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Submit on the Draft Parking Discussion Document

Auckland Transport have had their Draft Parking Discussion Document (2mb file) out for consultation over the last couple of months, but this closes at midnight on Thursday. This covers the full range of parking issues around the city, including on-street, off-street and park and ride. The aim is to have a more standardised approach around Auckland, and simplify the large range of legacy rules in this area. It also should be noted that this is an overarching discussion document, with detailed consultation to be undertaken on individual and local proposals once the strategy has been finalised.

No life but lots of free parking. Shaddock St, Eden Terrace.

No life but lots of free parking. Shaddock St, Eden Terrace.

Feedback on the parking strategy can be made on the Auckland Transport website here. Today AT announced that over 2000 submissions have already been made. However I suspect a large amount of these would have been made by vocal local residents groups, so it would be great to have a wide range of submissions, so I encourage our readers to submit.

Albany Mall - Aucklands most modern Metropolitan Centre...

Albany Mall – Aucklands most modern Metropolitan Centre…

The feedback form asks people to rank each of the 7 issues identified, then ask for specific comment if people like or dislike any issues. There is also the option on the final page of adding any supporting documents with a full written submissions.

The 7 issues identified are as follows:

Managing demand for parking in the City Centre, metropolitan and town centres
Competing demands for parking in residential streets
Managing off-street parking facilities
Inconsistent on-street parking restrictions across Auckland
The conflict between parking on arterial roads and improving public transport provision
Managing the demand for parking permits amongst competing users
Addressing the shortage of park and ride facilities to support public transport patronage.

Things I will be writing about in my submission include:

  • ensuring inner city parking buildings are not undercharging or encouraging people to commute to the city at peak times
  • issues with free on-street parking for local residents
  • need to remove parking on certain roads to allow for bus lanes and cycle lanes
  • supporting charging of park and rides once feeder buses and integrated fares rolled out
  • questioning need for major investment in new parking and rides in the urban areas, and ensure new park and rides
Albany P and R

Albany Park and Ride – bus station hidden behind sea of parking. Is this what we want in our urban areas?

The blog has already covered some of the issues in depth is if you are writing a submission may be worth reading over some of these posts.

Please submit online here to ensure a wide representation of voices are heard, you have until midnight Thursday to do so.

Guide to economic evaluation part 3: What is agglomeration?

Debates over major transport investments often get caught up in arguments over benefit-cost ratios, or BCRs. In recent years, projects such as the Transmission Gully and Puhoi to Warkworth motorways and the City Rail Link have been criticised for their low BCRs. These debates have often raised more questions than they resolve. So it’s necessary to ask: What is a BCR, how is it calculated, and what does it mean?

The good news is that there is a manual that explains it – New Zealand Transport Agency’s Economic Evaluation Manual (EEM). The bad news is that it’s tediously long and not written for a general audience. This series of posts aims to provide a guide for the perplexed:

In part three of this series we take a look at agglomeration, which is a potential benefit of transport projects that isn’t captured in traditional evaluation procedures.

So we’ve gotten through the most boring part of this series – the previous post on conventional transport benefits. To briefly recap:

  • Conventional transport appraisal focuses on monetary and non-monetary benefits for users – i.e. travel time savings and vehicle operating cost savings
  • However, there are also externalities associated with transport behaviours
  • Some of these externalities, such as health benefits and environmental externalities, are pretty simple to describe and analyse
  • However, other externalities which have an effect on economic activity – the so-called “wider economic impacts”, or WEIs – are a little bit more complicated.

As I said last time, NZTA has sought to incorporate transport-related externalities into their evaluation framework. As part of this work, in 2011 they commissioned a report to identify and quantify the WEIs. The report (pdf), which was written by economists Duncan Kernohan and Lars Rognlien, found evidence for three main types of WEIs: agglomeration externalities, imperfect competition benefits, and labour supply benefits. Each externality arises as a result of changes to transport costs, as follows:

Transport user benefit Externality Economic outcome
General transport time/cost reductions Agglomeration Effective density of employment increases; firms become more productive
Business travel time/cost savings Imperfect competition Firms pass on savings to customers, plus an additional amount to reflect price-cost margins
Commute time/cost savings Labour supply effects Easier commutes encourage some people to enter the labour force; they pay more income taxes as a result

If you want to understand the WEIs in more detail, I suggest you take a look at their paper, which is technical but not totally inaccessible. Here, I’d like to focus solely on agglomeration externalities – what they are, how they happen, and why we might want to include them in transport evaluation.

