At the 2014 Election Transport Debate organised by the Campaign for Better Transport I was charged with summarising our Congestion Free Network as an introduction to the candidate’s speeches. Here is that short speech:
What is the CFN?
The CFN is a deeply considered answer to the question of how Auckland, our only city of scale, can best compete at all levels this century.
It is a world class Rapid Transit Network to go with our world class Highway Network.
1. It is designed for maximum economic efficiency; evaluating capital costs, operating costs, and long term value. It is a fully integrated top tier network; using busways where they are best option and extending the existing rail network where that adds more value, and ferries where they offer their particular advantage.
2. It builds on what we already have; it extends and complements our existing systems. It is the key to getting the highest value from earlier investments, especially our widespread road and highway networks. And it unlocks hidden capacity in the existing legacy rail network, and enhances its operational efficiency. It is about working our physical infrastructure harder and smarter as the city grows.
3. It facilitates better quality of urban form and supports higher quality of life and therefore the international competitiveness of the city, the nation’s gateway. It also complements the growth in Active travel; cycling and walking.
4. It greatly strengthens the city’s resilience through diversifying movement options in ways that are consistent with changes in technology and social trends and helps protect the city’s functionality against shocks in price or supply of imported fuels.
5. It greatly enhances freedom and choice for businesses, residents, and visitors alike. It supports the entire city, not just inner areas, including future growth areas on the urban fringe. It will make the choice to not partake in congestion in Auckland a truly viable one for more people, at more times, and for more trips.
It essentially is the answer to the question of what is needed next?
And it is not just a ‘nice to have’ but rather a carefully costed and highest value complement to the last sixty years of investment in motorways. It will unlock the motorway system for higher value users, in particular freeing it up for its vital role in the freight supply chain. In short to gain the next level of value from the urban state highways we need to invest away from them to keep them flowing efficiently. It also is what is needed to gain the agglomeration economies that flow from city shaped development.
And wonderfully It does not require anything other than a reprioritising of projects already identified for Auckland, and is achievable well within existing budgets. It takes no money away from other parts of the country’s transport share nor is it dependent on novel sources of revenue. It does however require an understanding that Auckland is at a new stage of development. One that requires more than just the single mode of movement and therefore while maintaining the existing road systems, investment in new infrastructure must be strongly directed to completing and optimising the missing modes. And this programme shows just how within reach this is.
In short it’s genius.
But because of how we control our transport spending it does need government to be willing to partner the city in investing differently than we have been. Nothing short of the success of our biggest city and the level of its contribution to the whole nation is at stake.
Starting with where Auckland’s nascent Rapid Transit network will be once the current upgrade of the legacy rail network is complete, the following maps show, in broad terms, how we can efficiently leverage off this resource to build a world quality and right sized extremely efficient Rapid Transit Network for Auckland over 15 years. Please note this only shows the top tier, separate right of way and high frequency Rapid Network. It is supported by and integrated with the New Bus Network, and other services. And of course it is designed to complement and operate separately from our widespread driving systems. Freeing them up for more efficient use.
For more detail on each route see under Our Proposals above.
In accessing Queens wharf on foot most people flow straight from the intersection of Queen St and Quay St as it is the most direct route. The only problem is that it’s also the entrance and exit on to the wharf for vehicles which often dominate the area. This is something I’ve written about before.
Thankfully Auckland Transport are finally going to do something about making the area safer for pedestrians by shifting the vehicle access to the east.
The changes will involve:
- Removal of the Quay Street right hand turn onto Queens Wharf
- Removal of the traffic lights from the current vehicle entrance onto Queens Wharf which will only be available for pedestrians and cyclists
- Relocation of the vehicle entrance to Queens Wharf eastwards which will not be signalised
- Vehicles exiting Queens Wharf can only turn left onto Quay Street
- Vehicles entering Queens Wharf must be traveling from the west, and must turn left off Quay Street onto the wharf
This is a good outcome and it’s good to see Auckland Transport finally doing this. It should help towards making Queens Wharf a nicer place for people to be. The changes are also shown below.
Weather permitting work starts on making this change tomorrow night.
