It’s Friday again so here’s our latest roundup of stories that caught our eye this week.
The Week in Greater Auckland
- On Tuesday we ran a post from our friends at Bike Auckland on Liberating a lane on the Harbour Bridge.
- On Wednesday Cameron Pitches took a look at the value (or cost) of Aotearoa’s car fleet, asking why the economic benefits of having “one less car” aren’t applied consistently across different project types.
- Yesterday Matt covered Auckland Transport’s proposal for a cycleway on Hobsonville Rd.
Will it ever end?
Another week, another train meltdown during a peak time. When will this disruption end, and when will those running our rail network be held accountable for their appalling performance?
Expect delays & cancellations to the Southern & Eastern train line services, due to a train fault near Penrose. All scheduled buses travelling along the Eastern & Southern Line are accepting paper rail tickets. pic.twitter.com/ajyUV9AkjO
— Auckland Transport Travel Alerts (@AT_TravelAlerts) June 7, 2023
Free Fares are the last step
In recent years we’ve seen increasing calls for public transport to be made free. As this article highlights, free PT is really the last step in the process after first making PT a viable alternative..
As countries look to increase the use of public transport, experts explain why making buses, trams and trains free might not be a ‘magic wand’ to solve the problem.
Luxembourg recently celebrated three years of free public transport. And, according to the people who live there, it has been a resounding success.
As countries look to encourage citizens to ditch their cars to cut carbon emissions, could Luxembourg’s success be replicated across Europe?
“The quality of public transport needs to change completely,” says Francois Bausch Vice Prime Minister and Luxembourg’s Minister of Mobility and Public Works and of Defence.
“There is no magic wand. It’s not just one mode of transport which will solve all of our problems, but instead we must be truly multimodal, we have to mix them.”
The transformation in Luxembourg has been about far more than free transport, Bausch says. Over the last few years, the country has been investing around €500 per citizen per year on modernising and extending the railway network, for example.
“We invest four, five, six times more in the network, in the quality of the rail network than all the other European countries. And obviously, we have also completely reformed the bus system, the national buses that we have.”
“If you want people to change their habits, you have to make sure the alternative actually works,” he adds.
I also quite liked these lines.
“You shouldn’t argue against something, but for something,” Bausch says.
“I do not make policies against cars, but for another mobility system in which the car has its place.”
National pushing for PPPs
Have National already forgotten the mess their PPPs caused with Transmission Gully and Puhoi to Warkworth, which not only didn’t prevent these projects from going spectacularly over budget, but also made any issues hard to fix due to the army of lawyers that had to get involved.
The National Party would create a National Infrastructure Agency and give it a mandate to pursue public-private partnerships and bypass some public input into key projects.
Chris Bishop, the party’s spokesperson for infrastructure, unveiled the plan at the Building Nations conference in Christchurch on Wednesday.
National would expand Crown Infrastructure Partners into a National Infrastructure Agency which would invite domestic and offshore investors to co-fund local projects.
It would also coordinate the various government infrastructure investment funds and act as a specialist delivery agency for complex projects.
Privately funded infrastructure projects would be allowed to impose tolls and other value-capture instruments to recover costs at a competitive rate.
It seems the only ones to really benefit from PPPs are the big international organisations who provide the finance for them – and who are normally protected from the risk, which remains with the builders and maintainers.
Sprawl profiteers not happy
Auckland Council is looking at scaling back the scale of greenfield growth that will be allowed, and also changing the timing of when some of what is left might occur. The sprawl industrial complex is not happy that their ability to pave over every acre of green space near the city might be curtailed a little bit.
Developers are complaining about a move to squeeze most new Auckland housing into existing suburbs in the next 27 years but Auckland Council says climate change, protecting the natural environment and a Government push are prompting it.
Graeme Causer, chief executive of land for Fulton Hogan, says multi-billion dollar residential plans could be jeopardised by a rule change to squeeze most new housing into existing suburbs instead of building on greenfield sites or those not previously developed.
