The Council is currently consulting on the Long Term Plan (LTP) which is the city’s 10 year budget. A key discussion of this LTP is whether we should implement motorway tolling or increase Rates/Fuel taxes to pay all of the transport projects on the council’s plans – unless we want a scaled back and ineffectual transport system. There are three weeks left to submit on the plan and in the coming week or so we will be covering this topic a lot more. In the meantime the council say they have now had over 5,000 submissions with some interesting results.
In addition they’ve provided some generalised feedback on what the submissions (as of 19 Feb) have said and there are some fascinating results. First up some demographic info and it appears submitters are far more likely to be older European males.
Further a break down by the local board areas shows the boards with the most submissions being Hibiscus and Bays, Albert-Eden, Howick and Howick while many of the South Auckland boards have the lowest submission levels. This combined with the demographic info suggest that perhaps the council need to be putting more effort into getting feedback from a wider cross section of our city – this is similar to the issues Peter recently expressed when he asked Who’s having the conversation about cities.
Perhaps unsurprisingly just over half of those who answered (52%) disagreed with the proposed level of rates rises of 3.5% and of those who answered what they’d change most (79%) said they’d like to see rates decreased. Council have also broken the results down by areas that people said they’d like to see changes in with only Transport only one of a few areas where more people said spend more than spend less.
Next the area most relevant to what we’re following and the issue of transport and how we pay for it. The council say that 55% of people support the full kitchen sink approach that is the Auckland Plan. When it comes to how we should fund that just over 50% support, partially support motorway tolls. This is perhaps a little surprising and I wonder how many of the people choosing that option do so because they think they can avoid it through using local roads, travelling at different times or using other modes.
The council have also put this video together about it
When asked what areas of transport the focus should be the result is overwhelmingly in favour of public transport and cycling investment – note: the herald ran a version of this graph the other day but got the labels around the wrong way. To me this result isn’t surprising and it is similar to many of the survey’s we’ve seen in the past. Frankly it’s insane that we still have some local politicians who are actively opposing these kinds of investments. It would be fascinating to see what kind of transport system we would have if funding priorities were based on results.
The next two question looks at whether the council should take on a more active role in development by merging Waterfront Auckland and Auckland Council Properties Limited – something I think would be good providing the DNA from Waterfront Auckland was at the core of the new organisation rather than ACPL who have appeared silent over the last 4-5 years. It seems most people agree that it is a good idea but it’s not quite a majority.
The Uniform Annual General Charge UAGC is a fixed charge that every household pays regardless of property value. The lower the UAGC the more impact property prices have on rates and the higher the UAGC the less that property prices affect rates. Councillors on the right of the political spectrum have long argued for the UAGC to be higher so as to lessen the rates burden on their areas (which are often wealthier). From memory they were very happy to finally get the question about what the rate should be on the feedback form however they may not be so happy with the result showing almost 50% want it left as it is and many want it lower
The last graph is based on whether the council should gradually reduce business property rates from 32.8% of all rates to 25.6% of all rates. The change seems widely unsupported at this stage.
It will be interesting to see if these kinds of results carry on through for the rest of the consultation.
8-10am tomorrow morning there is a meeting organised by groups concerned about the lack of governance and oversight by Council over the Port Company. Whether you can make it tomorrow or not, if you agree that the Port Company needs more oversight and governance from the Council, visit this page and them them know.
Letter to the Council:
Dear Mayor Len Brown and Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse,
I am writing on behalf of Urban Auckland, the NZ Institute of Architects Auckland Branch, the Urban Design Forum and the Auckland Architects Association. We represent the professionals working in the built environment of our city. We are joined by local community groups and Westhaven Marina Users.
We are deeply concerned at Ports announcement last Thursday that they are extending Bledisloe Wharf in April by 93 and 98 metres thus eliminating the crucial view down the harbour from Queens Wharf – the proposed gateway to our City. We feel let down by Council process and have no trust in Ports of Auckland.
We are not against Ports of Auckland operating in the city. We are for establishing a way forward where we can all be good neighbours. PoA’s actions in the last few months show they have no intent at all in being that.
