Tomorrow the AT board meet again and I’ve taken a look through the items on their public agenda to see what’s interesting. It’s also the first meeting for two recently appointed directors, former director at Ritchies Transport, Andrew Ritchie and former mayor of Hamilton, Julie Hardaker.

The public session starts at 9:30 and a Teams link is here for viewing online.

Board Meetings

Starting off with the Board itself, it seems they plan on changing how often they meet. Currently they have eight full board meetings a year – with various other board committee meetings throughout the year. They’re looking to drop to just six full board meetings per year. There is no reason given for this change.

I note that the Waka Kotahi board seem to meet 8 or 9 times a year and the respective annual reports show Waka Kotahi directors are paid nearly half as much as AT’s get paid.

Public Submission

Our friends over at Bike Auckland are giving a presentation, which is described as:

Public submission on the issue of bikes being used as mobility aids and our mahi reducing barriers to cycling for disabled and mobility impaired people.

Business Report

AT’s standard business report includes a number of items that caught my attention.

Incoming Director of Customer & Network Performance

Following some of the recent changes, AT now has now filled one of the executive roles:

Simon Buxton has been appointed to this role effective from 8 July 2024. Simon brings a wealth of experience in transport planning and delivery having spent 15 years at Transport for London before his roles in New Zealand as a director at Deloitte and AECOM, and more recently his own business Zeal Consulting

EV Charging

AT says:

AT is progressing with the development of an EV Charging Strategy and will engage with industry and market providers over the next three months

There are already quite a lot of EV chargers around Auckland and I’m sure many more will be coming on stream in the coming years. I’m not sure how much AT should really be doing here.

Dynamic Lanes

There are a couple of items surrounding the implementation of more dynamic lanes, something which the mayor has been pushing for, though some of these projects pre-date his term.

First up, Main Highway in Ellerslie:

the new dynamic bus lane trial on Main Highway, Ellerslie went out for public information in early May. It is expected that the trial will be implemented mid-May which will see digital signs replacing the existing static bus lane signage. This will enable the bus lane to be activated or deactivated based on real-time congestion

It’s a testament to just how bad AT’s website is that it seems impossible to find any information about this project – though based on the information above, it seems it’s mostly about make the existing bus lanes operate at any time of the day if there’s enough congestion to justify it.

Maioro St:

The Auckland Network Optimisation Programme is progressing with a morning peak dynamic bus lane on Maioro Street for construction in FY25. This decision comes after public consultation on both a dynamic bus lane and standard transit lane, which showed more support for the dynamic bus lane option. The full proposal has received unanimous support from the local board.

This was consulted on back in 2022 and will see the median used at peak times to move more cars. I wonder if we’ll eventually see it happen that both bus lanes become active at peak times?

And Great North Rd north of Blockhouse Bay Rd where a similar design is proposed for a 950m section:

The dynamic bus lane proposal on Great North Road will progress further in the future following the implementation of Maioro Street and will be dependent on prevailing congestion levels. Both projects will be closing out public consultation in May/June 2024.

Karangahape Rd Bus Lanes

This makes little sense. There are bus lanes on Karangahape Rd and AT say there’s a need for them – but even so they’re going to remove them so a handful of cars can park on the street for a few hours.

In November 2023 we introduced bus lane changes on Karangahape Road. We have identified that we need bus lanes in the weekends to provide reliability, especially during the middle of the day, but we recognise the weekend is an important time for Karangahape Road businesses. Therefore, we will remove bus lane operating hours in the weekends and in the weekday mornings on the south side as proposed

Karanga-a-Hape Road Station Precinct Integration

Speaking of K Rd, one good piece of news is that soon the work on Mercury Lane and Pitt St will begin. This will see Mercury Lane just south of K Rd turned into a pedestrian mall along with a range of other pedestrian and active mode improvements surrounding Mercury Lane and on Pitt St.

in late June / early July we will start the streetscape changes to Mercury Lane and Pitt Street, which we expect to complete in late 2025. The work will be completed before CRL opens to avoid ongoing disruption and taking advantage of current closures.

