It’s been two weeks since our last weekly roundup as we thought it was important to cover the release of the light rail information last week. Here’s our roundup of interesting thoughts, newsy items and good reads for the week.
In case you missed it – the last two weeks in Greater Auckland
Here’s some of the posts you may have missed since the last roundup.
- Tuesday last Week Heidi wrote about reallocating street space.
- Wednesday last week Matt covered the reports from the most recent Auckland Transport board meeting.
- Thursday last week Matt wrote about how secrecy is damaging transport outcomes.
- Friday last week Matt wrote about the latest plans for light rail.
- On Monday Heidi wrote about making our arterials more liveable.
- Tuesday’s post Matt wrote about the latest transport plans for Wellington
- On Wednesday Matt wrote about how we can get a better outcome from light rail.
- Yesterday we published a guest post by Ed Clayton about creating green density with Ecological Build Zones
City Rail Link Progress Videos
The City Rail Link team have uploaded their latest drone videos for the Mt Eden and Aotea sites. It’s also interesting to think about the scale of this when we have Auckland Light Rail suggesting a tunnelled option will less disruption than a surface option.
At the northern end of Aotea Station they’re up to the point of breaking through to the tunnels they built a few years ago from Britomart as far as about Wyndham St
COVID Impact Update
If you’ve been wondering what’s happening to public transport ridership during lockdown, here’s the latest update. Last week Ridership passed 50,000 trips a day for the first time since this lockdown began and is about 14% of what it was in the same week in 2019. On the positive side it is the highest usage has been during a Level 3 lockdown.
Victoria St Linear Park and Wellesley St Bus Improvements consultation
This is one we’ve been meaning to post about but keeps slipping by with so many other important things to discuss. The Council are consulting on the design for the Te Hā Noa Victoria St Linear Park and Wellesley St bus improvements and the consultation is open till Tuesday 9 November. These projects are part of the Midtown Regeneration project with the aim to have them done in time for the opening of the City Rail Link. Here’s a quick overview and our thoughts:
Te Hā Noa Victoria St Linear Park
This is just for the first stage of the Linear Park between Albert St and Kitchener St. The design is for just a single traffic lane in each direction alongside a protected bi-directional bike lane with most of the rest of the space. to be made more people focused.
The things that immediately stand out are
- The design needs to take into account the changes proposed for Queen St. The corners on the queen St intersection should also be squared up more given there should not be vehicles turning on to it.
- The High/Lorne St intersection should also be a raised table just like the Elliott St intersection.
- The City Centre Master Plan suggests a new entrance to the Albert Park tunnels could be created west of Kitchener St. The design needs to ensure this can be achieved in the future – there is a space that looks like it may be for this.
The plan is to make the section of Wellesley St between Albert St and Queen St a transit mall with wider footpaths and six bus stops on each side. This will also tie into the Aotea Station. Though like the plan for Queen St, they’re also considering allowing access for essential vehicles and local access – it would certainly be good to get cruising cars out of Elliot St.
This change has been a long time coming, first signalled many year ago now so it’s good it’s finally happening. It appears this will have a very similar look to the Lower Albert St Interchange and it appears that like that, this will have fairly basic bus shelters. Both of these ‘stations’ need something that better reflects their importance as the busiest bus interchanges in the city.
As mentioned, consultation for these close on Tuesday.
More housing at scale
Developers are really starting to get it.
Shane and Anna Brearley of NZ Living and default KiwiSaver manager Simplicity have formed a new business to develop Auckland, Tauranga and Wellington build to rent places.
Simplicity members will get first dibs on renting those new homes.
“From 2022 to 2032, we plan to build 10,000 homes. That’s achievable,” said Shane Brearley, estimating the $5b finished value based on today’s numbers.
“These homes will be built in Auckland for the first three years, then Tauranga and Wellington,” he said naming Northcote, Mt Roskill, Ōwairaka/Mt Albert, Point England, Mt Wellington, Tāmaki and Ellerslie as target suburbs.
“We’ll follow the train lines – wherever there are good public transport corridors,” he said of site choice on the isthmus.
Street change success
Here’s a great story from Porirua about the success of an innovating streets project.
Big crunches. That’s what Paula MacEwan says she used to hear a lot of on her street.
