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Photo of the Day: Red III

Learning Your Stripes, 2013, Regan Gentry, Papatoetoe. Commissioned by Auckland Council

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Auckland Transport’s draft Statement of Intent for 2014-17

Every year Auckland Transport agree with the council a new Statement of Intent (SOI) with the council. It sets out their strategic approach, priorities and targets for the following three years. They are currently in the process of setting the SOI for the 2014-2017 period and there appear to be some quite concerning aspects in the documents - which are found in the various agenda items for the Council Controlled Organisations Governance and Monitoring Committee. My understanding of the process is that the Council send AT a letter of expectation outlining their key priorities, Auckland Transport are meant to incorporate that into a draft SOI which is then reviewed by council officers. The comments from them get responded to by AT and then goes to the council for a final decision.

Last year the biggest change to the SOI as the lowering of patronage targets, most notably for rail. It’s also something that backfired on them with the Ministry of Transport highlighting it their first review on the progress towards the CRL targets the government, suggesting it shows AT don’t believe rail can grow by the amount required.

So this year what do we see? The same thing is happening again with in some cases AT wanting to drop their targets for all PT modes. In the case of rail especially this is to almost absurd levels. For example in their current SOI their target is 11.4 million trips by the end of June 2014 (which they might meet if they keep growing they way they are) while by end of June 2015 they are expected to reach a total of just over 13 million. In their new draft SOI they want the rail target for 2014/15 lowered to just 12.1 million. The target seems way to low considering that:

  • We’re already going to be at ~11.1 million (as we hit 11 million before the end of March)
  • There’s 15 months to go before the end of June 2015
  • In that time electric trains are expected to roll out to the Onehunga Line, Manukau and Southern Lines

Here’s a graph to show how the rail SOI target has changed over the last few versions of the SOI and how we’re actually performing.

Draft 2014 SOI Rail Target

My guess is that we could potentially blow past the 13 million trip target and this isn’t something that should be changed. For the other modes there are similar outcomes. The targets proposed in the 2014/15 year go

  • Total patronage – 78.16 million -> 74.24 million
  • Busway (NEX) – 2.59 million -> 2.51 million
  • Other Bus – 56.63 million -> 53.70 million
  • Ferry – 5.90 million -> 5.94 million

So only the target for ferries goes up which is interesting in itself as they are the mode currently going backwards. Overall this seems like a cop out and the councillors shouldn’t accept this (especially no on the rail figures).

The issue of dropping patronage targets is something noted by the council officers and by Councillor Chris Darby in a memo he sent to other councillors which is also online.

Darby’s letter also highlights that many of the “Key Focus areas for 2014/15 for Auckland Transport” from the council’s letter of expectation are not simply not reflected on in the SOI. These include

  • A strategic review of public transport fares
  • Increased priority for pedestrians and cyclists, and improvement of walking and cycling facilities that improve access to public transport.
  • Identification of and reporting on the delivery of any improvements to the quality of urban design outcomes.
  • Effective management of hygiene factors in the public realm such as cleaning, mowing, and tree clipping.
  • Identifying surplus non-strategic properties for disposal in conjunction with ACPL

On the issue of cycling he notes that many of the timelines set for projects are quite at odds with the presentation AT gave the councils Infrastructure Committee just over a month ago on The Role of Cycling in Auckland. He highlights this in the following table

Draft 2014 SOI cycling issues

Lastly here’s the programme of works proposed in the SOI. Darby thinks that added to this should be planning and route protection for a North West busway along SH16, the Te Atatu bus interchange and the list of bus lanes that will be added. I agree with him.

1. Planning and route protection
1.1 Complete the Auckland Regional Land Transport Plan by June 2015
1.2 Undertake planning and route protection for major new transport initiatives, including:

  • City Rail Link.
  • South-Western Multimodal Airport Rapid Transit (SMART) network
  • Botany lo Manukau rapid transit network.
  • Mill Road corridor upgrade.
  • East-West Link (In conjunction with NZTA). including public consultation on the development and progression of a preferred option;
  • Penlink; and
  • Auckland-Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI).

2. New transport infrastructure
2.1 AMETI:
Complete investigation and design of

  • Package 4 ( Panmure Roundabout. Lagoon Drive, Additional Panmure Bridge. Busway to Pakuranga, New Pakuranga Bus Station and car parking facilities, and Reeves Road Flyover) by 2017.

