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.

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.

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.

Things got better but there were still issues.

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.

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  1. Royal Oak,we haven’t got any money to do it properly,so we’ll just keep going with a half arsed “solution”,the point of consultation was what,they were never going to do anything different.Is now the time for direct action,think “Springbok tour “protests,the diplomatic process is struggling to make meaningful progress

    1. And they won’t be digging it up again for another 10 – 20 years so we’ll just have to live with it. Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!

    1. Sorry:

      Hundreds of homes, businesses and rural properties are in the path of the $1.4 billion Mill Rd highway in South Auckland.

      Engagement with about 600 landowners is to begin shortly on a preferred route between Papakura to Drury, according to a briefing paper from the NZ Transport Agency to incoming Transport Minister Michael Wood.

      One of the landowners is Kāinga Ora, which owns land and homes in the vicinity of the route through Papakura.

      A spokesman for the housing agency said it was aware of the highway when it bought land in 2019 and saw the transport project working well for its current and future developments.

      Kāinga Ora could not comment on the possibility of losing some of its land, the spokesman said.

      Those details would need to come from NZTA when its plans were finalised, he said.

      Papakura local board chairman Brent Catchpole said the board supported the highway, but said it was going to be very difficult for NZTA to deal with property owners.

      From what he knew, Catchpole said, the highway would have a big impact for homeowners in Papakura east, and was likely to affect a new subdivision at Twin Parks, where about 150 homes were completed in 2016, and a nearby early childhood centre.

      It could also cut through Kerri Downs park in Papakura where kilikiti – a form of cricket popular among Pacific Islanders – was played, Catchpole said.

      He said the project had been on the books since before the Super City was formed in 2010, and a firm decision on the designation was needed to give homeowners certainty.

      The northern section of the highway between Redoubt Rd in Manukau and Alfriston Rd north of Papakura had already been designated, but there would be a “significant impact on private property” on the southern section, an NZTA spokesman said.

      Redoubt Rd in Manukau at the northern end of the Mill Rd highway. Photo / Maria Slade
      Redoubt Rd in Manukau at the northern end of the Mill Rd highway. Photo / Maria Slade

      The southern section runs from Takaanini, around the east of Papakura to Opaheke and Drury where it connects to the Southern Motorway.

      The project, which upgrades Mill Rd from two to four lanes with separate walking and cycling facilities, is part of a $2.4b Government investment in new roads and rail in South Auckland.

      The quiet community of Drury, population 4960, will be turned into a city bigger than Napier, with tens of thousands of new residents, two new railway stations and an electrified rail line from Papakura to Pukekohe.

      All up, the 21.5km highway will support an extra 120,000 people in South Auckland over the next 30 years.

      The plan is for Mill Rd to be used for local trips and reduce traffic on the Southern Motorway, running parallel to the new four-lane highway scheduled as a “Road of National Significance” by the former National Government.

      The NZTA spokesman said Mill Rd was a complex project and work was still going on to confirm where the Takaanini, Papakura and Drury sections would go.

      “The size and scale of this new corridor, combined with the fact we are building large sections through established areas means that no matter the route chosen, there will be significant impact on private property.

      “We are taking the time to ensure we make the right decisions, and that means we have not confirmed the preferred route south of the Manukau section, including the number of properties potentially impacted,” the spokesman said.

      He said engagement had not begun, but NZTA had written to landowners in the Mill Rd area to update them and let them know there would be a further update in 2021.

      “Currently, the project team is undertaking site investigations in the area, which includes ecological, topographical, geotechnical and general surveys and this work will continue for several months. We had planned to carry out these investigations earlier in the year but had to delay this work due to Covid-19,” the spokesman said.

      Mill Rd is part of the Government’s NZ Upgrade Programme released earlier this year. Construction is due to start in late 2022, and the highway will be built in stages through to 2028.

      1. It’s another sign that the poor don’t matter as they are the last to Complain and if went anywhere near the rich you never hear the end of it .

  2. Considering there’s supposed to be a climate emergency the funding should be $1for national rail, public transport, ferry, cycling, walking and 50 cents for road.

  3. Good they are planning on closing more roads for NYE this time around.

    I happened to arrive yesterday just as the gates were getting removed around the Lower Queen St paved area Ke Komititanga, so was one of the privileged first to walk across a corner of it’s vast area. Great quality workmanship done on this one.

    Was having a bit of catch up look around this area so had a proper first look in and around the Commercial Bay area & also the newish Britomart Hotel precinct. Then a quick look at the America’s Cup goings on.

  4. While I don’t necessarily agree with your breakdown for spending the principle regarding the apportionment is certainly right.
    What I cannot understand is the basic disconnect between the general agreement that we need to drive less, much less (and therefore there will be less cars on the roads, and therefore there will more space on our roads) and that for some reason we should be building (many) more roads.
    When you consider just Auckland, it is suggested that 60% of emissions from driving need to be cut. Will we really need all the extra roads in 10 years, or is money just being poured into projects that will be unnecessary even in the short term?

  5. “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. ”

    Surely it puts every single member of the senior leadership team at AT in a situation where they have to achieve results?

    Could we expect the head of Parking Services to write to Heart of the City telling them that $2 weekend parking at AT car parks is no longer appropriate in terms of AT achieving other goals; and this will cease? AT is doing this because our research has shown us that more expensive parking is the largest deterrent to people driving.

    Could we expect such a letter to say that AT has worked closely with your organisation in the past and that you may consider aligning your promotions with encouraging PT use rather than just encouraging people to drive, to align with our goals?

    Is this the sort of considered approach that we would expect from AT as they look to achieve the city’s carbon emission reduction emission goals. (Yes I know that Auckland has already failed miserably to achieve the major first step- peak carbon emissions by 2020 as required by their membership of C40.)

    Just as a matter of interest who is paying for the free valet parking that is seemingly being given away at the Britomart Car Park? Surely it wouldn’t be ratepayers paying to encourage people to drive to the city?

  6. Regarding free transport on Friday. I used free Americas Cup shuttle on top of being it on a free day (after4pm). Driver told me not to tag on, just tag off. Of course I ended up paying $5 for a double-free bus that is only operating in one zone. Wanted to request a refund on my account and found out I can type literally 5 words in there. Thanks AT for a free day that was more expensive than a normal one. Each time I use your service you really remind me why I own a car…

    1. Welcome to the club , as in October I got the free 64 bus from Mt Eden to Kingsland tag on/off and the system charged me 1c for the free trip got it though on the same day as I got my Gold Hop Card . So it pays to register and check you card on line 24hrs after the trips you make .

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