Here’s our weekly roundup


Consultations

First up, a quick reminder that there are bunch of consultations that about to close so if you haven’t already, get submitting. I covered them here but as a quick reminder we’ve got


Home Free

I’m surprised Auckland Transport haven’t advertised this yet. They are running their Home Free initiative again this year. This is where they make buses, trains and most ferries free from 4pm onwards on the last Friday before Christmas (Friday 18th). This is done as a safety initiative so that people out having after work drinks have an alternative way to get home rather than trying to drive.

However, this time they’re also going a step further and offering free travel on Saturday 19th too “so Aucklanders can avoid driving and use buses, trains or ferries for Christmas Shopping, or for another family outing

This is excellent addition to the scheme, well done AT.

Just note:

This offer excludes

  • Rakino, Waiheke and Great Barrier Island vehicle ferry services.
  • Waiheke and Fullers tourist services and Skybus.
  • Devonport ferries are excluded on Saturday 19th December.
  • This offer is not available to AT HOP Monthly Pass holders. If you do have an active Monthly Pass, please tag on and off as per usual. As your travel for the month has been paid for in advance, the fare calculation will remain the same.

I wish they and Kiwirail also confirm what’s happening with the Christmas/New Year rail shutdown. AT’s website currently suggests the entire network will be shut from Boxing Day through to at least 10 January with the Western Line also closed west of New Lynn on Christmas Day. However it’s not clear if that’s the full extend of the shutdown.


E-bikes for the future

A great article from Stuff on the value of e-bikes and how we need to built our cities to encourage them.

But around the country, council data is turning up similar results. Bike traffic is way up, and the increase is highest in the areas where biking is the hardest.

While the overall number of bikes sold hasn’t changed significantly, there has been a big shift in one sub-category: e-bikes.

E-bike and e-scooter imports are up 300 per cent on three years ago and are on track to overtake new car imports by next year.

….

In that time we’ve become even more reliant on cars. Today, 43 per cent of car trips in New Zealand are less than 5km long, and the driver is the sole occupant in 68 per cent of trips.

New Zealand has the highest car ownership per capita in the world, excluding a couple of micro-nations, and we use them for almost everything.

Converting that number of short car trips into e-bike trips could have a massive impact on our climate goals. A UK study where 80 people were loaned an e-bike for two months found a 20 per cent reduction in car mileage.

Electric cars have long been considered the answer to our transport emission problem, but they’re still well out of the price range for most consumers and do nothing to fix our congestion problems.

E-bikes are far cheaper, and less resource-intensive to build, and could reach a widespread adoption faster.

Similar energy


Downtown Progress

The downtown improvements are getting closer to completion with AT saying they’re now over 75% complete. They’ve published this video highlighting some of this.

Next Friday Te Komititanga is officially being opened along with it’s nearly complete beautiful paving.

The last of the six of the Tukutuku panels for the whāriki are currently being laid – with the entire square made up of around 137,000 pavers.
These have been constructed to depict the waves of the Waitematā coming to shore on the northern end, while the southern end design shows the meandering of the Wai Horotiu stream. In front of the Chief Post Office entrance is the whāriki, a welcome mat collaboratively designed by Mana Whenua weavers to depict a traditional woven harakeke (flax) mat. The whāriki facilitates a meeting point; of two waters, of past and present, of people.


Puhinui Progress

AT have also been making progress at Puhinui and have put out this time lapse of construction.

You can also get a bit of a look at it in these videos

https://twitter.com/ashcustomworks/status/1336445374601392128

It’s going to be fantastic once it’s completed.

The first of those videos include Te Huia, the new Hamilton to Auckland train rolling through, presumably on a test run. Down in Hamilton, progress continues on the new Rotokauri transport hub


CRL Open Day

Last week City Rail Link held their Boring Day Out to let the public see the site at Mt Eden and in particular the tunnel boring machine which has been named Dame Whina Cooper.

One of the things I’ve also been wondering is what is going to happen to the spoil. Here’s what they say.

The Link Alliance says it has a comprehensive plan in place to dispose of all spoil safely, and with as little impact on the community and other road users as possible.

