Is the Queen Street upgrade worth the disruption? Send us your views

Key Points:

Queen Street is unlikely to return to its pre-road works traffic levels even after its $41 million upgrade.

Permanent bus lanes for each side of the street have been suggested and the city council is also considering lowering the speed limit to 30km/h to safeguard pedestrians and improve driving behaviour.

A Herald editorial concludes: "The addition of bus lanes brings further balance to the upgrade, but people who have had to endure jackhammers at their shopfronts for month after month deserve to have their concerns and pleas for mitigating measures taken seriously. Something instigated so suddenly should, whatever its merits in theory, be examined from every angle."

Here is a selection of Your Views:

Disgruntled ratepayer
What a cock up. I work in Queen St and this has been a shambles from start to finish (someday.) They should turn sections of Queen St into a pedestrian mall say Mayoral Drive to Victoria with only cross street access. The bigger issue is the overall waste of funds. For the price they have spent on this debacle they could have upgraded all the sports fields to enable them to allow winter sports to happen every week rather than as it is now which is as soon as a decent rainfall happens all kids sport is cancelled so the kids spend the day inside playing PlayStation, watching TV or hanging out in the malls. How ironic that in this time when everyone is going on about obesity amongst children, the council seems to be the biggest barrier to kids getting out and exercising in our parks. All because they may damage the ground and the parks department will have to do some work. Isn't that what we pay them for?
Queen Street, even with the upgrade, will be for years to come a bleak and unfriendly environment. The majority of people in Queen Street in any given day are people who work there. Almost nobody goes there to shop or for pleasure (dining, entertainment etc) for two reasons:
A: an overabundance of fast food shops and shops selling tawdry tat
B: expensive car parks and over zealous parking officers.
If you want Queen Street to be the "Golden Mile" you need to make it desirable compared to St Lukes or Silvia Park. Reduce the number of fast food and tat shops. Give incentives in the form of rates relief for retailers that are not fast food shops, $2 shops etc and make parking in all the council car parks free after 6 pm Friday to 11pm Sunday. The biggest turn off at the moment is not the road works, it's the cripplingly expensive parking when compared to the free parking in suburban malls. Public transport is a nice idea but given the choice of free parking in a mall vs. a bus to the CBD the malls will win every time.

