Happy New Year and welcome to 2015, the year we get hoverboards.
In this post I’m going to look at what we can expect from 2015, some of these have been highlighted in the recent days.
I expect it’s going to be another big year for PT in Auckland as the current growth that we’ve been seeing carries on.
Again I think the rail network is going to lead the way with massive growth as people respond to the improved quality the new electric trains offer and the better, more frequent timetables that should accompany them. By the end of the year we could be looking at patronage of about 14 – 14.5 million trips. That will put us well on the way towards the governments CRL target of 20 million trips before 2020. One thing we will definitely need to keep an eye on is the impact on patronage from Pukekohe from the implementation of a Papaukra to Pukekohe shuttle once the Southern line goes electric.
The City Rail Link will continue to be a talking point, especially as we draw closer to the start of construction of the enabling works. I hope that in 2015, Auckland Transport finally start to tell the story of the CRL properly – something they are now saying they will do.
We should also hear about the plans for the old rolling stock – which I’m picking will be sold off to somwhere in Southern Africa – and hear more about the tender to operate the trains from mid-2016 onwards. Wellington is currently going through the same process which is something I’ll post about soon.
Like the rail network the Northern Express has been growing strongly and again I think this will continue, especially once services are extended to Silverdale which will hopefully happen this year. I also think we’ll start to hear more about how the busway itself performs as a large number of trips on it aren’t on the NEX but on services such as the 881 that use the busway for part of their journey. Hopefully we might finally see some more Double Deckers too.
The rest of the bus network should continue to see growth too and we’re likely to have a few more big New Network consultations in 2015, in saying that we aren’t likely to have much in the way of implementation as even the South Auckland network has been pushed back to 2016 which in part is about waiting for Integrated Fares. One thing that will help the bus network is the roll out of more bus lanes which AT have promised to do.
As mentioned the other day, we will certainly hear more about integrated fares this year although they are unlikely to be implemented before the end of the year. From what I hear, a lot of work had been going on to get the structure right with AT working towards an additional aim of having as few people as possible disadvantaged by any changes. The flip side to that is that most people should get some benefit out of the change which should only help to make PT more attractive to use.
Walking and Cycling
Like PT, 2015 has the potential to be a great year for walking and cycling. In January the fantastic looking Westhaven Promenade should finally open vastly improving pedestrian and cycle access around Westhaven. We should see the start of a cycleway on Nelson St and making use of the old motorway off ramp and construction should also the start of the Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr shared path. One thing that isn’t clear is if we’ll start to see some JSK style quick and cheap implementations or if AT will have the courage to start removing parking and/or narrow oversized central road medians to enable cycle infrastructure to be put in.
Of course we will be paying close attention to see what happens with Skypath. I suspect it will get approval but also that some of the local residents will challenge that approval in the environment court.
2015 will continue to be a year of massive construction on our road network, especially around SH16. Works will also start on the grade separation of Kirkbride Rd. I suspect later in the year we’ll hear more about plans to widen SH1 south of Manukau and hear more about the NZTA’s plans for the SH1/SH18 interchange. On top of this we’re bound to find out more about Puhoi to Warkworth. In Wellington we’ll definitely be keeping an eye on the NZTAs appeal to the Basin Reserve flyover decision. We will also find out more about AT’s plans for AMETI and the East-West Link, Lincoln Rd, Mill Rd and maybe even Penlink.
One aspect that will be fascinating to see is if the current drop in fuel prices is sustained and what, if any impact it has on travel trends.
Overall across all areas it’s going to be a big year and I think it’ll be a good one. I’m already aware of a few positive surprises that are in store for but that I can’t comment on yet.