Here is our weekly roundup


CRL Station Construction ramping up

Works on construction of the Karangahape Rd Station are getting serious with the temporary access shaft nearing completion and mining of the stations 217m long platforms as well as the connecting passageways due to start in a few weeks

Meanwhile further north at Aotea, the first section of roof across the Albert/Wellesley intersection has been poured.


Northern Pathway location decided

A few months ago, Waka Kotahi NZTA held a consultation on which side of the motorway to locate the Northern Pathway between Akoranga and Constellation Dr. This week they announced the outcome of that and that it would be on the western side.

The public consultation was held online in June because of COVID-19 restrictions on public meetings.

Waka Kotahi Director of Regional Relationships, Steve Mutton says there was feedback from 332 people. The interactive map on Social Pinpoint was visited by 1,743 unique users, with 392 comments posted.

“This feedback was invaluable as people told us how they want to use this section of the pathway, the destinations they want to reach and what would make the pathway attractive for them to use.”

Overall, sentiment was 82% in support of the route. However, many respondents were concerned about potential impacts on Smiths Bush.

…..

The preferred route follows the western side of the motorway from Akoranga Drive, crossing to the eastern side around Sunset Road, to connect with the Constellation Drive to Albany section of the pathway.

“After consultation with the public, mana whenua, project partners and key stakeholders, we found that a western route would be more direct with fewer road crossings. The western route also has more available space in the motorway corridor and less potential impact on property and the environment. It also avoids potential for conflict between path users and buses and traffic at transport hubs.”

The western side seemed the best option to us.

The consultation options

The Northern Section between Albany and Constellation is already under construction – and on Monday and Tuesday the beams for it and the busway extension spanning Constellation Dr will go in. the Southern Section between Westhaven and Akoranga, which includes Skypath, is due to start construction next year and be completed in 2024.


What is it about ticketing systems?

The saga for a national public transport ticketing system has taken another turn with news the Wellington Regional Council are frustrated with the delays they imposed and are now looking to roll out Snapper to trains.

Wellington has given up on waiting for a national integrated ticketing system, with the regional council considering a move to extend the use of Snapper cards to the train network.

Snapper can currently only be used on buses. Cash payments are taken on trains or paper tickets can be purchased ahead of a trip.

Greater Wellington Regional Council chairman Daran Ponter wouldn’t go as far as calling the system embarrassing but rather described it as “quaint”.

“It’s certainly a Victorian system of payment and quite literally this system was around in Wellington on our tram network when Queen Victoria was still alive.”

Ponter and his colleagues will today discuss whether to sign off on further investigations into extending Snapper to trains, although he was confident of overwhelming support for the move.

It would act as an interim system until the delayed national integrated ticketing system, Project NEXT, is finally rolled out.

Nationwide implementation is scheduled for 2026, with the system to be trialled in Wellington before that.

“The system is long overdue to be replaced and modernised with an integrated ticketing system. It beggars belief it has taken so long,” Ponter said.

“We’re coming to the conclusion that yes, we could wait for the NEXT ticketing system for another two years, but that two years could be another three years.

It’s a bit rich for the council to be complaining about this. We had a national ticketing system, it’s why the NZTA invested in the backend system behind Auckland’s HOP cards, but Wellington refused to use it seemingly out of parochial opposition. As a result, the NZTA decided to start again from scratch to appease Wellington. The delays to them having integrated ticketing are entirely of their own making. Worst still, it has resulted in Auckland Transport stopping planned improvements to HOP – as why would you invest in improvements to a system that’s about to be replaced.


Bus Driver Pay

There were two bits of news relating to bus driver pay this week.

The first will see the government ensuring all bus drivers get paid a living wage.

Bus drivers are ecstatic over milestone living wage pay deal after years of protests and union fights.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced a deal which would see Waka Kotahi NZTA top up pay packages to ensure all urban bus drivers are paid the living wage.

Urban bus drivers will move from around $19.70 per hour to base rate of at least $22.10 per hour, almost $100 more per week before taxes.

Twyford called it “a step forward for drivers who for too long have been underpaid for what is an important and demanding job.”

…..

The new deal with NZTA will see bus companies continue to pay the same wages as before, with NZTA making up the difference.