Deadend Street
This fiasco will only be worth it if those in council who have lead such a cock-up are buried underneath the footpath somewhere for the long suffering to walk over on a daily basis.
How can that monkey Hubbard say no to the V8 street car race because of the impact it would have on the CBD over 3 days, yet bring the city too it's knees for over a year to plant some new forna? May as well have Helen running the show, the circus that it is.
Neill Reid
Once again Auckland City shoots itself in the foot. Rather than putting together an ill-advised and ad hoc measure to install a bus lane up Queen Street, they should be looking at traffic flows through the inner city. Does every street need a bus lane? Certainly not! If the council had any idea about how to create a plan and implement it, they would surely work out where their transport hubs are, in what direction buses would flow from them and install bus lanes along that route. It would have been far smarter for them to reduce Queen Street to a single (bus) lane each way, widen the footpaths to make QS truly 'user friendly' and remove the bus lanes from Albert Street to ensure that cars are still able to move around with some degree of freedom. Instead they saddle us with another "band-aid" solution, which will surely only drive (ha) more people out of the city.
Brandon (Auckland)
I've studied and worked in the CBD for over a decade now. No sane person actually expects to park in Queen Street to do some shopping. I think the idea of making Queen Street into a pedestrian area is fantastic personally. You could cross from side to side at your leisure and it would be a much less jostled and noisy experience. It would be brilliant for the eateries and cafes, as they would become much more convenient (no more waiting to cross at the lights) and pleasant (minus the traffic noise and smell). Have 10 minute parks and drop-off zones on all the side streets off of Queen St so that people and couriers can pick up and drop off if necessary. I agree it wouldn't pull noticeable numbers of shoppers from the suburban centres into the CBD, but it would encourage city workers and the increasing number of city dwellers to shop on Queen St. Queen St is for workers' and students' lunch time shopping, and for apartment-dwellers. The suburban malls are for suburbanites, especially late nights and weekends. The two markets are quite different and can surely co-exist.
I walked up and down Queen St today (in delayed transit to the far north) and acknowledge that the disruption is severe window shopping is difficult when you're having to walk around, over and through the various modifications without tripping. However, the very-unlikely-to-sprawl nikau look stunning, and the trails of seagull footprints in the concrete are a lovely touch in a work-in-progress. A pedestrian-only Queen St wouldn't be ideal seeing as pedestrian-friendly heat from the sun is largely prevented from intruding into this location by the tall buildings surrounding it. Such a pity that the new paving will rapidly become marred with discarded chewing gum and cigarette butts. I hope the new plan allows for improved disposal of such pollutants! I second the call for fewer cheap trash shops, and also call for banks (each of which are ignored by the vast majority of passers-by) to move off the main drag.
Nick's on Queen St
What a waste of time, money and stress. I work on Queen Street and it has us down 2000 customer's a week. The noise, the dust, the view is enough to drive anyone crazy. Not only is the business I work at down in money, so am I. The less people that come though that door means less money for me, which has really hit hard on the bills. Why did they do both sides at the same time? Why not one side at a time to save cutting out two lanes. Why palm trees, why not car parks? Who drives into town and pays though the ears to park and then shop, it's crazy. The government need to have a good long hard look at what they are doing.
John Janssen
Great news. I was frustrated at the watered down proposals that eventuated for Queen St as part of this upgrade. Apart from the business owners, who actually wants to have thousands of noisy, polluting cars racing up and down each day. From my observations over the years, the vast majority of cars that travel along Queen St aren't actually trying to park on Queen St, they are using it to go somewhere else entirely, and could easily use other streets instead. I believe more pedestrians will be attracted to Queen St if vehicle numbers are reduced, and with the current push for sustainable transport options, focussing on buses, cyclists and pedestrians is definitely the way to go. Up until hearing about this new proposal, I had thought the $40 million being spent on Queen St was a huge waste of money, that very little benefit was being gained now, however, at least something of value might come of it.
Christine CP
I work for a freight company and the couriers are always complaining about getting parking tickets for incorrect parking. I personally think Queen St didn't look to bad, maybe a little make up.
Tim Spooner
If making Queen St a pedestrian area is a boon for retailers, then why not do it in every strip-shopping area? Panmure, Papatoetoe, Takapuna etc? If the buses going up and down Queen St are crammed with rich shoppers who can afford the Louis Vuitton prices, then lets bus them in from every suburb! Reality check now: there is no successful pedestrian-only retail street anywhere in NZ. If it worked, it would have been done long ago. Wealthy people don't take the bus. Queen St is full of pedestrians who work in the City. They don't shop there, they shop in the suburbs like everybody else.
I find it hilarious that the Auckland city council wants to "pretty up" Queen Street whilst deferring plans to adequately manage effluent and storm water that could have a direct impact on those that use city beaches. Just as long as the place looks alright! While you're at it, why not fritter away more money on council junkets, costly meetings and hiring an ever increasing number of administrators. Brilliant, just brilliant! By all means have a management plan for the city but get the priorities right!
What I don't understand is why they felt the need to do both sides at the same time at various points up and down. Surely they could have done one side at a time and reduced the frustrations felt by both motorists and store owners.
As a central Auckland resident, I think cars should be banned completely from Queen St. A congestion charge could be imposed to reduce traffic to manageable levels with a reduced road network.
