Here’s our wrap-up for the last few weeks

Hydrogen Bus

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.

Population Projections

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.

Road Deaths

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.

Oratia Housing

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.

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

Finally, with the possible delays to being able to get across the harbour, it’s time to liberate the lane

Have a good weekend.

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  1. Why is AT bothering trialling unproven tech like Hydrogen buses, instead of leaving it to London or Hong Kong to get right? Seems the kind of money that could be spent on f***ing cyclelanes instead for instance

    1. Or instead just spend the money on more electric buses. It’s a joke that we’re still “trialling” electric buses when they’re proven to work perfectly well in other cities.

      1. These electric buses should be withdrawn. Auckland does not have polluted air, AT does not need to spend all its money on these buses.

        1. A voice of reason amongst all of the panic. We should be just replacing the old busses with electric options as the price comes down and on selected routes. And we should be building an electric bus industry in NZ instead of panic buying from China at a huge cost.

    2. Most hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels anyway and I think methane is a major by-product so presumably this bus is more about a PR stunt than it is about climate change. Hence the massive words “Hydrogen Powered” and “AT” on the side.

      1. The article calls it ‘green hydrogen’ as it comes from electrolysis. My understanding is that is only 20% efficient so for every 10 joules of electricity that goes in you get 2 joules of fuel. Even worse the hydrogen is being made by a Port company with a really poor safety record. This might not end well.

        1. I don’t think they actually make it they announced they were going to but I don’t think it ever happened. More likely they have a tank of it which is filled by another supplier. We probably should have a fact checker in chief to scrutinise any announcements made by private or public organisation.

        2. Exactly. The hype about the “greenness” of “green” hydrogen is pure greenwash. How can any fuel be “green” when it is only a fraction as efficient in energy terms as the fuel source from which it is derived?

        3. And the energy to make the hydrogen is likely coming from coal or gas from Genesis Huntly, given its proximity to Auckland.

      2. Methane is the fuel for producing Hydrogen the by product is Carbon Dioxide. Its called steam reforming. Another process called methane pyrolysis is possible. This involves heating natural gas and produces hydrogen and solid carbon however it is extremely messy and despite years of development they haven’t got the process right yet. But never say never its the fossil fuel industry best chance to look clean and green as the carbon produced can be buried in landfill ie sequestered alternatively there are some uses for it such as carbon black for making your tires black. Of course hydrogen can be produced by electrolysis using renewable energy in which case it is squeaky green but expensive.

        1. Thank you for that I had muddled inputs and outputs. I think H2 was originally produced from coal and now mostly from natural gas. I just read that each tonne of hydrogen produced comes with 9 to 12 tonnes on CO2 depending on the feedstock used.

    3. Because AT are a fan of gimmicks that don’t cost a lot of money, but generate a press release, and importantly don’t require them to do a thing on the ground in terms of actually addressing bus congestion due to SOVs, or the lack of cycling facilities.

      1. Surprised they didn’t buy this just for use in Devonport, given they had to can the $1m p/yr shuttle bus.

    4. The cost is over $1m for the single bus?

      What they don’t mention was cost of the infrastructure. I know the cost of the Tatsuno hydrogen pumps pretty well, and would estimate that the basic cost of one Hydrogen refueling site + 1 bus, they could have put in a couple of decent EV chargers and brought a small fleet of electric buses like those being used in Waiheke.

      Which really makes you wonder why, other than capture by some small interest group. Can’t wait for the noisy polluting buses traveling up and down Queen st are replaced with EVs

    5. Hydrogen Fuel Cells are just a large expensive and inefficient battery making it either a waste of energy to create and therefore a waste of precious resources.
      Hydrogen is also backed by the fossil energy companies as a way for them to hang on to their fast loosening grip on the transport industry.
      For transport use hydrogen really only has a short term life span while the technology around higher density batteries developed.
      The real backers of the hydrogen world should be the ones that are financing this “experiment” and not a bunch of gullible civil servants.
      This has a small of the same gullibly of the Muldoon Think Big era when fossil fuel concerns conned them to create a test bed for their unproven processes.

