Sunday’s launch of the Hobsonville/Beach Haven ferry seems to have got some, such as the perennial mischief-maker Cameron Brewer, excited about ferries and thinking that they can fix all of Auckland’s Transport problems. On the plus side, he also seems to have become a fan of bus lanes which is something to store away in the memory banks:
“Yesterday’s opening of the new ferry terminals for Beach Haven and Hobsonville Point was a great day for Auckland, but the claim that ferries would play a much greater role in Auckland’s transport future was a bit disingenuous. The rhetoric simply does not match the reality of what’s being planned and budgeted.”…
…”These two new ferry terminals are great but the sad reality is the council won’t be able to pour a heap into new or improved ferry infrastructure simply because of the Mayor’s central city rail obsession which is set to soak up most of the public transport capital expenditure budget this coming decade.
“Spending approximately 80 percent of the 10-year budget on the City Rail Link is not a balanced approach, and will not deliver a strong and mixed integrated transport system.
“This is not good news for ferry and bus users who want serious investment in their infrastructure and services. The Mayor tells everyone he’s going to do everything, but the budget clearly points to one CBD project soaking up most of the money”
“In 2013/14 alone we’re set to spend $180m on the City Rail Link. That’s a lot of ferry terminals or tarmac for new bus-lanes,” says Cameron Brewer.
While the support for bus lanes is great (a pity it comes too late to save the Remuera Road bus lanes from being turned back into T3 tractor lanes) I think Brewer, along with a lot of other people, often miss the point when they state that ferries should do much more of the transport task by building a whole pile of new terminals and opening up a whole pile of new routes. Put simply, the point is that while ferries have an important role to play in Auckland’s PT system, they only work in certain situations.
So what are those situations? Obviously for a start they need to be on the coast – which has the somewhat unfortunate outcome of half a ferry terminal’s walking catchment being water (much more than that if a long wharf is required). The prime waterfront location of ferry terminals also makes park and ride facilities either incredibly expensive to provide in terms of land acquisition or incredibly ugly. Or both. So there’s quite a reliance on good feeder buses, or having the ferry route offer such a significant time savings that it’s worth going out of your way to make the ferry work.
And on that last point there are some situations in Auckland where ferries really do offer a compelling advantage over anything else. Waiheke is the obvious example because there really isn’t an alternative, while Devonport comes to mind as the other immediately obvious location where ferries will always make sense – simply because of this:
These two locations really dominate ferry patronage, as shown in the screenline survey for trips to the CBD in the AM peak period, making up nearly half of trips:
The relatively slow growth since 2006 seems to indicate that we’ve probably squeezed close to as much out of those two routes as possible.
So how can we make the most out of the potential of the ferry system? I guess there are a few different options:
- Add more routes from new locations – Te Atatu, Mission Bay, Browns Bay, Howick, Takapuna and various other points around the harbour (including a cross Manukau service) are often mentioned.
- Build more park and ride spots so that more people can drive to ferry terminals.
- Continue to invest in current services by offering better frequencies and bringing ferries into the proposed zone based ticketing system so that fares (at least for regular users are cheaper).
- Improve bus/ferry integration (fares being a critical part of this) so that ferries are used in a similar way to trains and the busway: as a fairly rapid part of the PT network which avoids congestion on the road system completely.
There are possibly other ways in which we can improve ferries, but generally I think the last two bullet points above are what we should focus on – particularly ahead of continuing to look for new routes – no matter how attractive that seems to local politicians.
Let’s take the new Hobsonville/Beach Haven ferry for example – while there’s much excitement about this at the end of the day the service provided is pretty rubbish: barely a handful of sailings and only on weekdays. No off-peak service, no weekend service, eye-wateringly high fares. Too bad if you want to use the ferry to check out Hobsonville on a sunny Saturday – the ferries don’t run. Too bad if you’re a university student living in Hobsonville and want to stay late – the ferries don’t run after a 6:10pm sailing. Too bad if you don’t want to live your life around a timetable: even at peak times it’s over an hour between sailings and 8.05am is the last sailing from Hobsonville to get you into the city in the morning.
Many other ferry timetables are similar. The Gulf Harbour Ferry also only runs a couple of trips a day – though at least it also has a middle of the day service for day-trippers up to the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. Tickets are only again pretty steep at $27 return for an adult. The Half Moon Bay ferry, which I think has huge potential as it bypasses a hugely congested stretch of Auckland’s transport network, similarly has rubbish frequencies with one service every two hour outside the peak (I guess at least there are off-peak services?)
