Wow, it’s December already, and it’s a Friday. So here are few things that caught our attention recently.

This Week in Greater Auckland

Stop, Cancel, Repeal and Withdraw

Following on the coalition agreements on Monday, the government released their 100-day action plan. Here are the key ones related to transport and housing projects.

5. Withdraw central government from Let’s Get Wellington moving (LGWM).

10. Introduce legislation to remove the Auckland Fuel Tax.

11. Cancel fuel tax hikes.

12. Begin work on a new GPS reflecting the new Roads of National Significance and new public transport priorities.

13. Repeal the Clean Car Discount scheme by 31 December 2023.

14. Stop blanket speed limit reductions and start work on replacing the Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2022.

15. Stop central government work on the Auckland Light Rail project.

24. Begin work to enable more houses to be built, by implementing the Going for Housing Growth policy and making the Medium Density Residential Standards optional for councils.

A few comments

  • Without the Auckland Regional Fuel Tax, when combined with the reduction in funding it unlocks from the National Land Transport Fund, Auckland would lose billions in funding for transport projects over the coming years. That is also how the council are funding their share of the Eastern Busway that National have said is a priority for them. Alternatively, Auckland could increase rates to cover the lost revenue, but we’d probably be looking at around a 10% rate increase to cover it.
  • With no general fuel tax changes, it’s hard to see how National will fund more RoNS.
  • Building more houses by removing the requirement to allow more houses to be built – comical.

The full list is below.

Britomart Plaza design

The council have released the plans for the plaza behind Waitemata (Britomart) Station

Auckland Council and City Rail Link Limited (CRLL) are delighted to announce that they will be reinstating the plaza behind the Waitematā Station (Britomart), with work starting next year. The plaza will function as an entrance and exit to the station, while also providing a relaxed place for people to meet, with easy access in and out of the central city area.

The station plaza will be constructed in conjunction with the upgrade of Tyler Street, matching the design of Galway Street, completing the section between Te Komititanga and Commerce Street. This is the next key piece in creating a high-quality network of public and shared spaces, encompassing the Britomart precinct, the Waitematā Station, Te Komititanga, Commercial Bay, Tyler, and Galway Streets and Takutai Square.

This is another big milestone and will mark the end of the City Rail Link’s work at the station, as part of the major City Rail Link infrastructure project that will transform Auckland’s public transport network.

City Rail Link Ltd’s Chief Executive, Dr Sean Sweeney, says the temporary station buildings will be removed in the new year, making room for the reinstated plaza. “The temporary station buildings allowed us to successfully complete some amazing world-class engineering work inside the Chief Post Office to get the Waitematā Station (Britomart) ready for CRL. One job done and we are now delighted to clear the way for the plaza as the next big step for one of Auckland’s most historic buildings that will play a big part in the city’s transport future,” Dr Sweeney says.


Eight native trees will be planted around the edge of the plaza. There will also be a large central seating area and station ‘lid’ designed in partnership with mana whenua which will support the meeting of people. The plaza is designed to be for people, with no vehicle access. Along with the trees, seats and bicycle racks, bollards will be installed around the plaza edge to prevent unauthorised vehicle access.

Paying people not to drive

An interesting study by Uber who offered to “pay people $1,350 – in cash, public transport credit and Uber credits – to leave their car at home for a month“.

Uber’s Key Findings

  • Participants needed access to at least four different alternative modes of transport to get where they needed to go.
  • Walking increased the most in absolute terms, followed by cycling and rideshare. But rideshare increased the most (450%) relative to how much it was being used before the trial. This number would be skewed by the Uber credits.
  • Car share trips (ie, Uber Carshare, formerly Car Next Door, where people allow others to use their idle vehicle) almost doubled, allowing people to, for example, take a weekend away.
  • While walking increased most in terms of raw number of trips taken, step count only increased from 7,509 in week 1 to 8,253 a day.
  • The perceived health benefits of car-free living corresponded with increased satisfaction with their communities.
  • Most participants massively underestimated the cost of running a car.
  • Many participants said at the end that they would continue to use alternative transport modes, with three participants indicating they planned to sell one of their cars, or make their car available on Uber Carshare.

