Welcome to the last Friday in April… that month went fast, eh? Settle in for a read of stories that caught our eye this week.
The Week in Greater Auckland
Another short work week with Anzac Day in the mix creating another welcome long weekend, so just two posts:
- On Wednesday, Matt looked at the options for the Onehunga line
- Thursday’s post was a guest article by Darren Davis and Malcolm McCracken, on the (rolling) tragedy of passenger rail in the lower North Island
At the end of March, Waka Kotahi launched a consultation on a future harbour crossing with a variety of bridge and tunnel options presented, with some potentially costing an eye-watering $25 billion. We covered the options here.
It’d be great if we could pick and choose the best bits – for example, start with the PT and active mode bridge from Option 4 and leave a road crossing as a separate project at a different time.
The consultation closes on Monday 1st of May so get your thoughts in now!.
Can’t Get No PT Satisfaction
The Spinoff has looked at Auckland Transport’s internal customer satisfaction metrics for public transport – and found, unsurprisingly, that it’s at an all-time low.
The first full week of March saw users’ satisfaction with their most recent public transport journey fall to an all-time low for the second consecutive week, at just 34% of respondents. The same figure was recorded the following week.
As far as overall satisfaction with the public transport system is concerned, the first week of March saw a record low of just 22% of users. That fell a further three points in the second week, to 19%, meaning that less than one in five public transport users declared themselves satisfied with the system. Most of the comments that accompanied survey responses addressed the cancellation or delay of services.
This seems wildly at odds with the satisfaction numbers AT regularly reports to its Board and shares with Council, via its Monthly Indicators reports. What’s the story?
Behind a paywall, alas, but worth digging up a copy at your fave cafe for Simon Wilson’s article on flexible streets, like this option:
The Italian firm Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) has developed a “Dynamic Street” with a “modular and reconfigurable paving system” made of hexagonal blocks of wood. Each paver has a hole in the middle: a socket for plug-and-play elements like bollards, a basketball hoop, whatever you can imagine.
The pavers might form a road for cars during the morning commute, then be re-configured as a kids’ playground and end the night as a party zone. You could trial a cycleway at almost no cost. You could change the ratios of space given to cars, walking, cycling, playing and hanging out, every day or every few years, however you perceive the need changing over time.
Changing the configuration of the pavers can be done “within hours or even minutes”, without digging up the road and with a minimum of other disruption to street users.
You know what’s even better than dynamic streets? A dynamic mayor who knows the smartest way to make streets better overnight.
Every year when we do our repaving program we integrate bike and ped improvements into the contract. This past fall we added protected bike facilities to all schools, including a diverter on 47th and protected intersections on Adeline. We removed ~25 parking spaces for this one. https://t.co/WSHuu8yvi8
— Mayor John J. Bauters 🏳️🌈 (@JohnBauters) April 25, 2023
The Tide rises in Whanganui…
Most of the focus of public transport discussion in NZ is on our major cities. But there’s heaps of opportunity in many of our smaller cities, too. This is a great thread on success in Whanganui.
Great news for Te Ngaru The Tide – Whanganui's new frequent bus service. This March, Whanganui saw an 86% increase in urban public transport trips compared to last March 2022.
45.4% of that patronage has come from The Tide. https://t.co/933wMsEXla pic.twitter.com/205V1zAz5n
— Anthonie Tonnon (@anthonietonnon) April 25, 2023
Buses are climate action
A nice read from Scientific American on the major role better bus services (and electric buses) will play in reducing carbon, and improving quality of life. “I think the bus is often overlooked as a climate solution, because it is overlooked as a solution, period.”
Newsflash: E-Bikes are climate action, and also cool and fun
E-bikes are having a moment, reports Business Insider, covering the e-bike boom in the United States. As one happy customer puts it, “I’m trading an activity that I absolutely hate doing, which is getting stuck in traffic, with something that I actually like doing, which is getting some exercise and riding my bike.”
And in yet another e-bike review, a former doubter works his way through the stages of e-bike revelation from “meh” to “huh” to “well, duh!” Another day, another e-bike convert!