Complete construction of:

  • Package I Phase 1 (Panmure interchange) in 2014:
  • Package 2 (Sylvia Park bus lanes) by 2016:
  • AMETI Package 4 enabling works including local road changes and major utility diversions

Commence construction of Reeves Road flyover (to be completed by 2019)

2.2 Introduce new electric trains into service.

2.3 Local road improvements associated with State highway upgrades, including:

Complete construction at:

  • Tiverton Road to Wolverton Street upgrade by 2014 (Culvert upgrade by 2016); and
  • Te Atatu Road corridor improvements by 2017.

Complete design and acquisition for:

  • Lincoln Road corridor improvements by 2017.

2.4 Major local road improvements (over $5m). Including:
Complete construction of:

  • Dominion Road corridor upgrade Including dedicated bus lanes, 12 kin of parallel cycle routes, and 3 village centre upgrades by 2017:
  • Albany Highway North upgrade by 2017;
  • Murphy’s Road bridge improvement by 2016;
  • Brigham Creek corridor upgrade by 2017; and
  • North Western transformation protect (NORSGA) for the Northside Drive East, Westgate Bus Interchange, and Hobsonville Point Park and Ride by 2017.

Complete land acquisition for:

  • North Western transformation project (NORSGA) for Hobsonville Road by 2017.

2.5 Public transport Infrastructure, Including:

Complete construction of the following projects by 2016

  • Otahuhu bus/rail interchange;
  • Manukau bus interchange;
  • Parnell Station:
  • Pukekohe Station. and
  • Silverdale park and ride facilities stage 2.

Complete land acquisition and, subject to that acquisition, complete construction of:

  • Fanshawe / Albert / Wellesley streets bus Infrastructure improvements by 2017,

2.6 Complete construction of road safety Improvements at high-risk areas on the road network, including:

  • Great South Road / Bell Avenue Intersection ($09m) by 2014:
  • Piha Road by 2017 ($0.8m):
  • Ngapipi Road / Tamaki Drive Intersection by 2017; and
  • Whitford Road I Sandstone Road ($0.9m) by 2014.

2.7 Complete the construction to upgrade ferry terminals at:

  • Downtown by 2017;
  • Devonport by 2017; and
  • Half Moon Bay by 2016.

2.8 Extend the regional cycleway network. including:

Complete construction of:

  • Beach Road cycleway by 2017:
  • Dominion Road parallel cycle routes by 2015:
  • Northcote, Waitemata, Mangere. Mt Roskill, and Point England sate cycleway routes by 2017;
  • Upper Harbour Drive cycleway by 2016; and
  • Waterview cycleway connection (in conjunction with NZTA) by 2017.

Complete scheme assessment and preliminary design of:

  • Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive cycleway by 2017.

Auckland’s missing pedestrian legs

A recently discussed on the blog, Auckland Council is making great strides in some of the more high profile City Centre Masterplan projects, with work recently starting on the O’Connell St and Upper Khartoum Place upgrades. However what I believe has been missing are much smaller scale interventions that can make things better for pedestrians. The Masterplan includes 9 outcomes, one of which is ‘A walkable and pedestrian-friendly city centre – well connected to its urban villages.’ This comes with 7 targets:

Target 1: More kilometres of pedestrian footpaths/walkways

Target 2: More kilometres of cycleways

Target 3: Reduction in pedestrian waiting times at intersections

Target 4: Reduction in use of left-turn slip lanes

Target 5: New mid-block pedestrian crossings

In this post I will focus on Target 3, reducing pedestrian wait times. While there are countless small interventions that are required, one obvious one I’ve noticed recently is the number of traffic lights that are missing pedestrian lights on one leg of the intersection. Coming across these while walking can be extremely frustrating, and if you are really unlucky have to wait for 4 or even 5 pedestrian lights, rather than making 1 simple crossing. One of the worst examples is the intersection of Halsey and Gaunt Street, where there is no crossing on the western leg.

halsey crossing

Intersection of Fanshawe and Halsey Streets

I recently timed how long it would take to cross what is only 30 metres direct. However one has to wait for 4 separate legs, not helped by the offset crossing on the eastern side where you cross Fanshawe Street. It took me over 4 minutes to cross here, which is just plain crazy. It is not like there are no potential pedestrians here, to the south east is Victoria Park and the Greenkeeper Cafe. Directly opposite is a major new office development under construction which will house the Fonterra headquarters in the first building, with more buildings planned. Clearly no one is going to bother heading to Victoria Park for their lunch break when 1/3 of the time is spent painfully crossing the road. Ideally people should be able to cross the road for their 10 minute morning coffee break if they want, not use it all up waiting!

