CRL Market Sounding

With the work to get the CRL built as far as Wyndham St now effectively under way, it appears that Auckland Transport are starting to shift their focus on the rest of the project. They will obviously want to get as much of the planning and design work done as they can so that construction is able to start as soon as possible after the government confirm funding – as there’s a lot to do AT have said in the past that the earliest works could start on rest of the project is 2018.

As part of their preparation, AT are looking to develop their procurement strategy so they can get the best value for money and to do so they’re now sounding out the industry to help work out the best way of doing things. This means considering what type of procurement model they’ll use, what kinds of contracts they’ll use, how they’ll split up the project – if they do so at all and probably a range of other things.

They have broken up the CRL into 10 distinct packages of work and published information on their website about what each entails. In doing so it gives us a better understanding of just what will be involved in the project and how much each package is likely to cost. The packages are shown below with numbers 1, 2 and 3 being the ones part of the early works.

Market Sounding Map of CRL Packages

Further below I’ve included the information from the AT website explaining what is in each package but first the things that stood out to me.

  • At Aotea there is the possibility for future connections to Sky City and the planned NDG tower but I’m surprised they haven’t allowed for connection direct to the Council building. They are also future proofing for a possible rail line under Wellesley St – presumably this means by not piling/foundations in the way.
  • With lots of line closures and moving of lines the works at Mt Eden are going to be very disruptive for Western Line users.
  • I’m glad that they’ll also reconfigure Britomart. After the CRL is complete platforms 2, 3 and 4 will not be used as much as now and at present platforms 1/2 and 4/5 get very busy. Making the commonly used platforms wider will help deal with the masses of people that will use the station.
  • The expected cost of packages 4-9 is $1.89 billion while the enabling works add an extra $280 million. That means all up the tunnel itself is expected to cost just under $2.2 billion.

And the full list mentioned above. For most readers the majority of the details are not likely to be a surprise.

4. Aotea Station

  • Two-level underground station.
  • 150-metre platform directly under Albert Street between Wellesley and Victoria Streets.
  • Underground levels (mezzanine concourse and platform) will connect via lifts and escalators with entrances from street level at both ends.
  • Possible future connections from concourse level to Sky City and the future NDG building on the south-east corner of Albert and Victoria Streets.
  • Provision for future property development (circa 17-storey building) above the southern entrance on the south-east corner of Wellesley and Albert Streets.
  • Passive provision for a future line under CRL in Wellesley Street.
  • A number of plant rooms above the running tunnels north of Victoria Street ensure the station effectively extends from Wellesley Street to the enabling works contract at the corner of Albert and Wyndham Streets.
  • Provisions will be made to withdraw the tunnel-boring machines (TBMs) at the southern end of the station.
  • Cut-and-cover construction envisaged with heavy strutting or top-down construction. Vehicle and pedestrian access maintained to businesses on both sides of Albert Street.
  • Works area located in the Auckland Council carpark on Mayoral Drive between Wellesley and Myers Streets.
  • Intersection of Wellesley and Albert Street and Victoria and Albert Street cannot be closed at the same time.
  • Value of works: circa $300 million.

Aotea Station Design Exploded View
5. Karangahape Station and mined tunnels

  • A deep (circa 30-metre) station.
  • 150-metre platform from Mercury Lane entrance with provisions for a future entrance at Beresford Square (not in CRL project).
  • Inclined escalator shafts and lifts access.
  • Platform tubes (circa 11-metre diameter) mined from access shafts in Mercury Lane and Pitt Street. Work areas located on Mercury Lane and Hopetoun Alpha carpark (corner Beresford Square and Hopetoun Street).
  • Provision for a future property development above the Mercury Lane entrance.
  • Twin-bore tunnels (circa 7-metre diameter) will join with Aotea Station and the Western line.
  • Tunnels likely to be constructed by a tunnel-boring machine (TBM).
  • Boring will likely be downhill towards the north because the back-up area is at the southern end.
  • TBM likely to be extracted from the southern end of Aotea Station after the first drive and the second drive repeated (starting at the Mt Eden end).
  • Station and tunnels will not be constructed in separate contracts due to the critical interface between the running tunnels and the station platform tubes.
  • Value of works: circa $700 million.

K Rd - Full Station Cut Away

6. Connections with the Western line and Mt Eden Station

  • East and west, up and down line connections will be fully grade separated.
  • Reconstruction of existing Western line from Dominion Road to Lauder Road. Commuter rail and freight operations will be maintained.
  • Multiple blocks of lines required, relocation of track, overhead line and signalling.
  • Multi-staged construction including reconstruction of Western line platforms and a new Mt Eden station on the CRL line.
  • Station will be constructed by open cut with lift, escalator and footbridge pedestrian connections between the Western line and CRL platforms.
  • A new access road will be formed.
  • Significant number of properties have been purchased to create the works area around Mt Eden Station.
  • Value of works: circa $300 million.

Mt Eden Station Plan

7. Linewide systems

  • Consisting of trackwork, overhead-line, signalling, control systems, tunnel ventilation, communications systems, high voltage power and trackside auxiliaries.
  • Value of works: circa $250 million.

