As Matt blogged recently, Council is considering redeveloping the Downtown Carpark. A delegation from Auckland Transport, Council and Panuku presented on the topic to the Council’s Planning Committee early this month.

Auckland Transport were woefully unprepared for the meeting. This transport proposal didn’t align with the City Centre Masterplan, the Auckland Climate Plan nor Auckland Transport’s own modeshift plan, Better Travel Choices.

The Councillors had agreed last December on several outcomes that any redevelopment of the site would need to achieve, but:

There was one strategic outcome to resolve… The purpose today is to approve the transport outcome

The idea was to vote on a motion, similar to one of these:

The meeting proved frustrating, and the decision was deferred.

Let’s look at some of the problems.

Parking

Construction is likely to take three years – during which time drivers would adapt to the loss of the carpark. But AT proposed that when it reopened, it would contain 400 – 600 carparks. This decision would actively create modeshift in the wrong direction at the time of opening.

Councillor Stewart asked Auckland Transport about the balance between short stay and long stay carparking:

Not everybody can take public transport into the CBD to work… in a lot of the CBD and even going into Parnell, there’s a lot of short term car parking and staff every two hours are having to leave the building, move their car… back to the building… it’s becoming a nightmare…

Auckland Transport replied:

We see the need in terms of a market failure around short term parking. As far as long term long stay parking is concerned, there’s actually an oversupply in the city centre… I acknowledge the issue you’re raising… It’s an issue for the city as we transform from higher vehicle dependency to relying on alternative modes for travel to access the various destinations. The demand for parking reduces over time. There’s no doubt about that. And we’re trying to respond to that in the best way we can.

Claiming an over-supply of long stay parking and an under-supply of short stay parking appeals to listeners’ love of balance, but it is not based on evidence. Our city centre simply has excessive parking, with 15,000 or so more carparks than Sydney’s does, for example. Reducing parking supply is a very important tool for reducing emissions and increasing safety because it is a way to reduce traffic volumes.

the Downtown site’s strong focus [is] on short stay, flexible parking, and it’s really supporting that travel during the interpeak.

We’ve got some way to travel in terms of making public transport and alternative modes available to everyone. That is why our proposal to date has said that we need to manage that over time.

Short stay parking induces more driving than long stay parking does, because each park is used multiple times during the day.

AT are focused on improving commuting at peak times, but reducing emissions requires them to reduce driving outside the peak hours, when congestion doesn’t naturally create modeshift. Offering cheap short stay parking works against this goal – it makes driving attractive and by increasing traffic, makes active travel less safe and public transport slower.

Here, they are rejecting an opportunity to improve the “alternative modes,” on the basis of the “alternative modes” not yet being improved.

Auckland Transport could have reminded Councillor Stewart that

  • by the time the Downtown Carpark is closed for redevelopment, Ameti will be open, giving her ward superior public transport options to the city centre
  • more city centre parking would be incompatible with Council’s unanimous support of the Auckland Climate Plan and the decision to remain in C40

The Auckland Transport delegation also misrepresented how parking is envisaged in the City Centre Masterplan. The original 2012 plan said:

An appropriate level of parking, particularly short-stay parking, is required to support the economic vitality of the city centre.

What level is “appropriate” is clear from the rest of the plan, which seeks to reduce the domination of vehicles:

Vehicles and their parking and servicing requirements have dominated the public realm… a high number of cars dominates the city centre. For pedestrians, this means poor-quality walking environments, inconvenient routes and inefficient travel times.

There was no call for any parking loss to be mitigated – as that would work against the plan’s goal of reducing traffic – yet that is what Auckland Transport is attempting to do, in an approach that undermines the City Centre Masterplan’s objectives:

when the Access 4 Everyone project comes along, we’re expecting a lot of that road space to be reallocated to pedestrians. So we’d see AT’s share of on street short stay parking decline. However we would seek to mitigate that loss of short stay parking by transferring it into the parking buildings and removing the longer stay leases that we have in those parking buildings.

This misrepresentation of the plans should be very alarming to the Councillors. The 2012 CCMP specifically called for the re-purposing of Council’s car parking buildings:


Council-owned car parking buildings and sites will, when appropriate, be considered for more productive uses that could continue to generate revenue to fund public transport and street improvements.

We are now at this “appropriate” moment.

Of all the analysis done about the carpark site, you’d think Auckland Transport would at least know how much money it makes for the Council, as Councillor Walker expected:

we generate a significant amount of revenue from parking, it is pretty important, and I venture to suggest it is better than the cost of capital and in this instance we’re entering into a contractual relationship with a party that may well be providing the space for us very economically and that may even further impact on the return on investment. So I would’ve thought we would have that information, Mr Chair. We don’t.

Councillor Sayers was more realistic that Council subsidises parking by influencing the market, but hadn’t yet joined the dots about climate impact:

What levers have we got going forward to ensure that some sort of tension remains and price for parking doesn’t skyrocket, potentially?

Auckland Transport replied:

It’ll be market forces that will dictate prices moving forward. 

But the delegation squandered the opportunity to explain that:

  • parking revenue is less than what could be generated with other uses on this city centre site,
  • Imposing a requirement for parking will reduce the value of the property,
  • in the constrained funding environment Council faces, this means deserving programmes will continue to be underfunded,
  • driving and parking are already heavily subsidised, and this subsidy is a major reason for our car dependence,
  • decarbonisation is assisted by transferring the costs of driving and parking onto drivers.

Most telling of all was the discussion about how the networks would be managed during the redevelopment of the Downtown Site.