However this example is far from unique, and I have mapped all the pedestrian crossings with missing legs below. Amazing there are 23 in the CBD alone! The three with green markers have had Barnes Dances added which has fixed the issue. So this could be a quick fix for some if the intersections with high pedestrian volumes. However Barnes Dances not desirable for all intersections, and they work best when they are double phased like on Queen St. So Auckland Transport really just need to bite the bullet and add pedestrian crossings to these missing legs. Of course these missing legs are even m0re prevalent outside the CBD, so these need to be worked on in other major pedestrian centers as well, could be a good job for local boards to get into as they have the ability to request Auckland Transport investigate matters like these.


View Missing Crossing Places in a larger map

If Auckland Council and Auckland Transport really want to get more people walking around our city and commuting to work, having walking stations set up around the city is not going to cut it. They need to get on with fixing these missing crossings, and make it easier for pedestrians to get around our city centre. 

Should Auckland Transport get out of the parking business?

This is a question that Councillor Chris Darby asked on Facebook last week:
chris-darbyIt is a valid question, especially considering the white elephant that has been the Ronwood Ave carpark in Manukau. But if we look a bit closer at the city centre, it seems like some pretty key sites – worth quite a lot of money – are wrapped up in parking. Let’s just look at the Downtown and Victoria Street carparks.

The Downtown carpark has nearly 1,900 spaces, occupies a prime site pretty much on the waterfront and is a key location in terms of linking together the city with the viaduct and Wynyard Quarter areas, as well as to the growing Victoria Quarter. The site has a capital value of $65 million, of which around half is the value of the land it occupies:

downtown-carparkThe Victoria Street carpark is about half the size (just under 900 spaces) and once again is located in a pretty prime spot in the city centre – right next to Albert Park and with a bit of elevation overlooking the Queen Street valley. It’s worth $45 million, of which just over $20 million is the value of the land itself.

victoria-st-carpark

I wonder what sort of rate of return the Council is getting on these pretty expensive assets. Looking at the pricing structure of parking in these buildings it seems as though prices are about the same (for early bird) or cheaper (for casual parking) than they were a decade ago. The Draft Annual Plan suggests a fairly modest $2.7 million profit from the entirety of the Council’s off-street parking business – on revenue of $28.6 million. While some expenditure will be on free parking areas in smaller centres, it does appear as though the rate of return on the city centre parking buildings (let alone the Ronwood Ave white elephant) is fairly dismal.

Councillor Darby seems keen to have the conversation around whether off-street parking buildings should be something Council (through Auckland Transport) gets involved in. Considering that in the city centre, owning parking buildings and probably subsidising the cost of parking (through the very low rate of return) goes against all policies to boost public transport use and unclog the city centre of cars, it’s a damn good conversation to have. Another one is whether Council should sell the buildings in their current use or redevelop them into something else themselves (as suggested for the Downtown carpark in the City Centre Master Plan).

Orakei Point development given approval

The long running battle to develop land at Orakei Point has finally come to an end with the plan change enabling the development finally operative. Bob Dey reports:

Plan change 260 for Orakei Point – now Orakei Bay Village – won its final approval to be made operative on Tuesday, completing an often acrimonious regulatory journey that began in 2006.

The plan change was originally sought from Auckland City Council by Tony Gapes (Redwood Group Ltd) to develop 5.9ha around the Orakei railway station, at the foot of Remuera, for an upmarket community of up to 1600 people.

Well placed Remuera locals fought the proposal and, in 2009, then-mayor John Banks took the masterplan to a community meeting, then made it a council-sponsored plan change. The plan change rezones 4.7ha to a site-specific mixed-use zone and the remaining 1.2ha to open space 2, enabling a masterplanned “seaside village”. Provisions were structured so the site would be developed as a comprehensive whole – except that, when it was publicly notified in January 2010, Mr Gapes didn’t control the whole site.

The new Auckland Council approved the plan change with conditions in April 2011, but 3 appellants took it to the Environment Court. The council’s Auckland development committee approved the plan change on Tuesday after the court resolved the appeals.

I’ve long thought that the site was ideal for development as it is fairly close to town with excellent amenities including of course an existing train station which will only become more and more useful and frequent with electrification and then the CRL. As part of the development, the railway lines and station will be capped. I’m sure Auckland Transport will work with the developers to make the station something special and unique. There is also to be space for a third track through the development.

Orakei Point - May 2013

In the report to the councils development committee it says.

