Proof Auckland Council still have too much money to spend

Auckland Council are profligate wastrels.

The Herald editorial explains just how barking mad they can be.

If Auckland Transport has been reading our mail, and doubtless its own, it will know there is outrage over its decision to paint all municipal buses the same colour. Hardly a day goes by that the Herald does not receive at least one letter on the subject. It is not just the colour that concerns the correspondents but what this decision says about the relatively new creation known as AT.

It is one of the non-elected bodies set up under the Super City to run services at a safe arms-length from local politics. The Auckland Council and the Government appoint its board but cannot interfere in the operational decisions the board and its managers are trusted to make in the interests of the service. The board’s decision to paint the buses is a classic illustration of how misguided corporate thinking can be when the body is using public funds.

Auckland bus routes are served by private companies contracted to AT. The private companies have their own livery, well known in the suburbs where they have been based for a long time, much longer than AT has been in existence.

The main fleet, once publicly owned and uniformly yellow, was painted a variety of colours a few years ago, reflecting the destinations. Bright blue went to North Shore, bright green went to Waitakere, myriad colours in a Pacific motif went to Manukau.

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Why do we need trains when driverless technology is upon us?


Trains are locked onto rails…they can’t divert around network outages and are horribly inefficient especially for passenger transit. Basically they don’t work unless massively subsidised.

If we look at the billions poured into Kiwirail since Labour bought it back at an inflated price you can see just how bad and inefficient it is.

I’ve often said rip up the rails and create heavy transport lanes on the land instead, sending buses and trucks down the nice even gradients.

I’ve also said driverless technology will solve transport issues. The video above shows how it can work for bus transport and the Daily Mail also has an article about the advent of driverless trucks for heavy transport.

Self-driving cars have long been confined to the storylines of futuristic films and the engineer’s drawing board but now they finally being tested in real traffic on a German autobahn.

German carmaker Daimler has been trialling a self-driving truck under real traffic conditions on a German motorway for the first time.

The standard Mercedes-Benz Actros truck was fitted with the ‘highway pilot’ system, allowing it to work without a human driver, and travelled from Stuttgart to the town of Denkendorf. ? Read more »

Keep complaining. Driverless buses don?t need bathroom breaks

Unmanned buses in Italy

Unmanned buses in Italy

How long have buses been around? Like forever…and bus drivers for the same amount of time.

Surely bus drivers have this sorted?

Bus drivers pushing for better bathroom breaks say they are sometimes stuck in the driver’s seat for more than five hours at a time.

The issue is particularly prevalent on the three Auckland Link bus services, where buses run on a continuous loop through the city in an effort to make the ride efficient for inner-city travellers, bus drivers say.

Auckland Tramways Union president Gary Froggatt said waiting five hours for a break is “unacceptable” and the issue will be raised during negotiations in November.

The union has seen a number of bus drivers penalised in court in the past for parking in a bus stop to make a quick dash to the loo, with some even carrying empty soft drink bottles with cut-off tops to use at the back of the bus when no passengers were on board. ? Read more »

Auckland Council steals more roads and gives them to buses

It?s going to become a self-fullfilling prophecy this way.

By reducing the available roads for car and truck traffic, it will get all snarled up while public transport sails by unimpeded, thereby ?proving? public transport is ?better?.

Auckland Transport is creating extra CBD bus lanes in a bid to limit disruption to timetables once it starts digging up roads for the $2.5 billion underground rail extension.

The council organisation has begun marking up 1.2 kilometres of extra lanes into the city centre, ready for when it starts tunnelling a new stormwater main under the eastern side of Albert St in November.

That is a precursor to a big trench to be dug next year along Albert St – a key bus route into downtown Auckland – from Customs St to just west of Wyndham St. ?? Read more »

AT bus drivers spray and walk away


Not only does Len Brown like picking your pockets, but his bus drivers it seems like crapping in ratepayers private facilities.

One restaurant owner is sick of his restaurant being treated like a public convenience by Auckland Transport drivers, so much so he has invoiced the mayor.

A restaurant owner has sent an $11,000 bill to Auckland mayor Len Brown for the “hurt and humiliation” of having to clean up after bus drivers who use his toilets.

Mark Keddell, from the well-reviewed White Rabbit on Customs St, in central Auckland, said bus drivers whose routes terminate outside his restaurant, then come inside to use the toilets, without asking permission or buying anything. Even worse, they are careless in their aim.

In a letter to Brown, with a $10,998 invoice attached, Keddall said he was “personally sick” of having to clean up after the drivers.

Keddell said his staff tried hard to look after customers with boutique soaps, seat sanitisers and cloth hand-towels because clean bathrooms reflected on the restaurant.

He and his management team had been cleaning the toilets themselves and had resorted to taking photos of the drivers, who “slipped in stealthily” through a side entrance and avoided talking to staff.

“I can’t ask my staff to clean them when they are in this state, so I often have to do it myself.”

