Vanity project that harms the South goes ahead
On Friday the Mayor, and Minister of Transport conducted the sod turning ceremony for the Manukau Transport Interchange in very low fanfare. The whole event was done on the quiet with even Transport Blog picking up on Auckland Transport being very quiet with the affair compared to the Otahuhu Interchange sod turning ceremony. More here: Consultation virtually Ignored: Sad Day to be Celebrating the Commencement of the Manukau Interchange #AKLPols
So why was Auckland Transport quiet on the sod turning ceremony for the Manukau Interchange? An Interchange that is a central lynch-pin to the South Auckland Bus Network starting later this year and is in the middle of Auckland’s biggest Metropolitan Centre. Probably because the post-consultation report showed that the majority of submitters were either negative or neutral towards the concept designs of the Manukau Interchange. That is the submitters were telling Auckland Transport to do better.
The full post-consultation report will be at the bottom of this post. But first right out of the Summary section:
Not a very good start.
Now let’s break this down by each question asked by Auckland Transport before getting to their reasons for effectively not listening to anyone/
Question 1 – How Would You Rate the Facility for Each of the Following
With the “Good’ not reaching above 50% in any of the subsets (highest was 43% for weather protection) that alone should have told Auckland Transport to go back to the community and ask what they really want with a Bus Interchange they (not Auckland Transport) will be using day in day out. See the “Neutral” marks are the same as the “Could Be Improved” marks insofar as you don’t want a design that people ho-hum about. Because ho-hum is what neutral does. If you are going to have a Bus Interchange in the middle of your biggest Metropolitan Centre and a lynch pin to the South Auckland Bus Network you want ALL your subsets to be over 50% in “Good.” Yet not one subset got above that 50% for “Good.”
When 70% of respondents are negative or neutral towards the safety aspect of the proposed bus interchange you know you have problems that will impact the patronage of the proposed Interchange. Auckland Transport should know the Fear of Crime model as 70% of respondents are telling them there is a problem with safety perceptions with the Manukau Bus Interchange.
Having a pleasant attractive environment also got 30% good as well-meaning people don’t find the proposed designs attractive at all. Not really good for a centre piece of your bus network and Metropolitan Centre is it now Auckland Transport?
And cycling facilities were the harshest of all comments received with 62% of submitters saying the facilities could be improved. That is going to happen when:
- The cycling racks are on the wrong side of the interchange
- The cycling racks are not secure
- There is no cycle lanes or cycle ways feeding to the Interchange and the cycle racks within Manukau City Centre
Question 2 – What Do We Like About the Manukau Bus Station
Answer: We don’t like much really.
50% either did not give an answer or did not like the designs for the Manukau Bus Interchange at all. Given Auckland Transport should be trying to get the 50% (was 44%) of respondents liking at least one part of the Interchange would be a start. We should be liking the Interchange as we are going to use it but we are not. To me that means back to the drawing board – again.
Question 3 – What Would You Change About the Design?
28% did not like the design – mainly the Sawtooth aspect of the bus bays (the 29% that did like was on the building visual) and 35% were commenting more on the lack of cycle-lanes and cycle-ways TO the Interchange from both within Manukau City Centre itself and the suburbs surrounding Manukau. This is a problem when Auckland Transport treat a project in a silo rather than being integrated as they should be doing. You will see further down AT’s replies about the lack of cycling provisions and how those replies are unacceptable.
Here is some excerpts of the feedback regarding both cycle facilities and the designs:
Auckland Transport’s Feedback to Submission points
Below are the replies from Auckland Transport in specific comments about cycling facilities and the design of the Interchange:
This is what annoys me most about Auckland planning. The fact it is done in silos rather than being integrated. Here we have this interchange that is meant to have some cycling facilities yet no cycle lanes or cycleways to connect to it. The same goes for bus lanes. We have a bus interchange acting as a nexus for the South Auckland Bus Network yet no bus lanes along any of the arterial routes leading to Manukau and to the Interchange itself. For the love of the City Auckland Transport you build the cycle lanes and cycleways as well as the bus lanes at the exact same time you are building your central Interchange! If you can’t then the Interchange gets delayed until it does – pure and simple!
As for the design of the Interchange:
I don’t quite think Auckland Transport understands the inherent safety and efficiency concerns of the Sawtooth design given there will be development across the bus operational area and no direct access from that development to the Interchange apart from either a long walk around the ends of the Interchange or cutting across one of the bays themselves. The linear design means no buses reversing and the allowance of pedestrian crossings for pedestrians to cross the bus operational area safely. My own design allowed for 16 Metro Bus Bays and four Inter City Bus Bays with two extra bays on Putney Way as over flow bringing the total of 22 bus bays in linear formation to AT’s 23 in the sawtooth design.
As for future proofing above the station I don’t believe one word Auckland Transport has said in regards to future proofing to allow a building above the Interchange. Given an apartment tower was recently brought on-stream right opposite the Interchange and a new tower to get under way opposite Rainbows End I say there is demand for such a mixed use building above the Interchange. Especially with Panuku Development Auckland overseeing the Manukau Transform project. What make’s At’s stance on building above the Interchange contradictory is that it has said the air-rights are reserved for any subsequent building over the bus operating area. In other words again this Interchange was a silo project rather than waiting an extra year for Panuku to get some stuff together for a fully mixed use integrated Interchange.
As for parking on Putney Way verse buses? Umm buses first as cars give amenity. Especially when Putney Way is to become a full urban lane (that is a shared space like what I called for in my submission in the first place).
Difference between mine and AT’s Interchanges:
In the end the feeling of the Interchange can be described like this:
Everything given that the Design is unacceptable and should be scraped in its entirety and done again from scratch because again: For $26m and four designs later the layout is poor and over grand for the purpose the interchange is meant to be serving. It seems you have gone for aesthetics and not practical use for both bus and passenger alike.
South Auckland deserves more than an Interchange designed just for aesthetics and rather for practical use both for transport and commercial and residential use above it. The feedback was not good for the Interchange not its connections by cycle lanes and bus lanes. In any normal situation that would have told the agent that with no feedback subset getting over 50% in the ‘Good’ marks the entire project should go back to the drawing board and done again from scratch.
But Auckland Transport in their “they know best” argument decide to proceed anyway. No wonder why they were absolutely quiet on Friday with no fan fare for the sod-turning ceremony to mark the start of Interchange construction. Because I would be frankly embarrassed turning the sod on a project the community has rejected as the feed back statistics show.
Thank you Auckland Transport!