for trains, station maintenance, cleaning etc these apply also to bus stops and furniture with the notable exception that AT or NZTA pay for road upkeep.
            I could go on but the whole financial basis of your estimates look very shakey.
            Still I think you are onto something that Bogle is too persistent but Nick also needs to moderate his vitriol.

          14. Mike the $8 per km was based of figures AT gave at the time when I asked about the difference in costs between diesels and EMUs. Also note, train staff get paid more than bus drivers do.

            The $5.50 figure was arrived at by taking the total amount paid in fares for buses / the farebox recovery ratio for buses to give the total cost of providing bus services. That was then divided by the number of service-km’s driven. These figures are available on the NZTA’s website
            https://www.nzta.govt.nz/planning-and-investment/learning-and-resources/transport-data/data-and-tools/

            If you do the same exercise for rail, using the same data sources, costs come out at about $32 per km now vs just prior to electrification of $39 per km.

            I don’t claim they’re 100% accurate but they’re a damn sight more so than any of the claims I’ve seen about how cheap and easy it would be to run services.

          15. Mike, first of all apologies to Bogle, yourself and others for my conduct above. I stand by what I said, but was getting cranky and nasty about it. Just frustrated at every post being spun into a campaign for a Kumeu train shuttle, day after day.

            As for your comment on the similar engine sizes, that’s not correct. An ADL two car set has two engines with a total power output of 550hp.

            A standard size single decker bus has one engine with a power output of about 140hp.

            So it stands to reason that the two car DMU would consume fuel at several times the rate of a bus. However, do note that fuel is only one of the costs of the per-km rate, maintenance and servicing is another (typically higher on trains, especially older ones).

            Add on the higher costs for the highly skilled and qualified train driver vs a bus driver, and the addition of a TM, and you also have a per-hour staffing rate of about triple that of a bus.

            Running one small train still costs several times the cost of running one bus, so they’re never any good at little lines with low patronage. You need to be moving hundreds of people in each vehicle, not dozens, for trains to be the more economical proposition.

          16. Nick R, the max power output of a bus or train engine is pretty irrelevant to fuel actually used. Max power will be called for only intermittently, if at all. A train, being heavier, will generally require high power to accelerate then low power to sustain the kind of speeds which would apply on the NAL. The climb from Swanson to Waitakere would of course consume additional fuel. A bus being lighter is easier to accelerate but being rubber-tyred has a greater rolling-resistance at speed. Furthermore, it is likely to be doing more stopping-and-starting than a train so that will consume more fuel. The comparison between transport of freight by road and rail is a good indication of the general fuel-economies of rail.

            Bogle – keep your arguments coming. They have merit and I for one find them welcome, not boring!

          17. Dave, the engine size and power output is directly related to fuel consumption. A bus cruising at low power will use a quarter the fuel of that DMU cruising at low power.

            And the comparison between transport of freight by road and rail is a function of the payload to prime mover weight, largely. But that’s only relevant where the freight train has a large payload, and they generally don’t run trains without a large payload because that’s uneconomic and very inefficient.

            One train carrying a hundred containers is indeed far more efficient than a hundred trucks carrying a hundred containers… but one train carrying one container is far, far worse than one truck carrying one container.

            This is a one container payload situation. There is no way one DMU with a couple dozen people on board is using less fuel than one bus with a couple dozen people on board.

            If it were one train with 500 people on board vs. ten buses, different story. But that isn’t the story here.

          18. Dave, I know you haven’t missed it, but surely “The climb from Swanson to Waitakere would of course consume additional fuel” is pertinent here?

          19. Matt, Nick and co, I’m sorry that my enthusiasm for HR to Huapai has become boring, annoying or seen just as bitching.
            It is not my intention to deliberately annoy anyone or be seen as a nuisance. Apologies to everyone who has been annoyed.
            From my viewpoint my posts about HR to Huapai have been persistent for two reasons.