Congestion is bad for your blood pressure

Newshub reports:

Exposure to air pollution while sitting in traffic is associated with high blood pressure, according to a new study.

The “randomised crossover trial found the inhalation of traffic-related air pollution while in a car with unfiltered air was associated with a 4.5 mm Hg [millimetres of mercury] increase in blood pressure”, said researchers from the University of Washington.

They analysed the blood pressure of 16 people, aged between 22 and 45, who were driven through traffic in the Washington city of Seattle for three days between 2014 and 2016.

On one of those days, the car was fitted with a particulate air filtration system. On the other two days, “on-road air was entrained into the vehicle”, the researchers said.

They found changes in blood pressure among participants happened rapidly after a commute in an unfiltered vehicle. Blood pressure peaked within an hour of exposure and persisted throughout the next 24 hours, as reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal.

E-Bikes doing more to cut oil demand than electric cars

From The Conversation:

So what’s the best solution? You might think switching to an electric vehicle is the natural step. In fact, for short trips, an electric bike or moped might be better for you – and for the planet. That’s because these forms of transport – collectively known as electric micromobility – are cheaper to buy and run.

But it’s more than that – they are actually displacing four times as much demand for oil as all the world’s electric cars at present, due to their staggering uptake in China and other nations where mopeds are a common form of transport.

How can that be?

On the world’s roads last year, there were over 20 million electric vehicles and 1.3 million commercial EVs such as buses, delivery vans and trucks.

But these numbers of four or more wheel vehicles are wholly eclipsed by two- and three-wheelers. There were over 280 million electric mopeds, scooters, motorcycles and three-wheelers on the road last year. Their sheer popularity is already cutting demand for oil by a million barrels of oil a day – about 1% of the world’s total oil demand, according to estimates by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Cool stations take time

Sydney’s new Baranagroo station – built as part of its metro project – looks fantastic but this is a good reminder that underground stations can take a lot of time to access – time that is often not counted in travel time comparisons. Auckland Light Rail suffered from this issue.

Digital Shields

This is neat

MPs on the Bus?

This is a neat initiative from Greater Wellington. But will MPs be able to charge the costs back to taxpayers as easily as they can do for taxis?

Have a great weekend

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  1. Britomart will be great once finished, but gosh those renderings are farcical. If anyone actually walks down any of those “lanes” they are just full of cars and large delivery trucks. Mostly getting in the way of pedestrians by reversing (as nowhere to turn).

    If they actually planned all of this area to be pedestrian only it would be excellent. Or at least not do shared spaces…

    1. Agree. It’s was weird originally to spend so much money on fancy paving and then ruin the whole thing allowing vehicles in. But to continue doing so suggests the planners are stuck, unable to learn. Is it oppressive rules or team leaders? I don’t know, but it’s really sad.

        1. Indeed, but you can even see a SUV on the left there mounting the pavement which is narrow and meant to be one of our premium dining/shopping streets!

      1. They couldn’t put many trees in and limited areas due to the very shallow sections between the ground and ceiling of the station below I read.

        1. BIG planter boxes? Or is the roof too weak? If so, some nice shrubbery might still break up some of the concrete.

        2. Fair point, I had not thought of that. But yeah, some shrubs, planter boxes, just anything organic would be a great addition.

        3. There was an item on one of the NZ news shows a number of weeks back showing an Australian city with the same problem and their way around was by putting up a #8wire net over the top and then growing Vines/Greepers on it to create the shade and cut down the heat problem . And these people that want trees should have a look at their own sections where they have trees , they may look great above ground but underground the roots create destruction to all infrastructure mainly anything to do with WATER whether it be Drinking or Sewer and the blockages they can cause . Have a look at the square in front of the station and see where they have planted them , none are sited above the tunnel boxes .

        4. They may well not survive anyway. Having observed the trees planted over the Civic car park over the years it’s been a constant cycle of replacement of dead or dying native trees which are clearly unsuitable in that environment (and it’s probably just as well they’re not getting bigger)

        5. Robert – And the trees they Plant are more for the Forest not stuck out in the open like some of the Exotic trees are .

