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AT Bouquets and Brickbats from the severe weather

There’s a lot that Auckland Transport do that we criticise them for and I so always like being able to give them praise when they deserve it. As such this is just a quick post to say that I thought their communication on Thursday about the impacts of the severe weather were good – at least on twitter anyway.

It started right from early in the morning with this tweet

Most people who use PT often have a choice between PT and driving and when the weather is bad the first instinct can be to revert to using the car, especially if the car is parked in an internal garage. Of course when that happens the roads get even more congested so having congestion free options – the rail network, the Northern Busway and the few roads with bus lanes on them – becomes even more essential. The great thing about the reminder above is most people can probably remember times when they’ve been on the road in those conditions and the gridlock that ensued.

I know the thought of driving crossed my wife’s mind before reminding her of what the roads would be like. A others clearly went through the same thought process and the reminder was timely in enabling them to get around the city.

 

 

And of course as expected the roads were madness, there were some horror stories out there of people taking multiple hours to drive around the city. This was especially the case in the eastern suburbs where Tamaki Dr was closed. Again on Tamaki Dr it seemed their communication was really good. This is just one of many tweets they had on the issue.

 

So for comms well done AT, you did a good job.

In saying this, it’s also worth thinking about why people changed their habits so much. One of the reasons is surely due to the lack of quality amenity at many train stations or bus stops. By that I mean the often appalling small and exposed shelters. Take my local station as an example (Sturges Rd). On both platforms there is only a single shelter with seating under it for about 10 people. That might be ok during off peak but in the mornings it’s common to see more 70 or more people waiting for the train (in the offpeak it’s not uncommon to see 30 people waiting for a train). On Thursday morning those people were all trying to cram under this single shelter and to get there they already had to dash across the open platform and access paths at either end.

Sturges Shelter

Sturges Shelter 2

Sadly most bus shelters are just as bad or in many cases probably even worse.

I realise there are a lot of competing priorities when it comes to PT funding but in my opinion providing better facilities would go a long way to improving the customer experience and would probably drive more patronage than $100 million spent on new park n ride facilities.

To end on a positive note though, my wife works in the Wynyard Quarter and until Thursday had always walked there from Britomart. She doesn’t mind if it’s raining lightly and had always ignored suggestions to catch the City Link bus as only every second one went there. However the weather on Thursday was pretty crazy and now that all City Link buses go to Wynyard it’s simplified the service and increased the frequency to the area so she gave it a go. In her words “it was a godsend”. A good example of how simplifying services and improving connections will get people using services.

Mighty River Rail: A Fresh Future?

Looking at a number of separate but current issues got me thinking about the possibility of the return of passenger services on the existing rail lines through the Waikato. These include:

  • The potential appeal of well connected and well designed satellite towns.
  • The difficulty of retaining vitality and that appeal in many existing country towns.
  • New challenges and opportunities for a number of Waikato towns caused by the rerouting of SH1.
  • Population growth pressures on Hamilton and Auckland and the poor quality of recent ex-urban spread.
  • The existing rail lines and legacy stations in the Waikato.
  • The coming availability of Auckland’s current diesel passenger trains.

Starting with the last point I would like to stress that I am not proposing a Hamilton-Britomart intercity service. This idea has a great many practical problems in particular the crowded condition of both Britomart Station and the Auckland network, it is simply too hard to fit additional services through the Auckland network without more track and the CRL to free up station space at Britomart; so no time soon. But also the fact that the market for such a direct service is unproven and likely not large, especially as it would not be competitive with buses using the motorway for price or speed. The billions being spent in the Waikato countryside is speeding the road route there and even if the Auckland network can jam up at anytime for any number of reasons [I spent a loathsome hour getting from Otahuhu to the city on SH1 last week], it still will be hard for the existing rail route to be competitive. At least until such a time as it could run reliably and directly through the Auckland network at speed.

No I have another suggestion that is to embrace the available resource of the line by going instead for coverage and local connectivity. But it starts in Auckland still. The plan is for Auckland’s new electric trains only to reach as far south as Papakura so a few of the current diesel trains will remain as a shuttle service from that station south to Pukekohe. This system will be in place in late next year and Papakura station has been upgraded to facilitate its operation as a transfer point between the two rail systems.