In terms of improving access to the ferries, I think we’d do well to think of them as being somewhat similar to the rapid transit network. A fairly sparse (in terms of walk up catchment) but pleasant and (theoretically) fast and reliable service because it avoids traffic congestion on the roading network. So bus integration, including free transfers between buses and ferries, becomes absolutely critical here in opening up the catchment of the ferries far wider than otherwise possible. If Half Moon Bay ferries were far more frequent we could have most buses from Bucklands Beach and that northern portion of “southeast Auckland” feeding into the ferry network as much as it feeds into Panmure station and the rail network or Botany town centre and the future busway along Ti Rakau Drive. Park and ride will always be difficult to provide for at ferry terminals – due to their inherent location in high amenity waterfront areas.
So perhaps next time someone comes up with a “we should add this ferry route” argument we might also think about whether that’s really the best use of funds or whether we should focus on improving what we already have – because it seems like there’s a lot of untapped potential in the routes that already exist. But I guess that’s just not quite as sexy as pushing for new routes – regardless of the quality of service which ends up being provided and the rather high capital cost in providing for just a handful of trips every weekday.
I had the opportunity to go to the opening of the Beach Haven and Hobsonville ferry wharfs today. While readers my know I have had my doubts on the services, primarily due to the limited sailings and steep prices, I do think that the infrastructure put in place does look good and of course cruising up the harbour on a ferry can be a pretty nice way to get to/from work. Our first stop on the ferry was at Beach haven for a quick ribbon cutting ceremony. Local board chair Lindsay Waugh gave a short speech about the project and at one point got a cheer when she said that the ferry will enable people to get to town and connect to the rest of Auckland using the CRL.
Beach Haven wharf with Hobsonville in the background
The Beach Haven wharf waiting area
After that it was time for a quick hop across to Hobsonville to open that wharf. We did get a little delayed though after having to turn back to Beach Haven due to leaving Len Brown behind. The Hobsonville wharf is quite nice, the waiting area is similar to above, albeit a bit larger. It is reached by a wonderful walkway which is lined with boards that talking about the areas natural and human history.
Hobsonville Wharf walkway
One thing I quite like is there is a bus stop just behind where I was standing meaning it is only a short transfer to the ferry.
Lots of people turned up for the opening
After the ribbon cutting it was time for more speeches which actually turned out to be interesting and a little bit insightful. First up we had Auckland Transports new chairman Lester Levy who gave a superb speech. He talked about the terminal but also how AT had to become better at customer service. He also covered off something I have been thinking about (and have mentioned in a few places), talking about how much of a change is happening to transport over the next few years. He is from a medical background and so used some medical examples, he said we weren’t just having a cosmetic peel that would make the skin look better for a while but that would eventually end up looking just the same, instead he said we were having major re-constructive surgery that will profoundly improve the quality of our lives. Some people may just think this is just talk but I have now met Lester a few times and I do think he is genuinely wants to improve transport in Auckland which is excellent and just what we need.
Next up was John Key who along with Len Brown opened the wharf. Perhaps the most interesting thing he talked about, and he mentioned this over at Beach Haven too, was how his son was starting at Auckland Uni this year. He mentioned about how there isn’t a heap of parking at the uni which makes it fairly expensive to park there. He said any student who drives in will soon become a very poor student due to those parking charges so it is important that options like PT still enable connectivity. It was good to hear him say this but I wasn’t 100% sure it wasn’t just another take on the old attitude that PT is just for students, poor people or the elderly. Lets just hope that his son becomes enlightened on urban issues and is able to pass his thoughts on to his father.
Bit hard to get a good photo due to the light sorry
Len Brown spoke next and most of the stuff he talked about is probably similar to stuff he has said before so I’m not really going cover it in this post. Last up we had Adrienne Young-Cooper who is the chair of the Hobsonville Land Company, the organisation doing the development of the area. Perhaps the key thing she talked about was about how they hoped the development would enable people to live with one less car. She talked about how the costs of owning a car can easily be more than $8,000 per year and how enabling people to have one car instead or two, or two instead of three is something that can really help improve affordability. That is something this blog really supports and something I think is a key reason why we need to improve our PT system. Hopefully she is also pushing that same message to some of the other boards she is on as amongst others, she is currently also on the board of the NZTA.
All up it was a really good day and there was quite a large number of people that turned up from the local community. If we could get even a quarter of them using the services then it will be a pretty outstanding success.
