Next stage of Beach Rd Cycleway underway

Auckland Transport yesterday started the second stage of the Beach Rd cycleway which when finished should finally help to make the first stage as well as the Grafton Gully cycleway useful.

Beach Rd Stage 2 render Waldorf

The Beach Road walking and cycling project begins its second and final stage on 30 March, continuing the transformation of a key link into the city centre.

Auckland Council and Auckland Transport (AT) are making it safer, easier and more enjoyable to walk and cycle on Beach Road, upgrading the northern side of Beach Road, between Mahuhu Crescent and Britomart Place.

Part of Auckland Council’s City Centre Masterplan (2012) this jointly funded project will transform the look and feel of the street through use of high quality paving, feature lighting and planting of native coastal species an echo of the area’s rich cultural past as well as a reference to Auckland’s original foreshore.

The works will extend stage one of the Beach Road cycleway, successfully completed in September 2014, connecting to the pedestrian laneway network in Fort Street and with the shared walking and cycling path on Quay Street. The route will be a mix of separated cycleway and sections of shared path around intersections, with paving designs and cycle symbols helping to separate pedestrians from cyclists.

Auckland Transport’s Walking and Cycling Manager, Kathryn King, says: “By linking with the Grafton Gully and north-western cycleways, the completed Beach Road cycleway creates a continuous, safe and convenient route for people to access the city centre by bike.”

Ludo Campbell-Reid, General Manager of Auckland Council’s Auckland Design Office, says this project is one of a range of cycle route projects that are making Auckland city centre a far more attractive place in which to walk and cycle.

“We are creating city spaces in which people want to spend time shopping, dining and relaxing.” he says.

“Beach Road’s upgrade includes innovative features such as small pocket parks and information plaques, and special stormwater rain gardens located at the junction of Beach Road and Tangihua Street to help filter out pollutants in the stormwater before it flows to the sea.

“Coastal plants will reflect the location’s history as a beach and the large attractive London Plane trees will be uplit at night as a stunning feature.”

Of the $3.5 million project cost, $1.5 million is funded through the City Centre Targeted Rate, a special rate that all city businesses pay to fund improvements to streets, parks and plazas. This is administered by the Auckland City Centre Advisory Board, which is made up of community and business representatives.

“Innovative, smart and progressive cities around the world are finding that having safely designed and well-connected cycle routes passing through their areas brings great economic benefits to businesses as well as demonstrable health benefits to the cyclists” Mr Campbell-Reid says.

The upgrade aims to:

  • encourage an increase in walking and cycling within the area.
  • increase safety and the perception of safety for people walking and cycling.
  • expand the Auckland Cycle Network and provide connected, continuous routes.
  • incorporate place making into the design.
  • create an attractive and distinctive street and public space.
  • Works completion is expected by early July.

Power infrastructure company Vector will undertake works within the same area, to future-proof underground cabling so that the footpath does not require digging up again at a later date.

Beach Rd Cycleway StageTwo Overall Plan

I’m looking forward to having this part finished along with hopefully soon the other city centre priority projects.

City Centre Priority routes

February 2015 Patronage

We’d already heard about the spectacular rail patronage results of passing 13 million trips, an increase of 1 million in just 5 months. Now we’ve got the full patronage information for February and it’s looking good.

2015-02 - Patronage Table

One of the aspects I noticed in the table above is the Western line appears to have dropped however AT say that is just because of the timing of events last year and so if removing special event tickets from the numbers of each year shows patronage growth for the month of 9.8%.

One impressive aspect about the rail growth is that the total patronage in February was higher than any single month last year despite being only 28 days and including a public holiday. Only one month – October 2011 which was the peak thank to the RWC – has higher and the difference is only around 2,000 trips.

The total patronage growth is shown below.

2014-02 - AKL - Total Patronage

Other than the rail results it’s also pleasing to see buses growing so strongly. The Northern Express (NEX) is obviously still up strongly but other buses which carry the bulk of patronage are increasing too. For the 12 months to the end of Feb patronage was 7.6% (around 4 million trips) compared to the same time last year.

