Here’s our wrap up for the week.


Federal St

The Council has announced that they’re finally starting to convert Federal St between Mayoral Dr and Wellesley into a shared space.

A new shared space is coming to the city centre with work commencing in March to transform Federal Street between Mayoral Drive and Wellesley Street into a safer space for pedestrians. This is part of a wider programme creating a network of inviting, people-friendly laneways in the city centre.

The Federal Street Stage 2 upgrade will turn this section of Federal Street into a high-quality shared space for the many people who walk or cycle through Federal Street, work in the area, and for those who call Federal Street home.

When it’s complete in early 2022, the street will boast more inviting places to sit and relax, new native trees and plantings and enhanced lighting to support a people-friendly space. Raingardens will also be installed to filter stormwater and improve the runoff that flows into our waterways.

It’s great this is happening but it’s also a good example of how what should be fairly simple projects take way to long to deliver. Auckland Transport first consulted on this in late 2017 and it had support from 75% of submitters.


Faster Projects

Speaking of doing things faster, that what the thrust of a great piece by Stuff’s Todd Niall (who has being doing some really great work lately).

There are a lot of big issues that lend themselves to the “supertanker” analogy about being slow to change course – the housing shortage, and finding cleaner, healthier ways to get around without cars.

As the clock ticks on the 2030 deadline to halve carbon emissions from 2016 levels, there has been a flurry of social media comment over remarks from the government’s transport agency, Waka Kotahi, that its budgets are fairly locked-in for the next three years.

Big transport projects take years to plan and build, and in Auckland’s case, the biggest of them – the $4.4 billion City Rail Link tunnels – won’t carry their first trains until late 2024.

Billions are still to be spent, money that can’t be diverted to new ideas, even if there was a mood to.

But while the supertanker might take a while to change course, city politicians can still choose to launch the lifeboats, and landing craft, and get to some better places quicker.

Auckland’s return to Covid-19 Alert Level 3 until Sunday March 7 serves to underline the need to think more cleverly about swifter responses in a fast-changing world.

….

But with calls growing for more priority to be given to active transport modes like walking and cycling, there also needs to be speedier and more creative thinking to deliver safe, separated cycle routes.

In late 2018 Waka Kotahi proposed some “quickie” pop-up bus lanes could be opened on motorway shoulders within six to nine months, to make bus journey’s quicker and more reliable.

It was an idea that took some years to take hold, before that proposal emerged.

More than two years later the idea has slid across to Auckland Transport which is now working on a bigger plan, including interim “pop-up” bus interchanges on the northwestern motorway.

Again, it will be a big step forward when completed, but nearly a decade of potential mode-shift, behaviour change, emission reduction and patronage growth on public transport will have been lost, from the point when the original “quickie” plan was do-able.


Hibiscus Coast Busway Station

Last week Auckland Transport officially opened the new Hibiscus Coast Bus Station.

Auckland Transport (AT) officially opened the newly completed Hibiscus Coast Bus Station – just off the Northern Motorway at Silverdale.

The station has been the public transport hub for the coast for several years – but only with limited facilities.

The new station building is now complete with 90 new carparking spaces (over 600 spaces in total), culturally significant artwork, a retail kiosk, bike parking, AT HOP top-up machines and waiting areas – which are well lit and protected from the elements.

The new Hibiscus Coast Bus Station will help people make better transport choices that reduce private vehicle use, ease congestion and benefit the environment, says Transport Minister Michael Wood – who opened the new station today, alongside the Mayor of Auckland Phil Goff.

On the Northern Express bus, a trip from the Hibiscus Coast Bus Station to the city centre takes an average of only 37 minutes at 7.30am.

This will be even quicker when the Northern Busway extension, between Constellation and Albany, is complete.


Improving Dome Valley Safety

The 15km of State Highway 1 through Dome Valley is a dangerous stretch of road. Between 2006 and 2015 seventeen people died and 45 were seriously injured in crashes along the route. Yet safety upgrades were avoided due to the previous government’s focus on duplicating the route with a motorway. The change in government in 2017 saw the approach change and in 2019 Waka Kotahi NZTA started work on a series of upgrades including widening shoulders as well as adding or upgrading median and side barriers. Some of these have been completed and yesterday a large stretch of median barrier started to be installed

Driving on State Highway 1 through the Dome Valley is about to become much safer with the installation of another 2.2kms of flexible wire rope barriers to prevent head-on crashes.

