The ACT party – or at least its biggest funder – was in the news last weekend for expressing some of his views for the party at their annual conference. Of note was this line
“I’d privatise all the schools, all the hospitals and all the roads,” he told the conference.
Now obviously we’re not in the habit of talking about schools or hospitals (unless it’s about how to get to them) but roads are something on our list. Now in reality I can’t see it happening here – at least any time soon – but it raises the interesting question of what would happen if we were to privatise roads? This post is really just a thought exercise as to some of the impacts of doing so.
I suspect that if we were ever privatise the roads the impact would how we get around and our views on transport would change dramatically. There would be some overall impacts across the entire network but also more local impacts due to there likely needing to be different forms of privatisation.
The key impact would be across the entire network and the true cost of operating, maintaining and building roads would become much clearer regardless of how that’s passed on to the public. A better understanding of just how much roads cost, especially if charged for through forms of road pricing would lead to changes in how people travel. People would likely reduce the amount of driving they do in favour of more walking, cycling and PT use.
Private road owners would also likely seek to reduce their maintenance costs while users of lighter vehicles would likely demand that costs are more fairly distributed to those that do the most damage. That in itself could have large impacts. It would likely see the vehicle fleet get smaller and lighter over time i.e. less people would be driving around in large SUVs unless they absolutely need too (or want too). Truckies would be even harder hit. Due to their weight, trucks cause substantially more damage to road surfaces and so would likely be charged substantially more than other vehicles which in itself would have far reaching impacts by pushing up delivery costs. Those increased costs would of course be passed on to businesses and ultimately consumers.
Perhaps one of the areas most impacted would be in road construction. In short it would kill it dead. Most transport projects simply don’t make sense financially and the toll road troubles in Australia are proof of this. Traffic volumes often don’t stack up and most projects are only able to be justified based on the benefits to the wider economy from improved travel times. Faced with paying for a journey in time through congestion or paying a monetary cost to avoid congestion, many choose the former. What all of this means is that road construction would dry up almost immediately and the costs would shift to making the best use of the infrastructure that exists. That could have some negative consequences as there might be little attention paid to improving roads through projects like this. The flip side of this is that the private road owners would likely become liable for road safety and therefore be a push to improve crash black spots.
Regardless of whether privatising roads is a good or a bad thing, one thing that isn’t so clear is just how it could be done. The real benefit from roads comes from the fact they are an extensive network. Very few trips begin and end on the same road and a trip might commonly involve travelling on quieter residential streets, arterial roads and motorways. Each of those would present vastly different opportunities for privatisation.
Motorways would probably be the easiest roads to privatise due to the fact they have limited access and all journeys that use a motorway begin and end somewhere else. Motorways also carry large amounts of traffic each day. This is also why groups like the NZCID who have been pushing for the council/govt to find additional ways to fund ever more and larger transport projects have suggested charging for access to the motorways. If we were to privatise roads there would likely be a big temptation to do the easiest ones first and so motorways would be at the top of the agenda. The problem with that though is that it would likely have a huge impact on but still publicly owned roads.
The next easiest set of roads to privatise would actually be quiet suburban streets, particularly those post 1950′s suburbs full of cul-de-sacs. There we would probably do something similar to what is likely to happen later this year in the small sprawly village of Long Grove (north of Chicago). They are looking to privatise many of their currently public suburban roads because it simply can’t afford to maintain them due to their pyramid scheme like system of how roads were funded where the money to pay for them was only raised through development contributions which dried up as a result of the GFC. They are simply going to turn over the ownership of the roads to the owners of the houses on the street and leave it up to them to maintain.
Some typical post 1950′s street patterns
That could put big strains on neighbourly relations in many places as people work out who will pay for what i.e. does everyone on a street pay equally or do those at the end of the street pay more? In some parts of Auckland there could be interesting changes in the stance taking on intensification. More people living on a street means more people to share the cost of a road with and so some of the suburbs that were most opposed to intensification in the Unitary Plan discussions might quickly change their mind. Going further some residential neighbourhoods might start imposing restrictions on vehicle use in their streets – particularly truck movements – in a bid to lessen the damage vehicles do to the roads. Gated communities might also become more common to stop others from passing through.
