Congested Christchurch

Fresh from saying that there is no solution for congestion, the NZTA are now saying that people from the north of Christchurch should start carpooling to make things better.

Christchurch =- Morning congestion on Christchurch Northern-Motorway

Carpooling is the best option to help alleviate morning commuter congestion on Christchurch’s Northern Motorway according to the results of a new commuter survey.

Eighty percent of those surveyed indicated they would be open to the idea of carpooling or already carpool.

The NZ Transport Agency’s Southern Regional Director Jim Harland, who is leading the team working on short-term solutions to ease congestion, says there will always be peak-hour congestion on the Northern Motorway, even when the new Western Corridor and Northern Arterial are built, because of the continual growth in traffic volumes from the north.

“What everyone needs to do is start thinking about how they travel and consider using alternative transport options to their private car, such as carpooling, which provides more capacity on the network and more predictable journey times.

“Carpooling and public transport are all parts of the transport network and greater use of these will help reduce congestion.”

Those surveyed said they wanted incentives, such as carpooling lanes, to make carpooling easier.

My first thoughts when reading this were, why would anyone bother using PT with the transport situation in Christchurch as it stands currently. That’s because on the whole, people will make a rational choice based on what the options are. Unless you can’t drive or you’re prepared to sacrifice your commute so others can drive there is probably almost no reason to catch a bus. That’s because the buses are going to be caught in exactly the same congestion as everyone else and be slower once stops are taken into account, something those involved in the survey suspected.

Respondents’ perceived public transport as slower than driving and also inconvenient. Only 3% were regular bus users, compared with 90% who drove.

Mr Harland says motorists will continue to experience delays and frustrations if they do not change their travel behaviour, looking at alternative options and travelling at alternative times. 

Environment Canterbury public transport manager David Stenhouse said the northern motorway research provided an interesting insight into commuter behaviour.  “It’s great to get people thinking about how they travel and how their choices affect congestion.

“We’re improving the public transport services in the Waimakariri area to encourage more people to catch a bus to help ease congestion on the Northern Motorway. By catching the bus you can do your bit to reduce congestion.”

Waimakariri District Mayor David Ayers encourages North Canterbury road users to consider the options available for travelling into the city during peak hours.

“We still have very high numbers of vehicles, around 85%, with only one person in them travelling into Christchurch in the morning peak hour.

“If more people share their ride or catch a bus, even if it’s only one or two days a week, this will make a difference.”

It seems to me Christchurch really needs to be having a discussion about a future rapid transit network. It seems to be a glaring gap in discussion for the city and the experience from Auckland shows that if we want the people from in and around Christchurch to use PT to avoid congestion then it’s vital they have some high quality services that are realistic options. That means dedicated PT infrastructure so the PT doesn’t get stuck in traffic.

If only there was a transport corridor to the north that could be used to provide an alternative.

Christchurch Northern Rail

You may recall that the regional council along with the NZTA decided to look at a rail option a few years back but they ruled it out because it would cost $10 million, a tiny amount compared to what’s being spent on motorways. There was also a risk that a short term service might prove too popular and people would demand it stay and be improved. Of course if rail continues not to go ahead, as the image at the top of the page shows, there appears to be a huge median in some places along the motorway that could be better utilised.

Western line frequencies finally about to improve

Next week Auckland’s busiest rail line will finally have its frequencies improved to match the two other main lines in the region. The Western Line will change to services every 10 minutes at peak and every 20 minutes between the peaks which is an improvement from the 15/30 timetable we have at the moment. Early mornings, evenings and weekends remain at only 30 minute frequencies.

As a Western Line user I see first-hand how full the trains often get during both the peaks and off peaks, especially west of Grafton. In addition it’s also particularly noticeable how much more useful 10 minute peak services are when standing on a platform at Britomart having just missed a service and jealously watching multiple services arrive and depart on the Eastern and Southern lines.

May-16 Timetable poster

The improvement has been a long time coming after increases were originally promised to occur back in 2010 to coincide with the completion of double tracking of the western line. But that promise quietly disappeared – for what I understand are a variety of reasons such as there not being enough trains, signalling/junction limitations etc. In fact I understand there are still a number of people within AT/Transdev/Kiwirail who don’t want to see any improvement as they are concerned that Newmarket and the line between there and Britomart can’t cope.

I certainly hope that whatever issues there are but the best long term solution is of course the CRL which will mean that Western Line trains no longer need to clog up a platform at Newmarket while they clumsily turn around each trip.

It also appears AT are making a slight redesign to the timetable including just showing departures at peak as times past the hour rather than every individual service. This is something common in timetables in many cities.

May-16 Timetable western line

One thing that isn’t clear yet is just how much capacity this timetable change will add, if any. Currently most services at peak are 6-car trains however if they need to split some of those up to provide the frequency there won’t be any capacity gain.

There are a few disappointments with the timetable however.

  • There are a few positive/negative changes on trips between some stations but they largely balance themselves out, the one exception is between Britomart and Newmarket where an extra minute has been added. I understand one reason for this is to be consistent with the Southern and Onehunga line trains.
  • There is still no attempt to speed up services, especially at Newmarket where the driver end change is scheduled to take four minutes.
  • There is no change to the hours services run with the last service on weekdays still departing the city just after 10pm and still only terminating at Henderson

AT have been suggesting in the reports to their board that another new timetable is due next year for all lines which is when they’ll start making improvements to travel times. Presumably that’s also when they’ll make changes to improve interpeak frequencies which are required to be improved to match what AT have promised for the new network which goes live in South Auckland in October.

