I think it’s fair to say that we’ve been pretty disappointed with patronage results over the last year or so (longer for rail). After about 7 years of almost constant growth we saw patronage decline and then flat line with it only just starting to show signs of turning around. If there is perhaps one silver lining from all of this it’s that it has hopefully shaken Auckland Transport up and made them realise they can’t just sit back and expect patronage growth will always occur.
There are a heap of big projects happening at the moment which will dramatically improve public transport over the coming years, in particular electrification, the new bus network, integrated ticketing and eventually integrated fares. However these are all big, multi-year projects that we won’t see the full benefit from for a while and I suspect that AT may have been resting on their laurels waiting for those projects to be completed. The patronage problems forced AT to start thinking about PT more and we’re now starting to see some of the early outcomes of this with them starting to improve their marketing – and there is likely to be other improvements to come.
The patronage results were even more concerning as in the Auckland Plan the council set AT a target of doubling patronage over a 10 year period to 2022 with a longer term goal of reaching a PT usage of 100 trips per person per year by 2041 (currently at about 45). A big question has become whether the organisation can actually meet the targets that they have been set and to help answer that Deloitte have been analysing what is planned to estimate just what kind of patronage we can expect. They presented their findings to the AT board last week and the report itself has now been made public. The results are both incredibly interesting and concerning.
All of the various initiatives currently on the list have been summarised into the following groups and there are no surprises from this. What it does help to show is just how much will be happening over the next couple of years.
Deloitte say that even if we manage to fund every PT project currently on the list – including the CRL – and we do it well and on time (i.e. not like HOP so far) then the best we can achieve by 2022 is 101 million PT boardings. That’s a ~31 million increase on what we have now but is 39 million short of AT’s target.
They have also estimated patronage by each mode and say that capacity issues on the bus network could start hurting patronage from 2015 onwards and if not addressed then by 2022 it would mean bus patronage affected by up to 15% (roughly 9 million boardings)
Further they say that if the various projects were to get similar results as seen in other cities that have completed similar projects, then patronage could be as low as ~83 million boardings depending on which comparisons are used. The other cities compared were Wellington, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, London, Toronto and Vancouver and they say none of them managed to double patronage in 10 years with it typically taking twice as long as that with the best being Vancouver at about 16 years. They say that the cities that have seen significant patronage growth have also seen sustained network investment and service improvement.
The one thing perhaps in Auckland’s favour is all of these cities did start from a high base and with a more mature PT network which probably makes it harder to double patronage on. However if Deloitte are right then don’t have a hope in hell of reaching the target that has been set.
So what does all this mean for Auckland Transport? Deloitte say there are two primary options to pursue
In my mind cutting the targets should not even be considered to be an option and I would hope our elected officials would feel the same way. That leaves only option 2 which will mean AT will have to rethink what they are doing and helpfully Deloitte have even suggested a few potential options.
1. Operational, network and service initiatives — for example:
- Fare reduction and restructuring
- Increase frequency, coverage, or additional service kms
- Focus on operational improvements including punctuality and reliability
2. Modification of existing planned projects — for example:
- Rescheduling capital projects (i.e. bring forward CRL and potentially other projects)
3. New capital investments — for example:
- Additional investment in busways
- Bring forward the harbour crossing
4. Incentive management initiatives — for example
- Creating a competitive process for operators
5. Structural reform — for example:
- Congestion/road user charges
Basically if AT want to meet the targets then they will have to really invest in improving the PT network. The really big one is 3. where at the meeting Deloitte said we would need one or two additional busways on top of what is currently planned for a capital cost of ~$355 million. Also I must say I have no idea how pulling forward the AWHC does anything to help patronage, if anything it will do the opposite. In addition improving fares, frequencies and/or network coverage as well as other areas of the PT system will be critical and Deloitte estimate that could cost up to an extra $1.5 billion in operational funding (~$150m per year). In addition to the carrots of better services and infrastructure the authors say we also need to consider some stick type approaches by way of road pricing and increasing parking charges.
By in large I couldn’t agree more and of course the need for AT to change their current investment patterns by re-prioritising spending is something we have suggested quite strongly with the Congestion Free Network. We’ve even suggested a number of busways they couple pursue.
Of course my guess is that they will try for option 1 first using the excuse that they can’t afford to invest more in PT without the council giving them more money as to some within the organisation, the thought of cutting the roading budget seems like a concept from a different planet.
At the board meeting the only real question that arose was whether the goal of 140 million boardings was actually worth it and what would it do to mode share. In other words what sort of difference would that extra 39 million boardings make to metrics like congestion, emissions or how the city works. That wasn’t able to be answered at the time so presumably it is a piece of work that will now be happening.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on what unfolds as a result of this report.
Last week I talked about Penlink and how it appears that it is back on the agenda and being pushed ahead fairly rapidly. This has also been partially confirmed by this listing on the Auckland Transport tenders site.
