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.

Speed Limits

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

  1. Defer the decision
  2. Make the bylaw with only minor changes from what went out for consultation
  3. 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 changesthe 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.

Closed Agenda

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.

Forward Planner

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)

Business Report

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

Planning

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:

  1. Better communication and management of disruptions
  2. Clear active options, safe active routes and better active to PT transitions
  3. A more adaptive and sustainable local travel solution (non-CBD commute)
  4. Support the first journey for new commuters
  5. Recognise and reward regular PT behaviour
  6. 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.

AT Metro

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

Customer Satisfaction

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.

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56 comments

  1. Good news that the CBD is getting lower speeds, hopefully A4E will make AC see sense and drop the remaining streets to 30 km/h

      1. Jeez Vance. Some nicely researched information on possible realistic actual time penalties incurred on a cross city journey covered by this speed lowering is the minimum required for your postings to be taken as other then knee jerk nonsense.
        Given the longest feasible journey in this zone is only about 2km, time penalties are severly limited.

        1. Guess you didn’t bother to factor in that a lot of vehicles will be using these roads several times a day?

          Stifle productivity. Let’s do this.

        2. An economy that requires lives to be sacrificed has no place in a civilised society.

          It’s also an illusion. You’re ignoring the evidence, Vance. Businesses in town need foot traffic – foot traffic is increased with safer speeds.

        3. Yes, that. You can start by counting what proportion of people in the area are driving a car in the first place.

          My guess for the #1 cause of any lack of ‘productivity’ is the debilitating effect of all that traffic on peoples’ ability to walk around easily. Have you ever wondered why, despite all that population density, there are so few local businesses in the western half of the city centre?

        4. Those businesses you refer to Heidi also need vehicles to service them.

          This plan will result in increased costs which will ultimately be passed on to consumers.

          Won’t do much for PT either as it’ll slow the buses down as well.

        5. I was thinking about the businesses who’ve been impacted by the CRL construction, and how in the video someone made of it recently they were really clear that the important thing is foot traffic.

          That AT has prioritised access by motor vehicle over retention of foot traffic is a big factor in the outcome here.

          The archaic requirements for TMPs need to be overhauled, for the sake of business as much as for the sake of people moving around the city centre by foot, as most of theme do.

        6. It is quite conceivable that the costs of slower vehicle transit in this zone may well be more then offset by the reduction in walking times and time efficiencies of more cycling and scootering.
          DHL have produced an interesting video of time international time sensitive deliveries into Manhatten.
          Air freighter into JFK. Helicopter to the banks of the Hudson. Very short van trip to a depot, then foot or cycle to final destination. Return trip reverse.
          Perhaps the lower speed limits may well lower the “efficiency” of the current cruise the block to find a park multiple trips a day but dissuading these will be a net economic positive.

        7. Vance, instead of predicting doom would you like to hazard a guess at:

          A) The change in travel time as a result of the changes and the economic impact as a result
          B) The change in safety for non-car trips along the corridor
          C) The savings from reduced fuel use both direct and indirect
          D) The change in land value along the corridor

          Answers on the back of a postcard.

        8. I can guess that Luxated.
          A. travel times increase for vehicles and probably increase for pedestrians as traffic flow becomes for uniform so negative economic impact.
          B. change in safety for vehicles and non- vehicles should be a reduction in crashes and a reduction in severity when crashes occur. Positive impact.
          C. Savings from fuel will be negative as vehicles need to use a lower gear. Vehicle operating costs tend to be minimum around 70km/h as that is the sweet spot of reducing travel time without friction effects starting to dominate.
          D. Land prices are not a benefit or a cost to the economy, they just crystallise other impacts.
          To know whether the safety improvements are worth more or less than the time and operating costs can’t be guesses. It would require an analysis that it seems nobody has bothered to do.

        9. (A) on the other hand, at 30 km/h it becomes very easy for drivers to slow down a bit to let a few pedestrians pass. A main problem here is that drivers don’t let pedestrians pass if they are halfway crossing the road. That would be at least a faux pas, and maybe an actual infringement in many other countries. So you always get these really awkward situations when they get stuck.

          It also becomes much, much easier to join the traffic flow from a side street or driveway. This is why roundabouts actually work overseas.

        10. Will trams be exempt from the 30 km/h speed limits?

          I would expect not. Can’t have these behemoths traveling at higher speeds as it’s dangerous for pedestrians.

          So much for rapid transit.

        11. Vance, not sure how it hurts the economy in any meaningful way.

          At peak times, cars aren’t travelling very fast at all so the lowered limits make zero difference and no change. During the day, you could argue there is some impact, but over such a small distance the time lost is really negligible. Driving the length of Nelson St in ideal conditions would take you 100s at 50kph, or 125s at 40kmph. So you lose 25s. That is not a meaningful unit of time in terms of loss to the economy.

          The police are so useless at enforcement anyway that everyone will just be driving at 50 or more when they can.

