Halfway through July already, and there’s lots to share in our weekly roundup, as usual.

More free PT

Auckland Transport has announced free public transport after 9pm, seven days a week, from Wednesday 14 July to Sunday 1 August. This is to coincide with the wintertime Elemental AKL fest, which has events all over the city.

The usual conditions apply:

  • HOP card optional but tagging on and off will help with data that proves the value of free PT.
  • Wear a mask and do your Covid scanning.
  • Applies to buses and trains.
  • NB does not include ferries, or Skybus to the airport.

This is certainly a welcome test of off-peak demand for free public transport, and we’ll be keen to see the results. Also interesting to see it being strongly framed in terms of both Covid recovery, and Vision Zero (or at least avoiding drink-driving). What if it also helps with mode shift in general, and meeting climate targets?

Auckland Transport chief executive Shane Ellison says,  “Working alongside our fellow council controlled organisation – Auckland Unlimited we want to support cafes, restaurants and other businesses with their recovery. We also know that drink driving is resulting in too many Aucklanders being seriously injured or killed on our roads. Providing free public transport to get home is a great alternative.”

Turning golf courses into parks

Meanwhile in Brisbane: a 45ha golf course is being transformed into a massive urban park, featuring everything you might dream of. Sure, golf is great, but have you ever had the opportunity to “mosey through wetlands, kayak and canoe in a lake, ride along rainforest mountain-bike trails, peer out from a treehouse lookout and climb a high-ropes course” within cooee of the CBD?

Also on the agenda: a cultural hub, artwork and trails paying tribute to Australia’s Indigenous heritage, plus plenty of shady foliage including revegetated forests and pockets of native bushland.

There’ll be dining areas and picnic spots, too, and community gardens — or perhaps even a small urban farm or urban orchard. Multipurpose spaces such as a green amphitheatre will be designed to host events year-round as well, including performances and exhibitions.

In addition to the aforementioned Lake Barrambin — where you’ll be kayaking and canoeing — the site will feature lagoons and wetlands, a ‘nature and water play gully’ for kids, restored waterholes for wildlife, and waterside boardwalks to mosey along. And the existing Centenary Pool will be part of the park, if you’re keen for a dip.

If only Auckland had a few inner-city examples that could benefit from similar treatment…

An artist’s impression of the completed Victoria Park project in Brisbane.

Speaking of places to play…

Investing in streets for people

Very cool story here from Seven Sharp about Ozgur Jahn, who runs Ataturk Cafe on The Strand, the main street in Whakatāne. Back in summer, his cafe was chosen by the council to host a simple wooden dining platform as part of the local Innovating Streets project.

“They said, we have a platform for your shop, and I was so happy! I couldn’t believe it was happening. As soon as we had this platform, I remember the morning I came to work, the outside tables were full, everyone was having coffee. And that week our turnover was going up 25%!”

Mr Jahn in his dining platform, being interviewed for Seven Sharp. (Screenshot)

The dining platforms have stuck around, and Mr Jahn has invested in fairy lights and planting and a heater to make it more welcoming in all seasons. “To create buzz, better atmosphere, so you feel happy when you come here.”

And he’s sharing the love, by pouring the profits from the platform back into the community – starting with free colourful paint-makeovers for shops along the main street, and seven outdoor dining table sets for other cafes.

“There is no catch, we just like to paint the buildings… to make a better atmosphere for everyone. I don’t see them as competitors, I see them as neighbours. Because if you come down to have sushi today, you might come down to have a kebab tomorrow. It’s wins-wins. Everybody wins.”

So far, $15,000 has gone towards the shared improvements, and other businesses have started to chip in. Talk about earning interest!

“I made enough money in the last fourteen years. I came to Whakatane with nothing; this town has given me everything. This is my town, so let’s make it a better place.”

Mr Ozgur Jahn of Ataturk Cafe (Screenshot: Seven Sharp)

A new correspondent in the battle for better streets

You might have seen the deservedly viral clip by Robbie Nicol, aka White Man at a Desk, on social media this week. Please enjoy this excellent transcribed version of the whole bit. If you like Robbie’s work you can find more here.

A step towards electric service vehicles

We spotted this article on Stuff earlier in the week about Genisis Energy’s first electric gas delivery truck. The vehicle is a ‘Fuso eCanter’ made by Mitsubishi, and Genisis has more than 50 of them coming in the next four years. It was the Government’s recent commitment to a switch to EVs that convinced the Japanese branch of Fuso to supply the vehicles to NZ.

“…When you are cruising down the road and people look at you and say ‘oh this guys driving an electric truck!’, it’s awesome. This is the way to go,”

Your CRL update

After a brief pause while they hooked up the conveyor belt, the Tunnel Boring Machine digging the City Rail Link will now be working 24/7. So far the TBM has excavated over 97m and placed over 400 concrete segments for the walls.

Read it here first…

Two recent GA guest posters appeared on RNZ talking about their areas of expertise on Tuesday morning.

Dr. Kirsty Wild spoke to Kathryn Ryan on Nine-to-Noon about the way SUVs and Utes are marketed at urban buyers. Her post early in June covered the same issues. Later on in the  same show, Alex Bonham was on to talk about her new book, Play City, wich was released this week. Alex published an excellent guest post on GA a couple of weeks ago on the topic of child-friendly urban spaces.