2014-02 - AKL - Bus Patronage

With results so strong I’m really looking forward to seeing just how big the numbers are for March. Given what I’ve been seeing and hearing about how full trains, buses and ferries are the results could be absolutely massive. Of course we’ve also been hearing a lot about buses and trains being so full that it’s putting people off using them, especially on the rail network where issues and delays have become an almost daily occurrence.

On issues, this is showing through in the train punctuality stats which have shown a decline in recent months and it can also in part be attributed to services being too full increasing dwell times. I suspect the 78% the western line managed to achieve could go much lower in March.

2014-02 - AKL - Train Performance

We also have Wellington’s patronage results for Feb which have remained flat. The monthly figures for buses and trains were down 0.2% and up 0.1% respectively. Due to growth over the last year they were both up on the 12 month figure though.

2014-02 - WLG - Total Patronage

West Auckland and Pukekohe/Waiuku New Network Consultation Outcome

Reports to the Auckland Transport board next week gives the outcome of the West Auckland and Pukekohe/Waiuku new network consultations that occurred last year.

West Auckland

In total AT say they had 1242 submissions on the network with an equal number (41% each) supporting and opposing the changes with the rest neutral. Given the changes that have been made as a result of the feedback AT expect the number of people who opposed the change will reduce.

New Network West Support

Before going into the feedback it must be remembered that the network was essentially compromised by the delaying of bus interchanges at Lincoln Rd and Te Atatu Rd. That meant that instead of being able to implement the new network as originally envisioned an interim network was needed which retained a higher number of low frequency services as shown below.

West Auckland With and Without Interchanges

Some of the notable demographics of submitters include

  • 60% of submitters are women which is not too dissimilar to the break down we saw in the Census data.
  • 58% of submitters are over 40 years old. Young people who tend to be the majority of PT users are very under represented with just 18% of submissions coming from those less than 30.
  • Perhaps aligned with the age numbers, 59% of submitters work while only 13% of submitters are students.
  • Of all submitters only 115 said they don’t currently use PT.

In total AT say they have made changes to 11 of the 24 routes originally proposed and that will mean it does cost more to run the network. These extra costs would not likely have been needed if the two interchanges were in place which once again highlights that having the right PT infrastructure can help save on operational costs. The 11 changes are below

New Network West Changes

And the map below shows what the official network will look like.

New Network West Post Consultation Map

And for the rural services these are the maps. AT said “Extending rail services past Swanson was outside the scope of this consultation and is not currently being investigated”

New Network West Post Consultation Map - rural

The report also mentions there was a lot of support for the development of the Northwest busway with 65% of people supporting or strongly supporting it and only 12% who opposed or strongly opposed it.

New Network West NW Busway

Pukekohe/Waiuku

There seems to have been much stronger support for the changes in Pukekohe and Waiuku. All up there were 939 submissions of which 643 discussed the Pukekohe changes and 542 discussed the Waiuku changes. Of those there was respectively a 90% and 95% level of support.

New Network Puke-Waiuku Support

There has been one change made to the Pukekohe network and of the three options originally presented, option 1 has been chosen and a modified version of option 3 will also be run.

New Network Pukekohe Post Consultation Map

 

New Network Waiuku Post Consultation Map

I understand we should see the next area for consultation in a few months.

CRL Design Showcase

Auckland Transport have announced a “Design Showcase” for the three new or improved stations that will be delivered as part of the CRL as well as the public areas surrounding them.

CRL Design Showcase poster

A design showcase for the City Rail Link’s three new stations and their adjacent public spaces will give Aucklanders a peek into the future.

The CRL, which starts construction late this year, will re‐shape the city by bringing Britomart, Aotea and Karangahape Road within three to six minutes of each other and Mt Eden within nine.

Each station, new ones at Aotea and Karangahape and a redeveloped Mt Eden, has been designed in partnership with Mana whenua, who shared their considerable knowledge of the local areas to provide a unique look and feel.

“We think people will be excited when they see these new spaces and what they’ll do for the city,” says Chris Meale, CRL Project Director. “Together they represent the city’s most significant place shaping opportunity in the next decade.”

“Visitors to the design showcase in mid‐April will also find out how the first stage of construction will roll out later this year.”

Auckland’s population is expected to grow by 700,000 in the next 30 years with the CRL considered vital to meet the city’s traffic needs by 2040.

It will double the number of people within 30 minutes of the city, reducing the time and increasing the frequency of most trips, while allowing for more connections between rail, ferry, bus services.

