Here’s the weekly roundup for this week.


Tamaki Dr

On Sunday Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Mayor Phil Goff turned the first sod to kick off construction of an upgrade to Tamaki Dr.

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.


Council Carparks

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”.

The new Mangere Bridge

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.

If they can fix the speed, such as with signal priority, the line will be even more popular.


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.

  1. It will be wire free and the vehicles were obviously future proofed for that capability
  2. It will see the removal of an existing grade separated road interchange


CRL doors

I love the doors on the CRL site office in Mt Eden


Finally, a few interesting tweets from this week

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71 comments

    1. I am looking forward to its completion. So lets think about the bridges connectivity in particular to the station at Onehunga. So build another platform at the Onehunga station which gives access to the old alignment down to the old port and the new bridge. A tunnel for cyclists and walkers under Neilson street would give a road free path. This would eliminate two road crossings at a very busy intersection. Its important to claim ownership of this important corridor before the road people do.

      1. I’m also looking forward to the bridge being completed. Though I wish the design had more to separate cyclists and pedestrians. It is a commuting route so not everyone is in sauntering mode.

        I also look at the project timeline and think do they really need 6 months to do landscaping and artwork after they have finished construction. I’d be keen to start using it as soon as possible.

      2. IIRC the light rail is likely to use the old alignment toward the port, but the LR station at Onehunga will be elevated and therefore go over Neilson Street, not under.

    1. There will be security on the bridge. You can guarantee it. Just look what they have at the Manuka bus station. And it has being successful with the station still being in pristine condition. Not to mention the safety of the bridge users. Unfortunately its the price we have too pay.

      1. That’s Auckland Transport, I was looking for NZTA.

        I understand the final funding decision on the reminder of the Gi to Tamaki shared path will be made at next NZTA board

  1. Saeid Adli’s map shows some real deserts doesn’t it?

    Safer speeds and low traffic neighbourhoods across the city are needed urgently to return safety for people walking and cycling – especially our kids, who have had their mobility stolen.

    As seen in low traffic neighbourhoods overseas, the lower traffic volumes they’ll bring in will also make planning for buses easier.

    1. I misread that as desserts. I must have done that thing where you read the first and last letters and ignore the middle. Had to scroll up to see them!

  2. Tried a Jump bike out last night and while they wont set any trends with their looks, it worked well, was comfortable to ride and like the storage space. Agree the pricing is wrong to be per minute as soon adds up. But was fine for a test ride in suburbia with no lights (yet).
    The helmet was fine as it was new and clean. Not sure I would want to be using shared helmets later on.
    Would I use one instead of my car to pick up something from a local shop? Maybe, weather dependent of course and I didn’t check to see if there is a hold function.
    Would I use one to commute? No – If I wanted to bike I would buy one.
    Would I replace an Uber car trip with Uber bike? Yes for some depending on where going, how far, the weather and of course if there is one near by.

    1. I rode a Jump bike from Newmarket to City Rd. The bikes are good quality with Shimano components, decent brakes, 3 speed hub, lights (although the front light is not obvious under the front basket). Good range of adjustment for the seat and the increments are numbered so that it’s easy and quick to set up once you know your seat ‘number’. Do this before unlocking because the major downside is the cost. 12 mins = $5.56 and you can feel the meter ticking at traffic lights. The electric assistance is good but seems to disappear around 20km/hr not 20mph. The bikes are low geared so once the motor cuts out it’s hard to go any faster. No speedo, timer or distance readout as far as I could see. Some bikes had already ‘lost’ their helmets and others had the helmets left in the basket instead of being locked on. I had vague worries about getting charged for missing helmets, maybe a photo is a good idea to prove you left it locked to the bike??

  3. The “walking the talk” conversation will be short I imagine. The Council has entered into an employment contract and if they was to remove a benefit to an employee has to provide financial compensation or other such like.

    Anyone else here see if differently? What total media spin to pretend otherwise.

    1. That is only the case if free parking is a contractual benefit. For the enormous majority of staff with access to car parking it is a voluntary gift by the employer.

      Plus, the average executive tenure is less than 5 years so it wouldn’t take long even if you did have to honour existing contracts.

      1. All those Exec’s and other members of AT all seem to be on a good income to by their own HOP C cards and not getting them FREE through the public purse , The only workers there that would qualify are the lowly paid slaves that clean their offices . And with their parking spaces turn them into storage spaces for equipment for the CRL works .

  4. Wait, so in January Sydney’s one new light rail line carried the same amount of people as all four of Aucklands heavy rail lines put together?

    So much for ‘slow trams”.

    1. Are there any recent patronage projections for the Auckland line? At a guess the light rail catchment might be roughly equivalent to either the southern or the western.

