Here’s our weekly roundup.


Off-peak fares

We’ve long suggested that Auckland Transport should introduce discounted off-peak fares and now they’re doing just that, for June at least.

Auckland Transport is discounting fares on buses and trains to encourage more people to travel during the day and at night.

Throughout June 2020, there will be a 30% discount on AT HOP fares for adults who travel on weekdays after 9am and before 3pm. The discount also applies after 6:30pm, until the end of service, Monday to Friday only.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford says this is exactly the sort of initiative we need more of to help keep congestion at bay.

“I’d encourage other councils to implement measures like this one to help encourage off peak travel while public transport capacity is reduced.

“Our Government is also supporting councils and commuters to make sensible changes to help with physical distancing, like widening footpaths.”

Mayor Phil Goff says the discounted fares aim to encourage more people to use buses and trains at off-peak times when there are fewer passengers on board.

“During COVID-19 Alert Level 2, Auckland Transport’s buses and trains can carry only around 43% of their usual passengers, to ensure that safe physical distancing can be maintained,” he says.

“We want to encourage more people to travel outside the busiest peak periods, so we are discounting fares as an incentive to those who may be able to change their schedules, for example by starting and finishing work later in the day.

Off-peak fares are often used overseas as a tool to help spread the peak. Most systems only have limited additional capacity available at the peak and providing more can be extremely expensive. For example an additional bus on a route at peak times requires the operator to buy an entire bus and then people to drive it. That bus and driver may only be needed for one or two runs during each peak. This is from a few years ago but highlights the issue well.

I do hope this is a success and that alongside rear door boarding and HOP only fares, AT look to keep it going into the future.


Porters Ave Level Crossing

This weekend the Porters Ave level crossing closes to cars for good as part of the CRL works. It will however remain open for pedestrians and a pedestrian bridge will be built over the tracks. Yesterday, Auckland Transport released some new images of what the bridge will look like as well as some details, such as that it will have ramps to make it easier to get a bike up and down the stairs – a common feature on many pedestrian bridges overseas.


Consultations

There are a few interesting consultations out this week.

Northern Pathway Central Section

Within the next few years we’ll have the first section of the Northern Pathway completed from Albany to Constellation. A few years later Skypath and Seapath will be complete providing access over the harbour leaving a 7km gap between the two. Waka Kotahi have previously said they’re keen to progress that and this week they launched the first consultation to do that. There are no details or plans yet so this is effectively just collecting up all the issues.

“We are at the very early stages of the design and business case process, and we’re consulting widely to ensure this section of the Northern Pathway meets the needs and aspirations of our customers and delivers the best fit-for-purpose design,” says Waka Kotahi Director of Regional Relationships, Steve Mutton.

“We’ve been talking with mana whenua, our partners and key stakeholders. They’ve asked us to look beyond the pathway as simply a commuter route between Central Auckland and the North Shore and to think of it as a resource connecting the community to schools, public transport hubs, recreation centres, parks and town centres.”

“We also want to hear from people who live locally and others who will use the path or are interested in the project, so we understand their priorities and concerns as we move towards identifying our preferred route.”

“We want to capture local knowledge of the area, including how people want to use this section of the Northern Pathway, the destinations they want to reach, and what will make the path attractive for them to use.”

The pathway will follow the alignment of the Northern Motorway (SH1) between Akoranga and Constellation Drive.

“At this stage, we have not decided which side of the motorway the pathway will be on,” says Steve Mutton.

“We know we will need to cross the motorway at some point because the Westhaven to Akoranga section of the pathway has been designed to finish on the western side of the motorway, and the Constellation Drive to Albany section begins on the eastern side of the motorway. Ideally, we would like to cross only once as we know that this will provide the most direct route.”

In a brochure, they’ve put together some of the benefits and issues with each side

At this stage I’m thinking that perhaps the western side is better as there are still good opportunities for connections the busway stations. One thing that will be key regardless of what side it is on is how it passes local roads. The brochure talks about connections being either separated or crossing the street. As we’ve seen with the NW Cycleway, it’s really important that we have both. Speaking of both, how about paths on both sides?

Consultation is open till Sunday 14 June.