Cycling through Dunedin Rail Tunnels?
This would be great.
Two decommissioned railway tunnels could open up a cycle route from Dunedin all the way to Queenstown.
They are the 462m-long Chain Hills Tunnel, opened in 1875, and the 865m-long Caversham Tunnel, which was opened two years earlier by Premier Julius Vogel.
By the early 20th century, the single-track structures had become surplus to requirements due to demand for double tracks.
Gerard Hyland, the chairperson of the Dunedin Tunnels Trail Trust, is pushing for the tunnels to be reopened to create a 15km cycle and walking path between Dunedin and Mosgiel.
Of course there’s the irony that these tunnels were replaced with double-track tunnels… which subsequently had their second track removed in the early 1980s, and now apparently don’t have enough capacity during the dairy season.
Found some pics by Ken Devlin of what can only be described as vandalism. After Dunedin's suburban trains ended in 1982, the double line to Mosgiel was singled—an impediment to resuming service now. Here are steam cranes dismantling a bridge at Kensington.https://t.co/aEnGtGEWva pic.twitter.com/E7FLn8vJf3
— André Brett (@DrDreHistorian) November 10, 2020
Oslo as a cycling city
A great video on how Oslo is rapidly making the city better for bikes, with considerable success. Put away your arguments about how the weather means nobody will cycle. It’s the infrastructure.
A perfect description of Auckland Council’s approach to young people
A classic example of Hayden Donnell’s investigative journalism, which starts with a deep dive into a quirky topic – in this case, a mysterious high-pitched noise in the foyer of Auckland Council’s building – and emerges with a larger truth. From The Spinoff:
Both Sims and Caldwell feel assailing young people with a painful noise weapon jibes with existing council policy. “This is not an institution that highly values what young people think and feel,” Sims says.
But perversely, those settings may be why the council doesn’t feel the need to broadcast high-pitched shrieking in its entranceways. When it comes to repulsing teens, an ultrasonic noise weapon has nothing on a speech from Wayne Walker. Most young people would rather insert a Mosquito device directly into their right eardrum than fill out a 14-page consultation document on a minor roundabout upgrade in Blockhouse Bay. Auckland’s mayor is 76. He’s younger than most of the people who turn up to town hall meetings. Why would the council bother installing a noise weapon? It’s doing a great job of repelling young people without one.
Another must-read is Hayden’s interview with AT’s new CEO Dean Kimpton. Related, “Hallucinating Cycleways” is the name of our next drum’n’bass album.
Rehabilitating AT’s reputation is a formidable task, mainly because everyone’s angry at the agency for radically different reasons. Kimpton’s first job is to appease the people who appointed him: Auckland mayor Wayne Brown, who repeatedly called for AT’s entire board to resign during his campaign, along with the city’s conservative-leaning councillors and their bitumen-loving constituents who spent the last term hallucinating cycleways across the city.
How three-year-olds see cities
Fast Company covers technology that helps adults experience (or indeed, remember) how kids see our cities.
VR95 is new virtual reality experience that transports users to a world many rarely see or consider. It’s not some fantasy land or extraordinary metaverse. Instead, VR95 (as the name suggests) shrinks users to see a typical city scene from 95 centimeters, or three feet and one inch. This is the height of an average 3-year-old child. The world, as seen through their eyes, is less than ideal.
“Basically you see cars and traffic, noise and pollution everywhere as a child from that perspective,” says Dr. Sara Candiracci of the global design, engineering and planning firm Arup. She’s the Europe lead for Arup’s Social Value and Inclusive Cities efforts, and was part of the development of the VR95 tool.
Of course, a more affordable and accessible option is to ask a child to guide you along their route to school, as in this excellent local video from Places for Good. And yet somehow our decision-makers still haven’t found a way to fix this one route.
Trams in France
Enjoy a tour of France’s light rail renaissance, featuring lots of before and after images…
And in the same theme.
With Auckland’s ongoing struggles to establish a vision for light rail, it’s astonishing that examples like these aren’t being put in front of communities for serious consideration.
