It may have been a short week but there’s still be plenty of transport news. So here’s a bit of a round up of the other stories that have cropped up this week.

First new electric train arrives

The first of our 15 new electric trains arrived last week

AM810 arrived from Spain on via roll-on/roll-off vessel, Hoegh Transporter. The three-carriage train was delivered in parts by road carrier to the train depot in Wiri, sneaking through Auckland’s streets early in the morning.

The 15 new trains are being built by the company which manufactured the original 57 trains for Auckland, Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) at their factory in Beasain in northern Spain.

They’ll have a similar look and feel, with some minor changes – new seat back covers, changes in the carpet and faster doors to reduce time at stations.

….

AM810 will spend the next few weeks being tested by AT and CAF staff before being rolled out into service.

All 15 trains should arrive by July 2020 and be on the tracks by September 2020.

There’s some more details about a few of the changes in this post from last year.


Subsidised Taxi trial extended

On Friday AT also announced they were extending their rideshare trial in Devonport with some small changes such as cutting weekend operations.

The Auckland Transport rideshare service operating in the Devonport peninsula will be extended for another six months to understand how the service performs in the summer months, with a significantly larger customer base.

Launched in November 2018, AT Local is the first on-demand rideshare service in New Zealand using only electric vehicles, and among the first in the world.

AT Local aims to make the first and last leg of a public transport journey easier, giving the people of Devonport even more incentive to use the ferry services. The service is achieving its weekday ridership targets, averaging 216 rides per weekday since 1 August, with more than 36,000 rides provided to date.

Mark Lambert, Executive General Manager of Integrated Network says that the project is a team effort. “We’ve worked very closely with our app partner, Via Mobility who have continued to improve the functionality, based on customer feedback. Our operator, Go Bus have been great ambassadors for the service, with 98 percent of customers giving their ride a 5/5 rating.”

Mr Lambert says the trial has provided AT with a considerable volume of insights and learnings about rideshare that would be beneficial, should the service be rolled out in other areas.

Recent customer surveys show that 43 percent of customers using the service have moved over from using private vehicles.

Usage has grown but is still not high enough. Also this suggests that 57% of customers using it got to the ferry by walking, cycling, bus or being dropped off? Perhaps it might be more successful if there wasn’t free parking at the terminal. That AT haven’t done anything about that while putting over a million dollars into this is absurd.


Bus/Truck Lane for Mt Wellington Highway

Other than perhaps a few on-ramps, I’m not sure if we’ve got any combined bus and truck lanes but in certain locations, such as Mt Wellington Highway, that sounds like a good idea.

Auckland Transport (AT) is seeking feedback on a proposed bus/truck lane – to improve traffic flows along Mt Wellington Highway.

The lane is proposed to be located between Roslyn Road and Longford Street, where it will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It will be available for use by buses, heavy vehicles over 3,500kg and motorbikes. The bus/truck lane will be about 300 metres long and will run from 226 to 270 Mt Wellington Highway.

The lane will not remove any existing traffic lanes – it will be created by road widening, narrowing of the painted central median and the removal of on-street parking.

AT observations of on-street parking, on several occasions, showed no vehicles had been parked along this stretch of road.

David Nelson, AT’s Portfolio Delivery Director (Projects), says the proposal will speed up travel times for 7 to 9 buses and around 120 trucks an hour.

Consultation is open till 12 November


SH16 speed reduction

It’s not just AT that are looking to improve safety though lower speeds and the NZTA this week proposed lowering the speed limit on SH16 between the end of the motorway at Brigham Creek Rd and Waimauku

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is reviewing speed limits on SH16 from Brigham Creek to Waimauku in an effort to save lives and prevent serious injuries from crashes on this high-risk road.

The Transport Agency’s Director of Regional Relationships, Steve Mutton says it proposes to reduce the speed limit on different sections of the road from 60km/h to 50km/h, from 100km/h to 80km/h and from 70km/h to 60 km/h.

“We are committed to improving safety on State Highway 16 as the area continues to grow. There’s been a high number of crashes on State Highway 16 between Brigham Creek and Waimauku, and locals have told us that speeds on the road feel too high to be safe.”