Broadway Pedestrian Crossing

Every day, hundreds of people get off the train at Auckland’s second busiest train station, walk out though what from the street is probably the most nondescript station entrance we have, to what is meant to be one of the country’s premier shopping streets and attempt to cross the road to get to cafe’s, shops and offices on the other side. Unfortunately achieving this means crossing Broadway and due to the timing of the lights it’s not uncommon to get across the first half of the road to the raised traffic island and then get stuck there for a few minutes as wave after wave of cars race prevent you from crossing the second half. At peak times this can lead to the median island having dozens of people crammed on it as traffic wizzes close by on either side.

So it’s good to see AT are proposing to improve this by putting in a light controlled pedestrian crossing.

This proposal is in response to a significant number of accidents and near misses involving people crossing, as well as community requests for safer crossing facilities at this location. The existing uncontrolled crossing facility, which includes a pedestrian island, is not sufficient to deal with the high crossing demand at this location. This new crossing aims to provide a safe place for people to cross Broadway.

Consultation is open till Tuesday 9 June

Orewa

AT are also consulting on a number of changes in Orewa. There are some positives, such as a widened footpath in places, some new raised pedestrian crossings and some speed bumps. It includes an extension of the ‘boulevard’ another block along the beach side of Hibiscus Coast Highway – though boulevard is not the right name for it and it’s also too narrow to be a shared path. But the works also including increasing carparking in the same area by and taking away land from the beach reserve to do it.

You can also get a sense of some of the issues at AT with this statement below

AT’s Group Manager Network Management, Randhir Karma, says the safety improvements were looked at in partnership with Hibiscus and Bays Local Board and Destination Orewa Beach business association – to make sure the local community was well represented in the co-design process.

“We had great input from these groups and were able to work together to propose improvements that will make getting around Orewa safer, without reducing amenity for road users,” says Mr Karma.

That seems to suggest that only drivers count as ‘road users’.

The thing that’s frustrating about this is that Orewa has so much potential to be a great town centre but it’s always going to struggle to be that when the main street is soaked in cars in summer everytime the sun’s out. The vast majority of that traffic isn’t stopping to buy stuff either, just using the main street to avoid the tolls on the motorway. If anything, AT need to be reducing carparking on the road as part of a plan working to get the through traffic out.

Consultation closes on Monday 22 June.


Wellesley and Sale St intersection

Late last year Auckland Transport consulted on a plan to signalise the Wellesley/Sale St intersection, making permanent some temporary changes made by the councils Auckland Design Office to improve safety.

The permanent improvements proposed include:

  • signalising the Sale Street / Wellesley Street intersection enabling pedestrians a safe place to cross
  • widening the footpath space at the intersection
  • removing the traffic island in the middle of Sale Street
  • adding a new loading zone outside of Sweat Shop Brew Bar
  • permanently removing the car park spaces that have already been removed as part of the temporary changes
  • combining the two traffic lanes exiting Sale Street to one traffic lane.

AT have now announced the results of that consultation, saying:

Feedback for the proposal mostly indicated support for the proposed changes

Key themes to emerge were:

  • 52% of submitters support the proposed changes
  • 31% of submitters suggested the changes would make the intersection safer
  • 31% of submitters thought the changes are good for pedestrians
  • 24% of submitters suggested the proposal needs to include improvements for buses
  • 18% of submitters suggested the proposal needs plantings, gardens, or trees.

And the results

After carefully considering public feedback AT has decided to proceed with the project, subject to the following changes in response to public feedback:

  • investigating opportunities to enhance the streetscape at the intersection. We will include the planter boxes as part of the permanent design.

In the future we will also be consulting on improvements to the Wellesley Street streetscape to enable more buses to move people reliably along this route.

This is a good outcome. Work on this intersection is due to start in August.


CR: Demystified

Canadian Reece Martin has put together this video to explain what the CRL is. It’s a great video and does a better job of explaining it than most of the people paid to do this.

Have a great long weekend.

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55 comments

  1. “requires the operator to buy an entire bus and then people to drive it”
    Ummm… anyone else concerned that our bus operators are apparently engaging in slavery?

  2. “and does a better job… …than most of the people paid to do this.”

    Sounds pretty typical of New Zealand….

