Tomorrow is the first Auckland Transport board meeting of 2017 and so as usual, I’ve scoured the board reports for any interesting information. The very first thing I noticed wasn’t even in a report but was the meeting timetable for the year. In past years there has always been a monthly meeting (except for January) but not it seems they’re moving to having a meeting every 6 weeks. I’m not sure of the reason for the change and one thing it could do is also mean we don’t get information like ridership data as regularly which would be a shame.
Closed Session agenda
The closed session is of course where all of the interesting discussions take place and despite being two months since the last meeting, there’s surprisingly not that much interesting on the agenda.
Items for Approval/Decision
- Draft Statement of Intent 2017/18 – 2019/20
- Advanced Bus Solution next steps
- Delivery of Transport Networks for Growth
- Quarterly report to AC
Items for Noting
- AT Rollover Designations
- CRL Update
- Speed Management Update
- AT Deliverables:
- Results for Projects completed to 31 December 2016
- Tasks for completion by 31 March 2017
The most interesting of those is the Advanced Bus Solution item. This relates to the NZTAs investigation into a bus alternative to AT’s proposal for light rail on Dominion Rd and to the Airport.
There are quite a few things from the main business report and the order of items relates to where they appeared in AT’s report.
Every month AT list the projects that were approved for funding by the NZTA. There are usually a few items but one this time stood out. Almost $40 million is going on business cases for projects in what will be greenfield growth areas. This is from the TFUG work. As a comparison, a detailed business case for improvements to Lake Rd was also approved at a cost of $630k
Transport Network for Growth (Detailed Business Cases for North, North West and South) – this activity was approved with conditions for $39.5 million
Technology – There are a number of technology updates:
- It appears AT are working on a new version of the AT Hop website
The AT HOP Web Rebuild project is on schedule to be delivered by 24 April for the rebuild of the Customer Web Portal, and the Customer Contact Centre Web Portal. This project will deliver a better online experience for our AT HOP customers.
- It appears there will be more public information available
The EIM (Enterprise Information Management) team has launched an initial instance of a public GIS (map-based information) information website and an open GIS data website. The open GIS data capability allows customers to access and download authoritative GIS datasets. The initial 20 datasets will continue to be expanded upon as we move forward with new datasets being uploaded regularly.
- And more mobile app improvements
Metro AT Mobile Application: The new AT Metro mobile application is in the final stages of end user testing prior to launch. This will be followed up with seven other items of additional functionality over the next few months including the addition of Train and Ferry services.
Newmarket Crossing – AT note they’ve got an agreement in principle with the appellants for the Newmarket Level Crossing project which will see Sarawia St closed and a bridge built between Laxon Tce and Cowie St.
Smart City – AT are going to conduct a ‘smart city’ technology trial in Devonport. It’s currently going through procurement.
A trial of smart city technologies in conjunction with UI is being developed for the Devonport Ferry Terminal, Bus Interchange and Park-and-Ride precinct.
Technologies to be trialled include, CleverCiti Parking Sensors for real time parking tracking in the Park-and-Ride area (144 spaces), SMIGHT smart poles for integrated sensor capability (including integrated cleverciti parking sensors, environmental sensors, wifi and electric vehicle charging).
Integrated analytics combining parking data, pedestrian data and AT-HOP data will help to build a picture of how people drive, walk/cycle or use buses and ferries to get to or from Devonport and improve our understanding how people integrate these modalities (e.g. arrive by car, take a ferry or a bus, arrive by ferry and then walk/cycle, arrive by ferry and then drive off in a car etc).
City Centre Roads – AT now report to each meeting how the city centre roads are coping with the disruption caused by the CRL and other road works. This is related in part to resource consent conditions for the CRL. Once again though we see that despite the disruption, most streets monitored are actually performing better than before the works (blue is the baseline). This continues to show that AT has a lot of scope to drastically change the city once the CRL is complete and refocus road corridors more towards people on foot, bike and bus.
New Network – For the first time we’ve got some information about how the new network in South Auckland is performing. It appears that the number of trips in December are up significantly on last year, including a lot more people transferring. For some reason they’re reporting on trips and transfers separately rather than just reporting on journeys which is what they should be doing. The information by suburb shows that Otahuhu has seen significant change which will almost certainly be due to the newly upgraded station
Integrated fares – over successive fare changes, AT have constantly increased the price of monthly passes well above other changes in what has felt like a deliberate attempt to be less customer friendly to some of their best customers. The report, written before the most recent increase in price suggests monthly pass numbers have been slashed by a third.
Bus train monthly pass ($200) sales have stabilised with (~5,000 per month down from 9,500 per month) many passengers migrating to stored value.
March Madness – For perhaps the first time, AT are introducing additional capacity ahead of annual March Madness. They say 34 extra peak trips will be added to the NEX this month while Birkenhead Bus are introducing double deckers to Onewa Rd. As we highlighted the other day, they’re also boosting rail capacity as part of the new timetable due mid-March. Not related to march madness but they also say double deckers will be introduced from New Lynn to the city along Great North Rd on June 11 when the new bus network rolls out in West Auckland.
Train Stations – There are a number of changes to train stations planned.
- AT have previously said they’re looking at gating a number of stations later this year. One of those was Middlemore but they’re now saying those plans are under review “to align with the planned third main line“. Hopefully that means we’ll see some progress on that project soon.
- AT plan to install a new LCD based information displays at Parnell, Remuera and Greenlane which will display additional information around approaching trains that are not stopping (as also mentioned in the post the other day). They will also eventually have automated PA announcements for this too. I hope these new displays could be rolled out elsewhere to display information like how many cars the next train has etc.
- They say a working group has been formed with Transdev and other stakeholders “to progress the opening of platform-2 at Newmarket Station for passenger use” by Easter this year. This is excellent news and well done to Harriet for pushing it.
Hibiscus Coast Station – AT have had a long battle to get resource consent for the full Hibiscus Coast Station. They now have approval and are starting by building the park & ride (till November) followed by the station building itself which isn’t due for completion till April/May 2018. In my mind they should do those projects the opposite way around.
Bus Priority – It appears AT are looking at more widespread bus priority across the city including for all frequent routes which is excellent news but that’s tempered by knowing they’ve been behind in implementing what they’ve said they would and are yet to fix what should be easy wins with extending bus lane hours.
