Auckland

I really get annoyed with people in Wellington telling people in Auckland all about congestion

David Farrar once again decides to comment on Auckland traffic issues, proving at the same time his lack of understanding of Auckland’s transport issues.

Then again i shouldn’t be surprised because when he comes to Auckland he calls up and asks if I want to catch up for a drink at 6pm…usually at about 530pm. He is doing what a lot if Wellingtonian’s do…thinking Auckland is just like Wellington, an incredibly tiny shithole where everyone is 15 minutes from town. It isn’t…he has never contemplated the fact that in order to do that I’d be driving at least 30 minutes each way in peak hour traffic to have a drink when I don;t drink with someone who has his head inside his smart phone conducting Twitter conversations with pinkos who aren’t his friends.

Auckland is large. But this is his suggestion…

I support user pays for transport. A congestion charge is the best form of user pays – a market charge. A toll charge is also an efficient mechanism of making sure users of the transport system pay for the benefits they get from them.

So I don’t think the Government should rule out congestion charges or tolls for Auckland Council, or other councils.

Yeah good oh, David….and precisely where would you put this congestion tax? On motorway on ramps? On Motorway off ramps?

Let me tell you what would happen.

People would exist or join motorways where there are NO tolling facilities. So if you decide it is the CBD that is congested and so off ramps into the city centre should be tolled that would mean covering the following exits: Symonds Street, Wellesley Street, Nelson Street, Cook Street, Fanshawe Street, Stanley Street, and Wellington Street.

What would happen is those coming from the south would exit the motorway and any exit ahead of Symonds street including as far back as Greenlane but also Market road and funnel themselves down through Newmarket further jamming the streets in and around Remuera, Newmarket and Greenlane.   Read more »

A reader analyses Len’s crazy tolls idea

tolls

Hi guys

I thought I’d ‘run the numbers’ (and a very quick calculation, nothing exciting) regarding the proposed Auckland toll.

Now, for the time being, I won’t point out the lack of actual authority here. I have a far simpler question: is this actually value for money?

Forgetting the multi-cost option, the basic proposal is for a $2 toll per trip (regardless of distance).   Read more »

Len’s coming for your wallet again, this time it’s tolls

Len Brown just can’t help himself.

He is addicted to spending other people’s money and is looking for ways to further dip into your pockets.

Aucklanders could pay a motorway toll of about $2 under a congestion-busting plan being unveiled by Mayor Len Brown today.

The mayor is set to announce details for tolling existing state highways to plug a $12 billion-plus transport funding gap over the next 30 years.

A motorway user charge of about $2 is believed to be one of two options prepared by an independent alternative transport funding group.

The second option is a mix of higher rates and a regional fuel tax.

Both options are capable of raising about $300 million a year to fully deliver a $30 billion roading and public transport building programme over the next 30 years.

Read more »

More on the Bill Burrill story from yesterday

Yesterday I wrote about the Bill Burrill story, but it goes much further than the article as mentioned in the Herald and here on Whale Oil.

Bill Burrill was an Auckland Council Regional Councillor for 18 years until it was dissolved into the Auckland SuperCity amalgamation. During that time he sat on many committees including the finance committee.

Bill’s wife Maggie Burrill was a former Manukau City Councillor and a duty commissioner having performed both roles for as long if not longer than Bill.

So that’s Bill on the Regional Council and Maggie on the Manukau City Council. Both in very influential positions – and just like Councillors today – decided the planning fate of Auckland.

The land in question that they owned is on Flatbush Road in Manukau. They have not lived on the land for over a decade and it has been grazed by others.

Whilst on the ARC as Councillor the ARC implemented two principle planning documents:

1. The Auckland Regional Policy Statement;
2. The Auckland Growth Strategy.

Both of these documents dictate the manner in which the Region could be developed/expanded and paid particular attention to setting criteria for how the City could be expanded on the Rural Urban fringes and all District Councils in the Auckland region were required to adhere to that. The Regional Council implemented the Metropolitan Urban Limit as part of the policy tools and this is now more commonly referred to as the Rural Urban Limit in recent documents.

