Kia ora – May is upon us but it feels like March, which is a little worrying but it’s lovely weather for getting out and about in the city…


The week in Greater Auckland

Monday’s post examined the changes proposed by AT to improve bus priority on Maioro Street – and a reminder, if you want to submit on the design, submissions are open until the 20th of May.

On Tuesday, Matt looked at the cost of cycling infrastructure in Auckland, and how the Cycling and Microbility Programme Business Case (CAM-PBC) could and should make bike lanes cheaper to build.

Wednesday’s post, by urban designer Anna Michels, walked through the apparent (and apparently fairly flawed) method behind Auckland Council’s Special Character Area assessments.

Yesterday, we published a guest post by sustainable transport campaigner Tim Adriaansen, arguing why the CAM-PBC should be endorsed by Council.


Northern Busway opens on Sunday

That’s right, the Northern Busway opens this weekend – Sunday the 8th of May! Here’s our recent blog post about it. Do pop into the comments and tell us about your experience if you find yourself on a bus on the busway on Sunday.


City of Colour event lights up the city centre

A light festival across Karangahape Road and the City Centre starts today, running until the 21 of May. From public installations to store-window displays, there looks to be lots of cool artwork to explore. Jump on a half-price bus or train and check it out.


Submit for housing and climate action

The frustrated and furious tone of the comments on Wednesday’s post, about Council’s attempts to maintain special character protections over large areas of the inner suburbs, suggests that many of Greater Auckland’s readers are sick of heritage protection at the expense of a livable future.

The Coalition for More Homes, of which Greater Auckland is a partner organisation, has created a submission guide for Auckland Council’s preliminary response to central governments housing direction.

The submission guide supports enabling more homes to be built in the right places, close to good public transport, existing centres, jobs and amenities.

Enabling people to live in areas where they can access their daily needs with a short walk or cycle is essential climate action and it also contributes to creating a more affordable, inclusive and vibrant city.

Submissions close on Monday the 9th of May. So, get your submission in this weekend!

The Modal building on New North Road, by Ockham, provides 32 homes on land area that would support maybe one or two villas in an SCA.
Is housing really a generational divide?

Density vs heritage has been such a big topic over the last year, as Councils in Aotearoa’s Tier One cities have had to decide how they will implement the National Policy Statement on Urban Design. Adam Jacobson, writing at Stuff, argues that what we’re seeing is a generational divide when it comes to housing in urban areas.

The article quotes the opinions of heritage protection advocates, as well as those of young activists campaigning for increased density allowances.

Generation Zero spokesperson David Robertson said special character areas were pushing “much-needed housing” out of the central suburbs away from jobs, existing infrastructure and transport links, and forcing Aucklanders into “higher-carbon lifestyles”.

“We need more homes close to where people work, live, and play – it’s a question of liveability, affordability, equity and climate action in Auckland – all interlinked topics that need to be urgently addressed.”

And finally, for a neat summary of why this is all really important, watch this excellent animated graph all the way through to the end:


Council votes on the CAM-PBC

Council today voted to endorse AT’s direction for the planned $300m spend on cycling infrastructure over the next decade. The vote was split 13 for, 3 against… and 7 abstained. Mayor Phil Goff was among the votes in support, and pointed out the naivety of councillors voting for the Climate Action Plan but not in support of this cycling investment.

Goff also questioned those who would not offer even endorsement for something which would help cut carbon emissions as outlined in the city’s unanimously backed Climate Action Plan.

“There’s no point in voting for a 64% per cent cut [in transport emissions in the action plan], needing 7% of journeys to be cycling, and then not do anything about it,” he told the planning committee.

Safety was very much top of mind, in the wake of a report the previous day on how our streets are more dangerous for people walking, cycling, scooting and motorbiking than previously realised. The recent tragic cycling fatalities on Auckland streets featured in Councillor Jo Bartley’s speech (transcribed):

I don’t see this as something specific to cyclists. I see this as something for all Aucklanders. If I can just say: Ellerslie, Royal Oak, Panmure. Three areas in my ward where we have had people on their bikes killed. And that’s on my watch, as the councillor for Maungakiekie-Tāmaki. So I feel some responsibility. And I know when councillors hear of a death in their community, of someone who rode their bike to work or to school, they feel it as well. We all feel it. I just think we have a responsibility to do something.

