Last week I highlighted some of the interesting points from the last AT board meeting. One of those garnered quite a bit of discussion and also raised a number of questions in my head. Here are the answers from Auckland Transport to some of those questions.
How AT will monitor them and how will it deal with taxi services like Uber?
We are still working through the details of this proposal. As for monitoring, we plan to use a video camera operated on site by an enforcement officer, who will cross reference registration numbers against the NZTA database of authorised taxis.
The intention is to allow only taxis authorised by NZTA to use the bridge and not private hire vehicles like Uber.
Is it only taxis that have passengers or can empty ones use it too?
Empty ones will be able to use it as well.
Are there any changes to signage that will happen?
Some minor changes are planned, but we are still working through the detailed design.
Have the views of bus companies and cyclists been taken into account given the narrowness of the route?
As previously mentioned this proposal is still under development, but we have been working with our Public Transport Operations team on this. We will consult with bus operators and we will monitor any impacts to bus journey times using bus GPS data. We will also consult with cyclists on the proposal.
As part of the trial we also plan to conduct user surveys to understand the impacts on buses and cyclists. We are planning to conduct video surveys to identify any potential safety risks. We are planning 3 monthly review periods with the trial concluding after 12 months. If at any time we feel that it is not operating satisfactorily then we are prepared to terminate the trial.
Where did the idea come from?
We originally received a request from the taxi industry to permit taxis in all bus lanes in Auckland. We undertook an assessment of the likely impacts and we decided not to agree to this request. However, we did conclude that we could look at this specific location because it would provide significant benefits to taxi passengers on a route that links high demand destinations (i.e. the hospital and the city centre).
Has NZTA been consulted as they funded the strengthening works on the basis of it being bus only during the day?
We are still developing the proposal and once that is done we will be consulting NZTA.
As I said last week, this seems like it could have quite a bad outcome, especially for cyclists who are more likely to feel more pressured on the narrow road. It could also be quite bad for bus users if a lot of taxi’s start using the route as a bunch of taxi’s at lights might mean buses start missing a phase slowing buses down. Add to that the confusion between just what is a taxi and the sheep like nature of many drivers who might drive over the bridge from seeing other cars do it and it seems like a recipe for confusion and frustration. Leave it as it is and if the key is to link the city centre to the Hospital then Wellesley St seems like a much better option from most locations anyway.