Today the Auckland Transport board meets again,so I’ve taken a look through the items on their public agenda to see what’s interesting.

Musical Chairs

The first item of note is another change to the make-up of the AT Board. The legislation that established Auckland Transport allows for Waka Kotahi to have a non-voting director on the board. For the last few years, this seat has been occupied by Nicole Rosie since she became CEO of NZTA, but has now changed to Richard May, her Chief of Staff.

This isn’t the first time the Waka Kotahi CEO hasn’t been on the AT Board. The same thing happened under the last National government, and it was because they were concerned about the optics of the CEO of the national transport agency being on a board that approved or advocated projects the government didn’t like – in particular Light Rail.

I’m guessing this change is for similar political reasons. The Minister of Transport the last time this happened was Simon Bridges – and he is now the Chair of Waka Kotahi. Interestingly, Richard May was an adviser to Gerry Brownlee when the latter was Transport Minister, and he then moved to David Seymour’s office, before moving to Waka Kotahi after Labour were elected in 2017.


Business Report

Here are the things that caught my attention from AT’s open business report.

Perpetual Reviews and business cases

AT only just updated their parking strategy last year – and now, in classic AT style, they’re already reviewing it yet again at the first sign of a bump.

Parking services: AT is reviewing its region-wide implementation approach to Room to Move. This is a 10-year programme of working with communities and local boards to address improved parking outcomes. As part of this we continue to review car park charging tariffs

There are similar issues for changes in the city centre, where I understand AT is now undertaking another business case for the circulation plan, Access for Everyone. This is classic predatory delay from AT.

City centre transport outcomes: AT has an integrated plan for the city centre’s transport network, guided by ‘Future Connect’ and ‘Access for Everyone’, and seeks to deliver on the outcomes set out in the City Centre Masterplan. The plan integrates all transport modes, enabling and balancing the city’s movement and place objectives. The plan looks to enhance people’s experience of the city centre and maximise the benefits of the City Rail Link

Level Crossing Removal

There’s a couple of interesting comments about the current programme of removing level crossings around the rail network:

Level crossing removal programme: the Public Transport Integration team is presenting a level crossing workshop to [Council’s] Transport and Infrastructure Committee on 26 June. The purpose of the workshop is to provide elected members with an update on the level crossing removal programme, and brief councillors on the development of the Auckland rail programme to meet frequency and capacity goals.

The pre-City Rail Link opening level crossing removal programme is progressing with the closure of Lloyd Avenue in Mt. Albert on 8 June 2024; and Kingdon Street, Newmarket closed on 22 June 2024.

Homai Station is due to be grade separated by early 2025, and the Church Street East closure is scheduled for March 2025.

There’s no public Transport and Infrastructure Committee meeting on 26 June, so this is likely a closed door workshop – something the Chief Ombudsman has been critical of recently.

The Homai and Church St East dates are new. I’ve also been asking AT for over a year what the plan for Church St East is, but so far they have refused to answer.

Dynamic Lanes

Sometimes with the push for this stuff, the quote “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” comes to mind. Here’s a time-limited Barnes dance outside a school. How about just doing it permanently?

Dynamic lanes and streets: project in design – Botany College dynamic intersection design and technology identification is underway. This project will use in-ground LEDs, new audio and changing phasing to allow pedestrians to cross diagonally for 15-30 minutes after school finishes improving the intersection operation for vehicles and pedestrians during a time of high demand

Great North Rd

After concerns this heavily-supported project might be up for discussion and delay again following the change in government, AT say they’re tendering for the main works to go out in July, with construction starting in October.

New Trains

Once the CRL is completed, 23 additional trains will be needed to operate services. The first batch is due to arrive in Auckland in July, and the construction of more stabling at Wiri to store them is underway.

However, the image in the AT board report doesn’t seem to have the new livery?



Road Safety Deep Dive

Probably the most interesting thing at the meeting is a great presentation on a deep dive into road safety. AT also plans to present this to the council. The whole thing is worth a read, and the graphics are fantastic: they’re able to be easily understood even without any commentary, which is nice to see. Here are some of the highlights for me.

Where are we now? A current picture of road harm in Auckland

New Zealand’s rate of road deaths is one of the worst in high-income countries. Countries like Australia and United Kingdom significant outperform New Zealand.

In Auckland, the most common time for a DSI to occur is between 2-7pm on a weekday afternoon. 58% of DSI are on 50km/h arterial roads, and with 76% of DSI in 2023 occurred at locations where there have been no serious or fatal injury crashes in the previous 5-year period.

More than half of DSI in Auckland involve someone walking, cycling or motorcycling. Two-thirds of fatal and serious crashes in New Zealand do not involve reckless behaviour.

The deep dive include some outcomes of the safety work AT has done so far (remembering that was a response to a really deep dive into Auckland’s terrible safety statistics). The work and the evidence stands in stark contrast to the evidence-free noises coming from the current government.

What is working? Auckland case studies and success stories 

Fatal crash reporting improvement project. This project has significantly increased the number of fatal crash reports that are completed within service level agreement timeframes. At the same time lifting the quality of the reports including the standard or writing, use of safe system gap analysis and tracking recommendations through to completion. A maintenance team member now attends each fatal crash site investigation to enable any maintenance actions to be rapidly addressed.