Agglomeration has been a hot topic in urban economics in recent years – although, technically speaking, the theory of agglomeration goes back to British economist Alfred Marshall, who identified the phenomenon in the late 1800s. Agglomeration refers to the idea that larger and/or denser places are more productive. In other words, businesses operating in large cities tend to produce more output per worker than similar businesses operating in small towns. This isn’t just a theoretical argument – it’s an observed fact.

Conceptually speaking, agglomeration externalities arise due to the existence of increasing returns to scale in an economy. Essentially, the more people work in an area, the higher the potential for knowledge spillovers between them, the lower the cost to buy and sell goods and services, and the better the matching of workers to jobs. There’s a deep economic literature describing how this process occurs and developing theories of agglomeration, but if you’re interested in a non-technical introduction to the topic, I highly recommend Edward Glaeser’s book The Triumph of the City.

As a result of these processes, larger cities and denser, more accessible places tend to be more productive. There’s a lot of empirical evidence demonstrating this relationship. In New Zealand, papers by Dave Maré (2008) and Daniel Graham and Maré (2009) found that:

  • In 2006, the Auckland urban area was 36% more productive than the rest of the country, after adjusting for industry composition. In other words, an Auckland business would be expected to produce much more output per worker than a similar business elsewhere.
  • In 2006, the Auckland city centre was one of the most productive places in the country. After adjusting for industry composition, the city centre was 72% more productive than the rest of the country.
  • There is a substantial positive relationship between density and firm productivity – firms located in areas that are twice as dense are 3.2-8.7% more productive on average, depending upon industry.

What does this “productivity premium” look like? My colleague Kent Lundberg came up with one way of visualising agglomeration by looking at land values in and around the city centre. His map shows a sharp differences between the value of city centre land and land in surrounding, less intensive environments, with a lower peak out in Newmarket. Essentially, firms see the benefit of locating in dense places, and they’re willing to pay more to do so:

A

Firms are willing to pay for proximity.

Graham and Maré’s 2009 paper was used to establish NZTA’s parameters for evaluating the agglomeration effects of transport projects. These parameters, or agglomeration elasticities, estimate the relationship between increases to the accessibility of jobs in an area and the productivity of that area. Agglomeration elasticities are highest in knowledge-intensive industries such as finance and business services, and lowest (or nonexistent) in resource-based industries like agriculture and forestry.

However, NZTA took Graham and Maré’s analysis of agglomeration one step further, arguing that what matters for firm productivity is not just physical proximity, but accessibility of jobs via transport. In other words, business productivity could potentially increase as a result of improvements to transport as well as increases in job density. There’s some empirical support for this idea –economists have tested a range of measures (pdf, technical) and found that both physical density and transport-weighted measures of density are associated with higher productivity.

That’s why agglomeration benefits are typically calculated for both public transport projects, which are expected to enable more intensive land use, and road projects, which tend to disperse economic activity throughout a greater area.

Is this what agglomeration looks like? (Source)

Is this what agglomeration looks like? (Source)

Is this a reasonable approach to project evaluation? I suppose my view would be: possibly. There are two reasons to be cautious about calculating agglomeration benefits for transport projects.

The first is that it’s conceptually difficult to define “density” really is. The economic literature presents a range of views about what measures matter most. Is it transport accessibility, even in relatively dispersed environments, as NZTA argues? Or is physical density, such as the number of jobs you can reach in a one-kilometre walk, as enthusiasts for urbanism suggest? Or is it something else entirely, such as the overall economic mass of an entire urban area regardless of whether it is compact or sprawling. Economists have studied this question from a number of angles, finding that various different measures of density and distance can predict productivity. (It’s also likely that agglomeration is nonlinear (pdf, technical), but let’s not get into that.)