8. Britomart east

  • Rearrange trackwork in the “throat” area where the twin tunnels meet Britomart Station (between Britomart Place and Tangihua Street).
  • Reduce the number of platforms from 5 to 4 and widen the 2 existing outside platforms (1 and 5).
  • Provision of additional vertical access at the eastern end of the station from widened platforms with changes to the upper 2 levels of the station.
  • Work to be completed after CRL has opened and Britomart is operating as a through rather than terminating station.
  • Very significant interface with the operational railway.
  • Value of works: circa $40 million.

9. Station architectural finishes and building services

  • Architectural finishes such as floors, ceilings, walls and column cladding, builders works, low voltage power, escalators, lifts, station ventilation, hydraulics, fire protection, building management system, lighting.
  • Value of works: circa $300 million.

10. Client-supplied items

  • Ticket machines.
  • HOP card readers.


  • Packages 4 and 5 may be combined pending review during market sounding. Package 9 may be combined with the station contracts, pending review during market sounding.
  • It is likely that contractors responsible for delivering packages 4 to 9 will also be responsible for the design.

Auckland ‘Carmageddon’

We’ve written before about the construction disruption coming to central Auckland next year. In particular there are two big half billion dollar full block rebuilds in the Convention Centre and the Downtown development and associated tower, plus the City Rail Link early works, then there are numerous other office and residential towers due to start. Only projects very close to the CRL route are shown below, there’s a lot more to the west both at Wynyard and around Sale St and elsewhere:

CRL Growth Corridor

AT have some details on their CRL page about the details of their work, including a video of the Albert St process, no doubt they will communicate more closer to the time. Work on the pipe-jacking access shafts start early next month on Albert St. But as there is so much other construction starting next year I wonder if AT wouldn’t be wiser to really take an bold line on this as it all winds up? For the people who are used to driving through the city it’s more than likely these habits will be impacted. I feel the best way for AT to manage this frustration is to front-foot it, to ‘own’ this disruption, explain that people should not expect to get by without making changes. Say this is going to be big and difficult, but worth it in the long run. Just hoping to minimise disruption and try not to draw attention to it and that it’s all going to be ok seems to me to invite more of a backlash. In particular to invite accusations of carelessness and incompetence.

I think AT should consider a little Catastrophising; should call down a full ‘CARMAGEDDON’ for the central city next year. This has four potential benefits:

1. They can’t then be accused of downplaying or not taking the disruption to peoples’ commutes and daily business seriously.

2. It is likely to get a number of people to change their plans especially it may get more people to trying other methods for getting into the city, thereby actually helping to reduce the impacts of all this construction activity.

3. For these and other reasons it is likely that it won’t actually be as bad as they paint it, so people will feel more relief than anger.

4. It is a good way to get communication into the media, and with it the opportunity to discuss the value of the projects too.

Here’s an example of what I mean. The I-405 in LA:


A section of I-405 was closed over the weekend of Friday, July 15, 2011 as part of the Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project.[10] Before the closing, local radio DJs and television newscasts referred to it as “Carmageddon” and “Carpocalypse”, parodying the notion of Armageddon and the Apocalypse, since it was anticipated that the closure would severely impact traffic.[11][12]

In reality, traffic was lighter than normal across a wide area. California Department of Transportation reported that fewer vehicles used the roads than usual, and those who did travel by road arrived more quickly than on a normal weekend.[13] The Metrolink commuter train system recorded its highest-ever weekend ridership since it began operating in 1991. Ridership was 50% higher than the same weekend in 2010, and 10% higher than the previous weekend ridership record, which occurred during the U2 360° Tour in June 2011.[14] In response to jetBlue Airlines‘ offer of special flights between Bob Hope Airport in Burbank and Long Beach Airport, a distance of only 29 mi (47 km), for $4,[15][16] a group of cyclists did the same journey in one and a half hours, compared to two and a half hours by plane (including a drive to the airport from West Hollywood 90 minutes in advance of the flight and travel time to the end destination).[17] There was also some debate about whether the Los Angeles area could benefit from car-free weekends on a regular basis.[13]


Granted this was only for one weekend, but still the principle is the same; own the cause of the likely negativity boldly.

What do you think is the best way for Auckland deal with these growing pains?

Auckland Rapid Transit Network

This is AT’s official future vision for  the Rapid Transit Network in Auckland. I feel the need to show this again in the context of a number of uninformed views about the CRL popping up again, as one of the chief misunderstandings is to treat the City Rail Link as a single route outside of the network it serves.

All successful transport systems are designed through network thinking and not just as a bunch of individual routes, this is true of our existing and extensive motorway network just as it is true for our rapidly growing Rapid Transit one. The Waterview tunnel is not being built just so people can drive from Mt Roskill to Pt Chev, and nor is the CRL just to connect Mt Eden to downtown.

The CRL is but one project on the way to a whole city-wide network, as is clearly shown below, and as such it doesn’t do everything on its own.