A strategic bus priority plan is being developed to scope completion of citywide bus priority network over the next 3 years and extended over 10 – 15 years for the Frequent Network identifying high level budget requirements and key risks.
Customer Satisfaction – AT’s quarterly customer satisfaction survey is looking promising, especially for trains which they say recorded the highest result ever
City Centre Buses – AT say they’ve been reviewing the city centre experience for bus users to look for ways to improve it and improve bus use. Recommendations included:
- make existing bus stops more visual to customers
- to prototype and test new customer signage at two bus stops (two sided info-boards),
- better utilise the space on the reverse of passenger information displays to display key bus stop information.
Information Displays – AT have been trialling digital displays on a train and some buses but it hasn’t been a hit with passengers.
On-board digital screen trial (five buses and one EMU). The initial feedback from customers during the trial was mixed, which was validated with further customer centred testing via Customer Central in December. On-board journey and wayfinding content was valued more by new and irregular bus users. For regular commuters most used their own smart-device as a means of journey entertainment
There’s certainly a lot going on including a lot I didn’t cover. Have you read the report and picked up on anything else I missed?
Next week Auckland Transport hold their final board meeting for the year. Coming hot on the heels of the November one there’s not a lot of new information available in the currently available reports but there are a few important items.
Here are the items on the closed session. Most seem fairly straight forward and probably a bit boring but there are a few that stand out, particularly talk about train capacity and allowing electric vehicles in bus lanes – the only electric vehicles that should be in bus lanes are electric buses. I also wonder why these items are even in the closed session, AT list the reason as “To protect commercial interests” but just what commercial interests are there in talking about the capacity of trains or electric vehicles using bus lanes.
- 2017/18 Internal Budget Strategy
- Road Stoppings and Real Estate Inventory Optimisation
- Train Capacity
- Rail Operator
- Agreement relating to Huapai Triangle Special Housing Area – Deed of Novation
- Electric Vehicles in Special Vehicle Lanes
- Quarterly AMETI Update
- Housing Infrastructure Fund
- CRL Update
- 2016/17 Budget Realignment
Coming hot on the heels of the November one there’s not a lot of new information available in the currently available reports but there are a few important items.
Lincoln Rd – AT didn’t say publicly that submissions were open for their supersizing of Lincoln Rd but they were and have now closed. But not yet having consent hasn’t stopped AT and the report says they spent $3.3 million in November buying up some of the land needed for the widening and that in total for the year, they’ve spent a staggering $28.42 million. The project is going to end up with the cost of a small motorway, which is perhaps appropriate given the road will look a bit like one once finished.
Integrated Fares for Ferries
AT say they’re working on integrated fares for ferries.
Ferry Integrated fares approach and options are under development. Use cases are being documented for Thales review. Ferry ticketing infrastructure is being programmed to ensure cash tickets/alternative payment means are brought within the ferry integrated fares project to ensure a lasting solution
As I understand it, it doesn’t mean fares will the same price as an equivalent bus fare but that journeys will be integrated together. For example, if you were trying to get from Bayswater to Newmarket you could get off the ferry downtown and then jump on a bus or train to Newmarket without paying an additional fare, but the ferry fare itself will likely still cost more than doing the same journey by land.
As we’ve known for a little while, there’s a new timetable coming in March which is intended to speed up services, which also frees some extra trains up allowing them to be used boost capacity with more 6-car trains. It appears this timetable will start on 12 March.
We now also know that the timetable will see the start of services to Parnell, but there is a catch. At least initially only Southern Line services will stop at Parnell during the day although AT say Western Line trains will do so too in evenings and weekends. That is bound to cause confusion for customers wanting to go to or from Parnell. The old Newmarket station building will be moved to the site and refurbished between Christmas and June 2017.
You may have noticed no mention of Onehugna trains, that’s because there are some big changes coming with them too. As part of the new timetable Onehunga Line trains will run express from Ellerslie to Newmarket and then Britomart. Like Parnell, the Greenlane and Remuera stations will still be served by southern line trains every 10 minutes but any passengers waiting will get to watch an Onehunga line train blast past without stopping. This appears to be being done to free up an extra train so a service on one of the main lines can be expanded to 6-cars. While we definitively want AT to speed up trains, it seems doing it this way is a cop out to fixing actual issues such as the stupidly long dwell times we have or the horrifically long driver end change at Newmarket.
There is no mention on if the new timetable includes improved off peak frequencies which are needed to comply with the new network and AT’s Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP).
We’ve heard before that AT were planning to install ticket gates at more stations but there was no timeframe for this other than Otahuhu in April-June. They now say gates at Manurewa, Papatoetoe, Middlemore, Henderson and Parnell stations will be installed in Quarter three of 2017 and that they’re also planning for gates at Glen Innes and Papakura but there is no timeframe for that.
AT include a few brief numbers on the new network.
Train boardings at Otahuhu and Manukau have increased, with Otahuhu doubling over the first three weeks of operation; transfers across South Auckland up by 147%, bus/bus transfer up by 94% and bus/train transfers up by 207%
This seems good but knowing if it was actually resulting in more people using PT would be more useful.
Click & Collect expansion – a few months ago, AT launched a trial of being able to pick up shopping from countdown at some stations and other locations. They say that in February that will expand to include New World and Farro. It’s not in the board report but AT have also been installing vending machines at some stations. Here is some info from a local board report
As part of ongoing efforts to further improve customer amenity and convenience at public transport facilities, Auckland Transport will be conducting a vending machine trial in partnership with Coca-Cola (Branded as Pump) and Sanitarium. The trial will begin on 9th November 2016 and run over a period of six months.
As a part of this trial, AT will seek to provide customers with a broad range of breakfast, snack and cold drink products to choose from, while promoting healthier choices. This will be achieved by ensuring that healthy options benefit from high visibility and dominate the range of products on offer.
Nine rail stations across the network will be involved in this trial; Grafton, Manukau, Manurewa, Mt Albert, New Lynn, Newmarket, Otahuhu, Panmure and Puhinui. Following the successful outcome of this trial, an open Request for Proposal process will be held to identify network wide partners to provide a longer term offering
This is the final board meeting for the year with the next one not till near the end of February. There is also currently not patronage information but we should have it next week.
