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Pop-up Container Village for Queens Wharf

Over the next few years the area around Britomart and the Downtown mall are going to chaos as much of the area is dug up for both the CRL and the redevelopment of the mall. Over this time Panuku Development Auckland are going to try and make Queens Wharf more interesting by putting in a small pop-up container village.

Queens Wharf Container Village

Queens Wharf Village will open in late January 2016 with a mix of food and beverage providers and service-based retailers, along with outdoor dining and lounging spaces and entertainment.

Panuku Development Auckland Portfolio Management Director Ian Wheeler says the proposed village will be an innovative place making response during a period of disruption.

“Over the next three years we are going to see a considerable amount of upheaval in the downtown area with the redevelopment of the Downtown Shopping Centre and the City Rail Link construction works.

“Panuku and the City Centre Integration team have come up with a concept to offer users of the shopping precinct a temporary hub they can look to for food and some services in the meantime,” he says.

Retailers will be carefully chosen to ensure services, such as shoe repair, dry cleaning, banking or telecommunications, are offered. This will not be a high street-style shopping mall or a souvenir market.

Queens Wharf manager Connie Clarkson says the wharf welcomes hundreds of thousands of people each year, with a variety of reasons for visiting.

“This village will appeal to our daily casual visitors, commuters that pass through, those that live and work in the area, our venue users and our annual cruise ship guests.

“We aim to complement what’s already on offer nearby and pick up some of the services, perhaps even tenants, that will be moving out of the Downtown Shopping Centre,” she says.

Mr Wheeler says there is an opportunity for a fun opening celebration during Auckland Anniversary Weekend.

“Summer is the perfect time to get this initiative underway and the beauty of a container village is that you can bring it together swiftly.

“We still have some work to do, locking in the right mix of tenants and finalising the nuts and bolts of the structures, but we’ll be ramping up our awareness programme very soon,” he says.

Funding for the initiative includes a contribution from the City Centre Targeted Rate, endorsed by the Auckland City Centre Advisory Board.

The village will open on Auckland Anniversary weekend next year and there will be eight containers in total with Panuku saying some will be allocated to food and beverage and some to service-related retail. If successful I wonder if it’s something they could expand to make more use of the wharf.


CRL Market Sounding

With the work to get the CRL built as far as Wyndham St now effectively under way, it appears that Auckland Transport are starting to shift their focus on the rest of the project. They will obviously want to get as much of the planning and design work done as they can so that construction is able to start as soon as possible after the government confirm funding – as there’s a lot to do AT have said in the past that the earliest works could start on rest of the project is 2018.

As part of their preparation, AT are looking to develop their procurement strategy so they can get the best value for money and to do so they’re now sounding out the industry to help work out the best way of doing things. This means considering what type of procurement model they’ll use, what kinds of contracts they’ll use, how they’ll split up the project – if they do so at all and probably a range of other things.

They have broken up the CRL into 10 distinct packages of work and published information on their website about what each entails. In doing so it gives us a better understanding of just what will be involved in the project and how much each package is likely to cost. The packages are shown below with numbers 1, 2 and 3 being the ones part of the early works.

Market Sounding Map of CRL Packages

Further below I’ve included the information from the AT website explaining what is in each package but first the things that stood out to me.

  • At Aotea there is the possibility for future connections to Sky City and the planned NDG tower but I’m surprised they haven’t allowed for connection direct to the Council building. They are also future proofing for a possible rail line under Wellesley St – presumably this means by not piling/foundations in the way.
  • With lots of line closures and moving of lines the works at Mt Eden are going to be very disruptive for Western Line users.
  • I’m glad that they’ll also reconfigure Britomart. After the CRL is complete platforms 2, 3 and 4 will not be used as much as now and at present platforms 1/2 and 4/5 get very busy. Making the commonly used platforms wider will help deal with the masses of people that will use the station.
  • The expected cost of packages 4-9 is $1.89 billion while the enabling works add an extra $280 million. That means all up the tunnel itself is expected to cost just under $2.2 billion.

And the full list mentioned above. For most readers the majority of the details are not likely to be a surprise.