This Request for Proposal (RFP) is issued for Auckland Transport (AT). The aim of this process is to award a Contract for supply of Planning Professional Services to implement the Penlink Planning Strategy to successfully complete an alteration to the designation and obtain all required consents. This will involve the use of other professional services skills including design, project management and technical experts which are to be provided and managed by the Planning Consultant.
So with this post I thought I would look at some of the alternatives that should be done first – and the impacts properly assessed before committing to building Penlink. Like we have suggested with the East-West link and Operation Lifesaver the focus is on a series of smaller upgrades that can likely be done significantly quicker and cheaper than what is currently planned. Further some of these projects are already on the drawing board so aren’t actually new.
Firstly the primary areas of development that are going to occur in the area in the future is not so much on the peninsula but in the areas closer to SH1 in and around the Silverdale North area. As you can see in this Unitary Plan map there is a heap of land set aside for housing (cream), business (purple) as well as future urban (yellow). It’s this development that will really put a lot of pressure on the Hibiscus Coast Highway (HCH) between Whangaparaoa Rd and the Silverdale interchange.
So with that in mind the focus should be on addressing how we can avoid putting too much pressure on that section of the HCH. Here are a series of projects that could do that.
I understand this has been talked about for some time but the idea is fairly simply, Wainui Rd travels through the south western part of the Silverdale North area before crossing the motorway just over halfway between the Silverdale and Grand Drive interchanges. The idea is to create a set of south facing ramps and therefore providing a more direct connection to SH1 for the Silverdale North area. That would remove the need for many of the future residents to travel down to use the Silverdale Interchange. It would also help in serving that large section of Future Urban land to the west of SH1.
East Coast Rd and Curley Rd Extension
Again this is something that has been talked about for a while but the idea is to extend Curley Rd – a small stub road – to the east and eventually connecting up with Wainui Rd south of where the ramps mentioned above would be. An extension of East Coast Rd to the north across the Wheti River would then connect in with the Curley Rd extension. The idea is to create a connection allowing for traffic going north-south from one side of the HCH to the other to do so in a single crossing without having to use the HCH for part of the journey (other than a single intersection). The rough idea for these two roads is shown in the map below with the new road in red.
Whangaparaoa Rd Upgrades
Whangaparaoa Rd is generally a single lane road for most of its length except for a short section for about 1.5km west and south of the intersection with Red Beach Rd. A previous review of Penlink in 2010 found that while not a substitute for Penlink, widening the section between Red Beach Rd and the HCH would relieve congestion and push back the need for the expensive capital investment that would needed to build Penlink.
My understanding is that this widening was planned to happen fairly soon but has now been put on hold until a new decision on Penlink has been made.
Of course these are all road upgrades, what about some PT upgrades? To me there are two things that should be considered – probably together. First though what is current happening with PT in the area.
AT are going to be building a busway station and park n ride at Silverdale. I believe that stage one which includes access roads and the first 100 or so car parks has been built however stage two which includes the station itself has now been delayed by potentially up to a year. This is due to a neighbouring land owner who has fought the development all the way now seeking a judicial review by the high court. Assuming that eventually falls in AT’s favour then the station can be built and some Northern Express services extended Silverdale. Connecting in will be local services which I will talk about soon. At the other end of the peninsula is the Gulf Harbour ferry. So what could we do?
Improve Local Bus Services
Like most of Auckland the current bus services appear to be a shambles and the maps are hard to read. The new network proposes a much simpler network for the area.
However a key issue that will remain is the frequency of those services with the RPTP suggesting that they will only be half hourly during the peak and hourly off peak. At the very least we should consider what the cost would be to increase the frequency of the green route to be every 15 minutes during the peak and half hourly off peak. That would likely help a lot in making the system much more usable and is unlikely to cost massive amounts of money. Likewise the service to Gulf Harbour might need improving to go with some improved ferries.
The current ferry service is only any use for commuters travelling to the CBD during the peak. For commuters there are only two sailings towards the CBD in the morning (7:00 & 7:30) and two back again in the evening (4:40 & 5:35). Along with increased connector bus services, investing in improving the ferry service should be considered. That would likely require the investment in new ferries and would obviously cost a lot more to run that what exists now however the costs need to be considered in relation to what we would be paying for Penlink. Remember the talk is now that it will be built as a PPP which means we will be paying for the project out of operational budgets for the following 25 years. The cost of running some extra bus and ferry services is probably less than the amount we would be paying just to cover the private company’s interest bill.
So there we go a series of projects that would help in addressing some of the direct traffic problems in the area. I’m not sure how much it would all cost but is almost certainly a lot less than what is planned for Penlink which could now be more than $200m yet only make a difference of about ~7000 vehicles a day. It doesn’t mean Penlink might not be needed in the future but does help address things for the short to medium term.
It’s a glorious Friday afternoon so how about some photos to look at taken from Queens Wharf (not taken today though, weather is much nicer)
Photo are copyright to Sydney
Another of the board papers presented to the AT board yesterday seemed fairly innocuous and so I didn’t cover it but at the meeting today I actually found it slightly interesting but then more details have emerged which has raised a heap of questions.
