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23rd September 2017

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Month: March 2017

Electric Vehicle Registrations Hit 3,000

Hon Simon Bridges
Minister of Transport
20 March 2017 Media Statement

 

More than 3,000 electric vehicles (EVs) are now registered in New Zealand, Transport Minister Simon Bridges says.

“I am delighted with the number of EV registrations we are now seeing. This year there has been 517 EV registrations bringing the total number of EVs in New Zealand to 3005. With nine months to go we are already half way to achieving our 2017 target,” Mr Bridges says.

“While 1,513 EVs were registered in New Zealand in 2016, in Australia only about 220 EVs were. This clearly demonstrates the success of the New Zealand Government’s EV programme at pushing up purchasing.

“We’re also seeing more new models coming onto the market and an increased interest from EV manufacturers – with both Hyundai Ioniq and Tesla, for example, recently announcing their entry into New Zealand.

“There’s also been a big increase in the models and quantity of used EVs being brought into New Zealand. This means more EVs, at a range of prices, giving more choice to New Zealander’s when they decide to step up on this,” Mr Bridges says.

Infrastructure and charging stations are ever-expanding across the country to support the growing number of EVs on our roads. There are now about 50 fast chargers available throughout the length of the country, with more coming, giving EV driver’s greater confidence on longer journeys.

“Electric vehicles are the future. A move from petrol and diesel to low emission transport is a natural evolution. We are working hard to encourage this and it’s fantastic to see more and more New Zealanders recognising the benefits of EVs,” Mr Bridges says.

Driving an electric vehicle in New Zealand produces 80 percent fewer carbon emissions than a petrol or diesel car due to New Zealand’s abundant renewable electricity.

In May 2016, the Government announced its Electric Vehicle Programme, a wide ranging package of measures to encourage the uptake of EVs in New Zealand. The target is to double the fleet each year, reaching 64,000 EV registrations by the end of 2021.

The Government’s EV website can be found at: www.electricvehicles.govt.nz

North Shore rail steaming towards Auckland – eventually

Tidd Niall – RNZ

Commuter rail to Auckland’s North Shore will go ahead – but the project may still take decades to get underway.

The Auckland Harbour Bridge

Commuter rail would likely be incorporated into a second Auckland harbour crossing. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Auckland and the government’s transport agencies have confirmed that progress will be made this year to decide whether light or conventional rail will eventually cross the Waitemata Harbour.

However, it could be decades before the project would actually get underway.

An Auckland Transport report, released by the Green Party, shows that even with the current expansion of the North Shore Busway, choke points will appear in a decade’s time, and in 20 years up to five stations will struggle.

The busway is one of the city’s biggest public transport successes, with patronage rising by 10 percent a year.

Auckland Transport and the Transport Agency said it was always known the busway would reach capacity.

Light rail has previously appeared in reports by government officials, but the politicians who would lead the decision-making – Auckland mayor Phil Goff and Transport Minister Simon Bridges – have been restrained in their enthusiasm.

Auckland Transport is assessing the timing of an eventual switch from bus to rail, to ensure that the tentatively-planned cross-harbour tunnels can accommodate either option.

It was also considering further improvements to extend the life of the busway.

Parnell train station opens

RNZ – 13/3/17

Auckland’s newest commuter train station opens in Parnell this morning.

Parnell Station being readied for today's official opening.

Parnell Station being readied for today’s official opening. Photo: Supplied / Auckland Transport

The station is the closest to the downtown terminus at Britomart, and sits adjacent to Auckland Domain.

It features the 108-year-old Newmarket Station building which was moved on to the site.

In peak hours trains, from the Southern Line will stop at Parnell. Off-peak, Western Line trains will also stop there.

The development will eventually cost $19 million once a second stage with improved access is completed, and up to 2000 passengers are expected to use it during the morning rush hour.

An artist's impression of Parnell Station.

An artist’s impression of Parnell Station. Photo: Supplied / Auckland Transport

Oz, New Zealand Follow Singapore’s Autonomous Lead

Ng Ek Heng | WardsAuto

SINGAPOREA collaboration between Australia and New Zealand could demonstrate how countries can pool resources to develop autonomous vehicles.

The South Pacific countries are to launch an Australian and New Zealand Driverless Vehicle Initiative, according to Peter Damen, chair of the executive steering committee of one of the partners, the Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative.

The collaboration will “minimize duplication, share knowledge, accelerate learning and add to what each party is doing,” Damen says, elaborating on his presentation about ADVI during last month’s Autonomous Vehicles Asia 2017 conference in Singapore.

