In accessing Queens wharf on foot most people flow straight from the intersection of Queen St and Quay St as it is the most direct route. The only problem is that it’s also the entrance and exit on to the wharf for vehicles which often dominate the area. This is something I’ve written about before.
Thankfully Auckland Transport are finally going to do something about making the area safer for pedestrians by shifting the vehicle access to the east.
The changes will involve:
- Removal of the Quay Street right hand turn onto Queens Wharf
- Removal of the traffic lights from the current vehicle entrance onto Queens Wharf which will only be available for pedestrians and cyclists
- Relocation of the vehicle entrance to Queens Wharf eastwards which will not be signalised
- Vehicles exiting Queens Wharf can only turn left onto Quay Street
- Vehicles entering Queens Wharf must be traveling from the west, and must turn left off Quay Street onto the wharf
This is a good outcome and it’s good to see Auckland Transport finally doing this. It should help towards making Queens Wharf a nicer place for people to be. The changes are also shown below.
Weather permitting work starts on making this change tomorrow night.
The Auckland Transport board meeting is today and below are the bits and pieces from the reports that caught my attention.
First up as usual there are a number of items in the closes session of the meeting that it would be very interesting to see the details about. These are
- Ferry Services Contract
- EMU Implementation
- City Centre Access Options
- Mill Road
- Parking Services report
- AT HOP Update
- Rail Operations shortlisting
On to the Chief Executives report. These are generally just in the order they come up in the report.
AT are working with some of the teams from the HackAKL event and two of the top five teams will have a completed concept within three months.
Discussions have been held with the top 5 teams, 2 have progressed to a stage where the concept will be completed inside of 3 months, with the help of AT. The other 3 in the top 5 are still discussing within themselves how to progress. As well an additional application (hop Balance) from one of the other groups has been launched. We are still restricted in the data that we can make available, PT is working on this with the bus operators.
AT are creating a customer charter which includes specific measures that cover PT, roading, walking and cycling and they say they have been looking overseas to find out what the best practices are. They say the draft versions of the charters will go to a board committee in October. I think a customer charter with specific measures is a good thing and I would hope that there is some consultation from the public on final versions.
AT will be holding a consultation in late September on the rehabilitation of Franklin Rd and surrounding streets. They say Major focuses for the consultation include maintaining the heritage value of the
road (including the trees), parking, a lowered speed zone, walking and cycling.
A detailed business case will finally be done for the East West Link. It’s something I would have thought should have happened long before it was moved near to the top of the priorities list.
AT say the Environment Court appeal against the Silverdale Park n Ride might delay construction till the next financial year (i.e. after July next year).
On the EMUs there were 22 in the country at the time of writing the report however some more arrived yesterday and provisional acceptance had been issued for 18 of them. After the August summer holidays production will be ramped up as the intention is that by the end of the year we will get four delivered a month instead of the current two per month. On the issues with the over cautious signalling system they say
The ETCS system has been modified by reducing the driver warning before curves and other infrastructure features and the resulting improvement in running times.
As part of the Otahuhu Bus Train Interchange AT are looking at connections to and from the station. The report notes that this will include additional bus priority and improved walking and cycling connections.
At Panmure the new road alongside the tracks is almost finished and due to open to use at the end of September. It’s been called Te Horeta Rd. The image below is from the board report showing the road and it’s looking very much like a mini motorway although I would be happy to be proven wrong once it’s finished.
HOP use keeps on growing which is a great sign. Overall 67% of trips were paid for with HOP which was up from 65% in June. By mode bus was up from 62% to 65% while rail was up from 75% to 76%. In some ways this is not surprising given the changes in fares that occurred and means the trend of increasing HOP card usage is likely to continue. They also say a strategic business case as well as revenue and patronage modelling for integrated fares is almost complete.
Perhaps the biggest news from the report is about the next train timetable which is now targeted for November
Finalisation with KiwiRail and Transdev of the new timetable to support the increased frequency of Manukau services and the introduction of an EMU weekend timetable was progressed in July and early August. This provides 6 trains per hour from Manukau in the peak period and 3 trains per hour in the interpeak and off-peak, with weekends going to a 30 minute service plan. When the timetable commences, diesel shuttle services will run an hourly service between Pukekohe and Papakura on Saturdays and Sundays and connect with arriving/departing EMUs at Papakura. The target date for the timetable introduction is early November following progressive replacement within the existing timetable of diesel rolling stock with EMUs on the Manukau Line.