The second and more serious reason for caution is that NZTA has assumed a causal relationship between effective density and productivity that might not exist in practice. Essentially, it’s not at all clear whether you can make a firm more productive by increasing the density or accessibility of the area where it operates. Do firms become more productive when they move into relatively dense areas, or do productive firms move into dense areas for other reasons?

The most likely answer is a bit of both. Research done in the UK by economists Patricia Melo, Daniel Graham and several co-authors (ungated pdf version) suggests that the causality between productivity and density runs in both directions. In other words, density breeds productivity, but productivity also breeds density. This makes logical sense, if you think about it. On the one hand, firms may be able to access knowledge spillovers and deeper labour markets in denser areas, which is likely to make them more productive. But on the other hand, more productive firms are also more likely to be successful firms. If you put a lot of successful firms in one place, that area will probably become denser as those firms hire more workers.

The upshot of this is that while there’s a good case to include agglomeration effects in transport evaluation, NZTA is using a method that probably overstates the benefits.

Next time: The dark art of demand forecasting.

$212 million in spending on roads with few benefits

A couple of days ago I received a bunch of documents from an OIA request to the NZTA on the $212 million in regional road spending announced recently. I haven’t been able to look at them yet seeing as I’m away however it looks like I’m not going to have to go through them immediately as Rob Salmond is already on the case following a similar (but not exactly the same) request to the Ministers office.

Salmond devotes a bit too much time to partisan point-scoring, as he’s an advisor to the Labour Party, but his analysis unearths some worrying facts about the economic analysis of the projects. His analysis is definitely worth reading.

As a reminder, the majority of the $212 million in new road spending was to come from the Future Investment Fund – i.e. the proceeds from recent asset sales. According to the press release, five of the fourteen “critically important regional projects” are going to be progressed immediately at a cost of $80m, they are:

  • Kawarau Falls Bridge, in Otago
  • Mingha Bluff to Rough Creek realignment, in Canterbury
  • Akerama Curves Realignment and Passing Lane, in Northland
  • State Highway 35 Slow Vehicle Bays, in Gisborne
  • Normanby Overbridge Realignment, in Taranaki.

In spite of their critical importance, Salmond finds that the projects almost all performed badly on NZTA’s cost-benefit analysis:

Five of the roading projects receive the worst kind of assessment from the officials at NZTA, an estimated benefit cost ratio of “0 to 2.” (see page 32) This means the officials cannot discount the possibility of these roads having no benefits at all, despite costing the taxpayer millions. More on this later. All the projects have a benefit cost ratio quoted as a range, partly to fudge against the public knowing the exact numbers.

Why would they want to do that? More on that later, too.

Officials estimate that up to $130 million of the highways money mooted in these projects and investigations would be wasted on roads with likely no net benefit. If some of those roads are not ultimately funded, that will represent less money wasted on roads, but more money wasted on unnecessary investigations to tell us what we already know – these projects are dogs.

NZTA considers a benefit cost ratio of 1 as an absolute minimum, as anything below that involves the country actually losing money by doing the project. Usually, of course, benefit cost ratios have to be much higher than that to attract funding, because there are so many possible good things a government can do with its limited money.

Salmond goes on to take a closer look at the analysis of one particular project, the widening of the Kawerau Falls bridge:

…the official cost / benefit ratio for the Kawerau Falls bridge was 1.1 (page 10). Officials said they have tried to recalculate this a number of times, and always come out around 1.1. So what range of benefit cost ratio appearedin the final package for Ministers to consider and promote. It looks like an obvious candidate for a “0 to 2” classification, right? 1.1 is pretty much rightin the middle of that range, yes?

No, no. Officials have instead been pressured into calling this a “1 to 3” benefit project in the summary documents (page 32). That is risible.

If a robust 1.1 becomes “1 to 3” in the sales pitch document, just imagine how dreadful the benefit cost ratios on the “0 to 2” projects really are.

There’s much more in the OIA documents that deserves careful examination and I’m keen to see what I’ve got from my requests, but it certainly looks as though many of the projects don’t add up. From the response I received it does highlight that some of the projects including the Normanby Rd Overbridge Realignment have had and Motu Bridge replacement have had no reports on them in the last 5 years.

