Yesterday was the latest Auckland Transport board meeting and we’ve already covered Gt North Rd and AT’s budget. But as I said in yesterday’s post, there was a lot on the agenda so here’s what else was interesting.
Gt North Rd
Jolisa covered the potential Gt North Rd outcomes on Monday and the great news is that the board have signed the project off in its full form, promising to find the funding shortfall to deliver the entire thing. The only two board members to vote against the project were the two councillors, Andrew Baker and Mike Lee.
AT Board approves full $28.1m Great North Road Improvements Project
Today, the Auckland Transport (AT) Board has given the go ahead for construction of the Great North Road Improvements project.
The project will deliver stormwater, walking, cycling and bus improvements along Great North Road, between Ponsonby Road and Crummer Road. Construction is planned to begin by early August this year.
AT Board Chair Wayne Donnelly says that due to budget constraints, the Board did consider a cheaper, staged approach.
“However, through this process it has become clear that there is overwhelming public support, and public need for the full project.”
The project has received support from local business associations, schools, residents associations and community groups.
“We are committed to delivering the project in full, within the next two financial years, noting our team at AT will need to confirm additional funding for the second year,” says Mr Donnelly.
Regional Public Transport Plan
AT have been working on refreshing their Regional Public Transport Plan (RLTP) for some time, we wrote about it back in February, criticising it for it’s apparent lack of ambition and that it effectively ignores the council’s Transport Emissions Reduction Pathway (TERP) due to a lack of funding.
Yesterday the board signed off the draft version of the RLTP to go out to consultation, which will happen mid-July and staff called out as a risk the issue of ambition and TERP.
The key risk associated with the release of the RPTP is that the public feel their expectations (and future ambitions) for the PT system, are not reflected in the draft plan, or do not deliver on the expectations and ambitions of plans like the TERP. This risk exists because the RPTP is required to be a fundable plan in a time where funding is significantly constrained. We have mitigated this risk by being clear in the draft RPTP on what can done with the level of funding certainty available, advocating for additional sources and outlining how we would make further improvements to services to make progress towards these aspirations if more funding were to become available.
Even so there’s a heap of interesting things to cover in the draft RLTP and we’ll do that in more detail when the consultation happens. But one thing that stood out to me is that they’re getting close to locking down their plans for the rail network after the CRL opens.
When CRL opens, the existing Eastern and Western Lines will be combined into a new East-West line, running between Swanson and Manukau via the CRL stations (Maungawhau, Karanga-a-Hape, Te Waihorotiu, and Waitematā). The Southern Line will operate between Pukekohe, the CRL stations, and Ōtāhuhu. Both the East-West and Southern lines will operate every 7 to 8 minutes at peak times, and every 15 minutes throughout the day. Services will remain half hourly in the late evening, because of KiwiRail’s maintenance requirements. The doubling up of the Southern line between Ōtāhuhu and Newmarket means this section will have double frequency.
The Onehunga line will also operate between Onehunga and Maungawhau, before eventually being extended further west to Henderson. This will enable a direct service between the west and Newmarket. Because of constraints caused by the Onehunga branch line’s single track, this service will continue to operate every 30 minutes at all times of day for the foreseeable future.
A new limited stops ‘Southern Express’ service will also be introduced following the opening of the CRL, which will provide faster service from stations south of (and including) Papakura. This service will operate to the CRL stations, via both the Southern and Eastern lines, skipping some stations.
Having trains every 7-8 minutes means a total of eight trains per hour on each of the two main lines, an improvement on the six we currently have – though will get twice that. What concerns me is that AT seem to think that 15 minutes is an acceptable frequency off-peak on the rail network. This is made worse by them requiring rapid transit network buses to be at least every 10 minutes throughout the day. Also that we will still only have trains every 30 minutes at nights. All previous RPTP’s at least as far back as 2013 have promised better frequencies
The naming used has strong Sydney vibes but AT do say they’re subject to finalisation so could potentially change.
AT have been putting more items in the public sessions lately but always a source of interest is what’s discussed behind closed doors. Here’s what stood out.
Items for Approval
- Eastern Busway TOC2 Approval
- Housing Infrastructure Fund for North-West Greenfield Growth Area (Redhills)
- Annual Rail Network Access Agreement
- Auckland’s Low Emissions Bus Roadmap – Version 3
- Rapid Transit Network – Auckland Light Rail Update
- Downtown Carpark Integrations Redevelopment Agreement – we must be getting close to hearing about the fate of the downtown carpark
Here are a few things that stood out from this meeting’s Business Report.
Still No PT Satisfaction
Last month AT claimed they had “arrested the decline in system satisfaction“. I noted it was a bit premature to claim that from a single month’s result and that it could just be a plateau before then next plunge. It seems I was right with PT satisfaction falling again in May, which is not surprising given “reported disruptions” still incredibly high at 48%.
PT Staff Shortfall
Related to above, there have been a number of announcements in recent weeks about recruitments resulting in reducing the driver shortfall. In March it was reported the bus driver shortfall was 363 and for ferries it was 35 so there has been some progress but there’s still a way to go.
Clipping on Walking and Cycling
This is good, I wonder how many other bridges could have this kind of treatment added?
To improve safety for people walking, AT has installed a clip-on footbridge and constructed new linking footpaths on the western side of Slippery Creek Bridge on Great South Road in Drury. The footbridge is three metres wide and is for shared use by pedestrians and cyclists. It is now open for public use which will improve safety for people, particularly children, by providing a safe link to nearby schools and the new housing developments in the area.
AT highlight how they completed the conversion of the Trugood Drive/Cryers Road, East Tāmaki intersection into a roundabout in May.
There was also installation of traffic lights on Trugood Drive to prevent significant queuing on Cryers Road and this new crossing point allows for people to safely cross the road.
Traffic lights to control access to the roundabout is odd and sure, the intersection is safer than it used to be, but surely proper pedestrian crossings would have been better.
This is what it looked like before.
Poor Quality Temporary Traffic Management (TTM)
We often see people complaining about TTM practices, such as putting signs in the middle of footpaths or cycle lanes. AT have picked up their inspections of TTM sites and less than half passed. The result is even worse for sites that are reported by the public, having just a 31% pass rate.
Was there anything else that stood out?