Date: 12 September 2022
The recent removal of private vehicles, taxis and ride share vehicles from part of mid-Queen Street is on track to create more vibrant, people-friendly spaces.
The changes were made on 8 July to a small section of Queen Street between the Civic Theatre and Aotea Square.
In collaboration with the wider Auckland Council group, Auckland Transport (AT) introduced this new zone as part of a broader programme to improve air quality, reduce traffic, and make bus trips more reliable.
Rick Bidgood, AT’s Head of Transport and Parking Compliance says this section of Queen Street is the gateway to the city’s arts precinct, with a number of theatre and entertainment venues.
“Pedestrian priority is key as this area is completed and re-invigorated post-COVID,” Mr Bidgood says.
“The city centre needs to enjoy good commerce, so commercial vehicles delivering goods are able to use this lane along with public transport and people travelling on two wheels.”
AT is, however, taking a forgiving approach to issuing fines, says Mr Bidgood.
“This Essential Vehicle Area has now been in place for just over two months, and we have not yet issued a single fine,” he says.
“What we have done is issue over 51,000 warning notices to those private vehicles who are still using this section of road.
“We have improved signage, improved road markings, and carried out an extensive marketing campaign to ensure people know about the new rules.
“From today (September 12), we will begin issuing fines, but only to those who have already received a warning notice.
“Anyone who drives through the area for the first time will receive a warning notice rather than a fine. We will then allow two weeks for the fine to be mailed out and received. If you then drive through the area after this two-week period, you will be fined.”
Work continues on broader transformation of Wai Horotiu Queen Street Valley
The Essential Vehicle Area is part of the Wai Horotiu Queen Street Project, which is delivering on the people-focused vision for the street.
Auckland Council Director of Infrastructure and Environmental Services Barry Potter explains some of the elements Aucklanders can expect to see on Queen Street once the project is complete in November.
“By mid-November the lower half of Queen Street, from Aotea Square to Shortland Street, will have expanded footpaths, a multi-use path, planters filled with native foliage and new seating,” he says.
The multi-use path will run next to the road carriageway and will be a space for walkers and those travelling at a leisurely pace on wheels.
The path will be delineated from the rest of the footpath by wayfinding patterns, planting and textural changes, helping to guide people’s movement along the path and at key crossing points.
By the end of September Aucklanders will see the first section of this multi-use path installed in front of The Civic. The full path, from Aotea Square to Shortland Street, will be ready in November.
Barry Potter comments on the project’s benefits for Aucklanders.
“We are excited to be able to complete this project for summer, as the city centre fills with people. The expanded footpaths and new multi-use path will give Aucklanders the ability to safely share the street depending on whether they want to shop on foot, meander on the multi-use path by bike or scooter, or ride on the road where they can pick up some speed on their bike.
“Queen Street is first and foremost a place for pedestrians and this project is demonstrating that to Aucklanders,” he says.
Notes to the editor:
- Since AT started monitoring compliance along the Queen Street EVA on 5 July we have issued more than 51,300 warning letters to drivers.
- Infringement fees for vehicles which use special vehicle lanes like the EVA, bus lanes or T2/T3 lanes are set by the Government. The current rate is $150.
- AT appreciates the significant cost of living pressures affecting Aucklanders, which is why we are taking a ‘soft launch’ approach to EVA enforcement, meaning no fines will be issued until a warning has already been sent out for that vehicle breaching the EVA rules.