But then having said that because it is at the heart of  the current and future city-wide network it is the most crucial and valuable point of the whole system. That is true today and will continue to true for as long as there is a city on this Isthmus. In fact it is hard to overstate the value of the CRL as by through-routing the current rail system it is as if it gives Auckland a full 100km Metro system for the cost of a pair of 3.4km tunnels and a couple of stations. This is simply the best bargain going in infrastructure in probably any city of Auckland’s size anywhere in the world and is certainly the best value transport project of scale in New Zealand. Because it is transformational* for the city and complementary to all our existing systems, especially the near complete urban motorway network.

Additionally the capacity it adds to the region’s whole travel supply is immense: taking up to 48 trains an hour this can move the equivalent of 12 motorway lanes of car traffic. All without flattening any place nor need to park or circulate those vehicles on local roads and streets. And all powered by our own renewably generated electricity. This is how the city grows both in scale and quality without also growing traffic congestion.

AT Rapid Transit Network - 2041

This map will evolve over time as each addition is examined in detail. For example I expect the cost-effectiveness and efficiency a rail system over the harbour, up the busway and to Takapuna to become increasingly apparent well before this time period. In fact as the next harbour crossing, so we are likely to see that in the next decade, otherwise this is that pattern that both the physical and social geography of Auckland calls for. Additionally Light Rail on high quality right-of-ways, although not true Rapid Transit, will also likely be added in the near term.

Welcome to Auckland: City.

* = transformational because it substantially changes not only our movement options, the quality of accessibility between places throughout the city and without the use of a car, but also Auckland’s very idea of itself; we have not been a Metro city before: It is doing things differently.


Matt suggested adding this more recent version. I agree this is a good idea, it shows just how quickly ideas are changing in Auckland right now. This is a very fluid and exciting time for the city as the new possibilities are becoming acknowledged by all sorts of significant players. It remains my view that extending our existing rail system is better for Mangere and the Airport, but that taking AT’s proposed LR across the harbour in its own new crossing is a really good option:

RPTP potential LRT + RTN Map

And just this morning we get wind of these very big changes for those making plans for Auckland. It looks like the funding roadblocks [pun intended] for the necessary urban infrastructure that the growing and shifting Auckland needs may be melting away….?

Treasury Tweets


No White Elephants to be found here

There was a quite angry editorial in the Sunday Star Times (SST) yesterday about Len Brown’s mayoralty which included this stunningly bad comment on transport.

He did manage to slip through one win, the city rail link, just before details of his sex antics became public. Unfortunately, this $2.5 billion project will do nothing to address Auckland’s transport problems; 99 per cent of Aucklanders will never use it.

This is a vain egotistic folly that will serve only to shuttle the ladies-who-lunch between the leafy suburbs of Mt Eden and the trendy restaurant precincts of Federal St and Britomart, and to deliver more sad-eyed gamblers right to the doors of SkyCity casino – the same powerful constituent that donated generously to Brown’s election campaign and greased his palm with free hotel rooms.

One of Auckland most ineffectual leaders, Brown would be quickly forgotten – but for this white elephant in the room. The city’s ratepayers and, indeed, the nation’s taxpayers will still be picking up the bill for his rail project decades into the future.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen comments like these about the City Rail Link from a mainstream media outlet, with the anti-CRL vitriol now normally the domain of the rabid anti-PT types.

Work is now happening to shift services on Albert St and in May the diggers will get started on the project itself. Due to that it’s been a while since we last did a bit of a recap of why the CRL is needed, so I thought perhaps it was time for a new one.

Firstly, where things are at so far.

Rail is becoming an increasingly important mode in Auckland, and while it may only be a small percentage of all trips in the region, the impact it has is far wider. To the end of September rail patronage for the prior 12 months was 14.6 million and growing rapidly: up almost 23% (2.7 million) in just a year, and up 65% (5.8 million) over the last 5 years. Further, that growth hasn’t come at the expense of other modes with bus patronage up 6% over the last year and 24% over the last five years. Based on the growth we’ve been seeing I expect we’re likely to reach 15 million trips sometime this week, and patronage is on track to reach 20 million trips some time in 2017.

2015-09 - Rail Patronage

At 14.6 million that equates to 40,000 trips per day across the year. However, most trips take place on a weekday, with people commuting to work or school. Auckland Transport include the average weekday patronage in their monthly stats reports and the most recent showed the weekday average had increased to over 51,000 trips per day – but that also includes times when not many people use trains, such as in January. As you can see from the chart below, since about February/March it has averaged about 55,000 trips per day.

2015-09 - Weekday Rail Use

Auckland Transport say that every day, around 35,000 people pass through Britomart on their way to or from a train. That is considerably more than the 21,000 in 2021 forecast when the business case was written and is only set to grow – this is shown below. Patronage is also on track to exceed the predictions of modelling done to support projects such as electrification despite implementation of it occurring two years later than expected (prediction was 15.6 million trips by 2016 – we’re on track for about 16.1 million trips by then).

Daily Britomart Passengers - Actual vs Projected 2

During the two-hour morning peak (7am-9am), around 8,500 train passengers  arrive at Britomart (probably more now as that figure is some months old). This highlights a couple of key points.

