Kia ora, it’s the end of July and here’s our weekly roundup.

Central Interceptor Progress

Today, a ceremony will launch the new Tunnel Boring Machine for the Central Interceptor. Watercare’s website shows:

On Friday 30 July, our 190-metre Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) Hiwa-i-te-Rangi will be launched at our Māngere site and head north digging a supersized wastewater tunnel that will help prevent wet weather overflows and clean up central Auckland beaches. The engines will be turned on for an official ‘see you later’ ceremony, and the public will be given the chance to wave goodbye on Sunday (1 Aug). Along her 14.7km journey to Grey Lynn, 15 of our crew will be working underground at any one time. Take a listen to our Executive Programme Director Shayne Cunis speaking with Kathryn Ryan on RNZ about this exciting engineering project.

Some important points we’ve learnt about the Central Interceptor:

  • It’s not just a pipeline, it’s actually a really long skinny reservoir underground. It’ll have capacity to fill up during storm events. This will smooth out demand on the treatment plant.
  • Many other cities around the world have similar issues with legacy combined wastewater/stormwater networks. A very similar project underway at the moment is Tideway in London (they have a great YouTube channel)
  • Network separation (creating different wastewater and stormwater networks) is the long term solution to wastewater overflow problems and that is happening in parallel with a series of other projects but they’ll take longer to complete because they involve digging up a lot of residential streets in the older suburbs.
  • It’ll also enable a lot more dense urban development on the isthmus, ie exactly where the development should be. Contrast this with Wellington where developers are prevented from building higher by wastewater network restrictions.

New train station and a new transit map

Along with Puhinui Station opening for passengers on Monday (which Matt blogged about earlier this week, in case you missed it) a new AT Rapid Transit Network map’s been added. It’s a lot better than it was, but we have some ideas that would improve it further.

David Slack takes the train (and enjoys it)

In which David  Slack takes the train from Tāmaki Makaurau to Palmerston North, and after purging the Mike Hosking from his brain, mulls over Jade Kake’s piece on Stuff this week (What if we crashed the housing market on purpose?), admires the scenery, and thinks about how great catching the train is:

Amtrak viewing cars are very cool and all and they give you a magnificent picture window but the Northern Explorer, man its viewing car is a different and wilder and better beast. It’s an open carriage, with safety bars, no windows, no seats and it is VISCERAL.

Image: David Slack

Redrawing Barcelona

This is cool: a comic-book style re-imagining of Barcelona, produced by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health. The purpose of the project  is to make Barcelona healthier, greener and more sustainable by sharing information in a fun and accessible way. Creative ways of communicating how to make cities healthy and safe are only going to become more important as we start to understand the big changes ahead of us.

Source: Redrawing Barcelona

Copenhagen finds that society profits if people ride bikes

And speaking of ways of making cities safer and healthier, we like this piece at Fast Company on Copenhagen’s data-led  approach to allocating  investment in infrastructure.

When the city decides on a cycling project, it compares the cost to that of a road for cars, and it includes not only the upfront amount, but also things like the cost of road accidents to society, the impact of car pollution on health, and the cost of carbon emitted to the atmosphere. After including these factors, it comes to a rather startling calculation. One kilometer driven by car costs society about 17 cents (15 euro cents), whereas society gains 18 cents (16 euro cents) for each kilometer cycled, the paper finds. That’s because of factors like the health benefits of cycling and the avoided ill-effects of cars.

Auckland cycleways have a better Benefit-Cost-Ratio than pretty much all roads

Thanks to Thomas Coughlan at the NZ Herald, we’ve learned that some of Auckland’s cycleways have a BCR of 6.8 – that means they return $6.80 for every dollar invested. Imagine if we had a comprehensive cycling network. Auckland’s cycleways might reach the giddy returns-on-investment that Copenhagen’s achieve.

The figures were released under OIA along with other transport projects to Act transport spokesperson Simon Court (thanks, Act! Look forward to seeing your support on all future cycling investments.) Auckland’s cycleways really stood out:

The second best value-for-money came from a $2.8m investment in cycling infrastructure throughout the country, which are estimated to deliver $6.20 worth of benefits for every dollar spent.

Other Waka Kotahi investments also delivered a much higher value for money than the walking and cycling bridge. A $7.7m spend on Auckland’s buses was estimated to deliver $4.4 worth of benefits for each dollar spent.

Queen Street Network Changes feedback

This week Auckland Transport released their consultation findings on the Proposed Queen Street Network changes, which relate to the closure of the Victoria/Albert intersection for CRL works, and to the Queen Street Pilot project. The report covers two consultation periods in April and May this year.

Charts like the one below make a pretty clear case prioritising walking, cycling and public transport over cars. Wonder what AT is going to do with this mandate? Perhaps they won’t believe them, and will seek out other views? That “middle” Aucklander must be out there somewhere… (as if these results aren’t similar to Aucklanders’ clear mandate given in the RLTP feedback, the local election, almost every bit of public sentiment collected by AT…)

Source: Queen Street Network Changes Public Feedback Report

Beyond EVs – to EEs

(Electric Excavators, we mean)

Electric cars might be what’s on everyone’s mind in Aotearoa right now, but wait until we get all-electric building sites. In Oslo, a downtown construction site is running almost entirely on electricity.