It’s interesting to contrast this approach to roads spending with the Government’s decision to axe an extension of the highly successful Northern Busway that would have cost about the same amount.

Stuart’s 100: #2 Whitcoulls Queen Street

Urban designer Stuart Houghton has set himself a personal project of coming up with 100 ideas for improving Auckland at the rate of one a day. He is Tweeting them here: @HoughtonSd 

Discussing this project with Stuart he said that I see the city is getting better and better and growing up fast, but everywhere I look as I move about the city I am struck by ideas big and small for how Auckland could be improved. I see this as a positive thing.” 

We agree.

In this task he has been inspired by Jan Gehl the Danish urbanist who famously said:

“How nice it is to wake up each morning in a city that is a little bit better than it was before”

Stuart has kindly agreed to allow us to run them here over the next 100 week days, here’s #2, enjoy:

2: Whitcoulls Queen Street

 

Stuart_Day_2_Whitcoulls_Queen_Street
What if Whitcoulls Queen Street actually was a flagship book store?!

New Zealand has quite an impressive family of long-established national retailers (think Farmers, Whitcoulls, Glassons and Hallensteins). Many of these brands are well over a 100 years old and have a presence on every main street and shopping mall in the country. So why is it that so many of them have such shameful stores in the central city? Right where you expect a flagship store. You know, one that showcases all the best the brand has to offer and maybe unique offerings not found in the everyday stores elsewhere? Is it that their retailing model has become so suburbanised that they have little interest in being part of the new action downtown?

Farmers, which started on Hobson Street, has closed its mediocre Queen Street store and no longer has a presence in the city at all. Last year Whitcoull’s Queen Street underwent a not insignificant renovation that sadly seemed to remove even more traces of the grand old building it occupies and provide even less reasons to visit for those in search of actual books and magazines (now banished to the top floor) as opposed to children’s games and toys.

While some, such as Glassons, have developed new exciting flagship retail spaces in central Auckland and Wellington, others seem seriously out of touch with the changes happening in our central cities. When will they start being more in sync with the new life happening in urban NZ?

 

 

July 14 AT Board Meeting

The Auckland Transport Board is meeting today and as usual I’ve had a look through the papers to see if there is anything interesting. Below is the collection of items or comments that caught my eye.

The rest of this year is going to see a lot of debate about long term plans emerge

Auckland Transport’s 30-year Integrated Transport Programme, the 10-year Regional Land Transport Plan and the Transport content of Auckland Council’s 10-year Long Term Plan, must all be adopted (as draft for public consultation) by December 2014.

The next steps in the consultation process, as endorsed by the Board in February 2014, are:

  • Submissions process timed to align with Auckland Council, in Jan/Feb 2015
  • Online consultation, also in Jan/Feb 2015
  • Replace formal Hearings with more informal Transport Conversations in March 2015

The last bullet point is quite interesting, does that represent a reduction in the public being able to have a say in the future development of transport in the city?

On the key projects there are a few interesting comments these include

  • For the Lincoln Rd upgrade – In response to public consultation, an additional analysis of cycle facility options is underway - this is good as the cycling facilities that were suggested as part of this mega road widening were pitiful and didn’t even meet the engineering standards AT are implementing.
  • The name for the East West Link has been changed to East West Connections as - The word “link” created confusion with people incorrectly assuming that the programme was one project on one road and consequently was changed to “connections” to better reflect that this programme will comprise several projects to improve the transport network across the area. – I find this one particularly interesting given the constant ongoing confusion we see around the City Rail Link which is really about improving the entire regional rail network. Even the mayor still calls it a loop at times giving the impression it’s just about trains going around in circles. Perhaps it’s time to change the name of the CRL to actually reflect what the project is doing.
  • With the electric trains CAF are building them faster than expected and are currently 4 ahead of schedule. AT are saying we will start seeing the trains on the Manukau and eastern lines in August when from memory that wasn’t meant to happen till September or October. On the performance of the EMUs AT say that the punctuality in June returned to above the average for the network and changes to the signalling system to allow faster running is under testing.
  • At Panmure the new station as seen the number of people using the station surge. A press release out today shows the numbers even higher than in the report with usage of the station up 73% on the same time last year and up 57% since the station opened in January. It’s seen the station rise from the 18th busiest in 2013 to 10th. As a further comparison AT say that in 2003 only around 100 people used the then Panmure station (in a slightly different location), now an average of 1116 are using it daily. We’ve also had anecdotal evidence that entire busloads of people from eastern suburbs are transferring to trains at the station for a faster ride to town.

