Last week’s weekly roundup seemed popular so here it is again.

CRL Open Day

City Rail Link are giving 10,000 people the chance to walk through the CRL tunnels they’ve built to date.

Aucklanders will have the opportunity next month to walk a section of the 3.45-kilometre-long tunnels being built for the City Rail Link project.

The open day will be held on Sunday, 17 November, at the Britomart end of the project in lower Queen Street. Tickets will be available from Wednesday, 6 November.

“This will be a rare opportunity for people to enjoy a brief snapshot of New Zealand’s largest-ever infrastructure project being built right under the city – we have a lot to celebrate,” says City Rail Link Ltd’s Chief Executive, Dr Sean Sweeney.

“It’s a great chance for us to say, ‘thank you’ to people for the support they are giving the project, and for us to show off some of the outstanding engineering behind a project that will re-shape the way Aucklanders travel.”

People will be able to walk under lower Queen Street, the Commercial Bay development and into lower Albert Street – a return distance of 600 metres that will take about half-an-hour.

Space in the tunnels is confined. Access for those who use wheelchairs or mobility scooters is limited. There will be no access for bikes, prams, pushchairs, scooters and skateboards.

  • Numbers will be restricted to 10,000
  • Entry will be by ticket, which will only be available on-line from 6 November
  • Tickets will be free and restricted to six per person with a total of 10,000 issued.
  • Walking the tunnels will run between from 8am until last entry at 5pm
  • There will be 10 entry sessions during the day. To keep people safe underground, each session will be restricted to 1000 people
    When tickets become available, people will need to nominate the time of their visit
  • The tunnels are not suitable for people who have a fear of being in a confined space, and there are low levels of lighting underground
  • People are encouraged to wear sensible, flat shoes
  • Entry and exit from the tunnels will be through the Britomart station

Just wait to get your tickets after I’ve got mine.


AA on Rapid Transit

The AA have surveyed over 1,600 of their Auckland members on the topic of rapid transit and published the results in their latest Auckland Matters newsletter. The results are both fascinating and very positive, especially when you consider that AA members tend to have a different demographic profile to the wider Auckland population.

The past few years have seen a tectonic shift in the debate around rapid transit in Auckland. No longer is there any question – as there was with the City Rail Link, for instance – about whether Auckland is ready for public transport on this scale. It is now fairly and squarely a discussion about what, when, and how much.

This is a welcome change. It recognises the crucial role rapid transit has to play in the transport network – in particular, by enabling more efficient long-term land-use patterns, thereby easing congestion – and underlines Aucklanders’ readiness to consider other ways of getting around.

At the same time, though, there’s a tendency to see rapid transit as a silver bullet solution, which it clearly is not.

The AA is right behind efforts to expand Auckland’s rapid transit network, and deliver high-quality public transport. Our Members want it, the public wants it, our city needs it.

But it has to be done in a way that is affordable, that achieves value for money, and that is very clear about the benefits that are and are not going to be delivered.

The Government’s delivery of rapid transit so far – in the form of light rail to the Airport – has generated public confusion and alienated many industry players. It will need to significantly lift its game.

There are a number of key findings from their survey but some of the most interesting are:

  • There is huge support for Rapid Transport
  • They want high quality services that provide appealing alternatives to driving.
  • There is good support for both of the proposed light rail lines which is impressive given the absence of any official information and plenty of misinformation being spread.


NZTA Regulatory Review

On Wednesday Transport Minister released the results of the review in to the NZTAs regulatory role after it was found they had neglected it.

An independent review by Martin Jenkins has found NZTA failed to properly regulate the transport sector under the previous government.

“It found that previous transport ministers had directed NZTA to focus on ‘building roads’ at the expense of keeping people safe,” Phil Twyford said. “Safety is our Government’s top transport priority and we’re getting the Transport Agency back on track.”

The Government is adopting all the review’s recommendations and will implement them as soon as possible, including:

  • Creating a statutory Director of Land Transport who is responsible for carrying out the NZTA’s regulatory functions and powers,
  • Getting the NZTA Board to develop a new regulatory strategy,
  • Instructing the Ministry of Transport to update the NZTA’s regulatory objectives, functions and powers, and
  • Injecting up to $45 million into NZTA’s regulatory function.

“The Transport Agency has made good progress in the past year but these new changes, coupled with recent Board appointments, will make sure it will be a modern regulator, equipped for the massive changes the sector will undergo in coming years. The Board has been bolstered by new member Catherine Taylor who is an experienced regulator, brings risk management expertise and has worked for other Crown agencies and government departments.

“The review also found the Transport Ministry has now improved its monitoring approach after taking a light touch under the last government. I expect the Ministry to take a more active approach to overseeing all our transport agencies,” Phil Twyford said.

As part of the work to ensure the Agency is a modern regulator, the Government is also investigating designating NZTA as a health and safety regulator, and options to strengthen commercial vehicle enforcement. This work and the other recommendations will be completed by early next year.