The paper was about all of the upcoming major events in Auckland and what the impact was for Auckland Transport. There are a surprising number of major events coming up over the next few months and the table of them is below.
The event that caught my attention in the board meeting was the mention of Christmas in the Park where AT said for the first time they would run a proper rail service right through the evening an into the next morning. This is a change from normal where they might run a couple of special services but trains often quickly fell away to hourly leaving PT as a terrible option for families. They didn’t say exactly what the frequencies will be but I’m hoping for 15 minutes on all of the main lines. AT also mentioned that for the first time the event will be alcohol free.
Others to note are an incredibly busy weekend in the middle of February during which there are the NRL 9′s, the Lantern Festival, Eminem and the Weekbix Triathlon. That has the potential to be one of the biggest weekends of PT use we have ever seen.
You might also notice in March that AT are planning an open day for the EMU’s where it sounds like they will be showing off the new trains with rides between Britomart and Newmarket.
However the thing that really got be frustrated – and I don’t know if it was just that I missed it in the meeting – but was definitely in a press release shortly after was about the upcoming Santa Parade. Here is the press release:
Plan your travel early to the Farmers Santa Parade
Take the family on board a bus, train or ferry to a magical day out at the Auckland Farmers Santa Parade on Sunday 24 November, 2pm.
The parade is one of Auckland’s most popular Christmas events and public transport and roads in and out of the city will be busier than usual.
To accommodate the parade and public safety, roads around the parade route will be closed and parking restrictions will apply.
People should expect crowds and plan to travel early. Check by using the journey planner at www.at.co.nz
If the event is moved to the rain date of Sunday 1 December some services may not operate.
Travel to the parade by train:
Event trains operate approximately every 15 minutes on most lines in to the city from 10.30am.
Limited services will depart from Pukekohe and rail buses will replace trains at Helensville, Waimauku and Huapai. These services will transfer to trains at the Swanson Train Station.
After the parade passengers travelling to Helensville and Pukekohe will have dedicated entrances for priority boarding.
Travel to the parade by bus:
Bus services will operate to a Sunday timetable.
Some bus stops in the central city will differ due to the parade. Auckland Transport ambassadors will be on site to help passengers.
Travel to the parade by ferry:
Ferries will operate to a Sunday timetable.
Parking in the city:
If you are planning to drive to the Parade, be aware that road closures and parking restrictions will be in place. Public parking is free at the Auckland Transport Downtown and Victoria St car parks for vehicles exiting between 12noon and 6pm. Check road closures here at Auckland Transport’s website
Trains will have decent frequency but buses and ferries will be left on what are normally crappy Sunday frequencies however the really annoying part is the last point. AT are making two of their parking buildings free for the afternoon. Are they completely insane?
Firstly it completely undermines the any incentive for people to use public transport to get to the city, the one location that would be easiest to ramp up services to. But worse it is likely to cause nightmares on the day. The free parking only covers the Downtown and Victoria St carparks which according to the AT website have 1,890 and 850 spaces respectively so 2,740 all up. Even if every space was taken up with a car carrying the mythical nuclear family of two parents and two kids, that only represents about 11,000 people. That might seem like a lot but would only represent a small fraction of the overall crowd, often estimated at up to 300,000 but more realistically to be around the 80-90k mark.
The problem though is that lured by the potential for free parking heaps of people will then decide to drive to the CBD, after all why pay for a train or bus when you can get free parking in the CBD. Also worth pointing out that it isn’t possible to buy a family pass now unless you are at one of the handful of train stations that still sell them and it is also the same day that the rest of the Metrolink fleet switch over to HOP.
Those car parking spaces will be gone in a flash (probably before the free period even starts) and that will leave the CBD clogged with cars trying to find an alternative places to park and will potentially even see people missing the event as a result. It has the hallmarks of the RWC opening night all over again but instead of the trains failing it will be the road network. Further the congestion is likely to spread out of the CBD which is then bound to affect the few buses that are running – and because it’s a weekend the bus lanes aren’t in operation.
Seriously this sounds like it is going to be a nightmare. If AT were serious about this they would have
- Put on more buses and ferries
- Put the bus lanes into operation
- Made PT free for the event and encouraged as many people as possible to use it.
I’m not looking forward to hearing what happens on Sunday.
The Auckland Transport board meets again on Thursday and as such we now have the patronage results for October. Even better is there seems to be good news all around with all modes improving compared to October last year. Further there were the same number of working days making for an easier comparison – although on the rail network there were two full weekend shut-downs compared to one partial one in October 2012.
Auckland public transport patronage totalled 69,749,658 passengers for the 12-months to Oct-2013, an increase of +0.7% on the 12-months to Sept-2013. October monthly patronage was 6,321,771, an increase of 460,631 boardings or +7.9% on Oct-2012. No normalisation is required due to equivalent business days.