Some good news about the look of buses in the future with AT developing what sounds like a region wide design. This is long overdue although I’m sure some operators won’t be happy (I for one can’t wait to see the back of the horrid Birkenhead bus livery). They say the starting point for the new livery is based off the design used on the electric trains and the livery will be included in the future operator contracts which will be rolled out with the new network.
AT say they are also working on a wayfinding system which is something long overdue.
This is a Guest Post by regular reader Warren Sanderson
Gothenburg, Hanover, and Hamburg
What do these three cities have in common?
- In my view a real “sense of place”.
- Very efficient public transport systems
- They all had my wife and me as visitors in the month of July. We spent roughly a week reacquainting ourselves with each of these cities during our recent journey to the Baltic countries and northern Germany. For the record, not once in the six weeks we were away and touching eight northern European countries, did we travel in a private motor car. This was independent travel and our modes were bus, train, boat, river ferry boat, light rail, taxi (twice) and lots of walking.
Let’s have a look at transit in each of these cities in turn.
This city on Sweden’s west coast is smaller than Auckland with a metropolitan population of around one million. It was a pleasing city to visit without the hordes of tourists that plague some European destinations. It has an apartment culture in the inner city of mostly four or five storey buildings, but is still possible to see the church spires which I always find aesthetically most satisfying.
One of the advantages of having been born too long ago – and there aren’t many of them – is that it is easy to remember everything about Auckland’s trams because I travelled on every route at some stage.
Well – wow! Gothenburg still has a tramway system just like we had in Auckland until the 1950’s. And they all go through the centre of town and out to a suburb destination on the other side of town just like Auckland’s did. A point of difference though is that at the terminus end of the tracks Gothenburg has a large round turning circle so that the driver remains in the same cab, whereas in Auckland the driver switched poles, took his driving handle to the cab at the other end of the tram and commenced driving in the opposite direction from there.
Each Gothenburg route had a number prominently displayed plus the actual destination and it was very easy to ensure that one had boarded the correct tram.
I noted that both on week-days and at the week-end the two main streets were full of people, the remarkably quiet trams always appeared to enjoy excellent patronage and car traffic by comparison with Auckland was very light. It is also worth recording that in general the streets are quite wide and have room for a wide footpath each side, a bike lane each side, a single car lane each side and double tram tracks – sometimes these tracks are in the middle and sometimes on the side of the arterial route. When we caught a bus to Marstrand some 50 kilometres away, I noted that the tram tracks in the middle of a section of the road a little further out of town also served as a bus lane.
Like most European cities the Central Railway Station is a prominent feature. As well as the usual inter-city departure platforms, there a couple of substantial retail wings and a long covered bus station wing known as the Nils Ericson Terminal.
Intending pre-ticketed passengers queue at the appropriate gate number in the air-conditioned building and when the bus arrives, board it directly from the terminal rather like a modern airport. Seats are few within the Terminal.
Just across the street from the Central Station is the Nordstan Shopping Centre a very large shopping mall and beyond that the delightful city centre, pedestrian squares, covered market and parks.
It is evident that Gothenburg has a highly efficient transport hub, which not only serves commuters, but is integral to a vibrant retail, business and entertainment area. In addition there are time-tabled Gota River ferries serving a university precinct and other riverside locations.
Out of town I did not see a motorway with more than two lanes except on one occasion when the third lane was a bus only lane. They may have them but I didn’t see any. But I did see plenty of bikes – they are a very popular mode of transport.
As an important rail and road junction Hanover was almost completely destroyed by Allied bombing during World War II and this is reflected in the architecture which is obviously of post-war construction and in the main rather bland. As usual the Hauptbahnhof is prominent with a large and daytime busy Ernst August Platz in front of the main entrance. The façade of the Station is a post-war reconstruction of the old, but the interior is modern, busy and user-friendly with many shops.
They also have what they call trams but I would refer to as light rail. At some point they have dug up some of their now pedestrianized city streets to install the system, so to visit the Herrengarten we descended to a station under the main street, boarded the ‘tram’ and after a couple of stops at underground stations emerged on the surface and proceeded along the side of the arterial road to our destination, alighting at a raised safety zone complete with shelter. Apparently two out every three people in Hanover use these ‘trams’ every day.
