Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Auckland to roll out NZ’s first ‘Essential Vehicle Area’

The way people move through Auckland’s Queen Street is about to change with the introduction of a new zone set to substantially reduce congestion, air and noise pollution, making it safer for pedestrians and micro-mobility users.  

Using a new type of vehicle-zone called an Essential Vehicle Area (EVA), only buses, motorcycles, mopeds, bicycles, goods vehicles and emergency service vehicles will be allowed to use Queen Street between Wellesley and Wakefield streets from 3 July. 

Auckland Council, with support from Auckland Transport, is introducing the new zone to reduce unnecessary traffic while allowing essential vehicles to continue to service the area. 

Council says the change received strong support from Aucklanders in consultation on the Wai Horotiu Queen Street Project during September.

Planning Committee chair Councillor, Chris Darby says the EVA will free up precious space along Queen Street for essential road users and make the area safer and more pleasant for Aucklanders returning to the city centre.  

“Auckland’s city centre is the commercial powerhouse critical to the prosperity of Tāmaki Makaurau and Aotearoa,” he said.

“Guided by the City Centre Masterplan, our goal is to regenerate the area to create a better connected, greener, and more prosperous place that we can all be proud of. 

“The introduction of the new Essential Vehicle Area for a small stretch of Queen Street is an important early step to make the Wai Horotiu Queen Street Valley more desirable for people who live, work, study and enjoy the city centre. 

“It is a signal that Auckland is moving past the days of Queen Street being a congested, polluted drive-through to a go-to destination. Essential vehicles maintain their access but private vehicles will navigate alternative routes to park and get around,” Mr Darby says.  

Councillor Pippa Coom says the EVA is just one of the bold changes being introduced through the Wai Horotiu Queen Street Project to let Aucklanders enjoy being on Queen Street rather than simply driving through it. 

“So much of the city is looking amazing already. At both ends of Queen Street, Karangahape Road and Quay Street have been upgraded and are easier to get around by foot and by bike. The new public square ‘Te Komititanga’ creates a car-free zone between Britomart and Commercial Bay, and Te Wānanga is our very own front deck, letting us get right up close to the harbour,” she said.

“By the end of June, construction of the Wai Horotiu Queen Street Project will largely be complete in the area between Mayoral Drive and Wellesley Street, with just the greenery and the multi-use path markings to be added. Once these are in, and with the EVA up and running, Aucklanders will get a taste of the people-focused street that we can’t wait to bring to life.”   

The project’s construction on Queen Street will be fully complete in mid-November 2022.  

“Over time Queen Street will become a low emission, vibrant pedestrian-priority walking and shopping street, as Aucklanders have been asking for and which the City Centre Masterplan envisions,” says Cr Coom.  

Auckland Transport has already started laying the groundwork to enable these changes through initiatives to reduce general traffic volumes on Queen Street.   

These include:  

  • Prioritising loading and servicing activities by removing general parking on Queen Street between Customs Street and Mayoral Drive. Queen Street offers only loading and servicing spaces along the length of the project area with P30 mobility parking around the arts precinct.   
  • Putting in place a peak hour bus lane (4pm-7pm), heading north, between Shortland Street and Customs Street. 

To find out more visit the betterway website.

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