Tomorrow the Auckland Transport board meet again and here are the highlights from their board reports. You can also watch the open session of the meeting live between 9am to 10:10am via this Microsoft Teams link.


Closed Agenda

Below are the most interesting items from the closed agenda.

Items for Approval
  • Great North Road (Newton) Upgrade – I assume this is to approve moving the Gt North Rd project to the next phase but I’m unsure if it’s putting it through another round of hell consultation or if it’s actually moving towards construction
  • Congestion Pricing Implementation – Given the government haven’t yet decided on how they’ll respond to the Select Committee inquiry into congestion pricing, I assume this is preparatory work looking at what AT would need to do if it was approved.
  • Auckland Parking Strategy – AT have been reviewing their parking strategy for some time now so it should be getting to the pointy end of the process. We’re looking forward to seeing what they suggest. I’m not sure if it will be consulted on
  • Minor Cycling Improvement programme – Protection of existing cycle facilities – There has been some noise for a little while now that AT plan to rapidly expand the safe cycling network by adding physical protection to existing painted bike lanes. I assume this is related to that. This map comes from another paper to the board, which also suggests year one of the three-year programme will add protection to around 17km of existing painted cycle lanes across 19 sites.

    Existing Painted Cycle Lanes

Business Report

Here are the items in the normal business report that caught my attention.

Safer Speeds

AT are currently consulting on what they call Tranche 2A of their Speed Management Programme which focuses on changes to rural roads in the Southeast and to residential streets around a number of schools. I don’t know when this report was written but they say at the time of writing, they’d received 4,035 submissions – consultation is open till 14 November.

They’re also working on Tranche 2B which they expect to go to the board in November, which is interesting as there’s no board meeting scheduled in November. Based on their stated engagement with local boards, the streets in Tranche 2B will be on Aotea Gt Barrier Island, in the Hibiscus and Bays and Howick Local Board areas and on the Awhitu Peninsula. AT also give this bit of feedback from one of the existing speed limit change implementations

Following the implementation of the Residential Speed Management (RSM) area in Manurewa’s Wordsworth quadrant, customer feedback has highlighted the benefits to safety and active mode transport. This RSM, which is the largest area treated or designed to date, was co-funded by the Manurewa Local Board who have supported AT throughout the project. Responses received by the Local Board were very positive with 82% of respondents reporting they felt there was an increase in road safety and 35% reporting they now use at least one more active mode (walking, scooter, or bicycle).

The board are also having a presentation on the emerging results from the first tranche of speed limit changes. There’s quite a bit in there so I’ll cover that in a separate post. along with a separate paper to the board specifically on pedestrian and cyclist safety.

Mt Albert Rd Intersection changes

Consultation on unimpressive changes to two intersections along Mt Albert Rd closed last month. AT say they received 322 comments about them of which 234 are related to cycling. We have to wait to find out the outcome but if it’s anything like other recent consultations, they’ll likely ignore those – and AT’s head of Stakeholder, Communities & Communication basically told the board at the last meeting they ignore weight feedback from cyclists compared to that from other sources.

Papatoetoe West LTN

Auckland Transport and other council entities were pretty quick to pull out many of the innovating streets projects in suburban areas in response to vocal opponents and not having put much effort into explaining why they were needed. One has survived though, the Papatoetoe West Low Traffic Neighbourhood.

In mid-September 2021, the Monitoring and Evaluation report and supporting data were submitted for the Papatoetoe West Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) trial delivered for Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board as part of Waka Kotahi’s Innovating Streets for People Programme. Papatoetoe West LTN was the only project in Auckland that successfully delivered ‘modal filters’ (i.e. roadblocks that allow pedestrians and cyclists, but bar vehicular movements) such that their impact in the community could be monitored in terms of vehicular speeds, volumes, travel time, pedestrian activity and perception of road user safety for active modes.

In general, the trial has been successful in increasing perceptions of road safety with the community. Feedback at community events, including a ‘coffee and chat’ and ’sausage sizzle and kōrero’, has been positive. Localised temporary speed-calming measures have been well-received.

Public feedback both before and after the installation of the trial provides rich data as the LTN trial transitions to permanent improvements through the Residential Speed Management (RSM) programme. The Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board have been very complimentary of AT staff efforts in the LTN trial and wish to continue the positive working relationship on this pathway to permanence through the RSM programme.

Eastern Busway

I’m guessing the COVID restrictions have knocked back the opening of Stage 1 of the busway. Prior to lockdown an opening date in October was being mentioned. Now they say the indicative opening date will be late November or early December.