“Auckland’s CBD is the heart of the city’s economy with up to 16,000 employees per square kilometer, accounting for 34 percent of jobs in New Zealand and 37 percent of the country’s GDP,” says Meale.

“Improved access to the city centre is the key to Auckland’s economic growth.” The design showcase is being held in an AT Bus by the No.1 Café in QE11 Square, 10am to 4pm daily from Sat 11 to Wed 15 April.

For more information on the CRL visit: www.cityraillink.co.nz and www.facebook.com/cityraillink

It should be interesting to see what they have planned, however seeing it’s on a bus I also hope they’ll roll it out to show other parts of the region. This is because one of the major issues I continue to have is the reoccurring focus on what the project does for the central city and not the massive benefits it also provides to other parts of the region.

Why are trains failing so much?

With March Madness in full swing it seems that Auckland Transport and Transdev have taken a new approach to dealing with the high demand, driving customers away through rubbish performance.

Train users from across the region – but it seems particularly West Auckland – have been suffering after what feels like daily issues that are putting even more pressure on already stretched services. People can accept one or two issues but when they become an almost daily occurrence the only result will be less people using trains.

Here are a just couple of examples from the last week or so of what we’ve seen happening from AT’s text message service. It is by no means an exhaustive list of issues that have occurred and is only on the western line. There have also been issues on other lines too (the am times are based on services at my local station – Sturges Rd, pm times based on Britomart).

13 March

7:43am train running at reduced seating capacity – a later text states it was full from Avondale

5:36pm train running at reduced capacity

16 March

4:36pm train delayed 10 minutes due to an earlier train fault

5:06 train delayed 20 minutes due to an earlier train fault

5:36 train delayed 15 minutes due to an earlier train fault

5:50 train delayed 25 minutes due to an earlier train fault

17 March

4:36pm train cancelled from Kingsland due to a train fault

4:50pm train delayed 10 minutes due to an earlier train fault

19 March

6:59am train cancelled due to vandalism

5:20pm train running at reduced seating capacity

20 March

7:43am train delayed 10 minutes due to a train crew matter

5:50pm train delayed by 10 minutes due to an earlier train fault

23 March

7:43am train cancelled due to an earlier train fault

The reason these are so bad particularly on the western line is any cancelled train means the next train is at least 15 minutes away. Depending on what station you use that might be only the delay as trains that have been so full thanks to the surge in patronage mean that following services simply can’t cope. As such people from inner stations have been unable to even get on some trains meaning potentially they could be experiencing a 45 minute or longer wait. Even if you’re lucky enough to get on a train in these situations it is going to be a cramped affair.

Of course this wouldn’t be quite so bad if frequency was every 10 minutes like first promised for the western line in 2010 but AT have managed to find a constant stream of excuses as to why it can’t happen.

So what’s causing these delays and cancellations? My understanding – although I’m happy to be corrected by AT and/or Transdev is that it’s a combination of few things. Maintenance is understandably being reduced on the aging diesel trains ahead of the roll out of the electrics that is leading to more of them failing. They also are extremely stretched with their staff numbers and don’t really have enough drivers to run the timetable properly.

At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what the reasons are for the delays, what’s clear is that all those involved need to get this issue addressed extremely quickly otherwise the great patronage gains that we’ve seen in the last 1½ years will plateau again or even fall away. This is because the two most important aspects of any PT service regardless of mode or what city it is in are always frequency and reliability

Franklin Rd update

Last year Auckland Transport started consultation on improvements to the iconic Franklin Rd that is in some serious need of improvement – in part due to the damage caused by the roots of the trees that give it its character.

Franklin_Road_Credit_Craig_Flickr_stream_10240761194_c0e14a455e_o

Photo: Craig

 

Back in October AT presented two different options for the street and one aspect that was common among them was to push the kerb out past the trees to better protect their roots however that caused its own issues. The two options are below

Franklin Rd Original Options

Like many others we felt there were a number of issues with both of these designs and that AT could do much better.

AT have now released the results of the feedback they received which falls under 12 key issues.

Cycling – There was significant support for cycling facilities – 18% of responses raised cycling as an issue, 6% of those questioned the need for cycling facilities.