“The New Zealand government is now formally represented at a senior level on the joint governing committee and will contribute to the direction-setting and program development,” he adds. Touching on the similar shuttle bus trials under way in both countries, New Zealand test results will be added to information from Australia’s experience.

Damen says the successful adoption of autonomous vehicles will bring Australia more than A$100 billion ($75 billion) in societal benefits, including improved road safety and better commercial productivity through decreased congestion.

He is calling on other Asian countries to enter into bilateral and multilateral collaborative arrangements to work with Australia and New Zealand. Apart from better preparing communities for the AV era, he believes a strong regional focus will lead to “cooperation on regulation-setting and accelerating the uptake of AV technology.”

With road commuting accounting for 79% of all transport in Australia, Damen says it is imperative for Australia to capitalize on AV technology. “To be competitive, we must adopt driverless technology and do it early,” he says.

Following initial trials in July 2015 on roads closed to public use, subsequent initiatives to test driverless vehicles have been extended across Australia using public roads. In addition to car-sharing, heavy-vehicle and driverless-shuttle bus-services, the Australian government wants to develop AV systems for truck platooning, using AV systems in mines and developing connected intelligent transport systems in multimodal transport services.

The government also is assessing legislative changes that may be needed and how to frame awareness programs in how to use AV systems.

Now in its second of four phases, the country’s transition toward autonomous road transport is being coordinated under the ADVI, a partnership of government, industry and academia. It is  undertaking full-scale industry operational field tests, research, development and investigation involving about 100 partners, including automotive and technology companies such as Volvo, Mitsubishi, Telstra, Navya, EziMile, Seeing Machines and Codha Wireless.

Damen notes ADVI welcomes all parties that wish to participate, not just those already a formal part of the partnership. The third phase involves policy, legislative, regulatory and operational changes for wide-ranging adoption of driverless vehicles, while the fourth stage will see the introduction of such vehicles to public and private road networks.

“We have started on Phase 3 in parallel with Phase 2,” Damen says. “The intent is that Phase 2 runs for another 18 months and because Phase 3 is running in parallel to a certain extent, we are able to accelerate the outcomes.

“We are aiming for 2020 for Phase 4,” but it will depend on the outcomes of the earlier phases as well as a decision by a national transport infrastructure ministerial council that includes federal, state and local government representatives, added Damen.

A Driverless Singapore

 The city-state of Singapore also is undertaking work on developing AVs because it has a pressing need to improve urban mobility, bearing in mind it has a population density of nearly 3,014 persons per sq.-mile (7,807 per sq.-km) and a limited land area of just 1,780 sq.-m (720 ha).

Touching on the challenges facing Singapore, Niels de Boer, program director of the Centre of Excellence for Testing & Research of AVs at the country’s Nanyang Technological University, says there will not be sufficient space for the current “12% of land used for roads” to be increased in tandem with population growth.

Competing land use aside, he highlights the issue of “manpower constraints, as the average age of public transport personnel is over 40 years.”

Singapore envisions “a new paradigm for urban logistics,” de Boer says. Upon successful trials, a new generation of autonomous buses will pave the way toward greater road safety and reliability of public transport, he predicts. The aim is for autonomous bus services to be integrated with a network of driverless vehicles that could include self-driving taxis and autonomous car sharing, thereby making personal vehicle usage unnecessary. The vision for autonomous vehicles also includes the freight and utility sectors.

As early as 2013, Nanyang Tech began operating a self-driving electric shuttle within its campus and the neighboring CleanTech Park. The knowledge gained is being used to develop two electric hybrid buses that will operate between NTU and CleanTech Park with a possible link to the island country’s east-west mass rapid transport system.

In 2015, regulatory changes were made to allow for testing of autonomous taxis to operate within Singapore’s One North, a 494-acre (200-ha) research and business park. Key milestones have been defined for the testing of autonomous vehicles.

Passing the first milestone allows for trial of vehicles at One North, while the second milestone signifies approval to operate outside the test site, for which regulations will have taken effect in mid-2017. Definition of the third milestone is still a work in progress, according to de Boer.

Tentative timeline indications are for prototype demonstration trials involving autonomous buses and shared driverless cars for first mile-last mile travel during 2016-17. It will lead to operational trials in 2018-19 at One North and beyond, and subsequently to pilot deployments from 2020.

The societal and economic benefits are not the only push factors for the development of AVs, which are expected to drastically reduce accidents globally, as past surveys show human errors account for 90% of accidents, according to speakers at the Singapore conference.

World’s first ship tunnel will stretch 1.7km under mountain in Norway

Construction of the 1.7 kilometre-long tunnel is expected to being in 2018. Pictured is an artist's impression of what ...

