Here’s our weekly roundup


New Electric Buses

Auckland Transport has launched its newest electric bus and it’s unique because it’s also the biggest one we’ve had so far.

Auckland Transport (AT) has launched its latest electric bus, as the next step towards reducing the city’s carbon emissions.

The Yutong E13 is Auckland’s first electric ‘extra-large’ bus, which can carry 78 passengers and is designed specifically to meet New Zealand standards.

….

AT’s Manager of Bus Services, Darek Koper, says AT is very excited to have the Yutong E13 in its fleet.

“Trialling this bus on longer distance routes from East Auckland into the city centre will help us compare operational performance, power demand and costs alongside equivalent existing diesel buses and hydrogen fuel cell buses being manufactured for AT. This validates our case studies showing much lower impact from three-axle electric buses on road pavements, compared to standard e-buses.”

Wei Zhou, Director of JW Group says Yutong and JW Group are pleased to continue working closely with Auckland Transport to introduce an extra-large, fully electric bus.

“During 2018 and 2019, a large two axle EV bus was trialled by AT in partnership with Yutong. During this testing, operators in Auckland have shown real world range exceeding 400km a day on a single charge. This builds operational confidence in electric bus fleets to manage the rigorous demands of public transport right now.”

The bus is going to be used on the 70 route from Botany to the city.

Also in just over a week the new electric buses to be used on Waiheke will be officially launched and they’ve started arriving on the island

All of this is good news but is of course just a drop in the bucket of what’s needed. We have over 1,300 buses in Auckland so are going to be needing a lot more for the whole fleet to be electric.


Albert St Complete

Albert St north of Wyndham St is now complete.

The re-opening of the Albert Street/Wolfe Street intersection marks the end of City Rail Link’s work at the lower end of Albert Street and after five years the project is saying “farewell” to this section of central Auckland.

City Rail Link Ltd’s Chief Executive, Dr Sean Sweeney, acknowledges digging up the busy city street for rail tunnels took longer than expected and caused hardship for businesses in the area.

“It is never easy building a huge project like CRL in the middle of a city – disruption is inevitable. There have been robust discussions over the years, but we have worked hard with local businesses to find suitable solutions to offset impacts when work fell behind schedule including the introduction of rent assistances scheme for those who qualified,” Dr Sweeney says. “We hope we are leaving behind a rejuvenated and transformed street.”

It’s great that this has been completed and with the wider and higher quality footpaths it sure is a big improvement on what was there before. However, it still feels like it could have been a lot better, especially as Albert St has one of the best graded of all streets in the city ride up if you’re heading out of it.

Given that there’s not much use for those bus lanes until the rest of the CRL opens, why not keep the road as just two lanes and use the extra space for some temporary events to help encourage people to the city and support local businesses.


Development Supercharging

This tweet apparently comes from the councils opposition to the Drury plan changes I wrote about yesterday. It suggests the council’s implementation of the new Urban Development rules could be significant with up to 22-23 storeys allowed, apparently within 400m of stations and 7-8 storeys allowed at up to 800m. This would be good so let’s hope it happens.


Radical is not so Radical

Wellington recently consulted on plans to improve their ‘Golden Mile’ and the results are in.

Wellingtonians have overwhelmingly backed a radical plan to remove cars from the city’s Golden Mile, to significantly widen footpaths and to turn several side streets in Wellington’s inner city into pedestrian-only zones.

Almost 2000 people gave feedback on three options for proposed changes to Wellington’s Golden Mile, which runs 1.5 miles from the Beehive to the end of Courtenay Place.

The vast majority supported the “transform” option, the most radical of the three options to reform Wellington’s main shopping and entertainment area. The plan would cost up to $80 million and remove up to 200 car parks between Wellington Railway Station and Kent/Cambridge Terrace.

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The “transform” option would remove all public traffic from the Golden Mile, create bus-only lanes along the entire stretch, and widen footpaths by as much as 75 per cent.

The plan proposes pedestrianising the end of almost every side street which connects on to the Golden Mile, including Tory St, Lower Cuba St, and areas surrounding Midland Park on Lambton Quay. Service vehicles would still be able to access the streets when required.

It would also create a shared zone beside the footpath for cycling and electric scooters along Lambton Quay.

Some bus stops along the route would be closed or moved to reduce bus congestion in the streets. New, larger bus stops would be built, separated from the main footpath area.

The other two concepts proposed were titled “streamline” which would take some general traffic off the Golden Mile while making buses more reliable; and “prioritise” which would create two bus priority lanes along much of the road but allowed less room for walking and cycling.

A fantastic result for Wellington but can a plan really be radical if it is overwhelmingly supported?

What it does highlight is why it’s important that our public agencies be bold when consulting on ideas. Far too often schemes are watered down in the hope of appeasing the naysayers and anti-change types only for them to opposed and result in even more dull outcomes.


St Heliers Consultation

Speaking of consultation, feedback on ATs dull and dangerous plans for St Heliers close on Monday. Here’s a quick message from our friends at Generation Zero.


