The latest few images and videos from the Waterview Connection Project.
And the East Tamaki pre-cast facility which has now finished producing 24,000 segments and it plus the machinery are now up for sale. It highlights just what a massive logistical challenge these big projects are and something that will need to be repeated for the CRL.
This image also shows the progress of the southern ventilation building while the image after it shows what it should eventually look like.
I hope AT are planning to do something similar time-lapse videos for when they start the CRL works
This is a guest post from reader Bryce Pearce which purely coincidently was scheduled just after AT announce that the New Network will roll out to the Hibiscus Coast in October and that more double deckers will start running on the Northern Busway from January
You may, or may not have heard that under Auckland Transport’s ‘New Network’ the NEX bus service on the Northern busway is to be extended to the Silverdale Park’n’Ride, where it will link with local bus services. Hibiscus Coast New Network Confirmed
While this alone is very good news for the Hibiscus Coast, the question that needs to be asked is – why is the final stop so far away from any walk up catchment?
That’s a good question and, luckily, there is a very simple solution – extend the Northern Express (NEX) bus service to the ‘new’ Silverdale Town Centre.
Doing so would enable a very reliable journey from Silverdale to anywhere else (incl areas on the rail network via a transfer at Britomart) on a frequent basis. It also brings the NEX within walking distance of quite a bit of the Millwater area (forecast to have 10,000 residents) and also ties in well with development within Orewa itself.
Another benefit of this location is that, rather than the shared path alongside Hibiscus Coast Hwy to the Park’n’Ride, it offers a very easy, quite flat, 2.5km ride from the Orewa Town Centre utilising the Te Ara Tahuna Cycleway
How great would this link be to access the stunning, and very popular, Orewa beach on sunny days and pretty much all summer (there is a great selection of food and beverage in Orewa these days).
There is an existing on-street stop in front of the Silverdale Town Centre that would be appropriate to use as an interchange stop. This has the potential to be expanded and some quality shelters added. This would allow for an easy transfer from/to the N91 / N95 services that would use the same stop (rather than going all the way to the park’n’ride) with the added advantage that it would be much nicer for people to await or alight from services at a shopping centre rather than a station on its own, next to a busy road.
Another advantage of the Silverdale Town Centre location is a central location to add an Auckland Transport Service Centre to assist students and other concession holders with their validation and ticketing requirements. This is very needed in this area right now.
Extending the NEX service through the Silverdale Town Centre would allow other routes to terminate there and save a 4km detour to the Park and Ride. This would allow a more operationally efficient service for all services and potentially allow more frequency and alternative running routes.
Post implementation of the Silverdale Town Centre extension, there is some good justification for the extension of the NEX service right into the Orewa town centre itself.
The 895X could easily be terminated at the Silverdale Town Centre interchange, with passengers changing to the NEX, and allowing for more frequent services between Waiwera, Orewa and the CBD. This could be very beneficial in allowing access to the Waiwera Hot Pools off peak and in weekends.
Here is the map I have drawn out for the following services (using the same colour scheme as the AT map): NEX / N95 / N91 (which would be the same as the N92).
The remaining question is: Why are Auckland Transport opposed to extending the NEX to Silverdale Town Centre?
This explanation from AT explains their reasons.
There were a number of suggestions for changes to the termination point of the NEX, including Silverdale Centre, Orewa, and Millwater. But to take the NEX through congested local roads would affect its reliability and therefore the quality of the service, and so the NEX will terminate at HC Station in the recommended network.
The budget for the expanded park and ride (and shelters?) is $5.9M. This will add just under 400 car parks but will do nothing to remove vehicles from Hibiscus Coast Highway (it may even add vehicles). Why not instead spend a large chunk of that on bus priority measures along Hibiscus Coast Highway? Measures that would make a far larger difference to a much larger number of bus users.
A few months back, Auckland Transport put out its new fare policy for consultation. The draft policy, which they call Simplified Fares, has two main elements:
- Standardised fare zones that ensure that journeys within or between zones cost the same regardless of whether you’re travelling by bus or rail [ferries are excluded]
- No transfer penalties between services, which is a key element in enabling a frequent connective network.
Those are indeed simple principles, but developing and implementing a fare policy is seldom simple. So the whole thing got me thinking: Why do public transport fares work the way they do? And could we do things differently?
As I’m curious, I figured that I should take a quick look at the economics of fare policies. Part one of the series looks at the biggest-picture question: Why do we subsidise public transport?