We feel our voice has not been heard. We have not been consulted over the City Centre Integration Plan. No study of the wider social, cultural, economic and environmental impact has been done as you promised in 2013.
Tomorrow morning Wednesday 25th February at 9am we are launching a petition ‘Save our Harbour” on the end ofQueens Wharf and would appreciate it if you could attend to listen and talk to the people. In the past we have been heartened by your leadership on this issue.
The Petition states:
We ask the Mayor and Councillors to
- Stop the proposed extension of Bledisloe Wharf
- Keep ‘reclamation’ of the Waitemata Harbour as a ‘non-complying’ activity
- Start a wide-reaching study of environmental, social and economic factors affecting the site and operations of theAuckland port. The Mayor promised Aucklanders this in 2013.
- Make Ports of Auckland work with the people of Auckland – not against them.
We acknowledge this is short notice but timing of events has been out of our control. We wanted to make sure our voices were heard before Thursday’s Development Committee meeting.
A view from architect David Mitchell in the paper paper:
It is hard to believe that the best thing to do with the Waitemata harbour is to tip dirt into it in order to store more cars on the resultant tarmac:
This week Auckland Transport have made a number of changes to bus routes including introducing a new service.
The major changes are on the North Shore with Birkenhead Bus services where the changes came into effect on Sunday. Key changes include additional trips and changed timetables that mean there will be services down Onewa Rd at least every 15 minutes all day, seven days a week. During most of the day on weekdays, frequencies would be even higher. After the Highbury shops where the Glenfield Rd and Beach Haven services diverge there are at least 30 minute services all day every day. In addition to the frequency improvements some services from the city also now operate later into the night.
These changes are good as it means a large part of the North Shore should see significantly improved services and effectively can be seen as a precursor to the New Network. We’ve seen in other places where frequencies have been improved – even if just through fixing existing timetables – that patronage often jumps considerably.
The bus routes serving Beach Haven
Perhaps unsurprisingly there appeared to be a few hiccups yesterday however I would hope they should settle down – although full buses are likely to be an ongoing issue (and not just on these routes).
The other key change was a new service serving the Stonefields Area. The 632 Stonefields Loop bus travels between Glen Innes and Stonefields every 20 minutes from 6am to 7pm, Monday to Friday. That frequency ties in nicely with the current train timetable which runs every 10 minutes during the morning and afternoon peaks and every 20 minutes off peak.
It will start at Taniwha St before going anti-clockwise along Merton Rd, College Rd, Bluegrey Ave, Tephra Boulevard, Stonefields Ave and Morrin Rd before getting back to the train station on Apirana Ave
It’s good to see Auckland Transport trying connecting services like this one who’s only real goal is to feed the rail network. One surprising aspect about it though is that it will be run by Howick and Eastern who obviously had the better tender. The reason it’s odd is that NZ Bus runs most – if not all bus services in the area and has a bus depot very close by (just at bottom of the image).
Hopefully both of these services will be a success. We’ll try and keep a close eye on what impacts the changes have.
A presentation from Auckland Transport to the council provides us with a lot more detail about what they’re proposing with Light Rail and how it complements the CRL rather than competes with it.
We’ve covered some of these aspects in other posts before but it’s worth highlighting some of them again. Public transport has been increasing rapidly in the last decade as improvements have been made. This is most evident in the City Centre where since 2001 use of PT has accounted for all the growth in trips to the area – car use actually declined slightly.
There is also a lot more growth that is expected to occur in the area that will drive more travel demand. The City Centre Future Access Study found a combination of the City Rail Link and on street buses was the best way to improve access however more work was needed on the bus aspects. In the presentation AT say:
- Access crisis into the city centre by 2021 with medium population growth and despite completion of all (pre-CRL) planned transport improvements.
- Auckland’s growth will outstrip its road capacity and maximising rail is an essential part of an integrated access solution
- Bus-only investment will meet demand for only a few years and require significant land take for priority lanes and depots
The pre CRL planned improvements includes projects like Rail Electrification, The New Network and bus lane improvements.
