I happened to be part way through writing a post about transport policy for the upcoming elections when the first policy announcement of this cycle appeared in my inbox. I aim to cover election policy from all major parties over the course of the year.
It’s not their full policy but the Greens say they will put invest $200 million to make it easier for kids to be able to walk and cycle to school.
The Green Party has announced $200 million of new investment in infrastructure so kids can cycle and walk to school safely and to ease congestion on New Zealand’s roads.
Launching the policy at Auckland’s Belmont Intermediate School this morning, Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said the Safe Walking and Cycling to School plan would make our roads safer for everyone – cyclists, walkers and drivers – and improve the health and wellbeing of our kids.
“We will invest $50 million a year over four years to ensure kids can walk and cycle to school safe from traffic. This is a policy that’s good for our kids, good for motorists and good for the environment,” Mrs Turei said.
In 1989 half of New Zealand’s kids cycled or walked to school and only a third came by car. Today, these numbers have reversed. Each morning, Kiwis make a quarter of a million car trips just dropping kids at school.
“In a survey of parents that we conducted, 93% of parents who drive their kids to school said they would prefer for them to walk or cycle, but only if they knew it was safe. Our plan will help make walking and cycling to school safe by protecting kids from traffic,” Mrs Turei said.
“We need to turn around the decline in cycling and walking numbers. When kids walk, bike or ride their scooters to school, it’s good for their health and learning, it eases congestion, and it benefits the environment. We just need to make it safe.”
According to the New Zealand Transport Agency, safety is the main reason people have stopped walking and cycling to school.
Local authorities, in conjunction with schools, will be able to draw upon the $50 million a year ring-fenced fund for walking and cycling infrastructure to protect kids from traffic so they can travel safely to school.
This funding will be drawn from a total of $100 million a year in the National Land Transport Fund that the Green Party will ring-fence for walking and cycling.
Funding for walking and cycling is currently only about $15 million a year.
“The latest research shows that we can get up to $20 of gains for every dollar spent on walking and cycling. That’s a billion dollars of gains for each year’s $50 million investment,” Mrs Turei said.
“Our Safe Walking and Cycling to School plan is a smart way to get kids to school safely, and is a smarter spend than wasting money on low benefit projects.”
The full policy paper is here.
I think that regardless of political allegiance, getting more kids walking and cycling to school is a good thing. Currently information from the Ministry of Transports Household Travel Survey shows that for kids 5-12 only 2% ride a bike to school while that goes to only 4% for those 13-17. By contrast in the 5-12 category 58% are driven to school while in the 13-17 category around 41% arrive by car (some drive by then).
There would of course be quite a few challenges with a policy like this, just because the money is available it doesn’t mean that council (or AT in Auckland’s case) may actually use the money as far to often we hear stories of improvements to make it safer for kids around schools being declined due to it having the potential to disrupt the flow of traffic.
As mentioned at the start, we’ll be covering transport policy announcements of all parties.
Edit: I just noticed on twitter this from George Wood, this is a seriously concerning attitude
Back in 2011 when the first stage of the Fort St shared space was being built the artist impressions showed a neat artwork installation on Fort Lane. Now a few years later it’s finally been installed. It’s called Eyelight Lane by Swedish artist David Svensson. I think it looks great and is a nice addition to the area, here are some photos of it.
And here’s another version of it by Richard Wong of PhotosbyRichard.com
We know that there are some major ongoing trends in transport use not only in New Zealand but also in many of the countries we like to compare ourselves to, especially those closest to NZ in culture and history i.e. Australia, Canada and the US. We’re continuing to see the numbers of people driving (or the distance they are travelling) fall or at least flat line – something traffic projections are mostly still ignoring. We’re seeing more and more people choosing to live in areas closer to cities that enables them to walk or cycle which is also being aided in many places by vastly improved walking cycling facilities. And of course we’re seeing a lot more people choosing to use public transport.
On the issue of PT use, news came out a few days ago that in the US ridership across the entire county reached its highest point in 57 years.