            First, the mind numbing sheer madness of trying to get to work and back home every day by driving on SH16 AND there is no credible alternative because PT does not exist. My future hopes were aligned with CFN2 which had LR to Kumeu. I believed the two Phils’ 2018 great announcement and fully supported/wanted that NW LR before 2028. I feel let down now after Twyford’s ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’ comment to prepare us all for the likely cancellation of delayed into oblivion of NW LR. I now see no hope of any credible PT unless it’s rail based. Busses need the same congested roads my car uses. I remember the saying that for NW PT Twyford stated it would not be bus based because it would be a sunk cost and LR would be eventually needed. – hence ‘build it once and do it right’. Has that changed?

            Second, I consider GA the most informative and interesting public transport in Auckland blog. It’s clearly the most appropriate, perhaps only, blog that attracts discussion on relevant transport issues and sure gets out the opinion that something is really badly wrong with NW PT. Kumeu is different from other Auckland suburbs because it has a extant rail line already set up for passenger services.

            Anyway, I have not lost my enthusiasm for rail to Huapai, for me and many others in Kumeu it just makes sense to use the HR. I will now not take every opportunity on GA posts to push HR to Huapai but will only mention it where it is directly relevant to the post topic.
            In other words Stay Calm and Carry On

          20. Thanks Bogle, that’s nicely said.

            I’m keen to get cracking with some local ideas that improve public transport in your area, establish demand for even more, set precedents for better analysis, and put the pressure on to reallocate funding away from roading. I’ll eventually blog about it – might be a while away – but if you have input on that front, do send it in.

          21. I wouldn’t read too much into what one politician is quoted as saying one day or the next, they are fickle and frequently misquoted. It’s the long term trend that counts, but it is a long term trend. The typical major infrastructure project in NZ takes 7 to 8 years to go from concept to delivery. Even something that looks as simple as running passenger trains on a freight line will take most of that time.

            “because PT does not exist”
            …but these sort of comments really don’t help. PT does exist to Kumeu, and at a level that is the same or better than many areas elsewhere in Auckland. Wanting more is one thing, and I guess we all want that for our neighbourhood. But crying poor and claiming you have *nothing* as the justification is another thing entirely.

          22. “the engine size and power output is directly related to fuel consumption. A bus cruising at low power will use a quarter the fuel of that DMU cruising at low power”

            Nick, how much fuel will a Ferrari with a 150HP engine use? Answer, very little except maybe when accelerating hard. Certainly much less than a bus with the same engine power but 10 times the weight.

            Fuel used has to translate into work done. If there is little work being done then even a big engine will use little fuel.

            A DMU that is up-to-speed and coasting efficiently on steel rails will use very little fuel, whereas a bus (or maybe more than one bus if the task requires it) requires more fuel to overcome its greater rolling resistance at the same speed.

            And Heidi, I mentioned the climb up-and-over to Waitakere because this will certainly cost more in train fuel, but I do not know what climb a bus might have to undergo to compare it with. The greater weight of a train would require more fuel than a bus to climb the same elevation, but rail alignments are normally chosen to minimize height changes and are often less than the equivalent roads.

          23. NickR, Permit me to elucidate
            ‘Because PT does not exist’ meaning there is no PT that offers an alternate to the SH16 congestion.
            The PTUA people reckoned 1 to 2 years for a DMU based shuttle going between Swanson and Huapai. I can’t imagine it taking 7-9 years
            Can we progress past this discussion and just agree to disagree?

        2. Actually with regard to AT, you’re on the money. They outsource some engineering, then ignore the engineering reports.

          St Heliers is a prime example of where the outsourced suggestions were more sensible, but largely ignored. What a waste of taxpayer money if they’re consulting external experts and then ignoring them?

  8. AA’s “50m [to merge into/out of a bus lane] is too short” comment is self-serving and blaming the messenger.

    They know (as AT pointed out to them) that the rules around Bus lanes are set by Central Government not AT.

    AT is merely enforcing what is in the legislation.

    If AA doesn’t think 50m is enough, then they should lobby MoT/NZTA to change the law. Not bitch about AT actually enforcing the law as it stands.