Meanwhile, they say consultation on the rest of the busway, from Pakuranga to Botany is ready to go so it’s likely we’ll hear about it in the next few weeks.

Micromobility Risk Study

AT say:

We recently completed a high-level study to improve our understanding of safety risks for micromobility users (e.g. e-bikes, e-scooters, eskateboards and monowheels). Some of the key learnings from the research include:

  • Slippery/bumpy or uneven surfaces are the leading cause of solo micromobility crashes.
  • Crashes occurring on gradients tend to result in more severe injuries.
  • Crashes occurring on the roadway (rather than footpath) tend to be more severe.
  • Bike and e-scooter speeds below 20km/h have a lower likelihood of concussion if a collision with a pedestrian occurs, hence a lower risk of severe injury to the pedestrian.

Imagine if AT put as much effort into building safe streets for micromobility users as they do into studying the outcomes of them not doing that.

Procurement

AT always include in the report any tenders or contracts over $2 million that were awarded. One that stands out is below:

On Bus Connectivity Solution – 3-year contract (2021-2024) for improvements to the on-board passenger information services that will deliver more accurate and frequent data to AT’s real-time data platform, to improve customer experience.

They also had funding approved by Waka Kotahi for a bunch of rail related projects.

I really hope they’re not going to propose an expensive bridge for Church St East to serve two properties when an agreement with neighbouring properties and taking out a couple of kerbs and carparks could solve the problem.

Auckland Rapid Transit Plan

AT have been working on a Rapid Transit Plan for some time. At a high-level, it is about turning the lines on the map we’ve seen for some time with ATAP into a delivery strategy. We’ve covered some parts of it and how it relates to light rail here. On the overall plan, AT say they’re in the final phase which will include incorporating the outcome of the light rail process and the implications of that on the Northwest and North Shore. The final plan is due to be finished in early 2022 and consist of three core sections:

  1. An overview of rapid transit, its role in the wider transport network and land use planning, and objectives for the RTN’s development.
  2.  A network plan, outlining a vision for the RTN in 2050. This will include technical details relating to its performance against the objectives, an outline of potential options considered, and key next steps for business cases to investigate on individual corridors.
  3.  A delivery strategy, that will discuss how we can realise the plan. This will include possible land use responses, regulatory and policy changes, how we might fund the future network, and how the agencies involved can work together to achieve this vision.

Monthly Indicators

AT have previously reported on local board satisfaction which comes from the council’s Elected Members Survey. This month they have included a few new measures in their reporting, the results of which are quite telling. In particular, more than half of all councillors are not satisfied with the quality of advice they’re getting from AT. The CCO Review last year highlighted the councillors have the power to do something about that. I wonder when they exercise that power?


As mentioned earlier, there are a couple of interesting papers on speed and safety which I’ll cover separately. Given that, if you’re looked at the papers was there anything else that stood out to you?

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35 comments

  1. Re Parking Strategy (from August) “Wider public consultation on the Parking Strategy is currently scheduled for later this year in November. Broadly, the consultation will cover key existing parking policies/regulation and consult on any new parking policies/regulation.”

    1. When AT proposed reviewing the parking strategy, the Board had an opportunity to say they should instead review their progress on implementing the existing strategy.

      The Board should be aware of how poorly executed the strategy has been. Good governance would definitely encourage AT to shine the light on that failure before reviewing how the strategy itself should change.

      Disappointing lack of leadership.

      1. Definitely Heidi.

        A strategy isn’t worth the paper it is written on. The AT Parking Policy as it stands is quite a good document. But if it is not implemented it isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. Cowardice from management to stand up to the Anti Business Associations and Councillors that want to

        “make *Insert suburb name* great again keep pushing this clap trap that reduction in parking or increased parking control hurt businesses. It is just simply not true. AT needs to consult on the strategy and then just deliver. Stop re-litigating the already consulted plan FFS!

        So many of our town centers regularly hit peak time parking occupancy of 85% +, so why is there not paid parking across Auckland?

        I would like to see paid parking introduced as as standard. The AT Park App is quite good and should be able to do a lot of the heavy lifting with regards to a widespread roll out.

      2. You’re assuming they wanted to implement their policy. I suspect they write policies to shut people up, then they do something else entirely to shut other people up. It is about finding the path of least resistance.

        1. AT? Well, there’s that. But here I’m commenting on the Board. Do you think their opinion would be that it shouldn’t be implemented? I wouldn’t have attributed their lack of insistence for scrutiny in the right quarters to opinion.

