Make the Mt Albert Upgrade Great Again

Today is the last day to submit on Auckland Transports absurd, last minute consultation on the planned upgrade to Mt Albert. It seems that they were hoping to slip the consultation through unnoticed with their preference to put the movement of a few bits of tin over the safety of other road users and a more efficient road network. That’s because AT want to retain a right turning lane for traffic coming from the south on New North Rd at the expense of safe bike lanes and other road users, including buses.

Since my post on the issue AT provided me with the presentation they gave to a residents association and which gives a lot more detail about the options, and which makes AT’s preferred option even more absurd. For example, in the two hour morning peak there are 2,980 vehicles that move through the intersection, of which 1,200 are coming from the south. Only 72 vehicles turn right during that same time. The numbers are slightly higher in the interpeak and PM peak but still fairly insignificant, the AM Peak is shown below.

All up across the entire day there are only around 1,200 right turn movements through an intersection that sees around 40,000 total movements, that’s only about 3%. What’s more they have also analysed how many of those turning right are actually doing it for local trips and how many are travelling further. They looked at how many were actually stopping in the town centre, then looked to see how many of the vehicles turning right were still on Mt Albert Rd past the Owairaka Ave intersection, classifying these as ‘regional’ trips. This is important as those making regional trips could just as easily use Richardson Rd/Owairaka Ave The results are below

AM:

  • Less than 3% stop in the town center
  • 38% left Mt Albert Rd between Allendale and Owairaka Ave
  • 59% continued past Owairaka Ave (“regional” trips)

PM:

  • Less than 2% stop in the town center
  • 42% left Mt Albert Rd between Allendale and Owairaka Ave
  • 56% continued past Owairaka Ave (“regional” trips)

So all up we have 55-60% of right turning traffic able to use Richardson Rd to achieve the same effect.

The main benefit AT give to retaining a dedicated right turn lane is some vague comment about it having network benefits. What’s amazing about this statement is that Auckland Transport have the audacity to even say it given their own numbers show it is a lie. By removing the ability to turn right in Option 3, it allows for more time to be allocated to other 97% of traffic movements that pass through the intersection. They say that would see delays at the intersection reduce by as much as 30% which is fairly substantial. So for the network overall, removing the right turn lane results in significant improvements, and that’s even before considering the benefits to those on bikes.

 

At least they’ve updated their website since we raised the issue, including listing some of the significant negatives of their preferred option.

  • 40m of the proposed cycle lanes south of the intersection will be removed (creates safety concerns that will require further assessment, mitigation and design amendment).
  • Less confident cyclists would likely ride on the footpath in a section already constrained for pedestrians.
  • Removal of 5 further car parks south of the intersection (out of 39 parking spaces in total).
  • 25m of footpath widening previously proposed south of the intersection returned to existing widths.

Also since the first post, our friends at Bike Auckland have given their take on the proposal here and here while our friends at Generation Zero are also encouraging people to submit in favour of option 3.

And let’s not forget Phil Goff’s expectations, asking AT to “aggressively pursuing strong growth in public transport use and active modes” and “maintaining momentum on delivering the cycling programme, incorporating priority for cycling and walking into projects”

 

In the debate on the original post, one of the better suggestions came from Local Board member Benjamin Lee.

While my gut feel says Option 3 may be the best one, there actually isn’t much to prevent AT from testing Options 1,2, and 3 (given the changes are simpler – read cheaper – than ripping up or laying down physical infrastructure) to get data as to the best option for traffic, pivoting as necessary.

We’ve talked a lot before about trialing changes and this has included Auckland Conversations talks by the likes of Janette Sadik Khan and Mike Lydon. Of course, AT make positive noises about this kind of thing when these experts visit but then promptly ignore them. This project could be a great place for AT to try put some of these ideas into action. By trialing the options before making any physical changes they could confirm just what the impacts are, and without having to make expensive infrastructure changes later on.

So go and make a submission, it’s simple and only takes a minute to complete, and lets make the Mt Albert Upgrade great again

Mt Albert upgrade under threat

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

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

mt-albert-town-centre-upgrade-feb-16-design

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Option 1: Right turn at all times

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

mt-albert-town-centre-dec-16-consultation-option-1

Option 2: Right turn banned part of the time

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

mt-albert-town-centre-dec-16-consultation-option-2

Option 3: Right turn banned at all times

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

mt-albert-town-centre-dec-16-consultation-option-3

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

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

mt-albert-town-centre-dec-16-consultation-option-4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*UPDATE: From AT: page now has online form: https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/mt-albert-town-centre-upgrade/#feedback

Mt Albert Station and Town Centre Linked

On Saturday a short but important and long awaited new connection was officially opened to the Mt Albert Train Station. A new bridge crosses the tracks and directly connects the concourse added when the station was upgraded in 2013 upgraded with the town centre, saving a detour out to Carrington Rd and back.