It’s not a car free neighbourhood, it’s a parking free street

In the interests of our reinforcing our Thursday post about the importance of aspirational images, here’s a 7000-home planned suburb near Hamburg in Germany to gaze upon. Greenfields, but keep it green. The suburb is built next to a train station and will include a full mix of amenities and services for residents. The engineering of the project includes canals and green spaces to absorb flooding issues in the area. Cars are allowed, but must be parked in dedicated parking garages, and the suburb is laid out to disincentivise driving. Construction will begin in 2025.

Cars are “not necessarily a bad thing,” says Reznek. “They just have determined, a little bit too much, the way our neighborhoods look in the past decades, and we wanted to change that.”

We picked this image because it has echoes of Chris Dew’s Waihorotiu Queen Street painting. Source – Adept + Karres

The 30km/h city

Paris and its mayor, Anne Hidalgo, continue to make bold steps towards reducing emissions produced by and within the city. As well as banning vehicles outright from the city’s central district next year, a speed limit of 30km/h is to be imposed on nearly all streets in August.

“The point is to reduce the space taken by cars, which involves lowering their speeds,” he said, making streets safer cyclists and pedestrians.

The move comes as Hidalgo pushes ahead with plans to remove 60,000 of the city’s roughly 140,000 street-level parking spaces.

Motorcycles and scooters, which have been allowed to park free, will also have to start paying next year, when hourly parking rates for automobiles will also rise.

Finally, Roughan has been a reliable reverse barometer on transport issues so great to get confirmation that light rail going to be an outstanding success.

Have a great weekend!

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  1. On Roughan, they need to replace his mugshot with the cartoon of the elephant that was going to be stuck on the Busway for all of time – just as a reminder of the kind of nonsense he’s been churning out for up to 20 years now

  2. I’m surprised they’re not requiring HOP cards for the free PT evenings. Lost opportunity to gather data on the effect.

      1. Yes, particularly as almost no one I’ve seen has been tagging in (in fact, one of the most recent buses I took had no QR codes or COVID posters).

        1. I meant that few people have been scanning the QR codes. Morning, pre-coffee makes me lose clarity.

    1. They whole point of it is to encourage new people onto PT. Requiring them to get a Hop card is probably enough of a hurdle for them to not bother.

      1. There is a an internal reluctance within the “Customer Experience” unit of AT to give HOP Cards away. They also insist on distributing HOP Cards through 4th rate dairies and convenience stores, many of which are located AWAY from the bus routes. Example the AT HQ and adjoining employment precinct does not have a HOP retailer, instead you have to walk to North Wharf to get a HOP card. North Wharf is located AWAY from the busy bus routes on Fanshawe Street. Why?

  3. We have an electric truck transporting fossil fuels. Still I suppose its a start but long way to go.
    I always enjoy a visit to Whakatane. Take a bike or walk along the path on the stop bank. I wonder when they will turn the old rail line between the mill and Awakeri into a cycleway.

  4. I believe that if a route in Auckland is important enough to get one of those regional route numbers, it shouldn’t have on street parking. As a blanket rule, that would help with throughput on routes that are designed to connect places within the city.

    1. Yeah, probably not a bad rule. However, it’s important to use the space wisely. Improving “throughput” would mean increasing vehicle travel – which will increase emissions, as well as increase congestion everywhere else all that traffic goes. Paris’s removal of street parking has nothing to do with throughput but with reallocation to walking and cycling and placemaking, to improve safety and liveability.

      1. I was thinking that it’s more about buses, without wanting to say so upfront, all those carparks in Mt Eden that are holding up buses would go and bus priority would become easier.

  5. And if you check out the latest CRL Video of the Mt Eden site it is around 3weeks out of date and a reply to a posting commenting on it states they have constrants on when it’s posted , Why ? . Peoples view the site then look at their web sites and nothing is up to date , and go to their web page and they haven’t updated their photo section since April . So why have what was a great web page/s and now it looks like something that was set up when the internet 1st started and then forgotten about ? .

    And here is a more up to date video than what was posted by them 2 days ago ;-

    1. On big projects like this publishing photo and video content usually involves quite a bit of review beforehand. Often to avoid inadvertently posting content that’d be embarrassing like workers doing something unsafe or rude. So you have to get signoff from senior people like the health and safety manager and a client’s representative, they’re busy people so it takes time.

      I agree that updates lagging real life progress isn’t ideal. However most of the audience for this type of content doesn’t really mind.

  6. LogarithmicBear , The previous week they posted a video on their FBPage and that was almost 6 weeks out of date . And today I got an Email from AT with a link to the new Puhinui Station and that was by the look made within the last Week and it seems they have a better Com’s department the the CRL . And here is their video ;-

  7. In other news of the week, interesting to see the tractors on Queen St – the National Party comes to town. Numbers were as disappointing as recent polling has suggested!

    1. What was really interesting was how many huge you can park on Queen Street and still have plenty of room for walking, driving, shopping, talking to farmers, catching a bus, watching police cars roll by etc, etc. Do you think there is a bit of spare space?

  8. The Elemental offering is great. Well done AT on making it easier to get around.

    I have a couple of other suggestions that could make life easier for another mass event taking place around Auckland. COVID Vaccinations.

    The booking tool puts PT front and centre in each ‘getting there’ section.

    If anyone can get these two suggestions into AT decision makers that would be grand:

    Could AT add the vaccination centres into the Journey Planner. Seems like a quick win.

    Could AT look at making the transfer window 60mins, for the rest of the year (a tactical trial) so vaccinations can be part of a journey (combined with shopping or leisure) rather than the destination.

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