It’s Friday again. Here’s some of the things that caught our attention this week.

This Week on Greater Auckland

On Tuesday Matt covered at the government looking into a long tunnel for Wellington.

On Wednesday we ran a post from Oscar Sims on some lessons from Texas.

AT’s Refreshed Branding

Auckland Transport recently updated their brand guidelines, and while I assume this is largely for internal consumption, it’s interesting to see that it’s been published on their website.

One of the documents includes what the new branding would look like implemented across various use cases. While most of the changes aren’t too dramatic, there are few that stand out.

The HOP cards definitely look better.

The trains look neat:

Especially compared to the current version:

And the upcoming electric ferries also look great:

WX1 Upgrade

Yesterday, Auckland Transport announced that from next April, the WX1 service will get an upgrade.

As part of AT’s Mission Electric, West Auckland’s flagship bus service, the WX1, will be run by fully electric double-decker buses from next April. A new $166 million contract has been signed between Auckland Transport (AT) and bus operator Tranzit Group.

The nine-year contract will see Tranzit Group bring more than 40 new electric buses to the streets of Tāmaki Makaurau, operating under its Tranzurban Auckland brand on the key WX1, 11T/11W and 120 bus routes. More than half of these will be electric double-decker buses.

AT’s Director of Public Transport and Active Modes Stacey van der Putten says the new contract with Tranzit Group marks another step on the Mission Electric journey and demonstrates AT’s commitment to running frequent, reliable and sustainable bus services for West Auckland communities.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Tranzit Group to bring long-term certainty and a modern fleet of fully electric buses to our new West and Northwest Auckland bus routes,” Ms van der Putten says.

“Since we introduced the WX1 Western Express last November we have seen fantastic growth on this frequent bus route which connects Westgate with the city centre, carrying more than 275,000 passengers so far.

“In recent months we’ve also seen more people using buses in all parts of West Auckland than before Covid-19. In the Westgate/Massey area patronage is about 25% higher and in Te Atatū it is about 30% higher.

“With a dedicated fleet of electric double-decker buses running the WX1 from next April, we’re looking forward to bringing improvements in reliability and comfort for our customers. This will deliver a significant boost to the capacity of the service as its popularity continues to grow,” Ms van der Putten says.

Tranzurban Auckland will look to recruit an additional 90 drivers and already has plans for a new bus depot near Westgate, equipped with 3 megawatt charging for the incoming electric buses. It will be Tranzurban Auckland’s second bus depot, the other located in Dairy Flat where it operates the NX2 service between Albany and the city centre.

The news that WX ridership is tracking above pre-Covid levels is incredibly encouraging. AT also provided a separate data summary giving a lot more detail behind that, and we’ll publish that next week.

Paying for the RoNS like Rail

A few weeks ago, Matt wrote a post looking at what it would take to fund some of the government’s Roads of National Significance projects if they were required to pay their way, like they’re going to make the rail network do.

This week, that point was picked up by the NZ Herald’s Simon Wilson.

Transport expert Matt Lowrie, at Greater Auckland, has crunched the numbers on the three new Roads of National Significance proposed for the highway connecting Auckland and Whangārei.
He wanted to know what level of tolls would be required if these roads were paid for on the same user-pays basis as the Government has announced for rail.


The next Rons will be a new Brynderwyn Hills bypass. Construction hasn’t been costed since 2017, but even using that data, the toll would be around $16.70 per trip. The vehicle count (before the existing roadworks) is only 10,000 a day, but to pay its way and avoid a toll, there would need to be more than 10 times as much traffic: about as much as the Northern Motorway south of Constellation Drive.

The Brynderwyns Rons is a straight-up scandal. NZTA is currently spending $75 million to make the existing road more resilient, which should render it fit for purpose for some decades. But the Government intends to spend a further $1.69 billion (and counting) anyway.

And the third Rons? It’s SH1 from Wellsford down to Warkworth. To pay for itself over 50 years, Lowrie says the toll would be a whopping $31.30.

Alternatively, maybe traffic numbers will rise from the current 11,000 to 113,000 per day. That’s as many vehicles as use the SH20 motorway just south of the Māngere Bridge.

Did I say $50 above? The combined toll is $54.40. Throw in the existing $2.60 Northern Gateway toll, on the same road, and that’s a cool $57 to drive from Whangārei to the Big Smoke.

This won’t happen, of course. No government would allow it. But the number gives the lie to the argument that roads pay for themselves.

I asked Simeon Brown about this. He declined to comment directly on Lowrie’s numbers, saying instead that the Rons “will support economic growth and connection between Auckland and Whangārei, and will enable people and freight to get to where they want to go quickly and safely”.

He added that the Government will be looking at “opportunities around alternative funding and financing options” and this “could include tolling, public private partnerships (PPPs) or other funding mechanisms”.

Thanks, Simon.

Streets for People in Kelston

From Our Auckland, news of a Streets for People project around a cluster of schools in Kelston:

Auckland Transport (AT) is working with communities to design street changes that will inform future permanent changes to their streets.