If Hanover can build a tramway of 120 kilometres both underground and on the surface with a population of under 600,000 surely Auckland can build a three and a half kilometre City Rail – Come on National Government – get your priorities properly sorted!!
I must say that railed transit systems of any sort are very visitor user-friendly, even if you don’t speak the language. I never worry about mistakes – even if you go in the wrong direction or to the wrong destination, it is always easy to recover, just cross over and take next one back to where you came from. Bus routeing is less reassuring.
I really enjoyed revisiting The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, to give it its full title. With reunification it has recovered that part of its natural hinterland within the former East Germany. Its port has relocated and is massive. Brownfield sites mostly in central locations such as HafenCity (Harbour City) are being re-developed. The CBD was busy and vibrant on both week days and the week-end.
Trains to charming suburbs such as Blankenese [underlined in red below] worked well for us and ferries plying the Elbe are available. After a few years of stall the population is again growing and is officially recorded as 1,741,000 inhabitants.
What I really wanted to convey to readers is that I had the opportunity to pick up, from the splendid Rathaus, a booklet entitled:
‘GREEN, INCLUSIVE, GROWING CITY BY THE WATER – PERSPECTIVES ON URBAN DEVELOPMENT IN HAMBURG’.
It has a foreword by Jutta Blankau, Senator for Urban Development. This is really the approved vision for Hamburg. It is well illustrated and surprisingly was available in both German and English. Overview here.
What follows are some bullet points I have selected and uplifted from various sections of the document;
- More City in the City
- Internal Development Before Expansion
- Good Quality Open Space Even As The City Becomes More Compact
- People Are Already Increasing Their Use Of Street Space And Public Squares
- Hamburg Will Not Become A City Of High Rises – The Ideal Height For Urban Density Is Six To Seven Floors
- When The Port Operations Were Moved To Their New Location Hamburg Is Accepting The Challenge To Create New Residential Areas, Work Places And Attractive Places
- Improving Urban Quality Including – Constructing a new S4 Train Line to the East of Hamburg.
- Roofing Over A7 Motorway Cuttings to Reconnect Severed Parts of the City in the West.
Now some points uplifted from the section entitled: Mobility – From Owning To Using:
- The car is losing its importance as a status symbol
- Various modes of transport are to converge and link up at mobility service points in order to make private travel superfluous
- Hamburg must not be allowed to lag behind comparable big cities which are considerably expending their Metro systems
And the most interesting of all the statements under this heading of Mobility –
“ The core conflict in the town planning debate of the last century – the battle between car friendliness and urban life in the city – is now drawing to a close. The city of the future will be liveable and allow mobility also.”
This is a significant (and not necessarily recent) attitudinal change for a major city in a country in which the export of motor vehicles plays such an important role in foreign exchange earnings. Regretfully and on this basis, our current National government’s thinking hasn’t moved into the 21st century and in New Zealand we are stuck with poorly targeted and excessive spending on the single mode of of roading and particularly duplicate roading, and motorway expansion. The direction being taken by other civic jurisdictions is clear and well elucidated in the document from Hamburg.
Far and away, Auckland will be New Zealand’s only international city. The trends and evidence in support of more balanced urban mobility options for a city like Auckland are abundantly clear.
The Transport Blog has been carefully analysing and presenting researched factual data in support of changed transport policies for some years now.
For the sake of those who live in Auckland now, and who will live in Auckland in the future, it is time to demand that the Government accept the necessary mindset change and as a first step, provide their share of the finance for the early construction of the City Rail Link.
Over the weekend the latest shared space in the city was completed, on O’Connell Street. This joins the growing network of shared spaces with Lorne Street, Elliott St, Darby St, Fort St and the also recently completed Federal Street. I would argue that O’Connell Street is the best one yet. The new paved look beautifully matches the scale of the street and period buildings. The street is also all activated frontages with no parking buildings that cause issues on some of the other spaces at peak times.
O’Connell Street on late Sunday afternoon
A great feature is that all of the benches have little historic stories in the street. Several focussed on how the area was viewed negatively for so long. Another bench notes how the street was widened by 50% in the 1920′s, with buildings from the 1840′s demolished for this to occur. However this can party explain the wonderful character of the street.
