Tēnā koutou all – thanks for sticking with us through week… @%^ or whatever, I believe it’s day 66 of lockdown in Tāmaki. Time is meaningless, and yet – it was an eventful week! Hope you’re all doing OK.

The week in Greater Auckland

We had some fantastic posts this week. If you missed them, you’ve got extra time this weekend to catch up (it’s Labour Day on Monday! I keep forgetting.)

  • On Monday, Heidi wrote about the upcoming Entrust election and what it might mean for our streets.
  • Tuesday’s post, by Matt, examines a number of ways to improve the efficiency of and access to our trains.
  • On Wednesday Scott wrote about Central Government’s surprise new housing density rules.
  • Yesterday we posted the job ad for the new Chair of the Waka Kōtahi Board! JK, we posted Jolisa’s wonderful vision of what the ad really should look like.

Wai Horotiu Queen Street consultation closes today

If you’re a fast walker and you want to support the latest proposed design for the Queen Street Valley upgrade, get in with your feedback today! Likewise if you’re a person on a bike and you’re a bit freaked out at the idea of having to share space with ‘fast walkers’, whatever they may be. Vague Game of Thrones images are surfacing…

Head over to AT’s website here to have your say.

And if you want a refresh on the project and our take on it, have a read of Matt’s post published in September when the design came out.

And also – city centre buses

Another consultation closes this weekend. You’ve got until Sunday to provide feedback on the proposed City Centre Bus Plan.

The proposed City Centre Bus Plan sets out the approach Auckland Transport aims to take in planning for buses in Auckland’s city centre to help deliver the outcomes of the City Centre Masterplan (CCMP).

Again, we recommend re-reading Matt’s post on this, published back in July.

Rail network closure this weekend

FYI for those of you planning on getting around the city by public transport this weekend:

Dame Whina Cooper arrives at Karangahape Rd

She made it! The. CRL Tunnel Boring Machine broke through to the Karangahape Station construction site this week. The facebook post has a cute little FAQ:

How far is the TBM cutter head poking out of the opening?

How much of the TBM is on the other side of the wall?
130m approx

What will it do next?

Transfer from the concrete block onto rails to continue sliding from one side of the cavern to the other. Full inspection of the cutterhead will take place as we transfer and replacement of cutting tools will be carried out as necessary.

At least someone’s going somewhere?

Dame Whina Cooper breaks through. From the CRL facebook page.

New South Island Locomotives

Last week Kiwirail announced they were buying 57 brand new locomotives from Swiss manufacturer Stadler to replace their locomotive fleet in the South Island which have an average age of 47 years, 17 years longer than their economic life.

Kiwirail should see if they can add to the order a few of Stadler’s FLIRT trains. As well as being able to operate under wires, these can also come in configurations with batteries and/or diesel generators. They would be great for some of our longer distance routes like Te Huia from Hamilton to Auckland, the Northern Express from Auckland to Wellington, the Capital Connection from Palmerston North to Wellington and the Wairarapa Line from Masterton to Wellington

Invercargill – Aotearoa’s next medium density paradise?

The Government’s announcement of a new nationwide medium-density housing provision had media heads, local government planners and NIMBYs alike reeling all over the motu this week. But we suspect one anti-sprawl Invercargill Councillor will be celebrating. As someone who doesn’t want a section, I’m cheering Cr Pottinger on from my apartment balcony!

“We don’t want to be sprawling, the city doesn’t want to be expanding. Yet the plan is quite restrictive in the size of the section. Are we going to look at that? Are we going to allow for more dwellings for people who don’t want sections?”

AT comes right on Mission Bay

Auckland Transport announced this week they’re doing the thinkable and will build an on-road separated cycleway in Mission Bay instead of a shared path.

Now they just need to continue that design all along Tamaki Dr.

Start planning to cash in your clunker

Heck, my car’s become so useless since I got an ebike that I’d cash it in just for the convenience of not having to pay rego! An article on Driven (not a site we’d usually link to) flags a potential ‘cash for clunkers’ scheme could be coming to NZ to encourage the shift to EVs.

The “vehicle scrappage scheme” proposes the introduction of income-tiered EV rebates for New Zealanders who decide to give up their ICE car, coupled with financial support for the installation of home EV charging.

And this is tantalising – sounds like the much hoped for Ebike rebate could be coming our way.