Each month AT now give updates on spending on Road Corridor Maintenance. It’s mostly a fairly dull part that gets skipped over however I did notice some interesting comments in relation to why the spend in the Central and West areas were below forecast. In the Central area AT spent $67.8 million vs a budget of $73.3 million and in the West they spent $29.6 million out of a budget of 32.7 million. In both cases they said the difference was due to a reduced level of expenditure on consultants (although for central it also was the result of deferring work on Orakei Rd). Other parts of the region ended up on or ahead of forecast though which negated the savings.

On Public transport they say

  • HOP card usage is up over 60% for buses and at 75% for trains and this is of course before the fare changes from early July kicked in which should drive that even higher.
  • They say bus on time performance is improving with the changes to timetables that they have been making and that this is based on results measured from AT’s real time tracking systems. They say that from July they will be measuring bus punctuality based on these measures rather than the tinpot dictator style self reporting by operators that they have relied on for years.
  • They say that to the 4 July there were almost 12,000 subscriptions to the free WiFI at train and busway stations and ferry wharfs.

Of course as usual it’s the closed session that has all of the really interesting information including

  • An update on the CRL
  • An update of the next ITP
  • An update on the disposal of the diesel trains
  • City Centre Access options

Environmental effects of an Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing

The additional Waitemata Harbour crossing is a crazy project for a variety of reasons. The blog has noted before that the project is both completely unaffordable and totally unnecessary because of the lack of the actual benefits when you look at the detail. One thing that hasn’t been noted before however is the huge environmental impacts this project will have the coastline, both and the northern and southern end.

In 2010 an extensive study was carried out, which outlined the major options, looking at both bridge and tunnel options. This was the study that finally put an end to the even more ridiculous bridge idea. Usefully the study for the first time provided some detailed plans of what each option would look like on the ground. The issues is not so much the tunnel itself, but the complex arrangements required to allow for traffic merging between the different routes at the north end south ends. To recap the existing bridge will be used only for city bound traffic, and the new tunnel will be directed straight to the congestion at spaghetti junction.

AWHC north of Onewa

 

The plan above shows the motorway between Akoranga Drive (left), and Onewa Road (just out of picture to the right). The northernmost line is the railway line, however would be sure to take up much less space just built as a rail corridor, and would have a much higher capacity. The red hatched area is all of the land that would be reclaimed, while green is new viaducts or bridges. This would result in the corridor taking up twice as much space as it does now. As for what this would mean, this is the current view in the area. The large area of coastline to the right would be reclaimed.

P1050458

Looking north from public footbridge accessible from east end of Exmouth Road.

This next plan shows the area in the vicinity of the Onewa Road interchange, as well as the tunnel portals of both rail (left) and road (right). Again a huge amount of reclamation occurs.

AWHC Sulhur Beach

However what is hidden beneath the plans is the total destruction of Sulphur Beach and the marina located there.

P1050446

Looking towards the city from public path alongside motorway. Accessible from Sulphur Beach and Tennyson St beside police station.

Currently this beautiful area is not well known. However in a few years this will very likely change. With Skypath to go ahead within the next few years, this will be the route of Seapath, which would give a great easy link through to Takapuna. Once that happens people will appreciate this area much more, and won’t like to see it disappear under 6 lanes of motorway.

This area will also become a large construction yard, potentially for about 5 years. This will have major effects on areas of Northcote Point, with a large number of houses looking straight into the area. Their seaviews may well be replaced with views of more motorway lanes and flyovers. People on the Bayswater side of the harbour would also have their views affected negatively.