Auckland’s youngest people-on-bikes desperately need safer streets.
Preventable cycling deaths

Earlier this week, Dr Tim Welch, from the school of Architecture and Planning at Auckland University, wrote about the planning choices that have lead to an unacceptable number of entirely preventable deaths of cyclists and pedestrians on our roads.

Many people would be willing to bike to work, school, for shopping and recreation if they felt safe. Without the infrastructure to ensure safety, they are left to drive cars, unfairly becoming one of the many that may one day exact a toll on a pedestrian or cyclist. The only change they need is a bit of cement along some of the thousands of kilometres of road and have fewer cars on the street.

What if, as Dr Welch describes further down in the piece, we could follow in the steps of cities that have truly committed to Vision Zero, and erase pedestrian and cycling deaths from our road toll entirely?

How different things can be

This short video is an evocative illustration of the experience of riding a bike on safe, well-designed cycling infrastructure compared to being forced to share the road with traffic.


Public comes out in support of the Climate Action Targeted Rate

There are some interesting numbers in Todd Niall’s report on the results of Council’s submissons process for the Climate Action Targeted Rate. The overall result was that the majority of submitters support the $57million-a-year targeted rate, with a little more of the generational divide discussed above evident in the results.

In the council’s normal budget consultation, 68% of 9200 Aucklanders who responded supported the proposed climate rate, with 27% against. Highest support of 83% was among those aged 15 to 24, and 65% among 65 to 74-year-olds.

The results of the survey are a clear mandate for council to invest in projects that are going to reduce our emissions, like the CAM-PBC they’ve just endorsed – and its as-yet unfunded $1.7b extension.

All Aboard vs. Auckland Transport

Meanwhile, Niall also reflected on time spent in the courtroom listening to Auckland Transport argue that its transport plan is lawful, despite increasing emissions by 6 percent.

Auckland Transport’s lawyer told the judge the agency did not dispute that climate change – global warming – was the most significant issue facing the world, that urgent measures were needed, and transport emissions were a priority.

But, AT argued, that was not the prime focus of the RLTP. Reducing Auckland’s still-rising transport emissions by 64% from 2016 levels, was the job of something else.

Not here, not now has become a familiar cry as Auckland struggles to get a meaningful programme of climate change under way, as the 2030 deadline for halving emissions edges ever closer.

Movement vs. the NZTA

And there’s another judicial review underway; in this case, Movement, a group advocating for safe active travel, is seeking a Judicial Review of Waka Kotahi for failing ‘to give effect to the Government’s priorities for land transport (GPS 2021) in preparing and approving the National Land Transport Programme for 2021-24’.

The hearing will happen after the 16th of September this year.


The future in flooding

Unless you started the week under a rock, you will have seen the press about the NZ Sea Rise research programme’s finding that because of existing tectonic movement, sea level rise is going to be much more dramatic in many parts of Aotearoa than previously expected.

Land going down, sea rising up. Image via NZ Sea Rise.
What does that mean for Tāmaki Makaurau?

The interactive mapping tool, by data platform Takiwā, shows that of the hundreds of points studied around Auckland’s coastline, most of them are subsiding and will experience sea level rise around 50% higher than prior predictions. At Quay St, for example, the predicted sea level rise of 10cm (from 2005 levels) by 2030 will actually be around 14cm, and that could rise to 27cm in 2050.

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Let’s charge the true cost of parking

So much money is lost subsidising the storage of private vehicles on public land. Peter McGlashan aptly demonstrates the flawed maths of our existing parking solutions here:


The improper use of bollards

We love a bollard, and are avid followers of the World Bollard Association. But this week we’ve seen a few of our favourite street soldiers deployed in less honourable ways than we’d like.

