As we reach the end of the month and with some kids back at school this week, trains, buses and cycleways have been feeling even busier than normal – and that’s only going to increase next week with more schools back and then in a few more weeks the universities starting. Even before this week my anecdotal observations suggested that trains and buses were much busier than last January and I’d be interested to hear if other readers have been noticing that too.

Here’s out weekly roundup of things that have caught our attention this week.

New HOP Key tags

We’ve wanted to see differently designed HOP cards (and tags) for a long time and this week Auckland Transport announced three new ones with the designs coming from a competition they held last year. Now if they could just do some other interesting things with them, such as selling some pre-loaded with child concessions.


Northland Rail

Hot on the heels of Wednesday’s announcement, yesterday there was a further announcement, this time about rail in Northland.

State Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones have today announced a $109.7 million investment, through the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), into regional rail that will revitalise train services across the Northland region.

“Last year we announced almost $95 million of Provincial Growth Fund funding to undertake long overdue and critical maintenance on the rail line to Whangarei and today we are building on our promise to return rail to its rightful place in Northland,” Mr Peters said.

“We are investing a further $69.7 million to lower the tracks through tunnels on the Northland Line between Swanson and Whangarei, expanding rail further into Northland by reopening the rail line from Kauri and building a container terminal at Otiria.”

A further $40 million has been earmarked to purchase land along the designated route of the spur line to Northport and Marsden Point.

There’s more detail on Kiwirail’s page about the project but is summed up with this graphic.

And this one on the $95 million announced last year to upgrade the line


Dominion Rd motorcycle safety trial

Auckland Transport and the ACC are trialling some motorcycle safety improvements on Dominion Rd

AT is trialling safety improvements at 14 side road intersections off Dominion Road.

AT chose Dominion Road because most motorcycle-related trauma has been recorded over the past 5 years on roads like Dominion Road – urban areas on arterial roads with bus lanes.

The trial includes painting yellow hatchings at the intersections of the 14 side roads.

Smart signage and illuminated road studs – which flash when detecting turning vehicles, people on motorcycles and cyclists – will be used during the trial. These will provide warnings to road users that are approaching the intersection.

There’s more detail here.


Pt Chev speeding

An article yesterday about cars speeding in Pt Chev caught my attention, specifically ATs response.

In 2017, residents launched a petition asking for a speed camera and speed bumps to combat fast drivers.

The 850-metre section of Point Chevalier Rd, leading to Coyle Park, was “notorious for speeding”, they said.

Auckland Transport’s Mark Hannan said at the time speed bumps were inappropriate because it would affect the road’s capacity and increase congestion.

He added: “Speed data for Pt Chevalier Rd showed most motorists travelled at an appropriate speed.”

This is an appallingly bad response from AT, especially as the section being talked about is a dead end. Just how much congestion is there on a road that AT’s stats say only carries about 2,500 vehicles per day (right at about the spot shown below).

You mean the red ‘slow’ paint didn’t work, I’m shocked. Perhaps has something to do with the road probably being wide enough to land a plane on

San Francisco’s Market St goes car-free

San Francisco has removed cars from over 3km of Market St with Mayor London Breed writing:

If there was a street synonymous with San Francisco, it’s Market Street. It is the everyday backbone of the City, with hundreds of thousands of people traveling along it on foot, bike, bus, or streetcar. It’s where we gather to celebrate our victories and protest injustices.

When Market Street was constructed, there were just over 50,000 people living in the City. Today there are more than 800,000. As we continue to grow, we need Market Street to grow with us and meet the changing needs of a world-class city.

Starting today, over 2 miles of Market Street will become car-free, a historic milestone in the history of San Francisco and in the world-wide movement to create more spaces that are made for people.

More people move on Market Street than any other street in the City. It is past time to return this civic boulevard back to pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders to prioritize people first.

And it’s already having an impact.

Auckland is falling behind in this space. Despite overwhelming support for the idea of closing Queen St to cars, including unanimous support from councillors and the public, AT appear to be dragging their heels as it could easily have been done by now.

Mayor Phil Goff is missing in action on this and he needs to start pushing this through urgently.


Paris

While we’re on the topic of city mayor’s taking bold action, let’s also highlight Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo who in her re-election campaign has vowed to remove most on-street parking.

As I highlighted a few weeks ago, Paris is seeing some significant changes as a result of her work and her work has shifted the Overton window in Paris.