He spoke for Future Auckland, which is a “concerned collective” of businesses and lobbyists: Stonewood Homes, Jennian Homes, Cabra Land & Property Development, Signature Homes, the NZ Initiative, Neil Group, Woods, Universal, Hunter, Generation Homes, JG Civil, Sensation Development, Highmark Homes, Hibiscus Contractors, Laura Homes, Renewal Construction, Jalcon Homes, Fowler Homes, JVJ homes, Kiwinest, Platinum Homes, Dines, WLY Homes, Modner Environments, North Bright Homes, Mr. Build Homes, Alba Homes, Millstone Residential, Brandmad, Malco, RAL Homes and HHC Homes.
But nothing is yet decided by the council which has invited submissions on the scheme, open till early next month.
While lots of noise is made about the impact this will have, as I highlighted recently around 80% of all housing consented in recent years has still been within the old urban limits – which are not being changed.
A chance for congestion charging?
Action to advance congestion charging could happen before the election, BusinessDesk understands. Labour and National both support the idea, although National has said its support is conditional on the removal of the Auckland regional fuel tax and Act wants any scheme to be revenue neutral. BusinessDesk asked transport minister Michael Wood whether he intended to introduce a law enabling Auckland and potentially other councils to introduce congestion charging, also known as road pricing, before the election.
More speed cameras
We’re getting nine more speed cameras in Auckland:
In partnership with Auckland Transport and NZ Police, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency will install nine new safety cameras in Tāmaki Makaurau in the coming weeks, to encourage people to travel at safe speeds and to make safe driving choices on our roads.
This is the first phase of the safety camera rollout under the Road to Zero road safety strategy, supporting a vision for an Aotearoa New Zealand with no deaths or serious injuries on our roads.
Steve Mutton, Director Regional Relationships (Tāmaki Makaurau) Waka Kotahi says that increasing the number of safety cameras in Tāmaki Makaurau will help keep our communities safe, particularly on high-risk roads that carry a higher likelihood of death or serious injury due to crashes.
“The cameras will be installed over the next few weeks, with more expected later this year.” says Mr Mutton.
All nine are in rural areas with 80km/h speed limits. Hopefully the next tranche will see more urban ones too.
- 95a Ostrich Road, Franklin
- 155 Mill Road, Pukekohe East
- 121 Waitakere Road, Taupaki
- 1456 Waiuku Road, Waiuku
- 197-227 Glenbrook-Waiuku Road, Waiuku
- 1680 Dairy Flat Highway, Dairy Flat
- 825 Papakura-Clevedon Road, Ardmore
- 582 Linwood Road, Karaka
- 49 McKenzie Road, Kingseat
On a related note, income-based fines might be something we should also explore.
A wealthy driver has been fined 121,000 euros (NZ$213,000) for speeding in Finland, where such penalties are calculated on the basis of an offender’s income.
“I really regret the matter,” the main newspaper for the Aaland Islands, an autonomous region of Finland in the Baltic Sea, quoted Anders Wiklöf as saying in an article published Monday (local time).
Wiklöf was driving 82kph in a 50kph zone when police stopped and ticketed him Saturday. Along with getting the fine, he had his driver’s license suspended for 10 days, the Nya Aaland newspaper said.
Cycling to build cycleways
Day worked for a company helping to build Tauranga’s cycleways. To better understand cyclists and the product the company was delivering, he trialled riding an e-bike every day in September.
The experience left a lasting impression and led him to mostly replace his vehicle with an e-bike for commuting and daily errands.
“Rain, hail or shine, I rode everywhere,” he told the Bay of Plenty Times. “It was really good, I learned a lot.
“To experience it first-hand is a powerful tool in our planning and now I choose to ride the bike over the car regularly.”
Day’s commitment to using the e-bike had numerous positive effects.
There were no parking costs, no servicing fees and no fuel worries, and it cost very little to charge it up.
He found he could often reach destinations within the city faster than he would in the car, and found himself less stressed by avoiding congestion.
He also liked that it produced zero emissions and contributed to cleaner air.