Paying bus drivers more is good, it’s a tough and important job. However, I do hope there are some safeguards in place with that implementation as the NZTA just topping up wages feels like it is going to open to abuse. Afterall, why worry about increasing wages, or paying anything more that the minimum wage if you know the government will make up the difference anyway. It seems a better outcome would be to just require bus companies to pay the living wage, which they can pass to contracting organisations like Auckland Transport and regional councils, and have the NZTA increase the amount of financial support they give to those contracting organisations.

The second is that the union and NZ Bus have settled their pay dispute. Notably the rates these drivers will be getting are already higher than the deal above.

Hundreds of Auckland bus drivers have secured a three-year pay deal, ending long-running negotiations that included strikes in late 2019 and earlier this year.

About 800 members of the Tramways Union working for NZ Bus in Auckland are getting four pay rises backdated to November and extending until April 22.

Union president Gary Froggatt said the steps are increases of 2.1 per cent, 2.4 per cent from April 2020, and then 3.26 per cent and 3.16 per cent in the coming two years.

“It is the only bus company agreement retaining overtime rates of 1.25 times the ordinary rate, and 1.5 times when a sixth day is worked,” he said.

“By settling this new pay deal it provides both our drivers and NZ Bus the stability to get on with providing Aucklanders with an excellent public transport service,” Barry Hinkley, NZ Bus’ chief executive, said.

Drivers covered by the agreement will get $23 an hour rising to $24.50 by the end of the term, but it won’t apply to more than 1600 drivers working for other companies in Auckland.


DIY Speed Limit Changes

The processes to change speed limits and other things on our roads is far too arcane, complex and slow. It’s something we’re increasingly seeing as various councils struggle to get changes made. One mayor has gone so far as just doing it himself.

It was a fine winter’s day when a Waikato mayor loaded up his ute with a ladder and some handyman tools and set out on a mission to change the law.

Matamata-Piako mayor Ash Tanner pulled up in Manawarū with a stack of freshly made, but illicit speed limit signs.

Without anyone knowing, he removed the 70kmh speed signs and replaced them with 50kmh lollipops – a move designed to slow down traffic that passes a local school, cafe and bicycle traffic that crosses the road at two points.

The new signs are made to regulation, but they don’t have the required sign-off from authorities and the maverick mayor was operating outside the law when he put them up on July 30. His council is now trying to tie up loose ends with the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) to make the changes legal.

Tanner changed the speed signs out of frustration after years of battling the NZTA to have the speed reduced, he told Stuff.

For years council advocated to have the speed reduced in Manawarū to 50kmh, but after the council’s submission, NZTA said it could only approve a reduction to 60kmh, Tanner said.


New Christchurch Bus Livery

Christchurch is getting a unified bus livery and it’s bright, distinctive and attractive, unlike Auckland’s dull dark blue or Wellington’s garish yellow, green and blue.

Buses in the new colours will be on the streets in the next three months, with the whole fleet to be wrapped in teal within two years. The only exception is the Orbiter route, which will still use green buses but will have the same pattern added to the sides.

The new colour, and the design that will adorn the sides of the buses, were developed with Matapopore, Ngāi Tahu’s charitable trust that provides cultural advice.

The teal represents Christchurch’s strong links to water, while the graphic on the side represents Canterbury’s taonga species, natural landscape and the resources shared by early Māori.

Like Auckland and Wellington though, this is being done as part of the process of issuing new long term contracts which will also see many new buses added to the fleet, including 25 electric buses.


Building Consents

We’ve talked before about building consents remaining high and that Apartments, Townhouses and other more dense forms of housing now make up over half of all consents. Timmy has pulled the data together to show what the breakdown looks like for each area. I wonder how much of that ‘Western Line’ trend is part of the the City Rail Link.

He’s also done it for some other cities too


Election Transport debate

This looks like it may end up being the main pre-election transport debate in Auckland.

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49 comments

  1. “but after the council’s submission, NZTA said it could only approve a reduction to 60kmh, Tanner said.”
    I imagine we are talking about a tiny stretch of road. How can the NZTA favour peoples lives over a few seconds of time? Why doesn’t the mayor have any say? How is 60 km/hr (essentially 70 km/hr after Police tolerances) safe for anyone?