So the first idea is simply to extend the coming southern shuttle between Pukekohe and Papakura south to connect with the towns of the northern Waikato already on the line. Even just extending those services south to Tuakau, the next town on the route to Hamilton, and then to the growing town of Pokeno would cost very little and offer an opportunity to test the idea. But I’m sure the people of Ngauawahia and Te Kauwhata would be pretty keen on the service too going on information from previous intercity proposals, and if a service goes that far it would be crazy not to continue into Hamilton. It would then have anchors* at both ends and not just be an appendage of Auckland’s system. On one hand then it would just be extending the Pukekohe catchment and on the other offering those country towns the chance to redevelop the areas around their stations as well as an additional way to travel within the wider region. Politically and financially it would require the Waikato Regional Council to work with AT and agree on the details. Let’s assume that’s not impossible.

As the line to Pukekohe is likely to be electrified and intermediate stations added this service could then terminate there instead of Papakura and become a much more intra-Waikato one, still linking into the big and frequent Auckland network at that network’s southernmost point for further connectivity. So the possibility arises to take the service south to all the points on the line to Hamilton and even beyond, so say:

  • Pukekohe
  • Tuakau [apparently has .5mil budget set aside for a station]
  • Pokeno
  • Te Kauwhata
  • Huntly
  • Ngaruawahia
  • Te Rapa [new station at The Base mall]
  • Frankton [Existing Station]
  • Hamilton City [The surprisingly already extant underground central city station]
  • Claudelands [new station Hamilton East]

No new track. Simply station and safety upgrades or reinstatements of legacy stations and two new at grade stations in Hamilton.

Ngruawahia Stion

By not trying to race between the two big city centres the added stops become an advantage rather than a disadvantage. It would be as much about travel between any points on the line as end to end and be a tool for regional placemaking. And of course there then is the option to include Te Awamutu to the south, and Morrinsville and Cambridge to the east for more of a pan-Waikato network.

The Waikato District Council could slowly build up a programme using the onetime opportunity of Auckland’s Diesel units in much the same way that Auckland did with Perth’s, assuming it works sufficiently. It’s a low risk chance to grow something new in the Waikato in part taking advantage of Auckland’s proximity by plugging into that bigger network but really focussing on its own region. Particularly to do something for the towns along the route.

Below is a strangely nostalgic map from NZTA designed to promote their massive programme of highway building through the Waikato countryside all this decade; trying to make costly heavy engineering seem all cosy and approachable like something in a kid’s book [particularly 1960s- just like the whole RoNS idea].

Curves.ai

Other than the attempt at cute and the apparent use of the current SH1 entirely by cyclists in the future [!], the key thing this map tells us is that pretty much all the towns on the current route are about to become bypassed. So in as much as they rely on passing traffic for business and vitality that game is up, or soon will be. But also of course in as much as their centres are severed and made unliveable by the heavy traffic speeding through them there is an opportunity too for these places. The scale of the works is more apparent in this version:

Waikato Expressway

Waikato Expressway

A reinvention for the likes of Huntly and Ngaruawhaia is going to be required, but this work usually never happens when NZTA leaves town, although surely there is an opportunity and a need to reorient these places from being focussed around the traffic that used to race through them. It will be up to the local communities and the District Council to unlock the possibilities made available by SH1 going. The chance to restitch their mainstreets back together, calm the remaining traffic; in short make place; to build a new identity and economy in these communities. Could the return of a rail service linking these places, anchored by the two big metropolises, have a role in this? The currently unused stations could certainly be a focus for redevelopment, cafes, information centres, markets etc. A focus for the rediscovery of place and character.

The rail line is less direct than the new road precisely because it connects all these old towns like pearls on a string; so I suggest don’t fight that essential characteristic of the route, use it for local interconnection and not as an attempt to imitate the highway which will soon completely bypass these towns as it expressly designed to avoid them to better serve interregional movement.