  • Spoil from Mt Eden will be a mix of cleanfill, managed and contaminated. We won’t know how much of each until tunnelling is underway. The spoil will be either wet spoil extracted by the TBM or a clean, dry type of spoil removed during initial tunnelling operations.
  • Cleanfill will be disposed of at the Three Kings Quarry in Mt Eden.
  • All other spoil – managed or contaminated – will be trucked to various disposal sites at Mercer in Waikato.
  • Link Alliance anticipates removing 1,000 cubic metres of spoil each day this year, and 750 cubic metres during peak tunnel boring in 2021 and 2022.
  • Link Alliance anticipates approximately 175 trucks entering and leaving the Mt Eden site daily.
  • Spoil movements will be limited to a 10-hour day, 7am to 7pm, Monday to Saturday.
  • No Sunday or overnight movements are planned.
  • The main spoil transport route during off-peak hours (9am to 3pm) will be directly along Mt. Eden Road to the Three Kings Quarry. During peak hours (7am to 9am and 3pm to 7pm) trucks will take a longer route along SH 16 and through Hillsborough to avoid Mt. Eden Road.
  • Spoil for Mercer will be trucked along New North Road and the State Highway network
  • Strict measures are in place to transport spoil securely to minimise dust, or dirt on the roads
  • Link Alliance also has mitigation measures in place to minimise noise disruption
  • Link Alliance is committed to working with transport-related agencies and community groups to keep people informed

That’s a lot of truck movements.


Trucks on SH1

Speaking of truck movements, delays at Ports of Auckland have seen a container ship divert to Marsden Point and now there is expected to be a lot more trucks on the road shifting those containers to Auckland

The fallout from crippling delays at the Ports of Auckland will be most visible on the road between Auckland and Whangārei over the coming days.

From Friday, Waka Kotahi says there will be 800 additional heavy vehicle movements on this section of the State Highway 1 route.

It is because nearly 1200 containers of consumer goods need unloading from the cargo ship Constantinos P, which was diverted to NorthPort to avoid the delays at the Ports of Auckland.

Up to 12 trucks are expected to leave Northport every hour from 6am until midnight for the next seven days.

Many empty trucks will then make the return journey for another load.

The rail line is currently closed for repairs after being run down over many decades, repairs that have likely been delayed as resources needed to be shifted to Auckland to fix our failing tracks. Of course, even if the line was operating, it doesn’t go to the port itself.

Also one thing I noticed in the video of the article above, all three of the Wellsford locals reporters spoke to noted that trucks are often speeding through the town and don’t stop at the pedestrian crossing making it incredibly dangerous.


Uber

This is a fascinating thread on Uber

Notably, Uber have are just starting to put Auckland PT information in their app.


Have a good weekend.

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61 comments

  1. I had hoped one of the benefits of closing the Mt Eden station temporarily was they could use the rail to remove the spoil. I guess the transfer on and off wagons is too complex. Seems a shame

    1. The main technical challenge is that using rail transport would further complicate the job of changing the rail alignment to interface with the new station and tunnels. The tracks have to be lowered several metres, while keeping a single line open for Western Line trains. It actually isn’t a very big site for all the different activities that have to take place simultaneously.

      Possibly the greater challenge to overcome would be the entrenched attitudes about doing new things with the rail network. Kiwirail seem to see themselves as being the custodians of a managed decline. This influences how other stakeholders see them too.

      1. Railways have given up on trying to compete with tip trucks long ago. Well except for very large tonnages over long distances which can justify the cost. Bottom dumper wagons require expensive unloading facilities. Demountable containers can be used but require forklift transfer to trucks to discharge them. Kiwirail doesn’t have either spare bottom dumpers or suitable containers plus they would have to find trucks which can tip containers. The only other option would be the once ubiquitous open high side wagon but they have being scrapped long ago they also required a digger to unload them. But it sounds like the material will be mud that will be messy probably best to use tipping trucks.

        1. NZR had a large number of side tipper wagons many years ago and now the only ones that I have seen are at/on Heritage rail sites , it’s a shame they can’t hire them and use them to fill in the Whangimarino swamp ,then double track that stretch for faster goods/passenger services .

