Here’s our weekly roundup
Submissions for Auckland Transport’s Regional Land Transport Programme (RLTP) close on Sunday so if you haven’t completed one yet, get on to it. As Heidi wrote the other day, a key flaw in the plan is at best it hopes to hold vehicle travel steady which is at odds with both government and council plans, as well as the draft recommendations from the Climate Change Commission that we need to reduce vehicle travel.
If you’re wanting some more inspiration or help, here are a few submission guides from our friends at Bike Auckland and Generation Zero.
Last week Auckland Transport launched 12 new electric buses that have now gone into operation on CityLink services.
Darek Koper, Auckland Transport’s Metro Decarbonisation Manager, says two electric buses were trialled on the CityLINK route in 2018.
“We worked with operator NZ Bus to see how the e-buses would cope with the stop-and-go nature of this route – with long operating hours around the city – and they came through with flying colours exceeding performance expectations. We are so happy to unveil the 12 new electric buses today.”
“The CityLINK buses carry more than 1.6 million customers each year and provide an essential link within the city centre, along Queen Street and to the growing business and entertainment hub in Wynyard Quarter.”
“From 25 April, a third of bus services along Queen Street will be zero-emissions, with around 300 electric bus trips. From 20 June, more diesel buses will be relocated from the City Centre making half of all bus trips on Queen Street electric,” Mr Koper says.
“The launch of CityLINK’s electric service will deliver a significant reduction in exhaust and noise emissions in Queen Street valley and contribute to achieving the goals of Auckland’s Climate Action Plan. This launch today follows the earlier deployments of zero emission buses on Waiheke Island and on the AirportLINK route.”
Barry Hinkley, Chief Executive of NZ Bus, says that the 12 buses are from Zhejiang CRRC Electric Vehicle Co Ltd (China Rail).
“These are the first of many state-of-the-art electric buses that NZ Bus will bring to New Zealand in the next few years as our diesel replacement programme accelerates.
“The new buses are air-conditioned and feature 2 plus 1 seat configuration in the front section of the bus. They have wide rear doors to improve customer experience with faster boarding and alighting, allowing more passengers and faster trips on typically short journeys.”
These 12 buses brings the total low-emission buses being used in Auckland to 33. However it’s worth noting we have a bus fleet in excess of 1,300 so there’s a long way to go till they’re all electric.
Road Safety in the Northwest
If you live in the Northwest and particularly if you use Coatesville Riverhead Highway you may want to submit on Waka Kotahi’s proposal to ban right turns from the road onto SH16. This seems a sensible change.
“We’ve heard from the community that a solution is needed now to improve safety at the Coatesville/Riverhead Highway intersection with SH16. We want everyone to get where they are going safely on our roads, so we are proposing changes which can be delivered quickly and cost effectively,” says Waka Kotahi Director of Regional Relationships Steve Mutton.
The proposed change would be in place while the longer-term solution of a roundabout, is being designed, consented and constructed as part of the SH16 Brigham Creek to Waimauku safety project.
The proposal is to:
- Ban right turns from Coatesville/Riverhead Highway onto SH16.
- Redirect traffic to use the Taupaki roundabout via Old Railway Road and Old North Road to safely turn right onto SH16.
“Future transport planning and design is shaped by a safe system approach linked to the government’s Road to Zero Strategy, where no deaths or serious injuries while travelling on our roads are acceptable. These interim change will improve safety for all road users now,” says Mr Mutton.”
The alternative along Old Railway Road and then left onto Old North Road will allow drivers to make a safe right turn at Taupaki roundabout. If travelling from Riverhead, this will add approximately 100 meters to the journey. For people approaching from the Coatesville Riverhead Highway between SH16 and Railway Road, the journey is less than 4km longer.
With the upgrade of downtown is getting closer to completion. This week the downtown bus interchange was fully opened for the first time since the redevelopment of what is now Commercial Bay began in mid-2016. This week has also seen the trees start to return to Quay St and the new public space Te Wananga including some of the mature Pohutukawa that were moved so the upgrade could happen.
While the city was sleeping, Auckland’s urban ngahere / forest welcomed home the first two of seven mature pōhutukawa to Quay Street in a nine-hour crane operation last night.
After 40 years on Quay Street and an 18-month sojourn away from the downtown construction site, one tree was repositioned street-side in Quay Street and the other now takes pride of place in the city’s new Te Wānanga waterfront space.
Reaching out over the water and reuniting the city centre with the sea, Te Wānanga and the much-awaited Quay Street enhancements will open for Aucklanders in June.
It’s great having them back and I’m looking forward to when the metal barriers come down.
CRL nearly ready to start boring
I understand the CRL team are just a week or so away from starting up the boring machine and the 135m long TBM
Hamilton’s future cycle network
Our neighbours to the South are getting more ambitious with cycling.
Getting Hamiltonians out of their cars and on to bikes, scooters and other modes of personal transport will prevent an estimated 126 people from being killed or seriously injured on the city’s roads.
That goal is one of many set out in the just-adopted draft business case of Hamilton City Council’s long-awaited Biking and Micro-mobility Programme.
But saving the environment and people’s lives will come with a hefty price tag: An estimated $700 million to $900m over a 30-year timeframe.
The council’s infrastructure operations committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve the draft plan, which will now be put to Waka Kotahi for approval and, it is hoped, some substantial funding.
Although the plan includes a 30-year delivery schedule for numerous cycleways and associated projects, exactly how soon those projects come to fruition will depend on decisions made in various council annual and long term plans over the coming years.
While Tuesday’s committee decision represents just a small step towards that goal, it was reflective of the council’s lofty aspirations of encouraging Hamiltonians to make use of alternatives to cars.
Council surveys had revealed 78 per cent of people were keen to use a more active mode like bicycles, but only if it was safer. Currently, people riding bikes and other forms of micro-mobility made up a very small proportion of total travel in Hamilton – a 3.8 per cent share of all-day trips.
It was hoped to increase this to about 13 per cent – or 23,300 users – by the year 2050.
Perhaps one way Hamilton could get this built faster is to say it’s part of the motorway network, because if a motorway project had a $700-$900m cost with a benefit cost ratio of 1.9 would be clamouring to get it built.
Sydney Light Rail Surges
An interesting story out of Sydney about how the use of their new light rail system is surging
Sydney’s public transport will not return to pre-pandemic levels until international borders reopen, according to the network’s chief operations officer, but light rail patronage has already surged more than 600 per cent.
While patronage overall has surpassed 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, some modes are busier than others. The city’s much-maligned CBD light rail is outpacing trains and buses.
Transport for NSW chief operations officer Howard Collins said light rail patronage had increased by 630 per cent from lockdown in April 2020 to March 2021, compared with trains which bounced back by 220 per cent and buses by 159 per cent.
However, the light rail is returning from a much lower base as it was hit the hardest by the pandemic, down almost 90 per cent during April last year. Ferry patronage is also surging back.
“They’ve both come back much more strongly than other modes … it’s amazing what’s happening with the patronage on light rail,” Mr Collins said.
Average weekday patronage for the first two weeks of April increased by almost 25 per cent since March, measured at more than 76,000 people per day.
Mr Collins believes the light rail – which runs from Circular Quay to Moore Park and onwards to Randwick as well as Kingsford – could be ferrying 100,000 customers per day within a year.
To put that in perspective, just before the pandemic our entire rail network before the pandemic was moving about 89-90k people per day and in the last few weeks of March were averaging just over 50k per weekday, highlighting once again that light rail is light in name only.
Have a good weekend.