Tomorrow the AT board meet for their penultimate meeting of the year and it looks like it will be a big one with a lot on the agenda of their closed session.
I’ve added my thoughts after many of the items.
Items for Approval/Decision
- Panuku Framework Plans – I assume this relates to AT working with Panuku Development Auckland on plans for the areas they’re focusing on redeveloping.
- Dominion Road Bus Lane Improvements – When AT announced they were looking seriously at light rail for Dominion Rd, the planned upgrade that was about to go ahead was put on hold but now that ATAP appears to have pushed LRT out, it’s important that AT make some improvements to the bus lanes now. Hopefully this means they’ll be extending the lanes, including through intersections rather than stopping short like now and extending the hours of operation.
- Road Stopping
- Clonbern Road Carpark – AT have indicated previously that there’s a redevelopment proposal for the carpark they own on Clonbern Rd, Remuera.
- Execution of Deed by Directors – Lease of upper levels CPO – Presumably this is for after the CRL works have finished.
- Execution of Heads of Terms – Lease of Land
- 2017 Annual Fare Review – It will be interesting to see if AT propose any fare changes given they’ve just made some with the introduction of Simplified Fares. If they do make changes, past years indicate they would be implemented in January.
- Rail Operator – In the main board report it is mentioned that AT are currently conducting a periodic efficiency audit as part of the rail passenger services contract terms of reference
Items for Noting
- CRL Procurement Update – I assume this item related to AT holding a day long industry briefing on the main works of the CRL later this month before tender documentation goes out next year.
- MRT/LRT Update – One of the outcomes from ATAP was the use of the term Mass Transit instead of Light Rail for several projects. Essentially the NZTA are busily trying to show that a bus only solution to capacity problems can be found but my guess is they will do so by ignoring the capacity issues on city centre streets.
- Parnell Station Update – It appears that Kiwirail have already started some works to move the old Newmarket Station building to the site, presumably this will update progress.
- Procurement Update
Moving on to the items that got my attention in the main business report, in the order appear in the report.
AT say the handheld devices used by ticket inspectors to check HOP cards are at the end of their life and they have a project underway to replace them.
The Mt Roskill Safe Routes is now complete and due to be officially opened on Wednesday while the first stage of the Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr path – from Merton Rd to St Johns Rd – will open on 16 December.
In a piece of great news, it appears AT have agreed to remove the left turn slip lanes from Nelson St onto Fanshawe St as part of the project to extend the Nelson St cycle lanes. Dealing with this intersection is what has delayed the project by so long as I understand some of the traffic engineers were more concerned about vehicle flow than the safety of people. Construction of this section is planned for March 2017
The Nelson St/Fanshawe St intersection
AT are hoping mediation will solve the appeal by Cowie St residents against the bridge that will replace the Sarawia St level crossing. If it doesn’t, the environment court appeal is set down for February.
The Half Moon Bay ferry terminal is progressing with the wharf works due for completion in January and the land side works in April.
As mentioned this morning, double deckers are due to be rolled out on Onewa Rd in February next year. AT say DD mitigation works also planned for Gt North Rd in Feb 2018 and Manukau Rd in June 2018.
AT say they’re on track to meet their target of rolling out 19km of bus lanes this financial year, despite them later in the report claiming to have a target to roll out 26km this year.
The roll-out of the new bus network in West Auckland is scheduled for 11 June 2017. AT are in the middle of assessing the bids for the Central and East networks and have now gone to tender for the North Shore services.
We’ve mentioned before that AT are finally looking at boosting capacity of services prior to the regular March Madness. There’s a little more detail about what this entails.
- For the NEX they say approximately 25-35 extra peak trips will be added in January-February 2017 – but it doesn’t say what timeframe those extra trips are over i.e. per week/month.
- They say Birkenhead Transport have the fastest growing bus patronage after the NEX and as well as double deckers being added in February, eight additional peak trips will be added to the timetable.
- On rail they say “Further line speed, interlocking works and signalling works to improve journey times are being targeted for the March/April 2017 timetable recast.” – although this does also suggests the new rail timetable might be being pushed out a little.
On Friday 21 October, they say for the first time ever had 100% punctuality and reliability on trains.
I continue to hear more and more complaints about Skybus since they took over the commercially run airport service around a year ago. Being a fully commercial service they sit outside of AT’s control so it’s interesting to see that they continue to be the worst performing bus company in Auckland.
A trial a Park & Ride run by Wilsons Parking will take place on Esmonde Rd at the Harbourside Church. It will be interesting to see how popular this is, perhaps cars stuck as part of traffic on Esmonde Rd, and seeing buses wizz past in the bus lane might decide to pull off and park up.
A trial park and ride facility is being prepared for opening on 28th November at Esmonde Road, Takapuna. The facility is owned by the Harbourside Church and will be operated by Wilsons Parking Ltd. AT Metro are facilitating the additional bus stops, services, promotion and planning of this initiative and will be monitoring the uptake and impact of this site on traffic patterns in and around Takapuna. The initiative is also linked to parking consultation activities in Takapuna and offers alternative parking options for both inbound and outbound vehicles
An indication as to some of the things going up to the board and board committees in the next month.
- Electric Vehicles in transit lanes
- Train Capacity
- Mangere future streets
- Strategic PT Network
- 2016/17 Budget realignment
- MRT/LRT Update
There’s certainly a lot going on.
It was revealed yesterday that in a departure from the past six years, there would be none of the Auckland Councillors will be on the Auckland Transport Board of Directors.
Auckland Transport spends more than $1 billion a year running the city’s roads and public transport network, and for the last two terms councillors Christine Fletcher and Mike Lee have been paid directors on the agency’s board.
Mr Goff said removing the councillors would improve accountability, but he would keep the roles open in case it did not work out.
“The feedback I have to date is that [having councillors on the board] has not been the strongest form of accountability,” he said.
At first blush this seems like a blow for accountability and transparency, especially given transport is by far the single biggest area of council spending. But as is often the case, if you look deeper into the issue it’s not so clear that this is a bad outcome. In this post I’ll look at a couple of these issues. To be clear this isn’t about the performance of the two councillors who have served on the board to date, Christine Fletcher and Mike Lee, but more the issues having councillors in the position creates.