The first document has since been superseded by the ARPS 6 which was implemented through an LGAAA process and is more or less the same as the former with improvements and more detail.

The MUL and RUB concepts are a crude planning tool that seeks to stop greenfield expansion in favour of intensification. At the time the Regional Council believed that the only way to achieve intensification was for the city to be forced to change.   Read more »

Since it is Labour day, let’s slay some union myths

Rodney Hide did it yesterday in the herald on Sunday, but since it is Labour day let’s look at the myth of the 8 hour working day the unions claim as their great achievement.

[Today] is Labour Day. Once again we will endure the annual claptrap that unions are great and won for us the eight-hour day. Without unions we would be working 24/7. It’s nonsense.

The Labour Day bunk dates from the start of European settlement. Carpenter Samuel Parnell arrived at what we now call Petone aboard the Duke of Roxburgh.

The Duke was just the third migrant ship to Wellington. Parnell was newly married, 30 years old and had travelled from London in search of a better life.

He found it.

On-board was shipping agent George Hunter, who asked Parnell to build him a store. Parnell agreed but on the condition that he work only eight hours a day. Hunter wasn’t happy. Eight-hour days weren’t the custom in London, but he had little choice: there were only three carpenters in Wellington.

Hence was born the eight-hour day. The practice caught on. For more than 100 years we have celebrated the eight-hour day as a victory for trade unionism. We know it as Labour Day which, on the fourth Monday of every October, is a public holiday.

We hear every year of the union movement’s long, hard struggle. It wasn’t easy winning the eight-hour day, we are repetitively told.

Without unions, greedy employers would have us working every hour, every day.

Read more »

National all rhetoric on housing, but little is delivered

How the government got through the election without this particular policy failure biting them in the bum is beyond me.

It’s been revealed the Government’s flagship housing policy has delivered just five homes in its first year.

And in a week where Auckland’s house prices reached a record high, the Government’s strategy has been labelled an utter failure by the Opposition.

The Government last year promised to get on top of Auckland’s housing crisis by building new subdivisions. Tens of thousands of homes would be built in fast-tracked zones called special housing areas.

“We know this has been a problem that’s been around for 30 to 40 years, it’s not going to develop overnight and it’s not going to be fixed overnight,” says Prime Minister John Key.

Granted, Len Brown and his band of merry troughers have a large part to play.  But five houses?  The private sector could have put up 5 houses.  It is a terrible result, and one that needs turning around.

Read more »

Good point John, but those whingers don’t vote for ya

The people who whinge about affordable housing and the fact they can’t afford to buy their million dollar house are probably not National voters.

John Key has given some sound but unpalatable advice for these whingers who have been brought up thinking the world owes them a living, or at the very least a million dollar house next to where their parents lived so they can dump the grand kids every time they want to go out to the swanky restaurants that infest their neighbourhood.

First home buyers in Auckland might have to consider an apartment in order to get onto the property ladder, Prime Minister John Key says.

His comments follow the release of new CVs for Auckland, which have soared since 2011, particularly in city-fringe suburbs.

There are fears the mostly higher CVs could lead to rates increases well in excess of the 3.7 per cent planned for homeowners by Mayor Len Brown next year.

The latest figures show CVs across the city have risen an average of 34 per cent since 2011, and in Hobsonville a whopping 65 per cent.

Mr Key told TVNZ’s Breakfast show today the valuations reflected what had been happening in Auckland over the past three years.   Read more »

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A reader contribution on the transport debate

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A reader emails:

Hello Cam

After reading your blog for several months now, I have seen it steadily transforming into a voice of alternative opinion in many ways, and celebrate that.

I had been working for some time on this piece about Auckland transport, when I read your article yesterday, which sang my song.

Just wondered whether this may have any appeal for your site.

Best regards and keep up the good work


Part 1

Observations:

As a recent returnee to Auckland after over 40 years working and establishing businesses in regional New Zealand, I have recently paid considerably more attention to local body plans and actions in this region.