North Waikato Line

Above is a rough outline from Papakura south. It is clear that Tuakau and Pokeno could easily be served as Pukekohe extensions, then there is a bigger jump to the old towns south of Pokeno to Hamilton which would make it much more than an extension of the Pukekohe service. And finally a possible third stage east and south of Hamilton out to Morrinsville, Cambridge, and TeAwamutu. So three stages:

Waikato Line

The first stage should gain support from those advocating country living. We are often told that Satellite Towns are a great way to get the best of all worlds; right in the country, but with the social hub of a village centre, and connection to the employment, education, and action of the big city. But to get this the detail matters enormously. Quality of place takes work; those three boxes all need to be properly ticked. Here, I suggest, is a mechanism to help achieve this work.

For example look how they are marketing the spreading little north Waikato town of Pokeno:

Pokeno

Note the mention of rail right in the same sentence as the state highways as a selling point for Pokeno, yet there is no rail service, and no plan for one either. I agree it would be great if there was. Not least because it would give the town an opportunity to develop as a real Satellite Town, not just a piece of displaced sprawl as it seems to be becoming now. The station and surrounding amenity could become a village centre of the kind at the heart of the successful country Satellite Towns around overseas cities.

The TVOne report linked to on the website above is worth a look. It is a good showcase of the often confused thinking, particularly by those that consider themselves experts, on the issues of urban form and the role of transport infrastructure in shaping those forms.

Here’s a quick look at the easily available Hamilton City Stations. Hamilton being the other anchor* of this line.

Hamilton City Stations

The triangle is the existing Hamilton Station at Frankton, the rectangle is Hamilton’s big secret, the country’s first underground urban station, never used. And the line a rough position for an East Hamilton station, around Claudelands, with good residential walkup and next to the Claudelands Convention Centre. These are about a kilometre apart. There is a good opportunity to add a station at the back of The Base at Te Rapa, and a more difficult option for one between that and these three city stops perhaps at Forest Lake Rd. Although the surrendering of rail land for a duplicate highway through there has squeezed the corridor and added to the severance both of which would make this more difficult and expensive. So it goes. However this little urban network alone could be quite useful; Claudelands to The Base certainly looks handy, nicely balancing Ngaruawahia to the city say.

While it is the case that the forces associated with the massive road build currently taking place in the Waikato have been strongly opposed to any rail revival in the region I think for them to continue that now this would be to misunderstand the potential and the purpose of this project. As conceived here it is complimentary to the huge highway system. It is to serve those communities left behind by the Expressway; to help them develop into stronger entities in their own right. To help mitigate the shock of the departure of the highway and to take advantage of the new possibilities that must be found for these places. This project is no threat to the vast sums being spent on highways.

This is a very different argument than that for improvement and extension of the Auckland network for which there certainly is growing demand of significant scale, but I can imagine local people getting behind such a proposal. So a good first step would to hear their views here and if supported then to work towards getting some real analysis done. After all this is not a detailed proposal more a bit of free thinking. After the low hanging fruit [and admittedly Auckland centred] first stage I concede it gets trickier:

  • What sort of frequency would be required for a meaningful service?
  • Could such a frequency be justified by the ridership?
  • How to set the ticket price to stimulate uptake but also help fund operations?
  • How do you balance economic value of place and social quality against financial costs?
  • Is this the best stopping pattern?
  • Are the trains available? Suitable? Affordable?
  • Will KiwiRail be cooperative?

And finally is this the kind of thing that the people of the Waikato want?

Thanks to Jon Reeves and CBT for additional information

* Anchoring. Here is Jarrett Walker:

“So transit planners are always looking to anchor their lines.  Anchoring means designing a line so that it ends at a major destination, so that there will be lots of people on the vehicle all the way to the end of the line.  A line with strong anchors at each end will have more uniform high ridership over the whole length of the line, and a much more efficient use of capacity overall.”

Easter PT shutdown

It’s Easter weekend and that invariably means the rail network is shut down for works.

Auckland Transport advises the rail network will be closed for Easter and there are changes to timetables for buses and ferries during the holiday break.

Friday 18 April (Good Friday) and Monday (Easter Monday) 21 April are public holidays, therefore buses and ferries will operate on a public holiday (Sunday) timetable.

For more information about trains, buses or ferries go to www.at.govt.nz or phone 09 366 6400 to talk to our AT Contact Centre team.

Trains

There will be no trains or rail replacement buses operating on Good Friday.  For the remainder of Easter weekend, trains will be replaced by rail bus replacement services as ongoing track work continues, ahead of the first electric train services later this month.

