Here’s our roundup for the week


Road Pricing

Parliament’s Transport and Infrastructure Select Committee has launched an inquiry into congestion charging in Auckland following the recent release of the latest work on the topic.

The Transport and Infrastructure Committee is calling for public submissions on its inquiry into congestion pricing in Auckland.

Congestion pricing involves implementing a charge (or charges) to manage demand on the road network. This can encourage users to change their travel behaviour – the time, route, or mode by which they travel. The committee’s inquiry supports the Ministry of Transport’s The Congestion Question report.

The committee is interested to hear people’s thoughts on the idea of introducing congestion pricing in Auckland.

It will be guided in its inquiry by the below terms of reference:

  • Using The Congestion Question reports as a base, developing a thorough understanding of how a congestion regime could be implemented, including the use of technology, which routes would be included, how charging could be structured and facilitated.
  • Through the submissions process, lead a constructive public dialogue to ensure all affected groups and individuals have an opportunity to have their say.
  • Ensuring that equity and mitigation issues are identified and how any scheme could be structured to ensure that any one group, particularly those on lower incomes, are not unreasonably impacted.
  • Focusing on how any revenue raised would be used and would integrate with other revenue streams derived from fuel taxes, road user charges, and other fiscal factors.
  • Identifying and evaluating comparative congestion charging models internationally, and identifying best practice.
  • Confirming the likely behavioural change and benefits from a congestion charge in Auckland outlined in the Congestion Question technical report, including evaluating the impact of behavioural change on existing alternative transport modes, especially public transport.
  • Through the submissions process, provide the opportunity for those outside Auckland to engage with the issue.
  • Understanding the impact of a congestion charge on emissions and air quality Understanding the options for legislative change to enable congestion pricing.

Submissions are open till Thursday 20 May.


Dannemora

Auckland Transport are consulting on an ‘upgrade’ to the intersection of Chapel Rd and Kilkenny Dr in Dannemora. Like we saw with their Swanson consultation, they talk a lot about how it’s all about safety, saying

Auckland Transport cares for your safety. We want to make our roads safe for everyone, people walking and cycling, especially for our kids and senior citizens and people driving. Projects like this one around Chapel Road and Kilkenny Drive are another step towards our goal of achieving no deaths or serious injuries on our roads

They say changes are needed because

Our observations show that drivers occasionally run red lights and weave in and out of traffic at this intersection which create safety issues.

But for all the talk, the reality is quite different when you look at what’s proposed. AT are wanting to widen the corridor to add in a turning lane, removing trees and any space for bike lanes in the process. They’re not even adding in the missing pedestrian crossing leg.

Of note, Chapel Rd is on their planned cycle network and this intersection is only about 1km from the future Botany Bus Station being built as part of the Eastern Busway and so there’s good case for building safe connections to that.

East Auckland is the most auto-dependant part of urban Auckland and it will continue to remain so, and be even further embedded with projects like this.


Mill Rd

The government are being taken to court over their decision to fund Mill Rd

Climate change advocates have joined forces to apply for judicial review of decisions by Waka Kotahi/NZ Transport Agency and the Government to fund and build an expensive and carbon-inducing roading project, Mill Road.

“Youth spent three long years campaigning for the Zero Carbon Act. This is the year we enforce it and hold the Government to account. The Government simply cannot say it is taking the climate emergency seriously and then fund roading projects like Mill Road,” says Generation Zero campaigner, Dewy Sacayan.

….

All Aboard Aotearoa calls on the Government and Waka Kotahi to dump Mill Road, a proposed 21.5 km road through Auckland’s southeast that is scheduled to start construction in late 2022. This four-lane highway will cost $1.4 billion – a whopping $65 million per kilometre – and will significantly increase carbon emissions by inducing more road traffic and enabling urban sprawl.

There’s been plenty of rumours flying around that the project might be in a bit of trouble anyway due to a cost far in excess of that $1.4 billion.


