Celebrating Auckland’s Transformation

Auckland has come a long way in recent years when it comes to the city and waterfront more interesting and people oriented. This was highlighted beautifully on the weekend as tens of thousands every day flocked to the waterfront to celebrate Auckland’s 175th birthday. From Captain Cook Wharf through to the Wynyard Quarter the place was buzzing with people once again proving that people respond when we make spaces for people.

Queen St Temporary Space - Ludo

Photo from Ludo Campbell-Reid

And it isn’t just Aucklanders noticing the redevelopment of the city. This piece a week ago titled Revamped Auckland waterfront inspires from The Press in Christchurch highlights the transformation that Auckland is making:

The girl sits inside what looks like a ventilation shaft, her very own stainless-steel cocoon, legs dangling over the side. Families with pushchairs, a woman walking her dog, cyclists, tourists, and locals stroll past. All look relaxed and carefree.

As they wander the length of the old pier, there’s plenty to grab their attention: Colourful metal cylinders, sculptures shaped like crabs, fish, whales, octopuses, and seahorses. Children splash through a pool underneath a gigantic metal sculpture that looks like it could be an intergalactic TV aerial. Teenagers shoot basketball hoops. Shoppers browse through treasures in market stalls.

Shipping containers have been turned into information booths; old warehouses have become restaurants and cafes. We join the throng for a leisurely and surprisingly affordable lunch.

Welcome to the Wynyard Quarter, part of Auckland’s burgeoning transformation of its previously neglected waterfront. Starting in 2011, this bold and imaginative, development has proved hugely successful. If you are heading to the City of Sails, go – you’ll love it.

We didn’t find getting around Auckland without a car too hard. We stayed on the North Shore. To reach the Wynyard Quarter, we used the Northern Express, a bus service that has is own motorway lane and bus stations. It couldn’t have been easier. We found Aucklanders more courteous to pedestrians than Christchurch drivers.

Public transportation makes a mockery of the calls for more car-parking in Christchurch. Without car parks, the city will fail, say those with a vested interest in developing their central city private businesses – for which they would love a dollop of public money.

Go to other cities and you won’t find car-parking easy either. If you can, you take the bus or train – or bike – instead.

Future cities will be nothing like the old ones. We need to be more flexible, and if that means tweaking or even radically changing former plans, let’s get on with it.

Hell even the few comments are fairly positive and it’s not like Cantabrians are known for their positive views on Auckland. This one in particular is good.

Wynyard Quarter is an amazing place to visit. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been revising my long held opinion of Auckland as a bleak soulless wasteland. Auckland’s inner city is now full of vibrancy and character again.

Wynyard Busy

North Wharf was certainly busy with people enjoying the space

What’s often forgotten is that some of the city’s most impressive transformations have only really been completed for less than 5 years. This includes Wynyard Quarter, the shared spaces and much of the Britomart Precinct.

And then there was this fantastic piece from Jack Tame in the Herald a few days ago:

Imagine describing Auckland to a foreigner who’d never heard her name. A sub-tropical climate with 1.5 million people; suburbs freckled by volcanic nipples, each so perfectly coned and green you’d swear it was just clever landscaping; a city with two impressive harbours, two impressive and different coasts; a city where rich, poor, suburban or central, most people are only ever a few minutes from the sea.

You’d likely explain to your foreign friend that Auckland is the Pacific capital, a city rich with Maori and Polynesian culture. There may be more Pacific Island people here than in all the islands combined and the blend and diversity of Aucklanders is unlike anywhere else on Earth.

We’re spoilt. Auckland is an almighty playground, geographic and cultural. But as the city flourishes and booms it will take planning not to balls it all up. Our city must intensify. It’s unsustainable to sprawl our way to Hamilton, and naive to think that every Aucklander needs to live on a quarter-acre block.

We’re making progress. Britomart and Wynyard Quarter are perfect examples of good public space and will always be embraced.

But high-quality, high-density living options and public transport are essential in ensuring Auckland remains a great place to live.

I’ve long said that Auckland has one of the best natural settings in the world, one that many cities could only dream about. If we can continue down the path we’re on we have a chance to make our urban environment just as wonderful.