Sir Dove-Myer Robinson on his Rapid Transit Scheme – Part 2

This is the second in a series of six posts looking at a collection of articles written by Sir Dove-Myer Robinson in the mid 1970’s promoting and clearly trying to build support for his rapid transit plan. They come from a booklet I stumbled across while in the Takapuna Library one day. The first post is here.

This was published in the NZ Herald on 24 June 1975

‘All-Bus’ Scheme a Non-starter on Capital Cost

Despite gloomy prophesies of unbearable capital costs and ruinous operating costs, the philistines were confounded when the costs of an all roading-bus transport plan were compared with the proposed bus and rail plan.

First of all, we should get straight what we are talking about. When De Leuw Cather & Co. reported on the suitability of an all-bus, or a bus and rail transport plan for Auckland in 1965, after nearly two years of study, they strongly a bus system fed by a main railway artery.

This recommendation has supported by all Government departments and officials who have examined it, and by the ARA and the Government itself.

Simply stated, the plan is to widen to four lines the existing railway from Papakura to the city near the present railway station, and in a loop underground connecting up again with Main Trunk Railway at Newmarket.

The lines would be electrified and modern electric three-coach trains, controlled by the most modern electronic controls and signals, provide a service every 10 minutes during off-peak hours, and every seven a half minutes at busy periods.

STATIONS

There would four underground stations in the city:

At Beach Rd (“Railway”) near the present station.
Under Customs St (“Downtown”) adjacent to present bus station.
Near the junction of Queen St and Wellesley St West (“Civic”).
Under Karangahape Rd (“Karangahape”) near the top of Upper Queen St.

Another station is planned in the Grafton area, when estimates of passenger demand require it.

Ten other stations would be located at the suburban stations on the main line between the city and Papakura.

Provision would be made for large scale car parking and bus/rail transfer facilities at the suburban stations. The reorganised bus system would provide feeder services to and from the railway stations, providing for a fully integrated bus and rail service that would be fast, clean, silent, cheap, safe and comfortable. More important still, it would be reliable and not be affected by road congestion or other conditions. This would result from the reduction of private vehicles on the roads, thus allowing freer and speedier travel for the buses.

Various proposals have been made to construct the line and stations in phases, but there are disadvantages of rising costs and delays in getting the maximum benefits, if this “phasing” plan is adopted.

The Government has stipulated that results of operation of the first stage – Papakura – City – Newmarket – must be studied before, later, undertaking one or all of the three recommended main extensions, which are:

  • Eastern loop through Tamaki, Glen Innes and Mt. Wellington to Westfield.
  • Northern extension under the harbour to the North Shore.
  • Western line to Henderson and Glen Eden.

However, because of the high revenue-earning potential of the eastern loop in comparison with its capital and operating costs, strong pressure is likely to be brought to bear to persuade the Government to construct the eastern loop simultaneously with the Papakura-Newmarket stage 1.

CAPITAL COSTS

The Government has agreed to provide the capital costs and to replay loans and interest, therefore, Auckland ratepayers will not have to bear any part of the capital costs. Nevertheless.
as rateplayers, they will be interested in the financial aspects of the scheme.

Based on 1974 prices, the estimated capital costs are as follows:—

Stage 1. Papakura-City-Newmarket, $125,254,000
Rolling stock, electronic equipment, signals, controls, buses, etc., $29,300,000.
Eastern loop, Tamaki-Glen Innes-Mt. Wellington-Westfield, $16,162,000.
Total cost stage 1, eastern loop, rolling stock. buses, etc., $170,716,000.

Now a very important factor must be considered. If, for any reason, the railway part of the plan were rejected, it would be necessary, in the area covered by this scheme, to provide additional motorways, bridges and parking facilities to cost a calculated $110 million.

Therefore the difference in cost between stage 1 plus the eastern loop, which would provide the backbone of a first-class transport system, as against the cost of perpetuating the un-satisfactory, bus-only present system, is $60 million.

To take the plan to completion, we have the following estimates:

Stage 1: Plus Eastern loop, rolling stock, electrification, etc., $170 million.
Now add in the later provision of the western line to Henderson and Glen Eden, estimated at $20 million.
Also, the harbour crossing to the North Shore estimated at $50 million.
Provide for additional rolling stock, signals and other contingencies $60 million.
The estimated cost, at 1974 prices, of the ultimate completion of the whole plan, $300 million.

This is where the financial advantages of this scheme begin to show up very clearly.

On the other hand, if the underground rail loop were not available, Auckland would be compelled to accept another bridge across the harbour with its inevitable disturbance of housing and other properties to provide more motorway approach roads.

The city would be on the horns of a dilemma, because the city council has already made it perfectly clear that under no circumstances will it agree to another harbour bridge that would further destroy the appearance of harbour and which would encourage the disgorgement on to already overcrowded city streets daily of more thousands of motor vehicles.

Summing up. the capital costs two alternatives, we have:—

Cost of new and upgraded motorways and roading, new buses, etc., in 25-30 years. at least $600 million.
Alternatively: Cost of providing electrified railway services, Papakura-City-Newmarket, including eastern loop to Westfield, western loop to Henderson and Glen Eden, and tunnel under harbour and connection to North Shore with rolling stock, etc., estimated at $300 million.

On this basis. the estimates show the capital costs of an all-bus system would be at least twice as great as the proposed bus/rail system

DIVERSION

The reason for this great difference is simple: The need to provide more, and upgrade present roading systems to carry the immense additional load of traffic, if some means has not been provided to divert some of it off the roads.

The map below shows how the tunnel then proposed would have fed through the city centre.

