Archive | Transport

West Auckland’s new bus network arrives in June

West Auckland gets its turn at a new bus network, starting on Sunday 11 June.

Auckland Transport said today everything about the network would change, including new bus routes, new route numbers & new timetables.

After consultation at the end of 2014, Auckland Transport tendered for new bus contracts, and new services were introduced for South Auckland, Pukekohe & Waiuku last October.

Auckland Transport said benefits of the new network for the west included:

  • a single, all-day, high-frequency route (to be operated with double-deckers from August) along Great North Rd between New Lynn & the city centre, replacing multiple current routes and improving access to Auckland Zoo & Motat for residents & visitors
  • an all-day service for the first time on the North-western Motorway from Westgate to the city centre
  • frequent all-day service between Westgate, Lincoln Rd, Henderson & New Lynn via Great North Rd
  • more direct & more frequent all-day service between Henderson, Westgate, Hobsonville & Constellation on the North Shore
  • easy-to-understand, more regular local services feeding the rest of the network at New Lynn, Henderson & Westgate.

Link: New network for West Auckland

Attribution: Auckland Transport release.

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Bike network addition at New Lynn planned

Auckland Transport is seeking feedback on plans to extend cycleways in New Lynn. An open day will be held on Thursday 11 May from 3-6pm at the New Lynn Memorial Library and consultation will close on Sunday 21 May.

An off-road cycleway is proposed along Seabrook Avenue from the Willerton Avenue intersection, joining up with the existing shared paths on Margan & Rankin Avenues.

The proposal would entail changes at 3 intersections along the cycleway and also to the intersection of Clark St, Rankin & Totara Avenues to improve access & safety for pedestrians & cyclists.

Auckland Transport’s walking, cycling & road safety manager, Kathryn King, said today this route was identified as the first cycleway priority for New Lynn because of the links to New Lynn Train Station, which is the third busiest station in Auckland.

“We have a lot more in store for the area, both in our current programme of work which runs until 2018 and then as part of our planning for 2018-21.”

NZ Transport Agency regional relationships director Ernst Zollner said these additions under the urban cycleways programme would make it easier to access the station and also ultimately link into the Te Whau pathway, the New Lynn-Avondale & Waterview shared paths and the North-western cycleway, which he said was one of the most popular in Auckland.

Whau Local Board chair Tracy Mulholland said: “New Lynn has been undergoing a major revitalisation transforming it into a sustainable urban centre, with high density housing close to the town centre. The completion of New Lynn’s world-class transport interchange in September 2010 was the first step in the area’s regeneration project. This work to begin developing the walking & cycling facilities takes us another step forward as an area.”

The links to New Lynn project has $2 million of funding from the Government, NZ Transport Agency (also Government) & Auckland Transport through the urban cycleways programme.

Link: Cycle network feedback

Attribution: Auckland Transport release.

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Silverdale bus station completion a year away

Earthworks are underway for the redesigned Silverdale bus station on Hibiscus Coast Highway, just along from the Northern Motorway ramps, but the station building will only be erected next year and an extra 127 parking spaces still have to be consented.

The existing bus station lost temporary parking recently because it was on a neighbouring development site, and work started on the development. However, the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board has made temporary parking available at the site of the former Nippon Judo Club, on Hibiscus Coast Highway, just past the Silverdale War Memorial Park.

Auckland Transport said it would maintain 200 spaces in the existing commuter parking area – but ban parking on verges to facilitate construction work – until the main new parking lot is complete, scheduled for February 2018. 484 new parking spaces have been consented so far.

The new parking will be on a levelled site, and the bus station will be built next to the Hibiscus Coast Highway. It will have ticket & top-up machines, toilets, secure cycle parking and waiting areas that will be well lit & protected from the elements.

The whole project is scheduled for completion in May 2018.

Auckland Transport has asked commuters to use connecting bus services in the meantime.

Attribution: Auckland Transport release.

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Upper North Island councils’ “alliance” reaffirmed

While Auckland Council wonders about where it should have a port – or whether it should have one at all – it & 6 other councils in the upper North Island quietly committed last Friday to a strategic alliance for another 2 years.