Photo of the day: Bledisloe Lane

This was from just before Christmas showing the newly upgraded Bledisloe Lane. The oppressively low canopy was removed, paving replaced and Bledisloe building facade repaired. The space has a much better feeling to it now and so much more pleasant to walk through.



Now we need Metro Centre building to open up onto the lane to really help activate it, something I believe the council are keen on too.

Uncommonly Good: Melbourne Apartments show the way forward

‘The Commons’ is a new small apartment block next to a train line in Brunswick, inner Melbourne by Breathe Architecture. It is noteworthy for  the cost of the apartments [pretty affordable for the area], its strong sustainability credentials and design features [especially the shared areas], its financial success as a development, but most of all because it is a concrete example of a great way forward for urban redevelopment. It ticks every box for accessibility, humanity, and public good. Here is how it was covered in last Thursday’s The Age. Be sure to watch the video.

The Commons sarah-hurst

It is such a success that another block is underway nearby but this time not funded by a traditional developer but sort of crowd sourced, mainly by the architectural community, and it will be marketed in a fresh way too.

The total absence of any onsite car parking and mechanical aircon along with clever use of communal services that enable the generous size of the living areas and the high build quality for the price point. This shows how the removal of anti-urban planning regulations that most western cities have inherited from last century can stimulate innovation by architects and developers.

It also shows that to really offer choice and increased affordability into urban housing markets cities need to make two coordinated moves: remove the straitjacket of Minimum Parking Regulations and other dispersal enforcing regs and upgrade its Transit and Active systems to as high quality, frequency, and permanency as possible. Together these moves enable the market to provide real TODs, Transport Oriented Developments, of all sorts of scales for all sorts of markets, on currently undervalued brownfields sites.

Once these conditions exist then change can occur on scales more attractive to a variety of players driving experimentation and innovation. After all, whatever government, Council, and the market is doing now in Auckland for dwelling supply isn’t working as well as we need. Significant improvement is coming to our transport systems, now lets get the dwelling regulatory environment fixed too. Then good things will follow. As one fix is nowhere as powerful without the other.

Below, the parking [from here:http://www.redshiftaa.com.au/portfolio/apartment-design-as-it-should-be/]:


$100 million in Voluntary Tax

The Herald yesterday ran one of the old faithful’s they do from time to time when there’s not much news going on, complain about how much voluntary tax motorists are paying to Auckland Transport.

Motorists have forked out more than $100 million in parking and vehicle fines from Auckland Transport over four years – and owe plenty more.

The council body collected $22.9 million last financial year, out of total parking charges and enforcement of $72.8 million.

Although that was down on the $23.6 million received from a total $73.2 million the previous year, the Automobile Association is disappointed at what it sees as an unabated parking blitz.

More than $52 million reaped from fines since Auckland Transport was set up in late 2010 has been for parking or bus and transit lane breaches, and just over $47 million for infringements carrying far higher penalties.

But the AA is more forgiving of action taken on unsafe vehicles. Most fines – at $200 a time – have been for failing to display valid warrants of fitness or registration stickers, although figures the agency gave the Herald under official information legislation show motorists have also received $160,000 in notices for worn or damaged tyres.

The figures show $24.4 million in unpaid fines, but Auckland Transport appears to have waived or forfeited about $16.6 million since 2010 by granting exemptions or withdrawing notices during court proceedings.

Although vehicle infringement notices issued in 2013-14 eased by 3500 to 114,000, parking tickets kept growing. The AA says the 319,500 issued last year – up from 288,000 in 2011-12 – point to systemic failure.

“In our view, Auckland Transport is focusing too much on enforcement, and not enough on helping people to comply,” said spokesman Barney Irvine.

So let’s get this straight, there’s been $100 million in fines over four years ($25m per year) and the results for the last two years are both below that average and show a the amount being collected from fines is declining. In other words the trend is heading in exactly the direction the Herald and the AA say they want. Far from complaining, the two organisations should be praising AT for the getting things moving in the right direction.

