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Hopes for 2013

Next year will have a lot of really important milestones for Auckland’s public transport system. Let’s take a look at the biggies:

  • The first electric trains are scheduled to arrive in the second half of 2013, although they’re not likely to be put into revenue service until early 2014.
  • Integrated ticketing will finally be implemented across all buses, trains and ferries in the first half of 2013.
  • The notice of requirement to secure route protection for the City Rail Link project should progress significantly throughout 2013, which will mean the project advances further than it has before in its many iterations over the past 90 years.
  • We should start to see the first steps of implementing the exciting new bus network across Auckland.

My main hopes are that all of these momentous events are able to take place in a timely and successful manner. The history of integrated ticketing means that this is the one I’m most sceptical of seeing further delays over (has the Hop Card equipment even been ordered yet for the buses I wonder?) so I think we’ll need to keep an eye on that. Most things seem on track with construction of the EMUs, the CRL is likely to go through the standard consenting process which – unlike many projects where this is a scary hurdle – actually almost seems like it can be an opportunity to highlight and reinforce the benefits of the project. There will necessarily be a lot of information about things like station design that will need to be released as part of the consenting process so it’ll be interesting to comment on things like the location of station entrances and the like.

As well as these big headline projects, I also hope that Auckland Transport can do a better job at some of the small things – like actually getting in place a bus lane or two, sorting out the Outer Link bus, ensuring that the Fanshawe Street bus lane is reopened by early February, not putting up public transport fares for a while yet and having better real-time information available.

The other really interesting thing to come out in 2013 will be the Council’s Draft Unitary Plan. As the document with the statutory powers to regulate pretty much every bit of land-use development, the Unitary Plan will be critical in deciding whether the vision of the Auckland Plan can be achieved or not. Things like what the Plan’s approach to parking minimums will be and the extent to which clever intensification is enabled and encouraged will be something to keep a really close eye on – and I’m hoping the Council has the guts to be bold in changing the planning rulebook where it’s painfully obvious the old approaches simply don’t work.

It’ll be an interesting year, that’s for sure.

23 comments to Hopes for 2013

  • bbc

    “My main hopes are that none of these momentous events are able to take place in a timely and successful manner”

    I assume you meant the opposite of this?

  • Adam W

    Can someone explain what ‘ secure route protection’ means ??
    I believe I have seen this phrase used for the airport line through Managere and I am curious to know what exactly this means, and what this means for this line as well.

    • Peter M

      It’s an RMA and Public Works Act process which basically means that consent is gained for an alignment to enable construction and operation of the line as well as ensure that nobody can do anything within that corridor which could make it difficult or more expensive to build the line in the future.

    • Bbc

      Yes it avoids situations like what almost happened at the downtown shopping centre where plans to build a skyscraper almost precluded the options of the CRL. It also enables people to plan as they don’t have to worry about whether or not they will be affected.

      • Bob Scott

        I hope too, that they act quickly to secure the route. Unlike Puford, where nothing has been done and there is no money available to do so. “whether or not they will be affected” is a phrase that seems totally foreign to NZTA,.

  • patrick

    There will also be a new station at Parnell hopefully coinciding with the completion of Carlaw Park stage 2 redevelopment.

  • SteveC

    I hope for a successful and positive outcome for the submission process on the ARPTP and a quick commencement of planning for the changes entailed

  • Simon C

    My wishlist is of course for the EMUs to start arriving on time and pass their tests on reliability well and that the electrification infrastructure works are completed on time. Very unlikely, but the huge win for the year would be gaining part-funding of the CRL from the govt. The integrated card on all PT modes will be another big step in the right direction (hopefully with family passes etc included). I hope to see continued upgrading of stations, particularly shelters, plans and construction for gating of more of the main stations and a big win would be improved late night weekday and weekend services. The last one is something that was in the plans to come to fruition by 2010 or 2011 if my memory is correct…and we are still waiting. The protection for the Airport line is also a biggie.

    • Rob Mayo

      Am in AKL for the next few weeks and have noticed that electrification works seem to be moving ahead PDQ right now. Was down South Auckland way today and saw 99% of masts in place all the way from Homai to Middlemore and the Kiwirail / HILOR traction crews working flat out between Puhinui and Papatoetoe on 3 cherry picker trucks and one low loader, busily putting up brackets and insulators onto the gantries, portals and masts. Given they only really got going from 27 Dec, the crews are making good time and I reckon if I go back there in a week’s time, I’ll see full wiring up to at least as far as Papatoetoe if not up as far as Middlemore.

      Thus, at least the entire AKL network electrification works will be finished by the stated Sept 2013 date.

    • jonno1

      I have no doubt whatsoever that the installation work will be completed on time, including testing. Some preliminary testing has already been done, not only to test the lines but to test/improve the process. All the feeder substation and track section cabin installation is complete and has been for some time. But I have no idea whether the EMU delivery schedule is on target, or indeed whether they will perform to specification; that remains to be seen.