The focus was entirely on parking! What about safety for people on foot and bike? Retaining footfall for businesses? Taking the opportunity provided by lane closures to monitor traffic evaporation, and trial new circulation plans?

Influencing Travel Demand

Reducing traffic is called for in the City Centre Masterplan and in the Auckland Climate Plan and is, for example, a core “problem statement” for the Connected Communities programme:

Too many vehicles in our urban centres are degrading the environment and liveability of our communities.

Access for Everyone is intended to:

tackle vehicular emissions by reducing the amount of motor traffic moving through the city.

Yet Thursday’s delegation from Auckland Transport showed they don’t believe they are responsible for reducing the current level of vehicle traffic, only for accommodating new demand with sustainable modes:

What you see over time is a really significant increase in PT use into the city centre in accordance with that plan of accommodating that growth in demand for travel via public transport.

In fact, they seem to believe all their planning – for any mode – merely “accommodates demand.” This is regressive. Auckland Transport’s own modeshift plan, Better Travel Choices requires Auckland Transport to influence travel demand:

Councillor Coom was frustrated at this:

We’ve got to try to imagine Auckland in 7 years’ time… What’s missing is what numbers we expect to be coming into the city centre in what mode. Not just what your trends are. But what have we directed you to deliver… modeshift percentage change, emissions reduction…  And could you tell us how we’re going to get there? … at the moment you’re telling us the trend and what we should design for.

This misconception of AT’s is preventing many improvements to our transport planning.

Meanwhile Auckland Transport are actually actively increasing vehicle travel, as described in this detailed, but ultimately misguided article, that attracted international ridicule.

Auckland Transport also demonstrated a poor use of business cases, which are primarily intended to inform the decision about whether a project should be undertaken.

In this case, the City Centre Masterplan and Access 4 Everyone have already been approved. The decision that this Downtown Carpark should be put to better use – as part of reducing traffic and encouraging modeshift – has essentially already been made. It is a design process required now, not a business case.

But Auckland Transport are working on a business case for Access 4 Everyone. This has not only delayed the project itself, but meant the project hasn’t been able to inform Auckland Transport’s “modelling” of the parking demand:

In terms of the Access 4 Everyone implication; that’s not included in the modelling to date because that project is still going through a business case to identify the specific nature of the project / how it’s going to be delivered. But we would expect to see further reductions in car use here.

Future changes to mobility

Auckland Transport’s proposal includes a “flexible space” (including parking) of 2 to 3 storeys. One of these storeys would become the second storey of the bus facility, but presumably only after the “demand” for parking had dropped.

The graphic – instead of showing the parking, or e-cargo bikes, showed driverless passenger and cargo vehicles.

Councillor Walker asked about the work they’d done to understand these future mobility needs:

How quickly can we get even a rough order schematic to inform us around the mobility requirements that you’ve listed… the requirement for the people, as pedestrians, to move from the parking facility to the ferries to the light rail to the buses to the intercity buses to the heavy rail and so on, because… we’re probably talking about… very large numbers of people occupying space… When are we going to have that information?

The delegation had expected the Councillors to approve the plan without this information.

The Bus Facility

The AT Metro team had done a good job of exploring what would be required to squeeze a bus passenger facility and layover into the small-ish site:

This was a useful exercise; it showed that in order to fit the bus facility:

  • The entire extent of the property would be needed, with no setbacks.
  • Space for lifts or core shafts seems limited.
  • There’d be no pedestrian laneways through the site.
  • The upper floor might cantilever out over Customs St, losing beautiful mature trees and creating a (probably quite unpleasant) tunnel effect at street level.
  • The street frontages would be two (extra high) storeys of bus terminal.
  • The passenger platforms would be internal, meaning passengers would disappear into the building rather than contribute to a vibrant and safer streetscape.

Therefore, the proposal did not meet the strategic outcomes that Council had agreed to last year:

The issues noted by the team were:

Could Access 4 Everyone, Light Rail, and providing Healthy Streets, not resolve many of these issues?

This facility doesn’t provide a particularly useful transfer function, as it only serves the isthmus and western areas, which are already connected with crosstown routes.

A Council officer explained:

the problem that is trying to be solved is actually: how do you remove buses from the city centre streets?

Who identified this as “the problem”? If the problem is too many vehicles, the solution is removing car traffic – so start by reducing parking and implementing A4E. The City Centre Masterplan lists public transport as a mode that needs more priority on the streets, along with walking, cycling and mobility devices. Somehow, a narrative seems to have developed that:

Transport is important because the site currently has a transport use.

In fact, one of the problems with our car dependent transport system is that we have dedicated too much space to the movement and storage of vehicles. Removing transport use altogether from this site, which is currently simply used for parking, is preferable to proposing a poor use for the valuable site and losing revenue.

The incredibly slow pace of rolling out the City Centre Masterplan must be frustrating Councillors, and good on them for not rubber stamping this weak proposal, as the AT Board must have done. Until AT show willingness to manage parking elsewhere in the city (particularly on berms, paths, and parks) Council should probably ignore every claim they make about the value they offer as parking building custodians.

Auckland Transport are simply not fulfilling their leadership role. They aren’t providing the necessary technical support Councillors need to help communicate the modeshift and transport transformation we need. I think Auckland Transport urgently needs refreshing at senior levels – or alternatively, Council may need to form a new group to actually implement the City Centre Masterplan.

