Transport

Key on road congestion in Auckland and Wellington

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Auckland and Wellington’s traffic congestion woes have caught the attention of Prime Minister John Key, who says he’s personally experienced the “volatility” of drive times in two of the country’s major cities.

However, Key has urged Kiwis to remain patient while major traffic projects, such as Auckland’s $1.4 billion Waterview Connection, cause temporary snarl-ups in exchange for a future improvement in travel times.

Figures made public by navigation company TomTom this week showed traffic congestion was worsening in both Auckland and Wellington, beating some of the world’s biggest cities like London, Los Angeles and Istanbul. Read more »

Auckland’s deliberate and slow plan to rid itself of cars

Every big and booming city in the world is partly a construction site.

People working in the central business districts are accustomed to negotiating road cones and detour warnings. Auckland has been no exception, but now the central city is entering years of greater upheaval than it has probably previously endured.

Preliminary work has started on the underground rail link that will require Albert St to be dug up as far as Wyndham St, and a tunnel drilled beneath it to Aotea Square and beyond.

Already traffic is beginning to feel the squeeze. Besides the rail link, work is getting under way on SkyCity’s international convention centre and is due to start this year on a 52-storey tower of hotel rooms and apartments planned for the long-vacant site at the southeast corner of Albert and Victoria Streets.

The Downtown shopping centre is to be demolished and redeveloped and at the Herald’s former location at Albert and Wyndham Sts, a 30-storey hotel and office tower is planned.

The city is going to be a navigational challenge for the next several years.

The rail link alone will be disruptive enough. The practical difficulties of digging an underground railway in the confines of a commercial valley have not featured in public debate over the merits of the link.

It is to be hoped traffic planners have given the challenges enough thought. Confidence on that score is not encouraged by the plan to reduce Queen St to one lane of traffic each way to accommodate exclusive bus lanes.

City planners keep stealing the roads that we’ve already paid for. Where we had two or even three lanes, now we have given those to cycles, buses and, soon, even light rail.

Whereas councils can’t just turn parks into homes or factories, or start reclaiming the harbour for housing, there appears to be no limit to their ability to keep stealing roads from motorists.

There appears to be a steady and deliberate plan to turn the problem of getting around in a car into a self-fulfilling prophecy, to which the answer is: even less space for cars, and more space for people to walk, cycle, bus and train.

It’s not something ratepayers have been asked about, and I consider it a kind of theft.

 

– NZ Herald

‘Cultural barriers’ make life hard for the blind

Disability access advocate David Foran kneels with his guide dog, Oliver, at a tram stop in Southbank

Disability access advocate David Foran kneels with his guide dog, Oliver, at a tram stop in Southbank

How hard hearted does a person have to be to refuse transport to a blind person with a guide dog? Blind people have a hard enough life without having to deal with discrimination on top of their disability.

Victorian guide dogs and their handlers are facing the highest rates of discrimination in the nation, with taxis refusing or questioning right of access 46 per cent of the time.

A new Guide Dogs Victoria survey found two-thirds of guide dog handlers faced discrimination in the past year, including at shopping centres and cafes.

Legally, the only place guide dogs are not allowed is in operating theatres and at zoos.

Guide dog handler and disability access advocate David Foran said he had faced discrimination on several occasions when trying to catch taxis or a ride share with Uber.

You might book and a car comes to your home, then they see a dog and they just drive off.

David Foran, guide dog handler

Guide Dogs Victoria has been working with taxi drivers to provide dog mats and promote awareness of disability access rights.

“It’s not often about hostility, it’s just a lack of education,” Mr Foran said.

“I spoke to my Muslim taxi driver, and he said sometimes it’s a cultural barrier, and whenever there’s a cultural barrier there needs to be education.”

-abc.net.au

This is not a problem confined to Australia as it has been happening in Britain for years.

MUSLIM drivers are forcing blind people and their guide dogs off buses because they consider the animals to be ‘unclean’, it has been revealed.

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Muslim bus drivers consider guide dogs to be ‘unclean’Muslim bus drivers consider guide dogs to be ‘unclean'[GETTY]

Transport minister Norman Baker has stepped in after complaints from blind people that their dogs were being ejected from public transport on religious grounds.

Mr Baker told bus companies that religious objections were not a sufficient reason to eject any passenger with a well-behaved dog.

He said: “If dogs are causing a nuisance then the driver has every right to ask the owner to leave. But it is much more questionable to be asked to remove a dog for religious reasons. One person’s freedom is another person’s restriction.”

It is illegal under disability discrimination laws to refuse a blind person and guide dog on board a bus or in a taxi. But Guide Dogs for the Blind Association said it regularly receives complaints from members about the practice. The National Federation of the Blind said the problem was “common and getting worse”.
Its spokesman Jill Allen-King said she had often been left on the kerb by Muslim taxi drivers who had refused to take her dog. She has had similar problems with Muslim bus drivers. She said: “Last year a Muslim taxi driver went mad when I tried to get in with my dog. He said, ‘I have to go home now and wash myself’.”

George Herridge, 73, said he was asked to get off two buses in Reading, Berkshire, last year when passengers objected to his labrador guide dog, Andy. “I was coming home on the bus and there were some Muslim children screaming,” he said.

“The driver pulled over and asked me to get off. It is a lengthy walk into town from where I live and there is no other means of transport.”

-express.co.uk  (2010)

screenshot-whaleoil.co.nz

screenshot-whaleoil.co.nz

 

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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