This morning the mayor released his proposal for the Long Term Plan, which outlines the 10 year budget for the city. This is the first stage in a 9 month process.
Long-term Plan timeline
- August 2014 – Mayor’s LTP proposal
- December 2014 – Auckland Council adopts draft LTP
- January and February 2015 – Public consultation on the draft LTP
- April 2015 – Public hearings
- June 2015 – Local boards adopt local board agreements and governing body adopts final LTP.
The proposal is available on the council website here. The proposal does not have a huge amount of detail, and more based around funding outlines with some major projects mentioned. Today I will just do a quick outline of the document, and we will follow up with more analysis tomorrow.
Rates increases are 2.5% for the first two years, and 3.5% after that.
Here is what the document has to say about transport. Note that capital expenditure of $469 million, compared with $826 million in the 2014/15 Annual Plan. However this is going to be cut back by $150 million as we noted yesterday. This seems to be a mixed bag. Great to see City Rail Link still included. On the positive side good to see Penlink, other arterial roads and most of the oversized Park and Ride strategy cut back. However difficult to see how Lincoln Road is such a priority for upgrading, it is hardly lacking traffic lanes at the moment! Disappointing to see the North-Western busway pushed back even outside the 10 year timeframe. I’m sure this can be staged appropriately so we can see some good progress over the next few years.
Transport represents the most significant proportion of our total budget – almost a third of our operating costs and over 40% of our capital budgets. The funding envelope in the baseline budget is a significant reduction in the capital programme in the current LTP and has an even more significant shortfall on the aspirations reflected in the Auckland Plan.
This baseline proposal includes major projects such as:
- The City Rail Link
- North Western Growth Area projects
- Warkworth SH1 intersection improvements
- The East – West connections
- Lincoln, Te Atatu and Dominion Rd upgrades.
The full detail of the list will be the subject of discussion between Auckland Transport and ourselves over the next couple of months as part of fleshing out the draft LTP for consultation. The basis of that discussion will be the criteria by which we rank projects and getting a shared level of comfort with that process. Naturally I would want to see our strategic shifts towards public transport active modes strongly reflected in those criteria. However, the basic transport option is not what I believe Auckland wants or needs. It is an investment programme that will not solve our existing transport problems and in fact will see them get worse. Under current funding arrangements what we can afford involves foregoing a significant amount of transport investment that Aucklanders have told us they wanted through the Auckland Plan. We wouldn’t be able to deliver a range of projects including:
- A majority of local and arterial roading projects across the region
- Almost all of the park and ride projects currently programmed
- The North-Western busway
- Strategic projects such as Penlink and rail electrification to Pukekohe. I beleive Aucklanders want all of these projects and have an expectation that the entire transport programme contained in the Auckland Plan be delivered in the 30 year timeframe.
The plan also outlines a number of projects that will proceed as are needed to support growth including Special Housing Areas. That is something we have noted previously so is good to see this mentioned. Seems to be a little bit of a grab bag of projects though. Will need more than the Te Atatu busway station to support growth in the North-West, and not sure Drury station is a priority amid other capital cuts as will only be served hourly when Papakura station is so close and will have 10 to 15 minute frequencies.
Some examples of these projects are:
- Watercare’s central interceptor project
- Grade separation at Avondale
- Tamaki Drive shared walking and cycling path
- Work with mana whenua on redevelopment of Ruapotaka marae
- Otahuhu aquatic centre and library
- Improved public transport between Mangere/Otahuhu/Sylvia park
- New Takanini library
- Grade separation at Walters Road, Takanini
- Te Atatu bus interchange
- Westgate stormwater ponds
- Lake Road, Takapuna streetscape
- Train stations at Drury and Paerata
- Manukau transport interchange
- Ormiston library and community centre.
Grade separation at Walters Road has been the hold up for Addision/Glenora station so hopefully that should allow that station there to proceed.
Overall I think need to wait for more detail to see effect of transport projects, and it will be interesting to see if Auckland Transport prioritises public transport within this reduced spend or keeps building lots of lower value roading projects.