Keddell said he felt a certain amount of sympathy for the drivers as there were few public toilets in the area, but they should show some respect, ask to use White Rabbit facilities – even buy something. “We are a business, too”.

Keddell got a hasty response from the mayor’s chief-of-staff, Phil Wilson, who said he was “very sorry for the situation that exists” and would brief Brown.

Wilson also said he would raise the matter with Auckland Transport chief executive David Warburton, and he was sure “some influence” could be exerted on the bus companies.

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When public service announcements on Twitter go wrong

Oh no, a truck hit a bridge…

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Would this happen anywhere other than Russia?


Buses more enviornmentally damaging than cars

I knew it. Public transport is the greater evil not cars. Autonomous, self driving cars is the way of the future, not buses or trains.

[Consider] autos with but one passenger and compare them to transit vehicles in which every seat is full. (For example, see?this.) But in the real world, this is emphatically not the case. At any given time, the average auto has?somewhere around 1.6 passengers, and the average (typically 40-seat)?bus has only about 10.?Rail vehicles typically have more passengers (on average about 25), but then again they are also typically much larger. Thus their average load factor (percentage of seats filled) is also not high, at about 46 percent for heavy rail systems (think subways in major cities) and about 24 percent for light rail (think systems that mostly run at street level).

It is not clear that moving around large and largely empty vehicles is much of an improvement over moving around smaller ones. In fact, it may be worse. According to the?Department of Energy?s?Transportation Energy Data Book, in 2010 transporting each passenger one mile by car required 3447 BTUs of energy. Transporting each passenger a mile by bus required 4118 BTUs, surprisingly making bus transit less green by this metric.

Still won’t make me catch a bus

In Denmark they are trying to make catching the bus cool. It is a cool ad but riding the bus still sucks, and is only marginally better than trains. All those people int eh ad must be actors because the only people who usually take buses are smelly hippys and the indigent, certainly not hot chicks.

Riding the bus might not qualify as the most glamourous form of transportation. But do they really deserve a reputation that ranks slightly below cars and slightly above motorized scooters?

After watching a brilliant ad spot out of Denmark from ad agency M2Film, you might just put the brakes on that thought.

Handy tip: Turn on the Closed Captioning by pushing the CC button at the bottom of the video for subtitles.

Take the bus Len

Len Brown started his?commitment?to ride to work on the train regularly yesterday by catching the train at Papatoetoe. Good on Len Brown, he is catching up with Celia Wade-Brown on practicing what he preaches. I hope he keeps up with?commitment.

However this blogger has a few questions for the Night-mayor.

Why did you take the train from Papatoetoe? It is hardly the closest station to your house, and so would have created a much larger carbon footprint in choosing that station to start from for his new commitment to public transport.

A quick check on Google Earth proves my point.

From the Night-mayors house to Papatoetoe station is a 9km drive. Google says 16 minutes but at 8:00am in the morning is probably more like 25 minutes, so when talking about public transport you also need to add in the commute to the station to be accurate with travel times.

Len's house to Papatoetoe Station - 9km

Len's house to Papatoetoe Station - 9km

There are two stations that are closer to the Night-mayor’s house. Homai station is 1km closer at 8km from Len’s house. It would have taken at least 5 minutes less as well. Why didn’t Len drive to that station?

Len's house to Homai Station - 8km

Len's house to Homai Station - 8km

Then there is Manurewa station. That is just 6.6km on the road from Len’s house.Plus it would have taken just 10 minutes, thereby avoiding the traffic bottle-necks of driving to Papatoetoe. Manurewa makes so much more sense. Why didn’t Len Brown use Manurewa station to start on his commitment to taking public transport?

Len's house to Manurewa Station - 6.6km

Len's house to Manurewa Station - 6.6km

If Len Brown is serious about insisting that Aucklanders take public transport then he needs to explain why he thinks we should drive an extra 2.4km to go a station that isn’t the closest to where we live. It simply doesn’t make sense. Why start off your very public commitment to take trains from a station that isn’t even the closest one to your house? Why not Puhinui, or Homai, or Manurewa?, All three are closer to his house.

Surely public transport is about most efficient use of resources. It is hugely ironic then that the Council’s own transport calculator provided by Maxx says the best thing Len Brown could have done was take a bus after walking 3.4kms tot he bus stop and another 800m at the end of the journey. Not a single mention of a train anywhere in the journey. One thing about buses is that they need roads, so Len Brown should take heed of his own transport agency and start investing in better roads not silly rail loops.

Take the bus Len Brown

Maxx says take the bus, Lenny.

That all means one thing. Len Brown’s great public start to his?commitment?to take the train to work is nothing but a hollow publicity stunt based on spin, obfuscation, and outright lies. I’ll lay dollars to a knob of goat poo that the trip taken yesterday will be Len Brown’s last trip on a train before he films himself for his campaign video smiling and waving from a train in two years time.

Public transport is cool…for other people…it’s cool…until you start looking at reality…then it sucks.