Rail patronage totalled 10,309,102 passengers for the 12-months to Oct-2013, an increase of +0.9% on the 12-months to Sept-2013. Patronage for Oct-2013 was 964,380, an increase of +91,309 boardings or +10.5% on Oct-2012.
The Northern Express bus service carried 2,295,587 passenger trips for the 12-months to Oct-2013, an increase of +0.4% on the 12 months to Sept-2013, a record 12 month performance for the Northern Express service. Northern Express bus service patronage for Oct-2013 was 206,265, an increase of 9,041 boardings or +4.6% on Oct-2012. A promotional campaign to areas around the Northern Busway contributed to the growth.
Other bus services carried 51,527,830 passenger trips for the 12-months to Oct-2013, a 0.6% change on the 12-months to Sept-2013. Other bus services patronage for Oct-2013 was 4,654,739, an increase of 298,591 boardings or +6.9% on Oct-2012. The implementation of AT HOP on further bus services has contributed to growth, along with promotional campaigns and improving service and on-time performance on the North Shore. Attachment 2 provides an overview of bus and Northern Express patronage growth marketing activity for the remainder of the financial year within the context of the over-arching public transport marketing approach.
Ferry services carried 5,617,139 passenger trips for the 12-months to Oct-2013, an increase of +1.1% on the 12 months to Sept-2013. Ferry services patronage for Oct-2013 was 496,387, an increase of 61,690 boardings or +14.2% on Oct-2012.
Summary performance against SOI targets is provided in Table 1
There are some pretty decent increases in there. For rail it’s the second month in a row with double digit growth and also finally reflects us being able to shed the RWC patronage boost from the 12m comparisons. Once again the increases are being driven by the increases in both average weekday usage as well as increased usage on the weekends – the latter of which was substantially higher than the year before and that only included one day of the finally improved weekend services on the western line.
The ferry increase is also extremely substantial, especially after a number of months where patronage growth had appeared to be slowing down. Even the buses saw increased patronage compared to Oct 12 although the 12m figure is still down. Overall some pleasing results and what’s more the graphs now show that the worm is really starting to turn once again.
The one downside as pointed out in the first chart is that with the exception of ferries, AT are already quite far behind their targets for the year. For each mode, the patronage report also highlights some of the initiatives being undertaken by AT. There are two buses ones I really like. The first one is this which is a retention campaign talking about the benefits bus users get or provide.
The second one is some neat and quirky art work being used to promote buses in the inner western area. You can see all five posters here.
Personally I think it’s great that AT are trying stuff as for a long time there was little to no advertising. All up some positive signs continuing to emerge.
Moving on to the main board report, as usual there is some interesting information in there. On integrated ticketing they say
Metrolink Inner and LINK went live on 10 November 2013 and is averaging 27,000 passenger trips a day. There is customer feedback on having to carry two cards Snapper HOP and AT HOP but otherwise the rollout went as planned. AT HOP card usage on Metrolink Inner and LINK has continued to grow during this week (see table below) and AT HOP card usage is expected to grow during the next week and a half.
Metro Inner & LINK AT HOP card Usage
Sunday 10/11/2013 – 21%
Monday 11/11/2013 – 28%
Tuesday 12/11/2013 – 32%
Wednesday 13/11/2013 – 35%
Based on the comments the other day I don’t think AT can really say that there was customer feedback on carrying both cards as if it was just a minor point.
On the EMUs they suggest that train testing is going well and over in Spain that CAF are cranking into the production with them already working on parts of trains 14 and 15. Things don’t look so good on the electrification side though with it noted that Kiwirail are asking for the Newmarket to Britomart section to be closed for an extra week over the Christmas shut-down so they can get work finished and it also mentioned that they are preparing an updated electrification programme. The project was already meant to have been finished by now but we found out that it had slipped with completion being pushed back to sometime in the first 3-4 months of next year. I wonder if this has slipped further.
Fare evasion is noted as being 7% (was 7.1% last month) which is based on ticket checks of just 15.3% of all trips. 7% is a similar level to what we saw prior to HOP rolling out to trains.
Over at Panmure, AT say that the new station building is coming along well and they are already starting to plan for an official opening. This will be one of the first tangible benefits from the AMETI project towards PT. After the station has been completed it will become even more critical that AT focus on how they can get the busway from Panmure to Pakuranga and beyond.
On CBD spaces the report mentions that there is/has been a tender for the upper part of Khartoum Pl with works starting early next year and that they will be going out to tender for O’Connell St in December. It’ll be good to have a few more improved public spaces.
There are a few other reports that look quite interesting but unfortunately I don’t have time to go into them right now.
Interesting to see yesterday the government make a decision on the Clifford Bay ferry terminal. I say interesting because the more you look at the details the more it shows just how much transport policy is being driven by political agendas rather than based on facts. First up here is Gerry Brownlee’s press release
The outcome of a study into the commercial viability of a ferry terminal at Clifford Bay in Marlborough has concluded Picton should remain as the southern terminal for the inter-island ferries, Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee announced today.