Taking Safety Seriously

The Dutch are turning how they set speed limits on their head, passing a law requiring all streets to be 30km/h unless they can argue why it should be higher. How about it AT?


Mangere Bridge replacement open day

Waka Kotahi are currently replacing the Old Mangere Bridge and are holding an open day tomorrow for those interested in looking at the progress and speaking to some of the team.

With the easing of COVID-19 Alert Level restrictions on crowd gatherings, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is delighted to invite people to an information day for the Old Māngere Bridge Replacement project.

The information day will be a chance for people to come and meet the team behind the bridge build and learn more about the new walking, cycling and fishing bridge over the Manukau Harbour. It will be held on Saturday, 31 October 2020 from 9:30am – 1:00pm at the Waterfront Reserve in Māngere Bridge.

“This will be a great opportunity to see close up what the team is doing. Over the winter months, the team has continued to work safely and productively. They are very proud of the progress they are making and will be on site to explain what they’re doing and answer any questions,” says Waka Kotahi Senior Manager Project Delivery Andrew Thackwray.

There will also be a sausage sizzle and activities to entertain children.

There’s details about it here.

The new Mangere Bridge that is being built

An E-Bike Convert

Finally today a fantastic story on The Project the other day about e-bikes and their power to change people’s thinking. Welcome Murray

Have a good weekend.

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39 comments

  1. “The Dutch are turning how they set speed limits on their head, passing a law requiring all streets to be 30km/h unless they can argue why it should be higher. How about it AT?”

    This is their response to the international agreement they’ve signed on the matter.

    NZ has signed it too. I’ve not seen peeps of understanding on this from the government, and come across staff in NZTA, MoT and Councils around the country who have no idea about the agreement. Yet even without it being incorporated into our domestic legislation, RCA’s must follow it, because in international law:

    “There can be some unincorporated international obligations that are so obviously material [to a decision] that they must be taken into account.”

    1. The new AT design guidelines do assume that (new) residential streets should be designed for 30 kph. So in that sense, we do follow the logic. In practice (let alone in retrofitting our many old streets where typical speeds can HIGHER than 50 kph) we are far away yet.

  2. Matt, I commented a while back about spelling and grammatical mistakes and I’m really glad to see how good your posts have been lately in this respect.

    (This sort of comment often attracts snark, but when it comes down to it I think we’re all here with the shared belief that things provided without charge can constantly improve.)

  3. I am sure Generation Zero thought they were being helpful doing a fast submit form. But it isn’t helpful to anyone. Councils and Government agencies are supposed to read every submission- UNLESS THEY ARE THE SAME. They read that submission once and it is as if the rest don’t exist. They don’t care about numbers of identical copies. If you have views that you want them to actually read then you should do your own submission.

    1. I’m interested in how they can “park” like that on the street with so much supposed opposition there. Do you need a special council permit to use I presume an on street car park to do that? Anyway good on them, seems the youth and other voices were lost in the prior public debates etc as per the previous posts on the matter.

    2. On the consultations I’ve seen at Waitemata Local Board, we’ve been given two sets of stats / graphs – with and without the bundled results.
      It’s then up to the reader on how much weight they give the form responses.
      We certainly do no ignore them!

      1. Thanks Graeme, good to know. Personally I think someone saying ” I agree” with a pre written submission should carry the “weight” of that submission.

  4. I have written a report taking a systems approach to modelling New Zealand’s housing, transport, and land-use patterns. The intent of the model is to explain key urbanism concepts and how they relate to each other. Hopefully, this provides insight into the processes that shape New Zealand’s built environment.
    The report has seven broad recommendations.
    -Spatial Planning
    -Duplication of Transit Hubs
    -Encourage Organic Urban Growth
    -Successful Cities Allocate Scarce City Space Efficiently
    -Reform the Structural Bias Against Rapid Transit and Multi-Modal Transport Infrastructure
    -Promote an Urban Design Cultural Movement
    -Build Houses for the Full Housing Continuum
    Check it out here over the weekend…
    https://medium.com/land-buildings-identity-and-values/if-not-now-when-f995dd596c1

  5. Once the walking bridge us finished they can start on the train bridge and rebuilding the rail overbridge on Neilson Street. A double track bridge even if only has a single track or bus only bridge to start with.

      1. Twyford says we will build a light railway to the airport which will go through Onehunga and will need a new bridge across the harbour meanwhile Auckland is building a new bridge for walking and cycling costing $40 million. So why build two bridges when we could have built one bridge which includes walking and cycling and some form of public transport. Have readers being to Brisbane and seen the bus and walking and cycling bridge across the river into the University very impressive.
        Anyway Tywford is a clown and I hope our leader will choose a new Transport Minister next week. Don’t Know who maybe Megan Woods she seems to be able to get her head around complex issues and doesn’t seem to need to rely on crossing every t and dotting every i before making a decision. Also she seems to be able to stand up to the establishment imagine the pushback she must have got from her department when she came up with the ban on new oil and gas exploration. Exactly what we need to over rule the entrenched road only brigade in the ministry of transport and NZTA.