Share this

95 comments

  1. The bus station also feels like they realised they’ve got to build something and they’ve just matched that with the first site that comes along. Seems like a throwback to an underground, poorly lit bus garage from another time. Hard to imagine how awful it would be if it was double level as well

  2. What’s the “market failure” in short term parking?!?

    I mean, there’s a market failure in parking as a whole, due to congestion externalities. But I don’t see any market failure in short term parking.

    Noting that operators decisions to provide more long stay is not a market failure in short stay parking

    Honestly, a lot of the discussion of parking looks really … confused?

    1. When Council parking undercuts the short stay parking market with too-cheap pricing, the bottom falls out of the economics for private parking operators.

      The market would only work to provide the “right” amount of short stay parking if Council would:

      1/ get out of providing parking
      2/ introduce a parking levy, to reduce the subsidy to driving.

      This would be “keeping to their core business” I guess.

      1. Ahh yes, although that’s not the market failure being referred to here by AT, right?

        What you’ve described is an outcome that will be further exacerbated by what they’re proposing.

        1. Absolutely. 🙂 AT’s “market failure in short term parking” simply means the market isn’t doing what they want it to.

        2. But why is ‘what they want’ in direct opposition to their owner’s strategy?
          Why does AT, council’s transport agency, have different strategy to the Council, for the city centre, for modeshift, for climate. This needs to end fast, surely: Either get alignment or get out, I’d have thought? Someone needs to bang some heads here.

      2. Yes, if AT was serious about letting market forces dictate parking costs, supply and demand, then they could start by raising their charges to meet the market rather than promoting themselves as the providers of “affordable parking” as they do.

        I am incredibly frustrated that AT does not appear to pay anything but lip service to the agreed forward-looking plans endorsed by Council. I assume that most Council departments believe that these are the domain of the Strategy team, and that no action is required until the word comes down from above. Surely the CEO and the SMT should be leading the way and requiring these plans to shape ALL departments’ future programmes NOW, as a matter of urgency. This is a catastrophic failure of leadership in my view. The buck stops with the CEO and the Board – do they not understand what these plans mean for Auckland?

        1. Sorry, that’s “most AT departments”, not Council departments in the second para above.

    2. “Failure” depends on whos perspective you’re looking at it from. From AT’s current perspective, they would see $0.50 an hour for all short term parks and wilsons and every other provider doing the same, going gangbusters building more dense parking as the goal and success.

      “Failure” from the free market perspective is a govt organization coming in, undercutting all prices for the service, becoming a monopoly, loosing insane amount of money, and propping up less productive land use, and a less efficient transport system.

    3. Of course there is market failure. Short term parking brings external benefits for businesses and events. Yet the private operators charge penalty rates for short term parking. The Mercury Lane carpark used to be a Council carpark that provided for shoppers. Now it is a Wilsons carpark and they charge $12 for a whole day if you are in before 10am. In contrast they charge short stay parking at $5 per half hour. If you shop for 90mins you pay more than someone who travels in both peak hours. The result was shoppers who drive go somewhere else, maybe somewhere further away like St Lukes or Sylvia Park.

      1. Doesn’t that indicate a lack of demand? If they charge for 8-9 hours of parking what they otherwise charge someone to park for 1.5 hours, it suggests not enough people are coming for short trips, no?

        1. No it suggests they have market power and the short stay people have little choice. It also means Wilsons have no incentive to provide short stay. The Council does as it is supposed to promote the area as a shopping and business destination. The anti car people might get rid of short stay parking but that doesn’t mean all the drivers and car passenger will swap to public transport. They are more likely to drive somewhere else if they can. That means they go to their second choice destination which might just be a longer car trip.

        2. What it also shows is they clearly don’t believe they can get 4 – 5 short stay visitors a day paying say $5 – 6 for a couple of hours parking.

          Have the CBD retailers shown any interest in purchasing a carpark and offering free parking and covering the cost of enforcing it? This is effectively what retailers in the malls do.

          It’s a pretty small catchment of people for whom the CBD is more convenient than say St Lukes, Takapuna, 277 or Sylvia Park. I don’t think parking costs are really driving people to the malls.

        3. You’re basically saying that the only way people will visit the city centre is if they get a cheap, subsidised park. I don’t believe that. Also, we have better things to spend money on.

          You must have seen how traffic in the city centre slows down the buses. It’s polluting the air. It makes cycling dangerous. It’s increasing emissions.

          Also, wouldn’t the market provide other parking supply if people were valuing driving there and Council weren’t getting mixed up in it?

        4. What I think happens is that they’re being undercut by Auckland Transport for short stays. So these will not bring in much business. So why not make the few suckers who come in anyway pay through the nose?

        5. @Miffy You could also argue that the lack of demand for short term parking to shop is due to the undesirable environment that is largely created by allowing general traffic into nearly every corner of the city centre rather than keeping them out like a suburban mall actually does inside and people enjoy. In a mall, once you navigate through other traffic and walk across the sea of parked cars it’s found to be generally pleasant by a lot of people (not everyone cup of tea of course).
          Instead of city centres trying to compete with this head on, they should go to the other extreme and keep cars out & provide kick arse PT, biking and other active mode nice and easy access to the shops and facilities.
          AT trying to please everyone in the city centre means no one is happy and we all stay away.

        6. I think it is a combination of what Grant and Roeland are saying. The Council has succeeded in making the CBD so unattractive to shoppers who have a choice, that the vast majority don’t go there. That means the few who do drive in, only do so due to some compelling reason. That allows the carpark operators to gouge them as their elasticity of demand is pretty much perfectly inelastic for that trip. But the effect is to ensure the rest don’t come back and drive to a mall instead. That might require more fossil fuel.
          Derek I didn’t say that, you said it them refuted it. Joe that is ad hominem, which contributes nothing except to make others think you have no argument to make.

