Here’s our weekly roundup.
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.
The new pedestrian bridge will be fully accessible for everyone – including a 26 person lift on each end, and push ramps on the stairs for those with bikes. Construction of the bridge is expected to start at the end of the year, and will be completed in late 2021. pic.twitter.com/09WuF1QUNe
— Auckland Transport (@AklTransport) May 28, 2020
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
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.
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.
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.