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.
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).
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.
Market St this morning pic.twitter.com/5z2GZI6P35
— Jeffrey Tumlin (@jeffreytumlin) January 29, 2020
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.
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.
It has been revealed today that, to make space for cyclists, Paris mayor @Anne_Hidalgo will remove 72% of the French capital's on-street car parking spaces. 60,000 spaces to be eliminated. Updated article: https://t.co/mxcEknSIv4 pic.twitter.com/MnCn9Ys85U
— Carlton Reid (@carltonreid) January 29, 2020
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.”
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
Always wanted to commute by e-bike, but not sure how? Register now for a free guided return commute by e-bike, powered by Mercury. The rides start at 7:15am and arrive in the city at 8:30am.
— Auckland Transport (@AklTransport) January 29, 2020