Welcome to Friday – again! Hard to believe we’re almost in June. Here’s our latest roundup of stories that caught our eye this week.

The Week in Greater Auckland

Reminder on Karanga-a-Hape Station neighbourhood Consultation

A quick reminder that today is the last day to give feedback on the consultation for improvements around the Karanga-a-Hape station entrances. We covered it here and it looks great. The plan will see most of Mercury Lane converted into pedestrian mall, improvements for bikes and pedestrians on Canada St and East St, as well as improvements on Pitt St with bike and bus lanes being added.

The proposal should be supported.

The Spinoff have also covered it, and noted a rollcall of support:

The Waitematā local board, the City Rail Link and Eke Panuku support the renovations. Waitematā chair Genevieve Sage believes the plan will make public transport quicker, more reliable and generally seamless across the precinct. Other endorsements came from the Karangahape Road Business Association, City Centre Residents Group and Bike Auckland. Jamey Holloway – the GM of the KRBA – thinks the improvements will allow the precinct to maximise the Karanga a Hape station.

Swarbrick is also supportive of these “well overdue” upgrades.

Bikes for the Economy

Bike tourism continues to grow and grow – now imagine the gains if we really made our whole country cycle-friendly and leafier, including our cities:

Bike tourism continues to be a financial winner.

A new report from economist Benje Patterson shows at least $291 million was spent by bike tourists who cycled through New Zealand’s production plantation forests last year — Queenstown, Dunedin and Wānaka coming in the top six areas to attract visitor dollars.


“To put the estimate of $291 million of spending by bike visitors to production forests in perspective — total spending by visitors along the New Zealand Cycle Trail network was estimated at $951 million in 2021,” Mr Patterson said.

Meanwhile, down in Raglan:

Pedestrians and cyclists wanting to go from Raglan’s town centre to Ngarunui Beach will soon be able to do so safely as the Town2Surf cycleway is nearing completion.

The shared path will then connect the town centre with Wainui Reserve via the pedestrian overbridge at Papahua Campground, the Marine Parade and Wainui Road. At the reserve, existing footpaths lead to Ngarunui Beach and the popular Te Ara Kakariki mountain bike track.


The council says the cycleway will reduce traffic congestion on Wainui Road and free up parking space at the reserve and in town.

The path is also said to improve the beach’s accessibility for people who come to Raglan via public transport and make cycling and walking safer along the way due to the separation of the path and the road.

Another case for more bike-friendly connections – this one isn’t so much about tourism but a lovely article from Tasman about the way cycling adds life and interest to the daily round:

Tasman district councillor Kit Maling bought an electric bike and committed to biking to work three and a half years ago.

The retired policeman often gets a buzz when he can get places quicker on his bike than a car.

Maling made the commitment because of his concerns about climate change and for his own health.


The 69-year-old boasts of recently biking from Richmond to Nelson City Council in 31 minutes, when online maps told him driving during in peak traffic would have taken 44 minutes. You can also see so much more from a bicycle than a car, he says.

Maling enjoys “doing research” on his bike rides. He recently counted 38 bicycles parked outside the Tasman Council building, which suggests 10 percent of staff bike to work. He rode the Baton River cycle trail recently and noted four logging trucks passed him, “all going nice and slow”.

And speaking of Tasman District Council, here’s a nice video in which kids ride and review the tactical bike lanes recently installed in Richmond, with support from the Streets for People programme and Transport Choices. More of this, please!

Bus Changes

Bus Screens

As well as hopefully the end of bus disruptions, it appears our buses will finally be getting protective screens for drivers. This is a welcome change after a spate of assaults on bus drivers. The screens were seen as part of a press event with Transport Minister Michael Wood.

Two buses in Auckland have a trial screen between the driver and their passengers, and some 200 drivers have tested it and been surveyed on their feelings, Wood said.

The response has been “overwhelmingly positive” but it’s important the trial continues to roll out slowly and that the screen is designed properly.

