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.

Closed Agenda

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

Business Report

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.

An improvement?

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?

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  1. So extra services for the Southern Line, but the plan is for the additional CRL services to run to Henderson only on the Western line?

    So, huge disruption, for little tangible benefit for a huge chunk of Western Line users. That’s extremely disappointing.

    1. What are you talking about? CRL takes ages off any rail travel time to the city center by cutting off the newmarket reversal etc. On top of the base CRL improvements that apply to every rail user like new stations in better locations, better transfers to buses etc

      1. The time savings yes, the additional services no. There’s been a huge focus on the former but the ‘more trains per hour’ only applying to part of the Western Line is only something I’m aware of from reading GA.

        1. The additional frequency will apply to about 90 % of passengers on the Western line.

          I agree all services should go to Swanson, but you’re over-egging the impact of some terminating at Henderson.

        2. …and the areas beyond Henderson are likely to grow much much faster in the next five years than most of the places between Henderson and the CBD. Look at the huge amount of infill around Sturges Road, Ranui etc already. To access extra CRL services, people will now have to bus all the way into Henderson. That basically undoes any actual saving on Western Line the CRL might unlock.

          It’s curious we are developing and investing in the southern line and improving it as a tool for commuters, which we absolutely should, but this de facto shortening of the Western Line comes on the back of actual shortening and the total collapse of proper rapid transit plans for the North West that were used to knock back suggestions of extending rail services as a stop-gap measure.

        3. No one is going to bus to Henderson to catch a T4 to Onehunga rather than catch one of the frequent T1 trains heading for the CRL.

          From what I can see in this post there will be 8tph to Swanson anyway so it’s really hard to figure out what you are ranting about.

        4. this de facto shortening of the Western Line

          Mate its the crappiest line on the network. Half hourly 3 car trains. It’s not some great loss. It’s already pretty redundant because most of the time it’ll be faster to take 2 trains with an interchange at K road, and this will only improve with time.

        5. See here:

          “However, at least in the case of the Eastern and Western lines, half of those trains are only in the peak direction with the train passing through the CRL and terminating. That means say you wanted to travel from Kingsland to New Lynn in the morning peak, you’d only have 4TPH you could catch which is less than the 6TPH we have today.”

          Although this same point now suggests the services will run to Swanson but there will be fewer of them and the Express services on this graphic here now suggest *something* will terminate at Henderson… so if it’s not the Express services, does that mean the other ‘extra’ services that were goin to g to Swanson now won’t anymore?

          I am genuinely confused what this actually means now.

  2. “The only two board members to vote against the project were the two councillors, Andrew Baker and Mike Lee.”

    A little more detail about that would be welcome.

    1. Mike Lee opposes everything like this because he agrees with Lisa Prager that bike lanes are a UN Agenda 21 plot to shut down small businesses and allow Chinese-owned multinationals to take over, 15 minute city, Great Reset, WEF, Klaus Schwab, arglebargle.

      Andy Baker said he voted against it because it wasn’t *enough*, which is the weird bit.

    2. Lee said he thought the locals were “divided” but that’s not what the feedback looked like. And I thought counsellors and AT treated that stuff as gospel, regardless of how small a sample might be.

  3. I don’t get how Gael Baldock gets so much time to present – who does she represent other than her own self-interest. Then, she sits in the audience and continues to interrupt proceedings.

    I’m delighted the board finally acknowledged the overwhelming support of the community in getting GNR done

    1. Because her partner is Lisa Prager who is in thick with Mike Lee. See above. So much of this stuff (like RNZ’s pro-Russian edits) can just be explained by someone with an agenda and a chip on their shoulder getting in a position of power.

      1. Lisa’s partner in protest at least and yes in thick with Mike Lee but weirdly acknowledged and enabled by the Mayor as a de facto transport expert. How Dean Kimpton and Wayne Donnelly think this is acceptable is baffling and they really should sideline that nuisance Occupy Garnett protest group. These matters have become a circus and the senior leaders at AT should be ashamed of themselves for their lack of corageous leadership.

  4. “Services will remain half hourly in the late evening, because of KiwiRail’s maintenance requirements.”

    Seems a little dishonest to blame AT for that

    1. I hate the endless “it is actually kiwirail” line, it is so not helpful. It does not matter, we need better service.

    1. Might reduce time savings and scheduling, but it would be nice if the express stopped at Panmure and Otahuhu given that these are major transfer stations

      1. I guess Puhinui gives you the transfer benefits of Otahuhu?

        Still, Panmure would be have seemed an obvious one with the Panmure-Botany busway in place (which should be going through to Ellerslie for even more network connectivity).