4. Aotea Station

  • Two-level underground station.
  • 150-metre platform directly under Albert Street between Wellesley and Victoria Streets.
  • Underground levels (mezzanine concourse and platform) will connect via lifts and escalators with entrances from street level at both ends.
  • Possible future connections from concourse level to Sky City and the future NDG building on the south-east corner of Albert and Victoria Streets.
  • Provision for future property development (circa 17-storey building) above the southern entrance on the south-east corner of Wellesley and Albert Streets.
  • Passive provision for a future line under CRL in Wellesley Street.
  • A number of plant rooms above the running tunnels north of Victoria Street ensure the station effectively extends from Wellesley Street to the enabling works contract at the corner of Albert and Wyndham Streets.
  • Provisions will be made to withdraw the tunnel-boring machines (TBMs) at the southern end of the station.
  • Cut-and-cover construction envisaged with heavy strutting or top-down construction. Vehicle and pedestrian access maintained to businesses on both sides of Albert Street.
  • Works area located in the Auckland Council carpark on Mayoral Drive between Wellesley and Myers Streets.
  • Intersection of Wellesley and Albert Street and Victoria and Albert Street cannot be closed at the same time.
  • Value of works: circa $300 million.

Aotea Station Design Exploded View
5. Karangahape Station and mined tunnels

  • A deep (circa 30-metre) station.
  • 150-metre platform from Mercury Lane entrance with provisions for a future entrance at Beresford Square (not in CRL project).
  • Inclined escalator shafts and lifts access.
  • Platform tubes (circa 11-metre diameter) mined from access shafts in Mercury Lane and Pitt Street. Work areas located on Mercury Lane and Hopetoun Alpha carpark (corner Beresford Square and Hopetoun Street).
  • Provision for a future property development above the Mercury Lane entrance.
  • Twin-bore tunnels (circa 7-metre diameter) will join with Aotea Station and the Western line.
  • Tunnels likely to be constructed by a tunnel-boring machine (TBM).
  • Boring will likely be downhill towards the north because the back-up area is at the southern end.
  • TBM likely to be extracted from the southern end of Aotea Station after the first drive and the second drive repeated (starting at the Mt Eden end).
  • Station and tunnels will not be constructed in separate contracts due to the critical interface between the running tunnels and the station platform tubes.
  • Value of works: circa $700 million.

K Rd - Full Station Cut Away

6. Connections with the Western line and Mt Eden Station

  • East and west, up and down line connections will be fully grade separated.
  • Reconstruction of existing Western line from Dominion Road to Lauder Road. Commuter rail and freight operations will be maintained.
  • Multiple blocks of lines required, relocation of track, overhead line and signalling.
  • Multi-staged construction including reconstruction of Western line platforms and a new Mt Eden station on the CRL line.
  • Station will be constructed by open cut with lift, escalator and footbridge pedestrian connections between the Western line and CRL platforms.
  • A new access road will be formed.
  • Significant number of properties have been purchased to create the works area around Mt Eden Station.
  • Value of works: circa $300 million.

Mt Eden Station Plan

7. Linewide systems

  • Consisting of trackwork, overhead-line, signalling, control systems, tunnel ventilation, communications systems, high voltage power and trackside auxiliaries.
  • Value of works: circa $250 million.

8. Britomart east

  • Rearrange trackwork in the “throat” area where the twin tunnels meet Britomart Station (between Britomart Place and Tangihua Street).
  • Reduce the number of platforms from 5 to 4 and widen the 2 existing outside platforms (1 and 5).
  • Provision of additional vertical access at the eastern end of the station from widened platforms with changes to the upper 2 levels of the station.
  • Work to be completed after CRL has opened and Britomart is operating as a through rather than terminating station.
  • Very significant interface with the operational railway.
  • Value of works: circa $40 million.

9. Station architectural finishes and building services

  • Architectural finishes such as floors, ceilings, walls and column cladding, builders works, low voltage power, escalators, lifts, station ventilation, hydraulics, fire protection, building management system, lighting.
  • Value of works: circa $300 million.

10. Client-supplied items

  • Ticket machines.
  • HOP card readers.


  • Packages 4 and 5 may be combined pending review during market sounding. Package 9 may be combined with the station contracts, pending review during market sounding.
  • It is likely that contractors responsible for delivering packages 4 to 9 will also be responsible for the design.

I want to be a super transport model …

In Matt’s recent post about MoT’s work on the future of transport, there was an interesting little side-discussion about transport models, and in particular the travel demand forecasts which emerge therefrom.

We’ve previously written about the accuracy of transport models when used for project evaluation purposes. Perhaps the most notable (notorious?) was this post on the Waitemata Harbour Crossing, where we discussed how NZTA’s business case used traffic volumes that were approximately 10% higher than actual volumes. Naturally this led to the benefits of the project being overstated.