What the Herald and the AA should be more concerned about is why there’s $24.4 million in unpaid fines and why AT have waived or forfeited an additional $16.6 million. That $41 million from AT’s accounts could be enough to pay for a heap of other projects like bus (and rail) interchanges, new bus lanes, new cycle lanes etc. This is especially the case considering the council’s funding shortage.

They should also be commending AT for the enforcement they do – which from my observations could be a lot more. Cars parking too long prevents other road users – some of which will be AA members – from being able to find a car park when they might need one. Bus and transit lane fines work to deter people from using the lanes as a shortcut but that inevitably ends up delaying buses or higher occupancy cars. In the case of buses delays from ineffective bus lanes has a realistic impact on bus users (and potential users) and can also have an financial impact as more buses might need to be run to maintain the same the frequencies. That would almost definitely mean more subsidies were needed which I’m sure both the Herald and AA would complain about.

It wasn’t all negative though

Mr Irvine welcomed a 10-minute grace period before parking charges apply in Auckland’s CBD, but pleaded for more leniency for motorists miscalculating how long they need to leave their vehicles.

This is funny in a way as I’ve heard it was the AA who were the most upset when AT announced they would change the parking scheme in the CBD a few years ago that introduced the 10 minute grace period and no time restrictions providing you were prepared to pay – although to be fair that was from before Barney’s time. I don’t have the figures on me but I do remember hearing that the changes had been wildly successful and not only car park turnover increase (representing more people getting utility from it) but also that infringements dropped as the system was easier to understand.

Furthermore AT’s draft parking discussion document highlights a number potential future changes to parking across the region including rolling out the CBD scheme to more locations as well as better handling of other problem areas.

At the end of the day there is always going to need to be some sort of enforcement to ensure that people comply with the rules but of the aspects of these fines in particular is that they’re all voluntary. Don’t want a ticket for driving in the bus lane then don’t drive in it, don’t want a parking ticket then don’t park your car for too long. It’s simply really.

While we’re on the topic of parking, I was pleased to see AT had staff actively managing vehicles in Federal St the other day and saw it again in O’Connell St yesterday. It’s great that this is happening

AT Monitoring Federal St

Guest Post: Road and streetscape design

This is a guest post from reader Richard

Hope you have all had a happy new year. This is my first post on this blog and I am excited to make a positive difference to this country.

Road and streetscape design is important for all of us. It is what makes the difference between a warm, comfortable environment and a cold, dull environment. So, how could we make our streets more “warm and comfortable” as well as being safe (more on this later).

One thing I have noticed is the planting of trees on the pavement. This generally improves the environment of the area, however, some trees make the area feel better than other trees. For example, warmer trees (yellower trees) make the area more welcoming. On the other hand, dark green trees (colder trees), make the surrounding area not as welcoming. This is even more obvious if the surrounding area is predominately grey. The pictures below gives you an idea of what I mean.

Warmer Trees

Before I sat my full license test, I had a lesson with a driving instructor. After that lesson, he told me that most drivers are only able to focus well on two hazards at a time. A hazard is anything that  is moving and could have the potential to be in your intended path. So, what does this mean? Do we just ban driving? Of course not as driving is, and will always be a necessity for the foreseeable future where there are no or few alternative transport options. In order to improve safety for all users a variety of things could be improved.

Firstly, having pedestrian crossings on roundabouts is not a good idea. Moving it 20-30m away from the roundabout would make it much safer. As shown in the illustration below (sorry can’t draw well), a driver turning left (A), is most likely focusing on the two most immediate hazards (B and C). What this means is that many drivers would not see the car approaching behind it (D), and the pedestrian (E). As a result, the driver would not have seen the pedestrian until it has completed the turn and with the crossing right next to the roundabout, there is a high likelihood of an accident. Until there are more competent drivers and/or autonomous cars, roads could be designed so that drivers have fewer hazards to deal with.


