Archive | Transport

Self-drive, the catalyst for monumental transformation

I read a US newsletter at the weekend that looked at change resulting from self-driving electric cars, but not just about the vehicles themselves. In this commentary, I take the possibilities further.

My conclusion: Change is not going to happen overnight, but it will be rapid, it will change how you regard your personal convenience and it will wring fundamental changes in property use, and therefore in property ownership, tenancy, value, design.

While you work through the questions & issues below, keep in mind that common use of land-based self-driving electric vehicles might become historic almost before it becomes common.

First, the questions:

Will you own a car – or, in families, multiple cars?

Will you expect to drive to work, as you do now?

Where will you park?

Who will provide that parking?

How do you shop? Mostly, weekly at the supermarket?

Do you use your car for lazy storage?

Do you use storage, music up loud, door-to-door as your excuses for an aversion to public transport?

How might pricing of vehicle ownership, journeys & parking change, and how might public transport be transformed?

Why own for minimal use when you can summons a vehicle at will, to take you door-to-door if necessary?

Now go through some answers:

While you might maintain that you need your car, most decisions of that nature have never really been yours to make.

The people who created mass production of cars were able to do so based on pricing low enough for widespread ownership. But think back to New Zealand’s brief era of carless days, when your vehicle had to be off the road for a stipulated one day/week, which roughly coincided with the start of mass importing of second-hand cars from Japan. Suddenly, from the inconvenience of having to travel by public transport occasionally, New Zealand was awash with cheap cars. You could go where you wanted, whenever you wanted.

Except, it’s reached the point that you can’t quite go whenever you want, because congestion has reached such a level that your journey becomes much slower. In response you look at passengers passing you in the bus lane and ponder joining them, or you drive to work in the dark.

In Auckland, if you cross the harbour bridge in peak traffic, you can see maybe 10 people near you – one per vehicle, all forced by congestion to travel slowly.

Parking made harder

The era of Uber is upon us – and the suggestion is that the Uber will lose its driver too. Pricing will dictate whether you travel as a solitary occupant in a car, or multiple. Either way, you will be taken from your door to your ultimate destination, or perhaps to a conveyance which carries more people.

Your own car will sit in its garage, and soon you will figure you don’t need it. One reason will be that you can order up a vehicle to suit your travel purpose – if you have more luggage, a bigger vehicle; travelling to the supermarket you don’t need space, but travelling home you do. Or perhaps you do all that shopping onscreen, without going anywhere.

You may see those possibilities as pure & unlikely conjecture until you consider the next point: the decision won’t be yours.

The next stage in your decision on how to get to a fixed place of work will occur when your employer, or the building owner, decides you don’t need a parking space because self-drives & public transport eliminate the need. Parked cars which do nothing but sit, waiting for you to come back in 8 hours, are a very large expense. The building owner will convert that parking space to other uses, especially if it becomes harder to fill every space.

Then, the road maintenance equation

It occurs to you that your journey could be much faster because there’s less competition on the road… Except, who pays for that road’s existence & maintenance? The motorist, the local council & the Government do – the motorist via taxes & levies, the council via rates & perhaps fuel taxes & targeted rates, the Government via those taxes & levies.

If there are fewer users, or use is far more efficient courtesy of the self-drive & decline of private ownership, government & council will pursue ways to lower their costs. And when they discover less road surface is needed, or they can get away with providing less, they will reduce maintenance. Much like Auckland Council’s decision not to mow the berm outside your house anymore, authorities will see the way clear to trim road surfaces based on saving money – 4 lanes back to 2 and, within suburbs, 2 back to a single lane.

This can happen because there will be fewer parked cars, and eventually none, the self-drives will be able to negotiate a single lane, and.. well, you’ll have even more berm to mow. The road surface that remains will be a coarser, cheaper product next time it’s laid, the maintained suburban road surface can be shrunk, and arterials – even motorways – probably can too.

You’ll turn your garage over to storage, or another bedroom, or a games room or home office.

The city end of the equation

Your decision on how to travel will be driven by external imperatives – council maintenance costs, shifts in tax spending, reduced provision of parking. Many of the parking lots around the inner city have existed because of property development downturns. The bungy site on Victoria St, right in the heart of the city, is vacant because the 1987 property & sharemarket crashes killed development plans, and more recent plans there have been more grandiose than real.

Feeding on to Victoria St East, the exit from the council’s Victoria St parking building is briefly on to High St – which is a popular nominee as one of the streets for a council project to trial more car-free areas. The council’s Downtown parking building has been considered for a number of years as a high value development proposition. Changes such as those would be dramatic, but no longer whimsical once self-drive vehicles start to appear.

Now to city occupants, and then to fringe centres

Offices & apartments without parking provided will become the norm, and those old basement parking floors will lose that value. Owners will look to new uses in old buildings and design parking out of new buildings. In the old buildings that will be an interesting exercise, because in many of them the ceilings will be too low. It will take ingenuity to find economic solutions.

For the individual, you’ve lost your parking floor in the office building, and all the other parking floors & parking buildings are being converted. You will be forced to seek other travel options – bus & train for distance or, as we’re starting to see, bike or scooter for shorter journeys.