More recently, this post on the SH20 Manukau Harbour Crossing found it was carrying approximately 45% less traffic than projected 10 years after it was complete.


Transport models are important not just for the purposes of project appraisal. The outputs of transport models are also used to forecast aggregate travel demands and determine policy at a much higher level. For example, the MoT and the NZTA use (different) transport models to forecast aggregate vehicle kilometres travelled, which in turn determine the funding that is available in the NLTF to fund the projects identified in the NLTP. Hence, our ability to plan ahead is influenced by transport models.

In this context, graphs such as the one below are something of a cause for concern.

But let’s not be to critical of the MoT and NZTA; they are not alone insofar as their transport models have consistently over-estimated demand. Graphs surprisingly similar to that above exist in the US and the UK; one such example is shown below.

In some earlier posts here and here, we’ve presented some possible reasons for what might be causing the transport models that are used for forecasting travel demands (both at the level of individual projects and in aggregate) to get it wrong. The systematic positive bias in forecasting errors has been the subject of formal academic research led by the Danish economist Bent Flyvberg. I presented a paper at last year’s IPENZ Transportation Conference in which I discussed some of these issues in more detail, while Peter wrote an excellent post on the topic here. His analysis of NZTA data suggests that New Zealand may not be immune to the same systematic biases found overseas.

This post, however, is not about the systematic positive bias into transport models. Instead, this post is about whether the mechanics of the models are capturing what they need to capture in order to formulate accurate predictions. I think this is a useful starting point for thinking about “transport futures”, as the MoT seem keen to do.

I also think it’s fair to say that the superficial explanation for the slowdown in the growth of aggregate vehicle travel is that per capita vehicle travel has been on the decline. That is, people (both in New Zealand and overseas) aren’t driving as they used to. But this doesn’t get us very insofar as predicting the future, i.e. observing that per capita demands are declining simply begs the question of why?

And this is exactly where things start to get interesting. In my time thinking about these issues the views that are expressed tend to be readily grouped into one of three broad categories, which I now present for you to consider.

First we have what I call the “establishment view“, which is led by the likes of the MoT, the Government more generally, and a number of consultants. This view argues that the decline in per capita vehicle travel primarily reflects higher fuel prices and reduced economic activity over the last 5-10 years. There’s obviously some logic to this view; it seems reasonable to suggest that both the cost of fuel and the state of the economy will impact on travel demands, at least in the short term (say 1-5 years). Where the establishment view struggles, however, is to explain why the slowdown in vehicle travel started so early (way back in 2005), and why volumes haven’t bounced back more strongly of late. The latter is particularly interesting given NZ’s robust levels of economic growth, strong population growth, and sustained low fuel prices.

While VKT is currently growing again, it doesn’t seem to be growing by as much as one might expect based on these factors.

Which leads me to the second view, which I call the “wider socio-economic view“. This is probably the position which best describes my own views, at least in terms of understanding travel demands in the medium term (say 5-10 years). This view looks beyond the hard economic factors considered by the establishment view and instead consider some wider factors that seem likely to impact on the demand for vehicle travel. People who subscribe to this view will often talk about the following issues:

  • Demographic factors, such as an ageing population and changes in the number of people with drivers licences;
  • Transport and land use factors, such as availability of public transport and the ongoing intensification of our cities; and
  • Vehicle substitutes, such as air travel and telecommunications.

The wider socio-economic view complements the “establishment view” in some senses, because it appeals to similar micro-economic mechanisms, but it does so in a way that allows for a wider range of factors to impact on the demand for vehicle travel. In doing so, however, the socio-economic view can lead to predictions that are quite different to those of the establishment view. Instead, the socio-economic view allows quite a lot of room for future growth in aggregate vehicle travel to differ from what we’ve seen in the past – which is something the establishment view struggles to incorporate.

Finally, we have what I call the “changing preferences” view. This perspective interprets the declining per capita demand for vehicle travel as a function of wider shifts in people’s underlying preferences. This view emphasises, for example, that young people are now placing a higher value on other forms of consumption, such as the connectivity offered by smart phones, than the personal mobility associated with owning and operating a vehicle – at least compared to their parents. The changing preferences view would seem to suggest the trends we’ve seen in the last 5-10 years are just the tip of the ice-berg, and that profound changes are just around the corner. Often people highlight that it’s not just technology which is driving these changes, but also awareness of the health and environmental effects of driving. Evidence for this view were recently summarised in this NZTA research report, which we previously discussed in this blog post.

The following figure is taken from this report.