      2. Yes, quiet a good running pattern I think. My initial thought was that express should stop at Otahuhu, given it’s major status and to connect with the southern & east-west line sooner.

        1. ” and to connect with the southern & east-west line sooner.”
          Oh my bad, they suggesting stopping at Puhinui which is sooner.

      3. i believe the indicative operating pattern diagrams in the ALR appendices and a council presentation from last year indicated the Southern Express line would be stopping at Panmure, Sylvia Park, and Otahuhu as well as Puhinui and all stations from Papakura south to Pukekohe. Said diagram said it would also run half hourly.

        No travel times were given, but I would assume dropping at least 9 stations compared with the regular Southern Line should make the Express line at least 10 minutes quicker to Waitemata station from Pukekohe.

  5. That Trugood Drive/Cryers Road intersection (both the old and new layout) is one of those examples of pissing away money on traffic engineering just because we can so why not.

  6. “conversion of the Trugood Drive/Cryers Road, East Tāmaki intersection into a roundabout” – surely much more expensive than a set of traffic lights which wouldn’t have required any layout change. There is plenty of money to throw when it suits.

  7. Great news about Great North Road.
    CRL running pattern: Quite good bar the lack of off-peak and night frequencies. If the Onehunga Line was upgraded then the western could run to there or split with Otahuhu. The Eastern could run Manukau -CRL-Pukekohe. This is more like the CFN and gives a better distribution of coverage (red line skipping minor doubled up stations). The plan in the map of this post is good for Newmarket but too much coverage of the not so popular Remuera, Greenlane & Penrose stations (not that I should complain as it’s one of our locals). Of course triple tracking could allow express services through here kind of like the current Onehunga line. That maybe better, if you drop the Onehunga line altogether and staion skipped the doubled up Newmarket to Otahuhu sections (stops and Newmarket, Ellerslie, Otahuhu). By now it all gets a bit complicated, so keep it simple stupid.
    Another good idea I’ve heard is:
    10/12tph Swanson – Manukau via Parnell
    10/12tph Pukekohe – Onehunga / Otahuhu (split) via Panmure, Grafton

  8. Thanks – most useful and interesting.
    Andy Baker – voting against the cycleway – because it doesnt go far enough… ???
    Great North rd being less murderous for schoolkids is excellent.
    Great South rd has mulitple cyclist fatalities, and is a health and safety risk – but only if you attempt it on a bike, or as a kid, dont know not to. Surely with deaths valued at $12m we can stop killing more vulnerable road users ?

    1. Yes, Great South Road is often cast aside as “it’s parallel to the train line” … no improvements for PT is needed.
      And saftey projects are limited to the odd raised pedestrian crossing.

      Cycling improvements … tumble weeds.

    2. “Surely with deaths valued at $12m we can stop killing more vulnerable road users ?”

      Ah, but they also increased the value of “travel time savings” at the same time. So if your project delays the holy users of our roads too much over the next umpteenth years, that 12 million death can still be “worth it” (grinning smiley face of approval with thumbs up, because that’s how we prioritise road safety!)

  9. Did the contractor forget to install the cycle paths and raised priority crossings at that roundabout?

      1. Only cycling projects are allowed be saddled with extra project requirement scope creep until Orsman calls them gold-plated.

        And if you don’t add all the extras, the locals can call them ugly and insufficient. Win-win (if you like the status quo).

  10. Having two parallel red lines on the same set of stations, not to mention a pink line that just… fades into the red without any explanation, doesn’t seem like it would be simple enough for general public use?

    I know that voice announcer in the stations + the displays on the trains indicate terminal station, not just line name, which will help to disambiguate. But I still feel like we can do better. Like, surely someone who walks into the Karanga-a-Hape station and takes a glance at the wall map should be able to tell immediately whether they can use an Express or not.

    1. I’m also curious how they’re going to manage an express without a third main or any passing loops. Skipping so many stations in a row, it feels like surely it would catch up to the non-express in front of it.

  11. Auckland listen do not let the train manager go he still has to shut the doors as shutting the doors would be a lot of extra work for the driver too much responsibility on one person leads to accidents also the infrastructure does not support it

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