  1. Imagine the impact on the roads and the overall economy if 8,500+ people had to shift how or when they travel because the rail network wasn’t invested in on the basis of “not a high percentage use it”. Imagine the impact if we took the same approach to roads.
  2. This is only a small amount of total 55k daily trips across the network.
  3. It also represents only about half of all patronage arriving at Britomart every day with the other half arriving off peak or counter peak in the afternoon. Add in the trips leaving Britomart, and the morning peak accounts for only about 25% of all trips to or from the city.
  4. The busiest single road entry to the city is Nelson St which is fed by two motorways, but during the morning peak it only carries around 6,000 people.

There are of course many other roads that lead to the city for cars (and buses, walking and cycling). The screenline surveys that produced some of these numbers are no longer conducted due to the cost and because much of the data is now available from systems like HOP. The last one was in 2014, and at that time just 47% of people entering the city during the peak did so in a car. Interestingly the car figures have remained static or declined slightly for more than a decade, so all growth in travel has happened on PT.

But why is the CRL needed? The simple answer is growth. Auckland, and especially the city centre, is growing rapidly. It is predicted that by 2041:

  • Auckland is expected to have another 700,000 people
  • The number of people living in the city centre and the city fringe will double to 140,000
  • Employment in the city centre and the city fringe is expected to increase to more than 200,000
  • Tertiary Student numbers in the city centre are expected to grow by 30% to 72,000

Catering for that growth isn’t easy. The roads are already busy, which is starting to limit the ability to increase bus capacity, and Britomart is also approaching its capacity – at a rapid rate, as pointed out above. The figures from the past seem to suggest that without the CRL, patronage on the current network will top out at somewhere between 20 and 25 million trips in the early 2020’s.

The CRL may only be a short 3.4km piece of track, but by busting through the cul-de-sac that is Britomart it enables significantly more trains to run, so it is an upgrade to the entire rail network – turning it into a higher frequency, 100km metro-like system. By through routing many services, AT’s suggested future operating pattern would see up to 36 trains per hour passing through the city during peak times, each carrying up to 750 people. That’s almost double what is possible without the CRL, although some of those will be counter peak so won’t be as full.

Post CRL running pattern

The last figures we saw were in the City Centre Future Access Study a few years ago – it looked at over 30 different options to address the expected growth in the city centre. It was modelled then (integrated CRL + Surface Bus) that around 30,000 per day would come in to the city on the rail network in the morning peak.

CCFAS 2041 results 3

If we use the assumption that the morning peak only accounts for around one quarter of all patronage to the city and extrapolate that out to the numbers above, it suggests that by 2041 the CRL enables about 120,000 trips per day. That’s over three times what we have now and doesn’t include any trip destinations outside of the city centre. Train trips to other destinations would also become more attractive, since for most of them frequencies will increase as a result of the CRL. For example, if you want to get from Henderson to New Lynn, currently there is only a service every 15 minutes at peak (eventually to be every 10), but the CRL enables a train between those destinations every four minutes. Total annual patronage on the rail network is likely to rise to close to 50 million trips per year.

As for who will use the CRL, yes there may be some ladies from leafy suburbs using it, just as there may be gamblers, but many others will too – and the vast majority of people who will use trains in the future will do so because it offers the most rational choice for them.


Lastly along with the editorial and accompanying article the SST ran a survey asking a few questions. Among them was one on what the next mayor should focus on. It may only be an internet poll and it doesn’t say how many voted, but at the time of writing this post there was a pretty clear winner. Results like these are in line with many other surveys we’ve seen over the years from a range of organisations using a number of different methodologies. Interestingly in the same survey is a question about who people would like to see in the running for mayor and Phil Goff is the clear favourite with 41% ahead of John Banks on 12%.

Stuff Survey - 2015-11-14 - Auckland Priorities

I’m not sure about you but I would personally put the CRL in the improving public transport category.

If the editor of the SST is looking for White Elephants to slay then he’s looking in the wrong place with the CRL.

Closing the 18 month gap

Despite enabling works for the City Rail Link being on the cusp of starting we still don’t know just when the rest of the project will get the green light. Here’s the latest on the issue.

While they are yet to budge on the start date in recent months we’ve seen a noticeable change in the way the government talks about the project. It is talked about much more positively and I think a big part of that is Transport Minister Simon Bridges not being ideologically opposed the project like his predecessors were. The latest comments about it come from the break at Waterview yesterday.

Transport Minister Bridges says Auckland’s next big tunneling project will be the City Rail Link (CRL), with the early stages getting underway in the first half of next year.

The government and Auckland Council are still at odds over when central government funding for the CRL should kick in, but Bridges said they were getting there.

“Everyone accepts it’s got to happen, it should happen, it will happen, now really we’re down to about an 18-month timing gap between the council and the government,” he said.

An 18 month timing gap doesn’t sound like much at all but actually aligns fairly closely to what we already knew. The council have now said they want works under way in 2018. They actually wanted it sooner and the draft long term plan included funding for it however the Auditor General didn’t think it should be included without the government confirming their share of funding.