First, some background. In most developed-world cities, public transport systems are subsidised by taxpayers. Users pay some of the operating costs – ranging from as low as 10% to as high as 80% – but seldom all. In New Zealand, the national farebox recovery policy requires all regional transport agencies to cover 50% of their public transport costs from fares. However, data from the Ministry of Transport suggests that some agencies are closer than others to this target:
Is 50% the right number for all regions? I don’t know – and the answer depends in part on what other goals we’re trying to accomplish with public transport pricing. But it’s clear that some level of subsidy must be provided in order for the entire transport system to work efficiently.
To see why, we need to take a look at what economists call “second-best pricing”. According to Wikipedia, it can be desirable to impose a subsidy to “offset” for an uncorrected market failure elsewhere:
In an economy with some uncorrectable market failure in one sector, actions to correct market failures in another related sector with the intent of increasing economic efficiency may actually decrease overall economic efficiency. In theory, at least, it may be better to let two market imperfections cancel each other out rather than making an effort to fix either one.
In transport, we have a situation where people have multiple options for getting around. They can drive, take the bus (or train), cycle, etc. In this situation, a price change in one market – say, a fare increase for public transport – can encourage people to switch to another mode instead of paying more.
As I argued in a recent post on congestion pricing, road space is usually not priced “efficiently”. All road users pay fuel taxes or road user charges based on the total number of kilometres driven or litres of petrol used. But they don’t pay more to drive on busy roads, where they impose delays on other drivers. As this diagram from a 2012 UK study on the external costs of driving shows, the last 10-20% of car trips impose significant costs on society.
Public transport can play a useful role in smoothing off the big spike at the right hand side of that chart, by providing a more space-efficient option for travelling on popular, congested routes. Another way of saying that is that in the absence of congestion pricing (and in the presence of other subsidies for driving, such as minimum parking requirements), higher public transport fares can result in a perverse outcome – additional congestion and delays for existing road drivers. This is shown in the following diagram:
Effectively, a failure to price roads efficiently means that we have to provide subsidies for public transport to prevent car commutes from being even more painful than they currently are. Public transport subsidies are, in that sense, subsidies for drivers. By making your neighbor’s bus fare cheaper, they in turn make your drive to work a bit easier.
Finally, it’s worth considering how we got into this situation. 80 or 100 years ago, public transport systems tended to cover their operating costs with fares. For example, Auckland’s tram system was profitable, if in need of maintenance and refurbishment, up until its removal in the mid-1950s. (Mees ref?) This changed, in large part, due to the introduction of subsidised motorways.
This article by Joseph Stomberg at Vox describes how the US interstate highway system was developed in the 1950s as an explicitly subsidised – i.e. not tolled – transport mode:
The first step was changing how roads were funded. In the 1930s, there were already privately owned toll roads in the East, and some public toll highways, like the Pennsylvania Turnpike, were under construction. But auto groups recognized that funding public roads through taxes on gasoline would allow highways to expand much more quickly.
They also decided to call these roads “free roads,” a term that was later replaced by “freeways.” Norton argues that this naming shift was essential in persuading the federal government — and the public — to shift away from tolls. “It started with calling the roads drivers pay for ‘toll roads,’ and calling the ones that taxpayers pay for ‘free roads,'” he says. “Of course, there’s no such thing as a free road.”
In other words, the “original sin” of transport subsidies was the construction of non-tolled highways paid for out of general tax revenues. This choice led in turn to a situation in which we must adopt “second best pricing” in public transport, and offer an offsetting subsidy. I’m not necessarily opposed to this… but it does mean that I am skeptical to complaints that buses and trains are subsidised.
What do you think we should do about public transport pricing?
Following up last week’s Mangere/Airport RTN post, reader Martin B pointed to this recent AIAL Masterplan: pdf.
Here are the key Landside Transport pages:
Map of the future precinct; white dotted lines indicate the rail line and the white rectangle the station:
Good to see both northern and eastern routes are being planned for, however they are completely missing a trick by not taking the station right into the Terminal building (04). We know that AIAL are planning for the line to be cut and cover through their property so why not take it all the way to under the yet-to-be-built Terminal building? Seems pointless to insist that rail users stop just short enough from their destination to have to drag bags across a couple of roads. Interestingly this places the station with the proposed massive new parking buildings.
I have used trains to get to airports all over the world and by far the best have stations fully integrated into the terminals. Given this is a completely new integrated domestic and international terminal building surely it wouldn’t be difficult to future proof for this. Especially as they are claiming they are to reduce congestion while providing 20 000 carparks. The RTN route and service will need to be as good as possible to make sure it attracts as many users as possible to help keep those approach and local roads flowing.
After all, isn’t the plan for a streamlined seamless experience?