Pedestrians – Catering for pedestrians was a significant issue, with the safety of pedestrians a key focus.

Speed – Reducing the posted speed limit was suggested by a number of people with either 30kph or 40kph suggested. The speed limit on Ponsonby Road has been lowered to 40kph and is perceived to be working well.

Parking – Retention of parking between the trees was supported by the majority of people.

Carriageway configuration – Carriageway configuration includes the cross-section, or how the road looks from one side to the other. Key themes were:

  • Retaining parking between the trees.
  • Ensuring safety.
  • Suggestions for alternative configurations.

Options presented in November 2014 were considered to create safety issues.

Detailed design/services – Comments relating to the detailed design of the final option included:

  • Improvements to the road surface to reduce noise.
  • Undergrounding the power.
  • Ensuring raising the pavement (if this is the design) does not increase runoff into adjacent properties.

Flush median – There was significant support to maintain the flush median, primarily for safety reasons.

Trees – The London Plane trees are recognised as being iconic and important to protect and retain. Experience from overseas was also provided to demonstrate the resilience of the trees

Footpath/berm – Most people preferred low growing native plants. Other suggestions included:

  • community garden,
  • fruit trees,
  • flowers

Intersections – Safety at intersections was raised, in particular the Wellington Street intersection.

Ensuring safe traffic flow through Franklin Road is critical. At peak times bottlenecks are experienced:

  • turning right from Wellington Street onto Franklin Road,
  • turning from Scotland Street onto College Hill,
  • the Victoria Park New World where the reduction of road width (due to entry / exit barriers) prevents cars moving to the left for turning into side streets or Victoria Street West.

Franklin Road residents suggested a roundabout or traffic lights for the Wellington Street and Franklin Road intersection. It was decided that traffic lights could increase street noise for local residents and impede traffic flow, so options for a roundabout needs further exploration.

Streetscape – The visual appearance, symmetry and iconic views of the wide street are valued by many. Both original options were considered to narrow the view corridor and diminish the “beautiful and wide boulevard that has become so iconic in Auckland”.

There’s also a desire to consider street furniture such as rubbish bins and seating.

New World entry – While not a road intersection, the entry to New World was raised as a safety issue.

Following the feedback and further technical assessments AT have come up with two revised options that they are progressing. The biggest change is that AT are looking at keeping parking between the trees – although presumably on a more controlled basis than currently exists so as to achieve the aim of protecting the roots. Both options also now contain a flush median.

In the first option there are painted cycle lanes on each side leaving the footpaths for people.

Franklin Road revised plan option A birds eye view

Franklin Road revised plan option A cross section

In the second option parking on the downhill side is pushed further out and the cycle lane is raised above the road. For uphill, riders share the foothpath with pedestrians.

Franklin Road revised plan option B birds eye view

Franklin Road revised plan option B cross section

The key issue with both options remains that any on road cycle facility would exist outside of parking which will always lead to concerns. In other locations I’d probably be more critical of AT for this but given trees can’t be moved – and removing any more parking than currently planned would start a local revolt – it’s probably the best we can hope for. It’s worth noting that these plans result in the removal about 40% of the current parking on the street. As such AT will include Franklin Rd in the Freemans Bay residents parking scheme which will be rolled out later this year.

Overall it seems AT have improved the design however a combination of the two still seems like the best outcome. By retaining the recessed parking on both sides like in option 1 and probably narrowing the median a little then they could have that downhill Copenhagen lane replicated uphill.

AT have also given an update about the intersection Wellington St. They say that traffic lights wouldn’t work as they would be too obscured by the trees until drivers were too close to the intersection. Instead they say they think they can fit in a roundabout which is shown in the image below. They do say there’s much more work to do to improve it for walkers and cyclists but that they think it’s possible.

Franklin Road proposed roundabout

Overall it seems like there are a few good improvements but that there are also a few more to go.