On the other side of the fence the Government have said a 2020 start date but have also said they would consider it happening sooner if some employment and patronage thresholds were met. The CRL is the only transport project that I’m ever aware of in New Zealand that has had targets attached to. As I’ve said before the employment target in particular is odd as there are many other factors that influence travel demand and many other trips to the city centre every day that aren’t for employment.

The Ministry of Transport have finally published their latest six-monthly report on progress which covers up to the end of June – you can read my version for a few months ago here. The MoT report only covers the patronage target as the employment figures are only produced annually with the latest ones due out at the end of next week. On to patronage but before reading the current update it’s worth remembering what the Ministry have said in the past about it.

The first report in December 2013 essentially predicted that Auckland would never reach 20 million trips prior to 2020. The second one in August 2014 and the third one in February this year predicted that patronage would grow till about 2017 then taper off.

Here’s what they now say:

Auckland Transport’s Public Transport Monthly Patronage Report for June 2015 shows rail patronage of 13.9 million trips for the year to June 2015, compared to 11.4 million trips for the previous year. This is an increase of 2.5 million trips or 22 percent.

Rail patronage has shown strong growth over the last two years and, if this growth can be sustained, the rail system is likely to reach 20 million trips well before 2020. However, given current patronage of 13.9 million is 6.1 million trips below the threshold and the variability in results since 2010, at least another year’s growth will be needed to confirm this result.

The Ministry’s comments on patronage are now verging on comical. After saying for almost two years that it’s unlikely Auckland will meet the 20 million trip target the stunning growth of over 21% has forced them to change tack. They now finally admit we’re likely to see the target eclipsed but then go on to ignore the growth rate and say that with the total being only 13.9 million trips that we should wait another year just to make sure the growth continues. If the current growth continues then by June next year rail patronage will almost be at 17 million trips a year and on track to hit 20 million trips some time in 2017.

2015-08 - Rail Patronage vs Govt Target

It’s like whoever is writing these reports is desperately holding out hope that the growth will slow down. The question is will it?

Reality dictates that at some point the high level of growth we’re currently experiencing will have to slow down. Even when it does I doubt growth will suddenly grind to a halt and those future increases will be off a larger base. There is still a lot of improvements to be made that will influence patronage including:

  • Optimisation of the EMUs should see them become faster and even more reliable
  • A move to six trains an hour at peak times on the Western Line, frequency is perhaps the most factor for driving patronage
  • Integrated fares will make it easier to transfer between bus and train services and make many current trips cheaper.
  • The New Network creates an integrated PT network with more buses feeding in to train stations we should see more people transferring between services.

So how has rail performed in the months since June – pretty well actually. Patronage for the month of July was almost 22% higher than July 2014 while August was over 20% higher. That has raised the annual growth of trips on the rail network by 22.7%. As of the end of August patronage is sitting at 14.4 million trips up almost 500k trips in just two months. I’ve also heard that September is shaping up to be another good month and the results of that should be out within the next few days.

I often wonder if there’s a bit of a physiological barrier of 15 million that affects many people’s view on the targets. Once over that 15 million trips I think we’ll see comments like those of the Ministry start to change.

One thing Simon Bridges has said recently is that he is reminded almost every day from Len Brown about just how fast patronage is growing. Hopefully he kept that in mind when he read this report.

The Mercury Lane entrance decision

Auckland Transport have released a previously confidential board paper – that’s surprisingly short on detail – behind their decision to only build the Mercury Lane entrance to the Karangahape Rd Station instead of also building one at Beresford Square. In total the change is expected to save around $30-40 million.

Karangahape Station Entrance Mercury Lane 2

The Mercury Lane Entrance

The report states that while the station has always been shown to have two entrances they only ever intended on building one initially. When and why that decision was made is unknown – I assume as a way to save costs and perhaps stemming from the time when they were trying to get out of building the station altogether. They go on to say that a single entrance will be enough to cope with expected demand to the area out to beyond 2046 which is likely where their projections end. It’s this kind of statement that raises flags with me as it suggests the level of demand is some kind of pre-determined outcome rather than a response to what’s built.

K Rd station entrances


It has always been assumed that the Beresford Square entrance would be the primary one however AT say that while working on the reference design for the station a “value engineering initiative” identified the option of changing the order around.

K Rd - Full Station Cut Away

Other than the cost saving two of the key reasons highlighted as justifying the change are

  • That there is a lot of potential for development around the station entrance.
  • That it would be more difficult to get the space needed to dig out the Mercury Rd entrance at a later time while they say this can be done at Beresford with “relative ease”

Starting with a base design of building the Beresford Square entrance the engineers then came up with six options for the entrance

  • Option 1A a value engineered option of option 1 where Beresford Square is constructed first with vent and escape stair in widened footway in Pitt Street future proofing for Mercury Lane.
  • Option 1B as option 1A but with no future proofing for Mercury Lane.
  • Option 2A Mercury Lane entrance constructed first with vent and escape stair in Pitt Street with future proofing for Beresford Square entrance.
  • Option 2B as for 2A but with vent in a median in Pitt Street and escape stair in Beresford Square
  • Option 3A as for 2A with no future proofing for Beresford Square.
  • Option 3B as for option 2B with no future proofing for Beresford Square.

