Here’s the roundup for the week.
Good Auckland Transport
Auckland Transport are consulting on a series of short sections of new T2 lanes on the North Shore in order to speed up buses.
Three North Shore areas are set for faster and more reliable bus journeys as Auckland Transport (AT) seeks public feedback on proposed improvements.
Sunnybrae Road in Hillcrest will see two new T2 lanes that will improve bus journey times and reliability.
An approximately 350 metre southbound T2 lane is proposed that would operate 6:30am till 10am, Monday to Friday. An approximately 120 metre northbound T2 lane would operate 4pm till 7pm, Monday to Friday.
Vehicles using the T2 lanes will enjoy travel time savings of up to 100 seconds and 38 seconds respectively. Buses, vehicles carrying two or more people, bicycles, and motorbikes will be permitted to use the T2 lanes.
AT is also seeking public feedback on proposed improvements to Raleigh Road in Northcote, including an AM peak hours bus lane.
The lane would create travel time savings for up to 11 buses an hour, of up to 210 seconds during the busiest part of the morning.
Bicycles and motorbikes will also be permitted to use the bus lane.
Ramsgate Terrace in Mairangi Bay is another road proposed for changes – with a PM peak hours bus lane that will improve bus journey times and reliability.
The bus lane will deliver travel time savings of up to 180 seconds per bus during the busiest times. Bicycles and motorbikes will also be permitted to use it.
Parking will not be permitted within the proposed bus or T2 lanes while they are operating. However, parking surveys indicate there would still be enough parking available on these streets and their nearby streets to accommodate existing parking demand.
This is exactly the type of thing AT should be doing all over Auckland.
Not so good Auckland Transport
Yesterday AT tweeted this image of a new roundabout they’ve installed in Te Atatu South. The intersection is at the bottom of a steep hill and so was quite common to have people speeding.
We’re happy to announce the completion of our new roundabout and intersection improvements at the School Road and Vodanovich intersection in Te Atatu South. The intersection improvements create a lower speed environment so locals can make the most of the neighbourhood! pic.twitter.com/X3j1uiWb6P
— Auckland Transport (@AklTransport) July 22, 2020
The issue is they’ve clearly missed something. Namely, where are the pedestrian crossings. Given the whole area is now meant to be a low speed zone why have they not put in raised tables, and zebra crossings on all legs. As bike Te Atatu also tweeted in response yesterday, it seems AT have used the “no one is swimming across the (crocodile filled) river so there is no demand for a bridge” defence.
Meanwhile the low profile nature of it means some drivers are just completely ignoring it
National’s Wairarapa Transport Policy
If you guessed it was more roads then you’re right. Although what they’re proposing does seem reasonable, certainly nothing as grandiose as in their Upper North Island policy.
National’s Wairarapa transport package includes two projects that will be fast-tracked with funding from the $300 million set aside for ‘digger-ready’ projects in National’s $31 billion infrastructure package announced last week.
Those fast-track projects are:
- The Norfolk Road Roundabout upgrade
- SH2 Waingawa to Clareville Safety Improvements
National’s Wairarapa transport package also includes:
- Upgrading the Ngaumutawa intersection in Masterton
- Safety improvements on the SH2/Chester Road intersection
- New passing lanes between Masterton and Woodville on SH2
- Investigating a replacement Waihenga Bridge on SH53 at Martinborough
It does seem however that they’re announcing projects that are already underway. For example earlier this month Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency announced they were already working on the designs for the Norfolk Roundabout, the SH2 Waingawa to Clareville safety improvements (which includes the SH2/Chester intersection) and the Ngamutawa intersection
Given their recently found support for public transport and rail, I’m a little surprised they didn’t announce they would fund Greater Wellington’s plans to buy new bi-mode trains to run on the Wairarapa line.
Musk’s tunnel vision
Elon Musk has been pushing his idea of building small car tunnels and is currently building some in Las Vegas to link up a few hotels and the main convention centre. Yesterday he tweeted an image of what a station would look like.
One of the best replies to this was from Caltrain – a commuter rail line in San Francisco which is currently in the process of being upgraded and electrified.
— Caltrain (@Caltrain) July 22, 2020
Imagine if AT acted like that.
He also said
Individualized mass transit is the future
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 22, 2020
One thing you can see with the image above is that there is no space for the cars that will be accelerating or braking at the station. What this means is that other cars in the system will have to slow down to let departing cars in or so arriving cars can break to avoid accidents – not to mention if all the arrival slots are busy. That in turn means the overall capacity of the system won’t be all that high.
He could even check this before spending lots of money on it. Just mark out some lanes on a regular road and get a bunch of uber drivers to have at it. Even cheaper, just go into town on a Friday night and observe what happens.
AT shared this graph on Social Media highlighting how far our PT use in Auckland has come back since lockdown with the city having the strongest recovery so far – although I wonder if that has something to do with other cities still having various levels of restrictions.
Thanks Auckland! Public transport has made a remarkable recovery from lockdown compared to other major cities.
The International Association of Public Transport has compared 22 big cities and Auckland has the strongest recovery of those surveyed at ten weeks after lockdown. pic.twitter.com/rlBdpBM7S7
— Auckland Transport (@AklTransport) July 19, 2020
Queen St Changes
The changes to Queen St have continued with paint going down on the widened, more permanent space.
paint is now down pic.twitter.com/KdqX9CXUIN
— Kent Lundberg (@kentslundberg) July 19, 2020
But not all retailers are happy and it was revealed at the end of last week that some had employed a QC to return the street to four lanes of traffic.
“The purpose of this letter is to formally request the Council to direct the removal of the Covid19 works urgently and to restore Queen Street,” Nolan writes to Goff.
“They and many other building owners and retailers are appalled at what they describe as unsightly and ‘Third World’ changes made to Queen St by Auckland Transport during Covid19, without consultation and which AT has since failed to remove.
The works have “drastically reduced the amenity and safety on Queen Street” the letter points out.
“The works are ugly and said by some retailers to be a disgrace; the new ‘footpaths’ are not used by pedestrians; they are a trip hazard as they are at a lower level than the formed footpaths; buses now completely block all traffic,” the letter says.
I think they’ll find it’s the buses that are being blocked by all the cars that shouldn’t be there. It’s also amazing that there remain retailers in the city who think that people are driving and parking on Queen St to go shopping.
In reality, their businesses are down because many people are working from home more regularly and there are no tourists about.
The article also contained this
Anne Mazer has owned clothing stores Great Kiwi Yarns and the Country Collection on downtown Queen St since 2017.
The retailer moved to New Zealand from France 11 years ago and said a major Paris street, for example, would never be reduced to a plastic minefield.
“We don’t understand these yellow plastic cones, barriers. When you think of Champs-Elysees, you think Paris, Eiffel Tower, but you don’t think yellow plastic cones,” Mazer said.
“This would never happen for the major streets of the country. It’s the same thing for Broadway in New York.
Perhaps this retailer is unsure about what is actually happening in Paris.
Queen St Retailer: "We don't understand these yellow plastic cones, barriers. When you think of Champs-Elysees, you think Paris, Eiffel Tower, but you don't think yellow plastic cones," Mazer said.
— Greater Auckland (@GreaterAKL) July 17, 2020
Have a good weekend.