Her competition has also bought into the program. According to CityMetric, “her vision of a greener Paris with fewer cars and more space allocated to pedestrians and cyclists has been accepted by all major contenders for the mayoralty.”


Northern Corridor

The massive Northern Corridor project, which includes extending the Northern Busway to Albany, is in full swing and the NZTA released this areal flyover of the progress from December.

Having been up that way recently, one thing I don’t thing is as noticeable is the scale of the busway structures. In some places it is elevated significantly above the adjacent motorway as it navigates the terrain in the area – which will be related to the busway being future-proofed for potential conversion to light rail. I also confess I still don’t get the point of the busway bridge across the motorway north of Albany which will result in buses doubling back. This will be particularly odd if we do put in that light rail conversion – are we going to have another Newmarket Western Line situation with train drivers changing ends?


And finally, a message from AT

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65 comments

  1. I don’t get the confusion over the Albany bridge? Its to get to the station – or am I missing something? Yes in an ideal world the station would be on the east side of the motorway – but it isn’t.

    In terms of a future LR option. Albany will be the terminus so I don’t see that is much of an issue

    1. The problem is that the bridge location and design makes the station a branch off the line, not in line. A bridge south of the station, angled across motorway would enable the buses (or later trains) to stop at Albany directly and still be facing north in order to quickly continue on.

      ie what are the longer term plans here, and how does this bridge fit into to them? Will we be faced with building another bridge to continue this service further efficiently? More anti-futureproofing for the Rapid Transit network?

    2. Currently northbound buses have their own offramp directly into the station while citybound buses have their own onramp from McClymonts Rd. Both are shorter routes than this new bridge.
      I’m an ideal world the station would be more towards the middle of the town centre, surrounded by apartments, not the Eastern side.
      Albany will be the initial terminus but we will want/need to extend it further north eventually for all the growth up there

  2. Great roundup, thanks. I think that your language is a little guarded with respect to “AT seem to be dragging their heels” on closing Queen St to cars. If AT have the decision rights on the access or not of cars to Queen St and most everyone is calling for it, they ARE the roadblock. No SEEM to be or MIGHT be or COULD be. It is AT who are holding up the change we are all calling for and AT should explain what they need to see happen before they push the stop button. Love or hate John & Gerry, once they stated the growth targets AKL had to achieve to get a tick on the CRL we all knew where to focus our energy and for most of us we stopped the ad hominem attacks. Same applies here AT; tell us what you need to see before this is a go and we’ll help make it happen & get off your case ( on this issue).

    1. Back in the late 70’s early 80’s a part of Queen st was closed off to all but the trolley buses but the local business complained that they worn’t getting the people in their stores as there was no parking for them outside their stores and everyone was enjoying themselves in the closed off section .

  3. Completely missed the competition for the HOP cards but awesome that AT went ahead with that. Now, as you say, they need pre loaded cards, with concession already applied, that can be picked up from pretty much any conveneince store.

  4. That is a pretty poor representation of Dominion Road. Where are the appalling footpaths, the power lines zig zagging over the road, etc?

    1. True. I’m more concerned about the effect on pedestrians crossing the side road here. Red lines? Just can’t put in a pedestrian crossing, eh, AT?

      The pedestrians will cross, as they should, emboldened perhaps by the flashing lights, which is what the drivers will be concentrating on.

      And then the lights go off and bam!

      Vision Zero also means the location needs 30 km/hr. They’ve left that off.

      1. Agree regarding pedestrians, I noticed while travelling that in many parts of the US, at these kinds of intersections turning vehicles have to give way to pedestrians walking straight through. Why cant we do the same?

  5. Yes to buses being very full at what is supposed to be a quiet time of the year (New North Road). I’ve had to stand often this week. Can’t wait to get my bike repaired!

  6. re Paris and plans to remove 60,000 car parks – that is extraordinarily bold and it will be interesting to see how the Mayor gets on with that. Please keep us updated! We’ve had situations here in NZ where a single car-park outside the local corner dairy has been removed and we’ve had about 3 years of moaning letters to the paper whining about loss of customers. Hence removing 60,000 parks would seem to be… ambitious.

    1. I’m seeing a big difference between:

      – cities where enough demonstration of progressive concepts has been pushed through for the people to understand, so they are eager for more, and
      – cities where paralysis due to poor leadership has prevented the public from seeing benefits and has emboldened the change-averse.

      We need to cut through.

      1. Spot on Heidi. Note it’s always the same places / Countries / Cities making bold changes and others than do nothing regardless of who is in charge at the time politically. Once the ball starts rolling it can’t be stopped.