O’Connell St on Monday lunchtime
Even though the street had been a construction site for 6 months until a few days ago, the street was buzzing with people yesterday lunchtime. A couple of cafes on the street had already set up tables on the street, and I’m sure more will follow. People we also sitting on the benches reading or otherwise relaxing. Overall had a wonderful atmosphere.
For a comparison, this is what O’Connell Street looked like at the start of the year.
A contributing reason for the great atmosphere was that workers were still touching up a few small things, therefore street was still closed to general traffic. However as soon as barriers were removed even briefly, people drove through, and straight away someone was taking advantage of the free parking on offer. I understand later in the afternoon the street was fully opened for general traffic and there were some issues with cars driving too fast.
It is worthwhile pointing out that their are no vehicles entrances on the street, and no carparks. Therefore the only reason cars need to be on the street is for deliveries, which certainly are essential.
This sign from the end of the street makes clear that deliveries should occur between 6am and 11am. So therefore after 11am their are no reasons for cars to be on the street at all. So we really need to ask the question as to why general traffic is allowed at all. The only use is as a rat-run, or for people circling around looking for parking, both pointless activities. So why not shut the street from 11am everyday, or even better have bollards to allow deliveries only between 6am and 11am, so no general traffic is allowed at all. This will not mean any money has been wasted, but will allow the full potential of the space to be used everyday.
12: Auckland’s “Missing” Urban Neighbourhoods
What if Auckland’s “missing” urban neighbourhoods re-emerged as real places?
Auckland is growing up fast. In central Auckland, this can be seen in the emerging new destinations (Britomart, Wynyard Quarter for example) and many smaller changes all over the place that are contributing to a city centre and fringe neighbourhoods that are much richer and interesting places to live, work and visit.
That said, there are still many streets in and around the city centre and fringe where great potential to become good people-focused places is thwarted by the dominance of their traffic movement functions. Often, this has been reinforced by poor quality building development that contributes little to the adjacent public realm of the street.
Some of these stretches might be considered ‘missing neighbourhoods’ with an untapped potential to emerge as great urban places if we can pay more attention to supporting their place-making qualities as well as traffic movement. Take a look at Wakefield Street, Wellington Street, Upper Symonds Street or Khyber Pass. Ought we not look to these areas to support more development and activity to support future growth?
One of the most exciting projects in the City East West Transport Study (CEWT) is the addition of a busway through the central section of Wellesley St – which is defined as between Kitchener St and Albert St.
The central section of Wellesley Street near the Queen Street core contains a number of key cultural facilities including the Civic and St James Theatres, Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland Central City Library and also intersects with the Elliot Street shared space and connections through to Aotea Square. The importance of providing a quality environment for pedestrians and place making within the area cannot be overstated.
While the study has confirmed that the linear park project is best located on Victoria Street and there is a need for a bus corridor along Wellesley Street, there remain considerable opportunities to also obtain the desired improvements to pedestrian and amenity provisions within Wellesley Street central.
In particular, there may be an opportunity to close the central section of Wellesley Street (between Kitchener and Albert Streets) to general traffic, which would be rerouted for example around Mayoral Drive. This would enable the carriageway width to be reduced and reallocated to the pedestrian realm and also reduce the feeling of vehicle dominance within this area. This traffic closure would have additional benefits in allowing greater signal optimisation for buses and pedestrians at the Wellesley Street / Queen Street intersection, and may also unlock opportunities for improvements on adjacent blocks of Queen Street through reduced traffic and the reduction of bus stops.
For that central section the busway would be a full four lanes wide, two lanes for movement and two lanes for buses stopping. When you include the bus stops, parking and loading zones the carriageway is actually about six lanes wide so this proposal actually represents it being narrowed down. That in turn allows for the footpaths to be extended which is something likely to be needed considering the number of people that will be moving through the area thanks to the people fountains the buses will be.
The image below highlights the benefits to pedestrians showing that they go from having 30% of the space in the corridor now to 48% with a bus only road in place.
And here’s the proposed layout vs what we have now. While the diagrams are just listed as indicative, I suspect that in reality the vehicle lanes would be closer to the northern side which would allow much more space on the south which gets more sun and out the front of the Civic Theatre.
In addition to the extra space on Wellesley St, the changes to the bus routes and the inability of cars to turn off Queen St would mean the carriageway on that wide section of Queen St could also be narrowed. In effect it could leave us with quite a large footpath build out of the Civic corner.