The connection was planned for when the station was first upgraded so s you’d expect the new bridge matches the design of the connection out to Carrington Rd, including the smart and distinctive pattern on the windows.

mt-albert-station-new-bridge-1

Here you can see the new bridge from Carrington Rd

mt-albert-station-new-bridge-carrington-rd

At this stage the new connection is only for able bodied people though as it ends in stairs. Those, such as wheelchair users still need to use the Carrington Rd exit.

mt-albert-station-new-bridge-2

The exit also puts users out into the carpark that still exists and which I believe is subject to a long term lease, how long till we see someone ignoring the paint and parking over it.

mt-albert-station-new-bridge-exit

Upgrading the carpark to a plaza for people is being considered as a future option though and it’s at that time it appears ramps may be provided for this exit.

Mt Albert Town Centre Upgrade - future plaza

Mt Albert is in a prime spot, served by both the train station and multiple bus routes as part of the new bus network coming next year. This will be further cemented after the CRL is completed which will have the effect of shifting the town centre much closer to town. Given this and its current urban form, it is more ripe than most for some serious urban regeneration – the row of buildings that back on to the station are looking particularly sad. This bridge is one small step in enabling that to happen.

Following it’s 2013 upgrade I’d say the station is arguably now one of the best stations in the city, a far cry from it looked like just over three years ago.

mt-albert-station-before-upgrade

Guest Post: Rethinking our Town Centres for People (Thinking Orbital not Radial) Part 1

This is a guest post submitted by reader Harriet. 

Town Centre Upgrade

We talk so much about how to make the CBD more pedestrian friendly by removing general traffic, and concentrating on public transport and active modes instead, but do we do this enough for our town centres? For the CBD we talk about traffic calming, diverting and even removal of cars for places like Queen Street, so why don’t we apply the same logic to our town centres?

Town centres for the most part sit along main arterial roads. As Auckland has expanded outwards, and over time became more auto focused, these roads have increasingly become through routes for people driving past, rather than functioning as places. Let’s think about the CBD. Is Queen Street a through route arterial or is it focused on access? Policies especially since the 90’s have encouraged motorists to use orbital routes by reducing the speed limits on Queen Street, Barnes Dance crossings, and street upgrades to encourage pedestrian access. In the future Queen Street could become a pedestrian mall with LRT (Light Rapid Transit, or light rail). In a way Symonds Street, Albert/Nelson/Hobson are like western and eastern ring roads. Most motorists therefore freely elect to use these orbital routes. So can applying the same principles to our town centres which presently have radial through roads and instead change it up investing in orbital routes instead which will allow traffic to still flow around, but leaving our Town Centres free for people. Could this be a win win?

Mt Albert was once a strong historical town centre with access to the old tram network, it has now fallen into decay. The local board has lately fought for revival and DART has brought an upgraded station but people still flock to St. Lukes Mall or the CBD.  Anyone who has been to Mt Albert can see that New North Road is used as a through route for people driving to New Lynn, Avondale and further afield, not for people coming to Mt Albert. New North Road thus has been upgraded for this purpose being a dual carriageway through the town centre, not including the protected parking on the station side and on-street parking on the other side. Traffic lights are phased for vehicle flow and the walkways remain decayed and cracked. All this creates a seriously unfriendly environment for pedestrians and shoppers. The new town centre plan really does little to change this. It keeps the same amount of lanes, not adding in any real cycle or bus priority with really token improvements to aesthetics.

Tram heading to Mt Albert

What if we treated Mt Albert the same way we would treat Queen Street, or even the ways other cities would treat their own versions of Queen Street? What if we wanted our town centres to be destinations, not another set of traffic lights? What if we wanted to create great town centres for people without even hurting traffic flows? It’s possible, if just like the CBD here and in other cities we think orbital not radial.