A Boy in the City

*** Here at TransportBlog we’re big advocates for making Auckland more “family friendly”. In general, this means designing our city to be safe and pleasant for the most vulnerable people: Children. While many parts of Auckland are a long way from idal, the City Centre has – in my opinion – come a long way over the last 10-15 years, I’m struck by the number of families and children I now see wandering around enjoying all that the city has to offer. This post documents the experiences of one such family. Edward and his family have lived in an apartment in the City Centre for almost a decade. This post provides a glimpse into their experiences, warts and all. We hope it encourages decision-makers (elected representatives and public servants) to continue to “family proof” Auckland, while also encouraging more families to consider living in the City Centre. As Edward notes, there are some significant upsides to living in an apartment. Less time spent maintaining property and/or travelling = more time spent with loved ones. ***

My name is Edward and this is a photo of my son eating a Popsicle while watching cricket on a large screen down at Britomart.

watching the cricket at Britomart

My son has spent all of his seven years living in an apartment in central Auckland. He goes to the only primary school in the city centre.

We are not particularly well served with playgrounds where we live. Until recently the closest playgrounds were Victoria Park (which he doesn’t rate highly – the equipment looks good but doesn’t offer good climbing challenges); Wynyard Quarter (which is fun because there are a lot of other kids playing here on the weekends); and Gladstone Park (opposite the Parnell Rose Gardens, which is a hidden gem with long slides and climbing apparatus).

The newly upgraded playground in Myers Park is a great addition to the city centre. Last time we visited there were about 40 people of all ages using the playground, with the large swing especially thrilling for children of my son’s age. The primary issue with Myers Park is the poor pedestrian connections to Aotea Square, which makes it less easy and safe to get to the park from that direction.

Living in the City Centre has encouraged us to to improvise. We wade through every water feature we can find, climb a lot of the pohutukawa trees, and play on the steps of buildings. Indeed, it’s almost as it the city is his playground. The photo below shows us enjoying Auckland Anniversary activities on Queen Street.

Auckland Aniversary activities on Queen St

Cycling is particularly important to us: It allows us to roam further afield and unlock more places to explore and play. From our apartment we can easily reach the Parnell Baths and Pt Erin Pools within 20 to 30 minutes away along mostly flat routes with only about five road crossings to tackle. We take cycle paths when they are available but we will bike on footpaths, parks, squares and shared spaces to get where we are going.As a parent, however, I’m aware of how the design of our streets creates unsafe situations for children.

Britomart Farmers Market

Pt Erin pools

The city centre is alive in the weekends and we try to make the most of it. But when we need quiet time it is easy to retire to our apartment and shut out the noise.

There are so many activities for him to do. Every year we go to the Diwali, Lantern and buskers festivals. During the Lantern Festival we ate dinner in Albert Park and walked home in 10 minutes, with none of the stress and hassle involved in driving through traffic and having to park miles away. In December we walked to the Domain to Christmas in the Park.

We have been spoilt over the last few years and now the idea of driving somewhere and searching for a car park when we get there seems like too much hard work, so we try to avoid it if we can. When we feel like an excursion we tend to take the ferry to Devonport or a bus to Takapuna. On a recent weekend we took the ferry to Waiheke, which simply involves a 5 minute walk to the Downtown ferry terminal.

Winter activities are a bit scarcer. We swim at the Tepid Baths or the Newmarket Pool (after mid-day when the smaller pool is released from lesson duties), visit the Art Gallery or  library, and attending the great Pick & Mix activities at the Aotea Centre on Saturday mornings. The Britomart farmers market on Saturday morning at Tukatai Square also has a great hum and there are always other children there. I’m interested to know whether they also live in apartments nearby or whether they are simply visiting.

The primary thing the city lacks is other children.

He is the only child in our apartment building. Pregnancies begun and babies have appeared but they have all disappeared into the suburbs within a short time. Children come into the city whenever there are events on or to visit Wynyard Quarter but we don’t see regular faces on a day-to day basis. The birthday parties he attends are all in the suburbs, as is his sport and extra activities he has participated in. Cricket at Victoria Park would be the closest organized sport he could attend or tennis at Parnell (the closest tennis club at Stanley St doesn’t have a children’s holiday programme).

I think his life will be more interesting if he had friends living nearby. I understand the Pioneer Women’s and Ellen Melville Hall on Freyberg Place will provide a space for children’s activities soon. I hope so. We will support it if it does. The recent closure of Quay Street was a fun opportunity for us to explore a place that is usually hostile to families.

Cycling around on a closed Quay St 2

Some people are unsure how to treat kids in the City. Security guards tell him to stop playing on steps because he could fall and hurt himself. Adults tell him to walk on the edges of shared spaces because a car might drive down it.

