Welcome to 2022. After wrapping up 2021 before Christmas, here’s a look at some of the things we can expect to see in 2022.

Overall it appears that COVID will continue to loom large over the year and will be a major factor, potentially directly but certainly on things such as travel patterns.


Projects to be completed

There are number of high-profile projects due to be completed this year, though with more COVID disruption potentially looming, who knows what might happen. There will of course be plenty of other smaller projects that will be completed too.

Northern Corridor

The Northern Corridor project which includes the extension of the Northern Busway is due to be completed towards the end of the year. The busway extension will be a very welcome addition to busway users travelling to Albany or Silverdale. The project will also see the first stage of the Northern Path completed – between Albany and Constellation Dr. However, we won’t see opening of the Rosedale Busway station, completion of which has been delayed till 2024.

The Rosedale Station will not be completed in 2022

Cycleway Projects

Stage 2 of the Eastern Path is due for completion in the middle of this year. That will leave just section 4, between Orakei Station and Tamaki Dr to go, though that may not start till 2023 or later.

2022 will also see the completion of the New Lynn to Avondale path.

Another prominent project being completed is the replacement of the Old Mangere Bridge. Parts of the arch for it are now in place

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

Queen St

Works start today on the planned upgrade to Queen St and they’re due for completion in September. The plan will use pavers to widen the footpath and make a shared path on the Eastern side of the street – we’re not a fan of the shared path design for Auckland’s busiest people street

Roading Projects

In Auckland two big roading projects (other than the Northern Corridor) are due for completion and both are related, Puhoi to Warkworth and Matakana Link Rd. Given many people living in Warkworth will then have to travel north out of Warkworth to reach the motorway, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see locals start advocating a lot more strongly for a southern interchange.

Down in Wellington, 2022 should see the completion of Transmission Gully but given its history, perhaps this one shouldn’t be in the completed list.

Both the Puhoi to Warkworth and Transmission Gully projects are PPPs and that means Waka Kotahi are now going to have to actually start paying for them and that means hundreds of millions annually will be taken out of our transport budgets for the next 25 years.


New and Ongoing Projects

There are lots of projects we’ll hear about during the year, some of the key ones.

Light Rail

Last year, Transport Minister Michael Wood said a decision would be made about light rail before the end of the year. Perhaps this year we will finally get one. My guess is the government will stick to the worst of both worlds recommendation and choose the tunnelled light rail option but possibly look to review the amount of tunnelling included. Regardless of what option is chosen, given how much work will still be needed on design and consenting, I wouldn’t be expecting any work to actually start on the project this year.

Light Rail on Bader Dr

I also think the work on light rail could lead to more being done on ……..

A Harbour Crossing

The idea of an Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing has been on the discussion board for decades and every few years Waka Kotahi and it’s predecessors shell out huge amounts of cash to consultants for another study. But I think we might finally make some progress on it this year due to light rail being intended to eventually reach the North Shore – the light rail team will need to know how and where the crossing will be.

In recent years we’ve started to see the project shift from a motorway project to a multi-modal one but with the non-roading aspects happening first. I suspect we could eventually see this shifting to being a public transport and active mode only project but to get there a good focus will be needed on understanding what outcomes we should actually be trying achieve with it.

City Rail Link and rail network

Assuming nothing goes wrong, by the end of 2022 we should see the completion of the second tunnel as well as a lot of other progress around the project. I also suspect we may hear about another increase in cost of the project driven primarily by disruption as a result of COVID and the current worldwide pressure on supply chains and staff.

Elsewhere on the rail network we will continue to see progress on the third main, electrification to Pukekohe and maybe a start on the new stations between south of Papakura. Getting the rail network up to standard in preparation for the CRL is also going to continue to be a feature of 2022.

Midtown 

Tied to the CRL works, Auckland Council should be ramping up their plans for the transformation of midtown, including the Victoria St Linear Park and Wellesley St bus improvements as well as other projects.

Connected Communities

This year should finally see work start on the first route in Auckland Transport’s connected communities programme. upgrading Gt North Rd between Grey Lynn and Karangahape Rd.

