Tomorrow the Auckland Transport board meet again. Here are some of the highlights from their board papers. The open session starts at 9am and can be watched on this Teams link.
The closed session is typically where the most interesting items are discussed.
Items for Approval
- AT Reputation Development – a lot of development will be needed to restore ATs appalling reputation
- Ferry Vessel Procurement (Tranche 2)
- Auckland Parking Strategy – Next Steps – will AT deliver their refreshed, but largely the same as existing, parking strategy or will their reputation for abandoning things at the first sign of resistance prevail?
- Auckland Transport Response to TERP – I expect we’ll see a lot of comments to the effect of “we’d love to deliver this but can’t because it will cost money, some people will complain and our outdated modelling claims it won’t work”.
Below are some of the items that stood out from the regular business report.
Devonport Safety Improvements
Last year, AT consulted on a series of safety improvements in Devonport and included changes such as raised tables, intersection changes, additional pedestrian crossings and reduced speed limits. AT say that despite both local businesses and the local board being supportive of the changes, they’re going to ‘work-shop’ them with the council’s Transport & Infrastructure Committee on 5 April.
If they’re going to start giving councillors a veto or design input on every safety project it will only make project delivery even slower and more tedious.
Innovated Streets Successes
While some of the innovating streets projects, such as the one in Onehunga, received unfair criticism and were removed by AT, some that have been successful were trials of street changes around 12 schools.
Some of these changes may include temporary measures such as planter boxes, speed humps, better signage and no parking and speed reduction zones.
Trials for 12 schools across Auckland have been completed after a one-year period and the project sites are ready for design and permanent installation. Sunnyhills and Birkdale Schools are planned for permanent installation commencing in the 2022/2023 financial year. [….] For the remaining ten schools, community drop-in sessions and design work will commence at the end of this financial year, with permanent installation planned in the subsequent financial years subject to budget availability.
With these successes, perhaps AT should be looking to roll out these temporary treatments for many of the other ~550 schools around the region.
Bus Driver Shortfall
AT say that as of 12 March, Auckland is short of 363 bus drivers (down 15), which is 17% of the full requirement. We’re also short 35 ferry crew or 18% of the full requirement and that they’re harder to fill due to skippers not being included in recent immigration setting changes.
Special Vehicle Lane Enforcement
It’s good to see AT continuing to roll out CCTV based enforcement of bus and transit lanes around the region. They say they started enforcement on four areas of Anzac Ave on 27 Feb and today will see enforcement start on three areas of inbound bus lane along Gt North Rd as well as five areas along Forrest Hill Rd.
Traffic Bylaw Review
AT say they’ve started work to update and refresh the AT Traffic Bylaw and that it will consider, among other changes, the following:
- new and emerging traffic and parking policies and regulations in New Zealand/globally;
- investigate whether any changes could be made to allow for greater alignment with the planned new Auckland Parking Strategy;
- harmonise and dovetail the AT Traffic Bylaw with the AC Traffic Bylaw which is also currently being updated by the Council;
- with consideration to the above points, assess how to best empower the TCC through the Bylaw.
AT loves to blame various rules as why they can’t do things like properly enforce illegal parking, when those rules are their own that they have the power to change, so hopefully this will help fix that. Though public consultation on the changes isn’t expected until the first half of 2024 so any improvement is a long way off.
A couple of consent comments stood out.
Cabinet has agreed that AT can use the COVID-19 fast-track consenting process for Section 4B of the Glen Innes to Tāmaki Drive Shared Path. Once the project team lodges their consent application with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), a decision is expected within around three months.
But how long will it take for the team to lodge the application?
AT has requested that Council allows the Notice of Requirement and associated resource consent application for the Westgate Bus Station Project to be determined by the Environment Court on direct referral. This will reduce duplication by avoiding a two-stage consenting process in circumstances where appeal to the Environment Court is very likely and achieve substantial time and cost savings for all parties and the Court. Direct referral will also enable the construction and delivery timeframes, and an important project for Aucklanders to be delivered more quickly
Bald Faced Lies
In a section on contracts awarded worth more than $2 million, AT say:
Upgrade of the Rata Street and Great North Road intersection to improve safety for all modes and improve active modes infrastructure by improving the existing cycling and pedestrian facilities.
