Here’s a roundup of some of the stories that have cropped up this week – although a couple are from last week after we missed the post last Friday.
Auckland Transport Consultation Frenzy
AT have launched a large number of consultations over the last two weeks. Here are just some of the big ones.
Sale St Intersection
A few months ago the Auckland Design Office (ADO) put in place some temporary changes to the Sale/Wellesley St intersection, an intersection so wide you could almost see the curve of the earth across it. The intersection was dangerous for pedestrians given the wide sweeping curves let drivers travel through the intersection at speed.
Auckland Transport are now proposing to make that permanent and add signalised crossings of Wellesley St.
The permanent improvements proposed include:
- signalising the Sale Street / Wellesley Street intersection enabling pedestrians a safe place to cross
- widening the footpath space at the intersection
- removing the traffic island in the middle of Sale Street
- adding a new loading zone outside of Sweat Shop Brew Bar
- permanently removing the car park spaces that have already been removed as part of the temporary changes
- combining the two traffic lanes exiting Sale Street to one traffic lane.
This is a much needed improvement and it’s good AT are looking to do it. The only concern I have is not to do with the intersection itself but that there is not more bus priority being added to Wellesley St at the same time. Wellesley St is one of our busier bus corridors and buses such as the NX2 can spend more time getting through Wellesley St than they do on the entire busway.
Consultation is open till 8 December.
AT are looking to make improvements to Glenvar Rd and parts of East Coast Bays Rd on the North Shore which doesn’t even have footpaths in some places. They say funding is limited so they’re looking at the following types of improvements:
- footpath upgrades
- intersection upgrades
- transit / bus lanes
- cycle facility upgrades or amendments
- safety measures.
These are exactly the kinds of things AT should be focused on delivering and some of those intersection upgrades look pretty good too with them showing protected bike lanes including at the intersections
The consultation is also open till 8 December
There are a number of other consultations that have come out recently and you can see all consultations here.
Harbour Crossing Business Case is being delayed
It seems the NZTA are again delaying the business case for another harbour crossing. My guess is this because they’re desperately trying to find a way to justify the road crossing despite all evidence pointing to it making things worse.
On a related note, this clip from the TV show Utopia in Australia has been doing the rounds.
This is BRILLIANT!
“It means you spend a lot of money now for a very short-term benefit."
— Brent Toderian (@BrentToderian) November 7, 2019
Self Driving Cars likely to make congestion worse
One of the benefits sometimes touted of autonomous vehicles is that because everything is controlled by computers they will make congestion better. But one of the big unknowns is how human behaviour will change. Will they mean we travel more and if so, how much?
Some researchers in California decided to test that and came up with a simple analog test, they’d use chauffeurs to drive people around and monitor how that changed their behaviour. The researchers admit this research isn’t perfect but their findings are astounding.
Harb thought they would see people sending their cars out more than if they were driving themselves, something like a 20 or 30 percent increase in VMT with the chauffeurs. Nothing to sneeze at, of course, but towards the middle of the wide range of the results the surveys had suggested.
He was wrong. The subjects increased how many miles their cars covered by a collective 83 percent when they had the chauffeur versus the week prior.
Even if the increase in travel was only half that, that’s still a lot more trips and distances driven and means congestion would only get worse. Just another reason why it’s so important we build congestion free alternatives such as improving our public transport and active modes.
Port move challenged
The idea of moving the port, or at least moving it to Northland, is coming under more scrutiny after multiple reviews of the business case have found it flawed.
An economic argument for moving Auckland’s port to Northland has been harshly criticised in two reviews by economic consultancies.
Both reviews say an economic analysis by Ernst and Young for a government-funded working group, failed to provide a credible basis for making a decision on the move.
The reviews released by Ports of Auckland, and a third briefing paper by its owner Auckland Council, are part of a push-back against the port-move proposal, which goes to cabinet next month.
NZIER said when EY produced the “Port Future Study” for Auckland Council in 2016, Northland ranked only 12th on the list potential relocation sites.
“The same consultancy three years later moved Northport from the twelfth most preferred option, straight to number one, with no explanation,” said Laurence Kubiak, the chief executive.
Oliver Bruce, who runs a podcast on Micromobility, tweeted this graph showing the sales of e-bikes and e-scooters vs electric cars in NZ. Both the previous and current government are keen for electric vehicles and have put in various schemes to try and make them cheaper and more attractive but it increasingly seems they’re focused on wrong thing and we should be focusing on how we can get even more people on e-bikes and scooters.
Just your periodic reminder that e-bike/scooter sales in NZ are going gangbusters.
102% YoY growth through October this year, and on track to sell 60k+ units.
For context, we'd be lucky to sell 7k electric cars, up 23%.
The future of urban transport is hidden in plain sight. pic.twitter.com/EWX516g4a6
— OLIVER BRUCE (@oliverbruce) November 19, 2019
Old Mangere Bridge Replacement
After being closed almost exactly a year ago due to safety concerns, today construction is finally starting for the replacement of the Old Mangere Bridge.
Rail Network Reliability
There have been a number of reliability issues with the rail network recently resulting in emergency works and speed restrictions. A press release a few weeks ago from the NZTA noted that inspections were undertaken by walking the entire length of the network.
“A total of 34 faults were found during the inspections. Most of those faults (20) were able to be repaired or remedied on the same day, while others have mitigations put in place until a permanent fix is made.
Huntly RoNS almost finished
One of the big Roads of National Significance projects is nearing completion with the NZTA announcing the Huntly section of the Waikato Expressway will open after two days of celebrations in February. The expressway is a 15km long bypass of Huntly and Taupiri. It has involved significant earthworks including a 57m deep cut through the summit of the Taupiri range involving the removal of 1.3 million m³ of earth.
However, things aren’t quite on time down the expressway a bit further with the Hamilton section now likely delayed by up to a year.