Transport

Guest Post – The Pathetic Puzzle that is Auckland Roads

I shifted to Auckland a few years ago. Still wondering why. I am a country boy and you can’t kick the country out of boys. It was not long ago I waved to people I met on the road. There was so few. So, you can understand the shock. I still wonder, “where are all these people going?”

Being a new boy you notice things. Here are some of the things that caught my attention. They made me wonder who was in charge and what were they thinking.

  1. On many streets that were narrow enough to scare me, half of the allotted space between houses was taken up by a paved footpath and a grass berm.   Here I was struggling to negotiate between the kerb and the massive SUV hurtling toward me and just alongside was a pavement wide enough to land a 747.

    And land a 747 you could because you would not hit any pedestrians. There just aren’t any. I drive around our fair city day and night and these wide walking pavements are mostly as bare as the back side of the moon.

    They are wide enough for four or five people to walk comfortably but I have never seen two abreast let alone four. Maybe Auckland people walked on footpaths long ago? They sure don’t now.

    Take Neilson Street in Onehunga. Wall to wall with huge container carrying trucks. It’s a scary drive in a Yaris. Yet there is a wide footpath and a grass berm suitable sized for cricket down much of the street.

  1. Cycle ways. What are they for? I thought maybe, cycles. Nah. There ain’t any. I see groups of the lycra lads riding three abreast on Wallace Road in Mangere Bridge every Sunday, boxing up traffic. But not on cycle ways.
  1. Cycle ways in the middle of the road. It’s just as well there are no cycles on some cycle ways. Take Puhinui Road. The cycle way is between traffic turning left and traffic going straight through.   Cars turning left have to cut across this 1.5 metre ‘no man’s land’.   It’s a cycle death waiting to happen and guess who will get the blame?

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Is this a precursor to the Mayoral battle next year?

Both Phil Goff and Maurice Williamson have had a crack at Simon Bridges in the Transport Select Committee in what could be the precursor to next year’s mayoral battle.

And from the headlines you’d have to say Williamson won…because he is the headlines and Goff is a few lines further down the articles.

Transport Minster Simon Bridges has faced a grilling over Auckland’s transport woes – and has been forced to defend the Government’s performance on a major project to one of the Government’s own MPs.

During Parliament’s Transport Select Committee meeting, Pakuranga MP Maurice Williamson heavily criticised Government handling of the Auckland Manukau Transport Initiative (Ameti), after Auckland Transport announced it was axing a major part of the project without NZTA’s knowledge.

“Earlier this year, a body called Auckland Transport… made an announcement, a public announcement, which was like a nuclear explosion in my electorate in the east,” Williamson said.

“That a massive project called Ameti, which had a massive thing called the Reeves Rd flyover, was now being canned and the voters in my electorate went up like a Roman candle.”

In February, Auckland Transport announced it would defer the $170 million flyover to next decade, to fund other public transport improvements.

The flyover was to reduce traffic on Pakuranga Rd by about 40 per cent during peak travel hours.

Williamson said that since then, he and other MPs had held meetings with Auckland Transport chair Lester Levy, in which they were told they were not initially briefed on the announcement because Levy “couldn’t brief every man and his dog on decisions they were taking”.

“What I also found was this dysfunctional dislocation between Auckland Transport and NZTA, and given (NZTA Chief Executive Geoff Dangerfield) is on the board of Auckland Transport, how the hell [is it that] one body didn’t know the other was making such an announcement where Ameti and the Reeves Rd Flyover were part of the National Party’s second priority for the last election…”

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Stick Len’s rail loop, here come driverless cars

As I said earlier this month driverless cars are the future, not stupid stuck on rails trains.

Don’t get too attached to your steering wheel and brake pedal because self-driving cars could be hitting our roads sooner than you think.

The first privately-owned driverless vehicles could start appearing in New Zealand in as little as two years, once European manufacturers start bringing them to market, Transport Minister Simon Bridges says.

Bridges is in the German city of Leipzig to attend the International Transport Forum’s annual summit, where a lot of the talk has been about the rapid pace of driverless car technology and how it could dramatically reduce the number of vehicles clogging up our roads.

Alexander Dobrindt, the German Federal Minister of Transport, arrived at the summit on Wednesday in a self-driving BMW and predicted the technology would start rolling off German assembly lines as soon as 2017.   Read more »

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First Auckland, now Wellington want government to make tolls legal

Charity muggers may be stopping cars and demanding money, but the idea is appealing to cities that want more money.  Always more money…

Wellington wants to join forces with Auckland in a bid change the Government’s mind on tolling exiting motorways.

The region’s political leaders say it is not practical or affordable to keep building roads to ease rush hour congestion.

Other measures – including motorway tolls, charging motorists to enter a CBD, and raising the price of central city parking – also need to be seriously considered, they say.

On Tuesday, the Regional Transport Committee, which all of greater Wellington’s mayors sit on, will vote on the idea of approaching Auckland Council to discuss a joint approach to the Government on road pricing tools.

Tolling existing roads requires a law change and Auckland Mayor Len Brown has made no secret of his support. His council has proposed a $2 motorway toll or a regional fuel tax and higher rates as solutions to Auckland’s $12 billion transport funding shortfall.

But the Government is “sceptical” about the idea, and has rebuffed Auckland’s advances to date.

