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 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.
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.
Check out all the apartments being consented along the Western Line pic.twitter.com/kbIOyC4WZg
— Timmy (@gallicist) September 14, 2020
He’s also done it for some other cities too
Christchurch and Wellington pic.twitter.com/heyaPpNrjg
— Timmy (@gallicist) September 14, 2020
Dunedin, Hamilton, Tauranga pic.twitter.com/a6mSa3UV0B
— Timmy (@gallicist) September 14, 2020
30 years of dwelling consents in Auckland from 1990-2020. Interesting to see the wildfire-like burning edge of Flat Bush sprawl (south east), the effect of GFC, and Hobsonville kicking in from 2011. Data from StatsNZ, animated in QGIS pic.twitter.com/CM7NA0Q5oB
— Timmy (@gallicist) September 17, 2020
Election Transport debate
This looks like it may end up being the main pre-election transport debate in Auckland.
Moved to livestream – Pre-Election Panel Discussion "Designing the Future – What’s the blueprint for AKL’s Transport, Urban & Economic Development?" Hear panelists Hon. Phil Twyford and Chris Bishop MP, & facilitator Simon Wilson. Join at link 6pm 23 Sept https://t.co/jlwzVRWwo3 pic.twitter.com/TmN2cKpQxn
— Warren and Mahoney (@warrenmahoney) September 16, 2020