Auckland mayor Wayne Brown speaks about his proposals for the city's budget. Photo / RNZ / Marika Khabazi

Wayne Brown tells Auckland Transport to ‘shut up and listen’

Auckland mayor Wayne Brown speaks about his proposals for the city’s budget. Photo / RNZ / Marika Khabazi

Mayor Wayne Brown has told Auckland Transport to “shut up and listen” as he pushes ahead with his election promises.

Brown wants Auckland Transport (AT) to install more dynamic lanes and transponders on buses to change traffic lights.

He would also like Auckland Council to have more of a say on longer-term projects, something the Minister for Transport, Simeon Brown agrees with him about.

“I discovered that the only council in New Zealand that doesn’t control its Land Transport Plan is this one, thanks to the way the council was set up, which was stupid,” Brown said.

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“It’s been handed over to AT, who think they’re independent, well they’re not. We’re funding you, shut up and listen.

“So the Minister for Transport in Auckland Simeon Brown, who I’m getting on quite well with, has agreed that we will be put back in charge of the Regional Land Transport Plan.

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“I’m negotiating that with him and at his request, he said AT are going to have nothing to do with this negotiation.”

A Land Transport Plan sets out a region’s transport objectives and policies and is prepared every six years. In almost all cases they’re prepared by regional transport committees, but Auckland Transport takes care of it in the country’s biggest city.

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Ahead of the 2022 mayoral election, Brown made it a priority to bring council-controlled organisations (CCOs) back under control.

Brown has been vocal in his criticism of Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, Eke Panuku, the Port of Auckland and AT since taking office.

Minister Simeon Brown at post-cab

Simeon Brown. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

For AT he is pushing for more dynamic lanes, which use overhead signals to change the direction of centre lanes at peak times.

“The transport system is dumb here, we didn’t have things like dynamic lanes, we had one up in Whangaparāoa,” Brown said.

“We’re now moving to put them in place on a lot of feeding roads.”

AT say dynamic streets are being implemented by the Auckland Network Optimisation Programme where and when appropriate.

Through this programme, the Whangaparāoa Road and Redoubt Road reversible dynamic lanes were introduced.

Investigation is underway to progress additional dynamic lane installations across the network where appropriate and feasible.

AT is also looking at opportunities to trial a new type of dynamic lane that allows existing bus lanes to be turned on and off based on real-time traffic congestion using digital signage.

Brown also wants the transponders on buses used to allow traffic lights to change to green when approaching them.

“I said at the campaign that buses should have transponders on them and we should be connecting those to the lights,” Brown said.

“I get in here and AT discover that they do have transponders on them and perhaps we will connect them to the lights and it does speed up the buses.

“These things are happening. We have these 20 councillors, why didn’t one of them dream that up? They’ve all been there for years.

“So I arrive and things are changing, there’s no two ways about that. So I’m proud of that.”

AT confirmed to Stuff that after successfully completing a trial two years ago, the Bus Booster, as it refers to the transponder system, is being rolled out to more locations.

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown tries out a new electric double decker bus

Wayne Brown in an electric bus. Photo: RNZ/Nick Monro

There are 50 intersections with Bus Booster technology and AT is implementing the next 25 intersections over the next 12 months.

Since the Bus Boosters were installed, AT has noticed that buses are getting green lights more regularly and are being delayed less.

Auckland councillors have spent the past couple of weeks going over the results from almost 28,000 submissions from individuals, organisations and iwi to the Long-term Plan.

Brown believed there was enough support received for his big ideas, particularly leasing the operation of the port for 35 years and investing the proceeds, estimated at $2.1 billion, in the proposed Auckland Future Fund.

“Pretty much everything in there got public support, but the public are more active and future looking than the elected officials, so it makes it quite difficult,” Brown said.

“In New Zealand, democracy underestimates the wisdom of the public. I’ve still got remnants of left/right, National/ Labour on the council, which is a bit awkward because I’m not in either of those camps. I’m just pragmatic and what’s the best thing for Auckland.”

Meanwhile, AT is on track to complete its biggest road maintenance programme in seven years.

The Summer Road Reno programme was launched to give the annual road maintenance campaign a boost for 2023/24 and let people know there will be road works and disruption.

AT has completed 95 percent of the current annual programme and has resurfaced 378km of roads with a target of 400km by the end of June.

-RNZ

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