Since July 5 2022, Auckland Transport (AT) has issued approximately 51,300 warning letters to private vehicle owners and taxi drivers who have driven through a restricted area of Queen Street.
An essential vehicle area (EVA) now sits between the Civic Theatre and Aotea Square at the top of Queen Street and has been catching unsuspecting drivers since its inception.
From September 12, AT will now be issuing $150 fines to those who unlawfully travel through the zone but only to those who have previously 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,” said Rick Bidgood, AT’s Head of Transport and Parking Compliance says.
Only buses, motorcycles, mopeds, bicycles, goods vehicles and emergency vehicles are allowed to travel through the zone.
The EVA lane is said to be a part of a broader programme to improve air quality, reduce traffic, and make bus trips more reliable. However, one would think that making car drivers take a longer detour around the zone would be counterintuitive to those goals.
“Pedestrian priority is key as this area is completed and re-invigorated post-COVID,” said Bidgood.
“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.”
Those who have previously driven through the “lane” will know that signage is misleading considering it isn’t just one lane but rather the entire four-lane road. However, AT says it has improved signage and road markings.
We can expect more changes to Queen Street in the future as well. By mid-November, the lower half of the street running from Aotea Square to Shortland Street will get expanded footpaths, a multi-use path, more seating and plant boxes.
It seems like we aren’t far off having the entire street turn into a footpath at this point.