Here’s our wrap up for the week.
Auckland Transport have released some awesome shots of the upgrade to Puhinui Station and it looks stunning. It’s also great to see the entire platform will have shelter – something missing from most of our other stations.
The station is now due to open in July I believe.
Next we need an extra platform and track added so Te Huia, the Hamilton train, can stop there.
The Queen Street Pilot drama continues.
The good news is pavers have started to be laid in some loading zones between Customs Street and Shortland Street to fill them in and should be much more hard-wearing than boardwalks originally discussed and used on High St.
Pavers down, progress on Queen Street! pic.twitter.com/5pMV7yUpGc
— Grady Connell (@TheGradyConnell) May 13, 2021
The not so good news is it appears that despite winning the court case, the council have secretly folded to the limousine litigants and have now put forward design iterations for consultation. The changes seem focused around removing the planned new pedestrian spaces to add more loading zones and providing an indented bus stop, which removes an existing wide bus platform. All this seems aimed at keeping more vehicles on Queen St and it remains unclear what the extra ‘loading zones’ are for and to what degree general traffic will be using this section. Without cars the extent of loading zones wouldn’t be necessary, and buses rarely need to pass each at this end of the trip. Also, if things are still up in the air, we would like to see some options that provide space for cycling-scootering. Maybe they should have tested some of this stuff over that last 9 months?
In all of this it’s worth noting their own design principles are about making it easier for buses and active modes, not about cars which these changes seem to be focused on.
There are also some changes proposed to the pocket park at the end of Fort St
The consultation for this went up yesterday and closes tomorrow at 5pm
Car Free Wellington City
Wellington is looking to go car free in the city centre and interesting to see it’s inspired by Auckland’s City Centre Master Plan
Wellington City Council has voted to pursue a plan to remove vehicle traffic from the inner city by 2025.
Councillors voted 11-2, with Mayor Andy Foster absent, to direct council staff to prepare a report investigating a Wellington Fossil-Fuel Free Central City by 2025, which will be brought back to council for consideration in September.
Councillor Tamatha Paul, who introduced the original notice of motion, said the central city was in desperate need of transformation.
“It’s cool to hate Wellington at the moment,” she said. “It’s scuzzy, unsafe, and it’s in need of change. Urgent urban design improvements are needed to keep people safe at night.”
Despite the name ‘’Fossil-Fuel Free Central City’’, the proposal is not intended to favour electric vehicles, but will be largely built around pedestrianisation.
Auckland’s Access For Everyone Centre City Masterplan should serve as inspiration for Wellington, Paul said.
There are no specific proposals for what the changes could look like yet, as these will be prepared by council officers.
Given the way AT drags their heels on things like this, it could be a race to see who can implement it first.
An article from Whanganui caught my attention this week about people wanting a new bridge over the river to help address traffic congestion.
After the indignity of being labelled a ‘zombie town’ Whanganui is now experiencing a growth spurt that has seen it fall victim to that most metropolitan of scourges – traffic congestion.
And one pinch-point raises the hackles more than most – the more than 100-year-old Dublin Street Bridge.
Opened to trams, vehicles and pedestrians in 1914 the historic two-lane steel bridge connects State Highways 3 and 4 via central Whanganui.
But controlled via roundabouts at each end, the Dublin Street bridge is struggling with the 5000 new residents Whanganui has attracted over the past few years.
The impact of the congestion quickly escalated.
“We used to say that you could take five minutes to get anywhere in Whanganui and I think people are now saying you’d better allow 10 minutes instead.”
“I used to work at another business over Whanganui East and come home at three o’clock everyday. I needed half an hour at least, 20 minutes to half an hour to get across the bridge.”
“It’s terrible. Any time from a quarter to eight you’re stuck there for about 45 minutes.”
The first thing that caught my attention was the presence of bike lanes separated from traffic, something missing on so many bridges old and new.
But what really got me interested was when I looked at some figures from Stats NZ.
First, population has increased in Whanganui by 4,600 since 2013 – it had been falling until that time. However, most of that growth has been in the west and in Whanganui East the population has only increased by 490 people. Moreover it remains lower now than it was in 1996.
That got me thinking about what’s really causing the congestion. So I had a quick look at the census travel to work data and it seems to show a clear trend, more people are driving and fewer are walking or cycling.
Looks to me like it’s the increased car use that’s the issue.
You could give everyone in Whanganui East a brand new e-bike and it would still be multiple times cheaper than building a new 300m+ bridge.
Some good news yesterday from Auckland Transport that two of the three bus services introduced by the Rodney Local Board with money from a targeted rate have been successful enough that AT will take them over.
Two Rodney Local Board trial bus services are meeting patronage targets, so today Auckland Transport (AT) confirms it will fund these from May next year.
Rodney Local Board introduced the new bus services in February and May 2019 on a three-year trial basis.
At the time of the trial’s launch, AT agreed it would take over funding of these services and bring them into the AT network, if they met patronage targets.
Route 126 (between Westgate and Coatesville) and Route 998 (Wellsford to Warkworth) have both seen steady growth since their inception and are on track to meet patronage targets.
Route 128 (Helensville to Hibiscus Coast Station) has seen more modest growth and, based on public requests, the local board recently resolved to increase the frequency of the service.
These services are part of a programme of transport improvements funded by the Rodney Local Board Transport Targeted Rate. The programme features over $40M of improvements for the Rodney area – including new footpaths, new bus stops and additional buses for the area.
Rodney Local Board chair Phelan Pirrie says the Rodney Local Board is glad to be able to keep investing in transport during a difficult time.
“It was a tough call for the local board to set up this targeted rate and to focus on new bus services. But the community consistently told us that local transport infrastructure and services are important to them – so we’re glad to be able to deliver on our promises.”
Pete Moth, AT’s Service Network Development Manager, says Auckland Transport is pleased to be able to support the local board to deliver these projects.
“We would like to acknowledge Rodney Local Board for trialling this initiative. It has led to the running of bus routes that simply would not exist otherwise. Rodney is experiencing the challenge of providing transport choice for a growing community and the team at Auckland Transport is pleased to support the local board and the requests from the community for more public transport.”
Project Wave, the cycleway linking the Nelson St and Quay St cycleways is nearly finished and showing that AT are capable of installing cycleways quickly and cheaply.
Of course that hasn’t stopped traditional media from running the typical stories moaning about a new cycleway. This one from Stuff was particularly funny with one complainant saying how it’s made deliveries so hard but then was photographed in front of a truck easily unloading in the new loading bays that have been provided.
Reducing Transport Emissions
Later today the Ministry of Transport are due to release a report on how we can reduce our transport emissions by 2050. This is likely to be quite an important document and appears likely to take a stronger stance on mode shift than the Climate Change Commission. We’ll likely cover this in more detail next week.
Congestion Pricing Inquiry
Parliament’s Transport and Infrastructure Committee are holding an inquiry into congestion pricing and the work done to date on it. We’ll try and get something more detailed up about it next week but at a high-level we think it’s a good idea and officials have come up with a decent scheme.
Submissions for it close on Thursday 20 May.
Have a good weekend.