It follows the installation of an 800-metre wire rope barrier at the Warkworth end of the safety improvements project just before Christmas.

The Dome Valley improvements are part of Waka Kotahi’s commitment to help deliver Road to Zero, the government’s road safety strategy for 2020-2030, which aims to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads by 40 percent over the next 10 years.

The new barrier will be installed in the road centre line south of Wayby Valley Road, from 70m south of Hoteo River Bridge to 100m north of Waitaraire Bridge.

“The barrier will make a real and immediate safety difference for the travelling public in a high crash area. This is a busy winding state highway and the barrier, along with other safety improvements, will keep traffic separated and safe,” says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency National Manager Infrastructure Delivery, Andrew Thackwray.

I wonder how many deaths and serious injuries could have been avoided if this approach was taken a decade ago instead of the motorway focus.


Road Deaths

While on the topic of road deaths, 27 people died on our roads in February. That’s a little bit fewer than we had in February last year but still well above what it was nearly a decade ago when we had just 16 (and in a leap year too).


Building Consents

Finally, building consents for January were released this week and Auckland saw another new record set with 17,116 consents issued over the previous 12-months. One of the things that helped drive up the number for January was the consenting of Kainga Ora’s 276 apartment Greys Ave development and meant that during the month, both apartments and townhouses were higher than single houses.

Of course, we still have a huge shortfall so we’re going to keep seeing this level of activity for years to come if we’re going to address that.


Have a good weekend.

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57 comments

  1. The new share space is in front of the new auckland mission social housing.

    I can predict it will become a dangerous place with large ground of homeless.

    The flash street furniture will soon ripped apart and full or drug smell.

    1. Haha ok Grandad ‘full of the drug smell’ lol

      Totally right though, we should turn that area of Federal Street into a pool of lava so nobody hangs around there with their drug smell..better still lets move the City Mission out to sea, they can rip as much street furniture apart out in the pacific.

      That said the Federal Street upgrade there is complete overkill which what is a short section of road which has no real pedestrian use due to lack of anything actually being there. A quick upgrade and spend the rest on the dire streets of Victoria and Wellesley.

      1. And when CRL is finished, the Bledisloe site and the rest of Aotea Precinct development will have plenty of people crossing Mayoral Drive (needing a new crossing) at the top end of Federal Street.

        1. Adding a crossing has nothing to do with giving a current cul de sac the gold plated Shared Space treatment. I’m not saying don’t do it, I’m saying

          a) there are more pressing places that need an upgrade considering pedestrians can already use Mayoral to Wellesley via Federal Street.

          b) upgrade it by all means, but really it just needs some new pavers and no parking. Cars won’t use it without parking anyway as it leads to nowhere.

          Have a look over the plans and the cost, they are going all out.

  2. It’s probably an old one to harp on. But level 1 I have to wear a mask on PT (Who knows when that will end). But I can wander in and stand in a supermarket line and go inside for everything without a second glance in level 3. Very inconsistent policy from the government. Sure busses are higher risk, compulsory level 2 mask wearing makes sense, but so would compulsory masks in supermarkets under level 3.

    1. I agree: a supermarket in Level 3 has to be more dangerous than a bus in level 1. PT is an easy target, quite embarrassing from this supposedly progressive government.

      1. The period we have in level 1 where cases are in the community but we are not aware of them yet is the most dangerous of all periods for Covid transmission. That is why masks are required on PT in level 1.

        In saying that they should really be mandated in all retail outlets (which is basically supermarkets) in level 3.

        1. Does anyone know predicted travel time from Silverdale to City once the extension of the Busway is completed?

        2. Can’t believe masks aren’t mandatory in supermarkets. It should be the first place they are required

        3. @luke, especially because:
          a) masks are to prevent you giving someone else the virus, they (depending on the exact setup) don’t really protect the wearer that much.
          b) the supermarket is essential, as essential at transport, if not more.

          Although I agree with others, PT is more confined and poses a higher transmission risk, so should be mandatory before supermarket wearing.

        4. I agree with your last sentence. Masks should be required in all shops at level 3. Sometimes you cant be 2m from others. A mask allows social distancing at more like 0.5m.

