Here’s our weekly roundup
Well done to the Waka Kotahi NZTA engineers who have managed to get the Harbour Bridge fixed and fully back in operation in just 2.5 weeks. While it has obviously been disruptive, there are undoubtedly many valuable lessons that have learned as a result and that will help us in the future, particularly around managing disruption and Traffic Demand Management.
Now how about those permanent bus lanes on St Mary’s Bay and the bridge itself.
Motorways and emissions
A good article on Tuesday from Professor Simon Kingham, who is also the Chief Science Adviser for the Ministry of Transport looking at the question Does building and expanding motorways really reduce congestion and emissions?
Below are just a couple of quotes from it.
In addition to speeding, rapid acceleration and braking can lower mileage by 15-30 per cent at highway speeds and 10-40 per cent in stop-and-go traffic. If building or expanding motorways did reduce congestion, the smoother driving would be a benefit.
But this assumption is not backed by evidence. Research shows even on roads with no impediments drivers brake and accelerate unnecessarily, increasing congestion and emissions.
A significant change occurred in 1994 when a report by the UK Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Appraisal confirmed road building actually generates more traffic.
In New Zealand, this wasn’t acknowledged until the Transport Agency’s 2010 Economic Evaluation Manual, which said:
[…] generated traffic often fills a significant portion (50–90per cent) of added urban roadway capacity.
Of course, while we often now seem to recognise it, many engineers seem to treat it as a good thing, especially if it means they’ve got a better chance of building the next big project on their list.
The article is summed up with:
The short answer to the question about road building and expansion is that new roads do little to reduce congestion, and they will usually result in increased emissions.
Labour E-Bus proposal
On Wednesday Labour announced their “next steps on climate change“. Of note for us was a commitment to
decarbonising the public transport bus fleet by 2035, and requiring only zero emissions buses be purchased by 2025
A bit more detail is also provided
“Transport makes up about 20 per cent of New Zealand’s domestic greenhouse gas emissions and is the fastest growing source. This needs to change so Labour will require that only zero emissions buses be purchased by 2025 and will target decarbonising the public transport bus fleet by 2035. We will support regional councils with this through a $50 million fund over four years.
Electrifying all buses is fantastic and absolutely needs to be done. This will not only reduce emissions but anyone who has already been on an electric bus will know it also improves the experience for users and those on the street thanks to reduced noise and other pollutants. Better still, the experience so far shows that those e-buses also have lower operating costs, potentially making it easier to run more buses with the same amount of budget or reduce fares, or at least fare rises.
There is an issue with this though, we shouldn’t be waiting till 2025 to require all new buses be zero emissions, that requirement should be put in place for at least all new urban buses immediately and which would also help in bringing forward that target for the entire fleet to be zero emissions.
Furthermore, what about other forms of public transport, like ferries and regional trains. What about encouraging e-bikes and zero-emission heavy vehicles. And yes, even electric cars.
Wellington to Lower Hutt Path
Waka Kotahi yesterday announced they’re using a new fast track consenting process to build the Ngā Ūranga to Pito-one section (Ngauranga to Petone) of Te Ara Tupua, the new walking and cycling path that will be built between Wellington and Lower Hutt – very much Wellington’s equivalent of the Auckland’s Skypath and Northern Path. They’ve also released a video showing the new design.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has announced the next steps for Te Ara Tupua, the highly-anticipated harbour-side walking and cycling link between Wellington and Lower Hutt, with consent applications to be lodged in the coming weeks.
The Ngā Ūranga to Pito-one section (Ngauranga to Petone) of Te Ara Tupua will be the first Waka Kotahi project considered under the new fast-track consent process, with applications to be lodged this month. At the same time, Waka Kotahi will begin work to select an alliance partner to build the path.
Waka Kotahi has also unveiled updated designs for the project, which incorporate mana whenua aspirations and community feedback, and address the effects of the project and its construction on the coastal environment.
“The new designs we’re sharing today reflect more than a year’s work to create an environmentally and culturally respectful design that we think the Wellington region will love,” Director of Regional Relationships Emma Speight says.
“Te Ara Tupua will be a stunning addition to the Wellington Harbour coastline, and create a step change in the number of people choosing to walk or bike between Wellington and the Hutt. It will make State Highway 2 and the Hutt rail line more resilient and provide the ability to adapt to sea level rise,” says Ms Speight.
“We’ve invested in ecological design changes to preserve sensitive habitats and added new offshore habitat areas, which will offer undisturbed roosting places for birds while the path is being built and when it opens to the public.
Whangarei to Marsden options
another lifetime ago in January the government included the Whangarei to Marsden motorway as part of their NZ Upgrade Package. Waka Kotahi are now consulting on the route and it looks like a classic case of making one option look so extremely so that everyone agrees with your preferred option.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has announced a shortlist of two route options for upgrading the Whangārei to Port Marsden State Highway (SH1), with a preferred route to be confirmed by the end of the year. Waka Kotahi is now asking for public feedback on the options presented to feed into decision making.
The project will provide an upgraded 22km four-lane corridor that will improve transport connections between Auckland and Whangārei.
The two options for consultation are to upgrade the current state highway to four lanes (with some sections built on a new alignment to straighten out curves) or to upgrade the current state highway to four lanes with a section built on a new alignment to the west to avoid the coastal marine environment at Oakleigh.
Waka Kotahi is now seeking public feedback on both the urban section of the project between Tarewa Road and Toetoe Road and the two route options in the rural section between Toetoe Road and Port Marsden Highway.
“The last time we talked to the public about upgrading this section of State Highway 1 was in 2017.” At that time, there was strong support for widening the current state highway to four lanes but we need to hear from those new to the project or who didn’t participate in consultation three years ago. The option including a section built to the west of SH1 is a mixture of two route options shortlisted in 2017 so we’re also keen to hear our customer’s thoughts on that.”
They should really be looking at incorporating the rail spur to the port into the project and building that at the same time.
This could be Fanshawe St
Oslo have opened a new tram line through the Bjørvika, an area of urban redevelopment on the city’s waterfront and it looks fantastic – though the cycleways could do with some protection.
This is the kind of look we should be aiming for with Fanshawe St
The image above is even more striking when you see how the area used to look
The new line above is just one part of an existing line. Oslo has six tram lines in total and as of 2019 they moved about 53 million trips a year. On top of that their metro system moves about 119 million trips, buses about 180 million, commuter trains 42 million and ferries 4.4 million for a total over almost 400 million public transport trips annually. That’s the kind of numbers we need to be aiming for.
Here’s another tram shot from Oslo. While some parts of their tram routes are mixed with cars, other parts like below, are more like what we’re talking about with light rail in Auckland where they have a dedicated right of way. Imagine how amazing Dominion Rd would be if we built a grass-lined light rail line down the middle.
I walk past this route all the time in Oslo and its so great. The tram tracks are covers in grass and there's trees lining the entire way. I can't imagine upkeep is cheap but it's a nice illustration of public transport design. pic.twitter.com/UCEYKqlFeC
— Ketan Joshi (@KetanJ0) July 7, 2020
Have a good weekend.