  5. Are you really taking patronage claims from TfNSW at face value?
    How about… ….wait a while before judging any success or failure of that?

    1. Yes. Sydney patronage figures are based on opal card data audited and published by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Authority, because the operator performance payments are based on ridership.

      Are you all alleging fraud?

      1. Hahahaha I’m stating that you should NEVER trust anything from any press release from the NSW government. Accuse me of “alleging fraud” all you want.
        Notice how it’s a rounded figure? Why wouldn’t they just publish the actual un-rounded patronage figures? Aw yeh…

        1. There is no need to insult me and the fact it’s a media article does not answer my question.
          It’s just a press release, so it’s inherently a poor source of information to begin with.

    2. Yeah, you’re right, we should have all put our tinfoil hats on and not believed anything a government body says.

      There are just over 200 services a day, is it really that hard to believe that there are on average just under 200 people boarding each service? Especially when the service is really useful for short hops up the inner city!

      Unless you have some evidence that the figures are fudged, or that the organisation frequently fudges their ridership numbers, lay of the slander, aye.

      1. “we should have all put our tinfoil hats on and not believed anything a government body says”
        Nope. Just the government of New South Wales. Especially under Gladys.

        “is it really that hard to believe that there are on average just under 200 people boarding each service”
        It is for me. I’ve never seen any of these trams looking even half full outside fo peak times beyond the opening day.

        “Unless you have some evidence that the figures are fudged, or that the organisation frequently fudges their ridership numbers, lay of the slander, aye”
        No. I’ll say what I want to as I am entitled to (within the rules). If you can’t handle it; don’t read my posts.

        1. “No. I’ll say what I want to as I am entitled to (within the rules). ”

          You aren’t, actually. What you are doing is:
          a) a crime; and
          b) against the comment policy (2ii) of this blog.

          BTW, a vehicle with a capacity of 450 people would almost never be half full carrying 200 people per service. For example, on the southbound service you might get 25 boardings each at the first four stations all disembarking before or at Central and 100 boardings between there and the terminal. That’s 200 boarding and never even 1/4 full.

          Please bring evidence or take your conspiracy theories elsewhere.

        2. Sydney’s L2 should be that busy: It trundles as fast as a bus from Central to UNSW (60 k students and a hospital).
          Gladys went there… MA Commerce… good school.

          A$ 1.3 billion over budget and years late though.

        3. I don’t follow much about Australia but I thought Ms Berejiklian was doing a good job. She was far better during the bushfires than Scum-oh

        4. Here we go
          @”Sailor Boy”
          “You aren’t, actually. What you are doing is:
          a) a crime;”
          Hahahahaha classic. Oh quick, call the police and report me then. Go on.

          “b) against the comment policy (2ii) of this blog.”
          That’s for the Admins to tell me and action. The fact you’re telling me that only reflects upon you.

          “BTW, a vehicle with a capacity of 450 people would almost never be half full carrying 200 people per service. For example, on the southbound service you might get 25 boardings each at the first four stations all disembarking before or at Central and 100 boardings between there and the terminal. That’s 200 boarding and never even 1/4 full.”
          Erm… …I’m seeing mostly empty seats and nobody standing across both units.

          “Please bring evidence or take your conspiracy theories elsewhere.”
          Yah, the general consensus in Sydney’s a conspiracy theory. And please continue to provide that comedy relief of trying to tell other people what to do.

        5. @Matt L
          Look… …while everyone’s getting hysterical at me daring to question the integrity of that esteemed government of New South Wales (en sarc) you’re missing my actual point here…
          …WHY ARE YOU EVEN MENTIONING THIS LIGHT RAIL TO BEGIN WITH?

          This light rail is still very new to operations, this it’s far too early to start calling shots of success or failure, you should really wait until the end of this year before looking at it and assessing.
          And it has NO relation to New Zealand nor Auckland whatsoever to begin with. Nor is it a very typical light rail project (especially with how its organisation and construction was so shambolically managed). So why are you so especially interested in it? Is this just more of this odd Auckland obsession with Australia yet always imitating them (eg. watching Rugby League & V8 supercars) or something?

          But as far as the tangent goes; I’ll give it more months before looking at statistics presented. And no, I have NO trust in the NSW Liberal party whatsoever they are as crooked as a barrel of snakes and that’s nothing new.

          P.S. For the sakes of everyone you might want to remind “Sailor Boy” that he’s not an admin. Or anything.

        6. @miffy
          Nope. You’re wrong on all accounts. She’s absolutely dreadful & nasty, completely out of her depth and even more ineffectual about the bushfires than Scott Morrison. Go and google the “Koala killer” meme that she was the subject of.