The NZTA yesterday announced the what it would fund over the next three years as part of its National Land Transport Programme 2015-18 (NLTP). The NLTP combines funding from the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) – which is essentially road/fuel taxes, council rates and from other government funding sources such as for the spend up on regional roads announced last year.
The headline figure is that over the next three years $13.9 billion will be spent on transport which is about 15% more than the 2012-15 NLTP and of which about $10.5 billion comes from the NLTF. Most of the rest comes from local councils through rates. Where the money comes from and where it is being spent is quite well shown in this graphic from the NZTA.
As you can see above the vast bulk of the funding is going on building new and maintaining existing roads. Of the $5.5 billion for road improvements the majority (almost $4.2 billion) is going towards State Highways. None of this is particularly surprising as it’s a continuation of the trend we’ve seen for a few years now and one that has been continued with the current Government Policy Statement (GPS) which the NLTP has to give effect to. The GPS doesn’t set specific funding levels but it does provide funding ranges for each category. Just how the actual investment in this programme compares with it’s GPS funding range for each category is shown below. You an quite see quite clearly that for State Highways the funding level is well above the midpoint set by the government – although interestingly local roads are at the bottom of their range (note: this is just for funding from the NLTF so doesn’t include rates).
One area that is at the top of its range is walking and cycling where the NZTA are putting in over $100 million which is on top of the $96 million from governments Urban Cycling Fund.
One aspect I was interested in was how the money is divided up across the regions. A lot was said about how Auckland is getting ~$4.2 billion in funding however when you look at on a per person basis (using Stats 2014 population estimates) it appears Auckland is spending about the National average while it’s the Waikato doing pretty well.
Just looking specifically at Auckland around $4.2 billion will be spent over three years. I find the press release and other information about this investment quite odd as it seems the NZTA are doing everything they can to avoid saying how much their spending on roads. They focus attention on the $1.175 billion going towards Public Transport (of which only about $176 million is for new PT Infrastructure and services), on the $960 million on road maintenance and the $91 million on cycling yet there is very little focus on the over $2.1 billion being spent on roads, $1.8b of which is state highways.
There are also a few other things I picked up on, including:
- The term Congestion Free is entering the NZTA’s lexicon
Mr Zöllner says Auckland’s future depends on a strategic joined up approach to both its motorway and local road network, along with critical public transport, walking and cycling networks, to ensure highly reliable, dedicated and congestion free travel.
- It is claimed that spending $960 million on maintenance will help ease congestion, I’m not quite sure how that will work.
- That the changes to the Northern Motorway will include the design and consenting for extending the busway to Albany which is good although no actual construction on it will happen within this time. They also say the motorway widening is only to address predictions of large travel demand in the future i.e. there is no proof it will actually happen and of course any predictions of large demand for PT seem to be ignored, especially by the government.
These projects aim to address predictions of large travel delays in peak times within the next decade, and provide alternative travel options.
- The NZTA are now talking about the package of works to widen the southern motorway between Manukau and Papakura as part of the route between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga. As such seem to be lumping in the time savings from other projects such as the Waikato Expressway to claim the works will help save 30 minutes. This is odd seeing as one of the reasons they lost the Basin Reserve Flyover was that they lumped in time savings from other projects.
- It’s been cut from the online version but in the original emailed version of the press release they claim the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway will save up to 30 minutes, odd seeing as it only currently takes about 20 minutes now except for about four days a year in a single direction.
Road of National Significance, providing a safer, more reliable connection between Auckland and Northland by extending the four-lane Northern Motorway (SH1) to Warkworth. The project is estimated to cut 30 minutes from journey times in peak periods.
- This map shows where the NZTA is investing. It seems to me that the symbols are way off in some places and also minimise the impact of massive projects such as Waterview which only gets a single icon for all the North Western work that’s happening.
One of my big concerns about the PT funding in particular is that it simply won’t be enough investment to cope with the increase in demand. The NZTA say they think with this investment that over the next three years PT patronage will increase to 21%. Given we’ve had roughly a 10% increase in patronage over the last year alone and we still have the New Network, integrated fares and the completed roll out of the new electric trains that 21% figure seems a little undercooked.
Lastly I think the NZTA deserve credit for how they’ve made the NLTP data available. Through this table you can select any combination of activity classes and regions and get a list of every single project that will be funded from the NLTF and also download all of the data easily.
One segment of Auckland Transports latest business report highlights AT’s latest Pedestrian
Safety Shaming campaign.
Between 2009 and 2013 there were over 50 fatal and serious pedestrian related crashes in Auckland City Centre. Most crashes are on Queen Street and Karangahape Road, but also Quay Street, Symonds Street, Mayoral Drive, Victoria Street and most recently on Fanshawe Street.