Building Consents

The latest building consent numbers are out and have hit a record high of 14,345 for the year to the end of August. Of those, 53% were for denser typologies of Apartments, terraced houses or retirement units.

In addition to the consents, council also say that the number of Code of Compliance Certificates issued is also up

“In addition to the record numbers of dwelling consents, a total of 1244 dwellings were ‘completed’ during August, by having a Code Compliance Certificate issued.

“This takes the total number of dwellings completed this year to 10,979.


High St changes start next week

From Tuesday the council will start trials to make High St more pedestrian friendly. This is to tie in with Art Week and specifically Late Night Art.

Starting at the north end of High Street, on-street car parks will be progressively replaced with temporary place-kit, widening footpaths to make the street more attractive to shoppers and pedestrians while making it more accessible for service and emergency vehicles and people with disabilities. New street furniture, planter boxes and other elements will also be rolled out to improve the look and feel of the street.

Phil Goff says, “Lessons learned during each phase will inform how the next phase is configured and rolled out. By working with the community through the co-design process we will ensure that the best final design is in place to get on and fully upgrade High Street into a world-class pedestrian-friendly space by the end of 2022.”

Chris Darby says, “We are changing the way we think about our urban streets, fostering design that recognises the vitality of people as the anchor of city life.

“We are changing the way we think about our urban streets, fostering design that recognises the vitality of people as the anchor of city life.

“Where pedestrians outnumber cars by 1,400 per cent, like on High Street, personal mobility and enjoyment trumps parking and kerbs to bring life on the street.


Elections

And finally, if you haven’t already, local body voting closes midday tomorrow. As of yesterday, just 29.8% of eligible votes had been returned. Results should be out from 2pm tomorrow.

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32 comments

  1. I’m not advocating internet voting, not the least because of the potential integrity problems and it’s now routine fraud scams it cannot avoid but…..

    The postal ballots reliance on NZ Posts useless and irregular deliveries is not exactly promoting democracy, is it?.

    Another example is Special Voters are sent a series of letters, the last of which asks them if they want voting papers. Yet this series of letters never asks for a response until the last to see if you want the bleeding obvious, voting papers. WTF? Just bloody send them for Christ sake.

    Perhaps to make voting unavoidably easy, set up voting booths in every suburb and village, open at least 12 hours daily and best of all, advertise this everywhere, (as opposed to the current arrangement of secrecy), to supplement the current system. Perhaps even double them in the last two weeks, even place them in malls for example. What price is democracy?

    Might just help!

    1. Not only does delivery of the voting papers rely on NZ Post, sending them back requires finding a post box or post office. Both of which are so endangered I expect DOC will start a captive breeding program soon.

        1. Going back to New Zealand for a day or two is a different kettle of fish to paying taxes and contributing towards maintaining infrastructure. Why people who don’t live in a country have the ability to foist obligations onto those that do is pretty naff.

        2. I left a month ago, might return one day although have sold property. Should I be allowed to have a say? Not that I bothered. Will vote in the general if I can though.

    2. I’ll add that despite this being the last day for voting and what was once polling day, the council are opening libraries at at leisurely 10.00.

      Auckland Council’s general manager of Democracy Services Marguerite Delbet really hasn’t busted her hump has she on this one?

      Suggestions Marguerite, open council public offices early and later, put flyers out, don’t just rely on Facebook, put ads in bus stops that AC own, you know crazy shit like tell people and make it convenient. Don’t just set you short sightedness on internet voting for next time. Recall the not so minor disaster that was the Census???

      How much was this turkey paid to deliver worse than usual I wonder?

        1. They have had polling boxes at Britomart for at least 2 days last week [thurs-fri] to my knowledge , I saw them being taken out of there when going through there

  2. Totally agree with Waspman, just whacking up heinous bill boards everywhere isnt the answer.

    Can definitely see the increase of Townhouse consents..I see adverts of new builds on Insta and Facebook every day. All out West and South though..not many in Inner Suburbs. Would be good to see consents split by area!

    1. Entire suburbs of them. The last time I went past Whenuapai it had gone from mostly paddock, to looking like Hobsonville Point.

      It is also this little bit of distance away from both SH16 and Hobsonville Road, which I guess is not too great for PT access.

  3. Maybe to facilitate voting we make it a celebrated event?

    NZ could make election days public holidays. There could be lots of public activities that day in poll booth locations.

    The voting age could be dropped to 16 and going to vote could be a organised and celebrated coming of age life event.

    If NZ values being a democratic country then it may need to do something like this.

    1. Yes!

      And those areas where voter turnout is poor could have more money spent on getting people to the events, as a way of the city / country acknowledging our need for them for the democracy to function.

    2. Good idea…

      It’s an often over used/cited point but people literally died so we can enjoy democratic freedom today.