      1. They keep on saying this is Auckland’s 1st underground railway it isn’t , it’s there 1st Passenger one . As there is already a 9km underground railway running from Hobson St to Penrose via Newmarket , and it runs through the Vector tunnel on an 18in gauge ;-

        1. There’s also the Purewa tunnel on the Eastern line if we’re going down to that level of detail…

  3. It’s good to see AT bringing back a feature that the ARA use to have i.e. off peak fares , but it’s a shame they are only doing it for the Month of June .

    And that Video that was produced by the Canadian Boy was amazing considering he found everything online and He has never got this far , yet .

  4. The biggest story of this week is actually Auckland Council’s emergency budget, their response to Covid-19 hitting their revenue.

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/417869/covid-19-auckland-city-services-to-be-cut-after-revenue-drop
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12335757

    “To cut $200m and $250m from its capital budget, Auckland Transport will pause or cancel the rollout of red-light cameras, rural road upgrades, all walking and cycling projects not under construction, and stop buying electric buses.”

    This is a disaster from so many angles. Negative outcomes for road safety, mode shift, emissions, employment and generally will slow the city’s economic recovery from Covid-19.

    I get that the council is up against their debt limit (as are most councils). Central government should really be stepping in here.

        1. I suspect they’re so effective they end up a net cost.

          But, can I have may 10c a litre back now?

        2. If they’re so effective no one is running red lights, the savings in avoiding all those crashes and preventing all those injuries will more than cover the cost of running the cameras!

        3. Saving both lives and money by overcoming the little problem of different pools of money. Hmm, what would a leader do?

          Just. Do. It.

        1. Sorry yes I meant doesn’t. We don’t live in a world where the Council can put up cameras anywhere they think they can make a buck. The Council can put up cameras as a safety device but not as a profit centre.

        2. Miffy why doesn’t the government at least pay the councils costs from their profit?

    1. The thing that amuses me is two item’s . the 1st piece fromthe RNZ news item ;-

      “The council, which is receiving about $500 million less in revenue, says it will have to cut spending, reduce staff and cut pay, as well as defer projects.”

      And the 2nd from the NZ Hearld ;-

      “Voluntary salary reductions for six months for staff earning more than $100,000 is expected to save $3.7m”

      Why does it have to be Voluntary ? Why not Compulsory and for longer than than the 6mth period . As everyone is hurting out there thy shoud also be hurting . What they should do is drop all these paper shufflers wages that are over $100k down to that figure that way the Council could save alot more than $3.7million , instead of a tiny percentage which most likely will happen .

      1. “Everyone else is hurting they should also be hurting” is a pretty nasty and unkind sentiment tbh, not to mention unhelpful.

        The number one thing needed for an economic recovery is consumption – cutting people’s wages only makes a recovery harder by removing money from people’s pockets. Wage freezes or cuts are counterintuitive unless for the very wealthiest (who are more likely to save their income than spend it). That’ll be why it’s voluntary – bc $100k in Auckland can either be a decent salary or barely sufficient depending on family composition, partner income & housing. There will be social pressure to take a cut for those who can afford to do so.

        In the same way, it’s completely counterintuitive for local governments to be forced to implement austerity measures and cut staff. I hope central govt will step in… otherwise these emergency budgets will do more long term harm than good for NZ’s wellbeing, economy and climate.

        1. ‘I hope central govt will step in’ – presumably Council does too. This budget seems designed to force them to do so. Council is throwing the baby and calling catch. It’s a dangerous approach, and we are the baby.

          Having gone through the details now, it’s clear to me that we have got this failure of a Budget because Council doesn’t have a clear strategy that it believes in. Covid was simply a test of whether they’re prepared for the knocks we’re going to receive, and they’re not. Our leaders and the economists who advise them are stuck in the past, lacking in vision and utterly incompetent.

    1. The emergency budget is slashing local bus priority and shelters from $4,729,510 to $2,364,755 regardless of which rates rise is chosen.

      1. The thing is a 3-4% rates increase is hardly anything on a weekly basis for most people.
        Half a coffee in a cafe per week.
        I guess it all depends what you value – or don’t value…

        1. Certainly the assumption that people needed lower rates because of Covid should’ve been questioned. Higher rates were needed, with assistance just for those who have suffered significantly.

          We have networks of poorly maintained infrastructure, resulting from sprawl (too much infrastructure has been built instead of maintaining what we’ve got as we intensify- a problem stemming from cheap fossil fuels) and from having rates way too low for so many years.

