Here’s our weekly roundup
Queen St Sense
Sanity has prevailed and yesterday the Council announced that next month they’ll start piloting ‘Access for Everyone’ – the plan in the City Centre Masterplan (CCMP) to make the city more friendly for pedestrians.
The highly anticipated ‘Access for Everyone’ pilot for the Waihorotiu/Queen Street Valley will begin next month, signalling the start of pedestrian priority for the heart of Auckland.
Auckland Transport and Auckland Council will use a co-design process with Queen Street users and stakeholders to test low-cost ways to lay out the street that can be quickly adjusted, adapted, improved or removed through the process. This approach has successfully been used in High Street, where it won an award from Living Streets Aotearoa.
Access for Everyone will work towards the removal of non-essential car traffic from Queen Street. This prioritises pedestrians and frees up road space for public transport, deliveries, emergency services and for people with limited mobility.
The plan had been to start it later this year and it’s quite possible some of the initial elements in it are similar to what has already happened in response to COVID-19. The Council and Auckland Transport would have been ridiculed had they pulled the COVID works out, like some wanted, only to install it all again in a few months time.
Access for Everyone had around 82% support in the recent CCMP consultation and the Councillors have supported it too.
Bring on the car-free Queen St with the only vehicles being electric buses and bikes/scooters.
Airport Link E-Buses
On of Auckland Transport’s most important projects right now is the upgraded Puhinui interchange which will form a key part of the planned Airport to Manukau (and eventually Botany) busway. Last week Auckland Transport announced the route will be called the Airport Link and will operate with a fleet of electric buses built by Yutong. The Airport Link will run from 4am to 1am.
Mark Lambert, AT’s Executive General Manager of Integrated Networks, says the trials that AT have conducted in partnership with bus operator Go Bus and other operators over the past two years means are enabling more electric bus routes to be rolled out across the wider Auckland region. “We’re committed to doing our part in reducing carbon emissions and tackling climate change. Our trials have proven that these buses can operate for a full shift on a single charge, while providing an improved customer experience”.
The Airport Link route will travel from Manukau Bus Station to the new upgraded Puhinui train to bus Station Interchange, and then on to Auckland Airport. The frequency of 10 minute services will ensure seamless transition between bus and train modes at Puhinui and Manukau Stations and travel time between Puhinui Station and the airport will only be 10-12 minutes when new priority bus lanes are installed as part of the Southwest Gateway programme.
The Airport Link will replace the southern section of the 380 Airporter bus route, which services the airport. At the same time, a new frequent bus route, the 38 will launch on the northern section of the previous 380 route between Onehunga and the airport district.
AT say the buses have a proven range of 380-400km on a single charge and that they will be supported by plug in fast charging at Manukau Bus Station.
As we’ve been saying for a while now, PT use appears to be recovering faster than expected which is obviously a good thing.
Public transport was expected to be one of the hardest-hit areas in the Covid-19 recovery, but already Kiwis are returning to buses and trains at far higher rates than projected – in fact, new data shows New Zealand is leading the western world in its return to public transport
Greater Wellington Regional Council was projecting public transport revenue over the second half of 2020 to be down as much as 40 per cent on last year, forcing the council to take on as much as $20 million in debt.
But figures from just three days after Level 1 began already show bus use in Wellington above 75 per cent of 2019 rates and climbing.
In Auckland, figures show an immediate rise in users on the first day of Level 1.
Monday, June 8, the last day of Level 2, saw 178,000 passengers. The next day, that jumped to 200,000, and by the Friday there were 228,000 users.
That put Auckland Transport above 70 per cent of pre-lockdown users within just four days of Level 1.
A spokesperson said AT was expecting another boost in July with the return of university students, who make up 14 per cent of users.
From the data AT have publishes, it appears that the average weekday last week was more like 60% of normal but interestingly the weekends are returning stronger than weekdays with them up 74%.
Stats NZ Visualisation Competition
Stats NZ have launched a competition with a $5,000 prize
The competition encourages people to create a cool, interactive visualisation of 2018 Census data about the way people commute to work and education – this data was released today. A prize of $5,000 is on offer for the winner, and Stats NZ will promote and share the winning entry.