But not everybody works in a central city office or shop. Suburban work centres are likely to face the same pressures for change, and industrial precincts might too. Think, as a property owner, what you can do with the space occupied by 30 or 50 employees’ cars. Tenants, especially in outlying areas, pay low rent for parking. Building them out will provide a better return.

Other consequences

If you accept that these kinds of change are not just on their way sometime, but more likely imminent – perhaps within a decade – you can turn your mind to other consequences.

Fewer cars, fewer motor mechanics, a whole sector of insurance becomes redundant. Car sale yards & car loans will be history. Tradies will become lords of the road, but their costs will also rise through higher contributions for upkeep. Delivery vans will have a bigger role.

Just the change from oil to electric is a revolution in itself. The oil industry has held sway for a century, but its decline will be swift if battery-operated travel can prove efficient, practical & cheap. That will ring in momentous change in international affairs, in economic relationships, in degrees of political power. Revolutions in self-drive & public transport will force local change.

Real or unreal? We don’t know yet. What we do know is that if change like this is catapaulted into our lives, it pays to start thinking of options early.

Attribution: Comment.

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Private car’s days as symbol of power coming to an end

Never mind those petty rules of staying in your lane, indicating to change, obeying the traffic lights, feeding parking meters, accommodating your vehicle in an approved parking garage. No matter how beat up, or that it’s a polished company vehicle thrust into your care to proclaim your high status. Your car is a symbol of your independence & superiority.

Or, in downtown Auckland, it was.

In March, Auckland Council’s Auckland Development Office will file a report recommending trials to pedestrianise nominated streets in the central business district.

Queen St below Mayoral Drive is the primary candidate. High & Lorne Sts are among the smaller streets also likely to be high on the list.

Quay St would be reduced to 2 lanes, making it much more a pedestrian environment across from the wharves. Eastern suburbs traffic would be directed into the new traffic zones.

But before the trials, other preparation is needed. The development office wants traffic to be guided into zones, and not allowed to cross zones, and the office knows the pedestrians-only trials won’t work unless those preparations are in place.

Turning whole streets over to people on foot – plus bikes, prams, scooters, restricted visits by service vehicles and, in some streets, buses & trams – has been a venture too far for councillors for decades.

When Auckland City Council hired Ludo Campbell-Reid for the new role of urban design specialist in 2006 – coming from Tower Hamlets Council in London after earlier roles as chief executive of Urban Design London and in Cape Town – the notion of pedestrianising Queen St downhill from Mayoral Drive was getting, well, a foot into people’s thinking.

The city council turned down that idea, and also spurned pedestrianising a couple of blocks by a narrow margin. One change that did come, in 2007, was the introduction of bus lanes down Queen St. In addition, Lower Queen St between Customs & Quay Sts, and a couple of side streets – the lower end of Swanson St and Vulcan Lane – had their vehicle access ended.

But Mr Campbell-Reid switched from full-on pedestrianisation for major thoroughfares to the introduction of shared spaces, carried out in Elliot St, part of Fort St, and most recently in O’Connell St.

Meanwhile, gridlock took over, made worse over the last 2 years by the streetworks for the city rail link on Albert, Customs & Victoria Sts. People have watched – I think in awe, certainly not scowling – as they’ve waited at traffic lights and been able to observe the tunnelling below them.

And slowly the tide has turned. By the end of 2021, all going well, those tunnels are going to transport hundreds of passengers every 10 minutes or so into 3 central stations – people who have left the status symbol, the car, at home, or don’t even have one there.

The council development office, which Mr Campbell-Reid heads, can rely on those waves of passengers to lift support for locking cars out of the dominance they’ve long had in the city centre.

Those traffic trials are the biggest changes in the review of the city centre masterplan, approved in 2012, this time combined with the waterfront plan as the City Centre Masterplan 2040.

Proposed digital presentation of the new masterplan will allow for rolling reviews.

Auckland Council’s planning committee agreed unanimously yesterday to the development office’s proposals:

  • Digitisation in time to inform the council’s 2021-31 long-term plan
  • Rolling updates rather than 6-yearly updates
  • New content for public consultation & committee approval by July 2019
  • Maori outcomes
  • Grafton Gully boulevard
  • Access for everyone – the friendlier name for pedestrianisation
  • Trials & tactical urbanism initiatives to test & for consultation
  • Trial an “open streets” initiative in the city centre and work with interested local boards to trial it in other centres

Cllr Richard Hills summed it up: “At the Victoria-Queen St intersection at lunchtime, we’ve got 4500 people crossing & 500 cars. We’ve halved the number of cars coming down Queen St already, from 21,000 to 10,000. We have 7000 bikes/day coming into the city. That’s [the equivalent of] a whole lane from Silverdale.”

Committee agenda item 9, City centre masterplan 2040   

Earlier story:
12 January 2006: Auckland hires London urban design specialist Campbell-Reid

Attribution: Council committee meeting & agenda.

