As year draws to a close it’s time for a quick wrap up the most important things that happened and WOW, what a year it’s been.

Thank you to everyone who has visited the blog and supported us in making Auckland greater.


COVID

You can’t talk about 2020 and not talk about COVID and the impact it’s had.

Public Transport

Public transport use has taken a massive hit in cities all over the world and Auckland is no different. By the end of November, our 12-month rolling total had fallen to just under 63 million trips, down from 103 million prior to COVID. Yet while usage has dropped, during the lockdowns there were times where PT struggled due to social distancing rules limiting the capacity available.

Walking and cycling

One of the starkest impacts of the lockdowns was seeing many of our streets empty of cars and so many more people out walking or cycling – and in some suburbs there were bikes everywhere,

After a bit of pressure, Auckland Transport finally stepped up and delivered some temporary cycleways on a number of roads around Auckland. Something we’ve seen happen in cities all over the world. We also saw positive changes such as turning off the pedestrian beg buttons at traffic lights.

Disappointingly, with the exception of Queen St all of these were removed as soon as restrictions were eased.

The Queen St changes, which have been iterated on a few times, are all that remain of the COVID emergency works

Rail Meltdown and Harbour Bridge damage

COVID isn’t the only thing that caused an issue this year. The two main issues have been

  • The rail network meltdown – which has trains slowed to 40km/h and many services cancelled as the lines weren’t being maintained like they should have been.
  • The Harbour Bridge damage – A key strut on the bridge was damaged after a truck was knocked over by a gust of wind.

Carrying on from the PT use shown above, this version breaks usage down by year based the mode. You can see that all modes recovered at about the rate following the first Lockdown 1 ferries saw a substantial boost in usage following the harbour bridge being damaged while the rail network has been performing below where it should.

I’m certainly looking forward to the slowdown being over.


NZ Upgrade Programme

Right at the start of the year and before the COVID craziness kicked off, the government announced their NZ Upgrade Programme which included $6.8 billion worth of transport projects. While it does include some good projects, such as the Northern Pathway, the third main and electrification to Pukekohe, it also included a huge amount of spending on new roads (around 77%), Labour’s Roads of National Significance if you will, this includes:

  • Whangarei to Port Marsden – $692 million
  • Penlink – $411 million
  • Mill Rd – $1,354 million
  • SH1 Papakura to Drury South widening – $423 million
  • Tauranga Northern Link – $478 million
  • Te Puna to Ōmokora – $455 million
  • Melling Interchange $258 million
  • Ōtaki to north of Levin – $817 million
  • Other projects in Waikato, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago – $366 million

Some of these projects, such as the third main and electrification to Pukekohe are now getting underway and many of the other projects are being progressed.


City Rail Link

It’s been another big year for progress on the CRL. Conveniently they’ve put together their own year in review.

The one thing I think they missed in that montage was the reinstatement of Albert St following the completion of the cut and cover tunnels built as part of phase one of the project.


Busway/s Progress

Auckland currently has four major rapid transit projects under construction, the CRL and three busways, all of which also made progress this year. They are:

  • The Eastern Busway
  • Airport to Manukau including the impressive new Puhinui station
  • The Northern Busway Extension – an idea on the progress that has been made can be seen from about 1 minute in below

The first two are due for completion next year with the Northern Busway extension due in 2022.

In addition to these projects, as part of the COVID response the government have allocated $100 million towards making improvements to buses on the Northwest in advance of more permanent Rapid Transit infrastructure. AT consulted on this in October.


Light Rail

We’ve been somewhat disillusioned with the Light Rail process over the last few years after it was derailed by the NZ Superfund and their Canadian partners looking to push an expensive metro solution that would also effectively see us paying high interest rates to cover the costs. The government had pitted the Superfund up against Waka Kotahi to see who would be responsible for delivering it.

Ministry of Transport officials favoured the Superfund/CDPQ bid however ultimately both bids were ‘thrown out’ after New Zealand First opposed it.

The government are now working on what they call a ‘public sector delivery model’.


Supercharging Urban Development

The government had received a lot of negative commentary for not delivering as many houses as they promised. But when it comes to housing, one area they’ve done something very positive in has been delivering their National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS). Some of the main things the NPS does is to ban councils from imposing parking minimums and mandate major urban areas such as Auckland upzone their plans to allow at least six-storey buildings close to rapid transit stops and within the edge of city centre and metropolitan centre areas.


The Plans

There have been a number of plans finalised or consulted on this year. Here are some of the most important.

Auckland Climate Plan

During the year the Council adopted Auckland’s Climate Plan (ACP) which as the name suggests is about how we reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. Importantly it sets some ambitious targets to achieve, here are the ones for transport

20302050
Vehicle Kilometres travelled by private vehicles reduced by 12% as a result of avoided motorised vehicle travel, through actions such as remote working and reduced trip lengths
Public transport mode share to increase from 7.8% to 24.5%Public transport mode share to increase from 7.8% to 35%
Cycling modes share to increase from 0.9% to 7%Cycling modes share to increase from 0.9% to 9%
Walking mode share to increase from 4.1% to 6%Walking mode share to increase from 4.1% to 6%
100% of Auckland’s bus fleet to be zero emission
40% of passenger and light commercial vehicles to be electric or zero emission80% of passenger and light commercial vehicles to be electric or zero emission
18% increase in fuel efficiency of the light vehicle fleet (internal combustion engine)25% increase in fuel efficiency of the light vehicle fleet (internal combustion engine)
8% of road freight to shift to rail20% of road freight to shift to rail
40% of road freight to be electric or zero emission80% of road freight to be electric or zero emission
15% increase in fuel efficiency of the freight vehicle fleet (internal combustion engine)25% increase in fuel efficiency of the freight vehicle fleet (internal combustion engine)

City Centre Masterplan

The refreshed City Centre Masterplan was also adopted this year and includes a few big changes, including:

  • Access for Everyone – which aims to make the city centre more people friendly by changing how streets in the city work
  • The Grafton Gully Boulevard – that would see Stanley St and The Strand changed from a pseudo motorway into a tree lined boulevard that supports significant development.

The change also came with a new website and graphics highlighting the changes planned.

The Access for Everyone proposal with the city centre divided into cells

Government Policy Statement (GPS) 2021-24

The GPS sets out the government’s transport policies and lasts three years including the budget ranges for each mode and was refreshed for 2021. At a high-level it has much in common with the 2018-21 GPS.