The Wellington Regional Land Transport Plan, which the Regional Transport Committee will be asked to approve on Tuesday, says the transport network is being placed under high stress at peak times, particularly in and out Wellington’s CBD.

The plan estimated charging motorists to enter Wellington’s CBD could reduce car trips during the morning rush by 4 million and increase public transport trips by 3m annually.

Greater Wellington’s public transport portfolio leader Paul Swain said most of the debate about road pricing thus far had been in Auckland, and Wellington was keen to join the discussion.

He acknowledged that the two cities combined would possess strong lobbying power, but he said the intention was not to strong-arm the Government.

“The Government, in my view, will be quite cautious about the shift towards this.”

But Transport Minister Simon Bridgessaid the Government was not keen on new funding tools for transport.

He was always happy to engage with Wellington and Auckland’s councils.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on the challenges facing Wellington.

It’s not unprecedented of course.  Except we’ve had tolls to pay for the item itself.  Be it a bridge, or a road extension.

Where this is going wrong is that it is a general taxation mechanism, and although it appears to be roughly targeted at “transport” related expenditure, it is the thin end of the wedge.

Once you add personal or company tax, GST, rates, ACC, fuel, and sin taxes, our lives are already taxed well in excess of 50 cents in the dollar.   There has to be someone that recognises we need to do more with less, not just come for the tax and rate payers’ pockets.  Again.  And again.

 

– Michael Forbes, Stuff

Photo Of The Day

Photo:AP

Photo:AP

The Deadliest Crash in Motor Racing History

Le Mans, 1955. The Mercedes-Benz exploded as it hit the grandstand.

The scene of the deadliest accident in motor racing history, remembered soberly to this day, the lessons from this single accident would go on to revolutionise modern auto racing.

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After two years the union caves and declares victory at Ports of Auckland

More than two years have elapsed since the Maritime Union led by old crusty dinosaur Garry Parsloe brought the Ports of Auckland to a standstill.

Their demands were to work less for more money, despite eye-wateringly generous payments for the little work they did already.

It was die in the ditch stuff for them, and they held strong right up until they caved and agreed to the terms released by the arbitrator two years ago.

As expected, Maritime Union members have ratified a collective employment agreement with Ports of Auckland.

A stop-work meeting of members unanimously voted in favour of the new collective employment agreement first thing this morning.

Maritime Union National President Garry Parsloe says the new agreement is a positive step for workers at the Ports of Auckland that should ensure the continued success of the port.

Ports of Auckland chief executive Tony Gibson concurs.

“We are obviously pleased and look forward to working with the Maritime Union to deliver even more for the people of Auckland,” he says.

The agreement between the port company and the union will be signed off today.

Parsloe has declared victory…but it was a victory his members could have had two years ago.   Read more »

Train and cycling spotters now called experts?

Auckland Council run monthly propaganda seminars and the March seminar is on public transport.

It’s clearly a joke because the email says ‘register to hear from a range of experts who will outline the key transport issues facing Aucklanders …’

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Smug cars for Smug owners

With petrol prices falling you’d think there would be a drop off in purchases of smug powered cars.

But it appears this isn’t the case, even though they are horrendously expensive.

It seems smug people still like buying smug cars.

People buy vehicles for all sorts of reasons. They buy because the vehicle meets their utility—a pickup truck for a handyman, a van for a big family, a Lincoln Town Car for a professional driver. Some make decisions based on fuel efficiency and low cost. But as is often the case with consumer products, many people make vehicle purchase decisions based on how the product makes them feel, or how it makes them look. In the U.S. in particular, the car you drive is a means of expressing your identity.   Read more »

The inherent dishonesty of Toyota

The other day I received an email from Hunting & Fishing, I’m on their mailing list.

In the middle of the email was this ad:

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Can anyone spot the problem?

That’s right Toyota are claiming to be the one selling ute in NZ…which they aren’t that is the Ford Ranger, which was the number one selling truck in NZ for 2014 breaking a decades long stranglehold by Toyota.

On Facebook they are claiming something similar.   Read more »

Can Auckland Transport get anything right?

Auckland Transport has stuffed up again, rooting up one of the simplest jobs they have, providing adequate and readable signage for motorists.

New signs peppering streets around Auckland’s Dominion Rd may have to be “re-skinned” to make them easier for motorists to read, the city’s transport authority admits.

Auckland Transport said yesterday that some drivers had complained lettering on the dark blue “way-finding” signs is not large enough for them to make out.

“Initial feedback is that the typeface … is too small, particularly if you are driving,” said marketing general manager Mike Loftus. “This is certainly something we will be reviewing.”

But he said the signs were designed so they could be re-skinned with larger type if necessary, rather than replaced at greater cost.

Although they were introduced primarily to point to a 12km network of routes developed for $5.9 million as safer cycling alternatives to busy Dominion Rd, they have replaced larger street signs in a number of locations. Those include four intersections along Dominion Rd.

The larger – more legible – versions will remain in storage during a trial by Auckland Transport and other council organisations to develop a standard wayfaring sign to point to community facilities throughout the Super City.

Mr Loftus said the budget covered about 100 signs and route maps installed along the Grafton Gully cycleway as well as two sets of routes parallel to Dominion Rd, for which contractors have also installed speed bumps, pathways and boardwalks, leaving only a bridge to be erected in Mt Roskill’s War Memorial Park.

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