SH16 is mostly a high-speed rural road that passes through many towns including Huapai, Kumeu, Waimauku, Helensville, Kaukapakapa and Mangakura. Over 30,000 vehicles a day use the route between Brigham Creek and Kumeu, and 15,000 vehicles a day between Huapai and Waimauku.

Between 2009 and 2018, there have been 449 crashes on this section of road, with seven people killed and a further 57 seriously injured.


Light Rail Leaks

There’s been plenty of news continuing about the leak of information related to Light Rail and a lot of that focused on the Minister. Yesterday the NZTA announced they were launching an investigation into the leak.

The NZ Transport Agency Board has appointed Michael Heron QC to undertake an independent investigation into recent unauthorised public disclosures of confidential and commercially sensitive information relating to the delivery of light rail in Auckland.

“It is disappointing and concerning that this information has been improperly disclosed, and it is appropriate that an independent investigation be undertaken in order to establish the facts,” says Transport Agency Board Chair Sir Brian Roche.


Summing up the City Centre

It’s hard to disagree with this assessment of Auckland’s city centre.

“The centre, certainly around the area of Sky Tower, is actually horrible,” says the Welsh-born actor, comedian and travel show presenter.

“If you want people to enjoy your city, you’ve got to be able to walk around it and you can’t walk around the centre of the thing because just crossing the road means you have to cross four lanes of traffic.

“So, I would say, Auckland needs somebody in charge of it to work out how to make it into a decent city. I really do. And that’s that. So you can quote me on that.”

We really need to get Access for Everyone in as soon as possible to make walking so much easier.


A green carpet

A neat little video. If only changing streets was as easy as rolling out a green carpet.

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49 comments

  1. The alterations to Mt Wellington Highway are more than just adding a heavy vehicle lane. If you look at the plans it involves:
    – Widening the carriageway so it takes up more of the road corridor (crowding out potential future uses of this space)
    – Adding a signalised pedestrian crossing (this is great but it’s also a tacit admission of how hostile to pedestrians the whole Sylvia Park to Mt Wellington Shopping Centre area is)
    – Moving bus stops to be closer to the new pedestrian crossing (sensible)
    – Replacement footpaths appear to be the same 1m width as the existing footpaths (this is really unsafe, the minimum footpath width is 1.8m according to AT, NZTA and Austroads)
    – Not providing any infrastructure for cyclists (they’re apparently meant to feel safe using the heavy vehicle lane)

    1. Adopted Vision Zero, huh? It’s getting the point that ACC needs to take them to court. Six lanes at places, narrow footpaths, removal of kerbside parking as the only buffer there was.

      1. Time for AT to be turned back into a parking and PT operating body only. Give the rest back to Auckland Council. Let’s everyone email the minister and suggest that!

        1. Jason Why should AT be allowed to manage parking? Are you suggesting that they do it successfully? They certainly struggle to do it profitably. In a climate emergency is it socially responsible of AT to encourage driving by subsidising parking costs?

    2. This in my hood. One “slow down” improvement I noticed that they should be congratulated for is that they are proposing is removal of the right turning pocket into Hamlin Rd as they are narrowing the flush median. They are also building the paths out more there so the corners are less sweeping.

      Our family uses this bus stop at the bottom of Hamlin occasionally & I’ve always noticed that Google suggests walking to the Sylvia Park Train Station down Hamlin doing the currently impossible crossing here (unless at very non-busy times), through the walk path almost opposite into Lynton Rd.
      https://goo.gl/maps/ybpAWAg3dRYsHXjE8
      So that light crossing will be very handy…I would double check vehicles would actually stop at it though, seen red running through the Sylvia lights many times.

      1. Latest Street View shows all the issues nearly in one shot, someone trying to cross (see ped in the median) and the queued traffic complete with bus and trucks.

    3. While a number of the changes are positive and useful, I seriously question how much of a different they’ll make. That’s because the cause of the problems is traffic going either into the Sylvia Park shopping centre or past it and onto the motorway.