Joining the local area ratepayers committee on arrival, I soon hear, and discover first hand that generalised wastage/inefficiency seemed to characterise virtually all dealings of the new super city. Examples: 1. a near 200 page document of detailed technical drawings and specifications to place some traffic quietening speed bumps on a street in our area, 2. Two Council staff visit in a Council car, for a half day, to consult re spending well less than $1000 on plants in the area. When it is suggested that the most in-need areas require some soil first, we are told that this is beyond their brief and would require a completely separate department to be involved.

Accordingly, I began to pay closer attention to Len Brown’s call for underground rail for the city, which seems to be preparing to strip all available capital and then some from the City’s coffers for the foreseeable future – and beyond – at the behest of one man with a dream.

The idea of a trainset for Auckland gained great credibility under Mayor Robbie in the late 60’s, and had it been implemented then, it would probably remain a good idea today. Most people in Auckland ‘know’ this so there remains a soft spot in Auckland for the notion of ‘rapid rail’ and relatively little opposition to Len Brown’s plan.

But is it a still good idea if we start now?

There are many new ways and new technologies in the wings, some of which I have observed first hand on our travels, which may soon render an underground trainset for Auckland, a costly white elephant.

Additionally, in a volcanic city and a ‘shaky’ nation, underground makes less sense. Imagine the chaos if a Christchurch-type earthquake broke the underground rail links, after all other public transport had been seriously weakened by rail’s availability.

With these concerns in mind, I decided to look more closely at overseas systems on our recent 4 month trip to the Middle East, UK, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, France, Monaco and Italy and the following observations also factor in some of the previous experiences I have had of undergrounds and public transport in Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris, Seoul, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Australia and so on.

On this trip, I visited many cities of not too dissimilar size, one way or another, to Auckland i.e in area or in population. There are few that have both the area and the population of Auckland. In each city, I paid particular attention to their public transport options and in particular their trainsets. These included Abu Dhabi, Dubai, London, Istanbul, Madrid, Porto, Valencia, Granada, Barcelona, Nice, Monaco and Milan as well as many other less well known cities.

What I observed made me wonder whether this whole underground rail for Auckland proposal has been properly thought through.

Underground rail worked well, it seemed, in the sorts of high rise, high density cities that have relatively small footprints for their populations, like Madrid. Accordingly Granada, for example, is in the throes of beginning one, and I can see the point there. It is a compact city with many tourists.

Trainsets also seemed to work well in more widespread cities covering land areas like Auckland’s, even with intervening waterways, so long as they had one of the following conditions:

  1. High population (eg Istanbul, Sydney) or
  2. A long ribbon of development, as in a strip style city running along a shoreline (eg Dubai or Perth).

Read more »

Get ready for massive rates increases

Rates increases are on the cards for Auckland residents.

Len Brown has said that they won’t be more than the rate of inflation, but the Council will undoubtedly use the recent valuations to further ratchet up the rates in coming years…massively.

Council valuations of Auckland homes have jumped by almost a third on average, new figures reveal.

Auckland Council will tomorrow release new valuations for more than 220 suburbs across the region for three-yearly review of CVs.

The figures will show properties in 10 areas have had an increase to their valuation of 50 per cent or more over the past 12 months; including Hobsonville which has jumped by a massive 65 per cent.

Just four areas have recorded reductions in their CVs; Manukau Heads, Kawau Island, Great Barrier Island and Rakino Island.

The new valuations will apply from next year and have an impact on rates for 2015.

Read more »

Crazy Cat Man

I normally report on crazy cat ladies.  But here we have one of the very rare examples of a crazy cat man.

via NZ Herald

via NZ Herald

An Auckland man who crammed 38 dead cats into his freezer has been allowed to keep his three surviving felines but banned from acquiring any more.

Donald Cruickshank, 80, was charged with failing to care for his pets after an SPCA visit in December 2010 found him living with the animals in squalid conditions. Read more »