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Ameti busway plans release brings Pakuranga Plaza transformation back

Pakuranga Plaza owner GYP Properties Pte Ltd said at the weekend release of revised proposed plans for the Auckland-Manukau eastern transport initiative (Ameti) eastern busway means the company can finalise its own designs for redevelopment of the Plaza & its 4ha site.

Image above: Pakuranga Plaza when Westfield owned it.

GYP Properties, a subsidiary of Singaporean listed company Global Yellow Pages Ltd, bought Pakuranga Plaza, which sits at the junction of Pakuranga & Reeves Rds & Ti Rakau Drive, from Ladstone Holdings Ltd for $96 million in October 2014.

The listed company’s shareholders approved the diversification of the company’s core business to property investment, development & management in May 2015.

Mr Tan said: “We have been working on the Plaza redevelopment since we acquired the property, but until we had the final alignments with roading, and the bus interchange location & access points were locked down, it has not been possible to conclude our own designs.

“Masterplans incorporating significant residential & retail buildings together with commercial, accommodation & entertainment activities will be further developed over the coming months. They will be released once the resource consent process, currently anticipated to be sometime in 2019, is underway. However, we are pleased to confirm our 3 anchor tenants.”

Mr Tan said Countdown had confirmed, Farmers had renewed its leases and The

Warehouse tenure runs through to 2035.

“We look forward to participating in this transformation project from Plaza to town centre, and on delivering quality housing options with modern retail facilities that focus on services, entertainment and food & beverage, with strong linkages to community amenities.”

He said GYP Properties would engage with key stakeholder groups & the Howick Local Board over the next few months while its plans evolve.

Auckland Transport, Ameti project
Ameti eastern busway
3 September 2018: Designation approved for next stage of Ameti eastern busway
Pakuranga Plaza website

Earlier stories:
2 October 2015: 15-year plan to transform Pakuranga Plaza takes shape
17 October 2014: Stanley Tan buys Pakuranga Plaza

Attribution: Company release.

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Dominion Rd argument raises the question: What are we trying to solve?

How do we get around Auckland? Badly.

How should we get around Auckland? The first answer is: Well. And the argument over how to get between the airport & downtown Auckland is a fine example of how not to achieve that.

Below, Infrastructure NZ chief executive Stephen Selwood sets out his view of how to set the course for a decision:

Stephen Selwood.

Lingering debate over the form of rapid transit to Auckland Airport reveals a lack of clarity about the role for light & heavy rail, and this issue must be resolved when the business case is released.

The public is understandably confused about the purpose of the Dominion Rd light rail project & its role within the wider transport system. They are also confused about the potential for heavy rail connections to & from the airport.

This is a symptom of a wider strategic issue around how heavy rail is to support the future growth & development of Auckland, given the significant investment in the central rail link currently underway.

Under standard practice, we would normally first ask what issue we’re trying to address – congestion, urban regeneration or access to the airport? – and then we would decide what investments are required.

With the decision to proceed with light rail effectively made before a business case has been developed, best practice has been diluted, but not the need to be clear about what we’re trying to achieve.

Is Dominion Rd light rail designed to reduce congestion, support urban development or provide a rapid transit link to the airport? Is it all 3 or something different?

If the purpose is to improve access to the airport, then the business case should demonstrate that light rail better serves this objective than alternatives, including heavy rail.

If the purpose of the project is to reduce congestion, then business case analysis must demonstrate improved travel times for general traffic commensurate with the investment being made by road users.

Alternatively, if the purpose of Dominion Rd light rail is to unlock & enable urban development, then the business case must present a co-ordinated land use plan indicating the residential & commercial property opportunity linked to the project’s delivery. This should include the rezoning which is required and the timeframes for development.

Importantly, if the objective is urban development, and if congestion & other transport benefits are not improved, then funding should be primarily sourced from urban development, rather than the National Land Transport Fund.

Targeted rates, capital gains taxes & land acquisition via an urban development authority are all options which should be assessed.

A strong, transparent business case, clarifying why the project is being delivered, its costs, benefits & how it will be funded & delivered will address public confusion over the reason for light rail and resolve the question of light or heavy rail to the airport.

Attribution: Stephen Selwood, chief executive Infrastructure NZ.

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Port company names first tenant for Waikato hub

Ports of Auckland Ltd named the first tenant yesterday for its new 33ha freight transport hub at Horotiu, just north of Hamilton.

Open Country Dairy Ltd, 77% owned by Talley’s Group Ltd and New Zealand’s second largest exporter of whole milk powder, will take occupancy of the facility next year.

Ports of Auckland chief executive Tony Gibson said the earthworks were complete and building had started.

The Waikato hub – or inland port – is Ports of Auckland’s fourth, following developments at Wiri in South Auckland, Mt Maunganui & Longburn, Manawatu.

The Tainui iwi’s Tainui Group Holdings Ltd is establishing a much larger inland port in Hamilton, intended to cover 480ha of a total 820ha of rezoned space at Ruakura.

Mr Gibson said the Horotiu hub was part of Ports of Auckland’s strategy to support regional growth with freight hubs next to rail in regions that generate significant volumes of exports.