On the positive side these communities are likely to become much more pedestrian and cycle friendly as those two modes cause much less wear and tear on roads which equates to less maintenance.
Privatising arterial roads are likely to be the hardest to do because not only do they serve a movement function but they serve a place one too, people live, work and play along arterials. To be honest I don’t even know how you could privatise them as due to their function they can’t just be turned over to locals to maintain but their connected nature means they would be prohibitively expensive to charge for. Who would really want the cost and hassle of owning them?
Overall I don’t think the idea of privatising roads is necessarily a bad one from an ideological perspective and doing so would certainly change how we use roads, including what modes we use but overall it simply isn’t practical. Roads are such a key part of our everyday life that changing our relationship with them – however flawed it currently is – would have radical and far reaching consequences for society, probably far more so than the privatising of many other government functions. As such I would suggest the likelihood of it happening is very very low. Far more likely and practical would be the introduction of proper road pricing.
Another of Auckland’s long standing empty holes is going to be developed after resource consent was issued by a council commissioner. But unlike the massive tower planned for Elliott/Victoria/Albert Streets this one will be a lot smaller and dedicated to one thing, parking. The site is 28 Shortland St which is the former home to the Auckland Start building and also backs on to Fort St where the access to the current at grade carpark is located.
You can read the resource consent decision here. The proposal is listed as:
Land use consent to construct a new three level car parking building that will include both non-ancillary commuter parking and short-term visitor parking. There will be a café/coffee shop constructed within the site’s south-eastern corner fronting onto Shortland Street, while the ground level units along Fort Street will be utilised for retail purposes and provide vehicular access to the parking building. A walkway will run through the middle of the site and will provide a pedestrian link between Shortland Street and Fort Street.
I’m not sure what’s planned for the Fort St retail side but my understanding is the café/coffee shop in the south-eastern corner is basically the coffee shack that is already on the site. The rest of the Shortland St side will basically be a blank façade which will likely block off any views of the harbour. From memory with previous proposals the council was keen on retaining a view shaft through the site
At three storeys it’s definitely not on the scale of other carparks and is only expected to have 147 spaces (by comparison the Downtown carpark has 1,890). Of the 147 spaces the consent only allows 18 to be used for commuter parking. The remaining 129 are required to be short term parking only. This is one of the reasons it was approved with the commissioner saying
The intensity and scale of the car parking operation is considered appropriate given the location of the site with frontages to collector roads and the clear sightlines that are evident to the east and west as vehicles leave the site. The car park is designed primarily for short-term visitor parking, where high demand will be outside the morning and evening peak hours. As a result, the parking arrangement will have a reduced impact on traffic congestion in the central city and the surrounding road network.
Perhaps there is a small silver lining though, those short term parks are obviously intended as a way for people to be able to drive to the city in the middle of the day for the likes of shopping so the creation of those carparks could allow the council to be bolder in simultaneously removing them from High St. In fact it would probably be worthwhile the council looking at other areas where on street parking in the area could be scaled back as a result in return for better pedestrian amenity.
It’s surprising that the owners of the site haven’t been able to (or don’t want to) justify a commercial tower on the site. My understanding is that high quality office space is in short supply in Auckland at the moment and the site is big enough to be able to provide a building on similar scale to the likes of the Vero Centre or even the recent Deloitte building.
The Auckland Star building was demolished in May 1989. Here’s what it used to look like from Shortland St in 1910
Auckland Star building, Shortland Street, Auckland. Auckland Star :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-002917-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23200225
We’ve discussed Warkworth’s notorious Hill St intersection previously, but it seems timely to revisit again with the Board of Inquiry underway on the Puhoi – Warkworth toll road and NZTA’s recent press release on the subject:
The NZ Transport Agency says its priority to improve traffic flows in the Warkworth area is to first construct a new highway between Puhoi and Warkworth before it upgrades the community’s Hill Street intersection.
“I acknowledge that many in the community want Hill Street upgraded as soon as possible, but it is important that we have a reliable alternative route in place first for people before we tackle Hill Street,” says the Transport Agency’s State Highway Manager, Tommy Parker.