“I’ll just be really clear that our bus drivers do an enormously important job for us. We’re not going to skimp on the importance of their safety.”

If the design doesn’t account for glare or other safety issues, it won’t work, he said. There is no time frame in mind before the screens are installed across the entire fleet of Auckland buses.

Big dogs on buses

From last Sunday Auckland Transport have allowed large dogs to travel on buses too – previously the policy only applied to small dogs.

Big dogs will be allowed on buses from Monday in an eight-week trial by Auckland Transport.

Small breeds have been allowed on public transport permanently since December and now buses will be taking larger pets.

Dogs that do not fit in approved carriers can start travelling on Auckland buses from Monday and if the trial is successful the change will be permanent.

The animals will have to be using an approved muzzle and be always on a leash.

Te Huia hits 100k

The Te Huia train between Hamilton and Auckland has reached the milestone of 100,000 passengers.

Despite a rough start to operations with low patronage, multiple cancellations, and scheduling problems, the Te Huia train service to and from Auckland has celebrated its 100,000th passenger.

The milestone was hit on Tuesday morning with officials announcing it had hit its two-year passenger number target and was contributing to lowering carbon emissions.

Launched in early April 2021, after a $98 million investment by the Government, Waikato Regional Council, Hamilton City Council, and Auckland Transport, the service came under fire from the National Party’s transport spokesperson Michael Woodhouse who said the service should be scrapped after just three months.

In June 2021, an average of just 35 people were catching the 6.28am train from Hamilton on weeks eight, nine and 10 of the service.

But things had changed by July 2022, when a half-price public transport move by the Government and scheduling improvements saw Te Huia fill up rapidly, with weekday average passenger numbers rising to 217.

Now, according to statistics from Waikato Regional Council, more than 320 people use the service daily.

This data below shows two years, from April 2021 up until the end of April 2023. You can see that as soon as services started up again following the long COVID-related pause of late 2021, average ridership on weekdays has continued to improve. The spikes you can see are school holidays.

And while we’re on the topic of intercity rail, France has banned short-haul flights where trains are available. We’ve clearly got a way to go before that’s a viable proposal here, but one worthwhile working towards.

A ban on short domestic flights for journeys that can be completed in two-and-a-half hours by train was signed into law in France on Tuesday (local time).

Clement Beaune, France’s transport minister, heralded the decree.

“This is an essential step and a strong symbol in the policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Beaune said in a statement.

“As we fight relentlessly to decarbonize our lifestyles, how can we justify the use of the plane between the big cities which benefit from regular, fast and efficient connections by train,” he added.


For the ban to apply, the EU insisted the air route in question must have a high-speed rail alternative that makes it possible to travel between the two cities in less than two-and-a-half hours. There must also be enough early and late-running trains to enable travellers to spend at least eight hours at the destination.

And, somewhat related:

Lessons from Shanghai

Chris Bentley writes about the contrast between living in Shanghai and Auckland, when it comes to how people get around.

…cities large and small, around the world, have demonstrated that a robust public transport system –  along with safe options for pedestrians and cyclists – is the only way cities can grow and provide equitable access and connectivity for all residents.

Is Waka Kotahi closing the Harbour Bridge too often?

The Herald reports:

Waka Kotahi is being accused of being too risk-averse after closing the Auckland Harbour Bridge on five occasions on Saturday.

The transport agency lowered its threshold for closing all lanes of the bridge after it was damaged by a truck crash in 2020, and Devonport-Takapuna local board member George Wood believes it is now over-reacting.

Concerned about the “mayhem” caused by repeated closures, he wants Waka Kotahi to review its procedures for closing the bridge or look at alternative solutions.

“It seems ever since that truck hit the bridge they’ve got the jitters and they’re so risk averse that I think their reasoning and the way they do it needs to be looked at,” he told the Herald.


Wood, a former councillor, said the successive closures on Saturday, when wind gusts reached 91km/h, were frustrating.

