Header image via Curbed.

Kia ora. Hope everyone’s doing well! Here’s our roundup of interesting news and findings for the week.


The week in Greater Auckland

  • Monday’s post, by Matt, followed several in-depth looks at Light Rail over the last couple of weeks, and looked at the lessons we can find in past rapid transit plans.
  • On Tuesday, Matt covered a very low-yielding car park AT is requiring the developer of a site in Ponsonby to provide.
  • Wednesday’s post was an excellent guest post by AUT senior lecturer Dr. Timothy Welch, busting commonly-heard myths about auto-centricity
  • Yesterday we published a post about AT’s recent installation of T3 camera poles right in the middle of local footpaths.

Te Huia services now to travel into Auckland central

In very welcome news, Te Huia will be connecting all the way to The Strand in Auckland Central on weekdays.

The next stage of improvements will include stops at the new Puhinui Station, enabling access to Auckland Airport, before stopping at The Strand Station.

Transport Minister Michael Wood welcomed the service extension.

“We have always indicated that staged improvements would be made to the Te Huia service once it was operational, and I’m really pleased that we are able to deliver this significant enhancement within the first year.

Source: tehuiatrain.co.nz

Auckland rail network summer shutdown

A good thing to take note of – there will be an extended shutdown of Auckland’s rail network over Christmas and into January, reported on here in The Herald. The work is part of a wide programme to upgrade the whole network.

“The Christmas shutdown allows us to get a huge amount of work done over a short period of time. Our projects would take years longer to complete without the ability to make big strides during intermittent shutdowns so we thank Aucklanders for their understanding.

“It will take a few years but, once complete, the network will allow more frequent and more reliable train services for Auckland Transport’s passenger trains and greater capacity for freight trains,” Gordon said.


Auckland city centre ‘optimism’

Here’s an article and short clip on Auckland Council’s ‘Our Auckland’ platform about progress in the city centre and the realisation of the City Centre Masterplan. The opening of exciting new projects like Te Kōmititanga, Commercial Bay, Quay Street, and Te Wānanga (adjoining the Downtown Ferry Terminal) certainly prove that the city centre can be something really special.

We’re keen to see more momentum on transforming Queen Street, which will hopefully be complemented by implementation of Access for Everyone. We can’t wait for the City Rail Link to near completion, it will be interesting to see how this project will catalyse shifts in the city centre as indicated in the clip.

Downtown Ferry Terminal – Te Wānanga Public Space. Source: Our Auckland

The week in flooding

Welsh village falls victim to sea level rise

In a story that could become a precedent for some of New Zealand’s many coastal-edge communities, Stuff reports on the Welsh village of Fairbourne which has been designated as unviable due to climate change.

Predicting faster sea level rises and more frequent and extreme storms due to global warming, the government said it could only afford to keep defending the village for another 40 years. Officials said that by 2054, it would no longer be safe or sustainable to live in Fairbourne.

Bernard Hickey’s podcast When the Facts Change had an episode ( on the 5th of November) that looked at the effects of climate change on house prices in New Zealand. There are some hard calls coming for local and central governments as insurers begin to retreat from properties and assets most at risk from climate change and its effects.

Severe flooding in the Pacific north-west

As reported in The Guardian, the north-west of Canada and the United States was hit with a month’s worth of rain in two days, resulting in widespread flooding and landslips. With roads washed out or buried, many towns are without road access – including Vancouver, British Columbia’s largest city.


Designing the perfect New York street

If you like to dream up a #roaddiet when navigating your way across traffic-choked streets, you’ll love this article and beautiful visuals at Curbed about an imagined perfect New York City street. The editors at Curbed commissioned a team of designers to reimagine a section of Third Avenue in Manhattan ‘as a matrix of overlapping, interrelated networks.’

We aspired to pack all the measures we already knew we should be taking into one vivid frame. An aerial photograph became a platform on which to overlay a possible future city. The result is a real-life I Spy book, filled with details that accumulate into a livable, equitable, safer, and more pleasant place to live. This is no futuristic fantasy of self-sweeping sidewalks or robot-controlled Tesla taxis gliding up at the touch of an app. Instead, we imagined a makeover that could happen now, given urgency and determination.

Head over to the article at Curbed to see the before-after of this intersection in GIF form.

The week in bollard news

Is there such a thing as too many bollards though?


First fully automatic train in Germany

Less width, tighter turns…

Are just some of the advantages of this fully electric fire truck. Fire and emergency vehicles are often some of the most concerned voices when roads are narrowed or adapted to make them safer. This looks like a great solution.