So what do you do when you’re told you have to cut some of your $826 million budget for capital projects and that in choosing what to cut it can’t apply to public transport projects?
Well it seems if you’re Auckland Transport you start by cutting PT and active mode projects.
Back in May when the council was discussing their budget for this year it was decided that Auckland Transport should reduce capital expenditure spend. At the time Chris Darby managed to get this amendment passed saying that the cuts won’t impact on PT.
MOVED by Cr C Darby, seconded by Cr PA Hulse:
Cr Darby moved by way of amendment, seconded Cr Hulse.
That the Budget Committee:
i) agree that the $5.1 million transport opex increase is dedicated to public transport and the $50 million reduction in transport capex will not be applied to public transport.
But it seems the $50 million isn’t enough if the council wants to keep to Len Brown’s goal of having rate rises next year average 2.5%.
- On 26 March, staff provided the results of financial modelling in response to the mayoral direction for the LTP 2015-2025. One conclusion from this analysis was that it is not possible to reduce the average rates increase for 2015/2016 down to 2.5 per cent solely by reducing or deferring capex in that particular year.
- The lagged impact of changes in the capital programme on operating budgets means that reducing or deferring capex in 2014/2015 will have a greater impact on rates for 2015/2016. The Budget Committee therefore agreed on 8 May 2014 to request the Chief Executive undertake an immediate review of 2014/2015 capex programme with a target of reducing or deferring $300 million of capex.
The cuts mean Auckland Transport has to find $100 million (which goes up to $150 million once NZTA subsidies are included). They don’t say all the items they’ll cut but the ones named are all PT projects.
The targeted reduction can be achieved via the reduction of budget across all transport activities. Projects such as Parnell Station, the Pukekohe Station upgrade and bus and transit lane improvements may have to be deferred to the LTP period. The Auckland Transport Board will consider the current capital programme to confirm which projects may be stopped, reduced or deferred to the LTP in order to minimise negative impacts on Auckland Plan outcomes. An updated 2014/2015 capital programme will be provided to the CCO Governance and Monitoring Committee in November.
It seems the only projects specifically named as being deferred are those that PT projects which goes against what the council asked for in the first place. Further projects like bus and transit lane improvements are often some of the cheapest and highest benefit projects. An example of this is the recent extension of the Fanshawe St bus lanes resulted in lots of full buses being sped up in the evening for what I understand was a fairly minor cost. In saying that I can live with the Silverdale Park and Ride (which is having issues of it’s own to sort out first) and can also live with Parnell to a degree.
Here’s the total list of capital projects in the current annual plan.
It seems to me there are a lot of other projects on the list that should be being cut before $2.5 million bus lane improvements, for example Lincoln Rd or Penlink.
For their part the council passed a (much weaker) resolution saying that AT should take into account the councils priorities around PT and active mode outcomes however based on past performance I wouldn’t hold up hope of AT actually listening to that.
The Auckland Transport board meeting is today and below are the bits and pieces from the reports that caught my attention.
First up as usual there are a number of items in the closes session of the meeting that it would be very interesting to see the details about. These are
- Ferry Services Contract
- EMU Implementation
- City Centre Access Options
- Mill Road
- Parking Services report
- AT HOP Update
- Rail Operations shortlisting
On to the Chief Executives report. These are generally just in the order they come up in the report.
AT are working with some of the teams from the HackAKL event and two of the top five teams will have a completed concept within three months.
Discussions have been held with the top 5 teams, 2 have progressed to a stage where the concept will be completed inside of 3 months, with the help of AT. The other 3 in the top 5 are still discussing within themselves how to progress. As well an additional application (hop Balance) from one of the other groups has been launched. We are still restricted in the data that we can make available, PT is working on this with the bus operators.
AT are creating a customer charter which includes specific measures that cover PT, roading, walking and cycling and they say they have been looking overseas to find out what the best practices are. They say the draft versions of the charters will go to a board committee in October. I think a customer charter with specific measures is a good thing and I would hope that there is some consultation from the public on final versions.
AT will be holding a consultation in late September on the rehabilitation of Franklin Rd and surrounding streets. They say Major focuses for the consultation include maintaining the heritage value of the
road (including the trees), parking, a lowered speed zone, walking and cycling.
