Here’s our wrap-up for the last few weeks
Last week Auckland Transport unveiled New Zealand’s first hydrogen bus.
The bus was unveiled by the Minister of Transport Michael Wood and Mayor of Auckland Phil Goff at Ports of Auckland – where the bus will be refuelled with green hydrogen.
In response to Ports of Auckland’s invitation to participate in the Hydrogen Demonstration Project, AT commissioned the production of the hydrogen fuel cell bus at the cost of $1.175million.
The three-axle bus, which is AT’s biggest single deck bus, will be used to trial operational performance and see how operating costs compare to diesel and electric buses of similar configurations. It fits 43 seated adults and 31 standing adults.
The bus was built by Global Bus Ventures in Christchurch and will be operated with Howick and Eastern Buses by Transdev for an initial two-year trial on route 70 from Botany to Britomart via Panmure.
Minister of Transport Michael Wood says the government is proud to work alongside AT to help tackle climate change.
While we’re keen to see low emissions buses as soon as possible, I struggle to see the advantage of a hydrogen bus over electric buses, which are already in the fleet and so far are performing better than anticipated. They also likely have more manufacturers and I believe are cheaper to buy.
Last week Stats NZ released their latest population projections and much of the focus was around the expected growth in Auckland.
Auckland’s population may rise from about 1.7 million currently to 2 million by early next decade, Stats NZ said today.
“Auckland will likely have the highest average annual growth of New Zealand’s 16 regions over the next 30 years, from net migration and natural increase (more births than deaths) in relatively equal shares,” population estimates and projections manager Hamish Slack said.
Auckland may have 2 million residents by the early 2030s, but that milestone may come earlier or later depending on levels of migration over the coming years. Auckland is currently home to just over one-third of New Zealand’s population (34 percent). By 2048 it could make up 37 percent.
“The medium-growth projection suggests Auckland’s population could expand by another 300,000 people by 2033 – an average of about 60 extra people every day, or 1,900 a month,” Mr Slack said.
Auckland reached a population of 1 million in the early 1990s. Recent growth was driven by high net migration in the seven years before COVID-19.
Auckland will account for half of New Zealand’s population growth over the next 30 years, under the medium projection. This is similar to its share of the country’s growth over the last 30 years.
The growth looks like a lot but it actually represents a decrease over previous projections. For example the last projections estimated that under a medium growth scenario by 2043 the region would reach a population of 2.326 million people. With these new projections that estimation is 2,208 million, about 118,000 fewer people.
Looking nationally, this graph from Stats shows the percentage growth rate expected in each region under high, medium and low scenarios with the upper North Island dominating the rates of growth.
In March, 31 people sadly lost their lives on our roads which is the same as March last year, although the end of the month was when lockdown came in.
The Easter Weekend say another 8 people lose their lives on our roads bringing the total for the year to 86 deaths.
In Auckland, 17 people have died on the roads so far this year, whereas this time last year that was sitting at seven. The 17 so far this year is also higher than each of the last four years as at this time.
In related news, earlier this week Auckland Transport were talking about their record so far earlier this week a month other things noted that speed was a factor in 51% of them.
The recently released Vision Zero performance update shows that in 2018, there were 54 deaths on Auckland’s roads; in 2019 40 people lost their lives and in 2020 there were 37 deaths on Tāmaki Makaurau roads.
The report shows that in 2020, speeding was a factor in 51 per cent of road deaths, meaning that the attending police officer selected the category ‘inappropriate speed’ when completing the crash report.
This is why it was so important that AT implemented the safe and appropriate speed limits for around 800km of roads on June 30 2020.
Auckland is seeing record levels of housing consents right now but at the same time we still have a significant shortage of homes and everyone agrees we need to build more.
The complaints housing developments in Auckland perhaps aren’t what they were a few years ago but they still pop up from time to time and this week there was one about locals in Oratia opposing a housing development. This one is interesting to me as I grew up in Oratia and would travel past the site on a daily basis so know the area well. My parents have also only just moved out of the area and so I’d be travelling past the site on a regular basis. Locals, including many I know, and the local board are using some fairly typical language and excuses, saying we need houses, just not in my backyard.
Plans for more than 200 new homes for a West Auckland suburb have been met with concerns about traffic, a loss of green space and the impact on local schools.
CPM 2019 Limited applied to the Ministry for the Environment to fast track its application to build 246 homes, a cafe, commercial centre and “communal open space areas”, through the Covid-19 Recovery (fast-track consenting) Act at the Nolas Orchard site on West Coast Rd, in Glen Eden.
The application, which Environment Minister David Parker accepted and referred to an expert panel, said the development would be made up of two and three bedroom units, over two or three storeys.
But residents of Glen Eden – as well at the Waitākere Ranges Local Board – have opposed the application.
Waitākere Ranges Local Board chairman Greg Presland said the application for the development should have been publicly notified.
While Presland accepted there was a housing crisis and something needed to be done to fix that, the board thought this particular development was “far too intense” and in the wrong place.
“We see significant development applications come through all the time, but they tend to be close to the railway station.”
Presland said the site was far away from railway stations and “we are certainly worried about transport implications”.
As is often the case with these kinds of things, the objections thrown up are nonsense. For example, the site is directly across the road from a significant park, is only 1.5km from the Sunnyvale Train Station and making it safer to walk and cycle would make it easier to access. There is even a bus that goes straight past the site to the train station taking only about 4 minutes, though it only runs half hourly. West Coast Rd can get congested at times but no more so than any other road in Auckland.
On twitter Presland defended the board’s opposition to the plans noting that there was already significant upzoning next to stations allowed for in West Auckland. This is true, during the Unitary Plan process West Auckland local boards asked for more upzoning, but at the same time it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t adapt the plan, especially when big sites like this one come up. If anything in the next version of the plan we should be looking to get away with single house zoning and allow for at least terraced houses everywhere in the urban area.
1. Intensification around transport nodes good, intensification around edge of city not.
2. Unitary plan provisions out west already allow for major intensification in terraced housing and apartment zone, probably more than any other part of the city (see orange). /2 pic.twitter.com/gERk9eQASD
— Greg Presland (@GregPresland) April 7, 2021
There’s lots more that could be argued about but at the end of the day, we have a housing crisis, we need more homes for people to live in, and it’s far better to put 246 more homes here than out the back of Drury (or some other greenfield site) that requires billions in infrastructure to support.
CRL’s Bluestone Wall move
“If you see salmon swimming up a river, that's a sign of the quality of that habitat.
If you see children of different ages—with or without their parents—being active and visible in their neighborhood, that's a sign of the health of that habitat, that human habitat.” – @timrgill pic.twitter.com/mZ36xafh9p
— Melissa & Chris Bruntlett (@modacitylife) April 7, 2021
Finally, with the possible delays to being able to get across the harbour, it’s time to liberate the lane
Climate change isn’t waiting and nor are we. Liberate the lane!
Join our rally at the Harbour Bridge on May 30th to call for a 3 month summer trial to free a lane for cycling. pic.twitter.com/c3VL4Qk8DR
— Bike Auckland (@BikeAKL) April 8, 2021
Have a good weekend.