        2. @ David L,
          KR have modern side dump wagons (YL class) that were built at Hillside around 2012. Replaced the old YD wagons from the 1950s.
          Whangamarino: just complete the partially built double track deviation west of the current line (KR own all the required land).

        3. But there is good clean fill and then there is any old fill which is what will come out of the CRL tunnels. Just look at the length the went to digging out the old fill and replacing it with new material on the recently completed new line into the third platform at Otahuhu. You can’t just dump anything into the swamp and then expect to build a class one railway line on it.

    2. Given AT are still running 6tph through the site in each direction at peak and most of the spoil is going to a quarry nowhere near the rail network, this would be the very definition of more trouble than it’s worth.

  2. l guess l have a bike first brain,but l still find it hard to comprehend that councils are unable to grasp the opportunity that the good folk of New Zealand are offering them.Climate change targets,congestion could be solved overnight ,if the short car journeys were replaced with bikes.There is a latent demand ,that would show itself,if it were safe to do so.Some councils get it,but it seems where the biggest gains could be made,there is the greatest reluctance to improve the bikers lot

    1. This.
      So much evidence from overseas and right here shows people will ride when it’s safe to do so.
      It solves so many problems at once and is by miles the cheapest option for local and central governments.
      It boggles the mind that it’s not the #1 priority.

      1. I’m sure AT have plenty of feel good documents that say it is a priority if that makes you feel better?
        I agree it should be the #1 priority. And cycle lanes / cycle safety should have a much higher priority than people storing their cars on the public road. If AT realised that they could transform cycling almost overnight. Instead they do time consuming consultations that always result in locals not wanting to lose their free carparks and do not consider the greater good.

        1. “Instead they do time consuming consultations that always result in locals not wanting to lose their free carparks and do not consider the greater good.”

          AT is required to conduct those time saving consultations. When they don’t, they get criticised by Phil Goff.

    2. The government too. Imagine what would happen if they bought every household in the country an e-bike! A bulk order like that I imagine they wouldn’t be more than $1k each, so could buy every household in NZ one for $1.7 billion, the price of a bit of motorway. Or if AT offered say $1000 cash back on any e-bike purchase that would cost much less, maybe less than the St Heliers “safety upgrade”.

      1. ” Imagine what would happen if they bought every household in the country an e-bike! ‘

        I can imagine it. Thousands of e-bikes being sold on Trademe, and the money being used to buy ciggies and spent at the TAB?

        1. No , but it could be like a person on national tv news who got a drone for xmas and then straight away put it on trademe so he could buy a dishwasher .

          And if everyone got an Ebike the market for them would be zilch .

        2. I can’t imagine there being anyone would get much for an e-bike on Trade Me if every house had one, the market would be flooded.

    3. Actions speak louder than words.

      It is naive to think that the council “declaring a climate emergency” is meaningful in any way. Or that another 100 page report about active transport or urban design is meaningful.

      As for actions, probably bike lanes count as low-hanging fruit. But if even the COVID epidemic couldn’t galvanise the council into putting in a meaningful amount, I don’t know what will.

  3. I have forgotten where we in the cycle with the lower Queen Street saga. Is it pedestrianised…again, or is it open to traffic…..again? Oh never mind which ever it is they will revert it in about 15 years.

    1. I was thinking about this the other day. Pedestrianized areas are stupid if the only way to get to it is a car. As soon as you start to have alternate modes of transport then it makes a lot of sense. No-one is going to drive to your pedestrianized area. I believe that it will be long lived now, especially after CRL and other PT and cycling improvements are made in the coming years.

  4. I used to train to/from Puhinui between 21 and 13 years ago. What a god forsaken place it was; in the middle of nowhere would have been a good description.
    If I saw 2 other people on the platform it felt crowded!
    One time someone meandered down the track a bit and lay down in front of an approaching train, giving the driver no time to stop.

    1. Matt, have you heard whether a third platform will be incorporated at Puhinui Stn when it is re-opened? It was reported at the time that the Waikato representatives attending the ground-breaking of the Puhinui Stn works were trying to impart to then Transport Minister Twyford the importance of having a third platform so that the Te Huia service could run to Puhinui rather than just Papakura.

