Essential Vehicle Area to come into force on July 3, 2022
Auckland, June 23, 2022
If you wish to visit offices and restaurants and shop on Queen Street, you had better get used to your feet or public transport from July 3, 2022.
Only buses, motorcycles, mopeds, bicycles, goods and emergency services vehicles will be allowed on Auckland’s busiest and most prestigious street as it gets converted to New Zealand’s First Essential Vehicle Area (EVA).
The idea of a ‘car-free’ street has been on the cards for some time but the Auckland Council has just decided after due deliberations.
Those violating the rules can be fined up to $150.
Auckland Council Planning Committee Chairman Chris Darby said that the Council is introducing the new zone in conjunction with Auckland Transport following ‘strong support received from Aucklanders in consultation on the Wai Horotiu Queen Street Project during September 2021.
Significant to people
“Auckland’s city centre is the commercial powerhouse critical to the prosperity of Tāmaki Makaurau and Aotearoa. Guided by the City Centre Masterplan, our goal is to regenerate the area to create a better connected, greener, and more prosperous place of which we can be proud. 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,” he said.
According to Mr Darby, the EVA 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.
Councillor Pippa Coom said that the EVA is one of the bold changes being introduced 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 is 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 this month, 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.
Priority for pedestrians
The project’s construction on Queen Street will be 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,” Ms Coom said.
Auckland Transport has already started laying the groundwork to enable these changes through initiatives to reduce general traffic volumes on Queen Street.
These include (a) 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 (b) Putting in place a peak hour bus lane (4 pm-7 pm), heading north, between Shortland Street and Customs Street.