      2. Agreed. NZ is still learning to tie its shoelaces with regards to what good urban form looks like. Auckland well into the 20th century was still largely a farm. Places like Hobsonville Point were home to densely populated sheep communities within living memory. Paris by contrast has hundreds of years on us.

        We need to start acknowledging this history (for better or worse). As Socrates said, you will never win the hearts and minds by making people feel stupid. We need a campaign of small incremental ‘trials’ that require little to no consultation to help those still languishing in the cave to come out and see the light. Instead of staring at shadows of Mike Hosking on the cave wall.

        https://youtu.be/SWlUKJIMge4

        1. Kintyre Kid

          Unfortunately NZ has moved well past the stage of small incremental changes because our response to climate change has been so poor.”
          Stuff 29/1
          “So even if the Government planted an extra billion trees on top of the current billion planned, and banned all cars and trucks from the roads for five years from next year, those measures on their own probably wouldn’t be enough to meet its 2030 Paris target.”

        2. @ John wood

          Totally agree with you. However to use Plato’s Allegory of the Cave – you have climbed out and seen the sun. It seems the majority hasn’t. I just think there is value in trying to bring everyone along for the ride. It might be frustratingly slow. But some progress is better than none at all. Telling people they are wrong and unenlightened on a topic only serves to entrench their position. GA is great but the people in here need to realise they risk becoming an echo chamber that is difficult for the outside world to understand and ultimately participate.

      1. Yet well before then the land they take up is public land, and sorely needed for a better use than storing a piece of private equipment.

        Sick of the subsidy…

        1. +1,000,000
          On street parking in cbd and town centres needs to go. It needs to become part of the social contract that if you must drive into cbd or town centres you will need to:

          1- pay for your parking to at least remove the subsidy and make cars at least mode neutral with pt and active modes; and
          2 – park in off street car parking and walk a few hundred metres to your final destination.

          Expecting a park outside the hairdresser on Main Street is a relic of a bygone era.

          In the most liveable cities in the world that prioritise the car at the bottom of the ladder, on street parking is the exception rather than the norm.

          Hopefully Panuku as part of their town centre projects lobbies AT hard to make this a reality.

          Pedestrianised main streets in Henderson and Pukekohe would be the envy of Aucklanders in know time. Remuera and Ponsonby with their car funnels through the middle would quickly be seen as no longer the place to be

    1. No, I think that the investment in fixing the line, particularly the Swanson tunnel provides the start of the extension of the line.

      Where the terminus are now need not be where they will always be, as Matt’s comments on the busway bridge for Albany allude to.

      How long before electrification of the line occurs, or the reopening of the Dargaville line?

      1. The cost of rejuvenating the line is very modest when you compare it with $250 million for a couple of stations at Drury. Of course, apart from the tunnel work, this only brings it back to where it was in the 1970s so it will still be uncompetitive with road transport in terms of speed.

    2. Does the money announced yesterday for the tunnels mean they could carry containers between Marsden Pt and Auckland once the Marsden Pt spur was in place, or is it just part of the preparation?

        1. The govt has just announced funding for a third main rail line from Auckland port to Wiri container terminal. Containers wont be going to Marsden Point anytime soon.

        2. robincole they still will be taken north to Otiria from Sept/Oct this year from the ports via Wiri . And when the spur from Oakleigh happens they then can be taken from there as they have a large mobile there for that purpose .

        3. Source?
          As far as I’m aware the government has announced funding for a third line between Westfield and Wiri only plus some changes at Westfield Junction and the Port yard entrance.

        4. That’s correct. The “Quay Park to Wiri” project has been funded, but that doesn’t mean third track the whole way along the corridor.

        5. John D , they have 3 tracks to just shy of the parnell baths and from there the biggest problems will be the causeway to Meadowbank and then the Meadowbank tunnel .it could be done through to Panmure , and after Panmure almost all the way to Westfield . But to do it all the way they may have to add a couple of more zero’s to that figure .

    3. I’m pleased! Now to getting trains running between Swanson and Huapai please. LR isn’t going to reach Huapai for at least 10 years and a similar time to have a busway built.

      1. The Swanson tunnel, will it be lowered not just for the taller containers but sufficient to allow overhead electric traction cables to run through?

        1. Unlikely if it requires any work beyond what’s needed for 9’6″ containers. AM class units unlikely to be allowed to operate through narrow tunnels anyway as there is no provision for emergency evacuation via the ends.