Yet in the feedback report from the consultation in 2021 on the Ash and Rata St project, they said:
For the Ash Street / Rata Street project we did seek funding for safe cycling facilities as part of the original project scoping. However, there are no cycle projects programmed for this area as part of our current programme, which we could bring forward for a ‘dig once’ opportunity. There is overlap with a Connected Communities corridor at the intersection of Rosebank Road and Ash Street. As such, this intersection is excluded from the Ash Street / Rata Street project.
We understand feedback was clear how unsafe this area is for people on bikes and acknowledge there are deficiencies for people on bikes across the entire region. With limited funding for cycling investment, we need to prioritise delivery of safe cycling facilities in certain areas. In west Auckland, Henderson was an initial priority area and AT is currently investigating a proposed network of cycle routes in this area. However, this does not include the New Lynn and Avondale areas.
For this intersection specifically, this was what was in the original consultation. That doesn’t look very safe for bikes
Prioritisation of late running buses
AT say they’re starting to roll out intersection signal priority at on a few corridors. This kind of technology has been widely used overseas for many years.
A new technology solution that gives priority at intersections for busses if they are running late, is now operational at eight intersections along the Manukau/Pah Road Corridor. A further 17 intersections will be implemented on Dominion Road and the Eastern Busway in the next two months.
All buses in Auckland are fitted with Global Positioning System devices that transmit their location every 11 seconds. This is used on our real time websites and mobile applications to show the locations of buses and estimated arrival times at bus stops. The equipment also sends passenger count numbers which is translated in our systems to individual bus occupancy, which is then reflected on our Passenger Information Displays at all bus stops that have a sign indicating how full arriving buses are. This occupancy information is also shown in the AT Mobile app.
AT has implemented a solution that puts a rules engine in front of the traffic light prioritisation engine (SCATS). This can then use information such as the bus route, whether it is late running or not, and the desired priority direction (to or from the city for AM or PM) to determine if an individual bus gets signal priority at the upcoming intersection it is approaching.
Whangaparaoa Bus Interchange
The Hibiscus and Bays Local Board are presenting to the AT Board on their support for a bus interchange in Whangaparaoa as part of Penlink, and it incudes this letter from the local board.
The interchange is the only way to allow a Rapid Transit Network (RTN) directly onto the Peninsula. The inability to put bus lanes along Whangaparāoa, due to the topography, has created long bottlenecks for public transport in the past, and given that buses travel the same route as private vehicles, but stop more frequently, journey times have not prompted whole scale travel choice switching. An interchange providing direct access to the RTB, combined with Frequent Transit Network drawing from East and West, would finally make public transport more attractive than private vehicle use for city and north shore commuters. The business case for Penlink has provided evidence that tailpipe emissions would reduce due to the shortening of the route, this project would magnify this effect as the NX2 would start from this point. It is likely to be faster, and more reliable than the Gulf Harbour Ferry, and also eases pressure on both the Hibiscus Coast Park and Ride and the Silverdale motorway on/off ramps
What is crucial is that this project is provided funding to be operational from day one of the O Mahurangi Penlink opening in 202. We believe that this is a realistic goal if approved year.
I understand that Waka Kotahi changed AT’s original design for the intersection between Penlink and Whangaparaoa Rd which made the planned bus interchange, to go next to Cedar Tce, potentially unviable, but also that AT have been working to change that.
Waitemata Harbour Crossing
A paper in the open session gives an update on where things are at. A new consultation on the options was originally due to be launched today but has been pushed back to mid-next week.
- These options include both bridge and tunnel options for the crossing of the harbour, along with options for the use of the existing Auckland Harbour Bridge. There is less detail on the potential alignment of the future North Shore rapid transit line (expected to be light rail in a form consistent with Auckland Light Rail (ALR)), as this is influenced by the crossing form and location, as well as further land use planning underway by the project team. The consultation will not be framed to select a preferred option, but rather to better understand what is important to the community and stakeholders and allow this feedback to shape a composite of options into refined composite option.
