Kia ora koutou, happy friday in ‘alert level 3, step 2’ here in Tāmaki. Here’s our roundup for the week. Apologies for the late post this morning, we had IT issues.


The week in Greater Auckland

  • Monday’s post, by Matt, looked at AT’s parking strategy.
  • On Tuesday we had a guest post by Michael Wood, the minister of transport, telling the story of light rail.
  • On Wednesday Scott wrote about Auckland Council’s Planning Committee’s perspectives on the new Medium Density Residential Standards.
  • Yesterday Matt wrote about Kiwirails plans to upgrade and electrify the line between Papakura and Pukekohe next year.

Speed Limit changes consultation closes Sunday

Auckland Transport’s consultation on their latest round of speed limit changes closes on Sunday. The changes this time include a bunch of streets around schools. You can read our post on the changes here.


CRL progress turns towards Aotea

Dame Whina Cooper has completed the Mt Eden to Karangahape drive, and started on the second leg of her 4-stage Journey.

Dame Whina Cooper, City Rail Link’s (CRL) Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM), has started the second leg of its four-stage journey below Auckland streets for the country’s largest transport infrastructure project.

The TBM’s 785-metre-long drive from Karangahape Station to Aotea Station in the heart of Auckland’s midtown is planned to finish early in the new year.


Helping businesses to use space in cities differently

While it looks like out friends in Pōneke might be getting special licenses for outdoor dining, or ‘streateries’, we’re yet to hear about a similar initiative in Auckland. Wellington’s support package is specifically designed to support businesses that have suffered due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Wellington Mayor Andy Foster says “the package includes free short-term pavement leases, special license fees held to reschedule a cancelled event, and potentially opening outdoor areas such as car parks, wide footpaths, and other parts of the city to facilitate outdoor dining.

Outdoor dining is set to expand into parking spaces in Wellington.

And across the ditch in Melbourne, the Victorian Government is putting in place a large package for councils to use to support businesses establish outdoor trading. The $54.5m package is called the ‘Outdoor Economy Package’, and –

It includes a $40 million COVIDSafe Outdoor Activation Fund to help councils transform more outdoor areas and $14.5m of grants worth $2000 each for businesses, community organisations, not-for-profits and trader associations who spend at least that much supporting outdoor entertainment.

The package is supported by research from RMIT and Monash University that shows the disporpotionate amount of street space taken up by private vehicles.

Research from RMIT and Monash University about use of street space

Progress on the new Mangere Bridge

The last bridge beam of the old Mangere Bridge has been removed, and construction of the new landmark bridge is about to begin. This article on Waka Kōtahi’s website has a fascinating history of the crossing.

For nearly 150 years there’s been a bridge over the Manukau Harbour, but legend has it that the very first crossing was actually a set of stepping stones and at low tide, local iwi used these stones to cross on foot between Māngere and Onehunga.

Render of the proposed new Mangere Bridge, from Waka Kōtahi.

Get over it (by bike)

Here’s a longer weekend watch for you if the forecasted rain arrives. Bike Auckland are featured in this panel discussion about ‘bikes, bridges and simple solutions to climate change’. It includes a discussion of options for getting over the Harbour Bridge by bike.


Streets for life

For a much shorter watch, this cool animation explores the ways dangerous urban environments can be transformed to become safe for all.


A week in low emissions vehicles

A couple of pieces of great news this week on the low emission vehicle front.

E-Buses

Auckland Transport announced a big purchase of electric buses

Australasia’s biggest electric bus order has been announced, in a partnership between Auckland Transport and NZ Bus.

This will see a further 152 battery electric buses (BEVs) on Auckland’s roads and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the AT Metro bus fleet by an estimated 11 per cent per year– which is almost 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.*

These BEVs will replace around 12 per cent of the diesel bus fleet in Tāmaki Makaurau, in alignment with AT’s Low Emission Bus Roadmap 2020 (LEBR).