In 2013 Americans took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation, which is the highest annual public transit ridership number in 57 years, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). This was the eighth year in a row that more than 10 billion trips were taken on public transportation systems nationwide. While vehicle miles traveled on roads (VMT) went up 0.3 percent, public transportation use in 2013 increased by 1.1 percent.
“Last year people took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation. As the highest annual ridership number since 1956, Americans in growing numbers want to have more public transit services in their communities,” said Peter Varga, APTA Chair and CEO of The Rapid in Grand Rapids, MI. “Public transportation systems nationwide – in small, medium, and large communities – saw ridership increases. Some reported all-time high ridership numbers.”
Some of the public transit agencies reporting record ridership system-wide or on specific lines were located in the following cities: Ann Arbor, MI; Cleveland, OH; Denver, CO; Espanola, NM; Flagstaff, AZ; Fort Myers, FL; Indianapolis, IN; Los Angeles, CA; New Orleans, LA; Oakland, CA; Pompano Beach, FL; Riverside, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; San Carlos, CA; Tampa, FL; Yuma, AZ; and New York, NY.
Since 1995 public transit ridership is up 37.2 percent, outpacing population growth, which is up 20.3 percent, and vehicle miles traveled (VMT), which is up 22.7 percent.
“There is a fundamental shift going on in the way we move about our communities. People in record numbers are demanding more public transit services and communities are benefiting with strong economic growth,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy.
Before the drop of in patronage last year, we also saw similar news from Auckland with patronage reaching highs not seen since the 1950′s so it got me thinking as to how relative history’s in patronage compare. Now I’m comparing the patronage history of a single city with the aggregated patronage of an entire nation so it’s a little bit of an apples and oranges type comparison however as the graph below shows the trends have been remarkably similar. Both lines peak at or just after WW2, before declining to a low point in 1972. the downward fall was ended by the 1973 oil crisis. Recovery in patronage then jumped around for a period of time until the early 90′s. Then since the mid 90′s there has been a general upward trend in patronage, albeit with a few bumps along the way.
I was also then interested in how other the other countries I mentioned have changed over time. The data I could find doesn’t go back as far as the US or Auckland data but does show some similar trends. Of note the Canadian data is total trips not boarding’s so is slightly different from Auckland, Australian and US data. I also don’t have the most recent data for these two countries.
Of all of these, Canada is perhaps the most interesting. Its post WW2 patronage drop had obviously mostly happened prior to 1955 and it is the only one of the four examples that has higher total patronage now than the mid 1950′s. This is not surprising, when looking at the cities similar to Auckland that tend to perform the best the Canadian cities almost always tend to come out on top regardless of the measure used for example they tend to have higher number of trips per capita and better farebox recoveries than cities from NZ, Australia or the US.
The next question is often why the Canadian cities do so much better, after all the people who live in those cities aren’t all that different from us. There’s probably a whole number of posts that could be written about why the Canadian cities do so well but in short there’s a couple of key things I’ve noticed when looking at them.
- Investment in proper high quality rapid transit systems like the Skytrain in Vancouver, light rail in Calgary and Edmonton, Busways in Ottawa or the Subways of Toronto and Montreal. This is something that Auckland is only now starting to really do with the Northern Busway and the rail upgrades. The Congestion Free Network we’ve proposed would put us on par or even ahead of many of those Canadian cities when thinking about Rapid Transit (but of course they aren’t standing still either).
- A focus on connected bus networks. When looking at the bus networks of the Canadian cities you don’t see the spaghetti mess of routes like we do currently in Auckland. Instead their networks tend to consist of frequent routes that create a grid across the city. This is of course the same style bus network that Auckland Transport is going to be rolling out here starting with South Auckland next year.
I guess the good news from that is we’re at least heading in the right direction.
Auckland Transport have announced that they will spend $58 million to widen a 4km section of Albany Highway starting in September. The road is an interesting one in that some parts look like a typical suburban street while other parts don’t appear to have really changed since the road was a state highway. Here’s the press release:
Auckland Transport’s greatly anticipated upgrade of the northern section of Albany Highway is expected to begin this September.