  2. Bike Auckland’s concept is great. But even easier would be simply closing the Curran st offramp to car traffic! The neighbours would love it!

    I am so there for the rally. I’m hoping it turns into a ride across.

  3. Auckland is in competition with the rest of the world and especially Australia. So it is important that our cities are very liveable.
    The cost of congestion, sprawl, emissions and oil imports is a drag on our ecoomy.
    Sprawl is high cost to families, businesses, the environment and councils.
    If a family of 4 each have to commute 30km for several hours a day they will be struggling. Intensification reduces costs.
    We must support our NZ businesses.

    1. Sprawl is currently functioning as a pressure valve for a broken planning system that lets inner-city NIMBYs dictate terms and force development out into the out suburbs, where there is far less infrastructure.

      Until we fix our planning and rapid transit networks, we need sprawl.

      1. You’ve said this so often. Yes the planning systems need to change. No, the sprawl doesn’t need to continue.

        What should the first decision be? If these all happen at the same time:

        No more consents issued for sprawl,
        Take the sprawl highway plans off the books,
        Develop all the Council carparks and Park n Rides into mixed use developments including housing,
        Upzone everywhere.

        we’d get more housing built more quickly than not making all those decisions at once.

        1. “Yeah but apartments are an awful way to live.”
          That’s your opinion I guess for yourself, but this is not true for everyone by any means. I enjoyed my apartment dwelling. No disadvantages for me at all. Only more convenience because of location etc. Most of my friends are of the same opinion as me.
          The reason I don’t live in one now, is cost. Why is an apartment more expensive than living in a house with flatmates? I can only guess restricted supply.

        2. Apartments can be absolutely wonderful places to live provided they are designed properly. The finest place I’ve ever lived was a West End tenement in Glasgow. The ceilings were about 4 metres high, the lounge and bedrooms were enormous and the structure was built from solid sandstone, cast iron and oak. Very comfortable, quiet and beautiful.

          Good article here on Hyndland tenements:

        3. That’s your opinion I guess for yourself, but this is not true for everyone by any means

          Of course. But it seems that a a bunch of people who like to piss and moan about ‘sprawl’ need to be reminded that a lot of people choose to live in suburbia and like it that way.

        4. Suburbia ≠ sprawl.

          Auckland has terrific suburbs. Most of our pre-1940 residential areas (e.g. Epsom, Remuera, Westmere, etc) could reliably be described as suburban and they are desirable places in which to live.

          The basic difference between suburbia and sprawl is the extent to which it becomes effectively compulsory to use a car for all journeys. Compulsory separation of land uses, arterial road hierarchies and statutory parking minimums are three of the factors that make suburban sprawl.

          Successful suburbs are able to accommodate many different dwelling types (and to allow gradual evolution as necessary). It’s not about making it “compulsory” to live in a house or flat; it’s about enabling many development options to coexist successfully.

        5. That’s your opinion I guess for yourself, but this is not true for everyone by any means’

          Current building consent trends say otherwise, but hey do you.

  4. That Twitter thread was embarrassing. Councillor Presland was in such high dudgeon that urbanists dared reject his arguments or point out that they were identical to what Mike Lee was saying 5 years ago. Why do elected officials think that angrily scolding Twitter critics makes them look good?

    1. A few points.

      1. I am not a councillor.
      2. I like intensification round transport nodes.
      3. I don’t like intensification around the edge of the city which may impact on the Waitakere Ranges.

      This is not such a simple discussion. If you want quality urban form then you have to have a discussion about zoning. And I do like our green areas. Parrs Park is wonderful but is approaching capacity. And the surrounding area is already tagged for radical intensification.