The additional BEVs will significantly boost the number of zero emission buses operating on AT bus services across Auckland with NZ Bus providing services in the city centre and across some of the city’s most congested urban areas.

Auckland currently has just over 30 e-buses so this is a bit increase. They’ll start arriving from October next year and the first route to get these new buses will be the TamakiLink. In total it will take four years to get them all.

Cargo Bike Couriers

Urgent Couriers are replacing their city fleet of cars with electric cargo bikes and another great example of the need to build for the city you want, not what you have.

Urgent Couriers has imported five purpose-built Urban Arrow electric cargo bikes from the Netherlands to service clients in Auckland’s City Centre and inner-city suburbs. The aluminium-framed bikes have a 250-watt motor and can carry a maximum load of 125kg in a lockable waterproof cargo box on the front of the bike.

Urgent Couriers managing director Steve Bonnici says the electric cargo bikes have been proven in markets around the world, but he believes they will be the first of their type to operate in New Zealand and he hopes courier companies in other cities around the country will follow suit. The bikes will service an area extending to Herne Bay, Grey Lynn, Kingsland, Morningside, Mt Eden, Newmarket and Parnell.

“This will provide faster deliveries as the bikes will be able to use the cycle lanes and not be constrained by traffic. It will reduce road congestion and it’s also great news for the environment.”

…..

Mr Bonnici said several factors meant the time was right for the introduction of the cargo bikes, including the availability of proven cargo bike technology, changes to roads and parking spaces in inner city Auckland that give bikes an advantage over cars and the changing nature of courier deliveries from documents to bulkier parcels or fragile items like cakes.

E-trucks

Electricity will be powering more city deliveries too with a trial of five 100% electric trucks.

Auckland Transport (AT) welcomes New Zealand’s first trial of 100 per cent electric trucks.

The Auckland Inner City Zero Emissions Area (ZEA) Trial follows the arrival of the first FUSO eCanter 100 per cent electric trucks – five of which are being used by trial participants: Mainfreight, Bidfood, Toll Global Express, Owens Transport and Vector OnGas.

The one-year trial will see the integration of the fully-electric trucks into New Zealand’s commercial fleet to deliver goods in the inner city.


Medium density, maximum potential

A lot of the public discourse about medium density housing is full of fear regarding bad design outcomes, poor building quality and adverse visual effects on urban form. We’d argue with all of that, and wish that more attention was paid to the many good examples of medium density homes, right here in Auckland. This view from Grey Lynn’s CoHaus shows how compact, medium density homes have social and community benefits too.


Greater Auckland makes the news

We’ve appeared in the news a couple of times this week. Matt was quoted in a Newsroom article about New Zealand’s struggle to reduce emissions from transport.

Matt Lowry, writing in Greater Auckland, notes that “30-40 percent of Auckland’s growth is expected to occur in ‘greenfield’ areas” in coming years. That means hundreds of hectares of Drury-type developments, serviced by relentless highway building funded by Waka Kotahi, and the promise of unacceptable ongoing emissions.

And we heard from Matt again in this piece on Stuff about the looming challenge of getting Aucklanders out of the city at Christmas.

Editor of Auckland transport blog Greater Auckland Matt Lowrie is one of the Kiwis caught up in the dilemma of whether to stay or go.

His parents are in Whangamatā and desperate to see his and his wife’s five-month-old baby, but the couple don’t want to sit in a traffic jam for hours on end.

People travelling within Auckland would add to any congestion woes.

“It’s going to be a nightmare.”

Auckland’s geographic location and poorly-equipped transport system with no toll plaza which could “funnel” cars meant people would have to make tough decisions. It was too late to build any infrastructure to help the situation.


Started your Christmas shopping yet?