Changing Streets

Being more innovative in how we design and improve our existing streets is becoming more appreciated and this year Waka Kotahi NZTA have started leading in that space with their Innovating Streets programme. Auckland has a number of projects getting some funding to trial changes.


Safety

This year has saw the first of the speed limit changes rolled out across Auckland, with them mainly in rural areas or the city centre.

Nationally we are on track for a reduction in the number of road deaths for the year with us sitting at 310 deaths on our roads this year compared to 344 by this time last year. Auckland has seen 32 road deaths compared to 39 at this time last year. Notably though, we’ve seen over double the number of pedestrians killed in Auckland this year so far with 10 being killed vs 4 last year.


Elections

The elections were an important part of the second half of the year and ended up seeing Labour win comfortably. Labour didn’t really have a transport policy other than just pointing to the things they were already doing.

Following the election a cabinet reshuffle saw us get a new Transport Minister, Michael Wood. He’s certainly got a big task ahead of him to deliver on projects like light rail however he did take some time to write a guest post for us.


There’s so much more we could include here.

This will be our last post for the year so once again thanks for reading and supporting us. Have a happy and safe Christmas and New Year.

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91 comments

  1. So we have one apartment block finished but still empty on Hillcrest Road opposite the Papatoetoe West School a couple of minute walk to Papatoetoe railway station. In this country it seems to take ages to get things completed. Kaianga Ora at least 5 stories not sure how many units looks goods I will be watching with interest as to how it turns out. Meanwhile a new petrol station is being built next to the park and ride which will be good for the gas guzzlers. I hope they will put in some charging points. There was previously a Challenge station there but it has being closed for a few years.

  2. It’s funny huh? All we needed to do to get people out walking and cycling was to give them too much time on their hands and nowhere to go.

      1. And nicer! So much less noise. I really noticed on my daily Covid inspired walk routine when the cars came back just how horrible they are!

      2. How come more pedestrians were killed in Auckland this year with less cars and lowered speed limits, than last year with more cars and higher speed limits?

        1. well it certainly wasn’t about the speed in central Auckland. Everybody knew it then and everybody knows it now.

    1. In my capacity as self appointed judge of the Greater Auckland comments section I hereby award you the prize for Comment of the Year.

    2. Or make it more safe for when people do have to go somewhere. Cycling is faster on the isthmus than the majority of bus trips at rush hour.

    3. Yes, but if you look at the stats, cycling was massively down in level 4 in Auckland and Wellington and down in Christchurch. It has not really recovered in any city where cycling has been down on 2019.
      Pedestrian was up a lot in Auckland during level 4.
      This kind of suggests that even with much fewer cars and trucks on our roads, people still don’t want to cycle.
      Are we looking at the wrong mobility mode – should we be spending more on better walking connections and less on cycle lanes?
      My data source is ‘sensor data in cities from Waka Kotahi’ taken from the recent BIM

      1. One cause may well have been the bike counters locations- in Auckland they are specifically sited to count commuters heading into city centre – during lockdown level 4 there were obviously less riding those routes. Anecdotally, see the Bike Auckland Big Backyard Bike Count, many people were amazed to see so many out on bikes in there local streets.

        1. Yes people took to the streets to enjoys them without cars. Kirsty Wild’s research and the BA counts are a better record of L4 than counts on routes that were no longer the only places people could ride.

      2. The story in Chch is quite different, based on my analysis of the 25 counters around the city. During lockdown the counters heading into the central city dropped away, but this was strongly countered by the big increases in the suburban sites. Collectively, the numbers now are still higher than 12 months ago; in fact, if we take the difference in annual daily averages between 2019 and 2020 (to get rid of seasonal changes), the increase is about 15% overall.

  3. Great overview, fingers crossed for some action on Light Rail in the New Year, but wont hold my breadth.

    You mentioned they have missed the Albert Street reinstatement in the montage video, it looks like there is a short piece around 2.20mins in, tagged C2 complete?

  4. Auckland Climate Plan is very timid, 35% PT usage, we can do better than that. Stop building more roads, start acting like this is an emergency.

    1. 35% might not sound like a lot but it is huge in reality if you consider that across the entire day. It would mean for most places, greater than 50% modeshare at peak and strong off-peak usage. As an example, if we were doing that level right now we’d be seeing about 460 million boardings.

  5. The targets in the Auckland Climate Plan are probably broadly achievable if the levers all get pulled. But the issue is that the levers for a lot of the targets – fuel efficiency stds, feebate scheme, carbon pricing and congestion charging – are central govt responsibilities and by itself Auckland Council adoption of the plan wouldn’t provide a lot of confidence in their achievement even if Council was sincere about making action happen (as opposed to just publishing a nice sounding plan). I look forward to seeing what the transport chapter of the government’s overall Emission Reduction Plan says.

    1. But AT has many of the levers. Let’s name some of them
      1) they spend a hell of a lot on new roads. Some of this could be directed into other mode shares.
      2) they could take a very close look at road renewals and some of this could be directed into other mode shares.
      3) Look at special project spending e.g the new cark park in Takapuna in peak Christmas trading yesterday was about 16% full (yep full, not 16% empty)
      4) charge market price for their car park buildings. I imagine this would save the need for a PT fare increase this year.
      5) Look at the overall price of parking. This produces about a 1% return on assets (if it was debt funded this would be a negative 4% return).
      6) Charge for park and rides. This would encourage feeder bus use. In fact it would encourage every other form of getting to the station other than driving.
      7) It could paint some bus lanes. Not every single road in Auckland needs to be the preserve of car drivers.
      8) They could preserve the bus lanes they have.
      9) The Auckland Parking Strategy could be enshrined as a by-law.

      But most of all they could establish the steps to achieve the goals that have been set. 400k PT trips won’t happen without a coordinated way to achieve it.

      At the moment AT lacks the fortitude to make the tough decisions to enable progress. As an example, there has been a consultation in Devonport to essentially preserve the status quo for parking. However, AT’s own research shows this isn’t a solution because there is a shortage of space.

      As I have talked about before a SUMP such as are transforming cities like Milan seems worthy of consideration. Where there is city wide public “buy in,” change is likely to be more successful than the status quo, that seems to produce sub optimal outcomes street by street, local Board area by local Board area.