Which view to believe? Well, personally I think all three have elements of truth to them. I think the establishment view is correct insofar as certain price and economic factors are likely to dominate changes in travel demands in the short term.

In the medium to long run, however, the other two views presented above seem to have more currency. I mean, if fewer people have drivers licenses then it seems plausible to suggest that there will be a reduction in per capital vehicle travel, ceteris paribus. Similarly, we can expect reductions in the cost of air travel to eat into the demand for long distance vehicle trips. In terms of preferences, these are critical to the accuracy of any model that seeks to forecast future demands based on past behaviours. If preferences changes, then our predictions are resting on a wobbly plank over shark-infested analytical waters.

So what’s the takeaway message? Well, I think it’s fair to say that we simply don’t know what to expect with regards to the future demand for vehicle travel.

In this context, I personally wouldn’t be investing in large transport projects, especially in rural areas, e.g. Puhoi-Wellsford, Waikato Expressway etc. As for the CRL, I think it’s likely to be a good project because of 1) patronage growth on the rail network, 2) Auckland’s growth as a whole, 3) the explosive growth in the city centre (both in terms of population and retail), and 4) wider trends in transport and land use policy, e.g. time-of-use road pricing and removing minimum parking requirements.

But I’m open to being convinced either way, and am interested to hear what others think on all this.

Sunday Reading 29th November 2015


One day New Zealand’s transport institutions and processes are going to have to get real about induced driving; the vast inconvenient fact of the whole highway expansion business. What we feed grows, what we build will be used, so to try to help justify any transport investment that is likely to make driving a better choice, especially at scale, on lowered emissions or lower energy use etc, requires simultaneously claiming that the project is of so little use it won’t generate new trips. Denial of the syndrome of induced traffic. This is done by treating traffic growth as permanent and exogenous to any transport investment. Clearly this is dubious, if not fraudulent, yet is standard practice. So it was interesting to read of an ongoing scandal in Oregon based on exactly this contradiction:

Here’s a case where a dishonest case for highways was flushed out into the open. David Bragdon, former chief of Portland’s regional planning organization, recently accused state DOT director Matt Garrett of “incompetence or dishonesty.” (Bragdon now directs the nonprofit TransitCenter, based in New York City.) He charged that bogus emissions data from ODOT helped sink a $350 million transportation funding deal in the state legislature.

As we wrote at the time, claims that freeway investments are energy savers usually rely on the false assumption that more free-access lanes reduce idling. That may happen temporarily, but they also tend to induce people to drive more and live further from their destinations.

The answer to this issue is to include the likely impact on overall Vehicle Kilometres Travelled of any particular transport project in the evaluation. So any investment likely to increase access [improve travel times, etc] while reducing overall VKT would do well by this metric, and others would be marked down. This is surely a better way to capture the disbenefit of induced traffic along side the benefits of better access.

Here is an interesting article from Forbes which is relevant to this, Energy Intensity: The Secret Revolution. As it’s from 2014 the data are a little out of date, as we are now seeing US driving bounce back on the back of cheap pump prices, but the arguments remain the same:

Michael Liebreich, chairman of Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s advisory board, points out that the U.S. fracking revolution and the consequent 2004–13 rise in domestic oil output displaced oil imports equivalent to 10 percent of domestic consumption—while two little-noticed demand-side trends, less driving and more-efficient vehicles, saved 18 percent, nearly twice as much. Drilling advocates somehow forgot to mention that their impressive achievements were almost lapped by demand-side shifts. Those saved barrels were nearly invisible because we can’t see energy we don’t use or buy.

On the issue of VKT [VMT in the US], yes it is rising again, but is still down on a per capita basis, and is perhaps showing a new elasticity? In other words if it has rebounded on low pump prices isn’t it just as likely to plummet on any change in prices back up? So is this a bounce, or is it a return to last century’s pattern; time will tell. See: No Driving has not hit an all time high.

VMT per capita

But when you adjust VMT for the driving population, you get a very different picture. As it happens, Doug Short at Advisor Perspectives did just that last week. Turns out VMT per capita is on the way up in 2015 but remains a full 6 percent off the all-time peak hit in mid-2005. Instead of suggesting that Americans are driving more than ever, Short describes U.S. driving as being “about where we were as a nation in June of 1997.”