        7. ‘The Council has succeeded in making the CBD so unattractive to shoppers who have a choice, that the vast majority don’t go there. ‘

          The Council contribute, but its not the councils fault there isn’t a single decent hospo spot for either coffee, brunch or dinner on Queen Street. It isn’t the Councils fault the retails on that strip are stuck in the past and haven’t changed their business model. If they are relying on people driving into a Central City then they are doomed.

          Where is the vision on what Queen Street should actually be, that has to come from all, not just the Council. No point trying to make it a great place for people to walk and stop if there is nothing worth stopping there for in the first place. It needs to differentiate rather than compete with Malls. The only places worth visiting in the City Centre are the 2 places (Britomart and Wynyard) that have actually changed and done something different in the past 10 years.

        8. @Joe ” there isn’t a single decent hospo spot for either coffee, brunch or dinner on Queen Street”
          Probably because no one wants to sip coffee beside a street full of queued cars spewing out noise and fumes (which also hold up buses which then do the same) so there would be less quality supply of it all things considered.
          Britomart and Wynyard have probably somewhat removed traffic or slowed it so this has helped it’s point of difference.

        9. The current Council should have been working on getting traffic out of Queen Street. Instead they reversed a long term policy of limiting buses in Queen Street, so now you have noisy buses hooning along Queen Street and sitting at stops belching fumes and din. They have turned Queen Street into a place to avoid. Britomart has been a success despite the Council and AT. Cooper and Company have done an excellent job of resisting the intrusion of more buses everywhere they can and ensuring pedestrian amenity. The Council is supposed to be the champion of Queen Street but they have proved themselves as not up to the task. Can you imagine any mall owner allowing buses through the middle of their shops? Can you imagine any mall owner wanting to remove all their visitor parking? Queen St was a collector road and now it functions as an arterial. This Council and AT did that.

        10. @miffed: “The current Council should have been working on getting traffic out of Queen Street. Instead they reversed a long term policy of limiting buses in Queen Street”

          Prolonged CRL works on Albert St redirected buses onto Queen St. But you know that.

      2. Quantify those benefits please with $$$ figures. Not anecdata “businesses need AT to provide short-stay parking”. Where is the business case? Walking, cycling, mode change all need businesses cases up the yahoos before they are allowed to proceed, for some reason parking seems exempt?

        1. No the onus is on you to prove a business case for removing it as you are the one wanting to change the status quo. So quantify it please, not anecdata or daft anti-car claims that two wheels good, four wheels bad like one of George Orwell’s sheep.

        2. The Council’s stated need for a 64% drop in transport emissions by 2030 require anything retaining the status quo to be justified, actually.

        3. Heidi you can’t just claim that a reduction in short stay parking will reduce emissions and keeping short stay parking wont reduce emissions. Same goes for office travel. I am already travelling to a lot of meetings held outside the CBD now as it is easier for people to get to them. The CBD people then have to travel. Short stay parking complements activities and if it isn’t available then some will change modes and some will change destinations to something less convenient and potentially requiring more emissions. My proof of that claim is the huge increase in reverse peak travel that the ARA/ARC caused when they got maximum parking rates into the Auckland CBD.

        4. Overseas research shows that work from home has increased vkt and your experience probably confirms that for here.

          What we need is for AT to follow a coherent city-wide strategy that is centred on climate, environment and people, not on half-baked myths that might have been true in one kind of regulatory and economic environment at one period in time.

        5. I see, so status quo is good just because it is but change requires an endless business case process. I call bullshit. Just because something is the way it is does not mean it is inherently good. Proposals should be assessed in way that is consistent. None of the parking in the CBD was subject to a robust business case when it was built. If you know differently please do share said business cases, would love a good laugh.

        6. I think the real difficulty of people meeting in the CBD issue is more to do with the current works going on, the CRL and downtown transformation particularly.

        7. My apologies Trevor. [Edited to remove ad hominem attack.] I will have my team of accountants work up a business case for an existing carpark [Edited) the Council owned carparks were all built as part of a robust plan by the Auckland City Council to keep the city centre relevant as a visitor destination. [Edited]

  3. AT can’t improve the alternative modes because the alternative modes aren’t good enough.

    AT’s modelling shows they can’t implement A4E because they didn’t feed the effects of A4E into the modelling.

    Anyone else feel like they’re driving around and around the Downtown Carpark?

  4. I am not going to worry myself about parking as I aim to never drive into the CDB again I am however interested in how the buses are operated. I am a fan of the Manukau bus station but that’s not a solution for this site. Additionally the site is to far away from Britomart and the ferries. At best it could act as bus parking. With some kind of bus loop and on street bus stops. Kind of like Mangere Town centre with some buses travelling around the loop while others just using part of it. Although parking could be done elsewhere apparently at the rently demolished buildings on Beach Road.

    1. Yes, that’s a good summary, Royce. I hope someone works out how much it would cost to provide one layer of bus storage – including the fact that it would be extra high.

      The figure would help in the “business case” for introducing all day frequent services so that there wouldn’t be a need to store buses in town during the interpeak.

      All day frequent services is something AT should be doing as part of their emissions reductions plan. I wonder if the cost of the bus parking alone means the economics would stack up.

