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Media Coverage Transport Issues

London-type bus network on cards

Auckland buses are facing a major shakeup in a new proposed plan

Shakeup plans include running feeder buses to transport hubs.

Auckland buses face a major shakeup, and the region could be divided into zones similar to London’s network as authorities look to streamline services and fares.

Changes to about 400 services proposed by Auckland Transport are being put up today for a month of public consultations.

Regular services could be cut to about 130, bolstered with 40 peak-only commuter runs, but the council body says there will be only minor changes to coverage. It says its priority is to simplify the network in return for service frequencies of 15 minutes or better between 7am and 7pm each day along about 30 bus corridors, and more often at peak times.

Click here for a closer look at the transport proposal.

These will be complemented by “connector” buses running every 30 minutes, and localised and targeted services.

It has created a Tube-style map showing services running in Auckland, and the “zones” fares could soon be linked to.

Network planning manager Anthony Cross said that although “some” people would have to walk further to bus stops, that was unlikely to be more than about 200m in most cases, and frequent bus services would be put within reach of many more Aucklanders.

Cutting out duplication would mean relying more on feeder buses for passenger transfers to high-frequency routes, including rail, and developing transport interchanges at key locations such as Otahuhu, Te Atatu and Lincoln Rd in Henderson.

Public transport operations manager Mark Lambert said getting passengers used to making easy transfers was an important step towards gaining maximum benefit from the proposed underground city rail link.

Passengers would gain a 50c discount for transfers until a new fare system could be introduced by the end of 2014, in which there would be no charge for swapping between services within each of six new zones.

Mr Lambert said Auckland Transport was seeking public comment only on the overall structure of the new system for now. There would be opportunities for more detailed consultation at each stage of a three-year rollout to 2016, starting next year with South Auckland, Titirangi-Green Bay and some parts of the central isthmus.

The draft plan also points to a Government requirement to increase the contribution of passenger fares to transport costs from 44.3 per cent now to 50 per cent.

Auckland Council transport chairman Mike Lee warned that higher fares would undermine the push for greater patronage, but welcomed the route restructuring, saying the region could not have a “more inefficient, expensive, ramshackle bus system” than at present.

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Written by Mathew Dearnaly
Published in: The Zealand Herald – nzherald.co.nz

Categories
Media Coverage Transport Issues

Central Auckland motorway link almost ready says NZTA

Final work is underway to have the Wellington Street on-ramp in central Auckland ready to re-open for traffic joining the northbound lanes of State Highway 1 motorway next Monday morning (8 October).

The on-ramp has been closed since May 2010 and rebuilt by the NZ Transport Agency as part of the Victoria Park Tunnel project

The final programme of work includes lane marking to help on-ramp and motorway traffic merge safely just before the entrance to the Victoria Park Tunnel. Ramp signals – to help regulate the flow of traffic joining the motorway – are already in place, and a new pedestrian crossing has been installed at the entrance to the on-ramp.

The NZTA’s acting State highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Steve Mutton, says drivers will need to be alert and patient as on-ramp traffic joins the motorway.

“We expect that there will be delays and queuing, especially at peak times, as people adjust to the new driving conditions. With Wellington Street so close to the tunnel entrance, people using the motorway and the on-ramp will need to drive with care and patience to help ensure they merge safely,” Mr Mutton says.

To help people adjust to the new conditions, the NZTA will operate Wellington Street’s ramp signals from 8am to 8pm. Ramp signals normally operate automatically only when needed – if there is an incident on the motorway network, or motorway traffic is heavy.

“This is a safety measure we will use to help people. When drivers are used to the new layout, the ramp signals will only operate when needed as they do elsewhere on our network,” Mr Mutton says.

Mr Mutton reminds drivers of the pedestrian crossing located at the entrance to the on-ramp.

“The on-ramp will be busy and the crossing is there to provide safe access for the local community – those people who live there and children from the nearby Freemans Bay School.”

The NZTA and Auckland Transport agreed earlier this year to re-open motorway access at Welling ton street after a detailed investigation into the on-ramp’s future use, which involved community feedback and detailed analysis of traffic using the motorway and local roads.

Mr Mutton says re-opening Wellington Street means that drivers have the choice of using four central city on-ramps to join the motorway to access the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and the North Shore and beyond. The others are SH16 through Grafton Gully, Fanshawe Street and Curran Street.