The overall intention of the plan change is that a development lid be placed over the railway corridor at Orakei Point, and the covered area be utilised for roads, plazas, commercial and residential use with open space and walkways around the periphery. Key features of the notified plan change were:

  • provision of up to 84,000m2 gross floor area of mixed use development, comprising 64,000m2 of residential (about 700 apartments), a maximum of 10,000m2 each for retail and office activities, and a maximum of 1,750 parking spaces
  • maximum building heights, public open space areas, and special tree protection areas
  • assessment criteria particularly focused on high quality urban design, connections with public transport, open space and sustainability
  • a comprehensive package of development controls to limit the overall height and bulk of the built form to within defined envelopes, and to ensure specific features on the Master Plan are achieved
  • a staging table to secure certain public amenities and infrastructure prior to development of each precinct
  • four overlay plans applying development controls i.e. maximum heights, site intensity and staging, veranda cover, and traffic and pedestrian links, to the land.

Following on from the appeals and environment court action there have been some changes to the original decision by the council. They include:

  • a revised masterplan, with smaller buildings, a secondary road network added to the main link road, larger shared spaces and plazas, and increased veranda cover along key pedestrian connections
  • amended order of staging of the development precincts, bring forward a new railway station building and plaza in the first stage of development. These changes do not trigger the need for additional traffic and road improvements
  • a requirement to vest an esplanade reserve with a minimum depth of 20m in Council Item 10 Auckland Development Committee 11 March 2014
  • reverse sensitivity covenants, and new internal noise standards for buildings to mitigate the adverse effects of rail noise
  • greater protection for trees within the special tree protection areas by way of resource consent for works which will result in removal of more than 5% of the canopy of any tree, or the removal of three or more trees, or the significant adverse effects on three or more trees.

The developers have already been selling apartments and terraced houses based on the environment court decision, here are some of their marketing images of what the developments will look like.

Lots of cycling news

There’s been quite a bit of cycling news in the last few days (including during today) so this post is really a bit of a combination of a few of these.

The Role of Cycling in Auckland

You will recall on Tuesday my post on The Role of Cycling in Auckland. Yesterday the report was discussed by the Infrastructure Committee who also heard from Cycle Action Auckland and Generation Zero who also spoke on our behalf. My understanding is that most of the councillors on the committee were quite supportive and the herald published this part from Chris Darby

Committee deputy chairman Chris Darby, a cyclist, said other comparative cities around the world but particularly on the Pacific Rim were well ahead of Auckland in developing bikeways which raised public transport patronage by widening the catchment of buses, trains and ferries.

“We have been failing Auckland miserably – cycling is a badge of a smart city and we really need to have that badge on our lapel.”

The initial recommendations were also strengthened and ended being

That the Infrastructure Committee:
a) acknowledge the importance of cycling in contributing to the vision of creating the world’s most liveable city particularly through enabling Auckland Plan Transformational Shift #3, “Move to outstanding public transport within one network” and Auckland Plan Transformational Shift #4, “Radically improve the quality of urban living”
b) working with the Auckland Development Committee, support greater financial commitment within the Long-term Plan for cycleways, including the preparation of an integrated regional implementation strategy.
c) encourage Auckland Council and Auckland Transport to explore innovative trial projects in the near-term that increase safety and attract a wider range of people to cycling
d) request staff to review baseline data monitoring and its adequacy in understanding cycling and walking contribution to transport, and further to provide recommendations on key performance indicators (kpi’s) that may then be incorporated into the Auckland Transport Statement of Intent (SOI)
e) endorse that the committee Chair writes to the Chairman of Auckland Transport forwarding the report ‘Role of Cycling in Auckland’ and communicates the Infrastructure Committee decisions on the need for a significantly enhanced effort to improved cycling infrastructure in Auckland.

At the end of the day we it’s really up to the council to provide the funding needed for AT to implement more cycle facilities so this is a good outcome.

Skypath

Hidden in today’s Finance and Performance Committee agenda was a discussion on providing additional $175,000 in funding to help complete investigations for Skypath.