Kingdon Street pedestrian rail level crossing

AT are busy trying to get rid of pedestrian level crossings around the rail network and have already removed some. The Kingdon St crossing will happen next month.

Kingdon Street pedestrian rail level crossing will be permanently removed on Saturday 22 June 2024. This is being done as part of the first stage of Auckland’s Level Crossing Removal Programme and is required for New Zealand Transport Agency Waka Kotahi (NZTA) approval.

Auckland Rapid Transit Pathway (ARTP)

Last year AT released the ARTP, a piece of work they’d been developing for years, and something ignored by the stupid processes for light rail and the harbour crossing project. Now AT are already looking to update it.

together with NZTA, we have started work on an updated ARTP. The ARTP was first published in 2023 and brings together technical evidence to outline Auckland’s long-term sequencing of proposed rapid transit corridors. Updates to this plan will reflect the latest technical advice coming from the various rapid transit business cases, the cancellation of Auckland Light Rail, and the shift in focus to better consider affordability.

Equity Framework

AT have come up with a framework to help make sure they’re covering the needs of all Aucklanders and are looking for the board to sign it off. Below is just some of the executive summary of the framework.

The ease and affordability of getting to the places we need to go is a key determinant of quality of life. This means that transport is a key enabler of wellbeing for people living in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. However, system analysis and feedback received through customer engagement surveys has provided clear evidence that the current transport system is not meeting the needs of many communities across the region. Some of the most impacted populations are also facing other forms of socio-economic disadvantage, which is exacerbated by inadequate or expensive transport and, at its worst, can lead to transport-induced social exclusion and poverty.

It is this context that the Auckland Transport Equity Framework (ATEF) was commissioned, to help AT identify where inequity exists and provide staff the tools to help address transport inequity with solutions that sit within the organisation’s remit.

The ATEF is the result of a comprehensive literature review and stakeholder engagement process that was undertaken to develop a better understanding of transport equity and its manifestation across communities and population groups in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. This deep dive into existing insights revealed four key problems that define transport equity:

  1. The transport system does not provide effective and/or affordable access to essential services or opportunities for people living in some areas of high socio-economic deprivation.
  2. The transport system exposes people living in some areas of high socio-economic deprivation to unacceptable transport-derived harms (e.g., air and noise pollution, safety risk, and severance).
  3. The transport system does not consistently provide for the essential physical access needs of all people (particularly people with disabilities, caregivers of young children, and older Aucklanders).
  4. The transport system does not consistently provide for the personal safety needs of everyone (particularly higher-risk groups such as women, girls, LGBTQ people, older and younger people, and some minority ethnic groups).

This looks like a document that we probably need to delve into in its own post.

Board Forward Programme

AT seem to have stopped publishing the closed agenda till after the meeting, but have included a paper with a forward programme for the board which gives an idea of what’s in this week’s closed session and what’s coming up next month. The things that caught my eye are:

Closed Agenda – May

  • Low Emission Ferry Programme – Stage 1 progression
  • Time of Use Charging Programme

Open Agenda – 25 June

  • Park & Ride OptimisationWill AT actually start charging for Park & Ride?

Closed Agenda – 25 June

  • Auckland Bus Depots – Indicative Business CaseIs AT going to start taking over bus depots, or owning them in strategic locations for use by operators? It has certainly been an issue in the past that the need to purchase and build depots has hindered competition for some bus contracts
  • Auckland Network Access AgreementThis likely relates to access to the rail network and the fees that AT will have to pay for it, which are likely needing to increase significantly to cover the cost of better maintenance.
  • Early Integration by AT to NTSAT is currently meant to be one of the last regions moving to the new National Ticketing System: could that be about to change?
  • Strategic Ticketing Transformation JourneyI’m guessing this is tied to both the item above and also AT’s move to allow credit cards for tagging on/off

Is there anything that stood out to you?

