It’s Friday again so here’s a few articles that have caught our attention recently.

This Week in Greater Auckland

Auckland Population Grows again

Auckland’s population dropped following COVID as visitors and other groups like overseas students left. But the latest figures from Stats NZ show Auckland’s population is back above those pre-pandemic levels.

The population grew in all 16 regions of New Zealand in the year ended June 2023, according to provisional estimates released by Stats NZ today.

This follows two years of lower growth when several regions decreased in population.

“Auckland was the fastest growing region in 2023, reversing a population loss in 2022,” estimates and projections manager Michael MacAskill said.

Auckland grew by 47,000 people, or by 2.8 percent, in the year ended June 2023.

“Otago, Waikato, and Bay of Plenty regions also grew faster than the New Zealand average,” MacAskill said.

Nationally, the population grew by 2.1 percent (105,900 people) in the year ended June 2023, a significant increase from the growth of 0.1 percent in the previous year (5,800 people).

They say that migration was the main contributor to Auckland’s growth accounting for 78 percent of it.

Our employment numbers are also looking strong

I’ll take a deeper look at some of these in a separate post at some point.

Cities starting to get on with bus priority

A number of cities are starting to get on, or at least think about more bus priority.

In Sydney a white paper by a government bus industry taskforce has suggested looking at a series of rapid buses, some with only a few stops to make buses more attractive.

Sydney’s traffic jams are deterring workers from riding buses and costing the NSW economy tens of millions of dollars each year in lost time, the white paper found.

The paper estimated that across greater Sydney, traffic affecting buses was costing residents $53m in lost productivity, with the figure to grow to $140m by 2036 and $230m by 2056.

The white paper says so-called “bus priority” policies such as bus lanes and traffic light signalling tweaks would incentivise commuters to ditch their cars by making bus travel more frequent and reliable.

John Lee, chair of the taskforce and former chief executive of the NSW State Transit Authority, likened the plan to the biblical story of Moses parting the Red Sea.

“Except instead of the Red Sea, we want the red paint to mark bus lanes, that’s for sure, taking some of the road space away from cars for buses,” Lee said.

Existing priority lanes in Sydney’s network use a “B light” that allow buses to accelerate first, whereas the new technology would be similar to how trams on the light rail network influence traffic lights. “The bus actually tells the lights up ahead that it’s coming and it automatically changes the light so they don’t have to sit and wait.”

Lee said the bias towards train infrastructure in growth planning areas may have to be reconsidered in the face of ballooning construction costs, while rapid bus routes could be established far more cheaply and quickly.

The white paper identified 39 potential rapid bus routes with “turn up and go” frequencies across greater Sydney’s six cities – spanning Newcastle to the Illawarra and far western Sydney. Lee hoped about five routes would be selected and introduced in the next few years.

In Boston are focusing their bus priority plan on the areas where buses get the highest delays.

I’m still not sure why AT didn’t whip up a map like that based on their performance data to highlight where more priority is needed rather than their vague messaging to council last week.

The end of the Cloud?

Stuff reports that time might be up for The Cloud, the temporary structure build on Queens Wharf for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Twelve years after being launched as a temporary venue for Rugby World Cup activity on Auckland’s Queens Wharf, the end could be nigh for the eye-catching venue called The Cloud.

The harbour-end mezzanine floor has been closed since June after failing a building code inspection, and the $1 million-plus possible repair bill may be the last straw for the venue’s future.

The mezzanine banquet and entertainment area earns the bulk of The Cloud’s revenue and Auckland Council and agency officials need to decide by Christmas whether other venues could take up the slack.

“It’s a timing issue, it’s a temporary structure this decision was always having to be made – how long to extend its life for,” said Nick Hill, the chief executive of the council economic and culture agency Tātaki Auckland Unlimited.

Bike Barge

Dunedin has launched a bike barge

Dunedin businesses Port to Port and Otago Moorings Ltd have teamed up to launch a cycle barge as demand for the ferry service across Otago Harbour rises.
The Bike Barge, provided by Kevin Waters, of Otago Moorings, celebrated its maiden cycle-laden voyage across the harbour yesterday.


With the Dunedin to Port Chalmers cycleway now open, demand for the ferry had increased.

“We do see more consistent numbers of cyclists coming through,” she said.

“I’m expecting we will be busier than we have been in previous years because it is a lot safer now for people to ride the entire loop.

Carrington Development Gets Approval

1News reports:

An independent panel has approved subdividing Unitec’s former campus site in Auckland’s Mt Albert into “seven megalots”, paving the way for thousands of new homes as part of one of the country’s biggest developments.

Under fast-track legislation, the Housing and Urban Development Ministry applied for resource consent to subdivide existing lots into seven new “megalots” for development and five potential open space lots.