  5. When they dump the spoil at Three Kings will the recreate the Volcano Cone or just level it out and dump mansion size Homes on top of it . I copied this from Watercare and their spoil is going to Puketutu Island and they are creating Volcanic Cones before handing it over to Auckland as a park .;-

  6. There’s been quite a bit in the papers recently about how we need a feebate (as well as a fuel efficiency standard), and also about how we need stronger climate leadership from the government.

    Just thought I’d post some figures here on the CO2-based charges to register a petrol VW Touareg in four European countries:

    Germany: €450 a year (just increased from €300)
    Sweden: €1,300 a year for the first 3 years, then €300 a year
    France: €20,000 initially, then €950 a year
    UK: £1,850 a yearNZ: $109 a year (discount for EVs was removed a year or so ago)

    So, all those calling for stronger leadership, please tell me how we can get something like any of the European systems in place.

    1. Or if you really want to push the market towards buying EVs then you pile the tax on fossil fuel cars as in Norway.
      https://elbil.no/english/norwegian-ev-policy/
      A 22k euro Golf then has $12k of taxes added to it. The price then becomes more than the eGolf.

      So yes higher annual registration costs, but a significantly higher gst on fossil fueled vehicles would send a real message to the market that buying something with relatively high emissions that will stay in the market for 20 years is not what the country needs.

      1. Ford Raptor – GST off, Depreciation, FBT. Diesel at 93c/litre. Very cool car – why would you even consider an EV? The messaging to the market is crystal clear.

      1. Yes they only need $3million for light rail. That would get them reports for another 3 years easy. Then they can allocate a further $3million.

        1. But why not use at least some of it on graphic designers for some public-facing reports? That would provide jobs.

  7. It seems to me it is inevitable that more large containers ships will need to be unloaded at Marsden Point with containers trucked to Auckland. Early next year the NAL should be reopened. Half a dozen trucks operating between Marsden Point and the Whangerai station could shift trainloads of containers per day both way between the station and the port. At the same time get on with the branch to the port. Give Kiwirail the chance to increase train movements on the line and build capacity. For instance there is no signaling at the moment. Need a siding in Auckland not sure where Kumeu has being suggested but Southdown would be preferable. 20 kilometres between Marsden Point and Whangerai. Govt subsides truck movements for a period to get this started after all the Marsden Point branch should have being built years ago.

    1. At Oakleigh there use to be a 2/3 track siding which if the NAL us up and running they could have used and with a round trip of 10-15km’s it should be used until if/when the spur is built .

      And a question to Matt L are you able to find if there are any funds allocated to biuld the Spur or has this disappeared after NZF were ejected from parliament ?

  8. From Stuff today
    “A handful of roads have managed to go $1.1 billion over budget, forcing the Government’s transport agency to make tough choices to make its books balance.

    It comes as a group has lodged a judicial review to challenge decisions around transport spending, saying that Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency had disregarded direct orders from the Government to pivot transport away from roads and towards cycling and public transport.”

    A big shout out to the group mentioned in the second paragraph.

    Surely now is the time for the government to realise that it is becoming increasingly inequitable to fund additional road spending from general taxation, given that there is an ever increasing number of people who are choosing not to drive, or to drive less. Also, if overseas research is applicable here, the greatest road users are the more wealthy.

    Oh for the road tolls of Brazil, Norway, Italy, Austria amongst other places where those who use the roads most pay for the roads. It may introduce discipline into more road building if new roads were only built if there was enough money in the pot to finance them. (Perish the thought though that politicians could not go to the Transport Minister saying, there are at least four people in my electorate whose lives are wrecked because they sit in traffic for 5 minutes, often more, morning and night!) You need to do something.

    I wish those pursuing the judicial review well so that we can move to a more sustainable future.

      1. Fred, it would be great, but only one option between PT and private cars is going to reduce emissions and congestion.

        We do need to invest carefully in PT and cities like Prague and Vienna have managed to drive farebox recovery up because PT is used by so many.