      1. Parking restrictions are potentially a good lever, but if emissions reduction is the actual objective then I am not sure your other measures will achieve that much. It’s worth looking at the MR Cagney emissions reduction calculator and thinking through the implications https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/climate-news/121502497/why-aucklands-transport-billions-might-not-move-the-climate-change-dial and https://transport2030.org.nz/ Mode shift plans etc make a fairly minor contribution.

        If you want to get a lot of emissions reduction then its either about putting people over to electric cars (which the Auckland Climate Plan recognises) or stopping trips altogether. The politicians are gun-shy about the latter (they even seem wary of congestion charging), and the levers to achieve the former are all central govt measures.

        SUMPs don’t necessarily target emissions reduction. But I am always curious with the European examples like that whether they are taking their traffic etc measures over the entire metropolitan area or over a smaller area defined as the “city”. I know the Milan emissions reduction zone is very small just in the central city.

        1. The MRC calculator doesn’t include many real feedback mechanisms that occur when streets are made safer, road space is reallocated, circulation plans are modified, the bus network is improved (increasing its appeal to more types of trips thus removing its peakiness), the need to chauffeur is nearly eliminated, and the missing network (cycling) is added.

          You’ve mentioned electrification and reducing travel altogether (which can include chauffeuring and multiple shopping trips that would be consolidated if costs were internalised) but reducing trip lengths is also important. This occurs through:
          – intensification
          – modeshift – people do choose to do things more locally when they walk, cycle and use PT.

          John’s items: new roads and road renewals are also important. There’s actually no justification for any project – new road, major project, minor project or renewal – to be anything but a modeshift project. Decades of drivers not paying to keep other road users safe from motor vehicles needs addressing immediately, because it has led to a safety crisis, a public health crisis, and an access crisis.

          Once all trips are envisaged as happening via sustainable modes, and the investment is allocated accordingly, there is actually no limit to the emissions reduction possible through modeshift. Within that envelope of possibility, we can then decide how much modeshift we want.

          It’s a bit like dicsussing tax – every issue that might create political conflict or a fear of public backlash is actually the opportunity for education and enlightenment. We have to shift gear into taking up these opportunities because the message will then be consistently repeated, and change will gradually become easier.

        2. I’m not sure if you are saying there are genuine shortcomings with the MR Cagney tool as far as calculating emissions reduction goes. But you could explain what any issues are, ideally with some quantification of the expected impacts. You did say you were going to write a post about it but I don’t recall ever seeing one.

          MR Cagney’s conclusions make sense to me – induced demand would prevent unlimited emissions reduction happening through measures that attempt to promote modeshift alone. Likewise traffic and emissions would get restored (while cars are not electrified) through induced demand unless road capacity is reduced or demand is suppressed through congestion charging.

          Intensification is something that will have to happen eventually but even if we press hard it will happen too slowly to make much of a difference within the timeframes needed for climate action. Other climate levers need to get pulled well before it will make much of a difference.

        3. The MRC calculator does not offer the solutions that are being used in Europe and California.
          If you can mandate a GHG reduction into the existing fuels, then it is very possible to meet or exceed targets.
          NZ need to look at RED2 and copy that.
          I suspect 2021 will see the Government take a much bolder action on GHG reduction, now that they no longer have NZ First as the handbrake.

        4. There are shortcomings in every model, Sherwood, yet they are still useful. The MRC calculator is a useful model if it’s used intelligently: it has a “trip length” slider, which can be used to good effect, because there’s a “trip length” variable in many of the loops I’ve mentioned. Yet it seems most people ignore that lever as not very useful, which is what happens when the loops aren’t understood.

          I do intend to blog about aspects of emissions modelling – along with everything else I’m trying to do, because it’s important the public understand the ways different levers interact, at a conceptual level. But I’m sure you’ll be aware that because of the complexity of feedback loops and synergetic amplification processes, it’s complex. Plus, as the ITF reported, there is no place in the world that has used all the policy levers possible. To achieve what we’ll need to achieve, we’ll need to use them all and understand that some of the ways they interact are not yet recorded.

        5. Sherwood, with the S in SUMP for sustainable, I am not sure what else could be targeted apart from emissions. In Milan the target is 13-15% reduction. Yes the Milan area is smaller, but this has an impact on the wider metropolitan area. Compare deciding to reduce emissions in Auckland city by 30%; this will affect those who might drive into the city from wherever. (Are you thinking of the very small Congestion Charge Zone in Milan?)

          Many struggle with the concept that the EV is the complete answer, because the building of an EV requires the same emissions as a fossil fueled vehicle. And then in NZ we will recharge the EV using Huntly coal and gas, at least until 2030.

          We have a tremendous advantage in trying to change mode share in Auckland because we have, at around 80%, one of the highest car mode shares in the world. There is tremendous room for reduction. While many see change in mode share as difficult and slow, that is probably because they think of the world as it is and not how it needs to be. If the view of some economists is right, that the world needs to reduce consumption by around 30%, will universal ownership of cars survive?

          I am with Heidi that PT ridership should look something like 500 million trips by 2030 and bike and walking mode share will be substantially higher as well. That kind of mode share shift will have an enormous impact on emissions. What it will also bring is much less congestion and safer streets, that you won’t get from a proliferation of EVs. Milan is hoping to reduce the number of road accidents by a staggering 75% in 10 years!

          Maybe the huge savings that the city expects to achieve from reducing traffic factored into their decision to build the wonderful Bignami light metro?

        6. “Many struggle with the concept that the EV is the complete answer”

          Straw man. Who is claiming that EVs are the complete answer?

          “we will recharge the EV using Huntly coal and gas, at least until 2030”

          How do you reach this erroneous conclusion? EV charging will mainly take place at night when there is a surfeit of renewable electricity available. In addition, wind farm plans have been shelved due to a perceived lack of demand.

        7. MFD
          Here’s what EECA have to say
          “These upgrades will save us money over the long term, according to a briefing by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Agency (EECA) to energy minister Megan Woods – but, first, we’d need to stomach the upfront costs.
          If we do, we’ll cut carbon emissions by freeing up electricity to power vehicles and industrial heaters, EECA said.”
          “Our appetite for electricity often peaks on winter mornings and evenings.”

          The Productivity Commission said that NZ will need to produce significantly more power to charge our EV fleet. There isn’t a surplus currently.