      2. “supermarket in Level 3 has to be more dangerous than a bus in level 1”

        Aah, that would be a No. Its an air-borne virus, with the issue being people sharing recently expelled air from one person’s lungs to another.

        Buses have a small amount of air and they have poor / zero air circulation. By contrast, a supermarket generally has a vast volume and large amount of air supply / extract.

        Most dangerous of all, if there is such a thing in NZ, would be a Lift. Very small volume, zero air conditioning, probably most likely place for catching Covid from a stranger (here why many high-rises are now empty).

        1. Depends on the bus and where I suppose. I saw a guy on a double decker nx1 smoke a cigarette a couple years ago. He sat up the back by where the air extraction is. I was pretty close to him and didn’t smell a thing. Pretty sure no-one else did either. I would rate the air circulation in the bus as better than a supermarket (depending on the bus) but for sure the volume of the supermarket is way larger per person.

        2. @Jack – I’m sure the doctors and scientists involved at the MoH coming up with policy apply a bit more science than an annecdote about a dude having a gasper on a double decker once.

        3. I’m sure the doctors and scientists would like everyone to wear masks in level 3, and level 2 for that matter, everywhere they went, and would love if the politicians would make it compulsory in these circumstances too. It would objectively lower risk. But the MOH aren’t the ones that do the final rule making, politicians do. And politicians have to factor in other stuff too and protect their constituents, hence why we don’t have compulsory masks in level 2 or level 3 (even though I think we perhaps should, clearly rule makers don’t think we should). I’m saying I don’t think the politicians have factored in everything evenly and PT users are unfairly being loaded.

        4. “…. coming up with policy apply a bit more science than an annecdote about a dude having a gasper on a double decker once.”

          ROTFL.

    2. There is little to no scientific evidence to suggest that masks reduce the spread of COVID-19. Most people get it from spending significant amount of time in close proximity to a infected person – usually in the home. In fact only about 10% of people in a household get COVID-19 if there is an infected person. I think masks are “theatre”. A bit like having to take your shoes off at the airport – doesn’t really do much but it makes people feel safer flying.

      1. “Little or no scientific evidence”? I suggest that you read the multitude of articles on the CDC website. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/Novel_Coronavirus_Reports.html

        Unless it is a fully sealed surgical mask, masks are essentially to protect others, rather than protecting yourself. Hence: mask wearing only really works if everyone wears them.

        Point in case: Thailand – nearly everyone was wearing one in the early days of covid and so very few caught the virus.

        Another case: USA. Blind and stupid indifference to others and refusal to wear a mask, and now 500,000 have died. Need I say more?

        1. Yes, you do need to say more Average Human – I am sure you are aware of the massive Danish study that showed little real world use. If you were to look at the WHO guidelines in wearing masks it becomes very obvious very quickly that what people do in the real world, not labs and theory, that the masks are pretty ineffective. This article shows my point https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(20)30514-2/fulltext?fbclid=IwAR3SxXJBl53W2ZxEv42b2bNl6bJe-CPSUfOnzwD-j5795vpN95pI34Mmzh4
          In addition, in regards to comparing to Thailand and the US it is very clear that the developing world did far better than the developed world with a few exceptions – the reasons for this are unknown and still be determined – large parts of Africa never wore masks and did just as well as Thailand. Ventilation is till the most important thing and, as I said, most people get COVID-19 at home not on the bus and definitely not at the supermarket.

        2. Adrian – while you are right that most people get it at home you are missing the point with that comment. It is never going to spread far in a home, there are a finite number of people, it’s the spread between people from different homes that is far more important to contain.

        3. “…. large parts of Africa never wore masks and did just as well as Thailand. Ventilation is till the most important thing and…”
          That point actually makes it clear that in. An enclosed space it is more important to wear a mask. Eg a bus or plane.
          Thailand has many people dense, enclosed population areas compared to Africa I’m sure.

    3. I think the main reasoning is some people have no option but to use public transport at certain times to get to work. Whereas most other aspects of life people can choose how much exposure they are comfortable with, IE shopping at quiet times or having food delivered. choosing to stay away from any crowded places. If you were a vulnerable person in this situation it is a fair way to try to protect you.

    4. Funny thing is though. Way back in the first Level 4 lockdown supermarkets were pretty much the only place the populace ever mingled, we didn’t wear masks then and we didn’t spread Covid. Probably because we never really had any meaningful contact with one another. As opposed to sitting next to somebody for 10 minutes plus on the bus.