    1. It also raises the question of WK’s avoidance of Vision Zero, which describes the environments suitable for 30, 50, 70 and 100 speed limits.

      What are 60 km/hr and 80 km/hr all about? It feel like WK are flipping the bird at JAG.

      Following WK’s decisions might have seemed the more “legal” option once, too. But that is no longer the case. Our transport system has systematically unsafe speeds; decision-makers are failing to act with the speed required to change them. People in positions of power to keep people safe now need to consider their complicity in allowing that system to retain the danger for children.

      1. Same situation in Palmerston North where the council has been in talks with WK for years about lowering the speed limit on an urban section of SH 57 from 70 to 50. The talks end with WK saying “Great, let’s work together on this.” I suspect there is an internal debate or battle within the organisation with the Vision Zero advocates struggling to get the upper hand.

        1. And a cyclist killed on another unsafe NZTA highway:

          “Cyclist killed on ‘extremely dangerous’ crossing near Christchurch intersection … It is understood the van had left the motorway and was in a 60kmh zone when it hit the cyclist…. She said the recent death was “really unfortunate” given the schools continuous lobbying”

          https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/300110439/cyclist-killed-on-extremely-dangerous-crossing-near-christchurch-intersection

          Small, incremental improvements to safety aren’t sufficient. We need a wholescale change in the system.

  2. The whole country would have a single functional contactless public transport ticketing system by now but for the bungling, incompetence and cronyism in Wellington. Instead we have HOP, BEE, SNAPPER, something else in Chch and NEXT some unspecified time in the future. Years lost and millions wasted on pointless duplication and reinventing the wheel.

    1. To be fair its a pretty crap one. They really should have built something themselves (how hard can it be) rather than buying an expensive “product” which is hard to adapt and results in them being held to ransom (I am guessing this occurs with Thales).

        1. Can’t pay by paywave
          Seems really slow
          I have to take card out of wallet
          Website sucks (maybe fixed now?)
          Cards are expensive

          Oyster was better 15 years ago!

        2. We’ve been through this before, you seem to be the only one who finds it “slow”. Can’t pay by bank card because of the snafu in Wellington stopping further development. Other people seem to use the card in wallets, is yours lined with aluminium foil?
          An Oyster card costs $9.56 so about the same as an “expensive” HOP card.

        3. “Can’t pay by paywave – Card readers can do this
          Seems really slow – to you
          I have to take card out of wallet – that’s an issue with your wallet, not the reader
          Website sucks (maybe fixed now?) – AT own and design the website, which is separate to the card technology
          Cards are expensive – AT set the price of cards
          Oyster was better 15 years ago!”

          So your only criticism of the card system is that it is slow, which many people disagree with and isn’t borne out by comparison to other cards. All of your other concerns are misdirected criticisms of AT’s policies, pricing, or web design.

        4. JimboJones – The Beecard ‘tap and travel’ payment/ticket system is quick and and has a simple easy to use ‘manage your card’ dashboard that is accessed through the the Beecard website.

        5. Sorry Jimbo, as others say, it’s quick enough for me, and I use it in my wallet too.

          Agree with Matt and Zippo – very irritating about the whole integrated payment saga in Wellington. Parochial and incompetent Greater Wellington RC. They should apologise to all the other councils and Transport Authorities in NZ, including AT.

    2. Zippo – I agree with you, that NZ needs a national fully integrated (bus/train/ferry) ‘open’ ‘tap and travel’ payment/ticketing network across all 16 regions.

      The current setup is mickey mouse with HOP (Auckland region), Beecard (9 regions), Snapper (Wellington region – buses only) and Metrocard (Canterbury region).

      Metrocard is a stored value and the rest are ‘closed’ ‘tap and travel’ payment/ticketing systems.

      A dedicated national public transport agency separated from NZTA but under the Ministry of Transport as a state entity, that is responsible planning, procure and operation of all ‘turn up and travel’ public transports services across the 16 regions would be cost effective in funding, utilization of transport assets and procurement instead of the inefficient , expensive region based system we have currently.