“It seems that it shuts and then a short time later it opens again. So have they got better systems they could put in place to actually monitor the gusts?”


The truck crash in September 2020 was caused by a 127km/h gust of wind. It led to the closure of some of the bridge lanes for more than two weeks while repairs took place.

Before the incident, all lanes of the bridge were closed if the perpendicular wind speed was averaging 100-110km/h and the oblique wind speed was exceeding 120km/h. Those thresholds were lowered to 90km/h and 105km/h respectively in October 2020.

This wouldn’t have anything to do with a desire to build another harbour crossing would it?

Housing policy in the headlines

A surprising U-turn this week from National’s leader in favour of sprawl is raising eyebrows, and also hackles. Henry Cooke takes a good look at what it means if Luxon is scuttling the bipartisan agreement on housing reform.

And in the Spinoff, Ben Gracewood fulminates about how West Auckland is booming with new housing despite a series of policy “dick moves”, yet languishes well down the queue for the necessary infrastructure to keep things moving:

We’ve done all the right things and materially contributed to housing supply (and driving down house prices) at the cost of our own convenience and amenity. We’ve taken one for the team and are crammed here in our dormitory suburbs while the other half of the team sip lattes and Lime around like nothing has changed.

More greenfields development will only make this worse. Watering down the MDRS now will lock this doughnut city in stone for another decade.

Meanwhile in Austria: a long read in the NY Times looks at how Vienna has become a renters’ paradise – with a passing mention of our own housing policies.

And if you want to know what people really value about neighbourhoods, look no further than this great article (the first in a series) from Christchurch.

There were a number of key elements that fostered the perfect living environment, University of Canterbury geography professor Simon Kingham said, including less traffic, green spaces (parks and reserves), blue spaces (waterways), close proximity to amenities, and living in a well-defined community where there were places for people to gather.

Streets with slower or less traffic helped create community, allowing neighbours to chat over the street, and kids to play outside safely, he said, while the parks and reserves were places where people could gather “and they’re often where they’re walkable”.

People were more likely to stop, talk and interact with others while walking as opposed to cycling, and especially driving, he said.

“I had this lovely quote in a project from someone” which said: “One of the things I like about my neighbourhood is that it takes a long time to get anywhere.”

And here’s a very timely article from The Guardian reminding us of the many benefits of Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods. It points out that critics of LTNs are using the same old denialist playbook as tobacco companies and climate sceptics, to attempt to distract from the growing wealth of evidence that LTNs are proving highly effective:

The Guardian’s Pollutionwatch column recently explained the “clear evidence” that low-emissions zones work. There is also a huge weight of evidence that electric vehicles cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Likewise, the largest-ever review of LTNs, published in January, found they “substantially reduced motor traffic on internal roads, without having much impact on motor traffic on boundary roads”.

Tweets and threads of the week

It’s good to see that AT is further improving the the NW Bus improvements, which weren’t looking like much of an improvement before.

Compare and contrast this to Kiwirail’s work on the Eastern Line, with what looks like only a handful of people at any one time.


From streets to meadows. Imagine your local town centre looking like this:

And, also on the topic of street changes – here’s a great before and after.

Now, that’s a bike gang. Volume up for this one!


One way to clear a bike lane:

Quite a stark difference here. Note that the local example (from Wellington) is part of an interim treatment that will eventually be formalised, presumably in a more aesthetically pleasing form.


A thread of Wellington boosterism. What would the Auckland equivalent include?

The issue with large vehicles:

This would be a useful change for the government to require of Waka Kotahi:

Have a great weekend.

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  1. From a comment on the last post, re: CRL delays:

    “I would hope any future rail lines would keep things more basic, and I don’t think stations should need to be longer then 60 or 70 meters, especially if you can run trains every minute or 2 during peak hours.”