1974-4

As for the costs, running them quickly through the RBNZ’s inflation calculator gives us the following results:

  • Total cost of initial project, $1.8 billion
  • Eastern line, $174 million.
  • Rolling stock, signals, buses etc., $315 million.
  • Stage 1. Papakura-City-Newmarket, $1.3 billion
  • Western Line, $215 million
  • North Shore line, $538 million.
  • Additional rolling stock etc., $645 million.
  • Cost for the completion of the whole plan, $3.2 billion

And for the roads

  • Eastern Motorway if rail not built $1.2 billion
  • Total motorway package $6.5 billion

 

The next is titled Question of who pays the operating costs

April AT Board Meeting

Tomorrow is the next AT board meeting and as usual I’ve been through the reports to pull out the stuff I find interesting.

The closed session is where all of the really interesting stuff happens, my comments in italics.

Decisions for Approval/Decision

  • Quarterly Report
  • AMETI Delivery Strategy
  • CAP Programme Business Case – This is briefly described in the business report as

The Programme Business Case for the Central Access Plan (isthmus to city centre) has been developed jointly with NZTA and Council. A recommended integrated programme (IP) will be provided to the AT Board in April and NZTA Board for approval in May. The IP identifies a range of investments to address growing bus patronage demands against corridor / terminus capacity constraints.

  • Road Stoppings
  • Lodgement of Lincoln Rd NoR
  • Station Security & Fare Enforcement – This will likely relate to changes announced last year including changing some stations including changing access to platforms etc.
  • Integrated Fares Product, Pricing – With integrated fares only a few months away I’m sure AT are finalising the details for it now.
  • CRL Enabling Works Update
  • CRL Procurement update – AT appear to be finalising how they’ll procure the main works part of the CRL

Items for Noting

  • 2016/17 Budget
  • Deep Dive – Harbour Master
  • CRL Communications Update
  • AT Deliverables
    1. Results for Projects completed to 31 March 2016
    2. AT Deliverables – Tasks for completion by 30 June 2016

In the open session there is an item looking at the final design of the New Network on the North Shore, I’ll look at that in more detail tomorrow.

On to the main Business Report. These are listed in the order they appear in the report

From the technology team there is this about AT HOP. It’s not clear just what this entails or what parts of HOP infrastructure are classed as aging.

A programme has been established to address the aging AT HOP infrastructure and the associated support requirements. This will also incorporate increased capacity if required; following the Integrated Fares rollout.

Project Updates

  • They say the design of Nelson St phase 2 is 85% complete and construction is due to start in October. As yet there is still no indication of just what the final decision about what side it will go on.
  • On the trains they’re now trialling harmonic reducing software and other power management tools presumably to improve reliability of the trains further.
  • The hearing for the bridge to replace the Sarawia St level crossing was held last week. Hopefully we can get a resolution on this project soon.
  • Otahuhu Bus/Train interchange is on track for completion in August which is earlier than I thought was intended.

Not in the project section but this chart below shows how AT are tracking on their PT project spend for the financial year and as you can see there’s still quite a bit to go in some areas. On the bus infrastructure improvements they say they are still on target as a lot of works are due to happen in May and June however on the bus priorities and bus lanes they say

As a result of delays in receiving project mandates, we are forecasting a $1.3m underspent this financial year. It is proposed to defer the underspent amount to next financial year. That way we will still be on track to deliver the overall three year programme. We continue to work with Metro to improve program and gateway handover’s

2016-04 PT Infrastructure spend

When AT introduced the city centre parking zone a few years ago it also came with a policy about how AT would review the pricing on a regular basis. The pricing is meant to be demand responsive to ensure that occupancy of the carparks is in the 70-90% range and as part of that the hourly price increases if you stay in the park longer. The point of that is to encourage long term to parking buildings and leave on street parking just for short stay parking. As part of this the first 10 minutes are also free. As a result of the regular review AT plan to make some changes to prices.

In area one prices will go from $4/hour for the first two hours with $8/hour thereafter to $4.50/hour for the first two hours then $9/hour for every subsequent hour. In area 2 there are two different prices and AT will standardise them to $3/hour for the first two hours and then $6/hour for every subsequent hour. That’s an increase for some areas such as at Wynyard but no change elsewhere. Occupancy of the areas is shown below.

Of course some media have already picked up on this and are using it to make headlines.

2016-04 City Centre Parkting Zone changes

There’s a section of the report talking about a Waterview Connection Completion Plan which appears to be the NZTA and AT working out how everything will operate but it also says some physical works will be needed to local roads as a result. It also says this is needed “due to the requirement to manage traffic in the Waterview Tunnel”. The wording of the information suggests to me that the NZTA don’t want traffic backing up in the tunnels and so they will restrict access to them at times (presumably during the peak) and divert extra traffic to local roads. I’ve asked the NZTA for more info about this.

AT are closely monitoring traffic in the city especially so with all of the disruption that is and will be going on for some time to come. They say this highlighted issues with bus journey time reliability which seems mostly related to works that were happening such as the CRL enabling works on Victoria St. In response to this they’re making changes such as to signals to reduce impacts. The wording seems to suggest they’re only worried about traffic flow and I hope those changes that are being made aren’t also negatively impacting on pedestrians as a result.

There are a number of PT Updates, some of the more interesting are:

  • AT are in discussions with Birkenhead Transport for them to buy double deckers for use on Onewa Rd in the future.
  • In what is likely related to the PT financial tracking, AT say that as part of the new network for South Auckland, 32 projects for new or upgraded bus stops are under construction or about to start with another 152 in the pipeline.
  • AT are working on moving the Glen Eden Park n Ride which is due to be completed in June
  • On-board train digital information screens have been installed on one train and will be tested in May while they say the screens on buses will be trialled from April
  • AT include information on the number of complaints they have had about PT. With crowded buses in February and March it’s no surprise bus complaints have jumped up recently.