  • In December 2013, the council approved a way forward for the investigation of the SkyPath project, a walking and cycle pathway to be attached to the Auckland Harbour Bridge. ATEED’s Chief Executive is sponsoring the project for the council group. ATEED is seeking additional operating budget of $175,000 in the 2013/14 financial year for investigation work that cannot be undertaken with internal resources. Some of the costs to date have been covered by ATEED’s working capital, with an understanding that the entire cost would be funded by the council.
  • In regard to the additional funding sought, approximately $50,000 is allowed for specialist legal input in addition to the in-house legal services, which is required due to the somewhat unconventional nature of the SkyPath proposal.
  • The project team also intends to provide a grant of $85,000 the Auckland Harbour Bridge Pathway Trust, which is a contribution to the preparation cost associated with the reports and assessments that the trust will submit in its resource consent application to the council. These materials (e.g. traffic effect report and images) will be of interest and use to the public and the Auckland Council group in future investigation and consultation.
  • Last but not least, approximately $40,000 in consultancy charge is allowed for as ATEED’s share of the total cost of the patronage projection review. The project team engaged Angus & Associates Limited to undertake surveys and develop a model to assess the likely patronage profile for SkyPath over a 20-year period. This essential work has and will continue to help understand the revenue projections to manage the council’s risks in relation to the potential underwrite. The majority of this work was undertaken in the second half of 2013. However, further targeted work is necessary in the next few months to investigate the likely peak or daily usage to assist the council in understanding these effects on the surrounding network and areas.

I understand there was some fairly robust discussion and I’ve had it reported that George Wood was mischievously trying to mislead the committee. He seems to have a real problem with Skypath and perhaps he’s talking the same line the Northcote Residents Association use that cycling can only be provided over the harbour if an additional road crossing is built. The extra funding was approved 15-4 with George Wood, Dick Quax, Cameron Brewer and Sharon Stewart opposing it.

On the issue of the Northcote Residents Association, it appears they’re continuing to run misleading information themselves in their latest newsletter. There are a couple of major ones

The Draft Issues register – despite it appearing that the issues are all outstanding, I have heard that they have all been addressed as part of the process currently going on, many of which were done last year.

Questioning Patronage Numbers – this continues to be a line that the residents use despite the numbers having been produced and checked by independent consultants. I believe another round of work is going to be done do this again.

Parking – For some reason the residents seem to think that they own the public roads and have the sole right to them. This is simply not the case however I also understand that the one of the most likely options is a residents parking scheme similar to what exists in St Marys Bay and that would address the problems.

Additional Harbour Crossing – the residents like to claim that when an additional harbour crossing happens that it would free up a lane for pedestrians and cyclists on the bridge. However if it ever happens an additional road based crossing could be decades away and even then the NZTA have said Skypath will still be needed and will become a walking connection with any extra lanes freed up being for cycling (like in Sydney)

Greens Policy announcement

I posted this morning about the greens walking and cycling to school policy. Julie Anne Genter questioned Gerry Brownlee on it today in parliament. To be honest I can’t see many kids cycling alongside a RoNS to get to school. I’m also unaware of any cycling facilities being provided in many of the RoNS projects and in the case of Waterview, most of the cycling provision is only being done because the Board of Inquiry forced the NZTA to do so. Also have to love cry at the last answer.

AA on cycling

What a brilliant ad from the UK version of the AA. Also good to see the NZ AA supporting it too (although with a hi-vis mention)

The Role of Cycling in Auckland

The council’s Infrastructure Committee meets for the first time this year on Wednesday and one of the agenda items is the Role of Cycling in Auckland (or download the PDF version)

Executive Summary

  • Auckland’s population is forecast to grow significantly over the next 30 years. This highlights the need to provide greater transport choices to achieve a more resilient, efficient and reliable transport system.
  • As the cycle network is still under development the current cycle infrastructure in Auckland does not provide a connected network of cycle ways and ranges in quality from excellent to poor. Recent cycle counts and customer surveys highlight that even with current infrastructure constraints there is a steady increase (10 percent per annum) in cycle numbers and a demand for safer and connected cycleways.
  • Attachment A outlines Auckland Transport infrastructural projects that will deliver key sections of the Auckland Cycle Network (ACN) between 2014 and 2019.
  • The ACN shown in Attachment B, developed by Auckland Transport, is the long-term blueprint for developing a well-connected, high quality cycle network. The current level of investment in cycleways will fall short of the Auckland Plan target of completing 70 percent of the ACN by 2020.
  • Cycling and cycle infrastructure contributes to wider strategic objectives of the Auckland Plan associated with economic, social, environmental, land use, transport and infrastructure goals.
  • Cycling contributes to economic development and growth by supporting urban vitality, increasing local spend and offers value for money with relatively low upfront investment.
  • In the development of the draft Long-term Plan 2015-2025 and the Regional Land Transport Plan a number of strategic decisions will be required regarding allocation of road space and funding of cycleway programmes.

Recommendation/s

That the Infrastructure Committee:

  • acknowledge the importance of cycling in contributing to the vision of creating the world’s most liveable city.
  • support consideration of greater financial commitment to cycling in the draft Long-term Plan and Regional Land Transport Plan.