To identify what is the best option they conducted a multi-criteria analysis, the results of which are below. The two cost metrics seem to have a set score out of five but for the other criteria it appears they have averaged the score of different members of the CRL design team.

K Rd Entrane Multi-Criteria Analysis

The results show that options 1A and 2A have the best scores when you ignore the cost criteria however options 2A and 2B perform better when the cost is added in.

The next table takes each areas and doubles the rankings in each area in a separate test to see how the results change.

K Rd Entrane Multi-Criteria Analysis - weighted

When you look at the the results with costs added option 2A comes out on top which is the option they have gone for.

There are a few other comments in the report that are interesting/odd.

The Cross Street link between the LRT proposal in Queen Street and the CRL station entrance in Mercury Lane provides part of an integrated public transport solution for the precinct.


Cross Street has been identified for providing a shared space environment encouraging pedestrians to use this link between the CRL
entrance in Mercury Lane and the LRT stop at the top of Queen Street

It’s odd that they talk about using Cross St as a link between the CRL and LRT stations being as part of an integrated PT solution but seem to ignore any idea of integration with buses – which would be much easier with a Beresford Square entrance. Cross St is also a place that would need a lot of private sector investment to make a shared space really work.

A few people in recent posts about the images have commented on the grade of Mercury Lane, this is what is said about it.

The gradient of Mercury Lane has been raised as a potential issue. The current gradient varies between 1 in 9 and 1 in 13 between Karangahape Rd and the station entrance. This gradient is no worse than the gradient of Victoria Street and Wellesley Street from Queen Street to the location of the station entrances to the CRL Aotea Station.

Lastly it seems one of the justifications for the change is a claim that the patronage catchments have been raised. This appears to be based simply on looking at the coverage of some concentric rings shown around the station (below). For a project of this size it seems like an awfully simplistic measure. If you gave the image below to someone who didn’t know anything about Auckland or the CRL they’d probably question why even both with the Aotea Station even though it is forecast to be the busiest on the network.  Each of the stations have quite different pedestrian catchments and it seems odd they didn’t take walking viability into account.

The potential change to the patronage catchment areas to the CRL has been raised. If adopted, the Mercury Lane entrance increases the distance between Aotea Station entrance and Karangahape Station entrance by approximately 200m and reduces the distance between Karangahape station entrance and Mt Eden station entrance by 200m. The overlap in 800m and 1200m catchment rings are shown in attachment 2 to this paper.

CRL station catchment rings

It may be better than no station at all but I remain unconvinced of having a single entrance down in Mercury Lane. In my view build the station once and build it right, with both entrances.

CBD bus changes from Sunday

Auckland Transport are reminding people that from this Sunday the changes to bus routes in the city centre takes place. That means changes to both bus stops and also the start of the new bus lanes that AT have been installing in recent weeks.

Maps of the new bus routes are below:

Temporary City Bus Routes

There are big changes coming to the central city from this Sunday 18 October with more bus lanes and some bus stops moving.

Auckland Transport has added more than 1.2km of new 24 hour a day, seven days a week, bus lanes to the city centre to minimise effects on bus timetables when construction starts on the City Rail Link (CRL).

In November, a new stormwater main being tunnelled under the eastern side of Albert Street between Swanson and Wellesley Streets for the City Rail Link will affect traffic lanes at these and the Victoria Street intersections.

Some bus routes and stops are being moved to new locations away from these construction works.

The new bus lanes are on:

  • Fanshawe Street between Daldy and Halsey Streets.
  • Halsey Street between Fanshawe and Victoria Street West.
  • Victoria Street West between Graham and Queen Streets.
  • Wellesley Street West between Sale and Queen Streets.
  • Mayoral Drive between Cook and Wellesley Streets.
  • Hobson Street between Wellesley and Victoria Streets.

On Street changes for CRL works

General Manager AT Metro Mark Lambert says the bus lanes separate buses from other traffic, enabling them to bypass traffic congestion so they have shorter journey times and can keep to their timetables. “This encourages more people to use buses, which in turn, means fewer cars on the road.”

The new bus lanes operate 24 hours a day and motorists who are turning left can only enter a bus lane 50 metres before the intersection.

There also changes to bus stops in Queen Street, Quay Street, Lower Albert Street, Albert Street, Victoria Street, Mayoral Street, Vincent Street, Fanshawe Street, Sturdee Street.

The InnerLink will no longer travel along Albert Street. It will use Queen Street instead.

AT has ambassadors out and about in the city to help people. Affected bus stops have posters with information detailing the changes to that particular stop.

As I’ve said before I think these changes are going to cause a lot of disruption and frustrated people – both public transport passengers and those that drive. This is will likely be the loudest over the coming weeks and be heightened by it appearing that not that much is going on as most of the works initially won’t be that visible. It’s not till around May next year that the actual physical work starts to build the tunnels.

