Tomorrow the Auckland Transport Board will hold their first public Board meeting of the year and here are highlights from their reports. You can also watch the open session of the meeting live between 9 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. via this Microsoft Teams link.
Below are the most interesting items from the closed agenda.
Items to approve
- Eastern Busway – Results of public consultation on the preferred scheme – Will we see the pattern return to staying on Ti Rakau Dr or will AT continue with the Burswood diversion?
- New Zealand Police – Assistant Commissioner Bruce O’Brien – I wonder if the police will commit to strengthening law enforcement?
- Road to Zero program and next steps – AT is preparing to launch another round of speed limit changes, but this was approved at the last meeting.
- Access for all – A4E, as it is otherwise known, is a key part of the city center master plan and aims to make the city center more user-friendly by changing the way traffic works around the city. AT has been working on a business case for how to implement this, so it’s likely to require board approval.
- Auckland Parking Strategy – Approval for Consultation – Auckland Transport has revised its 2015 parking strategy – which it never bothered to try to implement. There have already been discussions on this subject, as in the Council.
- Auckland Transportation Statement of Intent (2022 – 2025) – The SOI outlines TA plans for the next three years, although it is updated annually. I wonder if there will be anything that stands out in this year’s release?
Here are the elements of the open activity report that caught my attention.
Ash and Rata streets
Last year Auckland Transport consulted on safety upgrades at Ash and Rata, but as we’ve pointed out before, not for bikes. It looks like they haven’t decided what changes they will make.
AT is proposing to make the following security changes to Ash and Rata Streets, subject to funding:
- New signalized level crossing on Ash Street off Highbury Street and a raised table in the eastbound lanes.
- Raised security tables at the intersection of Ash Street and Rosebank Road.
- Signage of the intersection of Ash Street and Wairau Avenue and addition of a raised table.
- Raised security tables at the intersection of Rata Street and Great North Road.
- Electronic driver feedback signs along Ash Street and Rata Street.
- Changes to road markings on the Whau River Upper Bridge.
- Improved street lighting where changes are being made.
Orewa Boulevard Safety Improvements
AT says this project will start in April/May. It’s a project that lives up to its name and has some good elements like the extension of the shared trail further east and the addition of raised pedestrian and bicycle crossings. However, it also increases (free) parking in Orewa at a time when AT should seek to manage or even reduce it in line with its existing parking strategy.
Vehicular Lane Program
In a section on the application of bus lanes, AT notes
Queen Street is currently experiencing a high volume of bus lane non-compliance, and a review of restrictions, current signage and road markings is planned.
Do the crews working there realize that the changes to Queen Street are currently under construction and will remove general traffic from the street?
They also say there are a number of new law enforcement cameras recently installed or on the way.
AT always includes in its report tenders and contracts issued with a value greater than $2 million.
In the tenders section, they include two. Hopefully this leads to better bus experiences.
- Bus Infrastructure Improvement Program – Physical Works – Three-year contract (2022 to 2025) – The program will implement localized improvements to bus stop infrastructure, aimed at improving bus operations, pedestrian safety and customer convenience at bus stops buses and stations
- Bus Priority Program – Physical Work – Three-year contract (2022 to 2025) – The program will implement localized improvements to bus route infrastructure, aimed at improving the efficiency, reliability and punctuality of bus services.
On the contracts issued section the section is this
- North West Bus Improvements – Westgate Station Detailed Design – This contract is for consultant resources to provide detailed designs for the improvement of Westgate Bus Station. The project includes detailed designs for bus shoulder lane extensions, on-street bus stops and off-line and on-street hybrid bus stations in the North West Auckland region.
Construction is not expected to start on Westgate station until next year – meanwhile there is still no progress on the Te Atatu and Lincoln Rd sites.
Auckland Rapid Transit Map
Auckland Transport has drawn up a rapid transit plan, but this has been upended by the announcement of light rail. AT must now determine the impact of the decision on light rail.