The $58 million construction of the Albany Highway North upgrade involves widening a 4km stretch of the highway between Schnapper Rock Road and the Albany Expressway to accommodate four lanes of traffic and separated cycling and walking paths. The main aims are to cater for traffic growth, reduce congestion, improve safety for all road users and encourage alternative modes of transport, such as bus travel, cycling and carpooling.
About 15,000 vehicles, as well as cyclists and pedestrians, use Albany Highway every day, and it also serves the North Harbour industrial estate, five schools, Massey University and a cluster of residential estates.
The announcement is welcomed by the Upper Harbour Local Board, which says many locals are looking forward to the benefits the completed upgrade will bring to those living, working and commuting in the area.
“The local community – and in particular its 5,000 school students – can only benefit from improvements aimed at delivering safer and quicker travel options as this area of Auckland continues to grow,” says board chairman Brian Neeson.
The NZ Transport Agency is funding 53 per cent of the upgrade, which together with the agency’s current project to upgrade SH1 between Upper Harbour Highway and Greville Road, is part of a wider strategy to improve transport links on the North Shore.
The Transport Agency’s Regional Manager of Planning and Investment, Peter Casey, says: “This is a priority investment for the Transport Agency to help ease congestion and provide more reliable journey times for people in a very busy and growing part of Auckland”.
Features of the Albany Highway North Upgrade:
- Four traffic lanes (with two general traffic and T3 transit lanes)
- Signalisation of three major intersections (currently roundabouts) at Rosedale Road, Bass Road and Wharf Road
- Signalised pedestrian crossings and wider footpaths
- Dedicated cycle paths and footpaths, or shared paths where there is insufficient space
- Stormwater improvements to reduce pollution from the road flowing into local streams
- Relocation and undergrounding of main utility services (gas, water, telephone and electricity)
- Construction of a new four-lane bridge over the Oteha Stream (Days Bridge)
- Street lighting upgrade using energy-efficient LED lanterns
- New bus stops with shelters
The upgrade is expected to start in September, once the worst of the winter weather is over, and take about two and a half years to complete.
For more detailed information on the Albany Highway North Upgrade, visit www.at.govt.nz/albanyhighway
The section that’s being upgraded is in red below
Like so many projects this one seems to have some really good aspects and some not so good aspects. One one hand $58 million is a lot of money to be spending on road widening, especially seeing as the NZTA is currently in the process of widening the motorway northbound between Upper Harbour Dr and Greville Rd.
On the other hand, from what I can tell it might end up being one of the closest streets we have to a complete street that caters for all users. I understand that Cycle Action Auckland have fought hard for dedicated cycling facilities which AT are saying they are providing – although only through shared paths in some places. For a busy road like this mid-block pedestrian crossings are also quite useful providing they’re frequent enough.
If we are widening roads, making the new lanes T3 right from the start is a much better idea than just creating additional general traffic lanes – providing the T3 lanes are monitored of course. This is something I think Auckland Transport should have done for the Tiverton/Wolverton upgrade too. For this particular road bus only lanes would likely have been overkill as even with the new network, there won’t be that many buses using it. An idea of what the layout will be is below:
There are a number of before and after images on the AT website however they are quite small and hard to see the details of so I’ve not included them in this post.
Overall I do find the timing of this announcement quite odd as construction is still months away. We’ve seen the NZTA stealing the limelight recently with funding announcements for local road projects. Perhaps this is a case of Auckland Transport trying to announce the project before the NZTA does. Also worth noting is that this is a project we did list in the list of road projects that would still happen even if the CFN was adopted immediately.
This is the final reminder about our upcoming fundraiser event tomorrow night at Capitol Cinema. Thanks to Campaign for Better Transport, Patrick Reynolds Photography and Odyssey Wines for joining our list of sponsors.
You can order tickets here. Some tickets (cash) will be available at the door.