It will be interesting to see how Auckland Transport responds to the public over it all.

Collins Comments on Auckland

Every now and then you see comments that make you want to laugh, cry or just bang your head against a wall at the stupidity of them. Yesterday there were a couple of such comments from Judith Collins in an opinion piece talking about the Auckland mayoralty. They aren’t really the key part of her opinion but present a good opportunity to bust a few urban myths and concern trolling.

First up one of those old urban legends.

A sprawling city the size of London with a population the size of Perth’s.

There’s couple of interesting aspects to this statement in the comparison of London and Perth.

I’m not quite sure where the comparison with London came about, possibly it was one of those ones from the 50’s and 60’s that was used to justify investing in roads and not in public transport. Regardless of its origin it’s false and presumably only came about by including much of Auckland’s rural hinterland. If we’re talking about cities then we should be comparing the urban area and in that regard London at around 1,738km² is over three times the size of Auckland at 559km². You can clearly see the difference in the image below which shows the two cities at the same scale.

London vs Auckland

Auckland is a long relatively narrow city due to its geography and would look considerably smaller if it too was on a river plain.

It’s also odd that she chose Perth to compare Auckland too. Perth’s population is now estimated to be over 2 million, a level Auckland is not expected to reach for roughly another 15 years. Of course we’ve already kind of been following Perth for some time when it comes to transport, not least of which included using their old rolling stock until we too electrified our rail network.  If we want to continue to follow Perth then more investment in our public transport network and in particular rail will be needed which brings us to the second comment of hers.

Auckland needs roads first and foremost. The Central Rail Link is a good idea and would be a lot better if it included stations at the University of Auckland and AUT. The fact that it won’t include Auckland City Hospital is a lost opportunity. But, then again, Auckland’s hills and gullies make this extremely expensive. Therein lies one of the other issues that London, for example, doesn’t face. Auckland is not flat. It’s built around 60 volcanic cones after all.

The good news for Judith is we have done exactly what she suggests. We’ve spent decades building roads first and foremost and with the exception of a few bits here and there, our road network is largely complete. Once Waterview opens little over a year there will not be any significant gaps in our roading network and all projects after that are tinkering with what we already have. That means for Auckland to move into the future it needs to start focusing on its missing modes, its high quality public transport and active modes networks.

It’s the comment about the CRL not including the Universities and the Hospital that is what really drove me to write this post. It’s classic white anting and the suggestion the CRL route be changed to include these two locations along with Wynyard has been pushed by the NZCID for some time – they are also pushing for a longer and more expensive road tunnel under the harbour. It all reminded me of a document I received from an OIA request over a year ago but never posted. The document is a presentation by the then Minister of Transport to the Cabinet Strategy Committee and is dated 23 August 2013 and I assume Collins was on that committee while she was a minister.

In explaining the CRL it states the CRL is Key infrastructure project for meeting forecast growth in demand for access to Auckland’s city centre It also notes that 14 options for route alignment, number and location of stations were considered in the Options Evaluation Study before determining the preferred route and that the preferred route was endorsed by Auckland Transport, Kiwirail and Auckland Council.

It says the confirmed route is 3.4km long and has the old cost of $2.86 billion.

  • Fairly straight alignment, consistent with rail planning principles
  • Proven constructability
  • Central route covers both sides of CBD
  • Significant travel time savings for Western Line passengers.

It then looks at the NZCID route. Notice it is about 800m longer and costs about $800 million more

MoT on Alternate CRL Route - Page 4

The stations proposed would obviously have an impact on patronage, the page below doesn’t show the Hospital or Wynyard but as you can see there is little difference in how many people would use alternative route for the Universities.

MoT on Alternate CRL Route - Page 5

Modelling of the overall impact of PT patronage out to 2041 shows that in the AM peak there would be a difference of just 150 trips. This is likely because the longer less direct route for some journeys will put a number of people off using PT.

MoT on Alternate CRL Route - Page 6

If the small difference in patronage wasn’t bad enough it also turns out the route isn’t feasible as it would require a 9% grade when the maximum for trains is 3.5%. Just eyeballing the graphics also suggests that it would involve some very deep stations.

MoT on Alternate CRL Route - Page 7

As for connecting Wynyard, they say AT modelling suggests that on its own it isn’t enough to serve with rail. It doesn’t mention it but to me Wynyard seems much more suited to being a station on a route that connects to the North Shore.

MoT on Alternate CRL Route - Page 8

The presentation notes the following conclusions

MoT on Alternate CRL Route - Page 9

And the last part of her comment

And we Aucklanders love our cars. Many Aucklanders work in south Auckland and live in west Auckland. That’s the nature of Auckland. Buses travel on roads. Rail is useful and needed but it’s not the only solution.

As I’ve said in the past Auckland’s love affair with cars is more of an arranged marriage due to a lack of quality options.

