Here’s the roundup of some of the things we didn’t yet cover this week.
Dogs on Trains
Back in June Auckland Transport started trialling allowing pets to travel on trains in a three-month trial. However, the rules were that animals have to be “enclosed in suitable pet carriers that are small enough to be held on the owner’s lap or stored under the seat”.
Now AT are taking it a step further allowing larger dogs to travel on trains too.
From this Sunday, 8 December, dogs of all sizes will be able to travel on AT Metro train services as long as they’re wearing an appropriate muzzle and leash. Previously, only dogs small enough to fit inside a carrier were allowed.
Other domestic animals will still have to travel in carriers.
Stacey van der Putten, Group Manager of Metro Services says the trial has gone well. “We’ve had a great response from our customers since the trial started in June. We’ve worked closely with our staff and our operator Transdev to move into this next stage.
“This is another step in making public transport more accessible. There are many Aucklanders who may not have access to a vehicle to take their pet to the vet or to explore our city, this will potentially benefit both the owners and the pets.”
Last year AT made public transport free after 4pm on the last working day of the year. The goal was to encourage more people to use public transport instead of drink driving. The initiative is back and with a nice name – it almost sounds like some sort of music festival.
Following the success of last year’s Home Free initiative, Auckland Transport is making travel on buses, trains and some ferries free from 4pm on Friday 20 December.
As a Vision Zero region, Auckland Transport wants to make sure everyone gets home safely. According to Police the Friday before Christmas is one of the worst days of the year for drink-driving.
Throughout the year, AT works with Police to reduce drink-driving and one key initiative is to provide free public transport before Christmas so that people across Auckland can have a drink after work.
It’s part of the wider ‘Plan not to drive’ campaign being rolled out across the city this summer.
AT say that the number of people using trains during the Home Free period last year was 41,082, up from 15,809 the year before when it didn’t exist. There are no numbers for buses but some services were reportedly up by 50%.
Some key details about this year
This year will be different to last year, where AT is asking for customers tag on and off at stations and on buses. Stacey Van Der Putten says that this will give AT more precise numbers on how many people used transport on the night.
“Our AT HOP team have worked hard to create a zero-fare scheme for the evening, so no one will be charged. If you don’t have an AT HOP card, just see our friendly staff at the stations who will let you through the gates or on the bus.”
If your journey starts before 4pm but finishes after 4pm, this trip will not be free. But all trips starting after 4pm will be free.
‘Plan not to drive’ seems like something we should have permanently and not just about drink driving but for all transport purposes.
Northcote Point Wharf
In June 2018 the Northcote Point wharf was closed after it was discovered that all of the wooden structure elements under the deck needed to be repaired or replaced “due to worm damage, loss of section and rot”. At the time it was estimated to cost up to $1 million to fix. However, AT subsequently found their proposed solution to fix the wharf was unsuitable and so they’ve come up with a new one along with other enhancements to the wharf.
In conjunction with the critical replacement of piles and substructure elements, the project will also provide some amenity improvements for ferry users including additional weather protection, new seating and better lighting. While these additional improvements will enhance customer amenity, this will not create an all-weather facility, and ferry services will continue to be subject to disruptions arising from adverse weather conditions and the wharf’s exposed location.
AT haven’t said what the new cost of the wharf is but it is now due to be re-opened again by mid-2020 and let’s hope it will encourage a few more people to use it than the just 80 per day that did so before it closed.
AT have put out a video about who they are and what they do
One thing it does highlight well is, there are so many plans. One comment that did stick out to me though was about AT being accountable to the council and to their board of directors, but the board is also accountable to the council. Perhaps they should have said they’re accountable to the council through their board.
A few months ago the council consulted on the refresh for the City Centre Masterplan which included major changes such as Access for Everyone and the Grafton Gully multi-way boulevard. This week they announced the results from that consultation and they’re impressive. Overall there were 542 pieces of feedback.
Aucklanders have overwhelmingly supported Auckland Council’s vision for a liveable, green and accessible city centre according to public feedback on the draft City Centre Masterplan (CCMP) refresh.
Results show a large majority (76 per cent of respondents) are in support of the general direction of the CCMP with Access for Everyone receiving 82 per cent support.
That’s a great outcome. Now if the council would just get on with kicking the cars out of Queen St.
Lincoln Rd to Westgate almost complete
The widening of SH16 between Lincoln Rd and Westgate is almost complete with the NZTA have announcing:
Senior Manager Project Delivery Andrew Thackwray says the third southbound lane and bus shoulder lane towards the CBD will open on Monday, 9 December.
The third northbound lane and bus shoulder lane to Westgate will open a week later, on Monday 16 December.
The 3.5km shared path will open on Thursday, 19 December and extend the Northwestern Cycleway from Lincoln to Westgate.
This was how the project was looking less than two weeks ago
One big issue I have with the shared path extension is that at both Lincoln Rd and Royal Rd, cyclists and pedestrians need to cross multiple signalised intersections to continue in straight ahead. At Lincoln Rd (below) it is 4 crossings and at Royal it is either 3 or 4 depending on which route people take.
Fuel Price competition
Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi says the government will act after a report confirms consumers are paying more than what would be expected in a competitive fuel market.
The Commerce Commission released its recommendations today on New Zealand’s fuel market following a year-long study.
It found that New Zealand lacks an active wholesale fuel market and has recommended introducing a Terminal Gate Pricing regime, similar to that in Australia.
Mr Faafoi said cabinet will now look at implementing changes aimed at breaking the stranglehold the big fuel companies have on supply, and encouraging more competition.
Prices have been increasing recently however if you adjust for inflation, the current prices are about the same as the period from 2011 to late 2014
Infrastructure spend up
The government have announced that they’re going to take advantage of low interest rates and spend up large on infrastructure. We won’t get the details of what that will entail till next year but it already has some hoping it will see the government build a bunch of low value rural motorways.
Not all of that extra investment will be on transport but If the government are putting a large sum in, it should go towards projects that help us transition away from the use of oil, not encourage use to use it more. This is something we’ll write more about, likely next week.
One of the projects some are already calling for again is the massive Petone to Grenada route – which has now seen costs increase to almost $1 billion and yet the NZTA are worried won’t even be resilient enough in the face of a large earthquake or even just a large storm.
The debate about the future location port has been bubbling away all week and on Tuesday Ngati Whatua Orakei released their vision for what the land could be used for. Despite how it appears, they say the rail lines approaching Britomart will remain as they are now and instead the buildings will be built on a podium over the tracks. The proposal includes a new station under the podium and just west of The Strand rail bridge.
Our iwi vision for Te Toangaroa/Auckland Port. Hoea to waka kia here ki a matou o Ngati Whatua. Paddle your waka and be lashed to us as Ngati Whatua. https://t.co/ZA8pl0CL8c pic.twitter.com/znMGQ3mvHS
— Ngarimu Blair (@ngar1mu) December 3, 2019
And finally, a little bugbear of mine.
Grrr. A few years ago AC/AT cut out all the silly chicanes in Lowthehurst Reserve (were 3 of them). Now the @NZTAAkl have put them back as part of them taking part of the reserve for motorway infrastructure pic.twitter.com/xkYXC9ccOb
— Greater Auckland (@GreaterAKL) December 1, 2019