Today the Auckland Transport board meet for the last time this year and here are the highlights from their board reports. You can also watch the open session of the meeting live between 9am to 10:15am via this Microsoft Teams link.
Below are the most interesting items from the closed agenda.
Items for Approval
- Negotiated Ferry Service Contract – Hopefully this results in improved ferry services.
- Engagement with Minister of Transport, Michael Wood, Leigh Auton and Tommy Parker (Auckland Light Rail Establishment Unit) – Auckland Light Rail – Oh to be a fly on the wall of this discussion. I wonder if this is engagement on the recommendation to cabinet or the decision from cabinet.
- Eastern Busway 4 – Botany Station Update – Consultation on the proposed change to the Eastern Busway to divert behind Burswood closes this Friday but one thing we haven’t seen is the plans for the Botany Station. Hopefully after this meeting we may finally get some more details.
- Airport to Botany Rapid Transit variation to Supporting Growth Alliance – A business case for the Airport to Botany corridor has been completed but hasn’t been made public yet. I’m guessing AT are looking to get the team currently looking at infrastructure in greenfield areas to take over the designation work for it given they likely have a lot of expertise in place and able to do this easier than setting up a whole new workstream. I’d also much rather them focus on this than on more infrastructure to support sprawl.
- Supporting Growth Alliance North West Detailed Business Case – The indicative network for the greenfield areas in the Northwest has been public for some time. Presumably the business case will give us a lot more details on the cost and timing of the various elements of it.
- Environment Action Plan – The council and AT are currently working on an Emissions Reduction Plan but I wonder if this is something broader and covering other environmental issues like storm water runoff.
- Interim speed management plan 2023-26 high level options – There is some detail about this in the open business report below.
Items for Noting
- National Ticketing Solution – I wonder if this means we might finally hear something about this soon?
Here are the items in the open business report that caught my attention.
AT’s consultation on speed limit changes from late September to mid-November received 8,413 submissions and the board are being asked to approve consultation on another tranche at this meeting, which I’ll cover separately below.
They also say this about the 2023-26 plans being discussed in the closed session.
As part of the Residential Speed Management Programme, prioritisation of all urban residential areas in Auckland (approximately 400) for engineering measures and/or speed limit changes will be completed in December. This information will feed into the Speed Management Plan, which is currently progressing in parallel with Tranche 2 work. It is a principle-based approach speed management plan and is being prepared for 2023-26 delivery, after Tranche 2 is completed. The principles are currently being developed, along with setting the scope for speed limit changes. The Speed Management Plan will replace the bylaw process and enable AT to accelerate the programme supported by the expected rule change in 2022.
AT say they’re wanting to make student concessions simpler.
Leveraging its supplier relationships and coordination points with Auckland schools, AT facilitates a physical plastic Student ID card which, amongst other things, enables secondary school students to access public transport concessions. Whilst student and school communities appreciate the coordination role of AT, the card and process is costly to produce in both time and materials to students, parents, schools, and AT. As a result, AT has engaged with a digital ID provider to look at transitioning to a digital student ID ahead of the start of the 2022 school year. This will result in a simpler, more sustainable, and less costly solution. It will also enable AT to communicate more effectively with students, a key public transport user group
AT say their Investment Committee has approved an increase to their New Footpaths programme from $3.88 million to $7.1 million and that it is being used to pay for “the North-western path upgrade and five other projects that have been on hold for two years and are shovel-ready“. It’s a real indictment of our transport system that small and critical projects like the north-western path upgrade get delayed for years while waiting for crumbs while other projects happily burn through more that on business cases for projects that might not happen for a decade, if ever.
AT always include in their report tenders and contracts issued that have a value of more than $2 million. In the tenders section they include this one. It would be good to know how much bus priority they plan to deliver and where.
Bus Priority Programme Physical Works – Three-year contract (2021 to 2024) – This programme supports the growth and evolution of Auckland’s strategic public transport network, by increasing the efficiency, capacity and reliability of bus services, through the provision of dedicated special vehicles lanes (such as T2 lanes and bus lanes) and the elimination of network pinch points that adversely impact bus travel times.
AT are installing 383 motorbike lock anchors to some of their carparking buildings after a spate of thefts. What I find interesting about this is the idea for them came from the public
The idea for these locks came from a customer who provided us with drawings of the suggested locks.
AT say they’ve developed a tool to “receive customer requests that allow the Parking Services and Compliance group to better understand customer feedback. Analysis of these CRM cases will make it easier to apply the customer feedback to future business planning and development of required work programmes“.
I doubt they needed a tool to tell them that most of that feedback would be for them to do their jobs and start properly enforcing parking.
They also say they’re now trialling their programme of using Licence Plate Recognition to enforce parking in more complex situations with the trial underway at Onehunga Mall.
Temporary Traffic Management
I see a lot of complaints about temporary traffic management (TTM) practices, such as signs blocking footpaths. So it’s interesting to see that AT’s own inspections show that pass rates for compliance with TTM plans is just 71%, and that’s a high result and is often down around 50%.
Speed Limit Changes
Also at the board meeting, AT are asking for approval to consult on tranche 2B of their speed limit changes. Tranche 2A was consulted on just over a month ago. One thing that’s notable is that for the whole of Tranche 2 they were initially planning on doing was about 13% of the local road network with Tranche 2A making up about 8% of that. But they’ve now significantly increased the scope and in Tranche 2B alone they’re looking at delivering changes to about 1,418km of roads, or about 19% of Auckland’s local road network. A high-level summary of what is included in this package is shown below.
In total roads around 75 schools included in this latest package.
I assume the consultation on this will happen in the new year but if you’re interested in seeing what roads are on the list, there’s a 2,700 page (21.2MB) document that includes them all and the assessment undertaken for each road.
Fatal Crashes involving people walking and cycling
A good reason why we need speed limit (and other) changes is addressed a separate paper giving the board a deeper dive on pedestrian and cycling fatal crashes. In it, AT staff note some alarming figures, including:
- Vulnerable road users made up over 50% of fatalities on Auckland’s road network in the 2020 calendar year.
- 57 pedestrian and 15 cyclist fatalities have occurred on Auckland roads between 2014 and 2020. There is no downward trend in this period.
- Currently, 61% of fatal and serious injury crashes occur at locations where there has been no other injury crash in the past five years. This highlights the need for a proactive approach to road safety, supported by reactive actions to investigate fatal crashes.
As of Monday night, Auckland is sitting at 57 road deaths this year, we were at 30 at the same point last year and 26 at this time in 2019.
If you’ve looked at the board papers Is there anything else that stands out?