To board a rail bus you need to be waiting at the temporary bus stop location and not a regular bus stop.  Signage directing you to the correct location will be posted at the station’s entrance and temporary timetables will be on display at rail bus stops. Buses will be marked Rail Bus.

All valid tickets and passes currently accepted on trains can be used on rail bus replacements.

Some of the work taking place along the rail corridor includes:

  • Extending the station platform at Middlemore and Avondale
  • Canopy works at Onehunga and Ellerslie
  • Wall drilling preparatory works at Parnell
  • General maintenance and electrification preparatory works

 Buses

On Good Friday and Easter Monday buses will run to a public holiday (Sunday) timetable.

Airbus Express and the Manukau-Airport service (380) will operate as normal.

There will be no Good Friday NiteRider services. Note however the NiteRider will run as normal on Saturday night/Sunday morning.

Ferries

On Good Friday and Easter Monday ferries will run to a public holiday (Sunday) timetable.  There will be no services for West Harbour, Pine Habour, Gulf Harbour, Hobsonville and Beach Haven.

Motorway traffic:

The NZ Transport Agency anticipates that traffic on all motorways leaving Auckland will be heavy on Thursday and Good Friday as people head out of town, and it advises them to plan the timing of their travel to avoid congestion and delays.

The Transport Agency says there will be two significant project-related road closures in the city over Easter.   Wellesley Street east near the two universities will be closed for work related to the construction of the Grafton Gully cycleway, and the westbound Northwestern Motorway (SH16) off-ramp at Great North Road will be closed for work related to the Waterview Connection project.

Like I’ve said before about the Christmas shutdowns, I hope that with Electrification being completed this year I really hope this is the last Easter weekend we see large scale network shutdowns. While frustrating I do understand the need to do this work so I’m not complaining about that but one thing I do want to complain about is this line.

There will be no trains or rail replacement buses operating on Good Friday.  For the remainder of Easter weekend, trains will be replaced by rail bus replacement services

Both Good Friday and Christmas day are unique in Auckland in that AT completely shut the network without any kind of rail bus replacements. With AT and the council meant to be trying to dramatically improve PT in Auckland this is completely unacceptable. We (as a city) want greater numbers of people using PT and over time that means more and more people are likely to be living without a car and will rely on PT for getting around - in fact many do it already. This will only be heightened once the new bus network comes in and there are less competing bus routes.

So come on Auckland Transport, surely it’s time to drop the archaic practice of not even having a replacement bus service.

The Downside of Park and Ride

Flicking back through older Atlantic Cities posts led to one from last year about Park and Ride catching my eye. It’s a fairly well reasoned cautionary tale which highlights the pitfalls and potential perverse outcomes from something that would appear to be a good thing that encourages public transport use.

On paper, park-and-ride facilities seem like the ultimate transport compromise. Free or cheap parking near transit stations should, if the theory holds, make partial transit riders of metro area residents who used to drive the whole way into work. The system acts like a nicotine gum for daily commutes — weaning people slowly off the single-occupancy car.

The ‘nicotine gum’ analogy is not a bad one actually. Park & ride can be a useful “entry point” to public transport for those who are very much used to driving. This does, in theory at least, make them an important part of achieving ‘modal shift’ away from driving and towards public transport. So what are the pitfalls?

In reality, some transport experts wonder whether park-and-ride does more harm than good. A study of park-and-ride facilities from the early 1990s found they don’t necessarily ease congestion because they unleash latent demand for road space. Other research has come out similarly skeptical that park-and-ride reduces car use, though much of it has centered on bus-based transit.

A new study of park-and-ride at rail-based transit stations doesn’t offer much in the way of encouragement. In an upcoming issue of the Journal of Transport Geography, Dutch researcher Giuliano Mingardo reports that park-and-ride facilities in two major metro areas create four measurable “unintended effects” that not only limit the benefits of transit but may even increase vehicle travel in the metro area.

Mingardo surveyed more than 700 travelers at nine rail-based park-and-rides around the Rotterdam and The Hague a couple years back — ranging in size from 15 parking spaces to 730. His questionnaires, given to people at afternoon rush, focused on what riders would do in the absence of the park-and-ride facility. Mingardo also conducted concurrent field observations of various stations.