Apartment living has many aspects we like. We can lock up and go away for the weekend without too much effort. We don’t have to spend time commuting or maintaining our property. We are lucky that we have a lot of friendly people in our building willing to give my son some attention. I know more of my neighbours than I ever did when living in the suburbs. The city centre has most shops we need. I do need to get in a car if we want things from a hardware shop.

Living in an apartment means I spend a lot of time with my son, which I see as a good thing. But it is not just the quantity of time we spend together, but also the quality of time – both of us enjoy the interesting things on our doorstep together, with little to no stress involved. Living in a smaller space encourages us to get outside more and experience the spontaneous entertainment one often encounters in the city.

It is different from my childhood in Hawkes Bay and I am constantly looking for signs of deprivation, but so far I haven’t found any.

Carlton Gore improvements confirmed

Nearly a year ago Auckland Transport announced plans to put cycle lanes on Carlton Gore Rd – something that created a typical backlash from locals in the area who felt they deserved a free piece of public space to store their personal possessions. Ten months later and AT have announced the results of their consultation as well as the changes in design that they’ve made. They also have said that construction will start in just two weeks on April 2 and will be completed in June.

The original proposal

Original Proposal contained the following features:

  • Cycle lanes added on both sides of Carlton Gore Road between Park Road and Davis Crescent, with a half metre wide painted buffer to provide separation from traffic. Removal of Parking on the Domain side of Carlton Gore Road between Park Road and George Street will create space for the new lanes. The lanes will expand the Auckland Cycle Network, providing an improved connection from the east into the city centre and an alternative to cycling on the busier Khyber Pass Road.
  • A pedestrian crossing point consisting of kerb build-outs on both sides of the road, installed at 103 Carlton Gore Road, near to the intersection with George Street. The build-outs will provide better visibility between pedestrians and traffic and shorten the crossing distance, making it safer and easier to cross.
  • The zebra crossing on Carlton Gore Road repositioned to sit mid-way between the Morgan Street and Kingdon Street intersections, to increase pedestrian safety from turning traffic. Coloured surfacing and sensor-activated flashing LEDs will be installed to provide pedestrians with increased visibility. The repositioning was completed during works in 2014.

All up AT say they had 171 submissions and the majority supported the project. The key themes of the feedback are below along with AT’s response to them.

1. Separation between the traffic lane and the cycle lane was seen as insufficient. This has been improved in the final design through the use of raised kerbs on a section of the route between Park Road and George Street.

2. A reduction in parking spaces was raised as a concern. Some alternative parking spaces have been allocated for residents who lack off-street parking. Utilisation of pay and display parking on Carlton Gore Road and the surrounding streets will be monitored and prices adjusted as needed to encourage turnover. We aim to maintain an occupancy rate of around 85%, ensuring some parking is always available.

3. The design presented for consultation prevented the informal “double-stacking” of two lanes of traffic that occurs eastbound on Carlton Gore Road during the evening peak. The final design introduces a 4pm to 6pm no parking clearway westbound between George Street and Park Road. This will help maintain traffic flow, while still allowing parking at other times of the day.

They’ve also made the other changes below

  • Footpaths on both sides of Carlton Gore Road between George Street and Park Road will be replaced and the road resurfaced. The area of footpath at the Park Road intersection leading into the Domain will become a shared use area for people on bikes and on foot. A drinking fountain within this area will provide a spot to pause and refuel.
  • Parking on the south side of Carlton Gore Road between the George Street and Park Road intersections will change from P120 to metred pay and display parking with no time restriction, consistent with the Newmarket parking plan.
  • A raised table will be installed across the intersection of George Street where it intersects with Carlton Gore Road, reducing vehicle speeds and making it easier and safer for pedestrians to cross.
  • The pedestrian crossing point to be installed outside 103 Carlton Gore Road will be upgraded to a zebra crossing to better cater for people wishing to cross the road during busy times of the day.
  • Flashing LEDs will not be installed on the zebra crossing between the Morgan Street and Kingdon Street intersections, as the addition of the second zebra crossing along with anti-skid coloured surfacing and cycle lane markings will be sufficient to slow most traffic. However, the crossing will be monitored and LEDs may be installed at a later date if needed.