        One thing is true, that if you invest in a car you will never be able to have travel at such a low price as using PT buy the time you factor in depreciation, garage costs, maintenance, licensing etc

  9. It is fascinating to see the changes that AT isn’t contemplating for Devonport village. I have tabulated paragraphs from the consultation document.

    1) “On-street parking around Devonport village and Ferry Terminal is in high demand, which means that people are often unable to find a park and become frustrated.”
    So given that parking is in high demand with people often unable to find spaces we might expect that AT would look to manage that demand using strategies from their Parking Strategy to ensure spaces are available?

    2) “Surveys have shown 80% of people parking in the village are staying less than 2 hours.”
    So the problem is largely not people parking for an extended period of time.

    3) “The changes proposed through the village includes:
    Time restrictions of two hours (P120), Monday to Sunday, 8am to 6pm”
    So despite the fact that most of the parkers (80%) stay for less than 2 hours, and yet there is a problem, AT proposes largely to do nothing about it

    4) “Why time-restricted parking
    Amending parking to P120 through the village will mean parking is better suited to visitors.
    Surveys have shown 80% of people parking in the village are staying less than 2 hours.
    The change would also mean parking restrictions are more consistent across the area and will reduce signage clutter.”
    At least AT are honest here and aren’t saying that availability of parking spaces will be improved because there is no evidence that they might be.

    Overall the whole thing is a disgrace. Neighbouring suburbs have paid parking. This wealthy suburb can well afford to pay for parking. Parking charges will have no impact on local business as customers won’t drive the length of the peninsula to save a couple of dollars. Parking charges would encourage public transport use which might decrease Lake Road congestion. (I know this is a novel idea and doesn’t seem to figure in any of AT’s thinking.)

    Most of all, where is the acknowledgement of the climate emergency and a suburb by suburb, overall coordinated plan to reduce emissions? There is none!

    On another tack, I see that Auckland won’t see the timely adoption of electric buses for the sake of 44 cents per week in rates.

    There needs to be a climate reset at both AC and AT and it needs to happen now.

    1. To be fair to AT, 80% of vehicles that are parked stay less than 2 hours does not mean that 80% of car parking is occupied by people staying less than 2 hours. For example, imagine 30 carparks with 20 vehicles parked all day, and 80 vehicles parked for an hour each. In this situation, introducing P120 would free up 20 of the 30 car parks all day.

  10. Early action for electric buses is critical for multiple reasons. The main ones being;
    1) Air quality and associated health and wellbeing
    2) Reduction in climate impacts
    Additionally, they will provide obvious evidence that action on climate change can be positive, is achievable and can be done NOW. One of my concerns is that it is easy to feel defeated by climate change and to give up or take no action.

  11. Press release from Waikato District Council. Won’t link here. Anyway I hope it succeeds.

    “A dedicated bus service will launch in the new year, linking the north Waikato communities of Tuakau and Pokeno to Pukekohe.

    Waikato Regional Council’s regional connections committee chair Angela Strange said: “We’re excited to be rolling out with this new service for our north Waikato communities.

    “It’s been a real collaboration with Waikato District Council and I’m sure will be a game changer for these communities who have been crying out for frequent and accessible public transport,” Cr Stranger said.

    The service will start on Sunday, 10 January and operate seven days a week. Each bus will have space for two bikes on the front bike rack, free WiFi and USB chargers on board.

    Fares will be only $1 on Bee Card or $2 cash per ride for a limited time. SuperGold Card holders will receive free bus travel between 9am and 3pm weekdays and all day on weekends.

    Waikato District Council is funding the service. District Mayor Allan Sanson said: “This service will be trialled over two years and provide freedom and independence for many in these communities.

    “For people working in or commuting from Pukekohe who might find parking a challenge, the peak bus services are timed to meet the trains.

    “School students will now have a reliable alternative to getting to and from Pokeno School, Tuakau College, Pukekohe Intermediate and Pukekohe High School.

    “It’ll also open up opportunities for people who want to visit the swimming pool or gym, catch-up with friends, access medical facilities or do shopping in either of the three centres.”

    Information on the service, including the timetable, is available by visiting busit.co.nz or calling the 24-hour BUSIT infoline on 0800 205 305.