It could also offer financial incentives for people to opt for low-emission alternatives, such as bicycles, rather than replacing their vehicles, the NZ government said in the long-awaited draft of its Emissions Reduction Plan.

How can EVs be better for people on streets?

While we know electric vehicles are by no means the full answer to decarbonising our transport, they definitely do have a part to play. This article at Nature explores how EVs can be designed to maximise their benefit and help make our streets safer for all. Making EVs smaller and lighter will reduce the energy they consume, and make them less dangerous to other road users. Proposals include taxing EVs by weight –

Setting registration charges on the basis of vehicle weight can discourage heavy vehicles and encourage light ones. Collecting weight-based charges also addresses another looming problem for governments — lost revenue from forgone petrol and diesel taxes as more electric vehicles hit the roads.

And compelling arguments for shrinking batteries –

Most consumers buy cars on the basis of reach because they worry about losing power or being unable to recharge on a long trip. Yet, most car journeys are short — to the shops or school. In the United States, for example, on average, drivers travel 56 kilometres per day, far short of the maximum range for electric vehicles.

But ultimately, it’s becoming increasingly obvious to everyone that the answer to safety in streets is simple: fewer cars.

Reducing the distance driven can help in meeting climate targets as electric and, eventually, automated vehicles become widely available10. Policies should ensure that alternatives such as walking, biking and public transport are safer, more convenient, accessible, affordable and reliable.

The rise of the gadgetbahn

This piece on Medium is a deep-in-the-details analysis of many of the issues we have with ‘innovations’ like autonomous vehicles and trackless trams (AKA long, bendy buses). In Cambridgeshire in the UK, they’re looking at building a tunnelled bus system called the Cambridge Autonomous Metro.

As I’ve heard it neatly put, “nodes before modes” — in other words, understand what a transport system needs to do and then pick an appropriate type of system that fits. Not the other way around.

Unfortunately, the CAM proposals typify the opposite approach.

Even the name itself is all about the technological whizzgiggery rather than describing the transport network independent of how it moves people about. But this is only the tip of the iceberg.

The Tesla ‘hyperloop’ tunnel is a classic gadgetbahn

The week in flooding

We optimistically thought we might be able to do without this section for a while, but unfortunately last week was just a brief hiatus. While it’s shocking to see flash floods rip through picturesque European holiday destinations and world-famous megacities, it’s all the more horrifying and tragic to see climate change’s effects unleashed on poverty-stricken communities without the resilience or wealth to bounce back.

The New York Times reports on deadly and out-of-season flooding in India and Nepal this week, where the monsoon season is refusing to end well into the Northern Hemisphere autumn. It’s a stark reminder of the effects of climate change on the places where people are far more vulnerable than us.

Low traffic neighbourhoods are reviving neighbourhood shopping centres in London

We’re loving all the LTN news out of certain boroughs of London this year. With simple traffic filters and low-cost bike lanes, huge progress has been made to make streets and local centres more people-friendly, and residents are seeing the benefits.

Let’s go red

Should we start a petition? Maybe scoria-red bike lanes would send them flowing like lava all over Auckland…


Multi-modal bingo

There’s a train, in fact a ‘cog railway’ in Stuttgart, that has a bicycle wheelbarrow attached to the front of it. Head to twitter to watch a video of it shunting a barrow-load of bikes uphill.

The Stuttgart ‘Zacke’, via Twitter user Taras Grescoe

Rhetorical question

No need to answer,  just something to think about.

From the Queen Street Archives

I covet this kid’s stylish bike. And check out the leather satchel casually perched on the rear carrier.

How would these rangatahi fare in the fast walker lane? Remember to submit, today!


Have a lovely long weekend, and see you next week!

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  1. I always forget to email the admin, but I have a series of LGOIMA requests showing plans for Transit Lanes on Te Atatu Road, with public consultation starting within 4-8 weeks. Would this be interesting to people?

  2. There is lots of good little nuggets this week.
    The one I’m most excited about is KIwiRail actually buying trains from a quality manufacturer.
    I really do hope that the FLIRT trains are purchased as they are well suited to run beyond the wires. The trains really need to be tri-mode for 25kv AC, 1500DC and Battery for beyond the wires. The current battery technology looks doable for the current gaps between the wire between Auckland and Wellington and getting to / from Masterton. However, this should not be used as an excuse to fully wire the network.
    The biggest benefit of the FLIRT trains is that we could make the system fully accessible by standardizing all the rail platforms height to 750mm to match the train floor heights.