2016-04 PT Complaints

March-16 Patronage

March was definitely mad for many bus and train users with the annual surge in usage resulting in many reporting full services – which in the case of buses often resulting in having to wait for a number to go past before one with enough space to squeeze on came along. Infact it was so mad AT even roped in other operators like Party Bus to help provide extra capacity. However, a number of factors – such as having Easter in March – meant that for buses at least, the month won’t go down in the record books. There were however still some good results on the city’s trains and ferries.

2016-03 - Total Patronage

In total patronage was down slightly by 2.8% however taking Easter and special events like the Cricket World Cup last year in to account it would have been up 1.6%. What isn’t mentioned anywhere in the AT reports is any impact the fare changes at the end of February may have had.

2016-03 - Patronage Table

The fall in patronage was led by buses which in March were down 5.8% compared to March last year, a fairly substantial change. When AT normalise the usage to take into account the unique factors they say it would still have been down 2.2%. But in addition to the normal factors, they say changes to bus stops late last year as part of the first stage of City Rail Link changes also had an impact on usage and had they not occurred, patronage would have been slightly up. They also say they expect to see some recovery in these figures in April. I certainly hope that happens as March is the third consecutive month that patronage has fallen compared to the same time last year.

Despite the factors that negatively impacted on patronage, the solid growth in train use in the past few years has continued – although those factors tempered it a bit. For the month train trips were up 4.7% but AT say taking the other factors into account would have seen it up 13.8%. The underlying growth has remained solid with the average number of trips each business day rising by around 10,000 per day or 17.3%. Given the pattern seen last year with weekday usage, this suggests we should continue to see strong rail growth this year too. As we already know, we passed 16 million trips in early April.

2016-03 - Rail Weekday

One thing that will definitely be helping rail usage is the significant improvement in performance since going all electric in July last year. In March 98.9% arrived at their final destination and of those 95.1% did so within 5 minutes of the timetable.

Ferries are also doing well with the number of trips up 9.2% compared to last March and it would have been up 11.2% without the likes of Easter.

 

In addition to the overall patronage, there are some other interesting metrics in the monthly stats report.

  • The latest quarterly satisfaction results are available and show a mixed bag with trains up, buses flat and ferries down compared when last measured in December. Buses and ferries are also down compared to March last year.

2016-03 - PT Satisfaction

  • There is a two-month lag on the financial metrics but they show PT and especially rail continuing to improve. Farebox recovery which is mandated by the NZTA to reach 50% by June 2018 reached 49.6% and that is primarily being driven by a relatively rapid improvement in rail performance. As this month’s result won’t be seen till we get the April figures, it will be interesting to see what impact the falling bus patronage and change in fares at the end of February has had.

2016-03 - Farebox

  • HOP usage also improved in March hitting 80% for the first time on trains and buses not far behind on 78%

2016-03 - HOP Usage

There are a number of things that will boost patronage in coming months.

  • According to AT’s journey planner, the Western Line will go to 10 minute peak and 20 minute inter-peak frequencies – matching the southern and eastern line – on May 9
  • At the end of July AT will introduce integrated fares which along with making multiple trips using PT easier, is also likely reduce the cost for many people. AT staff are seeking board approval for the prices in the closed session of the board meeting later this week.
  • HOP usage should continue to improve as all SuperGold card trips will have to be made by HOP card from July onwards (via a concession)
  • AT are also planning to improve the frequency of the Northern Express from Silverdale in late June, shifting from 15 to 10 minute peak frequencies which they say is in response to high patronage growth and insufficient capacity.
  • The new bus network for South Auckland along with the Otahuhu bus/train interchange is still on track to go live in October.

A Summary of AT’s Internal CRL Business Case

The City Rail Link is probably the most intensely scrutinised transport project New Zealand has ever seen thanks to the government’s earlier outright opposition to it. Over the last six years we’ve seen a number of studies, reports and business cases examining the project and often one sided and deeply flawed reviews of all of these. In 2013 when the government finally came to the party and agreed with the project although they wanted to delay it till 2020. In January they agreed the project could start earlier (although their funding may still only start in 2020) which would allow Auckland Transport to get on with the project including negotiating contracts.

AT already had approval and was/is well underway with the first stage of the CRL up to Wyndham St. Late last year they started the process of sounding out the market on the rest of the project. As part of that they’ve produced an internal business case looking at the project taking into account the all of the changes to the project and improvements in their understanding of it.

AT have now released a glossy summary of this business case – one issue with the document is that many of the graphics are of quite low quality and in some cases impossible to read. They are quick to point out right on the front cover:

This document is AT’s internal business case to facilitate the Gateway Review process prior to letting contracts for enabling works construction.

It is not a joint business case with government.

As I understand it, the Gateway Review process is related to the market sounding and working out the best way of sequencing and contracting out the project. As AT Chairman Lester Levy says at the end of his opening message.

The business case summarised here will continue to evolve. This version is suitable for the AT Board’s decision on letting Enabling Works contracts. As the project is further developed the costs (and benefits) will be refined and the business case advanced.

On to the interesting stuff.

AT say their detailed economic assessment shows the project will return benefits of $2.96 – $3.2 billion in Net Present Value using the NZTA standard 40-year assessment with a 6% discount ratio. When assessed against the costs including operational ones (also in NPV terms) it has a BCR of 1.6-1.7. That’s much better than the 0.4 in the hatchet job that was the Ministry’s initial review or the 0.9 in the City Centre Future Access Study which wasn’t a full detailed assessment. It’s also better that most of the government’s big RoNS projects

A breakdown of the benefits is shown in the graphic below.

