Public transport

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 »

Sensible options for public transport instead of Len’s Loop

Trains are vastly expensive. They cost massive money to build the networks and they are so limited in where they go. In Auckland they aren’t even fast. If you have harbours and hilly topography like Auckland then they cost even more to expand.

Trams are nice and have much better reach but they still cost a bomb and whilst they can be closer to where people go, they are still limited.

Buses are possibly the cheapest way to obtain mass transport and they can go anywhere. But the pinko green Taliban don’t like them because – like cars – buses emit dirty carbon emissions.

Or do they?

Let’s be clear – the number one reason for the left of everything prefer public transport and want trains and so on is because they hate cars and that is because of the emissions issue, global warming and purported certain death for us all.

But the car industry is filled with innovation and survivalists. They have already started cleaning up their fleets with hybrids and efficient cars and of course electric.

It’s of no surprise that there are also electric buses. London already has hybrid electric busses. Many other places do too.   Read more »

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 »