Lovers of local history and transport have lots of book-shaped stocking stuffer options. We’ve got our eyes on:

  • Shifting Grounds: Deep Histories of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Dr Lucy Mackintosh’s deft evocation of the histories of Tāmaki Makaurau right under our noses (Bridget Williams Books, available for pre-order now)
  • Can’t Get There from Here: New Zealand Passenger Rail Since 1920, Dr Andre Brett’s brilliant, bittersweet history of our shrinking train network (Nationwide Books, advance order now for December arrival)

Take a ride through the history of 61 New Zealand made bicycles from 1869 to the present day. From the velocipede to the penny farthing, to the Raleigh Chopper and the BMX, discover how Kiwis have reinvented the wheel over the last 150 years.

The Bikes We Built cover page, via the Kennett Brothers

Jonathan Kennett has been promoting cycling in Aotearoa for years. He tells the New Zealand Herald how he accidentally started the Tour Aotearoa:

When I was a project manager for The NZ Cycle Trail, the most common question from overseas cyclists was, “how do we cycle from the top of New Zealand to the bottom?” My answer kept changing as more cycle trails were built, and less and less road riding was needed. Eventually, the ride started looking so good I decided to ride it myself. But I didn’t want to do it on my own. As a teenager, I’d cycled from Wellington to Cape Reinga and I found it quite a lonely experience, so in 2015 I put it on Facebook that I was going to ride 3000km from Cape Reinga to Bluff in 2016 and 260 people said they wanted to join me.


Kia pai tōu wikini, and we hope you enjoy a picinic with 24 of your closest friends this weekend. See you next week!

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47 comments

  1. Great news about all those NZ Bus electric buses. Do we know if they will be made here, or wholly imported? Cos we kinda need to start doing this in NZ…

    1. Not sure if this is accurate, but the AT photo shows an AT badged bus with letters CRRC on the front which seems to imply that the buses will be made in China by the Chinese Railway Corporation. Which is really odd.

      Kiwibus in Tauranga are making electric buses in NZ, but nothing on their website to say that they have just signed a big order with NZBus or AT.

      1. Appears to be the same model recently introduced to NZ Bus’s Wellington operations (CRRC eT12 MAX). Basically a 3 axle version of whats used on the Auckland City Link (CRRC eS12 MAX).

  2. I thought AT had already said they would not be buying any more diesel buses, doesn’t this mean that all new buses with be electric from now?

    1. Does this mean that AT are funding new vehicles,in collaboration with NZ Bus ,or is private enterprise stumping up all the money. If AT /Govt part funding,do we get to know how much?. What does this do to future tendering of contracts?

    2. AT don’t own any buses. They award contracts to operate bus routes.
      Bus companies buy buses.
      The current diesel fleet will be in operation for up to 20 years and will eventually run on renewable fuel.

  3. I don’t see any detail on the AT or NZ Bus websites around who is building the 152 buses. I hope its a NZ company in NZ. As this is only 12% of the Auckland fleet, clearly similar orders will need to be placed annually for several years, and other NZ cities should do likewise. This could provide many jobs in NZ for years to come.
    E-buses, trucks and bikes are great but they’re not reducing carbon emmissions while the Huntly power station is operating, they’re essentially running on coal, making emmissions worse, as this is the marginal electricty supply. Huntly was supposed to be closing in 2022 and more recently 2025. In the last couple of years they’ve switched from burning cleaner gas to dirtier coal. They currently have three 250MW units running on coal. It takes many years to build replacement generation and the 150MW Tauhara II under construction will only replace a portion of this baseload dry year capacity. The only other generation being built is wind and that isn’t a replacement without a storage scheme. I’m worried Huntly will extend beyond 2025 condemming NZ’s E fleet to continue running on coal and would like to see the government do something about it, deliver some shovels in the ground. To do it they likely need to fix the electricty market per this article from Tuesday https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/bryan-leyland-why-our-unreliable-electricity-supply-is-so-expensive-and-what-to-do-about-it/RTONYOEE35Y64SBJPP5ROB5HJM/

      1. I think the idea is that Huntly’s coal is providing the top-up of electricity supply (the marginal supply), so any new electricity use is drawing on that coal-fired generation rather than the renewable/clean ‘base’ of hydro/geo etc.

