Missed News Roundup – March-17

Every week we receive numerous press releases related to transport and we only tend to comment on a few of them. Here are a couple that piqued our interest but not quite enough for a full post of their own.

Parnell Station opens

While the first services started using the station on Sunday, Monday saw the official opening of the new Parnell Station. Currently only the Southern Line stops there regularly with the Western Line only stopping in the evenings and on weekends. We’ve talked a lot about the station in previous posts so don’t need to re-litigate that here. As it stands the station is bare bones and AT even warns that it’s not recommended for mobility impaired passengers.

Photo by Alex Burgess from https://www.nzrailphotos.co.nz

The station currently has platforms, shelters, ticket and AT HOP card readers and an underpass to link the platforms.

When stage one is complete later this year the station will be equipped with electronic gates, CCTV, improved access, mobility parking, and upgraded connections to Cheshire St and to Nicholls Lane.

Refurbishment of the exterior of the heritage former Newmarket Station building will also be completed by KiwiRail.

When the station is complete and receiving full services up to 2,000 passengers a day are expected to get off the train every morning and head to the universities.

I’m personally a little skeptical that the station would see 2,000 people in the morning peak any time soon.

New Ferry for Devonport

Fullers have leased another ferry to support the Devonport Service

As tourism figures continue to rise in Auckland, so do passenger numbers on popular ferry routes. Fullers is introducing a new vessel, Capricornian Surfer (Cap Surfer), dedicated to Devonport. A unique destination, the charming seaside village of Devonport is a bustling visitor hub, but also services more than 1,000 commuters who rely on Fullers ferries daily.

Cap Surfer will begin service in the next couple weeks, complementing Kea. Since 1988, Kea has been the favourite vessel of the route with efficient boarding through side doors. Similar to Kea, Cap Surfer has side-door loading and four engines, allowing it to manoeuvre in the same way when docking. This will help keep the Devonport service running to schedule.

“We acknowledge some service interruptions on the Devonport run this summer, and want to let our passengers to know that we’re listening. We’ve leased Cap Surfer from Australia specifically for Devonport, freeing up other vessels not always suited to the Devonport route,” said Fullers Chief Executive Douglas Hudson.

Cap Surfer’s modern amenities:

The $6 million vessel is capable of carrying up to 380 passengers. It’s currently being fitted with a new café and bike racks, after 40 additional seats were installed on the back deck. Cap Surfer is spacious and comfortable, with big windows and air conditioning. The 35-metre EnviroCat uses less fuel per passenger than a small four-cylinder car. Its systems are computerised and fully integrated.

Crew training is currently underway, being led by Cap Surfer’s Australian crew while she was servicing the Gladstone to Curtis Island run in Queensland.

Designed to navigate shallow waters, Cap Surfer will also be able to service Half Moon Bay on low tides.

What’s next for Kea?:

As Kea closes in on 30 years of service, Fullers is investigating options for her future – while keeping a pulse on rapidly evolving technology, including electric ferries.

“By leasing a modern ferry for two years, we’re able to evaluate alternative propulsion technology and its suitability for Kea’s eventual replacement. Though Kea is a highly reliable vessel, we need to be looking ahead. Retirement isn’t imminent, but when the time comes, we’ll have a well informed decision on what technology to include in a vessel purpose-built for Devonport,” said Hudson.


AT saving water

Bus and Train stations might be a little dirtier than usual for the next few weeks

Auckland Transport to limit water blasting

Auckland Transport is doing its bit to help conserve water.

Following silt infiltration of dams in the region, Watercare Services is calling on Aucklanders to reduce water usage by 20 litres per person, per day until the end of March.

In response Auckland Transport has asked its maintenance contractors to limit water use and to carry out water blasting only if it is absolutely necessary.

“We have scheduled cleaning for facilities such as bus shelters, train stations and platforms but we’ve asked that water blasting only occur for hygiene reasons for the next few weeks,” says Tony McCartney, Group Manager Assets and Maintenance.

“We expect that this could save thousands of litres a week. As a result, some facilities may be a little grubby but this is for the greater good of all Aucklanders,”  Mr McCartney says.