          So good luck with your plan that EVs are going to be charged at night. We have this carbon crisis largely because a significant proportion of the population find it easier to drive to the dairy, take the car rather than the bus. Will these same people be concerned enough to charge their cars after say 11pm and will there be less than 80% power use at that time?

          The C40 cities list as their main objective that cities decarbonise their grid. It’s for the obvious reason that powering anything needs to come from renewable sources.

          Some wind farms are still being built. Genesis is one. There is no incentive for a power company currently to build extra infrastructure when there is Genesis to meet any shortfall. You only have to go back to the summer of 2018 when they were importing Indonesian coal as fast as they could to meet demand due to insufficient water in the hydro lakes. As long as there is the chance that Tiwai will be mothballed, adding 14% of NZ’s power back to the grid, why would you build extra resource that may not produce a commercial return. (remember these are commercial operators and not NZTA).

        8. @johnWoodTakapuna

          “The Productivity Commission said that NZ will need to produce significantly more power to charge our EV fleet. There isn’t a surplus currently.”

          The Prod Com said many things in their comprehensive report a couple of years back.
          But they never said what you say they did about NZ’s grid not being able to cope with charging EVs.

          They did however say that NZ would need a lot more renewable energy to become carbon neutral by 2050.

          But that was because they identified a vast array of changes to the whole energy systems in NZ, around mainly industrial energy consumption – mostly for industry and process heat (e.g. for making milk powder at Fonterra plants from milk), which require a lot of energy – energy currently obtained from burning coal and gas and not from renewable electricity.

          Other carbon intensive industries like cement manufacture use vast quantities of coal to turn the limestone into Cement.

          Replacing those fossil burners with electricity (from renewable sources) will require a lot more than cheap power. Because those industries need to spend big and upgrade long-life plant and equipment to switch from burning coal and gas to make heat.

          For EVs, the grid as it stands, can cope – Transpower says so, as do the Gentailers like Meridian. I think they’d know the state of things because they have skin the game and so presumably “know their shit”.

          Prod Com also did not assume that Tiwai was going away as soon as it actually is [they assumed it would be gone by 2030], nor did they assume that the upgraded high voltage transmission lines between Clutha and the Waitaki dams required to bring Manapouri power north, would be expedited as Transpower is making Meridian and other Gentailers do. Which means a large chunk of that ‘assumed to be unusable’ surplus power from Manapouri that Tiwai guzzles continuously?

          Well its going to be in the grid where you live, soon, adding 13% or so to the base load once Tiwai is turned down, and even more once Tiwai is fully turned off.

          So no one who knows anything is saying we will have a problem now, or before 2030.
          With current or expected numbers of EVs in the fleet.

          A large reason why people don’t currently charge their cars at night is that the price signals (cheaper night rates) are not actively used to encourage changes in behaviour.
          Prod Com identified that as a major issue that needed to be fixed in general (not just for EVs).
          I am sure the Gentailers and lines companies will get the message from the Gov’t (via the Electricity Authority) to clean up their act and ensure day and night power rates become standard offerings and are set at levels to drive real long term behaviour changes.

          Getting power 50% or more cheaper certainly will encourage a lot of EV owners to plug in when they get home, but the charging time when the EV actually starts sucking electrons need not be the instant they plug in.

          The smarts for managing this are embedded inside the EVs and the grid, so we won’t be expecting users to change their habits – the system will do it for them.

          My EV (as do a lot of the ones available right now), won’t start charging until 11pm or whenever cheaper off-peak power is available. Currently its a simple clock setting (I told it to start no sooner than 11pm each night). However in the near future the chargers will become smart and will only turn on when power is truly cheaper.

          So the “problem” you raise is not relevant, or real. Now, or in the future.

          I can charge it sooner than that, but I pay the price (literally) or using peak power if I do.

        9. John,

          An electrical load such as EV charging that can be (and is likely to be) configured to be imposed primarily at night makes a very strong economic case for additional wind generation which, unlike, say, PV, is distributed around the clock. Night-time EV charging also utilises surplus transmission capacity.

          “The Productivity Commission said that NZ will need to produce significantly more power to charge our EV fleet. There isn’t a surplus currently.”

          The Productivity Commission needs to understand the difference between energy and power. There is demonstrably a surplus of power capacity; it occurs on a very regular basis late at night and in the early hours of every morning.

        10. Vector already has control over my EV charger and many others on Waiheke (aka Electric Island). They are trialing load management to avoid having to upgrade the supply as the numbers of EVs increase. There are already a lot here for a number of reasons.

          Vector will probably roll that out as a contract option across Auckland once they’ve analysed the data from this trial. I.e. one could choose to give Vector the ability to reduce the charging power when grid use is higher, in exchange for lower bills. And it will be similar to (but finer-grained than) the load management systems that have existed for years with hot water cylinders.

        11. John Wood, I am not saying that mode shift won’t play a part in emissions reduction, just that not so much will happen here while vkt stays high because of induced demand (unless travel demand is suppressed). Induced demand will also mean congestion remains unless congestion charging is adopted.

          I also don’t think there will be public support for suppression measures beyond congestion charging – happy to see any evidence suggesting otherwise though.

          Yes, I was thinking of the small congestion charging zone in Milan. It evolved from a pollution charge targeting local air quality. I see they have now put in a larger zone which bans petrol vehicles https://www.eltis.org/discover/news/italys-largest-low-emission-zone-area-b-launched-milan – but there is no mention in the article of a greenhouse gas driver. I think the S in the SUMP also refers to particulates and NOx and their focus isn’t just on greenhouse gases.

          The just 13% – 15% target for the Milan SUMP indicates that their greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets are quite modest. They may not get the benefits of electric car use there for greenhouse gas emissions reduction if their electricity supply is largely supplied from non-renewable sources, and that lack of upside for electric cars may have influenced their preferred mix of measures for the SUMP. I’d also imagine central (if not all of) Milan has much higher density than most of Auckland and would more easily support a higher PT mode share.

          Heidi, I don’t know how far away your piece on emissions modelling is but you could start here by giving some examples of the feedback loops you think make all the difference. I find it difficult to believe the loops would have a major influence with the low population density and dispersed land use we have here.

          I’d be interested to look at that ITF reference though.