- Each consultation option has differing potential to contribute towards AT’s strategic objectives or regional transport outcomes, especially in terms of how well they provide for public transport and active mode trips, minimise additional vehicle travel and support a more compact urban form. Each option also has differing environmental impacts, with bridge options having more obvious impacts, whilst tunnel options involve significant volumes of embedded carbon. Tunnels are also likely to have higher ongoing operational costs.
- One issue of interest to AT is the option to convert the existing Northern Busway to light rail (as opposed to building a new corridor). AT specialists have raised extreme concerns about the viability of the option, which would have a greater impact on AT’s operations and customer service than the current Rail Network Rebuild by KiwiRail.
I hope the consultation includes issues like those carbon and operational costs for the various options.
There is one other set of papers about Warkworth but this post is long enough so I’ll cover that in a separate post. If you’ve looked through them, is there anything that stood out to you?
On the TERP. It has a 50% reduction in domestic aviation emissions by 2030. What is the plan? Especially, with the planned airport export expansion.
NZ government just writes plans. The plan execution department was disestablished.
The plan is to leave it to central government.
Council says it doesn’t see the TERP as a reason to regulate helipad consents because “commercial airlines are the target category for aviation emissions reduction” and “helicopter activity would represent a very small quotient in the emissions profile for Auckland”*…which (if it were true) would be convenient for Council, because it has no control over commercial airline activity (but can regulate helipads, if it wanted to).
*Page 41 of https://infocouncil.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/RedirectToDoc.aspx?URL=Open/2023/03/20230322_WHK_MIN_11472.PDF
Council provided no data for that claim. Indeed, they provided no data in the TERP either, so they probably don’t have any. That would be a big, bold, claim to make from a basis of total ignorance.
Quiet Sky Waiheke responded* to Council that in fact, helicopters are responsible for a significant portion of Auckland’s aviation emissions, accounting for 25% of all aviation hours flown, based on CAA data. And because they are far less efficient than fixed-wing aircraft for a number of reasons, their emissions are significantly higher than 25%.
*Page 19 of: https://infocouncil.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/RedirectToDoc.aspx?URL=Open/2023/03/20230322_WHK_MAT_11472.PDF
Helicopters have the highest emissions per VKT of any form of transport and council’s plan is to leave them almost unregulated. The Planning Environment and Parks Committee (PEPC) is meeting on Thursday to vote on it. Councillors are getting their information from the planning team, which is making unsubstantiated claims like the one above. It would definitely help if you emailed the Councillors on the committee directly to ask them to take action.
Every Councillor is on the PEPC and their contact details are here: https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/about-auckland-council/how-auckland-council-works/governing-body-wards-committees/wards/Pages/ward-councillors.aspx
See also: https://quietskywaiheke.nz/2022/09/19/including-helicopters-in-the-terp/
“helicopters are responsible for a significant portion of Auckland’s aviation emissions, accounting for 25% of all aviation hours flown, based on CAA data. And because they are far less efficient than fixed-wing aircraft for a number of reasons, their emissions are significantly higher than 25%.”
Sadly, the data wouldn’t quite support that either, because it still depends on the kind of aircraft. I bet that an A380 has higher emissions per flight hour than even the most-polluting helicopter.
But I agree, simply saying “nothing to see here” (because we don’t want to talk about it or don’t have enough data) sounds pretty dodgy.
Yes, but an A380 carries way more people*. Busses have higher emissions than a Suzuki Swift, too, but it is still better to have 50 people in a bus than 50 Swift on the road.
*That does not mean A380 use should be unregulated or increased.
Exactly what JohnBGoode says: The TERP measurements are emissions per vehicle kilometre travelled (on a per capita basis). It seems we all agree some better data is required.
The RR Trents on B787s and A380s are exponentially more efficient turbofan engines then those engines (piston, turbojet and turbofan) found on helicopters, many of which are quite old here in NZ. Those Trent engines are better then anything on NZs diesel bus and train fleets.
When you start looking at pax numbers, helicopters are shocking.
“But urban helicopter flights are essential to get to surfing, golf or vineyards!” Now why would anyone want to hide data on this?
Those raised tables warning of a School ahead seem like a great idea! Need more bright ideas like that. Lock them in now and get them built ASAP !
Ash St / Rata St is not the most pleasant place to cycle but it is relatively straight and flat. There aren’t better routes, so can’t see why more consideration can’t be given, as it’ll have to be built eventually.