P1050431

View from Beach Road on Northcote Point towards area of sea to be reclaimed

On the south side of the harbour things aren’t much better. Around Westhaven marina there is yet more reclamation. The yet to open Westhaven Promenade will have to be completely rebuilt, with part of the marina needing to be reclaimed as even more width is required to account for the sweeping motorway curves. The extra width required is highlighted by the need to extend the Jacobs Ladder footbridge by about 50% so people can still cross the motorway corridor. A number of marine related businesses along Westhaven Drive will also disappear, as the road needs to be pushed north to give the corridor the space it requires.

AWHC Westhaven

The Landscape and Visual report prepared for NZTA summarises the issues that will arise:

The landscape of Shoal Bay and the northern sector will be significantly affected by the scale and magnitude of roading and reclamation. Effects are: changes to landforms and natural features including increased separation of the bay from; loss of beaches, reefs, and open spaces; impacts on cliffs (including diminution of scale and loss of vegetation); loss of natural vegetation and potential change due to weed infestation; diminished/decreased experience and appreciation of natural landscape for travellers. In addition structures such as flyovers, bridges, tunnel portals, buildings and vent stacks are all expected to have adverse effects on existing landscape character and alter the balance between the natural and manmade landscape. The cultural and heritage of the existing landscape will also be affected by changes in the southern sector, particularly in and around Victoria Park. Such changes will include loss of buildings and trees but could also include positive effects due to the removal of the existing flyover.

Unfortunately it makes no attempts to actually visualize what the effects would be, including the vent stack, which would be a very dominant feature. Note 35 metres is about 10 stories high!

” Vent building estimated to be 70m long by 30m wide by 20m high and stacks 35m high”

The stack was rather contentious during the Waterview proposal due to the fumes of a high volume of traffic all begin released in a concentrated area. They will be located at the tunnel portals. One will be in the vicinity of Sulphur Beach, near where the second photo above was taken from the walkway.

Vent Building north

The southern vent stack will be between Beaumont St and Westhave Drive, where the Crombie and Lockwood building is (opposite Air New Zealand).

Vent Building

While an additional rail crossing will require some small reclamation, it will be a large magnitude less than what is required for the road crossings. This is because 2 tracks take the same space as 2 motorway lanes, and there will be no need for complex ramps and mixing of lanes, and of course there will be no need for huge vent stacks.

Hopefully this post will highlight a number of the major effects this project will have on the environment and landscape. Surely this will make some North Shore, St Mary’s Bay and inner city residents think twice about the need for this project, considering the effect on their backyard and harbour. This should also awaken reporters, including one John Roughan who was horrified at the sight of a comparatively tiny reclamation for the busway in 2007.

Stuart’s 100: #1 Transforming the Motorway Ring

Urban designer Stuart Houghton has set himself a personal project of coming up with 100 ideas for improving Auckland at the rate of one a day. He is Tweeting them here: @HoughtonSd 

Discussing this project with Stuart he said that I see the city is getting better and better and growing up fast, but everywhere I look as I move about the city I am struck by ideas big and small for how Auckland could be improved. I see this as a positive thing.” 

We agree.

In this task he has been inspired by Jan Gehl the Danish urbanist who famously said:

“How nice it is to wake up each morning in a city that is a little bit better than it was before”

Stuart has kindly agreed to allow us to run them here over the next 100 week days, here’s #1, enjoy:

1 Transforming the Motorway Ring

Day_1

I had to start my 100 ideas with this one; my urban design master’s thesis from 2009. The starting point was sitting in London panning across Auckland in Google Earth with my tutor, and his simple observation on the wastefulness of such a huge area of otherwise high value land being taken up exclusively by the motorways.

Stuart's 100 #1

The project basically asks: Wouldn’t it be great if rather than a massive barrier that shackles the city centre, the CMJ was actually a positive shaping force, becoming an urban and social connector?

Pages from FINAL_workshop_presentation_RevA_110308-2

I proposed retaining but reducing the capacity of the motorway lanes, and through a combination of tunnelling and capping enable other uses to take place over the motorway. This could join with the waterfront to create a continuous ring of public space. Along with the historical north-south Queen Street axis, these could become three major public space armatures around which the city grows and develops for the next 100 years.