“The freight hub network will contribute to lower freight costs, reduces carbon emissions and offer a wider range of shipping services to North Island exporters & importers. The hub provides future customers with a unique opportunity. Businesses will be able to have their own sites with customised warehouse design & layout.”

Until the rail connection for Horotiu is built, freight will travel by road to Hamilton and then by rail to Ports of Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour sea port.

Attribution: Company release.

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Rodney’s transport targeted rate programme up for board approval

The Rodney Local Board will decide on Thursday on performance measures & proposed bus routes to be funded under the board’s transport targeted rate.

The board proposed the rate last year and put figures on it when it sent its 10-year budget out for consultation. It investigated options for a targeted rate to bring forward $41 million worth of investment in transport services and infrastructure in Rodney over the next 10 years, and proposed a rate of $150/year per dwelling or business premise.

The proposal Auckland Transport has asked the board to approve on Thursday would fund:

  • Huapai-Westgate bus service increased frequency (effectively providing a 15-minute service out of Huapai, in the peak)
  • Riverhead-Westgate bus service
  • Huapai park-&-ride (investigation)
  • Warkworth park-&-ride
  • Proposed road seal extension programme, and
  • Proposed footpath programme.

The report for Thursday’s meeting also provides:

  • a summary of the board’s transport targeted rate projects list, and
  • a progress update about projects & activities funded by that rate.

Using the rate, Auckland Transport will also investigate & design:

  • the new Wellsford-Warkworth bus route planned to start no later than February 2019, and
  • Helensville-Silverdale (via Kaukapakapa) bus route, also planned to start by February, which is subject to NZ Transport Agency subsidy approval.

20 September 2018 agenda item: Rodney transport targeted rate update

Related story:
Bob Dey Property Report diary, week 17-23 September 2018

Attribution: Board agenda.

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Transport agency sets out project list

Published 3 September 2018

Transport and Housing & Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford – who’s also Housing & Urban Development Minister – said on Friday a record $5.7 billion transport investment over the next 3 years “will get Auckland moving and deliver a safer, better connected & more resilient transport system”.

Mr Twyford’s comments accompanied the NZ Transport Agency’s publication of details of the planned programmes of investment in transport around the country, totalling $16.9 billion over the 3 years.

Auckland projects make up the bulk of the story below, followed by Northland, Waikato & the rest of the national programme.

There’s a lot of it – some brief detail of specific projects, and a number of lists to skim through.

If such an array can be summed up it’s this: Major road spending reduced, more attention away from large metropolitan areas, metro focus on public transport as best option to reduce congestion.

Dollars are generally separated from initial project mentions and I haven’t got them together again. Most of the relevant dollar figures are toward the bottom of this story.

The details are set out in the 2018-21 national land transport programme. The funding will be generated through 3 channels:

  • $12.9 billion from the National Land Transport Fund, generated through fuel excise, road user charges & other revenue sources
  • $3.4 billion from local government, generated through rates & Auckland’s regional fuel tax, and
  • $547 million in other Crown investment.

Mr Twyford said the $5.7 billion for Auckland was 23% more than under the 2015-18 plan and 44% more than under the 2012-15 plan.

The NZ Transport Agency’s forecast for Auckland access infrastructure spending over the next 3 years includes:

  • Maintenance & operations $1.2 billion
  • Public transport $1.9 billion
  • Walking & cycling $149 million
  • Targeted at safety, 15%

Mr Twyford emphasised road safety, along with alternatives for reducing congestion other than building more roads, although road-building will continue: “We are putting a much stronger focus on public transport, and making record investments in road safety, local roads, walking & cycling.

“Safety is a top priority for the Government, and $875 million will be spent on programmes & projects in Auckland that will save lives. This will include revamping intersections to stop collisions, installing median barriers in high risk areas and increasing road policing.

“We are committed to delivering a rapid transit network for the city so we can unlock critical housing & urban development opportunities, and give people better access to jobs, health, education & recreation. With the $459 million set aside for the development of rapid transit and $266 million for transitional rail, we’re investing in light rail to Mangere, extending the Northern Busway and supporting the introduction of more electric trains.

“To ease congestion and make Auckland a healthier place to live, $1.9 billion will be invested in public transport, a 56% increase from 2015-18, and $149 million for walking & cycling, a 30% increase from 2015-18. This will create great walking & cycling routes in the city, including the SeaPath walking & cycling connection between Northcote Pt & Esmonde Rd, the SkyPath project across the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and the Glen Innes-Tamaki Drive shared path.

“The significant $1.5 billion investment in state highways in the city reflects the Government’s continued commitment to this vital part of our transport system. The Northern Corridor project will complete the motorway connection for the Western Ring Route to the north, the Southern Corridor improvements will result in a safer route between the city centre & the south, and the Transport Agency will continue to build the 18km extension of the Northern Motorway (State Highway 1) from Puhoi to Warkworth.”

