2015 – The Year Ahead

Happy New Year and welcome to 2015, the year we get hoverboards.

Back to the Future hoverboard

October 21, 2015

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.

PT

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.

Roads

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.

2014 – A Year in Review Part 4 – Everything else

In this fourth post reviewing the 2014 I’ll look at the topics not already covered.

Central Government Election

2014 was dominated – either directly or indirectly by the central government elections which is not surprising considering how much impact the government has on transport and urban policy. In the end National had a fairly comfortable win which means not much change from a political point of view although as mentioned in Tuesdays post, they have now committed more money to cycling which is helpful.

New Transport Minister

Related to the election, Prime Minister John Key reshuffled his cabinet around and we now have a new Minister of Transport in Simon Bridges. We are hoping to be able to meet Simon and will keep trying in 2015. So far there seems little sign of a change in position between him and his predecessor Gerry Brownlee, although he has taken a notable liking to the idea of self-driving cars.

Government Policy Statement

The Government Policy Statement – which dominates transport planning and spending in the country – was released and showed little change on its predecessors. It will still see the majority of money for transport spend on new and improved state highways of which most of that is earmarked for the hand-picked RoNS projects.

GPS 2015-2025 Funding Graph

Council Long Term Plan

Next year the council must sign off a new 10 year budget – the Long Term Plan – and the mayor’s proposal emerged this year. It’s had a few minor changes by the council but effectively sees rates increases capped at 3.5%. One of the hardest hit areas from this has been transport which has had funding slashed. This has left us in a sticky mess where the funding available enables means many key projects – such as interchanges that are fundamental to enable key changes such as the new bus network are unfunded.

Tied in with this has been a separate stream of work looking at alternative funding methods to plug a funding gap previously identified and looking closely at options of tolling motorways or additional rates. The utterly terrible situation with the basic transport package very much seems like a way to force Aucklander’s to agree to additional funding rather than addressing the elephant in the room of the insane state highway spending by the government. The LTP goes out to consultation in a few weeks and it will likely dominate a lot of discussion in the first half of this year.

Great International Visitors

  • This year we’ve had some great visitors as part of the council’s Auckland Conversations talks. This includes
  • Janette Sadik Kahn
  • The Brunrlett’s
  • Brent Toderian (again)
  • Professor Peter Newman
  • Gordon Price (again)
  • and many others.

Special Housing Areas

During 2014 two new tranches of Special Housing Areas were announced considerably increasing the number across Auckland. These are the areas where the Unitary Plan rules come into effect immediately and the council uses a fast tracked consenting process. Despite them all there has been little progress on actually building houses in most of them and it seems a lot of developers who pushed to receive SHA status did so just for some capital gains.

Special Housing Areas 1 2 3 4

Auckland Construction Boom

In 2014 it seems like the Auckland construction scene burst back to life after a few quiet years with a huge number of projects announced. These were primarily residential projects such as apartments. The biggest of the lot is likely to be the NDG Auckland Centre for which a 209m high tower is proposed on the empty site bordering Albert St/Victoria St/Elliot St. The tower and retail podium will link directly into the Aotea station on the CRL

NDG Centre 1

Stuart’s 100

Earlier this year our friend and urban designer Stuart Houghton set himself a personal project of coming up with 100 ideas for improving Auckland at the rate of one a day. We have been running these throughout the second half of the year – with some still to go. There have been some fantastic ideas and conversations that have resulted from this work. Thanks Stuart for your contributions to making Auckland better.

Day_1

Blog

Lastly it’s been another fantastic year for the blog with more and more people reading it, something we really appreciate. I’d also like to thanks my fellow bloggers and everyone else who has helped contribute this year. All up including this post there we’ve published 908 posts, had over 33,100 comments. According to Google Analytics we’ve had over 900,000 visitors and have serve up over 1.7 million page views which is up about 20% on 2013. In total 65% of our readers are from Auckland and 82% are from NZ.

I hope you all have a great 2015.

Tomorrow I’ll look at what we can expect for 2015 plus a few predictions

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone. From everyone hear at TransportBlog I hope you have a great day with friends and family.

Christmas 2

Photo by Jonty Victor

I’d also like to say thanks to all the men and women who help to keep our PT system working, especially those bus drivers working today.

Great upcoming talks

There are a number of events coming up that readers may be interested in.