Yes many people do live in West Auckland and travel to South Auckland for work. However have a play with Statistics NZ interactive commuter map and you’ll see it’s not super significant numbers. Once the new network is in place it will be easier than ever to commute between the two areas. For those that want to drive – which is likely to remain the fastest option – if only there was a road that would let them bypass having to travel through the city to get to the south. Perhaps we could call the road the Western Ring Road. The example below is of commute patterns to the area unit that includes the Airport. Around 1,200 of the nearly 16,000 people who commuted there came from West Auckland

Census Journey to Work - Airport

Lastly of course buses travel on roads but they generally do so on local roads, not state highways like the government is prioritising. I look forward to seeing Collins tell us all what roads for buses she is proposing be built.

Victoria St entrance to Aotea Station

Two new images from Auckland Transport on what we can expect the Aotea Station to look like.

The first shows what the entrance to the station will look like from Victoria St.

Aotea Station - Victoria Entrance

A few things is you can see this will result in a significantly narrowed down Victoria St, the rest o which is meant to eventually be turned into a linear park. The image also shows there will be a cycleway along Victoria St and is obviously fairly realistic as like Beach Rd, it has a lot of people walking on it. In the distance you can also see escalators back up to Victoria St on the other side of Albert St. I think this route will become quite popular as a way of avoiding waiting at the lights. This can also be seen in the image below which was released a few months ago.

Aotea Station Design North

The second image is a more fleshed out version of what we’ve seen the station look like from the platform

Aotea Station Design Platform Oct - 15


The Future Design of Albert Street

Albert Street is going to be a mess for a few years while the City Rail Link is constructed and a report to the councils Auckland City Centre Advisory Board highlights that we can expect it to be reinstated looking better than it does now. The section involved is only that affected by the enabling works which is everything north of Wyndham St. They say there has been over 12 months of design and consultation to come up with the current plans which will create “a high-quality urban street which functions as a key bus corridor while providing improved pedestrian access and amenity“.

The history so far:

  • July 2014 – brief completed
  • August 2015 – consultant team engaged – ACADO
  • March 2015 – concept/reference design completed
  • April 2015 – brief updated to support findings from reference design work
  • May 2015 – consultant team engaged – Boffa/BECA
  • July 2015 – draft developed design completed for review and further feedback
  • August 2015-September 2015 – final amendments made, final option prepared for sign off
  • September 2015-October 2015 – Albert Street detail design/tender drawings

The developed design is below, if differs slightly from the reference design we saw in April with the biggest change seeming to be the lane layout of the downtown development – although there may be other changes that can’t be seen due to the low res image.

Lower Queen St and Albert St public realm Sep 15

Below are the key design outcomes that AT have come up with.

Albert St Key Design Outcomes

Most of this is good although a couple of potential concerns stand out. One being the last point that the section of Albert St between Customs and Quay Street will be bus only except for local traffic. That combined with some of the images below suggests that there will be access to underground parking in the middle of the bus interchange.

The other main concern is that there will be no segregated cycle provision. The street on these sections is very wide and my personal observations is that a lot of cyclists use Albert St to get up from Quay St up to the middle of town. It seems that having a cycle facility at least on the uphill section would be useful. It seems based on the latest image from AT on their planned city centre cycle map that they instead want cyclists to use Federal St which long term will be a shared space.

Below are some images of what’s proposed.

On the Wyndham to Swanson section the biggest difference is the wider footpaths. Currently there is space southbound for the bus stops and a separate bus lane however now it seems that will be combined in one lane. Similarly there is currently a separate right turn lane Northbound into Swanson St which will in future be combined with the general traffic lane.

Albert St Design - Wyndham to Swanson

On the Swanson to Customs Section there are a couple of notable differences to what exists now. The wider footpaths take over the parking/loading zone space outside Quay West building and the northbound bus stops are concentrated opposite this rather than split between that location and just south of Wolfe St


Albert St Design - Swanson to Customs

And here is an image of what it would look like – although it seems the traffic are on the wrong sides of the road.

Albert St Design - Swanson to Customs - graphic

And a prettier version from April.

Albert St post CRL

The section between Customs and Quay St where the bus interchange will be. As mentioned earlier you can see there appears to be an entrance to an underground carpark on the eastern side – where one exists now – although it appears not one further north to the HSBC building carpark. Perhaps this suggests the HSBC carpark with views overlooking the harbour will be redeveloped as part of the mall redevelopment.


Albert St Design - Customs to Quay

Albert St Design - Customs to Quay - 1


Albert St Design - Customs to Quay - 2They say the next steps are:

  • Tidy up plans, create supporting illustrations for communications. – September, October 2015
  • Get formal agreements for funding from relevant and various sources – October, November 2015
  • Complete and agree canopies to lower Albert (Downtown development surrounds) working with Precinct, AT, AC, ACPL combined. September, October 2015
  • Present design to relevant PCG’s, Committees, Boards for information. September, October 2015
  • Complete detail drawing as part of tender document for C2 contract. September, October 2015

It’s good to see some progress and the report notes that the advisory board have previously endorsed in principle the allocation of about $7 million from the City Centre Targeted Rate to go towards the street improvements.

Lastly it might be a while before they start focusing on it but I’m really interested to see how they’ll deal with the two sections south of Wyndham St which have service lanes narrowing the road space available.