Like last time we will meet up beforehand at Go Go Music Cafe which is a large, hard to describe bbq restaurant upstairs and across the street from the theatre. Anytime after 6:30 should be a good time to join everyone for dinner and/or drinks. See you tomorrow.
Later this month, I’ll be heading down to Wellington for the NERI Energy Conference 2014. The conference organisers kindly agreed to give the blog a free ticket, and I’ll be attending on our behalf, tweeting updates during the conference, and taking screeds of notes for writing up into posts later.
The major theme of the conference is energy efficiency, and I’m particularly looking forward to the keynote address on that topic. A lot of what we talk about here at TransportBlog comes down to efficiency (although we’ve got wider interests, and we’re certainly not interested in efficiency at the expense of all else!) Public and active transport is a very efficient way of allowing large numbers of people to get where they need to go, as happens on a daily basis in cities around the world. It’s efficient in terms of the amount of land it needs, and it’s efficient in terms of energy use.
If we were trying to reduce transport energy use, we could either travel less, or we could be more efficient in our travel. This efficiency could come about from shifting to more efficient modes (public/ active transport), or more efficient vehicles (hybrids, etc), or altering our driving style. There’s potential for New Zealand to do all three, but public transport will play a major role in any shifts.
The Energy Conference takes place over two days, 20th-21st March, and will feature more than 30 speakers. One of the conference sessions is devoted to “energy efficiency in transport”. As part of that session, I’m giving a presentation looking at “household spending on transport fuels in Auckland”: this is using data I’ve gotten hold of quite recently, and which I’ll write a bit more about over the next couple of months as I get further into the research. Suffice to say, I’m quite surprised just how big the differences are between what households spend in the inner suburbs and the fringe suburbs.
I’ll also be giving a Pecha Kucha presentation on the Congestion Free Network – of course, if you’re reading this then you’re probably already quite familiar with it. Matt, Patrick and others have done amazing work on the CFN over the last year or more, and trying to boil that down to 20 slides at 20 seconds per slide is tricky.
It should be a great conference, and based on having attended it last year, I’d recommend it to anyone with an interest in energy or transport research.
The council’s Infrastructure Committee meets for the first time this year on Wednesday and one of the agenda items is the Role of Cycling in Auckland (or download the PDF version)
- Auckland’s population is forecast to grow significantly over the next 30 years. This highlights the need to provide greater transport choices to achieve a more resilient, efficient and reliable transport system.
- As the cycle network is still under development the current cycle infrastructure in Auckland does not provide a connected network of cycle ways and ranges in quality from excellent to poor. Recent cycle counts and customer surveys highlight that even with current infrastructure constraints there is a steady increase (10 percent per annum) in cycle numbers and a demand for safer and connected cycleways.
- Attachment A outlines Auckland Transport infrastructural projects that will deliver key sections of the Auckland Cycle Network (ACN) between 2014 and 2019.
- The ACN shown in Attachment B, developed by Auckland Transport, is the long-term blueprint for developing a well-connected, high quality cycle network. The current level of investment in cycleways will fall short of the Auckland Plan target of completing 70 percent of the ACN by 2020.
- Cycling and cycle infrastructure contributes to wider strategic objectives of the Auckland Plan associated with economic, social, environmental, land use, transport and infrastructure goals.
- Cycling contributes to economic development and growth by supporting urban vitality, increasing local spend and offers value for money with relatively low upfront investment.
- In the development of the draft Long-term Plan 2015-2025 and the Regional Land Transport Plan a number of strategic decisions will be required regarding allocation of road space and funding of cycleway programmes.
That the Infrastructure Committee:
- acknowledge the importance of cycling in contributing to the vision of creating the world’s most liveable city.
- support consideration of greater financial commitment to cycling in the draft Long-term Plan and Regional Land Transport Plan.