        1. And on the other side of the coin she is allowing Huntly to operate to 2030 when not so many years ago Genesis planned to stop using coal in 2018. Remember that Huntly produces most of NZ’s shortfall in electricity, much of the power that will be needed for an expanding EV fleet.
          I don’t think that she stands out from the rest.

        2. She is backing the pumped hydro which will act as a major manipulation of the market driving out fossil fuel electricity production and protecting against shortfall in dry years. The generators are squealing which is a sure sign she is on the mark as they know they will have to build renewables to compete rather than just running their fossil fueled plants when they can force the spot price high enough to generate an easy profit.
          If you have a better plan then I would like to hear it.

        3. Auckland isn’t building a new bridge at Mangere, NZTA is. NZTA hate public transport of any kind, especially light rail. They were given light rail to progress three years ago and have intentionally sunk it as deep as they could.

          If both projects were in the hands of Auckland Transport you’d probably see a combined bridge design being built already.

        4. The better plan for extra electricity supply was surely when the gen-tailers were making super profits, was to have them invest in building new renewable infrastructure. Instead the shareholders, 50% of whom were govt pocketed the money. This even extended to paying special dividends. Yes this was not quite the whole story; then was the political step of investigating the price of electricity to push it down and buy votes.
          For me the best way was always to build renewable power and have hydro as the standby option.
          The C40 cities main tenant is to decarbonise the grid and previous govts dallying has cost NZ dearly.
          As far as I am aware Genesis is the only operator of fossil fueled plant.

  6. It is good to Waiheke getting a fleet of BRAND new buses for a change instead of all the handme downs from all the different Bus fleets from around the country .

  7. Haha, I thought that Albert Street picture was a before picture, I was looking for the after. But alas even when they start from scratch all they can think of is a standard ultra wide road with a footpath. Boring.

    1. Exactly, they literally already have 2 highways running through town in Hobson and Nelson streets, we are talking about removing cars from yet we are going for BAU on a street that could have been a gold plated, retail driven street.

        1. I grew up in Napier, they made the main road a one way pedestrian mall 30 odd years ago I think. Being 30 years behind Napier is not a good place to be!

      1. Especially when those two highways are parallel and just a few metres away. And especially when Albert street has been closed all that time, why open it again? Muppets…

      1. It would be great if someone could photoshop a photo of Mike Hosking on a kiddies bike on Albert Street , just to P him off and set it up in a bike lane .

  8. Be interesting how these longer buses perform, the double deckers seating downstairs is quite irregular and limited with viewing outside a bit hard in places. Not as bad as some of the older buses covered in dark tint and advertising.

    Upstairs is great of course but for a short trip it is a bit awkward & the front two great viewing seat sets I find you feel a bit cramped unless you are small or have small feet at least.

    Wonder where they are going to fuel up the hrydro fuel cell ones they mentioned. From debates on etc prior, seems they are only worth it if you don’t have to distribute or transport fuel about for the vehicles involved to much. City based buses could use the port’s hydro fuel plant.

    1. Yeah we already have an extremely widespread electricity distribution network!

      The additional costs of schlepping diesel to waiheke probably played a role in the island’s buses going electric early.

      1. The fuel cost is likely what has driven the electric vehicle numbers on the island as well (add 30c per litre to city prices). Not all of the difference is the transport cost. Approx 200 EVs with a population of 9500 makes it one of the better ownership rates in the world.

    2. There is a Hydrogen fueling station being built at POAL.
      China has lots of ~10 year old battery electric buses on the roads in Shanghai, Beijing and cities in between. Design, benefits and economics are well established. We shouldn’t be buying any more diesels for reasons of NOx and PM10 / PM2.5 alone.
      Albert St needs bus lanes now, to avoid rework, and the cost of the change process (consultation, etc).

  9. Wellingtonians have overwhelmingly backed a radical plan to remove cars from the city’s Golden Mile

    Almost 2000 people gave feedback

    Hahahahaha ahhh.

    1. Anyone can give feedback, and the councils run advertising campaigns. Through snail mail, phone, public stalls they run, email, and online. You can’t run full scale referendums for every issue for every city, especially transport which most people are apathetic towards. So running public consultations is the solution. The goal is to get a good snapshot of what people want. 60% of people who submitted wanted the most “radical” option out of 3. Seems totally fair to me.

        1. “All three surveys returned similar results – at least 60 per cent support for the “transform” plan for all three streets. No other plan topped 13 per cent on any street.” —> from the article. So there are 3 streets and 3 options for each street, stuff picked the worst survey (where at least 60% of people chose most walkability, other streets had more) and they picked the highest alternate plan which was 13%, So lets presume in the worst case scenario people chose the essentially “do nothing option” is the 13 percent on one of the streets. That is definitely overwhelming support, (at least in my book)

        2. 1200 people is not overwhelming support.

          The only overwhelming thing it suggests is that Wellingtonians don’t care enough to submit.

      1. The effectively survey the entire city every 3 years. Surely that gives a more accurate representation of what people want.

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