Buses on a pedestrian street that sounds ridiculous and dangerous. I cant understand why its so hard an all-pedestrian street in shopping hours (no busses or cars), buses only in commute times and finally have a great time with the street cars from 11pm until 1am. All these things would make an attractive option and pull people into the city, and electric trams running up and down would be an added bonus. Why so complex?
Life in the city
I think the revamp is a good idea, but the process seems to be taking a long time and it really has disrupted life along Queen Street. For example, why couldn't they complete one side before attacking the other? It's not like I see work being done at every barricaded area simultaneously. In terms of changing the lanes down to 2 for vehicles, 2 for buses, why not? Even the pedestrian only zone sounds like a good idea. Why is everyone so afraid of change? When there's change, there's complaints by those who are afraid. But there are always solutions to problems that arises (that's what some people are employed to do!). Just embrace the change optimistically. We really ought to complain less so action can be taken faster and more efficiently.
Queen Street should become a pedestrian only street, with perhaps the exception of a single bus lane in each direction (with a low speed limit to protect pedestrians). It has been done very successfully in Melbourne, but with trams, and has been done attractively and is much safer for pedestrians as well. Not to mention there would be less emissions with cutting down on the traffic going up and down Queen Street. I never shop in town because it is a hassle for parking and getting around, I go out to shopping malls or to Newmarket. Queen Street is quite frankly an eye-sore the way it is (pre the road works). But when I have been in Melbourne it has always been a pleasant shopping experience and their shops certainly don't seem to suffer from the set up. It has been done very attractively and cleanly.
Urban Aucklander
Yes, the upgrade will be well worth it. Queen Street is going to look great when its finished. The Nikau Palms already look fantastic. Bus lanes will be a smart addition to Queen Street because it will encourage more people to take alternative forms of transport and reduce pollution (especially when the new low emission buses come into service soon).
In addition to my earlier view, I think the issue of goods deliveries can easily be handled in the same way as it is in other countries. Limit delivery times to early mornings only. 6am-10am only or something like that. This way there is no interruption to businesses on Queen Street and the road remains a desirable place for both shoppers and visitors.
Of course, another means of 'improving driving behaviour' would be to inaugurate an immigration policy and enforce it. But, that would be too easy.
Luke Mason
Yes it is! Making it more efficient and keeping motorists and boy racers out will do wonders. However, they need to supplement it will more public transport. It would be nice to see electric trolleys back again!
I think it's a great idea to slash the speed limit in Queen St. I live in the suburbs, but still enjoy coming into the 'big' city. Having the added bonus of regular bus services in & around the city fringes is fantastic. Hopefully the changes will make life a little easier for all the tradespeople etc that have to venture into Queen St everyday.
Nate Dawg
This coin definitely has two sides so to speak. Yes, I believe the upgrade is worth the disruption. However, I do not believe the proposed rules are the best solution, only with regards to 'goods vehicles'. As the concerned article mentions, Queen Street is Auckland's Golden mile. It spans the centre of the biggest city in New Zealand, with an array of high profile and quality shops. But if goods and delivery vehicles are unable to stop, even for the briefest moment, to unload products for these different stores, where exactly are these vehicles meant to stop? Does the Government expect these shops to move location? Because they are going to have to if they cannot have their products delivered to them. So, if that becomes the case, what is the point of the Queen Street upgrade? We want to make travelling easier and Auckland's CBD more attractive with this upgrade. That is the intention, is it not? But no one will want to visit Queen Street if there aren't any shops. Extreme idea I know - but understandable, no?
Walking through Wellington's Cuba Street Mall, I considered why Auckland does not do a similar thing. After passing a number of undesirables I had the lions share of my answer then I noticed that the only shops that could now survive could only trade in nick-naks and food because any heavy items could not be purchased. Getting onto a bus with anything larger than a briefcase is seriously looked down upon, and much larger and it's impossible. Imagine the issues currently faced by Queen Street with an influx of bars and street people. Not a pretty picture. The idea that removing cars would reveal an idyllic pedestrian thoroughfare is naive. The night time scene would change from hoons in cars to more intoxicated hoons out of cars.
Tim (Downtown Auckland)
This sounds good as Queen Street will become a more attractive place with fewer cars. Currently there is very little parking on Queen Street, so this will make little if any difference to the number of private vehicles that come into the city as these people already park away from Queen Street.
Well it is a good start but I believe Queen St should be blocked off all together from Victoria St to Custom St. I don't understand why the businesses of Queen St oppose this. They believe they will lose business but I can only imagine they would gain a lot more foot traffic as this safe haven for pedestrians would encourage more people to visit the city centre (me included) currently. It is a ghastly noisy, fumy and horrid and a few more trees and paving will not change these major reasons people don't like Queen St. Plus all the office workers will have a place to hang right outside these peoples' shops. Then I want to see a tram from Britomart up Queen St, over K Rd and the entire length of Dominion Rd. This would have a huge catchment bringing people directly into the city and less stinky noise polluting buses.
Mark (Auckland)
Ban all traffic on Queen St. Foot traffic only. And, please, get rid of all those cheap $2 shops that have taken over. With the right way of thinking, Queen Street could be the Champ Elysees of the South Pacific.
Robert Simpson
