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 ...


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 ...


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.


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

People Are Now Making Pools Out of Shipping Containers

Fire-damaged railway line across South Island to reopen early

The fire-damaged railway line linking Christchurch and Greymouth is to reopen ahead of schedule on 20 March.

railway crossing

The Midland line was badly damaged when a fire swept through 300 hectares between Cass and Springfield over Waitangi weekend, damaging several bridges.

Twelve wooden piles needed to be replaced on one bridge.

Initial estimates were that the repairs would take at least six weeks, and KiwiRail had been expecting to re-open the line in early April.

KiwiRail spokesperson Todd Moyle said the line was used by the TranzAlpine tourist train, and also for shipping coal and dairy products from the West Coast.

The line would initially open for freight, with the TranzAlpine service expected to resume shortly after.


LINZ improving shipping safety


Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) has developed a world leading tool for improving shipping safety in New Zealand, says Minister for Land Information Mark Mitchell.

“The Hydrographic Risk Assessment uses the latest technology to identify risks and help update navigation information,” Mr Mitchell says.

The tool combines data from a variety of sources to produce heat maps of New Zealand waters where risks are highest, ensuring updates are given where they are needed most.
“It is important New Zealanders are kept safe at sea, and the Risk Assessment will help ensure skippers have access to the latest and most accurate navigation information.”

LINZ is focused on improving information for areas such as Queen Charlotte Sound, the Tory Channel, the Approaches to Auckland, and Tamaki Strait, which were identified to have higher levels of navigational risk than other shipping routes in New Zealand.

“The tool also helps LINZ provide navigation services for New Zealand’s four million square kilometre Exclusive Economic Zone, supporting our shipping, cruise, and tourism industries.

“As vessels get bigger and shipping routes get busier, it is important we continually map the sea floor and update charts and other information,” Mr Mitchell says.

LINZ is working with Maritime New Zealand, harbour masters, and others to assess results and plan other charting work.

Read the results of the New Zealand Hydrographic Risk Assessment on the LINZ website: http://www.linz.govt.nz/sea/charts/annual-work-programme/new-zealand-hydrographic-risk-assessment


Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz

Calls to continue coastal shipping and keep heavy trucks off Kaikoura roads

Support for coastal shipping down the east coast of New Zealand is gaining momentum in Kaikoura, as the quake-isolated town basks in the relative calm of roads rarely troubled by heavy trucks.

Residents have started a petition asking the Government to consider permanent alternatives to long-haul trucking, pushing them off State Highway 1 when it eventually reopens.

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake last November caused major landslides north and south of Kaikoura, cutting rail services and forcing freight companies on a lengthy detour down the middle of the South Island.

Road and rail disruption from November's earthquake has prompted calls to explore coastal shipping.


Road and rail disruption from November’s earthquake has prompted calls to explore coastal shipping.

Kaikoura resident Lynda Kitchingham, who started the petition, said all through-freight should continue to be shipped, or transported by rail, when the highway opens again, essentially bypassing Kaikoura.

While trucks would continue to use the highway to make local deliveries, this was a golden opportunity to move large, long-haul freight off the road and onto sea and rail, she said.

This was more environmentally-friendly as ships and rail could carry more freight, making fewer trips, Kitchingham said.

The petition also called for a safe cycle and walking track from Marlborough to Canterbury, a concept that had been widely promoted since the earthquake.

It was also an opportunity to create a world-renowned Kaikoura coastal scenic highway, similar to Australia’s Great Ocean Road, Kitchingham said.

“Imagine the growth in prosperity for the whole region. Reinstate the rail for freight and a fantastic tourism [driving] experience with strategic stop-offs to complement the cycle and walkway.”

The road rebuild was being run by the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance, which included the NZ Transport Agency, KiwiRail and several infrastructure companies.

The alliance directed requests for comment onto KiwiRail, which had yet to respond.

The calls to look into coastal shipping for long-haul freight had garnered cross-party support in light of November’s earthquake.

Kaikoura MP Stuart Smith said coastal shipping had not been properly considered in the plans to reinstate the travel corridor following the earthquake, something he was concerned about in terms of resilience.

“We don’t have a good plan in place for our transport infrastructure,” Smith said.

“We will have an event [such as another earthquake] at some point when our road and rail networks are severed.

“Some of the stuff going up and down our roads could easily be going by sea.”

Smith said there was also the need to reduce carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change by 2020, and shipping was an efficient step towards that goal.

It also eliminated double-handling of freight where goods in containers were loaded on and off rail wagons before being put back onto trucks for transport to Christchurch, he said.

Green MP Steffan Browning said the Green Party had always supported coastal shipping for bulk freight for energy efficiency and to relieve pressure on the roads.

“It’s a no-brainer, but it’s a matter of how the Government can get behind it,” he said.