Staying with CityLab, it is always worth keeping an eye on what Richard Florida is writing about and here he has good news for Auckland. Not all American concerns are relevant to us but the issue of urban centres most certainly is, The Connection Between Vibrant Communities and Economic Growth:

The past decade or so has seen the rise of a new formula for urban economic growth and development. While having a solid business climate that attracts companies and jobs remains important, it is also necessary to cultivate a vibrant, exciting community with a wide diversity of talent. This is true not only in cities and urban centers—which have been attracting young people thanks to what Alan Ehrenhalt dubs the “great inversion”—but in the suburbs as well. In fact, a recent study of 84 suburban areas found that vibrant, dense, mixed-use suburban areas performed better and were preferred over lower-density, auto-dependent office parks.

As the authors point out, the study’s findings move us beyond the overly simplistic dichotomy of dense, diverse cities and decentralized, car-dependent suburbs to “a more complex picture” of metros made up of “nodes of vibrancy.” Simply put, it is the vibrancy of a neighborhood—not whether it’s urban or suburban—that attracts high-growth firms and helps bolster a high-growth regional economy.

A theme also taken up by another great North American; Jarrett Walker, Mr Human Transit, in: How important is Downtown:

In North America, the word downtown invites us to imagine the densest and most walkable part of any city, the place where transit and other non-car modes naturally thrive more than anywhere else.  And where this is actually true, it’s logical for all kinds of intercity and local transit services to focus there.

But when we project this model of downtown onto every city, we encounter fatal confusions.  Downtown implies a single place; there’s just one per city or metro area.  But some cities aren’t like that.  Los Angeles and Houston, two take two famous examples, have a place called downtown, but it’s really just a slightly larger cluster of towers among many clusters of towers dotted across the region.  Downtown in this model is not like a center of energy around which the whole city revolves.  It’s like the brightest of a bunch of stars in a constellation, and not even the brightest by much.  

Auckland does, contrary to some popular belief, have a significantly dominant downtown, and one that is currently reasserting its dominance with strong growth in office construction which will lead to employment growth [currently capacity constrained], a powerful education sector, and a huge return to inner city living. And a clearly separate retail identity, as reported in the Herald yesterday: Stores pull crowds in Queen St.

Chief executive of Heart of the City Viv Beck said it was a “really telling story of growth”.

“It offers great diversity for those living, working and visiting Auckland.”

Retail New Zealand’s general manager of public affairs Greg Harford said Queen St’s luxury brands and local boutique offerings gave it a point of difference to the suburban malls.


City Centre Population - 1996-2015 2

But looking longer into the future the Auckland city centre is firmly spatially constrained; yes it is now and will grow up a great deal, will become much denser, but the boundaries are pretty permanent. That motorway noose and the dormitory suburbs beyond create a finite limit. The fact is Auckland will have to grow alternative centres. Newmarket, and Manukau City look likely, as do Takapuna and others. The Airport company want to make that area a big player but it is severely constrained by the lack of a high quality RTN connection. This need fixing, as it does for Takapuna. But also the city will need to revisit height and density restrictions on these and other places if Auckland is to live up to its potential.

On another scale, Both Hamilton and Tauranga are likely to continue to grow strongly with spillover effects from Auckland over the coming decades. Especially perhaps Tauranga, the correlation of warm weather and urban growth has been very strong, especially since the invention of aircon. So now is the time to identify and reserve Rapid Transit routes in these cities. Or will we condemn them to total and permanent autodependency and congestion like Pakuranga and other Auckland sprawl boom areas? Surely we ought to head the lesson from that earlier growth and keep aside some well chosen routes while the land is still bare? Because we know both places are sprawling. Planning!

Topically, here is Dr Eric Crampton surprising himself with a newfound sympathy for planners:

Last week’s town hall meeting in Khandallah on Wellington City Council’s proposed medium-density re-zoning was an eye-opener. I have been exceptionally frustrated by town planners’ inability to zone enough housing to meet the demands of a growing population. But attending just one of these meetings can really make you sympathise with the council planning officers.

The ‘war on the car’ UK Edition: Lessons from Leicester:

This nibbling – known by transport wonks as the “reallocation of road space” – is far from finished, but before-and-after photographs displayed at public consultations for the Connecting Leicester urban plan show that designing cities for cars results in an excess of vehicles. Leicester’s fight back includes narrowing a four-lane gyratory, with the fourth lane converted into wider pavements and bike paths. A flyover close to the city centre was demolished in 2014. The elevated highways that long hemmed in a 15th-century gatehouse – the Magazine – were removed some years ago, and have not been mourned.