Auckland transport have released the timetable for the new Hobsonville and Beach Haven ferry services that start next week. As we found out a month ago, there are only two services in the morning and three in the afternoon. The biggest issue is the cost of the services, adult passengers will pay a cash fare of $12 from Hobsonville and $8 from Beach haven with HOP fares a little less at $9.20 and $6.40 respectively. One thing I do like is that the buses that will connect to the Hobsonville ferry wharf appear to have been timed to meet the boats however with passengers having to pay an additional bus fare it isn’t likely to be popular.
Hearings on the Regional Public Transport Plan started today and while I will probably cover this in more detail tomorrow, it is probably worth addressing the article in the Herald today. Of the more than 700 submissions the one that they decide to pick out is from a ferry company whining about trains, and to a lesser extent buses.
Auckland ferry operator Sealink says trains are gobbling up too much public money, depriving the two-harbour city of superior water transport.
It claims in a submission to Auckland Transport that billions of dollars are going to the least efficient transport service – one “generally located in the least desirable parts” of the city.
“Auckland’s defining feature is its maritime environment and ferries historically played a far more significant role in the city’s public transport than they do currently,” the submission says.
Sealink managing director Todd Bolton told the Herald that 70 per cent of Aucklanders lived within 3km of the coast.
The company wants Auckland Transport to back a wider network of passenger ferries to reach suburbs such as Howick and St Heliers in the east and Browns Bay and Takapuna to the north.
It also proposes circular routes in Waitemata Harbour similar to successful operations in Sydney, and vehicle ferries to Wynyard Wharf or Mechanics Bay from Devonport, Bayswater and Birkenhead.
“With relatively little effort and expenditure, certainly in comparison to the [$2.86 billion underground] City Rail Link, many vehicles can be taken off the severely congested choke point of the harbour bridge.”
The comment about Auckland being a water city gets brought up fairly frequently but the more you look at it, you realise that it doesn’t necessarily make ferries the best solution. For PT to be effective it needs to be both frequent while at least a bit competitive with other modes and looking at a map there aren’t really any serious locations where that may be possible. Many of the ferries that run currently tend to be focused on only running during the peak and outside of that the level of service is so infrequent it is not able to be relied on for PT. Sealink then point out that the cost recovery for ferries in total is much higher than either bus or train but that is due to that peak running and even just upgrading our existing ferry network to have frequent services (i.e. at least one service every 15 minutes) would involve substantial investment from both a capital and operating expenditure standpoint. Expanding out to new wharfs would increase these issues even further and that is before you even consider that probably most of the easy to service routes are already covered.
Ferries also have another huge disadvantage, like all other forms of PT people have to be able to get to them and we will need as many people as possible close to them to get patronage numbers up. By their very nature though half of their catchment is not able to be developed for people to live in as it is water which makes it that much harder to get patronage. One last comment from me on this, Sealink say that 70% of all people in Auckland live within 3km of the coast. That’s a pretty broad brush and do they honestly think that people will travel 3km just to use a ferry service?
But putting all of the above to the side, where could we actually run new ferry services to, here is part of a guest post that was submitted to us by reader Louis on the issue.
Ferries do not play much of an “everyday” role in public transit in most cities. They do have many disadvantages over land based modes of transport, including their relatively slow speed, lack of coverage and poor accessibility, not to mention that some people are put off by fear of sea sickness. Ferries are also more likely to be cancelled due to foul weather and are more suited to more direct routes, without stops, as docking can be slow.
In saying that, ferries can be very useful. They do have an appeal of comfort that buses cannot match and are the most scenic way to travel. They have their own right of way and will not get caught up in traffic. They also can take more direct routes than by land, for example the 12 minute ferry crossing is by far the quickest way to get to Devonport. It’s also much easier to take your bike on the ferry, than on the bus. I think ferries do have some potential in Auckland, a city with a long association with the sea, to develop as a convenient way of transport. Modern ferries are more stable and faster.
It would be very interesting to see data comparing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions between ferries and road transport.
I was thinking of possible places where routes could be expanded, I have marked existing services in red, the new Hobsonville Point / Beach Haven stops in blue, and future stops in Green.
Western Harbour area:
Currently there is one ferry service between Downtown and Westpark Marina. However next week a new ferry service, operated by 360 Discovery will begin between Downtown, Beach Haven, and Hobsonville Point. The downside is the poor frequency – only two return services each weekday (none on weekends), and the high fares. I would like to see a half decent all day frequency, say once an hour. Adding a stop somewhere around Island Bay could be worth considering.
