Seattle moves on Transit

Another great video from the ever excellent Street Films highlights the work being done in Seattle to make the city particularly more PT friendly but also more bike friendly. Seattle is a perhaps one of the more useful comparator cities for Auckland due to its similar geography and topography challenges. One big takeaway is the off board fare collection and all door boarding on their RapidRide bus services which sound equivalent to the frequent network Auckland Transport are rolling out as part of the New Network. I especially was surprised to see they achieved a 20% increase in the speed of the service. This is something AT need to roll out …
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LRT: The Seattle example

Auckland Transport have published a new version of their airport rail video, essentially stripping out the heavy rail parts while also adding a little bit more detail about the airport. Perhaps one of the more interesting aspects is it shows a bit of how light rail would get through Onehunga. It appears the plan is to elevate the light rail line over Neilson St right where AT are about to remove the bridge that lifts the road over the rail corridor. Every time rail to the airport is discussed, here or in other places, there are a number of people who question AT’s decision to use Light Rail to connect to …
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Postcards: Street Facing Units

One of my favorite aspects of  Vancouver urban design is the way that buildings meet the street. This reminds me of classic urban neighbourhoods of New York and Philadelphia with their stoops or the humble porch of bungalows and cottages across California. Great attention is paid to the interface between public and private realms. The tension and interaction is resolved through a variety of design patterns and features both in the vertical and horizontal plane. Individual unit access is located immediately from the footpath and private space is provided overlooking the street both from the steps and also from small porch-like terraces. Here is an apartment building built in the 1990’s in the Downtown South neighbourhood next to the Roundhouse Community Centre. …
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Postcard from Seattle

On first impressions Seattle is a lively and interesting place, but perhaps a little, er, grungy. It’s a hilly city with a downtown built across a reclaimed tidal beach and nearby cliffs which have overtime been regarded into some very steep streets. There is a very cute, if crumbling, historic downtown where fancy restaurants and hipster spots sit with some unease in amongst a precinct with a bad reputation and a large homeless population. Overall Seattle seems quite a road heavy place despite the abundance of pedestrian activity. Actually I get a very Auckland vibe, it seems a place that is embracing its urban life and activity but doesn’t quite …
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Campbell Live’s great urban episode

On Monday night Campbell Live dedicated an entire show to urban issues. The first segment looked at density in Seattle showing that done well it can be popular and not a blight on the landscape. Next up was an interview with Janette Sadik-Khan And lastly a few vox-pops from what appears to be on Ponsonby Rd. I do find it funny when people slam the central city but then say they haven’t been there for five years. Back then Wynyard Quarter didn’t exist, the shared spaces didn’t exist and places like Britomart weren’t as developed and neat as they are today. It’s easy to forget that they are only really new …
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Don’t believe the traffic projections

We have frequently raised concerns about projected future traffic growth, given that in recent years there has been an extended flat-lining of traffic growth. What’s perhaps most concerning about these projections is how they ignore what has actually happened in the recent past and how those producing the projections don’t seem to learn from past mistakes. This isn’t just an Auckland problem. An article I came across recently looks at projections for a bridge across Lake Washington in Seattle highlights how stubborn the projections of growth are despite evidence to the contrary: What’s crazy about this graph is how persistently wrong the projections have been – yet without any change …
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Zero Parking Developments

For good reason there has been a lot written recently about the influence of parking policy on good urban outcomes. Parking policy strongly affects trip generation, mode choice, urban form, and housing affordability. While parking reform may seem radical today in Auckland, it is already being widely implemented across North America. Here is a snapshot of what we might expect to see in Auckland if we remove minimum parking requirements and developers recognise the pent up of demand for urban living in transit-rich places. In 2010 San Francisco removed their minimum parking requirements and imposed limits on the construction of new parking spaces in certain neighbourhoods. And today housing developments …
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Auckland’s PT: expensive and poorly used

An Auckland Council report on various aspects of our transport system makes a number of comparisons of Auckland’s public transport system with various cities in Australia, Canada and the USA – as well as Wellington. The cities used to compare Auckland against, including their population and what different technologies their PT system includes, is shown in the table below: These are a good range of cities to compare Auckland’s performance against, in my opinion. We have a number of cities with fairly similar population densities to Auckland (Sydney, Vancouver) cities with a similar population (Portland, Calgary, Adelaide) and cities with a variety of PT systems. On the key statistic of …
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1960s thinking alive and well in Wellington

As much as I think Puhoi-Wellsford is a stupid project and a complete waste of money, I have now been convinced that it is nowhere near the worst of the Roads of National Significance. That incredibly dubious prize must, without a doubt, go to Wellington’s Northern Corridor RoNS. Not only does its Transmission Gully section have a pathetically low cost-benefit ratio of 0.6, its Kapiti Expressway slice through sacred grounds and split the community in half, but now we finally find out the details of exactly how horrific the Basin Reserve flyover will be in terms of its impact on the area. How bad is it? Pretty bad: Wow. These …
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Frequent Network Mapping

I have mentioned on many occasions in the past how Auckland’s bus route maps look like someone “threw spaghetti at a wall”. Let’s have a look at the eastern isthmus area as a classic example of this: This map is actually completely useless – except for reinforcing the point that Auckland’s bus network is extremely complicated and difficult to understand. Perhaps one of the most annoying things about this map is that there’s no distinction between the quality of different services. Some routes like the 011, which operates just a few times a week, are shown in exactly the same way as other routes that operate far more frequently. What …
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