Public transport

Auckland Council has no city wide plan for public transport so what is it doing?

Auckland Council has boxed itself into pushing on with an agenda to build a public transport network entirely based on three strings of rail corridor and the CBD. The key plank in this plan is to build a tunnel in the CBD that is 3km long and costs $3 billion or more.

Now that there are cracks appearing in the form of budgetary constraints the Council has taken the drastic step of reducing capital budgets to keep the rail tunnel alive. And it’s coming at the expense of affordable housing and other transport projects. But why?

There are plenty of arguments for and against the tunnel itself. The Auditor General has warned Auckland Council about committing to the tunnel without resolving its full funding package. The Government is unconvinced that the tunnel is needed and has set targets on patronage for the Council to achieve before it will even bother thinking about it.

But the question is whether the tunnel is the best first expenditure for Auckland Council to make if it intends to build a public transport network.

The planning around this whole idea sprung from Len Brown who politicised the tunnel as an election promise. It didn’t come from analysis and cost benefit analysis as it should. It’s a politically driven project not a needs driven project.

But even then, there isn’t even a sound plan for how public transport should be developed over a period of time in Auckland. The planning is piecemeal, uncoordinated and lacks any complete picture of what the city is going to do over 50 or 100 years.

And that’s an important matter to consider.    Read more »

Do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few? [POLL]

A Taranaki man with cerebral palsy and partial blindness says he is dismayed at the treatment of disabled people on New Plymouth buses.

Bell Block local Brendan Cresswell, 27, had to grab hold of a pillar to steady himself when the bus took off in a hurry on Tuesday.

He said the bus driver was running late and didn’t care that he had not yet had a chance to sit down.

Cresswell said public safety should be paramount.

“When I rang the bus depot, a manager told me that in their opinion it is crucial for the buses to be on time, but my opinion is that it should be about public safety,” he said.

“The problem I have is that I feel bus drivers are not waiting enough for people to sit down,” he said.

Who do you side with?   Read more »

Despite warnings from Auditor General Auckland Council commits millions in loans for Len’s train set

Despite warnings from the Auditor General about staying works before having the means to pay for the rest of the Rail Tunnel – Auckland Council is about to start works down the bottom of town.

Big traffic and public transport challenges face downtown Auckland from construction starting in less than a year for the $2.5 billion underground railway to Mt Eden.

Auckland Transport disclosed yesterday that it hopes to start digging trenches across lower Queen St in January, meaning rerouting buses such as the Northern Express fleet.

That is expected to require the relocation of 16 bus stops.

The council body also expects to close the main entrance to Britomart Station, through the old Central Post Office, for about three years from March.

Temporary ticketing machines and gates will be installed at the eastern end of the station to cope with peak crowds of about 4000 passengers an hour.

Albert St, one of the main bus feeder routes into downtown Auckland, faces some disruption from October as a stormwater main is moved to make way for a pair of “cut and cover” rail tunnels to be dug from Britomart as far as Wyndham St in a package of early works likely to cost about $250 million.    Read more »

12 working days in Auckland traffic?

So Auckland is more congested?

I think that would already feel most obvious to commuters in Auckland but the question is why? And is this survey to be followed by the usual calls for public transport?

I have friends who have commented in the last few months that their work commutes have suddenly changed in terms of trip time.

Last year they were taking around 25-30 minutes on average but this year are finding that those trip movements have jumped significantly to 45 minutes and upto an hour for a cross town trip from East Auckland towards the airport.

What caught my attention is that they followed their observations with a cynical comment that their increased trip times have coincided with Auckland Council’s Long Term Plan survey on transport.     Read more »

Typical socialists, they always want a subsidy

Why do socialists always think subsidies are a solution?

Keeping the Capital Connection running could cost ratepayers less than previously thought.

An internal Ministry of Transport memo released under the Official Information Act casts doubt on the amount of public money needed to keep the commuter service between Palmerston North and Wellington going.

KiwiRail has said it will cease running the train from July this year and has no plan in place for a replacement service.

For the Capital Connection to continue, the two regional councils – Horizons and Greater Wellington – need to convince the New Zealand Transport Agency to shift the Connection to a Wellington Metro service, which would mean it could receive a subsidy from the two councils and NZTA.

The Ministry of Transport report estimates the cost of the subsidy needed at about $250,000 per annum.

[…]     Read more »

Len’s loopy train set delayed for two years

Spain-train-crash

The councillors at Auckland Council have decided they would rather be re-elected than vote to ratchet rates up even further in order to pay for Len Brown’s loopy train set.

The Auckland Council has voted to put back a start on the City Rail Link by two years.

Mayor Len Brown told a governing body meeting today that a 2015 start was considered too much of a stretch by the Auditor-General.    Read more »

A reader contribution on the transport debate

green_light_for_auckland_rail_link_1655296516

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 »

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