Likely fairly soon we should also start to hear more about their plans for New North Rd.

I’m not sure if we’ll hear about any other routes but AT really need to find a way to start delivering this programme faster.


Policy

Emissions Reduction Plan

The final version of the government’s Emission Reduction Plan is due to be published by the end of May and we’ll be looking to see how it differs from the draft version released in October. The ERP has the potential to be quite significant for transport in NZ as the draft includes the target of reducing the total amount of driving we do as a country in light vehicles by 20%.

It’s worth noting that the 20% reduction is about half of what the Ministry of Transport recommended. Even so, a lot of the burden to achieving it is likely to fall on our biggest cities and in those it may require us to achieve reductions in car travel in the order of 40-60%. Achieving that will require a significant shift in thinking for our transport agencies.

Road Pricing

After being investigated by parliament’s transport select committee last year, I suspect we’ll see some more progress on the idea of road pricing this year but I’m not confident we’ll see any actual decisions made

Mayor’s Climate Package

Last month Mayor Phil Goff released his proposed budget for the 2022/23 financial year and it included a headline feature of a $1 billion climate action package funded via a targeted rate. The money is to go towards some very positive changes, including

  • A big increase in bus services
  • 6-7 new low emissions ferries as well as charging infrastructure
  • Additional cycleways and footpath improvements
  • A tree planting programme

Like any other time there is a proposal to increase rates I’m sure there will be some opposition to it. There’s also the question of whether AT will actually be able to deliver the transport aspects, especially the cycleways.


Leadership

This year there are a number of big changes coming or likely to the leadership of our transport and planning systems.

Local Body Elections

In October we have our next local body elections and all the rumours suggest that Mayor Phil Goff might not stand again. If that happens it will make for an interesting mayoral election. There are already a few names that have been floating around as potential candidates and I’m sure we’ll hear more in the coming months. We’ll certainly look to discuss this in more detail in future posts but I certainly hope we get a Mayor who is able to articulate a vision for Auckland.

Of course it’s not just a good mayor we need but they will need the support of some good councillors and local boards too.

Auckland Transport CEO

Just before Christmas, AT’s current CEO Shane Ellison resigned. We’re hopeful his successor will finally start to wrangle the organisation in to shape and focus on delivering good urban outcomes in order to achieve the government’s ERP targets.

Waka Kotahi Chair

Waka Kotahi’s current chair, Sir Brian Roche, is also stepping down this year. Like AT, Waka Kotahi has a long way to go to become the kind of transport agency we need in the 21st century and so hopefully his replacement will be able to steer them towards that rather than just a continuation of business as usual.


Housing

Unitary Plan changes

By August the council will have notify the changes to the Unitary Plan in order to comply with the government’s National Policy Statement on Urban Development and Medium Density Residential Standards. The big unknown is how much the council will look to use loopholes to avoid making changes to suburbs in the central and western isthmus.

The year should also see progress on the government’s plan to overhaul the Resource Management Act.

Consents

2021 saw record after record set for housing consents in Auckland. Will 2022 be the year that stops?


There will be many more things that happen throughout the year. What are you most looking forward to or think should be on the list?

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50 comments

  1. Impressive just how long some of these fairly basic projects can be dragged out

    1. The most important part of the GI cycle path starting last and 5 years after the rest of the project
    2. Rosedale bus station taking 4 years to build, despite it just being a glorified bridge with a couple of lifts

    1. By far the most important part of the GI-TD path is between Meadowbank and Kohimarama, because this part forms a new, direct route across the Pourewa Valley that will be very widely used for everyday local walking and cycling by 100s of school students, commuters accessing Meadowbank Train Station and others heading to and from shops and amenities. In many cases substituting short trips done by car today.

      “Mode change” from driving short trips to walking and cycling is the priority, or ought to be, considering the transport emissions reductions imperative noted in the post. Of note, this section of the path also opens up access to the existing trails to many more residents.