Mr Mutton says the NZTA is advising them to select the on-ramp closest to them to help ensure that traffic joins the motorway as smoothly and as quickly as possible.

The re-opening of the Wellington Street on-ramp will coincide with another change for traffic joining the motorway from Fanshawe Street. From Monday, drivers using Beaumont Street in Wynyard Quarter will be allowed to turn right in to Fanshawe Street and access the motorway north through St Marys Bay. Access to Fanshawe Street from Halsey Street is not affected and remains the best access from the Wynyard Quarter.

For more information please contact:-

Ewart Barnsley
Auckland/Northland Media Manager
NZ Transport Agency
T +6499288720
M 64272137616
Ewart.barnsley@nzta.govt.nz

Categories
Current Issues Transport Issues

Anger over T3 lane extension

Onewa Rd business owners are angry at what they say is a lack of communication from Auckland Transport on the proposed T3 lane extension.

Public feedback is being sought over a proposal to turn the west-bound Onewa Rd lane into a T3.

The proposed T3 lane will run between Church St and Birkenhead Ave in the evening commuter peak between 4pm and 6pm. A T3 transit lane already operates east-bound on Onewa during morning peak.

Flowers on Onewa owner Ron Suyker has worked in the area for 21 years and says several retailers are angry about the proposal.

“It’s not a simple case of putting in a lane and going ‘that’s all well and good’.”

The former council made designated time-restricted car parking for Mr Suyker’s flower shop on Onewa Rd “for decades” but now plans to shift it into a side street between 4pm and 6pm.

He worries traffic diverted into Seaview Ave will perform three-point turns and block driveways in the narrow street where the designated parks will go.

“It’s putting them into a residential side street which is not designed for that carry-on.”

Commuters already use Seaview as a “pseudo park and ride”, he says, meaning even more traffic will block up the side street.

Auckland Transport media liaison Mark Hannan says: “The car parks on Onewa Rd will not be available between 4pm and 6pm but alternative time-restricted parking will be available in Seaview Ave and Wernham Place.”

Mr Hannan says Auckland Transport will consult with affected business owners.

Many have been given consultation packs outlining the proposed changes, he says.

Mr Suyker disputes Auckland Transport’s research on traffic use on Onewa Rd, saying 41 per cent of people commuting will travel in 7 per cent of the vehicles using the T3 lane.

Around 93 per cent of all vehicles travelling west-bound between 4pm and 6pm will be forced into the non-T3 lane, he says.

Mr Hannan responds: “A T3 lane moves the most people in the shortest time.

“Forty one per cent of the people who use Onewa Rd are in a bus and each bus has an average of 41 passengers. Add people in cars with three or more people and we account for 48 per cent of people who use Onewa Rd.”

Mr Suyker has started a petition against the T3 lane in his store.

Information on Auckland Transport’s website regarding the T3 lane has been updated.

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Written by: JESS ETHERIDGE
Published: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Categories
Current Issues Transport Issues

Onewa Road Transit Lane West

Auckland Transport proposes to introduce a T3 Transit lane Westbound on Onewa Road at Northcote during evening rush hour traffic. Feedback is sought from the public.

Onewa Road Transit Lane West
The proposed design solution intends to improve transport efficiency of Onewa Road in western direction during the evening peak period.

In brief:

The proposed T3 transit lane is part of building more efficient public transport network. This change will mean faster and more reliable travel time along Onewa Road because buses and carpool vehicles carrying three or more occupants are less likely to be stuck in traffic.

The existing westbound carriageway is 6.5m wide and provides space for on-street parking and a single traffic lane. The existing single-lane configuration, when transformed to two lanes, will provide for greater ease of travel.

The added lane will effectively serve as a means of prioritising higher occupancy vehicles along the proposed route. This will allow a more effective use of the available road space and improve efficiency and reliability of public transport system. The proposed scheme will also reduce travel time to most vehicles using the general traffic lane.

Submissions on the proposal close on September 12.

Resident feedback includes:

The intent of the proposal is stated to be to improve the efficiency of Onewa Road by introducing two lanes but restricting one of these lanes for the exclusive use of buses and T3 vehicles. Auckland Transport has provided design illustrations comparing the purported current road layout and the proposed layout incorporating a transit lane. Based on this, Auckland Transport has stated that single passenger cars (which account for 93% of the vehicle traffic) will experience reduced travel times as a result of being restricted to one lane in Onewa Road.