Road safety engineering successes. In July 2023, the 2021-24 programme was estimated to reduce 57 DSIs and achieve a 34 DSI saving/$100million, significantly higher than the national programme performance metric of 12-13 DSI savings/$100million. High risk intersection programme improvements such as Glenfield Road and Coronation Road have achieved zero DSI since constructions and positive feedback from customers.

Pedestrian crossings. Evaluation of a demonstration project involving raising 37 zebra crossings showed a reduction from 2.4 serious or fatal crashes/year to 0.4 serious or fatal crashes a year with zero serious pedestrian crashes. Initial results from travel time modelling show most travel time delays fall between three and six seconds per raised device.

Speed management. Data shows that 24 months after speed changes were made in 2022 there was a 30% reduction in deaths on those roads compared to a 9% increase in deaths in locations where speed limits were not reduced.

Lifting deterrence of drink driving. A joint New Zealand Police and AT operation has focused on reducing drink-driving by highlighting the record breaking levels of breath testing being delivered. Data analysis shows the estimated level of drink-driving in Auckland has decreased in recent years. New Zealand Police have requested a repeat operation, and this is now

Those are some pretty impressive results. And, far from being an economic drag as the government claims, you can see the huge economic benefits of fewer people dying and being injured. Each death is currently estimated to have an economic cost of over $14 million, and serious injuries over $700,000 each.

The presentation includes a breakdown of the types of pedestrian crossings and the advantages and disadvantages of each (you can click on the image below and see the presentation for larger versions of this information).

What’s striking here is that the raised zebra crossing comes first equal with raised signalised crossings for preventing injuries and deaths, and is more affordable to install. That seems like good value for money. Conversely, at-grade crossings are less effective at saving lives and preventing harm.

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AT also notes that analysis conducted on the impact of crossings on people driving through them shows “most travel time delays fall between three and six seconds per raised device“.

Yet the report also indicates AT is drafting some new “practice notes” for its designers and engineers, which would rule out raised crossings on arterials unless lots of people are already around, or lots are getting hurt or killed. What gives?

You have to ask: why are some parts of AT still not listening to other parts of AT? Current government direction aside, this ongoing siloed approach to safety will get us killed. As a Stuff headline put it this week: “More Aucklanders are predicted to die on the roads: here’s why.”

Finally, there’s some interesting language in the list of key safety opportunities for the future given the rhetoric from the government.

Key opportunities for the future

  • Fit for purpose, risk-based fines and penalties, including demerit points on camera offences
  • Road safety marketing and communication supporting general deterrence efforts by NZ Police
  • Increase automated enforcement, including a more rapid and larger scale camera programme delivery in Auckland regulatory change to allow phone and seatbelt camera enforcement
  • Auckland to have sufficient funding and ability to deliver evidence-based safety interventions on the road corridor that work for Auckland
  • Auckland to retain ability to listen and respond to community requests for speed management, including near schools
  • Strengthening relationships with schools and marae by having specific funding for responsive safety requests

Was there anything else in today’s papers that stood out to you?

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16 comments

  1. The “raised device” ,an oddball description,appears to have only to be looked at ,through a windscreen. Raised crossings afford people ,other than those in motor vehicles a much smoother journey. If you actually get out of a vehicle and do a bit of walking around ,you will see and feel the multiple level changes ,non vehicular “traffic ” deal with on a daily basis.

    1. So true, Bryan. The fine print on the crossing images notes that raised crossings deliver a 40% reduction in deaths and serious injuries, which feels like a bargain in exchange for what, 3-6 seconds at most?

      (Of course as per Vision Zero principles, human life and limb should never be a trade-off, but quite a few people in governance roles still seem to need to think through this stuff out loud.)

      You also have to hope AT’s Board members and executives get how important raised crossings are for all-ages-and-abilities accessibility, as laid out in Vivian’s post last week: https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2024/06/18/raised-crossings-hearing-the-voice-of-vulnerable-pedestrians/

  2. After some confusing media statements about level crossing removals we finally get something a bit clearer. The Mayor has used different numbers in the last month or so ($550m, $600m and $610m for level crossing removals in the 10 years of the LTP) which is an encouraging increase from the $190m that was consulted on 3 months ago.

    But there has been great confusion about the job description – is it explicitly about grade separating the 4 Takanini level crossings (as per the statement on 13th May) or the much vaguer resolution passed on 16th May which was to “make public transport faster” (whatever that means).

    Now we find out that the numbers sort of add up – $550m is for Takanini grade separations but there is another $62.9m for other level crossing work (mainly pedestrian only crossings on the Western Line) which adds up to $613m – leading to rounded numbers like $610m or even $600m that have appeared in other statements. Hopefully all will become clear in the workshop tomorrow (requested by Councillors late last year but finally to be held one day before the LTP is adopted on Thursday. I too am disappointed that the workshop will be held “in confidential” but accept that some aspects like acquisition of private property should not be discussed on open session.