  • CM

    Airport route protection would be a good one to get in. But there is too much of a good thing. Central govt won’t want to be seen as weak and too conciliatory to Auckland’s demands, so I can’t imagine funding for the Airport line for a while, certainly not funded in the same way.

    But Onehunga line and station doubling as the first stage of CRL works will begin the momentum for that. Penrose will need a fourth platform I’d say.

    News on the third main line would be great too. As this will most likely be freight-led, govt could perhaps do this one without losing pride! It’d be nice to have wires to enable some electric expresses in the peaks – and for flexibility. AT might have to fund that part though.

    Puke wiring news I’d anticipate too. The same thing is happening in the UK whereby the economics stack up for the left out ‘diesel island’ sections so much quicker, that all electrification schemes are being expanded in scope almost right after being announced. It’s much cheaper to just keep going once you’re there, rather than the long grass…it can still be amortised.

  • Greenwelly

    I am willing to be proved wrong, but I think that the first half of 2013 will be too ambitious a deadline for the rollout of HOP to all bus companies, I think you might have a couple of the smaller ones on board, but the fact that there has been no comments, mentions of equipment purchases or trial installations does not fill me with hope…….

    • Bryce P

      Although he keeps on mentioning another harbour crossing AND rail to the shore. I wish AT would get someone to price up a ‘rail only’ crossing using skytrain type units.

    • JeffT

      I’d like to say Len for prime minister or president but we need him here in Auckland doing overdue work on our infrastructure and improving quality of life. I just want rail back so I can get out and enjoy these events.

  • Greg N

    Please can we have Real time PT arrival departure information on our smartphones like “grown up” places do now.
    See this link: http://www.engadget.com/2012/12/28/mta-app-for-iphone-offers-new-yorkers-real-time-subway-arrivals/

    For what the MTA in NYC is doing and even that is behind the 8 ball..

    I’m sick of rushing to the train station to try and catch a train only to have it pull out as I get to the top of the escalator as the train is “early” and then having to wait 20+ minutes for the “next” train going my way assuming its not mysteriously delayed.

    With Real time arrival and departure info I could adjust my trip (faster or slower) as I make my way to the station like civilised people do elsewhere. Of course once we get 15 minutes or less frequency of services then its turn up and go, but even so, I’d still want to know if I can make the next train by walking a bit faster or not as I make my way to the station.

    • 10min freq is the plan post electrification… High freq is more reliable than high reliability if you know what I mean, you know, the delivery can be less precise but the service experience is better for the traveller. No need to run.

      • Greg N

        Patrick,
        Don’t disagree, more frequency makes up for less punctuality (but only to a point mind – you need a modicum of both).

        However, regardless of how often the trains turn up, I still want to know when the next one is due (and also the one or two after that),

        Reason is that as I make my way to the station, I can decide if I need to run for that green pedestrian crossing light just ahead of me, or simply stroll, and wait the extra 5 minutes more for the green light at the next phase. Or to put it into a road safety context:
        It lets me decide if I want to dodge the traffic and jaywalk to get to the station or wait safely at the crossing for the signal to cross, so I can decide if its worthwhile risking it to get the next train or not. If the train after that is a few minutes away I probably wouldn’t bother – unless I had a death wish that is.

        We have “real time” information for buses now (that sort of works, to a point) – so why not have something much much better for the trains in 2013 – it is after all not a “new fangled” thing, more an old fangled thing thats been used for many decades to control the train signalling – we just haven’t implemented anything useful due to lack of means of distributing said information to the masses apart from “real time displays” at the station, which while nice, is not exactly of use until you’re actually AT the said station.
        But with smartphones and always on connectivity abounding then real time train info plus a smartphone and a good easy to use app can provide a potential “killer app” for PT use.

        I think if you surveyed bus users would they exchange the electronic signs at bus stops for a more regular service so that they don’t need to care about when the next bus is due to arrive – probably they’d mostly agree, but all would also say that they would want to know before they left home how far away the next few buses to arrive at their local stop are – so that they know whether they need to hurry to make the next bus andor if they have time to pop into the shop to top up their AT hop card ahead of time or buy a paper etc – and also if they miss this bus how long for the next one.

        Same applies for train users too I reckon.

        In my case I have two “local” bus stops, one across a busy road, the other round the corner which is twice as long a walk (but a much safer one as I don’t cross any roads) – so which option I’d use would depend on whether a bus is due imminently and also how busy (or not) the busy road is.
        If the next bus is 2 or more minutes away I’d take the safer option. If its less than that, then I’d look at how far away the next bus is, and make a call as to whether I’d dodge the traffic to cross the road or not to make the first (or second) bus or take the longer walk.

        And as we are expecting to put the masses on the trains starting in the near future, its about time that the future arrived for these PT users – and the best time for that is on or before the new EMUs come into service.

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