Ultimately this paper seems aimed at starting the discussion with the council to increase the level of funding for cycling projects in the next iteration of the Long Term Plan that the council is starting to work on. Later this year we will see a new government policy statement for transport which will set the funding bands for transport from 2015 onwards. It’s noted that the council, Auckland Transport and NZTA are all trying to get the government/ministry to increase the cycling band.
The discussion report provides a lot more information. A couple of things that stand out for me from it.
- As noted above the Auckland Plan target is to complete 70% of the regional cycle network by 2020. It has been estimated that 30% is already place (although to a debatable standard) but crucially based on the funding in the current long term plan only 40-50% will have been completed by 2020. That’s way short of the target the council set less than two years ago. We can’t blame AT for all of this though as it is also important for the council to provide their share of the funding needed to do the work.
- Some numbers show just how much opportunity there is for cycling, 2/3rds of all trips are less than 6km while 1/3rd are less than 2km. Those are easy cycling distances and even casual cyclists could do those distances in roughly 20 or 6 minutes respectively.
- As we’ve reported before, AT has split the proposed cycle network up in to three categories
- METRO – provide segregation from traffic along shared paths, off road routes and protected cycle lanes
- CONNECTOR – are not fully segregated routes and are the more traditional cycle lanes marked by painted lines
- FEEDER can be a mixture of segregation, shared paths and on-road routes but are located on quiet neighbourhood streets and where there are low traffic speeds. These routes link residential streets, parks and community facilities including schools. The Feeder network also aligns with Local Board Greenway proposals
- All up the proposed cycle network will be 293km in length which can be broken down to 95 km of cycle metros, 130 km of cycle connectors and 57 km of feeder routes
- In research done for Auckland Transport, 59% said safety was a barrier to them cycling, 79% agreed that more should be done to improve cycle safety and 55% said separated cycle facilities were a key priority.
The paper also provides some statistics that could be improved through getting more people cycling. This includes:
- Transport emissions are up 64% on 1990 levels and the social cost of poor air quality in Auckland was estimated in 2012 at $1.07 billion per year.
- The costs of physical inactivity in Auckland have been estimated at $402 million and cause 73 premature deaths per year.
- That if just 5% of adults travelling less than 7km switched from driving to cycling it would:
- Reduced vehicle travel by 223 million kilometres;
- Saving of 22 million litres of fuel and $37 million in fuel costs; and
- 50,000 tonnes less CO2 would be emitted and reductions in other pollutants.
Those are some pretty decent numbers.
Perhaps one of the most interesting things about this report to the council is that we get probably the clearest map yet of the total cycling network planned under the Metro, Connector and Feeder categories (there have been versions in plans like the ITP but they haven’t been easy to read). Remember the hierarchy is that the red lines are going to be the best and highest quality parts of the network,
A couple of things stand out here. First in the CBD it appears we’ll get a ring of separated cycleways around the CBD – including on Neslon St and the old Nelson St offramp – however we won’t get one through it. I would have thought that the Victoria St Linear Park would have had a separated cycleway along it. Also not sure why AT wouldn’t push for there to eventually be a full separated cycleway down Queen St now appears well over provisioned in road space for cars.
Moving out of the CBD some areas seem to be quite light on particularity feeder routes. This is a worry as many of the areas missing these feeder routes are also around current or future train or busway stations. One example is my local area (below) where no cycle routes are to be found connecting the station and local primary schools (green plus a heap of secondary schools just north of this image too). There are roughly 14,000 residents in this area along with some wide roads that would be easy to put cycle lanes on if on-street parking was removed (on-street parking only really seems to get used around the school start/end times anyway). Also note the Metro route in red isn’t practical for those mainly to the west of Sturges Rd.
Overall the long term cycle network is a damn sight better than what we have now but what we really need is for the council (and government) to support the construction of it. Something that will need to be pushed for in the long term plan discussions.
A great photo from Alex Burgess today showing one of our new electric trains in testing/driver training alongside SH1. The first trains enter service to Onehunga on April 28th.
This morning we received the excellent news from Lester Levy that within the next three months, for the first time in Auckland Transports history it will have created a new bus lane. The purpose of this post is a bit of a reminder as to why investing in bus lanes is so critical for us to do as a city.
