Hōngongoi (July) has arrived, along with the polar vortex, we’ve passed the shortest day of the year and Matariki’s appeared in the sky. Here’s our weekly roundup for the week ending July 2nd.
Header image credit: Kawe Roes/Stuff
Kia rere e ngā tereina!
In celebration of Matariki, two trains at the Glenbrook Vintage Railway have been gifted new names by local iwi Ngāti Te Ata. Their new names, Tāiki and Te Tuhionorangi, recall a tupuna and a historic pā site of the area.
“We’re hoping Tāiki will normalise te reo Māori throughout our communities and increase understanding and use of the language in a very public and joyful way.”
Te Wānanga to open
Today Te Wānanga, the waterfront public space opens and the new ferry berths will follow on Monday marking the completion of the massive waterfront redevelopment.
On Friday 2 July the much-awaited Te Wānanga public space on the edge of a people-prioritised Quay Street will open for Aucklanders to experience, and on 5 July the six new ferry berths, named Te Ngau O Horotiu, located in the Ferry Basin will receive their first passengers.
The six projects delivered by the Downtown Programme reflect an investment of $350 million by Auckland Transport and Auckland Council, $42 million of which was provided by the New Zealand Government for Te Ngau o Horotiu.
The programme has not only strengthened the seawall, protecting the city for the next 100 years from rising sea levels and seismic events, it has also revitalised Quay Street and Galway Street. A new bus interchange now operates in Lower Albert Street and six new ferry berths have been added to Queens Wharf.
The sixth project, and focal point of the new downtown, is Te Wānanga.
Seeming to float above the harbour, this new public space has been designed to resemble a tidal shelf, forming a living hinge between the land and sea and shaped to emulate the rocky edges and sandstone headlands of the Waitematā.
A growing urban forest (ngahere) and native planting offer shade, shelter and carbon absorption while openings in the deck reveal movement of the tide and newly attached seeded mussel lines filtering the seawater below.
Innovating Streets and equal opportunity in city-design
Maurice Flynn, Access Coordinator at CCS Disability Action Waikato was part of Hamilton City Council’s Innovating Streets project group. He’s written a very interesting piece about two local tactical projects, the importance of including disability perspectives and universal access principles from the get-go.
He also looks at the recent decision to end the two trial projects, and what this means. The whole article is a really good read. This bit caught our eye, given the loud headlines generated by some projects, and how vital it is that objection for the sake of it doesn’t compromise the very real needs of underrepresented people in our communities.
People need to be real about what they are complaining about. There’s by far the most noise from people who dislike the trial because either they now have to manoeuvre their car and pay more attention to what and who is around them, or they may have to walk 1-2 minutes from a nearby carpark. The inconvenience of this is not comparable to the genuinely life-affecting barriers that disabled people face every day. If you are angry about now having to walk from one of the 2100 carparks within 5 minutes’ walk of Ward St, you may need to re-look at your priorities. Threatening small businesses with taking your custom elsewhere because you now have to walk for a couple of minutes doesn’t really mean you were ever a ‘loyal’ customer.
The negative feedback has made it clear to me that a large majority of our community does not like change, however change is what our disabled community rely on to have equal opportunity of participation in the communities that we belong to. I think it is about time we do things differently and reprioritise how we do design within our diverse city.
Fare-Free Saturday – and an Amazing Race!
A reminder that tomorrow is free public transport day! Details here and below. Note: you don’t need to have a HOP card in order to enjoy this offer.
Also, if previous fare-free days are an indication, expect to queue for a while as ferries are extremely popular.
What you need to know:
- Fare-Free Saturday includes all buses, trains and commuter ferries, except Devonport and Waiheke Ferries. SkyBus services are also excluded.
- It starts from the very first service on Saturday morning, through to the last services in the early hours of Sunday morning.
- Tourist ferries, e.g. Rangitoto Island, are excluded, along with car/vehicle ferries
- Please use an AT HOP card to tag on and off – you will not be charged.
- Tagging on and off will help us know how many people have used our services on the day. If your card is registered, this will also help with COVID-19 tracing if required.
- If you don’t have an AT HOP card you can still travel, your driver or AT staff will waive you aboard.
- Please wear a face covering. During COVID-19 Alert Level 1 (yes that’s us) face coverings are required on all public transport.
- Please scan with the Govt COVID Tracer app on all services.
These days are always a brilliant chance to go far and wide and test yourself and the system against the clock. If that’s your thing, join a bunch of like-minded urbanists for an Amazing Race, using Twitter and your navigational smarts. The fun starts at Britomart Train Station with a briefing at 1030am and an 11am start. For details, check out this Twitter thread and register here.
1/5 This Saturday with free fares, we will be hosting a Public Transport amazing race. Meet at Britomart Train Station at 10.30am for a briefing and an 11am start
— Malcolm McCracken (@urbanistfromwhk) June 28, 2021
What value do we put on car parking?
It’s no longer free to park down by the ferry at Devonport. 50 cents an hour seems a bit steep for the car park’s usual patrons. Perhaps there’s a better use this extremely valuable triangle of waterfront could be put to?