Good ideas corner

A #crafternoon task for bored kids in lockdown?


Paris by bike

We can’t get enough of the transformation of Paris under bike-friendly mayor Anne Hidalgo. This explainer on Substack blog Citybits does an excellent job of setting out the context of Paris’s transformation, how the Covid-19 pandemic was a catalyst, and why the momentum for change has held. This is so important to understand:

In an interview with the New York Times, one French commuter noted that he bought a bike immediately after lockdowns ended, and though a little wary, he felt that “Having so many bike lanes motivates me more (to cycle).”

Take a look at this dreamy snapshot:

Within the last month the Plan Velo 2021 – 26 was announced, with the bold aspiration to build off cycling transformation catalysed by Covid-19 and make Paris ‘a 100% cycling city’ by 2026. We can’t wait to see how these plans progress and wonder if we will see the narrative of the 100% cycling city replicated in the same way that Paris popularised the 15-minute city concept.


We need to imagine how good things can be

Finally, some long reads for your weekend.

The Dominion Post has been publishing a fantastic series of essays called ‘Reimagining Wellington.’ There are lots of good ones in there. A recent highlight features kiwi urban designer in NYC, Skye Duncan, on overcoming change paralysis and how to make Wellington a more liveable city.

“Liveable cities are where people can learn, work, meander and play in a way that they have safe and reliable and affordable choices of how they get around and what they do on a regular basis,” she says.

That means access to key destinations and critical services: housing, school, daycare, work restaurants, supermarkets, and health services. As well as arts and cultural opportunities.

People should also have exposure to nature, social connections, and access to daily inspiration, joy, and love. “All the things we don’t typically associate with cities and built environments.”

In order to achieve these things, Wellington needs to first face some of the challenges it’s struggling with.

That means getting the housing density mix right, while preserving the right historic buildings; harnessing the power of public-private partnerships; removing private cars from roads; and treating mass transit as a public good.

Existential creativity

On that theme, this essay by novelist Ben Okri beautifully addresses the need for art to create a new ‘existential realism’ to help us face the climate crisis-induced challenges ahead:

So a new existentialism is called for. Not the existentialism of Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre, negative and stoical in spirit, but a brave and visionary existentialism, where as artists we dedicate our lives to nothing short of re-dreaming society. We have to be strong dreamers. We have to ask unthinkable questions. We have to go right to the roots of what makes us such a devouring species, overly competitive, conquest-driven, hierarchical.


Have a safe and wonderful weekend. Wear a mask, scan in, wash your hands 🙂

Share this

54 comments

    1. Admin here – thanks Bruce, edited now! Always good to know we can rely on readers to fact check our late night typings 🙂

    2. Vancouver is the Auckland of British Columbia. The economic, social and cultural capital… just not the political one.

        1. Don’t tell Auckland that , otherwise they will won’t to become the Capital of New Zealand again .

      1. Vancouver is perhaps what Auckland would look like if in 1980 Auckland had started building light rail lines instead of motorways.

  1. I note the New York Street in the Curbed article doesn’t shy away on “aesthetics” grounds from making separated protected cyclelanes but allows form to follow function. (Trying to blur the edges with seamless paving was a brief thing a decade ago but dropped once designers realised it doesn’t work.)

    The article is really good for going through each deficiency in the street in turn, and addressing it.

    1. Silent fire trucks…. Something adrift here? Unfortunately, funding for FENZ isn’t going to see quick change. EVs could be really good for charging/powering electric tools needed for many emergencies.

      1. See the Ford 150 Lightning for something along these lines at a smaller scale. Electric SUV targeted at Contractors/Campers/etc that means they don’t have to lug a separate generator.

        “9.6kW of power through up to eleven 120V and 240V electrical outlets”

    1. The top comment is funny,
      “good idea. but rubber is not very efficient, they should consider having steel wheels and track so it lowers the energy cost.”

      If kiwirail weren’t so bad at freight for smaller customers, I’m going to assume a lot of the freight on SH1 would no longer be so needed. And SH1 is pretty much the only piece of motorway that looks like the one in the video.
      Theres also the issues intrinsic to our infrastructure. Unless we could do these on smaller state highways with tighter curves etc then it wont be much use. I also wonder what the freight volumes look like on those german autobahn, compared to any stretch of road in NZ.

      1. Don’t mean to come across as a negative Nancy.
        This is clearly a fantastic solution, way better than batteries or replacement fuels.