      1. Yep, always found it crazy that I used to get to work quicker from Mairangi Bay on the bus than I do if I bother catching it from Richmond Road in Grey Lynn! We need bus priority everywhere!

        1. I was staying on East Coast Road so a little easier as the bustop was outside, straight to Constellation and then virtually outside my door on Market Place. Under 30 minutes for sure

        2. From Grey Lynn it should be trivial to cycle to work in the city centre.

          You’ll never beat that time with public transport.

      1. Yep I’m purely on pedal power and it says something that I, an oldie, can generally get into city quicker than our PT options from the West

    1. Makes you wonder what the traveltime would be if they really threw some money at public transport, like finally upgrading the northern busway to light rail or at least had better prioritized dedicated bus lane from the northern motorway into the city.

      In my dreams, I can imagine a light rail unit cranking alongside of the northern motorway between Millwater/Silverdale and Albany/Rosedale stations at 120km/h. Guessing never going to be enough people to make this viable.. but would be cool.

      Looking at the vast amount of work going into the northern corridor improvement (it is staggering how much land and resource is getting eaten up by a motorway interchange) then you have that this work will at least knock a couple of minutes off the 37 minutes.

      When I used to drive from Stanmore Bay to the Albany Park n Ride, the bus would get very snarled up with the tail of the motorway queue, so the bit from Albany to Constellation was the slowest leg compared with gaps between other stations. Some bus drivers did some ‘interesting’ driving on the shoulders to avoid cars blocking the Greville road onramp.

      BTW – Any predictions on March madness this year once the universities and schools are back this month? Guessing not with a large shift to WFH.

      1. Waste of money getting it up to 120kmh with the gap between stations. More important to ensure good acceleration and minimal dwell times.

        1. yeah top vehicle speed has very little to do with journey times, obviously true for urban transit services which stop regularly, but also true of Maseratis and Porsches on urban motorways subject to congestion (even if there were no speed limits).

          Acceleration of electric traction on rails however is important, that is limited to a degree by passenger comfort issues, however.

        2. I believe the ‘passenger comfort’ argument for limiting acceleration on metro trains to very-sedate rates is misfounded. Often this results in trains being operated well below their design-performance which I believe is the case in both Auckland and Wellington. An unfortunate effect of over-leisurely acceleration, particularly if it is accompanied by unimpressive journey-times, is that people will switch to faster modes such as car or possibly bus, where the acceleration rates are much higher. What causes greatest discomfort for passengers is sudden jerks or lurches (excessive rate-of-change in acceleration). Higher acceleration rates per-se are fine as long as they come on and go off smoothly and predictably. A train that is felt to be dawdling is also uncomfortable and frustrating for passengers.

        3. I think the one place in which top speed would make a difference is between a hypothetical Silverdale/Millwater station and Albany.

          Its 13 km, so increase in speed could not only slice a couple of minutes off but people seeing light rail zooming along faster than general traffic would be noticable.

          I am realistic though that it won’t happen, and instead we will see the new station at Stillwater offramp (and vast over engineered motorway on/offramp) instead which will add more stops and take longer.

  3. “I wonder how many deaths and serious injuries could have been avoided if this approach was taken a decade ago instead of the motorway focus.”

    Probably most of them. But then lobbyists wouldn’t be able to line their pockets with money from the builders and designers who get the big lucrative motorway projects.

    1. “lobbyists wouldn’t be able to line their pockets with money from the builders and designers” … in America or Italy perhaps. You’ve been watching too many movies. We’re not really like that in New Zealand.

      Unless I’m completely wrong and our country is in fact embroiled in back-handers. I’m fairly sure that doesn’t occur at all. But if you have proof, then please post away! It’d be interesting to see the proof!

      1. There’s perfectly legal ways to get paid big bucks for lobbying. It doesn’t mean that motorway builders pay politicians. It means they pay PR companies, fancy lawyers, well-placed friends – who go and suggest that politicians should really look at that presentation that company XYZ wants to give them about their new product etc…

        “Is it legal” is not the only thing you should ask.