I think a ferry service to Te Atatu could be a winner. It would be faster and more relaxing than going via road in peak hours. Ferries to Point Chevalier have also be suggested in the past, however that would be impractical in my opinion and unlikely to be faster than land transport.
Mission Bay / Saint Heliers:
There have been suggestions of ferry services to Mission Bay and Saint Heliers. I am not sure this would be a great idea, as it would require new wharves to be built. I worry about the major disruption to recreational swimmers,etc. But it would provide a useful service.
There has been talk about new ferry services along the Tamaki Estuary. Stops could be at Glendowie, Bucklands Beach, Point England, Farm Cove and Panmure. I cannot see this working very well to be honest. The service would be extremely slow and I suspect that the train would be a faster option for residents of Glen Innes and Panmure and for Bucklands Beach, a short feeder bus ride to Half Moon Bay. Also the estuary is very tidal and would probably require expensive dredging. A better option would be to improve frequencies on the existing Half Moon Bay run.
Howick / Beachlands:
Including a Howick stop on the current Pine Harbour / Beachlands run would be very useful. But I think the costs and inconvenience of building a wharf at Howick would be prohibitive. Once again, an improved frequency would be good to see.
East Coast Bays:
Ferries along the East Coast Bays have the disadvantage of not being as competitive with roads. A service to Takapuna would be nice, but a new wharf would cause great disruption to boaties, swimmers and so on. Other possibles could include Mairangi Bay, but that can be exposed to large waves when the wind blows from the Northeast. Murrays Bay is also an option, but the existing wharf would probably not be suitable for a ferry service.
Further north there is more potential. A service to Browns Bay could work very well and would be far more appealing than sitting in traffic. It could be included as a stop on the Gulf Harbour route, with a boosted frequency.
So as you can see, while there are a number of opportunities for expanding services, I think the most opportunity could be gained by improving existing services, in two ways:
1) Integrated fares: It is extremely disappointing to hear that ferries will not be included in the integrated fares scheme. Personally I think that would be a mistake. Ferries have a problem that a lot of their walk up catchment area is the sea, so have a greater reliance on feeder buses to deliver passengers, something that becomes unappealing when one has to pay to change services. I see no good reason why ferries should be priced at a premium rate, they should be included in the zonal system.
2) Improving frequencies: As I mentioned above, frequencies on ferries are currently very poor. I think we need services every 15 minutes on the Devonport run and half hourly off peak services on most other routes. This would be a great way to get a larger patronage base, as it could be relied on as being reasonably frequent.
Yesterday Auckland Transport announced that a date had been set for the start of ferry services to Hobsonville and Beach Haven.
Auckland’s latest ferry service, connecting Hobsonville Point in Upper Harbour and Beach Haven in Kaipatiki with the Downtown Ferry Terminal and the Britomart transport hub, will start on Monday 4 February.
The service will be operated by 360 Discovery Ltd and will run on weekdays between Hobsonville Point and Auckland’s Downtown Ferry Terminal.
Auckland Transport’s Manager, Public Transport Services, Mark Lambert, says, “It is very gratifying providing ferry services, with our operator, 360 Discovery, for the major new housing development being built at Hobsonville Point. The services will be useful for work, school and leisure, offering an easy and pleasant link between Hobsonville, Beach Haven and the city.
“The vessel is Discovery II an 80 seat catamaran which is currently undergoing refurbishment ready for the start date”.
Hobsonville Land Company Chief Executive, Chris Aiken says; “The launch of the ferry service is the result of our vision, shared by Auckland Transport, to provide our residents with a fast and pleasant way to travel into Downtown Auckland. We are extremely pleased with the design of the new wharf which adds character and interest to our beautiful waterfront area”.
Mr Lambert says, “Two morning and three afternoon services will operate each week day. Morning services will operate from Beach Haven from 6.50am and will end in Hobsonville at 6.45pm. Adult ticket prices for Hobsonville Point will cost $12 cash fare one way or $9.20 with an AT HOP card. Child fares will cost $7.20 cash fare or $6.48 with an AT HOP card.
“Adult ticket prices for Beach Haven to Auckland will cost $8.00 cash fare or $6.40 with an AT HOP card. Child fares will cost $4.80 cash fare or $4.32 with an AT HOP card”.
Mr Lambert says, “Both Hobsonville Point and Beach Haven will have brand new ferry wharves. Hobsonville at a cost of $3.2 million with a $900,000 contribution from the Hobsonville Land Company and Beach Haven will cost $1.2m.