The big public transport projects hinge on upgrades to the rail network, much of it an extension of the network spreading out from the city rail link (listed starting in the south):

  • Papakura-Pukekohe electrification
  • Puhinui bus-rail interchange
  • Wiri-Quay Park corridor improvements
  • City centre-Mangere light rail
  • City centre-north-west light rail

Other corridor improvements:

  • Southern corridor (road & rail)
  • Southern & eastern airport access, State Highways 20 & 20B
  • Ameti (Auckland-Manukau eastern transport initiative) eastern busway
  • Glen Innes-Tamaki Drive shared bike-foot path
  • City centre bus improvements
  • Skypath over harbour bridge
  • Seapath around Northcote foreshore
  • State Highway 16, Brigham Creek-Waimauku safety improvements
  • Northern corridor
  • Ara Tuhono, Puhoi-Warkworth 18km highway extension construction

The transport agency said Auckland’s population was expected to grow by 300,000 over the next 10 years and was forecast to reach 2.3 million by 2043 – an increase greater than the rest of New Zealand’s population growth combined and requiring 400,000 new homes.

The mantra from the agency is this: “For Auckland to be successful, it needs a safe, reliable & integrated transport system, where people have choices about how they move around.

“The national land transport programme 2018-21 focuses on ensuring people have improved choice for how they access employment, education & services, today & tomorrow. This means continuing to develop strategic connections for public transport, private vehicles, walking & cycling into & across the busy urban centre, and shaping more liveable communities with appealing transport links that bring neighbourhoods together.”

The agency said one outcome from the Auckland transport alignment project between Auckland Council & the Government (ATAP) was “a new collaborative culture for prioritising the projects & initiatives that will deliver the best outcomes for Auckland. Together with its local government partners at Auckland Council and Auckland Transport, the Transport Agency is working to ensure the city grows in a smart way, with new communities being safely & effectively connected by a range of transport choices.

“Central to this is the need for a rapid transit network to unlock critical housing & urban development opportunities, giving communities better access to jobs, health, education & recreation.

“The project to deliver light rail between the city centre & Mangere is a first for New Zealand that will provide a modern, integrated public transport system with seamless connections. This is an opportunity to create a great transport system that can be part of the fabric of the city and can improve people’s lives, through transformational projects & initiatives that leave a legacy for future generations.

“The national land transport programme will invest in the infrastructure & operation of the public transport network as patronage continues to grow. This includes extending the Northern Busway and supporting the introduction of more electric trains.

“Key corridors around the city will continue to have strategic importance, especially as the city grows & changes. The Northern Corridor improvements project will complete the connection for the Western Ring Route to the north, the Southern Corridor Improvements will result in a safer route between the city centre & the south, and the Transport Agency will continue to build the 18km extension of the Northern Motorway (State Highway 1) from Puhoi to Warkworth.

“These investments will help to make Auckland a better place to live, work, visit & raise a family by providing safer transport choices, better access & a transport system that is easy to use.”

Rapid transit a network – not a single line

The agency makes it clear that rapid transit is intended to be more than a single light rail line down Dominion Rd and on to the airport, but a network, which started with the Northern Busway in 2008.

“The national land transport programme 2018-21 will invest in expanding Auckland’s rapid transit network. Moving forward, light rail is being investigated for several key routes. The Transport Agency is leading the delivery of the light rail programme. It is working in partnership with Auckland Council, Auckland Transport & the Hobsonville Land Co Ltd to give people more choice about how they travel and to support the creation of more accessible communities.

“The city centre-Mangere corridor will be light rail, and largely unaffected by road traffic & congestion. It will likely have fewer stops than current bus services, but provide a step change in capacity and more frequent, reliable services to improve access to 2 of the biggest employment areas in Auckland. Residents in neighbourhoods along the route, including the city centre, Dominion Rd, Mt Roskill, Onehunga & Mangere will benefit from better connections & amenities.

“Investment from the national land transport programme will also progress work on a second new rapid transit corridor to improve access to the growing north-western suburbs. This will provide a critical connection for these suburbs to provide a high capacity, frequent & reliable public transport service.

“The wider plan is for an integrated rapid transit network. For example, the Auckland Airport area will have more options to travel between the airport, the city centre & the eastern suburbs.”

The agency said its Southwest Gateway programme would build on the investment from the last 3-year transport plan to improve access to the airport & surrounding areas, including Airport-Botany rapid transit and 20Connect (referring to State Highways 20 & 20B, a programme intended to improve journey reliability and provide more travel choices between the airport & surrounding areas).

“Improvements may include bus priority along State Highway 20B to Puhinui rail station, an upgrade of the station, improved capacity & connections along State Highways 20 20A & 20B, interchange upgrades & rapid transit between the airport & Botany.”

Connecting communities as the city grows

The Transport Agency said its projects on Auckland’s public transport, road, walking & cycling networks were “increasingly integrated & creating a safe, connected a system that offers great transport choices”.

It said much of Auckland’s strategic road transport network was complete, but the agency was working to create targeted improvements at the same time as it prepares for the networks that will be needed to connect growth areas.

“In Auckland’s south, the Southern Corridor improvements project will deliver the widening of the Southern Motorway (State Highway 1) between Manukau & Papakura. The State Highway 1 Papakura-Bombay project will begin work to provide a third lane in each direction between Papakura & Drury, aiming to improve journey reliability, safety & network resilience.