Across both metro areas he found evidence for four unintended effects of park-and-ride facilities — two of which (asterisked) had never been documented:

  • Abstraction from transit. People who had once made the entire commute by transit now drove to the transit station.
  • *Abstraction from bike. People who had once made some or all of the commute on their bicycle now drove to the station.
  • Trip generation. People made more trips in general because the overall cost of transportation was lower.
  • *Park and walk. People parked at the station but walked somewhere nearby and didn’t use transit at all — potentially displacing transit riders and disrupting the area parking market.

In Rotterdam, Mingardo found that only about a quarter of park-and-ride users said they would use a car for their entire commute in the absence of the facility — which is the desired effect. The rest fell into one of the above categories. As a result, Mingardo calculates that there’s a net addition of 1,272 vehicle kilometers traveled, as well as an increase in carbon emissions.

All park and rides did not perform equally though – with some having more obvious positive impacts than others.

The situation wasn’t universally flawed. “Remote” stations — meaning park-and-ride facilities deep into the suburbs that captured city commuters early into the trip — performed well. And in The Hague, Mingardo did find a slight net reduction in vehicle travel and emissions. Still, even there, the presence of unintended effects seemed to mute most benefits of park-and-ride.

Generally speaking, in accordance with previous research, he believes that park-and-ride facilities “do present a net increase in traffic volume rather than a reduction”:

Indeed, the number of car-km saved from the P&R site to the inner city is usually more than compensated by the increase in car-km travelled to reach the P&R site by those users who switched from public transport services and bikes, those that were previously not travelling and (possibly) the Park and walk users.

Despite the findings, the takeaway here is not necessarily that park-and-ride doesn’t work. These facilities should certainly be monitored by cities to make sure they’re meeting policy goals — especially if that goal is traffic reduction. Additionally, it seems clear that suburban or “remote” park-and-rides fulfill more of that goal than those closer to the city center.

There are no huge surprises here. Park and rides “further out” are likely to serve areas where feeder buses, walking and cycling to access rapid transit are less viable options – both in terms of attractiveness and cost-effectiveness in their provision. But in more inner areas the benefits become decidedly dodgier – most likely because feeder buses, walking and cycling would work as alternatives to park and ride.

What’s not outlined in the Atlantic Cities post, but is also a clear potential disbenefit of park & ride in more inner areas, is the effect on land-use. One of the main purposes of high quality public transport is to shape the urban form and encourage the development of successful “transit oriented development” around train (and busway) stations. A sea of asphalt around the stations to provide park and ride is pretty much the antithesis of achieving successful land-use transport integration and transit oriented developments. This is important as one study I’ve seen (but can’t find right now) found that if the land used to provide parking was otherwise used to provide dwellings or employment for an equivalent number of people that you can get greater patronage gains. That provides a useful trigger point as to when we should be developing P&R sites and places like Orakei and Devonport surely fall into this category.

Fortunately, Auckland Transport’s Regional Public Transport Plan seems quite aware of the ‘balancing act’ in its policies on park & ride and only suggests that they be located in “selected peripheral locations to extend the catchment area of the public transport network and encourage patronage growth”. In saying that there are obviously some park n rides close to the city in the form of the ferry terminals and Orakei train station. How Auckland transitions away from these will be interesting to watch. They are also still planning for a huge amount of new parking to be built and are aiming to add around 10,000 carparks to the PT network for a minimum cost of $100 million.

AT Park n Ride plan

Miss out on tickets to the EMU launch?

Did you miss out on tickets to be one of the first to ride electric trains next weekend and do you want some? If so then you may be in luck. Auckland Transport have given me three double passes to give away. In the comments tell me why you think you deserve one of the passes and I’ll decide on a the winners.

One requirement is you have to have missed on on the original ticket offer so it’s not for people who just want another go. Also please specify the time you would prefer to get tickets for with trips available between 10:30am and 3:30pm.

EMU Newmarket from AT

Comparing Auckland and Wellington rail patronage

With patronage on the rise and the first electric trains starting to carry fare paying passengers in just 18 days it once again starts to raise the question of when annual rail patronage in Auckland will pass that in Wellington. It’s a question we’ve asked before after we got very close to doing so a few years ago but after the RWC hangover wore off, patronage fell away again.

