Here’s our wrap up for the week. This will probably be the last one this year.
Te Komititanga Opening
Today’s the day Ke Komititanga, the beautiful new public space that has replaced lower Queen St is being officially opened. It’s been over four years since construction started on the City Rail Link and it will be fantastic to have some more public space in the city again. You could also say it marks the beginning of the end of the downtown works which are transforming the waterfront area.
This shot from Ben last night helps to show just how great it looks, with work crews having a late night in a bid to get things finished in time.
Still working…… pic.twitter.com/v2J0t22YIQ
— Ben van Bruggen (@vburbandesign) December 17, 2020
Work is still continuing on Galway and Tyler streets as well as the refurbishment of the old Chief Post Office, which is due to reopen as the entrance to Britomart around March.
Rail Network Shutdown
From Monday the first of the annual rail network shutdowns kick off on the Western Line west of New Lynn and from the 26 December the entire rail network will be closed for maintenance and construction works. The entire network is due to reopen on 11 January.
This year there’s quite a bit going on and is highlighted in this image from Kiwirail
These improvements are much needed but I really hope that with all this work we get to the point where we’re not constantly closing the network for weeks on end at this time of the year.
Free PT this afternoon and Tomorrow
We highlighted this last week but as a reminder, buses, trains and many ferries are free from 4pm today through to Sunday as part of Auckland Transport’s now annual ‘Home Free’ promotion.
With Saturday included, MRCagney are running a Frequent Network Challenge.
The New Network is one of MRCagney’s most important and transformational projects over the past 5 years and the Frequent Network is the core part of that with 30 routes now running every 15 minutes, 7am-7pm, 7 days a week. Auckland Transport are having a free transport day on the 19th of December and this seems like the perfect opportunity to get out there and experience that frequency is freedom!
The challenge starts from Britomart at midday and the idea is to travel on at least one frequent route beginning with (1,2,3,6,7,8 and 9) plus a northern express bus to a busway station and a link bus in as fast as time as possible. The full rules are here.
2 days to go until the #frequentnetworkchallenge
Up for grabs are these limited edition @AklTransport HOP Cards with credit!
1st place $150
2nd Prize $100
3rd Prize $50
The credit will be split by the number of members in your team.
— MRCagney (@MRCagney) December 17, 2020
New Year’s Eve in the city
Auckland Transport have been getting better at closing parts of the city on New Years Eve for people to celebrate after scenes like this a few years ago where handfuls of cars were prioritised over tens of thousands of people.
This year the road closures seem to be the biggest AT have had, which is probably in part due to the CRL works closing Wellesley St.
This should be great for people wanting to be in the city, though it seems the perennial issues remain in that AT are operating a Saturday timetable with only a handful of extra services, and of course no rail services. This means there’s a good chance most people will therefore drive to the city and that the buses that are on will be stuck in the traffic jams of everyone trying to get out.
Royal Oak Letdown
Last year Auckland Transport consulted on making changes to the dangerous Royal Oak roundabout. However the focus was all about traffic flow and did nothing to make it safer for people on bikes and only small improvements for pedestrians.
They’ve finally announced the outcome of that consultation and despite claiming to be focused on safety and the largest request being for making it safer for people on bikes, followed by calls for pedestrian improvements, Auckland Transport are ignoring those and pushing ahead with largely unaltered plans.
This is incredibly disappointing and also frustrating. Making it safer for people on bikes and on foot is shown to make it safer for everyone. In addition, it highlights AT’s misguided priorities as if this was the other way around, a cycling project where even a small number of locals complained, they’d make changes in a heartbeat that would compromise the outcomes, if not cancel the project altogether.
Auckland Transport and Climate Change
Auckland Transport CEO Shane Ellison appeared on a podcast talking about the organisations responses to reducing emissions
The Auckland Climate Plan sets a target of reducing GHG emissions by half by 2030. Now, we know that largest single chunk of Auckland’s emissions – that’s 37% – comes from land transport. So to achieve that bold target, transport emissions need to fall by a massive 64% – in just 10 years. That puts Shane Ellison in the hot seat. Shane is the chief executive of Auckland Transport, the council-owned company that manages Auckland transport network, from trains and busses, to roads, tunnels, footpaths and cycleways. Shane recently wrote a piece in the NZ Herald setting out the scale of the challenge. Vincent asked him how serious this challenge is, what needs to be done and why cycling in Auckland still sucks, big time.
Views of the Minister
Finally for this week, Stuff has a good interview with the new Transport Minister Michael Wood.
In an interview with Stuff prior to the release of the ministerial briefing, Wood said he was “really passionate” about the challenge of decarbonising the way the country travelled. “It is something we have to face up to as a whole country … The longer that action is delayed, the more difficult it gets.”
Yet he would not be playing the guilt card, he said.
Wood said investment in “more and better” public transport was key.
“We have more than doubled the funding for public transport initiatives, more than doubled the funding for walking and cycling infrastructure,” he said. “Under the previous Government, the starting point was that NZTA built roads, now we actually say: what is the best transport solution for a particular problem?”
Yet funding for public transport remains secondary to roads.
This year, for every dollar spent on roads, taxpayers will spend 50 cents on national rail, public transport, ferry, cycling and walking projects through the national land transport fund, according to a Government policy statement prepared by the previous minister, Phil Twyford.
Asked if this equated to a balanced spend, Wood said the Government was heading in that direction. By the end of the decade, public and active transport will receive up to 67 cents for each dollar going to roads.
Have a good week.