  5. You don’t have to dig very deep to uncover research that shows hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are less than half as efficient as battery electric vehicles. And in terms of emissions, if that hydrogen is not green hydrogen (produced by electrolysis using renewable sources of electricity) then it’s just a green-wash. Ports of Aucland have stated that they are going to use electrolysis of tap water (you know, that resource we’ve all been told to conserve) using mains electricity at about 80% renewables. So greenish hydrogen, but that same electricity could power at least twice as many battery-electric buses.

    1. By doing such a simple analysis we externalise impact of the production of batteries. I’m not saying that battery busses or hydrogen busses will be better than each other. But whole of lifecycle is very difficult to calculate, and really muddies the waters on what will be better.

      In terms of water, hydrogen is incredibly energy dense, I’m sure the water used will be negligible a couple toilet flushes? Perhaps if we ran every vehicle in the city we’d run into issues.

    2. If the technology- and cost- for producing “green” hydrogen moves as fast in the next ten years as battery has done it could be a real competitor.
      I think some people see hydrogen production linked to the supply of cheap electricity when the aluminium smelter closes in 2024- if Tiwai’s owners mean what they say.

      1. Hydrogen is only going to be useful where really heavy vehicles need really big range. Buses aren’t that heavy and don’t need big range as the only ones doing huge distances are busway buses which could charge up at stations.

        The main use for hydrogen fuel is going to be line haul trucking. Let Mainfreight and the like invest in Hydrogen fuel infrastructure. Eventually the carbon tax on petrol will force them to change.

        1. Absolutely. Leave the freight guys to figure the hydrogen problem out – doesn’t need AT to lead the charge. Hydrogen definitely makes sense for large goods vehicles as an EV system would typically give away approximately 25% of the total weight of the vehicle to batteries etc therefore reducing available payload (compared to about 1% for current diesel ICE systems). Not sure on hydrogen fuel weight but it would be at the diesel end of the range and not the EV battery end of the range so hydrogen makes sense for this particular use case. Hydrogen not so fanciful in NZ either if you consider Firstgas’ proposals to put hydrogen in the reticulated natural gas network and reconfigure Tiwai Point to produce hydrogen (using Manapouri hydro power). My prediction – large goods vehicles will go toward hydrogen tech, buses or smaller will take the EV path.

        2. It would be interesting to see the developments with hydrogen use in regards to environmental & emission studies including whole of life issues related to the realities of battery manufacture issues etc. Also the economic side of all this too.

          I think there was talk of the freight trains using this Port plant as well, maybe this would be well worth it’s use if or until we have wires up all the way along the main freight lines.

  6. Buses are good candidates for hydrogen fuel cells because you can swap them in easily instead of spending a really long time charging a massive battery bank.

    Hydrogen is part of the clean-energy equation that we’ll see increasingly in the future. You can use excess night-time energy generation for the process of fuelling them, and then they are stored energy that is ready to go wherever the fuel cell is. Depending on how efficient the method of fuelling is, this can be a very smart way of capturing energy generation that would otherwise go unused.

    Is this the right time for NZ to dive into it? Maybe when we look back in ten years we’ll be glad we started setting up the systems to potentiate it here. Maybe it’s going down an early-adopter path that is too expensive. It’s hard to say right now.

    1. You could just swap bus batteries to keep them charged too. Buses are an ideal candidate for this because the fleets tend to be relatively homogenous (large numbers of each model). Though individual buses don’t actually drive that far each day so swappable batteries are likely unnecessary.

      Using electricity to produce hydrogen then using hydrogen to produce electricity is a very inefficient process. It becomes even worse if you have to transport the hydrogen anywhere. It might have to be the green solution for transport modes where batteries won’t cut it, like sea freight. But for road passenger transport we already know that batteries work better.

    2. The smart way for capturing unused generation capacity at times of low offtake is what we have been doing for years, It is simply to reduce generation from storage hydro plants conserving water, until ramping them up for the next peak period. These hydro lakes are the best mass storage devices ever devised. Local lithium battery banks, perhaps even in conjunction with domestic solar, may well find a place for voltage maintenance and to smooth transmission line demands and losses.
      Geothermal, wind, solar, and river run hydro, is use use it or lose it.

