Tomorrow the Auckland Transport board hold their first meeting of the year. Below are some of the things that stood out from the various papers.
These are the items that stand out from the closed agenda.
- TERP Implementation – Next Steps and Climate change and TERP implementation
- Special Event Management
- Public Transport Recovery
- Emergency Event Recovery
Items for Approval
- AT Open Loop Recommendation – I assume this part of ATs plan to go ahead with plans to open up HOP to credit cards and phone based payment apps in advance of the national ticketing system.
Here are the items in the open business report that caught my attention.
Weather Event update – As part of an update on the impact and response to some of the recent weather events, AT notes some of these impacts.
At the time of writing, the Auckland region has sustained widespread damage to our roading network, particularly in the north and west of the region. More than 120 roads have been fully closed over the last three weeks and 40 remain closed one week after Cyclone Gabrielle; most are where roads have fallen away in part or significant over-slips remain that will take time to repair. Focus has now switched to undertaking engineering investigations and design to reinstate as quickly as possible, with a particular focus and support to AEM on road impacts in the West of the region.
Across the network, our contractors have unfortunately had to tow more than 6,000 damaged or abandoned vehicles and removed four large barge loads (40-60 tonnes) of debri from the harbour.
That’s a lot of cars, one thing I have wondered, I’m sure there must be some families that have lost multiple vehicles. If AT had done a better job at delivering our PT and active mode networks, how many of those families might have chosen to not replace them all e.g. going from two cars down to one.
High-Risk Intersections Programme – The Triangle Rd and Makora Rd intersection is one I know well, having previously being part of my regular bike commute. I find it absurd that AT can still get away with upgrading intersections and missing off pedestrian legs, and especially where bike lanes already exists, not at least providing protection on the approach to the intersection.
Construction has been completed on the new signalised intersection at Triangle Road and Makora Road, Massey. The intersection is classed as high-risk as there have been eight reported injury crashes between 2016 and 2020. The improvement will provide a safe intersection for all road users and is expected to reduce Death and Serious Injury (DSI) crashes by 0.4 per year
Construction has started on the new signalised intersection at Neilson Street and Alfred Street, Onehunga and is planned to be completed by the end of March. The intersection is classed as high-risk as there have been 11 reported injury crashes between 2016 and 2020. The improvement will provide a safe intersection for all road users and is expected to reduce DSI crashes by 0.62 per year.
Supporting Growth – The supporting Growth alliance are developing and consenting new transport networks to support sprawl in the North, North West and South, as well as also being tasked with consenting the Airport to Botany busway. This update suggests there are a bunch of notifications and consultations coming up.
Notices of Requirement (NoRs) were lodged with Auckland Council in December for the North West Network. This is a significant milestone including 17 AT corridors in addition to Waka Kotahi’s projects. Auckland Council will publicly notify the applications for submission (to approximately 5000 people) on 23 February 2023. There is expected to be a high level of interest given the scale of the network.
NoRs were also lodged with Auckland Council for Airport to Botany in December, including both AT and Waka Kotahi projects. Auckland Council will publicly notify the applications for submissions (to approximately 5,000 people) on 12 March 2023.
Public engagement is planned for the Takanini Frequent Transit Network optioneering in March 2023, which includes urban corridors between Drury, Takanini and Manukau. Landowner engagement on the preferred options route refinement is planned for February and March for Warkworth, Pukekohe, Takanini Level Crossings and North
Mayoral Meddling – AT say:
In response to the Letter of Expectation from the Mayor, the Network Optimisation Programme will seek through the Statement of Intent to:
- Bring forward the investigation of dynamic lanes.
- Pilot dynamic timings (change the use of lanes depending on operational requirements and time of day).
- Enhance Integrated Technology Solutions across the network.
Dynamic lanes, if used for speeding up public transport, and appropriate safety measures in place so that there is enhanced pedestrian access, could be a useful outcome. If instead it’s just about stuffing more cars down existing roads, that’s not going to help much.
They also confirm they’re reviewing all projects that look to improve things for bikes or PT users.
A number of business cases and designs for project upgrades to road corridors are currently undergoing a review to confirm options and to ensure alignment with the mayoral letter of expectations, including consideration of all transport users, project prioritisation and engagement with Local Boards and communities. The reviews shall be undertaken in 2023 and include re engagement with the relevant Local Boards. The current projects under review include Great North Road, New North Road, Waitemata Safe Routes, Point Chevalier to Westmere and the central area cycling business.
Parking Promotions – This sounds good but how about AT do something similar for PT customers?
AT Park Promotions module now allows a business to promote itself using an AT Park feature. Shops, cafés, health services, and any other business can offer a parking discount to customers to attract or reward them by providing them with additional value. This module went live on 21 November 2022.
