Archive | Transport

More transport services found for March Madness

Auckland Transport said yesterday it would put on more bus, rail & ferry services to meet passenger demand during March.

AT metro operations group manager Brendon Main said be 56 more citybound bus trips would be provided in the morning peak than last March: “That’s 5% more capacity overall for bus services and an increase of up to 34% on some corridors.

“We know the number of public transport passengers peaks in March as students head back to their studies, schools are in term and lower numbers of people are on leave. It’s known as ‘March Madness’, and since March last year we’ve worked hard to get more services on some of our busiest routes.”

Double-decker buses will start on the Birkenhead route next Monday to help meet demand.

The rail timetable change due on 12 March will add 1194 spaces inbound during the morning peak – 796 spaces on the eastern line and 398 on the southern line.

Mr Main said most ferry routes had sufficient capacity to cope with anticipated patronage demand, even given the significant growth experienced over the last year.

A new timetable started for Gulf Harbour in October, which added about 150 inbound spaces in the morning. More backup vessels for the West Harbour services will potentially add over 40 seats in the morning. Reallocating vessels on the Hobsonville run will add 52 seats inbound and vessel reallocation options for the Half Moon Bay service are also available to increase capacity.

Link:
Auckland Transport, public transport services

Attribution: Auckland Transport release.

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US urban specialist warns against big road spend – and against transit in wrong places

Aaron Renn.

US urbanism specialist Aaron Renn warned in a Manhattan Institute report out a fortnight ago against big highway spending – a likely target for increased public spending under the Trump administration.

He also warned against funding transit in the wrong places.

Mr Renn wrote: “Improving the country’s infrastructure will likely be high on the agenda of the incoming administration & Congress. To accomplish this goal, federal spending should strongly favour repairing & maintaining existing roads, highways & bridges, not building new ones. That’s because as much as 20% of the nation’s major roads are in poor condition, and tens of thousands of the country’s bridges are structurally deficient. Fixing them will yield the best return for the taxpayer dollar.”

He said spending on new or expanded highways was already showing lower economic returns than maintenance: “In the past, traffic engineers could use projections of population & job growth to extrapolate the need for new or expanded highways. But 2 developments may render such projections increasingly unreliable.”

The first development is self-driving cars and the second is the possibility the US might reach what some analysts refer to as “peak car.”  Mr Renn said the timing & spread of self-drive car technology was uncertain, but many researchers expected an impact on congestion.

The long-term US trend in traffic growth – both total & per capita – reversed in 2007 and declined for 6 years.

“Vehicle miles travelled, total & per capita, has begun to grow again, but some researchers believe the US may be at or near the end of the era of per capita traffic growth.”

The consequent uncertainty extended to the kind of roads the country might need.

As for rail, he said the prospects weren’t always good there either. 20% of federal surface transport spending went to expanding transit, some to buses “but a significant amount has been badly misdirected to build new rail projects in cities with limited histories of rail transit, and infrastructure designed overwhelmingly around the automobile. These projects, like Dallas’s light rail system, are even more speculative than highways.”

Meanwhile, he said, the existing rail systems in Washington, Boston & the New York subway were poorly maintained.

Mr Renn, proud of his small-town upbringing in Indiana, had a 15-year career in management & technology consulting but has been blogging for 25 years. He’s a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal and an economic development columnist for Governing magazine.

Links:
Aaron Renn of Urbanophile LLC, Manhattan Institute report, 31 January 2017: Driverless cars and the future of American infrastructure
Advisor Perspectives

Attribution: Aaron Renn, Manhattan Institute, Advisor Perspectives (graph).

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Auckland Transport adjusts fares

Auckland Transport said yesterday bus, train & ferry fares would change from Sunday 29 January.

The council-controlled organisation is required to review fares annually to ensure they keep pace with operating costs and a portion of cost recovery from fares.

Auckland Transport development group manager Colin Homan said in a release the recovery target was 50% but at the moment it was only recovering 46.3% from fares.

Link:
Auckland Transport, fare change details

Attribution: Auckland Transport release.

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Auckland port company starts work on hub near Hamilton

Ports of Auckland Ltd has started construction of a 33ha inland port at Horotiu, just north of Hamilton.

It’s awarded a contract to Fulton Hogan Ltd to undertake earthworks to level the site. Work will continue through the summer, and construction is expected to start in early 2017 of a new road-over-rail bridge to establish a connection to the existing road network.

