Transport

So much for consultation on land transport, just two options and none that says “nick off noddy”

So opening the mail we find that Auckland Council has put out a consultation document on the Long Term Plan.

Unbelievably they have inserted this question about paying for public transport.

IMG_2621 Read more »

Garner is onto it with road safety

Duncan Garner talks about the focus on foriegn drivers and the silly ideas to force them to sit tests upon arrival.

Another horror holiday road toll, another round of national angst about foreign drivers.

It must be every motorist’s worst nightmare – rounding a corner to see more than 1000kg of metal hurtling towards you on your side of the road (regardless of the other driver’s ethnicity).

Are we being racist when it comes to foreign drivers? At first glance the numbers suggest there’s good reason for concern.

In 2013 overseas drivers were involved in at least 558 crashes resulting in death or injury. It may have been as high as 800 crashes according to the Transport Agency but they don’t collect data from every crash.

In three-quarters of the incidents, the foreigners were found at fault. Eleven of the crashes were fatal.

Grim reading. But it’s pretty clear the Government isn’t going to buckle and force visitors to sit some sort of driving test before they grab the keys to a rental car and set off on the open road.

Some safety advocates want travellers banned from renting cars unless they pass an online driving test. Some have called for drivers to sit a practical test. But that’s just not “practical” is it?

Where are these people meant to do it? Drive a car around a busy airport car park? And really, how effective would it be.

Read more »

Do you put money in the parking meter? [POLL]

When I lived in Wellington I’d park my car on the street rather than in car park buildings. I almost never put money in the meter and took the risk of getting a ticket.

I averaged about one $10 fine a week which was really cheap parking.

In Auckland I sometimes do this, and get away with it more often than not…though the fines are a bit steeper, and there are some places that it is unwise to even try.

Deborah Hill Cone uses this method too.

I don’t gamble, I don’t take drugs, I pay my GST, but I do have my own secret vice. I never buy pay and display parking vouchers. I just take the punt that I won’t get a parking ticket. And then if I do get a fine – this week $12 for five hours in the hairdresser on Ponsonby Rd – quite reasonable really – I just put it in the pile and later go online and pay them all at once.

This seems to work quite efficiently as a system. It bypasses the time and effort of standing in a line and finding change or trying to work the complicated texting option. It also gives me a wanton buzz of being naughty and, just for a moment, defying the Big Brother machinery of bureaucracy; the cheap thrill of rebellion alone is probably worth the price of any parking tickets I incur.

And every time you return to your car and find there is no fluttering ticket under your windscreen wiper you get a little frisson of victory. Yes!    Read more »

Welcome back to work, Len’s trains were stuffed as a special present for you

Len Brown’s train set welcomed people back to work by breaking down this morning.

A track fault is signalling woe for Auckland train commuters coming into the city this morning.

Auckland Transport said all lines near Britomart in Central Auckland may be affected by cancellations and delays up to 20 minutes.

The delays have been caused by a points failure outside the Britomart Tunnel.

The fault comes as many people return to work after the New Year break.

Read more »

Brown’s rail project an expensive “boondoggle”

Not Len Brown this time, but Jerry Brown, the Governor of California and his ill-fated rail project.

The similarities are astonishing though.

As California breaks ground this week on its new high-speed rail line, it is clear what the $68 billion dollar project amounted to: though the project will surely make unions, construction workers, and bond salesmen happy, it is little more than money the state doesn’t have for a train that its residents don’t need and probably won’t use. TheWashington Post reports on the project’s continued financial troubles, and it’s not pretty:

Voters approved a $9.95 billion bond aimed at funding the initial construction of the rail project in 2008, by a slim five-point margin. The Obama administration added another $3.2 billion in federal grants, and the legislature agreed in 2014 to provide funding through cap-and-trade taxes on greenhouse gases, which will add another $250 million to $1 billion per year.

That means the rail authority will have about $26 billion at best, less than half the estimated total costs. California High-Speed Rail Authority officials have said they expect advertising, real estate developments and private investors to fund up to a third of the total costs.   Read more »

du Fresne: Police burned off goodwill with their zero tolerance scam

Karl du Fresne thinks the Police have well over stepped the mark with their zero tolerance scam run these past holidays.

In fact he says it failed.

Human nature is a perverse thing. It consistently thwarts all attempts to coerce us into behaving the way bureaucrats, politicians and assorted control freaks think we should.

Take the road toll. Since early December New Zealanders have been subjected to a ceaseless barrage of police propaganda about the futility of trying to defy speed and alcohol limits.

Stern-looking police officers have been in our faces almost daily, warning that zero tolerance would be shown to lawbreakers. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has found their lecturing increasingly tiresome and patronising.

Of course the police can claim the best possible justification for all this finger-wagging: it’s about saving lives. But what was the result? The road toll for the holiday period was more than double those of the previous two years. For the full year, the toll was up by 44 on the record low of 2013.

The figures suggest that people crash for all manner of reasons, and that the emphasis on speed and alcohol is therefore simplistic. The police focus on speed and booze because these are easy targets, and when the road toll comes down they can take the credit.