And we’re sure the prospect of a midnight ram-raid keeps some shop owners awake at night (although you can’t help but wonder if there’s an element of moral panic in the rash of headlines), but is this really the right solution? Something looks a little awry in this picture.


CRL tunnel progress

Those CRL tunnels at the Karangahape Station are getting smoother, with the tunnel lining pour underway this week in the northbound tunnel. Can we keep the blue?

Pouring the concrete tunnel lining. Image via the CRL facebook page.

Te Huia’s numbers tracking up

Despite being rather unfairly scapegoated by Christopher Luxon and Simeon Brown this week Te Huia’s patronage has been increasing since the line was extended to the Strand. It seems like it’s been popular in the school holidays too.


The multi-modal joys of urban life


Who drives the least?

A couple of interesting graphs about the relationship between CO2 emissions, income and density caught our eye. American household data shows that people living in the densest places drive 70% less than the average, as mapped by Twitter user Zack Subin.

Denser zip codes have lower emissions per household than less dense – and people on higher incomes have higher emissions than people with less money.

Emissions, income, and population density. Image via Twitter

People who live in denser areas have lower emissions in large part because they drive much less.

Vehicles emissions

Connectivity is the key to the success of Paris’s Coronapistes

In neat little piece of research, Marcel Moran, a PHD student at UC Berkeley, mapped all of Paris’ coronapistes (temporary and interim bike lanes set up as a Covid-response strategy) to find out how they’d contributed to the network. Moran had watched pop-up bike lanes appear in cities worldwide in 2020, often in haphazard and disconnected ways. So what was different about the success of Paris’s Covid bike lanes?

For the study, Moran mapped Coronapistes by type – and and also by number of connections to other bike lanes. The strategy allowed him to track the network connectivity of Paris’ cycle infrastructure over time. The study found that the coronapistes, more than older parts of the network, served to plug gaps and increase connections between disconnected infrastructure over time.

Bike lanes added in 202 had more connections to other lanes than in any previous year.

Listen to Moran explain the project on the Spokesmen podcast.


Dreaming of arctic bike-packing

Find us a low-emissions way to get to the north of Norway, and we’ll be there, bikes in hand. If imaginary escapes are what you’re after this weekend, head over to The Guardian to read a travel account of a week on ebikes in the Helgeland Archipelago that includes ferries, kayaks and cod cheek.

Typical accommodation in the Helgeland Archipelago. Image via The Guardian.

Closer to home, ride the mighty Waikato

65kms of much more accessible new cycling trail will open soon: the Te Awa trail from Ngāruawāhia to Lake Karāpiro. Now, how far away are we from being able to catch Te Huia from Tāmaki to the start of the trail? That’d be a dream come true.

Te Awa River Ride is a chance to experience the majesty of the Waikato River close up. Image via Stuff.

Ka kite – thanks for following along and enjoy your weekend!

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61 comments

  1. Yep easily to clock up Km living rurally. Two sick kids to pick up from school, different times, 200km driven.
    (and they are building more houses out our way)

  2. The Te Awa trail and Te Huia has the potential for some pretty serious positive synergy. A slight bummer, you can’t start the part at either end via Te Huia tho.

    1. A big issue is that there’s only room for a few bikes on Te Huia: “One train can hold up to four bikes in the Bike/Pram Zone in the first carriage.”
      and it’s first come first served, I believe.

        1. Couldn’t some kind of guard van be put on the train for luggage (airport transfer), more prams and bikes?

        1. On the weekend everyone will want to be on the first train to Hamilton to spend the day riding Te Awa. It will be hugely popular I can’t think of any other scenic ride so easily accessible to Aucklanders.

          A layout like this would work well to handle many more bikes, and still provide seating when there aren’t bikes on board: https://gerrypatt.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/rimg00941.jpg

        2. I quite agree Jak. Linking up with Te Awa is something Kiwirail should be enabling.

          Sailor Boy that doesn’t really solve the issue. The staff are great at letting on more than 4, apparently. But that’s not something we can rely on continuing indefinitely.