      2. Could Waka Kotahi outsource this type of project so Taxpayers are not involved.
        I believe early tramways were run entirely by private companies the only input the councils had was to grant permission or some kind of an easement to allow them to build and operate their network although some fee may have being required. There was a tramway which ran from Awakeri to the board mill at Whakatane for example it operated on an easement within the road corridor. It was a casualty of the Tranzrail debacle. Would any commercial operator be brave or rich enough to take it on. Or would they only use it if it was served up on a plate like the roads and motorways our state agencies and councils provide for them. Any way keep the politics out of it we have have quite enough of that with Kiwirail.

  2. I note the Te Huia article says its an $18 fare from Hamilton to The Strand using a Bee Card.
    Why are they creating inconvenience by not using the Hop card?

    1. They use the bee card because thats what most of the regions use and Te Huia is a Waikato council initiative.
      If you’re interested. There is an absolute saga surrounding trying to have a national ticketing system over the last decade, with backstabbing, councils pulling out at the last minute, parochial divides…

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_NEXT

      1. Even here in the UK there is not one nationally used public transport card so I don’t know why this causes such a stir back home.
        To be fair, their days are over in most modern countries anyway as you can use your credit/debit/EFTPOS card to pay a reduced fare.

        I can’t wait for the day NZ catches up to 2010 style convenience!!!

    2. =And if do use the Te Huia they are available onboard the Train otherwise you have to pay extra for the cash fare . And the bee Card can be topped on line and the payment is there between 12+34Hrs compared to what it takes for the Hop card doing that way and the card is also cheaper at around $5 .

  3. Why couldn’t the plonkers who put up the pole that was the subject of yesterday’s post be as creative as Mr Bird Box? In design and positioning

  4. My news for the week.
    On a busy 600 m stretch of Walmsley Rd with bus lanes they are installing 6 high tech posts on the footpaths sometimes
    with a little deviation for people.
    I wish AT could do more for pedestrians in Otahuhu. Crossing both the Mangere Rd rail bridge and the Bairds Rd bridge is risky. The footpaths are narrow and vehicles speed past very close by.
    Intensification is in the news. My nomination for poor design 30 years ago is a couple of houses on up market Dannemora Dr with one at the back. The fence is about 1m from the house on 3 sides and as high as the eaves. The front faces south. The house gets no sun or views
    The city council are spraying now. Trucks, ride on vehicles are spraying huge amounts of glyphosate under 1000s of trees, alongside bush and paths. Sometimes we should let the grass grow a little longer.

  5. It looks like Covid is here to stay for at least the next couple of years. Is there a way to improve air flow in our buses and trains. A super cheap way would be to provide windows that open. I use to like riding in the ADK’s on a hot day. Maybe heap pumps / air conditioning isn’t all its cracked up to be. In a pandemic opening windows and old fashioned heaters powered by waste heat from the engine seems to be a better option.

    1. A super cheap way would be to provide windows that open

      I really don’t see how this could be done cheaply. Replacing half the windows on every EMU sounds like a huge job.

      1. It’s not necessary, the EMUs have very good ventilation, the advantage of having almost unlimited power from the overhead for accessories like a/c. Buses on the other hand are a mixed situation, some seem good, others are terrible especially the long distance ones with only a small door at the front and a window for the driver.

        1. Well I don’t know for sure whether the air conditioning actually sucks in air from outside but I suspect it is merely recirculating air. No doubt there will be filters but would you trust them. Sometimes when I board the train I think the air is less than fresh.

  6. Those bright yellow UK speed cameras say a lot about society don’t they. They used to also have markings on the road too (not sure if they still do).

    1. Sure do although those cameras are erected by councils, some keep the lines painted, some don’t.

      Also, while not as common as NZ, the police do have mobile hidden speed cameras.

  7. Positive chnges for Te Huia, so it will be interesting to track changes in ridership.

    Puhinui-airport transfer a winner, so would there be a need to stop at Papakura as well, long term?

    Not entirely convinced of the Strand – being somewhat in no mans land. And the Eastern Line takes out some transfer options available on the Southern. But overall the one-seat ride should attract more riders.

    1. The Puhunui stop is great. If I were taking it, I’d get on / off there. Accessible by both the southern and eastern. In the future I think it will really be the regional rail hub, with 6 tracks and 4 platforms, airport and the airport to botany / eastern busway BRT line.

      I think the strand stop serves as a talking point / phycological desire for people that don’t really use PT or understand it. Now it goes to central Auckland rather than needing a “complicated” forced transfer. Transferring to the eastern line Auckland service is objectively better for that trip because it goes to Britomart. And transferring opens up all the intermediate stops. Te Huia cant go express because it cant overtake anywhere, going to the strand I assume it’ll just roll along slower and have no intermediate stops. If it’s going to stop anywhere though, Panmure would be good.

