Public transport

Transport: Do Aucklanders pay too much?

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A newspaper ran a story about Auckland transport costs yesterday.

I hardly know where to start with this story. Firstly, Auckland Transport want to further reduce the cost of rail fares with massive subsidies that will no doubt be paid for with next year’s rates increases.

Secondly, rail in Auckland is the second most expensive in the world. That would be because nobody uses it. Over 97% of Aucklanders don’t use rail. So it’s a flawed and failing mode of transport.

But what surprised me most was that someone as clever as a PWC accountant, is lazy enough to publish a report containing incorrect information.

Apparently Auckland is one of the most spread out cities in the world.    Read more »

Well done Len. A couple of kids, and your train set comes to a grinding halt. Again.

Vandalism, graffiti, intimidation, street kids and inter school fighting – just the sort of thing to make people want to take public transport.

It’s already heavily subsidised, but just wait for Transit Police to be introduced next.

A number of train services in Auckland were disrupted this evening after a fight broke out at the Orakei Train Station.

Auckland Transport put out a notice to passengers via social media: “Please expect delays and cancellations on the Eastern Line due to an incident at Orakei.”

Members of the public have reported via Twitter seeing a fight amongst students breaking out on the Orakei platform.  Read more »

Auckland Councillor Chris Darby worried about his future after voting for excessive perpetual rates rises

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Explaining is losing, and Darby knows his career is seriously compromised.  He uses a newspaper to peddle his “I had no choice, really”:

I stand by my vote to back the [Auckland] Budget. I didn’t back every aspect of it and throughout I used my voice and vote to mitigate the burden on the individual ratepayer. While my vote didn’t always carry the day, that is no excuse to pass the buck rather than pass the budget.

The decision to give effect to the Interim Transport Levy is crucial – it’s the now-or-never response that will let Auckland prepare for growth rather than submit to stagnation and ever-growing congestion. It’s our stop-gap measure to keep Auckland afloat while we try to persuade the government to shake off its intransigence.

I know that despite all of this, many people are looking at rates increases like they are their energy bills. Council’s Rates Information Database for the year has been updated today so you’ll be able to check exactly how you are affected yourself.

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Roughan on rail

John Roughan says rail is dead, live with it.

Thanks to the national transport planners, the part of Auckland that is probably best served by public transport is the one part that has no railway. The North Shore’s busway is probably the fastest flowing artery in the region and it is about to get better. AT has posted out a plan to Shore households this month that simplified all bus routes into loops between busway stations. It looks ideal.

Transport planners can do so much more with wheels on roads that it is hard to fathom their attachment to iron rails. Trains have a romantic hold on the human imagination, mine included. Long-distance rail journeys are some of the happiest travel I have had. But the romance shouldn’t blind so many to its limitations, particularly in this country.

The narrow gauge railway system laid through New Zealand in the 19th century is a dog, not just for urban commuting but obviously for national freight too. The present Government put more than $1 billion into a “turnaround” plan for Labour’s renationalised KiwiRail in its early budgets. We have never heard where that money went.   Read more »

Some thoughts of a reader on public transport

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There seems to be almost a complete lack of logic and economics applied to public transport issues in Wellington, and probably Auckland and the rest of NZ too.

Public transport can relieve peak time congestion if it is cheap, regular and reliable. To relieve congestion is the first reason for providing public transport.

We know that if everyone tried to drive into work at peak traffic times the roads would completely block up and there wouldn’t be sufficient parking (or a lot of valuable real estate would be used up providing parking). There therefore need to be other forms of transport that can get crowds of people to work and to education institutions.

There is a positive externality provided by peak-time transport because it means the roads are not as clogged for those people who do want to drive to work, and for trucks transporting goods, etc. There is therefore a good argument for peak-time public transport to be subsidised by taxes on drivers and others who benefit from the positive externalities. These taxes include fuel taxes and parking fees. A more direct tax not currently used in New Zealand is a congestion charge. Peak-time public transport is also ‘green’ in that it generally saves fuel and reduces pollution compared to everyone taking their cars.  Read more »

Why do we need public transport? It’s just a huge drain on the ratepayers

The GWRC continually voted against increasing the real level of subsidy for train fares. Buses, now the responsibility of Wilde ally and one of the four ex-MPs on the GRWC, Paul Swain, continue to be an issue. With Wellington’s buses losing money, the GWRC recently united Left and Right by deciding to increase fares. They only backed down after considerable public reaction.

