It’s been more than two months but tomorrow the Auckland Transport board meet again and so as I often do, I’ve had a look through the reports for anything interesting that stands out. Unfortunately, at the time of writing the post they haven’t uploaded the closed session agenda, which gives an indication as to some of the more interesting projects.
Below the the updates I found most interesting from the main Business Report. The order is based on the order the item appeared in the report.
One of the things AT are working on, and it appeared in ATAP and the RLTP, is work in areas with a lot of urban redevelopment.
Auckland Housing Programme
The ATAP process identified support for brownfields development as the highest priority for growth investment. To support the Auckland Housing Programme in brownfield areas AT will need to develop ways of working with Kāinga Ora. The Business Case for this investment is progressing and is investigating the public transport and walking and cycling infrastructure to encourage sustainable transport behaviour, along with intersection upgrades to minimise impact on the operation of the surrounding road network.
Those intersection upgrades sound a lot like AT engineers are planning a suite of intersection expansions to push more cars through intersections. If this is what is being planned it would only serve to further encourage driving and make congestion worse. It also ignores that AT needs to reduce vehicle travel.
The other thing that’s notable about this is the amount of space in the report it has compared to the amount of space dedicated to it compared to the work AT is doing in greenfield areas with a page or more about AT’s various activities/planning in support of greenfield development.
Failed Journey Transfer Hotspots
One of the thing that often frustrates many people with AT’s public transport services is that when they work as intended, they can be absolutely wonderful, but often it doesn’t take much for the pendulum to swing all the way to the other side and user experience to fall apart. AT appear to be trying to address this a bit.
Missing a transfer between services during a public transport journey can be a very annoying experience for customers. To reduce failed transfers, the ‘Things That Move’ project was implemented for ferry-to-bus transfers in Half Moon Bay. The Metro Service Optimisation team are now looking to roll this system out to other journey transfers but want to prioritise the most problematic spots.
Part of this prioritisation uses timetable information, AT HOP data, and vehicle location data, however they wanted to include an element of customer feedback. The Data Science team has collaborated with the Metro Service Optimisation team to apply text mining to CRM cases to extract desired customer transfer insights. This proof of concept supports the team to consider customer feedback as they strategically identify the next roll out spots for ‘Things That Move’.
It’s good that this is happening though quite telling it hasn’t happened before now as it really it should have been being done as part of regular network planning and monitoring.
In the list of projects AT received funding for over the last two months, three things stand out:
- Brownfields Growth – Indicative Business Case – $0.41m
- Transitional Rail – Additional Power Feed Single Stage Business Case (this is funded at 100% FAR through Transitional Rail) – $1.50m
- Auckland Rail – Fourth Main (Regional Rail) (this is funded at 100% Funding Allocation Rate through Transitional Rail) – $1.97m
Note: this is for supplementary information to support the Rail Detailed Business Case being developed through Supporting Growth
It’s good to see something happening about the fourth main, though it’s likely years off actually happening – it really should be being delivered at the same time as the third.
AT publish tenders in the report with an estimated value over $2 million and one that stands out is
Taniwha Street Cycleway Link Construction (Package 1) – Link to Glen Innes Cycleway project is to complete a missing link in Auckland’s Cycle Network; providing safer, more coherent and attractive routes for new and existing cyclists, including commuters, school children and those making everyday trips forming part of the Urban Cycleway Programme (UCP).
Hopefully this goes ahead, though it’s worth remembering the Urban Cycleway Programme was meant to be completed in mid-2018. There are more details here.
There are some interesting comments on climate change from AT in this report
In March, AT – through the Council’s submission – provided feedback on the Climate Change Commission’s draft feedback. AT provided feedback primarily on the transportation policy advice and provided input into feedback on sections related to equity and the local government’s role. AT’s feedback was combined with that of Council staff, Local Boards, mana whenua, and Councillors. The submission supported some of the actions but recommended stronger interventions to deliver the pace and scale of change required in Auckland to reduce transport emissions significantly. A small number of actions were not supported because of insufficient information on their impact on emissions or equity; the submission requested further analysis.
The RLTP has reinforced the challenge of significantly reducing emissions from the road transport system, with a potential reduction of 12% (2016 to 2031) after accounting for population growth, RLTP spending, the Clean Car Standard (government fuel efficiency standard), proposed biofuel requirements, and potential electric vehicle incentives. The Auckland Climate Plan has a target of a 50% reduction by 2030 (on 2016 emissions) for all of Auckland, with an expectation of a 64% reduction from transport (this over-contribution reflects that emissions reductions will be more difficult in other sectors). Over the coming months, AT will model a range of scenarios to demonstrate what actions are needed to achieve the target reduction; this scenario modelling will include a wide range of actions across AT, Council, Government, and Aucklanders. The intent is for these scenarios to show the level of investment, policy change and behaviour change needed, enabling discussions with Councillors on which scenario to adopt.
Work is continuing on identifying, assessing, and prioritising climate change risks to AT’s customers, staff, services, and assets. This work has involved input from AT and Council-family staff, Local Boards, Waka Kotahi, Kiwirail, and mana whenua. This work, which is seen as one of the most comprehensive in New Zealand, has highlighted the necessity of greater co-ordination across the Council family on climate change risks. The Council Sustainability Office has begun co-ordination.
In May, a project update will go to the Finance and Assurance Committee, with the completed work taken to the Committee in July for endorsement before going to the board. Internal discussions have begun on how to prepare AT for climate change adaption.
It will be interesting to see what AT’s feedback was and specifically what they wanted strengthened and what they didn’t support.
As for the modelling, it does have the potential to be quite useful as we tend to only model forward i.e. here’s a project what we want to do, how good/bad will the impact be, and not model backwards from a goal and work out what it would take to achieve it. The risk here though is it relies on AT’s models working properly and they typically tend to underestimate the potential uptake on walking, cycling and PT where those options have been provided well. That means there’s a greater likelihood AT will turn around and say something to the effect of “it’s too hard to get people out of their cars so it’s up to the government to give more incentives for people to switch to electric vehicles, oh and we need more and bigger roads to support them“.
More frequent HOP Top-ups?
One of the more interesting updates suggests AT are finally working on improving one of the long-standing bugbears of HOP, that online top-ups take a day to appear on the card.
On Bus Connectivity
The frequency of action list updates across AT’s fixed train, ferry devices and bus depots has been increased from twice daily to eight times per day. A plan is underway to further ramp-up this frequency over the coming weeks. Customers will realise the benefits of this as actions are applied to their AT HOP card more quickly, for example balance top-ups.
AT’s technology team love coming up with new uses for their cameras and this time they say:
Computer vision has been built at the Wellesley Street and Victoria Street intersection to detect how often a queue is being formed and how often it reaches a certain point on the road. This will allow the engineer to get a better understanding of the scale of the issue and result in an informed decision being made on whether the traffic signal phasing should be adjusted. Three categories of queues have been developed (short, medium, and long) and will be measured accordingly.
That certainly is a tricky intersection and one that can cause long delays for buses. What would also help manage it would be reducing the number of cars in the city centre.
If you’ve looked through the report, is there anything else that stood out to you?
One thing I forgot to add was this graph from AT’s indicators saying they’ve hit their cycleway target for the year. Tamaki Dr was opened at this time but that’s not enough to cover that jump unless they’re counting it twice, once for each direction. I wonder if they’ve also included the Herne Bay to Westhaven which started life as a cycleway but became just a traffic calming project yet AT are likely still claiming the km as cycleway.