And finally, how’s this; Italian Town Pays People to Bike to Work:

The council in Massarosa, just north of Pisa, says the pilot scheme will see cyclists paid 25 cents per kilometre travelled, up to a monthly cap of 50 euros (£35), the regional Il Tirreno news website reports. That means commuters who switch to two wheels could pocket up to 600 euros (£424) in a year. It’s said to be the first such scheme in Italy.


New NZTA CEO has strong PT background

Some interesting news late yesterday with the NZTA announcing they have hired Fergus Gamie to be their next CEO – which comes after current CEO Geoff Dangerfield announced a few months ago that he would step down from the role. We’ve been waiting with interest to see who would get the role as it’s one that obviously has a massive impact on transport throughout NZ but also has big implications within Auckland as the CEO gets an non-voting seat on the Auckland Transport board. The NZTA having a seat at the AT board was something many criticised originally however from many discussions I’ve had it turned out to be quite a positive thing and instrumental in getting wider support for projects like the CRL.

What’s most interesting about the appointment of Fergus is his background. He was the Chief Executive of the old Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) which ran public transport in Auckland prior to the creation of Auckland Transport. He then became Chief Operating officer of AT to the end of 2011 before he left to take up senior roles at Transport for New South Wales including running their PT system. That’s meant he’s been heavily involved in public transport for many years and locally been involved in projects such as the upgrading of the rail network, the northern busway and integrated ticketing amongst other things.

All of this means we know will have a CEO of the NZTA who has a very strong background in public transport. This isn’t to say the NZTA is about to start focusing exclusively on public transport, obviously a large chunk of it’s focus needs to remain on keeping our state highways working well but hopefully we’ll see the agency step up on PT more. I don’t know who else applied but this does seem like a positive announcement.

On behalf of the NZ Transport Agency Board, Chairman Chris Moller has announced the appointment of Fergus Gammie as the new Chief Executive of the NZ Transport Agency.

Mr Moller says the Board has made this appointment after an international recruitment process that attracted a very strong field of candidates. Mr Gammie will take up his position on 1 March 2016 and the Board is looking forward to working with him in creating transport solutions to meet the Government’s objective of a thriving New Zealand.

“Fergus joins the Transport Agency with a passion for transport and the difference it can make to a country,” says Mr Moller. “He brings to the role deep experience in the transport sector both here and in Australia.”

Mr Gammie is a former Chief Executive of Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA), Chief Operating Officer of Auckland Transport, Deputy Director General Transport Services of Transport for New South Wales and currently Deputy Secretary Infrastructure & Services with the same organisation. In this latter capacity he is responsible for leading a team of 1,300 staff, managing an annual operating budget of A$5 billion and infrastructure and systems projects totalling A$11 billion over the next four years.

Mr Gammie holds a BA from Victoria University in Wellington and a Certificate in Management from Henley Management College.

A native Kiwi, Mr Gammie commented, “I am delighted to be returning home to a role and organisation that makes a significant contribution to New Zealand.”

With strong relationship skills and an ability to engage and build rapport, Mr Gammie will bring a good mix of leadership, inspiration, operational experience, technical breadth and long-term thinking to the land transport sector in New Zealand.

Mr Gammie’s appointment follows the decision of Geoff Dangerfield to step down as CE, effective 18 December.

“The Board is very grateful for the dedicated service and the consistently high results which Geoff has delivered over the past seven years,” said Mr Moller. “The Board is confident that Geoff leaves the Transport Agency with the right strategy in place and in very good shape.”

Transport Agency Group Manager for Planning and Investment Dave Brash will act as CE over the interim period from 18 December until Mr Gammie takes up his role on 1 March 2016. There will be no loss of momentum in respect of Transport Agency deliverables during this period.

Park(ing) Day 2015 Video

You may recall Park(ing) day from September. The council have released a video about it.

Earlier this year we transformed car parks on Lorne and High streets into places for people.

As you can see from the video, the response was pretty positive. We’re now looking at installing a parklet in this area long term.

About PARK(ing) Day

PARK(ing) Day is an annual global event where people turn parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces – temporary public places – for the day.

MoTs Future Vision for Transport

Meet George Jetson, his boy Elroy, daughter Judy, Jane his wife.

That’s the what immediately popped into my head after seeing the future vision for transport released by the Ministry of Transport yesterday. The visions look about 30 years into the future and the reason for doing the work is explained as:

The Ministry of Transport is taking a whole of system, long-term view of the future of transport to help in our role as the Government’s adviser on transport. We want to stimulate wider debate and generate ideas on the possible future of New Zealand’s transport system by sharing our visions of how we think the transport system could look in the future.