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  1. I had a look at the Equity Framework, I am interested to know why the Design Committee sent it back for more work earlier in February, I get a sense it didn’t `fit’ into the RLTP and would cause some challenges. This is the point right…the current RLTP does not meet the equity outcomes and therefore needs to be challenged by an equity framework. I will be contacting AT about this.

    1. Regarding equity framework. Can you do something about the Te Reo announcements being before English at train stations. For someone like myself with a disability it means I have less time to change platforms in event of changes. While less than 5% of NZ’ers speak Maori about 24% of us have a disability. Put the Te Reo announcements second and problem solved. Seating at bus stops also needs to be improved given not all of us can stand for long, and it is poor at many busy bus stops – for example Newmarket (Remuera Road).

  2. There should be ZERO motorised traffic on Karang a Hape Road. Even scooters and bikes are dangerous, with the allowance of cars, carparks and buses.

    Auckland Transport needs to decide who it cares about…people or dead people? Dead people cannot buy things on K Road. They can haunt it though!

  3. “it seems it’s mostly about make the existing bus lanes operate at any time of the day if there’s enough congestion to justify it” How does that work? Aren’t people parked in them at other times?

  4. The bus depot locations is an interesting case study,even with 9 year contracts,relocating a depot is a major financial hurdle. It probably works OK on the fringes where there is space,but would be a major hurdle to a new operator taking over city contracts. The other issue is ,electric buses,if a depot is set up for charging,it requires inputs from the electrical network ,constantly having to change this ,is costly and inefficient.

  5. Just on EV chargers, that map is already out of date. Just keeping up with numbers of public chargers is a mission, as well as chargers going into work places and residential spaces.

    I think AT should allow EV chargers to be installed with streamlined consent process if people are installing a standard configuration, but not sure how much involvement they should have.

    I guess council owned parking buildings, and if private companies want to rollout chargers to streets, park and rides and other parking spaces, then why not allow them (on lease) but don’t think as rate payers I want to be paying for install for EV charging; and I own an EV (which is exclusively charged at home)

    1. How much does AT get involved in the location of petrol stations, tyre shop & oil changers. This sounds lik bureaucratic over-reach. Where’s Seymour when we need him.

      1. “location of petrol stations, tyre shop & oil changers”

        They do get quite involved in zoning and consent process, and whether to allow petrol stations around say residential areas. They also supply car parking buildings and manage vehicle parking as well as issuing tickets for vehicle registration,

        AT don’t seem to play a role in things like vehicle noise and emissions; which I think they should to some extent. Overseas have seen like low emission zones around historic town centres, and personally think that Queen street, if open to private motor-vehicle, they should be zero or low emission,

        But overall, (as I said), they should not invest directly but allow private companies to install the infrastructure. I would much rather have an EV charger near my house, than a petrol station or tyre shop.

        People seem to overlook how toxic petrol and exhaust emissions are, so if council make it easy to consent an EV charging station vs hazard zone

      2. AT gets involved in as many resource consent applications as they can. They employ consultants who try to dream up reasons to make developers pay for ATs stuff. It is like a mafia shakedown except the the people doing it don’t put the money in their own pocket.

        1. Not true – don’t talk spread lies on this forum please. AT only gets in involved in RC applications where Council deems there input necessary…they don’t have spare time/people for extra involvement, believe me. Developers have to pay for all negative induced traffic, pollution and noise effects they are imposing on the surrounding area, so if that includes mitigation infrastructure, they need to pay for that. Don’t worry developer roads get vested to AT which then has to pay the maintenance for decades to come. Taxpayers end up subsidizing sprawl big time.

  6. “Therefore, we will remove bus lane operating hours in the weekends and in the weekday mornings on the south side as proposed”
    Removing hours from those Karangahape Rd bus lanes seems a pretty backwards step in improving public transport in Auckland.