Unfortunately, the conclusions reached by Auckland Transport appear to be flawed. Fundamental to the flawed conclusion is the misleading illustration used by Auckland Transport depicting the current lane layout. This illustration shows that the existing layout of Onewa Road is a single lane in the section of Onewa Road subject to the proposal (Church Street to Birkenhead Avenue).

This is not correct. The section of westbound Onewa Road between Aorangi Place and Birkenhead Avenue is, in fact, two lanes – this covers about 25% of the identified route subject to the proposal. This double lane enables the single lane westbound traffic in Onewa Road, prior to the two-lane section, to effectively open out from a single lane into two lanes – this eases congestion and increases traffic flow capacity towards the lights at Birkenhead Ave and beyond.

The transit lane layout proposed by Auckland Transport dispenses with this two-lane capacity for the 93% of vehicles that use Onewa Road in the evening peak. Instead of these vehicles being able to spread over two lanes they will be restricted back to one lane which will result in restricted capacity which in turn will cause a ripple back effect increasing congestion further down Onewa Road.

The ramifications of this increased congestion for the vast majority (93%) of vehicles that use Onewa Road in the evening peak will mean that they will try and find an alternative route. This alternative route will almost certainly be via the Stafford Road off-ramp, through Little Shoal Bay (a reserve), up Maritime Terrace, Hinemoa Street and into either Birkenhead Avenue or Mokoia Road. This will have the undesirable effect of taking traffic from a Regional Arterial Road and forcing it onto Local Roads that already have capacity problems during the evening peak.

Accordingly, the proposal, as it is, is deficient in that it has not properly anticipated the detrimental effect on local roads. The proposal should, therefore, be withdrawn until a proper assessment has been made.

Categories
Current Issues Media Coverage Transport Issues

Birkenhead priority lane may go both ways

Commuters catching buses or car-pooling from Birkenhead to Auckland along Onewa Rd’s pioneering high-priority lane may also get faster trips home.

Auckland Transport is seeking public comment on whether to restrict one of the road’s two eastbound lanes to vehicles with at least three occupants during afternoon travel peaks, building on the success of the fast track now enjoyed by commuters headed for the harbour bridge in morning traffic.

The council agency hopes to operate a transit 3 (T3) lane from 4pm and 6pm on weekdays along more than half of Onewa Rd, between Church St and Birkenhead Ave.

That follows more than 10 years of running a high priority lane in the other direction, now down Onewa Rd to the motorway interchange.

Although it will leave less room for single-occupant vehicles, Auckland Transport estimates that buses carry about 41 per cent of people travelling back up Onewa Rd in the after-noons.

It expects cars carrying at least two passengers to boost use of a westbound T3 lane to 48 per cent of people travelling up the road, which carries about 26,000 vehicles daily, making it one of Auckland’s busiest routes.

The proposal will mean less parking on the southern side of Onewa Rd. Auckland Transport acknowledges that is likely to be contentious, but promises to minimise the effects by providing parking on side roads, with time restrictions.

Submissions on the proposal close on September 12.

The agency also intends upgrading the Onewa Rd footpath into a shared pedestrian and cycling facility, saying the new transit line will not be wide enough for pedallers using what is part of Auckland’s strategic regional biking network.ON THE WEB

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Written by: Mathew Dearnaley | Email Mathew
Published by: New Zealand Herald – nzherald.co.nz

Categories
Media Coverage Transport Issues

Wellington Street on-ramp to re-open

The NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport (AT) have announced plans to re-open the Wellington Street on-ramp in the city’s busy Central Motorway Junction.

The NZTA is planning to re-open the on-ramp to all traffic in about six weeks after the completion of necessary work – including the installation of ramp signals and final pavement works – to ensure it is safe to use.

The recommendation to re-open was made after a detailed investigation by the NZTA, Auckland Transport, Opus Consultants and Beca Engineering of the potential effects on Auckland’s transport network from re-opening the on-ramp or keeping it closed.

The NZTA’s acting State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Steve Mutton, said the agency and Auckland Transport would be discussing the re-opening plans with local residents and other interested parties over the next few weeks.

Mr Mutton said the NZTA and AT received 710 submissions about the on-ramp: 72% of those submissions wanted it re-opened, 18% preferred it to stay closed to general traffic and 10% wanted a partial re-opening-

“This is a strong response reflecting a high level of community interest in the future of the Wellington Street on-ramp,” says Mr Mutton.