Embodied Greenhouse Gas Emissions Target
The board are being asked to adopt a target of reducing embodied greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2031 (from 2021/22 baseline). They note:
Embodied emissions include emissions from the materials and methods that AT uses to construct and maintain the transport network. While it excludes the emissions associated with the construction of third-party developments, it does include the maintenance of new roads for example, once vested to AT. Embodied emissions represent a significant proportion of emissions compared to AT operational emissions (about fifteen times greater), and these targets are of reputational importance and essential to our social license to operate. The embodied emissions target complements existing targets that address other sources of transport emissions AT operational and public transport operational emissions.
Reduced embodied emissions will require more than just the implementation of low carbon materials and technologies. A target of 50% would require a carbon cost management (CCM, similar to whole of life) approach to understand the relationship between carbon emissions and cost associated with infrastructure delivery. Building less and building “clever” through efficient design, reducing material quantities and minimising construction operations leads to less carbon and less cost. AT would require a shift to “building less” with increased efficiency. ATs contractors would implement many of the low carbon technologies on the network as they seek to reduce their own emissions, reducing the cost implications for AT. As the market and supply chain for low carbon materials evolves, low carbon solutions will become less expensive and contribute to achieving the proposed target.
As well as both council and government requirements to reduce emissions, they say this is partly about optics
The Science Based Target Initiative (SBTI) target of 46% reduction by 2031 is required to keep warming below 1.5ºC by 2100. This is the aspirational target required for AT to maintain its Climate Leaders Coalition (CLC) membership. The SBTI target of 27% reduction by 2031 is required to keep warming below 2ºC by 2100. Adoption of this more achievable target would require AT to give up its CLC membership. The recommendation is to maintain membership of CLC and adopt the higher aspirational target of 46% (rounded to 50%).
But in classic AT style, they admit this is largely for show and there’s no implications if they don’t meet it.
Any embodied emissions reduction target adopted by AT will have the status of an AT policy position. Aside from that, based on legal advice provided previously for the operational emissions target, adopting the target does not have any particular legal implications; nor are there implications if the target is not met.
As for where AT’s embodied emissions are coming from, it’s mostly from maintenance and renewals. Unsurprisingly they also say they have identified “the use of concrete and steel and the energy use associated with transport of materials/construction works on site as the largest contributors to embodied emissions“,
Meanwhile the green line on this graph shows what they’ll need to achieve compared to the graph above.
One option that could help them reduce maintenance costs – from a separate paper on the Inner West project – plant more street trees
The proposed street trees have a positive impact on the ambience, temperature and air quality along the routes. Reducing surface temperature contributes to the longevity of the road pavement by reducing wear and tear in hot weather, while the planting and tree pits contribute to the sponge effect to help absorb and slow down surface water run-off.
One final piece of ‘good‘ news is AT are already quite a bit of the way there because …. they’re under delivering
AT currently under delivers the capital programme each year relative to the baseline identified in the RLTP (2021). This alone contributes in the order of a 20% embodied emissions reduction.
It is good that AT are looking to adopt this target, I just hope they take some real steps to implement it.
At the same time, the scale of emissions needs to be put in perspective, the total annual embodied emissions are equivalent to about 70,000 petrol cars driven for one year. There are just over 1.06 million petrol cars on Auckland roads so AT could achieve the equivalent of a 100% reduction in embodied emissions if they could just get around 7% of people to shift to PT or active modes – something that should be more than possible if they just delivered them.
Of course, they should do both.
Inner West projects
Following on from a similar request to the Waitemata Local Board, the AT board are being asked to approve going ahead with two of the inner-west projects while pausing the section in the middle that helps link them together.
I won’t relitigate all of that but a few interesting comments in the paper stood out to me.
- Works are happening on Meola Rd regardless of if the AT board give approval or not, and we know from previous information that this is far more expensive than the works to deliver a cycleway.
AT is due to undertake reconstruction and renewal of the Meola Road pavement in 2023. This work will happen regardless of the cycleway work.
- AT looked at, and rejected, options to reduce the costs of these projects but it would have required potentially the:
removal of more car parking spaces, omission of the bus lanes and associated journey time savings, fewer pedestrian facilities, fewer street trees and reduction of sightlines at side road entrances to the absolute minimum
- Speaking of removing carparking, this is one of the concerns some businesses have about the Gt North Rd project. Yet as AT discovered, it has nothing to do with customers and all to do with the staff themselves:
Much of the concern is around employee parking, which is already an issue as spaces along the corridor are mostly time limited, meaning that some employees move cars around every 2 hours to circumvent the long-stay parking restrictions
- The embodied emissions of these projects could probably be covered just by the mode-shift they enable.
The embedded carbon for Point Chevalier to Westmere project was assessed as around 4,500 tCO2-e, which is equivalent to emissions released by 2,044 light passenger petrol cars driven for one year in New Zealand. For Great North Road the equivalent figures are 1,727 tCO2-e or 780 light passenger vehicles.
Is there anything else that stood out from the board papers I’ve missed?