As mentioned above a serious issue that AT are finding is that there’s simply not enough room on city streets or in key terminus locations to handle the number of buses that will be needed. AT say more of the same means bumper to bumper cars will be replaced by wall to wall buses. They started the CCFAS 2 project to look at how to address this and the objectives were:
- Significantly contribute to lifting and shaping Auckland’s economic growth
- Improve the efficiency and resilience of the transport network of inner Auckland and the city centre
- Improve transport access into and around the city centre to address current problems and for a rapidly growing Auckland
- Provide a sustainable transport solution that minimises environmental impacts
- Contribute positively to a liveable, vibrant and safe city
- Optimise the potential to implement a feasible solution
CCFAS 2 looked at and included a range of improvements that could be made including double deckers/bendy buses. They say the focus was on was on corridors with significant patronage and/or connections to significant land use. They also say that there was no solution to city centre road congestion identified that doesn’t involve light rail.
In the image below the top graph suggests terminal capacity starts to be exceeded around 2023 and the corridor capacities around 2035. The busiest corridors are the ones from areas not served by the CRL which means the North Shore and the Central Isthmus. I assume the lower graph shows what it would look like with light rail implemented. If I’m reading it right, it suggests AT are looking to have light rail rolled out to Dominion Rd by around 2021, Sandringham Rd around 2023, Manukau Rd in 2032 and Mt Eden Rd 2037.
One of the big advantages of light rail is that it can be much easier and more space efficient to turn a vehicle around.
With the CRL sorting out the constraints on the rail network the map below shows how Light Rail would integrate with other parts of the PT network. I assume the dotted lines are future potential high quality routes and major feeders to the RTN and LRT networks.
The map below indicates how light rail might work in the city centre along with the other buses that will still be there. This also highlights how they would access the Wynyard Quarter meaning that rather than a bridge across the Viaduct it would go via Fanshawe St, presumably sharing a corridor with buses. It also shows that the routes would operate as two pairs, Dominion Rd and Sandringham Rd would join together and travel down Queen St while Mt Eden Rd and Manukau Rd would use Symonds St.
Lastly they list some of the features and benefits of light rail over other options.
At this stage there has still not been any further information on just how AT plan to pay for the project.
A presentation from Auckland Transport to the council gives us an update on the CRL glimpse inside the stations – along with more information on AT’s Light Rail plans which I’ll discuss tomorrow.
As a quick update it notes that nearly 50 out of 70 properties needed have been purchased and that AT will start subterranean purchases this year. The already purchased properties has meant about 30,000m² are now under active management. They are also in mediation to deal with the 6 appeals to the designation that was issued early last year. Below is a timeline for what we may see – although the main works are likely pushed out now due to the council decision late last year.
I like lots of exits from the platform are shown, I just hope the same is seen with the station itself.
And this is an earlier image of the station we saw.
The first image comes from another document recently (can’t remember which one off the top of my head). It shows how people would access the station which will be a long way down.
The second image shows a cut away of the proposed entrance from Mercury Lane.
It would be great to see some more detailed images of just what’s planned for these stations.
This is the second post in a series on the Ministry of Transport’s working paper on New Zealand’s capital spending on roads, which was prepared as an input to the 2015/16 Government Policy Statement (GPS) on Land Transport Funding. It was released to Matt under the Official Information Act just before Christmas. Previous posts:
In the previous post, I took a look at the MoT paper’s findings on the economic efficiency of state highway spending. MoT showed that since 2008 spending on the Roads of National Significance (RoNS) has gone up, while benefit-cost ratios have gone down. As a result, we have almost doubled our spending on state highways without achieving any more economic or social benefits from that spending.
This week, I’ll take a look at a different question: Is it possible to spend our road budget more efficiently? If we chose to build other roads instead, would we get more benefits from them?
The MoT paper examines this issue quite comprehensively, and comes up with an unambiguous “yes”. But before I get into it, it’s worth reviewing the system that the Government is currently using to assess transport investments. Projects are ranked on three criteria:
- Strategic fit [i.e. is this project trying to do something that the Government cares about?]
- Effectiveness [i.e. will this project actually do what it’s intended to do?]
- Benefit and cost appraisal [i.e. will this project deliver more benefits than costs?]
In short, the BCR is only part of the picture. In practice, it’s less important than strategic fit. However, it’s still an important criteria for determining whether we are getting good value out of our transport investments, especially as many of the strategic outcomes that the Government wants are accounted for in a transport cost-benefit analysis.
