The Auckland Transport board meet again on Thursday and it’s been a while since I covered one of them, so I thought I’d get back to doing that again.
As always it’s the closed session where all the most interesting stuff occur and this meeting is no different.
One of the most interesting things on the agenda will be the Ministry of Transport giving a presentation on Light Rail. I assume this will be largely covering what’s happened so far and maybe some details on the ‘public sector delivery model’ they’re working on following the end of the previous process.
There are also three of the items for approval/decision by the board that stand out. The first and third of these they say will be soon be publicly available.
- Additional Waitemata Harbour Connections: Northern Busway Enhancements
- National Ticketing Solution (Project NEXT) and AIFS Extension
- Operational Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Target
I suspect for the Northern Busway enhancements we could see things such as platform based tag posts or gates, like on the rail network, combined with all door boarding to speed up buses by reducing dwell times.
The Project NEXT update hints at that project being even further delayed.
For the emissions reduction target, it will be interesting to see how that compares to the councils Auckland Climate Plan which calls for reductions in vehicle kms travelled and big changes to the mode share mix in Auckland.
The business report contains updates on things all over the organisation and the report itself has been streamlined a lot from what it used to be. The updates below are just a few of the items that I thought were interesting.
There are a couple of parking related projects that caught my eye.
- It appears AT are due to launch a ‘Downtown Valet Project’, possibly this week.
- The new multi-storey carpark in Takapuna, now called Toka Puia Carpark, is due to open in November.
- November will also see the introduction of licence plate recognition at their Ronwood Ave carpark.
This is just a few of the projects listed.
- Eastern Busway – this project seems to be going well and is now expected to be delivered in late June 2021, ahead of original date of October 2021. That’s impressive given the COVID disruption
- Puhinui Interchange – Construction is progressing but they say they’re looking for more access to the rail network that could ‘de-risk’ their programme. Given this would have been written a while ago, presumably that means they’ll be looking to capitalise on the current network shutdown south of Manukau.
- Lower Albert St Bus Interchange – The paving of the footpaths is in the final stages and due to be completed in early November
- Matakana Link Rd – work is on getting ready for the start of bulk earthworks. If it hasn’t already, presumably this will start over summer.
Transport Officers and Fare Evasion
AT have provided an update on transport officers, who they say haven’t been checking tickets during lockdown due to social distancing requirements. However, they also provide this graph highlighting the number of cases of fare evasion, which suggests it typically hovers around 1%.
Brownfields Programme Business Case
There’s a lot of energy going to
encouraging sprawl supporting growth and we need an even greater effort to support the retrofitting of our city. While not on the same scale, this looks promising.
Following support from Kāinga Ora and Waka Kotahi, AT will shortly commence the development of a Business Case to assess the transport improvements needed to support the significant intensification planned for the areas of Māngere, Mt Roskill, Oranga, Northcote, and Tāmaki. The key outputs of the assessment will be the prioritisation of projects to enable and support growth, together with an assessment of funding responsibilities.
The areas are within the Brownfields of Auckland with the Kāinga Ora sites are a significant proportion of the growth in these areas through intensification and further urbanisation. In total these Kāinga Ora areas will accelerate the development and delivery of around 35,000 dwellings, with a focus on first decade delivery.
The business case is expected to take 4 months to complete and will examine the full spectrum of transport interventions including optimisation, PT, roading improvements, safety measures and active improvements.
AT also highlight how there are five significant private plan changes for greenfield development in Drury which are ‘out of sequence’ with the current development strategy. They also say
If these Plan Changes are approved by the Council, there will be an expectation that the necessary transport infrastructure will be provided by AT to align with development demands. However, there is currently no funding allocated for these areas and overall funding over the next decade is under pressure. AT is working with Council and government to identify potential funding and financing options, but it is not clear that will provide a timely solution.
This suggests there’s a risk that money for other projects, such as those which will support brownfields development, might not be available because of the need to support this sprawl.
Vehicle Occupancy Detection
AT have been replacing their manual bus and transit lane enforcement with CCTV cameras. So far this has just been on bus lanes but they say that from November they’ll start live trialling of technology that can detect the occupancy of a vehicle. They are targeting to go live with the technology on Onewa Rd in January 2021.
Speed Limit changes
Earlier this year AT implemented speed limit changes mainly in the city centre and on a lot of rural roads as part of their programme of improve road safety. They say that 27 roads were put on the wrong schedule in the bylaw. So they’ve reviewed them and decided for 26 of them they still need to change the speed limits. Yet despite saying there’s strong community support for the changes, they’re going through a full consultation process again on them.
The 26 roads are in Swanson, Massey, Warkworth, Matakana and on the Tawharanui Peninsula.
For the road that was dropped they say “was subsequently found to be located within the Urban Traffic Area boundary and so already has a safe and appropriate speed limit of 50km/h“. That statement doesn’t fit with the previous arguments and graphics (below) they’ve used to discuss speed limits, such as in the city centre.
The changes that went live earlier this year were only meant to be the first of at least three tranches of changes. As such I expected this update to be substantial yet it seems underwhelming with only 26 rural roads. They also provide this ‘roadmap‘ showing what’s happened to date and what’s upcoming – which doesn’t seem all that much.
AT have a short presentation on some of their ‘people highlights‘ which looks at a range of staff. Of all of them, this is the one that stands out to me the most. It’s good to see diversity improving but they’re really coming off a very low level and I wonder how different decisions would be if these were higher?
If you’ve read the papers, is there anything else that stands out to you?