The parts of the upgrade that have been finished look great and I fully support the concept, although I would like the whole thing to be speeded up a bit. I would prefer parts of the street to be pedestrianised but if it is to be kept open to traffic then bus lanes are the way to go. The slight inconvenience to some motorists caused by bus lanes will be more than offset by a much more pleasant environment in town and the greater ease with which bus users will be able to get around. The CBD has looked awful for as long as I can remember and many Aucklanders have shunned it. But now things are finally starting to turn around. There is more life in town than there has ever been (although it's still not exactly Times Square) and that is only going to get better. We've finally got a council that is taking positive steps to improve what has been a longstanding source of embarrassment for Aucklanders, instead of whinging incessantly I wish just for once we could get behind them and acknowledge that these changes are a real step in the right direction.
Why construct something else for something that is seldom on time, anyway? (Buses that is). The whole Queen St upgrade is already frustrating thousands, disturbing businesses. I've avoided going to the city unless something important comes up. All that noise and air pollution is hard to take in. We have a car parking problem though, simply not enough affordable public parking in the city. How about build a 10 storey parking, several of them in the city? Advance like other metropolitan cities around the world! Oh yeah, it is a very "stupid" idea to plant huge palm trees on the sidewalks. They look good, but they do grow, and will end up distracting drivers on road, blocking vision. And why are they planted so closely together? Use common sense, plants grow and spread. Should have thought about planting in little sculptures, meaningful to Auckland - few of them not a whole lot. There's an idea!
Zoe - West Auckland
It is totally not worth the disruption, It's just as much a disruption for people on foot as it is for cars. I think with a bit more careful planning and organisation they could have done a much better job at not taking up so much room on the road.
Murray M
Who cares? don't go there, won't go there, don't shop there, won't shop there.
Isaac Broome (Onehunga)
I think the Queen Street upgrade is a step in the right direction with reducing general traffic lanes to two lanes and introducing two bus lanes. Leave the speed limit at 50 km/hr though, there is so much traffic and so many traffic lights along Queen Street, few cars actually get up to 50km/hr anyway. Light rail trams should be reintroduced to Queen Street running along the bus lanes, and be extended running along the Quay Street and Tamaki Drive, Karangahape Road, Ponsonby Road, College Hill and Beaumont Street, linking the CBD with Wynyard Point, the Viaduct, the waterfront, Mission Bay, St Heliers and Ponsonby.
Paul H
Please do not complain when our council is actually doing something!
Ant Winter
Does anyone actually drive to Queen St and park there? There are a few dozen parking spaces, and 40000 pedestrians a day. Isn't it obvious to shopkeepers who their customers are? Queen St needs more bus lanes. And it needs more (free) buses up and down, and to park-and-ride style car parks. And it definitely needs to stop the third-world-style displays of modified cars and their childish owners. Anything that does that gets my vote.
Andy (Freemans Bay)
I support the changes in Queen St and think that the businesses in Queen St will see benefits from this move. It is pedestrians that spend money at shops and as the public transport improves it will be a delight to come to Queen St and soak up the atmosphere. Driving a car in the main street on a Friday night is something we did in Palmerston North. Its similar to driving to work, you do that in Palmy so you can drive home for lunch! That is not very Auckland. Let's get on those buses, trains and walking shoes and save our lungs from air pollution.
Grace, 26yr-old (Auckland)
Having lived in a variety of countries I believe that the Queen St upgrade is good. Many desirable shopping streets overseas are pedestrian zones only. The concerns raised by shop keepers on Queen St are irrational, as typically most people in cars have to find parking around the city and not on Queen St itself. I travel into the city regularly and have only managed to find parking on Queen Street a handful of times, and mostly on very quiet Sundays.
I cant figure out why the council is spending millions of $$$ of rate-payers money to replace the footpath pavers - the old ones were fine and part of Queen St's character.
Fully support the concept, but the council should take it one step further and ban the cars/trucks etc on Queen St completely. Having the dedicated bus lane is a great idea now increase the frequency, get rid of the cars completely and turn the golden mile into exactly that. A really progressive council might even look at the concept of trams (like Auckland city use to have) for the length of Queen St - fuel effective, adds flair and gives the city something extra with the tourist but is effective for the day-to-day commuter.
Rae Eyre
Okay, so the council wants to generate more funding. $150 a go for straying into a bus lane. Tell me how the visitor to this fair city is ever going to find his or her way to any place in Queen Street? I live in Whangarei and holiday regularly in Auckland. I usually stay in a little hotel in upper Queen St. The city is confusing enough already to drive around and this wonderful idea will make it worse for those that come from out of town. The council would be better off making a series of one way roads around the CBD rather than limiting access in the main throughways. But of course we all realise that no matter what people want, we will only ever get what the council or government dictates is correct. Yeah, well New Zealand is a socialist country and socialists dont give a toss about Joe Public.
Nigel (Auckland)
Since most car traffic using Queen St turns off at some point into side streets. Wouldn't Queen St become totally blocked. Left turning traffic would block the bus lane and right turning traffic block the car lane?
I think it is crazy that the council don't use this opportunity to banish cars from Queen Street completely. With Albert Street and Symonds Street running parallel on either side there is just no reason for cars to be on Queen Street at all. Couple that with the fact that there is no parking on Queen Street and I just don't see any reason for the council to continue allowing cars on the road. From the ferry building to Mayoral Drive I believe Queen Street should be pedestrianised. Any concerns the business owners have would be blown away in no time. Making Queen Street a shoppers (and tourists) haven, a wide, quiet, pedestrian boulevard with excellent public transport access would allow it to become one of Auckland's premier retail areas.