This might seem far out. But it needn’t be a grand vision. In many ways, projects like the Grafton Gully Cycleway are already grafting new uses to the motorway ring. Potential projects like the Nelson St off ramp, and the idea of a Grafton Gully Boulevard as posted by Kent and Nick a few weeks back can all work towards this.

Pages from FINAL_workshop_presentation_RevA_110308-2_b

 

Pages from FINAL_workshop_presentation_RevA_110308-4

 

 

June 2014 Patronage

The patronage results for June are out and like recent months the results are particularly good for the rail network. The June stats are also significant as they represent the end of financial year results for Auckland transport. The 12 month figure is the highest it has been since 1959 – although of course the city had a lot less people back then.

 Auckland public transport patronage totalled 72,396,155 passengers for the 12 months to Jun-2014, an increase of +0.9% on the 12 months to May-2014 and +5.6% on the 12 months to Jun-2013.

June monthly patronage was 6,107,965, an increase of 623,266 boardings or +11.4% on Jun-2013, normalised to ~ +6.8% accounting for additional special event patronage and one more business day and one less weekend day in Jun-2014 compared to Jun-2013. Year to date patronage has grown by +5.6%.

Rail patronage totalled 11,435,085 passengers for the 12 months to Jun-2014, an increase of +1.7% on the 12 months to May-2014 and +13.9% on the 12 months to Jun-2013. Patronage for Jun-2014 was 1,039,830, an increase of 194,491 boardings or +23.0% on Jun-2013, normalised to ~ +9.4%. Year to date rail patronage has grown by +13.9%.

The Northern Express bus service carried 2,426,745 passenger trips for the 12 months to Jun-2014, an increase of +1.0% on the 12 months to May-2014 and +6.5% on the 12 months to Jun-2013. Northern Express bus service patronage for Jun-2014 was 210,069, an increase of 23,201 boardings or +12.4% on Jun-2013, normalised to ~ +9.1%. Year to date Northern Express patronage has grown by +6.5%.

Other bus services carried 53,424,378 passenger trips for the 12 months to Jun-2014, an increase of +0.8% on the 12 months to May-2014 and +4.2% on the 12 months to Jun-2013. Other bus services patronage for Jun-2014 was 4,525,656, an increase of 420,821 boardings or +10.3% on Jun-2013, normalised to ~ +7.6%. Year to date other bus patronage has grown by +4.2%.

Ferry services carried 5,109,947 passenger trips for the 12 months to Jun-2014, a decrease of -0.3% on the 12 months to May-2014 and an increase +3.1% on the 12 months to Jun-2013. Ferry services patronage for Jun-2014 was 332,410, a decrease of -15,247 boardings or -4.4% on Jun-2013, normalised to ~ -7.3%. Year to date ferry patronage has increased by +3.1%.

AKL Patronage - All - Jun 14

AKL Patronage - Table - Jun 14

So rail patronage for June is up 23% on the same month a year ago while the 12 month rolling figure is up 14%, both are massive numbers. If we were able to keep up that rate of growth it would see us hitting the 20 million rail patronage target set by the government for the City Rail Link by the end of 2018. With the upcoming improvements from rolling out the electric trains to the majority of the network, the new bus network, integrated fares and other enhancements I think this rate of growth (or more) is eminently possible.

One of the important results is also to see the impact on patronage to Onehunga which has been the first to get electric trains – despite the recent hiccup. Patronage to Onehunga is up a staggering 37%. It seems the public are already responding the the improved quality of services and it’s something I’ve seen first hand with Onehunga Line trains often full in the mornings despite having significantly more capacity than the trains  they replaced.

You may also remember the patronage targets for the next few years were recently reduced after AT said the already reduced targets were basically impossible. Here’s how the rail patronage result looks compared to the target.

Rail Patronage vs SOI target 2013-14

In the end the result was only a few thousand short of the target. With only an extra 700,000 trips a year now needed to reach the newly lowered target for 2014/15 I expect it will be surpassed early. Someone should also tell Manurewa Local Board Chairperson Angela Dalton that patronage is rising as she is busy trying to say the opposite.