“On the North Shore, the Northern Corridor improvements will see substantial progress (estimated completion 2022), completing the final section of the Western Ring Route and providing a new continuous motorway link between the Northern & Upper Harbour Motorways. Improvements along the Lake Rd corridor will provide a better corridor between Devonport & Takapuna.

“In Auckland’s west, improvements will be made to Lincoln Rd to accommodate additional transit/bus lanes, intersection & safety improvements and footpath widening.”

The agency has established the Supporting Growth programme to investigate, plan & deliver the transport services needed to support future urban growth areas over the next 30 years: “Through this collaborative programme with local government, the national land transport programme will invest in the initial preferred network that has been identified, including the Matakana link road connection between Matakana & State Highway 1 near Warkworth.

“The Transport Agency will continue a staged programme of route protection processes, and future delivery of projects will then follow in line with the Auckland transport alignment project’s priorities & the release of new land for growth.”

Improving walking & cycling

The agency said 38% of Aucklanders rode bikes this year – over 518,000 people now cycling: “The walking & cycling programme will be strategically planned & delivered to achieve maximum impact for short trips to the city centre, public transport interchanges, schools and local & metropolitan centres. A new footpaths regional programme will construct new & widened footpaths.

“A number of key infrastructure projects will enable more active ways for people to move safely & easily. SkyPath & SeaPath are key links in Auckland’s walking & cycling network which will both be delivered by the Transport Agency, enabling project efficiencies & improved co-ordination. There will be investment to progress the SeaPath project, a shared path between Esmonde Rd & the Auckland Harbour Bridge, as well as SkyPath, a shared path across the bridge itself. Work will continue on the Glen Innes-Tamaki Drive shared path, and investigations will begin into a Manukau Harbour crossing dedicated to walking & cycling (to replace the old Mangere bridge).”

Enhancing public transport

Auckland’s public transport users are making about 90 million trips/year on buses, trains & ferries, the highest patronage recorded in the city.

The transport plan will continue to invest in Auckland’s public transport network, with new electric trains to provide for growth and reduce crowding that would otherwise occur. The rail line from Papakura to Pukekohe will be electrified, a third main line will be added between Westfield & Wiri and the Westfield rail junction will be upgraded to provide better separation of passenger & freight services.

A programme to improve the performance of the city’s rail network includes an upgrade of the Onehunga line to accommodate higher frequency services & longer trains. The works also include progressive improvement & removal of road/rail level crossings to better manage safety risks, allow for more train services & reduce road congestion.

The agency will invest in city centre bus improvements (with Auckland Transport). They include bus priority lanes along Wellesley St and a new Learning Quarter bus interchange. In the downtown area, there will be new bus interchanges on Quay St East and Lower Albert St in conjunction with the City Rail Link & Auckland Council’s downtown projects.

The Auckland-Manukau eastern transport initiative (Ameti) will deliver new dedicated busways & cycleways to improve access & safety, unlocking housing development opportunities. Over the next 3 years work will focus on the Eastern Busway from Panmure to Pakuranga, including the Reeves Rd flyover.

The Northern Corridor improvements will deliver an extension of the successful Northern Busway to the Albany park-&-ride, running in both directions along the eastern side of the Northern Motorway. A new station is also proposed to be added at Rosedale.

There will also be new & expanded park-&-ride facilities, completion of the future ferry strategy for Auckland and redevelopment & construction of a new downtown ferry terminal.

More resilient & efficient

A key strategic approach of ATAP is to make better use of the existing network, and to explore new opportunities to get more out of what is already in place: “This means looking at the whole Auckland transport system and understanding the way people want to interact with it, as well as a programme of optimisation to improve the efficiency & reliability of people’s journeys.”

The agency said new technology was opening up opportunities to do this: “Transport Agency investment in the intelligent transport systems programme will use emerging technologies to better manage congestion, improve safety and influence travel demand. The network optimisation programme will provide a package of targeted small-to-medium-scale infrastructure projects to optimise routes through synchronisation of traffic signals, optimising road layout, dynamic traffic lanes & managing traffic restrictions. Another key initiative is the bus route priority phase 1, which involves implementation of bus priority measures along the frequent service network to improve capacity & speed.”

While the agency said its Auckland Transport Operations Centre was able to effectively manage incidents & emergencies, there’s a programme to strengthen its capabilities to reduce disruption & delay: “Core technology upgrades will support & enhance systems such as Journey Planner, web & mobile applications, asset management, CCTV & network upgrades to improve performance, resilience & safety of customers.”

As the climate changes, the agency will investigate how to address the impacts of sea level rise on Tamaki Drive, and improve the resilience of state highway & local road networks.

