Urban Change: Evolution or Revolution?

“Change is the law of life and those who only look to the past or present are certain to miss the future” -JFK Life is nothing but change, and cities being concentrations of human life manifest this fact in their physical fabric: They are constantly changing, always incrementally, sometimes abruptly. Positively and negatively. Investment versus entropy. Governments, local and central, are charged with understanding the forces at work behind this law of life and responding wisely with our taxes to attempt to maximise the potential positive outcomes within this reality for all citizens. There is plenty of evidence that suggests there is a need for substantial change in transport infrastructure investment now in Auckland. …
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Photo Of the Day: What Affordable Housing Looks Like

This is the just completed Merchant Quarter in New Lynn, designed by Jasmax, it offers one bedroom freehold apartments from around 250k, as well as larger ones. I believe the new owners are about to move in. Merchant Quarter is step along the way of the planned revitalisation of New Lynn metropolitan centre begun by Waitakere City Council and by Auckland Council. A process to transform a declining and depressed area into a vibrant and more successful contributor to the city as a whole. The apartment tower itself is a privately funded development, the Council, with AT, NZTA, and the [previous] government through Project Dart have invested in the massive transport changes at New Lynn and now …
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The government’s annoying funding myth

Over the last few weeks there has been a renewed media focus on Auckland’s transport issues. This has been spurred on by  two main events the first was the Green Party launching their Reconnect Auckland campaign and the second was the announcement of alternative funding options to help pay for future transport projects.  Along with that it has seen a resurgence of an annoying myth that members of the government like to perpetrate. In an effort to try and make their transport policy sound more balanced than it actually is they love to state that the government has invested $1.6 billion into the rail network. Government MPs talk about it on social networks or at meetings, …
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Rail Patronage vs Projections

With the release of the station boarding data in the post yesterday by Mr Anderson, and the recent sluggish patronage growth, its perhaps worthwhile looking at how things are going compared to projections. Again we can look at the supporting report for a lot of information as AT/AC attempted to answer one part of Steven Joyce’s question relating to evidence of patronage growth, particularly in the morning peak. First of all, anyone who has followed this blog for long enough will know about how rail patronage has increased. In 2003 before Britomart opened rail patronage was sitting at about very low base of 2.5 million trips per annum, since that …
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Rail timetable improvements from March

Auckland Transport’s CE report for today’s board meeting confirms that increases in train frequency – and the opening of the Manukau station – will occur in March (let’s hope at the very beginning of March to take advantage of the year’s busiest month). Planning is being finalised for the introduction of an enhanced passenger rail timetable for March 2012 as a step change towards the planned service levels set out in the Rail Development Plan. Due to constraints on train movements at Britomart it is not possible to make adjustments to the timetable on one route without affecting the arrivals and departures of trains on all other lines. Therefore, rather …
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Busting an annoying transport myth

One thing that perpetually annoys me is when Steven Joyce rolls out the “we’re spending $1.6 billion on rail in Auckland so please stop complaining about all the money we’re spending on roads.” We see this line being trotted in in some of the Questions and Answers section to the Government Policy Statement: It is also important to note that the majority of central government funding for public transport infrastructure is provided outside of the National Land Transport Fund and so not included in the GPS. Most of this funding is for metro rail. To date more than $2 billion in Crown appropriations has been agreed, of which $1.6 billion …
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Rail rolling stock: looking ahead

Broadly speaking, there are two distinct types of trains in Auckland: the “Diesel Multiple Units” that we bought second-hand from Perth in the mid-1990s and the locomotive hauled carriages that were bought second-hand from the UK and then significantly refurbished, and now get hauled around by locomotives leased off KiwiRail. Some of those locomotives are 40-50 years old, while some of the Perth DMUs also date back to the 1960s (the ones without air-conditioning, known as the ADKs). (Note to rail nerds, I haven’t forgotten about the SX). Below are a couple of carriages from an SA train: Up until around the time Britomart opened the rail network was pretty …
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Measuring the economic impact of Auckland’s rail upgrade

Measuring the benefits of transport projects is usually done through a process of comparing how long it took someone to get from A to B without a particular project, how long it is expected to take from A to B with that project, compare the difference, apply some value to the time, multiply it up by how many people will benefit and get a big round number. This methodology has its own flaws (what if people just travel further, rather than taking quicker trips), but it also potentially ignores many of the benefits that enhanced transport access can provide. What if a particular project encourages employment to concentrate in a …
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Baldwin Ave station – just about done

Baldwin Avenue station on the Western Line has been closed for the last six weeks or so while the station has been completely rebuilt. I took some photos of the “work in progress” back during the holidays. The official station opening is on Tuesday, so I went out there today to see how things look: There’s nothing particularly special about the design of the station – it’s pretty stock standard. However, it’s good to see another of Auckland’s train stations being brought up to scratch. Mt Albert station is pretty much the only one on the Western Line that remains in exceedingly poor condition. The signage is pretty clear about …
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Rail upgrade work underway

The NZ Herald reports that the rail upgrade work taking place over the next couple of weeks – which will involve significant improvements to big chunks of the network in preparation for electrification – has swung into action: About 200 rail workers threw themselves into a hectic summer construction programme throughout Auckland yesterday, including erecting the first of 3500 power supply masts for the $1 billion electrification project. Several masts were erected through the Newmarket railway junction and above a new platform being built at the Baldwin Avenue station on the western line, as work began elsewhere around the region demolishing bridges and lowering tracks to create enough head-room for …
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