      By contrast, the final part of GI-TD (Stage 4), around the NW edge of Hobson Bay has its merits, but it duplicates an existing route (along Ngapipi Road – far from ideal, but at least it exists). It also doesn’t connect communities to each other: instead it will be used by long-distance commuters (potentially substituting for train trips) and for leisure cycling, as promoted by Barb C in the Herald (paywalled). Nothing wrong with that, just not the priority.

      1. > instead it will be used by long-distance commuters (potentially substituting for train trips)

        Spot on. This exactly how I will be using it

        1. Much of Orakei is closer to Orakei train station than Meadowbank train Station. Just needs a protected cycle lane along Kepa Road.

          The top part of Mission Bay up by Eastridge will be able to access Meadowbank train station via John Rymer Place. The town centre down on Tamaki Drive is a long way from the train line. It’s well served by bus services.

  2. Work is to begin reinstalling the bluestone wall this month. It is planned to be completed next year. Do we really need this wall? Delays to the opening date of the tunnel will cost $millions in lost revenue. I would have thought the city would want to get the job done asap.

    1. The bluestone wall doesn’t delay the opening of the station. It’s an entirely independent part of the project.

    2. How would the bluestone wall delay the tunnels?

      From memory it is a listed item and had to be reinstated once the work had been completed

      1. If the wall is going to be finished next year then it’s done two to three years before the tunnel is finished, it’s not a delay to the project at all and should only cost what it actually costs to reinstate.

    3. Even with the lockdown’s the 1st hole through of the 1st tunnel was early and if they do the same for the 2nd it hopefully be on time . And if they have set up the Contract there may be a clause where the Contractors have to cough up out of their own pocket .

  3. Another leadership change is David McLean becoming chair of Kiwrail. I hear he has a good bullsh.. detector, he will need it.
    The structure of how we run rail is wrong with the lack of separation between infrastructure and freight operations and being an SOE. The emphasis needs to be changed to providing infrastructure to the quality needed to run a far higher level of passenger trains especially in Auckland and Wellington. We need a system that doesn’t shut early and isn’t shut down every weekend.

    1. Which we hopefully will have in a few years but first there is a vast amount of work to be done. If only that work had happened in the 80s or the 90s but it didn’t so we’ve got to bite the bullet now, that means continued closures.

    2. Kiwirail already runs as two different parts under the same umbrella. Networks(infrastructure) and freight. They are largely separate but both parts of kiwirail.

      1. Yeah yeah Nah.
        The rail infrastructure has only be maintained at low level suitable for freight. Project DART was meant to deliver a rail network suitable for a passenger services, let we find out a few years down the track, it hasn’t been maintained, and we have to replace all the tracks.
        I don’t buy the chinese wall arrangement. They have not delivered or maintained the infrastructure suitable for a metro level passenger network.

        1. Project DART doubled the track on the western line, upgraded the signals, Newmarket junction upgrade. It did not fix the decades old track and even older formation on most of the network.

  4. Thanks, Matt. Some things there I’d forgotten about.

    I’m hoping Waka Kotahi’s innovation programmes will grow.

    And schools. Are we expecting to see some safety improvements around schools? The children aren’t safe with all the school traffic. From the people I know fixing this in a comprehensive “every school” way would be very popular.

  5. With respect to Midtown improvements there is one notable issue i think. A lack of dedicated pedestrian connection to K Road. This is easily fixed however by repurposing AT’s surface grade car park at Greys Ave to link Myers Park with Aotea Square. Given the Civic is right there and isnt full. This is surely a no-brainer… Would be fantastic to walk that route unimpeded by any traffic

  6. Lots happening transport-wise in New Zealand’s first and third largest cities. Not much in the second. How long can this failure of leadership continue? Will Greater Christchurch repeat all the mistakes of postt WW2 Auckland?