Especially when communities are quick to articulate the advantages – for example, as Onehunga grapples with the latest concepts for how light rail and heavy rail might track through their area, the deputy chair of the Local Board says “she would potentially support light rail taking a route on surface streets instead.
Famous Last Words
In Tauranga, a huge flyover as part of the $262 million Baypark to Bayfair project opened this week. When finished, the project will effectively extend the Tauranga Eastern Link 1.7km closer to Tauranga. But these seem like famous last words – how long till traffic is just as bad as was?
Asked what impact the flyover would have on the wider city network, Tauranga City Council acting director of transport Anna Somerville said it would “improve freight and commuter journey times during the morning and evening peak”.
One for train lovers, kids, and kids at heart
An extremely heartwarming story from the New York Times, about an Autism Awareness Month campaign that put kids at the microphone to create their own versions of the train announcements that many love. What’s up, chicken wing? How about it, Auckland Transport?
Children with autism also latch onto phrases they hear in spaces where they are intensely focused and use them as some of their first means of communication, said Jonathan Trichter [an educator and the driving force behind the public service announcements].
“As a result, it is not unusual for a child in New York City who is on the spectrum to have, as his or her first full sentence, something like ‘Stand clear of the closing doors, please,’” Mr. Trichter said, reciting the familiar warning that plays throughout the city’s subway system.
Transit officials said they were glad to support the project. “We know that children on the spectrum are some of our biggest fans,” said James Allison, a spokesman for Bay Area Rapid Transit, which has played the children’s announcements at all 50 stations this month. “It seemed like a natural thing, and what a great way to give them a thrill.”
Tweets and threads of the week
The impact of reducing traffic on the quality of the air, Paris edition:
We've all seen the stories about how Paris is quickly getting rid of cars.
The impact on local air pollution is simply massive.
Originally shared by u/AccidentalParisian on reddit. pic.twitter.com/6RMSJYLkrD
— Duncan Gibb (@duncanmgibb) April 23, 2023
The urban delivery champion:
📈 The results are in:
Cargo bikes are…
7x cheaper to run
67x less damaging to the environment
…than vans.https://t.co/jYblP9vgl8 pic.twitter.com/UQzFGT6y7d
— Zack Polanski 💚 (@ZackPolanski) April 17, 2023
The SUV loophole:
Here's a nice, compact explanation of the "SUV loophole" that triggered the multi-decade trend toward gigantism in the US auto market. We did this to ourselves and we need to undo it. https://t.co/RcK0rs8K18
— David Roberts (@drvolts) April 21, 2023
Despite bipartisan support for road pricing during select committee, the government seems to have run scared, despite the benefits it could provide:
Congestion charges reduce urban car levels by anywhere from 12% to 33% https://t.co/9yc0XeetST
— Chris Slane Cartoons (@Slanecartoons) April 21, 2023
The umpteenth example of how car-free spaces bring cities to life:
Hoi An, Vietnam has pedestrianized its entire city centre.
As expected, it's deserted.
With no way to get there, not a senior or child in sight.
Unable to receive deliveries, shops and restaurants have nothing to sell.
Very unsafe, especially at night. pic.twitter.com/0bynJ2Kcx6
— Mihai Cirstea (@Mihai_Cirstea_) April 23, 2023
Related: a nice video about Real Groovy’s new location on Victoria Street, with the owner saying how much they’re looking forward to the Linear Park, which will make it “much more of a place for people to congregate and socialise.”
“We’re really looking forward to the opportunity to have live music outside in that area… which obviously contributes to making the city a more interesting place, and a place where people are going to want to hang out.
And of course when the CRL is completed, we’re going to be 50 metres from probably the busiest entrance of the busiest station in the country.”
And lastly, a cool image from City Rail Link from inside the tunnel portal at Maungawhau
Have a great weekend everyone – and as always, feel free to add your stories of the week in the comments below.