But why is a busway even needed?
Currently around 24,000 people enter the CBD by bus during the morning peak however by 2041 it’s expected that number could be up to 45,000 people while vehicle volumes are at best flat. Like we’ve seen over the last decade, all the transport growth that will occur in the CBD will happen through public transport or active modes. Even with higher capacity buses it still means we’ll need a lot more of them on the roads delivering people to and through the city centre. It’s this reason that the City Centre Future Access Study determined that a mix of both the City Rail Link and improvements to surface buses would be the best solution.
Currently buses to the CBD use a wide variety of routes with the main corridors being Fanshawe St, Albert St and Symonds St. There are a number of buses that also terminate or travel through the Civic area.
The New Bus Network is seeing routes overhauled and while we won’t see the official plans for the City Centre till the central are consultation (which is expected next year), one of the features of the network is that routes will be concentrated on to a few key routes. The current proposal below sees two North-South routes (Albert St and Symonds St) and two East-West routes (Fanshawe/Customs and Wellesley St. The Wellesley St corridor is home to a number of all-day frequent routes including but not limited to buses from:
- Dominion Rd
- Sandringham Rd
- New North Rd
- Remuera Rd
- Manukau Rd
- Pt Chev via Westmere and Herne Bay
- Grey Lynn and Ponsonby
A quick calculation suggests that could represent over 100 buses an hour before taking into account the non frequent routes and the peak only routes that would also pass through the corridor. That would likely to be too much for single bus lanes to handle without getting horribly clogged up with a wall of buses.
So why not use either Victoria St or Mayoral Dr for the buses
As many people will know and as the first map shows, buses currently use both Wellesley and Victoria St for East-West movements and some may ask why we shouldn’t just keep doing that. There are a number of reasons but a couple of key ones are that it enables customers to transfer much easier between services but it also enable other city centre improvements to happen. In particular the plan is to have a linear park on Victoria St connecting Albert Park with Victoria Park.
As the report notes a number of people have questioned whether the Linear park should be on Wellesley instead (with presumably buses on Victoria St). The report (page 234) highlights the results of some of the significant analysis that is said to have gone in to confirming that Victoria St is the best location. The other east-west street in the middle of the CBD is Mayoral Dr. Again it would require bus routes to be longer and therefore higher operational costs but it would also move the buses (which will be moving many more people to the city than cars will) further away from the centre of town where the majority of people will be living or working. The table below shows the expected CBD population and employment densities in 2041 showing the concentration north of Wellesley St.
In my view the Wellesley St busway would be a welcome addition to the city centre and along with the other improvements to the area represent a huge step forward for the CBD.
Anyone keeping track will know there’s a heap of projects planned to happen in the CBD in the coming years, projects like the CRL, the Victoria St Linear Park on Victoria St and City Centre Bus improvements to support the new bus network to name a few. As Cameron Brewer would say - where are the vehicles on Quay St going to go?
It’s a valid question and while some might say “who cares”, it is an issue we have to deal with. Wisely Auckland Transport realised the importance of dealing with the east-west streets in the CBD as whole and that’s where the City East West Transport Study (CEWT) comes in. As the name suggests the study looks at the key east-west roads in the CBD. I first heard about the study some time ago and now have the study thanks to a LGOIMA request. The full report is here (44MB)
The overarching purpose of the CEWT Study is to develop a strategy for the effective management and direction of the city centre’s key east-west corridors over the short to long term horizons, in a manner that supports the City Centre Masterplan and other key strategic initiatives.
The way I see it is that while the City Centre Master Plan and other strategies lay out the the vision for the future, the CEWT study looks at how everything in would work in reality. It’s a non-statutory supporting document that sits beneath the Auckland Plan and Integrated Transport Programme and feeds though to the Regional Land Transport Programme and associated investigation, design and implementation work streams. It is also influenced by other strategic plans, such as the City Centre Masterplan and Waterfront Plan.
The core focus of the study was the following east-west corridors:
Most importantly the study has looked at how the corridors are used and that currently they are each required to support all modes of transport. One of the key outcomes is that in the future each route will have a different focus. In effect this means the east-west streets in the CBD will be specialised around different modes.
