Save the Dominion Road Bus Lanes

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Auckland City Council is proposing a number of changes to Dominion Road, including one that would result in the current bus lanes being turned into “T2 lanes”. This would allow vehicles with two or more occupants to drive in the bus lanes.

The council is accepting feedback on these changes until Sunday 29th August (this coming Sunday). Making sure your voice is heard is easy – just take a few minutes to fill in the online feedback form here.

We suggest you mention the following matters:

Turning Dominion Road’s bus lanes into T2 lanes is a poor idea because:

• Allowing cars into the bus lanes is likely to considerably slow down the trip for bus users.
• Experience from the switch from bus lanes to T2 lanes on Tamaki Drive suggested that vehicles in the general traffic lane were slowed down considerably.
• Dominion Road is one of Auckland’s best and most popular bus routes. ARTA have recently looked to market the service as a “b-line” route. Bus priority along the road should be improved, not reduced.
• Slower buses will make it more difficult to retain the current high frequencies along the route.

Overall, the proposed change is worse for everyone. Worse for bus users, worse for car drivers, worse for public transport in general and worse for bus operators.

The Campaign for Better Transport supports the extension of the hours of operation for the bus lanes on Dominion Road, to provide faster trips for bus users outside the 7-9am and 4-6pm times the current bus lanes operate.

T2 lanes have been considered for Onewa Road on the North Shore, and also the bus lanes on Tamaki Drive have been changed to T2 lanes. In the case of Onewa Road the council has not made the change, in the case of Tamaki Drive, the change has slowed down traffic for everyone.

Further information/analysis of the proposed Onewa Road changes, and why council officers have recommended against such a change: http://transportblog.co.nz/2010/07/09/why-t2-lanes-can-be-stupid/

Further information on the Tamaki Drive change from bus lanes to T2 lanes:
http://transportblog.co.nz/2010/06/14/analysing-the-dominion-road-bus-t2-lane-issue/

My personal submission (if you’re short of ideas): http://transportblog.co.nz/2010/07/16/dominion-rd-t2-give-your-feedback/

NZ Herald: Mega-trucking Benefits are a long way away

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The Herald comes out swinging against Steven Joyce and heavy trucks.

Virtually from the moment he became the Minister of Transport, Steven Joyce was an “enthusiastic” supporter of mega-trucks. He was convinced of the productivity gains to be made from allowing greater maximum loads.

Little heed was paid to naysayers, who focused on the increased threat to safety on the roads. Acting decisively, Mr Joyce decreed that from May this year, trucks would be able to carry loads of up to 53 tonnes on specified routes, up from the previous limit of 44 tonnes. The upshot, three months later, raises questions about his reasoning and his rush.

It is now apparent that Auckland’s Southern Motorway will not be able to support the new trucks for several years. The Transport Agency has conceded it will take that long to make up to a dozen points “compliant” for them. The obvious weak points are bridges, such as those over the Tamaki River and the Puhinui Stream.

The Herald also points out the irony of the Transport Agency’s view, who say that:

..while it will be some time before mega-trucks can use the Southern Motorway to carry freight to and from Auckland’s port, consignments could be split up and sent by rail between the port company’s inland distribution centre at Wiri and the waterfront.

This is an issue that the CBT raised almost a year ago:

Whilst the current legal limit is a gross mass of 44 tonnes, most of the bridges on the state highway network and indeed the local road network were designed and constructed to carry lower loads. However, they continue to perform beyond expectations because of the conservative nature of some designs, material strengths that are higher than allowed for or ongoing upgrades and strengthening programmes.

306 state highway bridges would require strengthening, or detailed investigation and an estimated $85M would be required to fund the work over a period of several years.

Of these bridges, only 13 have already been included on the approved 09/12 Bridge Replacement and Upgrade Programme due to their current condition. The results have not been studied in detail to determine if any of the bridges should be replaced rather than strengthened.

As we’ve said before, this looks like a sop to the trucking industry, who seem to be expecting all other road users to help pay for the necessary strengthening work.

VoteTrains.org.nz Goes Live

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Today the Campaign For Better Transport (CBT) has launched a special website http://www.votetrains.org.nz for its hugely popular Waikato commuter trains campaign.

Last week in Hamilton, the CBT launched its “Vote TRAINS” manifesto for local body candidates to sign in support of getting commuter rail services between Hamilton and Auckland. Now this is being backed up with the Vote TRAINS website which allows the public to see online which local body candidates support getting rail services established within the next 18 months.

“Many candidates, from a wide range of political alliances, have approached the CBT to sign the Vote TRAINS manifesto. It states they will strongly advocate to get rail services the region wants. The manifesto also highlights that those candidates, if elected, will lobby central Government for funding equal to what Auckland and Wellington receive for their train services. It will also help Hamilton and Waikato voters to recognise which candidates to vote for if they want regular commuter rail services to and from Auckland” Jon Reeves from the Campaign For Better Transport said.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Lifesaver” Highway Proposed for Puhoi – Wellsford

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Media Release from The Campaign for Better Transport

The Campaign for Better Transport has proposed alternative options for a $1.7bn toll road between Puhoi and Wellsford to the Auckland Regional Council.

“The options we have put forward are far more cost effective, will save lives, and can be implemented far sooner than the current New Zealand Transport Agency proposal,” said Cameron Pitches, Convenor of the Campaign for Better Transport.

Based on work already done by the NZTA, alternative upgrade options have been costed at $160m – $320m.  Both options include a bypass for Warkworth and significant safety upgrades for notorious accident black spots.

Between 2000 and 2009, 41 people have died on SH1 between Puhoi and Wellsford, most in head on collisions.

“Given that sections of the toll road won’t be completed until 2019 and 2022, the risk is the current poor safety record will continue, costing as many as 50 more lives based on current trends.

“And for those that won’t be able to afford the toll road, we are concerned that the existing parallel highway will remain as dangerous as it currently is,” said Mr Pitches.

The Campaign for Better Transport also noted that NZTA’s own economic assessment highlighted the poor cost effectiveness of the current $1.7bn proposal.

“At best 80c will be returned in economic benefits for every dollar invested.  We estimate that the alternatives we have put forward will generate at least $2.50 for every dollar.  From an economic and safety point of view, the current proposal does not stack up. It makes no sense to invest such a huge amount of money if the benefits aren’t there,” said Mr Pitches.

The Auckland Regional Council Transport and Urban Development Committee endorsed the alternatives at its meeting on Wednesday. That committee has requested that officers undertake further work on the options presented, and the ARC will be writing to the NZTA and the Minister of Transport suggesting the alternatives be given strong consideration.

[ends]

Notes:

Puhoi – Wellsford Highway to be tolled:
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10665246

Full presentation and report available here:
http://transportblog.co.nz/2010/08/11/operation-lifesaver-a-better-solution-for-puhoi-wellsford/#comments

Operation Lifesaver – Puhoi to Warkworth

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Yesterday the Campaign for Better Transport presented to the ARC our alternative options for the current “holiday highway” motorway proposal:

  • Based on current trends, up to 50 more people could die on this dangerous stretch of road by the time the $1.5+bn motorway is completed
  • The current motorway proposal will run parallel to the SH1, as a tolled route.  SH1 will remain as is, without any modifications to it.
  • For a fraction of the cost we can implement significant safety and traffic improvements. The current proposal does not stack up economically.

Josh Arbury has blogged more on this here.  The ARC has just issued a press release in support of our proposal here. Hopefully some sanity will prevail on how we best spend our transport dollars.


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