Public transport

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 »

Cracker of a policy

This policy should be implemented immediately into New Zealand.

Christof Spieler moved to downtown Houston about nine years ago and began a reverse commute to a suburban office park. He took the No. 9 Gulfton Metro bus because he liked to get things done during the ride and hated sitting in traffic, but the service left much to be desired. The bus didn’t run very often (every 20 minutes or more, even at rush-hour); transfers were hard to coordinate; and the pedestrian infrastructure near the stops was terrifying (to reach the office, he braved five lanes of car traffic without a signal or a crosswalk).

“It really gave me a good feel of what the system’s like,” he says.

Fast-forward to today and Spieler now sits on Metro’s board of directors. An engineer at Morris who also lectures at Rice, Spielerplayed an instrumental role in developing Metro’s Reimagining plan—a dazzling redesign of the entire bus system that stresses all-day frequency and smart connections. But he couldn’t have done it without his experience on Metro as a guide, which makes him Exhibit A for why the people planning America’s transit systems, from board members to senior management to project designers, should be riders themselves.

“There are way too many people working on transit who don’t actually ride transit,” he says. “If you’re going to be making decisions about transit, you really need to know what it’s actually like. Not what it’s like in theory, but what it’s actually like. ”   Read more »

Green Party leader left standing around looking useless, again

Points for trying to look like he walks the talk I guess, but:

Greens co-leader Russel Norman was literally up in arms about public transport yesterday – but he still missed the bus.

Norman was heading from a TV3 appointment in Mt Eden to Auckland Airport and, as a good Green, opted to use the Airbus Express service.

But he could not attract the attention of the driver, who drove straight past.

Venting his frustration, he tweeted: “Hey Airbus, you know how you just drove past me on Mt Eden Rd even tho I was waving my arms rather vigorously, it doesn’t help PT [public transport].”

The fact that the bus driver probably recognised him and drove straight past may not have occurred to Russel.

It’s quite consistent of course.

Labour have been driving past the Green Party as a coalition partner for years.

Of course, the old Green Party was  all about change, whereas this one is all about power.   Russel feels so close to introducing new taxes and banning half of life’s pleasures that he needs changes of underwear several times a way.

“Airbus will only stop if hailed by a passenger (wave)” says the Airbus website. None of this worked for Norman.

He told the Herald on Sunday that he often uses the Airbus service and it’s usually reliable.

This time, however, the delay meant he had to change his flight and was late to his next appointment. He said the Greens transport policy would “have the trains running to the airport by 2025″.

Way to go Russel.  A bus driver doesn’t pick you up, and your solution is to install another expensive train set.

What it really shows is that public transport is useless for people that have to be places and be on time.   Stop trying to pretend otherwise.

 

– Herald on Sunday

Contrary to popular belief, public transport doesn’t help the poor

One of the main reasons the left wing loves public transport is the belief that the poor will be assisted.

Unfortunately that is a bit of  myth.

Access to public transit helps, but it’s not enough to connect workers with economic opportunity in the form of jobs.

Buses stop right outside LaToyia Newman-Gross’s apartment in suburban Columbia, Md. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to get around by public transit. “They run every hour,” says Newman-Gross, 32. If you miss a bus, you’re stuck. Waiting out in the sun or snow with her four children beside her usually isn’t a great option.

Americans are driving shorter distances, buying fewer cars, and are less likely to apply for a driver’s license than just a few years ago. This might be due to the recession—owning a car is expensive—or it might be due to a cultural shift in favor of urban living.

But almost all households, regardless of socioeconomic status, own at least one vehicle. In 2009, more than three-quarters of workers commuted by driving alone. Recent research suggests that, particularly for single moms like Newman-Gross, owning a car can mean access to better jobs and safer neighborhoods.  Read more »

Tagged:

The 2014 election Labour Lolly scramble

Yesterday, Labour published this

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Immediately.

A Labour government has a number of problems before it can do that.