    2. In some of them cars think they have the right of way, like it is a road and pedestrians need to keep to the sides while they drive at 3x the speed limit up the middle.
      The basic rules for a shared space should be that cars are only allowed for access to buildings or delivery, and they should always be dead ends.

      1. Yes like what was once a “shared space” in at Maki St, North West, is now just a road where drivers rush through and treat those on foot like pests.

        1. They should block off the intersection with Fred Taylor. In fact they could block off both sides, and make it left turn only into both, then block the middle of the intersection and turn it into two traffic light pedestrian crossings.

          Would improve the queues that fill up the road/traffic lights, make Maki St better, and essentially remove an intersection while still letting pedestrians cross. Tawhia/Fernhill Dr would be slightly busier, but not significantly as that’s where most of the traffic is meant to be routed to anyway.

      2. 100%. Or retractable bollards in the middle of a through road so buses/emergency vehicles can get through as needed. A lot cheaper just to have them as dead ends though.

    3. One of these days, Heart of the City might concentrate on getting the city centre service and delivery plan with AC and AT, so that trucks delivering beer and burgers might be managed to make those shared spaces truly shared with people on foot or small wheels.
      AC and AT have been working towards that for ages – a little help, please?

        1. Heart of the City is mourning their car park building, and you talk of cargo bikes only days later. Have you no shame, sir?

  2. Can the Auckland council put the tax on fuel like what the government did with the Auckland fuel tax? Might be easier than trying to do congestion charge? This will pay for the improvement to public transport instead of raising rates?

      1. The National party insists that 3 waters stay local with councils, but at the same time want to remove the right for councils to impose fuel tax or even set speed limits. As always the ideologies only apply when it suits.

        1. Well, it is like ACT claiming they want to reduce regulation – except when they are calling for rules to prevent apartments in the fancy parts of suburbia.

        2. “That is property rights apparently. You have rights over your neighbour’s property.”

          Oh, I know Seymour tried to spin it in a libertarian way. But spin is all it is.

    1. If I was Auckland council I’d just pull their funding from the Eastern Busway, or postpone any funding until they have other revenue methods. National were keen to make Auckland Council pay for the first parts of the CRL until they felt like they wanted to contribute.

      That said, I think no busway is more of an issue for Auckland Councl than it is for the Government.

      1. If I was Auckland council I’d just pull their funding from the Eastern Busway regardless, except for some paint and no parking signs. If bus lanes are good enough for most of Auckland, why does East Auckland need something special, particularly when they already have stupidly wide roads.

        1. The Government Ministers in East Auckland don’t want to pay for it, by virtue of cancelling the regional fuel tax.

        2. Ari – The busway on the Shore was paid for by the Taxpayer where as the one out East is Ratpayers and also it’s not attached to a State Highway .
          KLK – To fix those Government Ministers increase their Rates 10fold compared to what their nieghbours pay as a lesson as to say don’t screw with us as we will screw you .

  3. Although rideshare companies are keen to increase revenue by encouraging patronage, Im seeing downsides in Auckland to this trend. My unscientific observations are that there is a huge overcapacity of Uber-type vehicles on the roads at certain times, with places like Ponsonby road a steady stream of ‘curb crawling’ Prius vehicles vying for customers, and also clogging bus stops and any other available stopping places or double parking and generally contributing to congestion and unnecessary vehicle use. I also see an increase in laziness with people ordering food deliveries which in the past they would never have contemplated. My kids were ordering food delivered from 300 m up the road, when it was definitely quicker and cheaper to walk up and back & order on the spot (or shock horror make something at home).

    1. And its hard to see why people think self driving cars will be a solution to our congestion problems, they will only make things worse.
      For example, why use a courier to get your package across town when you can put it in the back of a self driving car which will supposedly be cheap. So we would replace vans that are efficiently delivering lots of stuff, with huge numbers of individual cars each travelling from A to B.

      1. 100%, only way to reduce congestion is to reduce car use. Year 4 maths could figure that one out but politicians and traffic engineers can’t.