Over the past year a Ministry of Transport-led expert team has been testing whether Clifford Bay could be delivered as a fully privately funded project.
“We have been delivered a thorough and robust report which clearly shows Clifford Bay is not commercially viable as a fully privately funded project, and the level of investment required at Picton over the next decade to extend its life would be substantially less than previously estimated,” Mr Brownlee says.
The project team estimated a ferry terminal at Clifford Bay could be delivered by 2022, at a cost of $525 million. This left a gap the Government would have been required to fill to induce private sector investment in the construction and operation of the terminal.
Meanwhile, the investigation found Picton’s facilities are not expected to fail or become constrained due to asset age or condition, or growth in freight volumes, over the next 30 years. It also found the level of investment required at Picton by its owner Port Marlborough over the next decade to extend its life and adapt its facilities is approximately half the cost estimated in 2012.
Mr Brownlee says it was concluded a number of significant financial risks would exist in the development and early operating phase of a ferry terminal at Clifford Bay.
“While it was expected these would be manageable, mitigation and management cost would have fallen to the Government.
“In the end, the government cost, remaining risks, and the lack of a compelling constraint at Picton have led us to decide the Clifford Bay option should be set aside at this time,” Mr Brownlee says.
“I hope this announcement will provide some planning certainty for Marlborough communities.”
To read the report, Clifford Bay Investigation 2013, and the paper Mr Brownlee took to Cabinet, visit www.transport.govt.nz
For those that aren’t familiar with the proposal, the idea is to create a new ferry terminal further south of Picton as shown in this image from the Ministry report.
It would be a substantial project though with the report stating there would need to be
- the construction of a breakwater 1.8km into Clifford Bay with a single-pier dual-berth facility for the two ferry operators
- associated shore-side facilities for the marshalling of passengers, vehicles and rail wagons
- the upgrade to Marfells Beach Rd to SH1
- a rail link to the main trunk line
None of that is going to come cheap and the report costs the terminal at $525 million – although positively Kiwirail already own most of the land needed so land acquisition wouldn’t be as high. The problem comes that the berthing fees for ferry companies simply wouldn’t be able to cover the costs of building the terminal and so the project isn’t viable from a commercial perspective. But what about the economic benefits of the project?
There are a couple of massive benefits for the project first of all it’s a shorter route (~15km) as well as one that also has no speed restrictions on it which means faster journey times. In addition as most people and freight are travelling south it would also provide some substantial travel time savings for both roads and rail due to being further south and not having to deal with the climb out of Picton and the Dashwood Pass north of Clifford Bay. For rail that journey incurs not just a time penalty but an additional operational one too as either an extra locomotive is needed or trains need to be shorter. The time savings are listed below. Compare those savings with something like Puhoi to Wellsford which would save 10 minutes if we’re lucky.
So while the costs are high at $525 million, the overall economic benefits are substantial enough to outweigh them with the report stating that the project has a Benefit Cost Ratio of 1.3. Unfortunately we can’t see all of the details relating to the benefits as most of that has been blacked out. However interestingly the report does state that the BCR of 1.3 doesn’t include the wider economic benefits (WEBs) that might occur (which have been assessed) and also uses an 8% discount rate and 30 year evaluation period.
This in itself is interesting as the NZTA recently changed their economic evaluation manual to assess projects with a 6% discount rate and 40 year evaluation period. The report states that an assessment with a 6% discount rate was done but the result is blacked out. I think it’s pretty safe to say the result would have been much higher if all of those bits were included. Why this is particularly interesting is that the government/NZTA have long been talking about the BCRs of the RoNS projects like Transmissions Gully using the new assessment criteria as well as included the WEBs figures too.
The project even scores highly on the NZTAs new assessment criteria which asks about Strategic/Policy Fit as the crossing is considered a key part in both the national road and rail networks.
Now let me be clear, I have no problem with the government saying they that they won’t support the project - despite being economically viable – due to it not being commercially viable. Sure there might be a positive benefit to the economy but if we can’t afford to build the project then that is fine. But I do have a problem when the same approach isn’t being taken when it comes to other areas of transport policy like what is happening with the RoNS. Projects like the Kapati Expressway have a BCR of 0.2 and Transmission Gully isn’t much better yet the government are pushing them ahead as fast as possible.
What all of this means is that the government are clearly picking and choosing which types of projects they want to support regardless of the facts. There would be no issue with this if they just said we’re building roads because we like them better but they don’t, instead they pretend they are building stuff that will really help the economy.
As we keep pointing out, the development community is really coming back to life and lots of projects are now on the table again. This is most likely being brought on by a number of factors:
- Higher land prices are making developments more viable.
- The Unitary Plan, despite only being notified and not in place yet, has given developers some certainty about Auckland’s future.