      The right to vote is taken for granted massively. People need to realise that retweeting Greta is great and has a degree of political influence; but actually rocking up and putting a voting paper in the ballot box is infinitely more powerful.

      Civic rights and the duty that comes with it needs to be given the due respect it deserves and celebrated!

      While i’m at it .. I also wish annual tax return filing could generate great civic pride. Where we all come together to celebrate the contribution to shared services that we all make through our annual mahi.

      Would certainly help drive behaviour change when an Average Joe realises he pays more income tax than Facebook does.

      +1 for a day off as well.

      1. “people literally died so we can enjoy democratic freedom today”

        I am having difficulty understanding the causal link. Which people?

        1. For example, the Japanese empire was not a democratic society. By August 1942 it’d invaded the Solomon Isalnds, certainly heading in our direction. Many died.

        2. But how did their dying cause us to have democratic freedom? It sounds a bit like some quasi-religious claim.

    3. Surely not voting is a valid choice. If someone doesn’t care enough then they don’t get a say. I dropped mine off at a library because the impediment to posting them was Watercare and their ridiculous sewer construction right through the centre of Greenhithe. They had a designated route approved that was intended to mitigate effects but they decided not to use it and are screwing up the whole village because some idiot made all their work a permitted activity.

    4. I find the hardest part when it comes to voting is finding out who the people are and what they are going to bring.

      I suspect for the vast majority of people they don’t have a clue who these people are and the only thing they may know about them what is written in the little book if they bothered to read it.

      And then there is the fact that the people you are voting for are somewhat limited in what they can do. For instance, if the Mayor where to change tomorrow it would take a number of years before you see anything even start to change in which time it would be the next election.

  4. Matt L , with the 10k of tickets that will be available for the walk through of the tunnels are they only be supplied through their FB page or is there another way of getting them ? . There are some of out here that are not/or want to sign up to FB .

    1. They won’t be supplying tickets via Facebook, they’re just promoting the event via Facebook. You can look at CRL Ltd’s page without logging in to Facebook so don’t worry about missing out on any information. When they’ve found themselves a ticketing provider the link will get promoted via a variety of channels.

  5. Given all the promotion of light rail to the airport I find it very interesting heavy rail airport link comes out so close in popularity. After all, there’s been no Govt or AT promotion of the heavy rail airport line. Twyford won’t listen though…he knows best and has surrounded himself with group thinkers.

    1. Don’t forget that HR to the Airport was the preferred solution for several years, as promoted by GA, the CBT, the Greens, and Len Brown. LR has really only been the preferred solution the last 5-years or so. And deservedly so: It provides a much better network.

      It seems to me that they’ve both had similar amounts of exposure, hence I’m not surprised they receive similar amounts of public support.

    2. I think we should take heart that these AA members are keen on public transport, Flying Scotsman. It doesn’t really matter which mode is used; the important thing is to establish public transport to give people the choice to not have to drive. PT advocates need to be united on this, because all the sustainable modes are complementary.

      We can’t read too much into the survey. Although almost every respondent will be a driver, and will reflect the richer, older AA demographic, to bother replying, they will also be people who are more interested in transport than the average person, who might be more focused on the access that transport can bring, without thinking about modes.

      In surveys, the support people show for modes and streetscapes they are familiar with is known to be significantly higher than for modes and streetscapes that are new. Knowing this, AT and government are dragging their feet on providing best practice consultation. For streetscapes in particular, best practice involves demonstration before consultation – which of course is hard to achieve when you’re talking about light rail. Top class promotional material really is necessary. Support for streetscapes that are focused on people and transit, not congested with cars, will take off once the public see what it can deliver.

      I wouldn’t say there’s been lots of promotional material for the Dominion Rd route – there have only been a few images, more than matched by lots of media-whipped-up scorn. But perhaps you’re right that these few images are the reason the higher support for light rail was larger on the Dominion Rd route. The 17% extra support for light rail over heavy rail on the NW route – despite lack of promotional material and despite it being an unknown quantity – is notable.

      In either case, there’s a huge support for rail, and that’s what we need to focus on.

      1. Support for heavy rail could also imply a preference for a PT system separated from what will always be a congested road network.

    3. I’m impressed that LR managed to do so well. If you asked the person on the street the best way to the airport most would say HR, clearly a number of people are aware of the wider benefits of LR for Mangere, Hillsborough and Dominion Road.

      1. The other inspiring thing is that, despite lack of any material given on the subject of traffic evaporation, less than half of these AA survey respondents expressed concern over the loss of a general traffic lane in order to implement light rail on an existing street. If there’s good engagement for the light rail which informs people about traffic evaporation, there will be even more people in favour.

        New York’s story about 14th St will be useful here. The people who thought surrounding streets would take the brunt of route-switching traffic have been able to see now that instead, the removal of general traffic from 14th St has enabled so much modeshift that the surrounding streets have benefited from the traffic evaporation too.

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