    1. There must be some long sections where it would be very cheap to add wires (no tunnels, bridges, etc). And doing the hilly sections would significantly decrease battery drain.

    2. Can any battery EMUs go the distance between Pukekohe and Hamilton? Must be only 80 or so. And once we’ve got that electrified, then use the batteries between Hamilton and Tauranga?

    3. You would think once we can get batteries aboard locomotives and multiple units all sorts of possibility open up. JimboJones suggestion of only wiring up the easy to do bits sounds good too.

    4. This is pretty much what Greater Wellington Regional Council is proposing for the new Wairarapa and Capital Connection rolling stock, but also with potential for 25KV operation on the NIMT to Palmerston Nth in future.

        1. What the KiwiRail proposal demonstrates is a lack of human centric thinking. They have though about the technical needs not the needs of users of the trains.
          It is criteria to enable all people to be able the train unassisted. That means having level boarding and level floors with the trains. To achieve this with NZ loading gauge, you need to minimize the amount of stuff you hang under the floor of the train.
          I also note the classic Owenian description for the Diesel engine as CI.

    5. Could the overhead cope with the extra power drain to both run the train and charge the batteries at the same time. I am thinking about the voltage sag when a large amounts of power is being drawn during acceleration or hill climbing. If the voltage goes to low then the battery will not charge in fact it will discharge and help run the train. And then there is braking regeneration presumably this will charge the battery and boost voltage on the overhead as well. I suppose it evens out but I can imagine a train sitting at Pukekohe under the wire waiting to get enough charge before it can head to Hamilton on batteries alone. Range anxiety for trains. Still its being done overseas.

      1. Battery technology has been improving at very fast rate, as range of vehicles and buses have been increasing.
        The article on BEMU suggest that the gaps in the wires under the rail line from Auckland to Wellington are not too far for batteries and their is no need for range anxiety. There would need to a top up facility at Masterton on the Wairapapa line, which can be done in ten minutes.
        This is less time than what it would turn around a train.


        As stated in previous posts we should still be filling in the gaps under the wires between Auckland and Wellington, and extending the wires through to Tauranga for the freight network. The technology available now indicates that BEMU are viable for the passenger services in the North Island we should be improving in the next ten years.

      2. Under the 25kv system no issue for BEMU. It’s really only freight locos hauling a big load that might have an issue. That said over flattish terrain shouldn’t be an issue with reduced load needed.

        1. I heard somewhere that two EF locos can drop the 25,000 volts down to 19,000 volts. The further away from the sub station the worse it gets in fact they have auto transformers along the line to boost voltage.

  3. Any idea if the council are going to finally upgrade Dominion Road? It is in a terrible state. The council obviously don’t care about the environmental and cost implications of upgrading something before it is ripped out for light rail, so why not at least redo the footpaths and maybe add some cycle infrastructure?

    1. It would seem to be rather pointless to upgrade Dominion Road at this stage. If they do go ahead and put Light Rail of some form down Dominion, they will be having to redo everything from wall to wall, – diverting all the services, and therefore digging up all the connections, for water, sewerage, electricity and data – the whole damn lot. They’ve probably been helpfully slung down the middle of the road – and will need to be shifted to outside of the tracks – which will involve new manholes, new invert levels, brand new pipes, etc etc. The very last actions before they turn the trains on, will be the relaying of the footpaths, complete with fancy new planters and endless bollards.

      1. Unless the roads have been extensively changed, it is possible the services are already at the sides due to the tramlines that previously ran there. If so it would make things easier than expected with any luck.

        1. There’s seldom any luck involved with this sort of thing. Having been assured that the Trams were gone forever, that left the centre of the road as clear virgin space for the installation of all new technologies invented since the 1950s. Its a firm bet that most new installations within the last 70 years will have taken the centre route. Sadly.

  4. Sanity has prevailed in Cambridge as it looks like the daft gadetbahn bendy-boi bus tunnel plan has been dropped. Fantasy costings, not cheaper than light rail, and certainly not better.

  5. Invercargill like all provincial towns was unaffected by the govt announcement on medium density residential. Massive oversight to not include Queenstown, Nelson, Hawkes Bay, and other markets with unaffordable housing.

    1. Like the introduction of bike lanes, (where something was better than nothing, but some of those first generation efforts now need to be replaced or upgraded), introduction of the changes we’d like to see for urban form need to be done in a staged way.