The visions we are sharing are not predictions about what will happen, just what could happen.

A lot of the premise for this work seems to be the idea that we’re about to see fundamental change in transport as a result of technology. There are repeated analogies made to the level of change experienced in the early and mid-20th century with them noting how the first cars came to NZ in 1898, that by the 1930’s they were becoming more common while around 30 years later we had wide-bodied passenger jets and had landed a man on the moon.

The technological change expected over the coming three decades is primarily about making our transport system more intelligent. For example the likes of autonomous vehicles and using data to better organise trips.

The ministry have been looking at what the future holds for a while, starting last year with their work on future travel demand. From it they found that in most possible scenarios the level of personal travel – i.e. how far we collectively travel – would decline.


That work also produced this chart which is one of my favourites and shows that their previous predictions of vehicle kilometres travelled have continued to be over optimistic.


The visions released so far are not all of them but do cover off a lot of transport sphere. They note that at least one more they are working on is looking at the future of public transport and I’m taking a trip to Wellington shortly to discuss this with them.

To me the visions as shown in the slides below are a mixed bag. Some seem fairly likely such as the suggestion that we will buy mobility as a service – which is starting to happen right now as a result of companies like Uber – and  that high-density urban villages will allow for more trips to be made by walking and cycling which will improve health. However other ideas seem much more fanciful such as the people will be able to commute by plane from a regional centre to a job in Auckland in the same length of time as those who live in Auckland or that we’ll have airships carting freight around.

Some ideas aren’t in the slides but in supporting documents (like this one). One that we’ve seen raised before has been that we turn our rail network – outside of Auckland and Wellington – into guided truckways occupied by trucks platooning together.

The challenge with these road trains is they will probably require dedicated freight lanes. We think New Zealand has unique opportunities in this space.  The rail network, outside of Auckland and Wellington, already provides a separated corridor that could be transformed into a high-speed freight network. The space already allocated means we can potentially be an early mover when
the right technology comes along. Imagine platooned trucks, not guided by a physical set of rails, but by a system that allows them to operate safety on narrow concrete pads on dedicated freight corridors. Imagine the productivity gains for our supply chains, and the avoided costs, by not having to extend the road network to accommodate these systems.

We are not advocating we close rail transport in New Zealand, but there may be whole new ways we could utilise existing rail networks and corridors.

Or you know we could just make trains more efficient and not have to pave all the tracks in concrete.

Here’s a couple more videos about the work, one from the MoT CEO and one from the Deputy CEO.

Have you looked through it and what are your visions for the future and do they align with the Ministry’s? Now, where are those moon colonies and how do I get to them.

Google Tackling Urban Mobility

Google is turning some of its attention to helping cities tackle urban mobility problems by using some of the vast amounts of data it collects. They’ve already been working on some pilot programmes in cities in Europe. In their blog post about the work they highlight one such example from the Netherlands

It’s still early days, but preliminary results have been positive. In the Netherlands, TNO ran tests on a 10km stretch of highway that regularly faces traffic jams, using our anonymized traffic statistics instead of physical road sensors. They found that they could still accurately detect traffic jams at the right moment and at the correct location on the road without the sensors, potentially saving 50K Euro per year if the redundant sensors were removed. Other pilots are starting to show similarly positive results.

They’ve put together a little video talking about what they’re doing.


Traffic congestion in urban areas wastes time, fuel, causes air pollution, and generally increases the cost of living. So with cities and research partners, we began exploring how traffic information could be used to improve urban mobility for everyone.

In a series of pilot projects we are working together to minimize traffic congestion, speed up journeys, improve safety, and reduce the amount of money spent on infrastructure. We’re excited by the promise that these initial projects have shown and pleased to announce that we’re expanding our pilot programme.

Perhaps Auckland Transport and/or the NZTA should consider looking at this. Do you have any suggestions as to what they could use data from google for?

25 Years of New Zealand Travel

Last week the Ministry of Transport released a very interesting report looking at how travel in NZ has changed over the last 25 years. The data is based on the ministry’s Household Travel Survey (HTS) they conduct which monitors the travel of all members of a large number of households all across New Zealand. One of the advantages of the over the other sources like the census is that the HTS covers trips for all activities and not just trips to work like the Census currently does. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect but it does at least provide a different picture.

One of the strong themes that comes through in the report is one that we’ve talked about a lot which is that young people are starting to behave differently to older generations. They’re getting drivers licences later, driving less and using alternative modes to get around (or live in closer proximity to their destinations). This is shown a few ways.