CRL Benefits graphic

Travel time savings are obviously the biggest single benefit and the document gives some information on the project’s impact on transport use. The results were modelled by the joint modelling group that is made up of the council, AT and the NZTA. They say that in 2046 during the two-hour morning peak there will be 50,000 people using rail if the CRL is built compared with 32,000 using rail if the CRL wasn’t built and 12,000 in the AM peak in 2014. Aotea Station will surpass Britomart and see 13,000 people pass through in the morning while Britomart will still be busier than it is today and have 12,000 during that time.

The modelling also looks at difference in mode share for the city centre across the entire day between 2010 and 2041. As you can see private vehicle usage remains unchanged at 34,000 – about the same as it also was 2001. Bus use and ferry use both increases slightly but the big changes come from rail, light rail and active modes which grow significantly. Based on those figures, by 2041 only 26% of people will enter the city centre in a car. It also must be remembered that so far we’ve had a history of underestimating public transport usage.

CRL City Centre Mode Share

Interestingly in the section that briefly talks about capital and operating costs it says AT may not need new trains initially.

As the CRL allows a major productivity benefit from shortening the route from the west to Britomart, additional EMUs may not be required for the immediate post-CRL opening services. The shorter route means that the overall operating cost for the rail services will reduce.

This seems hard to believe given how fast patronage is growing. Yes the CRL will speed services up and combined with improvements that need to be made before then, it will help get more out of the fleet we have but in my view, the CRL will be so popular that not having additional services sounds like a recipe for very busy trains.

Aotea Station Design Platform Mar - 16

Aotea Station will be the busiest in the city

One of the big things our economic assessments aren’t able to grasp – especially with projects like the CRL – is just how transformational they can be, especially when it comes to land use. For the West in particular it will be like the whole area has been lifted and moved 10 minutes+ closer to the city. Even within the project area it opens up some significant development potential.

They say that just the CRL footprint includes 4.9ha of developable land with a potential floor space of 210,000m² to 250,000m². That could be enough space for thousands of jobs and thousands of new resident. The estimated value of this potential new development is $1.2-$1.4 billion and of course that won’t have been included in the business case. Some of the options for redevelopment are shown below.

CRL TOD options

The project, while disruptive to build, will be fantastic for Auckland and it’s good that over the last few years AT have been able to get on with it despite the initial government opposition. We’ve already seen the disruption start with bus and traffic changes and as underground services get shifted. Within weeks diggers will be on the ground to actually start working on the tunnels themselves.

Sir Dove-Myer Robinson on his Rapid Transit Scheme – Part 1

Last week I was taking a look around the Takapuna Library during my lunch break and stumbled across a booklet containing six articles written by Sir Dove-Myer Robinson in the mid 1970’s promoting and clearly trying to build support for his rapid transit plan.

Dove-Myer Robinson Op-Eds Cover

Here is the reason the articles were pulled together in a single document

Dove-Myer Robinson Op-Eds Reasoning

The plan he was talking about was not too dissimilar to the plans we have today although I believe they did involved duplicating the rail lines using different gauge tracks so would be for passenger use only. Of course the scheme never went ahead after Muldoon’s newly elected National Government scrapped the whole thing.

1970 - Proposed Rapid Transit Network

 

Over the coming weeks I’ll publish all six articles, the first of which is below. One of the things that strikes me about them is that while some aspects have clearly dated, many of the core arguments are just as valid today as they were back over 40 years ago.

Great Financial Savings in Bus-Rail Scheme

A vastly improved bus service, served by a main railway artery, and the promise of large financial savings plus greater social benefits – this is the exciting prospect in store for Auckland when the Auckland Rapid Transport combined bus and rail scheme is inaugurated in 1981.

Naturally citizens will want to know the estimated capital and operating costs of the scheme in order to evaluate its economic and social benefits.

Costs should only be considered in relationship to identifiable benefits. It is therefore appropriate that the benefits to be expected from the scheme should be examined first. Only then will it be possible to decide whether the costs are warranted.

In a later contribution, the urgency of, and the need for, improved public transport facilities in Auckland will be fully explained. In this article it will be possible only to give a forecast of the anticipated benefits and costs.

IN STAGES

It is proposed to construct the scheme in stages. Stage 1 will include the electrification and addition of two more railway lines from Papakura to the city and then underground to rejoin the main lines at Newmarket. It is also recommended that the eastern loop through Tamaki, Glen Innes and Mt Wellington to Westfield be constructed at the same time as Stage 1.

Further extensions to the North Shore, Henderson, Glen Eden and the western districts will be made as and when estimates of traffic demand show they will be required. The same applies to the airport and other possible extensions.

Because some concern expressed about capital and operating costs, it should be emphasised at the outset that the Government has already agreed to provide the capital, and to accept responsibility for capital service charges, that is, the repayment of loans, plus interest. Thus these capital charges will not have to be met by Auckland Ratepayers.

Agreement on two other matters has yet to be reached between the ARA and the Government:

Who will have to pay the losses (if any) on operating the system?

Is depreciation to be treated as part of the operating costs, or will it be the Government’s responsibility – as part of the undertaking to meet capital service charges?

Agreement on the above two points will affect significantly the annual financial surpluses or deficits. However, irrespective of the strictly “balance sheet” financial results, the economic savings and social benefits to the whole region will be so great as to overwhelmingly outweigh any possible annual cash deficits.