Mayor Len Brown is confident of strong public support for the new services. “Aucklanders are looking for alternatives. These services will provide commuters from Upper Harbour and Kaipatiki with a convenient and very pleasant alternative to motorway gridlock. It’s all part of our plan to provide transport choices for Aucklanders as part of our integrated transport plan.
Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse says, “Good public transport in new developments is a top priority for Auckland Council, so we are delighted with Hobsonville Land Company’s and Auckland Transport’s investment and work in this regard”.
The service from Hobsonville Point to down will take 30 minutes. The service from Beach Haven takes 40 minutes.
The Chairs of the Kaipatiki and Upper Harbour are also right behind the new service.
Construction work at Beach Haven means access to the boat ramp there may be restricted or closed during January.
Fare and timetable information will be available on the Auckland Transport website from early next year.
Now I like hearing about new PT services but the details perhaps show some of the complexities of providing ferry services compared to buses. Initially there will only be two sailings in the morning and 3 in the evening, that doesn’t leave a lot of options and means for that many, it will simply not be a convenient enough service. As an example, only working half a day, well you will likely either have to wait for a few hours in town or find another way home. Want to stay for a few drinks or dinner after work would have the same result. I worry that this will struggle to get on going patronage, especially when you also consider the fares that are going to be charged.
Cash fares from Hobsonville of $12 and $8 from Birkenhead with HOP users paying $9.20 or $6.40 respectively. Those are some pretty hefty fares when you consider that the respective fares on HOP for catching a bus would be $6.12 and $5.04. At Beach Haven at least there is also a bus that travels from the wharf all the way to the city with a number of other routes nearby which combined provide quite a high frequency. Even odder is that those from Beach Haven pay less than the Hobsonville folk even though they have a longer trip, perhaps an acknowledgement that there are more bus services to compete with. Based on the press release it appears that the trip from Beach Haven may even end up slower than some of the bus routes as the 972 for example is scheduled to take about 35 minutes vs 40 on the ferry.
I counted at least 10 buses leaving at Beach Haven between 7-8am on AT’s journey planner
I know some people would much prefer catching a ferry to a bus but I guess the question is how many are prepared to do so given the cost, infrequent service and potentially longer trip time. Perhaps it will attract a few people who wouldn’t catch PT otherwise but I really wonder if we are getting good value for money with this. Hopefully I’m proven wrong and the service is a success along with the likely less subsided buses not being impacted.
Well it was a bit like getting blood out of a stone, but finally Auckland Transport has released full patronage information up to January 2011, broken down by bus, train and ferry. Helpfully, regular commenter Luke managed to get historical patronage data dating all the way back to 2002 off Auckland Transport – which probably provides us with the fullest and most helpful data I’ve come across yet.
Before I move on to anything else, I’ll include the tables of patronage for buses, trains, ferries and total patronage for each month right back to January 2002:Looking a bit closer at the data really shows us what a spectacular year 2010 was for public transport patronage. Compared to 2009, every single month was ‘up’, with October and November being the most spectacular months – having increases of 21% and 15% respectively. The October data is a bit misleading because it was a recovery from the October 2009 bus lockout (hence the huge leap in bus patronage and the slight decline in rail patronage). Overall, total PT patronage for 2010 was up by 8% compared to all of 2009: (Note I have excluded ferry data from the above if you’re wondering why the numbers don’t add up).
Most heartening to see is how well the bus system performed last year. With around 80% of Auckland’s public transport trips on the bus it is critical that we keep focusing on improving that bus system to attract more people out of their cars and onto PT. An 8% increase in bus passengers equate to an extra 3.5 million trips – equivalent to 40% of 2010’s rail patronage. Rail patronage also continued to grow quickly, with a 14% increase in numbers compared to 2009.
To put last year’s bus patronage improvement into some perspective, the table below shows patronage growth between 2002 and 2010.
As you can see, we had a much greater increase in bus patronage last year (3.5 million more trips) than in the whole 2002-2009 period (only 350,000 more trips). Hence bus patronage over the entire 2002-2010 period increased by 9%, most of which has been in the last year!
Below I’ve included a few graphs that show, split out by month, bus and rail patronage changes over the past nine years. It becomes quite clear that bus patronage really went nowhere between 2002 and 2009 (in fact it went significantly backwards for a few years) before finally increasing substantially last year: In contrast, rail patronage has just kept growing and growing throughout the period. One thing that’s interesting to note is the growing dominance of March as the busiest month of the year, whereas August (and even May for rail) used to be busier. I guess easter has fallen in April for a few years in a row recently.
