Roast this post: High rise apartments in greenfield sites near train stations

I will declare that I’m only a mere (curious) member of joe public, with little in the way of any Urban planning experience, however, with so much controversy over bus lane enforcement, Retro-fitting light rail, and removal of on-street parking in Auckland. An idea that came to my mind is…

Would it or would it not be an easier idea to build high rise apartments at the likes of the empty / unbuilt greenfield sites of Albany and Drury where frequent and high capacity separated public transport links already exist (provided the ground at such sites are actually able to take high rise apartments)

Some of benefits (should this be able to be pulled off) I potentially see as a layman include…

  • Facilities such as shopping, medical, recreational, etc being within walking distance, allowing households to conduct most of the day to day household necessities within the local vicinity reducing the reliance on cars and allow households to reduce the number of cars they subsequently need to maintain.
  • If you need to go elsewhere in Auckland, you have a ready to go Train station or Bus-way station nearby where fast and frequent services exist.
  • As a starting point to ultimately curbing our current rate of sprawl across productive food producing farmland.

It’s just I see so much opposition to the current aims of Auckland Transport and Greater Auckland (Advocacy organization) and their plans extolled frankly on paper just seems so disruptive and unsettling to people’s existing living arrangements and livelihoods. To boot, the risks of retrofitting new initiatives to existing established neighbourhoods such as light rail just seem fraught with huge cost over-runs as we’ve seen with the Auckland City Rail Link (or Loop) depending on what they call it these days.

I’ve sent the Greater Auckland blog people the above idea via their contact form with them hopefully coming back to me for my own edification as a member of the public with their feedback along with their rebuttals of why they feel the general idea is not better than their current aspirations. Currently awaiting their response.

With this idea penned, I totally understand there will undoubtably be cons to my idea above and I invite people who may be more versed in urban planning than I, to actually come and “roast this post” as it were and present some arguments against the idea (road blocks and problems) which I’ve undoubtably missed.

Roast this post: High rise apartments in greenfield sites near train stations

Greater Auckland blog (Formerly “transport blog”)

This is purely a personal opinion as a layman and ordinary rate paying member of the public

I will be direct, the General Feeling I get from reading the Greater Auckland (“GA”) blog is while I understand they want to do “good”, I’m not certain they are managing to quite “read the room” and question whether they are connecting with or otherwise effectively communicating their vision to the General Auckland public

I did know the main editor of Greater Auckland blog, Matt Lowrie personally, but only for a brief moment during the ‘The Campaign for Better Transport’ days. Great guy, but admittedly, may not agree with a lot of his and his cohorts’ more recent view points surrounding urban design and transport matters outside of our common desire to see improved access to alternative travel choices.

There are two distinct issues personally which have probably contributed towards my sentiment…

  • I do recall feelings of being left out when they began focussing almost entirely on Trains and the City Rail Link at the expense / neglect towards tackling the lower hanging fruit aspects of improving access to both public and alternative transport options for major employment areas that were and remain to this day, very car dependent, like East Tamaki Industrial and Highbrook (I remember they were at least on the initial onset, attacking the AMETI project saying it was very car and roads focussed).
  • That I feel great moral anger at some of their readers/supporters Militant support of Auckland Transport’s overbearing video enforcement of frankly poorly indicated bus lanes

While I understand they appear to acting with good intent, I question whether they are going about things the right way and appear to be pushing more ideological aspects (what “They” themselves want to see) rather than the practical aspects (that would bring the most utility to the general public)

Greater Auckland blog (Formerly “transport blog”)

Bus Lane Locations in Auckland (Link to map)

Was contemplating compiling a map myself of Auckland’s Bus Lane network, but it looks like Auckland Transport themselves have already created a Bus Lane and Special Vehicle lane map, albeit, one that is a bit out of date. (Will press Auckland Transport to update it,  particularly Queen Street and Mount Willington Highway).

Click here or the image below to access AT’s Bus lane / SVL Map

Given the phelora of Bus Lanes and Special Vehicle Lanes popping up in Auckland recently catching many otherwise law abiding people unaware, I feel it has come to the point where motorists in all practical intents and purposes now have to consult this prior to heading out in order to avoid running foul of the rules and ending up with a $150 NZD fine.

While I’ve never received an infringement from AT for anything I’ve done and while I do support the idea of special vehicle priority lanes where implemented appropriately to aid High Occupancy Vehicles to move more freely, I am steadfast in my view Auckland Transport could be doing considerably more than they have to aid the public to comply. These include…

  • Running advisory campaigns to advise the motoring public to please check for the latest information regarding bus lanes on the map (linked to at the top of this post)
  • Ensure that as a public service any and all Bus Lanes, Transit Lanes and Special Vehicle lanes are swiftly updated and marked on the map as soon as they are laid down.
  • Modify placement of bus lanes to aid people to easily merge into the general traffic lane. Right now, the way many bus lanes are drawn are pretty abrupt allowing drivers little chance to recognise and get out of the way of a bus lane.
  • While AT already have videos online on how to use or drive on bus lanes, there is very little practical information for drivers to navigate around bus lanes. e.g what happens if you find yourself approaching a lane that you don’t know how to safely get out of?

As a personal opinion, while the “Green team” (being environmental advocates) seem to be the one’s advocating heavy handed (Orweillien-like Camera) enforcement in the name of a climate emergency, they run the real of risk of becoming tyrants themselves. As an aside, It’s almost like they are demanding that people immediately put both their livelihoods and current living arrangements on hold and comply with their demands on issues such as climate change and the environment (as in, stop driving our Internal Combustion Engine powered vehicles right away).

The issue I have with the current level of bus lane camera enforcement is that it pits Auckland Transport (as a CCO) against the very public they are supposed to be serving fostering a rather divisive and counter productive “Us” vs “Them” sentiment along with contributing to the general public’s erosion of respect towards Authority.

I also fear that this may be a slippery slope and unless strongly challenged, will encourge other government departments to copy Auckland Transport and start rolling out a regular fines regime to use against the public they are supposed to be serving.

Furthermore, it raises an issue with so many otherwise Law abiding people getting pinged over an ever increasing array of ‘Strict Liability’ offences now suggests people who otherwise have the best intentions are now no longer able to go about their lives without worrying about the the state coming down on them for an innocent mistake.

I will admit, I feel very strongly about how Auckland Transport are currently handling this and feel their current stance is highly corrosive to their own public image and is actually causing the general public to turn against Auckland Transport and their initiatives. I am currently locked in ongoing discussions with Auckland Transport about their conduct, as a civic concern, urging them to reconisder their approach and offering suggestions as to what they could do instead to improve public guidance, and education in order to aid compliance around bus lanes.

Auckland Transport and the “Green team” (including the likes of the ‘Greater Auckland / Transport Blog‘ people) need to be “reading the room”, they need to realize they need the support and understanding of the public in order to progress with their vision of achieving a transportation modal shift in Auckland.

While I can totally understand sitting on a bus that has been impeded by cars is a frustrating and irritating experience, comments online that I’ve seen from advocates directed against general motoring members of the public that happen to unintentionally drive into a bus lane I feel is completely unhelpful, divisive and unproductive. Statements such as “Selfish Idiot” and “It’s SOOOOO simple, just stay out of the bus lane” reeks of a total lack of both consideration for others and understanding of the situation. Work with the public, not against the public.

 

Bus Lane Locations in Auckland (Link to map)