    But AA is clearly wrong about “people driving because they have no choice” argument. The numbers do show that the absolute number of those who are travelling by car, clearly do have a choice and are exercising it, because they no longer drive, or ride in a car to enter the Central City.

    They may have chosen to take a job elsewhere in Auckland, a job out of Auckland or now use PT. Who knows for sure?

    [The census 2018 “Journey to work or Education” data that might tell us is lost in the bowels of the Stats Dept somewhere still].

    But the impact of dissolving car trips is a clear trend – the crossover point was April 2017, and we have a long way to go before the constraints are removed. So I expect this trend of car trips to go down at a steady rate for a while.

    Hopefully AT will do its best to ensure that the non-Car side of this journey ledger stays positive once these constraints to driving are removed or lessened as the works in the City complete.

    Otherwise we will have yet another lost golden opportunity to cement lasting change in the City. Change which is needed if Light Rail is ever going to happen.

    1. The whole “driving because they have no choice” argument is over time sounding more like “driving because I’m lazy and don’t like change”. Just my experience…

      Surely 50m is enough distance. Perhaps their objection is more based upon the understanding that at rush hour, cars will be backed up and heaven forbid that ever happen…

      1. “50m is too short” argument is in essence, simply a thinly disguised strawman for arguing that unfettered driving in bus lanes should be the norm.

        That way you can always turn into or out of that side street using as much, or as little, or even, the entire, bus lane – at your convenience. And damn any buses or bus users – or cyclists etc, who might be using the lane.

        Of course at peak times that [likely, single occupant] vehicle will then get stuck in the bus lane by the other vehicles in the congested general lane that is adjacent to the bus lane.

        So one vehicle will then in short order impede the many other corridor users on the next bus [or buses] that come along behind it.

        Rinse and repeat for a lot of vehicles and you have no bus priority at all.

        But then AA is very self-centered like that, it is in its name, and also it seems, its DNA! After all It called the Automobile Association.

      2. There is no reason to criticise people who say they have no choice. The point is, it’s not just about them. As other options improve and the urban form of the city becomes less car dependent, people with no choice will continue to drive, and that’s fine. People with choice may change their choices. Transport policy is about the behaviour of the population as a whole, not just you sir or you madam.

      3. Way to project your own access to public transport and work situation across an entire population. Just because you enjoy that privilege doesn’t mean that others do.

        1. Way to read into my comment – Made me smile.

          You’re argument only makes sense if you take things to the absurd extreme. Yeah, living in Kumeu will mean driving at least part of the way. Part of the way… There’s still no reason to drive _all_ of the way, other than a reluctance to change modes. Excuses? Sure.

          I stand by the words of my comment. Read into that what you will.

          1. “There’s still no reason to drive _all_ of the way, other than a reluctance to change modes. Excuses? Sure.”

            Good thing we’re all time-rich, have the same employment flexibility, can choose where we work…oh wait, we aren’t don’t and can’t. I mean I don’t understand why all those cleaners, night shift workers and tradies don’t just work from home???

            Most people here accept that driving isn’t going to be an option for 100% of people. Snarky comments that expose nothing but your own privilege will do you no favours in winning over non-PT users.

    2. “Hopefully AT will do its best to ensure that the non-Car side of this journey ledger stays positive once these constraints to driving are removed or lessened as the works in the City complete.”

      This is critical, Greg. And I hope AT will start messaging strongly that this isn’t temporary, that modeshift is an important governmental policy, and there’ll be more to come.

    3. Doing a quick calculation:
      a car traveling at 50km/hr will travel 50 metres in approx. 3.6 seconds. The road code says you should signal for 3 seconds before changinging lanes.
      This would suggest that either 50m is too short or 50km/hr is too fast.
      At 30km/hr you will have 6 seconds which in most situations is probably plenty of time.

      Also
      50m is exactly 5 centreline dots (the distance from the beginning of one dot to the beginning of the next is 10m) OR if you are in stationary traffic and can’t see the centreline it would be approx. 10 car lengths.

