Holiday Highway Submissions Close Tomorrow

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Submissions on the Holiday Highway close tomorrow on January 28th.  Fill in your submission here, or send an email to

To get you started, you might like to consider the following bullet points, which form the basis of the CBT’s submission:

  • The proposed Puhoi to Wellsford Toll Road has a very poor BCR, somewhere between 0.4 and 1.1 according to various studies since 2009. These BCR figures have been arrived at without knowing what price will be set for the toll in relation to trucks and cars.
  • The BCR figures ignore the risk of rising petrol and diesel costs. If prices continue to rise this must have an impact on the viability of roading projects in general and in particular this project, since the BCR is already borderline.
  • With an estimated completion date between 2019 and 2022, the existing road will continue to be used without safety improvements, risking further loss of life. Significant safety improvements are possible in a much shorter timeframe if the project does not proceed.
  • Estimated travel time savings are unrealistic, as pointed out by Bevan Woodward in a recent article: “A slow trip from the Puhoi to Warkworth currently takes about 13 minutes. That’s an average speed of 78 km/h to travel the existing 17 km. The business case claims that the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway will provide a travel time saving eight minutes. However, to achieve this one would have to travel the 18 km of proposed new motorway at an average speed of 120 km/h. If the new 18km motorway was driven at the legal speed limit of 100km/h, this would take 11 minutes. However, as the motorway access takes one to the north of Warkworth, another one to three minutes must be added to drive through the Hill Street intersection into Warkworth, meaning that there are no time savings. The NZTA’s business case claims significant time savings which are unrealistic and without these time savings, the project delivers a very negative return on investment.”
  • Even if the estimated time savings do eventuate, they would have very little impact on the economic wellbeing of Northland.
  • Alternative options have not been adequately considered or costed, in particular the alternative “Operation Lifesaver” proposal put forward by the Campaign for Better Transport.

Puhoi To Wellsford – What is the best option?

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Local publication Mahurangi Matters has run a story on finding the best solution for upgrading SH1. The CBT contributed a piece on our “Operation Livesaver” proposal:

The Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) last year proposed an alternative to the costly Puhoi to Wellsford toll road currently being proposed by the Government. The Puhoi to Warkworth section alone is estimated to cost $1.65bn and the NZTA has yet to announce how much the toll will be for trucks and cars. Based on work already done by the NZTA, alternative upgrade options were costed at up to $320m. The key features include a Warkworth bypass, median barriers throughout Dome Valley and Schedewys Hill, and three-laning sections of road between Puhoi and Warkworth.

The alternative options were put forward largely to accelerate much needed safety improvements as upgrading the capacity of the route is not justified for the handful of days a year when holiday traffic creates congestion. Between 2000 and 2009, 41 people 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.

The CBT is also concerned that for those who won’t be able to afford the toll road, the existing parallel highway will remain as dangerous as it currently is, with no planned safety upgrades.

The alternative proposal was endorsed by the former ARC in August of last year and put forward to the Minister of Transport and the NZ Transport Agency for consideration. Responding to the proposal, Transport Minister Steven Joyce said that “while upgrading the road would appear to be the cheaper option, this is not actually the case. The initial investigations … show that upgrading the existing road to a four-lane motorway standard would actually be the same or more expensive than constructing a new, purpose-built road.”

The Minister is missing the point. We don’t think there is a need to upgrade the road from Puhoi to Wellsford to a motorway standard, for the sake of a few predictable periods of congestion, especially when the alternative SH16 route is under utilised.

The Minister also claimed that the proposed toll road will have “additional benefits as it caters for the movement of both passengers and freight. Forecast freight volumes between Auckland and Northland will double over the next 10 years.” CBT believes the existing railway line to Northland, currently under threat of closure, should be left open for the purpose of carrying the expected freight growth, especially logs and other bulk goods.

Northland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Tony Collins claims that the Holiday Highway is “strategically important”, while “the sooner the better” says National Road Carriers. You would think that these two organisations would be able to argue coherently about costs and benefits, but they don’t.

NZTA will hold a final information day at the Warkworth Town Hall on Saturday, January 22, between 10am and 2pm, and it will display the same information as the earlier events to provide a final opportunity for people to review the indicative route before consultation closes on January 28.

One week later…

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Following on from the complaint I made a week ago about the clouds of smoke coming from the back of a bus on Queen St, NZ Bus advised the following last Friday:

Thank you for your email advising us of vehicle emissions being emitted from Bus 1801 on the 6th January 2011 at approximately 8:45am.

NZ Bus aim to be the way the people of our communities choose to travel. We aim to deliver a service that is reliable and safe at all times.

The information has been sent to our Metrolink City Depot business unit and passed on to the Operations Manager. The bus will be assessed and any necessary action taken.

Thank you once again for bringing this to our attention.

I can’t believe it has taken a week to route the complaint to the right depot.  One way Maxx/NZ Bus could improve their service would be to improve their complaint turn around times from 5 working days.

Tram Tracks Being Laid

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The Herald reports on the progress of the new tram tracks begin laid at what will be the new Wynyard Quarter.

Trams are expected to run on Auckland’s waterfront by August in an $8 million project which saw the first modest section of tracks laid this week.

As well as securing a lease of two heritage trams from a museum in Bendigo, Victoria, the Auckland Waterfront Development Agency also hopes to borrow an electric light-railcar for demonstration purposes during the Rugby World Cup.

The trams will run clockwise on a 1.5km circuit of Wynyard Quarter – between Jellicoe, Halsey, Gaunt and Daldy Sts – to draw visitors to the developing precinct and to provide them with on-board information about its attractions…

It is fantastic (and a little surreal) to see the idea that the CBT pitched to the ARC in 2008 is actually becoming a reality.  A demonstrator for a modern light rail vehicle which could run on the same track is an excellent idea too - hopefully the start of our future light rail network.

Tracks laid on the corner of Helsey and Gaunt Sts, courtesy "Feijoa" on our forum.

Polluting Buses

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This is the worst example of a polluting bus I’ve ever seen on Auckland’s Queen St, which I captured this morning on my way to work. In any civilised city, this should be completely unacceptable. A few questions:

  • Why aren’t noisy, polluting, carcinogenic emissions like this illegal in New Zealand’s biggest city?
  • Doesn’t Metrolink check buses for excessive pollution as they leave the depot?
  • Does Auckland Transport enforce any emission standards as part of any contract with operators?
  • Won’t it be embarrassing if buses like this are permitted to operate during the Rugby World Cup?
  • Whatever happened to 0800 Smokey?

I’ll be asking Auckland Transport and NZ Bus to follow up on this. Its bus number 1801, which is one of the old former Link buses I think.

[Update] – have just sent the following through the Maxx feedback form:

I observed bus number 1801 emitting excessive noise and diesel exhaust on the corner of Queen St and K’Rd. A video of this can be seen at

Can this bus please be removed the road immediately until the problem can be rectified?

Also more generally, is there any agency responsible for enforcing emission standards for buses in Auckland?

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