It’s Friday again so here’s our weekly roundup.

Aotea Station Construction Begins

The City Rail Link reached another milestone this week with the two Phil’s (Twyford and Gofff) officially kicking off the work to build the walls of the station. Up until now the work in and around the station location has been about moving services but is now starting to move to the actual station itself.

The first walls for the Aotea station are being built outside the Auckland Council’s offices at the Wellesley Street/Albert Street/Mayoral Drive intersection. Mayor Goff says the station will transform the city centre.

Aotea’s innovative design, which tells the unique stories of Tāmaki Makaurau, has already won international recognition and will be a striking addition to central Auckland,” Mr Goff says.

“When it opens, CRL will double the number of people able to travel into and through the city centre, carrying up to 54,000 people an hour during peak times. The project will create a better Auckland, reducing traffic congestion and transforming our city centre into a vibrant place to spend time in.” Aotea Station will be 15 metres deep and 300 metres long. Preparations are being finalised for the start of wall construction next week when the twin rotating blades on the hydrofraise will cut narrow trenches into the ground. The trenches will eventually be filled with concrete for diaphragm or D walls that will support the station. Most of the station’s foundation walls will be D walls – in total, 152 panels will be installed up to 21 metres deep.

Aotea’s walls and roof are being constructed first and dirt will then be removed for the station platforms and concourse. Working top-down will reduce the impact of construction at street level.

Another milestone will be reached in just over a week’s time (5 July) when the Mt Eden station will close until 2024 as the upgraded station and new junction are built.

Puhinui Station Interchange

Another station that’s currently closed for a major upgrade is Puhinui and this week Auckland Transport announced they’d awarded the main contract to build it.

Auckland Transport continues to play its role in helping the economy recover, with new local employment opportunities following confirmation of the Puhinui Station Interchange main works contract.

McConnell Dowell and the Built Environs joint venture has been awarded the contract to complete the project, which follows on from their early works contract for a total construction award value of $46.6 million.

Although Covid-19 has pushed the completion date out to the second quarter of 2021, the project is still progressing quickly, with a number of key milestones reached in the past few months including the installation of foundations, columns and lift shafts for the station.

The completion of the station being pushed out to the second quarter of 2021 is a shame as it was initially intended to be completed in time for the America’s Cup – not that I imagine many potential spectators would have used it, if they’re even allowed in the country by then.

Auckland Transport have put a timelapse of the work so far in the video below.

Also part of the wider project is to upgrade State Highway 20B by adding priority lanes for buses – although they will also be able to be used by cars with multiple occupants, something that is disappointing given it’s being paid for out of the Public Transport budget and is likely to cause delays for buses when the lanes need to merge to cross the Pukaki Creek bridge. This week Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency started night works between 9pm and 4am in a bid to catch up from the delays caused by COVID-19.

Pets on trains

Auckland Transport had been trialling allowing pets on trains and this week it was announced it would become a permanent thing.

Auckland Transport has carried out two trials and has surveyed train customers.

Stacey van der Putten, Group Manager of Metro Services says the majority of people who completed the survey, support having pets on trains, with only 12 per cent opposed.

“Our customers have really enjoyed being able to take their fur companions on the trains. Pet owners have been very supportive of the protocols that have been put in place to allow this initiative to happen.”

Councillor Cathy Casey has been the main advocate for pets on trains and she is delighted that the trial has become permanent.

“This is another fantastic step towards making Auckland a more dog friendly city. We are finally catching up with the great cities of Europe where pets are welcomed on all forms of public transport.”

Pets can go on trains on weekdays 9am to 3pm and after 6:30pm. They can travel all-day on weekends and on public holidays.

All dogs must either be wearing an approved muzzle and lead or can be travelling in an approved pet carrier.

RMA to consider Emissions

One of a number of changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) could have important implications for transport projects as it will allow the consideration of emissions in consenting processes.

On climate change mitigation, this Bill aligns the RMA and the Zero Carbon Act by requiring RMA decision-makers to consider the emissions reduction plans and national adaptation plans that must be published under the ZCA. These amendments allow local authorities to consider greenhouse gas emissions in their plan-making and consenting once national direction on climate change mitigation is promulgated.

This article in the Spinoff covers off the view from the Green Party on the change.

I wonder if this will mean it becomes harder to get consents for new motorway projects? In the UK, opponents of a third runway at Heathrow won a landmark case earlier this year with court of appeal ruling the decision to build it illegal as it didn’t take into account the government’s commitments to address climate change. This has already spurred on campaigners to set their sights on their government’s motorway building plans for similar reasons.

Finally a few quick ones.

There will be plenty that is said about Wednesday’s light rail news in the coming weeks and months. I put together a brief history of how the project got to this point for the Spinoff.

Stuff have put together this fantastic article about what we learnt during lockdown and how it can help us to tackle climate change.

Half of our 15 new trains have now arrived in the country. These new trains are initially being used only on the Onehunga Line as they have a new control system to interface between the train and signalling systems that requires additional driver training. Once that’s happened though, and the system is rolled out to the rest of the fleet it will apparently allow trains to be sped up which is positive.