The port company said in a release: “The freight hub (or inland port) is ideally located in the heart of the ‘golden triangle’, New Zealand’s fastest growing region. It has excellent rail & road connections to New Zealand’s 2 largest ports, the lower North Island, and 3 of the country’s 5 largest cities. The Waikato freight hub will be connected by rail to our existing hubs at Wiri, Mt Maunganui & Longburn, Manawatu.”

The first freight-handling facilities are expected to be in service by late 2017 or early 2018, once road & rail connections are built. Ports of Auckland said it had already had significant interest from cargo owners.

Ports of Auckland said it was building the hub with sustainability in mind, including features that enhance the local environment: “Over 4ha of the 33ha site will be planted with natives, providing habitat for long-tailed bats, copper skink, morepork/ruru & bellbird/korimako. Improvements to a stream on site may benefit indigenous freshwater species such as koura, long-fin eel & smelt. Where practical, the development will include solar power paired with energy storage to provide 24/7 renewable energy, and the hub will use LED lighting & other energy-efficient technology.”

The freight hub is expected to generate about 300 jobs directly and facilitate many thousands more by acting as an economic catalyst: “Ports of Auckland will work with Tainui & other community stakeholders to help ensure that local people benefit directly from the economic development taking place in their area.”

Attribution: Company release.

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Driverless electric shuttle to be trialled

HMI Technologies Ltd (Mohammed Hikmet) & Christchurch International Airport Ltd will start a 2-year research trial of a French-built Navya 15-seat driverless electric shuttle in Christchurch next year, in collaboration with Canterbury University, Christchurch City Council, the NZ Transport Agency & the Ministry of Transport.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges said New Zealand’s supportive regulation around testing autonomous vehicles, enabling new technology to be tested while protecting public safety, had helped make the trial possible.

“The opportunity to conduct extensive research about this 15-seat electric passenger transport shuttle will provide essential information about the vehicle & how it might be used in different New Zealand transport environments. Autonomous vehicles are an important part of the future of transport and offer potential safety, efficiency & environmental benefits.”

Attribution: Ministerial release.

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Bridges sees megaship as a gamechanger

Transport Minister Simon Bridges said today the arrival of a megaship that can carry nearly twice the cargo of any previous container ship that’s docked in New Zealand was a potential gamechanger for businesses.

The 9500 TEU (20ft-equivalent units) Aotea Maersk berthed at Mt Maunganui today.

Mr Bridges said it offered exporters significant efficiency, environmental benefits, and would allow New Zealand to become a more efficient export nation.

“Such large ships are a potential game changer for New Zealand businesses looking to export, allowing us to compete with countries that have big ships on their main trade routes.

“It will serve a new line between China, New Zealand & Chile, opening up new economic opportunities in Latin America. It will also offer a fast weekly direct service to important markets including China, Korea, Japan & Taiwan.”

Mr Bridges said the Government’s roads of national significance programme was strengthening the key strategic routes that will be used to transport freight to & from ports handling these megaships.

“We also continue to invest heavily in the rail network, with over $4.2 billion spent in rail since coming into government. This foresight means our land transport network, including the ‘golden triangle’ between Tauranga, Waikato & Auckland, will be able to more effectively & safely manage the freight these massive ships will carry.

“Using larger, more efficient ships and reducing the number of vessels needed to shift freight is not only good business, it is good for the environment.

“The lower emissions/container generated by these vessels allow New Zealand exports to gain a relative carbon efficiency, compared to products from other competing markets.”

Attribution: Ministerial release.

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Quay St cycleway clicks over 50,000th rider

3 months after the Quay St cycleway between downtown Auckland & the eastern suburbs was opened, the 50,000th cycle trip on it has been clocked up.

The waterfront cycle counter clicked over to 50,000 today less than three months after it was opened by Transport Minister Simon Bridges, Prime Minister John Key and Mayor Len Brown.

Investment & business advisor Lance Wiggs, who lives in the city centre and was clocked through the waterfront cycle counter as rider 50,000 this morning, said the cycleway had really improved safety for cyclists: “I used to cycle here mingling with pedestrians or you could choose to cycle on the road and share with the trucks. Now you get to cycle without any trucks or people around you.”