        7. “…WHY ARE YOU EVEN MENTIONING THIS LIGHT RAIL TO BEGIN WITH?”

          Because Auckland is in the middle of a competitive tender to plan and build a new light rail line. The performance of a new light rail line in the closest major city to Auckland is very much worth discussing.

        8. LOL Miffy, thanks for that.

          He was McCully’s “Hard Man”… for tourism and sport promotion.

          Responding to Mr Mallard’s personal comments: “I have no interest in New Zealand politics.”
          No wonder he’s the the Oz PM. He’s got the right attitude.

        9. I’m interested in the Sydney comparison, so long as we bear in mind any differences in density, construction challenges etc.

        10. I am not surprised that people use PT around the centre of Sydney. My memory from a year ago is that parking starts at $60 early bird, about half that for motor bikes and is a sizable amount per hour. Only the well paid can afford to bring a car in and park it.

          Is there a clue in this for AT how they might price their car parks to move people towards using PT, as their Parking Strategy says they will do.

        11. @Miffy:
          You’re talking about what he did when working in NZ. not what he’s done as Australian PM.

          And P.S. What’s with this “shitland”? Whether you’re calling Cronulla that or Australia as a whole: You need to grow up. And besides: If you compared either Cronulla or Australia in hgeneral to Newtown, Wellington Nz and asked people from across the world which they thought was the “shitland”; almost everyone would say Newtown…

        12. @John D.
          I fail to see how geographic proximity is in any way relevant to anything. Besides: It;’s not much closer then Newcastle, Canberra, the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Adelaide so nope still makes no sense to be especially interested in Sydney.

  6. Matt, my reading of the Sydney experience is different to yours. That is, the Metro is comparatively cheap compared to the L2 light rail.

    From what I can tell (please correct me if any of these figures are wrong):
    — Metro Northwest is 36km long and cost $8.3 billion = $231 million per km.
    — L2 Randwick is 12km long and cost $2.7 billion = $225 million per km.

    Once you adjust for inflation, the capital cost of Metro is likely to be same as the L2.

    Operating costs for Metro are also likely to be significantly lower than L2 due to driverless operation (underground stations will cost more to operate). In the business case for stage 2, TNSW estimated (incremental) cost recovery on Metro increases from 61% to over 100% by 2031 (https://www.sydneymetro.info/sites/default/files/Sydney%20Metro%20CSW%20Business%20Case%20Summary.pdf). That is, the increase in fare revenue from stage 2 exceeds the increase in operating costs.

    The high patronage achieved on the L2 vis-a-vis Metro is likely explained by the simple fact that the L2 is a radial inner-city line, whereas the Metro (currently) operates as a crosstown line far removed from the city centre. When Metro stage 2 (Chatswood to Bankstown) opens, services will connect directly under the harbour, into the city and beyond. At that point, I’d expect Metro patronage to surge pass the L2, even when normalised for length / stations / services etc.

    Basically, my reading of the Sydney experience actually implies Metro has a fairly substantial advantage over LRT. That’s not to imply I support the NZ Super proposal, not that the L2 or its expansion is necessarily a bad idea. Rather, it’s just the Metro has some compelling long term advantages when it comes to moving lotsa people, over medium distances, and for a reasonable cost.

    I guess that’s partly why Metro is being used to replace some sections of Sydney’s heavy rail network?

    1. Metro northwest at 36km includes the 13km Epping-Chatswood line that cost $2.4b to build first up. The remaining 23km was practically greenfields in the outer suburbs.

      Look at the core of the line through the city instead, Metro CBD and southwest. Now $16.8b and climbing with years still to go for further blowouts. And it’s 30km long, but half of that is converting an existing rail line like at the other end. The new section in the CBD must be pushing a billion a kilometre. Martin Place station alone is now a billion alone to excavate and build.

      https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/4-3-billion-cost-blowout-in-sydney-s-metro-rail-project-20200203-p53x7n.html
      https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/martin-place-changes-add-200m-to-tunneling-costs-20200205-p53xyy.html

    2. Both the Sydney Metro and L2/L3 have been gold-plated and far more expensive than most comparative metro’s & light rail’s.
      And the L2/L3 management & construction has been famously ineptly managed.

      Whilst the L2/L3 might have ended up a fiscal catastrophe that will take a long time to pay-off; there’s plenty of examples of light rail systems around the world that have proven great value for money. It remains that Light rail is still a better fit for some situations and metros for other situations.

      As for why Sydenham to Bankstown is being converted to metro: It’s just a better fit in terms of station spacing with the double-decker units never being great with their higher dwell times.