A detailed business case will finally be done for the East West Link. It’s something I would have thought should have happened long before it was moved near to the top of the priorities list.
AT say the Environment Court appeal against the Silverdale Park n Ride might delay construction till the next financial year (i.e. after July next year).
On the EMUs there were 22 in the country at the time of writing the report however some more arrived yesterday and provisional acceptance had been issued for 18 of them. After the August summer holidays production will be ramped up as the intention is that by the end of the year we will get four delivered a month instead of the current two per month. On the issues with the over cautious signalling system they say
The ETCS system has been modified by reducing the driver warning before curves and other infrastructure features and the resulting improvement in running times.
As part of the Otahuhu Bus Train Interchange AT are looking at connections to and from the station. The report notes that this will include additional bus priority and improved walking and cycling connections.
At Panmure the new road alongside the tracks is almost finished and due to open to use at the end of September. It’s been called Te Horeta Rd. The image below is from the board report showing the road and it’s looking very much like a mini motorway although I would be happy to be proven wrong once it’s finished.
HOP use keeps on growing which is a great sign. Overall 67% of trips were paid for with HOP which was up from 65% in June. By mode bus was up from 62% to 65% while rail was up from 75% to 76%. In some ways this is not surprising given the changes in fares that occurred and means the trend of increasing HOP card usage is likely to continue. They also say a strategic business case as well as revenue and patronage modelling for integrated fares is almost complete.
Perhaps the biggest news from the report is about the next train timetable which is now targeted for November
Finalisation with KiwiRail and Transdev of the new timetable to support the increased frequency of Manukau services and the introduction of an EMU weekend timetable was progressed in July and early August. This provides 6 trains per hour from Manukau in the peak period and 3 trains per hour in the interpeak and off-peak, with weekends going to a 30 minute service plan. When the timetable commences, diesel shuttle services will run an hourly service between Pukekohe and Papakura on Saturdays and Sundays and connect with arriving/departing EMUs at Papakura. The target date for the timetable introduction is early November following progressive replacement within the existing timetable of diesel rolling stock with EMUs on the Manukau Line.
Some good news about the look of buses in the future with AT developing what sounds like a region wide design. This is long overdue although I’m sure some operators won’t be happy (I for one can’t wait to see the back of the horrid Birkenhead bus livery). They say the starting point for the new livery is based off the design used on the electric trains and the livery will be included in the future operator contracts which will be rolled out with the new network.
AT say they are also working on a wayfinding system which is something long overdue.
The patronage results for July are now available and they show another strong month of growth.
Auckland public transport patronage totalled 72,740,387 passengers for the 12 months to Jul-2014, an increase of +0.5% on the 12 months to Jun-2014 and +5.9% on the 12 months to Jul-2013. July monthly patronage was 6,268,752, an increase of 343,651 boardings or +5.8% on Jul-2013, normalised to ~ +5.4% accounting for additional special event patronage only, same number of business and weekend days in Jul-2014 compared to Jul-2013.
Rail patronage totalled 11,552,643 passengers for the 12 months to Jul-2014, an increase of +1.0% on the 12 months to Jun-2014 and +14.4% on the 12 months to Jul-2013. Patronage for Jul-2014 was 1,089,839, an increase of 117,561 boardings or +12.1% on Jul-2013, normalised to ~ +9.9%.
The Northern Express bus service carried 2,460,177 passenger trips for the 12 months to Jul-2014), an increase of +1.4% on the 12 months to Jun-2014 and +7.6% on the 12 months to Jul-2013. Northern Express bus service patronage for Jul-2014 was 233,814, an increase of 33,433 boardings or +16.7% on Jul-2013, normalised to ~ +15.2%.
Other bus services carried 53,653,594 passenger trips for the 12 months to Jul-2014, an increase of +0.4% on the 12 months to Jun-2014 and +4.6% on the 12 months to Jul-2013. Other bus services patronage for Jul-2014 was 4,578,804, an increase of 228,637 boardings or +5.3% on Jul-2013, normalised to ~ +5.2%.