This issue has been one we have focused on for some time and when there is such a huge focus on improving public transport, increasing patronage and investing in alternatives to driving everywhere – the complete lack of progress on bus lanes is utterly bizarre. The other part of the reason why we focus so much on bus lanes is that they’re just so fantastic. With the use of just a bit of green paint and a few signs, a fast, reliable, high quality and attractive public transport route can be created. In many situations this can vastly increase the capacity of the roading corridor as people take up a whole lot less room when on a bus than they do one person to a car. There are many different versions of this image around but it is a good way of highlighting the efficiency that buses provide.
Locally we can see just how much of an impact buses have on roads into the CBD from the annual screenline studies that take place. Take a look at how many more people travel along Karangahape Road, Symonds Street and Fanshawe Street by bus than do by car:
Given that all three streets mentioned above are pretty packed out for cars at peak times, if it wasn’t for the buses carrying so many people each street would need to have twice the number of lanes it currently has. This has also been seen on the Harbour Bridge where the number of people crossing at peak times has continued to rise while the number of vehicles hasn’t, in large part due to the improvements in bus infrastructure on the North Shore making buses more attractive. Before the Northern Busway only 18% of those crossing the bridge in the peak did so on a bus, now that number is up over 40%. The image below is a bit old now but highlights the trend that has been occurring and that has continued to occur.
But maximising capacity is not the only reason why we should consider putting in bus lanes. Even where less than 50% of people moving along a corridor are on the bus, there’s still a big benefit of bus lanes providing a fast, reliable congestion free travel option. We haven’t shown all streets that should have bus lanes on the congestion free network maps, but in a way we should – because as long as the bus lanes are continuous (often they aren’t), have sufficient hours of operation (which often they don’t) and are supported by traffic signal phasing tuned to maximise public transport efficiency (something that happens overseas but generally not here), bus lanes can often provide a really good level of service for low-to-medium demand routes.
No congestion in this lane!
Furthermore, bus lanes should help improve operational efficiency of the bus network. The longer a bus takes to get from A to B, the more buses that are needed on that route to keep frequencies at the same level. During peak hours not only are more buses often required because of increased demand, but as buses get stuck in congestion and take much longer to complete their routes, even more buses are needed on the network to limit the gaps between services. And a whole pile of buses used only at peak times means a very expensive system to run. By taking the buses out of the congestion, not only will the service attract many more people (and their fares), fewer buses will be required to maintain the desired frequencies because the buses will be travelling so much faster.
So why aren’t we seeing more bus lanes? Of course the real beauty of bus lanes is also their greatest challenge: because they don’t need to require building more road space, they do involve taking that space away from other uses. Usually either peak hour private vehicle capacity (if there’s a clearway or other parking restriction) or on-street parking. Both of these uses are notoriously difficult to reallocate to bus lanes – even when there’s an utterly compelling argument. Over the past few years – while we haven’t been building any bus lanes – there certainly have been numerous arguments over the ones we have. This has led to things like a farcical number of signs around Grafton Bridge and the winding back of the Remuera Road bus lanes to T3 lanes.
In summary, we know that often there are compelling arguments for bus lanes based on logic – whether that’s maximising the capacity of the road corridor, significantly improving the quality of public transport along a route or improving operational efficiency. Or all three. However, we also know that implementing bus lanes can be tough due to petty politics and intense local debates over things like on-street parking. This situation reminds me of quite a bit of discussion in the past couple of weeks around the Council’s upcoming review of the Council-Controlled Organisations – of which Auckland Transport is the largest. Quite a lot of the arguments in favour of CCOs is that they’re able to operate a ‘step away’ from day-to-day politicking that can hold back progress. That they’re able to make the right decisions based on the greater good, rather than be held back by the vocal few. This is something that Lester touched on in his letter this morning.