As well as the obvious benefits of lower emissions and running costs, the electric construction site had social and urban benefits as well:

Using electric equipment in place of traditional diesel engines meant that everyone in the vicinity noticed a reduction in ambient noise and pollution. “We observed shops keeping their doors open towards the street, even when construction work was going on just outside on the pavement,” says Philip Mortensen, a senior adviser at the City of Oslo’s Climate Agency. “The workers also reported much better communication on site due to lower noise levels, and that as a consequence the working environment felt safer.”

And now for the weather

It’s still raining in Europe. Do images like this make you feel a little nervous about a sub-Waitematā tunnel?

But it’s time someone stood up for the utes!

Just kidding. Just a great comic from the great comic artist Sharon Murdoch.

Good ideas corner

Making changes to transport is key to reducing our emissions. Dr Kirsty Wild has a three strikingly simple suggestions:

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

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    1. I got my Ticket when they 1st came online , my question to them was there PT to the site and their answer NO but there is bicycle parking . When the CRL had theirs the PT was close by .
      For most people out there it seems to be what is out of sight they know nothing about it .
      But here is something I put together on it ;-

  1. Re: Auckland cycleways have a better Benefit-Cost-Ratio than pretty much all roads

    Given the BCR benefits of active modes like cycleways are quite holistic (e.g. improved health outcomes and safety etc) it would make so much sense for the government to just offer up more money to WK/NZTA and AT etc to just get on with any and all prospective cycleways with positive BCRs. Easy from a PR point of view too as they’re investing with great returns – sell it solely on the financial benefits which is sure to reduce the complaints from the cycleway naysayers.

    1. Exactly.
      The traditional ‘fiscal responsibility’ parties like National and NZ First can’t have a comeback against that aspect of it.

      “So you don’t want taxpayers getting the maximum possible potential return on transport investment then?” o(*^▽^*)┛

      1. Nah, safe space for bikes, scoots, and walking, should come from road taxes cos it’s only necessary for protection from drivers killing and maiming people.

        1. Maybe the cost of any road related injuries/accidents should come from the roading budget not the health budget?

        2. Yes, ma, absolutely.

          And I heard a Uni lecturer say recently that there was a deficit in transport infrastructure created during the years when “taxes were taken from motorists and weren’t used on transport infrastructure”…

          Those taxes didn’t cover the health and environmental costs of driving, either, so the bigger concern is the health and environment deficit created.

  2. Overhead some angsty conversations from AT staff on the trains today, about conditions. I am pretty sure they were having the conversation in a location and manner that people could hear.
    Hope they get some improvements, we need these people on the frontline.

    1. Zen Man,How ironic,AT upset at a transport provider/organization that has failed to deliver, l wonder if there are any mirrors in AT HQ.

      1. Bryan you have nailed it. Farcical that the AT CEO would criticise KiwiRail for not running trains on time, where almost every single bus route in the city is affected by congestion; and so buses are late, or services non existent.

        I saw this as a job pitch by Ellison. I think that he is angling for a KiwiRail directorship and along with a golden parachute from AT this would tide him over until he finds a proper job. It can’t been any fun, not to mention career limiting, to exist in a job, that year after year, you don’t even get close to meeting the only two objectives that really matter, congestion and vehicle emission reductions.

        1. Wouldn’t the proper job for him and others at AT is starting at the very bottom doing the grunt work and getting the minimum wage he has been paying all the workers ? . Or just as a toilet Cleaner .

    2. Actually we don’t need people on the frontline whose only function is to close train doors, if AT are in a budget hole getting rid of the train “managers” is an obvious way to save money.

      1. Zippo TM’s are needed , was on a service from Newmarket to Otahuhu and there a number of young idiots on board vapping and the TM persuaded them to stop by warning them at the next station they will be walking , as the vapping was setting off the smoke detectors . They did stop doing it and the rest of the passengers looked at them like what a bunch of idiots .

        So TM’s are very useful for other things besides closing doors .

      2. I dont mind the TM role, I think its pretty reasonable to have some staff member around to discourage anti social behaviour. They probably dont need to have the role of closing the doors slowly though. Better off with some job description more like Maori Wardens or security guard than a TM and a faster, more automated door closing sequence.

        The crazy staff / infra decision, is Parnell station, they have 2 staff members sitting in booths there for all hours that the station is open. Apparently purely to manually let people through the larger gates if they need to, wheelchair, pram etc. Operations that are automated in any sane station design around the world. On the rest of the list of gripes, No overbridge, takes ages to get from one side to the other, poor accessibility all around, poorly positioned to serve a decent catchment, no room reserved to expand or fix these gripes in any way.

        1. You have the same at Manurewa and one at Henderson who when I was out that way recently spend all his time on his I(diot) phone , and when I went through the gates a person jumped through behind me with out tagging and he did nothing .