    I am old enough to remember 5 years ago when this blog was yelling about what a disaster it would be if the CRL station tunnels weren’t long enough for 9 cars, and if there wasn’t a Beresford Street entrance. Similarly, I am old enough to remember 15 years ago when this blog was decrying the fact that there wasn’t a single agency capable to covering both PT and roading in this city. Now we have one, it’s called AT, and it’s the worst thing imaginable for both PT and roading.

    It’s an endless loop:
    Doing it on the cheap -> crap outcomes -> whining, moaning, despair, “no-one will ever take PT again”
    Spending the extra -> costs and delays -> whining, moaning, despair, “no-one will ever take PT again”

    PT advocates have to stay out of the temptation to fall into either of this traps, because it’s all very well to say “Kiwirail mismanagement is ruining confidence in public transport” when, according to PT advocates themselves, it’s never ever done right or worth the costs.

    1. Still there is a range of opinions on this site I myself was never in favour of the CRL. I am pro rail but critical of elaborate engineering. For instance I don’t understand why the stabling yards at Pukekohe needed to be completely rebuilt as part of electrification after all they were only put in 10 years ago for the diesel units. I have come to the opinion we should just maintain and slowly improve on the inferstructure we have. I see people commenting on upgrading the whole line to Hamilton and try and imagine what kind of disruption that would cause. Given Kiwirails current form I would expect that they would promptly suspend the operation of Te Huia for the duration of the project which would probably take at least 5 years. Everything takes so long I have being keeping a close look at the third main project and yes it’s being done properly with a lot of ceromony and expense but you couldn’t say its being done with any haste . 150 years ago 500 men converted 54 kilometres of broad guage railway between Amberley and Lyttleton to narrow 3 ft 6 in guage in two days. It needed to be done as the grain season was fast approaching. I suppose it shows how rail has lost its importance in the scheme of things if it is to regain relevance it needs to regain some of that kind of vigour. They should work as though what they do really matters and then maybe it will and not just viewed as a make work scheme or part of an economic stimulus package.

        1. So what they had other options. The line to Helensville was crucial to allow access to the Kaipara and the ferries. Without that convenient link building rail northward would have had more urgency.

      1. I also remember in the transport blog days when nearly everyone was advocating for 9 car futureproofing.
        Aucklands main line heavy rail network was always going to need larger trains for capacity due to frequency limitations.

      2. Pukekohe newer stabling I’m sure would be needed for the longer trains, room needed for extra platform and passing tracks etc. The staff quarters had to move further south it seems to leave enough room for everything. It will be the end of the electrified line remember.

        1. I doubt there will ever be the need for 9 car trains to run to Pukekohe and certainly not for the first or last service of the day. Any longer train needed could be scheduled to immediately turn around and run back into the city.

        2. They will be whatever they are using for the rest of the city. They are not going unhitch 3 cars at Papakura every time they go onto Pukekohe. It will be the new end of the line so makes sense to stable a pile of them there.

        3. So they will be pulling a 250 tonne train around with a handful of passengers on it for most services. I know rail is efficient but that’s just wasteful. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have a Papakura Pukekohe shuttle for off peak services. With only a limited number of hopefully express services running during the peak.

        4. “a handful of passengers”

          That’s bordering on the insulting, Royce.
          If it really were a “handful of passengers” why did the electrification proceed? Are the 2 new stations on that section going to produce negligible passenger numbers?

        5. I’m sure 9 cars are quite way off being needed on any of the sections once the frequencies are good. The Pukekohe system with other new southern stations and the new network bus setup has good bones so would likely have a lot more use once you don’t have to transfer at Papakura anymore. Just like the run 6 car sets all the way to Swanson and not be filled…. gives you plenty of room to stretch your legs which can be nice.

        6. MFD I certainly didn’t want to insult anyone and I am not trolling. But you may well ask why did we go ahead with the electrification when battery powered units could have being used instead I ask that myself all the time. As for the patronage from the new stations sure they add to numbers. Still think we will struggle to fill trains however big they are. Still I get Back to how trains should be run from Pukekohe in my view it would be something like an hourly express stopping only at Pukekohe, Dury and Papakura with an all station shuttle service to Papakura every 15 or 20 mins and maybe the express will have come from Pokeno or even Hamilton. The exact detail would need to be finalised but it should be something like that.