‘Streets for People’ is a worldwide concept that involves analysing the purpose of a street, deciding who its primary users are and redesigning that street in partnership with those users.

Auckland is one of 13 participating councils across NZ receiving funding from Waka Kotahi through a $30 million grant from the National Land Transport Plan.

There are several reasons why people want to reclaim their streets; environmental, health and safety being the main ones.

“We want to involve the community in designing on and off-street interventions, that will result in more people choosing safer, low-carbon and active trips,” says Adrian Lord, Auckland Transport’s Head of Active Modes.
Rapidly growing Kelston, home to six schools and serving more than 2,300 students, was identified as an ideal candidate to trial the ‘Streets for People’ approach, after numerous incidents of “near misses” on the surrounding streets were reported from within the community and fewer people wanting to walk or cycle to school, transport hubs and other local amenities as a result.

Over the past few months, the project team has worked alongside teachers, parents, and students from Kelston’s schools to find out how they thought changes could improve the streets around them.


“At the beginning of last year, I was getting a phone call every week from a driver who had almost hit a child from my school. Since the temporary changes have been in place, I’m happy to report I’ve not had a single call, said Bert Iosia, Principal, Kelston Intermediate.

“While traffic is slower, and that can mean a delay for drivers, school staff and many parents are happy to trade a couple of extra minutes travelling for improved safety for children walking and cycling to school,” he adds.
“It has made our school crossing much easier to manage, and cars turning out of Barbary Road into St Leonards Road are noticeably slower than before the trial was installed,” says Ivanka Soljan, Acting Principal, St Leonards Road Primary School.

Will the time ever be right?

With the government committed to introducing road pricing (they should), Stuff have highlighted some opposition to it.

Some Auckland councillors are worried that residents in parts of the city with “transport poverty” will pay the price for congestion charging – which is a priority for the government.

North Shore councillor Chris Darby told Stuff that before congestion charging can go ahead, Aucklanders need alternatives to driving, such as public transport, walking and cycling options.

Council maps show transport deficiencies in the south, west and around Silverdale in the north, he said, but the removal of the regional fuel tax and a signalled reduction in government spending on public and active transport will make it “extremely difficult” to improve the situation.

While I have some sympathy for this position, I do worry that “alternative modes not yet good enough” will be a forever argument, used by politicians and the public to pretend they support something while not actually doing so. No city has a PT system that is perfect for everybody, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.

Transport deficiencies across Auckland: The red line is high deficiencies, orange is moderate deficiencies. Green and brown show greenfield and brownfield development areas, blue is key freight and employment areas, while mauve shows equity priority areas for transport.

Stuff also note:

Although details of the scheme are yet to be refined, Auckland Transport’s executive general manger of integrated networks, Mark Lambert said in an update to councillors earlier this month that AT is looking at options including motorway charging and motorway on-ramp charging.

Motorway charging has been looked at before; the problem with it is that in many places it just pushes a lot of traffic onto local roads – which is exactly the places that are needed to accommodate the alternative modes everyone agrees are necessary. So AT should proceed carefully here.

What kind of science is he talking about?

1 News reports from Gisborne, where transport was being discussed by council:

A dad and surgeon is urging Gisborne’s council to consider the safety of children who commute to school after witnessing too many “near misses”.

The safety of school children proved a big talking point at the Regional Transport Hearings in Gisborne on Thursday morning.


“I find it unacceptable that any kid is at risk of being run over and I would like it dealt with at your end,” he told the council’s hearings committee.

He suggested logging trucks should not be able to cross the city during school hours.

“Why do we allow them to ruin all of our roads? Can we provide them separate routes?” he said.

Gisborne District Council director of community lifelines Tim Barry said he would like the science behind the risk of logging trucks to be considered before making any recommendations to alter routes or schedules.

“In my experience, I have seen great accountability with logging truck drivers,” he said.

Te Wharau School principal Mark Harris said children travelling to school should be “a major safety consideration”.

The picture accompanying the article says it all. Perhaps the “director of community lifelines” (what is that?) could provide some evidence for his claim that logging truck drivers have great accountability, instead?


We haven’t forgotten. What a waste of community time and energy. And still needs doing. Likewise the plans for a safer Cook St, which were drawn up  by AT some years back, and then shelved along with so many other safety and active modes accessibility projects. Shame.

Here too, please!

The thing that stands out in the linked video below is just how simple the construction looks, compared to what we see with a project like the CRL, and what would have been the tunneled light rail proposal.

That’s it from us for now. Have a great weekend.

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  1. So good patronage on WX1

    Does that mean they are going to sort on/offramp priority ASAP? Is anyone monitoring journey times since the service was brought in?

    1. The other thing that needs to happen is nail those that think the bus lane between Royal Rd and Lincoln Rd as a quick way to get ahead in the ques in the morning rush hour , There must be awy to capture them on camera similar to a Red Light Camera .

    2. Local Board have asked for a report from AT on the congestion issues particularly around Te Atatū. Taking ages for those on PT to get to WX and so with no improvements there many still seeing car as way to go. Need priority bus lanes on all arterial.

      1. And also need bus lanes in the CBD to get the WX1 to the motorway. Have sat on the bus for 30 minutes just to get up to K road.