Here is my alternative proposal. If we rail-bridged the Woodward Road level crossing (which needs to be done regardless) and if we diverted New North Road down Carrington Road and Woodward , we would remove one level crossing and create a bypass of Mt Albert Town Centre. From the Woodward Road/Richardson Road intersection to the Mt Albert Road/Carrington Road intersection there would be a section of road completely free from general traffic. The area especially on the NAL (Western Line Side) is mostly post-war low density retail, light industrial, re-purposed warehouses and a service station. If we pedestrianised the old New North Road this would leave enough room for cycle lanes, shops to re-purpose the old walkways into outdoor space and of course plenty of space for pedestrians. If up-zoned to allow mixed use and higher density this would create plenty of area for apartments, offices and retail right next to Mt Albert Station and a future light rail terminus for the Sandringham Road LRT, all without drastically affecting traffic flows. Traffic instead would use the orbital route or potentially switch to SH16 when the upgrades including Waterview are completed.

Objections would be:

  1. Parking (always  parking) – Study after study has shown that retail owners greatly overestimate the amount of customers who come by car compared to active modes and PT. That after improvement to active modes & PT more customers tend to visit not less. Also, with more residents as part of the mixed use potential development, there will be a larger base of local shoppers who can simply walk to the centre.
  1. Bus Access – In the long run, before 2023, it is possible to have both Sandringham Road LRT which could potentially terminate at Mt Albert and likely to have the CRL with potentially 5 minute frequencies to Henderson and the City plus a 3 train per hour crosstown service. We are moving to a best practice bus network which would mean there will be significantly fewer New North Road buses after the CRL, as well as Electric Buses which will be more Town Centre friendly due to less pollution both noise & air. In the short run buses could use the Town Centre with strict rules on idling & speed restrictions.
  1. It will create a negative outcome for some on the new orbital route – Perhaps in some ways, however, the proximity of the town centre and increased transport options would likely increase their property values and they would have access to the improved town centre. Also, Woodward Road is busy at present and the removal of the level crossing would be of great benefit to the residents.
  1. Wouldn’t it be better to just reduce the traffic? Possibly. However, I wanted to show a win-win situation where through motorists wouldn’t realistically be affected travel wise and the local people would have their town centre returned to them. Who doesn’t love win-win?

If we think orbital and not radial is it possible we could have a Swanston Street in every town centre in Auckland, such as Kingsland, Mt Eden, Glen Innes, Sandringham, Avondale, New Lynn, Ellerslie and more?

Is it possible that with a little creative thinking, town centres can become great places just like CBDs or like Santa Monica Promenade? What do you think, any ideas of your own? Also, let me know in the comments if you would like this to become a series as I do have ideas for the above.

Santa Monica Promenade

Mt Albert Town Centre Upgrade

With the projects that Auckland Transport has planned the Mt Albert town centre will be one the best connected in all of Auckland for public transport. With the CRL the train station will only be 10-15 minutes from the centre of town. The proposed new bus network also sees the four frequent bus routes pass through the town centre including:

  • New North Rd from Avondale to town
  • Crosstown to city via the western suburbs before heading out to Onehunga
  • Crosstown service from Pt Chevalier to Glen Innes via Orakei
  • Crosstown service from Pt Chevalier Beach to Sylvia Park

While public transport from there will be fantastic in coming years the town centre itself can feel a little neglected and overly dominated by vehicles. The Albert-Eden Local Board want to change that and are consulting on a plan to do just that.

Mt Albert Town Centre Upgrade

The Albert-Eden Local Board is upgrading the Mt Albert town centre and wants to hear your thoughts on the design. The town centre upgrade is a key project for the board and the aim is to create high-quality, attractive and safe streetscape, that provides a significant increase in pedestrian amenity for the community to enjoy and more opportunity for local businesses, including street-based trading. The proposed improvements include enhanced pedestrian connections to the recently upgraded train station, via an overbridge, to encourage the use of public transport.

Key design features:

  • Wide footpaths.
  • Improved safety on Carrington Rd.
  • 106 public car parks retained.
  • More cycling infrastructure.
  • Ten new trees, to replace five trees being removed.
  • New paving and street furniture.
  • Improved bus travel times.

This is the first stage of the Mt Albert town centre upgrade, which is an important project for the area and we want to make sure the town centre is not only enhanced, but future-proofed to make sure it retains its character and vibrancy. Regular users of Mt Albert Town Centre are being asked for feedback and this will help finalise the design. Feedback will be gathered online and at the open day. Once the design has been finalised and approved we will begin looking for a contractor to carry out the work and plan to have construction completed by August 2016.

Not everything on the plan will be built straight away. The immediate works proposed include widening the footpaths through the town centre by removing the odd slip lane/ parking lane on the Northwestern side. Other aspects of the proposal don’t have firm dates.

Mt Albert Town Centre Upgrade - stages

Here are some cross sections of what’s planned for the streets.

