There’s a fairly long and quite rambling opinion piece in today’s NZ Herald, about transport in Auckland and particularly about the relatively poor quality of the city’s public transport system. There’s nothing particularly surprising about this, and the article’s look back at Auckland’s transport history – in particular the tale of Mayor Dove-Myer Robinson’s rapid rail proposal – is a useful reminder about how efforts to improve Auckland’s rail system have generally found huge public support.
But there are a couple of paragraphs in the article that stood out as being a bit weird:
Mayoral hopeful John Banks’ master plan focused on an improved rail service, including an inner-city loop and airport link. He wanted to see central city stations and an integrated ticketing system.Increased ferry connections and improved cycleways were also part of the plan. Many Aucklanders, including Banks, attribute his failure to land the Supercity top spot to the ambitious plan.
“The people kicked my arse right out of the mayoralty,” he said this week but declined to discuss it further. “I spent two mayoralties building transport infrastructure around Auckland. I think I’ll leave it to the new mayoralty.”
My recollection of the super city mayoralty race was that both John Banks and Len Brown came across as fairly pro public transport for most of the campaign, except that by the end of it Banks was starting to declare war on South Auckland and back-tracking a bit on his public transport aspirations. Len Brown ended up winning, and has made improving Auckland’s public transport system his top priority. Hardly consistent with the idea that Banks lost because he promised to focus too much on improving our transport system.
There are a few weird other things in the article, like “Electric trains are expected to be running within the next three years, including an inner-city link” (what inner city rail link? Or are we talking about buses now?)
I’m not sure whether Abby Gillies, who wrote the piece, just isn’t that well informed – or whether John Banks put together the story to come across as less pro public transport as part of his campaign to win Epsom for Act, who have generally not been the most public transport friendly party around.