    A mail drop to every household in Pokeno and Tuakau next week will include a free ticket to trial the service.”

    1. I seriously doubt this bus service will attract much patronage if the existing local Pukekohe bus services are anything to go by, which are usually empty.

      There isn’t a traffic congestion issue on the roads between Pokeno and Pukekohe and there aren’t parking issues in Pukekohe. In fact the park and ride at Pukekohe station is generally 2/3rds empty most weekdays now.

      if the Waikato Regional Council and Waikato District Council really want to get people out of their cars and onto public transport in Pokeno and Tuakau, they would be far better to have new rail stations built at these two towns and have the new Te Huia service stopping there. Also have a return service from Papakura to Hamilton in the morning, before returning from Hamilton to Papakura in the late afternoon. This would then provide a service in both directions serving these towns, which would be of use to more people.

  12. https://www.neighbourly.co.nz/e-edition/north-shore-times/41216
    For me this was the best piece to be written this week about how Auckland can reduce emissions and congestion. There was nothing particularly earth shattering about the concept he talked about – drive less. But it was an honest piece about the confronting changes we will need to make, whether we like it or not.

    The mayor and councilors did not escape criticism for their lack of action. And as I mentioned above we, could have electric buses for only an extra 44 cents per week. Would raising parking charges from the lowest base rate in Auckland by only 50 cents per hour pay for this? I don’t know, but we should be exploring this? If we increase PT charges every year why not parking charges? And there is a hell of a lot of catching up to do.

    Well done Todd Niall.

    1. Yes, and meanwhile AT is doing shit like this: https://at.govt.nz/media/1984475/nop2021-021-new-north-road-mount-albert-traffic-flow-and-pedestrian-improvements.pdf

      They’re removing parking in order to increase vehicle throughput and emissions. It’s hard to know if they don’t know they’re increasing emissions (duh) or if they don’t care.

      They need to remove the parking, yes, for a protected cycle lane. And they need to flank NNR with low traffic neighbourhoods to reduce the traffic along it to speed the buses up. And if that’s not enough, they need to use some of the other levers for reducing traffic.

      And notice they’re talking about removing a tree to protect a slip lane? JFC.

      1. “They’re removing parking in order to increase vehicle throughput”

        Good. This area of New North Road is notorious for being choked by cars that park on New North Road all day. Many of the houses are rented and have numerous uni students flatting in the same house. They all park their cars on New North Road

        1. Yes I know what you mean about the number of parked cars being a problem. But it’s important to use the space for better uses. Removing it for “traffic flow” increases vehicle throughput, and creates:

          – temporary travel time improvements in this one location, coupled with travel time deterioration throughout the network – because the increased “traffic flow” here increases traffic through the network, creating worse pinch points and congestion elsewhere. So travel times for driving might be locally better, temporarily, but elsewhere they increase, and they do here, too, as the traffic is induced (which in Auckland’s congestion, happens pretty quickly);
          – worsening walking and cycling outcomes. It is harder and less safe to cross a road when there are four lanes of fast moving traffic than when there are two lanes, with two lanes of stationary parked cars. In the same way, it will be harder for cyclists. And throughout the network, every increase in traffic pushes modeshift the wrong way.
          – worsening public transport outcomes, ultimately. If the extra traffic throughout the network, or the extra lanes of fast moving traffic on NNR means it isn’t safe to walk to or cross to the bus stop or train station, people won’t be able to take the bus. And buses suffer in the wider increases in traffic.

          This is essentially the story of Auckland’s transport problems. Chasing short term, illusory gains that exacerbate our safety situation, our poor public transport network, and that embed car dependence.

        1. Decrease Road Capacity
          Use Low-Traffic Neighbourhood layouts
          Restrict general traffic as required to prioritise sustainable travel
          Reduce intersection space for vehicles
          Invest in W&C Infrastructure
          Increase Safety
          Reduce Parking
          Price Parking
          Increase Road Pricing
          Increase Public Transport Infrastructure
          Decrease Public Transport Fares
          Increase Public Transport Quality
          Intensify
          Increase vehicle costs

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