        7. Royce, in the old days before the shuttle, the Pukekohe trains were always /a lot/ more full than the Papakura ones. Even pre-Covid the shuttle was packed in like sardines. Not sure what the situation is now.

          More people catch the train now than back in 2014 and while I doubt the Paerata, Ngakaroa (Drury West) and Drury stations will be built by the time the CRL opens, in theory there will be three additional stops.

          It’s not about whether you’ve still got nine carriages of people at Pukekohe, it’s about whether you’ve got nine carriages of people before you get to Otahuhu/as you enter the CRL. Which you probably do.

    2. I think people have forgotten how pathetic Auckland’s public transport network was 13 years ago when AT was formed. In terms of coverage, frequency, fare collection and standardisation, it’s like comparing chalk and cheese. If we went back to 2010 operations it would seem like the stone age and there would be howls of protest. Credit where credit is due!

  2. “A surprising U-turn this week from National’s leader in favour of sprawl is raising eyebrows, and also hackles.”

    Politicians in NZ want to dictate policy & can’t stick to governance & setting outcomes.

    I’d be much happier with:

    a) Stripping the RMA of the right for private plan changes. Developers would have to bid to develop if it is more than redevelopment of an existing site. This would favour infill vs greenfield.

    b) Councils being required to do full cost benefit assessments of their own land use plan changes to show there is a net benefit to NZ. (the current s32 requirements are far far too weak).

    c) An effects-based approach to planning with no heigh restrictions. National standards for sunlight, noise, vision zero, wind, smell etc etc. This would limit the ability to badly densify an existing site. Amalgamation of sites (with better outcomes) would be substantially favoured. (The NBEA & SPA are just RMAv2)

    d) Slow removal of the massive subsidies road users receive so that we get mode shift that aligns with the denser land use we would get under a), b) & c).

    1. Relying on site amalgamation is pure hopium. It’s been hugely beneficial to amalgamate under the AUP as you can shift from a sausage flat townhouse product to really quite a lot more apartments. Almost nobody does it as it’s way too hard, and severely restricts the available opportunities to build. Result, we’re filling THAB around train stations with 3 story townhouses.

      And it’s not for lack of demand for apartments, look at the likes of Newton in the business zone which doesn’t have the dumb setback rules.

      Planners need to give up on pipedreams and respond to what the market is doing, or not doing and will never do. Assume that all these high intensity zoned sites will eventually be redeveloped, and plan for the ideal long term outcome. Lots of narrow, tall apartment blocks with no side setbacks will give the facade articulation that urban designers seem to desperately crave. So why are they simultaneously making sure every development is as wide as possible??

      Need to give up trying to stop existing homeowners from losing any sunlight or street parking or streetscape, or no overlooking sites etc (which they never owned a right to anyway).

      1. +100

        The regulations based around sunlight and shade are the result of approaching the topic from a position of designing for one site and assuming that scaling that up will create a good urban form. In fact, it’s a major reason for our poor urban form.

        It seems to be counterintuitive for many, but achieving a good urban form requires developing regulations that actually prescribe the details of what a good urban form looks like… and allowing individual sites to achieve their ideal sunlight by building up to get it.

        This optimises all the elements we’re after, like density, plenty of green infrastructure and large trees, proximity and transport choice… instead of one element like sunshine preventing all the others from being realised.

        1. +1.
          The Luxon/Seymour approach is ‘build whatever you like or wherever you like (so long as you don’t build next to me or my voters)’ – although David Seymour would accept it next door to himself.
          The one thing missing is good housing design controls, standards and guides. Would all parties agree to that? Doesn’t look like it today!

