Today the Auckland Transport board meet again and it’s been while since we covered one. Here are the things that caught my attention from the agendas and papers.
The closed session is where most of the interesting stuff goes, though not entirely this month, and there were a number of items up for approval and noting this meeting that stood out.
Items for Approval
Southern Rail Network Detailed Business Case– the paper has been withdrawn but I assume this is about the new stations between Papakura and Drury.
- Ferry Programme Business Case – After the last time AT tried to tender out ferries ended in failure, AT went back to the drawing board on their ferry strategy and I assume this is what’s come of that. Hopefully this business case will address the issues and also cover off how we move to electric ferries. I’m also guessing this is tied to the next item.
- Ferry Services Procurement Strategy
- Urban Cycleway Programme Update – Is this just updating the board about how little AT have done to deliver cycling projects?
Items for Noting
- Rail Infrastructure Rolling Contact Fatigue – I’m fairly certain this issue will be related to the section below.
- Auckland Transport Sustainable Procurement Action Plan
- Auckland Light Rail Update – Progress Report
Something new this time is AT have published some letters to and from them about issues.
There is this letter from a group of Councillors concerned about reports that forced labour might be being used in the construction of some electric buses.
And this reply from Auckland Transport in response.
By far more interesting are a series of letters Auckland Transport have sent to and about Kiwirail.
In the first letter, sent on 7 July, AT CEO Shane Ellison writes to his counterpart at Kiwirail complaining about their performance over the network issues and which seem to keep cropping up.
In the second letter, sent a week later on 14 July, AT board Chair Adrienne Young Cooper and Darran Ponter, the chair of the Greater Wellington Regional Council have written to Treasury asking that in light of the issues with the rail network, new directors be appointed to Kiwirail with relevant skills and experience.
It’s good that AT are taking Kiwirail to task over this stuff. The outcome for PT users has been terrible and as a result train use has been comparatively lower than bus and ferry (they were about the same post-lockdown until this issue emerged). At the same time, AT also need to take a look at themselves, they aren’t exactly a beacon of excellence.
I’ve included this section as there are a number of papers on a road safety review that’s being going on but we will cover that separately.
The board report gives updates on some of the things going on within AT. Here are a few things that stood out to me.
In an update on some of their innovating streets projects they include a few images of the changes.
In a section updating on parking, AT mention that parking prices in the city are currently being reviewed. It will be interesting to see the outcome of this as parking occupancy has been lower than AT target which would suggest prices might go down.
But doing that would send a terrible message given that public transport prices are going up and AT have a responsibility to discourage driving to the city centre. Instead of targeting levels of occupancy they should probably change their pricing policy so that parking prices increase by the same or more than the cost of public transport.
Given how poorly AT perform at so many of their tasks, especially the delivery of cycleways, it’s interesting to see a target they do exceed is in road resurfacing. Though they do say they also exceeded their targets for footpath renewals.
There has been 323.2 km of resurfacing completed which is 106% of the resurfacing programme. The SOI target for the 2020/21 year was to resurface/rehabilitate 4.6% of the sealed road network (6,774 km as at 30 June 2020) which is a combined length of 312 km. At the end of June 2021, we had resurfaced/rehabilitated 4.9% or 329.0 km of sealed road resulting in the achievement of the SOI target.
Glen Innes to Tāmaki Drive Shared Path
AT say in August they will be going out to public consultation on the boardwalk and pathway for section 4, the part that connects Orakei to Tamaki Dr.
Funding, Procurement and Contracts
AT report on large funding approved from Waka Kotahi, tenders issued with an estimated value over $2 million and contracts issued over $2 million.
They say they received funding of $21.3 million to go towards route protection and other pre-implementation work for the Airport to Botany corridor. With Puhinui now open this is something I hope we hear more about soon.
They’ve also put out a tender for the detailed design of the Westgate Station which is part of the Northwest Improvements and due to start construction in 2023.
AT have been pushing hard to replace all 122,785 street lights in Auckland with LEDs. They were helped in this regard by a 85% subsidy which expired on 30 June. They say they had targeted to replace 25,000 lights in the 2020/21 year, which delivers operational and maintenance savings of $3.6 million per year. However, they exceeded their target and manged to change 32,201. That brings the total number of LED street lights up to 94,122 or about 76%.
This feels a lot like the boffins have a new toy and are trying to find a something to use it on instead of AT doing anything to try and influence demand for the type of city their (and councils) policies aim for
Using Data Science to forecast parking demand
The Data Science team are working in collaboration with the Parking Services team to improve parking services and processes for our customers. By applying text mining technologies to customer feedback, such as text data from the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system (a centralised repository of customer feedback and complaints), actionable insights can be extracted to understand the main pain points/issues for our parking customers. This can feed into a parking demand forecast to understand patterns and improve parking design and planning. The machine learning model will forecast the parking occupancy counts at different granularity levels to suit different business needs
Was there anything else I missed?
May Meeting Closed Session
With a lot of other things on at the time I never covered the May board meeting. There were a few interesting items that were up for approval in the closed session that I’ll include here:
- Brownfields Kāinga Ora Programme Business Case – I’m keen to se
- Auckland Rapid Transit Plan – Guidance for Light Rail Establishment on Network Integration – In documents like the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP), rapid transit is treated at a fairly high-level, essentially a line on a map and a timeframe of what decade it might happen in. AT have been working on this in more detail and it appears they will be using that as part of the Light Rail Establishment Unit work.
- Batch 3 (B3) Rolling Stock Procurement – We need 23 more electric trains for when the City Rail Link opens in late 2024. On the most recent batch of 15 new trains it took two years for the first one to be delivered and over six months longer before it was in service and carrying passengers. So it makes sense they’re doing this now so the trains are here and commissioned in time for the CRL to be completed.
- Dairy Flat Highway Upgrade and Gills Road Link Projects – Gills Rd Link is a new road connection to create a shortcut to some housing in Albany, much like the under construction Medallion Dr Link. In June/July last year they said a review was underway (below) and despite saying it would be completed in August last year, presumably this is the outcome of that.
strategic review of the Gills Road Link project. This involves working in collaboration with the Dairy Flat Highway Improvements project, to improve network efficiencies and other transport improvements for Albany Village. This review is expected to be completed by August 2020, and there is currently no fixed date for construction to start on the Gills Road/Oteha Valley Road link project.