HOP gates have now gone live at Papakura. These join Britomart, Henderson, Manukau, Manurewa, Newmarket, New Lynn, Otahuhu, Papatoetoe and Parnell to have them installed. Gates are also intended to be installed at Middlemore and mean that over 90% of train trips will pass through at least one gated station.

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  1. Also this week Auckland Council announced they’re no longer requiring resource consent fees for the installation of rainwater harvesting tanks:

    The city’s storage dams are running low. Arguably because AC/Watercare brought in water restrictions months too late. Water conservation measures like installing rainwater harvesting are good but this is an extremely weak incentive.

    Also it seems crazy to me that you even need a resource consent to install a water tank on your property. A building consent (and building consent fees still apply) fair enough because it’s a structure. But a resource consent? What ill effects are they trying to prevent?

    1. Stonefields has an entire grey water system plumbed and ready to go in every home/ business but has never been used as Watercare’s prices for potable water are so low its uneconomic to use.

      1. Really? Is that the only reason? Dear oh dear.

        In Australia, many cities encourage the rainwater tanks to be plumbed to the toilets, washing machine and hot water cylinder. These are uses where untreated rainwater doesn’t pose any significant risks to public health.

        It’s an approach Auckland should be using not just because it conserves the expensive treated municipal water reserves, but because it provides in the rainwater tanks a capacity throughout the city for stormwater. In areas with combined stormwater and wastewater, any capacity for storm events is a critical to step to reducing the overflowing of wastewater into our harbour. Rainwater tanks had previously been dismissed as a way of providing capacity for storm events because the winter storms happen when the tanks are full anyway.

        But by ensuring they aren’t full – by using that water for toilets, laundry and hot water – rainwater tanks can, indeed, provide that capacity to reduce the load on the combined sewers.

        Perhaps this drought is the time to start promoting and supporting the idea, Council?

        1. The way I read the Council information if you plumb to anything in the house you still have to get consent.

      2. Then there’s the Aquarevo development in Victoria that uses ‘tank talk’ technology which allows the rainwater tanks to communicate with weather forecasts so they can purge their contents when rainfall approaches. That way tank capacity is freed up for stormwater detention purposes while also ensuring adequate supplies are available for re-use. Between that and wastewater recycling for outdoor re-use, their water demands are c. 70% lower than comparable developments without tanks.

    2. Yes I think tanks are going to become very popular. As water restrictions start to take effect people with tanks will be able to fill their tank from the hose and keep it in reserve for their own use just like all those toilet paper hoarders.

    3. And with that wee bit of rain the other night [Wed] , we now have a full tank of water which hopefully should last us another 3plus months considering before it rained the tank was down to around 1/8 full . And if they made it mandatory for all property’s to have a tank it would reduce the usage and reduce the watercare bill every 1/4 .

    1. That article’s argument is that Mangere’s cycle lanes are underused because of AT not bothering to get community buy-in/champions. It says so much that in one part of the city, changes don’t work because AT don’t bother to ask the locals; and in another party, changes never happen because AT cowers in fear of the onslaught of the locals. Think about which kind of people live in which suburbs, and you see the essential problem of the “consultation” process.

    2. The article raises some good points. However I’m not convinced that’s the whole story.

      The cycleways are good but their reach is limited to around the town centre. Mangere is bounded on the West, North and East by motorways and there are only 2 shared paths crossing the motorways, both on the West side. Surely the severance effects of the motorways and absence of a wider cycleway network to connect to are a contributing factor to the lack of uptake.

      1. We need to provide the cycling highways, the cyclelanes on the arterial roads, as well as the really local connections.

        More could probably have been achieved if they’d approached the area as a low traffic neighbourhood, too…

      2. I cycle through there sometimes commuting from mangere bridge to papatoetoe. One problem is that they are a disconnected island, not well linked to other cycle infrastructure.

        There is the socio economic effect of not being able to afford a bike.
        Its also not seen as cool or aspirational or desirable to bike.
        I wouldn’t bike to the town centre. I’d be worried that my bike would be nicked.

        I see a few cyclists, mainly white commuters, passing through. I’ve seen more Intrepid bikes along Buckland rd/Station Rd than around mangere Town centre, and lots and lots in mangere Bridge.

    3. You should see the Weymouth Rd cycleway in Manurewa.

      I have never seen a cyclist using since it was put in.

      Of course GA use the stats from AT to trumpet how good they are but there are, very conveniently, no stats from South Auckland at all

      1. Weymouth Rd Cycleway has been there for decades right? connects to nothing either so it’s hardly surprising it’s barely used

      2. Same with the cycle lane through Station Rd / St George Street in Papatoetoe. Since the changes at the intersection with Shirley Road there has been a significant increase in congestion during peak periods which results in long delays for the many buses that transit that area.

      3. All that madness achieved is to remove street parking for ratepayers, who therefore park on the verge and path instead.

  2. Aotea’s station’s beginning, Phunihui upgrade’s beginning, Papakura’s entry gates are installed, new trains are arriving. It’s certainly been a good week for Auckland transport.