Two campaigns will be launched in June/July, as part of the ‘Regional Pedestrian Safety behaviour change programme’ to encourage behaviour change in pedestrians.
Cross Safely With the Green Man
Will focus on Queen Street and Karangaphape Road. Final creative approach is shown below, based on the fact that there are ample safe green man pedestrian crossings along these roads.
Media will be situ’ and include Adshels, outdoor posters, wall murals/shop windows and themed ‘urban walkers’.
I love the description that there are ample pedestrian crossings in the city. Having a light and having one that phases frequently enough e.g. like with the double phasing on Queen St are two different things. Many of the crossings are not friendly to pedestrians at all. Also if there are crashes on Queen St then what on earth are the drivers doing as the street has a 30kph speed limit. The second campaign:
Switch Your Focus
The other Auckland streets which have high pedestrian crash statistics don’t have the number of green man intersections Queen Street has. Pedestrians are most often distracted by thought (daydreaming), food, mobile phones and just a lack of focus on the danger. The campaign will inform pedestrians that they need to focus when they cross the road.
Messages will again be distributed primarily through outdoor media, making use of existing infrastructure for message delivery (Adshels) and targeted ‘Urban Walkers’ dressed suitably to the campaign style, who will engage with pedestrians and provide helpful advice.
What are urban walkers dressed suitably in campaign style who’ll engage with pedestrians, its cringe worthy. And before some of you start blaming all the pedestrians remember that if you’re a driver and the car ahead of you suddenly stops, it’s your responsibility to be driving in a way that you too can stop in time.
Seeing the images on Twitter, Andy Baird thinks the images above deserves a meme so has created this fantastic image that might be more appropriate for AT to focus on.
The new cycle lanes on Carlton Gore Rd open this week – and the picture below from Auckland Transport on Twitter yesterday shows them nearly completed and looking great – although the Herald is already complaining about the new layout even though it isn’t finished.
There are more details showing what’s being done in Carlton Gore Rd here and the image below shows what’s planned in this section.
Of course as some parts of the lanes aren’t protected and outside the parked cars, this has already happened.
With a new found focus on cycling – including from the government – perhaps AT needs to start looking at how they could start retrofitting the roads across large swathes of the city quickly, cheaply and easily to leverage off the big investments they are making. That means they need to be able to avoid lengthy consultations with residents arguing about parking and they need solutions that don’t involve large amounts of construction work. Some of this will likely need to make use of some of the tactical urbanism tools Mike Lydon talked about last week. I’ve also talked before about how many of our suburbs built over the last few decades actually have very few cars parked on the street due to each property having often large amounts of off street parking.
Roads tend to have a variety of different sizes and their width depends on a lot of factors however it appears many of the arterials in the suburbs tend to be in the range of 10-13 metres wide between the kerbs (excluding four lane roads). Moving kerbs will be expensive on a large scale so that got me thinking, perhaps they need to come up with a couple of template designs – perhaps using Carlton Gore as an example – that could fit between existing kerbs. That template could then easily be rolled out across the city for very little cost i.e. if the road is 13m wide between the kerbs then there is protected cycle lanes and parking on one side. A 10m wide road might have just painted lanes with no parking and perhaps some flexi posts to help delineate the cycle lane.
So just how many roads do we have over 10m wide? Kent helped me put this image together showing all of them in Auckland and as you can see there are quite a lot.
While I realise not every street on here would be able to or need to have cycle infrastructure it doesn’t stop us dreaming it could all be exist.
p.s. AT need to address how locals deal with their rubbish bins as the ones in the first image appear to be blocking the footpath – or at least taking up a lot of room.
Last week, I took a high-level look at the opportunity cost associated with Auckland’s car-centric transport system. Simply put, cars use up lots of land, and public transport, walking, and cycling don’t. At a time when we’re struggling to find space to accommodate the city’s residential and economic growth, this is likely to be increasingly inefficient.
For example, here’s a graph that shows, roughly speaking, the last 50 years of trends in traffic volumes (using the Auckland Harbour Bridge as a proxy) and land values (using national house prices as a proxy). In the last decade or two, demand for intensive land use has far outstripped demand for driving:
However, this isn’t always acknowledged in the activities of transport agencies. As Matt highlighted two weeks ago, Auckland Transport is currently proceeding with a plan to knock down a house (on the bottom left corner of the intersection, shaded in magenta) for an intersection widening project:
A bit earlier, Stu also pointed out an intersection design down in Hamilton that seems quite hazardous to people on foot. Now, there are certainly reasons to redesign – and even widen – intersections. But what worries me is that intersection layout sometimes seem to be on auto-pilot, without any deep consideration of the conflicting values at play or the opportunity costs associated with particular designs.