      The outcry if all of the things for metro environments were applied to any council area would be dramatic and probably counterproductive. Once people start visiting areas where the topologies are used and see it done well, I expect the practice will spread.

      1. Perhaps, but – not specifically talking to either density or bike infrastructure improvements – we sometimes fool ourselves that we know how to stage the process. Evidence shows incremental improvements can work, and can prepare societies for bigger changes to come. It also shows incremental improvements can be undermined and reversed because insufficient people see the benefits quickly enough.

        The sooner we can move from trying to demonstrate with token efforts to demonstrating whenever there’s a disruption of any change, plus demonstrating through widescale systems change, the faster we’ll get progress. On all sorts of issues.

    2. Yes, which is a shame in some ways. But perhaps the braver and more forward-looking councils spot the opportunity to learn from the Tier 1 cities, and integrate the best ideas into their district plans?

    3. Agree, instead of ‘Tier 1’ cities, it should’ve applied to any ‘Large Urban Area’, which StatsNZ defines as any city with a population over 30,000. Better to stop sprawl before it starts.

      1. Interesting, but I’m not entirely sure that it is right. Cities like Invercargill and Napier currently have close to Zero urban housing – they have shops in the centre, where nobody lives, and then they have suburbs. There’s no limit on their expansion, so they just keep on going out. Napier has more than doubled in size in my lifetime, yet the population has not.

        I think that for Tier 2 cities, perhaps you need both a carrot and a stick. The double your density scheme is the carrot, presumably, but what is the stick?

        1. No sprawl, for biodiversity and urban form reasons, until a certain density is reached? There’s plenty of hollowing out of town centres that is only happening because sprawl has been allowed.

        2. Palmy has a (very) small amount of inner city apartments but is ripe for more, I have always thought. Around there is the main shopping area (Plaza), a street with a tonne of eating options (Broadway) plus cafes and the Library (George St). It really could all work together very well.

          Some of the commercial stuff framing The Square could be repurposed. From there the 4 main roads heading out offer buses and cycle lanes which get to a lot of the city, including the University.

        3. Whangarei, too. And even smaller towns have empty shops and rundown inner suburbs while roads progress into farmland. It’s silly. We could be making great, walkable towns and small cities with good lifestyle options.

        4. I particularly mention Palmy because of the student market.

          Surely compact and new apartments and townhouses are better than old decrepit houses.

        5. But so my question is going to be: what is it that is going to make “compact and new apartments and townhouses better than old decrepit houses”? Old houses in Palmy are not necessarily decrepit – they may be fine. But what are the drivers to ensure that new townhouses are better? We need some means to try to ensure quality. Meeting the requirements of the NZ Building Code does not guarantee any form of quality – it is a minimum standard, one of the lowest levels of quality in the developed world. We need enforcement, and enforcement to reach better standards.

  6. The bike lanes absolutely should be red. Nationwide even. Why they chose green I have no idea.

    The red can be dye actually added to the asphalt and lasts decades. Rather than some flakey epoxy or whatever it is, that needs constant maintenance and always look ratty, except the day it got put in.
    You can do other colours by adding dye, but you also have to have special asphalt which is more expensive. Red is apparently a strong enough colour that it can be added to normal asphalt.

    I reckon the council also needs to buy a mini asphalt laying machine, and rent (even subsidised) it out to the contractors who are building the cycleways. They must be laying it manually or something, or not using the right gear. And it shows.

        1. I was actually meaning this one… you may have heard of it?

          My theory on why we chose Green not Red – is that many of the staff on the project are ex-UK and in the UK (well, London at least) they have “Red Routes” which are lanes painted red indicating bus priority at all times – double red lines painted on, or the entire path in red. Plus, green, obviously, denotes greener methods of personal transport (although I think in London the cycle super-highways are light blue?). Red means danger to many – perhaps not a good omen for a cycle lane.

        2. My mistake.

          Perhaps red could mean danger for cars! Get off or get a ticket.

          My reasoning is almost all engineering practicalities for the long term. In the short term they would probably even stick with the surface paints. But eventually we could have those sweet sweet smooth red asphalt pathways.
          I would agree with the assessment that green is for ‘green’. Seems likely.
          That’s a great thought, separating the bus and bike surface colours would be a good move.

          By ‘staff on the project’ what project do you mean? Lightpath? Or the project of designating colours / standards for things?