          We’ve been expecting an economic shock from climate change at any time – pest, disease or weather events ruining our primary production, or overseas markets or suppliers or information networks affected by wildfires, droughts, storm damage, civil upheaval, etc.

          As ratepayers, we’ve been paying for Council and CCO staff to prepare resiliency plans. It seems like that money was used on to create ra-ra plans; tickbox exercises that the finance people feel they can ignore.

          So the first test comes along. A very bad virus, tiny on the scale of things to come. And what does Council? They abandon the Auckland Plan. They abandon the stated strategy. They run for cover under economics ideas from half a century ago.

  5. Re: Orewa and “The vast majority of that traffic isn’t stopping to buy stuff either, just using the main street to avoid the tolls on the motorway.” – is that really true? How price-sensitive are people to tolls really? Although we don’t want to price people off the motorway onto local roads, the current toll is very cheap at $2.40 and covers only a tiny fraction of the cost of the motorway. Tolls are also one of the few available tools to put some kind of extra price on driving, since petrol taxes seem to be off the table.

    1. So SH1 northbound after the Orewa turnoff gets 10,000 vehicles per day, and the SH1 northbound onramp from the Hibiscus Highway (god what a name) gets 2,400. Some of those will have started their journey in Orewa or Red Beach, possibly Whangaparaoa?

      1. Not sure these two figures will mean anything? Need to compare total in not getting on or off both directions ideally & on/off at all points I think.

        Though I know it’s under priced, people don’t value it correctly in their mind and/or don’t have the auto-payment setup so will avoid it more than they should. Also it’s more scenic/interesting to go the old way & people (like me sometimes deliberately go that way when there is time).

        In saying that I wonder if locals in & near Orewa should get a discount so they avoid Orewa as their town (or nearby town) is ruined more by passer “through-ers” yet can often use it somewhat but be less worth it to do so. eg Red Beach to go to Warkworth, or Puhoi to go to Silverdale but don’t want to stop in the Orewa town on the way.

  6. Some good things in here. Off-peak fares should definitely be a permanent thing, great they are at least trialing it, I think they maybe surprised by the shift in usage to that time, especially with COVID-19 conditions at this time and people likely working flexible hours (or not working at all!). “Even” Wellington has something like this.

    1. Grant, if Aucklanders choose the 2.5 % rates rise option, the emergency budget says there will be:

      a review of public transport fares (which could see the temporary removal of some fare concessions)

      Details given:

      Auckland Transport provides a range of card concessions and discount fares. Auckland Transport will investigate possible changes in concessions across child, student and tertiary students, senior and supergold, and look at the broader fare structure including the opportunity to review differentiated fares across weekday peak and off-peak periods. A reduction in off-peak fares may assist in spreading user demand in the peak period and reduce costs. By removing or reducing some concessionary fares temporarily and charging standard fares is projected to provide additional revenue of $4 million. Where demand for services grows quicker than forecast, any fare changes may be reset.

      1. Sounds potentially a very bad outcome. I wonder if the government will come to the rescue here or not. I haven’t got to look a the list of projects & services that may be cut back yet.

  7. How long are we going to maintain this charade while there’s only a single individual with Covid-19 in New Zealand?

    They need to be organically allowing more people on PT asap.

    1. It’s all a question of probabilities and risk. There is one active known case however there may be unknown cases still out there. By sticking to the program we reduce the chance of an unknown case flaring up. It’s like antibiotics , you need to take the whole prescibed course for maximum effect, not just abandon it three quarters of the way through because you feel better.

      1. Yes. Long term we do need immunity or a vaccine, so they must be assuming there are unknown cases out there. ie generally younger and/or healthier people that have caught it and got over it without even really knowing they had it or deciding not to be tested.
        Don’t think they are really saying this clearly in public, but sure it’s what they think or know would be happening and is part of the plan longer term. Either that or the whole rest of the world has to shutout of our borders or become immune.

    2. I have no problem with being cautious about Covid, as long as it’s applied consistently, but it’s not.

      The public are flouting the distance requirements; the authorities aren’t providing the space required for it, and it’s only on public transport where the requirements are being enforced, and that’s because it’s easy to just make rules that allow drivers to leave passengers stranded.