        12. Sherwood, I’m trying to look at individual aspects of transport transformation and decarbonisation, and blog them one by one. Since you don’t comment on each of my posts, I don’t know which ones you’ve read. I’ve already quoted the ITF discussion paper in https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2020/11/05/taking-the-sprawl-out-of-atap-and-the-rltp/ but there are several others related to the subject that I’ve written this year. Would you like me to link them?

        13. I was at a meeting last year where Vector admitted that if GHG targets were to be met in Auckland by converting PT to BEV, that a lot of the electricity would come from Huntley coal.

        14. Kiwirail have being carting Indonesian coal flat out to Huntly all year. Hydro is ramped back at night so the water can be used at peak time for greater profits. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if they aren’t even maintaining there legal minimum river flows but whose checking at 3.00 am. Thermal is not ramped back as much I suppose there is a minimum point where it is not efficient to operate below. The country needs to generate more renewable electricity its as simple as that. I don’t expect the market as it operates can do it. So greater regulation or direct intervention by the Govt by building more wind and Geothermal stations. However the fact that we haven’t got enough renewable electricity shouldn’t be used as an excuse by either the petrol heads or the car hating advocates for walking and cycling for not advancing electric cars buses and trucks. New Zealand can easily build more renewable electricity faster than we will ever be able to import electric cars, buses, trucks, bike and scooters. I would invite commenters to study the Transpower web site look at it 10 times a day and you will soon get to understand what is going on. Watch geothermal it maintains a 90 percent load factor day in day out 24 hours a days 365 days a year. And there is consented products for at least another 500 megawatt. This would be slightly less than the Manapouri power station.
          https://www.transpower.co.nz/power-system-live-data

        15. Heidi, have you got anything which suggests you can influence trip length without first changing land use and density (which takes a long time)?

          If you get a chance post the other links, I’ll try and get round to them, as I will try to give the ITF paper you linked to a proper read.

          One thing I noted there was how high the cycling and PT modeshare is in some European cities. I am curious whether this translates into national car use stats – one thing I’ve never found data on is international vkt per capita.

        16. Reducing trip lengths by improving walking and cycling is essentially the reverse process of the car-focused planning we’ve seen for the last 60 years. One source is: https://www.vtpi.org/tdm/tdm25.htm

          “Non-motorized trips can substitute directly for automobile trips. Walking and cycling improvements also support Public Transit and Ridesharing. A relatively short non-motorized trip often substitutes for a longer car trip. For example, a shopper might choose between walking to a small local store and driving a longer distance to shop at a supermarket.”

          And from the same researchers https://www.vtpi.org/chauffeuring.pdf you can see how improving walking and cycling can directly reduce trips lengths by reducing the need to chauffeur – whether via eliminating the need to detour to drop someone off, or via eliminating the need for the driver to take the trip at all.

          Improving walking and cycling doesn’t have to involve long timeframes, either. Massive reallocation of on-street carparks is a land use change that can be implemented within a short timeframe. Paris is rolling out 650 km of cycle lanes and it’s removing 70,000 on-street carparks – some of these are being turned into cyclelanes and some into better public realm such as wider footpaths. The improvements to walking and cycling comes from both direct provision of the land required for those modes and also through the big reduction in traffic that the loss of those carparks creates.

          Seville is another city to consider in terms of the speed of transformation possible: https://usa.streetsblog.org/2020/10/13/best-practices-how-seville-became-a-city-of-cyclists/

        17. I don’t find examples from cities like Paris and Seville convincing about what will work here because they have much higher population density.

          Is there anywhere that has a high walking and cycling modeshare with the low population density and dispersed land use we have here? If high modeshare only works with high population density then modeshift initiatives here will only have a limited impact while our density remains low.

          And I can’t see anything here saying that it is possible to get much trip length reduction – through avoided chauffeuring or anything else – without first changing land use (which takes a long time). The trip to the shops can only get shorter if there are closer shops to travel to. This means land use has to get less dispersed before trip lengths will get reduced.

        18. OK, can you first explain your dismissal of the reduction in trip length that happens if safety improvements mean chauffeuring is reduced? Once I understand that, I might be able to explain other aspects better.

          As the link I provided explains, if you don’t need to chauffeur someone on the way to something else, your trip is more direct. You have a shorter trip. If not having to chauffeur someone somewhere means you don’t need to go out at all; your trip doesn’t happen – that’s the ultimate in trip length reduction.

        19. Second, can you explain your dismissal of the trip length reduction that happens when safety improvements mean people choose to go to the local shops because they can now walk or cycle?

          Auckland’s land use is nothing like as dispersed as you are claiming. Auckland isn’t a 15-minute city throughout, but much of the city has the *proximity* of a 15-minute city: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/6ec8c0769a2d4f42bbfb982796883dd1

          “We initially mapped cycling and walking but found the coverage was too comprehensive to draw lessons from, and so have isolated walking.”

          It just doesn’t have the *safety* or the *pleasantness* of a 15-minute city, largely due to the excessive traffic. Fixing this doesn’t require long timeframes and major land use shifts. It requires fixing our transport system, and that requires understanding where we’ve gone wrong, and changing what we do. The intensification we have happening would be far more effective at bringing modeshift if it was supported by better transport planning.

        20. @heidi Not sure if we’re looking at the same maps here.

          The 15 minutes to open space map looks good (I can walk to the local playground within 15 minutes. As long as I don’t bring the toddlers. Ha. The 15 minute walk to a café map is bad. Supermarkets is very spotty, this is why weekly trips by car are a thing. Much of the CBD (!) does not have a primary school within 15 minutes.

          It kind of makes sense — Auckland is largely built assuming driving 10 km in any direction is no big deal.

          What about cycling? Well, I would be more optimistic if AT wouldn’t have done its purge in the past few years. Maybe it will be OK in 20 years. Which is no good if you’re living in Auckland today.

        21. Roeland, we’re looking at the same maps, and we have the same experience of the city’s deficient transport system.

          Do we need massive land use change to provide a 15-minute city? No, we need a safe system. With a safe system, the cycling coverage is comprehensive, the public transport + walking coverage is comprehensive, and the walking coverage is OK in many areas.

          Do we need massive land use change to provide a 15-minute city via walking alone? No-one is talking about a walking-only 15-minute city. But even to provide this it wouldn’t take massive land use change; simply some development in a few key locations, with the amenities the surrounding areas need, and some high intensity residential development to provide further support for those amenities. Which, incidentally, is exactly what we need to do to stop sprawling and to fix our housing crisis.