The graph below shows the history of patronage on the Auckland and Wellington rail networks since 2002.

14 - Feb Auckland vs Wellington Patronage

To me there are a couple of key things that stand out from the graph.

  • Wellington patronage peaked just shy of 12 million trips in the middle of 2009 (although I understand it reached about 16 million in the 1980′s). After that patronage declined to about 11 million about 18 months later. Now that the fleet of Matangi electric trains have been fully rolled out and with reliability improving as a result, patronage is slowly growing again and is sitting at 11.47 million as of February.
  • With the exception of the time during the RWC and over Christmas, since 2011 monthly patronage in Auckland has been very similar to that of Wellington, normally just a few thousand trips per month behind.
  • There have only been a handful of times when patronage in Auckland has exceeded that in Wellington however those times can usually be explained by an event of some sort e.g. the storm damage last year or the NRL nines/Eminem concert this year. It’ll be interesting to see if Auckland can repeat it in March however it is something that will happen more frequently in coming months.
  • The most noticeable difference between the two is the patronage over the Christmas/New Year period. In Auckland the lengthy shut downs for upgrades have clearly had major impacts on patronage. They’ve been a necessary evil while we get the network upgraded and hopefully with Electrification due to be completed this year, they’ll be a thing of the past (at least until the CRL really starts). If the shut downs stop then it suggests that alone may deliver about 300,000 more trips a year. Another good reason why the council shouldn’t let AT get away with lowering their SOI targets.

Before anyone raises it, yes on a per capita basis Auckland will be behind Wellington for some time yet.

Based on just how busy the trains feel this at the moment, my guess is we could pass Wellington by June this year but that do you think? Vote in our poll when you think Auckland patronage will pass Wellington’s

When will Auckland rail patronage pass Wellington

  • Within 6 months (September 2014) (25%, 48 Votes)
  • Within 1 year (March 2015) (25%, 48 Votes)
  • Within 3 months (June 2014) (19%, 37 Votes)
  • Within 9 months (December 2014) (17%, 33 Votes)
  • Within 2 years (March 2015) (4%, 7 Votes)
  • Within 1 year 3 months (March 2015) (3%, 6 Votes)
  • Longer than 2 years (3%, 6 Votes)
  • Never (3%, 5 Votes)
  • Within 1 year 6 months (September 2015) (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Within 1 year 9 months (December 2015) (0%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 195

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Getting on with the CRL

There seems to have been a bit of a “passive aggressive ding dong” going on between Mayor Len Brown and Prime Minister John Key over the City Rail Link in recent months. Back in February, Mayor Brown proposed to “kick start” the CRL by building the first section under the downtown shopping mall and some way up Albert Street. Then shortly after the Elliott Street tower was announced, bringing further pressure on starting the project sooner rather than later.

Yet so far it seems the government hasn’t taken the bait, although critically in the PM’s official response to an earlier start he noted the following:

Your letter also outlined some projects, many being undertaken by the private sector that could be affected by the City Rail Link and raised the question of whether an opportunity existed to reduce disruption to the CBD and some of these projects.

I indicated in the meeting with you that I would be getting some advice on the issues you raise. I am in the process of receiving advice including on the possible impact on some of the projects you cite.

That seems like a fairly deliberate effort on behalf of the PM to leave the door slightly ajar for a change of heart. So let’s look at the major issue, which is the relationship between the timing of any redevelopment of the current Downtown Shopping Mall and the CRL project. Originally Auckland Transport was to buy this site, because construction of the CRL requires the demolition of the entire shopping mall as it passes through the area as a “cut and cover” tunnel. However, a deal was done between Auckland Transport and the site owners – Precinct Properties – so that the site wouldn’t need to be acquired, there’d just be some good co-ordination so that the tunnels could be built and Precinct’s redevelopment could occur.

The map below shows how the CRL tunnels pass directly underneath Precinct’s site, with the area shaded red indicating where a consented high-rise tower is proposed:

downtown-mall-siteIt doesn’t take a genius to work out that the tunnels need to be built before any development can take place. It seems simply impossible to build the tunnels without completely destroying everything on the site above – which means that essentially any redevelopment is delayed until the tunnels are completed. Let’s just say if I were Precinct Properties I’d be pretty pissed off with the government’s attitude at the moment.