      1. “Metrocard is a stored value”
        Incorrect. Metrocard is not just a stored value card, it automatically applies daily and weekly fare caps. A ‘single’ on Metrocard gives unlimited transfers in 2 hours. Daily cap is 2×2-hour, weekly cap is 5xdaily.
        The tech and the way its used is a bit clunky (too much driver interaction required), but the fares policy is (IMO) the best in NZ (not perfect).

        1. I have a Metrocard and it is a ‘stored value’ card that is placed on the driver ticketing machine and you tell the driver how many fare Zones you want to travel on your travel day using the features as you mentioned.

          HOP, Snapper and Beecard are ‘tap and travel’ cards, mean you ‘tap/tag on’ when boarding a vehicle and tap/tag off’ when you leave the vehicle using the vehicle’s card scanners, not the driver’s ticket machine.

          The Metrocard system, that is use in the Canterbury region is provided by the same company that is providing the Beecard system cross 9 regions, being INIT.

        2. There are good things and bad things about MetroCard.

          The good things are the free transfers within 2 hours of first use and rest of day after second paid trip. Also free weekends if 10 paid trips taken that week. If you are not taking the Y line to Rollerston, B Line to Kaiapoi and Rangiora, 80 to Lincoln, 95 to Kaiapoi and Pegasus you don’t have to interact with the driver except for putting your card on their machine. If you are going between zones (usually only the Y, B, 80, 95) then you have to tell the driver to charge the correct Zone fare only if travelling across the Zone boundary. You can also travel with as little as 5 cents on the card as it allows you to go into debt and you will still qualify for the 2 hour/rest of day free transfers. There is also no tag off’s which mean no penalty fares get applied. You can also get a good discount especially for the trips that go to the Airport as it is $2.65 with Metrocard, $8.50 by cash (Normal Zone 1 cash fare is $4,20). You can effectively travel around the Christchurch City council area (excluding Banks Peninsula) all day for $5.30 or limited areas for the Selwyn district and Waimakariri district.

          The bad things are no tag off’s which means that Environment Canterbury doesn’t have data on where people get off (Besides seeing where the next trip starts and approximating an end point for the first trip) which does make it harder to work out if routes should be shortened or extended etc. It also doesn’t cope with changes of Zones easily requiring Driver manipulation to deal with the different prices.

          The only other thing with the Metrocard is that it is a simple system which works well with only three variations in fare structure (With a few more on the cash side) and isn’t really suitable for systems requiring multiple zones.

        3. Kris what happens if you meet up with someone and then you get off 1/2 zones less than what you requested when you boarded ?

  3. I like the new Christchurch bus livery. Much better then the dullness epitomised colour scheme adopted in Auckland, after probably similarly expensive selection processes.

    1. It’s similar to the Colour that Buses on Waiheke Island are , as the bus company didn’t want the horrible colour’s that the city has . But then again the buses here are from the original stagecoach , H+E and whatever else that was around .

      1. Umm, most of the buses on Waiheke are exactly the same paint scheme as the rest of Auckland. What WBC wanted has nothing whatsoever to do with it – like all the bus companies (esp Birkenhead) WBC had to suck it up and do AT’s bidding (as they should, since it’s AT that’s paying the contacts).

        The scheme you’re talking about is the “Waiheke Link” scheme, which is colour differentiated, just as the other Link services are. What confuses me, though, is that the route that is most “Link-able” (50A/50B) is not actually called “Link”, and unlike other Link buses, is not marketed as such. Anyone know why?

        1. David this is what I am talking about and the new scheme was agreed before the new routes started and the very last is a tour bus ;-

  4. I feel that I have to stand up for what “Wellington” has done regarding Snapper vs Hop. You guys in Auckland always seem to blame Wellington for not adopting Hop, but honestly, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

    Snapper was around first. It works on all Wellington Buses and the system was available to roll out in other centres as well, except that Auckland Transport (or predecessor) decided not to, because ? and decided to develop their own system, Hop.

    Then you eternally castigate us in Wellington for not adopting Hop. Look in the mirror first !

    End of the day I couldn’t give a rat’s arse what the card is called, as long as it works seamlessly. I have a Hop for when I go to Auckland, a Snapper for my travel here, and a ten-trip paper ticket for the Wellington trains. Not actually a problem really – they all work seamlessly. But stop blaming Wellington for failing to adopt Auckland’s Hop, when we have Snapper that works fine down here.