  5. Does it matter if there isn’t street level activation around all sides of the building? That’s going to be the case wherever you try fit a bus station in the city.
    Also it doesn’t matter too much that not all routes will terminate at one site; I think what this will help create is a transit mall effect on customs st where most routes will pass through to various termination points, making transferring and way-finding much easier

    1. Presenting a coherent plan shouldn’t be so hard. They showed – on one slide – that the outcomes require street activation on the two street frontages of the building and along new laneways through it. On another they show a proposal that can’t achieve this.

      We’ve just spent time and money making transit malls at street level which look really good – and which don’t require this terminal facility.

    2. In general, it doesn’t matter if there isn’t street level activation around all sides of every building. But this particular building really does need it.

      The area is currently blighted by a combination of:
      – A road network hostile to pedestrians
      – Street frontages with no/minimal activation due to mostly being carparking buildings and retaining walls
      – Shading from mini-motorway-style bridges/flyovers
      – Single-use buildings that only generate activity at certain times on certain days of the week
      – Low density development that generates hardly any activity, like single level heritage buildings

      Making sure the Downtown carpark site has street level activation won’t fix all these issues but it’ll be a big step in the right direction.

  6. How the heck can AT justify leaving so much parking available in the city centre which is the total opposite of what long term plans are for the area.

    As for that intersection article, A lot of it is how the journalist interpreted what they were told. I thought it was a decent one in explaining things to the average person. Nothing wrong with explaining things as they are and not making opinionated judgements on the situation. I think it was a decent example of journalism, just explaining the facts about a topic few people understand and letting people decide for themselves what to conclude from the article.

    I can’t stand opinionated writing trying to tell people what to think, passing as factual journalism these days.

    Reading the comments on the article were hilarious. So many traffic experts coming out with their recommendations. A few claiming the article was some how anti-car and that AT hates cars.

    1. AT have somehow managed to be seen as “anti X” where x is whatever transport mode you dont use. Its quite the achievement really.

      You bike, AT is anti biking.
      You drive AT is anti car.
      You bus AT is anti bus.

      1. You walk, AT is anti walking.
        You scoot, AT is anti scooter.
        You ferry, AT is anti ferry.
        You make like a tree, AT is anti tree.

      2. That would appear to be their strategy – let’s make everyone miserable. We’ll make it hard to drive a car into the city so you’ll be miserable looking for a park. so you’ll hop on the bus which we don’t run frequently enough so you’ll be miserable, and we won’t build decent cycleways so you have to be miserable sharing the road with dangerous drivers.

      3. Haha, yeah. It’s true.
        AT just does everything terribly. Except spending money on nothing. They seem good at that.

      4. Ok, I don’t want to turn this into a rag on AT session. I was more pointing out that their trying to make everyone happy hasn’t really worked at all, and its slightly humorous.

        I would like to point out they have had some big successes.

      5. Lol it’s funny with them seemingly trying to balance their non-biased mode philosophy.
        Yes just trying to please everybody no matter what type of city or town zone it is.

    2. Ari this one isn’t actually AT’s fault. The previous Auckland City added decks to both the Downtown carpark and Victoria St carpark and used the new parking to increase the supply of long stay commuter spaces. That was despite their own planning documents saying that long stay parking should be discouraged and short stay should be supported. They ignored that and figured they could make money. The Council’s own transport planners tried for years to get them to reduce long stay leases in the Council carparks but the property team always prevailed. The long stay spaces add to peak hour congestion and are trips that are easily catered for by PT. The short stay trips help promote the vitality of the CBD as a business destination. But none of that counted for much with the last Auckland City.

  7. AT seem to be ridiculed at every “turn”,pardon the pun. I wonder whether this has led to a lack of confidence in what they are doing. Nothing really forward thinking is ever proposed or backed.Some thicker skins are required,change requires courage.At least some elected officials are biting back,(they have the most to lose,voted out if unpopular).

    1. Totally agree Bryan –

      AT was setup to be an independent agency to deliver and maintain Auckland’s Transport Network.

      Unfortunately it is so behest at the whims of both the public, Local Boards and Local Business Associations that doing nothing is often the safest option. Ellison and his senior management team are petrified of adverse press. In my opinion the more negative articles you get from the NZ Herald the better!

      There are alot of very smart and passionate people at AT but unfortunately these voices gets totally gazumped by external elements and the lack of backbone at the top.

      Potentially AT and transport in NZ needs to be setup like IRD This is why we have one of the most efficient tax systems in the world (CGT excepted – but hey that’s political interference for you).

      Minimal external interference from the ‘I reckon brigade’, and hack LB Councillors.

      At the end of the day this stuff is scientific. Evidenced based decision making should lead the way. If AT would look to maximise the safe and efficient movement of people and good (movement being mode agnostic) then basically everything GA ever dreamt about would come true. Unpopular opinion but get rid of the elected member team and comms department and just start delivering. We’d have a decent chuck of Light Rail by now if that had happened! Democracy is failing us in my opinion.

      1. “At the end of the day this stuff is scientific. Evidenced based decision making should lead the way.”

        Its scientific like economics is scientific. All the systems involved are incredibly complex and have incredibly complex interactions with each other, and have unexpected side outcomes. If you could come up with a complete model then sure, but let me tell you, we are decades or centuries away from something like that.

