It’s Friday again so here’s a few articles that have caught our attention recently.
This Week in Greater Auckland
- On Tuesday Matt looked at the AT’s plans to improve some of the PT basics to get usage growing.
- On Thursday a guest post from George Weeks reviewed the book Paved Paradise.
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.
Excited to announce the official launch of the MBTA Transit Priority Plan. It identifies the corridors with highest rider delay and lays the foundation for future priority projects. pic.twitter.com/wlIOGqFubx
— Alex Hallowell (@alex_hallowell) October 24, 2023
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.
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
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