      1. “ The smart way for capturing unused generation capacity at times of low offtake is what we have been doing for years, It is simply to reduce generation from storage hydro plants conserving water, until ramping them up for the next peak period”

        For sure. But the point is that this can only provide so much storage. And we will need way more storage if we with to electrify way more energy demands and increase electricity production from intermittent renewables like wind and solar. And especially in dry years

      2. “The smart way for capturing unused generation capacity at times of low offtake is what we have been doing for years, It is simply to reduce generation from storage hydro plants conserving water, until ramping them up for the next peak period”

        That presupposes that it is the water rather than the capacity of the generators, turbines, penstocks etc. that is the limit to power generation capacity. At times of peak demand those devices are running at full capacity. No additional amount of stored energy in the form of additional water behind the dams will change the rate at which that potential energy is converted to electricity; it’s hardware limited.

        1. We could uprate the spot capacity of our existing hydro though. Just add more turbines and penstocks. They likely wouldn’t be used most of the time. And wouldn’t increase total energy generated over the course of a year. But this is one of the few meaningful ways we can upgrade our existing dams. There are some dams where this isn’t possible I’m sure, and it would be expensive to do, but totally possible.

        2. “Just add more turbines and penstocks.”

          …and generators, switchgear, transformers, transmission capacity etc etc. Not to mention the challenges of physically doing the job.

          Whenever I hear the word “just” in connection with engineering projects (and I have managed quite a few) I become concerned. It’s one of those words that indicates that the speaker is underinformed.

    3. I disagree, pretty much the only routes where a bus can’t do a whole day on one charge are going to be the busway routes (N, NW, SE, Airport-Botany) these buses are doing less than half an hour end to end and can get a quick charge every 4th run or so. All we need is a charging station at Albany, Westgate, and Botany and the whole bus fleet can run using electric vehicles that currently exist and are running in Auckland.

      A lot of people think that this is some future thing ‘as the tech develops’ it isn’t. We could have a fully electric fleet next year. This is why AT have insisted that all new buses must be electric.

      1. And it is why the School Strike for Climate marchers are taking to the streets again. The problem is not technology or even expense, it is dunderheaded fearful dinosaurs taking up space at the decision-making tables. Shit or get off the pot.

        1. And how did all those student Climate protesters get to the place they are protesting ? , I bet very caght a bus or train .

          These protests sort of remind of a posting in an old Mad Magazine were they where all protesting about car pollution and at the end of the march they all climb into their cars and went home .

        2. Reply to David L – well my daughter and friends took the bus – and many more did since they are too young to drive- they are not the ones causing the problem.

        3. ‘And how did all those student Climate protesters get to the place they are protesting ? , I bet very caght a bus or train .’

          Concern trolling at its very best. You have no idea how they got there, literally no evidence whatsoever, you just want to make yourself feel better about the ineptitude of your efforts to tackle climate issues.

        4. No one should ever try and improve society right. We should just completely disengage from it until it magically improves.

        5. “We should just completely disengage from it until it magically improves”. In a nutshell yeah, these kids should just chill out. We’ve got a cap and trade ETS in place and it will do what its meant to do (reduce emissions to Paris agreement levels) without needing to do anything more…

        6. “We should just completely disengage from it until it magically improves”. In a nutshell yeah, these kids should just chill out. We’ve got a cap and trade ETS in place and it will do what its meant to do (reduce emissions to Paris agreement levels) without needing to do anything more…’

          I’m not sure if you are joking here, but pretty sure these ‘kids’can do whatever they like, and if it gets people like you all riled up then even better.

        7. Don’t be triggered. I’m not riled up, we can do what we need to do to achieve climate goals with the ETS and no abrupt step changes (just a steady increase in costs of fossil fuels). Thats perfectly rational no?

        8. That’s not remotely rational, condemning us to catastrophic climate change isn’t remotely rational. We need to be making urgent and drastic steps or we are in really deep trouble. The ETS would be adequate if it had a price floor that doubled every 3 years and included agriculture. We need drastic increases in carbon costs.