Mr Parker says upgrading the intersection and the state highway and five local roads that feed into it will be a complex task that will take some time to complete.
“There’s not a lot of room at the intersection and we will need to keep all those roads open during the upgrade. We estimate construction could take two summers to complete and that will mean considerable disruption for everyone – children from the nearby school, residents, local businesses and road users.
“Upgrading Hill Street, either in isolation or ahead of the new highway, will not provide substantial relief from congestion. It makes sense to construct the highway first to help us manage the disruption from that work and divert traffic away from the intersection.”
Before analysing NZTA’s announcement in more detail, here is a map of the current intersection:
And the GIS view:
As you can imagine, the intersection turns into a real bottleneck at peak times, particularly in the summer months.
Traffic from Warkworth village heading to Matakana must turn right at a give way sign, across a lane of queued traffic, giving way to traffic from a number of directions concurrently. Traffic queues across the intersection can often block other traffic movements in other directions. In summary, it is a real mess.
Further down in their press release, NZTA mention a couple of other projects:
Mr Parker says the Transport Agency is working with Auckland Transport – Auckland Council’s transport body – to progress other options including the Matakana Link, which will connect with the new highway and bypass Hill Street to the region’s eastern beaches, the Western Collector in the town and the SH1/McKinney Road intersection south of the township.
Firstly, looking at the Western Collector:
This is an AT sponsored project which is a complete bypass around Hill Street and central Warkworth. It starts at opposite McKinney Road in the south and ends at Hudson Road north of Hill Street. Anyone heading to or from the north on the existing SH1 will certainly use this, reducing pressure on Hill St. A number of intersections that make up the bypass have already been completed, but I can’t find any information via Google on when the missing links will be completed. It is supposed to happen before the Puhoi – Warkworth toll road, however.
Secondly, the Matakana Link is mentioned, crudely highlighted in blue on the map below. At this stage this is unfunded and does not form part of the Puhoi – Warkworth toll road project. However, without it the toll road will be useless for people wanting to travel to or from the Matakana area.
As currently scoped, the toll road will join 1.8 km north of the Hill Street intersection. Anyone travelling to Matakana on the new toll road will have to cover an extra 3 km at least to get to Hill Street, compared to using the existing SH1.
So are NZTA right in delaying Hill Street by at least another 10 years? On the one hand, the scale of any new intersection could be reduced because of the Western Collector and the possibility of the Matakana link.
On the other hand, for Warkworth residents this is a long time to wait, so why not start now? Remember also that Warkworth residents won’t directly benefit from the new toll road either, as the fastest route south will still be the existing SH1, so they seem to be getting a rough deal from the announcement.
A few weeks ago I asked readers where in Auckland was in urgent need of more bus lanes.My first post regarding quick wins on Fanshawe Street has been quite successful so far, with several Councillors asking questions of the Auckland Transport chair. This resulted in Auckland Transport finally acknowledging that they were aiming to build a proper busway along here in the next few years, as well as a promise to see if the quick win idea was feasible.
Another area that came up regularly in the comments section of the first article was the area around Upper Symonds Street and Newton. This is especially topical this week with university starting back this week. I heard from several people that there were big delays here on Monday morning, and total jams here are not uncommon.
This area has very high bus volumes, with several of the highest frequency bus routes in Auckland converging at this spot. Looking up the timetables between 7am and 9am I found the bus volumes were as follows-
||2 hour volume
|Mount Eden Road
|New North Road
|Manukau Road (joins at Khyber Pass)
|Gillies Ave (joins at Khyber Pass)
This gives a total of 182 buses in the 2 hour morning peak, or one about every 40 seconds. The 2013 screenline survey (undertaken last March) showed that buses carried 6734 people into the city along this corridor between 7am and 9am. In comparison the latest vehicle count data for the area (from 2006) only found 984 cars in the busiest morning peak hour. While we can only guess at car occupancy rates (often estimated at 1.5), buses will certainly be carrying at least 2/3 of the people along this corridor. This is a strong case for continuous bus lanes along here.
So here is the map of the current bus lanes in Symonds St from Karangahape Road south to the intersection with Mount Eden and New North Roads.
current bus lanes along Upper Symonds Street
Bizzarely there are no northbound buslanes at all, while the southbound lanes stop at Khyber Pass, despite 83% of buses continuing to the New North/Mt Eden intersection.