Mt Albert Town Centre Upgrade - NN Rd South 2

Mt Albert Town Centre Upgrade - Carrington Rd

Mt Albert Town Centre Upgrade - NN Rd North Plaza 2

I like that the current slip lane is proposed to make way for a plaza area

One of the projects for the future is to build a new bridge across to the train station – which was designed with this in mind. They will also eventually turn the carpark into public open space.

Mt Albert Town Centre Upgrade - future plaza

There are a couple of things that I think need to be improved. The key one of these is the lack of bus lanes which will be critical given the number of buses that will pass through here, this especially on Carrington Rd. I love the wide 6m+ footpaths in the town centre but also wonder if there’s a possibility for cycle lanes on New North Rd

What do you think, what do you like or dislike – and if this affects you don’t forget to make a submission.

The Unitec Opportunity

Unitec’s submission on the Proposed Unitary Plan outlines a pretty radical change to their Mt Albert campus, downsizing the actual educational campus from 53 hectares to around 10 and developing a major residential and commercial area on the rest of the site. Probably the most extensive coverage so far was in yesterday’s NZ Herald.

Ede explained the background to plans for the 53.5ha site, much of it now park-like open space which the locals love.

He wants 43.5ha to be leased or sold for intensive residential and commercial development and Unitec squeezed down to 10ha. The deal would use the land to generate money to run the institute and allow Unitec to step out of its seismic building noose, which now concerns him.

The concept plan for what’s proposed is below:

NZH0555837228Somewhat unsurprisingly the plan is generating fairly robust debate among the locals – although it’s good to see at least one local board member come out strongly in favour of it:

Martin Skinner said the neighbourhood was already regularly grid-locked mornings and afternoons from the huge influx of Unitec traffic. Yet Unitec had not tackled traffic management or implemented public transport or pedestrian initiatives.

“Residents can no longer park cars in the surrounding streets during the day, and it’s unsafe for children to walk to schools and kindergartens,” he said.

Cathy Casey, an Auckland councillor, said that in the first round of applications for Special Housing Area status in November, Unitec applied to build 800 units on their site.

“It was rejected,” she said…

…But Derek Battersby, of the Whau Local Board, backs it.

“Bring it on,” said the outspoken JP, predicting a big urban revival in the area if Unitec gets the green light.

“The opportunity for Unitec to put land aside for residential housing on their Carrington site is one that should be encouraged and considered as a Special Housing Area.

“It a great opportunity to create something quite special, promoting excellent urban design principles and open space,” he said.

However, Casey said Unitec’s SHA for 800 places was rejected by the council.

But Battersby said the scheme would revitalise a wide area of the isthmus.

“Carrington/ Unitec is within a substantive residential catchment taking in Point Chevalier, Mt Albert and Avondale. It is also close to St Lukes mall, Lynn Mall and public transport nodes,” he said.

A trade analysis study would show a significant opportunity for the local shopping precincts to redevelop into vibrant economic retail areas, yet these places now look unloved, he complained.

“There will be many detractors similarly with Auckland’s Council’s Unitary Plan process,” he said.

At a high level you’d struggle to find too many better opportunities for large scale redevelopment in inner Auckland. Not too far south you have the Mt Albert train station, not too far north you have Pt Chev and all the Great North Road buses which will include those that might eventually form part of a North West busway. In addition under the new public transport network there will be two frequent bus services running along Carrington Road – giving it a level of PT service provision similar to what Dominion Road has now. A large number of additional residents would also support the town centres of Mt Albert and Pt Chev, which feel like they’re just bumbling along a bit in recent years.

With a further tweak to the transport network you could also help a major permeability problem in the inner western part of Auckland plus improve public transport access into Unitec and avoid Great North Road buses from getting stuck in traffic at the Waterview interchange. The idea is a bus/cycle/pedestrian bridge from Great North Road over into the Unitec site – a kind of modern day Grafton Bridge that could surely be built in such a way that avoided any negative effects on the creek below. This would enable Great North Road buses to hook through the Unitec site before returning to Great North Road via Pt Chev. Something like this:

NZH0555837228

It would also hardly be unreasonable for Unitec to pay for the bridge – given the benefit they will gain from the proposal as a whole. Whether private vehicles should be able to use it is a tougher question, with a balance to be found between the permeability gains against the potential for it to be a major through-route. Perhaps something for the comments thread to discuss further. This type of routing would also ensure that we avoid the “Stonefields mistake” of creating a new urban area completely disconnected from its surrounding area and as a result developing in a highly car dependent manner where the only buses that go in have to basically do a “U-turn” and come back out the same way.