        2. Caught the train there with my kids during the holidays and it was quite lovely walking up to the museum from there, shame it’s so indimidating to cross the roads through the domain though…you’d think there would be a few more pedestrian crossings!

        3. Sam it’s bonkers that the domain is still open to drive through. Cornwall park stopped through traffic and it’s a massive improvement.

        4. I am 100% in favour of stopping traffic through the Domain IF we can tear out the ridiculous speedbumps and other things that now blight the road. If there’s not going to cars on it then can we put it back to how it used to be, when it got used for hillclimbs, Targas and the Rally? The status quo really works for no one apart from rat-runners who hate their car’s lower arms.

  3. – Do treat bus and train as separate cause they are. I met many out of town people in CBD trying to find a train station for that mysterious blue line to the north. You should make distinction much clearer in my opinion
    -No, don;t add under construction stuff. It just adds to the confusion. Why would you have stuff that dont exist there? that’s silly.

  4. “Make all PT free within and between towns”
    So essentially we would repeat the Luxembourg experiment and I have not seen that the results are in on this yet.
    I would rather adopt models that have been shown to work in a significant number of cities in Europe.
    Italy has made their inter city rail enormously successful by having significant tolls on their roads. But fair. The tolls are set by the cost of building and maintaining those roads. Across the network the toll apparently averages out at about $12 per km. So Auckland to Hamilton, about $14.50. Suddenly Te Huia looks a very good proposition.
    The highest mode share cities for public transport including Vienna and Prague have achieved that by low cost monthly and yearly passes. The evidence is that citizens buy them and use them. 800k in Vienna with a population slightly larger than Auckland.
    I am one of the greatest fans of public transport and so I would rather see the implementation of something that is economically sustainable and achieves results.
    Conversely I am not seeing that the provision of free PT to certain sectors has achieved anything much in terms of greater ridership.
    Yes there does need to be radical change and the progressive implementation of more affordable monthly/annual passes seems the most proven way to achieve this.
    I think Bernard Hickey in The Spinoff has made a very important point in this debate, and that is that wealthy people will pay for the transportation of the less wealthy. Any solution will need to bring the former group along.

  5. Shout out to AT for the new “systems map” Aucklands Rapid Transit Network – and ferry services.
    This is a giant leap for personkind.
    Can our GIS savvy types map this against our population bases, both present and future – and call out our planning holes. (Howick?)
    Im really rapt that our Manukau harbour now exists, (Waiuku is a no show) and that the landforms now feature in the map – not morphed to support our trainlines.
    Next step for our southern folk is public transport and more new wharfs on the Manukau for mode-shifting our southern population from 3 car households into bus and ferry commuters. The transit map is fantastic progress.

    Louise Burnie mulched the grassy space in front of her home in Torbay and planted wildflowers and fruit trees.
    She had been tending to the berm for three months and hoped to share the fruit with her neighbourhood.
    Burnie did not realise it was against the rules until Auckland Transport issued her a warning this week.

    In a statement, Auckland Transport said berms needed to be easily accessible corridors for utility services.
    “If you want to plant in the berm you need a permit,” it said.
    “While Auckland Transport does not go searching for breaches of the berm planting guidelines, when a complaint is made, we are required to act.”

    And yet people seem to be able to park cars, boats and motorhomes on berms (making them more immediately inaccessible) and yet AT says their hands are tied? I am even more confused because our street has trees planted on the berms (and it was perhaps stupid to mention this because AT may now want to pull them out).

    I note that poor Louise could be fined $340 per day for every day that she fails to remove the plantings. If it’s a car you are fined nothing and then AT spends $70K per year coming behind and reinstating the berms.

    In a climate emergency could the planting of trees on the berm possibly be a good thing, and might AT ever consider facilitating Aucklanders to do this?

    1. There is a semi decent reason they dont want trees planted willie nillie on the berms.
      The berms main infrastructure purpose is to have services buried under them so that when they repair stuff they dont dig up the road or footpath but just a patch of grass. Easier for the contractors, cheaper, and less disruption.
      Planting trees willie nillie on the berms could be bad because if you plant a damaging species the roots could destroy the services, make it impossible to go and fix services later, or the species might be bad in general, causing allergies, or be a huge fast growing tree, not fit for an urban area.

      Planting wild flowers etc would be much less of an issue, but I guess AT don’t want to have to come back after people loose interest and have to tidy up. There is also every possibility that contractors can come in at any time and rip up the berm to do some work to the services. Over time people might loose that expectation and get upset that the garden that they’ve put time into is going to get totally destroyed.

      That said its unacceptable that they just allow people to park on berms and totally destroy the grass. Because its been so wet lately there are a couple places on my street where people have sunk deep into the dirt which will have to be fixed later. They could have done a huge amount of damage to the services buried, but they wouldn’t be punished or otherwise held responsible. And inexplicably AT seem to not want to prevent people from doing it.

      1. Jack, I completely agree with you about the services. Indiscriminate tree planting is as unhelpful as vehicles on the berms.
        Maybe AT/AC should be taking the odd car park space, or the even one, for planting roadside trees?

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