Ferry services carried 5,073,973 passenger trips for the 12 months to Jul-2014, a decrease of -0.7% on the 12 months to Jun-2014 and an increase +1.6% on the 12 months to Jul-2013. Ferry services patronage for Jul-2014 was 366,295, a decrease of -35,980 boardings or -8.9% on Jul-2013, normalised to ~ -8.9% (no special events).
Again it’s the rail network showing the most growth up 13% with the 12 month rolling total up 14.4%. One of the interesting aspects about this result is the Western Line managed a 14.2% increase despite there being no additional services other than half hourly services on Weekends in October last year. The Onehunga line continues to show strong growth since it was converted to using electric trains – although part of the month saw the old diesels return as Auckland Transport and others try to address some ongoing power supply issues. The most impressive result was on Manukau services in the first full month that the new MIT campus was completed. Patronage on those services was up over 26% and it will be interesting to see if that level of growth continues.
To highlight the growth that’s occurring this graph shows the average patronage on each weekday which since July last year has risen from just under 37,500 to about 42,000 per day. AT say that on average seven services per day are over the planned capacity ratio of four people standing for every 10 sitting while a further six were very near to that level
While the rail network is increasing the fastest the biggest growth by overall number continues to be the bus network which was up 5.8% when you combine the Northern Express with other bus services. The graph below shows the NEX patronage while the one after shows the average weekday patronage for the other bus services
As AT said last month, from now they have finally dropped the self-reported bus reliability and punctuality stats and have instead moved to reporting them using the on-board GPS tracking equipment. A separate report on the stats highlights the reasons why the old self-reported stats were so high.
Under existing contracts, bus operators provided AT with a monthly service delivery report. Two main variants of contract exist: ‘North Auckland Spine’ (~5% of services), and the remainder (~70% of services). Commercial services (~25% services) are exempt from performance reporting. The majority of contracts reported contracted performance rather than actual customer experience, i.e. excluded trips where performance was impacted by factors outside of operator control e.g. adverse weather, exceptional passenger loadings and significant traffic congestion, resulting in artificially high performance reports. Various metrics were used including reliability at within 30 minutes of start of trip.
Reliability and punctuality has been predominantly monitored through manual self-reporting systems. AT has been working with operators to transition to an automated system based on actual performance data generated from new GPS-tracking equipment. Reporting reliability and punctuality using GPS-tracked performance data will commence from 1 July.
New and consistent, PTOM KPIs will be reported – reliability (trips started within 10 minutes of schedule and completed) and punctuality (trips started within 5 minutes of schedule). In future punctuality at points through the trip and at the final destination will also be measured.
This new methodology reports on customer experience with no exclusions or exemptions such as congestion or adverse weather. An expected punctuality is 100% at start of first each duty timetable trip (operator reaching the trip start) and for all other trips, allowing for an element of average statistical non-performance from outlying high congestion, poor weather, accidents, etc, and compounded where successive trips are linked, 95% at trip start for non-right-of-way (mixed with traffic) and 98% for right-of-way (busway) services.
As a result of no exceptions, the GPS-tracked reliability and punctuality will be lower than previously reported, however performance data collected will permit improvements in service delivery through an ongoing iterative programme of six to twelve monthly timetable reviews.
It’s almost unbelievable that operators were allowed to ignore commercial services, services with lots of passengers, services caught in congestion or results when the weather was bad and it’s no wonder they always managed 99% of services on time. Like the self-reported stats this only reports buses based on when they start their run however AT say they are also looking at performance based on certain timing points too. Below is the punctuality results for July compared to December last year which I assume was when AT finalised their tracking methodology.
So Airbus, the service you probably most want to be on time has the worst performance. This graph shows how the performance has changed since December.
The PTOM target is the target that will apply once the new contracts are rolled out as part of the new network. They say that performance above or below the target will be subject to financial bonus or deductions so based on the info above I bet all the operators are happy those contracts aren’t in force yet. The same also applies to bus reliability (whether the bus even starts it’s run) for which there will be financial deductions for results less than 98% with again no operators yet meeting that level.
It’s great to finally have some proper visibility around this and something we’ve only been calling for for about 3 years.
The biggest downside to Julys results was with cycling numbers which were down 21% on last July for some reason (despite what the text in the report says). If anyone has any reasons they might have fallen so much please let us know in the comments but a quick check shows that July was drier than normal with rainfall in Auckland at only 50-79% of an average July.
As the Council puts together its 10 year budget over the coming months there will be some really big questions that need to be addressed in the area of transport. When to start City Rail Link? How fast to build AMETI? How much to spend on cycling? Which “legacy” arterial roading projects to delay or cancel? Over the past couple of days Luke has outlined how challenging this task will be if the Council wants a lower level of rates increase than had previously been anticipated.
Our long-running criticism of the current transport plans is that they haven’t made any tough calls – the push for improving public transport is simply on top of all the grandiose roading projects earlier “legacy” Councils had come up with over the years. In an ideal world where money wasn’t an issue, then maybe this would be an OK approach – but that’s simply not the reality and the time is coming in the near future when Council and Auckland Transport will need to face up to this issue and properly confront it.
One project that came up a lot in yesterday’s discussion and certainly deserves significant scrutiny through the upcoming budgeting process is Penlink. The map below shows the proposed route of this connection – which was pushed hard by the previous Rodney District Council:
The Auckland Transport website describes the project’s benefits as being:
- 7km of new road, including a new bridge across Weiti River
- Four lane toll road (two in each direction)
- Provisions for pedestrians and cyclists
- 100km/hr speed limit
- Five minute saving for commuters using old route
- 12-18 minutes savings for commuters using toll road
- 5.8km shorter route
Essentially it’s a short-cut between the Whangaparaoa Peninsula and the rest of Auckland – with the main benefits being faster trips for those who use the new road as well as less congestion through Silverdale for those who continue to use the existing road. I’ve highlighted my concerns with the project in the past – particularly because the Whangaparaoa Peninsula that it largely benefits is not expected to grow much in the future – so the transport system may not get much worse than it is now, especially if a number of other smaller-scale improvements proceed.
While there are clearly benefits from Penlink, especially for freeing up the Silverdale area and hopefully down-scaling the horrible semi-motorway that cuts right through the heart of Silverdale. Penlink is potentially a hugely expensive project – the ITP has its cost at just over $200 million but for a 7km four lane motorway with a long bridge that seems extremely conservative. As a comparison recently completed new motorway projects have cost between $25m and $50m per kilometre not including any bridges, meaning the actual cost of Penlink could be as high as $350 million or more. Because of this, we need to look at it very strategically from a regional perspective and ask it a few key questions:
- Is the project in an area that’s a regional priority for major growth?
- Is the project of critical significance in enabling a shift to better public transport?
- Will the project benefit a significant proportion of Aucklanders?
- Does the project clearly provide value for money and are there no cheaper alternatives?
In terms of the first question, the answer is a bit mixed. There’s not much growth on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula enabled in the Unitary Plan, but there is quite a lot of growth happening at Millwater and Silverdale at the moment. Part of the Millwater area was denoted a Special Housing Area, but is still only zoned Single Housing so will only allow pretty low density development. None of the “strategic” SHAs are located anywhere near Silverdale and certainly when compared to growth pressures in the South and the Northwest, Penlink doesn’t seem to be as critical for enabling growth as other key projects (like the Northwest Busway or Pukekohe electrification). Reinforcing this position is the ability to undertake a variety of alternative projects to “unlock” Silverdale.
On the second question, while it’s likely some buses will use Penlink, the major focus for the public transport service in this part of Auckland is feeding into Silverdale and eventually connecting to an extended Northern Busway right up the motorway to where the current Silverdale park and ride is located. Penlink is unlikely to significantly undermine public transport providing some buses use it, but generally is fairly unrelated to Auckland’s key effort of making a step change to public transport quality and use.
On the third question, obviously not every project can and should benefit all parts of the region, but for a major project that requires a very high level of investment it does seem that Penlink is particularly limited in the area it directly benefits – being mainly the eastern half of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula which all up is about 24,000 people which is less than 0.2% of the regional population
There are indirect benefits for other areas – like Silverdale, assuming a significant proportion of traffic is willing to pay a toll and divert away – but we’re still talking a pretty small part of the region well away from where the vast majority of Aucklanders live and work.
Finally, in terms of whether Penlink is value for money this obviously connects to the earlier three questions (in terms of defining ‘value’) and what the project actually ends up costing. As noted above, we’re a bit sceptical whether such a long four lane semi-motorway with a huge bridge can be built for $200m – a much higher total would certainly raise additional questions about its value for money. Also as mentioned earlier, a key point in value for money is making sure a cheaper alternative couldn’t adequately do the job, and there remain a number of very real questions about whether that’s true for Penlink.
Perhaps a bit of a wildcard for Penlink is its potential to be tolled and therefore “pay for itself” to a reasonable extent. Some careful analysis of projected use and different levels of tolling could mean tolls contributing to a fairly large part of construction cost – perhaps one of the reasons why the project has been considered as a PPP possibility. Of course tolling doesn’t come without its own challenges and the we’ve seen many toll roads overseas as well as Route K in Tauranga continually fail to perform to the levels originally expected.
Overall, I remain unconvinced that Penlink is a major regional priority to fund in the immediate future – it just doesn’t contribute strongly enough to the main objectives for Auckland at the moment. I’m also very unconvinced of the need for the project to be four lanes – I thought it was just a two-lane road due to the toll suppressing demand to some extent. The potential for the road to be tolled and pay its way is a relevant consideration though, therefore as a two lane road perhaps this is something worth starting on towards the end of the next budgeting period.
A bugbear of mine is moving billboard type advertising on the sides of buses and trains like the examples below.
It primarily annoys me due to the fact it impedes the view of those on services which can make it quite hard for passengers to see exactly where they are, especially at night. But it also goes the other way, being able to see into and through a bus or train is an important part in passengers being able to see the service is safe to board and use – although that also isn’t helped by bus windows often having an unnecessarily dark tint on them.
Now I realise that it’s a bit harder to do something about the bus advertising due to the way the buses are currently run in the city – although I hope it is something that AT can hopefully address as part of the contracts for the new network. What I’m more concerned about the advertising on the trains as that is something AT have within their control and further the ads aren’t for a private company but for AT themselves. I’m also concerned as the ads are targeted towards getting people to try using PT when the vast majority of people who will see them are people who are using trains anyway. The train advertising above is currently on 8 carriages across the train fleet and each one costs about $1,000.
So I asked Auckland Transport about the advertising on trains and in particular what will happen once we have an entire electric fleet. The answer gives me hope we they are moving towards a more customer centric view. Importantly they have said that the electric trains will be clean, in other words there will be no advertising allowed on them (other than the giant AT symbol on the middle carriage of course). That is a very pleasing to hear and hopefully means the trains will stay nice and clean
Photo by Alex Burgess of one of the few places non train users might regularly see a train
On the inside AT say that there will be some dedicated public information spots on the walls inside the trains for displaying information like timetable/service changes etc. but that they won’t be used for general marketing. In saying that they are looking at the idea of on-board digital marketing which would essentially be TV screens mounted to the roof of the carriages that would display ads however that is still only in early stages of investigation.
Overall I think this is the right approach to take. It keeps the electric trains looking good while based on what I’ve seen overseas small digital screens displaying ads are unobtrusive and can easily be ignored. I just hope that as part of AT’s focus to improve the customer experience they get tough with bus companies who want to wrap buses like has been done in the first image.
Auckland Transport announced yesterday that $21 million had been approved, $11 million of which from the NZTA, to design the first stage in the AMETI busway which will run between Panmure and Pakuranga. A later stage will run from Pakuranga to Botany.
Funding has been approved to further develop plans for the South Eastern Busway from Panmure Station to Pakuranga.
The NZ Transport Agency has approved design funding of $20.9m, with it subsidising $11m, for the Panmure to Pakuranga section of the Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI).