With that in mind, Section 5.4 of the MoT paper compares BCRs for local road and state highway projects which have committed funding versus those that will probably receive funding or which will remain unfunded.
This analysis, summarised in the chart below, shows that BCRs for state highway projects tend to be lower than BCRs for local road projects whether or not they have committed funding or not. This might be an indication that too much money has been allocated to new state highways – effectively, there are worthy local roads that are going unfunded.
Another worrisome finding is that BCRs for “committed and approved” state highway projects are considerably lower than projects that are merely “probable” or which have not been given funding. This suggests that even within the state highway budget, funding isn’t going to the projects that offer the best returns.
However, the MoT paper notes that these figures include “significant spending on large strategic projects” – the Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI) in local roads and the RoNS in state highways. Is it simply the case that a few big funding calls are skewing the results?
Here’s what the chart looks like with those projects removed. As you can see, “committed and approved” state highway projects other than the RoNS also offer a lower return than the “probable and reserve” projects that may or may not get funding. What the hell is going on here?
Elsewhere in the paper, MoT sums up the situation as follows, with a nod to the idea that traffic forecasts are over-predicting growth:
It also compares these figures with BCRs for other transport spending, including NZTA-funded PT infrastructure and services and walking and cycling projects, and concludes that:
In other words, the focus on big state highway projects means that the Government is passing up higher-value spending that serves other modes. Unfortunately, the paper doesn’t offer a lot of additional analysis. But it would be interesting to know how much analysis NZTA or MoT has done on the bus infrastructure projects that are needed to get good transport outcomes in Auckland, such as the Northern Busway extension, the Northwest Busway, extensions of the AMETI busway, and bus interchanges to support Auckland’s New Network.
With all that in mind, how would we be spending money if cost-benefit analysis was the key criteria?
Section 6.2 of the MoT report contains a number of colourful charts to illustrate how we could be doing things differently. Here’s the bit that stuck out for me. It classifies new state highway projects, excluding RoNS, according to their BCR (vertical axis), funding priority (horizontal axis), and total cost (size of bubble).
If BCRs were the key criteria for project funding, the black-coloured bubbles would be de-funded and the red-coloured bubbles funded in their place:
As you can see, if the Government were focused on getting the highest benefits out of its transport budget, it would have to de-fund most large state highway projects that are currently underway. Yikes.
It’s not clear what conclusions MoT’s drawing from this analysis, as the final paragraphs are entirely blacked out. However, I’d be surprised if they weren’t a bit skeptical of the way that public money is being spent…
Next week: MoT’s analysis of roads spending by region. Preview: Canterbury’s getting a raw deal.
Every week we read more than we can write about on the blog. To avoid letting good commentary and research fall by the wayside, we’re going to publish weekly excerpts from what we’ve been reading.
Deborah Snoonian Glenn, “Want your city to thrive? Look to its trees“, Citylab:
“Our trees provide measurable environmental and economic benefits year after year,” says Charles Herbertson, city engineer and director of public works. “It’s hard to imagine this area without the wonderful collection we have. People move here for the old-growth trees.”
Culver City’s efforts follow similar moves in nearby Santa Monica as well as in larger cities such as Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Tampa. Increasingly, cities have recognized that trees provide not only environmental benefits and curb appeal—they’re also good for business.