However there is a very easy fix for most of this corridor. This area is lined with Clearways (seen in dark blue). These are parking during off-peak times, but general traffic lanes from 7am to 9am, and 4pm to 6pm. These could very simply be converted to bus lanes following the same time periods. Considering the statistics above this would result in a better outcome for most users of this corridor. These Clearways also continue down New North Road almost to the Dominion Road flyover so these should become bus lanes too.
The only issue comes near Alex Evans Street where the it narrows to 2 lanes, and there is a left turn into Alex Evans. This could either be a joint left turn/bus lane or the left turn into Alex Evans could be removed as there are plenty of other easy routes for left turning traffic.
At the intersection with Karangahape Road, general traffic gets 2 northbound lanes, despite them merging straight away into 1, while buses get a tiny advance stop box, which gets blocked by left turning traffic. So the easy solution is to make one of the straight through lanes into a bus lane, which matches what happens straight after the lights anyway. This can extend back to Alex Evans St, with a gap to let cars cross over into the ridiculously long left turn lane.
Again these are just short term fixes. In the longer term a more complicated solution will need to be devised, potentially a centreline busway with full stations. This could fit in with a major regeneration of the area in tandem with the Newton City Rail Link station (located directly opposite where Mt Eden Road ends). However it will be complicated to design an appropriate solution that matches the needs of increasing numbers of buses, much increased volumes of pedestrians and the need for separated cycleways.
Our Waterfront has started to dramatically improve in recent years with the likes of the development at Wynyard and the area has become an attraction in its own right. Like many people I generally access the Wynyard by walking there from the CBD however every time I do I’m struck by how amazingly pedestrian unfriendly this intersection is. It’s one of my least favourites in Auckland and I even find it far more annoying than the fact we have cars parked on prime waterfront land just to the west of this place.
Perhaps I’m just incredibly unlucky with the phasing of the lights as one of the key reasons I unlike it so much is because I can’t think of a time when while walking that I’ve ever had anything remotely resembling pedestrian acknowledgement let alone priority. Pedestrian phases on the Northern side are incredibly long and pedestrians are made to feel like they are much less important than cars accessing or leaving Princess Wharf. Tourists clearly seem to think the same, they can often be seen wondering why they are being held up for so long at this one intersection – which unless you Te Wero Bridge is open is the only real obstacle between the Ferry Terminal and Wynyard Quarter.
Speaking of Princess Wharf, why does it need an entrance that is effectively four lanes wide.
I can understand that upgrading Quay St isn’t something that can necessarily happen straight away but until that time Auckland Transport really need to get down here and sort this intersection out, even if it’s just in the short-medium term. Quay St is one of our primary tourist routes.
What do you think needs to happen to this intersection (yes I’m sure many of you will mention the Lower Hobson St viaduct). Is there something that can be done in the short term before any upgrade of Quay St occurs?
On Saturday we finally saw the first glimpses of information on the Journey to Work (JTW) data from the 2013 Census for Auckland (we received the national figures a few months ago). This morning Stu looked at how effective investment in each mode has been since 2006. For this post I’m going to look at how the trends in Auckland have been changing over time and I’ve managed to find the data from as far back as 1996.
First up we have the total number of people in each category.
One thing that surprises me about this figure is just how little the “Worked from home” figure has changed over time. As a percentage of the total it has remained unchanged at 7% despite great advances in the ease and ability of people to work at home. It also defies the claims of those who argue we don’t need to invest in PT because more and more people will work from home in the future and not need to travel.
I’ve also simplified that by looking only at the modes that required transport and grouping similar ones together. I have included the “Other” column with PT as I understand much of patronage in that bucket is related to the ferries. You’ll also notice that I’ve dropped the “Working from home” and “Didn’t go to work” columns to only look at those who are going to work.