Herald agrees on Wellsford Motorway

While not strictly a press release, this seems worthy of inclusion. An editorial by the Herald appears to agree with much of the criticism we have regarding the proposed Warkworth to Wellsford motorway route that was announced recently, they sum up with this:

It appears the cabinet is determined to proceed, regardless of evidence which ought it give it reason to pause. Transport Minister Simon Bridges responded to calls to scrap the project by arguing that the four-lane highway was a “game changer” , economically and socially.

He pointed out the road, which could shave seven minutes off the journey between Wellsford and Warkworth, was incredibly popular in Northland.

Roads, in particular links which could cost as much as $2b, should not be constructed on the basis of popularity. That is not a reassuring sign for completing the project, in time and within budget.

Bike to the Beach

Tomorrow Bike Devonport are holding a family bike to the beach ride

Bike to the Beach Event

There are more details here.

While you’re at Narrow Neck you can also check out the NZ Sculpture Onshore 2014 Exhibition.

I really like that for transport to the event AT are talking up walking, cycling or using PT. In addition AT are putting on some guided rides to the event even saying

“Encouraging Aucklanders to ride to public events promotes cycling for leisure, pleasure, fitness and convenience,” he says. “The ride from Bayswater to Fort Takapuna is designed to show folks how easy it is to take the ferry, hop on a bike and get to where you want to go, and back again.

Personally the Bike Takapuna one sounds more fun.

Perhaps it’s just me but AT should use the walking and cycling time indicators on maps for the rail network, Northern Busway and ferry terminals.

Photo of the day – Devonport

Photo is credited to oh.yes.melbourne

Devonport Wharf and Marine Square upgrade to begin

In a couple of weeks work will start on a $5.5 million upgrade the Devonport wharf and Marine Square as part of a larger $24 million upgrade to Devonport which also includes a new library. One thing I find most interesting about the upgrade is that it will see a number of existing carparks removed and replaced with an enhanced urban space as well as more parking for bikes and scooters.

The new boardwalk will connect the wharf, Marine Square and Victoria Rd and will transform the eastern side of the wharf into a significant public place on the water’s edge, with space for outside dining and for people to gather.

Construction of the boardwalk provides the opportunity to reconfigure and refurbish the tenancies in the front part of Devonport Wharf. Auckland Transport will be offering new, larger tenancies with a food and beverage focus.

Marine Square will be upgraded from a car park to an integral and appealing part of the village’s attractive new gateway. The reconfiguration will provide a more functional layout in which pedestrians, vehicles and cyclists can safely coexist.

Thirty-five long-term car parks will be removed and a variety of landscaping will take place to visually frame and enhance the special character of the area.

Commuters will be encouraged to make the switch to public transport or alternative modes of transport such as biking and/or walking during and after the upgrade.

Auckland Transport has plans to increase the number of commuter buses to the wharf and the number of scooter and bike parking spaces.

Here’s an image of what the upgrade is meant to look like after it’s been completed.

Devonport Wharf and Marine Square upgrade

It looks pretty good and much better than the current arrangement while providing a slightly more direct route from the village to the wharf which will be good for pedestrians.

To try and encourage people to shift from driving to the wharf, AT are running a competition to give away a scooter

To provide a little impetus, Auckland Transport is running a competition for all Devonport residents who want to change to another mode of transport. The prize is a sensational scooter courtesy of Scootling.

To go in the draw, simply fill in the entry form (PDF 112KB) and put it in the entry box at the Information Centre in the Devonport Ferry Terminal before 5pm on 28 February 2014.

The winner will be drawn by Devonport comedian Paul Ego at 10am on 1 March on the wharf. Anyone who has entered the competition will be welcome to attend. The winner will be notified the same day as the draw.

I’m all for encouraging people to shift modes but I wonder how effective this will be and wonder what kind of precedent it sets – will it be something expected at all future station, wharf upgrades. Further how many of those driving to the wharf are coming from outside Devonport? Lastly it begs the question of why it is being done for this upgrade yet there wasn’t something similar done for the recent opening of the new Panmure interchange.