        1. Even with something as space efficient as water, you can still only get so much throughput in a pipe.

          I have had this argument before:
          Them: “We won’t need PT when we have self driving cars”
          Me: “OK, so Tokyo will turn off their public transport system and have 25 million people in self driving cars”
          Them: “No, but Auckland is different”

        2. What I find funny about the self-driving car argument is that AFAIK it’s in part based on the claim you can have much more capacity because the cars can follow each other more closely etc. However AFAIK this only really works if you eliminate all non self-driving cars. This part is not generally mentioned and IMO not surprising since do you really think the car loving crowd are all going to be happy with this? Further despite some early optimistic predictions, stuff like the recent Cruise problems in San Francisco so how far away we are from even getting the basics right. So you can only imagine how far we are from getting anything like that. In fact the Cruise problem is an example of another issue. Even if you eliminate all non self-drivings cars, are you roads going to be grade separated? If not does your theory actually work or is a person going onto the road at the wrong time going to mean your entire city fleet ends up in one massive pileup?

        3. Should have said “going onto the road at the wrong time” or something else unexpected.

          Because the theory as I’ve read it often seems to assume because all the cars are communicating and know precisely what the other one is going to do etc, they can follow each other very closely without issue. Except how can they always know what the other one is going to do when there can be external factors which might force a change? Yes they’ll know almost instantly this is going to happen but if you’re following each other so closely that you cannot cope with this unexpected change, well as I said it seems to me you’re just asking for a pileup with a large part of your vehicle fleet.

  4. I am always bemused by studies that state the obvious.” Congestion is bad for your blood pressure”,”E-Bikes doing more to cut oil demand than electric cars”. Both should be blindingly obvious to most rational people, l suppose the study gives a legitimization ,to what we already know.
    Being prevented(congestion) from achieving your goals ,will always cause frustration and physics explains the E-bikes.
    Now we all “know” this stuff,let’s act on it, govts have no money,councils have no money,people have no money, (of course,l haven’t commissioned a study,so may not be true), could it be said that the real cost to society’s progression is the motor car,or will that require further study.

    1. We are at a point in society that scientists and experts have to do studies to prove the obvious, and even then fact is merely optional in most modern discussion.

      1. Problem is Kiwis are by-and-large addicted to cars. It doesn’t matter how high the personal and social costs of using them, or how compelling the rationale and benefits of ditching them, society is ADDICTED. It is as real an addiction as a drug-habit.

    1. I think he’s 100% correct. But that doesn’t mean much, he’s just another semi-respected figure telling the problems. People know it’s an issue, think it is bad and we should do something, and yet again nothing will happen.

  5. Cement Australia tried to greenwash themselves by converting one of their bulk carrier trucks to be an EV. It suffered a thermal runaway in Melbourne on Tuesday blocking the Westgate freeway for hours.

      1. Glad you think so. That truck had at least 3 to 5 years of carbon emissions baked in and it lasted less than a year. Add to that the cobalt, lithium oxide, hydrogen fluoride and other nasties it released.

    1. Yes. It’s a good start, but if this is all that we can expect in 30 years I don’t have hope for the future of Auckland. This is just catching up on deferred investment.

      Where are the new rail corridors? How are we going to enable regional passenger trains? How will Kiwirail use its land to do transit-oriented developments? How does this reflect strategies for future freight growth?

      The plan makes it look like we’ll still be squeezing mixed traffic onto twin tracks in2050. Come on guys, we can do better. How are you meant to run a city of two million on such a tiny rail network?

      Kiwirail should be seeking designations and support for major rail expansion in Auckland.

      1. I think you have to look at the RTN plans as a whole, not just rail.

        Exisiting Northern Busway, new NW express (cough) services, Airport to Botany and Eastern Busway to Parnell. That’s not a bad RTN network for Auckland’s size. Some will eventually be converted to some form of rail, especially when you add in the corsstown HR route. That’s alot of Auckland with RTN access. We can then plug the gaps with bus priority, linking everything together.

        The gaping wholes are the isthmus and linking the airport south of Onehunga, which were to be addressed, in part, by LR

        1. But KLK, this is KiwiRail’s vision. One would expect this to advocate a greater role for rail. Others can no-doubt contribute their expertise in alternative modes to the grand plan. Unfortunately, KiwiRail has been forced out of metro operation by losing its contracts in both Auckland and Wellington (despite trying hard to retain them). They no-longer have a core-business interest in what rail could and should be doing in this context. Their only responsibility is to provide and maintain the infrastructure that metro-operators pay them for of them. Sad, but this is how things have ended up.

