On Tuesday the Auckland Transport board held their latest meeting. I decided to attend this meeting due to the significance of the decision over speed limits but also because it was the last meeting both Chairman Lester Levy and fellow director Mark Gilbert. As of yet the council haven’t decided on who will replace them so that will presumably need to be one of the first decisions they make once Phil Goff has set up his committees.
As we discussed last week, the biggest item on the agenda was to make a decision on the speed limit proposals consulted on earlier in the year. The decision was meant to be made earlier but was delayed
till after the election due to the large number of submissions.
AT staff had presented three options to the board to choose from
- Defer the decision
- Make the bylaw with only minor changes from what went out for consultation
- Make the bylaw that was largely the same as what was consulted on but with a few exceptions, most notably only lowering Fanshawe, Hobson and Nelson streets to 40km/h. This would also involve spending $5-10 million extra to ‘engineer up’ these roads to make up for the higher speed limit.
After ATs CEO Shane Ellison gave a summary, including reminding them it is responsibility to ensure speeds are safe as per legislation enacted in 2017 by previous government it was on to questions from the board. The board have been immersed in this issue for a long time so some of the questions did feel a bit staged. It quickly felt pretty clear what the outcome would be given much of the focus shifted to whether the extra $5-10 million could be accommodated within existing budgets, which ATs leadership team said it could. Although one interesting comment from Ellison is that AT are in discussions with non-traditional funders to help pay for more safety outcomes – by this I presume it includes the likes of health boards and ACC.
When it came time to vote, no directors would put their hands up to move options 1 or 2 but they jumped to do so for option 3 and quickly voted unanimously on it. I thought it was a bit disappointing they didn’t at least have a debate about option 2.
While option 2 would have been a better overall outcome, it is good that we’re getting significant change for most of the city and is certainty a big step forward over the status quo. Furthermore, as we continue to evolve the city centre and reduce the number of vehicles in it, these streets are something we could come back to.
It’s also worth highlighting the vitriol from some in response to this, in particular from trucking lobby group the Road Transport Forum (RTF). They have shown a complete lack of empathy labelling the changes “the carpet-bombing approach” and claiming economic ruin as a result. Of note, when asked about the impacts to commercial operators, AT staff mentioned studies from within NZ showing that where a reduction in speed limits reduced travel times by 10%, they also reduced fuel costs by 15% so potentially this will work out better for trucking companies.
Prior to the meeting the AT held their closed session which had quite a few items on the agenda. Here’s the most interesting of them
Items for Approval / Decision
- Additional Waitemata Harbour Connections Business Case
- Supporting Growth – Amended Programme Alliance Agreement
- Car Share Policy
- Short Term Airport Access Improvements (STAAI) Single Stage Business Case and Upcoming Engagement
- Auckland Rail Franchise : Procurement Strategy
- On-Demand & Shared Mobility Roadmap
- Downtown Infrastructure Development Programme – Affordability and Budget Management
Items for Noting
- Housing Infrastructure Fund
It will be particularly interesting to see the AWHC and Airport Access business cases.
While not strictly in the closed session, the forward planner does give an indication as to what’s due to come up at the next meeting. Again the items of note are
- Accessibility Action Plan
- CCTV coverage
- Project NEXT update (the new national ticketing system to eventually replace HOP)
The business report is where AT put all many of the other things going on within the organisation as well as some regular reporting. The items of note
Related to the closed item above, it is noted that in August/September, $870,000 was approved for a programme business case for the North Shore Rapid Transit Network as part of the AWHC project.
Analytics On Shared Paths
One of the more interesting items is the use of CCTV analytics on shared paths
Auckland Transport has used CCTV analytics to understand the behaviours of users on the North-Western Shared Path, where there are reported conflicts between pedestrians and bike riders. Temporary cameras have been deployed at two critical locations to collect the data. The team has built analytics to present heatmapping of cyclist and pedestrian movements, as well as to analyse the speed of cyclists when they are near pedestrians. This work will assist to inform possible design changes on the path.
Oddly, during the meeting director Sir Michael Cullen asked if this meant they should put signs up to tell pedestrians to keep left
Mapping out the Commuter Journey and Mode Shift Opportunities
It is good AT are looking at mode shift options but I still worry they’re way too focused on commuters and not enough the other 68% of trips or on getting those commuters to use PT for non-work trips
Commuter mode shift is a priority area for AT. While there is business knowledge about what these improvements should look like, this knowledge is not captured in one place, validated by customers or quantified in a way that allows us to prioritise. Enabling cross functional teams to share initial investigative work and use combined knowledge to solve these problems is key. To do this Customer Central provided a framework that leverages specialist resources, fit-for-purpose methodologies and tools to create an up-to-date understanding of the commuter experience in Auckland in 2019.
With adult commuters representing 32% of our 100 million PT trips; this commuting group has been identified as one of the highest potential opportunities for behavioural change on the evolving network of public and active transport options. For this work, commuters are defined as people who travel for work with the same journey more than two days per week, peak or off-peak times, and covers all modes, including car. Approximately 30 opportunity areas have been identified to help accelerate mode shift and improve the experience of regular PT users.
A prioritisation workshop has been completed with key stakeholders to determine the best approach for each; ranging from a research debrief or explore/design sprints in Customer Central, through to an experience designer being embedded in a team to help deliver a project, or the reprioritisation of work to allow a cross-functional team to form around solving a significant customer problem. The workshop identified 6 priorities for initial resource allocation:
- Better communication and management of disruptions
- Clear active options, safe active routes and better active to PT transitions
- A more adaptive and sustainable local travel solution (non-CBD commute)
- Support the first journey for new commuters
- Recognise and reward regular PT behaviour
- Minimise transfer effort and wait time for regular multi-mode commuters
The design principles from this work are founded on behavioural science findings and include: Design for people (first); Be diversely accessible; Design the whole journey, not just the trip; Remove the friction; and Design for how people feel.
A few small updates
- There will be trains operating on New Years Eve but only on the Onehunga, Southern, Eastern and lines and only as far as Onehunga, Pernrose and Sylvia Park
- AT hope to operationalise improvements to the wait times at Vicsnoria Park this month, if they haven’t already
- Changes to cross-town services, including the Outer Link are likely to be consulted on before the end of the year
- Compared to predictions in their Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP)
- 44.4% of bus routes are performing above expectation
- 44.4% of bus routes are performing to expectation
- 12.0% of bus routes are performing below expectation
AT’s Devonport taxi trial is fast approaching the end of it’s one-year trial and they say more people are using it with to the end of August it seeing about 170 trips a day (over 200 trips a day on weekdays). This remains less than was forecast at about 1400 per week
AT’s customer satisfaction has taken a notable dive on both trains and ferries recently
I only focused on a few things that really stood out so let me know in the comments if there’s anything key you thought I missed.