Combining all the months together shows how dominant bus use remains, although the gap between the bus total and the complete total is widening – reflecting more and more people catching the train:
Over the past three years we’ve seen public transport patronage in Auckland increase from 52.4 million trips in 2007 to 63.5 million trips in 2010. That’s a 21.1% increase over the past three years.
Imagine what might happen if we actually tried to improve the bus system?
As part of Len Brown’s announcements yesterday on his vision to increase public transport patronage to 150 million trips a year by 2021, there was quite a lot said about improving the ferry network. Here’s what was included in this article from Stuff in terms of improvements proposed to the ferry system:
His plan for ferries is an ambitious one. He would like to see services running to Hobsonville in the west, Upper Harbour, Mairangi Bay, Takapuna in the North and Beachlands-Maraetai in the East.
Currently ferries run to Devonport, Waiheke Island, Rangitoto Island, Bayswater, Birkenhead, Stanley Bay, Motutapu and Northcote Point.
He said places such as Half Moon Bay, Stanley Point and Bayswater all needed major upgrades to keep up with the growing demand.
”I am very focussed on ferry usage. We are the City of Sails. We are a city that has got three harbours and two great coastlines and so much of our city is built around those waterways. And we shut down those ferries to a large extent when we put the harbour bridge across, but I want us to genuinely lift our ferry use.
”If you are a shoreite and you are going up and down Lake Rd every morning, you don’t want to face that, so we have got to provide the alternatives.”
That’s not actually an exhaustive list of current ferry routes. Ferries also operate to West Harbour, Gulf Harbour and Pine Harbour (perhaps having “harbour” in the name of the place helps?) Furthermore, plans have long been in place to operate a Hobsonville ferry – once Hobsonville Point starts developing over the next year or two. That could quite easily link into a Beach Haven service, which has also previously been mentioned. This would leave Takapuna and Mairangi Bay as the two “truly new” services proposed. This is shown below: red being existing routes, green those in planning already and blue being routes not previously planned for:The obvious strength of ferries is that they operate completely independently of the road network, so therefore are excellent at reducing congestion. Secondly, they can often link areas together in a far shor terdistance than would otherwise be possible: Devonport to the city being the classic example, but also probably Half Moon Bay to the city (and between Hobsonville and Beach Haven in the future). The weakness of ferries is that they tend to be very “point to point” – offering very limited catchments unless they are well supported by feeder buses or other connecting services. Because they are, by necessity, on the coast, generally the catchment of ferry terminals is further reduced.
I guess to cut a long-story short, perhaps the best thing you could do to improve the ferry system is actually focus on what happens on land – improving the feeder bus system. Include ferries in the integrated ticketing system (I keep hearing vicious rumours they will be left out), get the feeder buses providing convenient and well time connections to the ferries and ‘open up’ their catchments to something much larger.
I also think the merits of a Takapuna ferry service might be rather doubtful. The trip by bus seems a lot shorter.
Queens Wharf is one of the jewels of Auckland’s crown, it is a huge space at over 2.5 hectares right in the heart of town at the end of Queen St. Up until now most of the debate has been around using it for party central for the RWC and whether we should keeping or removing the sheds that were on there (the back shed has been removed and the front one will be done up). Outside of the RWC it is expected that the wharf be a public space, Mike Lee has described it as the ‘Peoples Wharf’, and crucially its other main use is expected to be a cruise terminal for the fast growing cruise business.
The cruise terminal is needed because the existing one on Princess Wharf can only handle one ship at a time yet there are now times when more than that is expected to be in port at the same time. One thing we have been told is that the wharf is big enough to handle both its role as a cruise terminal and a public space but is it? Even it is what is the environment going to be like and will ordinary Aucklanders be welcome when a cruise ship is in town? Today we got that answer.
My wife and I have enjoy having lunch on the wharf, while it definitely needs some improvement it is a neat space and nice and quiet, a great place to relax on a nice sunny day, something we decided we wanted to do today. The Pacific Pearl is now based in Auckland and has been tied up at the wharf for a few days and today it looked like it was getting ready to leave. This meant there was a lot of stuff going on, particularly passengers arriving ready for their trip. The first thing was the entrance to the wharf was taken over and turned into a driveway through which a constant stream of cars and shuttles were flowing in both directions dropping people off. Other parts of the wharf had been commandeered for car parking or other activities leaving only a 2m wide path next to the driveway for people to get to the check in facilities in the remaining shed. Past the shed the Wharf was closed off so far from being a peoples wharf it was set up almost exclusively for the cruise ship and even then a driveway was used just to save some people walking 150m.