The Carrington residential development was expected to take around 15 years to complete and supports at least 3000 new homes in the Central Auckland suburb.

As one of the country’s largest developments, the project covers nearly 40 hectares of land next to Unitec’s remaining campus buildings nearby.

Have a great weekend

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  1. There are great views from the front seat of a double decker bus. We see everything including the tops of bus shelters which don’t get cleaned to remove weeds, orange cones, clothes, leaves. The shelters are regularly water blasted and polished but the roof is forgotten. A low ladder and a broom would do the job
    Kiwi rail has posters at stations stating that they are rebuilding the network “one stage at a time” but no they are actually working on all three lines and no line is running 7 days a week yet. They were working on 70 sites across the network over labour weekend. The have done well but I hope the can get the Southern and Eastern Lines fully open soon.

  2. The recently elected politicians,both local and national ,seem to favour, relatively low cost,paint and technology, to get more bang for buck from the existing bus services. It will be interesting to see how and when ,this is implemented. The national politicians main promises,were based on undoing things, but dropping the regional fuel tax and three waters funding streams ,leaves Auckland Council in a fiscal hole. The National Party are not reformists,but they will have to do something here.

  3. Crazy how we are adding more and more people into Auckland without any real plans to fix anything or than some bus transponders, its truly cooked how we are just shoe horning more people in without any real plan. I’m usually pro growth because it normally means there are plans in place for more housing, more infrastructure and more PT but we know Auckland isn’t going to see anything relevant for a while now. Maybe its time for points system for visas based on where you live e.g in the regions

    Spent the last few days around Christchurch and it feels much more like a real City, people walking everywhere, actual footpaths, cycle lanes. Definitely considering moving down there, especially when housing looks to be 20% cheaper. Just a shame they have no plans for any rapid transit.

  4. That thing on the waterfront has always been awful, hopefully we will get something a little less condom-like in its next iteration!

    Meanwhile how can we push Passenger Rail up the agenda for the country? With the incoming government our climate looks like it won’t let my children live even as long as my four decades. Trains and bikes were the answer centuries ago, and as it happens they are still the only answer. Too bad that the ruling generation only knows motorways and never enjoyed trams that we still had in the 1940s.

    If National intends to get us “Back on Track”…let us build the infrastructure for the greatest tracks of all…train / tram /light rail / trolley buses and live a little longer, a little less stressed, and possibly less worried about our impending extinction?

    1. “Too bad that the ruling generation only knows motorways”

      Who is the ruling generation, Matiu? and how do you know what they only know?
      Can’t say that I disagree with you in respect of passenger rail and bikes but can we have less of the generational stereotype BS please?

  5. I always liked The Cloud as a structure, but it should have gone right after RWC2011. Its just way too cluttered down there on Queen’s Wharf. Hopefully when its removed, they spend some pennies on making it the “public space” that was promised when it was handed over by PoA. Just some grass, trees and seating will do.

    Carrington looks awesome, but what are the RTN options like?

    And where is the bike ferry that was promised as a more cost-effective solution for cyclists, instead of liberating a lane on the bridge?

    1. Bus lanes on Carrington Rd between Mt Albert Station and Pt Chev are funded and being designed, along with bike paths.

  6. Wow aucklands population is almost at 1.8 million we could see it at 2 million in just a few years and possibly 4 million in my lifetime. Thats a scary thought considering how far behind our infrastructure is compared to city’s at 4 million pop, and how useless we are at delivering it.
    It’s a real shame as Auckland is new Zealands only real financial center, it has employment opportunities that just don’t exist in other parts of nz.
    So when Auckland becomes unbearable to live in, where will people go, unless you’re retired it won’t be anywhere else in nz.

  7. Another thing should be talked about is Dominion RD! It has long time needed a new mode of transport, which why Heavy Rail is key to solving Dominion RD issues! Firstly, road sharing between buses & cars is clearly becoming impossible in Dominion RD now. The idea of any rail should kept going, not scrapped for good! Otherwise we’ll have to wait another 50 years or so on for any discussion mode of transport, the time is now!

    A tunnelled Heavy Rail down under Dominion RD with it doing a city-circuit around around Auckland CBD and terminating at Onehunga, would make more sense than some Light Rail line. Commuters will be wanting a service that’ll get them to place within one rail-line, Light Rail won’t have the capability to that here in Auckland due to Heavy Rail existence in at major centres commuters need to stop-in while Heavy Rail stops at major centres. We should be doing more to Heavy Rail, since that’s the mode we’ve got here in Auckland!