A BALANCE

What benefits are to be expected from this scheme? –

  • For the first time, it will be possible to provide a satisfactory public passenger transport service, by a balance between roading, buses and the railway. (Similar combined bus and railway systems are at present either under construction or are in advanced planning stage in over 80 cities in other parts of the world. No city anywhere is planning or constructing a wholly bus/roading system.)
  • It will be possible to avoid the building of more motorways and other roading (for which there is no more room on the isthmus in any case) other than those already planned or under construction.
  • The growing congestion and delays to traffic on the road system will be halted or reduced.
  • The improved transport services throughout the whole region will be a direct benefit to non-motorists such as the elderly, the young, the sick, the disabled, and those who cannot afford, or do not wish to own and use private cars, about 50% of the population.
  • An adequate transport system will save motorists many millions of dollars yearly, because public transport – especially rail transport – is cheaper than private transport.
  • Whether it will be the increasing number of private motor vehicles on already overcrowded roads, or whether it will be the greatly increased cost of using private cars in 1981, it is inevitable there will be increased demand for more and better public transport services.
  • Improved public transport will allow socially underprivileged citizens greater opportunities for movement within the region.
  • Reduction of private car congestion will allow for faster and safer transport. The travel time by train, from the city to Papakura at even busiest times, will be 32 minutes.
  • There will be a considerable reduction in accidents, injuries and deaths because rail and bus transport is so much safer than private transport.
  • There will be considerable reduction of atmospheric pollution and noise with fewer private cars and buses on the roads.
  • Operating costs per passenger mile of electrified railways are much lower than buses, and buses, in turn, are cheaper per passenger mile than cars. There will be substantial savings in travelling costs to those using the improved service.
  • The cost of delays to commercial vehicle operators of wages, petrol, overheads and other transportation charges due to congestion on roads and delays at traffic lights and intersections, will be reduced very considerably.
  • There will be great savings of petrol, especially at the higher prices likely in 1981, and there will also be savings of man millions of dollars of precious overseas funds through reduction in the use of petrol by private cars. (Of New Zealand’s overseas spending, 20 per cent is on importation of fuels.)

ECONOMICS

Such substantial benefits, some of which can be reckoned in financial terms, but also other social benefits which cannot be estimated in dollars and cents which are probably more important, fully justify the relatively modest costs. Overall, they show a considerable financial and social surplus.

Some of the economics which can be expected yearly from this scheme are: –

Savings in accidents and deaths in the area served by rail, $1 million.

Savings in petrol and use of private cars through diversion of their passengers to the bus/rail system $9 million.

Savings of wages, petrol and other costs as a result of reduction of congestion in the area served by rail and through more economic use of commercial vehicles (no credit has been included for saving of time of drivers of non-commercial vehicles amounting to many millions, $3.1 million.

Estimated actual yearly financial savings in area served by rail, $13.1 million.

The savings mentioned in the first two paragraphs were estimated by Dr Vautier, the economist who prepared the financial calculations in the Auckland rapid transit report recently released by the Government to members of the ARA. Dr Vautier states these estimates of savings are “very conservative.”

 

The next article is titled ‘All-Bus’ Scheme a Non-starter on Capital Cost

City Bus changes for tomorrow

The City Rail Link gets a step closer tomorrow as the next round of changes for the city centre kick in as work ramps up to the start of construction.

The biggest changes will see all of the bus stops around Britomart move.

Changes are coming to bus services in downtown Auckland from this Sunday 17 April.

Construction work is about to start on the City Rail Link (CRL) and this affects bus services on Albert St and lower Queen St in particular.

AT Metro Bus Services Manager, Brendon Main says Auckland Transport is moving bus stops now to minimise disruption to passengers.

“Some parts of the downtown area are being closed off so we are have to move some buses. On our website we have set-up an interactive map which will help people find if their service is affected and where it departs from.”

Auckland Transport also has signs at bus stops in the area and will have ambassadors at stops to help customers.

Mr Main says Auckland Transport wants to make it as easy as possible for passengers but this is a big change and will need some patience.

“The CRL is the biggest construction programme ever in the central city so there will be some disruption during the construction phase. At the same time there is a lot of building work going on in Albert St so the buses will have to work around this.

“All we can ask is that people follow the signage and talk to ambassadors so that we can make this as easy as possible for our customers.”

The changes to routes and stops are shown below

Arriving

CRL Bus changes map arrival

Departing

CRL Bus changes map departure

There are a few other changes to such as to the 020/005 and 991x/992x routes. There is also an interactive map showing where stops are moving from/to.

I’m sure there is bound to be some confusion and teething issues while these changes bed in so I won’t be surprised to hear about issues come Monday morning but hopefully the issues will be minor.

Perhaps somewhat ironically (or depending on your view perhaps appropriately), as one of the biggest supporters of the CRL I’m also one of the most impacted by these changes. I work in Takapuna and pass through the city to get there. The first round of changes back in October last year removed direct buses to Takapuna from near Britomart resulting in me requiring an additional transfer to get to/from work and now buses from Britomart will be a little further away. But as frustrating as it can be at times, I’m also acutely aware of just how important and transformation the CRL will be.

In addition to bus stop changes, also going live tomorrow are (finally) bus lanes on Queen St which turned green 1-2 days ago.

Other recent changes include the closure of the underpass at Britomart which needs to be removed so the CRL tunnels can be built. It’s not being reinstated as after the CRL is finished the space outside the station will be a public plaza so there will be no buses to dodge.

Britomart Underpass Closed

I’m looking forward to the actual construction work starting. I’m not sure just yet of the exact date but I believe it is likely to be within the next month or so. I believe the demolition of the Downtown Shopping mall starts early June.

Combined with all of the other work going on in the city it’s certainly a busy time.

Draft Preferred future urban networks

Yesterday we saw the feedback on the first consultation from the Transport for Urban Growth piece of work that AT/NZTA are currently undertaking. Now the next more detailed round of consultation has started and they’ve released their draft preferred transport networks. By in large the networks are very close to including most of what was initially consulted on. One thing that they haven’t given any indication on is what the timing will

The websites for each of the three main areas also gives a little bit of information as to how they’ve responded to the feedback received and for each of the key areas there is also a more detailed map which is on the AT website. In all of the maps below the mode/intervention uses the same colour scheme, Red = Rail, Green = Bus, Blue = Road, Gold = Safety improvements.

