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to the effect of “we’d love to deliver this but can’t because it will cost money, some people will complain and our outdated modelling claims it won’t work”.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.
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?