      2. Marginal supply and marginal demand are the only things that count. Using more expensive vehicles that require coal to be burnt to charge them up isn’t a step forward, it is a step backwards. We are leaving gas in the ground and replacing it with imported coal. Get used to global heating.

    1. Someone said they are not an NZ company. Although I cant find any confirmation though. Apparently they expect this pretty big order to be filled within a year or something like that, so no NZ company can really fill that. Would be better if they ordered the next ones immediately for a timeframe that’s further out.

      E-buses, trucks and bikes are great but they’re not reducing carbon emmissions while the Huntly power station is operating, they’re essentially running on coal

      Firstly, making the busses or other heavy vehicles electric and moving the pollution out of the city is way better than Euro III diesels making much more toxic gasses right beside busy sidewalks in downtown Auckland. Massively lowering the noise pollution is a big deal too, almost worth it by itself.

      Secondly, I think this way of thinking about electricity generation as every new thing Auckland does as coal fired is silly. Right now (at time of writing), we aren’t burning a single lump of coal https://www.transpower.co.nz/power-system-live-data If AT target charging at off peak times that will help, and for a good portion of the year they will avoid it anyway. Regardless, its all of the north island that is consuming this shared pool or electricity. We all share the burden of increasing load, and increasing coal usage. Not EV just buyers in Auckland.

      I agree that there needs to be more building of renewables. I would love to see a north island, short cycling, pumped hydro scheme to provide peak generation, Rangitoto island? 😉 But I doubt that’s going to happen.
      More geothermal, and wind will help with saving water and somewhat mitigate the dry years causing more running of Huntly, like this year.

      1. I agree Jack – especially as it will take decades to shift the entire vehicle fleet electric, so we still need to make a start now even when power is not yet 100%~ clean. If we waited for generation to change (while remembering NZ still has some of the most renewable power in the world) before electrifying transport we would be delaying things even further, which is untenable.

        Definitely more needs to be done to enable more clean generation to be built faster though 🙁

        Excellent points on the local pollution too 🙂

      2. A wind farm on the Awhitu peninsula could hook into the national grid at Glenbook. Genisis is running trials to see if Huntly can be powered on wood pallets after Christmas. Grid scale batteries can be used to replace gas peaking plants. We have plenty of options fears of lack of power is not a reason to decarbonise our economy.

    2. E-buses are still better than alternatives in terms of the emission. Also AT don’t own / control the power grid so they are doing what they can. Don’t see what better they can do?

    3. Bryan Leyland is one of New Zealand’s most notorious and damaging climate deniers. The rebuttal letter by Russell Baillie printed on 11 November is closer to the mark. The real mystery is why the Herald continues to publish Leyland.

      Wind does come with storage – the existing hydro lakes. We are far from the point of needing more storage under normal conditions. We are well placed for new capacity out to 2025, although we should be planning now for what comes after that. Several huge (1000 MW) solar farms are planned too.

    4. A bus running on electricity from a coal-fired power station is still greener than the same bus running on diesel or petrol.

    5. Even partially running EVs off Huntly is still better overall than ICE.
      That said the government really needs to pull finger and get on with Lake Onslow. In the time that it’s taken to do a feasibility study, NSW has put out a tender and had dozens of applications to build pumped hydro there.
      We probably need another smaller pumped hydro scheme in the upper North Island.
      With pumped hydro in place, we can unleash both wind and solar to their full potential – which currently they aren’t able to do due to need for base load and transmission issues.
      NZ could easily go 200% renewable (that is producing double our power needs – the excess then being used to produce Green Hydrogen).
      Note: we could actually go much further than 200%, potentially about 500% but 200% is easily achieved.

