Every year Auckland Transport agree with the council a new Statement of Intent (SOI) with the council. It sets out their strategic approach, priorities and targets for the following three years. They are currently in the process of setting the SOI for the 2014-2017 period and there appear to be some quite concerning aspects in the documents – which are found in the various agenda items for the Council Controlled Organisations Governance and Monitoring Committee. My understanding of the process is that the Council send AT a letter of expectation outlining their key priorities, Auckland Transport are meant to incorporate that into a draft SOI which is then reviewed by council officers. The comments from them get responded to by AT and then goes to the council for a final decision.
Last year the biggest change to the SOI as the lowering of patronage targets, most notably for rail. It’s also something that backfired on them with the Ministry of Transport highlighting it their first review on the progress towards the CRL targets the government, suggesting it shows AT don’t believe rail can grow by the amount required.
So this year what do we see? The same thing is happening again with in some cases AT wanting to drop their targets for all PT modes. In the case of rail especially this is to almost absurd levels. For example in their current SOI their target is 11.4 million trips by the end of June 2014 (which they might meet if they keep growing they way they are) while by end of June 2015 they are expected to reach a total of just over 13 million. In their new draft SOI they want the rail target for 2014/15 lowered to just 12.1 million. The target seems way to low considering that:
- We’re already going to be at ~11.1 million (as we hit 11 million before the end of March)
- There’s 15 months to go before the end of June 2015
- In that time electric trains are expected to roll out to the Onehunga Line, Manukau and Southern Lines
Here’s a graph to show how the rail SOI target has changed over the last few versions of the SOI and how we’re actually performing.
My guess is that we could potentially blow past the 13 million trip target and this isn’t something that should be changed. For the other modes there are similar outcomes. The targets proposed in the 2014/15 year go
- Total patronage – 78.16 million -> 74.24 million
- Busway (NEX) – 2.59 million -> 2.51 million
- Other Bus – 56.63 million -> 53.70 million
- Ferry – 5.90 million -> 5.94 million
So only the target for ferries goes up which is interesting in itself as they are the mode currently going backwards. Overall this seems like a cop out and the councillors shouldn’t accept this (especially no on the rail figures).
The issue of dropping patronage targets is something noted by the council officers and by Councillor Chris Darby in a memo he sent to other councillors which is also online.
Darby’s letter also highlights that many of the “Key Focus areas for 2014/15 for Auckland Transport” from the council’s letter of expectation are not simply not reflected on in the SOI. These include
- A strategic review of public transport fares
- Increased priority for pedestrians and cyclists, and improvement of walking and cycling facilities that improve access to public transport.
- Identification of and reporting on the delivery of any improvements to the quality of urban design outcomes.
- Effective management of hygiene factors in the public realm such as cleaning, mowing, and tree clipping.
- Identifying surplus non-strategic properties for disposal in conjunction with ACPL
On the issue of cycling he notes that many of the timelines set for projects are quite at odds with the presentation AT gave the councils Infrastructure Committee just over a month ago on The Role of Cycling in Auckland. He highlights this in the following table
Lastly here’s the programme of works proposed in the SOI. Darby thinks that added to this should be planning and route protection for a North West busway along SH16, the Te Atatu bus interchange and the list of bus lanes that will be added. I agree with him.
1. Planning and route protection
1.1 Complete the Auckland Regional Land Transport Plan by June 2015
1.2 Undertake planning and route protection for major new transport initiatives, including:
- City Rail Link.
- South-Western Multimodal Airport Rapid Transit (SMART) network
- Botany lo Manukau rapid transit network.
- Mill Road corridor upgrade.
- East-West Link (In conjunction with NZTA). including public consultation on the development and progression of a preferred option;
- Penlink; and
- Auckland-Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI).
2. New transport infrastructure
Complete investigation and design of
- Package 4 ( Panmure Roundabout. Lagoon Drive, Additional Panmure Bridge. Busway to Pakuranga, New Pakuranga Bus Station and car parking facilities, and Reeves Road Flyover) by 2017.
Complete construction of:
- Package I Phase 1 (Panmure interchange) in 2014:
- Package 2 (Sylvia Park bus lanes) by 2016:
- AMETI Package 4 enabling works including local road changes and major utility diversions
Commence construction of Reeves Road flyover (to be completed by 2019)
2.2 Introduce new electric trains into service.
2.3 Local road improvements associated with State highway upgrades, including:
Complete construction at:
- Tiverton Road to Wolverton Street upgrade by 2014 (Culvert upgrade by 2016); and
- Te Atatu Road corridor improvements by 2017.
Complete design and acquisition for:
- Lincoln Road corridor improvements by 2017.
2.4 Major local road improvements (over $5m). Including:
Complete construction of:
- Dominion Road corridor upgrade Including dedicated bus lanes, 12 kin of parallel cycle routes, and 3 village centre upgrades by 2017:
- Albany Highway North upgrade by 2017;
- Murphy’s Road bridge improvement by 2016;
- Brigham Creek corridor upgrade by 2017; and
- North Western transformation protect (NORSGA) for the Northside Drive East, Westgate Bus Interchange, and Hobsonville Point Park and Ride by 2017.
Complete land acquisition for:
- North Western transformation project (NORSGA) for Hobsonville Road by 2017.
2.5 Public transport Infrastructure, Including:
Complete construction of the following projects by 2016
- Otahuhu bus/rail interchange;
- Manukau bus interchange;
- Parnell Station:
- Pukekohe Station. and
- Silverdale park and ride facilities stage 2.
Complete land acquisition and, subject to that acquisition, complete construction of:
- Fanshawe / Albert / Wellesley streets bus Infrastructure improvements by 2017,
2.6 Complete construction of road safety Improvements at high-risk areas on the road network, including:
- Great South Road / Bell Avenue Intersection ($09m) by 2014:
- Piha Road by 2017 ($0.8m):
- Ngapipi Road / Tamaki Drive Intersection by 2017; and
- Whitford Road I Sandstone Road ($0.9m) by 2014.
2.7 Complete the construction to upgrade ferry terminals at:
- Downtown by 2017;
- Devonport by 2017; and
- Half Moon Bay by 2016.
2.8 Extend the regional cycleway network. including:
Complete construction of:
- Beach Road cycleway by 2017:
- Dominion Road parallel cycle routes by 2015:
- Northcote, Waitemata, Mangere. Mt Roskill, and Point England sate cycleway routes by 2017;
- Upper Harbour Drive cycleway by 2016; and
- Waterview cycleway connection (in conjunction with NZTA) by 2017.
Complete scheme assessment and preliminary design of:
- Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive cycleway by 2017.