    Even though funding for the Takanini grade-separations will be assured this week it will take years to deliver them. The NOR hearings ended 3 weeks ago so the Designations should be in place shortly – but then AT needs to obtain resource consents (after more detailed engineering and planning investigations so probably next year).

    At the NOR hearings the applicant requested a 15 year lapse period because of uncertainty about funding (I.e. giving them until 2039 to complete the new overpasses). Even with the funding assured, construction will have to be staged (it would be very disruptive to have multiple level crossings closed at once) and because the new approach ramps will need time to consolidate each could take years to construct.

    So, optimisticly construction might be spread over 5-6 years but most likely stretching well into next decade. And so far not a cent to deal with the 15 road level crossings on the Western Line.

  3. For me, more concerning is the removal of a woman from the AT Board, on a board already about as stale pale male as one could imagine.

    Not positive in any respect for a city that according to world population date is likely to be more than half populated by wahine!!!

    bah humbug

  4. On the raised tables / intersections, sadly we seem to have had a perfect storm of tricking industry, some PT people, emergency services (particularly frustrated about that) and govt not liking them – which gives cover to those in AT who never liked them, and overrode the safety engineers. Economy and wroom-wrooom over health and accessibility.

  5. Thanks for the update – all very helpful. It’s great to hear Great North Road is proceeding, and to have some clarity around when the work is starting. I hope that the pinch points at Western Springs / Point Chev are eventually tied into another project. Regarding the raised speed tables, it’s depressing that AT is retreating from these, when the evidence is overwhelming. The feedback on the preferred option for the Carrington Road project was universally in favour of maintaining raised speed tables, so here’s hoping they listen to the community.

  6. Stats for crashes and raised tables made me think of Cross St, which has recently been made 1 way in the opposite direction to previous.
    There are now vehicles entering from Upper Queen St who are oblivious to bicycles on the cycleway. I’ve only had near misses so far.
    Not so much luck for Carrington Rd, where many cars are now entering/exiting Unitec, and 1 hit me on 12 June. Alternate route through Unitec remains closed.

    1. nearly got hit today, centimeters away and still entirely oblivious – I wasn’t expecting a car from that direction either.

  7. “That’s ridiculous! Sure, it’ll save a few lives, but millions will be late!”
    – Homer Simpson
    – National Party Transport Plan

  8. These reading engineers must have got their degrees from a cornflakes packet. Speed humps placed when still turning tend to throw driver sideways possibly giving more throttle than necessary. At Rosedale/Apollo roundabout there are traffic lights on 2 of the 4 roads, highly dangerous getting the green light then finding a vehicle flying across you from an uncontrolled right hand road

  9. I tuned into the AT Board meeting today. The safety presentation was excellent, very clear, and it drew some really useful questions from Board members around raised crossings and safe speeds.

    And what a relief to hear Great North Road is on the way. The chief engineer – who was asked about the safety of deleting raised crossings on the main carriageway, while keeping the ones on side streets – described GNR as an arterial (primarily for movement), rather than residential (all about place). I do wonder if that’ll age well, given the number of apartments along the ridge, and schools and so on?

  10. Interesting info and that “Evaluation of a demonstration project involving raising 37 zebra crossings showed a reduction from 2.4 serious or fatal crashes/year to 0.4 serious or fatal crashes a year with zero serious pedestrian crashes.” is amazing.
    Also the speed reduction results.

  11. The blurb is poorly written. The graphic shows that it is referring to the speed limit changes made in June 2020, compared to June 2022.

  12. Any update on delivery of the new EMUs? Should be on the water if they’re expected in July. And are there any changes from the previous batches, e.g. USB ports?

  13. > Level crossing removal programme: Homai Station is due to be grade separated by early 2025

    I have a number of concerns about how this is going to happen. I’ve appreciated GA posts delving into this; gleaned detailed info otherwise wouldn’t have known of.

    AT tells me the detailed design they’re in process of finalising is ‘out there’ for anyone interested. I have some idea of what’s planned from the fly-over in this video ( https://youtu.be/Pb0Kn_5og9o ) about AT winning a best practice award for inclusive consultation methods – and good on them for that.

    I just think they missed an opportunity for a better outcome by consulting in terms of ‘we’re closing 2 out of 3 entry points, how about this one ramp instead’ versus asking ‘should we even remove these barrier controlled gates, and if so how should we preserve maximum access for station users’.

    I don’t think enough thought has been given to increased friction for bus interchange and park and ride users.

    I’ve tried to start a conversation with my local board ( https://www.facebook.com/LoveManurewa/posts/pfbid02HyFnCFbbGx3WCTm9NBTJLfGgMDQ5Hkh4wpNNL49HTip1MoThqNjNmkvDv2AyEuc2l ) on the variety of issues I see, but their track record is not promising. E.g. generally anti-cycleways, and they still don’t care the Manurewa station stairs are covered but no weather protection for disabled ramp users. Here with a single entry/exit means it’ll inconvenience both those on feet or on wheels if they penny pinch on accessibility and leave it uncovered (as it appears in the video).

    Can anyone tell me what the latest daily boardings data is for Homai please?

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