        3. Te Huia schedules for linking up to ride Te Awa trail aren’t much use. earliest arrival from Auckland is 11:45. Then the latest return is 2:07pm. Not much time ride or really do anything in Hamilton if you want to do a day trip.

        4. One of the advantage of running locomotive hauled carriage trains is a bike wagon could be added. An early morning service to Hamilton and mid or late afternoon return would provide time to cycle parts of the trail. There is a lovely shared path from Frankton station to the city centre with pedestrian lights on the crossing which respond to the button within seconds. Sure we could build a station at Ngharaurea but I would have thought Tuakau and Pokeno should have preference. There is a good bus service from Hamilton to Huntly so not to sure if the train needs to duplicate it. Maybe the cycleway needs to head north to Huntly.

        5. In reply to Timmy:
          There’s only one service to Hamilton on Saturdays and it departs The Strand at 5:30 pm.

        6. Schedules change, and I was responding to a comment which was proposing increased frequency.

          I’m going to plan an overnight trip with friends once the final segment opens. Looks like we’ll need to take some time off work to make it fit with current schedules.

          Glad to hear that the conductors are flexible with regards to accommodating more bikes!

          Royce – yeah the trail should extend north to Huntly.. to Pukekohe.. to Auckland.. To Whangarei.. Whatever happened to John Key’s National party vision?

        7. The Te Awa trail is great. I rode it a few weeks ago. It’s scenic, mostly flat and has hard surfacing ; no need for MTB tyres here, thank you very much. It isn’t always at river level and there are a few undulating sections near Cambridge where it climbs to the top of a river cliff. What’s excellent is that the buses from Cambridge to Hamilton have cycle racks (Auckland: take note) so you can catch the bus back if you want a bit of a break.

          We wanted to use Te Huia for this trip, but the weekend services are far too skeletal/non-existent. Ended up driving to Ngāruawāhia and parking at The Point recreation reserve, which works well as a start/finish point.

          I agree that Te Awa should be continued all the way up to the Auckland boundary…and then into Auckland proper.

    1. Awesome stuff, I would love to see this implemented. It’s kinda ridiculous how much rail infrastructure there is in Christchurch, but it’s completely unusable by humans.

      1. I don’t know how the earthquake rebuild managed to not set aside some land in the CBD as a future rail reserve. Either ineptitude or deliberate car dependant bias.

        1. Yea, and while just letting the nuttiness of having the satellite councils compete to sprawl the city.

        2. The political ideology by those in power at the time.

          Not that transport should ever be political.

        3. Brownlee made it clear he opposed any discussion of passenger rail or rapid transit.

  3. Our land is being eroded and washed away due to sea level rise and land subsidence. At high price.
    Our engineers must know that any dredging causes erosion of the nearby coast. When children dig a hole in the sand at a beach it will soon fill in. Any hole on a beach will filled in either by water action or the wind.
    With global warming and sea level rise we need to preserve land.
    Dredging of rivers causes erosion of the river banks upstream as sand and gravel is soon washed down to fill up the space available.
    Singapore the world’s largest sand importer has ships that have been dredging in Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia and nearby islands, and using the sand to reclaim land. But those neighbouring countries’ beaches, riverbeds have been destroyed. Whole islands have disappeared.
    Dredging Auckland harbour undermines our waterfront.
    Stop dredging at Dunedin, Tauranga, South Port Lyttleton, Auckland and Manukau.
    Don’t take away the spoil and dump it at Great Barrier Island.

    1. Can’t. Too many bridges, apartments, roads, cycle lanes, houses ect ect to build.
      That’s ‘growth’ for ya.
      More of everything, exponentially.