  4. Went to submit on the speed limit changes to say they’re not being ambitious enough and should broaden the area if they’re serious about safety. Then read that they won’t extend the area as a result of submissions. So not wasting my time.

    1. It’s because this is a statutory consultation. It’s essentially a final check. So, AT legally have to consult on the exact extents they are proposing.

      Feedback that areas should be expanded should be used to inform future changes.

  5. Petition for free and reduced PT fare!
    This should be considered before the congestion pricing. It achieves the same sustainability and decongestion goals but without: further burdening already struggling working class, disabled community and central city businesses, hight initial installation cost and ongoing maintenance and reinforcement costs.

    https://our.actionstation.org.nz/petitions/now-is-the-moment-for-free-fares?bucket=&share=e91fc2f0-7c2e-4265-b49c-2e4236477457&source=twitter_share_button&utm_campaign=&utm_source=twitter#signature-form

    1. Shout out to West Auckland’s 1st Class Gardens – all their tools are electric, their van is electric with solar charging on roof with capacity for recharging tools – and they have a e bike and trailer to reach many jobs – and staff ride bikes into work.

  6. I’m sure there will be a post on the eastern busway next week but I want to chip in early.
    https://www.1news.co.nz/2021/11/11/sudden-busway-plan-change-threatens-40-auckland-homes/

    I think the new route is good.
    Busway will cross less traffic
    Cross fewer sets of lights so might actually be faster.
    Brings more of Burswood within easy walking distance of the station
    Gets cyclists away from the arterial along a more pleasant road
    Reduces the severance caused by the old cul-de-sac street design.

    1. It’s hard to know how to feel about this one. It will add a lot of travel distance for buses, but it should be completely delay free with signal optimisation, which would allow a quicker journey overall. It would be great for access to that residential area to the north. Hopefully the change in route won’t be used as an excuse to not do allof the walking and cycling improvements on Ti Rakau Drive

      1. Agree about the cycle improvements, and they are looking to make it go the long way around the bus depot as well which is bad, and are putting it on the wrong side of the busway over the bridge towards Pakuranga with it against the arterial.

        Needs a lot of improvement to straighten it out and make it a good express route following the busway.

    2. I guess its hard to argue with greater residential catchment for at least the same journey time, if not quicker.

      But its starts to look like something other than a busway when the most direct route is sacrificed…..

      1. You don’t really win anything. Access from the north gets a bit quicker. Access from the south gets a bit slower.

        Those bends will also be either slow or uncomfortable. Overall that line looks like it is supposed to be relatively fast, with at least 1km between stops.

        1. Those industrial sites south of Ti Rakau, I don’t know how much ridership they would drive? Like I cant imagine high demand from the Mercedes Benz dealership.

          I wonder what the running speed is of the busway, I am under the presumption its 50 because there aren’t highway barriers separating it from the cycleway on Pakuragana Road. Regardless, if they put a bit of super elevation then it should be fine, plus the bends aren’t that sharp IMO. I would argue a right turn at a standard 90 degree intersection would be worse.

        2. @Roeland. Good point about asking whether the land use will still be car yards in 10 years. I remember Ellerslie Mt Wellington Highway near Panmure Station used to be motor vehicle dealership city. Now at least most of the main road facing dealerships have closed down

        3. That area is zoned as light industry.
          You have to get a resource consent to build residential stuff in a light industry zone, I have no idea how likely they would be to get one. But I could see issues with neighboring businesses concerned about reverse sensitivity. Especially because a bit further in is zoned Heavy Industry.

          You could build shops and other businesses, but given other much busier rapid transit stations currently have pretty mediocre businesses development around them, like the northern busway. I don’t know how much will genuinely spring up that quickly.

          Panmure has much more favorable zoning with heaps of THAB, mixed use business, and town centre zones. Plus its directly on the rail network and only a 15 minute ride to Britomart. Looking at google maps, its still quite the parking wasteland around the station. There might be other issues with viewshafts stifling that area, but I think there are other issues at play.