        2. Also, what about developing new and better forms of rail freight? Imagine if Highbrook, which is the busiest industrial estate in New Zealand, were to be augmented with rail freight connections? Same goes for indstrial estates around Auckland Airport, Rosebank Road and elsewhere.

    2. Alot of familiar stuff there. But some surprising committments:

      – express services from the south (and Te Huia, presumably, if it survives)
      – “better connectivity with Hamilton”, so Te Huia must survive
      – cross town HR link Avondale-Onehunga-Westfield
      – a focus on rail between the Ports in Auckland Tauranga, maybe we can leverage passenger services from Tauranga to Hamilton.

      1. Someone must have a Crystal Ball with the Te Huia as they are now upgrading the Strand with Ramps and a revamp waiting area out of the weather [ in the old signal box ] at the western end of the Station , and with new services on 3 different days starting in Feburary and hopefully possibly when they have completed the upgrade between Papakura and Pukekohe a Sunday service ? .

        The biggest problem was the bug/creepy crawlie lovers not wanting to double track the section through the swamp with the spoil from the CRL . put paid to that . In my opinion they are the same that complain about car pollution .

  6. As for the Santa parade, there was a few passengers that got “totally P********D” off as some bus routes was changed, but no advanced noticed given, one lady was about hour and half late for work, if she had of been given advance warning, she could and would have worked around it to get to work on time.


    1. You mean the Christmas Parade they have had almost every year for the last 50 years? The one where they use almost the same route every year? The one that was advertised weeks in advance for route changes? That one?

      1. And there is the Pride Parade in Feb. and you will find it’s also the same ones that will complain because they can’t get their yearly fix of Coffee and Exhaust Fumes in Ponsonby Road ,

      2. They go back further than that – I recall my mother taking me to the
        Santa Parade, I think in1954. It was on a week day, and I think it went down Pitt Street.

  7. Are we forgetting the cable car? Join up all the maunga – start at Lake Pupuke (Smales Farm/North Shore Hospital). Mt Victoria for Devonport, Maungawhau for rail interchange, on down to the Airport. Who could object to the views?

    1. “Are we forgetting the cable car? ”

      Yes, we are forgetting that.

      At least as a transport option, please. Dopplemayr can go ahead and promote it to people as a tourist thing, but can p*** off trying to profit off the fact that Auckland (and the relevant national) politicians are unwilling to provide the space and money for real PT.

  8. Here is the govt’s 100-day plan in skeleton-form, focussing on the key-words used in each proposal. Does this inspire confidence that our new leaders will ‘get NZ back on track’?

    There are 29 retrogressive-sounding items (with a few offering some forward hope) . . .
    13.Repeal(clean car discount)
    16.Repeal(Fair Pay Agreement)
    20.Repeal(Water Services)
    21.Repeal(Spatial planning)
    28.Stop(Cultural reports)
    30.Crack down(Youth offending)
    32.Repeal(Arms Act part6)
    36.Lodge reservation against
    38.Ban(Cellphones in schools)
    45.Repeal(Smoke-free Act)

    . . . versus 22 ‘progressive’-sounding items (some of which are not progressive at all):
    17.Restore(90-day trial employment)
    23.Amend(Overseas Investment Act)
    24.Implement(remove MDRS)
    27.Give(Police powers re gangs)
    37.Require(schools to teach 3R’s)
    39.Redesign(school curricula)
    46.Allow(sale of pseudoephedrine)
    49.Commission review (of Kainga Ora)

  9. Author probably imagines that he knows more than he does. We couldn’t know how will things turn up with housing and the fact that density decisions are left for councils doesn’t really mean that all councils will choose the lowest possible option.

    1. Decisions by councils will reflect pressure from ratepayers. And as we have seen, certain demographics who own their own homes close to the CBD – and PT options quite like restricting what others can do with their property if it means retaining (values/heritage/etc – insert excuse here).

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