Much like buying a first car, Day advocated for others to consider e-bikes as a symbol of independence.
“In and around town, what’s the need for cars? Most cars only have one person driving in them from A to B.
“I’m not against cars but I think we need to make the most of this investment [cycleways] with our growing population.
“The roads should be left for the people that need them — tradies with their tools, ambulances and emergency vehicles, taxis, and Uber.”
I bet it will help improve the quality of the end product too.
One for the “But farming can’t be electric” crowd
A cherry grower near Wanaka has gone nearly fully emissions free thanks to a home-made electric tractor and a brand new one is on the way. What really stands out are those operating costs.
“My goal is when farmers come to see this electric tractor they are blown away by its capabilities.
“Power in New Zealand can be really cheap and much cheaper than diesel.
“On orchard we would use our tractor for probably 300 hours a year depending on the season. But if it is free or autonomous, what’s stopping us using these tractors for more things. Maybe we could use it for 1000 hours and become better farmers and have more yield.”
Casey will use the new tractor for just about everything on his small orchard. Spraying, mowing, weeding and even gathering data on his trees into an app call Fruit Minder, so he can constantly use power wisely and better his emissions.
When he and wife Rebecca arrived, the orchard ticked up an annual energy bill of $60,000. By ditching the fossil fuelled engines and going electric they brought the bill down to $21,000. Then after adding solar power and battery energy their total now sits around $3000.
Tweets and threads of the week
Auckland Transport have clearly picked up their comms game around bus drivers. This follows on from a video last week about what AT are doing about the bus driver shortage.
Opening a street for people doesn’t need to be complicated or ugly:
Montreal wants to stop thru traffic on a street. Just put these out. That simple. pic.twitter.com/Gh6s0QSe2b
— Clarence Eckerson Jr. (@PurpleClarence) June 3, 2023
A question for readers. This project (edited to update: apparently it’s the Pompallier Terrace/ Ponsonby Road safety upgrade, but Great North Road also remains up in the air until the AT Board decides whether to go ahead this month) would be well underway by now, had AT not paused it for no good reason.
Anyone know how much this cost to blink prepare for night works” and than “works delayed” for over 4 weeks … this doesn’t sound like it’s saving us any $$$ …Also whatever that is… times it by 3 please as so far there have been three of these telling us the project was starting pic.twitter.com/OZDvIxS9yd
— Places for Good -Pride in place (@placesforgood) June 8, 2023
Yep, that’ll work – at discouraging people from visiting the beach:
Today Alexandria 🇪🇬 finished construction on widening an urban highway and building a new highway overpass over a prime public beach.
"Officials say this project is necessary to end traffic congestion, especially during the summer when large numbers of tourists visit." 🤡 pic.twitter.com/RO5NNA2f4X
— FuckCars (@FuckCarsReddit) June 6, 2023
A way to make ugly asphalt repairs on otherwise nicely paved areas a little bit more attractive:
Looks like the City of Ottawa painted over the temporary asphalt patch on the pedestrian section of Nicholas street. pic.twitter.com/atJlkIZzGW
— A Better Ottawa (@ABetterOttawa) June 1, 2023
We don’t even have construction boondoggles.
Canada has LRT construction boondoggles in multiple cities whilst the Europeans are doing this… pic.twitter.com/Lh558B43gq
— James McLeod (@jamespmcleod) June 6, 2023
A great thread on how the Swiss design and integrate their entire nation-wide public transport system.
The Swiss achieve a high transit mode share in *all parts* of the the country by following a few key planning principles. They plan a nation-wide pulsed “clock face” integrated timetable for the core rail network – and all other regional local connections are planned around that. pic.twitter.com/8eCta321xb
— Ian Griffiths (@icgee) June 3, 2023
The little Innovating Streets project that could! Nice to see this pocket park still being enjoyed and refined, adding a little life to a city centre street. Hopefully we’ll get to see more of this sort of thing via the Streets For People programme and as the promised climate-focused rapid rollout of street reallocation starts to happen.
Have a great weekend.