The preferred direction will see a different emphasis placed on each of the east-west corridors in terms of their key functions and mode requirements. This strategy of having variation in mode emphasis across the corridors is a marked departure from the existing situation, where each of the corridors is providing a generally consistent function and form.
The proposed network strategy will in some instances require changes to the form of these corridors. In terms of kerb-to-kerb width, the greatest changes will be on Quay Street and Victoria Street which will be reformed to facilitate important place-based transformation shifts as previously envisaged by the City Centre Masterplan.
To deliver the preferred overall strategy, a vision and direction have been developed for each of the east-west corridors.
The overall preferred strategy is below (click to enlarge).
There is a constant focus on pedestrians across all streets but other than that each one is different. Quay St has a public space focus, Customs/Fanshawe a movement focus with buses and cars, Victoria a people focus, Wellesley a Bus focus and Mayoral/Cook retaining a car focus.
A key consideration in coming up with the solutions is the need to create a resilient transport network. The authors note that even if streets were wider that it wouldn’t help move more traffic as the constraints are generally at the intersections. Further they say that when something happens that e.g. an accident, that currently all vehicle based transport networks are affected. By providing dedicated bus and cycle lanes it means that the non-car transport networks can continue to function which is important as they are likely to be responsible for moving up to 70% of the mode share.
The reallocation of road space is bound to be a hot button issue for some however the authors have also looked at how each corridor is being used. The graph below looks at a few of the roads and shows how much space within the carriageway (so not including the footpaths) is currently dedicated to general traffic or buses vs how many people are expected to be using each mode. As you can see on all but Fanshawe St 100% of the road space is dedicated to general traffic meaning buses get caught in congestion. Yet by 2021 it’s expected that on Wellesley St 89% of people will be on a bus. As such the plan is to drastically increase the allocation of road space on Wellesley St to buses.
This is great to see and moves towards that great quote from Enrique Peñalosa that “a bus with 80 passengers has 80 times more right to roads space than a car with one”
However while the overall direction has largely been decided the study notes there are still some fairly specific and meaty issues that need to be addressed. These are:
For each corridor the study lays out the strategic direction, corridor space allocation, how it performs against the overarching goals and future work required to achieve the preferred direction. Here’s each of the streets.
The strategic direction for Quay Street is to become a multi-modal harbour edge boulevard with a predominant emphasis on public space and pedestrian movement within the city centre core in the west and balancing pedestrian and cycle provision with a continued emphasis on freight movement for the Ports of Auckland in the east.
Quay Street Central will be transformed as a landmark harbour edge street between Lower Hobson Street and Britomart Place that unites the CBD Engine Room with the waterfront, as envisaged by the City Centre Masterplan and Waterfront Plan.
Quay Street East will also enhance pedestrian and cycle connections but will see an increased multi-modal emphasis, with maintaining appropriate freight access to the Ports of Auckland a key consideration.
The strategic direction for Fanshawe Street is to strengthen its public transport functions by becoming an urban busway corridor, providing for frequent, fast and efficient bus connections between the North Shore Busway and the City Centre, including Wynyard Quarter.
The urban busway will need to be designed appropriately to reflect its city centre context and to provide much improved north-south pedestrian connections across the street, facilitating its role as part of the Harbour Edge Stitch Transformational Move envisaged by the City Centre Masterplan and Waterfront Plan.
In addition to these key public transport and pedestrian functions, it is intended that sufficient general traffic capacity be retained, reflective of its position as a key gateway into the city centre from the Northern Motorway
The strategic direction for Customs Street is to maintain a multi-modal corridor that provides access, both for buses and general traffic, into and across the downtown core of the CBD Engine Room, while also maximising pedestrian capacity and quality.
Improving provision for the north-south pedestrian desire lines across the street is seen as particularly important, to support adjacent land uses and strengthen walking connections between the city centre engine room and the harbour edge.
The strategic direction for Beach Road is to strengthen its role as a multi-modal corridor providing access for buses, general traffic and pedestrians between the city centre and the eastern fringe.
It will also provide a high quality dedicated cycling connection between the Grafton Gully Cycleway and Quay Street Harbour Edge Boulevard, as a key link in the proposed Auckland-wide cycle highway network.
The strategic direction for Victoria Street is to become a broad tree-lined linear park between Albert and Victoria Parks, as envisaged by the City Centre Masterplan.