Take, for example, this intersection at the junction of St Johns Road and College Road in Remuera. It’s large. Very large. Although there’s only a single lane in each direction on the roads in and out of the intersection, it widens to implausible dimensions in the intersection itself. I can only imagine what it’s like to try to cross the intersection on foot.
I asked my friend Lennart, who originally spotted this intersection, to show me how things could be done differently. He quickly sketched up a simplified design – shown in the green and magenta lines – that eliminated the big islands and the split lanes but still left enough room for buses to turn smoothly.
(Caveats: This is not necessarily a better design from a traffic engineering perspective – just a more space-efficient one. As we haven’t looked at traffic volumes, it’s difficult to say whether a signalised intersection or other safety treatments would be required if the slip-lanes were taken out.)
Overall, we found that there would be up to 2,000 square metres of space left over if the intersection was downsized. That’s enough space for three or four reasonably-sized houses on reasonably-sized lots.
Is this expenditure of space worth it? Would it be better to narrow the intersection and sell off the residual land for housing? Possibly. Possibly not. But no matter what the answer is, I hope that those questions are being asked of Auckland’s road designs.
What do you think of the space occupied by our intersections? Good, bad, indifferent?
Here is the caterer taking away the empty bottles from a wedding celebration attended by my sister in Copenhagen over the weekend [thanks Amanda]:
The issue of road pricing in Auckland has been talking about recently as a way of raising additional funding to pay for transport projects. The government has so far not been very supportive of the idea however they have said they would consider funding options once they have a transport accord agreed with the council. One of the stated benefits of road pricing is that it enables us to better manage demand. A key issue with road pricing that we’ve long suggested is that as things stand right now, far too many people don’t have good alternatives to driving.
We know that giving realistic alternatives is key to changing travel behaviour. Services like those that use the Northern Busway show that when good quality and time competitive options are provided that people will use them in droves. That’s not to say that everyone will or must use those alternatives but at least the option is there. However even when alternatives exist I wonder how many still stick to driving simply because of one type of journey they make. It’s a scenario that’s certainly happened to me a few times. I usually commute to work via PT or by cycling yet every now and then I have something on that means I need to drive – ironically it’s occasionally when I have a meeting or event related to the blog.
An article I saw a few months ago made me wonder that if we were to introduce proper road pricing (rather than just revenue gathering), whether we could use it to create a more multi-modal future. It idea came from Atlanta and a pilot programme they are running with their High Occupancy Toll (HOT) express lanes. The express lanes are lanes on the freeway that can be used by buses, T3, motorbikes and a few other vehicles for free but that also allow those that don’t qualify – e.g. single occupant vehicles – to use the lane if they pay a toll. The toll is dynamic and ranges between US.01 cents per mile and US.90 cents per mile and changes based on demand in order to keep journey times reliable i.e. if it’s busy you’ll pay more to use the lane but if it’s quiet you won’t pay much. The lanes are 16 miles in length meaning prices range from US$0.16 to US$14.40.
The segment below highlights how Atlanta are encouraging multi-modality.
The pilot program is offering northeastern metro Atlanta commuters $2 in toll credits for every transit trip — on lines with routes that include I-85 — with a maximum of $10 a month and $60 over a six-month period, reports the the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. This means that commuters willing to kick back for their commute five days a month could underwrite much of their driving the rest of the month. To get the credits, drivers have to register and connect their bus pass with the highway express lane mechanism, called the Peach Pass.
So far Auckland isn’t talking about HOT lanes or dynamic pricing but instead a toll toll charged each time you enter the motorway. It has been promoted as changing depending on the time of day but it’s not truly demand responsive like the example above is. Even so I think the overall idea could still apply here. The basic idea is that you would have your car numberplate hooked up to your HOP card and if you use a certain amount of PT you get a credit to use on the toll road for those occasional times that you really need to drive. The exact details would have to be worked out but it’s something that might take some of the concern about road pricing away. Of course rewards type system for PT would also be needed – although as AT have already been making noises about it I’d expect that to occur long before we ever had motorway tolling or road pricing.
The impact road pricing could have on patronage is enormous. Currently Auckland averages just over 50 trips per person per year on PT. If from tomorrow we could get all 1.5 million Aucklanders to on average use PT for just one day a week i.e. to work and back – it would double patronage to almost 160 million trips. Of course as it stands now there is no way the system could cope with that many extra passengers at once.