    4. “this can be a very smart way of capturing energy generation that would otherwise go unused.”

      It’s not very smart. It’s not even smart. The round-trip efficiency is woeful. It’s a really good way of taking electricity and using most of it to heat up the surrounding air.

      It’s somewhat disturbing to observe the willful ignorance of thermodynamics from those promoting hydrogen as a vector for electricity. I propose mandatory Sankey diagrams for all these “green” energy proposals so that we can all visualise the efficiency (or lack thereof).

      A Sankey diagram for that hydrogen bus utilising readily-available data would have cost a fraction of what has been spent and would have effectively communicated the folly of it far more effectively than the street theatre that has been presented.

      1. I think a focus on round trip efficiency alone is misplaced. It only influences the effective fuel cost and matters more in some contexts than others. The battery weight and the impact on performance is the key issue for batteries in particularly heavy vehicles.

        1. “It only influences the effective fuel cost”.

          The context is GHG-free buses for use in Auckland and the need to move to a higher proportion of renewables in the grid. A hydrogen fuel cell bus “solution” that requires 2.5 to 3 times the amount of new renewable build that BEV buses do is not just a matter of the cost of that electricity but one of what can be achieved in the requisite timescales.

  7. One of the advantages of Hydrogen is that it doesn’t need batteries like electric vehicles do now. And that’s why some of the big auto companies in Japan are experimenting with it. Given the cost to the environment and humans in mining lithium and cobalt I don’t think we should dismiss it out of hand. How it is produced will be an issue but that’s the same for electricity that goes into batteries. If it is generated by renewables then fine, but a lot the world’s electricity is produced by coal and China plans to build a lot more coal power stations over the next decade – both in and outside China. So what are we going to do about that?

    1. If you’re worried about the rare-earth materials in current batteries (mostly being phased out in next-gen or massively reduced for cost reasons) then I’ve got bad news about the catalysts used for hydrogen.

      1. Currently platinum is used in catalysts but it too is been phased out. But I am mostly concerned about China and their disregard for the environment. Like that they still use CFCs and we still have a hole in the ozone and the amount of plastics going into the ocean and coal been used to generate electricity. What are the answers for that?

        1. No idea. I just know it’s not going to be anywhere near as efficient to use electricity to turn water into hydrogen when you could just put that electricity into a battery and suffer minimal efficiency losses overall.

    2. “Given the cost to the environment and humans in mining lithium and cobalt”.

      They are not givens. It is not, for example, axiomatic that cobalt mining leads to human exploitation (in the same way that it is not inevitable that making clothing in Bangladesh leads to human exploitation).

      “but a lot the world’s electricity is produced by coal and China plans to build a lot more coal power stations over the next decade – both in and outside China. So what are we going to do about that?”

      Stop produce electricity by burning coal. Electricity is fungible and alternative generation methods exist. I am not seeing why there is so much angst regarding electricity for transport but not for running refrigerators, water heaters, electric furnaces, air conditioning etc.

      1. I thought lithium could be extracted from seawater. I was sure there was a NZ company called pacific lithium. If I remember my geochemistry well enough- lithium can be extracted from geothermal power plants as well. NZ could generate green lithium without mining it. If we decided too…. we could also make lithium batteries for EVs (and hopefully recycle those batteries as well). Might be a way to use the excess power from Tiwhai point. Perhaps this could be a green think big project. Continue to make ourselves energy independent. I seem to remember our balance of payments improved during lockdown as we where not buying fuel. Just an idea

  8. There has been a new service that stared this week which GA a number of years heavily promoted but has had nothing mentioned lately , namely the new link between Hamilton and Auckland . I traveled up on the 1st train on the 6th and for those detractors found it reasonably fast , comfortable and on time [we arrived 5 mins early] and the AT connection was waiting at Papakura . But the biggest thing was going through the different gates on arrival which in my opinion slows everting down . So why didn’t AT put in a number of stand alone card readers so passengers can move from 1 side to the other ? . ;-

    1. Probably because the cost of those extra readers can’t be justified for just 4 trains a day. It’s slightly inconvenient but not a big issue.