  4. I think the bollard issue is bemusing,has about as much to do with AT,as trying to restrict school teacher parking. Reminds me of a cat chasing a laser beam,easily distracted by the bright shiny light.
    I am encouraged by the councillors,who were unafraid to support the cycling provisions,and skeptical,of the rest,how is abstaining from voting,leadership. If you oppose something,oppose it. We elect these people to represent us,and this is what they do.

  5. The high Te Huia patronage numbers for the second half of April show the real potential for this service outside of commuting. There were a number of days with more than 400 passengers total, imagine what it could be like if the trip was reduced to two hours.

    1. However imagine how long and how much disruption it would take to get the track into a good enough condition to enable a 2 hour trip. Let’s not worry to much about the speed just put in a few more stations and run at least 3 trains a day each way and 2 on Saturday. A Sunday service each way would be a great addition maybe leave Hamilton about 10 am and return about 2 pm.

      1. Agree about the frequency increases. However, concern about disruption is a terrible reason not to upgrade infrastructure. The first upgrade, the third main is already under construction, while a double tracked Whangamarino Deviation would be a new bit of track, which would minimise disruption.

        1. Did the government ever reserve the corridor over the Bombays that could be used by a new route/tunnel?

        2. First thing Kiwirail would do is shut the line down for passengers for two years so they could upgrade it exactly like they have done with Pukekohe let’s just incrementally improve its the only way. Let passenger numbers improve to the point where faster better rolling can be justified.

        3. There’s a lot to be said for building new infrastructure, transferring all traffic onto it, then rehabilitating the old stuff. It’s quite common when a road bridge is duplicated. Much less disruptive than a 78-week programme of weekend closures.

    2. And the total number for April was 6092 paying passengers and the days over Easter could have made that higher if the Auckland network wasn’t shut down for maintenance .

    3. Two hours is what is was several decades ago! I think at one point the Silver Ferns were doing Auckland to Wellington in 9 hours 40 minutes. Most of the route is double track.
      If major works are needed, they are probably done as a new line that bypasses existing track.

        1. That 25 min travel time between Auckland and Papakura is telling and the reason why these times can’t be repeated at the moment. With a couple of extra stops Te Huia is not too far behind the Silver Fern between Papakura and Hamilton.

        2. 10 hours 55 minutes southbound, including a 25 minute lunch stop at Taihape. The central North Island section would become quicker after the track improvements associated with electrification.

        3. ditto below but also I compared with the Northern Explorer timetable with the Silver Fern and from Auckland to Wellington it’s 10 hrs 40 mins and 10hrs 55min respectively. Could be to do with the extra stops it used to do but it seems the track has been improved further south relatively?

        4. Jezza – The Te Huia takes around 38mins from the Strand to Papakura and that’s with around a 2min stop at Puhinui .

          Grant – the lunch at Taihape wasn’t that bad but my biggest complaint would have been the Salad Dressing you could have stood a fence post in it and with a strong gale it would have still stayed upright and that was mid January .

      1. Wow 25 mins from The Strand to Papakura. That now takes twice as long (50mins) as per the timetable for Te Huia. Admittedly that includes a stop at Puhinui. I guess it has to keep behind the metro all stop services.

        1. Yet another reason why it’s absurd to have the third and fourth main as separate projects, with separate business cases and so on. Four-tracking needs to be a priority all the way from Papakura to Westfield.

        2. When I went on Te Huia it took only 12 minutes to get to Sylvia Park and then it basically slowed down from there

  6. I took the 9:18 am Te Huia from The Strand to Frankton (Hamilton) yesterday. You can buy a Bee Card on the train for $5 so the fare is only $9. (It’s $15 cash.)

    A group of 44 older people got on at Papakura, far outnumbering the other passengers. The superannuitants were headed to Hamilton for a walk.
    SuperGold Card holders travel for free. We arrived at Frankton at 11:40 am (five minutes early). The afternoon service returns to Auckland at 2:07 pm.

    A nice surprise was the shared path that takes you from the station to the city centre in about 15 minutes (on foot).

    1. What they really need is a pathway across the Eastcoast line into the Frankton Shopping area which could give a quicker means into Hamilton itself .