        There are a lot of complexities involved and political decisions made that the science cannot answer, and are assumed to be solved before trying to find the optimal outcome for transport.
        Ill try come up with some example: do we try to find the maximum transport “connectivity” as a summation of all peoples transport “points” based on some equation of various routes and times. In such a system you could end up with communities tossed to the wind completely because no matter how little you spend on their transport, the money would increase more “points” if you spent it somewhere else. Objectively you would improve more peoples connectivity by spending elsewhere. You could spend all day coming up with examples like these.
        Another one would be: improving transport weighted towards poor communities or wealthy communities. Say if you invested in transport in wealthy areas you might get more short term return on investment than the same investment in a poor area, and which in turn you could spend on poor communities. The order of investment would be different, investing in the wealthy community first means you have more money in the end to spend on transport. and the final transport system would be better. But you also accentuate other issues in society and would likely end up with a worse society in the end.

        These are questions for leaders. Leaders that draw their legitimacy from the community, and are installed with good representation of what that community believes about these “less answerable” questions.

        “Democracy is failing us in my opinion.”
        Obviously the best form of government would be a perfect benevolent dictator, seems to have never happened, idk why 😉 . Over the longer term democracy has evidently produced the best average results for its voters. (by no means perfect evidently)

        1. No, it doesn’t need to be this complicated, it is actually very simple, every project just has to answer the following questions?
          Is this project consistent with Vision Zero principles and Safe system approach?
          Does this project make our roads more accessible for all users and address inequitable access to our transport system?
          Does this project help us decarbonise transport and support climate change targets?
          Does this project support health outcomes?
          Does this project provide value for money in achieving the above outcomes?

        2. Right Trevor so every project should be evaluated in terms of your values. If only sensible people like you made all the decisions think how much better the world would be? Fred Hayek showed that is the starting point of all authoritarianism.
          Transport policy is a political act. The problem is those with an axe to grind get involved and try to write policy that will give the outcomes they want. We are far better off having elected representatives involved in transport and land use policy. The problem is a lack of opportunity for them in the current system. Managerialism and advocacy groups is how we ended up where we currently are. More representation is the solution, not the problem.

        3. We can’t create a complete model that people could agree on even in 500 years. Ignoring the fact that facts don’t matter to some people (see Trump et al), we don’t all have the same assumptions and values. A “perfect model” of transport would have to agree on the severity and benefit of every decision. HOW bad is driving for health, and HOW good is walking? Do we WANT to prioritise the local quality of life in street X over the transport functions only going through, and if so, how much? All these are value decisions, not scientific research (not even in 5000 years can this be resolved by science).

          Since we cannot model these things at more than a superficial level, I feel we should… do what our democracy is set up: Just do what we elected people do do. I.e. actually IMPLEMENT the policies that out politicians make for our organisations. Rather than have technocrats and bureaucrats fight them tooth and nail. We could also do with fewer politicians who vote at Council and at Govt for such policies to look good to their voters, but then are decidedly casual about following up on them actually being implemnted.

        4. Side eye at every politician who votes for walking & cycling and for climate change emergency declarations but then balks at taking any capacity away from cars. Yes, you are being hypocrites. Sadly I am ALREADY not voting for you (except in real edge cases), so my electoral threat to your cushy position is a bit weak…

        5. Huh, someone oversimplifying an entire corner of our society, how rare.
          Don’t get me wrong, projects should be vastly weighted to disincentive outcomes that don’t support what you say. But rhetoric only gets you so far.

          This is how we end up with extremely poorly thought out projects and vast areas of society ignored.

        6. Jack, the only place where benevolent dictatorship hasn’t turned into a disaster is Singapore. They got lucky with Lee Kuan Yew, but time will tell how his nepotism will turn out in the long run.

          Trevor, that’s fine until you meet the average person who don’t really care about someone else dying if it affects their daily commute or takes away their parking. You just need to look at the St Heliers debacle why AT stopped doing anything. If council fails to back up AT in situations like that, (like the Mayor) then don’t expect AT to be serious about Vision Zero. Why bother sticking your neck out when the politicians run for cover?

        7. No, not my values. The values that elected officials were voted in to uphold/implement

  8. I think one more big disruptive project in downtown Auckland, of course done at the usual Auckland Council snails pace and the CBD is toast. If it isn’t already.

    How’s this for a plan. Given the council is in a financially fragile position in a billion dollar hole, to the point of fire sales on ratepayer owned assets, how about AC stop wasting money on the CBD full stop. Just cease. Stop encouraging them to waste even more resources on another blurred vision.

    Town is dying because every else has more going for it, access, parking, less crime, less grime, not a wind tunnel, better retail, better hospitality.

    A bus terminal on the footprint of where once stood a well used public multi story car park? There is simply not the space to accommodate all those buses in one hot spot. Just imagine the smog from all those big dirty diesel engines for starters. And people are turning away from public transport too. And ironically, AT throw fuel on that fire to discourage users by upping fares to encourage that decline.

    Leave it the way it is, Downtown car park is about the last place remaining that says come to Aucklands CBD. Or if its removed, to finally give up and avoid it altogether.

    Stop the council selling our parks should be the cause here!

      1. Last December overall office vacancy in the Auckland CBD jumped to 12.4 per cent, from 7.4 per cent in June – an increase of 72,000 square metres.

        And the empty shops throughout. Yes, its absolutely booming!

        1. I can’t possibly think of anything that might have happened in 2020 that could have impacted occupancy rates in the Auckland CBD that might make this statistic kind of pointless as a future indicator of office space utilisation.

        2. ‘I can’t possibly think of anything that might have happened in 2020 that could have impacted occupancy rates in the Auckland CBD’

          Yep, its those plastic sticks! I nearly walked into a shop to buy something last week then realised there were plastic sticks everywhere…..oh and I realised I didn’t want to buy either some designer jewellery or a fluffy souvenir sheep.