Britomart

As we inch closer to the reopening of the Chief Post Office building, the main entrance to Britomart, City Rail Link have been publishing more photos of its transformation and it’s looking great.

City Rail Link say it will reopen in early April – which we understand to be 6 April. Though once it is reopened and handed back to Auckland Transport, the current temporary entrance at the back of the station will close and scaffolding will go up as they begin a 12-month ‘face-lift’.


Climate Commission Feedback

As Heidi wrote in Monday’s post, submissions are due on Sunday for the draft Climate Change Commission advice to Government. Here are some great submissions covering urban and transport issues:

One thing I was critical about was their under-cooking of the potential for mode-shift, especially to active modes.

In making a submission, you can write as much or as little as you like. Of course the Commission will be hearing from lots of groups and experts of all kinds, from all sorts of technical angles, and will be working hard to refine its advice before the end of the year. But the voices of everyday people who care about getting this right are just as important in this conversation. So do add yours.

https://twitter.com/SarahJ_Berry/status/1374703172896370692?s=20


March is typically when public transport use is at its highest during the year but COVID has thrown a lot of things out a bit. Even so, if you’ve been on PT recently you’ve probably noticed it busier than it has been. In fact, last week was the third busiest week since COVID struck


Finally, Pete Buttigeig is continuing to impress in his role as Transportation Secretary in the US, for example:

Of course, as we know all too well, saying the right thing and delivering the right thing can be two very different things.


Have a good weekend.

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32 comments

  1. LoL,that was easy, just like that Waka Kotahi have their second harbour bridge,and who would have thought a humble cycle lane would be their “vehicle” to get it across.WK are eating the Transport Minister’s lunch,the failure of him and his predecessor to get anything “moving”,has him painted into a corner,he will agree to anything .
    Come on Michael, the only credible response to this nonsense ($24 million,5 years, to $2 billion,never,never),is to commandeer an existing bridge lane for active transport.At the moment,you’re making Twyford look effective.

    1. What was the most wildly optimistic of Skypath’s forecasts for daily patronage – 5,000?

      I’m a fan of taking people out of their single occupancy vehicles but there has to be an alternative and until there is talk of removing a lane in Canute like proselytizing.

      The Busway is near capacity so PT isn’t going to solve the problem which isn’t about delivering people to the CBD anyway. The lanes through St Mary’s Bay flow now as the majority of cars are by-passing the central city.

      Good luck with walking to Penrose or Manukau or even cycling.

      If (and I wouldn’t trust ANYTHING WK says) the bridge cannot support another strategy then we need to get the NW Busway built asap to take traffic off that motorway enabling through traffic to be diverted away from the existing Harbour Bridge. Only then can there be a realistic discussion about surrendering a lane.

      1. 20km from Takapuna to Penrose, seems very doable on an e-bike

        Why can’t PT solve “the problem”? If Light Rail makes the trip over the bridge 5-10 minutes shorter and the CRL makes rail frequency double, why can’t people travelling from the Shore south past the CBD switch to PT?

        1. Not in the pouring rain it doesn’t.
          I am pretty sure that if a poll was taken about removing one lane of traffic on the bridge and turning it into a cycle lane, the vast majority of Aucklanders would say no.
          The Government is aware of this and that there is a poll effecting their job security every three years.
          The clipons can’t support Skypath, the pylons can’t support The northern pathway. There is not much you can do about it, other than wait for the AWHC.
          Sometimes you just have to know when to give up a dream and put your energies into something that will work.

      2. The thing is you don’t need to be able to walk or cycle all the way to your destination, just to a major public transport node. There are regular trains to both Penrose and Manukau. Patronage numbers are always hard to calculate when providing a brand new service, which being able to walk or cycle across the bridge would be. Linked up properly the bridge would fit in perfectly with walking Te Araroa.

        1. You mean like a bus stop on whichever side of the bridge you are stranded on?
          The good news is that there are cross harbour ferry options.