Overall the Unitec site seems like a great location for further growth to occur – certainly better than Wesley, Kumeu south, Helensville or other silly areas where Special Housing Areas have been approved. The proposal provides a significant amount of open space (see page 170 of here) and with a relatively small intervention we could ensure it’s incredibly well served by public transport travelling to many different parts of Auckland.

First stage of Mt Albert upgrade complete

The users of the Mt Albert train station have had a long few months of disruptions as the station has been rebuilt however the worst of it is now over and entrance to Carrington Rd is open once again. It is the last station on the western line to be upgraded although the next phase will see the underpass at the western end upgraded creating a few more headaches for users. To celebrate tomorrow there is a ribbon cutting ceremony from 10am-3pm along with a few activities for the kids. Here is the press release from AT:

Stage one transforms Mt Albert Train Station

Auckland Transport has completed the first stage of transforming Mt Albert Train Station from an aging station offering a basic level of passenger convenience to a modern, attractive and safe facility with better access for mobility users and pedestrians.

Mt Albert was one of the last stations on the Western line to be improved as part of Auckland Transport’s upgrade programme.

Auckland Transport’s, Project Director – PT Capital Improvements, Nick Seymour says “In recent years, upgrading Mount Albert Station has been in the headlines, primarily to ensure the end result is one that copes with future needs incorporating the wider plans for the area. The project is being delivered in two stages. The first focused on improving the customer environment and enhancing the entry point from Carrington Road Bridge.

“The second stage will be delivered in 2014.

“Once fully complete Mount Albert will have a magnificent new station fit for years to come”, says Mr Seymour.

Upgrade work included resealing the platform’s surface, installing two new passenger shelters along with electronic information displays, passenger help points and improving lighting and CCTV security.

Mr Seymour says it is the architectural form and design which gives the station character. The glazing along the walkway and concourse wall incorporates artwork designed by Moko IA Creative House. Titled ‘Owairaka’ it was developed around the cultural significance to the iwi of Tamaki Makaurau, the location of the rail link and the transportation of people both to and from Owairaka or Mt Albert.

Albert-Eden Local Board Chair, Peter Haynes says “Mt Albert has been waiting a long time for the station to be upgraded. We finally have it and it looks fantastic. The improved customer facilities now bring Mt Albert in line with other stations. This is stage one of an exciting redevelopment of the town centre as we look forward to progressing our plans for the future.”

To mark the completion of stage one a community ribbon cutting ceremony and free family festival will be held on Saturday 6 July from 10am to 3pm.

There will be a bouncy castle, a vertical bungee, free sausage sizzle, candy floss and popcorn, clowns and face painting. The festival is organised by the Albert-Eden Local Board in partnership with the Mt Albert Business Association and Community Groups. All are welcome to attend. Rain or shine.

What: Ribbon cutting and family fun festival
When: Saturday 6 July
Where: Carpark plaza, New North Road, Mt Albert
Time: 10 to 3pm
Free, Rain or shine

This is what the station used to look like.

mt-albert-station-before-upgrade

A few months ago I visited the station to check on progress and this is how it looked.

Mt Albert 1

And here is what the station concourse looks like now, such a magnificent improvement.

Mt Albert Station (1)

While there is still a little bit of work on Mt Albert, from memory there is only the Panmure station upgrade to finish, Takanini station to upgrade and the Parnell station to build then all stations within the electrified area will have been finished. That is a vast improvement from over what the state of the network was 10 years ago.

Progress at Mt Albert Station

Over the last number of months, a lot of work has been going on at Mt Albert to upgrade the station. It is the final station on the Western line that is left to be upgraded and was previously one of the worst on the network having consisted of just some fairly basic school bus shelters, although they were at least an improvement on the concrete block shelter that existed at the station a few years prior to that. Here is what the station looked like just a few years ago thanks to the former AKT site.

mt-albert-station-before-upgrade

Here is what Auckland Transport envisage the station will eventually look like.

With the upgrade in full swing, I popped along to the station to see how it was progressing. I didn’t bother with shots on the station itself as the shelters are the same as found elsewhere on the network.

Mt Albert 1

Mt Albert 2

Mt Albert 3

Things are looking good and a vast improvement on what existed before. I really like how the station building acts almost like a flag, telling people that there is train station at that location. I’m sure that the locals who use the station are eagerly looking forward to the reopening of the connection to Carrington Rd. Speaking of connections, wouldn’t this car park make for a perfect little public plaza, connected to the station by a new bridge?

Mt Albert 4