        22. Heidi, what sort of safety improvements are you contemplating throughout Auckland’s suburbs? Providing some more dedicated cycling lanes on main roads will have some benefits but wouldn’t lead to dramatic changes in cycling uptake. Do you imagine low traffic neighbourhoods would make a large difference, or are you proposing much more extensive measures? And is there anywhere where low traffic neighbourhoods have been widely adopted?

          I’m not advocating a crash program of building to increase density – that would have a lot of adverse impacts. But I do think that potential walking / cycling / PT modeshare is largely determined by density. Have you got any evidence otherwise? Are there any cities with land use dispersed to the same degree as Auckland with a high walking / cycling / PT modeshare?

          I don’t think your threshold of fifteen minutes walking or cycling is realistic – it won’t work for people with young kids or the elderly. (I wonder if some demographics are moving out of places like central Paris). And a half hour round trip while only being able to carry a limited amount will put a lot of people off when car travel is an option.

          People are much more likely to swap from driving if the store is only three minutes walk away, or if there is a good range of shops within five minutes. This is more likely to be the case if the city has density like central Paris or similar places, and I think this is a big part of the reason why the cycling and walking modeshare is high in cities like that.

          Chauffeuring seems like a minor issue. The VTPI paper you linked to said only 6.9% of trips were for transporting another person, and the trip length for those trips looks to be much lower than the average length for all trip types in their data. So not much travel involves chauffeuring. And I don’t think that low proportion could get reduced that much. I doubt many parents would let their seven year olds travel on PT without them.

        23. The Netherlands does this extremely well.

          They build a lot of bike lanes, however it is a myth that most streets over there have bike lanes. Most streets are low traffic neighbourhood streets. These do not have bike lanes, but they have low speed limits and by design only a low amount of cars on them.

          These low traffic neighbourhoods are an important part of their bicycle infrastructure. They allow people to actually reach bike lanes.

          This is where Auckland fails. We have our northwestern cycleway, and it carries only 2000 trips in an entire day — a small amount, considering that a motorway lane can carry that amount of trips in a single hour during peak. The reason is that, while the cycleway itself is kind of OK, almost nobody can reach it because surrounding streets are too dangerous.

          I lived in such neighbourhood in Belgium for a short while and I can 100% confirm that people will happily (and safely) just cycle on the street.

        24. Also about trip times: Heidi is right about cycling. For me Birkenhead is about 2.5 km away. The only reason I often drive that distance is because the street designs suck so badly. I don’t have to do it for being quicker — I actually timed both driving and cycling, and the difference is tiny. If there is any pressure on parking then cycling is often quicker.

          (in comparison, PT is hopelessly slow. You’ll arrive on your bicycle before your PT loving alter ego even gets on a bus almost every time)

          And even if you optimistically assume 2 people per car, providing parking for 200 bicycles is much less obnoxious than parking for 100 cars.

          But it is still true that closer is better. At 1 km, cycling will clearly win compared to driving a car. At 2.5km it is more a toss-up. So if you pick a spot for an apartment building, the best spot is right above the shops in the town centre, not somewhere random between the surrounding houses.

        25. Sherwood, the paper said the 6.9% “is probably a lower-bound estimate since some chauffeuring travel is probably misclassified into other categories such as travel to “Home,” or “Family obligations.” ”

          Auckland has a safety crisis, which affects chauffeuring rates. Our cycling to school statistics have deteriorated. Over a quarter of New Zealanders don’t have drivers’ licenses, and more than this number don’t wish to drive or have lost the capability since they got their license. Do you think they are all using public transport or cycling for every trip? Our footpath environment and public transport system is particularly unaccessible for people with disabilities. Our footpaths also have poor lighting so people often don’t like to walk at night.

          Hence, our chauffeuring rates – of children, people with disabilities, people travelling at night, and of the elderly – are likely to be very high.

          In terms of safety improvements, please read the RSBIR. There are many, many different changes required – many of them better value-for-money than what is being done today, and many of them low-hanging fruit. I do not have space to go into detail here. Meeting our international commitments on speed limits would be a start.

          Yes, low traffic neighbourhoods are part of the transformation required. No, no city has done them extensively throughout the city. With the results achieved to date, however, this is an obvious place to start for Auckland.

          If you’re looking for a city with Auckland’s unique density, safety crisis, street environment, carbon emissions, rates of car ownership and driving culture in order to learn from them how to reduce emissions with an easy 12 -step plan, you’re not going to find one.

          Auckland has created its own crisis. Auckland can get out of it. But we need to lead, and transform all the systems that aren’t working.

          Cars are not a necessary part of raising children; the idea stems entirely from car dependence. A city with safety is a place where children can be independently mobile. Such places are where children can thrive.

        26. Auckland doesn’t have a safety crisis. Places like India and Indonesia have safety crises.
          We just have some work to do.

        27. The biggest safety problem in Auckland and NZ is people with their Idiot phones not concentrating with things around them , as the phones are more inportant than . So the gov’t need to pass some type of law like they have in Hawaii that stops them from using them unnecessacarily .

        28. Roeland, I wouldn’t object to a low traffic neighbourhood being trialled here and then extended if it proves popular so long as it is clear a substantial amount of people do want them in the first place.

          My original comment that started off this thread was about emissions and I am not sure how much emissions reduction low traffic neighbourhoods would achieve. I think our culture and topography is different from Belgium and the Netherlands so I am not sure we would have the same cycling uptake. And as I understand it even early adopting e-bike users (who you would expect would be enthusiastic riders) only cut their emissions by 20% here so the emissions reduction for those who do take up cycling may not be that much.

          But I would be interested if anyone has got any stats on suburban cycling modeshare and light vehicle vkt and emissions per capita for countries like Belgium and the Netherlands.

          Heidi, I don’t know what the RSBIR is. I’ll agree to disagree on the rest of it.

        29. The main cultural difference is that in Belgium and the Netherlands there is living memory of places where you’re not expected to drive 100% of the time. You can’t do a consultation about low traffic neighbourhoods here, the concept is so alien that you might just as well do a consultation about how to create a Mars base.