      1. Red is appropriate, given the amount of blood cyclists have shed over the years. Added some of my own this week, the person who drove me to A &E,and the Dr ,both recounted similar misfortunes. It got me thinking ,cyclists have an expectation, that they will eventually get taken out,and the war stories are a badge of honor. I guess you have to have that fatalistic attitude, to keep cycling in the current environment .
        AT informed,was tempted to add ACC form ,where they asked for supporting evidence,temporarily offline,just like Arnie “I,ll be back”

  7. How are income-tiered EV rebates going to work? Does this mean I get my student daughter with no income to claim a maximum rebate? I don’t like the sound of this.
    I’d prefer if there were larger rebates for used and cheaper EV’s, and smaller rebates for expensive luxury EV’s.
    While I’m sure the new spanish built locomotives for the south island will be very good, I am wondering what has happened with the diesel locos that were purchased for replacing the NIMT electric locos?
    Mission bay cycleway looks good, and it resembles the arrangement closer to the city. Construction of the network is so slow, still waiting for ground to be broken for NW cycleway, Taukau St to Central Rd.

    1. On EV rebates, I’m not sure how this is going to work, either. Will it require the whole household to be EV-free? How do we ensure the scheme doesn’t result in our investing yet further to keep our car dependence? How do we make sure we’re not excluding people in need of financial assistance for travelling sustainably – who’d prefer to shift modes instead? Or those who can’t drive?

      What I do know is that in progressive countries, scrappage schemes can’t be used towards a personally owned ev, but for public transport or e-bikes. In Ghent, for example, the incentive was €500 that could be used towards a PT monthly/annual pass, e bike, e bike or ev share subscription, or towards setting up an ev share between a number of families.

      Adding e-bikes to the scheme will be a step forward but the government needed to look more widely at the options, and at what the environmental, system, and equity implications are.

      1. Heidi and Anthony you ask some very valid questions. How will the world cope if we change every ICE car for an EV? Currently the auto industry cannot build enough cars because they cannot get semi conductors, a problem that will last into 2022. And where are all the other materials going to come from, seabed mining. Do we really want to advance the demise of our oceans? And where we will source the plastics from, fracking?
        Despite feebates around the world the uptake of EVs is poor because comparatively they are so damn expensive. And even where they are the same price many still buy ICE vehicles, e.g. Norway.
        Heidi, you are right that the answer is sustainable transport. Eventually Kiwis will come to the realisation that a car dependant transport system is unsustainable. Unfortunately at the moment we are stuck in an illogical economic response where we are still investing heavily in roads and the status quo, an infrastructure that will be less important to our future.

    2. As far as I’m aware some of the diesel locos (DL class) that were meant to replace the electrics on the Main Trunk are actually being used there. Diesels and electrics work alongside each other on the North Island Main Trunk. The new diesels have also replaced some older diesel locomotives in the North Island. Indeed, KiwiRail ordered 10 more of them just for the North Island, so much are they need of locos there.

  8. It’s nice to see the TBM arriving at K’rd what with the shutdown they have done well . I posted this the other day which shows the spoil being remove from the 3 entry points , plus the TBM’s Breakthough and in the comments section I have posted time links for the different sections ;-

    1. David L – I hate to be a party-pooper, but your videos are virtually unwatchable. So full of camera shake ! Please, for the love of God, invest in a tripod and get some better quality footage. Sorry to be so rude, but it needs to be said….

      1. Guy M , I do have a tripod but some of the places I’m filming from a private car parks and places that are public walk ways and both are places were you can get told off if you hang around to long .

  9. “Should we start a petition? Maybe scoria-red bike lanes would send them flowing like lava all over Auckland…”
    Hell no. Waka Kotahi’s orange dots and blue stripes had a section of Takapuna apoplectic with rage.
    Tragically, just the week that some of the temporary street calming was removed from Huron St, because of the protests, a pedestrian was run over by a car two streets over. Safety measures or accidents. It doesn’t seem a hard choice.

    1. Remember last year when AT wanted to change things in St Heliers? And that involved the loss of a couple of car parks. Apparently every car park resulted in $20k of business every week (or some ridiculous figure) and so it couldn’t happen. The situation apparently was so volatile that AT’s CEO was afaid to visit.

      But bizarrely in 2021 the local business owners want to repurpose not just the car parks, but everything.

      Isn’t it amazing how the politics of self interest work?
      My first question would be, what are you going to agree to in return?

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