Tomorrow the Auckland Transport board have their first public board meeting for the 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
- Eastern Busway – Outcomes of Public Consultation on Preferred Scheme – Will we see the scheme change back to staying on Ti Rakau Dr or will AT continue with the Burswood deviation?
- NZ Police – Assistant Commissioner Bruce O’Brien – I wonder if the police will be committing to greater enforcement?
- Road to Zero Programme & Next steps – AT are getting ready to launch another round of speed limit changes but approval for that was given at the last meeting.
- Access for Everyone – A4E as it’s otherwise known is a key part of the City Centre Masterplan and is about making the city centre more people friendly by changing how traffic around the city works. AT have been working on a business case for how to implement this so presumably this is asking the board to approve it.
- Auckland Parking Strategy – Approval for Consultation – Auckland Transport have been reviewing their 2015 parking strategy – that they never bothered to try implement. There has already been some discussion about it, such as at Council.
- Auckland Transport Statement of Intent (2022 – 2025) – The SOI outlines ATs plans for the subsequent three years, though is updated annually. I wonder if there’ll be anything that stands out in this years version?
Here are the items in the open business report that caught my attention.
Ash And Rata Streets
Last year Auckland Transport consulted on safety improvements to Ash and Rata, but as we’ve highlighted before, not for bikes. It seems they’ve not settled on the changes they’ll make.
AT is proposing to proceed with the following safety changes to Ash and Rata Streets, subject to funding:
- New signalised crossing on Ash Street next to Highbury Street and a raised table in the eastbound lanes.
- Raised safety tables at the intersection of Ash Street and Rosebank Road.
- Signalising the intersection of Ash Street and Wairau Avenue and adding a raised table.
- Raised safety tables at intersection of Rata Street and Great North Road.
- Electronic driver feedback signs along Ash Street and Rata Street.
- Road marking changes on the Whau River overbridge.
- Upgraded street lighting at those locations where changes are made.
Orewa Boulevard Safety Improvements
AT say this project will begin in April/May. It’s a project that has a good name and has some good elements such as extending the the shared path further east and adding some raised pedestrian and bike crossings. However, it also increases (free) carparking in Orewa at a time AT should be looking to manage or even reduce it – inline with their existing parking strategy.
Special Vehicle Lane Programme
In a section on enforcing bus lanes, AT note
Queen Street is currently experiencing high volumes of bus lane non-compliance, and a review of the restrictions, current signage and road markings is planned.
Do the teams working on this realise changes to Queen St are currently under construction and will result in the removal of general traffic from the street?
They also say there are a number of new enforcement cameras either recently installed or on the way.
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 two. Hopefully this leads to better bus experiences.
- Bus Infrastructure Improvements Programme – Physical Works – Three year contract (2022 to 2025) – The programme will implement localised bus stop infrastructure improvements, geared to improving bus operations, pedestrian safety and customer amenity at bus stops and stations
- Bus Priority Programme – Physical Works – Three year contract (2022 to 2025) – The programme will implement localised bus route infrastructure improvements, geared to improving efficiency, reliability, and punctuality of bus services.
On the section of the contracts issued section is this one
- Northwest Bus Improvements – Westgate Station Detailed Design – This contract is for consultant resources to deliver detailed designs for the improvement of Westgate Bus Station. The project includes detailed designs of bus shoulder lane extensions, on-street bus stops and hybrid offline and on-street bus station in the Northwest Auckland area.
Construction isn’t due to start on the Westgate station till next year – meanwhile there is still no progress on the Te Atatu and Lincoln Rd sites.
Auckland Rapid Transit Plan
Auckland Transport have been developing a rapid transit plan but that has been thrown into disarray by the light rail announcement. AT now have to work out what impact the light rail decision has had.
With the Government’s announcement that the City Centre to Māngere corridor will be tunnelled light rail, work has commenced to determine how this corridor integrates into the wider network. A range of scenarios are being developed for testing, and from these results a preferred network will be identified and developed in more detail. This work is expected to be completed in April 2022
Pop up cycleway protection
AT have started work on the first route to get pop-up cycleway protection – eventually around 60km of painted cycleways around the region will get this. It also happens to be on the route I used to use regularly but haven’t lately due to working from home as a result of COVID. This is probably one of the easier ones for them to do as the painted lanes were installed with a painted buffer between the cycle lane and the general traffic lane.
Implementation of the minor cycling and active modes programme – pop-up cycleways providing segregation of existing on-road cycle lanes began in February. The first route is along Upper Harbour Drive, providing segregation on this popular route connecting the North Shore to the North Western cycleway. A further rolling programme will be delivered across the region.
I’m interested to see the quality of the separation they’re rolling out.
Some of the comments in the monthly indicators really highlight how much worse deaths and serious injuries have been – meaning AT need to put a lot more effort in to improving safety. Of note there’s a 3 month lag in reporting so this is just up to September. Emphasis add is mine.
- For the 12 months to the end of September 2021, local roads DSI increased by 21.4%, to 545. This is 7.6% above the trajectory to meet the end of year target. Local road deaths have increased by 120.8% (from 24 last year to 53 this year). Local road serious injuries increased by 15.8% in the past year (from 425 to 492).
- For the 12 months to the end of September 2021, the DSI on all Auckland roads (including local roads and highways) increased by 19.0%, to 620. This is 7.0% above the trajectory to meet the end of year target. Furthermore, all road deaths have increased by 121.0% (from 28 last year to 62 this year). All Auckland road serious injuries increased by 13.0% in the past year (from 492 to 558).
- For the 12 months to the end of September 2021, DSI of vulnerable road users increased by 4.2%, to 270. This is 4.9% above the trajectory of this year’s target. Deaths of vulnerable road users have increased by 10.5% (from 19 last year to 21 this year). Serious injuries to vulnerable road users increased by 3.8% in the past year (from 240 to 249).
- All DSI indicators are not on track to meet the target. The high increases in DSI across local roads, all roads and for vulnerable users is likely due to lower police enforcement, alcohol and drug impairment, inappropriate speed, and lack of restraint use
Audio on Buses
An interesting paper titled Building a World Class Audio Experience on Buses looks at AT’s programme to add bilingual audio messages to buses to help those who are blind or have low vision as well as support te reo Māori. But as is often the case with these things, making it easier for these customers will make buses better for many other customers too.
Audio on buses will provide customers with simple and easy navigational support during their on-bus journey, including upcoming bus stop information and helpful guidance at transfer locations. With over 20% of customer trips including a transfer, audio announcements improve the transfer experience.
If you recall, last year AT renamed bus stops all over the region to make them easier to understand and it turns out that was the first milestone in this wider programme.
One of the things that stood out to me in the paper is that the equipment will also have benefits for HOP top ups.
In January 2022, the second major milestone was achieved with the hardware installed onto the first trial bus on 27 January. This provides three key benefits: faster AT HOP top-ups (from up to 72 hours down to one hour) which has been a pain point for our customers, bilingual audio announcements to help customers navigate easily with confidence and a new Global Positioning System (GPS).
They say their research found:
The main pain points included lack of accessibility and wayfinding assistance for blind and low vision customers, customers not knowing which stop to get off at (approximately 5,000 queries to bus drivers each day), 180,000 customers avoiding trips with transfers in them due to complexity and lack of wayfinding support and safety issues at night resulting in customers not being able to see their stops
The paper includes this example of some of the messaging users will hear.
This seems like a good improvement and hopefully AT have many more in the works to make PT easier to use.
If you’ve looked at the board papers Is there anything else that stands out?