      2. And if you watched the news las night KR were able to take a load of bigwigs through to the North on a set of RES yellow wooden carriages , and how did they get there ? through the Waitakeri tunnel . And AT say they can’t take passenger services through it because if there is a fire there noway out .

        And what were those carriages made of ? WOOD yes WOOD and the new passenger trains are all metal , so what wrong with AT mentality ? that can’t take even a DMU through to even Kumeu .

        1. Yeah I saw that David and noticed the wooden RES carriages. How ironic! At the very least hopefully RES and Glenbrook operate a couple of their train tours up there once the work is done.

          What would be a great opportunity, if the tunnels were big enough, or able to be daylighted (unlikely but) would be getting hold of some auto transport units of the kind operated by some rail companies in Europe, particularly in the summer holidays.

          Given the gridlock of cars heading north and back again several times a year, such a train to at least Whangarei would probably sell-out pretty quickly if people could take their car but go by rail for the first part of their journey, or last part on the way back.

  7. Re Pt Chev and speed control, can AT please have a rule in their design book that says no speed humps on bus routes! I had to catch a bus from Henderson to the city (when the trains stopped running), and as it passed through Te Atatu South it slowed to walking pace every 100m to negotiate speed humps. Hardly conducive to encouraging PT usage or reducing greenhouse emissions or noise pollution – there are much better methods for reducing peak traffic speeds.

  8. What I like with the investment KR has for the NAL is that it has all been costed before they had got the almost $200mil before going to the PGF . And I guess/hope it was all done in house instead of bringing in all these over priced consultants .

    And with the container terminal ta Otiria this will help the trucking companies in the far north as it will free up their trucks in the area to make more local runs , instead of a truck making a 2day return trip to Auckland and back the same truck could do 4-6 trips in their local area . Also this will help with the shortage of drivers at the same time .

    And as what I have seen all this will be finished this year . Looking at that timeline they should get the gang from KR to do the upgrades in Auckland .

    And with the upgrades I hope KR will reinstate a decent daily passenger service going Orth to Whangarei or hopefully through to Kawakawa . What I have read/seen the Chinese sponsored hotel on rails will want to use it also through to the Bay of Islands .

    1. And hopefully if this Govt gets back in in Sept they will reopen /fix the Dargaville spur , the SOL and rebuild the Wairoa/Gisborne section that the Nats said was to costly to repair at $12m .

      1. Wairoa to Gisborne is a big one I want to see happen. Also the Redional development funds were given for a study about starting a passenger service between Hokitika and Westport to link up with the Tranz-Alpine but nothing further about that study has been heard or seen since.

        Btw, Dave Macpherson from Hamilton CC was generous enough to tell me this week that the carriage work is almost done for the H2A new regional service starting later this year, and that locomotive upgrade was in process. It seems around March we should hear the announcement of the start date (hopefully early June but may be early July).

        1. I hope KR’s CEO can get the funding for it . With seei thing him on the news and the big smile he had he seems alot happier than the previous ones they had under the Nats . And thanks for the update on the H2A service , but I thought KR had upgrades the Loco’s already so they could run them in on the freight services .

  9. Agree, + build Marsden Branch.

    Gisborne’s a bit more than $12 M, but IMO worth doing anyway, cheap compared to some of the roads boondoggles.
    From report published December 2019:
    “estimated one-off expenditure of between $20 million and $23 million. Additional works to improve the resilience of the line to adverse weather events would cost an additional $5 million to $6 million. Over the following 10 years, a further $5 million to $7 million would be required in additional bridge, tunnel, and track works.”
    https://berl.co.nz/research/reconnecting-gisborne

        1. It’s most certainly running, it was running for a cruise ship group when I was there a couple of weeks ago. Train loaded up on the eastern side of the river by the docks, and chugged around across the river and on through town. The Ab looked spotless, carriages were packed, everyone was having a great time 🙂

    1. I used to take the Napier to Gisborne railcar service back in the day – way back – but it is indeed a very beautiful route – no, that’s not the right word. Invigorating? Entertaining? Goes through some mad, rugged country anyway.
      Also went on a trip over that route back in the early 2000s, on a vintage trip pulled by a steam loco, which was very slow as it had 3 sheep running along the line ahead of us for a while, limiting our speed… we sped up after 2 of the sheep jumped the fence and the 3rd sheep committed suicide by diving under the locomotive, whereupon it slowly got cooked by the steam, and we chugged along with the smell of roast mutton wafting back through the train….. its definitely a very rural piece of entertainment.