- The economy is looking healthier and so it is becoming easier for developers to obtain finance
- Migration levels are increasing bringing more people into the city.
Today brings news of more development proposals. This time in Bayswater and at Alexandra Park.
The Herald reports:
A marina village is proposed for a “wasted” island which is a 10-minute ferry ride across Waitemata Harbour from the Auckland CBD.
Bayswater Marina lost a 2009 Environment Court appeal against North Shore City Council restrictions on residential building on its 3.4ha, which was reclaimed when the marina was built in the 1990s.
However, owner Simon Herbert said much has changed since – notably the receptive attitude of the Super City councillors to housing plans near the city centre.
It has encouraged Mr Herbert, who bought the marina in 2006, to work on a fresh plan for a better return from the land, which is presently parking lots for trailer boats and cars.
“It’s like a little island attached to the mainland by a causeway only 2km from the CBD. It has spectacular views back to the city and could offer an ideal lifestyle and a beautiful public area by the water. I feel it’s a wasted resource of land at the moment.”
Mr Herbert and his wife, Paula, say the new proposal fits the Auckland Plan and the proposed Unitary Plan, which is now out for comment. This provided for quality urban design, a mix of places for people to live and more places for people to live around transport nodes, including ferry services.
Due to the previous opposition to building heights (and as we have seen its common thing on the shore) it’s suggested that the development will be limited to three storeys in height and have about 125 dwelling on it. That’s a little bit of a shame but still 125 dwellings more than are on the site right now. Although even that is too much for some of the locals who seem to feel they have a right on the land.
Long-standing opponent of marina housing Paddy Stafford-Bush said: “This is reclaimed land from the seabed and it belongs to the people. It’s nice the way it is and people are comfortable with it and the way it looks and works.”
Now admittedly it is a bit difficult to access the marina due to it being at the end of a peninsula however the really big opportunity with this development is that it should help to improve justification for improving ferry services to the marina. Currently services are half hourly in the peak, hourly off peak and almost non-existent in the weekends. If those were able to be improved due to the extra people then that would also benefit the rest of the community.
In fact it would be would be quite interesting exercise for AT and the council to do some work out how many extra people in the ferry catchment would be needed to improve services and what impact that would have on residents views. For example what if an extra 500 people in the area were needed to justify improved frequencies that would benefit everyone and this development delivered 300. How would that change the dynamic of those that support/oppose the project? By more directly showing locals the benefits of intensification it might actually help to get them supporting more of it.
Across town in Greenlane the owners of Alexandra Park want to develop some of their land.
Auckland’s Alexandra Park could be the scene of more than $110 million of commercial and residential developments over the next decade.
Members of the Auckland Trotting Club have voted by a huge majority to support their board in the first $41 million development of a joint purpose building at 223 Green Lane West.
The building is proposed to have four floors of apartments, ground floor commercial space and an underground carpark.
If that venture is successful the trotting club has the option of similar developments on two further Green Lane West sections.
The Unitary plan lists the highlighted section below as mixed use (as opposed to special purpose like the rest of the site) so this is most likely where they are planning on building the apartments.
I think the site will be quite a good one for intensification as there are a number of high quality amenities nearby especially Cornwall Park providing a lot of open space. Further transport should be quite good from this location, Manukau Rd is only a few hundred metres away and has frequent buses heading towards the CBD (although it could do with some bus lanes) while Greenlane West will also see frequent buses providing easy cross-town trips.
Let’s hope both of these can successfully go ahead.
One other development we haven’t really talked about before, but that we probably should have is Springpark in Mt Wellington which has just recently obtained resource consent. The development is converting land that is currently a plant nursery into 420 low rise terraced houses and apartments that is an example of getting intensification in the suburbs without having medium or high rise buildings. In fact a quick calculation suggests that an average of just two people per dwelling on this site will deliver a density of ~8,000 per km². That’s quite a bit above what we currently see in many parts of Auckland.
The site looks like it has some connections out to Mt Wellington Rd which will have frequent buses on it which is good.
Works on the site are expected to start next month and both this and Hobsonville point could end up as excellent examples of future suburban development
Patronage results for September are out and the news is mixed with rail doing much better and starting to achieve strong growth once again while on the other side of the coin, the bus network (which carries the most people) appears to be flailing around a bit. Ferry patronage also declined.
Auckland public transport patronage totalled 69,277,456 passengers for the 12-months to Sep-2013 an increase of +0.2% on the 12-months to Aug-2013. September monthly patronage was 5,853,318 an increase of 107,445 boardings or +1.9% on Sep-2012, normalised to ~-2.1% accounting for one more business day in Sep-2013 compared to Sep-2012.
Rail patronage totalled 10,217,793 passengers for the 12-months to Sep-2013, an increase of +1.0% on the 12-months to Aug-2013. Patronage for Sep-2013 was 925,014 an increase of +102,143 boardings or +12.4% on Sep-2012, normalised to ~+8.4%.