Roundabouts aren’t that great for cyclists either. You either have to merge in with traffic, or go on the footpath. Riding on the left of the road on a roundabout is extremely dangerous for a vulnerable cyclist like me, especially if vehicles are going to turn into your path. For that reason, I never undertake a left turning vehicle or one that would cross into my lane. One way to fix this issue would be to install “lips” (not too sure of its official name) so that cyclists would be on the footpath and that they would cross the road as if they were a pedestrian. This would mean there would be less interaction with motor vehicles. Although having both pedestrians and cyclists on the footpath may sound like a bad idea, I believe that most suburban and residential roads won’t have enough pedestrians to cause issues for cyclists and vice versa. After they have gone through the roundabout, they would continue to ride on the road.

I do have other ideas to improve safety and to improve streetscapes, but I think that this is enough for one post.

Have you got any other sensible ways to improve the safety of cyclists and pedestrians and/or improving streetscapes? Discuss below

Postcards: Street Facing Units

One of my favorite aspects of  Vancouver urban design is the way that buildings meet the street. This reminds me of classic urban neighbourhoods of New York and Philadelphia with their stoops or the humble porch of bungalows and cottages across California.

Great attention is paid to the interface between public and private realms. The tension and interaction is resolved through a variety of design patterns and features both in the vertical and horizontal plane. Individual unit access is located immediately from the footpath and private space is provided overlooking the street both from the steps and also from small porch-like terraces.

Here is an apartment building built in the 1990’s in the Downtown South neighbourhood next to the Roundhouse Community Centre. This is how people experience the street. This street, like most in the neighbourhood, take the famous Vancouver form of point and podium where the street level maintains a modest height and narrow towers extend to great heights (10 to 38 storeys) to achieve the desired neighbourhood densities while maintaining view corridors across the water.


Street facing townhouses, Roundhouse Neighbourhood, 2-story podium, 9 and 17 story towers

The ultimate height and form of the the building is not as important as how the first several stories frame and address the street. Regular, closely spaced street trees and dwelling entrances reinforce the townhouse character of the street. Landscape amenity (for lack of a better word) is provided both along the public street but also within the private boundary creating a sense of a shared public realm.

A slight elevation change brings residents a degree of authority and ownership over the street and the steps reinforce the transition from public to private space. In conjunction with low fences and landscaping, this elevation change provides clear views of the street from the townhouses but restricts direct views into the living spaces.

Increasingly this podium and point form of Vancouverism is being updated in a more mid-rise form with more consistent but lower heights across the block. Below is a very similar street level response but the building takes a more consistent mid-rise scale (8 storey). This is a new residential building on East 7th Avenue. Conveniently a small brewery has opened up across the street adding to the half dozen others in the vicinity (talk about the benefits of intensification!).

New mid-rise apartments near Broadway and Main St, Vancouver, 8 storeys. Main Street Brewery left.

Street trees play a significant role in modulating the vertical space and creating a scale that is feels comfortable along the street. Like neighbourhoods in the West End and along 7th Avenue, these mature street trees create a very subdued, almost suburban feeling.

Recently I stumbled upon research on the subject of street facing units by Elizabeth Macdonald the urban scholar famous for her co-authorship of The Bouvelard Book with Allan Jacobs. The research, Street-facing Dwelling Units and Livability: The Impacts of Emerging Building Types in Vancouver’s New High Density Neighbourhoods documented the design guidelines that shaped these outcomes and made observations about street activity, sociability and value/desirability of street facing units.

It turns out the main rules governing the interface are quite simple. While they vary a bit across the city depending on the context, they have the following key components (source: Macdonald, 2005):

  • Individual entries for all ground floor dwelling units,
  • Terraces or gardens at ground floor dwelling unit entrance,
  • Individual dwelling units must be raised 1 meter above ground level,
  • Maximum and minimum setbacks along street frontages.

In some cases the guidelines require more detailed consideration including:

  • Articulation of building massing so that individual units are expressed in the building’s facade,
  • Specific design elements within the setback area (eg additional row of street trees as shown in images above).

Example of guidelines for ground floor direct entry units. (Source: Street-facing Dwelling Units and Livability, Elizabeth MacDonald)

Macdonald’s research consisted of surveying both residents and people walking along along the street. She found that that the regular and close spacing of front doors, ranging from between 6 to 10 meters apart, contributes to the visual interest along the street-from their individualised terrace gardens and stairs that attract the attention of passers-by.