So all modes had an increase but the fascinating thing is that there was a larger increase in PT than there was in Private Vehicles. Converting the figures above to mode share percentages we get.
and the simplified version
Private vehicles clearly still dominate the figures for how people get to work although that is slowly starting to change as more people use public transport, walking and cycling as those options improve. During the last census cycle we’ve had big improvements to the rail network and the construction of the Northern Busway, both of which have driven a lot of growth. By the next census AT should have completed the current tranche of projects that will really revolutionise PT in Auckland. These include Electrification, the New Network, integrated ticketing/fares and other customer experience improvements. Combined those improvements could quite possibly push private vehicle usage below 80%.
Further if the current trends continue then from these numbers we might be able to say that 2001 (or sometime around then) was the point when car dominance peaked in Auckland. Imagine just how much further that share would drop if we were to build the Congestion Free Network.
Lastly just to try and put the changes in perspective. What would have happened if the growth that occurred had of been at the same mode share percentage as 2006. By my calculation it would have meant we would have had just over 11,300 more private vehicle trips, 9,000 less PT trips and 2,300 less active trips. Most of the growth of active and PT trips has been to the city centre and so to accommodate those extra 11,300 private vehicles trips on the road network would have needed 2-3 extra lanes of road capacity, in other words effectively we would have needed another motorway to the city centre.
Young people are still increasingly continuing not to get drivers licences, let alone drive.
Growing numbers of teens are refusing to get behind the wheel, because they think cars cost too much, they’re worried they might drive into someone, or they just can’t be bothered sitting their licence.
A worldwide trend known as “driving ambivalence” has hit young people in New Zealand. Figures show the number of teens getting their licences has dropped drastically in the past five years.
Experts cite a variety of reasons for the decline, from the expense of maintaining a vehicle to the dangers of driving.
They also say smartphones and social media have rendered the need for teens to get behind the wheel less important.
As mentioned the key thing that’s happening is that this isn’t a one off but a worldwide trend and is being seen across most countries in the western world.
This is the data I received recently from the NZTA on the number of licences issued. While it has bounced up in 2013 that is really just the impact rolling through from the change to the licencing system in late 2011 that increase the age you can first get your licence to 16. Despite the bounce back up, the numbers are still way down on what they were in the past.
Crucially the change is being seen across many age groups and young people are choosing not to drive. But why?
University of Otago PhD student Aimee Ward, who is studying the travel behaviour of young people, says research shows the lack of interest in driving is occurring all over the world.
Ward said it was possible that some people would never get a driver’s licence, leading to a rise in public transport use.
Focus groups had overwhelmingly told her that cost was an issue – licence cost, vehicle prices and maintenance fees all came into the equation.
“But they are also ambivalent about driving,” Ward said.
“Their parents or friends will drive them around so they don’t need a licence. I said to them, what if you get a job? And they reply, it would need to be at the weekend so my parents could drive me.”
A recent international study showed a correlation between internet use and licensure rates in Sweden, Norway, Great Britain, Canada, Japan, South Korea and Germany.
The study found “access to virtual contact reduces the need for actual contact among young people”.
Another factor at play is the growing awareness of the impact that cars have on the natural and urban environment. The trend also ties in with the trend we are seeing of young people increasingly choosing to live in more urban environments rather than the suburban lifestyle many were probably brought up in.
These licence changes are also going to partly be behind the change in the number of vehicle kilometres travelled per capita. Below is the VKT for Auckland showing the substantial change that has been occurring.
Of course there are many out there, particularly those that want to see sustained investment in new roads that claim this is just a blip and that soon all of these young people will learn they were wrong and suddenly rush back to driving. I’m not so convinced and if we can continue to improve the alternatives of PT, walking and cycling then many will simply not need to.
All of this isn’t to say that having a drivers licence is bad, in fact I think quite the opposite as it is an incredibly useful life skill to have. It will be fascinating to see what happens.
Auckland’s journey to work data from the census was released yesterday by the council on their site www.censusauckland.co.nz. Journey to work is a useful metric but it does have some serious flaws in that as the name implies it’s only recording how people got to work whereas there are generally a lot of other trips at peak times, like to school. In Auckland for example tens of thousands of students enter the CBD each day to go to the Universities or other education providers and those students all have a big impact on transport networks. This can be quite important when looking at PT trends as students tend to be much stronger users of PT than other parts of the population.