  3. While I’m at it, one of the few bright spots of my day is looking at progress on the CRL Facebook page – but every, and I mean *every single* post which happens to mention the new, mana whenua-gifted names of the CRL stations is absolutely brigaded by racists yelling “WHERE’S THAT LOL” and “BLOODY MAORIFICATION OF EVERYTHING” and “BRING BACK WINSTON” (that last one a direct quote from old mate Jon Reeves)

    1. I wouldn’t lose sleep over it. These people have far bigger issues than station names.

      Life’s losers, of their own making.

  4. Lennart Nout’s tweet comparison seems cruel but there are probably a few things that should be changed about our standard devices and street treatments in order to make sure even our tactical cyclelanes are better looking. The green, for starters.

    In Auckland, then, our dreams and never-ending battles to get improvements could at least be about slightly more attractive scenes.

  5. We need a law like the Minnesota law, and someone tweeted a reply saying that a similar law has already led to Colorado cancelling two highway expansion projects: https://usa.streetsblog.org/2022/09/15/mile-high-city-halts-two-highway-expansions-and-gives-the-money-to-transit-instead/

    Of course, if we did, the NZ traffic engineers who just want to build roads will misapply the traffic modelling again to:
    – claim road expansion projects will barely create extra vkt when in reality they’ll create lots
    – claim road reallocation projects and low traffic neighbourhoods won’t reduce vkt much when in fact they cause significant evaporation.

    Thus, the modelling needs complete overhaul, too.

  6. What the heck was the point of comparing a Dutch off-roadway cycle path with a Wellington on-roadway cycle lane at exactly the point where there is a bus stop. Oh that’s right probably so some whinging hater can complain about stuff and think they will fool idiots into believing they have made some profound point.
    More disturbing is that this blog seems to have fallen into the trap with the idiots in thinking that this comparison is worthy of being shared.

    1. “What the heck was the point of comparing a Dutch off-roadway cycle path with a Wellington on-roadway cycle lane at exactly the point where there is a bus stop”

      Thought the same thing…and it’s an on-road cycleway in Wellington too.

    2. It’s an example of what I was saying above about a no-win situation. Either you get shrieked at for “gold-plating everything, what a waste of money, this alienates people from PT” or you get shrieked at for “what an ugly, budget-looking, cheap and nasty option, this alienates people from PT”

      1. I’d listen to the latter and ignore the former.

        One wants what’s best (or better), one doesn’t really want at all…

    3. That’s no more off road than a shared path next to a road is off road. What it is, is a separated cycle lane that is separated from cars by much more than *checks* a rubber hump designed to allow faster cyclists to over take other cyclists.

      The difference in structure is because, ahem, it’s not just bikes. Setting aside whether you’d actually avoid the Wellington situation in the Netherlands, the point of the comparison is that in the Netherlands bus stop wouldn’t be interfering with the bike lane (or, alternatively, the bike lane wouldn’t be interfering with the bus stop). There are places like that here:


      it’s just I imagine they’re all like that, i.e. new developments. Note that streetview doesn’t actually extend to the road that has bus stops on it. The one bus stop you can see from street view does still have the problem, but it’s weird for other reasons:


      Alas, I can’t quite remember what the bus stop situation looks like… atm the bus just trundles down and turns at the end; it’s possible that stop above is the only one.

    4. Translex complains that an item is only in the Weekly Roundup so that some whinging hater can complain… ha ha ha

  7. Regarding Waka Kotahi closing the Harbour Bridge more often, I love it. Making climate ignorant types sit in their private motor vehicles is magnificent to prove how much time is wasted sitting in traffic in the greater city. I waited an extra half hour for a ferry from Devenport due to a large container ship, passengers always making way for cargo, but far preferable to being stuck in a small vehicle for a similar time. Yes public transport requires organisation, and often patience, but since when were those two things considered bad qualities?

  8. “We’re not going to skimp on the importance of their safety.”

    “There is no time frame in mind before the screens are installed across the entire fleet of Auckland buses.”

    Well thanks for that Michael

    Get on with the thing already instead of pointlessly talking about it…

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