Ultimately this paper seems aimed at starting the discussion with the council to increase the level of funding for cycling projects in the next iteration of the Long Term Plan that the council is starting to work on. Later this year we will see a new government policy statement for transport which will set the funding bands for transport from 2015 onwards. It’s noted that the council, Auckland Transport and NZTA are all trying to get the government/ministry to increase the cycling band.

The discussion report provides a lot more information. A couple of things that stand out for me from it.

  • As noted above the Auckland Plan target is to complete 70% of the regional cycle network by 2020. It has been estimated that 30% is already place (although to a debatable standard) but crucially based on the funding in the current long term plan only 40-50% will have been completed by 2020. That’s way short of the target the council set less than two years ago. We can’t blame AT for all of this though as it is also important for the council to provide their share of the funding needed to do the work.
  • Some numbers show just how much opportunity there is for cycling, 2/3rds of all trips are less than 6km while 1/3rd are less than 2km. Those are easy cycling distances and even casual cyclists could do those distances in roughly 20 or 6 minutes respectively.
  • As we’ve reported before, AT has split the proposed cycle network up in to three categories
    • METRO – provide segregation from traffic along shared paths, off road routes and protected cycle lanes
    • CONNECTOR – are not fully segregated routes and are the more traditional cycle lanes marked by painted lines
    • FEEDER can be a mixture of segregation, shared paths and on-road routes but are located on quiet neighbourhood streets and where there are low traffic speeds. These routes link residential streets, parks and community facilities including schools. The Feeder network also aligns with Local Board Greenway proposals
  • All up the proposed cycle network will be 293km in length which can be broken down to 95 km of cycle metros, 130 km of cycle connectors and 57 km of feeder routes
  • In research done for Auckland Transport, 59% said safety was a barrier to them cycling, 79% agreed that more should be done to improve cycle safety and 55% said separated cycle facilities were a key priority.

The paper also provides some statistics that could be improved through getting more people cycling. This includes:

  • Transport emissions are up 64% on 1990 levels and the social cost of poor air quality in Auckland was estimated in 2012 at $1.07 billion per year.
  • The costs of physical inactivity in Auckland have been estimated at $402 million and cause 73 premature deaths per year.
  • That if just 5% of adults travelling less than 7km switched from driving to cycling it would:
    • Reduced vehicle travel by 223 million kilometres;
    • Saving of 22 million litres of fuel and $37 million in fuel costs; and
    • 50,000 tonnes less CO2 would be emitted and reductions in other pollutants.

Those are some pretty decent numbers.

Perhaps one of the most interesting things about this report to the council is that we get probably the clearest map yet of the total cycling network planned under the Metro, Connector and Feeder categories (there have been versions in plans like the ITP but they haven’t been easy to read). Remember the hierarchy is that the red lines are going to be the best and highest quality parts of the network,

Proposed Auckalnd Cycling Network

A couple of things stand out here. First in the CBD it appears we’ll get a ring of separated cycleways around the CBD – including on Neslon St and the old Nelson St offramp – however we won’t get one through it. I would have thought that the Victoria St Linear Park would have had a separated cycleway along it. Also not sure why AT wouldn’t push for there to eventually be a full separated cycleway down Queen St now appears well over provisioned in road space for cars.

Moving out of the CBD some areas seem to be quite light on particularity feeder routes. This is a worry as many of the areas missing these feeder routes are also around current or future train or busway stations. One example is my local area (below) where no cycle routes are to be found connecting the station and local primary schools (green plus a heap of secondary schools just north of this image too). There are roughly 14,000 residents in this area along with some wide roads that would be easy to put cycle lanes on if on-street parking was removed (on-street parking only really seems to get used around the school start/end times anyway). Also note the Metro route in red isn’t practical for those mainly to the west of Sturges Rd.

Sturges Lace of Cycling 1

Overall the long term cycle network is a damn sight better than what we have now but what we really need is for the council (and government) to support the construction of it. Something that will need to be pushed for in the long term plan discussions.

Skypath Passed (and how it will connect)

As I’m sure you will all know by now, Skypath was discussed today at the councils Governing Body meeting. In the public part of the meeting there were talks from the:

  • two concerned Residents Associations along with the Westhaven Marina Users Association
  • Skypath Trust and Cycle Action Auckland  (thanks Ben for the shout-out)
  • Waitemata and Kaipātiki Local Boards whose areas are connected by the project

As expected the first group spoke in opposition while the rest spoke in support. There was also a presentation of the report talked about in the earlier post by council officers. There wasn’t really much discussion at all by the councillors of any of the presentations as most of that would have happened in the closed session where financial details were also being discussed.