    2. I don’t have the figures, so will similarly ask how many deaths and serious injuries used to occur on the old SH1 between Silverdale and Puhoi prior to the Northern Gateway Toll Road being opened, and how many occur on that same road now. And to round out the numbers, how many deaths and serious injuries have occurred on that Northern Gateway Toll Road since its opening?

      1. The difference is that one is a pretty cheap project compared to the other, and can be done in a few months, rather than many years. Sure, motorways ARE quite safe. But they are horrible bang-for-buck-wise as safety treatments, being some of the most expensive pieces of infrastructure we ever build as society. For every kilometre of motorway you can safety-treat dozens of normal roads at nearly as good safety improvement.

  4. “It’s great this is happening but it’s also a good example of how what should be fairly simple projects take way to long to deliver. Auckland Transport first consulted on this in late 2017 and it had support from 75% of submitters.”

    A reasonable person might think that this is some sort of passive aggressive approach to a project that they have little interest in. A less reasonable person might think that AT are simply inept. I am still trying to make up my mind.

    My decision is informed by the proposed parking zones around the town centre in Takapuna. Consultation closed on October 18 and just this week I was told, “The public consultation is currently being closed off…” Is there a different public to the one that were consulted and closed of in October? How hard is it to do something regarding the parking in streets that are constantly clogged? Remember that the Parking Strategy gives some ideas on what AT might do.

    Another project is informing my views. In November AT completed the $30 million parking building in Takapuna. In terms of AT’s assets this represented a fairly large investment. So I asked how it was stacking up. “No notes or reports on performance exist yet, this is because the carpark has not been in operation long enough. ” Really? You invest $30 million and after 3 months no one is interested enough to even have a chat about how it is performing. Where the hell is responsible stewardship over rate payers money?

    As someone said the other day, if parking facilities (road, park and ride, ground level and building) were run with even a modest eye on revenue then there would be a hell of a contribution available towards active mode shares.

    1. Im sure you know John but IMO the craziest thing about the new takapuna parking building is the fact that the Killarney Street Car park is never full or even close to it. I park my motorcycle there during work days and I’ve never seen the lower level more than 30% full, and the upper level never has more than single digits. It’s a 10 minute walk from the new car park. Perhaps it gets used on event days or something. But I’m there very often during work days and never seen it.

      This google maps satellite view is an accurate representation of the top level.
      https://maps.google.com?q=Killarney%20Street%202%20Killarney%20Street,%20Takapuna,%20Auckland%200622&ftid=0x6d0d39d86c481b0b:0x14f1e7ac61758786&hl=en-NZ&gl=nz&entry=gps&lucs=swa

      1. Jack, you can currently park in the new car park for $4 a day and still it is never more than 60% full.
        The sad thing is that all the numbers showed that it was never going to work.
        It’s a repeat of the dog at Ronwood Avenue that is still not making any money after seven years.
        Ah for the day when AT will have even the semblance of a plan to address emissions reduction. I say that because the last answer to an OIA suggested they haven’t. Perhaps I asked the wrong question?

        1. It does have nice cycling facilities though so the money wasn’t entirely wasted lol.

        2. Zippo
          It does, and I walk past there most days and sometimes I see a bike.
          Are the showers any good?

        3. The car park was a political sop to balance the removal of the at grade car park behind Hurstmere Rd for Panuku development.

          Now the Panuku development seems stalled and maybe will never proceed, and if it does proceed, the locals will still scream bloody murder about their heritage behind destroyed anyway. But we spent a massive amount of our money on a car parking building that got approved and built at rapid pace. Priorities are so out of whack.

    2. I agree with your sentiment but to be fair, the parking stats on the new carpark will be woeful until the better located Anzac St carpark is closed (and presumably the shopping mall increases their prices). In saying that, I don’t think it will be anything other than an underperforming investment for the ratepayer. Complete incompetence.

    1. 4 years to extend the Nelson Street cycleway literally down Market Place, around 50 metres. Now its on hold..we are hopeless

        1. There is a plan to revitalise the Takapuna Town Centre at 40 Anzac St, providing amongst other things housing that Aucklanders really need. How did they commence this project? By building a car park that an independent report and the Auckland Parking Strategy said we really didn’t need. The housing and other amenities languish.

          Unfortunately we have been hoodwinked by (self) interest groups that it is roading and roading related projects that will stimulate the economy. In terms of on-going jobs, it is PT that provides far greater numbers than roads.

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