    2. Yes I noticed this blog has said absolutely nothing about the start of this service this week.

      I think that’s probably a sign that the blog is officially distancing itself from the trial (and is not confident of its success). Matt had already posted earlier that the trial misses out some things which when the blog originally posted it’s idea for Regional Rail were mentioned as being necessary eg trains in both directions at both main times of the day.

      Still it is a quite disappointing that the blog chose to completely ignore the start up of a new service.

      1. I think if Harriet Gale was still here something may have been said ? , as she was the one that penned it .

      2. Or maybe people have lives and don’t have time to write articles on everything out there. You could write something and submit it.

    3. I was on the first revenue service of Te Huia and I believe from the train crew there were 90 fare paying passengers traveling. I sensed there was some uncertainty about the service which was dispelled when the train arrive Pukekoke 3 minutes early and had to wait for the Pukekoke/Pakakura shuttle to leave. Te Huia arrived Papakura at 7.21am 4 minutes early. The transfer from Te Huia to the 7.35am AT Metro train was quick and easy. The total travel time from Frankton to Britomart was 2 hours 44 minutes including the 14 minute transfer and wait time at Papakura.

      I do have concerns about the Te Huia service once the novelty wears off. The service is a ‘workers’ train and is car dependent to get to/from Frankton and Rotokauri stations so it raises the question, if I have to use a car to travel to the two stations, why wouldn’t it stop me going on to Auckland by car.

      Currently, the Waikato Regional Council Busit bus services do not connect with the 5.46am Frankston to Papakura service nor the 6.28am Frankston to Papakura service. There are some Busit bus connections for the 6.36am Rotokauri to Papakura service.

      With regards to Te Huia Saturday service there are hardly no Busit bus connections to and from Rotokauri station and there no bus services to and from Frankton station. Once again you need to use to travel to and from both stations.

      The Waikato Regional Council will need to look at having connecting bus services from the city’s western, eastern and southern suburbs including the Hamilton Transport Centre to get the locals using Te Huia for work and/or leisure travel.

      Intercity’s limited stop express Hamilton to Auckland (Skycity) weekday service departs Hamilton Transport Centre 7.30am arriving Skycity 9.15am with stops at Manauku and Auckland domestic terminal with request pick up at Huntly. There are more Busit bus connections to the Transport Centre of Intercity’s limited stop express Hamilton to Auckland service.

      1. I agree with you over the bus connections to get to the 2 stations , they are sadly lacking . I have taken their No.21 to Pukekohe and had no problems with that as I have to get a connecting bus to the transport centre . What they need is the Obirter to go via the Frankton Railway station to connect with both early morning services , but then again it is still early days . As were I stay at Hillcrest the CW Obirter would be faster to Frankton Station than the ACW to Rotokauri .
        Sometime this Month I heard there is a consulting meeting with HCC for any ideas that may help the service ? . I just hope they sort out the bus connections with the train .

        1. The Orbitor route is will away from from Frankton station. The 3 Dinsdale, 19 Templeview and 19 Bremworth passes Fraser Street where Frankton station is located.

          I would choose 19 Bremworth as the service to go via the Frankston station with the outbound service from the Transport Centre turning right from Queens Ave into Fraser Street to the station use the roundabout at the station back up Fraser Street turn right into Queens Ave to Dinsdale Shopping Centre. Inbound to the Transport Centre, turn left from Queens Ave into Fraser Street to the station then turn right from Fraser Street into Queens Ave.

        2. I have just check my timetable and the 1st ACW Orbiter leaves the University at 5.20am and gets to Rotokauri 2mins after the 1st service to Auckland has departed and to get the 2nd I would have to wait 40mins for it . As the next Orbiters totally miss the train .

        3. Yes I noticed everything didn’t connect that well in the morning yet anyway when I was planning on a bus to train trip starting from Hamilton.