Investment highlights:

The wide array of budgets includes money under Te Tupu Ngatahi Supporting Growth Alliance collaborative programme, to confirm & protect transport networks needed to support the development of new urban growth areas over the next 30 years. Projects (including those under the alliance):

Ameti improvements, $240 million
Northern Corridor improvements, $500 million
State Highway 16, Brigham Creek-Waimauku safe system enhancement, $67.2 million
Dome Valley north of Warkworth, safety improvements, $33 million
Matakana link road connection $46 million
State Highway 1 Papakura-Bombay, $140 million
SeaPath, $31 million
SkyPath, $67 million
Glen Innes-Tamaki Drive shared path, $56.6 million
Third main line between Westfield & Wiri and upgrade of Westfield rail junction to provide better separation of passenger & freight services, $119 million
Lincoln Rd, $68 million

Northland, $460 million total – $350 million national fund, $109 million local government:

Northland projects include providing funding for an investigation into the opportunities to carry more freight in the region by rail, and enable the completion of improvements to State Highway 1 through Whangarei.

Waikato, $1.6 billion total – $1.27 billion national fund, $270 million local government, $59 million in direct Crown funding:

Completion of Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway, $235 million
Mt Messenger bypass on State Highway 3, $109 million
Local road improvements, $164 million (more than doubled)
Public transport, $75 million, including funding to explore an inter-regional rail commuter service between Hamilton & Auckland

National programme, $16.9 billion:

Regional roads $5.8 billion, up $600 million, reversing the focus of the last 3 years on big-city projects
Metro roading, $5 billion
Regional non-roading projects to improve freight connections to ports, airports & distribution centres, $300 million
Public transport, rapid transit & rail, $4 billion
Walking & cycling, $390 million (including SkyPath & Seapath)
State highway projects, $3.5 billion, maintenance $2.2 billion.

NZTA, 31 August 2018: $16.9 billion investment in the future of NZ
NZTA, 31 August 2018: National land transport programme, 2018-21
NLTP regional summaries
Auckland land transport plan summary

Earlier stories:
29 June 2018: Cabinet approves 10-year transport spend, and Selwood highlights its inefficiency
19 January 2018: Collins raises scare about “road tax” diversion, but government fund already $½ billion in red
Attribution: Twyford releases, NZ Transport Agency.

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Logistics specialist Logos buys Wiri site

Australian vertically integrated logistics property specialist Logos Property Pty Ltd has bought a 10ha site in Auckland for its first move into New Zealand.

The Australian company said yesterday it had bought the property at the corner of Roscommon & Wiri Station Rds in Wiri from Fletcher Building Ltd subsidiary Fletcher Concrete & Infrastructure Ltd.

The site has access to State Highway 20 (the South-western Motorway), and is near the Conlinxx Inland Port.

Logos joint managing director Trent Iliffe said the company would develop the site into a 55,000m² logistics estate: “The New Zealand industrial & logistics sector has experienced strong growth over the past few years on the back of the country’s underlying economic fundamentals, increasing population and, importantly, the rise in e-commerce. We believe there will be many opportunities for Logos to partner with our investors & tenant customers across New Zealand over the coming years, and the Wiri site is an important and strategic first development for the group.”

The company’s other managing director, John Marsh, said: “Wiri is the key industrial suburb in Auckland, which is experiencing significant growth due to its proximity to key freight routes and as the market widens from Auckland’s historical industrial hubs of Penrose & Mt Wellington.

“We are currently in discussions with a number of existing tenant customers from our Asia-Pacific portfolio to develop purpose-built opportunities on the site, including large-format logistics operators, FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods), e-commerce operators & 3PL (third-party logistics) groups.”

Logos has operations in Australia, China, Singapore, Indonesia & India, managing every aspect of logistics real estate, from sourcing land or facilities to undertaking development & asset management for leading global real estate investors.

At 1 January 2018, Logos had:

  • $A4 billion of equity commitments to 14 ventures with a targeted end-value of over $A9 billion of assets under management
  • 42 projects or estates owned & under development
  • Over 2.9 million m² of logistics real estate owned & under development, and
  • 9 corporate offices throughout Asia & the Pacific.

Link: Logos

Attribution: Company release, website.

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Cabinet approves 10-year transport spend, and Selwood highlights its inefficiency

Cabinet has approved a new 10-year plan for transport which will increase investment from $3.6 billion in the year finishing on Saturday to a record $4 billion for the new financial year starting on Sunday, 1 July, and rising to $4.7 billion by 2027-28.

The Government will also invest $1 billion in the 2018-19 year in specific projects, such as the Auckland city rail link, and councils will invest a further $1 billion/year.

The main spend, under the government policy statement, is through the National Land Transport Fund, boosted by increases in the excise duty on petrol and road user charges on other vehicles.

The increased excise charges will support $5 billion of infrastructure over the next 10 years.

Twyford: Options to beat gridlock

Phil Twyford.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said yesterday: “Auckland alone loses $1.3 billion/year in productivity to congestion. We will tackle gridlock in Auckland by giving commuters options through major road projects and upgrades such as Mill Road & Penlink.”

But don’t get too excited – Penlink, crossing the Weiti River to the Whangaparaoa Peninsula to ease Hibiscus Coast congestion, is at the back end of the priority list.

And the lobby group Infrastructure NZ said that, as the NZ Government’s capital investment levels were half those of Australia, ongoing congestion, housing unaffordability & constrained economic growth would continue.