The 2-way, protected cycleway on the harbour side of Quay St runs 1km from Lower Hobson to Plumer St, and Auckland Transport cycling & walking manager Kathryn King said it was attracting a large number of commuters as well as recreational cyclists.

She said the popularity of this & other new cycleways like the pink Lightpath had a lot to do with people new to cycling: “We know people want cycleways that keep people on bikes protected from general traffic like this one on Quay St. What is really encouraging for us is to see all the people new to cycling who are choosing to travel into the city centre by bike.

“As the network becomes more connected, we expect to see sharp increases in the number of people cycling into & around the city centre. With all the works going on in the city centre, cycling really is proving to be a great travel option.”

The Quay St cycleway has averaged 570 cycle trips/day since Prime Minister John Key, Transport Minister Simon Bridges & mayor Len Brown opened it on 8 July. The $2.18 million cycleway has local funding and investment from the Government through the NZ Transport Agency & the urban cycleways programme.

Link:
Auckland Transport, cycling & walking

Attribution: Auckland Transport release.

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Extra ferries for Gulf Harbour & Half Moon Bay

Auckland Transport will add 6 sailings/day to the Gulf Harbour ferry route and 4 to the Half Moon Bay service from Monday 17 October.

Ferry services manager Gareth Willis said today: “We’ve experienced growth of 130% over the past 2 years on the Gulf Harbour services. We’ve talked to our customers and they want more choice in time for the busy summer period. There will be improved integrated transport with the connecting bus services for peak-time ferry services.”

Mr Willis said patronage on services to Half Moon Bay had grown by 9% in the last 2 years and construction was well underway on the new pier, due to open in early 2017. It will give more shelter to passengers and will have storage for bikes.

Fullers Group Ltd operates ferries to Half Moon Bay and 360 Discovery Ltd serves both routes. Both companies are part of the transport group of Scottish businessman Sir Brian Souter.

Mr Willis said Auckland Transport planned to increase the Gulf Harbour service further to support housing growth in the area.

From Gulf Harbour, there will now be 3 peak morning sailings at 6.30am, 7am & 7.30am, and 3 peak afternoon returns at 4.45pm, 5.15pm & 5.45pm, plus new sailings at 10.30 am & 12.30pm from Auckland and 11.30am & 1.30pm from Gulf Harbour.

For Half Moon Bay, the new sailings will be at 9.15am & 3.15pm from Half Moon Bay and 8.35am & 2.30pm from Auckland.

360 Discovery Cruises manager “Jimbo” James Bailey said: “The increase in passenger numbers has enabled us to provide a more frequent service with improved reliability due to the purchase of newer vessels.”

Link:
Auckland Transport, ferry services

Attribution: Auckland Transport release.

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Brown leaves mayoralty with 2 huge transport wins

Len Brown finishes his 2 terms as the Auckland super-city’s first mayor on a high note – an agreement signed with the Government on Wednesday on funding the city rail link, and a second agreement yesterday on the Auckland transport alignment project.

The alignment project’s 48-page recommended strategic approach is comprehensive on the approach, but still left questions open on how to implement it.

A number of stakeholders given a presentation yesterday were impatient for more. Employers & Manufacturers Association Northern chief executive Kim Campbell called it unambitious: “The timetable I think is really lazy, given what’s coming at us. The rate of change here is so slow it’s almost hard to characterise it as incremental.”

But the man who has driven the process for the last year, Barry Mein, said the list of priorities was deliberately not over-ambitious, and he said it would change as more detail was investigated. But, he added, it was up to Aucklanders to push for a faster programme, which would entail decisions on funding and an acceptance of higher rates as the ultimate source of revenue.

Simon Bridges.

Simon Bridges.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges said at yesterday’s presentation: “We have put side politics, what is “supposed facts”, and we’ve come together to provide adult answers on what are incredibly complex issues.”

The project had required staffs of 6 agencies – frequently, for decades, working against each other – in this project “not to negotiate but to analyse & agree without any political interference. And that, I think, is a fantastic achievement. It’s hard to state the importance to the country of transport in Auckland.

“This report recognises there is no silver bullet [but] we have a serious long-term view here. Atap [the project] recognises we can’t just build our way out in the long run, we can’t just keep adding lanes to the motorways.”

Mr Brown, who suggested the project early last year, said the agreement would end “100 years of divisiveness & disagreement”. Auckland’s population had grown by the size of Hamilton in the last 3 years, 670 new vehicles were coming on to its roads every day, and the region’s inhabitants were sick of the congestion.