    1. No Canadian pension firms building an unnecessary light metro tunnel to the airport and sticking us with the bill for 99 years, even better

      1. Yes, I think the Canadians were trying to get us back for Telecom selling the yellow pages to the Canadian teachers retirement fund for $1billion. It must be worth less than $1million now.

  3. Matt L , you stated that Mt Eden closes on the 6th July but AT in their statements say it’s going to be the 11th as per this ;-

    Also with Puhinui I see Fletchers and Hawkins have not moaned about McConnell Dowell getting the 2nd stage of the works after their getting the tender for the electrification works from Papakura – Pukekohe .
    And I created this video about Puhinui when I saw this on AT FB page the other day ;-

    1. And what going to happen to the hospital staff that park across the rail line will they have to get a hop card to cross so they can go to work ?

      1. I think the station gates would be positioned so that the lifts and stairs to the overpass would remain outside the fare-paid area.

        1. It will likely work as it does currently at Papakura with the overbridge not in the gated area of the station allowing people to cross over the rail line without needing a hop card.

        1. For those staff that park in the hospital carpark it means they will have to fork out $20.00 for a HOP card they might never use just to get to work .

    2. Most of Middlemore station is actually fenced in already. Therefore, I would assume each platform would have two sets of gates on either side of the overpass; plus potentially a set of gates by the ramp at the northern end of the hospital side platform and a set of gates by the stairs at the southern end of the carpark side platform.

    3. If the 3rd main has to come through here they are probably going to need a big upgrade and reconfigure I would think, May as well wait until then. Six sets of gates and staffing them would be nuts.

  4. It is good news to hear train is finally about to speed up. Hopefully the new journey time improvement will make train competitive to driving.

  5. The Stuff article about lockdown and climate change is fantastic. Cool graphics, too.

    Susan Krumdieck makes important points:

    Assuming EVs only penetrate 30 per cent of the market by 2050, she calculates there would be a tiny difference in cumulative emissions compared with buying petrol vehicles – lower than 5 per cent.

    Even if uptake is higher, she says, what kind of cars we buy barely matters if we’re scarcely going to drive them. That’s where our efforts should go, she says: driving less, and stopping buying cars, because those things have the biggest impact on our emissions.

    Krumdieck is walking, or rather cycling, the talk.

    She says it was hard to find her family a house within cycling distance from her office, her husband’s office and her kids’ schools, but they did it. She wants the government to invest in software helping map where people can get from their homes, without cars, to gauge demand for new transport projects.

    “There’s no way I would buy an EV to replace the car I have now,” she says. “My car has another 200,000km in it, at least. Somebody’s going to drive ’em.”

    “If I now stimulate demand for a whole other vehicle, what have I achieved for the planet?”

    1. Heidi
      I suspect the realisation that EVs are not the answer is why so much attention is paid to other mode shares in European cities. As you know there is a very strong push to change mode share and build PT usage in progressive cities like Vienna, Milan and Paris, amongst others. If you take a car off the road you address a number of issues: emissions, congestion, balance of payments, and household economics amongst other things.

      I like this article from today’s Stuff:–economist
      Ultimately climate change is about reducing consumption and brave stuff for a bank economist to say this.

      Coming back to the EVs: yes better for the environment if those in Auckland weren’t powered by Genesis Huntly’s dirty power. But there’s still the energy to build the car in whatever form that takes.

      1. Depends how long you own the car for. If we all changed to evs then kept them for 50 years that would be great for the planet. Especially if we charged them overnight when there shouldn’t be a need for non renewable electricity generation.

    2. Are the calculations for the 5% figure based on NZ conditions using mainly hydro generation and imported secondhand cars? Also has the economic situation been included whereby there would be a reduction in imported fuel replaced with locally produced electricity?

  6. And there was a posting on AT FB page showing the installing a 3rd Mural on another AMunit .
    I posted a video on youtube using their FB videos showing the 3 different designs and 1 I caught at Manuera last year . What gets me is why this wasn’t done to the new arrivals instead of taking the existing ones out of service ;-

  7. The second day the Papakura gates were operating I saw a young man leaping over
    the 2 metre high fence that separates Platforms 1 and 2. Dead easy if you are
    young and fit ! Free travel survives.

  8. Councillor Cathy Casey has been the main advocate for pets on trains and she is delighted that the trial has become permanent.

    “This is another fantastic step towards making Auckland a more dog friendly city. We are finally catching up with the great cities of Europe where pets are welcomed on all forms of public transport.”

    Really? Is this all we can learn from the great cities of Europe? What about cheap monthly and yearly passes that have made such a tremendous impact on reducing transport costs and helped in reducing car mode share.

    I note that Vienna has in the last 25 years been able to reduce car mode share from 40% to 27%. With so much more opportunity in Auckland with car mode share at about 80% Council/AT has been able to achieve nothing. Maybe the focus is in the wrong place?

    1. It doesn’t matter that people can’t afford a house in her area, as long as the dogs are allowed on trains!

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