In the ideal world envisaged by ever-hopeful bureaucrats, wayward citizens can be managed much as sheep are controlled by heading dogs. But people will never be harangued into driving safely; human nature is just too contrary.

Besides, police crackdowns are only one factor in achieving a lower road toll.

Improved road design, safer cars, better-equipped emergency services and more immediate medical attention all contribute too. It would be interesting to know, for example, how many lives have been saved because of the use of helicopters to get victims promptly to hospital.

Given that their heavy-handed propaganda campaign appears to have had minimal effect, I wonder if the police will now be humble enough to sit down and review their tactics.

Read more »

Photo Of The Day

Photograph by Freekee on Wikimedia Commons This historic and impressive piece of machinery is the rotary snowplow, and it’s used for clearing train tracks after a heavy snowfall. The large, circular set of blades on its front are rotated by an engine that’s held within its frame. But although it contains an engine, the snowplow isn't a self-propelled vehicle. This means that one or more trains must follow behind to push it along the tracks as it cuts a path in the snow.

Photograph by Freekee on Wikimedia Commons
This historic and impressive piece of machinery is the rotary snowplow, and it’s used for clearing train tracks after a heavy snowfall. The large, circular set of blades on its front are rotated by an engine that’s held within its frame. But although it contains an engine, the snowplow isn’t a self-propelled vehicle. This means that one or more trains must follow behind to push it along the tracks as it cuts a path in the snow.

Snowblower Train, Skagway, Alaska

Read more »

Road toll double last year despite Police crackdown and perfect weather conditions

It hasn’t really rained in most of the country for damn near two weeks.

The weather forecasters got it wrong over New Year, and basically the roads have been dry for the whole holiday period.

The police have focussed on speeding, so much so that the average holiday speed on the open road is adding hours to trips.

And yet the road toll is now double what it was last year and will likely be more than that with one day left.

The holiday road toll now stands at 14 – double last year’s – with the latest fatality occurring after a car hit a tree in Canterbury last night, killing its male driver.

The Toyota saloon ran off on Lake Road at Leeston, near Lake Ellesmere, and struck a tree at around 11.20pm. The driver, who is expected to be named later today, was found dead at the scene, police said.

With many holiday-makers preparing to head home, the nation’s road policing chief, Assistant Commissioner Dave Cliff, issued a plea for drivers to be vigilant. “Families have enjoyed time away and now they should give themselves plenty of time to reach their destination,” he said.

They’ll need plenty of time because the cops have parked themselves at the end of every passing lane, frightened drivers so much they drive between 80-95km/h…and all for nothing.

Last year’s Christmas-New Year road toll was seven, from a total of 193 reported injury crashes. But the official holiday period was three days shorter than this year’s – which ends at 6am on Monday.

Read more »

Thicko Islamic hackers take down UK bus time-table website

The site name sounds impressive…Travel West…at least to thicko Islamic hackers who mistakenly thought it would disrupt all travel in Western nations.

Except it turns out that the site is a bus timetable site for Poms living in Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset.

Muslim extremists hoping to disrupt international travel across the Western world fell a little short of their goal when they hacked into a Bristol bus timetable instead.

A group calling itself, Darkshadow – an Arab Security Team – mistakenly hijacked TravelWest’s journey planner website and replaced it with a sinister Islamic State-style black page.

It is thought the cyberterrorists, who claim to be based in Tunisia and the Ivory Coast, believed that by hacking TravelWest, they were infiltrating a major international travel website for Europe and the United States.

West Country locals, who logged onto the site expecting to find the usual bus and train timetables, cycle routes and traffic updates, were taken aback to discover that all information had been replaced by Arabic text and the stark message: “Hacked by Darkshadow”.

Read more »

AA gets it right, stop taxing our motorways with speed cameras

The AA has called for Police to stop targeting soft speeding on relatively safe roads.

Almost half of all tickets from speeding cameras are given out in Auckland, prompting the Automobile Association to urge the police to ease up on targeting low-level speedsters on Auckland motorways and instead focus on higher-risk roads around the country.

The cameras and a decision to lower, over holiday breaks, the usual 4km/h tolerance – and this season even to scrap it – have resulted in a boom in tickets. Twenty-six thousand more were issued each month last year on average than in 2009. That is despite police saying average speeds have dropped.

Last year, an average of 82,000 speeding tickets were issued each month, compared to 56,000 five years before. Much of the increase is down to the crackdown on low-level speeding over holiday periods.

The Police say it isn’t revenue gathering but it is. And Auckland with its extensive motorway network is being targeted as an easy get.

AA spokesman Mike Noon questioned whether focusing on drivers doing just over the limit on relatively safe urban motorways was the best strategy.

“Focusing on low-level speeding on the motorways, we think, is maybe not very beneficial. We’d prefer more focus on higher-risk areas, such as people speeding on State Highway 27 or between Turangi and Taupo.

“We get a bit concerned if there’s too much focus on low-speed tolerances on motorways, particularly since some of those motorways, we think, may move to 110km/h, to reflect the safety of them.”

Read more »