Tomorrow – IPENZ Talk by Steven Burgess on Designing for safety how safe road design doesn’t make safe streets

IPENZ Talk - Steven Burgess

Next WeekBrent Toderian is back in Auckland and giving another Auckland Conversations talk, this time on Vibrant Waterfronts

Auckland Conversatons - Brent Toderian

4th NovemberVancouver Cycle Chic are here to talk about emerging bike culture

Auckland Conversatons - Bruntletts

 

Give Away!

Film distributors Madman Entertainment have kindly sent us four DVDs of the BBC documentary on the London Underground: The Underground:

Underground DVD

Narrated by Julian Barrett of Mighty Boosh fame, each of the six episodes is an incredibly in-depth and unblinking look at what it takes to keep Four Million people moving under the streets of London everyday. Full of characters and extraordinary information from this unseen world.

Produced for the BBC, THE UNDERGROUND goes behind the scenes of the world’s oldest, biggest and busiest underground train network, during the biggest overhaul in its 150 year history.

The series follows key members of the Tube’s 19,000 staff – from the chief operating officer down to the litter pickers who walk miles of track every night collecting rubbish. Drivers, station staff and emergency response workers all reveal their unique perspective on the passengers. From tourists to suburban commuters to drunks getting the last train home, we capture the life of the Tube in all its guises.

To win a copy just add a comment to this post with the sentence or soundbite that you think should be used to promote Auckland’s own [but of course much smaller] version of underground; the CRL. We will choose the four best ones and send them each a copy. As well as seriously suggest to Auckland Transport that they use one of them!

Thanks to Madman Entertainment.

Website Update

We’re looking at the performance issues that have been affecting the website lately.

We are trying a few different things like adjusting the way caching (WP Super Cache) is done, and we have removed the sidebar from posts once you click on them from the main page. This is designed to reduce the amount of caching that is happening on the server.

Hopefully you’ll notice transportblog become more responsive as a result. Let us know in the comments if you come across anything that isn’t quite right.

IPENZ Transport Debate – The car is so last century

If you’re interested in transport and are looking for something to do tomorrow night then perhaps the annual IPENZ transport debate is just what you’re looking for.

IPENZ Transport debate 2014

I understand that Patrick is also the MC for this and I’m sure he will have lots to say about this this topic along with those debating.

Welcome new readers

If you’ve come here as a result of the Herald article then welcome. You can find the original article about how rail was saved here (has some different images to what the Herald added)

We specialise in discussions about transport and other urban issues so if you’ve ever wondered about something related to either of these then there’s a good chance we’ve covered it at some point. Ask about it in the comments and we or our regular readers can try to answer it for you and/or provide a link to posts we’ve written on the topic.

While you’re here why don’t you check out the Congestion Free Network we’ve developed. It’s a plan to deliver a network of high quality rail lines and busways across Auckland decades faster than currently planned and does so while saving around $9 billion. It’s an idea we’ve managed to get support for from a wide range of people and the council have asked Auckland Transport to investigate it further (which we understand is currently happening).

CFN 2030A

 

For existing readers something I’ve wanted to do for a while is to put together a resource that people stumbling across the site can read that covers off the key things we talk about/advocate. As such please suggest some of your favourite posts on the various topics we cover.

Last Call- TransportBlog Movie Night: Her

This is the final reminder about our upcoming fundraiser event tomorrow night at Capitol Cinema. Thanks to Campaign for Better Transport, Patrick Reynolds Photography and Odyssey Wines for joining our list of sponsors.

You can order tickets here. Some tickets (cash) will be available at the door.

poster8blog

Like last time we will meet up beforehand  at Go Go Music Cafe which is a large, hard to describe bbq restaurant upstairs and across the street from the theatre.  Anytime after 6:30 should be a good time to join everyone for dinner and/or drinks. See you tomorrow.

TransportBlog Movie Night: Her

This year Capitol Cinema has been kind to arrange a special screening of the new movie Her on 12 March at 8PM (doors). Her has been getting a rave reviews around town and recently picked up a gong at the Oscars for Best Original Screenplay.

Like last time, we’ll arrange a place to meet up before the event (suggestions welcome). Here are a couple photos from the event by @bythemotorway. In addition to supporting the blog this is a great event to meet others in the interesting milieu that is Dominion Road.

Capitol

Peak congestion.

theatre2

Capitol Cinema, Auckland.

Print

You can order tickets here. Group tickets and physical tickets (cash) can be arranged.  Big thanks to Isthmus for joining our growing  list of sponsors.