Peter H, “Greenwood St Industrial Area doesn’t need parking requirements“, Hamilton Urban Blog:
Prior to the 1960s, Hamilton city’s car parking was based on property owners’ willingness to supply and car owners’ willingness to pay (parking space being real estate). This is a free market-based approach shaped by supply and demand of storage space, which can be found in places like Japan and Germany according to this Blog site: Reinventing parking: which cities have abolished parking
From the 20-odd surveys, parking demand could be close to 4 per 100m2 for some and below 1 per 100m2 for many (does anyone have access to these surveys?). This tell us what we already know and illustrates why it is not normal to just predict and provide for the very fast-changing manufacturing industries, “because of the significant variations in the extent to which differing manufacturing processes are labour or capital intensive.” (Page55 NZTA reports 374)
Forgotten NZ, “Symonds St Cemetery“:
Symonds Street Cemetery, Auckland’s oldest graveyard, opened in 1842 and full of forgotten souls and a disturbing history… Some are long forgotten here for the more typical reasons such as lost or stolen markers, vandalism, tombstone decay or the fact that they never had/could afford a grave marker in the first place, but more so for the reason that the large Catholic section of the cemetery was dug up in the 1960s to make way for the motorway that many Aucklanders now drive over daily. Not only were the bodies exhumed from this area, many of the original marble and sandstone headstones and ornate statues were actually used as motorway filler (somehow this was okay with Auckland residents at the time, or the Council did as it so pleased and any objections were ignored)…
Richard Florida, “A new index to measure sprawl gives high marks to Los Angeles“, Citylab:
Laidley points out that the metros that saw the least sprawl—those that actually grew denser—are ones that have their outward growth limited by so-called “growth control” policies. Oregon, one of the first states to introduce metropolitan growth boundaries, has two metros in the top 10: Salem and Portland. Honolulu, Santa Barbara and Seattle also have their outward growth limited by growth control policies.
Many of the metros that saw the most sprawl are older Rustbelt communities that have suffered from deindustrialization, job loss and population decline, such as Detroit, Flint, Cleveland, Toledo and, perhaps surprisingly, Chicago. These metros are locked in a troubling syndrome of outward expansion without economic or population growth.
But what is the connection between sprawl and economic and social outcomes? To get at this, Laidley conducts a series of statistical analyses (including bivariate correlations, multivariate regression analysis and more sophisticated fixed-effects models) to better gauge the connection between sprawl and phenomena like hazardous pollution, carbon emissions and housing affordability. Using regression analyses, he finds that:
For every 10 percent increase in sprawl, there is an approximately 5.7 percent increase in per capita carbon emissions, a 9.6 percent increase in per capita hazardous pollution, and a 4.1 percent and 2.9 percent reduction in the owner and renter housing affordability index, respectively.
Richard Easther, “A turning lane as lovely as a tree?“, Excursionset.com:
Since Auckland Transport’s argument for felling the trees hinges on traffic models, I was keen to take a look at the modelling they used to settle on their “preferred option”. Either my google-fu is weak or the detailed models are not in the public domain. That said, digging into the paperwork, I found “Appendix H“, reviewing the analyses performed by Auckland Transport and its contractors, written by Leo Hills, an independent traffic engineer.
The first thing that struck me is that Appendix H is a tepid document. Its tone reminded me of an examiner’s report for a thesis whose author has done the bare minimum to get by: the student may pass, but no-one involved will be proud. (Except possibly the student, of course.) It damns Auckland Transport’s analyses with faint praise, queries the reasoning behind their choices, and points out that almost identical results could be obtained without removing the trees.
In other words, an independent analysis of Auckland Transport’s own modelling comes well short of giving it a ringing endorsement.
Claire Martin, “When the parking space becomes a park“, New York Times:
They started an experiment. In a stretch of downtown San Francisco that lacked greenery, they found an empty parking space, rolled out a patch of grass turf and set up a park bench and a potted tree. They put up a sign that read, “If you’d like to enjoy this little park, please put some coins in the meter.” Then they went across the street to watch.
The land next to a parking spot, Mr. Bela says, probably rented for a couple of hundred dollars a square foot per year, “but you could rent this little piece of land, 200 square feet, in downtown San Francisco for a couple dollars an hour.”
Mr. Bela and the others saw a pedestrian wander into the spot, put money in the meter and sit on a bench. Soon another sauntered in, and the two struck up a conversation. Just like that, the exercise was a success. Without much effort or expense, the parking spot had been transformed into a mini-park.
And finally, make sure to take a look at this fantastic video from Brussels, which shows just how many barriers we throw up into the path of people on bikes:
This is possibly the best, or at least most accurate car commercial ever. It was obviously intended to show the company cares about people but really shows just how much space we dedicate to the movement of vehicles. It’s from 2003.