I sneakily wonder if the difference in satisfaction with AT’s PT is that the low 24% figure is satisfaction of all Aucklanders, while the much higher figure is the satisfaction of passengers: i.e. people are reasonably satisfied when they can actually get on the bus/train, but most people are very dissatisfied that all the cancelled/late/full services mean they never get the chance to be a passenger in the first place.
Well, this got me thinking. I’ve been a regular train user (as in, most weekdays) since 2018. Not once has anyone “surveyed” me to find out my satisfaction levels. Not in person, not through an email linked to my HOP card, not via the app. So, indeed, how are they sampling people and asking the question? (For the record if AT are reading this, I’m rather unhappy with the unreliable frequency, duration, and level of crowdedness).
I was given a paper card on a bus once (morning rush hour from the Shore into the CBD). It had a code and a link to an online survey on it. But it specifically only asked about that journey not the other I regularly make.
Every six months or so I receive a survey from Auckland Transport asking me just this sort of thing. Not sure why I’m on their mailing list for this, but I do the survey every time.
AT target reports 6/10 satisfaction score. Spinoff shows 8/10 satisfaction score. Same data set, different presentation. It’s all about how you spin it….
And here another in my Series of the works at Pukekohe with what is happening there with the old Station Building and the new platforms ;-
Are there any particularly useful guides to making an Auckland Harbour Bridge submission?
To help clarify, the difference between the different satisfaction ratings is indicated on the charts.
The lower figures are those who rated the overall system an 8/10 or higher.
The monthly indicator results seem to show those who rated their current journey a 6/10 or higher.
It is fascinating to have this town, full of people running away from the congestion in Auckland, and then seeing Papamoa being developed in the way it is.
If you would build a coast tram along Papamoa Beach, where would you put it? If you put it along the coast line, the average walk to that tram line will be double compared to when you put it roughly through the middle.
Go to https://www.google.com/maps/@-37.7244697,176.3549455,800m/data=!3m1!1e3 and spot the future problem with lack of pedestrian connections to the next block of development.
Finally for those who remember people pointing out those photos of metro stations in the middle of nowhere in China: Here’s New Zealand’s version. Motorway to the middle of nowhere:
Well done Whanganui. Well done Anthonie Tonnon. Excellent.
Interesting that the pollution is going down in Paris. I would have thought it was going up because of all the piles of rubbish caused by the typically French lazy garbage collectors striking to keep their retirement age at 58. Not to mention all the fires caused by the rioters complaining that the rest of them might have to work up to the average European retirement age of 64.
Nice casual racism for a Friday afternoon, you must be a joy to be around.
Probably not Wayne Browns kinda thing but there are a multitude of reasons Kiwis move to Australia. I suspect doubling down on car dependance won’t stop the brain drain.
Just got the midtown construction update email. Mentions some new bus lanes:
To ensure that people making use of these bus services can get into and out of the city centre quickly and easily, AT is proposing to introduce some bus lanes on Hobson Street, Pitt Street, Karangahape Road and Newton Road. The bus lane extension on Hobson Street involves the following:
Extending the existing bus lane on Hobson Street to create a continuous bus lane operating 24/7 from Fanshaw Street to Cook Street (current bus lane is Victoria Street to Cook Street).
A bus lane replacing the existing clearway on the eastern side of Hobson Street, between Cook Street and Pitt Street. The bus lane will operate 2.30pm to 7pm, Mon-Fri (same hours as the existing clearway).
There are some good bus lane improvements for Hobson St up for consultation. 24/7 bus lane from Fanshawe to Victoria, limited hours bus lane between Cook and Pitt, and a raised pedestrian crossing on the Pitt St slip lane
Heading in the right direction, which is good. Actually implementing the CCMP would be better.
Here is the Electrification , track and the new station works between Puekohe and Papakura .
At the 3:35 minute mark is the new Drury South platform and at the 4:34 and 9:05 mark is the earthworks for Paerata . And the pylons that have been installed including some with the Brackets for the cantenary wires .
And also some of the works for the Wiri 2 Wesfield 3rd main .
For the AWHC Consultation, A rail line running through the North Shore needs to be thought through carefully and explore other options on how the routing should look like!