        2. Daniel Burgess says:
          March 29, 2021 at 7:35 pm
          You mean like a bus stop on whichever side of the bridge you are stranded on?
          The good news is that there are cross harbour ferry options.

          Actually I was thinking train, but yes bus stops would be an option. With a bike or your feet and a way to cross the bridge you wouldn’t be stranded, you would always have options.

          Before the harbour bridge was built there were ferry options for cars too. To be honest I wasn’t that impressed with the ferry/bus link up at Devonport when I used it. The bus I eventually got had a stop about 50m from my destination so you would think the people I was visiting would be raving about how easy it was to use. No not at all, quite the opposite actually. Which I suppose isn’t that surprising seeing as neither AT trip planner or google maps promotes using the ferry/bus to get to their home.

          I really don’t think many New Zealanders get multi mode trips. Plus it seems as soon as you need to change buses the preference is to just drive there. I spent years cycling to work in Auckland and the weather really isn’t that bad. You get used to the hills, after all most bikes here have gears.

      3. “I’m a fan of taking people out of their single occupancy vehicles but there has to be an alternative ”

        You mean like a dedicated PT lane across the bridge? cycling and walking access?

        No one is taking away the ability to drive over the bridge. But for the spatially inefficient user, cars, its going to take some sacrifice to implement those alternatives, only at certain times of the day (peak), to make that happen.

        The same people who whinge about AC wastage and Labour taxing people for an ideological wish list are only too happy to say yes to a $2bn bridge when there is a cost effective alternative staring them in the face.

        1. Sounds like the same “we can do this once we fixed congestion for cars” attitude that is ensuring Dannemora gets another traffic lane instead of a bike lane.

          Digging deeper instead of changing course.

      4. Hi DM You said the busway is near capacity, Can you tell me where it is near capacity? The Northern Busway stations? The road between stations? The Harbour Bridge? The CBD? Genuinely interested to know.

  2. I’m looking forward to the CPO reopening as well.

    I was there when trains returned to the site in 2003. (So was John Banks.)

    There’s a piece in today’s New York Times ‘Riders Are Abandoning Buses and Trains. That’s a Problem for Climate Change.’

    Have a good weekend too.

  3. The biggest problem that congestion charging has is that each time it is put forward a whole bunch of infrastructure lobbyists jump in, as fast as a robber’s dog, to tell us how they could use the money raised. It means the purpose, which is to price congestion and thereby reduce it, gets lost and the whole scheme becomes perceived as just another way to fleece people. If the road builders and rail lobby could STFU we might actually get congestion pricing.

    1. Probably true.

      I think congestion charging is trying to fix the problem that drivers think is the biggest – congestion – and that car dependent planners think is the biggest – planning for the peak.

      When you rethink what the biggest problems are – climate change and an unsafe network – you wouldn’t distinguish between peak and non-peak in pricing driving. Reducing traffic is important at any time of day.

      For safety – the middle of the day might be the only time some elderly people or people with youngsters who are “runners” feel it’s safe enough to go out. Congestion charging would shift drivers to driving then and remove the options available to these people.

      For climate change – getting people onto PT and into active travel is especially important in the off peak times, and this needs to become an enormous focus. Congestion pricing won’t help with this. It’ll push more drivers to drive in the off peak times, slowing the buses down then, making active travel less safe, and basically, pushing modeshift the wrong way.

    2. I think this is part of the reason the Minister asked the select committee to look at it. Get the discussion into a wider section of the community/decision makers in order to help build consensus about it.

      I think one of the previous issues has been that while most transport people support it while in opposition, they’re scared of being framed as raising taxes and/or making changes that regressive in order to benefit the wealthy. Hopefully by doing this now before any legislation is introduced will help address some of that.

      1. I hope that is the case. If they could make it cost neutral so any money raised is spent on alternative modes in the same corridor it would become and easier sell. Some will drive and pay the money, some will change modes and make it easier for the payers to drive. The mode changers should be the only beneficiaries of the money raised. That would keep the focus on reducing delay for everyone.