One, it will be in a coalition with other parties, and the final coalition agreement may not allow for Labour to start building an Auckland rail link.  It’s not because other parties don’t think the rail link should go ahead, but they may have other requirements on timing, funding and policy compromises based on their own priorities. Read more »

Auckland Transport have had a ‘Midvale School for the gifted’ moment

 

Picture 6

Auckland Transport have had a ‘Midvale School for the gifted’ moment this week with the release of their parking brain farts.

And the AA is pointing out just how dumb it is.

The introduction of parking charges at Auckland’s network of park & ride stations could add to traffic congestion and encourage a commuter culture, says the Automobile Association, which thinks it goes against Auckland Transport’s aim to create a “shift to public transport”.

The objective is set out in a discussion paper looking at putting parking fees or time limits into more parts of the city.

Income from park & ride sites has been proposed to help pay for adding to the 5300 spaces available at the current stations around the city. Spaces would need to treble to about 15,000 by the year 2040 because of demand, the document says.

The AA warned charging people for a space could defeat the purpose of park & ride facilities. “At this point, we’d be sceptical about it,” said AA Auckland Transport spokesman Barney Irvine.

“Our main concern is it could have a perverse effect, it could result in more people driving than using public transport.”

Fees at park & ride facilities could make it too expensive for people to catch public transport, meaning more cars would end up on the road and add to the city’s traffic woes, Mr Irvine said.

The AA would not support the proposal unless there was “compelling modelling to support it”.

So, is the idea by AT to charge park and ride commuters for the car parking an epic failure or genius? You decide. We’re too busy sitting in bewilderment.

 

– NZ Herald

The luckiest man alive?

And Len brown wants more of this?

Well, Auckland’s dirty public transport secret is out.  It’s not safe on Auckland trains

Measures approved by Auckland Transport and confirmed by rail operator Transdev – after the latest two assaults on the weekend before Easter – include extending hours worked by Maori Wardens. That means their patrols on the southern line between Otahuhu and Papakura now run from 4pm each day until trains stop operating after 1am.

The police also say they are “assigning additional resources” to trains and stations as well as shopping centres over the school holidays, which began on Good Friday.

Counties Manukau prevention manager Inspector Richard Middleton said the police had met Transdev and KiwiRail to discuss setting up a working group to improve staff and passenger safety on trains.

The latest attacks left a Maori Warden with bruises and put a ticket inspector off work with undisclosed injuries after he was hit from behind at Papakura by an unseen assailant.

Although the company is vague about the number of violent incidents on the trains it runs under contract to Auckland Transport, the Rail and Maritime Transport Union says it knows of 12 since January.

Twelve assaults!  Public transport has never been this dangerous.   And the good news is, if Two Minute Len gets his way, he will create a huge train set for this sort of carry on.   Read more »

Lenny No Mates takes the Train

People often ask me if Len Brown takes the train anymore.

Well, thanks to the WOBH Ground Crew, we can confirm that he does indeed take the train…at least he has this morning.

Hi Cam

I’m on the train right now and Len is sitting on his own. No one wants to talk to him or even have eye contact.

Sad!

Lennynomates

“Oh, I know, I’ll take the train, that will make me popular again”

Densification no solution, would someone tell Len

Len Brown is trying to foist intensification upon Auckland while he rests his lonely carcass in the space and grandeur of a lifestyle block (when he isn’t resting in some of Auckland’s best hotels).

Aucklanders don’t want it, and there is little justification for. One suggestion is that intensification alleviates congestion. It may be that that is a false premise too.

 It is commonly put forward that Auckland needs to increase the number of people living near the city centre if it wants to tackle the traffic congestion and avoid costly upgrades to its highway and roading network.

By extension, first-home buyers need to accept that the Kiwi dream of owning a quarter-acre house is gone, and they should instead focus their attention on the cheaper apartments that will increasingly be coming onto the market.

The upside is that by living closer to the city centre, residents in these apartment will be able to walk, cycle or take public transport to work, cutting down on the need for cars, and hence congestion.   Read more »