The new design is below.

Carlton Gore Rd 1

Carlton Gore Rd 2

Carlton Gore Rd 3

Carlton Gore Rd 4

Overall there are some really positive changes in the design which is pleasing to see and something I suspect has been helped by the positive feedback the project received which again highlights the importance of submitting on this stuff. In particular it’s great that some parts of the route will now get physical protection, that George St will be safer and that there’s another pedestrian crossing.

My major concern though is still that AT are using cyclists as a squishy barrier. As an example I wonder if they could have had that new pedestrian build out (on the south side of the street just to the east of George St) as an island where the cycle lane is and left the cycle lane against the kerb using the parked cars as the physical barrier. Same with the kerb build out at Kindon St. The north side is made a bit more difficult due to the presence of the trees in the existing build outs but as they don’t seem all that large so I wonder if they too could have been moved to give the same effect.

I look forward this being completed however at only around 600m in length it’s only a small part of what’s needed. Next we need other routes that will connect and expand on this segment so we can build up an actual network of safe streets – something all international experience points to being the key to getting people cycling. With a few of the tweaks mentioned it could potentially become a template to be rolled out to streets all around the region.

Auckland PT fare changes for 2015

Auckland Transport have announced the results of their latest review of public transport fares which should be the last before integrated fares are introduced early next year. They have said that some of the changes are being made now in advance of integrated fares to make that transition easier later on. The changes really depend on how you pay, how far you travel and whether you use ferries or not.

Auckland Transport says the focus of this year’s public transport fare review is to better align short and long distance fares in preparation for a change to a simpler zone based system (integrated fares) next year.

Auckland Transport’s General Manager Public Transport, Mark Lambert, says, “As we continue to pick up the pace of transport changes in the city, improving the fare structure with integrated fares will allow the introduction of the New Network which will see more frequent services on key routes at a minimum average of every 15 minutes, 7am to 7pm, seven days a week.

“This is along with the introduction of the AT HOP card, electric trains on the rail network, the first step towards the construction of the City Rail Link and an investigation of the benefits of light rail. All of these initiatives are designed to give Aucklanders choices that will offer them the freedom to most effectively use that valuable commodity, time”.

The changes to public transport fares through the 2015 review will see:

  • Small increases of between 5 and 10 cents for short distance (stage one and stage two trips) for those using the AT HOP card
  • No increases on longer AT HOP trips on buses and trains, other than for stage five journeys which receive a tertiary concession
  • Stage six and seven child fares, using AT HOP, reduce by 5c and 16c per trip respectively.
  • Some cash fares will increase by 50 cents to increase the incentive for passengers to take advantage of fare discounts that AT HOP provides
  • Some fares on Hobsonville and West Harbour ferry services decrease by between 24c and 50c a trip.
  • Tertiary and child concession fares will now be available on the InnerLink bus service

There will also be some changes to pricing for the CityLink bus service. This service had received funding from the Heart of the City business organisation and Waterfront Auckland however that subsidy has now ended. Auckland Transport therefore, reluctantly, has introduced a 50 cent (adult single trip), 40 cent (tertiary student single trip) and 30 cent (child single trip) fare for a AT HOP card users. Single trip cash fares will be $1 for adults, 50 cents for tertiary students and 40 cents for a child.

Mr Lambert says that on average fares contribute 47% to the total cost of providing public transport services – the remainder is provided through government (NZTA) contributions and rates subsidies. He says while petrol and diesel prices have fallen over recent months, and fluctuated in recent weeks, fuel prices make up only a small percentage of operator costs and by far the largest expense is wages.

Public transport patronage growth has continued strongly during recent fuel price reductions showing that customers are choosing to use improved services rather than sit in traffic congestion, he says.

Latest figures show that public transport patronage is at an all-time high. Public transport patronage totalled 76,480,955 passenger trips for the 12 months to January 2015, an annual increase of 9.4%.
Rail patronage alone totalled 13,000,000 passenger trips for the 12 months to January, an annual rise of 20.0% a rise of two million journeys in one year.