One of the most salient messages that I took from Jarrett’s work is that bold initiatives, require courage and commitment (and perseverance) to ensure the benefits are in fact delivered. I was very interested in Jarrett’s point of view that what is in the greater public interest is not going to be in everyone’s interest. I happen to agree with Jarett and it is very important for Auckland Transport now and into the future not to jump and react to every issue raised, but rather to clearly define its direction and priorities, hold true to them and then focus on excellent and rapid implementation.
Progressing bus lanes is a great way for Auckland Transport to prove its worth.
Lester Levy has asked me to publish this note from him in full.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the Transport Blog, Generation Zero and Cycle Action Auckland for taking up my invitation to present the Congestion Free Network concept to our recent Auckland Transport Board meeting. The Congestion Free Network is a thoughtful and constructive concept and I thought it important that the Auckland Transport Board and Senior Executives had the opportunity to engage with your group directly, on this concept. The presentation was very clear and perfectly articulated by Patrick Reynolds.
It will be interesting for Auckland Transport to now examine the Congestion Free Network in more detail with you, but without a doubt this is a concept that helps create an environment of both more contestable ideas and generative thinking.
I believe that Auckland Transport needs to be more open to examining ideas from outside the organisation, a good example is the suggestion from Luke Christensen regarding bus lanes on Fanshawe Street, westbound from Albert Street to Nelson Street and on to Halsey Street. As many of your readers may know, there is currently a more comprehensive piece of work being undertaken to develop a potential busway from Beaumont Street, along Fanshawe Street to the downtown area, with a bus station on Fanshawe Street – but this solution is certainly some time away from delivery, so any interim and pragmatic relief is very sensible.
I asked Auckland Transport management to examine Luke’s suggestion (which was supported by the advocacy of Cameron Pitches from The Campaign for Better Transport) and management have concluded that it is possible to provide bus lanes over this section suggested, and that these could remain in place until an ultimate solution is provided. The City Centre Integration Group will coordinate this work with Auckland Transport and look to put it in place as soon as practicable. As always, there is a process around designating bus lanes, but I understand this can happen reasonably quickly.
Auckland Transport management had themselves been progressing a number of opportunities in respect of pragmatic interim solutions, but Luke’s suggestion was not on that early programme. I am very pleased with management’s response in that they quickly reviewed their programme and concluded that there would be value in doing the Fanshawe Street westbound bus lane improvements as soon as practicable. Once the planning regulatory processes have been resolved it is possible that we could have a solution in place within three months.
I have also noted that there is a subsequent transport blog item proposing more bus lanes on the Symonds Street corridor. Interestingly our team have been considering this already and there are some fairly significant infrastructure issues to overcome before we implement the solution there, but we are programming work to achieve this.
Increasingly we need to have pragmatic, interim solutions in place whilst we work towards the more time consuming, ideal and more complete solutions – this response is an exemplar of this type of approach. Thanks to Luke and Cameron and Auckland Transport’s management – an excellent virtual team.
You may recall that late last year I invited Jarett Walker (“Human Transit – How Clearer Thinking About Public Transit Can Enrich our Communities And our Lives”) to make a presentation to the Auckland Transport Board. Like the proponents of the Congestion Free Network, Jarett is a clear thinker and an articulate advocate for public transport. I was pleased with his positive view of what we are doing, in particular with the roll-out of the new, high frequency bus network (starting in South Auckland).
One of the most salient messages that I took from Jarrett’s work is that bold initiatives, require courage and commitment (and perseverance) to ensure the benefits are in fact delivered. I was very interested in Jarrett’s point of view that what is in the greater public interest is not going to be in everyones interest. I happen to agree with Jarett and it is very important for Auckland Transport now and into the future not to jump and react to every issue raised, but rather to clearly define its direction and priorities, hold true to them and then focus on excellent and rapid implementation.
Finally, I take this opportunity to thank and acknowledge the Transport Blog and all its contributors for adding – mostly constructively – to the vitality of discussion around how we are taking transport in Auckland forward.
Dr Lester Levy
Our presentation is here.