        4. @Jack Ti Rakau Drive needs significant rationalisation. Even for single-occupant vehicles, it’s got way too many turn-ins and intersections for it to function efficiently right now. The busway project would’ve been a great time to close off some of those turn-ins and intersections and therefore allow the people throughput per hour to massively increase.

          The busway will be in place for 30-40 years before it reaches capacity and so this is effectively locking in development patterns for decades. Ti Rakau should be rezoned for mixed-use and development encouraged. I highly doubt the commercial occupants would mind multi-storey residential developments nearby.

        5. Fair point. I drove to the stage of the busway they’re finishing now to have a walk around. On the drive there its remarkable how much safer that arterial feels to drive on now.

          I do hold serious reservations about “PT money” being used to improve capacity and convenience for cars though. If we could get a piece of PT infra that performs as well (or better) over the next 20-30 years for a lower price and didn’t improve its competition, then that would probably be a better use of PT capex budget.

          Those driveways could be closed as a much smaller project, and their removal should be incentivized heavily with planning tools. Lumping every mode’s improvements into PT projects make them much larger, more disruptive, and harder to get over the line.
          Although I agree it does sometimes makes sense to do a big area overhaul project.

  7. “Wind does come with storage – the existing hydro lakes”

    The existing hydro lakes do not store electricity. At 5 pm on a still cold winter evening (when electrical demand is at its peak) the hydro generators are running at maximum capacity which is limited by the capacity of the turbines and the generators that they turn. No amount of additional water behind the dam will change that.

    EV batteries, on the other hand, can store electricity and with demand management (say 10 pm to 5 am) can improve the economics of wind turbines.

    “We are far from the point of needing more storage under normal conditions”

    There is an expectation that electricity will be available under all conditions, normal and abnormal. The fact that water is spilled at times and at other times hydro generation is restricted suggests that we do not have enough hydraulic storage.

  8. Here is a video on the electric trucks.
    https://www.fuso.co.nz/ecanter
    And here is the specs interesting the batteries are about twice the size of a standard Tesla.
    Notes:
    FUSO is the biggest brand in the last mile delivery market. FUSO sell 1,000 ICE trucks a year and is part of the Daimler group. Its truck sales have increased 25 per cent in the past year.
    FUSO eCanter is the first series-manufactured electric truck from an OEM globally, with three million kilometres of real-world testing and evaluation behind it.
    FUSO eCanter is driven by a permanent synchronous electric motor, powered by an 81kWh (420v) lithium-ion, liquid-cooled battery pack. It delivers an impressive 135kW and 390Nm, which provides a range of 100-150km on a single charge – well-suited to around-town delivery routes.
    Two-stage regeneration captures kinetic energy created by the vehicle’s momentum and stores it in the batteries for future use. Efficient use of the regeneration settings will extend the practical range of the FUSO eCanter.
    A standard CCS2 plug is used for charging, with downtime minimised thanks to DC fast charge capability that will have the battery at 80 per cent capacity in less than one hour.
    FUSO eCanter comes equipped with an AC charge cable (max 32A), which will allow a full charge overnight using off-peak power.
    See more at: http://www.fuso.co.nz/ecanter

  9. “Kia ora koutou, happy friday in ‘alert level 3, step 2’ here in Tāmaki.”

    I checked the Auckland Unitary Plan- its says we are actually in alert level 3, step 2.3.1(b)(ii).

  10. I’m all for green buses, but I wonder if those buses are still being built with the help of some racist slave labour camps. Not sure it’s worth it, but I guess feeling good about the environment matters most.

  11. The recent research by AT into who wants bike lanes the most, seems to have been overlooked. Instead we are getting constant noise from trendy Pakehas who are still clamouring for a bike lane over the Harbour Bridge!

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