  4. https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/karangahape-road-enhancements/karangahape-road-enhancements-project-updates/

    Updates to k-road improvements.
    And legally allowing cyclists through Barnes dance phases. (Big improvement imo)

    Interesting background too->

    “ The desired ‘all bike crossing phase’ is currently illegal as it puts people on bikes from different directions, i.e. north-south and east-west, in conflict and could not be progressed. The second option was ‘two separate bike stages in each signal phase.’ This resulted in a significant and unacceptable impact on bus reliability. Due to the exceptionally high number of bus movements at this intersection, this option proved to be unworkable.”

    1. Interesting that they are installing a large number of intersection cameras, but go out of their way to emphasis these will not be used for ticketing or enforcement. In an area with such a high (and sure increase further) number of pedestrians red light running should be AT enemy no 1.

      1. The cameras being added are cctv for the at control center to monitor and control traffic flows.

        Totally different system from red light or speed cameras. Which require multiple measuring sensors and multiple cameras.

        But I do agree, these systems should be added too.

    2. Technically they are still wrong in their own press release – they have emphasised several times to Bike AKL that the only reason they can have this work legally (at the moment) is that Symonds Street is legally NOT a Barnes Dance (it technically has no diagonal crossings at all – just all four crossings running at the same time, which people tend to use to go diagonally). So bikes can use it, because legally they aren’t crossing “vehicles” (i.e. bikes) over a pedestrian crossing. Ah, the fun of the law and transport professions mixing…

  5. I was amused to read that the new Hamilton to Papakura train
    has capacity to take four bikes each trip. Wow !

    1. It is what it is and its a train so maybe they can put on an extra wagon if there is a demand for bike transport. But I don’t expect there would be much room for bikes on connecting Southern line services at what must be peak times anyway.
      Talking about bikes on trains I was passing through Waihi recently went down to the Railway station there was the train from Waikino pulling in to the station and guess what they had a special dedicated wagon especially for bikes. Maybe they lease them out to passengers so they can bike on the Hauraki bike trail. Or they may belong to passengers anyway it looked pretty cool.

  6. If the root cause of the safety problem at the Dannemora intersection is “drivers occasionally run red lights and weave in and out of traffic”, wouldn’t it be cheaper and more effective to add red light cameras (and station some police there) to enforce the road rules until the issue is stamped out?

    Otherwise isn’t it a bit like rewarding a tantrum? Drive poorly, win more space for cars (and less for everyone else), repeat…

    1. This intersection has filter right turns, weaving is typical but expected since both lanes go straight but can be blocked by someone who is waiting to turn right. I don’t see how red light running is a big issue unless they’ve changed it recently…

      1. The consultation page specifically calls it a capacity improvement:

        “We are proposing some changes to this busy intersection to IMPROVE TRAFFIC FLOW and are asking for your views.” [Emphasis mine]

  7. A good move having Generation Zero front the judicial review of Mill Rd,hard to argue with your children/grandchildren while you’re encouraging pollution of the planet they will inherit,the “Greta” affect
    Equally important to the outcome,i feel ,is how much time and our money ,the “establishment ” will put in “defending” their position.Given that the project is a bit of a dog anyway,i’m wondering whether “they” will beat a retreat,rather than have a precedent set,that would affect other projects.Personally l would like to see it play out in court,if only to have David Parkers”motorway widening will reduce emissions, as traffic will get there faster”aired again.That comment is too good to be kept ,locked away.

    1. Yeah, and i’m wondering what sort of retreat will be enough? Need to read the details I suppose and I probably wont but I hope a simple retreat on the one road wont work here.

      Is this case going to mean the ministry or NZTA will finally start correcting MPs like Parker when they say stupid things like that? Instead of what it is now, where they are probably saying the stupid things like that to him.

  8. I look forward to Lisa Prager and Co chaining themselves to those seven or so Dannemora trees to prevent Auckland Transport from chopping them down for another car lane.

    Or was their opposition always about bikeways and grandstanding, not about protecting trees? I wonder.

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