Here’s the weekly roundup for this week.
Construction has started on Tamaki Drive to upgrade walking and cycling facilities, forming a critical link in Auckland city’s network of cycleways.
The project also improves flood protection by lifting the road. The project was launched the morning of Sunday 16 February 2020 with a sod turning by Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Mayor Phil Goff.
A new two-way separated cycleway will be built along the seaward side of Tamaki Drive, between the Quay Street Cycleway extension and Ngapipi Road. Once completed the cycleway will connect with cycle routes to Glen Innes, Parnell and the central city.
During construction, low spots on Tamaki Drive will be raised up to half a metre to help improve protection against seasonal flooding from the sea frequently experienced in the area. A separate path for pedestrians will also be constructed.
It’s great to see this underway as Tamaki Dr is Auckland’s busiest bike route averaging over 1,200 bikes a day and soaring much higher in summer months. The existing off’-road route is simply not good enough being narrow and bumpy and even more so having it shared with pedestrians resulting in poor experiences for all.
Given the road already has issues with flooding multiple times a year, raising it by only half a metre is clearly not going to be enough long term. This is something Goff acknowledged and means we’re likely to have to raise it all again in coming decades.
Jump Ebikes Launched
Auckland now has shared e-bikes with Jump launching 655 of them around the city on Tuesday.
JUMP by Uber, together with Auckland Council, will take to the streets of the CBD today to road test the country’s first shared dockless electric bikes, a new transport option for commuters available via the Uber app.
They cost $1 to unlock and then 38 cents per minute. Personally I’m not a fan of per minute charges as I think it encourages people to ride them as fast as possible. Also, given many of our streets are still focused on moving cars and not pedestrians or mirco-mobility devices, it’s not uncommon to get held up a a set of traffic lights for minutes on end which becomes not only frustrating but with these charges, increasingly expensive.
Constellation Station Upgrade
Preparation works have been going on for a while now but work is now starting to upgrade the Constellation Dr busway station in advance of the busway extension being completed.
Work on the $15M project includes building a new northbound platform and a new pedestrian bridge. The bridge will span over the busway, so passengers can access both the north and southbound platforms. This is similar to the layout at Smales Farm Station. New toilets, lifts, driver facilities and a kiosk area will also be added to the fit out.
The project is expected to take 15 months and because buses don’t currently use that side of the station the work should have “minimal effect” on them.
One interesting comment they make is that the station is “the busiest hub of all the stations along the Northern Busway“. Constellation and to obviously a slightly lesser extent the other busway stations are showing that people will catch feeder services and transfer if you make it easy to do so. At these stations it’s not uncommon to see whole bus loads get off and walk across to catch the next NX1 or NX2.
The council are looking to walk the talk more and are reviewing staff carparks.
Car parking perks might be replaced with free public transport for Auckland Council executives.
The council is reducing the number of spaces it provides for personal staff use, with 49 senior staff, including three in the mayor’s office, entitled to free parking either under the council headquarters, or in the nearby Civic Car Park.
The Civic Car Park spaces are a benefit worth $6120 annually at the long-term lease rates charged out by Auckland Transport.
Auckland Council chief executive Stephen Town said discussions with staff who have parking perks would be around “walking the talk” for climate change and public transport.
This is good to see. One thing I really would like to see is AT offering a monthly or even (semi) annual pass that businesses can purchase or subsidise for staff instead of offering carparks. One example of this is in Berlin where organisations can subsidise a monthly pass option giving staff unlimited PT travel.
Old Mangere Bridge
Demolition of the old Mangere Bridge and construction of the new one is underway.
Construction of the Old Māngere Bridge Replacement project, a significant community connection between Māngere Bridge and Onehunga, has begun and demolition of the old bridge structure will start next week.
The new walking and cycling bridge being built by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is the result of several years of work with mana whenua, the community, local boards and other stakeholders to create an architecturally designed structure that will serve as a community meeting place for years to come.
Meanwhile, construction work on the new structure is also underway, with a temporary platform being built alongside where the new bridge structure will take shape. Piling work that will eventually secure the above ground piers of the replacement bridge into the seabed has started from the temporary platform on the northern side.
“Working on demolition and construction at the same time and from both sides of the harbour will help to deliver the new bridge on time”.
Sydney Light Rail
There’s been plenty of criticism of Sydney’s light rail since it opened for being too slow but regardless it’s already proving popular.
Sydney’s newest tram line has reached two months of passenger services with thousands of people hopping on board the L2 Randwick Line as part of their journey every day.
More than 2 million trips have already been taken since services began on 14 December 2019 when the first tram set off from Circular Quay, down George Street and onwards to Randwick.
On average, around 40,000 passenger trips are taken each day, the most popular trip being between Circular Quay and QVB.
The data for January, the first full month the line has been open shows it moved 1.2 million people which is about the same as Auckland’s entire rail network has moved in January in recent years. That suggests the line to Randwick alone could see more than 20 million trips a year and will be even higher once the Kingsford extension opens in March. Also as a further comparison, Sydney’s existing Dulwich line moved about 860k people.
It is also about 65% as many people as the new automated northwest metro line yet while still expensive, only 35% of the cost of that. A useful thing to keep in mind given light rail is likely to be a hot topic over the coming months.
Canberra Light Rail extension
Canberra’s light rail opened in April last year. It’s not as busy as Sydney’s, with it on track to hit about 5 million trips in its first year, but the first extension is already underway. There’s a couple of interesting things about it.
- It will be wire free and the vehicles were obviously future proofed for that capability
- It will see the removal of an existing grade separated road interchange
Love the #CBR city views? Light Rail extension is going wire-free! This new design offers passengers a reliable and efficient transport option while maintaining the aesthetic of one of our most nationally significant avenues. See the first stage of the extension here. pic.twitter.com/QLbEavGyN6
— Transport Canberra (@Transport_CBR) February 17, 2020
I love the doors on the CRL site office in Mt Eden
Finally, a few interesting tweets from this week
I have mapped 2018 Census data on students cycling to schools. Except a couple of hotspots, Auckland doesn't seem to have very safe roads for kids (not surprised).@AklTransport
— Saeid Adli (@SaeidAdli) February 19, 2020
Finally got Auckland shared scooter data from @AklCouncil. Interesting that trip counts have been relatively flat across the 18 months (accounting for seasonality) despite a substantial increase in vehicle numbers. Initial excitement faded into basic utility. @BikeAKL @GreaterAKL pic.twitter.com/5cN4jrAko3
— OLIVER BRUCE (@oliverbruce) February 18, 2020
One of these things is not like the other.
Comparing car sales to e-scooter/e-bike sales in NZ over the last 6 years.
Growth rate for ebikes/scooter sales in 2019 was 89% year on year.
Which one are we spending billions of dollars on new infrastructure for again? pic.twitter.com/zPVZ21PoBZ
— OLIVER BRUCE (@oliverbruce) February 19, 2020
— Nicolas Reid (@Nicolas_Reid) February 19, 2020