The key argument for having Councillors on the AT board is to provide a more direct link between them and the Council’s governing body. In theory that sounds like a good idea but in practice it just doesn’t work – and that’s not the fault of the Councillors appointed. All board directors have the same collective and individual responsibilities regardless of whether they were appointed or are an elected member. That includes keeping confidential information confidential, particularly as some discussions and decisions can impact land prices. As such the Councillors on the AT Board can’t just go back and tell the Mayor or other Councillors what was discussed. A prime example of this happening came up at the beginning of last year when AT announced they were investigating light rail on the central isthmus. Apparently, the Mayor and Councillors were only told this piece of work had been happening shortly before AT told the public.
As I understand it, some elected members were quite annoyed they weren’t told earlier by their colleagues who sit on the AT Board but those two board member simply weren’t allowed to tell them without breaching their board responsibilities. What’s the point of having them there if the rules prevent them from reporting back to council.
One answer is that it could be to push the council’s agenda. But in cases like LRT, how could they know the council’s thoughts without telling them. Further Because all the important stuff is discussed behind closed doors, we also can’t tell if the Councillors are pushing the approved council agenda or their own personal views.
We’ve been lucky that for the first two terms, Len appointed Councillors who we know have played key roles in supporting the improvement of public transport in Auckland but he or a future mayor could have just as easily appointed someone who is on the other side of the PT supporting spectrum. In that regard having no Councillors on the AT Board and better use being made of the council’s toolkit for managing AT might be a better long term approach – I’ll cover that later in the post.
Another issue with having the Councillors on the board is it gives them multiple bites at the cherry that other Councillors don’t get an opportunity to do, and this goes both ways. In one situation, a Councillor might push a project/stance that the rest of the council votes against. They can then use their position on the AT Board to try again. One case I can remember this happening in was around the debate over mowing grass berms. After council’s governing body voted to stop funding it, Christine Fletcher tried unsuccessfully to get the AT Board to agree to do it. Going the other way, a current example is Mike Lee who disagrees with decision the AT Board he is part of made over airport rail and so wants the Council to overrule that decision.
In my view having Councillors on the board then creates odd situations when those same Councillors then criticise a decision made by AT that they were involved in making, or where AT are criticised for following a policy the board approved.
And AT’s Chairman Lester Levy says this in the article above.
The mayor is my boss
It’s good to have that nice and clear. He also says this about decisions
There are differences of opinions, yes, but there are differences of opinions between normally appointed members.
Of course, none of this is to say that AT should be left unaccountable to do their own thing. The opposite is true but the council have several ways they can improve the accountability of AT. The biggest thing they could do is taking a much greater interest in setting and holding AT to their annual Statement of Intent (SOI). The SOI is the document that lays out each year what AT should be focusing on and what their targets are. From what I see the SOI is far too often not bold enough and most Councillors just seem to rubber stamp it.
There also doesn’t appear to be any serious consequences for missing targets, such as for patronage. Nor are there any consequences for AT’s seeming continual disregard for various council plans and strategies like with the City Centre Master Plan vision for Victoria St that we’ve highlighted recently. The Council beefing up their oversight role would likely reap greater dividends than having Councillors on the board – each earning an extra ~$50k per annum for doing so.
Goff’s decision to re-evaluate the decision in a year’s time seems like a good solution. If it turns out AT start making even stupider decisions then some Councillors could always be added back again. What’s not clear is if the council will then appoint some directors on a one year term to make up the board numbers.
Six years in it feels like now is an appropriate time to shake things up to change how the organisation is run at both a board and management level to ensure we get better outcomes.
The monthly Auckland Transport Board meeting is on again next week so I’ve take a read through the main reports to pull out the bits that interest me.
Some of my thoughts about them in italics.
Items for Approval/Decision
- CRL – PTA & QS Contracts
- Road Stopping
- Execution of Deed of Lease of Land
- Route Protection for Roading Projects
- CPO – Surrender of LRT Easements – Britomart was designed so it could also have light rail but our existing network has been too successful so is not a possibilty now
- Transport for Future Urban Growth (TFUG) Programme Business Case – Business cases are now needed to support all of the projects needed to support the sprawl enabled as part of the Unitary Plan
- AT designations for the Unitary Plan
Items for Noting
- Deep Dive – Rail Infrastructure
- MRT/Light Rail Update – I see AT are already using the Mass Rapid Transit name from ATAP
- Rail Development
- Bus Services March Capacity – A hint about what this is later in the post.
- ATAP Update
Things that interest me in the order they appear in the report.
Albany Highway – This project is nearly complete and expected to be completed in October
Glen Innes/Tamaki Shared Path – Section 1 is due for completion at the end of October. Section 2 and 3 got resource consent and section 3 will start construction in October
Franklin Rd – Works are now starting on services, although there will be no works around Christmas when the annual lights are on. The actual road works start in March next year. They say the design of the catenary lighting system has been completed and materials ordered. The lights will have a clearance above the ground of 7-8m so shouldn’t have issues with overheight trucks. They also say the lighting system is estimated to cost $900,000. I wonder what an aspiring Councillor standing on a platform of capping rates might say about that.
Newmarket Crossing (Sarawia St) – AT are hoping for mediation with the Cowie St Residents in early October and if that fails an environment court hearing before the end of the year.
Parnell Station – Kiwirail have building consent and works are due to start on the foundations so the old Newmarket railway station can be moved to the site. AT also say they’re working on the design of ticket gates but that they won’t be in place in time for opening due to long lead times for them. They’re also working on getting a footpath connection down through Carlaw Park finished in time for when the station opens in March 2017 (with limited service).
Manukau Bus Station – AT will be issuing the construction contract early next month and say the station is due to be open in early 2018, this appears to have been delayed as previously they were saying late 2017. Oddly later in the same report it once again says late 2017.
Otahuhu Interchange – This is on track to open on 29 October, just before the new network goes live. Ticket gates will be installed in the second quarter 2017 “due to a delay in receipt of the gates from the supplier”
Bus Lanes – AT are planning on building 19.1km of bus lanes this financial year but later on they say 26km is planned. This image is from August but it still accurate.