Both residents and people on the street felt that the direct entry units provided a sense of “eyes on the street’. Personalised gardens, windows, and regular entries give the impression that people care abour the transitional public-private space along the street. And 80% of the ground floor residents felt that they paid more attention to the street activities than their neighbours on the upper levels.

Macdonald also found that the ground-floor direct access units contribute to social interaction and street-oriented activity on the street. Most of the residents use the front door as their primary method of access, though this is diluted somewhat from the direct access provided from the parking structures located underneath most buildings.

This simple formula seems to have been adopted recently in Seattle as well (which is the inspiration for the post). Seattle is experiencing a massive building boom. By some accounts as many as 25,000 units have been developed over the span of two years most of which are in central locations. Below is a photo showing the ground floor interface of a new building in Capitol Hill on Broadway, I also saw a similar technique being used in the downtown Queen Anne neighbourhood.


New perimeter block building Capitial Hill Seattle (8 storeys)

I wonder if it is possible to build like this in Auckland? Can street trees of a form, scale, regularity ever be (re) introduced along a street? Are there places that haven’t seen so carved up and compromised by the roading network that we could recreate a traditional Street-Building-Block typology where people would want to live on the street? Will the Kiwi the obsession with indoor-outdoor flow ever include the street?


2014 – A Year in Review Part 3 – Roads

In the third in my series of posts wrapping up the year I will look at what’s happened with roads this year.

Roads of National Significance

The RoNS have continued as they did last year with one notable exception.

Western Ring Route

The Western Ring Route works are in full flight now as will be evidenced to anyone who drives along SH16 with roadworks in place from east of Western Springs all the way through Northwest of Lincoln Rd from 5 separate projects.

  • St Lukes Interchange
  • Waterview Connection
  • Causeway upgrade
  • Te Atatu Interchange
  • Lincoln Rd Interchange

The TBM working on the Waterview connection has broken through with the first tunnel and in December made a start on the second one. At the same time the most visible part of the project has been the large yellow gantry has been building towering ramps that will connect the tunnels to SH16 in each direction.

Over the next year we should finally see the Lincoln Rd section completed and I imagine significant progress on the other projects – although they are still a few years from completion.

Puhoi to Wellsford

In 2014 the NZTA were issued with consent to build the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway – a road even the NZTA’s analysis says is only really busy during holiday periods. Amazingly we’re still yet to see any real economic analysis for the project which is likely because it’s terrible based on the work we saw before the government named it a priority. The government of course continue to claim it’s all about the economic development of Northland despite the existing toll road – which saved more time than this motorway will – not making any difference.

Confirmed route

Over 2015 we’re likely to see the NZTA working towards a PPP to get this project built however it’s not likely we’ll see any construction start.

Basin Reserve Flyover

Perhaps the biggest surprise of 2014 was the Board of Inquiry declining the NZTA’s application to build a flyover around the edge of the Basin Reserve. In the end the commissioners hearing the case concluded the impact on the local community from having a massive flyover was just too much after it was able to be shown that most of the benefits the NZTA claimed the road would provide were actually attributable to other projects.  The decision was embarrassing for the NZTA and the government seeing as it was using the governments new fast track process which means the decision can only be appealed on points of law – which the NZTA are doing.

Basin Bridge Image 1

I’m not aware if a date has yet been set for the appeal but it is likely to be later next year.

Transmission Gully

Also in Wellington, the first transport PPP was signed in July for the construction and operation of Transmission Gully, another project with a horrific business case. Initial works should have started by now however won’t really ramp up till next year. The PPP will see the NZTA paying $125 million a year for 25 years once the project has been completed. Unlike many PPPs that failed overseas, for the consortium building the road there is little risk as all the demand risk sits with the NZTA, in other words we pay providing the road is open – and if it is damaged from a something like an earthquake we have to pay at least some of the costs of that too.