He said the council & government were “looking to establish a forum that sits permanently to provide the political leadership & oversight”.

The biggest barrier at the moment is an estimated $4 billion gap in the $24 billion of funding required over the next decade. Mr Brown said he favoured motorway tolling to fill that gap, “but” – in the spirit of the agreement – “I’m not wedded to that”.

The document’s priorities

The project prioritises a programme of transport investments including the North-western Busway, mass transit on the isthmus, improved access to the airport, another Waitemata Harbour crossing & Penlink to the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.

It also includes broad categories of investment such as transport for future residential development, improvements to major arterials and better traffic management on them, and better commuter transport options, particularly in the south & west.

Cllr Bill Cashmore, who represented Auckland Council on the project alongside the mayor, said the council & government would now consider options to address the $4 billion gap ahead of the next round of statutory funding decisions in 2018, with agreement required by the middle of next year.

ATAP has allocated the following indicative projects & timeframe:

2018-2028

  • North-western Busway (Westgate to Te Atatu)
  • Address bottlenecks on Western Ring Route (State Highway 20, Dominion Rd to Queenstown Rd) & Southern Motorway (Papakura to Drury)
  • New or upgraded arterial roads to enable greenfield growth in priority areas
  • Protect routes & acquire land for greenfield networks
  • Complete State Highway 16 to State Highway 18 connection
  • Early rail development plan priorities including electrification to Pukekohe
  • Upgraded eastern airport access (State Highway 20B)
  • Investments to enable smarter pricing
  • Increased investment in intelligent network management

2028-2038

  • Continued investment to enable greenfield growth
  • New strategic roads to Kumeu & Pukekohe
  • Implementation of mass transit on isthmus and then to the airport
  • Bus improvements Airport–Manukau–Botany
  • Improved access to Port/Grafton Gully
  • North-western busway extensions
  • Improve connection between East-West link & East Tamaki
  • Penlink
  • Medium-term rail development plan priorities

2038-2048

  • Continued investment to enable greenfield growth
  • Southern Motorway improvements south of Manukau
  • South-west motorway (State Highway 20) improvements and improved northern airport access
  • Northern motorway widening
  • Waitemata harbour crossing improvements, including mass transit upgrade of Northern busway
  • Longer-term rail development plan priorities

Links:
Ministry of Transport, Recommended strategic approach for transport in Auckland
Recommended strategic approach [PDF, 2.2 MB]
Supporting information [PDF, 3.5 MB]
Questions & answers
Interim report, 21 June [PDF, 2.1 MB]

Earlier stories:
15 September 2016: City rail link funding agreement signed
22 June 2016: Government & council start lining up on tolls but transport report still has big failings
23 February 2016: Transport alignment starts off-track
19 February 2016: Auckland & government working together – but still some basic “facts” to align

Attribution: Presentation, mayoral release, documents.

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Rail link & transport alignment decisions this week

Auckland Council has called a meeting of its governing body for Wednesday to receive 2 reports on the city rail link and the council’s Auckland transport alignment project with the Government.

Both topics have been listed for debate behind closed doors, to follow reports to Monday’s Cabinet meeting.

The first, on the city rail link, will contain information “relating to a negotiation with the Government that has yet to be concluded with the relevant ministers”.

The second, on the alignment project, is about the project’s final report, “which is subject to negotiations with the Government”.

The big issue on both topics is funding. For the rail link, on which work has started, the question is the Government’s share of funding & its timing. For the transport project, the question is the methods the Government will allow the council to use to pay for other transport infrastructure.

Links:
Auckland transport alignment project
Interim report

Earlier stories:
22 June 2016: Government & council start lining up on tolls but transport report still has big failings
25 July 2016: First rail link works at Britomart start this week
31 May 2016: Thursday groundbreaking for city rail link
23 February 2016: Transport alignment starts off-track
19 February 2016: Auckland & government working together – but still some basic “facts” to align
29 January 2016: Key turns positive on rail link and promotes faster East-West project
17 April 2015: Rail link now just 2 years from hitting government funding threshold
10 December 2014: Council majority rejects softer approach to Government on rail link
1 June 2011: Government says “not yet” for cbd rail loop, mayor says “all go”
25 November 2010: CBD rail loop business case unveiled

Attribution: Council agenda.

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