        2. As long as the strategy remains a policy document the parking team who are working on changes would be more useful staying in bed for the day – at least Huntly coal wouldn’t be burnt in powering the electric jugs for morning coffee.

        3. Heidi, good point about the Board. My experience in the Takapuna area is that, despite what the Parking Strategy says, the Board has gone their own merry way. As a result Takapuna has a $30m car park building that barely pays operating costs. Inept or worse?

        4. You have to understand the basic purpose of AT. They are an organisation set up to dream up gold-plated projects who then dedicate their time to find ways to make everyone else pay for them. They have a small side business in maintaining roads and coordinating a bus system but they really exist to create large projects. They do that by making life as tough as they can for land owners and anyone who wants to develop anything. They exploit the planning system by trying to stop consents until they have shaken down applicants as much money (and delay) as they can. All the documents they write are just a tool they use to achieve their main aim.

    1. “Parking is a key source of revenue for the Auckland Council”,really how many people would believe that to be true. Simple economics will show that this is not the case. Undervalued vehicle parking is holding the council back from transforming the city as it should be. It seems to be a drug,they just cannot wean themselves off.

      1. In a consultation I have seen people arguing that park&ride with a $1 per day charge should be profitable.

        I don’t think it is common knowledge that roads and parking cost a significant amount of money.

        1. Generally people don’t understand depreciation or operating costs, and they certainly don’t understand opportunity cost.

          They thing ‘public’ land is free and once you build something you get to use it forever.

      2. An OIA shows that parking is not a great source of revenue. The figures supplied to me showed a 0.75 return on parking assets other than parking buildings.
        Your avergae 5 year old could find a better rate of return on a term deposit at Kiwi Bank. (as long as he/she has $10k, and you don’t buy a car park for that price).

    2. Adam, I had a good laugh. Consistency across Auckland amongst other things. The why do some areas have paid parking and in other areas it is free? One of the problems is if the Parking team believe what they have written is true, or has even a semblance of truth.

  2. What is the effect of Stage 1 of the Eastern Busway opening? Will there be new bus routes or just speed them up along the (fairly short) section between Panmure and Pakuranga

        1. A couple of other local bus routes to East Tamaki, Howick, & Bucklands Beach share the Panmure-Pakuranga section. However given their lower frequencies I would expect that they’d still be able to use the Eastern Busway Phase 1?

    1. Does anyone know anecdotally, or with stats, how much time that Panmure -> Pakuranga bit will save? I assume that was very heavily congested.

    1. We give AT %*&$, but they were much better plans than anything the govt has come up with! Imagine all those LRT lines through the isthmus, that would transform Auckland significantly.

      1. On the flip side, those old AT plans don’t take into account the Northern Busway reaching capacity well before 2046 (should be light rail or light metro by then, in any scenario), and probably aren’t ambitious enough with the Northwestern RTN either.

  3. It’s interesting to see they are looking at getting more EMU’s , so how many are they thinking of purchasing ? .

        1. They really need to work on the support etc and to enable permanent 6-car and even 7-car EMU sets. Permanent 6-car means you lose 2x driving cabs and the gap between so you’re gaining about half a carriage of capacity (and at lower cost due to not having those wasted driving cabs). 7-car should work with our network (which they will be working on to eventually enable 9-car.

        2. Yup, can’t see the sense in having a full 3 car fleet when half of it should be 6/7 cars that can run all day and peak hour. Even at weekends with the reduced frequencies we still want to be running 6 cars I imagine?

        3. The stabling, depot and maintenance facilities are set up for 3 car units. 6, 7 or 9 car units would be way too long to fit.

          What might be more likely is three car units that only have a driving car at one end and have a cab-free end car with more passenger space at the other, which could be run as a pair. But even then they’d be a hassle to maneuver around the yards and put together.

        4. They apparently have to build a new depot/maintenance facility for all these extra trains anyway so they might as well go ahead and build it for 9-cars.

        5. I agree that permanent 6-car sets, at least, should be pursued. Seems inefficient to have a lot of spare 3-car sets – potentially up to a third of the entire future EMU fleet – sitting around the stabling yards and depots waiting for peak times.

  4. Hopefully that last entry in the rail section ($2.2 million business case) is about removing Southern Line, Western Line level crossings or both. Both of those areas – especially the many crossings in the west – need sorting before the CRL opens, not after.

    1. The focus is on the 5 on the Southern line. The four around Takanini and Church St East.
      For the Takanini four, the priority is because they see the most train movements, both metro and lots of freight too. My understanding is the plan is to close Spartan Rd and Manuroa Rd and then Grade Separate Taka St and Walters Rd.

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