Other RoNS

The other RoNS projects in the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Christchurch have continued along. I’m not sure of the progress of all of them however the Tauranga Eastern Link is meant to be completed in 2015.

Auckland Motorway Projects

In 2013 the government announced a series of additional motorway projects for Auckland. The widening of the Northern Motorway between Upper Harbour and Greville Dr has just been completed and in November started consultation on ideas for further changes to that section including a motorway to motorway interchange between SH1 and SH18. Some of the ideas are absolutely massive in scale such as concept 3.

Northern Corridor Improvements Concept 3

Of the other projects, works to grade separate Kirkbride Rd moved ahead and earlier this month the NZTA announced the contract had been signed with construction starting in January

We haven’t heard much about the other accelerated project which will see the southern motorway from Manukau to Papakura widened but I would expect we will do in 2015.

In addition to the accelerated projects the NZTA has now made a start on widening SH1 Northbound between Ellerslie-Panmure Highway and Greenlane – a project that’s been on the cards for a while and for which the Ellerslie Station platform was narrowed a few years ago to accommodate.

Accelerated Regional Roads

In addition to the RoNS, and to shore up their support from some rural communities, this year the government announced a spend up of over $200 million on a number of regional state highway projects that can’t get funding due to it being sucked up by the RoNS. The Funding for these projects is coming from the proceeds of asset sales the government has undertaken. Some of the projects appear to be of low value however not all are.

Govt Accelerated Rural Road Package


Auckland Transport started the year with the opening of the new Panmure station and in November they opened Te Horeta Rd which is the new road running alongside the rail line and Panmure station from Mt Wellington Highway to Morrin Rd.

East West Link Connections

In October both AT and the NZTA launched consultation on ideas for the East West Link after calling off a proposal for a motorway through Mangere right at the beginning of the year. They haven’t announced the results yet but I’m fairly certain either option C or D has been picked as the option they are proceeding with.

EW Option - Option D

Mill Rd

In November AT announced they have come up with a route for the Mill Rd corridor and will be working towards securing a designation for it. The most disappointing aspect for me about the project – other than some of the case for it has likely been destroyed by the fast tracking of the SH1 widening – is that even with a brand new corridor, AT are still designing a crap outcome with features like unprotected cycle lanes or shared paths and pedestrian/cycle unfriendly roundabouts.

We’re still driving less

One positive trend I have started to notice is our transport institutions are starting to take notice of is that we’re driving less. In the last few months in particular it’s started to be mentioned in publications such as the Briefing to the Incoming Minister and in research papers.


What have I missed?

Accessing the City Centre

As Patrick so eloquently described in his Metro article – and post yesterday – Auckland is experiencing an unseen revolution in transport. While the pace of the change is becoming increasingly evident, what many people don’t realise is that this revolution isn’t new, instead it’s been slowly building up a head of steam for over a decade. Nowhere is this more evident than in the central city where the sure but steady change has now become so dramatic that it’s now challenging the stereotype of Auckland being a drive everywhere city. Despite the frustrations we see from time to time one shift is that public transport and active modes are increasingly becoming normalised and not solely for those not able to drive.

We can see this change quite clearly from the data collected annually since 1986 by Auckland Transport and prior to that the Auckland Regional Council. The data comes from a screenline survey which counts all vehicles and people crossing a certain location. In the case of the city centre that screenline survey takes place on all roads that cross the motorway moat that rings the city.

The backdrop to the change has been growth in employment and education coupled with vastly improved retail and hospitality offerings. It’s difficult to get figures for some of those areas however for employment Stats NZ figures show there are now over 100,000 jobs within the screenline boundary mentioned above. That’s up from around 80,000 in 2001 – an almost a 25% increase despite a few bumps along the way such as the Global Financial Crisis. In addition there were only around 10,000 people living in the central city whereas now there are over 31,0000 helping to bring energy and vitality to the urban environment – and all/most without needing to drive to get to work or play.

AKL CBD employment & population 2000-2014

For people who have to travel to the city for, not all are doing so during the morning peak but it’s certainly when the largest number are of 7am to 9am and this is what the Screenline Survey captures. What the data astonishingly shows is that increasingly the change in the transport use over the has exclusively come from modes other than driving more. This screenline data was presented to the AT board last week.