The busway was supposed to be built with LRT in mind. What’s happened to make the viability of doing this concerning?
Ash Rata is the East/west corridor, for everything west of New Lynn. The Whau on one side, New Lynn “town” on the other (that is truly vile to bike). During the consultation even car drivers said the road is too wide.
Somthing needs to happen, but even with CATR funding a New Lynn bike network nothing will.
Basically there are different levels of future proofing.
The original busway was built to geometrically be able to take light rail but had services installed underneath that will need to be moved first.
On the extension to Albany they’ve taken the extra step of not putting the services under the road to begin with so that section would be easier to convert.
“Last year, AT consulted on a series of safety improvements in Devonport”
This project has been around (with nothing delivered, of course) for 6 or more years by now. I’m happy they found another way to delay it. /s
AT should just leave it behind (and perhaps remove it from crash reporting since its residents are quite explicit about not wanting safety improvements).
“since its residents are quite explicit about not wanting safety improvements”
I thought AT already HAD “If you want to stop any project, just shout loudly” tattooed across their foreheads?
Anything that isn’t an underground pipe will have opponents, often quite loud ones. If you make decisions like that, you will never act. “Areas that want cycle improvements” are just areas where AT hasn’t proposed anything. If you propose something there (anywhere), they will then suddenly sprout opponents.
Yes that is true, and we have the km/year of cycleways to show for it.
I saw in the news this morning that a private consortium of residents and businesses built 2.5 km of road through hilly terrain, on private land, in the couple of months since Gabrielle cut them off.
That’s a rate of over 10km/year with little or no planning phase or consultation, beating AT’s Cycleway delivery all three years 2018-2020.
I wonder if they came in under budget?
Residents want the improvements. “Certain” Board members seem not to believe that.
Good they doing the bus priority traffic light work. Wayne Brown will be happy.
It is a bit worrying that AT is so concerned with their public image. Surely they should be concentrating on action rather than their reflection? It is a vicious circle that an agency works on its PR because it is failing to deliver, and the public will continue to dislike or laugh at it because it is very easy to see through the veneer to the outright obfuscation.
There must be some way it could be converted in staves with buses using lanes on the motorway or temporary corridors? Would be insane to duplicate this corridor because it’s too hard basket
Wayne Brown writing in the March Ponsonby News: “It seems that climate change is here so we need to actually prepare our city for it. Vain attempts to fend it off with hopeful cycling projects are probably a bit late now. Fortunately most of the Ponsonby readership areas fared quite well in both storms.”
“Trials for 12 schools across Auckland have been completed after a one-year period and the project sites are ready for design and permanent installation. [….] Permanent installation [is] planned in the subsequent financial years subject to budget availability.”
So you have just run a successful trial of improvements. You’re not sure when you can afford more permanent changes but the installed solutions are working well. What do you do in the meantime? Well, if you’re AT you pay to remove the temporary solutions and put it back to how it was even though you’re now sure this will make it more dangerous.
I thought the normal thing to do is to leave it in place until the road renewal machine comes around and then, after whatever roadworks are finished, put back a permanent design.
Would make sense to do as you describe. Noticed they removed the temporary work at school near us a couple of weeks ago though, removing the planters, plastic markers and I think they even sandblasted off the paint so didn’t look like prep for resealing.
What a joke tonight. Another problem with the electric train service, as the power from Puhinui was initially turned off, a fault. Lack of communicattion at Britomart with regard to replacement rail buses and onward travel options for people going to Papakura and beyond. The response from the on board train management was to make your way to Papakura by your own means. Oh by the way, you can catch the Airbus to Manukau and then the 33 to Papakura if you want to! Do we live in a first world city? Well a first world city with a third rate public transport system!
Sympathies. I must say it feels like a thankless task being an advocate for passenger rail (or for public transport in NZ generally) with this sort of thing happening all the time.
These things happen all the time overseas too surely? It’s good there is an alternative with the Airbus then 33. Comms during a sudden disruption could be better though, be better once we have control centre in Britomart?
Good and quality article
It’s great that they’re working on a bus priority system for the lights. The outcome will please Wayne Brown. dumb ways to die