Once of the contributing factors to why residents in the Bay Area of the North Shore don’t want to change to PT, is the journey time, indirect route for work, terrain if walking to nearest station (especially if it’s summer). A rail line running through Bay Area of the North Shore would solve these problems! Along with it is the roading issue which as been issue for decades!
Option 3 is the best option going forward for all residents who live along the Bay Area of the North Shore such as Long Bay, Torbay, Browns Bay, Rothesay Bay, Mairangi Bay, Campbells Bay, Castors Bay and Milford. Once upon a time, the bay areas of the North Shore had direct public transport to the city such as 839, 858, 875 and 879 every day of the week, during peak day and hours you had the ‘express buses’ running through the suburbs and running on the Northern Busway, without the need of transferring, now you have indirect buses during peak hours take you longer to get into the city or into Takapuna. Waiting at stations increases your travel time whereas direct route would bring relief to those stuck in the bay areas who want direct way of getting into the city by Public Transport!
Option 3 brings opportunity to layout plans of a line running through the Bay Areas of the North Shore! Stage One of the plans shows the line going under Birkenhead, Northcote, Akoranga Station and Takapuna, but its unclear what the rest of the line would look like if was to go ahead. If you were to make an overall terminus of where the line would end up, well solution should be having a line constructed along the Bay Area of the North Shore and have it end at Long Bay. So the stations running all the way to Long Bay world be Milford, Castor Bay, Campbell’s Bay, Mairangi Bay, Murrays Bay, Rothesay Bay, Browns Bay, Waiake, Torbay and terminating at Long Bay and call it the ‘Bay line’. If your the Bay Area of the North Shore heavily sick and tired of transferring stations, PICK OPTION 3!
There are a lot of benefits in bringing in a rail line into the Bay Area of the North Shore. It would indefinitely solve the Everyone on the North Shore’s Bay Area always having to end up taking a second bus to the city while people who live closer to the Northern Busway or places like Takapuna, Birkenhead, Beach Haven, Hillcrest and Glenfield have a ‘direct’ bus route to the city while us people along the bays don’t and find it unappealing to take the bus due to the long duration journey, which affects ability to have balanced life. Also sometimes not able to board for 30 mins at the stations like Constellation or Albany Station which can disrupt your work and outside of work life.
Not only that, it would also solve our ferry development issues, with rail we wouldn’t need a ferry, be no longer in North Shore plans, in-which ferry has been long outstanding issue for long time now and doesn’t seem like the development of ferry terminals along the bays is going to happen, ever! A rail line running through the townships would be solutions to the ferry problem, you wouldn’t need to build ferry terminal no longer!
Folks, if you live on the bay areas of the North Shore! Pick option 3!
I don’t see the Bay’s ever getting rapid transit, for many reasons including the difficult terrain, the overpriced houses the area will be crawling with NIMBY’s wanting to retain the quiet beachside holiday village feeling, this limits any opportunity for high density development.
I believe the west NS with the direct 95 bus will need to transfer to a train in the future, I don’t see this as a problem provided there is high frequency.
Many people on the bay areas of the North Shore would dream or fantisise of a rail line through their area! Currently no direct public transport which gets you to the CBD as their once was likes of the 839, 858, 875 and 879, time to bring a service back! That is why we need rail line going through the bay areas of the North Shore, very under-served area of the North Shore! Even if the NIMBY’s were against the rail project, they’d wouldn’t be able to over-rule the government either way, would have to give up their ambition of keeping things the same/no change.
High density wouldn’t be an issue at all, got lots of old crummy outdated private properties that private owners can’t afford cost of living, along with it afford upgrades, that attracts investors who are interested in purchasing and owning land!
People have already explained to you here why this is a bad idea. Please pay attention.
Lol that’s absurd running a train line through the bays, imagine the cost to serve those huge sections with one house on all of them.
Interesting video on cycleway network that is getting put in a not so bike friendly city:
“… during the pandemic the city took the opportunity to expand…”
Auckland missed out because AT refused to do this, even though the Councillors were asking for it and the public supported it.
Yes pity that one.