March Madness

City Still Reeling from Thursday’s Motorway Disaster

 

I am still seeing reports all over the main stream media and social media on the traffic chaos from Thursday’s crash on the Newmarket Viaduct right in the afternoon peak. Pretty much the city is still reeling from what can be described as an absolute disaster as buses, cars and trucks were basically going nowhere in Central Auckland. In the end walking and trains (for those who could use them) proved to be the fastest method of transit on Thursday afternoon.

 

The Herald ran a piece this morning on the Thursday disaster:

From the NZ Herald:

Forecast: More traffic chaos ahead

By Mathew Dearnaley

5:30 AM Saturday Mar 9, 2013

Auckland’s worst traffic gridlock for years was caused by an extra squeeze of pressure on a stretched transport network – and it is not over yet.

Although the city has struggled through its busiest traffic week of the year, culminating in Thursday’s chaos after a serious crash closed all four southbound lanes of the main motorway out of town, Auckland Transport warns of a difficult weekend.

It is urging Aucklanders and their visitors to consider using public transport or share car rides with friends or neighbours as hundreds of thousands of people throng to a raft of events over the weekend.

Commuters stewed in traffic queues over three successive afternoons, but the longest were caused by the cascading impact of a 2-hour closure of Newmarket Viaduct’s southbound carriageway at the height of Thursday’s peak travel period.

The viaduct is the country’s busiest section of motorway, normally carrying 7000 southbound vehicles an hour during afternoon peaks, and the closure from a serious crash could not have come at a worst time for what the Transport Agency acknowledges is a highly sensitive urban traffic network.

Not only that, but Auckland Transport says this was already the busiest traffic week of the year, as students hasten to the first classes of term joined other commuters trying to make an earnest start back at work from the summer holidays.

The phenomenon known as “March madness” happens every year, and tends to ease off after the first frenzied week, but Automobile Association traffic spokesman Phil Allen says he has never seen a worst example of gridlock than on Thursday afternoon.

You can read the rest over at the Herald

 

The point I am raising here is that unless we get on top of the transport situation, Thursday is only going to repeat itself more often and will absolutely cripple the city as we move towards two million people.

This week alone I had written several transport related posts that interlink to Thursday’s chaos:

SOUTHERN MOTORWAY GRIDLOCK – Bring Back the Eastern Highway?

A post on how if the Eastern Highway and the Botany Line were built in 2004, a fully operational and high-capacity back up route for trucks, buses, cars and trains (the trains tapping into the currently unreached East Auckland) in and out of the CBD bypassing State Highway one could have alleviated some if not a lot of the mess from a blocked State Highway One

 

PATRONAGE BELOW FORECAST – Rail Patronage Some Millions Below Forecast

This touched on an interview on Radio NZ with Auckland Transport Chair Dr Lester Levy and how rail patronage is going to be some two and a half million passenger trips below forecast ending June 30. Full trains mean an easier run on the motorway, empty trains as they currently are mean a blocked State Highway one – and I have seen both situations.

 

This weekend would have been a perfect opportunity to showcase our public transport system with an absolute diverse range of events including Pasifika Festival in Western Springs and Around the Bays tomorrow which bring out countless residents and visitors today. You would think rather than operate our infrequent weekend timetables today, Auckland Transport would go out of their way and actually run a full Friday timetable for buses and trains to help getting people out of cars and freeing up the roads. Further more you think our fares would be affordable to also get people into public transport. This means actually selling the old Rail Family Pass right across the rail network rather than Britomart, Newmarket and New Lynn; and allow that Pass to be used freely on bus shuttles from Britomart and Morningside to Western Springs for Pasifika. I even called on AT for reasons why this is not happening:

  1. and @AklTransport any reason why Rail Ticket Inspectors not selling the old Family Pass up and down the entire network today?

  2. Ben Ross ‏@BenRoss_AKL

    @AklTransport any reason why we are not operating Friday Train and Bus Timetables today with the amount of events on.#repeatingthursday?

 

Perfect opportunity today for public transport – wasted! Lord help any one on the roads today if they back up…

 

Moving on

 

GOING FORWARD – Progress

This post mentioned that despite Thursday I can feel confident and excited on a new leaf being turned for our transport system – for the better. That this new leaf and evolution will be led by private citizen initiatives rather than public civic institution led and that in time Auckland will actually have an integrated transport system that we all understand.

 

 

What will my next commentary be on March 25? I wonder with Auckland’s Transport