      I know this is happening to secondary school students, leading to their parents having to pick them up in the afternoon, leading to more traffic danger to those kids walking and cycling.

      It seems that the science suggests mask wearing and no special distancing on public transport is sufficient for the level of community transmission that we likely have, because we can contact trace on public transport. So while the epidemiologists have advised well in general, on this topic they seem to be giving a lot of weight to ‘other considerations’ than the pure science. ‘Other considerations’ seem to be public acceptance, the public stripping the stores of masks, the possibility of people being scared by mask wearing, etc. I suspect this comes from a general car dependent mindset, ie not understanding the weight they should be giving instead to the public health benefits of making sure people use public transport. We have some doctors very clued in to public transport’s health benefits. We also seem to have some dinosaurs on the subject too.

      The inconsistency is one of a few reasons why we’re getting a net poorer outcome in transport whereas some other places are getting a net richer outcome in transport. We so desperately needed to be in the second type of city. This really is disappointing.

      1. I agree. People are really slacking off on keeping distance from strangers from what I’ve seen. I think some states in Germany require masks to be worn on PT for example for this reason.

        1. To me this shows that every now and then the person on the street is smarter than the boffin. There was never even real justification for the 2 meter rule in incidental public situations – anyone who thought about it for more than 5 seconds, let alone did their own research, could realize that. It was just about building up a series of disciplines. It was arguable whether those were ever truly necessary, but they’re definitely not now that New Zealand only has a single case left.

      2. I’ve been using public transport for the last couple of weeks, if I have to wear a mask I’ll probably take the car/work from home a bit more.

        Not necessarily against the rule but I’m potentially the mythical median voter who is actually making many of the Covid decisions.

        1. And if they removed the public distancing requirements and encouraged the wearing of masks (rather than making it a rule) plus provided hand sanitiser, would you continue to take public transport, or would that put you off?

        2. I’d probably continue to use it. The trains I’ve been on haven’t had any issues with overloading anyway, usually no more than 10-15 people per carriage.

          If you don’t like inconsistencies with Covid rules for the love of god don’t go to Sylvia Park!

    3. Not a lot of point to rules when Air NZ crew can fly to LA, stay in a hotel there and go out for dinner, then fly home and not have any quarantine at all. Guess where the next cluster will come from.

      1. They’ve been doing this for the last couple of months and there hasn’t been a cluster yet so maybe their processes are actually quite robust.

        Agree though, it sounds risky on the face of it.

        1. Hasn’t been a cluster? Are you making some distinction between types of quarantine then and now, or are you unaware of the origin of the Bluff cluster? I agree with miffy – this is, and will continue to be, the most likely vector for new outbreaks.

          A different protocol could be set in which flight crew are required to quarantine in an airport hotel when resting between a series of flights, then have home quarantine, followed by a break in which they’re allowed to socialise normally. It will cost Air NZ more, and therefore add costs to tickets, but that’s just part of the cost of flying and using air freight during the Covid Era.

        2. The former. The Bluff cluster predates lockdown and also happened when a flight attendant attended a significant event.

          Air NZ have flown 4 – 5 passenger flights a week and at least one cargo flight a day to LA in the last couple of months without any further issues, I doubt this is just chance. My understanding from friends who are flight crew is that they are definitely not allowed to go out of the hotel for dinner in LA, so I wonder if there has been some misreporting by Stuff today?

          I agree it is probably the most likely vector, but disagree that it renders other rules worthless or that it is a serious risk as long as flight crew don’t attend parties on their return.

        3. The other groups who will potentially transfer the virus are crews of ships coming in and out of NZ and also those people with dual citizenship who can legally come and go to other countries. I already know one local (NZ and UK citizenship) who recently headed to Britain to beat the 14 day quarantine regulations being brought in there and plans to come back in a couple of weeks time and is not keen on quarantine here either.

        4. “I already know one local (NZ and UK citizenship) who recently headed to Britain to beat the 14 day quarantine regulations being brought in there and plans to come back in a couple of weeks time and is not keen on quarantine here either.”

          I hope your friend knows that the quarantine is mandatory and supervised, whether they are keen on it or not.

  8. Following from that video CR Demystified the Canadian maker of it has boyght out a new one about Melbourne which he brings up the CRL a number of times and in a good light ;-

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