      1. What the really, REALLY need is to reopen the city centre station in Hamilton. There’s plenty going on in central Hamilton day or night and it’d have even more of a buzz if people were able to travel there easily by rail.

        That said, I am glad that the Frankton station is the current terminus and that there is a good route into town.

        1. Apart from the occasional shop lifting fracas at Kmart, where is this “plenty going on” in Central Hamilton,”day or night”?

        2. There is plans for an underground central Hamilton station, in partnership with the shopping centre from what I understand.

        3. Ok: My partner and I stopped off in Hamilton last Friday to have supper the Szechuan restaurant in Bryce Street, en route to Taupō by car. The streets were full of people, the restaurants were busy, you couldn’t get a car park anywhere near the centre….this is how a city should feel on a Friday night.

          Plenty going on to my eyes. Go to Hamilton and see it for yourself.

        4. Hamilton has more to do than we had time for in a weekend, so we’ll go again. Taking the train Friday night and returning Monday morning, if that fits with your work, makes a very relaxing weekend. The Te Awa trail is superb, and I loved the fact that the train station is connected with a good path to the centre.

    1. Isn’t it great? Thanks for reminding me. I skimmed it and then realized I needed to put it aside for enjoyment when I had more time.

    1. Be interesting how much COVID has delayed the CRL, or more specifically just when is the opening date? I think the CEO of the CRL is pretty good.

  7. CRL station renaming is being put to the NZ geographic board and consultation.
    -Britomart as Waitemata. I think this is confusing, as the name is not specific to the local area.
    -Aotea as Te Wai Horotiu. I think this is also confusing as the name is not specific to the local area. The stream runs to Britomart. Nothing in the area has a name in common usage that is related but it is the name of a well known Waikato town. It’s been called Aotea for ages and I think most people are happy with it.. If it had to be renamed then Midcity, Midtown, Wellesley St or Victoria St would all be better names.
    -K’Rd with fixed spelling. This should be done only if the road is also renamed. Might be a case for actually naming the station “K’Rd”, as it’d remove confusion for non locals.
    -Mt Eden as Maungawhau. This should be done only if the road is also renamed.
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/four-te-reo-maori-names-proposed-for-city-rail-link-stations/BNE25RO53KVYLJAQHITZNWSW4Y/

    1. Britomart to Waitemata and if people Google it they will end up in the Harbour , and think of the cost to change all the signage at the station and the stations platforms at Oarakei and Parnelll , timetables , announcements on the trains .
      And I think 99% will still call K’rd K’rd no matter what .
      And at least with Mt Eden they have created a sign with both names on it .
      As for Aotea if it’s Googled to find it you are going to end up North of Hamilton at the Freezing Works not a Railway station in the centre of Auckland , Horotiu itself use to have a station which has now long gone

    2. I’m with you on Britomart and Aotea Square, but I think we can afford to push the boat out a bit at Karangahape and Maungawhau. The correct name is similar enough to the name in existing usage not to massively trip people up – and if “K Road” survives as an informal term it doesn’t need to do so on a station sign, that’s a bit cringy to me. And the latter is pretty widely known since it’s used so much in reference to the mountain.

      The argument for tourists getting lost somewhere between Wellesley Street and the Waikato is a bit overstated. Nobody at that level of knowledge of Auckland (or rather lack thereof) will be aware of Horotiu the township in the first place.

      1. I’m all on board for – and actually prefer – more Te Reo names, but I can’t see the usefulness of having a station named in Maori which differs to the area’s name itself. Britomart to Waitemata being the case in point. But assuming it happens, will we rename it the Waitemata Transport Center? Serious question.

        Aotea seemed such an appropriate name too and its links to the center and square. And its Te Reo, obviously. I do agree with spelling K’Rd correctly and that ultimately everyone will call it that anyway.

        Dual names at Mt Eden would work, as its a direct translation effectively. Interestingly, in Dublin they have English and Gaelic at all Luas stops but that won’t work always here.

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