The linear park will be the city centre’s urban green link and principal east-west walking route across the midtown area. The linear park will provide a significant place-making function, with a series of green
public spaces for rest, play and social activity for residents, workers and visitors to the City Centre. It will be integrated with and enhance the main entrance to the future Aotea Station planned for Victoria
Street, delivering a landmark public space outside what is planned to be Auckland’s busiest rail station.
As a slow street Victoria Street has the potential to support an east-west cycling function as part of a midtown cycle route linking to regional cycle routes (such as the Grafton Gully Cycleway) to the east and west of the city centre core.
The Victoria Street linear park will become a key asset and attractor for people working, living and visiting the dense midtown core of the city centre, and strengthen the identity and legibility of the city centre
as a whole.
The strategic direction for Wellesley Street is to become the primary east-west public transport spine across the midtown area of the city centre, providing a high capacity and quality bus route while enhancing the capacity and quality of footpaths for pedestrians and to support adjacent land uses, especially in the core to either side of Queen Street.
It is expected that dedicated bus lanes will be provided along the full length of Wellesley Street, which will enable separate allocations for bus movement and stopping.
Within the central core full implementation of this vision will require the removal of general traffic between Albert and Kitchener Streets / Mayoral Drive and a reduction in carriageway width to facilitate increased provisions for pedestrians and place making.
Mayoral Dr/Cook St
The strategic direction for Mayoral Drive and Cook Street is to become the principal east-west route for general traffic across the midtown area of the city centre, complementing the public transport role of Wellesley Street and walking, cycling and place-making emphasis along the linear park on Victoria Street.
Overall the City East West Study is fantastic and shows progress is starting to be made on how we structure our and think about streets in our main urban area. It recognises that in the city centre pedestrians are the priority followed by cyclists and buses. There is obviously a long way to go before we see all of this realised but it is a good start and AT should be commended for this. There’s a lot more in the study to go through yet so there will be more posts on this in the future.
On Tuesday the Greens announced a policy to give tertiary students free off peak public transport. While the policy wasn’t terrible I didn’t think it was great either however the same can’t be said for the rest of their transport policy which was announced today.
There are 5 key areas the Greens are focusing on
- A $10.4 billion investment in new public transport projects and rail over 10 years delivering buses and trains every few minutes at peak hour, decongesting our cities’ roads, and reversing the neglect of our rail network
- A $2.2 billion dollar government investment in seven key public transport projects in Auckland, including $1.3 billion in funding for the Auckland City Rail Link to start immediately.
- A 300% increase in walking and cycling infrastructure including separated walking and cycling infrastructure in New Zealand’s small towns and big cities.
- A $423 million increase in funding to regions to contest for projects that will best serve their transport needs.
- A Student Green Card to provide free off-peak travel to all tertiary students and apprentices. We will investigate options to lower fares for everyone, and implement smart, integrated options for monthly and annual passes.
The student fares was announced on Tuesday and the walking and cycling policy was announced back in March so there’s little point in going over them again other than to say I improving both walking and cycling as well as PT can often go hand in hand i.e. making it easier to get to buses, trains and ferries by walking and cycling will also help increase use of PT.
That leaves the PT and regional parts of the policy to think about.
I basically read point one as being about creating proper integrated networks in our major cities. While it isn’t specified I would expect it would involve a combination of improved network planning like what’s happening in Auckland with the New Network, integrated ticketing/fares and higher levels of service provision. The latter in particular is something likely to require additional funding, an issue which I’ll come to shortly.
On the Auckland specific parts of the policy it’s fantastic to see them supporting the Congestion Free Network
There are a couple of key points about their support for the CFN though that it’s worth mentioning and that’s related to funding as shown in the table below.
With the exception of the CRL at 60% the rest of the projects are funded to the tune of 50%. In some cases that’s better than what we have now where some of the projects might not get much government funding at all but I do wonder if strategic Rapid Transit Networks should get more funding. This is because RTN networks are the PT equivalent of a motorway and under the current system motorways get funded 100% from the government through the NZTA.
Putting that aside, the CFN combined with the Greens planned spend of $34 million a year on walking and cycling – around three times the current budget – would really see transport in Auckland transformed in a positive way which has the benefit of providing people with much greater choice in how they get around.
