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What needs fixing?

Matt’s post the other day on the state of Britomart’s escalator and a piece of broken glass that had gone weeks without being fixed seemed to finally spur Auckland Transport into some action – with word filtering through that both things have now been fixed. Kudos to Auckland Transport for finally getting its act together, though a bit of a pity it took so long.

A few comments on Matt’s post (and my initial comment) raised the issue of why we get so angry about this kind of thing. Glass panels can take a while to get fixed sometimes, just as escalators may be relying on a part that takes a while to get shipped in, maybe the person with sign-off powers to pay for the new part couldn’t be contacted, maybe an invoice went missing, maybe someone who normally looks after this kind of thing was on annual leave… a million things potentially could have led to these delays. Why don’t we cut Auckland Transport a bit of slack here?

Well the reason, quite simply, is all about image. A huge amount of public money has been spent, and continues to be spent, on improving Auckland’s public transport system. After decades of neglect, thankfully there is general acceptance (at least within Auckland, central government is another matter entirely) that a sub-standard public transport system is one of the key things holding Auckland back from becoming one of the best cities in the world – the world’s most liveable city, if you’re to use the catch-cry of the Mayor.

A part of this transformation of our public transport system is ensuring that we have more regular buses, trains and ferries, that they’re faster, that they’re more reliable, that they now take you where you want to go when you want to go. But also important is the perception of the public transport system. Is public transport seen as “welfare on wheels” for those who can’t drive, or is it seen as a proper part of the transport system – a transport ‘mode of choice’ that people may well prefer to use, even if they do have a car?

Historically, as I said earlier the public transport system has been neglected. The rail corridors were horribly vandalised for years and years, with one of the best things that has happened over the past few years being the clean up of the corridors – which reflects really well the increased role the rail network has to play in Auckland’s transport system. Whether there’s graffiti on the trains, whether broken things are fixed, whether information boards and other signage are kept up to date… all these little things mean a lot when it comes to the perception of the system.

A classic example is how New York City really stopped caring about its subway system in the 1970s and 1980s Рmost obviously by no longer removing graffiti from its trains: 

If we are to attract people to using PT, not just those who have no choice but also those who could choose to drive if they wanted to, then we need to banish that the sad old image of Auckland’s network being so bad the only people who’d use it were those with no choice. We’ve taken a lot of steps towards that goal, but every little thing along the way – every unfixed glass panel, every escalator out of service for weeks on end with no explanation, every information sign that’s months out of date, all undermines these efforts and makes it “feel” like nobody cares about the system.

Back to more positive things though. As it seems Matt’s blog post was so successful in getting Auckland Transport to finally fix up the escalator and the glass panel at Britomart, I wondered whether it might be useful to set up a permanent page for people to leave comments about what’s broken around the transport network, or what’s out of date, or where there’s graffiti or other vandalism that hasn’t been fixed up when it should have been. Hopefully Auckland Transport will keep an eye on the page too and action anything that’s brought up – or we might need to remind them once in a while through a post or two.

This post can be a starting point for comments around what’s broken or what doesn’t work but could be easily fixed (buses not stopping at logical bus stops etc.) while I create a permanent page over the next few days.

26 comments to What needs fixing?

  • If you haven’t seen it before, http://FixMyStreet.co.nz (and it’s mobile apps) are a good way to report issues, that are then assigned to the appropriate council/agency/company/TLA magically, along with addresses, photos, and other details.

    I’ve found the council (& friends) are usually pretty quick at fixing things, *once they know about them*. But it means we need to tell them somehow if we want it fixed!

    • JeffT

      I am definitely making a note of that website thanks Rob. One of the key issues when faults are noticed is ‘who do I contact?’ It can’t be the case that staff at Britomart didn’t notice those faults and that they fixed them quite quickly leaves questions over the ‘parts’ theory. I agree that developing a well-functioning train network will make such a difference in making Auckland a truely liveable city. I can’t help but wonder how Auckland would look if it was NZ’s capital?

  • Cameron Pitches

    Well, really you should be able to complain about these things directly to Auckland Transport via their own website. The first thing that needs improving is the complaints process, with it’s pathetic response turnaround time of ten business days.

  • Andrew

    I think someone forgot to put the real time displays back up at Kingsland when the shelters were replaced.

    Also Bus Stop 8810, Owairaka Ave Mt Albert has a strip/gutter drain between the waiting area and the footpath with a missing covering grille. This was missing for years, and AT replaced it sometime last summer only for them to get stolen within a month.
    Without the covering grille, it’s a trip hazard.

  • Christopher T

    I reported the issue of a specific and highly visible instance of pest plant infestation on Fixmystreet.co.nz and they forwarded it to AC but I rather suspect this is an AT/KiwiRail issue so it will get lost in the confusion:
    The land adjacent to the level crossing [at St Jude Street, Avondale] was landscaped during the recent double tracking of the western railway [in 2010]. Since then it hasn’t been maintained and is now the source – on both sides of the street – of a major pest plant infestation (bush wattle (Paraseriaththes laphantha), woolly nightshade (Solanum mauritianum), moth plant (Arauja hortorum), etc). While the latter two pests are subject to containment restrictions under the Biosecurity Act, the infestation detracts from the quality of the planting and diminishes the aesthetic amenity of the area and impacts negatively on the over all appearance of the station. The fact that the infestation is on public land tends to encourage adjacent private landowners to ignore similar infestations. It would be good if these pest plants could be controlled in a systemic fashion in order to diminish the spread of the infestation.