The roller-coaster ride that has been the fate of the six Pohutukawa at the St Lukes intersection came to a head yesterday at the Auckland Transport board meeting where a decision needed to be made one way or the other on their fate. Given the history, both of the trees themselves and of the process we’ve seen it’s understandable that this had become quite an emotional issue for many people. We’ve written a lot about the saga over the past months including:
St Lukes Rd interchange to get bigger
Have your say the St Lukes Pohutukawa Trees
Of Experts, Damned Lies, and Pohutukawa
Why the “Pohutukawa 6″ has got people so passionate
On engineers, politicians, and pohutukawas
AT digging in over Pohutukawa Six
Too High a Cost.
Many who supported the trees turned up at the meeting packing out the room. I wasn’t there myself but I’m certain it’s a sight that not many of the board directors had seen before as these meetings are usually devoid of public in attendance. In fact I even believe there were people who had been denied entry as the room was too full. There was also a sense of irony in that the meeting was held in the NZTAs offices where the meeting rooms are named after trees – the board meeting was in the Kauri room.
Only two people had been allowed speaking rights at the meeting, Shale Chambers – the chair of the Waitemata Local Board and Jolisa Gracewood who has led the campaign to save the trees. Jolisa delivered a wonderful speech which you can read after the break if you want to. Auckland Transport staff maintained the line that they had looked at a number of other options and that this was the only feasible one. Of course this isn’t surprising as if AT had planned on changing their mind they would have done it before it reached this point. After going into a closed session to discuss the matter and they emerged just over an hour later with the fantastic news that they had voted by unanimous decision to keep the trees and send staff back to the drawing board. Poignantly AT Chairman Dr Lester Levy stressed that Public and Active transport users were not served well by the proposed design.
This is a fantastic outcome and well done to all who have helped retain the trees but especially to Jolisa who has put a lot of effort in to this cause.
I’d also like to say well done to the Auckland Transport Board who have shown they are prepared to listen to the public and show leadership on critical issues. With this sort of attitude it’s perhaps no surprise that we’ve been seeing some great direction coming out of the organisation recently. AT can add the St Lukes decision to their growing list of impressive accomplishments that includes:
- the installation of more bus lanes
- bringing forward the AMETI busway by deferring the Reeves Rd flyover
- investigating light rail in the central isthmus to combat bus congestion in the city
Perhaps more critically while this fight was about saving these trees it was always about much more than them. It was really a question about how we want our city to develop. For decades and particularly through this area we’ve handed over large swathes of land solely for the movement of cars and larger and larger intersections. Fights such as this or the Respect our Community one against an East-West Link ploughing through Mangere represent Aucklanders no longer accepting the sacrificing of our city to the unquestioned movement of cars. That can only be positive for how our city develops in the future.
There are still a few questions that remain about this project including:
- Where has Len Brown been in all of this, his silence has been notable despite many people encouraging him to get involved
- Why did Auckland Transport staff dig in so much and let it get this far – were there too many egos at play
- Just what alternatives have been looked at and when will AT talk more about them
- How much of the desire for this outcome stem from the NZTA who likely have much more say of this area than in other local road projects due to the spread out nature of the interchange.
Once again well done to all those who fought against this plan and click on to see Jolisa’s speech.
Continue reading Pohutukawa Saved
We’ve seen it overseas and now it’s coming to Auckland – as a trial. Introducing the city’s first Bike Rave.
We’re pilot testing a wee bike rave, so we can hold a bigger one later in the year.
*Light* up your bike and come along for a night-time waterfront bike ride from Mission Bay to Wynyard Quarter (with a little add-on along the shiny new Westhaven boardwalk).
We’ll meet at 21:00 at the Mission Bay reserve. From there we’ll ride (slowly-ish) along the waterfront, while listening to some ear pleasing tunes.
Bring the following:
* Your bike, with loads of lights.
* Some drinks for the adventure. And um, should mention it’s potentially i̶l̶l̶e̶g̶a̶l̶ frowned upon to cycle while intoxicated, so keep it civil
-We’ll probably end at a bar anyway !
* If you have an amp, or portable music device, this would be rad too.
If you don’t know what a bike rave is, here’s a video from Vancouver
So if you’re interested deck out your bike in lights (optional) and come along, it should be fun. Let’s see if we can turn this into a regular event.