AT Parking App – Earlier this year we saw a glimpse of a mobile app to pay for parking (from 3:05). It’s currently in a live trial till the end of the month and is expected to be launched later this year
AT Park is an account based parking payment system, which will go live later this year. Customers can pay for parking directly from their phone without using a parking meter, significantly improving customer convenience through mobile payment and parking location/availability maps. Other features of the new service are: start and stop a parking session with an interactive voice recording, start stop session with texting and also with the call centre. This innovation will enable customers to pay with ease and therefore increase compliance across the network
Supergold Cards – AT are going to transition blue HOP card holders to gold HOP cards and a campaign for it is due in November
Ferries – AT currently has a tender out for the non-commercial ferry routes – like they’re doing with buses. I understand this will likely include some additional services on some routes too. Interestingly this will also include Stanley Bay services as Fullers has advised they’re not going to run it commercially anymore. This will leave only Devonport and Waiheke as commercial routes exempt from PTOM contracts.
March Madness – It appears AT might have finally got the message about March Madness.
Every March there is a spike in patronage which results in insufficient capacity on main corridors. In order to provide sufficient capacity and an enhanced customer experience for next March, new timetables and capacity increases have been developed for main corridors. The expectation is that no customer will have to wait for more than 10 minutes (depending on advertised frequency) to be able to board a bus. This will see an approx. +6.6% peak only bus capacity increase implemented progressively between November and February.
Double Decker NEX – The Northern Express goes from strength to strength and now Ritchies are boosting capacity again with the number of double decker buses used to operate the service going from 18 to 29 in October. That will leave just 2 standard buses at peak times and all off peak services will be run by double deckers. Extra trips are also being added in Jan & Feb ahead of March.
Speeding up trains – AT say a reduction in turn back times at Papakura from late October will free up one train set enabling them to boost another peak Southern Line service in the morning and afternoon. A good example of why they need to focus on speeding up our trains.
New Network – The new bus network in South Auckland is due to go live on 30 October while new buses for the new operators have been arriving. Ritchies/Murphys buses have been arriving from China while the Go Bus buses being built mostly here but also in Malaysia have been arriving.
Station Gates – In addition to completing designs for gating Henderson, Manurewa, Middlemore and Papatoetoe, AT say they’re also now planning and designing gates for Glen Innes, Papakura and Parnell.
Click and Collect – A 6-month trial got underway this week allowing for deliveries to made to one of four AT Metro locations and one park & ride (Orakei I believe). This is positive to see and I only wonder why they didn’t trial it years ago.
An indication as to what’s coming up to the board and board committees in the next month so an indication of things to keep an eye out for.
- Northern RTN Programme Business Case
- Roads & Streets Framework
- Clonbern Road Carpark Redevelopment proposal
- Bus Patronage Analysis
- Train Capacity
- PTOM West Tenders – the preferred tenderers were announced last week.
- Manukau Road T3 Operational Impacts
- Future of HOP
- Digital / Technology impact on transport
Anything you’ve seen in the reports that I’ve missed?
Today the Auckland Transport Board have their latest meeting and I’ve taken a look through the reports to pull out the interesting bits.
Firstly and surprisingly the agenda for the closed session is surprisingly bare. The only non-regular item is Tamaki Regeneration Project – funding and governance agreement.
The main business report seems to have a bit in it to cover. As always, this is based on the order they appear in the report.
Supergold – at the time of writing the report, AT say they had almost 105k cards loaded with SuperGold concessions (both the blue and gold ones), up from 45k in May. A recent press release also stated that now 97% of SuperGold trips were taking using HOP cards. The map below shows where paper tickets were still being issued
Urban Redevelopment – AT say give a brief overview of some of the work they’re doing to work with Panuku Development Auckland.
Key priorities at this stage include:
- Takapuna – Ongoing input into options for development of AT parking sites, and identification of short and long term public transport infrastructure requirements.
- Manukau – Ongoing input into the Manukau Framework Plan currently under development. This document will identify potential streetscape upgrades, and potential sites for redevelopment including parking sites.
- Onehunga – Analysis being undertaken on the potential impact of East-West Connections and Airport-Mangere rail on future development proposals.
- Henderson – Early stages of high level visioning. The AT focus is on providing for train station expansion requirements associated with CRL operations, and on any implications of street network proposals including on level crossings.
Northwest Busway – They have selected Aurecon to develop the Indicative Business Case for the NW Busway between the City Centre and Westgate and is due to be completed by April 2017.
Harbour Crossing (AWHC) – Their work on the future RTN options as part of AWHC now includes prototype designs for several RTN modes
Tertiary Student Travel Survey – AT conducted their biennial survey and covered 2,108 interviews at campus’ across Auckland.
The surveys show that there has been a significant growth of students using public transport since 2014. Total public transport main mode travel to campus has increased from 41% to 48% and non-car travel has increased from 60% to 63%. Student attitudes towards public transport are strongly positive and nearly all students have an AT HOP card. Price and overcrowding are now seen as the biggest barriers for increasing use. Use of AT sources of information (e.g. journey planner) have significantly fallen since 2014 as the use of google maps for transport information has grown. Attitudes and use of public transport are similar across all CBD/City Fringe campuses and suburban campuses. MIT Manukau students are highly represented in train statistics.
Lincoln Rd – AT lodged a Notice of Requirement to widen Lincoln Rd. Notification is expected in September.
Albany Highway – The upgrade of Albany Highway north of the motorway has been going on for some time but AT now expect it to be completed in October, well ahead of what was in the contract.
Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr Shared Path – Section 1 from Merton Road to St Johns Road is expected to be completed by the end of September, Section 2 to Meadowbank Station and Section 3 to Orakei are expected to have resource consent completed soon with Section 3 due to start construction in October.
Newmarket Crossing (Sarawia St) – As expected the Cowie St Residents Association have appealed the consent to the Environment Court. AT now expect a likely decision on this in March/April 2017 although based on other projects like Skypath, that seems optimistic. In the past, AT have said that the opening of the Parnell Station is dependent on the Sarawia St crossing being removed.
Bike thefts – AT say they’re working with the police and our friends at Bike Auckland to address bike theft which has been increasing as cycling becomes more popular. This will include extra CCTV cameras and an education campaign.
Manukau Rd Transit Lane – The new transit lane is saving buses and T3 cars 4-5 minutes during the morning peak and has increased the people movement efficiency of the corridor by 10% – and based on anecdotal reports, that’s still with a lot of single occupant vehicles being driven in the lane.
