Auckland’s Local Boards are currently consulting on their 3 year plans. The plans highlight the boards priorities across a range of areas, and each board has about half a dozen outcomes. Generally one of these outcomes includes transport. While the boards cannot control Auckland Transport, they do have a strong advocacy role. Therefore it is useful seeing what each of the boards say about the plans. The plans are all available on the very useful shapeauckland.co.nz website, which is worth checking regularly as it is a hub for all consultation the Auckland Council is undertaking.
As to be expected there is a wide range of outcomes and projects called for. Some boards have excellent plans, while others are clearly lacking. There are some common themes though. All of them mention improved public transport which is good to see, though the level of detail gives away how serious they are. Park and Ride is also regularly mentioned by local boards, however we have highlighted before that this is an expensive way to grow patronage in urban areas, so best to first focus on improving connecting buses, walking and cycling access. Local Boards with extensive coastlines often seem to focus on ferry improvements and new services, but neglect much more affordable bus improvements. Most of the boards have good things to say about walking and cycling. However often there is too much of a focus on Greenways and recreational paths, rather than separated cycleways along useful routes. The ideal Greenway projects are paths that can double as both useful routes and recreational paths, so Greenways like that should be prioritised.
The local board plans are open for submissions until 5pm Wednesday. A good number of positive submissions would help raise the standard of the plans. It would be great to ensure Congestion Free Network projects are included in all relevant plans,so that is one obvious area to submit on. If local boards really do care about improving public transport they should also be advocating for more bus lanes, which is the quickest and easiest way to improve public transport journey time and reliability, and also grow patronage. More advocacy for improved walking & cycling links to stations, as well as separated cycleways connecting key local destinations and traffic calming of local streets would also be great.
Here are some of the local board statements in more detail, highlighting the good and the bad. The best 2 are probably Kaipatiki and Puketapapa, with Waitemata, Maungakiekie-Tamaki and Mangere-Otahuhu also honourable mentions.
Kaipātiki benefits from being situated in the heart of the North Shore and a short trip to Auckland’s CBD, but only 10 per cent of our residents use public transport, cycling or walking to get to work. We are determined to reduce our reliance on cars and increase our use of public transport.
Over the next three years we will:
- advocate to Auckland Transport for a significant shift to bus and ferry services which are fully integrated and part of one network
- support the development of a walking and cycling connection over the Harbour Bridge to the CBD
- work with Auckland Transport to implement our Network Connections Plan. This will create safe walking and cycling links around our neighbourhoods
- support transit lane initiatives to reduce congestion on busy main roads.
A small proportion of Puketāpapa residents work locally; most travel to the CBD and adjacent suburbs. In our area car ownership is lower than the Auckland average and there is a greater reliance on public transport. We need to improve transport connections and choices.
Over the next three years we will:
- boost public transport use by investigating park and ride options, a Rail-to-Roskill spur, and potential for more cross-town services
- advocate for more separated cycle lanes on routes to schools and recreational areas and more walking school buses; implementation of the Puketāpapa Greenways Plan
- partner with Auckland Transport to improve safety, especially around footpaths and crossings.
Plans for Albert-Eden, Manurewa, Waiheke, Waitakere Ranges, Whau all have some useful and positive things identified, though overall seem somewhat unambitious.
Then their are several who are on the right track, but that has led them to promote some strange proposals.
advocating for Light Rail Along the Northern Motorway
Don’t understand why they are advocating for light rail. The North-Western Busway is the realistic project that needs strong local board support to keep it in the spotlight.
Devonport – Takapuna
ensuring commuter cycling is safe and efficient
While great not focussing on greenways, “commuter” cycling isn’t the right word either. Great cycle routes used not just by commuters, but school children, people visiting local businesses, trips and to see friends and Sunday afternoon relaxation. Lake Road has decent quality (by Auckland standards) painted lanes, but these should be upgraded with easy separators to grow usage.
- Outcome: Free-flowing roads, and public transport that’s frequent and easy to use
- advocate for the separation of cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles along Tāmaki Drive, by building a seaward boardwalk/walkway where appropriate
Part of their outcome statement is frankly ridiculous. Free flowing roads is a totally unrealistic outcome. Auckland traffic engineering has been led by this aiming for this outcome for 50 years, which leads to dozens of projects to just add one extra lane to an intersection in the vain hope traffic will flow faster. Of course this never happens, and the sum of this is roads that are awful for pedestrians and cyclists, and thus encourages more traffic.
While great to see Orakei advocating for separated cycleways, they are also strong advocates of free parking along Tamaki Drive, There is plenty of space to turn the existing width of Tamaki Drive into a world-class street, however it requires removing free parking. The board plan would involve spending a huge sum of money, largely to allow free parking on both sides of Tamaki Drive for the whole width.
build foot bridges over congested roads
Again you can understand the boards thinking, however overbridges generally considered to be a failure. Very rare to see anyone using overbridge between Albert Park and AUT for example. Usually a case of unsafe intersection design and poor phasing for pedestrians. This can be fixed cheaply and easily, rather than building footbridges.
Then there are some boards that are very unambitious on promoting transport improvements, or are promoting expensive and unnecessary roading projects. Hibiscus Bays, Howick and Papakura have the biggest issues, but Franklin, Rodney and Upper Harbour also fall into this category too.
Hibiscus and Bays
advocating to bring forward the constructon of Penlink to improve travel times and ease congestion across Whangaparāoa and Silverdale
Their efforts would be much better focussed on lobbying for Northern Busway extensions to Albany and future proofing for extensions to Silverdale.
continue to partner with Auckland Transport to urgently address transport issues, including investigating the need for further ferry transport and improving cycle ways
While this statement sounds lovely, Howick’s transport issues exist because of the lack of alternative modes of travel for many destinations, and the slowness of the services that do exist. This statement is very unambitious compared to most other local boards, so could be much stronger. Ferries will only ever help people that travel to the CBD, and largely useful for people that live near the existing ferry terminal at Half Moon Bay. The local board should really be advocating for bus lanes along Pakuranga Road, and bringing forward the Botany busway.
reduce traffic congestion by pushing for road improvements such as the Mill Road bypass and bridges over rail crossings
The Mill Road bypass is yet another expensive legacy project that Auckland Transport seems unable to downsize to an appropriate level. It is the first stage of an traffic engineers dream project to provide an alternative route to the Southern Motorway, all the way to Drury. However given the huge spending that is taking place on the Southern Motorway to add another lane from Manukau to Papakura, including widening the Takanini bridge, there really is no need for this project. It should be rightsized to a local road safety upgrade which is actually urgently required, rather than stage 1 of a 4 lane highway upgrade.
I encourage everyone to submit on the local board plans to ensure they match your vision for Auckland. You are able to submit on all plans, so feel free to submit on plans in areas where you work or regularly visit as well as where you live. Submissions close Wednesday 5pm.