  7. What will the busway extension do to travel journey times to/from Hibiscus station?

    Its about 45mins now I think, which is a long slog compared to the car (outside of peak)

    1. The northen busway between constellation and albany means that the buses will not have to go through the three sets of traffic lights to get from constellation to albany. This should mean the travel time is shorter to hibiscus coast as the journey time between constellation and albany will be shorter. Ive seen AT claim that the journey time between constellation and albany will be 4 minutes after the connection is finished. Also relevant for hibiscus coast is that in the mayors climate package mentioned in this post one of the bus improvements is for the nx1 to run to hibiscus every 15mins during off peak rather than the current every half hour.

      1. Yes it will allow anyone going to Westfield Albany by bus to start their 15 minute walk in the hot sun a few minutes earlier.

  8. The northen busway between constellation and albany means that the buses will not have to go through the three sets of traffic lights to get from constellation to albany. This should mean the travel time is shorter to hibiscus coast as the journey time between constellation and albany will be shorter. Ive seen AT claim that the journey time between constellation and albany will be 4 minutes after the connection is finished. Also relevant for hibiscus coast is that in the mayors climate package mentioned in this post one of the bus improvements is for the nx1 to run to hibiscus every 15mins during off peak rather than the current every half hour.

  9. Tunnelled LR is like buying a high end laptop but with the slowest processor option to save a hundred bucks – pretty useless, slow and out of date right away versus the better processor option – even if you select less RAM (carriage length) which will last you a long time. You can always add more RAM (carriages).

    1. It’s more like buying a ten grand laptop instead of a two grand one hoping it will be the last computer they ever need to buy, then finding out that actually it’s just the next computer and they”ll need to keep buying them every few years regardless.

  10. Thanks. So it might be a sub-40min journey. That’s a starter.

    It will further improve over time I guess with city-side priority improvements and then quantum leaps with upgrade to rail and a more direct route across the harbour.

    But for now, 40mins or less is a good result.

  11. Unfortunately with the way laptops are these days the CPU is fixed to the mother board so no CPU upgrade.
    So we definitely will be stuck with lower quality network, just so we can have all the bells and whistles now.
    I still think light metro cut back to basics (less stations) would be a better option, new stations can be added later.

    1. That is a good point… that’s the equivalent of upgrading the hard drive which is all good.
      The main thing is to get the big main infrastructure/system right in the first place. That means either going for the cheaper surface LR or going for LR not the InBetween expensive but not much use tunneled LR option

  12. This year should finally see work start on the first route **that was supposed to start two years ago but delayed by*** Auckland Transport’s connected communities programme. upgrading Gt North Rd between Grey Lynn and Karangahape Rd.

    There, I fixed it four you.

  13. How do you widen a twenty foot high railway embankment. Well you can actually see it being done at Gordan park between Middlemore and Papatoetoe. It involves lots of diggers, rollers and truck loads of fill and lots and lots of diesel. Will we ever claw back the emissions. If there isn’t already a equation for this sort of things well there jolly well should be else we are flying blind. Something like carbon in versus carbon saved over time divided by the number you first thought of.

    1. Have you seen the earthworks for many roads? For instance the Waikato Expressway section that bypasses Huntly. Instead of worrying about a small embankment on an electrified railway line, maybe apply the same concerns to Transmission Gully etc.

      1. This is the electrified railway that has 36 wagon freight trains carrying 70 containers pulled by diesel locomotives we are talking about. Plus all the wooden sleepers which have being replaced with steel reinforced concrete ones. But any way I get your point its a long hard way to zero carbon.

        1. It’s important to remember that Carbon Zero is net zero. We will continue to emit carbon, the trick is to use lower emissions options (like rail) where we have to emit, so that we can sequester less.

        2. Sailor Boy, also important to note that it is not just the planting of additional trees that is important, but the net result. Planting a billion trees to have two billion destroyed by deforestation and wild fires is not an outcome that will be helpful.

        3. Yes, I agree with you all. And “net” zero can be achieved via sequestering carbon with sustainable timber harvesting, but it shouldn’t involve any changes in land use just to balance the equation (though land use is required for its own sake). Carbon Zero needs to be a system that can be maintained forever.