“We need those trucks off the road as much as possible, the Government needs to stop being beholden to the road transport industry.”

Browning said most of the long-haul freight trucks were not going door-to-door but base-to-base, and not stopping in Kaikoura to prop up small businesses.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges said coastal shipping had been a strong part of the transport response to the quake with extra services from Auckland and Tauranga to Lyttelton reducing road freight demand on SH7.

Commercial players would make decisions based on their current and future needs.

As well as NZ Connect, KiwiRail had also set up an inland freight hub in Blenheim for the movement of freight between islands, and developed additional coastal shipping plans which could be quickly put into operation if there was further disruption in the South Island, he said.

The increase in coastal freight was equivalent to 10 to 20 trucks per day off the road, Bridges said.

Kitchingham said this was a step in the right direction, but with Ministry of Transport figures showing about 550 heavy vehicle movements on SH1 between Picton and Waipara prior to the earthquake there was still a long way to go.

It was important to consider permanent alternatives, rather than just focus on using them following a disaster, she said.

The petition would run for a month and could be signed at various locations around Kaikoura, as well as online on the Truck Free Kaikoura Facebook page.

It will be presented to the Kaikoura District Council, the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance and local MPs for presentation to Parliament.

 – Kaikoura Star

Regional councillors set to debate the future of CentrePort

Quake-hit CentrePort’s should be repurposed as a transport and entertainment hub, a Wellington developer says.

Wellington property developer Ian Cassels has his own ideas of what CentrePort should look like

Wellington property developer Ian Cassels has his own ideas of what CentrePort should look like

Ian Cassels has called for the port, which suffered substantial damage after the 7.8-magnitude Kaikoura earthquake on November 14, to become like Oriental Bay with bars and transport interchanges.

His suggestion comes as the future of Wellington’s quake-hit CentrePort will be up for debate when regional councillors meet on Wednesday morning.

CentrePort container shipping wharf/dock in Wellington received damage after Novembers earthquake.


CentrePort container shipping wharf/dock in Wellington received damage after Novembers earthquake.

At the meeting Greater Wellington regional councillors will get the opportunity to pass comments onto the CentrePort’s management to inform their plans for the coming financial year.


Greater Wellington Regional Council chairman Chris Laidlaw said Wednesday's meeting would be the first towards ...


Greater Wellington Regional Council chairman Chris Laidlaw said Wednesday’s meeting would be the first towards developing a masterplan for the future of Wellington’s Port.

While returning to business as usual would be part of council plans, Greater Wellington Regional Council chairman Chris Laidlaw said the objective was to begin developing a plan beyond that.

“This is essentially about looking further ahead to enabling land owned by the Port to be factored into the decisions we are making, particularly around transport,” he said.

This would be factored into Lets Get Welly Moving initiative, which was set up to help solve the city’s congestion problems.

Property developer Ian Cassels said the earthquake had given Wellingtonians a huge opportunity to decide how the Port ...


Property developer Ian Cassels said the earthquake had given Wellingtonians a huge opportunity to decide how the Port and the city were alligned.

 “We are looking at a longer term development plan for the Port as a whole,” Laidlaw said.

Cassels described the quake as a hidden blessing, allowing Wellingtonians to re-think how the city and the port were best aligned.

“I’m standing in my building looking at the containers on the eastern edge of our port, and nothing could be more inappropriate for the other half of our inner harbour,” he said.

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester speaks about earthquakes and flooding


Wellington Mayor Justin Lester speaks about earthquakes and flooding

“It should have magnificent stuff going on. It should look a bit like Oriental Bay. There should be entertainment and bars and water taxis should scoot across there late at night to other parts of the Harbour.”

Cassels suggested small-scale wharfs should also be installed for smaller craft and larger suburban buses should stop at CentrePort and not traverse the inner city.

“If you don’t want to walk there should be other options, but they should be electric mini buses or something. The last thing we want is diesel buses.”

The Port has been eyeing up land around Kaiwharawhara, which would be a natural move, with a similar sized operation more easily maintained off reclaimed land, he said.

But New Zealand Shipping Federation executive director Annabel Young disagreed that CentrePort’s days as a freight destination were numbered.

“If you got the cranes up and running and the wharfs up and running again it’s a case of the ships will go where the cargo is.”

But she would like to see would be a unified terminal for ferries, rather than separate operations for the the Bluebridge and Interislander.

“At the moment we don’t give them a great tourism experience at either terminal.”

Road Transport Forum chief executive Ken Shirley said there were ongoing issues around entry and exit to the Ports, and he commended the council for beginning to come to terms with that.

“We have got the Roads of National Significance virtually from Levin to Wellington Ports but it’s that last bit of interfacing with the Port that’s so important,” he said.