        3. Malls outside the CBD have had a comparatively good year. People can’t travel so they go shopping, just not in the CBD. It demonstrates that the CBD shops are there to cater for residents, office workers and tourists. The malls and other centres have long since become the preferred shops for Aucklanders who don’t live in the CBD. Maybe a lot of people like to drive to the shops and park and then not listen to noisy buses.

        4. Catering to quarter of a million daily central city visitors seems like a pretty good business model to me.

        5. The malls will probably fare alright when driving is priced and roads are reallocated and all the other steps are taken to reduce our vkt because it’ll be possible to get there by other modes. But they’re not a “normal” model that any shopping area should be compared with because they are transport emissions generators.

    1. Surely those who pay the CBD targeted rate that contributes to many of these projects should be the one’s to ask whether they should be stopped, not the random reckons of someone living in the suburbs.

      1. Don’t be ridiculous. Why would you let those that actually pay for something have more say than others who don’t. That is elitist and not kind. Given businesses pay more than 25% of all rates and I suspect the value of businesses in the CBD would be a high proportion of that, maybe they should have more say. I like the idea of having shares in the city where $1 of rates = 1 vote. User pays, user says?

        1. That’s true of general rates. But the targeted rate was agreed to for specific purposes, with a specific process for decision making.

    2. Don’t forget AT’s bus fleet is turning to electric faster than the general populations vehicle fleets, so if we get more (or faster, unimpeded) buses and less cars in the city it should become more pleasant regarding fumes.

  9. Why does the site need to be redeveloped when it has a useful building with many years of life left. This building has embodied carbon, and any new construction on this site is detrimental.
    There are other sites and buildings within the CBD that do not have a useful function, e.g. ground level parking, vacant or condemned. If new building in the CBD can be justified, and from a carbon point of view I’m not sure, then I think these should be looked at first.

    1. The Council’s finances are driving it. In the meeting they kept referring to the “opportunity” they had – since a potential partner had approached them last year, I gather. I found that a little silly, because putting the site to better use has always been an option, and a proper Council strategy would’ve highlighted the opportunity.

      The idea does have another reason to commend it. In September, Council was advised there is a seismic risk to the building. Perhaps this has informed the discussion, too. https://at.govt.nz/media/1983999/downtown-carpark-seismic-risk-assessment.pdf

  10. I hate to sat this but I think that you lot are overthinking this. I live in Manurewa and I retired about three years ago.

    I have been back to the city once in those three years. I don’t drive in there and I have a Supergold card so I don’t pay to AT trains and buses.

    I don’t go to the city because there is nothing there for me.

    I will drive to Manukau City once or twice a month, to Clendon three weeks in a month, to Papakura for the Warehouse, Mitre10, and Briscoes, to Karaka a couple of times a week for some of the nicest coffee in NZ. Very occasionally I will drive to Pukekohe.

    I drive because I am 72 and have difficulty getting on buses. I am 25 minutes walk from Manurewa Interchange. I would not catch a train from Te Mahia even though it is only 15 minutes walk.

    Regrettably Auckland City has made itself irrelevant and it is nothing to do with parking

      1. Exactly. Love it or hate it, the central city has much, much more going on than any other part of the region. Which is why so many people want to drive their cars there in the first place.

        What we need is an eloquent and passionate leader who can truly sell the vision of the Auckland of the future. And keep on selling it until it becomes obvious even to the naysayers. Someone who’s willing to call out the opinionated and ignorant reporting in the Herald for what it is. Someone who will hold AT’s feet to the fire in pursuit of the vision. Someone who will be in the ear of central government and get them to require NZTA to get with the programme as well.

        Where IS this person?

        1. the central city has much, much more going on than any other part of the region.

          Hahahaha. Now that’s funny.

  11. That meeting was embarrassing to watch. AT answered none of the issues Councillors needed to know about in order to reach a decision about what to do with the site. Like: What are the possible uses for the site and their financial implications.
    How do the various uses fit with the Council’s plans.
    None of the Councillors seemed happy with the presentation. Walker was more on point than usual and Coon gave them heaps.
    It was almost as if AT has decided that the site has limitations as a transport hub and had not bothered to give a detailed submission.
    I had thought that it would be a good place for an intercity bus hub. But if the two flyovers were taken down and the North Shore buses gone to LR a mixed use building could have an attractive streetscape around it.

  12. And let’s not forget that the downtown car park is a highly inconvenient place for a transport hub. Two blocks away from Britomart, when we ought to be making bus/train/ferry/future LR connections as seamless as possible. The only reason it’s even being considered is because it’s already in public ownership. Not good enough.

    1. Yes, and it would be a long and slow detour for a lot of cross-town trips.

      Another problem with a central bus interchange of any kind is that it forces your network to be radial. This makes PT super slow for any trip that doesn’t go towards or away from that hub.

  13. Regarding:

    “The Bus Facility
    The AT Metro team had done a good job of exploring what would be required to squeeze a bus passenger facility and layover into the small-ish site”

    If they were really going to use the building for a bus facility. I’m wondering if a smaller footprint could be used (but would come at larger cost?) if they created a facility like Perth did with their “Bus Port”, a more airport like facility where a lot of buses can pass through and pickup passengers with the use of dynamic platforms. The problem is the bus layover space, you could store them at a higher or lower level (another floor?) or elsewhere in the city nearby and they drive through at just about the right time they are due to leave. So what are we achieving with it, probably nothing much…
    The other way is to make the network less radial as Roeland mentions above, and have a lot more buses pretty much just pass through the city centre & terminate and layover outside in less valuable land. This would require a lot better bus priority than now to maintain timetables nicely and hence our real problem with Auckland PT at present.