People go insane when parking is removed but charges show that they dont actually value it at all. This is some of the most expensive land in the country https://t.co/wDwGIRII9w
— Francis McRae (@FrankMcRae) June 30, 2021
The CRL team continue to put out some interesting construction updates, such as these two this week.
One (lane) for the cyclists
Brooklyn Bridge in NYC is getting its first dedicated cycle lane. The innermost traffic lane is being barriered-off, painted green, and handed over to cyclists. Cyclists currently share the boardwalk above the traffic level with pedestrians and throngs of tourists. Cars? They’re just going to have to make do with one fewer lane.
This new bike lane comes after the –
largest one-year expansion of protected-bike-lane construction in New York City’s history (28 miles were installed citywide) and a biking boom that hasn’t waned, even in cold weather (bike counts over the East River were up 50 percent in November)
— Shmuli Evers (@Shmuli) June 30, 2021
What’s not adding up?
The announcement of the EV Feebate Scheme last week has amplified the debate about the kinds of vehicles we drive and the effects those vehicles have on others and on our streets. Among the stories pitting EVs and double-cab utes against each other, this edition of Toby Morris’ Side-eye comic on the Spinoff is an example of really good storytelling. We’re all much more informed and concerned about climate change than we were a decade ago, he argues, but the choices we’re making at the car yard don’t seem to take that into account.
Sleeping into innovation
Struggling to find a sustainable source of hardwood sleepers, KiwiRail landed on a 100% recycled polymer sleeper product made in the Netherlands. After a few years successfully using them on mainlines track and turnouts, the sleepers are going to be installed in tunnels and bridges too.
Speaking of Kiwirail
We’ve noticed that recently there seems to be a lot of track faults again. The Southern line is back to 20 minute frequencies during peak times due to “track faults identified between Papakura and Puhinui” and as of just over a week ago, AT said this was due to last for 4-6 weeks.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday old rail left beside the track at Morningside resulted in not only services being stopped early but trains needing to be checked for damage
“When the rail was removed it was left alongside the track for later collection, as is our usual practice,” said KiwiRail Chief Operating Officer Todd Moyle.
“Over the past week contractors have been cutting and stacking that rail ready for removal. On Wednesday afternoon it was found that a few units had clipped some of this rail.”
Moyle said KiwiRail was “taking this incident very seriously and working with our contractors to understand how this has happened”.
“The line was closed while inspections were carried out along that section of the line to ensure all the used rail is stored safely.”
The rail disruption from last year and early this year compounded the impact that COVID has had on passenger numbers and usage remains comparatively lower buses and ferries as a result. These kinds of incidents only further help to erode public confidence in using trains at a time we need many many more people to use them.
Puhinui Opening Set
Auckland Transport have announced the opening date for the new Puhinui Station – 26-July
The $69 million Puhinui Station in south Auckland will re-open on Monday 26 July 2021 – unlocking fast, frequent and easy connections to Auckland Airport.
The stunning architectural landmark includes mahi-toi (artwork) by Wāhi Wairua and the use of te reo Māori throughout – thanks to a partnership with mana whenua – with Te Ākitai Waiohua providing design leadership.
Closed off for construction since September 2019, the new station will connect trains with the electric AirportLink bus service, providing a sustainable and easy 10-12 minute journey to Auckland Airport from Puhinui Station.
The station opening also coincides with the recently upgraded State Highway 20B and Puhinui Rd/Lambie Drive Improvements – providing dedicated T3/bus lanes and reliable travel times for customers.
Some of the new design features for the fully-staffed station include new escalators, stairs and large lifts to accommodate customers with luggage. There’s also public toilets that use recycled storm water for flushing, drop-off zones and short-term parking bays; along with new and larger platform shelters, a HOP ticket gateline, improved safety, lighting and CCTV.
The station was designed by Aurecon, with architectural design by Jasmax, and constructed by a McConnell Dowell and Built Environs joint venture. It’s future-proofed to allow for additional platforms and KiwiRail’s third and fourth rail lines.
It will be great to see the station open, and there’ll also be a public open date from 11am to 3pm on Saturday 24 July.
One issue with it though is AT are warning that people won’t actually be able to use the station on weekends for most of the rest of the year due to Kiwirail works for the 3rd main and some of these closures will extend through to 2024 when the works are completed.
Apartments in our heritage
And finally, a nice weekend read. If you, like us, were baffled that Auckland was recently named ‘the world’s most liveable city’ by The Economist, you’ll enjoy reading about the post-war socialist ideals behind a collection of apartment buildings in Wellingon and Auckland. These modernist apartment blocks were built as social housing, and represent a different urban form and density our cities could have had. However, the apartments were not loved by 1950s and ’60s New Zealanders, and gradually fell into disrepair:
This sad fate might stem from the hostility towards these buildings at the time, in a country which overwhelmingly favoured suburbia; something Plischke summarised by saying that New Zealanders believed flats were only ‘for prostitutes and intellectuals’.