        4. I was the person who I was works just from the Base and he had an early start that morning and was able to drop me off with plenty of time to spare .

  9. In not-quite-news, I got a response from Waka Kotahi that the Takanini-Papakura cycleway is planned to open in May (2021, I assume). They said the delays are due to fencing and ducting, which is clearly only a part of the answer as the motorway lanes opened in 2019. Anyway, I won’t hold my breath for next month but I’m looking forward to finally using it.

    1. I heard through the grapevine that the Minister wanted nothing to do with the opening and that it finally came down to the Mayor. All was organised for this month, but then an audit revealed that the fencing was completely non-compliant (contractor design responsibility). After all the delays on this project (and worse disasters on Transmission Gully and Bay Park projects) perhaps it’s time for CPB Contractors to pick up their plant and equipment and head back to Australia?

  10. In other interesting news, there is growing resistance to the current state of queen street. With its tactical urbanism, and poor colour choice, and zero plans for legitimate improvements on the horizon.

      1. Yep. I’m going to go out on a little limb here and say AT didn’t exactly nail it. I realise that people are blaming these changes on their business decline is unfair, clutching at straws there, and 90% of the resistance is wrong and ATs changes are a strawman. But damm that street is ugly, and doesn’t really improve much. Those extra pedestrian spaces are inconvenient to use so no one does. Could have done a smidge better imo.

        1. I think it has significantly crippled the red link buses again. For many people taking those buses from Britomart to K’road is probably slower than walking all the way.

          All for the sake of a few people passing by in a car. How many are there anyway, I can’t imagine with the current light phasing it would be more than a few 100’s per hour.

        2. Absolutely can confirm that walking is almost always quicker than using the City Link – I do this route very often to or from K Rd. The mid-block ped Xings have also slowed things down considerably, but the problem would be pretty much resolved if there were no cars. I look at the cars sometimes and wonder what kind of person feels that it is advantageous even to themselves to be in a car on Queen St.

        3. Yeah the Citylink buses just crawl up Queen St. Can’t believe Queen St businesses are opposed to getting cars out of there. Gees, I was a CBD resident for about 10 years and must have spent heaps at retailers in the CBD.

          Yet not a word of thanks for all the money poured into their businesses by the likes of myself and other CBD residents. Stupid, obnoxious idiots!

        4. Simon C the council tried turning the area between Victoria and Wellesley St back in the 70’s and 80’s and the local retailers at that time also did a big moan that nobody would shop in their stores because there was no parking outside the shops , so their complains never change .

        5. I really liked the AT’s K-road consultation. They surveyed business owners and they collected some data about how many people from each mode as a percentage they thought brought stuff at their shop. And then went out afterwards and collected data over the week about who actually brought stuff and their mode of arrival.
          Businesses consistently and significantly over estimated the number of people that arrived by car, and underestimated every other mode.

          So good job they did this, but AT need to do way more data collection and reports on this. It would be good to get a few shops perhaps that also engaged at a deeper level and we could find out the actual spending of each mode too.

          I only half blame the shop owners, they have preconceived notions about their business. But if the organisation that should be changing those notions isn’t doing enough to do so, then….

          If making queen street a transit mall with better pedestrian amenity would benefit and make the area more attractive and quicker to get to for >90% of the customers, and that was written in black and white, then there’s no getting around it or denying anything. They either want more business, or they want cars driving up queen. Can’t have both.

