With the country in Alert Level 3, Auckland Transport (AT) and Auckland Council have made changes on Queen Street to increase space for people walking, on bikes and using public transport in the city centre.
The changes are part of the continued work to quickly increase the amount of public space that is available to Aucklanders so they can maintain physical distancing.
Last week, AT announced 17km of temporary cycleways and footpaths that were implemented ahead of Alert Level 3. The priority is to maintain everyone’s health, safety and comfort, while helping the city function effectively.
On Tuesday morning, one lane was temporarily removed in each direction on Queen Street between Customs Street and Shortland Street. The space has been repurposed to give people walking, using bikes and waiting for buses more space.
New temporary platforms adjacent to existing stops will help people getting on and off buses. Bus routes will not be affected and loading zones for deliveries will continue to be provided. Private vehicles will also be restricted from making through trips on Queen Street, with movements banned at some locations.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says that with the numbers of people using Queen Street every day, making quick, temporary changes to provide additional space for people is needed to meet physical distancing requirements.
“These changes mean that Queen Street will prioritise access for essential business traffic, loading and servicing, emergency vehicles, public transport, and those needing to access private car parking, while ensuring that pedestrians can maintain physical distance to help break the chain of COVID-19 transmission,” he says.
North Shore Councillor and Planning Committee Chair Chris Darby says, “Council teams have been putting in the hard yards over Anzac Day weekend, quickly repurposing Queen Street to prepare for the influx of pedestrians needing more breathing room.
“Pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users will all benefit from these changes, which build towards a more walk-friendly city-centre throughout Level 3 and beyond.”
Over the next fortnight, similar changes will be applied further up Queen Street, as far south as Mayoral Drive. The changes will be monitored and may be adjusted over time depending on what is required. Both AT and Auckland Council will continue to work with city centre businesses and residents, as well as people using Queen Street.
While cones are being used along Queen Street as we enter Alert Level 3, AT will look to replace these with more creative separators, like planter boxes, ahead of Alert Level 2.
Auckland Transport is reminding Aucklanders that at Alert Level 3, you should only be travelling for essential personal journeys and must continue to stay within your household bubble whenever you are not at work, at school, going to the supermarket, or exercising.
Parking and Transport officers have been fully deployed to assist the police with public safety and will be providing the public with guidance and advice on using public transport as well as social distancing.
AT would like to thank Aucklanders who have, to a large extent, been very kind and considerate while using public transport under these trying times. AT cautions however that in instances when individuals choose to behave in an aggressive or unsafe manner, staff will not hesitate to bring the matter to the police.
Summary of the changes made on Tuesday:
- Reduction from four to two lanes between Customs Street and Shortland Street
- Safe areas to wait for, get on and get off the bus (or be picked up by a taxi)
- More space for walking
- Dedicated loading zones for deliveries and pick-ups
- More space at intersections and crossing to reduce crowding and give people space to cross
- Markings on the footpath, intersections and at bus stops to support physical distancing
- Dedicated space for queueing at businesses (for example at the supermarket) with dots, lines and other markings
- Certain movements removed in order to restrict through routing on Queen Street
Driving restrictions in place:
- Between Custom Street and Shortland Street, Queen Street will be bus-only northbound, and buses and delivery/service vehicles only southbound
- No right-turn from Customs Street into Queen Street
- No exit from Fort Street into Queen Street
- No right-turn from Shortland Street into Queen Street
- At the Mayoral Drive intersection, general northbound traffic will not be permitted to continue straight ahead on Queen Street