The Northern Express bus service carried 2,280,688 passenger trips for the 12-months to Sep-2013, an increase of +0.1% on the 12 months to Aug-2013. Northern Express bus service patronage for Sep-2013 was 187,738, an increase of 2,708 boardings or +1.5% on Sep-2012, normalised to ~-2.5% accounting for one more business day in Sep-2013.
Other bus services carried 51,223,526 passenger trips for the 12-months to Sep-2013, a 0.0% change on the 12-months to Aug-2013. Other bus services patronage for Sep-2013 was 4,365,633, a decrease of -951 boardings or 0.0% on Sep-2012, normalised to ~-4.0%.
Ferry services carried 5,555,449 passenger trips for the 12-months to Sep-2013, an increase of +0.1% on the 12 months to Aug-2013. Ferry services patronage for Sep-2013 was 374,933, an increase of 3,545 boardings or +1.0% on Sep-2012, normalised to ~-3.0%.
The rail network result is obviously outstanding considering what we have seen over the last few years. We noted that things seemed to be starting to turn around a few months ago and so if we can maintain the growth until the EMUs start rolling then I think we will be in a superb position to see excellent growth and push towards the 20 million trip target the government set to bring forward the construction of the CRL. This will be further boosted by Auckland Transport saying they will bring forward the consultation of the new bus network out west to take advantage of the improved rail network.
Following on from the South Auckland consultation, we had planned to consult North Auckland next. However, in order to tie in with improvements to rail and the introduction of electric trains, the next consultation will be for the rest of West Auckland and will commence mid-2014.
We still have a way to go to catch up to the highs seen during the RWC though.
The patronage worm starting to turn
A couple of additional interesting/concerning points about the rail network and ticketing from the report or in the business report.
- Usage of HOP for tickets was 71% in September. From memory it was in the 50-60% range before so a good sign.
- However fare evasion was also up. It has been tracking around 5% however in September there was a “greater focus on peripheral stations” which saw evasion increase to 7.1%. AT have been quick in the report to point out that Melbourne is currently seeing 9.9% but that doesn’t mean our result is should be particularly applauded.
However as mentioned the really disappointing aspect has been the bus network which when adjusted for the extra business day in September this year saw patronage down on September 2012. It was down on regular bus services and on the Northern Express. Further the breakdown by sector showed that west and south performed the worst perhaps suggesting a little bit of patronage has moved back to the rail network which has been much more reliable over the last few months than it has been for a few years (although I suspect October won’t look so great). I also wonder if all of the drama’s surrounding HOP are having a negative impact on people’s perceptions of buses.
Of course if we believe the figures provided by
Auckland Transport the bus and ferry operators, both of those modes manage to achieve 99% punctuality meaning all of you complaining about buses running late are just in the unfortunate 1%. Of course we all know this is rubbish as for starters it is self-reported and also buses/ferries are counted as being on time providing they start their journey on time, not when they finish their trip like how they are counted on the rail network. AT say they are developing an independent system to report bus performance based on the real time data however we first heard this back in March and based on the screenshot the project was fairly advanced so who knows what has happened to it.
We have mentioned a few times over recent months the impact that the SH16 works are going to have on buses and positively AT and the NZTA have started to implement some solutions to improve the situation. The business report also suggests that there might be some further improvements to come suggesting a medium term solution will likely come into effect in January with a longer term solution happening mid-2014.
A joint AT and NZTA team is working to monitor and resolve bus impacts. The outputs of this work has fallen into 3 categories – quick wins (September / October 2013), medium term options (by January 2014) and longer term options (early to mid-2014). A number of quick win solutions are being implemented at the time of writing including:
- A bus//T2 lane on the Great North Road Westbound onramp – this will replace the left hand traffic lane and will not be impacted by the ramp signal
- A complimentary priority lane on Great North Road approaching the onramp
- SH16 westbound lane loss at Great North Road off-ramp – and lane gain at great North Road onramp. This eliminates merge delays on the on-ramp
- Improving flow through and off the Lincoln Road off-ramp
- Constant speed limits on the motorway
- Sections of bus shoulder lanes will be reinstated on the motorway (Rosebank to Partiki Road)
Longer term solutions including improving flow and throughput on Te Atatu Road and the investigation of bus lanes on the motorway are being fully investigated.
When it comes to cycling numbers, they also appear to have started to flat line a little bit after seeing good growth over the last few years that we have been tracking them.
Lastly from the business report AT have highlighted a campaign to attracted ferry passengers from the upper harbour. I think it’s great that they are pitting the ferry experience off against the mundaneness of driving on a motorway where you need to be paying attention to other vehicles.
Ferry users may have noticed that HOP gates have started going in at the Downtown Ferry terminal and once in place will be used instead of the the HOP tag posts. My understanding is the plan was always was to install HOP gates as part of the rollout so this isn’t anything new or surprising. What I did find interesting though was that the gates are a different style to those found at Britomart and Newmarket with the gates swinging out of the way other than folding up.
