Welcome back to the Weekly roundup. The news has been light over the last few weeks but there are a few things that have caught out eye.
Firstly, how great is this effort from Alex
It's taken months of part collecting and assembling, but finally the Lego @AklTransport inspired station is (almost) complete!
— Alex Burgess (@pcuser42) January 12, 2021
Platforms have generous access options – there's a ramp, stairs and escalators. The entrance modules are designed to connect with standard MILS road modules. pic.twitter.com/G5wDuRpH1D
— Alex Burgess (@pcuser42) January 12, 2021
Building Boom continues
Building consents in Auckland continue to surge with the numbers for November now out. The region hit a new record with 16,293 consents issued in the 12 months to the end of November. What’s more, for the first time more townhouses were consented in that timeframe than single houses, with the latter making up just 40% of all consents.
I’ve also added a line for when the Unitary Plan became operative (November 2016). What you can see is initially there was fall in consents, presumably as developers took stock of the finalised plan, but since then have boomed.
Rail network repairs inch closer to completion
If like me you’ve been impacted by the rail network works over the Christmas/New Year period, and in the months before that, the good news is that things are getting closer to completion. From Monday, services on the Southern, Eastern and Onehunga lines will once again use Britomart, though the Southern and Onehunga lines will still have closures at night.
However, for us Western Line users the pain will continue with no services till early February.
Meanwhile, Kiwirail have completed their upgrade of 13 tunnels and the replaced of five bridges along with around 54km of track on the North Auckland Line between Swanson and Whangarei.
Freight services on the Auckland to Northland rail route are expected to start later this week after the line was re-opened following months of upgrade.
The line between Swanson and Whangārei opened yesterday after an early morning blessing and a test train carrying trial hi-cube export- sized containers successfully run along the length of the line.
KiwiRail chief operating officer for capital projects and asset development, Dave Gordon, said yesterday’s run was a great first step in the re-opening of the line to freight traffic, with major works replacing bridges, and increasing the size of the tunnels completed.
“While we still have a full year in front of us to further improve speed and axle weight on the line, which mainly involves further rail and sleeper replacement plus some intricate work to the roof of one of the tunnels, this section of the line is now open for business.”
With lowered tunnels and new bridges, he said the North Auckland line would be more reliable and have the capacity to take hi-cube containers.
Missing Tourist Options
An opinion piece on stuff took what’s missing from NZ for tourists.
Here in New Zealand, we’ve been a lot luckier than most, enjoying the freedom to travel domestically. We’ve been encouraged to get better acquainted with our own backyard – and many of us have realised what we have here at home quite easily rivals the destinations we once flocked to overseas.
Except, there are a few things we could do better. I’ve been having a good hard think about what it is we’re missing – what it is that tourism hotspots in Asia and Europe have that we don’t.
Here are the five things New Zealand still needs to be considered a perfect destination.
What’s notable is that three of the five are things that would be good for non-tourists too. The five are below but read the article to see why.
- A decent rail network
- More affordable domestic flights
- Late night shopping
- More winter events
- Cities and towns with a heart
PT Post-COVID Recovery
This article focuses on the US where the fear is many PT systems may see significant cuts in funding as a result of COVID and that could have significant long term impacts, and that’s before taking account that PT usage is likely to be lower for a long time – it even includes some numbers from Auckland. One thing that stood out to me was the discussion about city centres
In similar cities, like Auckland, where the virus has been repressed for far longer, a comparable proportion of riders was still missing as of early December. Currie believes that this foreshadows a lengthy ridership recovery even after Covid has receded, partly because of residual fear and partly because work-from-home policies will change where a substantial proportion of CBD employees spend their working hours. (But he also argues that as cities begin to grow again, which he expects in places as varied as Melbourne, Singapore and London, ridership decline will recover through population growth.)
“It’s a double whammy for CBDs,” says Currie. “First, subways are particularly bad psychologically because they’re underground. Second, the increase in teleworking will last past Covid-19. Don’t get me wrong – it’s only going to be a small share of the workforce, but it will have a particular effect in downtowns.”
This is an existential challenge to the commuter rush hour service that many transit networks have prioritised.
Auckland Transport have been prioritising for the peak commuter rush for years as that tends to be where the strongest demand and opportunity was. Even pre-COVID we were concerned about this it meant improvements outside of peak times and outside of city centre trips were few and far between . But in a post COVID world it’s more important than ever that we focus on how we lift PT usage to other parts of the region.
Following on from yesterday’s post, this is a map of all scheduled trees in Auckland.
Map of protected trees around Auckland (Schedule 10 Notable Trees Schedule) pic.twitter.com/1aj44qhGE0
— Timmy (@gallicist) January 13, 2021
Sometimes it’s good to get a fresh perspective on our city. Nelson City Councillor Rohan O’Neill-Stevens was touring Auckland yesterday and shared some of his thoughts in this thread.
It’s an absolutely gorgeous day for my Tāmaki Makaurau tour/soirée – which at the request of adoring fans of urbanism I’ll be tweeting my highlights (and potential lowlights) of! pic.twitter.com/9NrbtM5FKe
— Rohan O’Neill-Stevens (@rohanfornelson) January 13, 2021
Have a good weekend.