New Bus Lanes – AT claim they are planning to deliver 19.1km of bus lanes this financial year and the first of the physical works were due to start by the end of August – but I’m not sure where. One of the lanes being added will be Gt North Rd at Waterview which is being done in conjunction with the Waterview project and expected to start construction in September and be finished by March 2017. An indication of some of what is being worked on is below.
New Bus Network – Things are on track to go live with the South Auckland network on 30 October. Tenders for West Auckland are being assessed still while the tender for the Central and East networks have gone out.
Station Gates – Designs are complete for electronic gates to be installed at Henderson, Manurewa and Papatoetoe. They don’t say when they might be installed though.
Train performance – More work to speed up trains is being planned and includes line speed, interlocking and signalling works. The report says this is for a new recast timetable in March/April 2017. Previously they’d suggested a new timetable was due in February so it appears this has slipped.
There is a separate paper about HOP which deserves its own post and will be going up at midday.
Is there anything else you’ve seen in the reports you’ve found interesting?
Auckland Transport’s latest board meeting is board meeting is on as this post is published and here are the things I found interesting.
The closed session normally contains what appears to be the most interesting items at the meeting. My comments about the items in italics
Items for Approval/Decision
- CPO/Britomart Group Agreement – I wonder if that relates to the suggestion to eventually build a permanent building behind the CPO.
- CRL Procurement update
- Park and Ride – I’m not sure what this entails, new Park and Rides, changing how they’re managed?
- Rail Procurement – I assume this relates to the procurement of services, if you recall they stopped the tender process last year.
- AT Technology Strategy
- Road Stoppings & Real Estate Inventory Optimisation
- Newmarket Level Crossing – Confirmation of NoR
- AMETI – Stage 2A Acquisition of land
Items for Noting
- EMU Project update
- Parking Future Platform update – I’m guessing this relates to the parking app we saw in the parking strategy video a few months back.
- Insurance update
- Unitary Plan verbal update – I’m not sure if any of the AT staff have been involved in the closed group reviewing the UP recommendations and if they were if they would be talking about this or just the UP process in general.
Moving on to the main Business Report and as usual I’ll just work through the report in the order highlighting the bits I find interesting.
RLTP Variation – AT have made a variation to the three-year Regional Land Transport Programme (RLTP) to include the Matakana Link Rd which suggests they’re planning on it being worked on within the next few years.
- Work on the indicative business case for the NW Busway is expected to start in August.
- AT say they’re working with the NZTA on integrating rapid transit options for the North Shore with the Additional Waitemata Harbour crossing route protection.
- A preferred network for the greenfield growth areas has been decided and will now be presented to the council. I assume they’ll be fairly similar to the draft networks that were proposed. They’ll now have Indicative business cases created.
Lincoln Rd – AT have lodged a resource consent application for the large widening of Lincoln Rd. They expect it to be open for submissions in August.
Parnell Station – Kiwirail plan to move the old Newmarket station to the site in November and it will then undergo an external refurbishment till April 2017. AT will also be doing work at the station including adding footpath connections and ticket gates. It hadn’t been clear before that they would be gating the station but it makes sense that they should be doing. They haven’t said yet when services will start stopping there
Otahuhu Bus/Train Interchange – AT say passengers will start using the new concourse from early October but the station will offically open on 29 October. They will also now be building a third platform, which is required for the CRL so means it can be done preventing disruption again in a few a year’s time.
New Network – AT are currently evaluating tenders for the West Auckland routes and will soon be launching tenders for Central, East and North Auckland which once awarded should allow the majority of the city’s new bus network to be implemented by the end of next year.
Bus performance and capacity – AT’s figures show bus reliability and punctuality are down on the same time last year and that a “A consolidated 12-month plan has been developed to address this and to manage capacity increases.” It’s interesting to see that Skybus which is a commercial service and outside of AT’s control performs considerably poorer than the other bus services. Conversely the Northern Express which has been gross contracted is the best performer, although the much better infrastructure helps here too (note: other services are generally net cost contracts until PTOM comes in)
Fare evasion and Security – AT say “Strategy discussions are progressing with Police around an enhanced joint approach to Metro security and fare enforcement.”
A few other things that I noticed that caught my attention.
Parking – the monthly indicators show parking occupancy in the city centre remains high both on and off street. On street parking prices in the city will be going up soon.
Forward Programme – This gives an indication as to what is being discussed in future board committee meetings and at the next meeting. One interesting item to the next Customer Focus Committee is that AT are looking to change the T&Cs of AT HOP top-ups.
Is there anything else you’ve seen in the reports you’ve found interesting?
Today is the latest Auckland Transport Board meeting and it appears to be a big one with a lot of items to cover. I’ve gone through the documents to highlight the parts I’ve found interesting.
The closed session in particular has a number of interesting topics on the agenda, these are some of them up for approval/decision
- Matakana Link Road – this is the road that is planned from roughly the end of the Puhoi to Warkworth Motorway across to Matakana Rd so all those using the motorway to get to their holiday homes at Christmas don’t have to travel through the Hill St intersection. I’ve heard suggestions the NZTA and AT are looking to have this built at the same time as the motorway even though it hasn’t been budgeted for and that they might try to include it as part of the motorway PPP. The link road is shown below in green and extends past Matakana Rd to a Quarry I believe they want to source material for the motorway from.
- North Western Rapid Transport Corridor – Otherwise known as the Northwest Busway, AT currently have a tender out for an Indicative Business Case for this which includes confirming the preferred mode and alignment.
- AMETI – While most items are listed as being confidential due to commercial sensitivity, this one oddly states: “To prevent disclosure or use of official information for improper gain or improper advantage“
- Rail Operations Procurement – AT extended Transdev’s contract to run trains in Auckland a year or so ago, presumably this is about extending it again or restarting the process to put it out to tender
- South Western Multi Modal Airport Rapid Transit (SMART) – We’ve heard before that the Airport company has said that a decision was needed fairly soon on whether heavy or light rail was preferred option for rail to the airport so they can finalise their development plans. I assume AT are making that decision. (Edit: appears I was right. AT have for me they’ll get send me a copy of the report this afternoon)
And for noting
- Deep Dive – Enforcement – I assume this includes information about both road and PT enforcement.