      Looking at that motorway-bound traffic in particular, it’s quite common for the lane closest to the shopping centre to be gridlocked from the Longford St intersection all the way through to the motorway. If this section is backed up, the new bus/truck lane will also get backed up.

      It almost makes more sense for the bus/truck lane to be extended much closer to the motorway. There would need to be allowances for vehicles to get into the shopping centre and onto the motorway, but it should help those larger vehicles flow more freely.

  2. “Between 2009 and 2018, there have been 449 crashes on this section of road, with seven people killed and a further 57 seriously injured.”

    Those are incredible statistics. Great that they’re reducing the speed limits. But why was this not done years ago?

    1. What is at issue here is there is for all intents and purposes a population of a town/small city that has appeared from Helensville south all feeding down SH16 without a single alternative to the private motor vehicle except for an incredibly crap bus service that makes no sense to use otherwise.

      Speed limit changes or not the crashes will get worse until either the motorway is extended to Helensville or we get a Transport Minister who is not a bumbling idiot and alternatives are provided!

        1. Excellent observation DavidL. Unfortunately the principals and their supporters of this blog prefer to support either Light Rail or Motorway buses for the North West. Since both of these now appear either never happening (at least in this lifetime) or far away future possibilities then continuing to oppose using the heavy rail line to Huapai and to Helensville for rail metro services means this blog by default supports continued NW carmegeddon and it’s associated costs in death and injury.

  3. The whole Devonport thing just blows my mind! You want more people to commute via a 10 minute Ferry? Make the price the same as the rest of the public transport network.

    1. Also we have a ferry operator that is unable to cope with current levels of demand and provide a reliable and timely service, and is exempt from oversight and control by AT. So AT decides to spend money on a service providing them with more customers. But hey, rideshare and apps and stuff.

    2. The whole ferry thing is a complete fiasco. From the article,
      “AT Local aims to make the first and last leg of a public transport journey easier, giving the people of Devonport even more incentive to use the ferry services.”

      This is only loosely true.

      Here’s what is the operating terms from AT’s website:
      “This new service helps you easily get to and from the Devonport, Bayswater and Stanley Bay ferry terminals. You can also travel to any other locations in the rideshare zone.

      Just download the AT Local app, quickly sign up and you can book trips immediately (for up to six passengers), or up to 30 days in advance. The app tells you when your ride will arrive and advises the driver of your destination.

      Paying for your AT Local service is done via the app and is completely cashless. Trips to or from the three local ferry terminals are currently discounted to $2.50 per person and trips to or from all other locations in the rideshare zone cost $5.00 per person.”

      So in many cases it has little to do with ferry rides. It’s a cheap and convenient way to get from home to somewhere near the Patriot for only $2.50. Or anywhere for only $5.00.

      It is little wonder though that it is so poorly targeted because that is the way that AT run their park and rides.

      I would love to know what AT’s strategy for this service is though. Do they really think that a trip subsidy of around $11 per trip is a feasible way to run a first and last leg service? If there is someone who does, then that person should be dismissed as they are a menace to all rate payers.

      I feel an OIA request percolating.

      1. How many people are actually benefitting from this?
        A breakdown of individual user numbers would be interesting, it could be less than 400 individuals regularly using the service. At over $1,000,000 You could buy each one of those users an ebike! How much are ratepayers subsidising each trip by?
        Also doesn’t it create twice as much congestion and therefore twice as much particulate air pollution than just driving and parking? If you drove you’d only have one trip there and one trip back. With this scheme the driver has to come from the ferry terminal to pick you up, then drive you back to the ferry terminal. Then when you arrive home in the arvo they drop you off and then have to drive back to the ferry terminal. Mental!

        1. And why is it appropriate for AT to offer a cheaper transport service to compete with Uber and taxis? (cheaper only in the sense that the user benefits and other rate payers pay for it)

          On a similar theme why should AT be the lowest price off street parking provider that the private sector has to compete with?

    1. And are the old trains being modified to match? I’m wondering if there can be any potential benefit to timings if there will be a random mix of old and new trains on the same corridor….

