Welcome to the end of another week. Here’s some of the things that caught our attention this week.
The Week In Greater Auckland
- On Monday Matt laid out some ideas and policies we’d like to see from political parties this election.
- On Thursday Matt covered National’s transport policy.
Te Mahia Station Entrance Upgrade
Te Mahia Station has long been the least used on our rail network and at one point was close to being shutdown. Some of the reasons for this included that the station was in a poor state, having never been upgraded with new shelters/amenities like almost every other station had been. it was also largely hidden from public view behind car yards and houses reachable via long, unlit and unsafe accessways.
The Manurewa Local Board want to change that and improve usage of the station. In 2017/18 Auckland Transport upgraded the station and the local board purchased the neighbouring site on Gt South Rd to demolish the building and open up the access to improve safety. Since then a traffic light controlled pedestrian crossing has been installed to make the station easier to access from the housing to the west/south.
Now that space is about to get a bit of an upgrade and Grady Connell got the renders from Auckland Transport – oddly they’re not on AT’s website. There are a couple more here.
The space looks a bit barren in this image, but looking at the previous images, it’s certainly better than it used to be, or being used for carparking. The Local Board says ridership at the station is already back to pre-COVID levels, so it will be interesting to see if this helps make a difference and encourages even more people to take the train.
Northcote Ferry Terminal to Close
We covered this in our post about the draft RPTP – consultation is open until Thursday 17 August, so don’t forget to get your submissions in – and now Stuff have picked up on the suggestion that the Northcote Ferry Terminal will close:
Auckland Transport is proposing to scrap ferry services to a wharf it recently spent $3.3million rebuilding and upgrading.
Te Onewa Northcote Point Wharf on Auckland’s North Shore closed in 2018 after structural degradation was found.
The new wharf opened after a $2.6m rebuild in February 2021. It temporarily closed again a year later – for a further $753,000 upgrade, to improve its berthing structure.
Now, only about 10 people board the service each weekday.
The ferry, which goes between Birkenhead and the CBD, only stops at the wharf when someone wishes to disembark or board there, but is regularly cancelled due to the wharf being vulnerable to poor weather conditions and crew shortages.
But after the $3.3m spend, AT is now proposing to scrap the ferry service from 2026 as part of its draft Regional Public Transport Plan.
As well as low usage, it seems the (ongoing) failure to provide access for walking and biking across the harbour is partially to blame. Time to Liberate the Lane to Save the Wharf?
AT service network development manager Pete Moth said the work on the wharf was carried out with the expectation that walking and cycling options over the Harbour Bridge would be progressed.
“This would have made the ferry a vital tourist/scenic link and would have been a catalyst for an increase in boardings from Te Onewa Northcote Point.”
More and more places are starting to realise that a great way to help reduce emissions by getting people out of cars is to make it easier to get e-bikes.
In Connecticut, a scheme offering up to US $1500 towards an e-bike has had to be increased due to the level of demand:
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has increased its first-year budget for its ebike voucher program by 50% due to “exceptional demand.”
The first year of funding for the vouchers was set at $500,000.
The new incentive program was created in 2022 by the Connecticut Clean Air Act. Under the program, residents over the age of 18 can apply for a $500 voucher. They’re eligible for another $1,000 if they meet specific criteria.
Citylab covered this and other similar schemes which are all being enthusiastically used.
In April, 2022 Denver invited residents to request a voucher for $400 off a new electric bike or $900 off an e-cargo bike; the city was so inundated with applications that it paused the program in 19 days. Local and state officials elsewhere took notice, especially after the Senate dropped a proposed federal e-bike tax credit from last year’s Inflation Reduction Act. In February, for instance, Tampa received five times more applications than it could fulfill for its rebates of up to $2,000 off an e-bike. Last month the state of Connecticut launched its own program — and was oversubscribed within three days.
At first glance, these enthusiastic stampedes to score e-bike rebates seem like welcome news. In Denver, officials say that the average recipient uses their new e-bike in lieu of a car three to five times per week, with each trip doing its part to mitigate climate change, improve air quality and boost urban quality of life. But the frenzy also suggests missed opportunities. After all, how many more car trips could have been replaced if everyone who wanted an e-bike voucher was given one?
Limits on the availability of e-bike incentives is throttling their enormous upside. No mobility innovation in recent memory offers a comparable opportunity to simultaneously boost health, protect the environment and improve urban quality of life. Rebate programs that subsidize low-carbon mobility should be a no-brainer — especially in places that already incentivize electric cars, which are vastly more polluting than e-bikes, not to mention more dangerous to other road users.
There are a number of other examples, such as in France, Scotland, and British Columbia in Canada. Closer to home, Tasmania will be launching an e-bike support scheme soon with the exact details still being worked out.
Not including e-bike rebates as part of, or alongside, the government’s Clean Car Discount scheme has been a huge missed opportunity.
Perhaps if some of the residents of this Hamilton street had e-bikes – or a chance to try using an e-bike – they’d be tearing down the fence between their street and a passing cycleway.
Neighbours are gearing up for round two of the battle of Upper Kent St.
Plans to “upgrade” the street to allow pedestrians and cyclists to enter and exit the Western Rail Trail cycle track has set off alarm bells for residents who say it would become a doorway for crime.
Hamilton City Council on the other hand says the change would make it easier and safer to move around the neighbourhood while encouraging the use of low-emission transport.
Now there’s an idea
State legislators in New York are introducing a bill to their senate offering a different way to tackle speeding, especially around schools.
Dangerous drivers with at least six speeding tickets in a single year would be forced to install speed-limiting devices in their vehicles under new state legislation.
“We are going to literally force you to slow down by requiring you to install a speed limiter on your car,” bill sponsor state Sen. Andrew Gounardes warned reckless drivers on Tuesday during a press conference at the Atlantic Avenue intersection where a speeding driver killed Katherine Harris, 31, in April.
The proposed “speed governors” would be modeled after something called an ignition interlock device, which prevents individuals with previous drunk driving arrests from starting their car without proving their sobriety, the pols said.
Under Gounardes and Gallagher’s proposal, drivers with the tech installed in their vehicles could not travel more than 5 miles per hour over the speed limit. Data shows higher speed correlates with an increased likelihood of death.
The legislation would ultimately target the top three percent of drivers in the city, Gounardes said — specifically drivers with six or more speeding tickets over a year, or with 11 or more points on their license in an 18-month period.
The extra penalty is necessary to stop speedsters for whom a $50 camera ticket isn’t enough of a deterrent, Gounardes said.
“There is a persistent cohort of drivers who are getting five, six, seven, 10, 20, speeding tickets and drive on our streets recklessly without any consequences whatsoever, and just a slap on the wrist — $50 dollars every single time,” he said.
City officials have already implemented speed governors on their own workers. “Hard stops” by municipal drivers have dropped 36 percent in the year since Mayor Adams announced the installation of such devices on a tiny percentage of the city fleet, according to Gounardes.
The bigger question is why don’t we mandate these types of devices in all cars. It’s odd that we can geofence and speed-limit a rental scooter for perceived safety reasons, but not the vehicles that cause hundreds of deaths a year.
Green-Tracking Light Rail
While the idea of any light rail in Auckland seems a long way off right now, Canberra is looking to extend its light rail line, incorporating green tracks in the process. Their government has signed a $2.5m contract to create a prototype section, and these images show how it will work:
Have a great weekend, especially as it finally looks like we might get a few days of sun.