So what’s a way to work around this issue? As proposed by the Mayor in February, it seemed like the Council’s plan was to fully fund the initial section of the project (potentially including going under Customs Street perhaps?) at a cost of around $250 million. Given the Council plans to spend close to $200m on CRL in the 2014/15 year it appear like such an outlay is fairly affordable. The government doesn’t want to spend money on CRL until 2020, but it’s not like they’re being asked to in this plan so I struggle to see the problem.

Perhaps the Mayor is concerned that government’s rough promise of a “50/50 split” in the cost of the project only applies to any money spent after 2020 – as that’s when they think the project is required. The risk of building the first section without government support seems to be a worry that they don’t front up with their $125 million come 2020, which is an understandable concern. But surely a bit of clever negotiation could resolve this and both parties can come away happy – Len Brown because he’s finally put a spade in the ground and started his flagship project, and the government because they don’t hold up a major redevelopment, don’t have to spend any money yet and bask in a bit of election year good press over not standing in the way of a very popular project.

Everyone wins. Let’s just get on with it.

Photo of the Day: Bilbao Metro

The Norman Foster designed Bilbao Metro is elegant and efficient. Not an easy business fitting metro access points into a old city, and the somewhat zoomorphic street entrances are about as discrete and unfussy as possible while remaining unapologetically contemporary and not without wit. The underground stations are pleasingly functional too with their sectioned concrete carapace. Calm and cocooning. It is, even more than the famously curved London Tube, like entering into the umbilica of some city-sized and recumbent and welcoming animal. The Basques, it seems, have their Taniwha too…

BILBAO METRO_7139

BILBAO METRO_7076

BILBAO METRO_7077

BILBAO METRO_7129

BILBAO METRO_7131_1

Photographs by Patrick Reynolds.

Full AT EMU ad

On Sunday Auckland Transport released the full 30 second version of their TV ad. I must say I think they’ve done a great job with these. In particular I love that they have highlighted the speed aspect by showing the train flying pass the slow moving motorway traffic.

If there is one problem with these ads though, is that I fear they’ll be too effective and people will in places like Papakura and West Auckland will expect the trains rolled out soon whereas that won’t happen until next year.

Over the last few years we’ve been hard on AT and their comms so with this combined with some of the video’s they have put together recently for the new network and the CRL it’s really pleasing to see AT starting to get their advertising right. 

Be one of the first to ride our new electric trains

Want a trip on one of Auckland’s brand new electric trains before they start carrying the first fare paying passengers on the 28th April?

 

5000 lucky Aucklanders first to ride electric trains

On Monday 28 April, the first of Auckland’s new electric trains will go into service on the Onehunga line. This is a defining moment for the future of Auckland.

To celebrate, we’re letting 5000 lucky Aucklanders ride the trains on Sunday 27 April. To be among the first to try out the trains you will need to register for a free ticket.

Registrations will open at http://at.govt.nz/electrictrains at midday on Saturday 12 April and tickets are likely to be snapped up fast, so we recommend customers get in quick. If you can’t book online, you can book over the phone from midday on Saturday 12 April on 0508 iTICKET. Registrations are limited to 4 tickets per person.

The trip on the new electric trains will take people from Britomart (starting at Takutai Square) to the Newmarket Train Station and return, but you won’t be able to get off at Newmarket.

Tickets will be issued for specific blocks of time (20 minute periods) from 10am to 4pm so we can spread people evenly throughout the day. Ticketholders will need to make sure they turn up at their designated time to ensure they can get a ride. More information will be provided on your e-ticket after registration.

There will be entertainment at Takutai Square behind Britomart. We will also have mobility parking and a valet service for bikes and prams.

For those who miss out on tickets, the trains will be running from Monday 28 April on the Onehunga Line, however we encourage casual users to travel off-peak.

 

Quick info:

What: Launch event for Auckland’s new electric trains – be the first to ride

When: Sunday 27 April (time will be on ticket)

Where: Takutai Square, Britomart

Who: Registered ticketholders only. 5000 free tickets will be available from midday, Saturday 12 April at at.govt.nz/electrictrains