Rapid Transit – Perhaps as a response to the issue of the AWHC we raised a month ago, AT say
AT and NZ Transport Agency are working together to ensure a future Additional Waitematā Harbour Crossing (AWHC) is delivered as a multimodal transport solution providing more options for moving people and freight across the harbour while supporting growth and resilience. Both organisations are currently investigating which modes of rapid transit will best service the growing needs of the city along with future roading requirements. This information will feed into the AWHC project and ensure the protected route enables and is fully integrated with a future public transport network.
Parnell Station – AT say planning work is still in progress “to complete the station ready for initial timetabled operations by second quarter 2017 in line with wider passenger rail timetable improvements.” Last I remember timetable improvements were planned for around Feb so this suggests they may have been pushed back too. If so this would be disappointing, particularly in the south where the new bus network will be implemented without the rail network being improved to support it.
Street Lighting – You may recall that last year AT started replacing around 44,000 high pressure sodium streets lights across the region with LEDs that over a 20 year period were expected to have net savings of about $32 million. They say so far around 10,000 have been installed which is about 9% of all street lights in Auckland. Positively they say both the technical performance is improving and cost of the lights is reducing so more will be able to be done within the funding allocated.
Bus Lanes – On bus lanes AT have this comment which perhaps suggests they weren’t going to have enough money to roll out the Gt North Rd bus lane which is meant to go in when Waterview opens “We are working with NZ Transport Agency on options to manage the funding of Great North Road Bus lane to alleviate a potential compromise of next year’s work programme“.
Red Light running – Back in May, AT announced that in conjunction with the police they were doing a blitz on four intersections on the North Shore for red light running. They say around 400 warnings/infringements were issued over the two-week period.
Integrated Fares – go live 31 July but we are yet to have prices or details of it confirmed which I assume will be a focus in July. The other day I mentioned that Monthly Passes were changing. After that post went up the details went up on AT’s website. From Friday, instead of three different monthly pass options there will only be one covering the entire region which will normally be $200, but for July AT are running it at an “introductory price” of $140 for July. If you make a lot of trips or normally have a fairly long PT commute and don’t normally use a monthly pass it might be worth picking one up and as a tip, once one has been bought and activated you can buy and load up another one. I already use the $200 monthly pass so this should save me around $120 which is nice.
Station Gating – We already knew AT were looking at gating a number of train stations but it appears they could be doing it fairly soon, saying “Electronic gating designs are underway for Manurewa, Papatoetoe, Middlemore, Glen Innes, Henderson and Papakura Stations; electronic gates have been ordered“.
Another item at the board meeting is AT’s draft statement of intent for the 2016/17 financial year. The SOI is refreshed is a three-year work plan but is refreshed annually and so combined with other council/AT documents shouldn’t present too much of a surprise. What is interesting is seeing some of the changes that have been made following feedback from the Council. Some of the interesting changes/issues raised seem to be:
- The council has asked AT to improve train travel times – we know some work has been done on this but we are still waiting for the next timetable change to actually see any improvement.
- AT have a history of trying to downgrade their PT patronage targets and obviously they tried to again but the council have said they have no intention change them without a very good case for doing so. This means that AT are going to need to put a lot more effort in to ensuring that patronage grows over the next few years so it will be vitally important they get changes like the new network rolled out as soon as possible.
- The PT patronage target is for all PT so the council have requested a rail specific target be added which AT have done and which gives a hint of where they think patronage will be in the next three years. Rail patronage is at 16.6 million to the end of May and the future targets are 2016/17: 19.5 million, 2017/18: 20.7 million, 2018/19: 21.6 million. That suggests they expect another significant jump in ridership over the next year before tapering off before the CRL is built which is what I would expect to see.
- AT wanted to focus their cycling targets on the counts from around the city centre to reflect where most of the current cycle spending will impact however the council have said they want to keep the monitoring at a regional level
Not changing the targets does have some benefits for AT though, especially when it comes to PT farebox recovery. As of the end of April they remain ahead of the target set for 2018/19 of greater than 50%.
Is there anything else you’ve seen in the reports you’ve found interesting?
On Monday, the Auckland Transport Board are expected to rubber stamp the outcome of the final and biggest of the major consultations for the new bus network, Central and East Auckland. The consultation was held at the end of last year and AT say they received over 3,700 pieces of feedback for the Central network and almost 1,200 pieces of feedback for the East Auckland network. For the Central network 60% of people were in support or not opposed to the proposed changes while in East Auckland that number was 64%.
As a result of the feedback AT say they they have made changes to 29 out of the 52 routes in the central area while in the east 10 out of the 15 routes had changes to them and timetable changes for 8 of them. That’s a lot of changes and not all of them appear to be good, in fact some effectively break the principles behind the new network which I think will undermine the success of it. The biggest concern is in the central area where there now appears to be much weaker cross town services thanks to most of them rerouted, downgraded, truncated or removed entirely. In the end it feels much more like an extension of the status quo than the revolutionary connected network we were promised.
Next I’ll step through the central and east networks separately. Perhaps it’s just the way the image looks in the board paper but one immediate observation of both central and east is the maps feel more cluttered and harder to read compared to those used in the consultation. This seems to be in part due to some of the changes that were made.
Some of the major changes include:
- The outer Link has been retained – although on a modified route between Mt Eden and Newmarket.
- As a result of the Outer Link, the Crosstown 6 route along St Lukes/Balmoral Rd/Greenlane West has been had it’s frequency downgraded and at it’s eastern end, it no longer connects to the Orakei Train Station meaning there is no longer a frequent all day service service there.
- The Crosstown 5 route which also served Orakei as well as proving a connection between Ponsonby, Kingsland, Valley Rd, Mt Eden and Remuera and Mission Bay town centres has been removed. Both this and the Crosstown 6 are suggested to be in part the result of people from Orakei not wanting to transfer to get to the city centre.
- There are a number of new peak only services to the city centre
- The frequent service along Tamaki Dr and a new route through the eastern suburbs will be branded the Blue Link
There are many other many other changes but it is hard to list them all here.