    1. “a … facility where a lot of buses can pass through and pickup passengers with the use of dynamic platforms”

      You’re describing a street. We should have bus stops on streets. The problem of bus turnaround, layover, and stops has been solved, we just need to take space back from cars. A few people at AT want to put the buses in a building so that they can put more traffic lanes back in.

    2. “I’m wondering if a smaller footprint could be used (but would come at larger cost?) if they created a facility like Perth did with their “Bus Port”,

      No, the Perth Bus Port is twice the footprint of the downtown carpark. It’s long and thin which makes it a better shape for buses, but it’s not small. If Auckland had a long and thin site in the right place it should definitely use that. Closest thing is Customs Street. So like Sailor Boy says maybe just use that street.

      1. Yes I think I agree really. I’m wondering why Perth actually did that port, what were they trying to solve? I think they wanted more ground level space to use for development and just make a comfortable bus waiting facility. It would of been very expensive relative to simple shelters and street level stops so you wonder if it was just a vanity project .

  14. That figure is pretty telling, and it’s not like you are comparing it to a European city centre:
    “Our city centre simply has excessive parking, with 15,000 or so more carparks than Sydney’s does”

  15. @Ari, I think the reason politicians are able to wriggle their way out of things like St Heliers is because the traffic engineers and transport planners give them cover. I’ve seen how safety compromises are made because indirect political pressure is exerted. The officer’s compromise their advice so as to give the politicians cover. The traffic engineering and transport planning advice should be genuinely impartial and clearly lay out the consequences of decisions in a way that any political pressure on officers to make decisions that are contrary to high level agreed policy can be documented an tracked through LGOIMAs. In practice proposals are watered down before they even get presented to politicians so the true choices are never even explored.

  16. Thanks Hiedi – good work.
    After the recent CCO review highlighted performance and delivery issues around Auckland Transport, and also Auckland Council’s inability to govern the CCO – in particular lack of knowledge of the tools available – i would be feeling quite uncomfortable at not just the lack of delivery – but even lack of vision on display if i was on the Auckland Council or Auckland Transport boards. Change is coming – your CV is your record on delivery – if its measured in KM’s of cycle trails or mode-change achieved – your days are numbered.
    Thanks again Heidi

  17. I really feel that Auckland’s cbd isn’t as bad as people make out.
    Britomart is nice, as is Commercial Bay and the High Street precinct.
    Queen Street is mixed, maybe more bad than good, but hey…
    Calm the cars and widen the pavements. Provide beautiful native landscaping that is well maintained. Make our main street a beautiful natural oasis, not a concrete jungle.
    Voila, Queen Street is beautiful!
    Not that hard, is it???

    1. High Street is human scale already. Remove traffic from it to create an ‘oasis’ and a key pedestrian linkage but Queen St will always be a shadowed valley.

  18. Heidi. Where is that “Option 5” graphic under the following from or is it an OIA request, can’t seem to find it any of the links etc?
    “The AT Metro team had done a good job of exploring what would be required to squeeze a bus passenger facility and layover into the small-ish site:”

      1. Thanks, I found the relevant discussion point in the presentation too, around 26mins in. One thing good about a building like this for buses would be better driver facilities he touched on but I’m sure that could be catered for in other ways if there was on street layover. Not sure if it was covered in the post or conversation properly but the presentation identifies more through routing of all the bus groupings, except for those Isthmus & Western ones which look a bit harder to deal with, hence the use of the carpark building.
        I’m not sure what you think is the best solution for the turning buses but surely if we ditch the cars altogether out of this building and not even have people platforms in it but use it to turn around/layover those buses = smaller building, less cars and less buses buzzing around Quay St. It could what ever height is deemed good to fit in with the strategic plans with mixed use or whatever above the buses. If not, realistically, where do many buses turn around if not Quay St which I think would be a shame. It also could impacts on the Market Place cycling route.

        1. I’ve been trying to envisage something along those lines, Grant.

          The design still needs to meet the agreed outcomes: Set backs at the ground floor (which could be lovely terraces under the cover of the building above, that connect smoothly with the footpath?) and 24/7 activated street frontages and laneways in both directions. So this points to the buses using space on the first floor rather than the ground floor. Or if there’s no bus layover, and is only used for turning, maybe it could be tucked onto the ground floor.

          But it would mean buses would be crossing the footpath, probably in a double wide driveway. Is that ideal or is the turning safer in the street at signalised intersections where pedestrians get a phase, etc?

          I’d like to know how much layover space is needed if we make all the routes frequent in the interpeak, as is required to provide a proper 24/7 network to enable people to ditch car ownership.

          If there’s no bus layover or turning space used in the building, and they still want to have a flexible space for bikes, cargo bikes, etc, I could imagine that working with access from the ground floor as well as a slim bridge across from Fanshawe St. I’ve seen a design from the UK for bike parking that’s similar to this.

  19. “Let’s fiddle while downtown drowns”
    first with cars in car parks spewing the carbon that secondly will drown it in salt water in a hundred years of so.
    So if are to address the problem we need a transport hub where the passengers are able to change onto a conveyance that will take them out of the centre onto the next leg of their choice. it would be ideal if this could be in one place.
    No need to confuse the issue with provisions for the individual transport module. Forget parking, if the rich are unable to afford their own parking thenlet them use the public transport option.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *