New Network niggles

The new bus network is the right approach but it will only work if implemented well. So far there are some positive looking numbers.

  • Train boardings at Otahuhu and Manukau have increased, with Otahuhu doubling over the first three weeks of operation;
  • Total transfers across South Auckland up by 147%,
  • Bus/bus transfer up by 94%
  • Bus/train transfers up by 207%.

Although what would be more useful to know is if this was resulting in more people actually using PT.


While mostly the change appears to have gone relatively well, and it’s good to hear, not everything has. We’ve been hearing reports of issues with some buses and some of these were highlighted in this article.


But some of them specifically identified the 309 route as having issues ranging from break downs, to lateness and drivers getting lost.

An opinion piece on the new network singled out route for the same issues. In particular, buses were late or didn’t show up.

In one case a bus breakdown meant a 45 minute way for regular commuters. Occasionally some of the bus doors would not open automatically.

One woman wrote on Neighbourly that the bus had always run late every time she went to catch it.

The connector service runs from Mangere Bridge to the city via Mangere Bridge and Onehunga. It’s scheduled to run every 30 minutes.

Issues such as a lack of bus lanes are are almost certainly impacting on the network and I’ve heard that significant additional buses have needed to be run to maintain timetables. The cost of doing that will almost certainly be eating into the $3 million annual savings AT touted back in February. Getting on top of this and ensuring the operators are performing well, including knowing the routes is critical.

Worryingly though, it seems there’s some passing of the buck going on

A spokesperson for Auckland Transport couldn’t comment on the specific issues relating to the bus or the route, instead saying the contractor was the best to comment on it.

Go Bus, who is contracted to run the service, declined to comment. It says Auckland Transport sets the route and timetable and should comment.

It offered no comment on bus break downs or issues with doors not opening.

Both the AT and the operator pointing fingers at each other is a terrible look. AT have continually shifted to take greater control of the PT network, as they should, but with that also comes responsibility. As a user I and I’m sure all others don’t care who the operator is, our relationship is with AT and that’s who should take responsibility here.

December AT Board update

Next week Auckland Transport hold their final board meeting for the year. Coming hot on the heels of the November one there’s not a lot of new information available in the currently available reports but there are a few important items.

Closed Session

Here are the items on the closed session. Most seem fairly straight forward and probably a bit boring but there are a few that stand out, particularly talk about train capacity and allowing electric vehicles in bus lanes – the only electric vehicles that should be in bus lanes are electric buses. I also wonder why these items are even in the closed session, AT list the reason as “To protect commercial interests” but just what commercial interests are there in talking about the capacity of trains or electric vehicles using bus lanes.

  • 2017/18 Internal Budget Strategy
  • Road Stoppings and Real Estate Inventory Optimisation
  • Train Capacity
  • Rail Operator
  • Agreement relating to Huapai Triangle Special Housing Area – Deed of Novation
  • Electric Vehicles in Special Vehicle Lanes
  • Quarterly AMETI Update
  • Housing Infrastructure Fund
  • CRL Update
  • 2016/17 Budget Realignment

Business Report

Coming hot on the heels of the November one there’s not a lot of new information available in the currently available reports but there are a few important items.

Lincoln Rd – AT didn’t say publicly that submissions were open for their supersizing of Lincoln Rd but they were and have now closed. But not yet having consent hasn’t stopped AT and the report says they spent $3.3 million in November buying up some of the land needed for the widening and that in total for the year, they’ve spent a staggering $28.42 million. The project is going to end up with the cost of a small motorway, which is perhaps appropriate given the road will look a bit like one once finished.

Integrated Fares for Ferries

AT say they’re working on integrated fares for ferries.

Ferry Integrated fares approach and options are under development. Use cases are being documented for Thales review. Ferry ticketing infrastructure is being programmed to ensure cash tickets/alternative payment means are brought within the ferry integrated fares project to ensure a lasting solution

As I understand it, it doesn’t mean fares will the same price as an equivalent bus fare but that journeys will be integrated together. For example, if you were trying to get from Bayswater to Newmarket you could get off the ferry downtown and then jump on a bus or train to Newmarket without paying an additional fare, but the ferry fare itself will likely still cost more than doing the same journey by land.

Parnell Station

As we’ve known for a little while, there’s a new timetable coming in March which is intended to speed up services, which also frees some extra trains up allowing them to be used boost capacity with more 6-car trains. It appears this timetable will start on 12 March.

We now also know that the timetable will see the start of services to Parnell, but there is a catch. At least initially only Southern Line services will stop at Parnell during the day although AT say Western Line trains will do so too in evenings and weekends. That is bound to cause confusion for customers wanting to go to or from Parnell. The old Newmarket station building will be moved to the site and refurbished between Christmas and June 2017.

You may have noticed no mention of Onehugna trains, that’s because there are some big changes coming with them too. As part of the new timetable Onehunga Line trains will run express from Ellerslie to Newmarket and then Britomart. Like Parnell, the Greenlane and Remuera stations will still be served by southern line trains every 10 minutes but any passengers waiting will get to watch an Onehunga line train blast past without stopping. This appears to be being done to free up an extra train so a service on one of the main lines can be expanded to 6-cars. While we definitively want AT to speed up trains, it seems doing it this way is a cop out to fixing actual issues such as the stupidly long dwell times we have or the horrifically long driver end change at Newmarket.

There is no mention on if the new timetable includes improved off peak frequencies which are needed to comply with the new network and AT’s Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP).

Station Gating

We’ve heard before that AT were planning to install ticket gates at more stations but there was no timeframe for this other than Otahuhu in April-June. They now say gates at Manurewa, Papatoetoe, Middlemore, Henderson and Parnell stations will be installed in Quarter three of 2017 and that they’re also planning for gates at Glen Innes and Papakura but there is no timeframe for that.

New Network

AT include a few brief numbers on the new network.

Train boardings at Otahuhu and Manukau have increased, with Otahuhu doubling over the first three weeks of operation; transfers across South Auckland up by 147%, bus/bus transfer up by 94% and bus/train transfers up by 207%

This seems good but knowing if it was actually resulting in more people using PT would be more useful.

Click & Collect expansion – a few months ago, AT launched a trial of being able to pick up shopping from countdown at some stations and other locations. They say that in February that will expand to include New World and Farro. It’s not in the board report but AT have also been installing vending machines at some stations. Here is some info from a local board report

As part of ongoing efforts to further improve customer amenity and convenience at public transport facilities, Auckland Transport will be conducting a vending machine trial in partnership with Coca-Cola (Branded as Pump) and Sanitarium. The trial will begin on 9th November 2016 and run over a period of six months.

As a part of this trial, AT will seek to provide customers with a broad range of breakfast, snack and cold drink products to choose from, while promoting healthier choices. This will be achieved by ensuring that healthy options benefit from high visibility and dominate the range of products on offer.

Nine rail stations across the network will be involved in this trial; Grafton, Manukau, Manurewa, Mt Albert, New Lynn, Newmarket, Otahuhu, Panmure and Puhinui. Following the successful outcome of this trial, an open Request for Proposal process will be held to identify network wide partners to provide a longer term offering

This is the final board meeting for the year with the next one not till near the end of February. There is also currently not patronage information but we should have it next week.

Traffic’s fine, free the streets for people

Auckland’s city centre is currently undergoing change on scale possibly never seen before and nowhere more so than around Albert St with the construction of the City Rail Link underway. Streets have been narrowed or in some places cut off completely. As I’ve talked about before, it has felt that the massive reduction in vehicle capacity hasn’t had any negative impact times for vehicles with roads still seeming to flow about as well as they did before the CRL works started. Although it feels that this has come at the expense of pedestrians who now have to wait longer at lights, something I’ll talk about later in this post.

One of the best examples of just how much road capacity has been taken out of the city centre is from the corner of Albert and Customs streets. The layout is being changed regularly and so what you see below from early November is not how it is now, but the level of capacity available is the same. There’s just one each way lane east-west on Customs, one lane southbound only on Albert south of Customs and only northbound lanes on Albert north of customs.

Looking south to the Albert/Customs intersection – via

Despite official predictions of chaos for drivers, anecdotal observations from many us suggested this was simply not happening. Now AT have created a report called the ‘City Centre Network Operations Monthly Report’ showing just what the impact has been and it seems our observations were correct. This report is for October 2016 but I also understand this report may become published monthly in the future too.

You can often tell an organisations priorities based on what areas they focus their reporting on, and in this case, the first and biggest section focuses on vehicle speeds and volumes. As you can see below, vehicle volumes into the CBD over the course of the day remain almost identical to what they were in October 2015 which was before the works started, just slightly down in the morning peak. Yet despite the massive loss of road capacity, speeds on the road network have actually gone up. The series of speedo graphs on the right hand side show in more detail the results for a number of major roads. Essentially if the dial is in the blue the route is faster than it was last year and the numbers show that only Customs St was slower.


One aspect I wasn’t aware of is that there is resource consent condition around vehicle delays being no more than 10 minutes compared to what they were before construction. It’s crazy that one mode has conditions like this put on it while the other modes don’t. Especially so to put it on the mode that is the least efficient way of moving people and that is less than half of all AM peak trips. These are metrics looked at on second page of the report. As a note, the report talks about people movement rather than just vehicles so it means with vehicles counting the number of passengers too.

This next page is frankly a jumbled mess, even putting aside the silly clip-art image. We’ve got a graph showing that a breakdown of trips to the CBD in the AM peak by mode. This also shows that the numbers are growing slightly. But by focusing on the people arriving in the city, there is a major omission of the number of people who live in the CBD already and so aren’t counted in these numbers. With the CBD population now over 40,000 and growing rapidly this is an important segment to include as will likely made a big difference on the in discussions on projects like the Victoria St Linear Park that AT want to squeeze up to fit more cars.


Speaking of pedestrians, one of the reasons for why travel speeds have improved is that in many intersections it appears that the signals have been adjusted to give greater priority to vehicles. We know that the double phasing on Queen St was removed and it appears that pedestrians are now having to wait longer at other intersections too. We need to get this changed and have more priority for people. This is even more important as pedestrian volumes are increasing according to the automated counters that Heart of The City have. As you can see below those counters are showing an 11% increase for the quarter to 30 September over the same time the year prior.


Also thinking long term, these results show that AT and the council can afford to be bolder on the future design of our streets in the city. After the CRL works finish, is there really a need to rush roads like Albert St back to unabated vehicle priority. The current construction works, and those in the future, present us huge opportunities to allow us to change the space allocation in the city.

Cities are ultimately about people and so it’s important we build our cities to support people.

Six digits quayed in

While AT have been proposing some rubbish lately with Mt Albert and some of their cycleway projects, there has been some good news too on Quay St.

Firstly, on Sunday an important milestone was reached with the cycleway counter tipping over 100,000. That’s pretty good given the cycleway only opened five months ago on July 8 and also only two months after reaching the 50,000 trip milestone. What’s more a lot more work is still needed to connect it to other routes, such as Nelson St – which should start construction early next year.

Quay St Cycleway Opening 2

Back in July, John Key and Simon Bridges kicked the cycleway counter off

The numbers using the cycleway, at least in the mornings and evenings are starting to be impressive. Just yesterday I was transferring between a bus on Albert St and a train to head home in the afternoon and in the brief walk along Quay St a quick chat to a friend I bumped in to, I must have seen a dozen or more bikes glide past. This is of course reflected in the numbers. As shown below, recently the cycleway has more frequently been seeing counts of over 1,000 per per day and with warmer weather now here, that’s likely to continue for some time so we could see the tally pass 200k by around the end of summer.

The second piece of good news relating to Quay St is that AT will start work in February next year to extend it further east to just before the intersection with the Strand. The works are planned to to be finished by the middle of the year. For perhaps the first time with a cycleway project, there’s also no consultation for this one, AT are just getting on with it


The plan is to use the same basic design as what already exists and like completed section, comes mainly from narrowing down the un-neccessarly wide median and traffic lanes. AT say the changes include

  • Minor alterations to bus stops between Plumer Street and The Strand to ensure safety for passengers waiting for and transferring on and off buses.
  • The design for this first stage of construction requires a narrower centre (median) island, which means we’ll be shortening the right turning lane on Quay Street that gives access to the western entrance of the apartment complex near The Strand.
  • A temporary ramp will be installed to connect the cycleway back onto the existing shared path where this first stage of works stops at the eastern end of Quay Street near The Strand intersection. The existing bus stop will shift a short distance towards The Strand.
  • To create room for the cycleway, we plan to move the traffic lanes and narrow the median island in the centre of the road. Changes to the median island mean relocating around 14 trees as it will become too narrow to support them. One additional tree will also be relocated from the berm, between the existing shared path and the cycleway. It will make way for the upgraded bus stop east of Plumer Street. An arborist is currently assessing the health of the trees and identifying those that can be relocated. At the same time, we are working with Auckland Council Parks to identify suitable locations for those trees.
  • Around 18 car parks will be removed from the northern side of Quay Street, opposite the shopping area and apartment complex near The Strand. The complex is served by off-street carparks.


You can see the plans for the project but here are just a couple of images from it showing the design that is planned.



The plan is to extend the cycleway along Tamaki Dr in 2018 as part of the Eastern Path project

Photo of the Day: Our Out of Balance Centre City Streets

Vincent and Pitt, Thursday 5:49 pm. Every corner occupied with people wanting to cross, including eight on this silly little delight of a ‘pedestrian refuge’, or nine if you include me, as I stepped back into the vehicle priority slip lane to take the shot, including at least one genuine princess. There appears to be one vehicle using the intersection and another a long long way in the distance up Pitt street.


Auckland Transport have a lot of work to do to fix the dated modal priority that dominates City Centre streets as it is no longer fit for purpose. This design dates from a time when very few lived in the city, fewer worked there and those that did didn’t stay on to recreate in the city either. It is also from before the time that the economic and social value of well designed walkable streets were so well understood. People not in cars need more space and time afforded to them from the people that control this critical part of our public domain. The value of this in supporting the modern urban services economy and the social well being of everyone is overwhelming.

After all transport infrastructure is simply a means to economic and social ends; not an end in it self.

Mt Albert upgrade under threat

Hot on the heels of last weeks flurry of consultations, we now have another one to add the mix and it’s one that could definitely use some help to stop Auckland Transport going rogue with a nonsensical and dangerous plan.

You may recall that back in November, the Albert-Eden Local Board undertook consultation on plans to revitalise the Mt Albert town centre. The plans were decent and included some great changes such as removing the slip lane onto Mt Albert Rd for southbound traffic, but as always, it had some areas that could be improved, particularly related to the lack of bike infrastructure. In February it was announced that overall, the plan had 94% support from respondents with the provision for bikes being the main objection and so the plans were adjusted to include raised cycle lanes the length of the town centre. Here’s what was confirmed at the time.


Since then the first part of the plan, the direct connection to the town centre from Mt Albert Train Station was completed.

Now, suddenly, Auckland Transport are back with an unusually short consultation on one aspect of the plan, for northbound on New North Rd, that is completely at odds with the stated goals of the project. It’s worth noting that this is a local board led project, they want Mt Albert to be more people friendly town centre. AT say this about the upgrade

Mt Albert Town Centre upgrade is an Auckland Council and Albert-Eden Local Board joint project that will be delivered by Auckland Transport to revitalise the heart of one of Auckland’s older suburbs. It aims to celebrate its unique character while creating a clean, safe, pleasant and lively environment both day and night that locals can enjoy and take pride in.

There’s not a lot of information online but based on what we’ve experienced in from AT in the past it’s clear from the language what must have happened. Essentially it appears that as the project has progressed, the traffic engineers have got hold of the plans and grabbed their traffic modelling tight like a child clinging to their favourite blanket or toy. The problem with this is we’ve seen over and over again the traffic modelling been proven wrong yet it still gets used, after all the computer saying no to an idea is easier to explain. So when there’s even the slightest hint of inconvenience for car drivers, even if a proposal does all sorts of other wonderful things, the engineers put their foot down. I’ve heard of projects being delayed for months, possibly a year or longer and all at huge cost just to show that a proposal won’t cause the sky to fall.

At issue is how to deal with right hand turns from New North Rd to Mt Albert Rd. They say that all up are around 1,200 right turn movements at the intersection currently. There four options are suggested.

  • Option 1: Right turn at all times
  • Option 2: Right turn banned part of the time
  • Option 3: Right turn banned at all times
  • Option 4: Changed layout with right turn allowed at all times

I’ll cover each of these below but Option 4 is AT’s preferred option.

Option 1: Right turn at all times

This combines the right turn lane with a straight through lane. The issue is AT say the models show a 50% increase in delays in the morning peak and 300% in the evening peak. Something doesn’t seem right with this as in the evenings when most traffic is southbound, why would northbound traffic delay the intersection.


Option 2: Right turn banned part of the time

This would prevent right turns being undertaken during busy times but AT say they don’t actually know how long that would need to be. They say it would also cause confusion for drivers


Option 3: Right turn banned at all times

This option just does away with right turns altogether and surprisingly doing so has some big benefits including reducing intersection delays by 10-30%. It would also have the benefit of having more people use Richardson Rd/Owairaka Ave which would help get some traffic out of the town centre.


Option 4: Changed layout with right turn allowed at all times

As mentioned this is AT’s preferred option as it gives right turn movements a dedicated lane but it does so at the expense of the cycleway which instead stops dead at the bus stop and cyclists are then expected to mix with traffic.


What’s notable about this consultation is not just what AT say but what they don’t say. Nowhere in the consultation do AT talk about the benefits of having a safe bike lanes as part of the solution or what is lost by removing them in option 4. All that is really focused on is having turning options or not. Also not mentioned in the information is the impact on carparking as you can see that the first three options actually retain more carparking than option 4 does due to squeezing in that turning lane. They don’t even mention clearly that option 4 would perform worse than option 3 from a traffic movement perspective.

Just back on the bike lanes, AT say this as one of the benefits of the town centre upgrade.

A safer, more appealing environment for pedestrians, cyclists, commuters, road users and retail and restaurant businesses.

Do they really think that cutting out the bike lanes will make it safer for users. I wonder if the engineers who proposed this daft idea would be prepared to look a parent in the eye and tell them with a straight face that it’s safe for their child to use. These plans will do nothing to get people who aren’t currently brave enough to cycle in the city to try ride a bike.

Putting aside the design for a second, the timing and details of this consultation are also odd. It went up on AT’s website quietly on Friday night and three different dates are listed for when feedback closes. One comment in the timeline section says December 13, the “Have your say” section lists the date as Thursday December 15 while the paper feedback form says Friday December 16. The timeline section also says feedback will be received and analysed while also stating that construction starts in January. That’s got to be a record turnaround time, especially once Christmas and New Year are taken into account so perhaps suggests AT have already decided on the outcome and are only going through the consultation motions to be able to tick a box. In a final bit of poor form, the only way currently visible to make a submission is to print off a form and send it to AT, even though the form itself says you can do it all online.

Overall this appears to be a sham consultation to justify a shoddy option, one that is at odds with the stated goals and visions of the Mayor, Council, Local Board, those who have previously submitted, because it removes more parking probably the retailers and of course it’s even at odds with AT’s own policies and vision.

Hopefully AT can put up an online version of the feedback form today as it’s important we get submissions in to stop their dangerous preferred option. Given Option 3 also improves traffic at the intersection by 10-30% and other options for regional trips already exist via Richardson Rd/Owairaka Ave, it appears Option 3 is probably the best of what has been suggested.

*UPDATE: From AT: page now has online form:

It’s Cycleway Consultation Season

It seems it’s consultation season for bike related projects with not one, not two but three currently now underway by Auckland Transport and all could do with submissions to improve them.

Herne Bay cycling and walking improvements – Closes 18 December

This project came out of AT’s recent consultation on improving cycling options in the inner west of the city. AT say the original plan was for cycling connections via Clifton Road, Argyle Street and Sarsfield Street however they’ve now opted for area wide traffic calming measures using speed tables. All up 22 speed tables are proposed at intersections and mid-block, as shown below.


Here are some examples what is proposed. More can be seen on the AT website.



In a location such as this, an area wide traffic calming effort, if done properly, should deliver a good outcome and across a much wider area than a single cycleway as planned before. It will also have benefits not just for cycling but for pedestrians and a wider range of residents too.

But of course there are things that could be better with  the first thing that springs to mind being that there are no ways for bikes to bypass the speed tables, like Auckland Transport proposed recently for Northcote Point, one example of which is below.


Further, while the traffic calming will likely help in reducing speeds, it surely wouldn’t hurt to back that up with an area wide change to speed limits.

Our friends at Bike Auckland have a few other ideas too.

There are two open days planned for the consultation, the first being today, details below.

  • Thursday, 1 December, 11am to 2pm at The Governor, 228 Jervois Road, Herne Bay.
  • Saturday, 10 December, 11am to 2pm at the Leys Institute (Ponsonby Library), 20 St Marys Road, Ponsonby.

Consultation closes December 18.

Westhaven to City cycle route – Closes 18 December

Many of the cyclists using the Herne Bay roads above, along with those from the future Skypath as well as other locations, will be heading to the city. Currently, upon passing the motorway noose the options are usually to take the scenic route via North Wharf and Te Wero Bridge, wind around Gaunt St and Viaduct Harbour Dr or to brave Fanshawe St. While only anecdotal, I notice a lot picking the later as it’s the most direct route.

AT are now proposing to upgrade Viaduct Harbour Dr to make it more bike friendly and they’re currently consulting on the section as far as Market Pl.


Unfortunately, what AT are suggesting is a complete turd of a solution for a route that will likely have high numbers using it. The plan, like above is to just calm traffic using speed tables as well as some paint while making no changes to the road. That might be appropriate in an area like Herne Bay but in my view, is completely inappropriate in this location which is likely to have higher volumes using it including children. Based on what’s proposed, they’ll stick to using the footpath – a view some have already expressed on social media.

Below is an overview of the plans but more detailed versions can be found here.


One example of why this is such a rubbish idea can be seen in this more detailed view of the plan on the part of Customs St West north of Pakenham St East. As you can see people on bikes are meant to cycle on the road behind angle parked cars who could start reversing out without being able to see if any cyclists are coming. Would the people who proposed this be prepared to let their 8-year old child ride on the road here, I certainly wouldn’t (if I had one).


AT have already ruled out using Fanshawe St for a direct connection but I think they need to go back to the drawing board and look at as an option again. The road must be one of the widest in Auckland with the corridor in places over 38m wide. For the section east of Halsey St this width includes a massive 4.5m wide flush median. If ever there was a road that could do with some boulevard treatment, it would be Fanshawe St. That boulevard would include improved footpaths, cycleways, a separated urban busway and then the general traffic lanes

And Fanshawe needs some love too, while it is designed and treated like a giant motorway on/off ramp, it also had surprisingly high volumes of pedestrians who would also benefit from making the area more people friendly and less sterile. What’s more, given the width I think that could likely be accommodated without having to compromise on the number of traffic lanes


This idea is something we might flesh out in a later post but let’s get this option back on the table because what’s proposed won’t get anyone new cycling on Viaduct Harbour Ave and there is already the scenic route available via the waterfront for those that want that.

Like above, the consultation closes on December 18

Parnell cycleway and residential parking zone – Closes 23 December

The government’s Urban Cycleway Programme identified a route from Tamaki Dr up to Newmarket. To facilitate that, AT are looking at putting protected cycleways along St Stephens Ave and Gladstone Rd.


We along with others like Bike Auckland and Generation Zero met with AT over this project some months ago when at the time they were planning to just install painted lanes. We told there was no point in having a fight over removing the parking they would need to if they were just going to put a bit of paint on the road. Thankfully they’ve taken that feedback on board and the proposed solution includes physically separated bike lanes. In some locations these cycleways will have parking outside them while in other locations there will be no parking. AT say that all up just 95 carparks are affected.


This isn’t to say the proposal is perfect, for example at bus stops the cycleway just stops and cyclists would have to wait for it to depart again.


In this situation, a solution like floating bus stops, where the stop is pushed into the general traffic lane and the bus stop and bike lane become a shared area might be more appropriate, but that would mean AT getting over their fears about buses stopping in general traffic.

To go with the cycleway, AT is proposing a residential parking scheme for the area. They say that just 10% of cars parked on the street are from locals with most assumed to be commuters. They also think the scheme will help locals deal with the loss of the parking on Gladstone Rd.


If you want to talk to AT about the plans, they’ll be at La Cigale French Market (69 St Georges Bay Road, Parnell) on Saturday 3 December from 8am to 1pm.

Consultation closes 23 December.


What do you think of what AT has proposed?

Why we do this

Here is a great 15 minute look back at the work of Streetsblog and Streetsfilms from New York, that articulates the motivation behind what we do here at Transportblog. However modestly compared to their output. This is a worldwide movement; the profound improvement of lives, one street at a time. It is also, I believe, unstoppable, simply because it is so effective, so overdue, and therefore so powerful.

And it is, ultimately, about ending the dominance of our streets by traffic, about returning balance to this easily overlooked but vital slice of public space. Everything is interconnected in this increasingly urban age, and the street is really were it all comes together in the city. Get the streets right and so much else will follow; from human wellbeing to wealth creation and equity, from public health to personal freedom and opportunity, from environmental sustainability to social resilience and security.

A great thing in the film is also something we are seeing here; the mainstreaming of these ideas into our institutions. This does sometimes lead to confusion for some people, as when the Council, Auckland Transport, or NZTA do something we agree with we do of course praise them, yet some people think we should only ever be critical and never supportive. This is naive and would be counter-productive. Rather we would love to be made unnecessary; we believe our views are rational and supported by evidence and deserve to be the official ones. Here’s to the next decade and more of constant improvement and reasoned and evidenced activism. And thanks for reading.

Santa Parade Groundhog

It’s groundhog time once again. Every year at around this time, we post a near identical post because every year Auckland Transport makes the same boneheaded decision. This all relates to what should be a cheerful occasion, the Santa Parade. You can see the previous posts below:

First, here’s what AT have to say.

Santa is coming to town on Sunday but the central city has changed a bit since his last visit. Santa says driving into town isn’t a great idea so he’s suggesting you take the family on a bus, train or ferry to the Farmers Santa Parade.

Public transport will be busier than usual but Auckland Transport is putting on some extra services to make sure everyone is in town for the 1pm parade.

On buses, trains and ferries, there will be some selected additional services but not too many and regular fares apply. The fare situation is a little different this year though since the introduction of simplified fares. The family pass no longer exists, although how hard it was to buy in the past – only available at a manned train or busway stations – I suspect it was rarely sold. Instead, a feature of Simplified Fares is that kids with a HOP card loaded with a child concession pay a maximum of 99c for a trip.

As an example, if all using HOP, a family of two adults and two children from the Ishmus or Lower North Shore zones will pay $16.36 for return trip while a family travelling from the Upper North Shore, Waitakere or Manukau North will pay $23.56.

But then they get the part about those who drive to town.

If you are planning to drive to the parade, please be aware that road closures and parking restrictions will be in place.

Public parking is free at the Downtown, Victoria Street and Civic car parks for vehicles parked by 11am and exited by 6pm. Exit after 6pm will incur a fee.

So after telling people they shouldn’t drive to town they offer free parking for those that do. Rather than writing the same thing again, I’m largely just going to quote from these old posts. Here’s what I said in 2013 about the same situation.

AT are making two of their parking buildings free for the afternoon. Are they completely insane?

Firstly it completely undermines the any incentive for people to use public transport to get to the city, the one location that would be easiest to ramp up services to. But worse it is likely to cause nightmares on the day. The free parking only covers the Downtown and Victoria St carparks which according to the AT website have 1,890 and 850 spaces respectively so 2,740 all up. Even if every space was taken up with a car carrying the mythical nuclear family of two parents and two kids, that only represents about 11,000 people. That might seem like a lot but would only represent a small fraction of the overall crowd, often estimated at up to 300,000 but more realistically to be around the 80-90k mark.

The problem though is that lured by the potential for free parking heaps of people will then decide to drive to the CBD, after all why pay for a train or bus when you can get free parking in the CBD. Also worth pointing out that it isn’t possible to buy a family pass now unless you are at one of the handful of train stations that still sell them and it is also the same day that the rest of the Metrolink fleet switch over to HOP.

Those car parking spaces will be gone in a flash (probably before the free period even starts) and that will leave the CBD clogged with cars trying to find alternative places to park and will potentially even see people missing the event as a result.

Now I understand the free parking is possibly related to deals done some time ago but what I don’t understand is why AT don’t make public transport free too. I imagine a lot of families would be keen to use it. The main reason I suspect they don’t is they’re too scared their crappy weekend frequencies, even with a few extra services, would be easily overwhelmed.

AT seem to have finally learned to increase PT capacity before the annual March Madness, perhaps next year they’ll learn to put frequent services and free PT on for the Santa Parade.

Assorted bike related news

A few of bike related things from recent days.


Lightpath turns one in just over a week (December 3rd) and in its first year has seen over 200,000 bike trips across its magenta surface. So the other day it was fantastic to hear that it had won the transport category of the World Architecture Festival, and it looks like it had some strong competition.

Te Ara I Whiti ©Patrick Reynolds 2016

Te Ara I Whiti ©Patrick Reynolds 2016

Awesome work from everyone who helped make this project a reality.



Next, I’ve noticed of the last few years there has been almost no coverage from the paper of many of the important transport transformations that have been underway. They’ve ignored changes like the roll out of electric trains, cycleways and the new bus network. So it was interesting yesterday to see a paid article in Herald from the council about transport. The article focused primarily on cycleways but also mentioned PT near the end.


I thought the more than a casual mention of paying people to cycle, even by employers, was an odd angle and certainly something I don’t think could even really be considered until after a more comprehensive network of safe protected cycleways have been rolled out. If we did start to move down that route though, we’d surely also want some way of expanding this to encourage kids to ride to school too.

Actually, a few quick back of the envelope calculations show it isn’t all that expensive either. According to Stats NZ, there are 210k people in Auckalnd between the ages of 10 and 19. If you could get an impressive 20% of them to ride an average of just 3km to school, then with around 190 school days a year it would only cost around $12 million annually. That’s peanuts compared to how much we spend on transport in Auckland as in the year to the end of June the NZTA and Auckland Transport combined spent over $1.4 billion on transport

I also thought the comment about keeping the number of cars arriving in Auckland constant but having additional growth taken up by other modes. While I’m not saying that even just maintaining the status quo is an easy thing to do, having that as a goal sounds remarkably unambitous. How different and more agressive would transport plans need to be if we set the goal of reducing car use, not just on a per capita basis but in real terms too.


The Tūpuna Maunga Authority has decided that in 2017 they’ll extend the ban on cars up the summit of Maungawhau/Mt Eden to five more mountains across Auckland. These are:

  • Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill
  • Maungarei/Mt Wellington
  • Ōwairaka/Mt Albert
  • Puketāpapa/Mt Roskill
  • Takarunga/Mt Victoria

That will leave the mountains open for people on foot and bike, although they say automated barriers will allow those with limited mobility to drive up. One of the reasons given for this change is to improve safety for people who currently walk up the mountains and they say there has been an increasing number of near misses.