      1. The reality is that AT doesn’t tend to enforce the 50m limit at all. Their cameras tend to be placed where drivers clearly MASSIVELY ignore that limit, exactly so that there’s no ambiguity and complaints about “They ticketed me for entering at 51m, those unreasonable bas***ds!”

        Fact is, drivers enter bus lanes because they think they can. If the occasional one entered a bit earlier, that would be fine – but you see them hooning down 200-300m of Park Road because they don’t want to wait in congestion, they want to slow down buses because it suits THEM.

        1. Yes, and it’s galling that AT are so blatant that they won’t enforce what is needed to make our buses work better. That article has Hannan quoted as saying:

          “The law is set by the Government not AT. It says 50m, but Auckland Transport only enforces when someone has driven into the lane at 70m or more. We give people at least 20m leeway and that policy has not changed.”

          This is an example of AT actively preventing modeshift to public transport. It’s bad enough they do it, but to also flag it to motorists is just thick. And shows that AT think it’s more important to try to appease the minority of road users who are motorists than to support the sustainable modes, or to uphold the law, the GPS, or their own policies.

      2. No one is going to drive into/around a corner at 50 km/hr. Even if turning left in or out of a side road.

        So 50m is plenty of time, as you will have to go round the corner slower than 50km/hr. To do it safely.

        When pulling from the main road into a side road/vehicle crossing even if you indicate at the 50m mark, then slow down and make your turn 3 seconds after you indicated you will not run out of room and not be indicating less than 3 seconds.

        Secondly the 3 seconds indicating is a minimum time not maximum, so you can indicate your left turn sooner than 50m, and move across once past the 50m mark for turning out of traffic into the side road.

        For joining traffic from a side road using the bus lane. If traffic is stopped still, no speed is appropriate – you need a gap first. If its moving, you can indicate and safely merge well before hitting the 50m mark at most speeds below 50 km/hr.

        When the traffic is travelling at 50 km/hr+ it can be tricky to comply with the laws for indicating turn left, then merging into bus lanes, complying with the 50m rule,indicatring moving right and managing safe use of the road space all at once, I agree but the MoT/NZTA have decided 50m is enough.

        In any case AT said they actually enforce the limit at the 70m mark for violators, not 50m so they do give some leeway on top of the actual law.

  9. Should “It ultimately fell to around 58.4% and stayed at that level for all of 2018” be “It ultimately fell to around 48.4% and stayed at that level for all of 2018”?

  10. And often people just don’t give a toss about driving in bus lanes. The bus lane on Halsey St is a case in point. The first clue that you might be in a bus lane is the nice, fresh green paint. The bus lane sign might also be a clue. At the end of the bus lane there is another sign that says, “Bus lane ends”. That’s a clue that you can now enter that piece of road – no need to calculate 50m.

    Last Friday was my record for sitting in a bus on that stretch of road affected by cars entering the bus lane. Our bus took 6 light phase changes to be able to pass along Halsey St and into Fanshawe. This is the route for the NEX2 and so it would seem to be a fairly important route to the success of the network.

    I have spoken to AT and they say this intersection has been looked at 3 or 4 times. It is a 30m walk from their office.

    Compare traffic exiting from the Wynyard Qtr and the traffic flow does not seem to be held any more than one light change phase.

    I have a couple of very good photos that I took last week from the front of my bus showing two cars very clearly in the bus lane. I wonder if there is anyone that I could send them to that would be remotely interested.

    I do note that AT sometimes has a fixed camera set up. This highly visible deterrent only seems to fix the issue on that day.

    1. One possible solution is to change the lane configurations northbound:
      Lane 1 left turn for buses only (so they have a bus lane the whole way from Victoria St) / Lane 2 left turn for general traffic / Lane 3 straight on / Lane 4 turn right

      AT may be reticent to use this solution as the morning and afternoon traffic loads are very different, and they may (foolishly) want to keep capacity in other directions. An ideal world could have dynamic lanes, but it could cause too much confusion.

      They also need to add cycle lanes / advance boxes – it’s regularly got lots of cyclists squeezed in between snarling buses and trucks.

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