      1. The middle car “trailer” doors remain insanely slow, frustrating and worst of all ignored. Surely to God that process does not have to be so slow?

        They add up to a lot of dead time on the EMU’s.

        1. As a current Auckland driver who has also driven for Metro Trains Melbourne, I can tell you the number one frustration and most vital element that is keeping services slow, is dwell times.

          The trains are slow to allow doors to release, as there is a multi-stage process from the train itself needing to run checks to ensure the train is actually stopped. It’s ridiculous. It’s slow, and almost unheard of anywhere else in the world.

          Add the Train Manager door control and their processes, this only worsens the delays in door operation.

          Soon, driver door operation will come into effect, but there is not yet any scope to change the trains own management and checks before the driver is even able to open the doors.

          So, there will only be a marginal improvement.

          I wouldn’t expect to see any change in the time it takes to open doors on the 15 new EMUs – there’s certainly been no mention of anything changing in that regard.

  4. “There’s been plenty of news continuing about the leak of information related to Light Rail and a lot of that focused on the Minister. Yesterday the NZTA announced they were launching an investigation into the leak.”

    Surely the protections in the Whistleblowers Act would apply and make this investigation at best redundant or at worst illegal?

      1. The media is not an appropriate authority so the Act does not apply. However, “serious wrongdoing” includes “gross negligence or mismanagement by public officials” – I think we can agree that has been gross mismanagement for sure!

    1. Leak or not this entire fiasco is because of Twyfords inability to do his job.

      Picture being Jacinda awaiting the entirely predictable election advertising storm from National all because of this turkey! Not one iota of dirty politics needed. All because they failed to deliver a major promise…..again.

      In relation to Light Rail Judith Collins is quoted as saying “The problem really is Phil Twyford… The trouble with Phil is not that he’s an evil, horrible person – it’s just he’s not up to the job. That’s what we saw with KiwiBuild, and this is going to be KiwiBuild 2.0.”

      Collins said “completely selfishly” she hopes Twyford isn’t sacked.

      “Phil being there is a fabulous asset for us in Opposition, because nobody seriously believes Phil can do anything that he promises.”

      I think that is the most honest thing Judith Collins has ever, ever said.

      The leak is absolutely irrelevant. Actually all it did was reinforce what we already knew, the minister is useless!

      1. I’m not sure why Judith Collins’ opinion of Twyford is really that important here, except that it gives you a chance to quote someone else, as a bit of variety from just saying it yourself.

        We get your frustration, Waspman. But can you tone it down, please? None of us know the full situation. Nothing can be gained by vilifying one man. We know enough about the Ministry, the Agency, Treasury, the transport sector and the investment and financial sector to know that he was in an unenviable and stressful position.

        Far better to put pressure on him to now to ensure his decisions are in line with the GPS’s objectives, including Value-for-Money:

        Value for money in GPS 2018:
        – increases the emphasis on value for money to maximise the impact of money spent to achieve the Government’s outcomes
        – indicates that decision-makers should take into account the full range of benefits and costs over the whole life of investments, and be cognisant
        of possible future changes and uncertainty, so that investment is made in options that perform best across a wide range of different scenarios
        – places greater emphasis on transparent investment decision-making and on enhanced reporting on the outcomes achieved by investment.

        1. Heidi, there it’s an awful lot at stake. They’ve got 12 months (if they act decisively now) to save not only this game changing project but their own government and possibly even the Labour Party. Pursuing who leaked what is idiotic and simply wasting time and they are deluding themselves if they think it will distract anything or anyone.

          But I’m sure Judith and the National Party cannot believe their luck and will pray it continues!

  5. Flow-on impact of the Skycity fire this week they’ve blocked the entire uphill cycle lane to put up signs to warn motorists a lane is closed 50m ahead 4 lanes across on the other side of the road.

    They also seem to have shortened the cycle cross time at Wellesley St so you can’t get a green run down anymore.

    Who decides this is the right response in a now heavily congested area where I would have thought cycling through instead should be encouraged?