    1. It’s notable that the people holding up the process to improve Queen St are the same ones who are complaining about it (I’ve been in those meetings). Also delaying them are AT who are putting changes through stupid business case processes and the car-first teams at Auckland Council who were the ones who fought (and succeeded) to get rid of the Auckland Design Office

      1. Queen Street retail is currently in a sad spot.
        Covid has removed all the foreign tourists from the strip.
        A lot of the retail here was focused on this market especially cruise ship passengers which has now disappeared. And when it comes back it will be different.
        Covid has also vastly accelerated a trend towards working from home, removing many patrons from the hospitality and food catering businesses.
        The current Queen Street outdoor environment is at best uninviting as a destination shopping and entertainment centre, and at worst, with it’s oppressive road traffic, actually hostile.
        These deficiencies have been magnified by the opening of the extensive attractive new offerings in the formerly dire Newmarket retail precinct.
        So restoring road access and on street parking to previous levels is in no way going to help many retailers on Queen Street.
        The reality is the current retail offering of the Queen Street valley is generally poor, and the environment unwelcoming. It is no wonder retail takings are falling.
        Both the retail offerings and the general environment, to entice people in and to linger, needs to be improved dramatically. A vibrant CBD is essential to a vibrant Auckland.
        Getting rid of all but essential road vehicles and buses would be a very good start in achieving this.

        1. It was pretty poor pre Covid too. It’s never been an Oxford Street which is what it should aspire to be.

          Most of the shops were selling cheap, tacky, tourist junk which even tourists (which I was as I was with friends from Europe and the Middle East) thought ghastly to have on our supposedly main retail street.

        1. I’m sorry as an CBD resident until recently, I have to disagree with the above remark saying MOST Queen St shops are cheap and tacky. Yes, there are some, but the vast majority, especially in the first few blocks from downtown are either high quality overseas brands, or NZ chain retailers or other clothes, shoes etc retailers.

          One wonders how long it’s been since the above posters have actually ventured down Queen St. And actually some of the well-known NZ chain retailers have come back to the Street, particularly in the mid city blocks.

  11. Oratia Housing: I kind of agree that density on the outskirts is not really the best approach. Auckland is becoming an inside-out city.

  12. AT throwing $1m at a hydrogen bus. What an absolute joke. There is literally nothing to like about this news.

  13. The advances in hydrogen technology have been quite mind blowing, and it is probably only the start. Should Auckland have jumped on board at this early stage? Time will only tell, but it is worth noting the comments by Toyota’s head who foresaw difficult times area for battery vehicles, and he need for another technology to be developed.

    1. That’s interesting. There’s been quite a lot of chatter in the UK media about Hydrogen fueled trains recently, yet the consensus among the high experts of rail in the UK, like those in the pre-eminent rail magaizine RAIL, Mark Smith (Man in Seat 61) etc are all unconvinced and are saying the main way to make rail in the UK cleaner is still electrification and Hydrogen has a way to go before it can be considered a realistic option.

  14. I would like to see similar size hydrogen powered bus’s being trialed in Wellington and Dunedin to see how they perform on both cities hilly routes on day to day workings, considering both cities scrapped there trolleybus operations.

    1. What is it about being hilly and having once had trolley buses that makes Wellington and Dunedin suitable for hydrogen buses?
      What is wrong with already proven and cheaper battery electrics?

    2. Battery buses have been trailed in Wellington on a number occasions with disappointing results. The issue is going up long steep inclines Brooklyn Road, Glenmore Street, Wadestown Road, Pirie Street, Crawford Road, etc in Wellington under heavy loading, severally drains batteries.

      Tranzurban are experiencing high battery drainage with the double deckers up Ngauranga Gorge on the Island bay to Churton Park route.

      Similar testing was down in Christchurch by Redbus (now Ritchies) on the Hackthorne Road (Cashmere Hills) on the Blue Line found the battery drainage was unacceptable under loads.

      1. If the battery bus results were disappointing, it’s odd that Tranzurban increased their second order from 22 to 31 buses and signed a contract variation allocating electrics to yet another hilly route (subject to some WCC chainsaw action). Also Tranzurban are exploring converting diesel buses to battery electric (prototype 3 axle double decker conversion in their Masterton workshop currently). Meanwhile NZ Bus ordered 67 large single deck battery electrics, also for use on hilly routes.
        Almost like GWRC & the operators think battery electrics are proven tech…

  15. Hydrogen buses? I think that AT is wasting cash buying all this flashy new tech which really won’t help the bus system.

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