          I honestly don’t think 30kmph would have made much difference either. The ignorant public just don’t have any frame of reference to understand it makes little difference in the CBD because average travel speed is already so slow.

        12. Ah silly Vance! I’m happy for Trams to travel 50khm on Queen Street when there are no cars on it. Much like stepping onto a railway if a train is coming, if you get hit by a tram that comes every few minutes on a big wide street with nothing else to contend with then there isn’t much we can do to help you.

          Stop clutching at straws mate, you’re gonna have to drop your speed by a few k’s when in the City Centre, boo hoo.

      2. Maybe we could jump start the economy and change the city speed limit to 100 kmh? Or is 50 kmh some kind of magical nirvana, the perfect speed limit for almost all occasions?

        1. YES! If only we had thought of this during the GFC of 2007! Could have fitted trucks with rocket fuel and got them from Port to Motorway in 3 seconds!

        2. And maybe the change to 30kph will make no difference at all. On the day that the change was announced I was in a conversation with the manager of a business running several trucks around the city. Someone asked him,
          “So you must be really concerned about the new speed limit?”
          “No.”
          The questioner obviously didn’t think the answer was correct so re-framed his question. “So these lower speeds will push your costs up?”
          “No. The GPS on our trucks show that they rarely get above 30kph for any extended period so we don’t see much change.”
          Life will go on. We are a nation of cant’s. We should be looking at overseas cities and observing the ways that they have dramatically increased safety by reducing speed and vehicle numbers; how they have improved air quality by decreasing or eliminating vehicles from areas of the city; how such moves are likely to increase life expectancy; and perhaps most importantly reduce emissions.

        3. jonwood I suspect you are right. A change to the speed limit will probably not change anything. The one time I have seen a pedestrian run over was on Queen Street when the speed limit had already been reduced to 30km/h. The driver ignored the limit and tried to get through a signal while the pedestrian ran in front.

      3. Give it up Vance. You should know by now that Heidi hates cars – a bit odd really as she was clearly conceived in a bogans car.

  2. I note Simon Bridges is unimpressed with the blanket speed reduction in the CBD. And yes, Simon is always unhappy with everything but they don’t need much more fuel to be re-elected and given the failure to provide alternatives to cars like the much-promised Light Rail, slowing down our main mode of transport is not going to be overly popular outside this blog site.

    Combined with the fuel tax that has not delivered anything tangible that I can see except, ironically, speed humps going in everywhere, it certainly has not improved alternatives to cars or travel times. Politically it’s another Auckland issue that may assist them over the line.

    1. “The one time I have seen a pedestrian run over was on Queen Street when the speed limit had already been reduced to 30km/h. ”
      Miffy, you know that the only thing that this establishes is that you have seen someone run over once.

        1. Yes, but you’re not trying to establish that reducing speed limits have no effect on reducing speed, are you? Because that would be ignoring the research.

        2. No I am not saying that, speed limits do affect speed, particularly for those who are law abiding and trying to drive safely. But speed limits have no affect on those who don’t bother with speed limits.
          In the CBD the speed limit change probably wont have much impact on travel times either given most delay is at intersections where traffic is stopped.
          My problem with what AT have done is they haven’t related the speed limits to crash rates, road design, traffic flow or anything like that. They have just decided where they would like to have a lower speed limit presumably to give the impression they care.

        3. I wonder if any of the learned people on this site have any statistics from Ponsonby Road since its speed limit was reduced to 40kph some time ago.
          What is the average speed now compared to previous?
          What are the accident rates, in particular pedestrians hit by vehicles?
          Any other comparative data.

    2. Hey Waspman, do you ever chuckle about how your electoral predictions pan out?

      Here you’re predicting the speed limit reductions might assist National in the national elections. And before the local government election you were saying that due to the speed limit reductions:

      “it should come as no surprise that Phil Goff may lose his Mayorilty… John Tamihere is going to do well from this latest attempt to slow Auckland down and it will be very easy for a politically astute man like him to connect with frustrated commuters on this one.”

      100,000 margin.

      Could be you’re the one out on a limb, here. Maybe speed limit reductions don’t figure in how people vote. Or maybe speed limit reductions are popular, and if you’re hearing negative opinions about them, those opinions aren’t representing the voting electorate?

  3. Interesting to see the camera set up in an area where the keep left feet were painted a couple of weeks ago. The double yellow lines that were added at the same time to the bridge by Chamberlain park were no there this morning. I thought those initiatives were both good.

    I had a couple of near misses with pedestrians yesterday on the footpath area south of the pink path. Thankfully I was tired and only coasting slowly, travelling much slower than what cyclists are normally doing in that area. Visibility is poor coming off the pink path due to the transformer and fencing. A couple stepped out in front of me from behind the fence whom I had to swerve to avoid. Immediately following this a pedestrian walking on the left side of the path with her back to me decided she wanted to cross to the right side without looking whom I only avoided by yelling loudly. I’d really like to know what design speed was used in that area, its the bottom of a hill in both directions so should be quite high, however it doesn’t appear to be the case as its not safe.