The great news is I’ve just heard that in the closed session the council voted to move the project to the next phase meaning the council officers can work towards a formal agreement with the Skypath trust and their backers.

During the open session the Skypath Trust also showed this presentation which includes some new images of what the landings at each end are expected to look like.

Westhaven Marina

As you can see below the Skypath will double back on itself and then head under the bridge exiting on to Curran St. Presumably this negates the issues with Westhaven Marina as walkers or cyclists would be using Curran St just like people do today. They also said they are working with artists and designers to come up with an interesting gateway for access to the path. In the bottom left image you can see a large pole sticking up, that will be carved by local artists.

Skypath Landing - WesthavenNorthcote Point

At Northcote the path does something similar, doubling back on itself which I assume keeps it within the motorway designation

Skypath Landing - Northcote Point

The presentation has a lot more images of what the Skypath might eventually look like including some lighting options.

Paying for a Mission Bay Streetscape Upgrade

Tomorrow is already going to be a fairly big day at council. Councillors will debate the much needed Skypath, the error ridden Annual Plan and of course plenty of discussion about Len Brown. However there is yet another topic on the agenda that I think needs some attention. It relates to Mission Bay footpaths and in a “planets must be oddly aligned” type of situation, it even sees me agreeing with the Orakei Local Board.

At the heart of the matter is the streetscape. The local business association have realised that the footpaths outside of the business areas are not ideal, both in width and finish and want them upgraded. Apparently they first asked for this back in 2007. In terms of width, part of the problem comes from the businesses that use the footpaths for outdoor dining. That helps activate the street and make it more interesting but narrows space for pedestrians to get past. As more and more people visit Mission bay this issue is likely to get worse. As you can see from these images courtesy of oh.yes.melbourne there is only really enough width for about three people between the kerb and tables.

The business association want to fix this so the proposal is to:

  • Replace the existing asphalt footpaths with stone in areas A, B and C as shown in the map below
  • Extend the footpath out over the carparks on section D which is between 81 and 97 Tamaki Dr. It would be done by one of three options (more on this soon).

Mission Bay Footpath upgrade proposal

Yes you read that correctly, a local business association and the local board are supporting that carparks be removed outside of their shops so that there is more space can be created pedestrians. Considering how hard some of the other business groups fight to retain parking this is a very positive step. As mentioned  there are three different options for section D that have been suggested which range from shifting the existing kerb out and changing adjusting the cross fall of the footpath through to a parklet type solution.

Mission Bay Footpath extension options

It all sounds pretty good to me but I hear you asking how much will it cost? Well the cost over 10 years including capital costs, interest costs and operating costs (above a normal footpath) for the most expensive option (Option 1) is just over $1 million. Based on other comments it seems Option 1 is the preferred one.

Mission Bay Footpath costs

$1 million is not exactly break the bank type spending considering how much we can put into other transport projects but that doesn’t mean money grows on trees and is just lying around waiting to be spent. Also I’m sure there are a heap of other local centres that would love that kind of money to be spent on them and so working out priorities is probably quite difficult. However the business association have a way around that too and are proposing that businesses in the area be charged a targeted rate to pay for the upgrade. This seems like one of those win, win, win type deals with the potential benefits being listed as:

  • a wider and more attractive public streetscape for the large and increasing number of domestic and international tourist that visit the area
  • an enhanced setting for hosting regional events along Tamaki Drive
  • enhanced economic development opportunities for local businesses in the area
  • an improved town centre for local residents, at no extra cost to residential and other business ratepayers within the Orakei Local Board area.

It all sounds good but there’s a problem. Council Officers don’t like the idea because it seems they don’t want to go through the process of doing formal consultation and setting up a targeted rate. They say that targeted rates are usually charged to businesses improvement districts (BID) but due to much of the land in Mission Bay being owned by the same company, the business association doesn’t qualify as a (BID). They also say that Retail Holdings Ltd – the main land owner in Mission bay and the primary beneficiary of the upgrade – can easily afford the upgrade on their own right and so should just talk to Auckland Transport directly.  The council officers say that the businesses are just trying to use the council as a new source of capital. That might very well be true but at the end of the day this is about upgrading a publicly owned footpath and business association should really be treated in the same way as they would should each building be owned separately. A targeted rate in this instance seems fairly appropriate.