          Those statistics, you can probably find them if you know where to look. The Netherlands has cycling mode shares well into double digit percentages, with some towns now exceeding 50%. The main saving in emissions is switching from driving to cycling. Low traffic neighbourhoods, as the name implies, are built to suppress induced demand for driving cars so if people switch you don’t just get other people driving more.

          The reasoning behind these designs is quite elaborate. Robert Weetman has a few articles on this, eg. https://robertweetman.wordpress.com/2019/03/19/i-want-my-street-to-be-like-this/

          Apart from reducing emissions, it makes those neighbourhoods much safer, and generally much more pleasant to live in. A common comment about our level 4 lockdown was the lack of noise from cars on the streets. You could hear birds, people, etc. and not just car noise. A low traffic neighbourhood is like that all the time.

          It is very unlikely that New Zealanders are somehow not able to appreciate those differences.

        30. My support for a trial isn’t based on the expectation low traffic neighbourhoods would provide a lot of emissions reduction, but is rather based on the idea that it would be good if there were places to live for people who want to prioritise low speeds / quiet streets over car mobility. But I do think there needs to be some critical mass of support before the trial started: you can’t blindly impose the preferences of a small minority on others.

          My guess is that most people in Auckland suburbs won’t see the upside of restricting carriageway space on most residential streets if it hampers their car mobility and I don’t think the idea would catch on more broadly, at least not yet. But a trial would put that to the test.

          The density and number of cars parked on the street looks higher in the photos in the Weetman piece than it does in typical suburbs here. The idea might get more play when our density is more like that. People would value street space more if they are living in smaller, closely spaced homes.

        31. What a nuts thread, reeking of polished troll from the start. So much to pick apart but who’d bother at this stage? “There needs to be some critical mass of support before the trial started” really takes the cake, though.

        32. If I posted my support for a low traffic neighbourhood trial on a general media forum then people there would probably regard my views as a bit odd. And a genuine troll would be a lot more pointed here.

          The site’s guidelines encourage debate, and if you have that there will be a diversity of views. My own views are fairly mild.

  6. We is need Transport Police, with power of arrest, not Transport Officers.
    “Mandatory” use of face masks is a joke. On the off peak services I use (with my
    Goldcard), “Optional” use is the norm.

    1. You really are grumpy. The rule is quite stupid. As someone who uses PT off peak occasionally I almost never remember. Then I either have to choose between walking back home to get my mask or looking like a cock. But apparently it’s perfectly fine to be around lots of people elsewhere like supermarkets, pubs, etc.

    2. Greg, here’s what the Productivity Commission said,

      “A large uptake of EVs would add significant load to the electricity grid and, depending on the time at which vehicles are charged, could lead to much higher emissions from electricity generation. Without cost reflective pricing for electricity, consumers will face little incentive to actively charge their vehicle at off-peak periods when the actual cost of supplying electricity is much lower (Concept Consulting, 2018a). As a result, demand for electricity at peak periods will be inefficiently high, leading to higher emissions.

      Chapter 12 | Transport 349
      ERANZ and the Electricity Networks Association (sub. 8) submitted that under current price structures for
      electricity, consumers pay roughly double what they should for charging an EV, due to the Low Fixed Charge regulations. Submitters also raised concerns about the pressure EV uptake could put on electricity networks, and the risk of an unmanaged demand for EV charging causing network instability (Vector, sub. DR287;
      Orion, sub. DR210). Chapter 13 looks at the current approaches to reforming electricity pricing, as well as the role of demand–response within the electricity network and challenges around distribution line capacity.
      F12.5
      A large uptake of EVs would add significant load to the electricity grid. Without cost reflective pricing of electricity, electricity emissions could rise significantly due to increasing peak demand (with EVs being charged at peak periods). The additional electricity load could also put significant pressure on the existing network and require large investments to provide additional capacity.”

      They thought that there potentially might be a problem.

      And demand pricing may solve it. Or it may not. Huge numbers of Kiwis seem almost ambivalent about car energy costs. They drive a 4×4 Ranger when a Corolla would probably do what they needed.

      The Gentailers work for themselves, or at least they have done. Genesis told NZ that they were going to close Huntly in 2018, and then it was 2022, and now it is 2030. The gentailers have worked spectacularly well for themselves over the last few years (google search the Massey University report on power super profits) and then tell me they are working in the countries best interest.

      The closing of Tiwai will certainly help. An extra 13% will replace the part of Huntly due to close in 2025.

      As for your comment that no- one thinks there might be a shortage of electricity – here’s what the ceo of Genesis said recently, “Providing resilience during difficult market conditions reinforces our vital role as backup thermal generator to the New Zealand electricity market, ensuring security of supply to Kiwi homes and businesses and moderating the price volatility that is a historical feature of our 84% renewable electricity system⁵. ”

      Sure, make those comments, but as recently as 2018 NZ had an energy shortfall that was covered by thermal generation.

      Well done for buying an EV, but they won’t be the whole solution and that is primarily what I am arguing. Amongst other things, the degree to which the world has to cut carbon emissions likely means that the energy required to produce one EV to replace every current car, and then to replace those in turn, is probably not sustainable.

        1. I have to say, reading between the lines of the various budgets and proposals, that is exactly what everyone is banking on.

          We would be taking public transport, and especially cycling a lot more seriously otherwise.

          I also seem to remember an actual energy shortage during dry summers, with dams running out of water.

          Cars are large energy users. For many families the bill to charge cars will be larger than their entire current electricity bill.

        2. Is it more than their petrol bills and current energy bills combined? I doubt people are going to keep buying petrol if they have EVs.

        3. Filling up with petrol doesn’t use much electricity though.

          We are already generating a significant and growing amount of electricity from fossil fuels.

          That said, even if you generate the electricity for your EV using fossil fuel, it can still be more efficient than a petrol car. Since power plants don’t have to be reasonably compact and light you can make them more efficient than your car engine.

          So how much would you use? A widely used number of car mileage is 14,000 kms per year. If you assume 15 kWh per km that comes to 2100 kWh per year. There will definitely be families with less power usage than that, and that is only with one car.

        4. @Roeland what’s interesting is people who transition to BEV’s end up using them far more frequently than they did the ICE vehicle that the BEV replaced.

        5. “people who transition to BEV’s end up using them far more frequently than they did the ICE vehicle that the BEV replaced.”

          Cite, please. Red flag words suggest that this is very dubious.