Instead, from Wilde and most of her colleagues we got an unconvincing pro-flyover, pro-motorway argument for regional development, supported by few but NZTA and big business. This was interesting stuff from a politician who, in her maiden parliamentary speech, talked of ‘greedy multinationals’ with which National governments were keen to ‘cuddle down.’

To be a good local body politician you must firstly be energetic, assertive and good at putting together deals to get things done. Secondly, you must make sure you don’t alienate colleagues and voters, and come across as too authoritarian.

Wilde was really good on the first count. There would be no Cake Tin were it not for her vision and hard work. But she was not as strong on the second. Many colleagues, employees and journalists will recall giving Wilde a thoroughly good listening to.

Now the GWRC has a largely unknown acting chairperson in Barbara Donaldson.

But councillors are kidding themselves if they think that the public perception of the GWRC will change simply because they rolled their chairwoman.

I suspect that the opinion of the GWRC in the eyes of the public will remain low. Though Wellingtonians are overwhelmingly against Auckland-style amalgamation, most of us accept that more cooperation between local bodies, especially on transport, is needed.

Public perception of the GWRC is that it is a largely unaccountable and ineffectual body of retired MPs and mayors, lacking original ideas.

A quick look at the GWRC’s website will show there are many small, positive, well-intentioned initiatives going on, of which the recent offer of discounts on bike lights is a good example. Read more »

About time, Key fires warning shot at Auckland Council

My good friend John Key has fired a warning shot across the bows of Auckland Council.

NBR reports:

Prime Minister John Key says Auckland Council needs to take a step back from its ambitious Long Term Plan and look at what its primary responsibilities really are.

Mr Key told a Property Council breakfast the government is not happy with the council’s plan to spend half of the billions of dollars proposed for public transport over the next 20 years on heavy rail and a direct train between the city and the airport.

“The city rail link, although expensive, needs to go ahead, but outside of that the council needs to concentrate on spending money on building more local roads to provide infrastructure to greenfields housing areas where people will actually live.”

He says on the analysis the government has done, the council claims it will spend $2.4 billion on roading and public transport over the next three years. “Even with the $2-3 a week levy on ratepayers and businesses, which is a fancy name for a rates increase, the council will only spend $1.9 billion. Auckland is growing at boom levels and the council cannot afford to be spending less on transport.”

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The liveable city becomes less liveable as greedy Auckland Council tries to tax park and ride

Auckland Transport is unbelievable.

They want everyone to ditch driving themselves in order to fill up public transport. And so people do, encouraged by the council.

What happens next?

Auckland Transport has released a draft parking strategy today that also includes extending residents-only parking areas and lobbying the Government to raise infringement fines.

The agency said the recommendations were designed to reduce dependence on car travel and support development in town centres.

Its parking services manager Russell Derecourt said people using park-and-ride services at train and bus stations could be charged a small fee if certain criteria are met.   Read more »

How about that public transport?

Yesterday Julie Anne Genter was using a little bit of rain to push her political agenda and suggesting the solution to our problems was more public transport.

Now I’m not sure about anyone else but that public transport solution hasn’t worked so well for Wellingtonians this morning:

Commuters planning on travelling within the Wellington region tomorrow morning have been advised to consider alternatives to their usual morning commute.

The suspension of train services until at least midday tomorrow is likely to result in congestion on the roads.

The NZ Transport Agency is advising Wellingtonians that the best way to steer clear of congestion is to plan around it and work from home, travel outside of peak times or commute on foot or bike.

Commuters are advised that before making travel decisions tomorrow, they should check the Metservice website and check traffic conditions online at www.nzta.govt.nz, www.tfw.govt.nz, or on the @nztawgtn twitter feed.

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Len Brown’s world – where a 2.5% ‘cap’ actually means 9.9%

Len Brown and the Council might be hoping that with a new day the dust has settled on yesterday’s announced rates increases.

Wishful thinking, Len.

While the Green Party green lobby group Generation Zero is keen to enable Len Brown’s high rates agenda, the Ratepayers’ Alliance is standing firm against them.

Youth organisation, Generation Zero, welcomed the extra spending in the 10-year budget, specifically the focus on essential cycling, walking and public transport projects.

Spokesperson Dr Sudhvir Singh said: “This budget prioritises the essential public transport, walking and cycling projects that Aucklanders have called for, and is another step in the right direction for our city.”

“Aucklanders have called for greater transport choices and the council has responded with this budget. We now call on the government to get on board with Auckland’s agenda and to begin funding the City Rail Link in this year’s budget,” he said.   Read more »