Wellington City Mayor Justin Lester said efforts should focus on getting CentrePort operating as it was before the quakes.

“They are a good business. The only reason we are considering this is because of the earthquake and its response. I would like to see them operate as they were in the past.”

 – Stuff

New paperless parking machines confuse Akl commuters

Auckland Transport has installed new pay-by-plate parking machines around the city – leading to confusion among some and queues as people figure out how to use them.

The new pay-by-plate parking machines that have appeared at some Auckland car parks.

The new pay-by-plate parking machines that have appeared at some Auckland car parks. Photo: RNZ / Sally Murphy

A total of seven machines at a cost of $8500 each have been installed in Jellicoe Street carpark, Viaduct East and the Auckland Council staff car park at Manukau.

To park you type in your registration number and then pay – no paper ticket is printed.

The machines, which were installed earlier this month, have caused queues at peak times as people figure them out.

Auckland transport spokesman Mark Hannan said the machines are more efficient than traditional machines as they require no paper and you do not have to go back to your car after paying for your parking.

“Your registration number gets sent back to an app the parking wardens use, allowing them to keep an accurate record of how long you’ve been parked.

“Because it does not issue paper tickets or receipts the machines require much less maintenance, ” Mr Hannan said.

Parkers use one of the new pay-by-plate parking machines that have appeared at some Auckland car parks.

Parkers use one of the new pay-by-plate parking machines that have appeared at some Auckland car parks. Photo: RNZ / Sally Murphy

To get a receipt you have to get a code to enter online, and that frustrated Logan, who parked at the Jellicoe carpark every day.

“I pay about $350 a week for parking and my work reimburse me so having no receipt is a real pain.

“Everyday I have to go online enter the code, get the electronic receipt, find somewhere to print it and then give it to work – it’s annoying,” Logan said.

Jan Petout found the machines easy to use.

“I was given warning about them before I came so I just had to remember my registration number, but I think they will be confusing for older people.”

Another driver said she disliked not having a paper ticket, because she could not give it to someone if she did not use all of the time.

Auckland Transport said in the coming weeks it will launch the AT Park app, which will operate in a similar fashion to the machines.

The app will allow users to enter their registration number and the area they had parked. When they left, they tagged off the app and would be charged for exactly the amount of time they had parked.

Auckland Transport said it has not had any feedback on the machines – as they had staff at the machines for the first week to assist people with them.

East West Link transport project to be considered

15 February 2017 | AUCKLAND & NORTHLAND

East West Link transport project to be considered by Board of Inquiry

The NZ Transport Agency has welcomed a Ministerial decision to refer its application for designation and resource consents for the East West Link project to a Board of Inquiry.

The Transport Agency lodged its application with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) in December 2016. The EPA reviewed the application and recommended that it be treated as a matter of national significance that should be referred to the Board of Inquiry.

The Transport Agency’s Auckland Highway Manager, Brett Gliddon says the Board of Inquiry will give the public and stakeholders an opportunity to provide feedback on what is proposed, while also providing industry with more certainty on the timeframes for the delivery of the project.

“The East West Link will be a vital connection in the transport network that keeps Auckland moving. Its location is at the heart of the country’s industrial and manufacturing industries. It also plays a crucial role in the economic growth of all New Zealand,” says Brett Gliddon.

The project will build a new four lane road between the Neilson Street Interchange at State Highway 20 and the Mt Wellington Interchange on State Highway 1, and widen State Highway 1 between Mt Wellington and Princes Street. It will also create new and improved connections to local roads in Onehunga and Penrose, relieving the current congestion experienced across the day on Neilson Street. It will also create a seamless walking and cycling path from Onehunga to Sylvia Park.

It’s hoped construction can start in 2018.

“We’re confident the Board of Inquiry process will ensure the Transport Agency’s application is thoroughly tested, that the process is transparent and the community and stakeholders are given full opportunity to make submissions and have their views heard.”

The Transport Agency has been working with Auckland Transport and the community since 2013 to develop the design and plans for the East West Link. There will be opportunities for ongoing design work and engagement with the community during the next stages of the project.

Details on how people can make submissions and get involved in the Board of Inquiry process are available on the EPA website: http://www.epa.govt.nz/Resource-management/.

The Transport Agency will be holding information days to give people more information on the project and the technical reports that have been lodged. These will be held at:

Monday 27 February, 5.30pm

Otahuhu Library, 28-30 Mason Avenue, Otahuhu

Wednesday 1 and Thursday 2 March

Onehunga Community Centre, 83 Church Street, Onehunga

The Transport Agency has published details of its application and supporting documents on its website and encourages people to look at them and ensure they’re fully informed. The documents and more information about the project can be found at www.nzta.govt.nz/ewl-epa.