The recommendation to re-open the ramp is based on a transport assessment which indicates there is current capacity for vehicles to use Wellington Street without affecting the performance of the motorway in central Auckland, except for a period in the afternoon peak.

“These findings, together with the feedback we have received from the community, have lead us to support the recommendation from our working group for an opening at this time.” Mr Mutton says.

Mr Mutton adds, however, that the findings also warn Auckland’s growth and development will have an impact on the performance of the city’s network in the future.

“While there is room now on the motorway network to re-open Wellington Street, capacity is expected to reduce over time as the network has to accommodate more and more vehicles. The NZTA and Auckland Transport will be working together to monitor and manage the performance of the motorways and local roads, including the Wellington Street on-ramp,”

Mr Mutton said ramp signals will be used again at Wellington Street to control access to the motorway.

“Previously between seven and eight thousand vehicles used the on-ramp every day. The critical time is the weekday afternoon peak. The Vic Park tunnel improvements mean traffic is moving more quickly and ramp signalling will help ensure the motorway operates efficiently and safely for all drivers”.

The on-ramp has not been opened to general traffic since May 2011 when it was re-built as part of the

Victoria Park Tunnel project. It provides additional access from central Auckland to the northbound lanes of the tunnel and the Auckland Harbour Bridge on State Highway 1.

The working group‘s review was conducted over three months from May.

Feedback on the most positive effects of the on-ramp’s closure included less congestion and delays on the motorway, improved traffic flows on local roads near Wellington Street, and improved safety around local schools as well as for merging traffic on the motorway.

Negative effects identified by those who made submissions included delays to travel times; driver and resident frustration, “rat-running” through local streets, more heavy vehicles using local roads and an increased risk to safety locally due to drivers running red lights, making u-turns and driving too fast.

Mr Mutton thanked local communities for their patience during the on-ramp’s closure.

“We appreciate that the closure has had an impact on a large number of Aucklanders and we want to thank them for bearing with us during the tunnel construction period and for contributing to the review.

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NZTA Media Release: 10 August 2012

Categories
Media Coverage Transport Issues

T3 lane to stay, says agency

T3 lane to stay, says agency by LISA HONEYBONE
NO GO: Traffic queues next to the empty T3 lane on Lake Rd, Northcote.
Motorists aren’t using the controversial T3 lane on Northcote’s congested Lake Rd – but Auckland Transport is adamant it’s staying put.

It acknowledges that the lane, which requires three people to be in a vehicle, is “under utilised” but says it’s not willing to undertake a six-month trial of it as a T2.

Media liaison Mark Hannan says it is required to complement the T3 lane arrangement on adjoining Onewa Rd.

“Given the T3 lane and single general traffic lane arrangement on Onewa Rd, the left turn approach from Lake Rd is required to have the same lane configuration,” he says.

Mr Hannan says if the T3 lane was not in place, there would be a significant safety and merging conflict for left-turners immediately upon entering Onewa Rd.

The North Shore Times monitored the number of cars and buses that used the T3 lane during a 15-minute period at peak hour from 6.30am to 9am.

Four cars, two motorbikes and one truck used the lane while the queue of ordinary traffic was backed down the hill.

Eight cars with fewer than three people also used the lane to get into the petrol station on the corner.

The light phasing allowed between seven and 10 cars to turn left on each green arrow.

Mr Hannan says the T3 lane is in place for the purposes of continuity leading into Onewa Rd.

“Also with the limited capacity for general traffic turning left on to Onewa Rd, delays to traffic on Lake Rd will remain similar to that currently being experienced,” he says.

Eleven scheduled buses use the lane during the peak hour, four of which are school buses.

The North Shore Times didn’t see any buses using the lane all the way to the top but some blocked the lane while trying to get into the right hand lane of queued traffic.

Mr Hannan says this problem has been “noted”.

“It requires further investigation to try to improve things,” he says.

Auckland Transport is not willing to undertake a six-month trial of a T2 lane.

“Ongoing assessment of traffic operations on Onewa Rd confirm that the current T3 lane arrangement is the most efficient configuration for this part of the road network,” he says.

There are no other T3 lanes in the Auckland region although Auckland Transport is about to introduce one on Remuera Rd.

Credits

Written by: LISA HONEYBONE
Published by: Auckland Now – North shore Times