NORWEGIAN COASTAL ADMINISTRATION
Construction of the 1.7 kilometre-long tunnel is expected to being in 2018. Pictured is an artist’s impression of what the entrance to the tunnel will look like.
 www.stuff.co.nz

The world’s first ship tunnel is set to be excavated beneath a Norwegian mountain.

Measuring an expected 1.7 kilometres, the Stad tunnel will allow sailors to bypass a notorious section of the Stadhavet Sea – which has claimed 33 lives in the past 70 years and experiences 100 storm days each year, according to reports.

But the tunnel will not provide a faster route than the current option, just a safer one.

The Stad tunnel will allow boats to pass underneath a mountain as pictured.

NORWEGIAN COASTAL ADMINISTRATION
The Stad tunnel will allow boats to pass underneath a mountain as pictured.

Construction on the tunnel – which will allow large vessels to pass through – is expected to begin in 2018 and cost NZ $460 million.

Dimensions for the tunnel vary according to reports, but a diagram provided by the Norwegian Coastal Administration, the group responsible for the project, say it will be 37 metres tall, 36m wide and have a water depth of 12m.

A map shows the location of the Stad tunnel and the present, much longer route.

NORWEGIAN COASTAL ADMINISTRATION
A map shows the location of the Stad tunnel and the present, much longer route.

Excavating the tunnel will require the removal of about 3m cubic metres of rock, according to gCaptain.

Construction is to be carried out with standard blasting and drilling methods and is estimated to be completed in 2029, but could take longer.

An overhead bridge for tourists in the tunnel has also been proposed, according to gCaptain.

The proposed tunnel will be 37 metres tall, 36m wide and 1.7 kilometres long, with a water depth of 12m.

NORWEGIAN COASTAL ADMINISTRATION
The proposed tunnel will be 37 metres tall, 36m wide and 1.7 kilometres long, with a water depth of 12m.

As well as providing a safer route for ships, the tunnel is expected to boost shipping, fishing and tourism industries.

Politician Bjørn Lødemel said the tunnel would lay the foundation for industrial and regional development and create a world-class tourist destination, as well as shift transport from road to sea, Norwegian news outlet NRK reported

The tunnel’s construction had support from all the country’s major political parties, it was reported.

An artist's impression of how one of the entry points for the Stad tunnel would look.

NORWEGIAN COASTAL ADMINISTRATION
An artist’s impression of how one of the entry points for the Stad tunnel would look.

The project is expected to have a positive effect on shipping, fishing and tourism industries, among others.

NORWEGIAN COASTAL ADMINISTRATION
The project is expected to have a positive effect on shipping, fishing and tourism industries, among others.

Introduction of a Vehicle Booking System (VBS) to MetroPort Auckland

Port of Tauranga has advised of the introduction of a VBS for their MetroPort Auckland operation as follows:

 

Please be advised that we remain on target for the introduction of the ContainerChain VBS to MetroPort Auckland, commencing Monday 20 March 2017.
As of this date, it will be a prerequisite to create truck arrival notifications via the ContainerChain booking system prior to the truck arrival at MetroPort Auckland. The VBS will be available for operators to book transactions from Friday 17 March 2017.
Although it will be a prerequisite to create notifications from Monday 20 March, a six-week “zero invoice” period will remain in place to allow customer and operator process to adjust to the system introduction. After this period, commencing Monday 1 May 2017, a base fee of $6.50 + GST will apply to each notification made.
The terms and conditions of entry to MetroPort Auckland for Container Transport Operators are outlined within the MetroPort Carrier Access Arrangements (CAA). It is a requirement for Container Transport Operators to agree with this arrangement prior to enabling access to the ContainerChain booking system.
The CAA document and the ability to acknowledge acceptance of the terms and conditions in this document are available on the ContainerChain web site, and accessible at: www.containerchain.co.nz
Rates are posted on the Port of Tauranga web site under “Tariff & Terms” and form part of the terms and conditions of entry.
If you have any questions regarding the use of the booking system or the terms and conditions, please contact 0800 MET VBS or ContainerChain NZ on 0800 702 302.

Auckland commuters promised better ‘March Madness’ service

Sally Murphy – RNZ

It’s that time of year when traffic in Auckland turns into post-holiday hell – and Auckland Transport says it’s using all possible resources to make ‘March Madness’ run more smoothly than last year.

An Auckland bus during last year's March Madness.

An Auckland train during last year’s March Madness. Photo: Supplied / Travel Blog

Auckland Transport recevived more than 1000 complaints last March about the lack of buses and trains to cope with the rush of people going back to work, school and university.

The phenomenon is real: during March, traffic on the motorways increases and the number of people catching public transport goes up by 30 percent.