      1. Good points. Agree on Puhinui’s future. Panmure stop is for the Eastern Busway is it?

        So there’ll be no stops between Puhinui and Strand? I wonder what that will do for improving travel times.

        1. Just pray KR don’t send a freight ahead of like what happened with their 1st trip to the strand causing it to be an Hour late getting in .

        2. The Eastern line between Otahuhu and Britomart has been out all day today due to yet another “freight train incident”. Just reopened now.

        3. I’m in Panmure. All last night the Kiwirail guys were working in front of my place. There’s been a 25km/h speed restriction in place for trains to Britomart for at least a month now.

        4. Otahuhu has three tracks and platforms. It would provide an oportunity for the Te Huia to overtake another service.
          Still I shouldn’t try to be a train controller I am not even fat. I would still like to be able to make a return day trip to Hamilton by train. I hope they are still working on that.

  8. The Auckland city centre ‘optimism’ is a really jarring article compared with people’s experience in the CBD this year. Building big plazas of concrete is all very well, but if there are not people drawn to the area, then the area is in danger of becoming a dismal failure.

    The construction was horrible at times. My experience, even walking and cycling (not even attempting to drive) around Quay & Queen street with the road cones and constriction was hideous. And still a long way from finished with the CRL work ongoing for some years.

    If concerns around people’s perception of safety are not addressed then the CBD will become a slum and not the jewel in the crown that it should be.

    Take a look at the numbers of people talking about their experience of the CBD this year in the thread below.

    If I was working for ‘Our Auckland’, Auckland Council, I would be seriously concerned that this perception of the CBD becoming hostile if not outright dangerous is not sorted, then all the investment will be a waste of time.

    The CBD needs the good people, the workers, the visitors, the people including families to be living, working in the area to counter balance the bad elements that are causing issues. But in all the discussion of the changes, talk about people and personal safety are largely absent. Giant grey plazas, but very few safe green areas with playgrounds, downtown schools, family/pet friendly apartments etc

    An open letter to Chlöe Swarbrick & Phil Goff about the state of the CBD

    1. Truly, these road cones threaten us all. I’ve seen a number attaching themselves to students’ heads late on Friday nights.

    2. The writing has been on the wall for a long time.

      If you just walked on Hobson Street on a good day a few years ago it was already obvious that anyone who can afford it will move out. To the suburbs, where you can get the (relatively) nice things like footpaths that are actually maintained, being able to walk to a park with kids, or being able to sleep at night.

      Note to council: you reap what you sow.

  9. If anyone wants to go for a walk to look at infill in the weekend, I made one for you:

    https://imgur.com/a/aOSwjIm

    It took me 1hr45minutes. I’d leave earlier than I did (7:37am) though because I drank like a litre of water. To be fair, there were some… inefficiencies in how I did it, that I note.

    Wait, a map would’ve been useful (this lacks one of the inefficiencies as described in the album):

    https://imgur.com/a/AEs1NYq

    1. Seems to me the streetscapes are the weakest link to a quality environment there. Lack of street trees. No safe cycling provision. Narrow footpaths. Cars parked haphazardly in a few pictures. Would you agree?

      1. Stick a few mature street trees in front of any building and all is forgiven. Even the most heinous McMansion can be ignored.

      2. “Lack of street trees.”

        I’d have to do the walk again. Street trees are sporadic, even on streets that have them, and often young (so might be too small to show up in the housing focussed shots I took).

        But, in general, this is true.

        “No safe cycling provision”

        Outside the new subdivisions, there is no cycle protection whatsoever (except, I think, on Beach Road, which has to be a contender for ‘least safe painted bike lane’ ).

        Median strips and on street parking are ubiquitous. There are also no bus lanes.

        “Narrow footpaths”

        This is again something the new subdivisions tend to have mostly fixed. Elsewhere, very much so.

        “Cars parked haphazardly in a few pictures”

        Parking is, largely, terrible. There was a while there where I was taking photos of every car parked on the path or verge. I don’t do it any more because when I go for a walk I’d like to walk instead of constantly stopping to take photos.

        In the new subdivisions the paths are wide enough people just drive right on up, treat ’em like driveways. There’s one where the car is mounted on bricks, as it were.

        https://imgur.com/a/K9PQIvV

  10. “Sometimes when I board the train I think the air is less than fresh.”

    Perhaps this is caused by the sweaty cyclists who insist on taking up 3x seats for their bike, and themselves. Perhaps they should be charged 3x fares??

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *