Here’s our weekly roundup
Rosedale Busway Station
Good news on Monday with Waka Kotahi NZTA announcing that resource consent had been granted for the new Rosedale Busway station which will be on the busway extension from Constellation to Albany and is currently under construction.
The $70M project includes a new station and split level plaza at Arrenway Drive with a drop off area and a small number of mobility parking spaces. This is similar to Smales Farm and Akoranga stations but does not include a park and ride facility.
Rosedale Road will be widened to four lanes between Triton and Tawa Drives to include bus lanes. Bus stops will be installed on Rosedale Road for new feeder buses and routes planned from the East Coast Bays area. Extensive walking and cycling paths and lifts will also feature so people can safely enter the station.
Auckland Transport Portfolio Delivery Director David Nelson, says the station had always been planned to help address congestion in the busy industrial area.
“This opens up options for more people to use public transport to travel around the North Shore and into the city centre. It will also service around 5,500 people who work within walking distance of the station.”
The station will add to an upgrade at Hibiscus Coast Station and recently completed extension of the Albany Station park and ride. This is aimed at boosting capacity for the hugely popular bus routes on the North Shore and Hibiscus Coast.
The consent application was lodged with Auckland Council in September 2019. Construction of the station and local road work is expected to begin in 2022 as part of the Northern Corridor Improvements project.
I really like this station and how it spans Rosedale Rd providing access from either side to make transfers easy. It’s also going to have great bike connectivity with the Northern Pathway passing right through the station.
As noted, it will require some new or changed bus routes to serve it. Currently only the 884/885 buses pass through the station on a loop from Constellation Station.
On Wednesday Transport Minister Phil Twyford and National Party Transport spokesman Chris Bishop faced off to talk transport in a discussion hosted by Warren and Mahoney.
Only it wasn’t that much of a debate. Perhaps the most striking thing about it was the amount of furious agreement between the two. There was strong agreement on the need for rapid transit, increased density, road pricing and much more. That perhaps doesn’t make for the most interesting debate at times but it is positive for the city.
That wasn’t to say there was complete agreement. Bishop’s main argument was not that he was radically different but that he’d deliver what he’s promised, something easier said than done. There was also a discussion on modes, which frankly is probably the most boring part of it. Perhaps the most intense disagreement was right at the end with Twyford trying to explain that there’s a there’s a difference between financing and funding – that if you take on more debt to pay for projects you have to funding available to cover the repayments and that the existing funding from National Land Transport Fund is already needed just to keep our existing systems operating.
Changing the signs but not the street doesn’t work
It has long been understood that drivers respond to the design road environment and not the speed limit. When Auckland Transport changed speed limits in the city centre back in June they were also meant change the streets to help encourage drivers to slow down. Only they didn’t do it and surprise, drivers haven’t slowed down.
Auckland drivers are flouting speed limits on a city centre road but one expert says the road layout is to blame.
Transport Engineer Tamara Bozovic found 95 per cent of vehicles on Symonds St broke the 30kmh limit imposed as part of a major speed reduction campaign to cut death and injury.
She believed the problem was not signage, but the unchanged streetscape with a wide uncrowded carriageway, inviting motorists to stick to their old 50kmh ways.
Auckland Transport, which cut speed limits on more than 600 roads in a bid to cut deaths and major injuries, acknowledged Bozovic’s view, but said budget limitations meant changes to streetscapes were some way off.
Bozovic took the measurements as part of work on a doctorate looking at how street environments discourage walking, leading to more short trips in cars.
Only 5 of 104 measured in a half hour period were on or under the 30kmh limit brought in at the end of June, with some still exceeding 50kmh.
The final version of the council’s emergency budget restored most of the safety funding so It sounds like these changes have disappeared into the same blackhole as cycleways
NZTA saying the quiet part out loud
Bed maker Sleepyhead want to build an industrial estate and company town at Ohinewai – about 6km north of Huntly. The project is currently plan change hearings and the NZTA have said the quiet part out loud in opposing the project by admitting that motorways are great as long as not too many people use them.
If Sleepyhead get the green light for their billion dollar industrial community in Ōhinewai, the Waikato Expressway could become “a mirror image of the Southern motorway to Auckland”.
That’s according to the New Zealand Transport Agency principal planner Sarah Loynes, who was giving evidence at the Zoom rezoning hearing that will decide the future of the proposal.
Loynes said the NZTA’s objection to the scheme was centred on two main issues; the additional cars that would come with the planned industrial/residential development, and their effect on the $4bn Expressway.
Loynes said the NZTA viewed the Expressway as a crucial freight link for “New Zealand Inc”.
”One of only four classed as national high volume routes, protecting that freight function is extremely important.”
She said NZTA was concerned that “the use of the Expressway for short, local trips” would hamper freight travel.
She was also dismissive of developers claims’ cycle lanes and public transport options would lessen the amount of cars on the road, noting the residential proposals would create demand for access to amenities in Huntly.
Public transport options would be “considerably less convenient than a 10 minute drive down the Expressway”.
”The way this site is located points to this [cars] being the problem.”
Loynes also said that while the Expressway did have capacity for additional vehicles “is that a good use of that capacity to put small distance trips on there”.
“The Expressway was built for a certain function.”
Objections to the plans were also raised by Gerald Lanning, lawyer acting for Waikato Regional Council.
He described the proposed development as “car dependent and reliant on infrastructure and services that are speculative at best”.
I looked up the redevelopment application. This seems to be the best image I can find for what’s planned and it’s not hard to see why they’re concerned this will be auto-dependant. The expressway is shown as the dark arrow and has the rail line alongside it while the light beige to the east is the proposed housing. The development seems too small to run any real public transport and even if a rail station was built, from what I can tell houses would be about 1.5-2.5km away.
Of course, if the NZTA think the Southern motorway is bad (it is), then why are they so supportive of the plans for so much more housing between Papakura and Pukekohe which even with good PT, will see thousands more cars trying to use that motorway.
Overnight Bus Lane
It turns out that Auckland Transport can move really quickly when there are dedicated people who want to make the city better.
Our teams have worked hard this week to keep Aucklanders moving.
Last night, we installed a new bus lane on Customs Street West. This new priority lane connects with the existing one on Fanshawe Street, so Northern Express services aren't delayed when leaving the city centre. pic.twitter.com/wj8HnZdU9C
— Auckland Transport (@AklTransport) September 24, 2020
Now we need one eastbound on Sturdee St and on Customs St.
Kiwirail works video
I mentioned the other day about how it was notable the difference in the level of communication between Waka Kotahi over the Harbour Bridge and Kiwirail over the rail network issues. They’ve now published a video about the works they’re doing on the rail network and explaining some of it.
Finally, here’s Puketapapa Local Board Chair Julie Fairey with a great thread on twitter yesterday about the fascination and domination of large projects in the transport discussion.
Part of the problem with the continuing investment in Enormous Roading Projects is the huge lead in times for these projects vs smaller safety, active transport or PT ones. They get contracted further out, have huge sunk costs before you even get to that, so v hard to stop. 1/
— Julie Fairey (@juliefairey) September 23, 2020
Whereas smaller projects, like say a pedestrian crossing for a school on a busy road, only get contracted a short time out, have relatively low cost in terms of design, consultation etc. Much more vulnerable to delay that becomes deferral that becomes never.
These smaller projects also generally have much much lower profiles in the community – pissing off a school with 200 kids is lower risk than pissing off a whole suburb or town or region, who have been expecting delivery. This applies to both the politicians and the staff
And with NZ being a quite small country some of the Enormous Roading Projects might be the only chance you think you are going to get to work on An Exciting Thing! So people get v attached to them. There’s always another pedestrian crossing to do.
When there is an inevitable budget crunch (currently acute due to Covid but ongoing at a less severe level because of fundamental flaws w current local govt funding model) uncontracted projects go first. Contractor & fixed term workers go first too.
Enormous Roading Project staff will be more likely to be permanent or contractors signed up in a big bundle over years, so more likely to not get cut (contractually committed times two!).
I’ve been raising with AT, including through the CCO Review, the idea that they must be able to work out they are going to deliver at least X pedestrian crossings a year, so why don’t they contract this kind of essential safety work in bundles, so it is less vulnerable.
Response so far is “we’ll think about it”.
As one of the replies to it I saw noted
I was told so many times by very senior people to “come back when you have a $100m project”.
Some key decision makers don’t appreciate the benefits of small, quick, tactical projects.
Seem to appreciate the status that comes with a massive programme.