    Once the CRL opens, we’ll already got Heavy Rail to four key Type A (City Centre station land-use) stations, which are important to Aucklanders, Britomart/Waitemata, Newmarket, Mount Eden/Mangawhau and Aotea/Te Waihorotiu. Light Rail won’t be able to stop at these key stations that people ned to get to without transferring onto another mode of transport. Auckland’s ‘key stations’ in-future will be our ‘transport hub’s’, whole purpose of these stations is to put more lines going into ‘key stations’ so were creating a city circuit so commuters can get to these ‘key stations within one stop, not having to transfer. Also the mission to build more Heavy Rail here in Auckland, so we get more faster commute to provide choice of transport. We’ll definitely need another CRL in-future so our current CRL line free’s up space for more lines. Need a CRL line under the CBD, needs to run through Grey Lynn, Ponsonby & Victoria Park so it gives commuters variety of choice all in one go without transferring stop to stop, link is down below:

    The Mayor of Auckland wants gone of any construction site located in the CBD, the reality is that not realistically possible if Auckland wants to become a place to evolve, prosper & grow. For far too long now, Auckland has look like a 1980 New York crime killing city, has struggled to bring modern city feel, mostly due to the exact reason! Not enough construction in the CBD If Auckland wants to be a ’Transformational, Prospers’ city, it needs to more in transport infrastructure! At Britomart, the ‘Eastern Approach Tunnel’ will need an upgrade to four tracked rail line, we’re also going to need a ’Second CRL line’ in-future. ‘Eastern Approach Tunnel Upgrade’ won’t be disruptive to anyone at all due to its location and how much foot-traffic go around that area of town. It isn’t like Queen St or Aotea Square where there’s huge clusters of people walking around and business are reliant on foot-traffic. ‘Eastern Approach Tunnel Upgrade’ will definitely be needed this decade so we can lift the capacity of Heavy Rail coming in and out of Britomart

    To Matt’s view on upgrading town centres Mount Roskill, Eden Valley and Balmoral. The only way you can do that really is by fully built up rail by guaranteeing it’ll be built. Brain-storming the idea isn’t going to help Mount Roskill, Eden Valley and Balmoral become a modern, sprawling town centre. Any idea of redeveloping a town centre is a terrible idea and a mistake, cause businesses would have to go through inspection to see fit for size, meets their specification to wanting to be place at unit of town centre. Sometime you see businesses decide not to place in town centres for that very reason cause doesn’t meet their criteria of operating due to needs not met! You’d want businesses to design their own stores or get Westfield mall’s or even get a consortium to buy-up properties to create new shopping mall to create units. Not backing by council who don’t know the needs of stores! A fully built rail will incentivise small businesses, retail and corporate businesses to Mount Roskill, Eden Valley and Balmoral, cause they’ll see the benefits of locating a store in those areas. The more Heavy Rail lines located at town centres, the more businesses get entice and encourage businesses to locating a store because easy to walk, accessible from station, frequency of public transport for their customers. But this change won’t happen till any form of rail is fully built and businesses would like to investigate foot-traffic, first before consider establishing any store in centre of the town. Benefits businesses will see is more foot-traffic coming into the town centre. Meaning as demand grows, so does the number of store variety’s. In-which Light Rail wouldn’t be able to solve that problem at all since not versatile and not existent in Auckland, only Heavy rail would be able to solve the problem! The government needs to be ‘Guaranteeing’ Heavy Rail, not councils expecting to ‘Redevelop’ town centres for a transport mode, businesses make the decision to locate themselves not someone else outside their bubble.

    Light rail needs to be Scrapped! Heavy Rail is the answer for Dominion RD. Auckland does need more Heavy Rail lines more than ever in-order to be easier, accessible and modern society!

    1. “We couldn’t get anyone to agree to Light Rail due to the trade-offs between cost, public transport, land take, car parking and road space lost (oh, and cost again)”.

      Somebody online: Lets do a heavy rail line then!

  8. In the spirit of Wayno’s comments about looking at more affordable transport infrastructure options, I was near the south end of the harbour bridge recently and a walkway underneath looked viable to me. It would need a drawbridge of some kind in the middle for large vessels, but maybe it could be designed to be high enough that only the biggest refinery ships couldn’t pass under it. Simpler engineering than hanging off the side, no need for an expensive second bridge or having to go to war with car lovers to free up a lane, a lower gradient for cyclists, and built in weather protection too. It seems so obvious that someone must have looked at it already and found reasons why it wouldn’t work?

    1. The Navy also makes forays under the bridge, with it’s warships, up to Kauri Point, to pick up it’s munitions from secure storage there, pior to deployment elsewhere, and deliver the unused ones back into storage at deployment end.

  9. Large ships would need a drawbridge in the middle, but perhaps it could be built high enough that only the largest refinery ships would be unable to travel under it. After spending a few days exploring the city, I can attest that Christchurch now has the look and feel of a proper metropolis, complete with sidewalks and bike lanes.

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