Here’s the weekly roundup for this week.
It’s been a very busy week on public transport, as ‘March madness’ has started kicking in. Next week promises to be even busier with the university year beginning. Auckland Transport say they’ll be adding significant capacity to cope with this demand, including a suggestion that we might see some of the newly purchased electric trains running so more trains can be longer 6-car sets:
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says, “With the annual surge in demand for public transport as students return to university it’s critical that Auckland Transport provides extra capacity on the network.
“I’m pleased to see that Auckland Transport has added an extra 5000 seats on buses at peak times and is rolling out extra train cars to accommodate demand.”
Group Manager Metro Services Stacey van der Putten says AT is in a good position to cope with the rise in demand. “We have put the extra seats on the 15 busiest routes services including on Onewa and Dominion Roads and the 70 which runs from Botany to Britomart.
“And we’re extending the very popular NX2 service. This is great news for people on the Hibiscus Coast, there will be 9 services to the city each weekday morning and eight return services to Hibiscus Coast Station in the afternoon peak. As well we’re adding late night options to get people home with new services at 11:30pm and midnight all the way to Hibiscus Coast Station.
“The first of our new trains have arrived from Spain and we are rolling those out with more 6 car trains during the busy periods. We will have 1200 extra seats in the morning peak and the same in the afternoon.”
Full February, the curtainraiser to March Madness, has arrived on the 110. Several dozen boarded at just 3 stops for the crawl through the notorious Valley of Congestion towards Lincoln Road @AklTransport pic.twitter.com/AIp2OijZMH
— Todd Niall (@toddniall) February 24, 2020
Improvements cannot come soon enough though, and more bus lanes in the city centre are desperately needed as I’ve been experiencing.
@AklTransport your inaction to address bus congestion on Customs St is making PT a lot less useable. Just spent over 20 minutes waiting for a bus that's meant to come every 7.5.
At same time about 10 went past not in service.
It's these kinds of experiences that put people off PT
— Greater Auckland (@GreaterAKL) February 25, 2020
The Fishing Pier analogy
A post by Jarrett Walker uses a useful ‘fishing pier’ analogy to explain why “we want a cool flashy new thing too” is a pretty unhelpful approach when it comes to public transport planning:
Imagine a city on a lake or ocean, where neighborhoods near the water tend to be wealthier than those inland. Suppose the city has a plan to build several fishing piers, but all the proposed piers are in the wealthy neighborhoods on the waterfront. Isn’t that unfair?
No, I think you’d say, because fishing piers only work if they’re on the water. If you were concerned with equity, maybe you’d propose a program that helps inland people get to the waterfront fishing piers quickly. But you wouldn’t support an inland city councilor’s battle to get a fishing pier on dry land in their neighborhood, because it wouldn’t be useful for fishing.
In short, the point isn’t to equitably distribute fishing piers. It’s to equitably distribute the ability to fish.
In the transit business, when a cool new thing is created somewhere, you always hear the rest of the city say: when do we get that cool thing? You’ll hear this about everything, from subway lines to light rail to little vans that come to your door. Enormous amounts of money get spent trying to act on this principle…
…The marketing of cool new transit things can make this problem worse. The more you put out the message that light rail or BRT or microtransit or “Metro Rapid” is cool and different and better than “ordinary” buses, the more mad people will be if their neighborhood just gets ordinary buses. That leads to political pressure to bring the cool new thing to a place where it just doesn’t work very well, which in turn leads to the cool new thing failing, just as an inland fishing pier will fail.
Jarrett suggests that the focus should, instead be on equitably distributing the ability to go lots of places quickly on transit. Auckland still has a long way to go on this issue, which isn’t helped by cutting bus services in South Auckland to subsidise taxis in Devonport.
Vancouver’s Climate Emergency
The City of Vancouver has backed up their climate emergency declaration with a bold plan for changing how people travel around to reduce carbon emissions. Unlike similar plans in Auckland, which say the right thing but are too timid to put in hard targets that will really drive change, Vancouver’s plan is full of solid goals that are backed up by real action.
The plan also tells a great story about how climate action will also help make Vancouver a much better place to live. Again this is quite different from how climate action is often pitched here, where it’s seen as something that will reduce our quality of life – which usually simply isn’t true.
Nearly 40% of carbon pollution generated in Vancouver comes from burning fossil fuels to power vehicles, which causes climate change, air pollution and smog. We need to think differently about how we move.
With Vancouver adding approximately 100,000 residents in the next 20 years, and a rapid increase in jobs, there will be more trips around our city than ever before, yet we have limited road space to take these trips.
Since walking, cycling, and transit are lower carbon emitters, the City of Vancouver wants to encourage people to shift to these sustainable transportation forms. What’s more, transit, walking and cycling are more efficient than individual driving trips.
We have the opportunity to not only reduce emissions, but to plan our communities in ways that make them safer, healthier and greener by providing services and amenities close to where people live. We can reduce the number of single occupancy vehicle trips by increasing the convenience of active transportation and public transit and then support the rapid transition to electric vehicles for those remaining trips.