South

In the south it’s good to see AT specifically mention electrification to Pukekohe as that was something no mention was made of in the earlier consultation. It’s something we can only hope gets the go ahead soon as it seems fairly critical to some of the other parts of the plan for the South including a bunch of new stations and better services. On the roads the massive Mill Rd corridor is set to march on all the way to Pukekohe. The biggest omission from compared to the first consultation seems to be an east-west route from Pukekohe to SH1.

In this transport network, a key focus is increasing access to public transport, with more capacity and a well-connected rapid transit network at its heart. This would include electric trains to Pukekohe, express trains, new stations and rapid transit links, for example between the airport, Manukau, Flat Bush and Botany and a high frequency bus route between Drury and Manukau.

The plan focuses on great access to jobs, town centres and recreation within south Auckland and links to the wider region.

Another key focus for the south would be an extension of the Mill Road corridor from Manukau to Papakura and Drury. This would help improve safety, provide improved access to new growth areas and provide an additional north-south route. Connected to the Mill Road corridor is a new route to Pukekohe to improve safety or reduce congestion on SH22. An interchange with SH1 will also be further investigated at Drury South.

We’ve also identified further work is needed on how better connections between Waikato and Auckland can be provided.

TFUG - Draft Preferred Plan - South

North

The North looks like a much bigger roads fest compared to the with almost all of the proposed roads from the earlier consultation included in this consultation. For PT the busway will be the heart of the system in the area and s being both physically extended by going to Grand Dr but also and with more stations too.

At the heart of the network is the extension of the rapid transit network (RTN) by linking Albany to Dairy Flat, Silverdale, Wainui and Grand Drive.

Additional stations along the RTN would become hubs for extended public transport services into the growth areas and Orewa, providing fast and efficient access to employment, town centres and residential areas.

Dedicated walking and cycling networks linking to public transport hubs would provide a range of options to get to work or for leisure. New and upgraded arterial roads running both eastwest and north-south would improve connections and safety through the area as well.

Capacity would also be increased on State Highway 1 (SH1). An interchange incorporating both Dairy Flat and Penlink will be investigated to see if it would alleviate access from bottlenecks at Silverdale further north.

TFUG - Draft Preferred Plan - North

Northwest

Like the others it appears that almost all of projects from the earlier consultation have made it through to this round. Perhaps the most interesting aspect is AT say they’ll do some more to look at the costs and benefits of extending rail to Huapai – although the website also suggests it could be compared to electric rail.

A key focus of the draft network is on providing high capacity public transport networks to move people efficiently and reliably between the places they want to go. This includes a rapid transport network (RTN) adjacent to the SH16 and SH18 to and from Kumeu, Westgate through to the city and the North Shore. Park and ride facilities are also identified to provide access to these services.

Further investigations are proposed on the extension of electric trains to Huapai to assess benefits and costs. Initial work shows a RTN along SH16 will have faster journey times and serve a wider catchment.

Another key focus is improving the safety and capacity of SH16 north of Westgate and the major arterials that intersect it. To help address congestion as the area grows and keep the Kumeu and Huapai centres as safe, local community-focused environments, an alternative through-route to SH16 is proposed.

A direct motorway to motorway connection between SH16 and SH18, improvements to Brigham Creek Road, and upgrade to the Coatesville-Riverhead Highway and arterial road networks in Whenuapai and Red Hills are also identified. The feasibility of a range of different types of interchanges at Northside Drive and Squadron Drive will also be investigated. Dedicated walking and cycling paths connecting to public transport and existing cycle routes also feature.

TFUG - Draft Preferred Plan - Northwest

TFUG consultation results

You may recall recently the consultation that took place for the piece of work AT/NZTA call Transport for Urban Growth (TFUG). Essentially over 2 Hamilton’s worth of people/homes are expected to be added to the fringes of Auckland in the North, North-west and South over the coming ~30 years. To accommodate that there will need to be significant public investment all forms of infrastructure and the two transport agencies say they are trying to work out what high level transport infrastructure will be needed now so it can be used for future planning and funding processes.

Today the Council’s Development Committee has an item on its agenda looking at the results from the initial consultations. Supposedly this has been fed into the next more detailed stage of consultation due to start tomorrow – but there are no details for that yet. Given how long it normally seems to take for AT to respond to consultation feedback, the whole process has a bit of a pre-determined feel to it.

There are over 160 pages in the consultation report so I’m only going to stick to the high level results. There is a very clear theme throughout the results of people really wanting much of the focus on public transport.

The South

In the South a lot of the focus included the level of use of the rail network and extending Mill Rd potentially all the way to Pukekohe as an alternative North/South road corridor.

TFUG Potential Projects South Auckland

From the 98 submissions there was a strong support for various improvements to PT in the area.

  • Improvements to public transport services in the area were considered highly desirable. In particular there was a call for improvements in rail services, including introduction of express services, extension of the rail network beyond Pukekohe, additional stations along the existing route (eg. at Paerata), further electrification of the network through to Pukekohe and beyond and more park and ride facilities. There was a clear preference to spend money and invest on public transport in the area and rail, rather than bus services, was seen as the key focus.
  • Support for improvements to public transport services came from both residents and businesses.
  • There was also support for improved road connections to reduce congestion on the Southern Motorway, such as by providing an alternative north-south route (eg. to the airport and the west via Weymouth and/or extension of the Mill Road corridor), or widening of the existing Southern Motorway. Reducing travel times was considered the highest priority and an alternative route was preferred as the best way to improve roads to achieve this. Others suggested that increasing rail freight services in the area would reduce the number of trucks needed to move freight by road and in the area, therefore helping to address congestion.
  • While most comments and most comments and feedback focussed on public transport and road networks, there was a small number of comments regarding improvements to walking and cycling facilities in the area, including pedestrian and cycle access and connections to railway stations.
  • Many participants were sceptical that only 20% of morning peak work trips would be further north than Manukau and the Airport trip data collected as part of the consultation suggested the Auckland CBD is a key destination for those living in the south.