Cars on Fantame St in Porirua’s Cannons Creek would often back out from angle parking near the shops and crash into parked cars. Some drivers would hoon down the road.
Those are now just memories for the people who live and work and study on Fantame St. MacEwan’s neighbour, Lui Sitama Tupuola, said since the changes, he had not heard or seen an accident.
And some good changes from Whanganui
In Whanganui today agreeing the plan to run buses every 20min along spine route. A few key points on the route include pop up street spaces converting car parks into bike racks and bus stops. pic.twitter.com/iYsszJGKTk
— Sam Ferguson (@waitarere_green) November 3, 2021
There’s been a bit of debate and concern about how we fund transport recently for two things.
- The government have made funding commitments to Auckland and Wellington through the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) and Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) processes, however, Waka Kotahi have effectively been ignoring those agreements.
- Waka Kotahi have been pushing for more funding and/or a change in funding streams and pushing the concern about existing funding sources drying up as fuel use falls.
In an article this week Transport Minister Michael Wood addressed this
“We are committed to our share of both ATAP and LGWM to help unlock our cities,” Wood said.
Wood also weighed in on the question of Waka Kotahi’s funding. Currently, the agency gets about $4 billion a year to spend, mainly from fuel excise duty and road user charges.
Waka Kotahi thinks that its funding is on shaky ground as fewer people drive and the cost of infrastructure escalates beyond the ability of Waka Kotahi to pay for it.
It thinks this funding cliff is fairly imminent, and this year asked for an urgent review of its funding.
But Waka Kotahi is not the only game in town. The Ministry of Transport has also been keeping an eye on the sustainability of fuel tax revenues since the last Government, and it has been planning for their eventual demise.
Interestingly, there’s a strong disagreement between the Ministry of Transport and Waka Kotahi about precisely when the fuel tax system becomes unsustainable.
Who is correct, Waka Kotahi or the Ministry of Transport?
Sale St Placemaking
This is neat for Sale St
The week in flooding
A state of emergency was declared in Gisborne and the Tairāwhiti region yesterday afternoon following wild weather that saw rivers rise and a number of flash floods. Residents have been advised to prepare to evacuate as a month’s worth of rain has fallen in the space of a day, affecting roads, sewerage and power. While there has been a strong locally-led civil defence response and the message has been to stay home, it didn’t stop some folks indulging in water sports:
The week in parking
Interested in the buying the downtown Carpark site? The council voted to sell it a few months ago and now it’s on the market with expressions of interest closing at the end of the month.
Elsewhere in the central city, after weeks of letting drivers dominate all our public spaces, Auckland Transport have finally started to show they can manage parking.
For some reason the Council and Auckland Transport seem to think protecting our public spaces is a difficult thing. All they really need is a few of these
Unfortunately this is often necessary to keep cars out of pedestrian/bike zones pic.twitter.com/s3AyWcv8JZ
— 21st Century City (@urbanthoughts11) October 27, 2021
Also in bollard news…
Locals in Manly are fighting both for and against bollards to protect the beach from cars damaging the berm. Auckland Council’s plans to install 300 bollards on the Manly beachfront has cause a flurry of reaction including several petitions, heated debate on social media, a standoff with contractors and a potential U-turn by council.
The bollards are proposed to protect the berm and exposed tree roots, and avoid coastal erosion. The work is considered urgent as part of routine work, even though it effectively removes some car parking along the beachfront. While better engagement with the community could have facilitated a constructive dialogue on the matter and avoided such a strong reaction at this point, it looks like it will happen now in any case. Hopefully a good outcome will be reached and the proposal won’t be shelved all together.
Meanwhile in Point Chev these have gone in:
— Jolisa Gracewood (@nzdodo) December 7, 2020
Younger people are opting for low carbon travel
Research from the European Travel Commission has found that Generation Z and Millennials are more interested than Generation X and Boomers to consider sustainable travel options. We wonder if we’ll see more cycling tourism in the future to cater to this inclination to go green.
Councillors on Housing and Parking
You may have seen some reporting yesterday about the discussion at the Council’s latest Planning Committee on their response to the government’s housing plans and AT parking strategy. We’ll be looking to cover both of these next week.