Intercity Bus Terminal
Heidi’s Tuesday post on Auckland’s intercity bus terminal seemed to kick-start quite a few other articles on the topic, which focused on Ngati Whatua’s annoyance at not being involved in conversations about potentially moving the bus terminal onto land that they own and control.
SkyCity’s redevelopment ambitions have been revealed as a driving force behind controversial plans to relocate Auckland’s long-distance bus terminal from its downtown complex.
The casino and hotel operator’s plans are laid out in correspondence from Auckland Transport, which for several years has been eyeing up Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei-owned land on Beach Road, without the hapū’s knowledge.
AT and SkyCity had hoped a new terminal could be ready mid-year, and documents sighted by Stuff, show SkyCity considering a challenge to the resource consent which has required it for the past 25 years to house the terminal…
Details of SkyCity’s interest have emerged after an angry response from the hapū’s commercial arm Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Whai Rawa, to learning in January that its land was the preferred option following extensive design work by Auckland Transport.
AT’s chief executive Shane Ellison wrote to Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Whai Rawa, outlining its plan.
“This is in response to SkyCity’s intention to seek the termination of the current facility by the end of April 2020 in association with the redevelopment of Hobson Street and the International Conference Centre,” wrote Ellison.
The hapū’s company has since met with AT officials where more information was presented, but the plan has not been accepted.
“Our concern is that this has been presented as a fait accomplis without any consultation with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, and the fact that this has been going on since 2017 – we’re pretty unhappy about it,” the chief executive Andrew Crocker told Stuff.
Seems like some pretty disgraceful behaviour from Auckland Council and Auckland Transport to be working behind the scenes to help a massive corporate wriggle out of their resource consent conditions without involving Ngati Whatua – who themselves have some pretty exciting plans for their land in the form of a market:
What climate emergency
Marc Daalder is rightly unimpressed by the lack of progress the government is making on reducing the transport sector’s contribution to climate change:
On Friday, Stuff reported that the Government had abandoned its feebate scheme– its only policy dedicated to reducing transport emissions – which would have seen fees of up to $3,000 on high-emitting vehicles to subsidise the purchase of electric vehicles by up to $8,000. It would have cost the Government little cash up front, but only reduced emissions by around 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent over twenty years, according to a Ministry of Transport analysis. New Zealand emits around 80 million tonnes of greenhouse gases a year – well above where we need to be to meet our international commitments…
…Without the feebate scheme, which the Government repeatedly pointed to when criticised over its lack of initiative on climate change, there is essentially no extant policy on cutting transport emissions. Transport is responsible for a fifth of New Zealand’s annual emissions and its the fastest growing sector in terms of gross emissions, but all the Government has left to deal with it is the Emissions Trading Scheme.
Since coming to power, the Government has considered and scrapped a number of ambitious proposals to cut transport emissions. Perhaps the most daring of these was a plan to ban the import of fossil fuel vehicles after 2035.
A Transport analysis found this would have a net $2.26 billion benefit and would have averted 27 million tonnes of CO2e over thirty years. It also staked a middle ground in choosing the 2035 deadline, when France, the UK, Scotland, Norway, Holland and Germany have all called for new cars to be emission-free or low emission by dates varying from 2025 to 2040.
Earlier this year, Boris Johnson moved the UK’s deadline to 2035 from 2040 and pledged to move it even earlier if possible. Meanwhile, Jacinda Ardern was unable to wrangle a similar policy through Cabinet to respond to this generation’s “nuclear-free moment.”
Even less ambitious policies have been halted. A proposal to charge higher vehicle licensing fees on high-emitting vehicles failed to make it through Cabinet and a possible programme for scrapping older, unsafe and high-emitting cars hasn’t been heard from since October.
Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr path funding approved
After going quiet for years, finally some progress on the Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr path. This is likely one of the first beneficiaries of the recently announced NZ Upgrade Programme which freed up about $1.8 billion from normal funding processes.
A walking and cycling path that connects Auckland’s eastern suburbs to the city centre is a significant step closer, with funding now approved to complete the Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive Shared Path.
The shared path is being delivered by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport in four separate sections. Sections 1 and 3 are already open and the Transport Agency and Auckland Transport boards have now approved funding to complete the last two sections. Section 2 will be delivered by Waka Kotahi, with Section 4 delivered by Auckland Transport.
The shared path will connect with and expand the Auckland Cycle Network. It aligns with the long-term vision of the Transport Agency, AT and Auckland Council to build world class cycling infrastructure that promotes cycling as a safe and convenient transport choice.
They say tendering for section 2 is already under way and consenting work for section 4 will start shortly.
Finally a few interesting tweets this week:
Walked into the kids’ room and our four-year-old was building a street with protected lanes for unicorns and pedestrians. My work on this planet is done. pic.twitter.com/gzj7DNaoLV
— Danny Harris (@DannyHarris_TA) February 25, 2020
— Hazel Borys (@hborys) February 16, 2020
“Developers tend to assume that people can ‘partially’ pay attention while using a ‘semiautonomous’ car … But people don’t behave that way in the car. They either they pay attention, or they don’t.” https://t.co/wkaabRryWB
— Paris Marx (@parismarx) February 22, 2020
— Verge Transportation (@vergecars) February 25, 2020