      But a great route to tie in with the massive tourism boom in Napier from the Art Deco and the rise of the big summer cruise liners.

  10. I’m struggling to understand how AT could sell HOP cards “preloaded” with a child concession? Isn’t the whole point of the process of loading the concession discount to verify the person’s entitlement to the concession? I guess you could out a timeout on the preloaded concession but that seems awfully complicated.

    And if you don’t think adults would take advantage of a preloaded concession then you’re far less sceptical than I am (based on experience with concession fraud overseas!).

    1. They can already take advantage of concessions by using a child’s card. The check is on the bus when the reader sounds as for a concession, or on the train when the HOP cards are checked. You’d prefer to make it hard for valid users to access concessions, including parents in areas with no access to a computer nor a service desk nearby? And punish the people who do get organised with the concession card when they’re planning a trip – but don’t receive the concession because it’s not immediate? And convince people who haven’t figured out what’s going on that bus fares are more expensive than they actually are?

      As I wrote in “How are children and young people faring under AT HOP?” of the 16 and 17 year-olds, “Difficulties in obtaining the concession mean that about a third of eligible active users are being overcharged.”

      What I’m struggling to understand is how AT can leave the situation so user-unfriendly.

      1. “What I’m struggling to understand is how AT can leave the situation so user-unfriendly.”
        Heidi, you are being facetious aren’t you, when most of the PT system is user unfriendly. I use the bus twice (at least) every day and my experience waiting at the Civic this week was; on Wednesday the bus on the sign board didn’t turn up; on Thursday the next two buses didn’t turn up; and on Friday a bus, not on the sign board arrived. This is not an unusual experience.

        We recently had a family from Singapore stay with us. Because they come from there they imagined that they could travel everywhere by bus and so they attempted to over the course of two weeks. Their verdict, very poor. They spoke of the issues that I have just relayed, but with greater frustration because when you are waiting for a bus on 30 minute frequency and it doesn’t show you have a hell of a wait.

        I suspect that the problem is that AT probably works on a metrics system – a sytem where outputs become the driver. So, with respect to buses arriving on time the operator says, we are operating at 92.1%. They report that because they have to otherwise they will be penalised financially for non delivery. The AT manager who has to achieve 90% is ecstatic because he has reached his KPI. Everyone is happy because another box is ticked, except for the poor customer.

        I suspect that one of the fundamental reasons that public transport fails in Auckland is that the necessary big picture measurement tool is missing – change in mode share. Cities who are really achieving in increasing walking/biking/PT modeshare often have this as one of their main drivers.

        I believe, as you have said previously, that there needs to be a major re-working of AT. Sadly it is obvious that at least one of the parties in government may not be supportive of this.

        1. johnwoodtakapuna , I had the same problem on the 27th Dec as I had a clinic to go to at Greenlane , got to the stop downtown and there was nothing saying the buses [321] weren’t running . Finally got some sense from a driver saying they had been cancelled for the holiday break ,and nothing to state that at the stop .

          And when I went across to AT at Britomart I tried and finally got myself a cross town timetable for the connection on Greenlane West , but the clown Iwas talking to , said why don’t you use your phone to check their APP for the times of the buses . So i showed him my phone which does not have internet . So I asked for a hard copy of the timetable and anyone would have thought it was a state secret to get one as he had to go out the back to find me one . And when I did get he didn’t tell me every 2nd bus had been cancelled , I found that out at the 1st bus stop .

          So what gets me is why don’t AT have all their timetables out on display for the public to get for themselves , or go back to the bdays of the ARA , when they had all the bus routes across Auckland in 4 books i.e Nth , Sth , East and West . But they did not include the private Bus companies or Rail . But you could find you way all across Auckland just by carrying 1 or 2 books with you instead dozen of different single timetables

          The only place in Auckland that I have seen all the Auckland Timetables is the Jury room at the Discrete court house in Albert St . So why can’t they do it at Britomart ?

    2. A workmate found out that his bus card was on a Child’s concession recently. He had been using it for a couple of years when a an inspector caught him.

      The thing is he’d done it by accident. Apparently when you apply for a card the birth-date defaults to (from memory) 2012-01-01 so child’s concession gets applied.

      The inspector let him off because it was an accident rather than malicious but it sounds like there are a lot of people with the same “birth-date” getting concessions.

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