    1. Yes. This idea is nutty. It reflects badly on whoever is pushing it, and if agreed to, on the Board.

      1. There’s 4 parking buildings within easy reach of K’ Rd.
        AT staff should be pushing that, rather than the valuable road space.

  7. Karangahape Rd Bus Lanes: I took an 18 bus to catch the ferry home after a gig in Avondale recently. It was a great bus until it reached Karangahape Road. It took as long to travel that small bit of road is it did to get there from Avondale. The reason was a row of parked cars blocking up nearly to the junction with Queen Street where we were turning left (and other traffic queuing to go straight or turn right). The lights must have changed a dozen times before we could finally get through. All the vehicular traffic was being badly affected by the parked cars, not just the bus. Bus lanes, or just no parking in that area, would have fixed it. There’s a car park just round the corner on Upper Queen Street.

    1. As a council, this is more or less a literal statement saying that car drivers are more important than bus passengers. If you’re thinking about things like living centrally, or buying an apartment, well, you have been warned.

      This is the second retrograde step when it comes to on-street parking in a short time. The other one being the roll back of overnight parking charges.

    2. 100% agree. I went into town from Avondale on Saturday, and it took 45 minutes to get into the city. This is longer than during peak hour. It is just another example of not following through with something that would make an enormous positive impact to bus users, after they have already said that it is needed.

  8. Correction – upper Mercury Lane will not become a pedestrian mall – the statutory process for that has not been progressed. It will be a shared space with some clever traffic redirection that will remove the through-traffic while maintaining access for residents and businesses.

      1. The statutory process has not reached a point where the final decision has been made on the proposed pedestrian mall controls for Mercury Lane. There is plenty of time still for that because if the decision to proceed is made it won’t take effect until the station is to open. In the interim period the road can be constructed to function as either a shared zone or a pedestrian mall.

        1. Isn’t it unethical to invest ratepayer $$ in constructing it so it can operate as a mall (assuming you mean bollards) when AT has no statutory right to use that infrastructure? The process provides for legal challenge, and there will be a legal challenge – won’t be a good look for AT if they act in a way that assumes the outcome.
          Having said that, I can’t see how the mall will be necessary once traffic direction is changed, as the only traffic will be essential traffic – it will be way to inconvenient for anyone else.

  9. Dynamic lanes can be used to good effect to improve bus outcomes when reallocating space from motorised vehicle lanes to protected bike lanes.

    How AT is proposing to use them, however, just creates a safety nightmare.

  10. Anyone else watch the Board meeting online? It was perhaps the most pathetic display of gutless negligence I’ve seen from them yet.

    I missed the beginning. Was there really no powhiri for the new Board members? (Is this puppetry?)

    Told “We had a significant jump in pedestrian [deaths and serious injuries] so we’re doing some work to understand that,” yet I didn’t hear one question on that from the Board… I mean, they could implement Katoa Ka Ora and put in raised pedestrian crossings. But since they don’t want to do that (is this puppetry?) better not to dwell on the impacts, eh? What you don’t ask about you don’t have to consider…

    Did anyone else hear the Board comments about the Equity Framework – and the reply! It was so bad I don’t even want to type it in case I heard it wrong.

    1. One would hope there was not a powhiri. All cultures should be treated equally and a ceremony of such nature is not in line with that.

      The significant jump in pedestrian deaths are directly linked to the current path AT are choosing to take. That is putting drivers and pedestrians in conflict with one another. Irony of the situation is the war on cars is actually bad for pedestrians and they are paying for it with their lives. But never fear, AT won’t stop and will continue plowing forward with their extremist ideology and I have little doubt pedestrians will continue to suffer the consequences.