For more: https://at.govt.nz/farechange

Overall the changes don’t seem too bad and for most people probably won’t have any impact – or at least not too much. For a commuter in the inner suburbs it represents about $1 extra per week. AT say that one of the reasons for the shorter stages going up is that compared to other cities our shorter stage fares are quite cheap but our longer stage fares are expensive so this is a way of helping align those better.

Those that will be impacted the most will be those still paying by cash and hopefully these changes will see even more people move across to using HOP.

For ferries the changes are dictated in part by the commercial services to Devonport, Stanley Bay and Waiheke. For the rest of the services the price changes are also about aligning fares hence the increases to Half Moon Bay but decreases to West Harbour and Hobsonville as they are a similar distance.

The changes are below.

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Lastly because it’s often raised I questioned about Fare Evasion. AT say that on average it’s at 6-8% across the network but as high as 40% at some individual stations with some of the worst being Fruitvale Rd and Henderson. They say every 1% of evasion is equivalent to about $300k in revenue so any actions to improve it needs to take that into account. They did say New Lynn will be gated in June which they think will help address some of it. Also any new stations – such as the new Otahuhu station – will be designed to have gates.

Time for All Door Boarding?

We’ve talked before about the importance of speeding up buses. Just briefly speeding up buses:

  • Makes buses more time competitive with other modes and with the right infrastructure can make them faster than other modes. That means they’re more attractive to potential users and therefore generate more patronage.
  • Makes buses more efficient as they can complete their routes faster. That in turn can mean they potentially run more services for the same operational cost or alternatively run the same level of service but less cost. Either way we get a better result for the money we invest in PT.

When it comes to the actual task of speeding up buses there are a couple of key ways we can do that. The one we talk the most about is the introduction of bus infrastructure either bus lanes or dedicated busways but that isn’t the only way. Buses can also be sped up by reducing how long they spend at bus stops. Dwell times for individual stops might seem small but when combined can end up being a very significant portion of any bus journey and so improving them can have a lot of positive outcomes.

Thankfully we’ve already made some improvements to dwell times which has primarily come through the introduction of HOP – although more work is needed to get the percentage of people using it up. With HOP I’ve easily seen 5 or more board a bus in the same amount of time it takes for a a single person to buy a paper ticket and an entire bus can be fully loaded 1-2 minutes if no one is paying with cash. However dwell times could still be sped up further and there are a couple of key ways we could do that. They are

Ensuring buses have larger doors on both the front and the back – In a bid presumably to squeeze more seats in buses we’ve also seen bus doors shrink. On many buses such as the stupidly small ADL buses NZ Bus use an entire line of people paying by HOP can be held up by a single person paying by cash because depending on where they stand it can be difficult to get past them. The same issue can occur at the back door where only one person at a time can tag off and disembark. Both of these issues are noticeably reduced on buses with double doors and multiple HOP card readers such as on many of the Northern Express buses.

Another way to improve boarding times would be to allow people to do so from the rear doors, potentially halving dwell times. Currently this only occurs on some Northern Express services – such as those leaving town in the afternoon – and only because Ritchies pay for someone to stand at the back door watching people tag on.

All door boarding is something that Muni in San Francisco allowed in 2012 and as CityLab reports, it’s been a huge success.

Well, the “final” results of San Francisco’s all-door program are in, and they’re spectacular. All-door boarding reduced the average dwell time from nearly 4 seconds to 2.5 seconds among all Muni buses—a dip of 38 percent. More than half of all passengers used the rear door to enter, and time-consuming fare payments at the front door declined 4 percent. As a result, overall bus speeds improved.

Here’s the crux of the dwell finding, in one chart:

Muni All Door Boarding Outcome

Of course fare evasion is always likely to be a concern with such a scheme however interestingly on Muni as a percentage it actually improved from all door boarding.

Most impressive, though, was that fare evasion didn’t increase. Muni added a rear-door smartcard reader and hired 13 new fare inspectors to spot-check rider proof-of-purchase. Pre-implementation studies had found fare evasion as high as 9.5 percent; after all-door boarding was implement, evasion was at 8 percent. As mobile fare technology improves, especially through contactless smartphone payments, boarding through any door should become even easier.

I don’t think fare evasion would be as high on our buses however this certainly shows all door boarding isn’t necessarily going to make things worse.

Overall it seems like something Auckland Transport should definitely be considering.

You can see the full Muni Report here.