UNISA (the Upper North Island strategic alliance) was formed in 2011 by the territorial authorities from Whangarei District, Hamilton City & Tauranga City; the Waikato, Bay of Plenty & Northland Regional Councils; and Auckland Council.

The idea was to get collaboration between the councils on boosting economic growth, in place of the antagonistic rivalry between the ports of Auckland & Tauranga in particular.

PricewaterhouseCoopers produced a report for them at the end of 2012. Since then, the rivalry has remained firmly in place, there’s been little evidence of progress toward harmonised freight infrastructure; and the public disclosures of UNISA’s existence certainly don’t emanate from Auckland Council.

The Hamilton City Council & Waikato Regional Council both said last Friday they’d affirmed their commitment to the alliance for the next 2 years – after a meeting in Auckland.

The 7 councils also released an infographic, The Upper North Island Story, a report showing how life could change for the more than 2.5 million New Zealanders living in their regions. The Waikato Regional Council, at least, owned up to knowing about this document. Auckland Council kept its hands clean – a search of its website discloses nothing on UNISA or the strategic alliance.

The Upper North Island story infographic
UNISA agreement

Earlier stories:
22 August 2016: Auckland port responds to Tauranga’s helping hand
19 August 2016: Port of Tauranga pays back shareholders after expansion – and offers Auckland hand to overcome constraint
1 April 2015: Council to bring forward port precinct study
7 December 2012: Super-city reduces magnanimous ports study to parish pump
30 November 2012: Ports study appears to miss fundamental point: cannibalism
20 June 2012: PWC gets ports study job
27 April 2012: Council alliance seeks technical study on freight & port needs

Attribution: Hamilton City Council release, documents.

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PSA survey highlights social harm of high housing costs & congestion

57% of Auckland respondents to a Public Service Association survey have said they’d considered moving out of the city because of housing costs and 39% over commuting.

The association – New Zealand’s largest with 62,000 members, 18,000 of them in Auckland – sought members’ view in response to Auckland mayor Phil Goff’s taskforce on housing supply: “In the space of 2 hours we received close to 1500 responses and by the time the survey closed this number had grown to 2512.”

The association said of the response: “The speed of our members’ response and the heart-breaking stories they shared with us was powerful evidence that our members are deeply affected by the housing crisis. Our members also provided many suggestions for how things could be improved, ways to increase housing supply, bring down the cost of housing and improve the quality of housing.”

  • 58% of respondents in single-income households with dependents pay at least half their income in housing costs, 22% pay two-thirds or more
  • 51% of double-income households with dependents spend more than half their pay on housing costs, 24% spend two-thirds or more

Both home-owners & renters told of the budgetary stresses arising from high housing costs. In addition, renters told of the high levels of fear & anxiety associated with renting.

Many respondents reported living in housing that’s too expensive and often very poor quality: “They report having very limited choices about the housing they can afford to live in and the quality & location of the housing. Many would like to leave Auckland but can’t get jobs out of the city. Others want to be able to stay close to their children’s school or to family members, which often meant having to pay very high rent, often for sub-standard housing.

“Some older respondents reported they would like to downsize and move to other parts of Auckland but that they can’t find affordable housing to shift into, or this would lead to change in the quality of their lives.”

Some of the many points made:

  • No laws support a long-term renting culture
  • Auckland would benefit from having a mix of homeowners, long-term & short-term renters, equally respected socially and by the law
  • The council needs to take an integrated approach to planning and ensure that affordable & quality housing is available across the city, so people can afford to live near their work, schools & their communities
  • If more new housing was smaller and in a good location (with reasonable amenity and near good transport links), much of the buyer market would gravitate there instead of expensive 5-bedroom standalone houses on the peri-urban fringes
  • Members expressed frustration about the complexities & difficulties in getting permission to build a small/tiny house, or live in housing structured in ways other than traditional subdivisions – such as communal/eco housing.