    3. Light rail works best for medium density suburbs.
      Metro works best for high density metropolis.

      In long term, metro is better as it will pay off over long term. Another advantage metro tend to encourage medium density suburbs to grow into high density metropolis.

      For user experience metro also better as driver-less systems allows 3 minutes turn up and go frequency, which will be very attractive compare to 10-15 minutes frequency from light rail.

      Whereas light rail served area will continue to be medium density suburbia.

  7. Many good points in this updates.

    -” I’m not a fan of per minute charges as I think it encourages people to ride them as fast as possible”. Totally agreed. A safer pricing scheme is charge for distance traveled or time taken, whichever more expensive.

    -Sydney light rail is slow – I am not surprised based on other world’s light rail system that shares with road.
    I am high skeptical for the promised light rail journey time from Auckland to Airport.

    -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
    The problem is our IRD unfairly tax staff benefits, but not staff car-parks expenses. They should review this rule and tax both fairly.

    -Regarding students cycling to schools
    Our cyclists fund mostly focus on long distance commuting over short distance local commuting. Road bike cyclists has totally different needs compare to kids and casual leisure cyclists.
    Local council should have more budgets to improves cycling and walking connections to schools and local amenities.

    1. Or a more fundamental system change is required to cater to all cyclists; one that removes any assumption that we know who will use it. Factory workers, roving midwives, children visiting classmates… every street has the potential that people will need to cycle on it – except for motorways and limited access arterials. Every street needs to be safe. So we need to get away from the idea that we can put in “routes”. The routes are all over the place. It’s the system that needs to change.

      1. Yes to this and more… we are in Te Atatu and a new development is going to put 21 houses on a site that previously had 3 houses- this is needed. They are putting at least 1 carpark per house/apartment and provision for visitor car parks and in their consent they are required to put in 1 bike park for the entire development and 1 visitor bike park.

    2. The reason why Sydney’s LR L2 line is slow, it has to operate as a HR using two 5 module tram sets link together which slows a tram down on corners and points and poor ‘T’ priority at traffic lights isn’t helping. Whilst tram stations are designed for two 5 module tram sets, if a tram is delay a tram station, the following tram has to wait until the delayed tram has left the station, which again slows trams services down.

      I think once all 3 LR lines are operational, there will be increase ridership on the L1 line as all 3 services will be more integrated.

      If it had been designed as a proper LR operation, the will be room for two tram sets like L2 tram set and L3 tram set which will speed up frequencies, especially one L3 line opens to revenue service next month.

      1. Whether it is a single or combined unit doesn’t have any impact on cornering speeds or speeds through points. Trains don’t corner slower just because they are longer.

        1. A longer tram or train will take longer to clear a speed restriction. Don’t know how significant this is for trams/LRVs, but can be for trains. (E.g. short passenger train versus 900m freight.)

    3. Kelvin
      Your comment, “The problem is our IRD unfairly tax staff benefits, but not staff car-parks expenses. They should review this rule and tax both fairly.”

      Am I right that FBT legislation would allow employers to provide free employee travel up to a certain amount per quarter?

      If the FBT LEGISLATION is not helpful then surely the best organisations to lobby government would be AT (if they are truly looking to shift mode share?) and Auckland Council (as they search for something they can do to respond to a Climate Emergency).

        1. Definitely need the second, I reckon. No point trying to even up PT and parking, when there are other modes in the picture, too… are we going to make bikes, scooters, walking shoes and raincoats tax deductible, too?

          And maybe we need the first as well. Let’s not pretend being mode neutral is ideal here. We’re trying to create modeshift. Decades of tax deductibility for parking only could be followed by decades of tax deductibility for PT only.

  8. I do agree capital costs of Metro are high and likely higher than LRT.

    But you have to include operating costs, which can often double the capital costs of LRT.

    Whereas metro comes close to breaking even.

    1. I don’t think you compared operating costs of a metro style of HR operation with a LR operation.

      Metro style of HR operation is dedicated track away from people and vehicles where is LR is a combination of dedicated right of way and/or street operation that is dealing with people and vehicles.

    2. Operating cost double the capital cost? That doesn’t sound possible. If Sydney LRT cost $2.7b, under what timeframe are you talking where the operating cost is $5.4b?

      A line like that will have opex of something like $20 to $30m a year.

    3. You get what you paid for.
      Advantage of metro is a high frequency and fast journey time. Which means higher patronage and user satisfaction.

      1. Yeah you do get what you pay for. It looks like metro is four times the capital cost, so with Lr you get four times as much for your money.

        I’d rather have four new train line that run every five minutes that one train line that runs every three minutes.

  9. The Newcastle (Australia) LR is also wire free. There is some good YouTube footage demonstrating the pantograph briefly connecting to charging points at each station.

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