          This article has some good graphics; helps to understand the level of change required in a country like New Zealand. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-59157836

          We’re going to regret the political fudging of our emissions targets that happened between the Auckland GHG Inventories of 2016 and 2018. That fudging served to hide the extent of the reductions required for our fair share.

  14. Transmission Gully is a mystery project to Wellingtonians, illustrating the incredible morass of incompetence that the road-building industry is in. As a PPP it has been a disaster, certainly in the eyes of the Contractor team. Such a disaster that I seriously doubt that PPP will ever be used again in NZ. Years overdue. Millions, probably almost a billion over budget. Apparently it is completely finished and is sitting there unused, but unable to be opened due to a number of remaining pieces of paper to be filled out, that seemingly someone has forgotten about. There were about 35 items of Resource Consent box ticking to demonstrate compliance with but it seems that whoever was meant to be doing that exercise forgot to tell anyone else on the team until it was way too late. Amazingly appallingly bad incompetence.

    The entire road has been sitting there complete, including at the end of last year when torrential rain caused slips on the old SH1, and blocked SH1 completely for over 5 hours. If someone competent was in charge, they could have / should have diverted all traffic to the new TG highway instead, but oh no, we just endured yet another 5 hours of delays with no alternative means of moving, as the correct paperwork had not been completed. There is talk that the seal is not stuck down correctly, and what to do about that. Are they talking about potentially ripping up the seal on the entire length and redoing it? If so, who on earth is going to be paying for that – and if not, then just get on and open it already. This project deserves a Gold Medal for idiocy and incompetent management.

    And we continue to wait.

    1. And it should never have been a road. It should have been a second railway for resilience. Imagine if we’d been planning transport like we cared about the future.

    2. There is a really good argument right now for bringing back the Ministry of Works – maybe not with the thousands of employees it once had, but certainly at least bring back a central planning unit within government, filled with experienced heads and rational people, that could sit down and actually plan out what the country’s present and future Major Works needs might be. Do we need another hydro dam? How do we get the Main Trunk Line electrified in the North Island so we don’t need to continue buying diesel locomotive units? Where might we need additional roads and what to do about them? Where will new bridges be required for rail, for road, for cyclists? Do we need a nuclear power plant for Auckland (I’m going to jump in and say NO) but if not, then how do we solve Auckland’s hungry power needs? And lastly but not least of all, how are we going to pay for all this long term? MoW NoW !!!

      1. Agree with Heidi. Although the PPP arrangement for Transmission Gully Motorway has been a small disaster, a much bigger disaster has been building the road in the first place and this would have been the case whatever arrangement was employed to fund it. The principal argument that Wellington needs another egress in the event of the existing routes becoming blocked could have been fulfilled by a much smaller-scale, lower-speed emergency road, rather than a full-blown, traffic-beckoning motorway. The money saved by not building the gold-plated scheme should have gone to upgrading the single-track bottleneck-section of the NIMT railway, which follows the same unstable hillside which TGM was built to avoid. People love to complain that the existing highway is a “goat track” and therefore needed replacing, but this description much more aptly fits this part of the main trunk railway which was built in the 1880s and has changed little since then. As well as being a significant bottleneck, it also still suffers from exactly the same landslip-vulnerability that was trotted out to “justify” TGM.

        Admittedly TGM was instigated by another government with very different ideas to the present one, but the present govt still seems to be embracing the ‘build more roads’ mentality and has yet to come to grips with the urgent need to stop this and start ‘building more railways’.

  15. That Rosedale interchange looks good – in fact, close to how Parnell Station could have been if it was properly integrated onto Beach Road as originally planned.

  16. “Both the Puhoi to Warkworth and Transmission Gully projects are PPPs and that means Waka Kotahi are now going to have to actually start paying for them and that means hundreds of millions annually will be taken out of our transport budgets for the next 25 years.”

    Can we not send the annual bill to the National Party? I’m fine, for, in exchange, only allowing card-carrying National Party members being allowed to drive there. Might give them some membership increase, albeit new members might find the fees a bit steep.

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