It will be the next stage after the current work in Panmure, which comprised the new Panmure Station and a new link road between Mt Wellington Highway and Morrin Rd.
Proposed Panmure to Pakuranga projects also include the Reeves Rd flyover in Pakuranga, replacing Panmure roundabout with an intersection with traffic lights, a second Panmure Bridge for the busway and a shared cycle/foot path.
Auckland Transport aims to begin construction in 2017, subject to approval of construction funding and consents.
Auckland Transport Chairman Dr Lester Levy says the popular Panmure Station and a new road, due to open soon, are just the start of major transport improvements for the area. “With the first stage in Panmure almost complete and delivering benefits already, we’re looking forward to the next stage. This funding will allow us to further develop the design of the busway and other major transport projects.
“Public transport is currently a poor option because buses get caught in the same congestion as cars, resulting in long travel times. Large numbers of passengers are expected to be attracted by quicker, frequent and more reliable buses on lanes separate to traffic.
“Buses will run every 5-10 minutes most of the day and travel times will be reliable. It will take about 27 minutes to get between Pakuranga and Britomart by bus and train, about 8 minutes quicker than currently. There will be bigger time savings when the busway is extended to Botany in the future. Together, the AMETI projects are aimed at improving people’s transport choices and better connecting the south eastern suburbs to each other and the rest of Auckland.”
The Transport Agency’s Regional Manager of Planning and Investment, Peter Casey, says support for Auckland projects like AMETI are a high priority for the Transport Agency. “AMETI ticks a lot of boxes for us in a very busy area of Auckland where there’s strong economic and population growth. Supporting Auckland Transport’s upgrades of a whole range of transport choices will improve safety, and make the time it takes to travel between destinations a lot more reliable for people.”
Mr Casey says the Transport Agency will contribute just over a 50% share of the total cost of AMETI – funding that comes from revenue gathered by the agency from the excise duty on fuel, road user charges and vehicle registration fees and is then reinvested in transport projects.
Auckland Transport will continue to consult with residents, businesses and the community in the project area before applying for a land designation in the second quarter of 2015. This would be followed by a publicly notified hearing.
So as a summary the design covers
- Replacing Panmure roundabout with an intersection with traffic lights and more direct pedestrian crossings
- Panmure to Pakuranga busway on lanes separate to traffic congestion
- Panmure to Pakuranga shared cycle/foot path separate to traffic
- Direct connection from Pakuranga Rd to Pakuranga Highway via Reeves Rd
- Pakuranga bus station
- Second Panmure Bridge for busway and shared path
Here’s an earlier image of how Lagoon Dr will look once completed.
It will be fantastic once this has been completed as the South East is so woefully under served by public transport and is the most car dependant area in all of Auckland as a result. The other thing is even with the services that exist we’re already hearing stories of huge numbers of people transferring of buses and on to trains. This trend will continue to grow with the new network and once the busway is built will be happening in huge numbers.
Electric trains start rolling out on the Manukau line from tomorrow however unlike the Onehugna Line not all services will switch over at once with them only starting on off peak services before being introduced over the course of a month to peak services too.
The roll-out of electric trains in Auckland steps up next week with the introduction of the new trains on the Manukau Line.
Initially electric trains will run on some off-peak services, they will be introduced to all services over the next month.
Auckland Transport’s Chief Operations Officer Greg Edmonds says the new trains have been very popular since their introduction on the Onehunga Line in April but with any transition we should be prepared for “teething problems.”
“We want to ensure our customers who use the trains to Manukau are getting a reliable service so we will be gradually increasing the number of electric trains over the next month.”
Meanwhile, testing continues across the rail network following an intermittent power fault which saw some Onehunga services affected. Mr Edmonds stresses there are no safety issues associated with the fault.
From memory this is actually slightly ahead of schedule which is good.
Photo by Patrick Reynolds
I’m sure those on the eastern line can’t wait for them to roll out as I frequently get reports of people having to wait for 2 or 3 trains before being able to get on board at peak times. At this stage AT are just rolling out the EMUs on to the existing timetable however there is hopefully going to be a timetable improvement in the coming months that will boost the number of services from Manukau.