      1. I don’t think it would be a problem replacing every existing car with EVs if that was what it took, though In reality we’re going to have a mix of measures – part electrification, part mode shift etc. I think the energy argument is a red herring: why is the energy used in the manufacture of electric cars any more of a problem than for petrol and diesel cars or for that matter electrics buses and trains?

        1. Part electrification, part modeshift does seem to be the way.

          Can you clarify what you mean by “I don’t think it would be a problem replacing every existing car with EVs if that was what it took”? Do you mean just from an energy perspective? The cost and lost opportunities for modernising the city seem large.

        2. Yes I was talking about EVs from an energy perspective following on from John Wood’s comment about energy used in production. I don’t have any real objection to limiting car access to the central city, but outside of that that cars provide speed and flexibility for many people that bikes or PT don’t work well for.

      2. I have a question , when all these EV’s come to their end of life what will happen to the Batteries and other Electronic parts ? . Will they be able to be recycled here in NZ or are they going to be sent overseas and just dumped ? .
        The old fuel driven vehicles are easier to recycle here as at least 75% can be melded down and turned in other things with no problems .

        1. Battery recycling is possible but I think the technology could use more development. I do wonder if the cost projections that have EVs coming out ahead of biofuel and hydrogen fuelled cars properly reflect the full lifecycle cost for EVs including the cost of recycling the batteries.

        2. I have seen items around were they have used the EV’s batteries as a backup source of power for those that have Solar panels attached to their homes . But then after a while even these will have to be dumped somewhere , same with the household batteries which they don’t like being put into landfill . Possibly they could end up like tyres and just dumped in a paddock somewhere , so out of sight out of mind until they catch fire and leak everywhere .

      3. The Productivity Commission is a pack of fools. They did a benefit cost analysis of the extended level 4 lockdown- after the event, and concluded the costs exceeded the benefits. They assumed it wasn’t possible to eliminate Covid-19 from NZ. If fact they didn’t calculate the benefits of the lockdown and they didn’t calculate the costs of the lockdown either. Time to restructure them out of existence.

        1. Wasn’t the Productivity Commission’s Covid analysis about whether the last five days of Level 4 lockdown (around last Anzac Day I think) when Covid was already basically stamped out was worth it?

          They do seem a bit lost when it comes to making progress on their on their overall productivity improvement mission.

          But their Low Emissions Economy report seems like a robust well-researched report based on credible modelling.

          They weren’t saying there would be any particular problem supplying the extra electricity needed to support electric vehicles and electrification of other areas of the economy to achieve Net Zero. They say nearly all of it would be met through a portfolio of renewable energy sources. Furthermore, when they wrote the report they didn’t think pumped hydro would be very effective, but it has been analysed more since then and it can provide 100% renewable electricity if that is thought necessary.

        2. Yes it was. But the stated purpose of the extension was to ensure it was completely eliminated so we could progress quickly to a much lower level. The Productivity Commission ‘analysis’ assumed that wasn’t possible and therefore there could be no benefits from elimination. They start with conservative self fullfilling assumptions and then reach an inevitable conclusion based on those assumptions. It is like watching a magician stuff birds in his hat then watching him pull them out again while saying ‘hey presto!’
          In my view it is time to award the Productivity commission the DCM- Don’t Come Monday.

        3. It doesn’t sound like a great piece of work. But the author for that one wasn’t on the team for the Low Emissions Economy report and I think that one was a good report.

  7. It’s been a strange with neighbours talking to each wether they like or not and when you went out to get supplies from the supermarket 99% just stood with no complaints .

    And te other thing Matt L didn’t mention is all the TBM’s that watercare are using across the Greater Auckland region for seperating the stormwater from thesewage .

    1. Yes, I think most people are pleased the year has come to an end. I thought events like a pandemic would make people more caring but one of the most disappointing things for me has been the selfish behavior.

      The red light running situation continues – I even witnessed a driver under supervision (for learning to drive an electric bus) going through red lights – and the supervisor said nothing.

      People still cut corners regularly and now it’s common to see cars driven down the wrong side of the road to avoid queues.

      Letting engines idle while parked has become an epidemic. Footpaths, shared spaces, squares, berms, and even parks like Albert Park are being treated as car parks.

      The lack of enforcement has obviously allowed this to happen but it’s still annoying that people will behave like this.

      It’s no wonder to me that the number of pedestrians, of children, and of the elderly killed by traffic has risen. Here’s hoping next year is a whole lot better.

  8. Heidi, you are right and statements like the following are meaningless. It is unlikely that NZ made any progress to improving road safety this year.

    “Nationally we are on track for a reduction in the number of road deaths for the year with us sitting at 310 deaths on our roads this year compared to 344 by this time last year.” Only because for many weeks during lockdown pedestrians were largely safe; as were cyclists on our roads. You had an excellent chance of not being involved in a two car accident.

    I do acknowledge that unfortunately even during during lockdown some drivers found numerous ways to kill themselves in single vehicle crashes.

    1. …mainly because with less traffic on the roads, people drove faster, increasing the severity of any crash that did happen (another reason why congestion can be our friend…). Similar patterns have been noted in the US and Aust, despite lockdown reductions in traffic.

        1. Amen. I’m getting very tired of *hoping* the main arterials I have to ride on are congested because that’s the only thing that restrains people’s driving behaviour.

  9. Slightly off key but to do with the Rail repairs in the Auckland Network , Waikato Regional Council have cancelled the Jan 16/17th Te Huia excersion ;-

    “Te Huia governance group partners have made the regrettable decision to cancel a weekend rail charter service proposed for January 2021.

    The decision has been made following news from KiwiRail last week that, as part of ongoing testing of the rail, a section of track has been identified between Otahuhu and Auckland city which is worn and will need replacing during a temporary line closure.

    Unfortunately, Te Huia’s proposed charter over the weekend of 16-17 January is one of the services that would be affected by that temporary track closure.”

    Which is a shame as I know of a number of people from the Auckland end that would have loved to have done it . This came above from an item dated 19/11/20 ;-

    https://waikatoregion.govt.nz/community/whats-happening/news/media-releases/one-off-te-huia-rail-charter-service-cancelled/

  10. Auckland has made the awards from this Youtube channel which was featured on a previous GA page , and he also mentions using copper for killing bugs on places touch on PT ;-

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