Back in 2001 some 39,000 people or 64% of everyone arriving in the city centre via motorised transport during the morning peak via did so by way of a private vehicle. That means either they were driving or were a passenger in a car. The remaining 21,100 came by bus (23%), train (5%) or ferry (8%).

In 2014 38,000 people entered by private vehicle representing a slight fall in numbers compared to 2001. That in itself is interesting as during that time we’ve made it easier to get to the city thanks to numerous road projects such as the Central Motorway Junction upgrade. However the big story is that the number of people arriving by public transport share has risen dramatically to over 34,400 (48%). The change is shown on the graph below.

CBD Transport Change

If we throw active modes in to the mix (not including those already in the city centre) then the number of people not driving to the city outweighs the number who do

The graph above is a great result but what’s powering it? Is it just lots more people using PT in general or some parts of the PT network doing much more work. The graph below shows the growth rate by mode. *It’s worth noting that it appears from some of the other data I was sent that the Northern busway refers to people and travelling from the North Shore, not just those on the busway.

AKL CBD mode growth

And the numbers compared to 2001.

CBD Transport Change #

Looking to the future we can only expect the current trends to continue, not least because there is nowhere else to squeeze in additional roads/lanes.

Uptown Pocket Park

Auckland Transport has been busy over the last few years buying up properties along the route of the City Rail Link in preparation for when the project will finally get the green light. Most of those properties are going to have buildings already one them however one site in particular has been an empty lot for many many years.

Symonds St Pocket Park now

That situation could have continued while we wait for the CRL however fantastically Auckland Transport, the Council, the Local Board and the local Business Association are hoping to get together with the community to create a temporary pocket park on the site this Sunday.

Symonds St Pocket Park

What a great initiative and way to make better use of the land for the next few years at least.

Wellington’s Transport round-up

Wellington is a great city and for many decades has been the county’s premier city for public transport as well as other urban issues however I wonder how long that title will last. The regions transport committee – made up of the regions mayors, the Greater Wellington Regional Council, the police and the NZTA – are looking to focus transport investment over the next six years around roads. It’s all part of the Regional Council (GWRC) coming up with the next Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP)

This Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP) is a statutory document that must be prepared every six years as required by the Land Transport Management Act (LTMA) 2003 (as amended in 2013).

The RLTP must contribute to the purpose of the LTMA which seeks ‘an effective, efficient, and safe land transport system in the public interest’. It is also required to be consistent with the Government Policy Statement (GPS) on land transport.

The RLTP informs the development of the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) by identifying the priorities and key improvement projects for the Wellington region. The NZ Transport Agency is required to take account of the RLTP when preparing the national programme.

The diagram below illustrates where the RLTP sits in relation to the other key transport planning documents at a national and regional level.

Wellington RLTP diagram

While the Transport committee don’t come up with the projects on the list they do prioritise them or can exclude projects if they want. The list then goes out to the public for consultation which will happen over four weeks from mid January. So what are the projects considered a priority?

Wellington RLTP priorities 1

Wellington RLTP priorities 2

So of the 17 top priorities there are only three PT related – Rail improvements, Integrated fares & Ticketing and BRT investigation – and they aren’t that high on the list with the highest one only 9th. In addition there is only one walking/cycling project. If you didn’t already know this was in Wellington you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is an Auckland plan.

So what is happening with PT in Wellington

The great news is that it seems patronage is on the rise with the figures till October for the last 12 months with overall patronage the highest it’s been for over 15 years.

Wellington Patronage Oct 14

Island Bay Cycleway

There is one other piece of good news and that is Wellington City Council has announced the design for the Island Bay Cycleway. The project was approved yesterday and unlike Auckland’s efforts. Impressively (for NZ) they are putting the cycle lanes closest to the kerb protected by parking. Some of the space for this has come from removing the central median. The cycle lanes even go around the back of bus stops. Here are a few images of what it may look like.

Wellington Island Bay Cycleway 1

Wellington Island Bay Cycleway 2