The Orakei local board have ignored the recommendation not to support the targeted rate and so are now asking the governing body to add the rate to the 2014/15 annual plan. They have even noted that Retail Holdings Ltd have agreed not to pass on the targeted rate to their tenants. 

As mentioned, to me the project looks like a win, win win type deal. The footpath would be upgraded and widened by removing car parks while the businesses are putting their hands up to pay for it as they obviously see the value of the idea. The council should approve the targeted rate and get the upgrade done now, before the businesses change their mind.

Strange Numbers in the 2014/15 Annual Plan

As well as discussing SkyPath (and the Mayor’s recent dramas), tomorrow’s meeting of the Council’s Governing Body is also set to work through the 2014/15 Draft Annual Plan and adopt the Draft for consultation. There are a few unresolved matters in the Annual Plan discussions – particularly reference to an $18 million operational funding shortfall for Auckland Transport that is described below:

Officers reported to the 21 November 2013 Budget Committee meeting on Auckland Transport’s request for an additional $18 million of operational funding relative to the 2014/2015 projections in their Statement of Intent.  Since then, discussions have been held with Auckland Transport to address their funding shortfall.  It has been agreed that further scrutiny of Auckland Transport’s operating expenditure budgets is required.  A joint group of officers will undertake this review over the next few months. Auckland Transport are also reviewing the shortfall in parking revenue where current charges appear to be below market.

This is a pretty massive request for additional funding – one which was previously rebuffed by the Mayor when he originally proposed the budget a few weeks back. Given that Auckland Transport slashed the price of its off-street parking rates in the city centre in recent times, it’s no wonder that has been identified as an area that could raise additional revenue. This should have an additional benefits too, for example there are times when I have needed to drive to town for a meeting (shock horror) only to find the car parking buildings full which indicates that the pricing is probably set too low. The buildings being full are also something you can’t tell before you enter as the parking info system seems about as reliable as the bus real time system.

It would also be nice to start to see some of the efficiencies from rail electrification and integrated ticketing (you know, how we don’t need 4 staff on every train to clip tickets any more) actually filtering through as well. Both should also help to increase patronage and therefore revenue too, especially once people start to see and experience the new trains. Patrick and I were lucky enough to get a trip on one of them last night and the quietness and quality of them is going to blow people away. Let’s just hope the last thing cut in any budget shortfall is public transport services.

Returning to the parking issue, if we look a bit closer at the number in the Annual Plan, it does seem like an extraordinary amount of operational expenditure is going into off-street parking in the 2014/15 Annual Plan:

parking-opex-capex

What the table above shows is that on-street parking and enforcement is a pretty profitable activity: $62.4 million of income and only just over $10 million of expenditure. Yet off-street parking seems to be an absolutely enormous drain on resources with a crazy $133 million of operating expenditure and only $28.6 million of income. Something tells me this has to be either an error or some strange accounting trick that has led to such a giant number – one that’s way higher than in the 2013/14 Annual Plan.

Regardless of what’s led to a requirement of $105 million net subsidy of off-street parking being required, it appears that this is having a huge impact on Auckland Transport’s budgets. Off-street parking should be a profitable activity for Auckland Transport – particularly as many of the central city buildings use up some pretty prime real estate that could otherwise be put to a much better purpose. Removing the $105 million net subsidy to off-street parking would not only eliminate the budget shortfall, it would free up a huge amount of additional operational funding that could go to more worthy areas like improving public transport services, footpath quality and so on.

The other numbers in the Draft Annual Plan that caught my attention related to the level of public transport service expenditure by mode:

pt-services-fundingPresumably, the expenditure on buses and ferries have just been mixed up – it’s hard to imagine how you could have $160 million of operating cost for the ferry network and have buses being so incredibly profitable. It is a bit worrying though to see official documents like the Draft Annual Plan making pretty basic errors when it relates to levels of expenditure up to $100 million.

Finally, pages 188-197 of the Draft Annual Plan report outlines the capital expenditure programme for the 2014/15 year. Below is a list of some of the more interesting projects proposed for capital expenditure in that year:

capex-interesting-projectsThere are still a few key gaps where projects will be required to deliver the new public transport network (Te Atatu interchange, Wellesley Street bus improvements are two that come to mind) which aren’t funded to any great degree in the 2014/15 Annual Plan. Whether this puts the new network’s delivery at risk perhaps depends on the timing of when different parts of the network are rolled out. Generally the capital programme for 2014/15 looks pretty good though – particularly exciting to see the next generation of city centre projects finally coming through.