Mr Goff launched his taskforce on 20 February. It comprises council & central government officials and representatives of the private sector, and its objectives are to identify barriers & constraints to building more homes in Auckland at a pace & scale which meets the demand created by population growth, and identify options and make recommendations to overcome those barriers & constraints.

Mr Goff said Auckland was growing by about 900 people/week and needed 13,000 extra houses/year, but was building only about half that number.

The taskforce will make its recommendations public in May.

21 March 2017, PSA submission to mayoral taskforce on housing supply

Attribution: PSA survey.

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Goff raises funding question as airport mass transit corridor agreed

Auckland Council & the Government have agreed to start route protection for a mass transit corridor between Auckland Airport & the city centre. The route will be along Dominion Rd.

The NZ Transport Agency & Auckland Transport worked together to develop a joint solution that will progress from bus services to a light rail transit solution.

The study found an advanced bus option could provide a credible solution over the next 30 years that could progress from the current bus-based system to a long-term solution.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges said on Friday: “By drawing on international expertise, they have identified a range of opportunities for bus travel through a separated corridor, using innovative technology & customer-focused solutions.

“In the medium to long term, this will make it possible for a staged, integrated transition to light rail along the preferred ‘airport-city’ route based on future demand & capacity.

“This work follows the Auckland transport alignment project that identified the future pressure on mass transit corridors and the need for route protection to ensure future economic growth & productivity.”

Mayor Phil Goff welcomed the agreement: “With nearly 18 million passenger arrivals/year at Auckland Airport, a mass transit alternative to growing gridlock is critical. And the growth in employment in the airport precinct, adding further pressure on the roads, also makes a public transport option important.

Goff: many issues to resolve

“This report recognises the problem of ever-increasing congestion on the route between the airport & the city, the 2 fastest-growing employment areas in Auckland. We need immediately to protect routes for the bus rapid transit/light rail option, including from the airport to Manukau & Botany. Future-proofing our city is vital.”

But Mr Goff said many issues still had to be resolved: “Work should begin on identifying triggers for making the transition. Bus lanes are consistent with later conversion to a light rail service. However, if light rail is needed within just a few years, there is a question as to why we shouldn’t just move immediately to that solution. Secondly, bringing forward a mass transit route to the airport adds urgency to the need to find new revenue streams to fund it.”

NZTA director outlines workstreams

Transport Agency Auckland regional director Ernst Zöllner said: “Further work will be done to assess key operational elements, required trade-offs, flow-on effects, transition impacts & network resilience issues.

“The agency & Auckland Transport will work together with Auckland Council to determine an integrated approach that enables a progression from the current bus services & bus lanes to improved bus services in the short-term. This will potentially be followed by higher capacity buses and a dedicated bus mass transit right of way, before a transition to light rail transit could occur.

“The timing for this transition will be based on demand, capacity & funding.

“The most recent advanced bus solution study commissioned by the NZ Transport Agency is a useful input into existing data and builds on previous studies such as the central access plan, the south-western multi-modal airport rapid transit study and the Auckland transport alignment project with Auckland Council.”

Mr Zöllner said the transport agency had also taken immediate measures in the 2015-18 national land transport programme to deliver improved public transport solutions around the greater airport area, which supported a package of short-term improvements being developed to address urgent access issues.

Auckland Transport chief executive David Warburton said: “The agencies have agreed and confirmed through various studies that Dominion Rd is the preferred route, and we all acknowledge not only the importance of the airport precinct & the city centre, but the public transport access & connectivity that is needed along the route.

“Any transition plan needs to consider the lead time required for transition steps such as construction timeframes, and the continued operation of the network in delivering the best value-for-money option.

In parallel, work will be undertaken to progress route protection of the south-eastern connection from the airport to Manukau City Centre and east to Botany to ensure good connections to the airport & its surrounding employment zones.

“The NZ Transport Agency & Auckland Transport will also continue to work with Auckland Council & Auckland International Airport Ltd to jointly develop & implement a package of short-term access improvements to the airport.”

Attribution: NZTA, mayoral, Auckland Transport releases.

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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.

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.

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.

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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