Of course the cruise industry will say they are only really here for a few months a year but the key thing is that is the months when us locals will most want to use it i.e. in summer. If we are going to see the wharf effectively closed off when a ship is in town is it worth it? I think not so what are the other options?
Personally I think we should be putting the terminal on Captain Cook Wharf, it is still right next to the centre of town and next to Britomart. It would actually give us the ability to have two ships processed on at the terminal at once along with a third on Princess Wharf so is better future proofed for growth. It would need to be lengthened but it should give
But are there other benefits of having it on Captain Cook Wharf? Yes they are, It wouldn’t interfere with any future expansion of the ferry terminal and it gives us a perfect place from where to pedestrianise the street from. Pedestrianising the street is something suggested by urban designer Jan Gehl and something that would be hard if the terminal was on Queens Wharf. This is because any ship will need to resupplied by trucks, have customers and immigration staff and their equipment along with tourist buses, taxis and plenty of other associated vehicles to service it. Potentially it could also be designed to be able to be used things, it could have been a good location to be combined with the national convention centre the government wants to build to get better year round use of the site. It could be a good place for corporate functions or perhaps combined with an indoor market, the key is to get good year round use from it.
Queens Wharf showed today the exact reasons why we shouldn’t have a cruise terminal on it, it is probably the biggest jewel in the waterfront crown and one we can’t afford to stuff up so lets move the cruise terminal and leave the wharf to be the open public space and peoples wharf it should be. Having it as a public park would make it some special that we can all be proud of
The Campaign for Better Transport, Walk Auckland, Cycle Action Auckland and Living Streets Aotearoa have created a new campaign and website looking at affordable transport initiatives the new Council can make during it’s first term to create a much better transport system for the city. It’s called Easy Transport Auckland, ETA. There are eleven projects the campaign is advocating for and hopes to get a commitment on these from as many candidates for our local body elections as possible before the election.
The eleven initiatives are:
Project: Enjoy fast, frequent ferries to and from an expanded downtown terminal
ETA 2014: Upgrade the Half Moon Bay terminal and expand the ferry service.
PROJECT: Open Auckland’s clogged arteries for more efficient freight and car trips
ETA 2014: Plan and fund strategic corridor improvements
PROJECT: Enjoy fast, frequent, friendly ferries to and from an expanded downtown terminal
ETA 2014: Expand the Downtown ferry terminal to cater for up to 500 movements, by building new berths on Queens Wharf.
Project: Provide efficient cross-city bus services linking homes and businesses across Panmure-Botany-Manukau
ETA 2014: Plan, fund and implement strategic cross-city bus services for Panmure-Botany-Manukau.
Project: Extend the Northern Busway from Albany to Orewa
ETA 2014: Plan and fund Northern Busway Extension
Project: Provide plentiful, convenient cycle parking at all train,ferry and bus stations and town centres
ETA 2014: Plan, fund and implement adequate train, ferry and bus station and town centre bike parking.
Project: Enable everyday trips on a network continuous cycle routes
ETA 2014: Plan, fund and implement 50% of the regional cycle network (276km of new routes)
Project: Slower traffic zones in all town centres.
ETA 2014: Plan, fund and implement initiatives for slower traffic in town centres.
Project: Enjoy the CBD as a walkers’ paradise — from Vic Park to Uni and K’ Rd to the sea.
ETA 2014: Plan, fund and implement wider footpaths, or other pedestrian-friendly improvements, for High, Quay, Victoria, Wellesley and Wyndham Streets.
Project: Fly all the way to the airport on a dedicated train line.
ETA 2014: Designate/buy land to protect the route for the Airport train line.
Budget: $1.6b (est.)
Project: Swift travel, not just to Britomart, but through it — on the CBD loop train tunnel.