Here’s the final network
As a comparison, here’s the network that was consulted on
To clarify which roads have at least one frequent service to the city all day, AT have the map below. They also say
The final New Network will mean that the arterial routes listed below will continue to have all-day frequent service to and from the City Centre, with enhanced capacity and levels of service (including in most cases 15 minute or better frequencies in the evenings and on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays), to support the increasing level of economic and social activity in the city centre outside normal business hours. Most of these routes will also operate every 30 or 60 minutes between midnight and 3.00 am on Saturday and Sunday evenings to replace the Nite Rider services. Routes anticipated to utilise double-decker buses within the next 2 – 3 years are underlined:
- Jervois Rd (Outer Link)
- Ponsonby Rd (Inner Link)
- Great North Rd as far as New Lynn
- New North Rd
- Sandringham Rd
- Dominion Rd
- Mt Eden Rd
- Manukau Rd
- Ellerslie Panmure Highway and Ti Rakau Drive
- Remuera Rd
- Parnell Rd (Inner and Outer Links)
- Tamaki Drive
As mentioned earlier, there have been a number of changes in the east, the two big ones are:
- They’ve swapped the frequent service that will go all the way to the city from being the service from Howick (route 55) to the service from Botany (route 53). It will be interesting to see how the latter route performs in the future given that it could make services on the busway AT want to build less reliable.
- The route down Te Irirangi Dr (35) has been upgraded to a frequent.
Here’s the final network
As a comparison, here’s the network that was consulted on
As part of the new network networks AT will need to roll out around 100-150 new bus shelters across both central and east. That’s not all that much more than just the South Auckland network which I guess is in part due to many of the main routes on the Isthmus not needing to be changed.
There is also talk of bus priority being added over the next 2-3 financial years. Where bus lanes are or are expected are shown below. AT Also say this which is promising.
bus lanes will be added on Pakuranga Rd and a start will be made on the South-eastern Busway between Panmure, Pakuranga and Botany
I know there has been pressure from a number of sources to roll the network out sooner and positively the document says they plan to roll out the networks in two separate stages in the second half of 2017 which is promising as previously they had been saying early 2018.
I hope that AT are able to revisit some of the poor decisions they’ve made around the new network in a couple of years’ time, perhaps when the CRL opens and that they don’t just assume this is complete and doesn’t need changing.
The next AT board meeting is tomorrow and as I always do, I’ve been having a look at the publicly available reports to see what’s interesting. I usually cover off the items at the closed session of the board meeting however at the time of writing this post that agenda hadn’t be published online.
The board report usually contains quite a bit of information although this month there doesn’t seem a whole lot that’s new and interesting. What did catch my attention is below.
Rapid Transit – There are two pieces of busway news. AT say they’re starting an indicative business case this month for the North-Western Busway between the city and Westgate and that it will identify the alignment and station locations. They also say they’re developing an agreement with the NZTA on planning and consenting processes for a new Northern Busway station at Rosedale Rd which will be built as part of the Northern Corridor works.
Nelson Street Cycleway – News on the next phase of the of the Nelson St cycleway from Victoria St to Quay St has been pretty hard to come by since the consultation and AT saying that they were investigating some of issues we raised. AT now say it:
has been re-scoped due to changes to some AT Metro bus routes to accommodate CRL construction; this meant that cycleway and bus traffic could not safely co-exist in parts of the planned cycle route. Design began in May for a route from Fanshawe Street to the Waterfront via Market Place. Construction is planned to commence around January 2017.
I always thought the route along Sturdee St wasn’t ideal and it seems bus changes have confirmed that. It’s great that AT seem to have come around to the Market Pl option. With an upgrade and addressing the parking I think that route will be popular.
Newmarket Crossing (Sarawia St level crossing removal) – AT expect a decision back on the Notice of Requirement this month although residents who have been opposing it may yet appeal to the Environment Court.
Otahuhu Bus interchange – This is still reported to be on track for completion in August
Route Optimisation – AT say they’ve completed upgrades to 145 intersections out of the 212 they have planned for this year with the rest under way.
HOP and Integrated Fares – Integrated fares still on track for the end of July and interestingly “Development of a product transition plan will result in the new monthly pass being marketed in May 2016 for June 2016 launch”. As May has now passed I’m assuming we’ll hear something soon. The report also says AT were going to go live with HOP on Explore ferries on May 18, just 3 weeks after Explore pulled the plug on services to Waiheke. They are also working to have HOP on Sealink ferries for SuperGold use. Another positive is they say HOP use had it’s highest use ever on May 9 with 84.3% of all trips being via HOP.
New Network – The final route decisions for the Central and East Auckland new bus networks are expected to go to the board in the meeting at the end of June although at this stage it may not be rolled out till early 2018.
Bus Shelters – The new design shelters are being rolled out, particularly in South Auckland in advance of the new network although in other places too. The first intermediate size one was installed outside the Homai station.
Managing Traffic in the CBD
A separate report to the board is titled Managing Traffic in the CBD and covers off how AT have created a dedicated team to manage the road network within the city in response to there being so much construction happening in the city over the next few years.
The City Centre Network Operations (CCNO) team has been set up to co-ordinate the operation of the transport network in the city centre both in real-time and for planned events. This team will oversee proposals for changes on the network resulting from planned projects such as the CRL and private development. The team is empowered to undertake changes on the network to manage traffic flows, pedestrian safety and public transport reliability.
One aspect that is good is that they’re noting that PT trips now account for more than 50% of trips to/from the city in the peaks. Growing numbers of pedestrians and cyclists help boost the non-car mode share up even higher.
The area covered by the CCNO team is shown below with the black dots being signalised intersections.
Having a team focusing on the city centre should be a good thing but ultimately it will depend on what their priorities are. For example, the Downtown Mall has now closed and as part of the demolition that will soon be taking place the footpath along the northern side of Customs St has been closed off (as has the eastern side of Albert St). This means that pedestrians in this area only have the northern side of Albert St to use, which itself is often busy with people waiting for buses. It seems that this in order to maintain traffic flow more than anything else. This has already resulted in people walking along the traffic lanes to get to their destination rather than wait to cross multiple intersections.
One of the agenda items is what AT call the forward programme which gives an idea of what topics will be coming to the board and its committees in the future. Some of the interesting topics set for the next closed session of the AT board meeting (27 June) include:
- The North Shore Rapid Transit Network work that AT have been doing looking at the future of the rapid transit to the shore.
- An electric bus strategy
- Their future Parking platform which I’m guessing is related to the app we saw in the parking strategy video last week.