    This morning cycling up the cycle lanes on Ian McKinnon Dr I saw two kids cycling down followed by their father. They were going reasonably quick. Then from behind me I heard a couple of rings and an ebike goes by me at speed. That was a near miss and must have scared the kids. Ringing your bell doesn’t magically give you the right of way. The worst behavior I observe is usually an ebike.

    1. I suspect a lot of ebike users adjust to their faster speed, like car drivers & forget how fast it really is compared to walking or regular average Jo cyclists.

  4. Yes, being a pedestrian is high risk on shared paths.

    Thing is with the pink path is in places the railing slants inwards and this has the effect of narrowing the confines for users which certainly doesn’t help.

  5. I’m wondering about AT’s role as experts in advising the board so the board can make a decision.

    For the safer speeds, one of the options they proposed was deferring any change. This isn’t based on any evidence. It’s not an ethical option. It doesn’t meet any goals. Why was it even offered as a choice? AT is supposed to be at arm’s length from politics, but this was clearly presented for political reasons.

    Similarly for option 3. The 40 km/hr speeds for those city centre streets were proposed for political, not safety reasons. They are not in line with Vision Zero nor with the ITF’s guidelines. There was no evidence backing the option.

    1. Yes, they should have publicly debated this option, if only do we could enjoy watching the cognitive dissonance between “We have agreed Vision Zero last month ” and “Now we’re going to disregard it at this Board meeting.”

  6. That list of closed agenda items is a bit of a worry.

    On-Demand & Shared Mobility Roadmap

    Where does one go next after the Devonport Trial? Retain the fundamentally flawed model and adapt the politics? Realise that the next few will have to be in poorer areas to get the (in this case, misinformed) equity tick? Whistle up some green credentials about the vehicles or maybe have the drivers come through heart-tugging employment schemes?

    Or maybe the Board will do its homework and say, WTF?

      1. It’s a trial, intended to gather info like any other research. Why Devo? I guess because if they trialled it in a place with adequate public transport there would be very little uptake. But remember it is a trial not a commercial proposition.

        1. So they chose an area with the highest cycling and one of the highest PT mode shares in Auckland?

          Yes it does. The point of the tial is to get all the people to the PT, i.e. ferry.

          It is a bad scheme and should be scrapped.

  7. roeland
    what we do know (from AT’s research) is that it regularly carries people who formerly walked or biked.
    So in an environmental sense it has changed zero carbon trips into ones that are at least 15% powered by Genesis dirty power from Huntly.

  8. “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. ”

    Ah, the delight of being able to find money when you want or have to. Compare last year, when from memory $13 million was needed to hold bus fares, and nothing could be found.

  9. “There will be trains operating on New Years Eve but only on the Onehunga, Southern, Eastern and lines and only as far as Onehunga, Penrose and Sylvia Park”

    I guess that’s something then, was all rail buses last year except the whole Eastern Line.

    1. I wonder what their justification is for limiting trains on the Onehunga line to Onehunga? I wonder if that took much debate.

      1. I think it’s because they are referring to the Southern line only running to Penrose, and saying the Onehunga runs to Onehunga here clears up any confusion if the Onehunga line was being terminated early at Penrose or not.

  10. “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.”

    Interesting, seems was already pretty decided.

    1. In my politically cynical view Option 3 was always part of the plan. Politically it is always expedient to show some ability to compromise regardless of logic. On this basis, but on no other, I am prepared to accept this degradation of a properly constructed safety and economic case against an emotionally driven motoring industry campaign to achieve the big prize, a much safer and pleasant environment on all the other streets. The onus is now on the Council to collect real data on the changes to travel time and accident rates to base cases for any further enlargement, or if the data supports it, contractions of this initial zone.

      1. They may even do that.

        But will they start properly measuring pedestrian and cyclist numbers, and healthy street indicators like numbers of people using places, number of children using the streets independently of adults, pedestrian journey times, etc… Without that, they’ll still not be able to show the benefits.

        1. Agreed. Precious street space is so more then just moving vehicles and people quickly and safely. The interface with the adjacent buildings and their inhabitants, their businesses, and functions is arguably even more important.

  11. Miffy, I think I was right. You assumed from your observation that the car was travelling over 30kph.

    I know I expressed my original post poorly. I was saying that large trucks mostly travel at 30kph in the city because that is the speed that they are restricted to by: other traffic; the short distance between lights; safety considerations etc. The speed that they will now travel at is most likely to still be 30kph because the drivers will seek to comply with the new speed limit and many of the previously mentioned factors will still exist.

  12. That mode shift initiative looks a good thing that will hopefully bring across all AT’s silos into one on these things. I think this is what the problem has been with the basic PT stupid things we notice on most journeys. Signs you can’t see etc Etc etc

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