  1. Fewer young people are getting their drivers licence. Part of this will be the driving licence changes of a few years ago but it for many it appears they’re simply not interested in doing so.
    HTS 25 year - Driver Licences
  2. Younger people – and the 25-34 age group especially – are driving less than they have in the past.
    HTS 25 year - Distance driven by age

One of the big questions is whether the trend will continue or if it is just a blip, will those 25-34 year-olds continue to drive less as they shift into the older age brackets. Given the 25-34 age group decline has been going on since the late 1990’s it seems to be the former. My guess is that in places like Auckland where the city and its transport systems are evolving so rapidly that we’ll see the trend start to flow though.

Travel to Work

This is a measure that hasn’t changed a lot over the last 25 years and seeing as the data is at a nationwide level it isn’t likely to do so much in the future either. At a city level I think Auckland in particular will start to see much more change coming through as transport options improve.

HTS 25 year - Travel to Work

But work isn’t the only place people are travelling too, in fact it’s one of the smallest destinations.

HTS 25 year - Travel Purpose


Travel to School

The travel to school data helps show one of the areas where there has been the most significant change over 25 years and also the one of the biggest areas of opportunity. As of the last survey 57% of kids aged 5-12 are now driven to school compared with 32% in 1990. Public Transport mode share has remained about the same and so the biggest contributors to the loss have been from walking and cycling which respectively have gone from 42% to 29% (thanks to a small recovery recently) and 12% to 2%.

HTS 25 year - Travel to School

It all reminds me very much of this cartoon

Walk to School cartoon

Interestingly though secondary school students are actually walking to school more than in the past and catching public transport more too. The biggest change has been cycling dropping from 19% in 1990 to just 3% now.

HTS 25 year - Travel to School - 13-17

The MoT look at cycling to school for both age groups separately in the chart below. Statistics NZ estimate there are around 487,000 5-12 year olds and 306,000 13-17 year olds. If they were cycling at the same rate as they did in 1990 instead of being driven it could potentially take over 40,000 car trips off the road in Auckland and 100,000 nationwide. Of course some of the current driving figures will be the result of a parent dropping the kids at school on their way to work so it wouldn’t necessarily result in a reduction of car use in the immediate term – just a shifting of where and maybe when it occurs. Instead the process of getting back to those kind of mode share will certainly involve much better bike infrastructure and that will get others using it too.

HTS 25 year - Cycle to School

Public Transport

With the PT data there isn’t the long term charts like above but there is some very interesting information from the most recent survey.

The chart below shows the frequency of usage of PT across different age groups and as you can see the 13-17 and 18-29 age groups are the ones most likely to catch a bus, train or ferry.

HTS 25 year - PT frequency of use

Around 2/3 of all those who used PT during the survey used it to get to work or to education but another third were doing so for other reasons.

HTS 25 year - PT use reasons

Lastly the report includes a section on how much time is spent drinking alcohol per week. It seems this was put in the survey in the context of drunk driving. What I found fascinating is how much the younger generations have taken reduced the amount of time spent drinking. It seems to only be those 65+ who are drinking more than they were

HTS 25 year - Hours spent drinking

All up some very interesting stats and a good report from the Ministry


Hi Bike Auckland

Our good friends at Cycle Action Auckland have been undertaking a bit of change and yesterday became Bike Auckland.

The voice of bike advocacy in Auckland has a fresh set of wheels. As of Tuesday 24 November 2015, Cycle Action Auckland is… Bike Auckland!

In welcoming this new era, we salute all the heroes who’ve brought us this far. Longterm advocacy is the work of many hands, hearts and minds, and we are where we are now thanks to the tireless efforts of Cycle Action Auckland’s teams over the years, in tougher times, with less recognition. You know who you are: we stand on your shoulders.

Under the name Cycle Action, we’ve been part of a revolution in transport across almost two decades, especially so over the past 5 years. Our evolution into Bike Auckland reflects the surge of energy, investment and public demand for biking in our city.

We’ll continue to be a strong voice for our hundreds of members and many thousands of supporters – and for all Aucklanders who want safe streets and connected cycleways, so that riding a bike is as natural and obvious an option as walking, driving, or taking public transport. Our representation at the top table to help make this happen is secure.

I attended their launch party yesterday along with a number of readers, politicians from both sides of the political fence as well as staff from various organisations including the The Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and NZTA which was great to see.

Well done on the change and the logo looks great.