“This is an opportunity for data and geospatial enthusiasts to showcase their innovation and skills using 2018 Census data,” general manager social and population insights Jason Attewell said. “We’ve left this as open to the imagination as possible and we’re really excited to see what people come up with.”
The competition will run from 17 June until 15 July and is open to any New Zealand resident who isn’t an employee of Stats NZ. The winning visualisation will be announced on 29 July, and the winner will receive $5,000, and a link to their product will be placed on Stats NZ’s website and promoted through Stats NZ channels.
This visualisation is to update/replace the CommuterView tool they built with the 2013 data and they say they had planned to do it inhouse but don’t have the time to do it. Personally I feel this is a bit like asking an artist to create a free work because it will give them publicity and it’s wrong for a government agency to do that. They should pay someone to do it properly not try to crowdsource it with a cheap prize.
With that being said, if anyone wants to enter below are a few ideas I’d like to see from it – if they’re possible.
- The existing CommuterView is useful but it would be great to be able to select multiple origins and/or destinations. For example with the image above, it would be useful to be able to see how many people were going to the city centre as a whole rather than each individual area unit. This is more important now as the new Statistical Area Units have a much finer grain, especially in the city centre.
- It would be useful to be able to toggle different modes i.e. could see where bus users were travelling.
- It would be great if instead of just straight lines between areas, the most logical route from/to the centre of each area for each mode could be worked out and plotted on the map to enable users to see more realistic ‘commuter flows’.
As well as publishing the competition, they’ve also produced a series of maps for ‘the main metropolitan centre’ in each region showing where people live and where they work
The more dots there are in an area, the more people there are, and the closer together the dots are, the greater the population density. Blue dots show us where people live, while orange dots show us where people work. Due to the large variation in population counts across the main regional centres, the dot to person ratio changes for each map.
Dots representing proportions of the usually resident and employed populations are placed randomly within the SA1. As a result, dot location does not correspond to an actual location (for example, a building).
Heres Auckland’s one.
Ireland’s New Transport Budget
The leader of Ireland’s Green Party is a former bike shop owner and as part of a coalition deal he’s secured some big changes to the country’s transport budget.
Investment in cycling and walking is set to soar in the Republic of Ireland, with the Green Party securing funding of €360 million a year under the draft coalition agreement announced today with Fine Fáil and Fine Gael, equivalent to 20 per cent of the country’s transport budget.
The total budget seems similar in scale to ours and this would be like us spending about $700 million on walking and cycling annually. In addition they have committed to spending $2 on public transport infrastructure for every $1 that is spent on roads.
That’s the kind of transport leadership we need here. Instead:
Here's the picture at the beginning of the draft Government Policy Statement on land transport vs the actual allocation of funding in the document: pic.twitter.com/gAfk45FLQx
— Jonathan Coppard (@Deutschkiwi) June 17, 2020
Calgary Light Rail expansion
Calgary has a hugely successful light rail network. The two existing lines (red and blue) run through the city carry about 93 million trips annually – going to show that light rail is able to deliver significant capacity and convenience if done right. Also worth noting is that Calgary is a city smaller than Auckland in population and is lower density too.
This week the Calgary Council voted 14 to 1 to build a new line – the green line. The first stage will run from just north of the city at 16 Ave North though to Shepard in the Southeast – about 20km in total with 15 stations and in a tunnel through the city centre. It expected to cost about NZ $6.3 billion. They expect it on opening to carry about 65,000 passengers per day and in future, with the rest of the line built it is expected to carry about 240,000 people a day meaning that one line could end up carrying more people than our entire rail network does even with the CRL.
They’re also doing something we need to do better, build incrementally. The line will stop just north of the city centre where it meets the Orange MAX line (high-quality/frequency buses) on the map below. One of the reasons they state for getting the line through the city in stage one is so they can then incrementally extend the network over time.
Finally, it’s the final day to be able to submit on the Council’s emergency budget. Jump in there and support the 3.5% option.