Before anyone asks about what is happening with other stations. My understanding is that gates are also planned for Manukau once the MIT campus has been completed and that AT are already investigating what other stations they might be needed at with New Lynn probably the next station on the list. I’m not sure when we will find out any more detail although AT have been saying in past board reports that it might not be too far away.
Auckland Transport has released the patronage figures for August and the great news is that positive signs of patronage growth are continuing. Compared to August 2012 there was one less business day in August which generally accounts for a roughly 4% difference in patronage and on top of that there were less special events and more rail network shutdowns. Taking all of these situations into account it is estimated that patronage increased by 2.5% compared to August 2012 while rail patronage increased by ~8.8%. The ferry network has also remained strong, most likely helped along by the much more settled weather we experienced this year. I think we still have a way to go to get back to the great growth we saw a few years ago but as mentioned, signs are positive we are back on the right track.
Auckland public transport patronage totalled 69,170,011 passengers for the 12-months to Aug-2013 a decrease of -0.4% on the 12-months to Jul-2013. August monthly patronage was 6,535,601 a decrease of -34,831 boardings or -0.5% on Aug-2012, normalised to ~+2.5% accounting for one less business day in Aug-2013 compared to Aug-2012.
Rail patronage totalled 10,115,650 passengers for the 12-months to Aug-2013, an increase of +0.2% on the 12-months to Jul-2013. Patronage for Aug-2013 was 1,004,630 an increase of +17,104 boardings or +1.7% on Aug-2012, normalised to ~+8.8%.
The Northern Express bus service carried 2,277,980 passenger trips for the 12-months to Aug-2013, a decrease of -8,761 boardings or -0.4% on the 12 months to Jul-2013. Northern Express bus service patronage for Aug-2013 was 214,172, a decrease of -8,185 boardings or -3.7% on Aug-2012, normalised to ~+0.3% accounting for one less business day in Aug-2013.
Other bus services carried 51,224,477 passenger trips for the 12-months to Aug-2013, a decrease of -0.1% on the 12-months to Jul-2013 Other bus services patronage for Aug-2013 was 4,902,264, a decrease of -54,718 boardings or -1.1% on Aug-2012, normalised to ~+2.9%.
Ferry services carried 5,551,904 passenger trips for the 12-months to Aug-2013, an increase of +0.2% on the 12 months to Jul-2013. Ferry services patronage for Aug-2013 was 414,535, an increase of 10,968 boardings or +2.7% on Aug-2012, normalised to +6.7%
On the rail network and now the bus network (excluding the Northern Express) we are now getting average weekday and weekend day patronage. What the two graphs below show is that average weekday and weekend day patronage in August 2013 was higher than August 2013. However with weekday patronage so much higher it illustrates why one less business day can have so much impact on overall patronage numbers.
One of the areas that has bound to have been helping rail patronage in recent months has been the vast improvement in on time performance with it once again being over 89%. At the AT board meetings Mike Lee often questions the total figure seeing as the three lines that have the most services (South, East and West) are all less than 89%. This month AT have included a table that the numbers are based off which should hopefully help answer that as Mike and others who might question it will be able to work it out for themselves. One key point to note is that punctuality is based on services that are completed so cancelled trains don’t count against the on time performance metric.
Of course the bus and ferry services are still self-reported and based of ensuring the bus left the start of the run on time rather than when it reached its destination meaning we still get silly figures saying some bus companies managed 99.98% punctuality.
On the cycling front there is more good news with cycling counts continuing to increase.
In the board report AT say that the issue that has been affecting the roll out HOP to other buses is due to intermittent technical problems with some of the ticket machines. I understand it might have been bad batch that has been causing the fault so hopefully we should start to see the roll-out restarted again soon. They have also provided this graph which I find really interesting showing HOP usage on the two bus companies currently using it. The percentage of people using HOP has been increasing on both buses but it is at a much greater level on Birkenhead. But perhaps the most fascinating part is just how much the percentage of HOP use drops off on the weekends.
Other interesting comments in the board report include these excellent pieces of news
Concept design options for the Fanshawe/Customs Corridor are underway, with priority for a bus rapid transit corridor to extend the Northern Busway into the city centre.
Site options are being evaluated for locations and circulation for new Downtown and Wynyard Quarter PT Interchanges, prior to engagement with affected landowners.
Procurement of design of roading and infrastructure for Wynyard Quarter South will commence in September, including the extension of the Daldy St Linear Park.
Hopefully the first point means buses from the north shore will no longer have to crawl along Sturdee St as I’ve heard stories that that section alone can double trip times.
Elsewhere AT say they focusing on initially getting the Dominion Rd parallel cycle routes designed first so that they can be built in advance of the more expensive road upgrade. Lastly at Mt Albert there is good news as the council have finally come to an agreement with the owner of the carpark close to the intersection of New North Rd and Mt Albert/Carrington Rd. That will enable the land to be turned into a public square with a new walkway connecting into the recently upgraded station.