        1. AT are failing to provide a safe network and its hindering health and safety. On this issue, they are regularly taking over the footpaths and cycleways for temporary signage, forcing vulnerable users into the traffic lanes. The rules clearly require them to keep these paths clear at all times but AT are prioritising driver amenity over vulnerable road user safety.

          It’s a systemic problem, ideologically-driven, and one they know road users are concerned and annoyed about.

          But as with many issues that need to be driven in the progressive direction, AT management wait for advocates to push them before they’ll act. They are playing a game of wait and see.

          At some point we may need to take a bigger action so that we don’t have to waste time on each little offensive like this. We’re going to have to step up and demand an overthrowing of the old mindset. I’m just wondering how far they’re going to require us to go.

        2. Other times when signs have been placed in cycle lanes. I have complained to AT and been assured many times that all contractors have been told that they are not allowed to place signs blocking cycle lanes, but it keeps on happening. Now if it is only one sign I don’t report, I just toss the sign out of the way.

    1. This was a totally unprecedented fire with no warning and like it or not there will be inconvenience for many. Jesus, AT are many things but I do not think they calculatingly got a board meeting together to victimise the cycling community just cos.

      Shit happens, they are trying to deal with it.

      And honestly, when did a cyclist ever care what colour a traffic light was?

      1. Being able to see things through the eyes of a 12-year-old cyclist is maybe a learned skill?

        Being able to see systemic bias towards one mode at the expense of the safety of others in temporary traffic management I would’ve thought just takes opening one’s eyes…

      2. During the week of the fire the emergency services did a great job managing the disruptions. It’s a week later these issues have arisen when things were otherwise returning more to normal. I doubt as well it is directed too-down but I feel sloppy by whichever groups are involved – be it AT, SkyCity or a private traffic contractors.

    1. I’m advocating for overthrowing the mindset that is allowing violence and leaving people vulnerable to it. I’m appalled at the continuation of the systemic negligence of duty despite the safety review. I’m not advocating violence.

      1. Heidi
        I get your frustration and share your concern about safety.

        I also have different safety concerns when I travel into the city each day and that is air quality. AT/Council know that there are different sites around Queen St where air quality is unacceptable. They do nothing. They have a report that says imposing a $10 congestion charge will improve air quality by 15%, and of course there are other options. A less kind person than myself might describe this as negligence, incompetence or indifference; or have I misread this and it is ok to have workers and tourists exposed to this on a daily basis?

        My concern however seems to tie back to what you are suggesting, that the driver in the car is the first (and only) consideration.

        And sometimes this happens. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/117096372/bordering-on-negligence-after-cycle-safety-concerns-raised-months-before-death

        1. Man, three deaths down that way caused by a similar event it seems, left turning trucks running over a cyclist where their blind spot is. Helmet it sure going to help. /sarc

        2. It’s just terrible. We’re facing this institutional negligence daily. Who hasn’t lost family members or close friends to this violence?

          I’m so disheartened by the poor decision making I’m seeing. I’m sick of hearing that we can only make little step changes; that the powers that be will baulk if we try to change too much at once.

          The professionals I’m seeing who are constantly manoeuvring around the bad regulations and doing what they can to have them changed are wonderful gems. But the vast majority of people in this sector are being dumb puppets, neglecting their duty to refuse to participate in unsafe practices and to report other professionals for the same.

  6. “The centre, certainly around the area of Sky Tower, is actually horrible,” says the Welsh-born actor, comedian and travel show presenter.

    “If you want people to enjoy your city, you’ve got to be able to walk around it and you can’t walk around the centre of the thing because just crossing the road means you have to cross four lanes of traffic.”

    Yes, absolutely right and visitors from Europe particularly will have a much greater expectation of cities than what they find here. Major tourists cities like Prague have the vehicle free “old city” and Milan and Vienna vehicle free zones as well. While we have a perception that everyone wants to drive everywhere, because we do, this is less attractive to people from a range of other countries.

    From my experience our enjoyment of our cities would improve if we emulate other examples. Our plans need to be way more ambitious than they are currently.

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