    1. Snapper is owned by NZ Bus / Infratil isn’t it?
      I can see definitely why govt or council would want ownership and not a 3rd party.

    2. Auckland Transport was forced to integrate Snapper tech into Auckland’s HOP system. When Snapper failed to technically accomplish what they originally promised, then they were kicked off the project. AT HOP is faster, simpler and built to work across multiple modes with complex fare structures in a way which Snapper isn’t. Probably still up for replacing or a serious upgrade at this point though.

      https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2012/08/24/fried-snapper/

      https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2012/11/06/what-really-happened-with-snapperhop/

    3. They don’t work seamlessly. In Wellington, if you took a trip in one zone involving a bus and train you get charged twice, in Auckland HOP allows multi mode trips for a single fare. No need for a special monthly ticket or any other nonsense, just an ordinary HOP card.

      1. And this is important. It can be important for commuters. But it’s especially important for people who use public transport for a whole lot of different types of journeys. Before HOP, trips out and about using multiple routes got VERY expensive, and in a random way.

        1. ” people who use public transport for a whole lot of different types of journeys”
          Yep, puts casual occasional users off using trains in Wellington. Some occasional trips I used to do by train, I now take the bus (more frequent, cheaper due to off-peak fares on Snapper versus full cash fare). Don’t travel often enough to be bothered with 10-trips.

      2. Correct. Ticketing in Wellington is a joke.
        Finally getting Snapper across all buses was a massive improvement (nicely illustrating just how much of a joke ticketing in Wellington is).
        Snapper on trains proposal is an admission of how delayed ProjectNEXT is.

    4. No one who knows the saga of what went on with HOP could possibly blame anyone except Infratil and GWRC (and maybe NZTA for not forcing Wellington to accept the Thales system).

      1. NZTA should take a substantial share of the blame. They agreed that reinventing the wheel was a good idea. Should’ve told GW where to go. Set integration back years, almost like they were trying to delay it.

    5. average human – Same here. I have a HOP card fpr Auckland, Snapper card for Wellington bus only, Metrocard for Christchurch, Beecard for the other 9 regions and paper tickets for Wellington trains.

    6. average human – The Waikato Regional Council is planning to use the Beecard of the Hamilton to Papakura train service, as the Zone 7 for Papakura is already been programmed into the Beecard system.

    7. “I feel that I have to stand up for what “Wellington” has done regarding Snapper vs Hop.”

      No you don’t.

      Blame Infratil, if you must:
      b. 1994;
      16.6 % p.a. return on investment.

      Wow! Are they a high-tech company?
      Nah, “infrastructure.”

    8. Something that seems to have been forgotten: Infratil developed the Snapper system entirely at their own cost. For the first 10 or so years of operation, until the extension to non-NZ Bus buses in Wellington in 2018, the ratepayer and taxpayer paid precisely $0 in either development or operating costs (compare AT Hop, Bee, Project Next, Metrocard, Opal, Oyster, myki, Clipper, etc etc…).

      Obviously they weren’t doing this out of the kindness of their hearts and expected to get a return: as we all know, that did not pay off. But to blame Infratil for giving a smartcard system to the country for nothing (which is what they did) is a bit much!

      The current setup is obviously a shambles, which is the the result of NZTA’s lack of leadership over the years. They hold the purse strings, and could have developed a national system years ago – but Infratil took the initiative, and NZTA have never really recovered from that.

      Of course this is now all history, and let’s hope that Project Next does in fact produce the up-to-date goods, and quickly. But the fact that GWRC is looking at putting Snapper on trains does not (as has been noted) inspire much confidence.

    9. News just in:
      http://wellington.scoop.co.nz/?p=131067
      “News from Greater Wellington Regional Council:
      The Regional Council is investigating rolling out Snapper payments on rail services across the region next year. Transport committee chair Roger Blakeley says today’s timely decision is in line with national ticketing developments and the more immediate need for more contactless payment options during COVID-19.
      He says a feasibility study will be completed in the first quarter of next year, with implementation to follow.”

  5. NZTA making up bus driver pay to the same irrespective of how much the employer is paying, is very interesting. How will tendering work in future if such a major cost item is effectively going to be removed from consideration in the evaluation?

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