Here’s our wrap up for the week.
Queen St to Change
Good news yesterday afternoon, the group fighting to return Queen St to a car focused corridor failed in their bid to get an injunction on the improvement works.
Today’s High Court decision not to grant the injunction sought by Save the Queen Street Society means Auckland Council and Auckland Transport are able to proceed with planned improvements to the northern end of Queen Street between Customs and Shortland Streets.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomes the court’s decision.
“I’m pleased that this interim decision enables the planned improvements to go ahead according to schedule,” he says.
“The upgrade will demonstrate to Aucklanders how Queen Street can be made more people-friendly and accessible, as outlined in our City Centre Masterplan.
“We will continue to work with all stakeholders to progress improvements to Queen Street that will help make it a great place for the thousands of Aucklanders who live, work, study and shop there.”
Also don’t forget, today is the last day to have a say on the changes.
The latest building consent data for March is out and it’s another record. In total 1,622 consents were issued in March, bringing the total issued in the previous 12 months up to 17,495. Townhouses continue to be the star of the show with now over 7,700 issued in in that period.
And here’s a breakdown by local board with Henderson-Massey leading the charge – this is not surprising given the amount of development that seems to be happening in the west right now.
The City Rail Link reaches a new milestone today with the launch of the tunnel boring machine. It is expected to reach the K Rd station by June, where 190 of the 230m station tunnel has already been dug. After pushing through the station it will make its way to Aotea which it will reach by December.
Rail Plan Released
Transport Minister Michael Wood and State-Owned Enterprises Minister Dr David Clark today released the Government’s long term vision for a sustainable rail network that supports our economic recovery.
New Zealand Rail Plan lays out how the Government is building a resilient, reliable and safe network, as well as the indicative investments over the next decade.
Michael Wood said rail is key to keeping New Zealand moving and is supporting our economic recovery.
“The disruptions to the supply chain due to COVID have shown how important it is to have a reliable rail network to keep freight flowing, which keeps our economy moving. The Rail Plan shows how we’re getting rail back on track after the former government let it slide into managed decline.
“Rail is worth up to $2.1 billion to our economy every year and reduces emissions and congestion. Annually it prevents 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions and 26 million car trips in Auckland and Wellington,” Michael Wood said.
I haven’t had time yet to look through it in detail but the final version looks to be very similar to the draft that was released last year. While it is useful, I think the big shortcoming of it is it doesn’t really give much of a vision for what rail could be in NZ or really lay out what the network would look like if we build all the things it suggests. For example, it would be useful to say how many more train movements it allows and how much faster services could be etc.
PTOM Changes – e-buses and drivers conditions
The government is consulting on changes to PTOM
Transport Minister Michael Wood is seeking feedback on options for the next phase of the Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM) review to better protect bus drivers’ pay conditions, and also achieving the Government’s target of fully decarbonising the public transport bus fleet by 2035.
Michael Wood said investing in our people and providing critical infrastructure is part of the Government’s COVID economic recovery plan.
“Bus drivers play a key role in keeping our cities moving, getting commuters to work and giving Kiwis travel choices. Unfortunately, it’s obvious the former government’s PTOM policy has driven down wages and conditions for many,” Michael Wood said
“Ensuring bus driver wages and conditions are protected whenever councils contract bus services is important. I will consider all the options in the review, including amending the Land Transport Management Act or adding public transport bus drivers to Schedule 1A of the Employment Relations Act.
“I am working with employers, unions, and Waka Kotahi on establishing a Living Wage floor for drivers, but I know more change is needed to tackle chronic driver shortages and service disruptions.
“We can accelerate our COVID recovery while providing cleaner public transport infrastructure to tackle climate change. We will prevent up to 4.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions with councils only purchasing zero emissions public transport buses from 2025 and decarbonising the entire bus fleet by 2035.
“We’ve committed $50 million to help councils make the switch and we’re committed to working alongside them to make it go as far as possible,” Michael Wood said.
Public consultation is open for six weeks until 18 June. More information can be found here: https://www.transport.govt.nz/area-of-interest/public-transport/public-transport-operating-model/
Gt North Rd Consultation
Consultation closes today on Auckland Transport’s plans for a greater Gt North Rd. They want to add dedicated bike lanes and improve the bus lanes as well as other safety improvements and overall it looks pretty good.
You can also see the thoughts from our friends at Bike Auckland on it here.
Have a good weekend.