This year, Auckland Transport is putting on more services to meet demand including 56 more city-bound bus trips every morning.

Operations manager Brendon Main said 1200 more seats would be made available on peak hour trains from 12 March.

“This is as much as we believe we will need to tackle some of the issues encountered last year.

“We are limited in terms of buses but we have put every piece of equipment we can out there on the road.”

Mr Main said a lot of planning had been done to avoid the chaos of last year when buses were overcrowded, late or failed to show up during March.

“We’re out there monitoring the situation as it happens.

“We look at this every year to make sure it’s enough, we’ve put a lot of extra capacity in, especially in some of the problem spots we had last year the most extra capacity in a very long time.”

A bus on Auckland's Queen Street

Auckland Transport is putting on more services to meet demand including 56 more city bound bus trips every morning. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Transport Blog editor Matt Lowrie said the extra services were desperately needed.

“Services are extremely busy; trains have been jam-packed, sometimes people can’t get on.

“We’ve heard from some people that have had 12 full buses go past before they can get on one.”

It was great Auckland Transport was putting on extra services before the mad rush began, Mr Lowrie said.

Transport Agency highway manager Brett Gliddon said the agency would be encouraging people to ride share and avoid travelling during peak times.

“Together with Auckland Transport we’ll continue to monitor and manage the entire Auckland transport network through the Auckland Transport Operation Centre, which operates 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

“Operators use a variety of tools such as CCTV cameras, traffic signals, ramp signalling, messaging signs and speed control signs.”

Electric vehicles given pass to use priority lanes

Todd Niall – RNZ

Forget waving your fist at that driver hurtling past you in a priority lane – electric vehicles are allowed to zoom down Auckland motorway on-ramps for the next two weeks.

Auckland motorway

Electric cars can skip the queues and use priority lanes at five Auckland motorway on-ramps for the next two weeks. Photo: 123RF

Starting today, the government trial lets plug-in electic vehicles (EVs) use five motorway on-ramp lanes normally reserved for buses, trucks and high-occupancy vehicles.

Four of the five priority lanes are in the south, as well as the citybound onramp at Lincoln Road on the North-Western Motorway.

The others are the citybound onramps from Coronation Road and Rimu Road onto the South-Western Motorway, and the citybound onramps from the South-Eastern Highway, and from the Mount Wellington Highway, onto the Southern Motorway.

The trial is being championed by Minister of Transport Simon Bridges, himself a driver of an electric car, and being implemented by the New Zealand Transport Agency, but has attracted scepticism from Auckland mayor Phil Goff and council agency Auckland Transport.

Businesses own nearly a quarter of the 1033 electric vehicles registered in Auckland.

Electricity companies Mercury Energy, with 42, and Vector, with 12, will be leaving it up to individual staff to decide whether to use the priority lanes.

Air New Zealand, which said it had around 75 EVs, was not sure how many were based in Auckland.

Air New Zealand was the most bullish about the trial. “We are looking forward to participating in this trial and hope our customers are inspired to consider electric vehicles themselves,” the airline said in a statement.

Auckland Transport is known to be unhappy about the trial, and in a submission, posed questions about how clearly motorists would understand which vehicles qualified and called for an “information campaign”.

“We note that the period of the trial will not provide any definitive conclusion on the effectiveness on driver behaviour change,” the city agency wrote.

Former Auckland Regional Council transport chair Joel Cayford, now a policy analyst with the Planning Institute, said the focus should be on shifting people out of cars, not from fossil-fuelled to electric vehicles.

“The benefit is incredibly marginal. If you were really genuinely seeking a shift in New Zealand to a more sustainable transport economy, you wouldn’t start here,” he said.

Mr Goff did not favour adding to the number of vehicles in priority lanes.

“The minister’s very keen on it. He wants to trial it, fine. That’s a decision he’s made. Let’s see if it works and if it doesn’t he’ll be the first to put up his hand and say well, ‘that didn’t work’,” said Mr Goff.

NZTA will not be actively monitoring the uptake by electric vehicle users, and there will be no extra policing of vehicles using the on-ramps during the trial.

Group manager for planning and investment Robert Brodnax said the agency would survey owners of electric cars afterwards about their experiences.

“We’re also going to be monitoring commentary on Facebook and on social media, and also talking to the main stakeholder groups about their insights – the Bus and Coach Association, and freight operators,” said Mr Brodnax.

The by-law allowing the new category of vehicles to use the priority lanes for the trial will be extinguished the day after the trial ends on 20 March.

The government expects to have new regulations in place by 1 July, giving local bodies the discretion to allow electric vehicles in a range of priority or bus lanes.

Long delays for Auckland motorway commuters as ‘March madness’ hits

The New Zealand Transport Agency's traffic cameras showed North Shore-bound traffic was crawling on the Upper Harbour ...

NZTA

The New Zealand Transport Agency’s traffic cameras showed North Shore-bound traffic was crawling on the Upper Harbour motorway.

 

Auckland’s motorways are crawling as “March madness” begins in earnest.

“March madness” happens each year when schools, universities and workers are all back on deck and traffic on the region’s motorways hits its peak for the year.

A crash on the North Shore and two truck breakdowns on the southern motorway were contributing to delays as workers and university and school students tried to make their way into the city.

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) tweeted about 7am on Wednesday that congestion had begun to build early.

View image on Twitter

A crash on Albany Highway had caused a massive traffic backlog on the Upper Harbour motorway, between northwest Auckland and the North Shore, the agency said.

On the busy southern motorway, a truck broke down in the northbound lanes just before the Greenlane offramp about 7am.

A second truck broke down 40 minutes later near the Princes St offramp, near Otahuhu.

Both trucks were clear of the lanes by 7.50am, but the agency was warning that drivers would face lengthy delays most of the way into the city.

Earlier, a person died after a van hit a tree in the rural south Auckland suburb of Pukekohe.

Paparata Rd was closed between Pinnacle Hill Rd and Totara Rd and people were being asked to avoid the area.

Auckland Transport had put on additional public transport services, including four double-decker buses, but was still warning people to allow extra time to get to work or university.

 – Stuff

Opinion: Coastal shipping ‘just makes sense’

Trucks park at Murchison, which has become a major thoroughfare following the closure of the Picton to Christchurch leg ...

MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ

Trucks park at Murchison, which has become a major thoroughfare following the closure of the Picton to Christchurch leg of State HIghway 1.

OPINION: ​New Zealand is a coastal country with challenging geography and it seems logical that we should use the “blue highway” far more than we have done in the recent past.

Increasing our reliance on coastal shipping to move our freight, taking more trucks off our roads, is an essential step forward in building national resilience in the event of another natural disaster.

Public support for considering alternatives to long-haul trucking is building in the wake of the Kaikoura earthquake, in part because we have now seen first-hand how essential it is to have a good plan in place for our transport infrastructure.

Pacifica's coastal ship Spirit of Canterbury offloads at Lyttelton late last year.

CHRIS HUTCHING/FAIRFAX NZ

Pacifica’s coastal ship Spirit of Canterbury offloads at Lyttelton late last year.

The blue highway is always there, it’s free, there are no potholes and no chance of slips. Yes, the weather can be challenging, but then the weather can be equally problematic for our roads.

Sea transport was a vital route between Auckland and Tauranga to Lyttelton following the closure of State Highway 1 and the rail corridor, and it remains so to some extent for what would have been rail freight.

Data from a NZ Transport Agency State Highway Traffic Monitoring System telemetry unit on SH1 at Waipara shows an initial increase in heavy traffic in the period following the earthquake has now plateaued so much so that truck volumes are only slightly up compared to a year ago. This would indicate that most of the rail freight, rather than being put on trucks, must be going via coastal shipping.

A number of freight forwarders have re-categorised what goods are being sent as just-in-time, or urgent freight, in order to reduce the amount that travels by truck.

Perishable goods such as fruit and vegetables will always be time critical, but there are many items that were only being classified as such for cash-flow reasons, and this is where the industry needs to look at the bigger picture.

Ships can carry more freight in fewer trips for less money, and little time is lost: A ship travelling from Auckland to Lyttelton does so in a similar amount of time as freight travelling by rail and ferry.

However, there are some challenges to overcome with regards to the current commercial model of the ports industry. One is that there is no financial incentive for operators to build more resilience and redundancy into their facilities. Where one operator might spend money on increasing resilience and struggle to make a return off that investment, another might not do this work and make more profit.

That approach does not benefit our country, and this is something that needs to be addressed.

Another issue is that while there is plenty of capacity to ship goods from north to south, this is not so in reverse. This is due to international lines being able to carry freight when continuing their journey and predominantly travel north to south.

As the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce has pointed out, it would make us less vulnerable if we spread our goods and distribution centres more equally rather than, in Marlborough’s case, mainly sourcing our perishable supermarket goods from Christchurch.

Another important benefit is that ships produce fewer emissions, and this is in line our obligations to reduce our emission by 2030 under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Relying on the sea, not just our roads, should be the way of the future.

It just makes a lot of sense.

Stuart Smith is the MP for Kaikoura

 – The Marlborough Express

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