One of the interesting features about the consultations was the use of a wallet that allowed people to divvy up $100 of spending across each of the proposed projects. Here are the results.

TFUG Feedback - Spend - South

The North (Silverdale,Wainui), Dairy Flat)

In the north the focus was also on North/South routes with a number suggested along with extending the busway to Silverdale and possibly beyond.

TFUG Potential Network - Dairy Flat-Millwater

Again public transport improvements received the most support from the 100 submissions received. A summary is below.

  • There was a call for improvements to public transport services the area, particularly to bus services. Many people living in the area would prefer to travel by bus and wanted to see bus that were efficient, affordable and well-connected. Specific improvements included more frequent and express services, separate busways and bus lanes, extension of the Northern Busway and local bus feeder services. Increasing at park and ride facilities was identified as a key issue There was a desire to see heavy or light rail in the area and increased ferry services.
  • There was a sense that many participants felt transport networks and infrastructure were behind housing growth and development the area, further contributing to existing traffic issues. Improvements to public transport were seen as key to alleviating some of the current congestion.
  • Recommendations for improvements to road networks focussed on improvements to routes (eg widening State Highway 1, additional on/off-ramps), as well as east-west routes such as Penlink. Safety was also highlighted as an issue on roads in the Dairy Flat area. Strong links to through roads and motorways was considered a key focus for business areas.
  • The Auckland CBD and Albany were key destinations tor people Wing in the Silverdale, Wainui and Dairy Flat areas.
  • There was notable support for improvements to walking and cycling facilities in the area, such as separate cycle lanes and widening of roads to make them safer for cyclists and footpaths in places where people are currently forced to walk along main highways

And the spending priorities:

TFUG Feedback - Spend - North

The North (Warkworth)

In Warkworth the focus of the consultation was almost exclusively on a range of roading projects.

TFUG Potential Network - Warkworth

Warkworth bucked the trend of the other consultations and was the only one where people wanted the biggest focus to be on road improvements. Given the town is much more disconnected from Auckland than say Pukekohe, this isn’t all that surprising. A summary of the findings from the 169 submissions received.

  • For this part of north, improvements to roads in the area was the highest priority, In particular. participants wanted to see improvements to the Hill Street and reduced congestion generally, particularly in Warkworth itself and on Matakana Road. Addressing particularly around the Hill Street intersection. was considered a matter of urgency and one of the main ways to make the area a great place to live. This was considered a priority by both residents and businesses. East-west were considered a lower priority.
  • Recommendations to address in the area Western Collector bypass, the Matakana Link to access to Elizabeth Street, changes to traffic light phasing and/or the intersection a roundabout instead. A Matakana Link Road extension in particular had a hotel level of support from locals in this part of the north.
  • Public transport improvements were considered a priority, but secondary to improvements to road networks. Primarily, residents called tor improvements to bus services (such as regular bus services, new bus stations and bus service connections to the Northern Busway) and adequate park and facilities.
  • Good walking and connections were also desired by participants. This included provision of footpaths in areas not currently served by them, wider and better quality footpaths and cycle paths.
  • The Auckland CBD is a key destination for those living in the Warkworth area, followed by local trips within Warkworth and Abany. There was a preference for making journeys by car or bus.

And the spending priorities:

TFUG Feedback - Spend - Warkworth

The North-West

The Northwest was different to the others in that it presented quite a few potential PT options and of course some road upgrades too to SH16 beyond Westgate.

TFUG Potential Network - Northwest

Like in the South and around Silverdale, the biggest response from the 254 submitters was for better PT as the highest priority. That trains to Huapai came out as the top request doesn’t surprise me as it’s something that sounds good as a soundbite.

  • Public transport improvements are considered the key priority in the north west. In particular, participants called for re-introduction of a commuter train service from Kumeu/Huapai (and potentially as far as Waimauku and Helensville) to the CBD. Participants wanted to see a train service that was frequent, reliable and fast, with a timetable that met resident needs (eg. at convenient times tor commuters to the CBD). There was also considerable support for improved bus services, including express bus services and shorter journey times, separate busways and bus lanes, extension of the Northwestern busway to Kumeu/Huapai and bus services to locations such as Riverhead. Re-introduction of rail and improvements to public transport generally received support from both residents and businesses.
  • Alongside public transport improvements, participants wanted to see accompanying park and ride facilities with sufficient capacity.
  • Secondary to public transport improvements, improvements to road networks in the area was considered a priority to reduce congestion and improve traffic flow.
    Recommendations included extending the North Western Motorway, widening the motorway and/or State Highway 16, bypassing Kumeu/Huapai, a direct connection between State Highway 16 and State 18 and improvements to intersections (eg. at the Coatseville-Riverhead Highway) to reduce congestion and improve safety.
  • Many participants mentioned that improvements to in the area needed to happen urgently, given that infrastructure is already to cope and the population the area is to grow
  • Improvements to walking and cycling facilities, particularly in the Whenuapai area.
  • The Auckland CBD was the key in the area, followed by Albany and Westgate/North West Mall. There was a preference for wanting to make journeys by train or bus

And the spending priorities:

TFUG Feedback - Spend - North-west

It’ll be interesting to see what the next stage of consultation includes.