The other key part to their policy is around increasing funding for regional transport projects. I’m not sure if this funding is based on the governments recently announced regional roading package (some of which aren’t bad) or off some other figure but it’s clearly about tapping into the complaints from regions about funding being sucked away for the RoNS projects. I do like that as part of this they will move rail and port projects under the same funding criteria so that hopefully the best transport solution for a given problem obtained regardless of what mode it is. Personally I would go further and shift the network planning and management parts of Kiwirail in with the NZTA to hopefully further enhance chances of getting the best outcome and to gain the benefits of planning and project management experience that the NZTA seem to have.
The biggest thing with this policy is how to fund it. To address this the Greens have actually come up with their own version of a Government Policy statement which is really great to see and shows they’re actually thinking though some of these issues. The graph below is a summary of the spending but the policy contains a yearly break down for each activity class too which is shows how much thought has been put in to this.
While I think that it’s pretty good my biggest concern is just how much they could implement as the government seems to be going hell-for-leather trying to get RoNS projects underway and once that happens it will likely be hideously expensive to cancel projects but also if they’re not cancelled they’ll be hugely costly with the construction trying up transport funding for years.
Overall at first glance the policy is fairly good and to me at least is a big improvement on what’s currently happening or is planned to happen.
Note: I’m not sure when the Governemnt or the Labour plan to formally release their transport policies – although for a large part we can expect the Governments policy to match the formal Government Policy statement
Auckland first section of permanent separated cycleway is currently under construction on Beach Road. This is designed to link in with the Grafton Gully cycleway that is currently under construction. When these are both completed (in about a month!) their will be continuous off-road cycling facilities right through from West Auckland to Britomart. The Beach Road section has only been under construction for a month, however substantial progress has been made. Note that building this cycleway was not just a case of installing some separators. The footpaths have all totally been rebuilt, and the road has been rebuilt and resurfaced. There have also been major storm waterworks undertaken at the same time, with sections of new pipe installed.
On Thursday we got the first glimpse of what the separated sections look like, and now about 100m of separators have been installed between Churchhill St and Te Taou Crescent. The lane will be 3 metres wide, and the separators 0.8m wide.
looking east towards Churchill St and Parnell Rise
While of course it is not complete, is already possible to ride it, and is a much safer and legal alternative to the busy road or footpath. I regularly use Beach Road to cycle into the city or to Britomart, and even this short section of separation made the journey so feel so much safer, and much more relaxing not having to worry about parked cars or fast traffic behind me. If you do ride this section, note it is still a construction zone so may not be advisable if people are working, and their are some services that still need raising to surface level.
Along this section this is a bi-directional cycleway on the southern side of the street. Unfortunately there are a number of driveway entrances along this side of the street, that explains so of the gaps that can be seen. However the cycleway will also be painted and stenciled, at least over the driveway entrances so that will ensure people know this isn’t just a separated parking lane!
At the Te Taou intersection their will be a cycle only traffic light phase so people can cycle diagonally, and the cycleway will continue along the northern side of Beach Road. Stage 1 will head up Mahuhu Crescent to link with a new crossing to connect to the shared path along Quay St. Stage 2 will be undertaken early next year and will continue along Beach Road in front of the Scene apartments, and finish at Britomart Place. The plans and more detail is available on the Auckland Transport website here.
This should help boost the profile and ease of cycling across the city, and build the case for a connected grid, starting by connecting the city and inner suburbs. I a really hopeful that in a few years this will be a common sight across the city, rather than a cause of excitement amongst advocates. Interestingly it is Wynyard Quarters third birthday this weekend, which highlights how amazing new developments can soon become part of city landscape, so cycling infrastructure should be the same in a few years.
Stuart’s 100 continues:
5: A Traffic-Free Queen Street for Christmas
What if Queen Street stayed closed to traffic after the Christmas Parade?
Every year for one Saturday in November Queen Street is closed to traffic for one of Auckland’s greatest traditions, the Christmas Parade. Wouldn’t it be great if we started a new tradition: keep the street closed to traffic for the rest of the day?!
Queen Street as the crowd disperses just after the Christmas Parade, 2013
Why would you want to chase away 100,000 + people as soon as the parade is over? Encouraging them to stay a while could be a great boost for city centre retailers to promote Christmas shopping in the city. It could also be a quick win to pilot future changes to Queen Street.
Traffic Free Christmas Shopping Day Oxford St London.