With the government’s announcement that the corridor between the city center and Māngere will be a light rail tunnel, work has begun to determine how this corridor fits into the wider network. A range of scenarios are being developed for testing, and from these results a preferred network will be identified and further developed. This work should be completed in April 2022
Retractable cycle path protection
AT has started work on the first route to get ephemeral bike lane protection – eventually around 60km of painted bike lanes in the area will get it. It also happens to be on the route I used regularly but haven’t used recently due to working from home as a result of COVID. This is probably one of the easiest for them to do as the painted lanes have been installed with a painted pad between the bike lane and the general traffic lane.
Implementation of the Minor Cycling Program and Active Modes – Ephemeral Cycle Lanes segregating existing on-road cycle lanes began in February. The first route runs along Upper Harbor Drive, providing segregation on this popular route connecting the North Rim to the North West Bike Path. Another ongoing program will be implemented across the region.
I’m interested to see the quality of separation they deploy.
Some of the comments in the monthly indicators really point to how much worse fatalities and serious injuries have been, which means AT needs to put a lot more effort into improving safety. It should be noted that there is a 3 month lag in reporting, so it’s just until September. The added emphasis is mine.
- For the 12 months to the end of September 2021, DSI local routes increased by 21.4%, to 545. This is 7.6% above the trajectory to reach the end-of-year objective. Fatalities on local roads have increased by 120.8% (from 24 last year to 53 this year). Serious local road accidents have increased by 15.8% over the past year (from 425 to 492).
- For the 12 months to the end of September 2021, the DSI on all roads in Auckland (including local roads and motorways) increased by 19.0% to 620. This is 7.0% above the trajectory to reach the year-end objective. Furthermore, all road deaths increased by 121.0% (from 28 last year to 62 this year). Auckland’s All Serious Road Injuries have increased by 13.0% over the past year (from 492 to 558).
- For the 12 months to the end of September 2021, DSI of vulnerable road users increased by 4.2%, at 270. That’s 4.9% above this year’s target trajectory. Fatalities of vulnerable road users increased by 10.5% (from 19 last year to 21 this year). Serious injuries among vulnerable road users have increased by 3.8% over the past year (from 240 to 249).
- Not all DSI indicators are on track to meet the target. Large increases in DSI on local roads, all roads, and for vulnerable road users are likely due to less police enforcement, alcohol and drug impairment, inappropriate speed, and lack of use of restraints
Audio on buses
An interesting article titled Building a World-Class Audio Experience on Buses examines AT’s program to add bilingual audio messages to buses to help those who are blind or visually impaired as well as support te reo Māori. But as is often the case with these things, making it easier for these customers will also make the buses better for many other customers.
The audio on the buses will provide customers with simple and easy navigation assistance during their bus journey, including information on upcoming bus stops and helpful tips on transfer locations. With over 20% of customer journeys involving a transfer, audio announcements enhance the transfer experience.
If you remember, last year AT renamed bus stops across the region to make them easier to understand and it turns out that was the first step in this larger program.
One of the things that stood out to me in the doc is that the gear will also have benefits for HOP recharges.
In January 2022, the second major milestone was reached with the installation of the hardware on the first test bus on January 27. This provides three key benefits: faster AT HOP recharges (up to 72 hours up to one hour), which has been an issue for our customers, bilingual audio announcements to help customers navigate easily with confidence, and a new global positioning system (GPS).
They say their research found:
Major pain points included lack of accessibility and orientation assistance for blind and visually impaired customers, customers not knowing which stop to get off at (approximately 5,000 requests to bus drivers each day), 180,000 customers avoiding connecting journeys due to complexity and lack of wayfinding assistance and security issues at night, making it difficult for customers to see their stops
The document includes this example of some of the messages users will hear.
Seems like a good improvement and hopefully AT has plenty more in the works to make PT easier to use.
If you’ve looked at the board documents, is there anything else that stands out?