I’ll go through the data and how it’s changed over time in the next few days but here are some images from the maps showing the results which in themselves are quite telling.
First up travel to work by car, truck, van or company bus. Unsurprisingly the lowest car use is in the areas surrounding the central city as well as the lower North Shore. Whenuapai West will stick out on many of the graphs which I assume is due to airforce staff having very localised trips. The area around Pakuranga/Howick/Botany really stands out as being quite car dependant which is unsurprising seeing as the PT network in that part of the city have been so poor.
Next we have trips by public bus. What I find most interesting – and completely unsurprising – is that the areas with the strongest bus usage also happen to be the same areas where the most bus priority and frequency exists. Of the dark blue areas, those that surround Dominion Rd happen to have the highest bus usage.
On to train and that is obviously focused primarily on the areas next to the rail network.
For cycling the highest use is once again focused on the inner suburbs and on those along Tamaki Dr
Like many of the other measurements walking to work is something primarily seen in the inner suburbs although there are some stronger patches in some of the suburban centres.
Lastly Other under which ferries sit and because of that it’s unsurprising to see the areas with ferry service stand out strongly.
As mentioned earlier I’ll be looking into the results in more detail in coming days however what is quite clear just from looking at these maps is that the areas with the higher quality PT, walking and cycling links also happen to be the ones with the lowest car usage. In other words giving people high quality alternatives will see more people choosing not to drive.
Why is the CEO of Auckland Transport saying this? (comment was made to local board members).
He either means that they aren’t currently up to scratch as walking routes or more likely based on the tone of the tweet above (and from others who were there) he was meaning that they shouldn’t be walking environments. This is seriously concerning.
Here’s map from AT of all of the arterial and strategic routes in the city and there’s a lot of roads that we apparently shouldn’t be walking on.
Of course many of those arterial roads also have town centres on them, places we want locals walking to and around.
One possible explanation for this comment may come from the general approach to “roads” at AT as revealed in their new Draft ATCOP. While I haven’t been able to get through much of the 1,000 pages yet, in chapter 7 this is how they explain the road hierarchy:
“Arterials have an important strategic movement function and focus. Collectors and Local Streets have a combined movement/access function. Lanes/Service Lanes and Shared Zones/Spaces have an access/place emphasis.”
It’s hard to know how to comment on this since it is so far from a progressive understanding of streets.
There was also this tweet from Vernon but as he points out, it’s very concerning that the CEO of Auckland Transport would mix up motorways and arterials
Tomorrow the Auckland Transport board have their first public meeting of the year before and as I usually do, I’ve gone through the reports looking for what interesting information exists. The first thing that I noticed was even before getting into the reports and that was just how much was on the closed agenda vs what was on the open one. Other than the standard reports on there every meeting, the open agenda contains just a few additional papers. However on the closed session agenda there is a whole list of interesting looking topics. The items for approval/decision is
i) Half Year Report
ii) Update on draft 2014/15 AT Opex Budget
iii) Fleet purchase and funding roll forward
iv) Albany Highway
v) Mill Road
vi) Tamaki Ngapipi Intersection
viii) East West Link
ix) Northern Maintenance Contract Award
Strategy & Planning
x) Draft Parking Strategy Consultation
xi) CCTV Convergence Project
Probably the most interesting one would be the Mill Rd item which is something quite controversial to many of the locals and the last we heard of it, the design was looking like a mini motorway. In the open session business report it’s said the project is needed due to over 3,800 houses within special housing areas being along the corridor and I can only assume they are upcoming SHA’s as there hasn’t been any on that corridor so far.
On to the items that caught my attention in the business report.
Based on the report, the EMUs should now have finished the testing to ensure they will actually work on our network which is great news.
Official track testing is now well advanced and scheduled to conclude mid-February 2014. The testing of the on-board signalling system has been completed with the passenger information systems (PA announcements, and passenger information displays) remaining to conclude testing.
Four trains are now capable of mainline running and fleet kilometres during testing are in excess of 15,000. The trains continue to perform well under tests on the electrified main lines which now extend from Wiri to Newmarket and also on the Onehunga Branch Line.
Trains five, six and seven are at Wiri undergoing reassembly and tests. Trains eight and nine have left Spain and are due in New Zealand in early March.