People will continue to abandon the trains in favour of cars until such time as there is attention focussed on security issues at suburban train stations instead of committing rate payers money into the City Rail Link,” Angela Dalton said.

Along with rail it’s also pleasing to see that bus patronage continues to grow too. This is quite important as it shows that all PT use is rising and that the increases in rail patronage aren’t simply a result of people shifting from bus to train.

All up a good result for PT and in other good news Cycling continues to grow strongly at the sites monitored by ATs automatic cycle counters. For June the result was up 11.4% while the 12 month rolling figure was up 10%

AKL Cycling- Jun 14

Considering the heightened discussion surrounding the traffic on the Harbour Bridge it’s also worth highlighting what’s happening with traffic on the bridge. As you can see vehicle volumes continue to struggle to get above 160,000 trips, something that was a regular occurrence  before 2007

AHB - All -2013-14

 

Update on the Downtown Shopping Centre

There’s a good article up on the Herald website today, with an update on what’s happening with the Downtown Shopping Centre. I’d suggest heading over there and checking it out. The article notes that “Precinct [Properties] expects to release images of its plans towards the end of the year and hopes to start building in 2016″. It also has an image up that I haven’t seen before, so here it is:

8ed093cc85a55dfefbe27446cd702efd914ec2bb_620x310

The Herald article also mentions that  Precinct have found a similar building underway in San Francisco and been over to take a look at it. The development in question is the Salesforce Tower, which is also a skyscraper above a railway tunnel. That building is taller than the one proposed for Auckland, and doesn’t seem to have as much of a retail component, but presumably a lot of the structural questions are similar. It’s great that there’s a comparable project which the development team can learn from.

Northcote Walking and Cycling improvements

Auckland Transport are starting consultation tomorrow for a series of walking and cycling improvements to Northcote. All up there will be 5.2km of improvements from the intersection of Taharoto Road and Northcote Road through to the Northcote Ferry Terminal. Along with improving cycling facilities AT also specifically say it’s about improving links to the eventual Skypath which is great to see. A map of the route to be upgraded is below.

Northcote Safecycle Overview

The improvements are generally in the form of a mix of on road cycle lanes and shared paths, which most people will say aren’t ideal. Some of the changes are:

  • An off-road shared walking and cycling path on either side of Northcote Road from the Taharoto Road/Northcote Road intersection to the Northcote Road/Ocean View Road/Lake Road intersection
  • Improvements to walking and cycling facilities at the Northcote Road/Ocean View Road/Lake Road roundabout
  • An on-road cycle lane on either side of Lake Road and an off-road shared walking and cycling path on the eastern side of Lake Road from the Northcote Road/Ocean View Road/Lake Road intersection to Exmouth Road/Raleigh Road/Lake Road intersection.
  • Improvements to walking and cycling facilities at the Exmouth Road/Raleigh Road/Lake Road roundabout
  • An on-road cycle lane on the western side of Lake Road and an off-road shared walking and cycling path on the eastern side of Lake Road from the Exmouth Road/Raleigh Road/Lake Road intersection to the Lake Road/Onewa Road intersection
  • Improvements to walking and cycling facilities at the Lake Road/Onewa Road/Queen Street intersection
  • An on-road cycle lane on either side of Queen Street from the Onewa Road/Queen Street intersection to the entry to the Northcote Point Ferry Terminal

The maps show that the on road cycle lanes on Queen St will be protected by parking a first for Auckland. AT even say the plans will see some on street parking removed which is something sure to raise the hackles of some locals.

While there are bound to be a number of specific issues with the plans the one that stands out to me the most is the section around Onewa Rd. where the cycling facilities seem to basically end and dump people back on to the road. I’m sure some of you will be able to highlight all of the issues in the comments.

Overall it’s good to see AT at least planning to roll out more cycling improvements across the city. For a long time it’s felt like not much was happening but there seems to have been a bit of a surge of progress on projects in the last few months which it would be great to see carry on.