It’s another Friday so here’s a roundup of news you may not have seen.
Auckland Transport’s new homepage
I have long been frustrated by AT’s user-unfriendly website that has what should be even basic information hidden many layers deep and often across multiple pages. It was epitomised by the homepage which provided no important information and for which its only purpose was to navigate away from.
So it was great to see that last Friday AT updated their homepage to make it a lot more useful and as you can see below, the journey planner and some other key links have been added. For now this is the only part of the website that has been updated and I hope/assume the rest of the site will be updated over time.
As a reminder, here’s what the old homepage looked like. It was introduced in 2014.
For completeness, here’s what it looked like prior to 2014.
Works start again next week
With the country moving back to Level 3 on Tuesday it means all of the projects around the city (as well as the rest of the country I assume) will start up again next week.
City Rail Link were one of the first to announce they’d be back on site on Tuesday.
“Ever since the lockdown began four weeks ago there has been a lot of desk-top planning for a quick re-start and we’re well prepared to come out of the starting blocks fast – we’re champing at the bit and ready to get cracking asap,” Dr Sweeney says. “We’re already inspecting all CRL sites and making them ready for a safe return to work next week.
“Because of our size we’re aware of the big role we have in quickly getting the economy moving again, supporting the contracting and infrastructure industries and seeing our workers safely back on the job.”
Work will resume next Tuesday (28 April) at all CRL sites – the C1 contract at Britomart and LowerQueen Street, C2 in Albert Street, C3 at Aotea in central Auckland, Karangahape Road and at MtEden, and C8 on the southern rail line at Ōtāhuhu.
Dr Sweeney says the paramount priority will be keeping workers, and the wider community, safe. CRL will strictly adhere to Government protocols for working under Alert Level-3.
“We had some pretty strict safety measures in place before the lockdown, but next Tuesday’s return to work will be different. There will be additional constraints – restricted access to our sites, physical distancing, protective clothing and sanitising and cleaning regimes. They will all contribute to a successful re-start in the new COVID-19 work environment, and, just as importantly, they will help ensure our workers get home to family and friends virus-free when they finish their shifts.” Between now and next week all CRL sites will be inspected and made ready for a safe return to work.
Dr Sweeney says it is too early to measure if COVID-19 has impacted on project costs or construction timetables.
“It may be months before we know that once the economy has settled down a bit and we have a clearer picture on the availability of workers, and what sort of shape some of our suppliers both here and overseas are in.”
They also note they’re investigating opportunities to accelerate some work.
Auckland Transport will also be back at work from Tuesday
With the move to Alert Level 3 from Tuesday, 28 April AT is getting its sites up and running again with around 2500 workers due back on the job.
Mr Ellison says while the reduced traffic on our streets is a great chance to get on with the work, back to work doesn’t mean back to normal.
With the city centre in particular likely to remain very quiet, AT should take the opportunity to shut down additional traffic lanes, especially if it means it allows them to get some of these projects back on schedule.
Speaking of closing streets
Almost every day we’ve been seeing more and more cities putting in place measures to provide more space on streets for pedestrians and bikes. One of those is Milan who plan to roll out 35km of transformed streets.
Under the nationwide lockdown, motor traffic congestion has dropped by 30-75%, and air pollution with it. City officials hope to fend off a resurgence in car use as residents return to work looking to avoid busy public transport.
The city has announced that 35km (22 miles) of streets will be transformed over the summer, with a rapid, experimental citywide expansion of cycling and walking space to protect residents as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.
The Strade Aperte plan, announced on Tuesday, includes low-cost temporary cycle lanes, new and widened pavements, 30kph (20mph) speed limits, and pedestrian and cyclist priority streets. The locations include a low traffic neighbourhood on the site of the former Lazzaretto, a refuge for victims of plague epidemics in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Marco Granelli, a deputy mayor of Milan, said: “We worked for years to reduce car use. If everybody drives a car, there is no space for people, there is no space to move, there is no space for commercial activities outside the shops.
“Of course, we want to reopen the economy, but we think we should do it on a different basis from before.
It appears even our
former car-centric role model Los Angeles is getting in on the act with local politicians calling for more space and roads to be closed.
Given the lack of traffic, Wersinger says restricting traffic on certain streets would be unlikely to disrupt drivers making essential trips. He also says he’s not worried that opening streets could simply draw more people to the area, further complicating physical distancing efforts.
“I think giving people a little more room to breathe doesn’t mean people are going to be coming there looking for a place to play,” he says.
Auckland Transport however remains silent and unless they announce something soon, look set to miss one of the biggest opportunities for change in many years. In fact their attitude seems to be to about putting the responsibility for not getting hit as a result of their inaction on pedestrians and cyclists and not those piloting the multi-ton vehicles that cause the damage.
Please be aware of other road users while walking, cycling or using personal vehicles for travel. Roads are going to become busier around Auckland during Alert Level 3. Stay safe and be kind, Auckland! pic.twitter.com/lM3w8v9bgK
— Auckland Transport (@AklTransport) April 23, 2020
How to build pop-up bikelanes:
1) decide where
2) paint lines
3) put bollards, cones, or pylons. pic.twitter.com/xiEXh9K5Pz
— Dirk Schneidemesser (@DvSchneid) April 22, 2020
Trains Remain in Spain
The locked down world has also impacted on the delivery of Auckland’s new trains with nearly half of the 15 new ones still in production and will now be delayed.
Nearly half of Auckland’s latest batch of new electric trains may be late arriving due to global disruption caused by Covid-19.
Seven of the 15 three-car units are still in production in northern Spain, where trainmaker CAF has only recently re-opened after a shutdown.
“The combination of the hiatus in Chinese (component) production in January and February and the current lockdown measures in Spain mean that these will be significantly delayed,” said an Auckland Council report.
Given the main reason we were buying more was to increase capacity, having some of them delayed by a few months is not likely to be a major issue.
Here’s a change AT need to make, shifting to a focus on headway management, particularly on the Link buses
Trying to make each and every bus adhere to strict schedules doesn't make sense for frequent routes, which work best for riders when the gap between buses (AKA the headway) stays consistent.@sfmta_muni is shifting to headway-based bus dispatching, and it's more reliable: pic.twitter.com/9lj0uMrqt1
— TransitCenter (@TransitCenter) April 21, 2020
Have a good weekend.