Now we just need to wait for more to arrive and be put through their paces so that services can start on the Onehunga line. Later on the report also mentions that from Friday testing will be able to commence on the line between Newmarket and Britomart and I can’t wait to see these trains parked up in the station. It also confirms when we will see these trains on each of the lines across the network.
- Apr 2014: Onehunga Line services
- Sep 2014: Manukau via Eastern Line services
- Mar 2015: Southern Line services
- Jul 2015: Western Line services
And lastly on the date in April has been confirmed as the 28th and along with that AT will be giving many of the operations a bit of a refresh to improve the customer experience. There will also be an open day near the time of the first services starting so that the public can get a look at the trains.
As part of the improved customer experience with the new EMU services, enhanced station works will be started on the Onehunga Line stations from February 2014 in the lead-up to launch of the Onehunga EMU services on 28 April 2014. This includes improved pedestrian shelter between modes at Onehunga and Ellerslie Stations, improved customer information on station platforms, station rebranding and in line with the recommendations from the Customer Experience research undertaken in the latter half of 2013, improved wayfinding signage. Platform edge warning lighting will also be trialled. New Transdev staff uniforms are being selected for initial implementation prior to the launch of the new Onehunga Line EMU services.
City Centre Integration Group (CCIG)
There had previously been a cross council group that was intended to work together on projects along the waterfront containing Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, Waterfront Auckland and Auckland Council Properties Limited. It appears that the various organisations have now agreed to expand the reach of that across the entire city centre. This should hopefully mean we get some more coherent development of projects happening rather than each organisation working in silos. Of interest:
Transport feasibility studies are due for completion in early 2014 for the Ferry Basin Masterplan, Fanshawe/Customs St Corridor, and Wynyard Bus Interchange
Integrated Ticketing and Fares
With integrated ticketing almost complete the focus is now going to really shift to integrated fares. In December the board agreed to investigate further two different options. They were a 5 concentric ring zonal model and 4 concentric ring zonal model + short trip fare. These are likely to be variations of these options. Analysis including pricing options and a business case are currently underway but it seems we won’t see anything implemented until the 2nd quarter of 2015, probably when the new network rolls out. I had been hoping we might see it rolled out by the end of this year. AT do say they are in the process of testing out a daily pass which will be rolled out in March based on geographic zones (most likely the same ones used for the monthly passes). The big question will end up being how they price the passes and I fear they will be priced so high that very few people would benefit from them.
The graph below shows the percentage of customers using HOP for bus journeys (up until early this month so won’t include Howick & Eastern. It appears the Birkenhead customers are increasingly using HOP however its Bayes buses that get the most HOP card usage with over 70% of people using a HOP card. I’m surprised that NZ Bus and Urban Express don’t seem to be seeing any real change.
Tamaki Dr/Ngapipi Rd intersection
Late last year AT went out to consultation on this intersection which is the worst for cycle crashes in Auckland. AT wanted to put traffic lights in however the local board were pushing for a roundabout. The exact details about the intersection are in the closed session however it’s noted in the board report that they have chosen to implement the traffic light option (which was also supported by Cycle Action Auckland).
Lastly a couple of the additional papers for this board meeting. One is about the establishment of a board committee dedicated to focusing on the customer experience.
An increasing number of customer interface initiatives are being developed and implemented. Following the model of the Capital Review Committee, the establishment of the CFC will give the opportunity for Board members to have greater visibility, input and governance oversight of these initiatives.
This seems like a good idea and I’m sure the committee will have a lot to do.
The other paper gives is the forward programme for the board showing what is coming up for them to discuss/decide on. Naturally the next few meetings are more fleshed out than those 4-5 months out. Some projects that I picked up were.
- In March the closed session will see papers on AMETI, Mill Rd, Dominion Rd, integrated fares, replacing parking ticket machines, selling the diesel trains. At the capital review committee a few weeks before three is also a paper on AT’s rail strategy.
- In April there will be closed session discussion on the seawall in the city centre, SMART (rail to the airport), Mill Rd (again), AT’s rail strategy, Papakura – Pukekohe electrification,
I’ll post about the patronage results separately.