ETA 2014: Complete planning and funding and start construction for the CBD Tunnel
This is an exciting co-ordination of Auckland’s “alternative” (sad that anything apart from motorway, basic rail and bus advocation is alternative in Auckland) transport lobby and I hope it becomes an ongoing project to get commitment from politicians on important and practical transport solutions from election to election. The website is growing all the time and has more content than I’ve reproduced here. It is going to be well worth checking in on regularly:
I haven’t posted for a while and Josh being a way gives me a chance to get back in the groove. One of the reasons I haven’t posted for a while is because I think our brains work about 10 times as fast as money is available and about 50 times faster than most policiticians brain’s move. I know what I think we should do and instead of talking about it want to put it into action, so for the record here is my basic plan for the next 30 – 40 years:
- Increase the viability of walking and cycling in the CBD by selling and developing 4 of the 5 five council owned car parking buildings (leaving the one under Aotea Square) and use the funding to complete the other parts of this CBD plan, the sites can be used for mixed use high rises and/or public space
- Two lane Nelson and Hobson St by changing the ramps
- Remove the lower Hobson St ramp and create a public square
- Pedestrianise High St and Queen St from Customs St to Victoria St
- Run a Dominion Rd light rail line up Queen St
- Increase shared streets across all non arterial roads in the CBD
- Strongly advocate for the CMJ to be “capped” or placed in cut and cover tunnels and the CBD and inner suburbs reconnected
- CBD tree planting programme
- Funding for artworks in parks and squares
- City and Sea project to be developed as quickly as possible
- As part of the Dominion Road upgrade in 2016 I propose a light rail route be built, using modern light rail vehicles and operating at 5 minute frequencies from 0600 – 0000 hrs, this is the busiest bus route in Auckland and identified as a QTN in the RLTS
- It is important to recognise the council currently has little control over the development of the rail network except for stations, the good work of upgrading stations begun by ARTA should continue until all are upgraded
Advocacy of the central government for the following things should occur:
- The CBD rail tunnel be aggressively advocated for, it is the most important transportation project in the country and will double the rail network’s capacity (the same as building a new 70+ km electrified rail network in Auckland), for a single piece of less than 5km of rail infrastructure.
- Ontrack be removed from Kiwirail and become a part of the NZTA, so it is able to access funding from the National Land Transportation Fund. Currently Ontrack’s funds for capital develop must compete with funding for Health and Education, etc from general Treasury funds, rail having no access to funding from the National Land Transportation Fund, nor are rail capital projects able to compete with roading projects for funding is crazy, as evidenced by the fact that Puhoi to Wellsford has easily secured funding and the tunnel seems to have no readily available funding option.
- Advocate for a completed rail network by 2040, consisting of the following projects in order; CBD tunnel, Airport Line, Eastern Line/Southdown to Avondale, North Shore
- The estimated value of Fuller’s Ferries is $45 – $50 million dollars, I propose the AT agency purchase Fuller’s. This will incur a $3 million p.a. interest cost but allow the council to make the investment in ferry stock expansion Fuller’s will not, due to 5 year contract cycles, it will also allow for wharf expansion throughout the Waitamata Harbour and to reduce the usurious fares currently charged Waiheke residents to prop up the rest of the network
- Investigating a traffic modelling study of whether reducing Auckland’s urban speed limit to 40 km/hr would increase traffic speeds overall and increase smooth flowing traffic and make pedestrians safer
- Continue and expand ACC’s footpath renewal programme
- Build new footpaths and walkways
- Walking safety initiatives
- The Bus system is by far the area where Auckland can make the biggest gains in motorised alternatives to the car. If Auckland achieves ARTA’s goal of 100 million trips via PT by 2016, 80 million will be via bus. However the potential for even greater growth in Auckland’s bus system is huge. Winnipeg a Canadian city with no commuter rail and no busways and a similar amount of bus resources per person to Auckland has ridership per annum 3 times higher than Auckland. Toronto with a similar rail and tram system and similar bus resources has 5 times the ridership. The difference is that these cities apply the “network effect”. The new Council should write into the AT agency’s statement of intent that the AT will review all bus routes to use existing resources to apply the “network effect” and use the powers in the PTMA to introduce an Auckland wide system within 18 months. Routes are organised into a “grid”, which then runs at high frequencies from 0600 hrs to 0000 hrs, a zonal fare system and easy transfers to allow users, once they are on the “network”, to move quickly around the city
- An aggressive bus laning programme of roads that form part the “network effect”
- Completion of the bicycle network outlined in the RLTS within 5 years. Cycle way projects have some of the highest BCRs of any transport projects in the country
- Bicycling safety programmes
- Completion of the Western Route and Penlink, further upgrades to existing arterial and rural roads as required
Focussing on completing of both the “grid” bus network (with full route bus lanes) and the cycle network within one to two terms is by far the most effective way to make a fundamental change in Auckland’s transport patterns.