In addition, in Auckland, the chunk of funding for improving infrastructure, is on top of a “general” rates rise. The main part of that increase will be through a regional fuel tax levy of 10c + gst/litre. Auckland Council added several other specific rates to its bill to citizens yesterday as well.

The Government will increase the petrol excise duty in each of the next 3 years, starting with a 3.5c/litre rise on 30 September, followed by 3.5c/litre rises in the following 2 years, and equivalent rises in road user charges.

Mr Twyford put the extra cost at 83c/week this year for the average family, rising to $2.50/week by 2020.

The present excise on petrol-fuelled cars is 66.484c/litre – 59.524c for the National Land Transport Fund, 6c for the Accident Compensation Corp levy, 0.3c for a fuel monitoring levy and 0.66c for a local authorities’ fuel tax.

Selwood: funding system outdated & restrictive

Stephen Selwood.

Infrastructure NZ chief executive Stephen Selwood welcomed the funding certainty and said it was clear the Government was doing as much as it could with existing transport tools.

But he said, in response to the increases: “If we want to change our transport performance, we need to change our outdated & restrictive transport funding system.”

Mr Selwood pointed at the higher funding for infrastructure in Australia, and then to funding alternatives:

“New South Wales has announced an $A14.7 billion transport capital programme for the 2018-19 financial year. By comparison, just $2-3 billion of NZ government policy statement spending this year will be focused on improving transport networks.

“Even after top-ups from the consolidated account to pay for Auckland’s city rail link and council expenditure, New Zealand’s investment in transport improvements will be half what the New South Wales Government alone is doing on a per capita basis.

“This is why New Zealand’s cities are among the most congested for their size in the developed world and it is why we can’t unlock enough land to house our population.

“It is also why nothing is going to change, in spite of record investment, until we change the way we plan, fund & deliver transport.

“Asking road users to cover the cost of projects increasingly oriented towards urban development separates those funding improvements from those who will benefit – landowners.

“Constraining investment to levels road users are prepared to tolerate holds back the economy & urban development. We need to double investment if we are serious about tackling congestion, improving safety & delivering homes.

“Projects with strong benefit:cost ratios & significant strategic benefits need to be accelerated. Major transport projects need to be debt financed. It is not realistic to fund a long-term investment programme by an annual allocation from road user charges.

“Debt should be repaid by beneficiaries – road users, property owners & the Government via gst, income & corporate taxes which grow with the economy.

“A shift to road pricing would not only provide the mechanism to fund needed investment, it would also manage congestion much more effectively.

“Record transport investment is a step in the right direction, but New Zealand remains a giant leap behind our competitors.”

Attribution: Ministerial & Infrastructure NZ releases.

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Auckland Transport draft 10-year plan back for approval today

Auckland Transport’s board will consider the regional land transport plan afresh this afternoon, after ditching the draft 10-year budget staff proposed on 1 February.

18,000 groups & individuals submitted on the draft plan, which sets transport priorities & budgets for the next decade & beyond.

Auckland Transport chair Dr Lester Levy said yesterday that, for the first time, “the draft regional land transport plan outlines priorities where Auckland Council, the Government & Auckland Transport are fully aligned”.

Public consultation on it was conducted in May.

Submitters were asked for their feedback on specific challenges identified in the draft:

  • Safety
  • Congestion
  • Decreases in accessibility
  • Impact on the environment, and
  • Supporting growth in the region

Dr Levy said the majority of submitters agreed with the draft plan’s identification of key transport challenges.

Auckland Transport also sought feedback through the draft consultation on the level of support for specific areas of work, to inform funding priorities. Dr Levy said over 80% supported investment in the areas listed in the draft plan.

The draft document also outlines the timing of capital work over the next 10 years.

The transport plan is still subject to funding confirmation through the council’s long-term plan budget process and the finalisation of regional fuel tax legislation. The Land Transport Management (Regional Fuel Tax) Amendment Bill went to the committee of the whole house in Parliament yesterday.

The board will hold the open session of its meeting at 2.30pm today at Auckland Transport’s headquarters, 20 Viaduct Harbour Avenue, at the corner of Fanshawe & Halsey Sts.

Matt Lowrie at Greater Auckland, 2 February 2018: Where now for the regional land transport plan?
Auckland Transport board meeting documents, 20 June 2018:
Auckland Transport meetings & minutes
Open agenda (PDF 248KB)
Glossary (PDF 175KB)
Item 3 – Interests register (PDF 447KB)
Item 5.1 – Final statement of intent 2018-21 (PDF 243KB)
Attachment 1 – Final statement of intent 2018-21 (PDF 1.19MB)
Item 5.2 – Regional land transport plan 2018-28 (PDF 180KB)
Attachment 1 – RLTP 2018-28 for AT board approval (PDF 2.4MB)
Attachment 2 – 2018 RLTP capital programmes (PDF 760KB)
Closed agenda (PDF 230KB)
1 February 2018 regional land transport committee document: Item 4.1 – Approval of the draft regional land transport plan (RLTP) (PDF 2.9MB)

Attribution: Auckland Transport release, Greater Auckland.

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