  11. Roads are for vehicles cars, motorbikes & buses, footpaths are for scooters, bicycles & pedestrians. Closing roads to vehicles is wrong this is driven by ideology, improve public transport & let roads continue to do what they were built for to transport goods and people places. Business in these areas rely of roads to bring people & products to these places again this is why roads were created so keep it simple let the roads do their job better, to support our communities and stop reducing the roads for other people ego projects

    1. Yet, surveys on Karangahape Rd itself have shown that shop owners assume a bigger percent of their customers arrive by car than is actually the case. This is consistent with overseas studies (I think, from memory). Often it turns out it’s the shop owners/managers etc that like to use the park outside their shop. Note that bicycles are meant to be used on the road legally speaking unless it has little wheels, ie children’s bikes. Karangahape has it’s brilliant bike paths there now of course to separate foot traffic from faster cyclists. Like others though, sometimes the path needs to be used to stay alive.

      1. If you speak to them you will hear that a number of businesses on Karangahape Rd experienced a 30% drop in trade immediately after the bus lane hours were extended. In particular those relying on pick-up customers. Some local institutions were at the point of moving out of the area – that’s the reality.

        1. This bus lane everywhere ideology and removing car parks reduces customers ability to access theses shops. Sad to see place like Queen Street retailers shutting their doors forever and West Lynn. AT proposed removing all the Kingsland shop car parks and making all other parks residents only ??? This would have removed 200 car parks and replaced it with a cycle-lane when there is a large cycle-lane already 4 streets away running along side the northwestern motorway !!!

        2. That’s what the evidence points to: what customer facing business owners say regarding transport is nearly exclusively ideologically driven. Not based in reality at all. They likely even believe what they are saying.

          Business sales have been swinging wildly month to month post covid, I know multiple business owners who recently had a similar sudden drop in the last couple months. Without a nearby bus or bike lane (an hours extension? are you kidding me) to blame they seem to have come to the conclusion that the general recession, and their customer demographic having less disposable income is to blame

        3. Could be a bit of everything, but for sure interest rates have being going up, and peoples fixed rates are expiring.

        4. For that matter there are a number of carparking buildings less than 4 blocks away. Whenever I’ve shopped on K road or on Queen Street I’ve used public transport. The most iconic retailers, like Smith and Caughey, precede the motorcar.

        5. Marketview data could be used to get a feel for how the K’Rd business sales have fared vs others in a similar area, but without bus lanes. I know Newmarket Business Association uses Marketview data, and Marketview can do customised analysis. It would be interesting to look at sales pre and post bus lanes for K’Rd businesses, and compare with a “control” location – so if K’Rd sales are down 30%, are sales also down a similar amount for the “control” location? Would be interesting to see the results.

  12. Yes – I do understand that! Super patronising BTW.
    The reality is that many people swing by to pick up their takeaways/loaf of bread etc by car. We visit those same places on foot and others by bike – but some local businesses attract customers from all over Auckland, and those customers tend to come by car. I’m just passing on the feedback from businesses and customers that has been shared with me directly, that I expect contributed to AT’s decision.

    1. A handful of existing users are always going to be louder than even hundreds of people who don’t use that thing yet but would if it were improved. “just passing on the feedback” is always going to have an enormous status quo bias and will never arrive at a more optimal long term outcome. Same story applies to housing intensification, any infrastructure development or change. Hell, the same thing applies to my cat getting a new box to sleep in.

  13. Except I have had customers of those businesses tell me the same thing – “we’ve stopped getting our takeaways on K-Rd because it’s too hard” was just one of them. I think it’s incredibly patronising to say that people in a community, who know their customers well because they build relationships with them, are imaging things. They’re not.

    1. Why should people who have discredited themselves completely on transport issues an immeasurable number of times in the past be given veto power when it comes to transport outcomes for an entire corridor?

      Less seriously: if they didn’t want to patronised they could try stop being wrong so often?

  14. “We have identified that we need bus lanes in the weekends to provide reliability, especially during the middle of the day, (…) Therefore, we will remove bus lane ” – well have anyone heard anything more bizarre than that? We need a bus lane so we’re gonna remove it… Anyone with brain would think the opposite. But let’s be real. Some people in AT can probably fund their new Teslas now with the newfound cash in their pockets.

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