  2. Auckland Councillors worried about transport poverty by road pricing must improve public transport services to reduce this!

    High costs of getting to work & essential services is the result of a shortfall of improving public transport infrastructure.

    Auckland Transport needs to ensure there is plenty of public transport available.

    Shorter journey times, higher frequencies, good reliability, better connections for buses, trains, ferries & affordable discounted fares.

  3. Maybe it’s time for Greater Auckland to find out what the public transport travel experience is really like for ‘Joe Public’ in Auckland.

    Auckland Transport don’t check if public transport delivers for passengers.

    The Government’s transport policies leads us to believe no one is travelling by public transport after the pandemic.

    Improve services improve people’s lives.

    Auckland Transport don’t do this

  4. There’s being more track laid at the junction to the port at Quay street. Presumably part of the third main upgrade so two full length sidings and one half size presumably for storing and sorting wagons or maybe maintaince vehicles for the CRL.
    Also it looks like Mainfreight or Owens or Daily freight way are getting new rail served Warehousing one between Middlemore and Otahuhu and the other between Penrose and Otahuhu. I am guessing that some of the older facilities will be closed but I don’t know. Anyway it moves the truck loads away from Onehunga and Southdown which is pretty congested. Still looking forward to the NAL reopening and I am expecting Kiwirail to make a determined push to carry a significant portion of freight to and from Northland. With the improvements to the Auckland network and better inferstructure at Auckland port plus new freight handling facilities plus an upgraded weather proofed North Auckland line then surely they are running
    out of excuses.

  5. “Motorway charging has been looked at before, the problem with it is that in many places it will just push a lot of traffic onto local roads which is exactly the places that are needed to accommodate those alternative modes.”
    Absolutely, as someone who lives on Gt North Rd It would make life impossible for me. It is bad enough now…

  6. Re RONS “and will enable people and freight to get to where they want to go quickly and safely”.
    The same spend on PT etc in Auckland proper would enable even more!

    1. There’s a similar history – shut down in the 1950’s. But they floated re-doing it in the early 2000’s. I suppose car-dependifying those historic city centres with all the narrow streets and no parking buildings made it a bit more urgent.

      Although Italian politics isn’t a great standard to go by, I had to laugh when I read his little gem from the Wikipedia site though:

      “There were some people who opposed the new tramway lines 2 and 3. A city referendum was held on 17 February 2008. The statute of city referendums do not contains any quorum clause.[20] Of the 39% of the citizens that voted, the majority was against the construction.[21] The municipality decided to disregard the result of the referendum. ”

      The first line opened in 2010. By 2015 80% of respondents in a survey were in favour and 93% thought they would use it in the future if it went to their areas.

      The fights are now over where it will go next.

      1. It’s nice to see a Council going against the flow were the minority Voted against something that Majority ended up wanting .

        And the Council did the Build it and they will use it .

        And this Mob that’s in power should also use it for Public Transport instead of hope-fuly not cancelling say the Te Huia at end of June . And those that want to can it , should come and ask those that use it , not listen to those that never traveled on it that don’t want it because they like Cars .

  7. re: AT rebranding. The fully signwritten “KFC Gravy Trains” are something we can really do without. Ok, yes, there’s very likely a bit of coin involved but that’s a shocker when we have some of the highest obesity and diabetic rates in the world.

    1. The problems that lead to obesity and diabetes are more deeply seated than KFC. Think expensive fresh fruit and veges, having to work overtime/multiple shifts to make enough to feed the family and so not having time to cook, car dependent culture reducing daily exercise etc. Not saying KFC doesn’t have a role in it, but it’s the end of a long chain.

  8. “No city has a PT system that is perfect for everybody, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.” – how about we look at our city and transport. It is not perfect and not good on any level. It’s simply bad. We don’t have to make it perfect just make it useable first before you charge people for simply going to minimum wage job. Sure let’s do the charging because London could use 20 subway lines and Tokyo train was late by 5 min once so basically we are all imperfect. Seriously what are you even talking about…

    1. CBD could have a congestion charge easily – from wherever you are in Auckland, it’s easy enough via PT to get there, even if your trip is car/active modes the first bit, and PT to the CBD itself.

      Across the whole city – eh, not so convinced, but I think it’ll happen regardless.

  9. The new EMU graphics look great…….. but…… I’m guessing there is additional cost involved.
    If not then sweetas, but if there is then that is simply one of those unnecessary extravagants that is a waste of precious PT dollars. Every little bit adds up. I doubt the graphics will attract additional users. Furthermore, given the high levels of wilful damage caused by losers to our trains, I imagine that these new graphics will also cost more to maintain going forward.

    1. Also with looking at the Hop Cards , they also need photo’s on the Children’s and Gold cards to stop abuse of them also . As one that has a Gold Card I would not mine having my Mug shot on it , and what I have heard the Bee Card you can also get your photo on them also which they have been doing for some time .

      1. I have never had anyone check my card. I imagine the cost of implementing this would not be made up by the savings of potentially shared Gold cards until HOP is replaced by the nationwide system.

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