  • Andrew

    Does anyone maintain that site? There seem to be a number of “issues” raised on that site that are just general rants, which remain as open issues.

    Looks like it could do with some cleaning out and with some clear guidelines as to the scope of issues it does and does not cover.

  • make-it-go

    Was on the train between Mt Albert and New Lynn yesterday for the first time in a very long time.

    The underpass access to Mt Albert Station is filthy. Rubbish everywhere. Apalling condition. Doesn’t matter if the station is to be upgraded or not…no underpass should be in that condition. Wouldnt take one person more than 15 minutes to clean up the entire area. Come on AT, pull finger and get 2 people out there to clean up….its a 5 minute job.

    The rail corridor between Mt Albert and New Lynn is strewn with dead vegetation and rubbish. As there are weekend closures coming up to do traction work on that stretch of the line, clearing that dead vegetation and picking up the rubbish at the same time would be so easy to do. Come on AT / Kiwirail, clean up your road…no other road in NZ looks like that!

    • Louis

      Mt Albert is a disgusting station, one of the worst on the network in my opinion.

      • Sean S.

        Mt. Albert is certainly shoddy, but it’s sadly nowhere close to being the worst. (That said, I can’t speak for the underpass at Mt. Albert, as I’ve only ever been past the station.) Otahuhu, Greenlane and Westfield stations are similar to Mt. Albert but have fewer shelters. Te Mahia and Takanini are worse, in that they have only old shelters made of brick. The shelter at Takanini is particularly crumbling. Penrose isn’t great either; its station building is pretty crummy.

        Fortunately for commuters on the Western Line, most of the stations on it look pretty nice now.

        • Matt Clouds

          The Southern Line is treated as the red-headed step-child, it seems. Abysmal service levels, a multiplicity of crappy stations (if Mt Albert is the only one on the Western Line that’s shabby, you’re lucky), and little hope in sight. Greenlane is awful, Westfield should be shut entirely (it’s so far away from anyone that it’s unsafe to be there alone at night), and Penrose is a tacky-looking maze – and that’s three stations out of five between Newmarket and Otahuhu.

          • There are full stations upgrades happening all along the Southern Line over 2012, 2013, so dont worry, those stations will come up to the quality of the Western line stations within the next 2 years. Simple things however, like cleaning up underpasses / accessways to those stations not yet upgraded, will make a big difference in the minds of the travelling public, along with regular trackside rubbish / dead vegetation / pest plant removal. Come on AT, get your act together on this. Cleanliness and neatness starts now…not ‘after’ a station has been upgraded / traction work has been completed.

        • Which is why the underpass at Mt Albert station needs to be cleaned up. The underpasses at Morningside and Ellerslie stations are as clean as whistles. Wouldnt take more than 15 minutes to get Mt Albert’s into the same state and that alone would make people use that access way far more I believe than they are at present. A liftle cleanliness goes a long way. The lighting in the Mt Albert underpass also needs to be checked to ensure its working properly…it may not be.

          • The Trickster

            The girlfriend and I were discussing moving in together and I suggested that maybe we look in town and she can get the train to work – apparently an absolute no-no due to the dodginess of the Greenlane underpass (she works at Ascot) – bad lighting, homeless use it at night, not exactly a place that a reasonably little 20-something female considers ‘safe’.

  • Stu Donovan

    The CRL!

  • Scott

    I remember seeing a badly outdated link bus poster In the Victoria St car-park (near the high street pedestrian entrance). Could do with an update or removal.

  • Jacky

    Hello guys
    Not only the escalator need to be fixed… The council should send a letter to nzbus of the state of the buses….

    The logo are all falling apart… Like the design of the buses are all totally gone… Wakapacific just only the grey colour n the word now… Northstar, some of the yellow graphics are all gone and some just let with the blue print n the words??? I have assumed They have spend so much on people to identified the bus why not continuing???

    And guys if u are good observer, how come all the nzbus fleet (Metrolink, go west, northstar, Wakapacific) their wheel covers are all gone and now they put those yellow pieces at the wheels.. U should see the state of it… It is all black n dirty.. The wheel is look so dirty even the body of the buses require a good wash too…

    Jacky

  • Yes, the underpass at Greenlane. AT, make sure, as part of the station upgrade, that the underpass is cleaned up, has proper lighting in there and perhaps even have the underpass included in the station CCTV network. If homeless people are using that underpass as a nightime shelter, thats likley necause of the low level of light there and the unpainted walls currently. The underpass at Ellerslie is a similar length yet, there seems to be no sign of people sleeping there at night…likely because of the whitish walls and bright lighting. Greenlane underpass needs the same treatment…and it will cost bugger all to paint up and light properly.

  • lostinsuburbia

    I’ve had the Howick and Eastern evening express drive clear past my Symonds Street stop a couple of times. My complaints were either not replied too or I was advised that the driver was in training (though no trainer was visible on the bus). In the other incidence the bus was not full and the driver indicated that I was at the wrong stop.

    Not really on given its a scheduled stop (which I must add has no shelter)

  • lostinsuburbia

    And bus maintainence mustn’t be a priority. There was an poster in a recent NZ Bus that was advertising an mobile news service for TVNZ featuring Judy Bailey. Way to capture some marketing dollars.

  • Christopher T

    Not sure about this evening but this afternoon no PIDs were working at Britomart; there was scrolling text stating that ‘information id currently unavailable’ or something. Needless to say, Veolia didn’t bother to provide alternative sources of information, not even a whiteboard, at least not at the Eastern end; it was necessary to walk the length of the station and enquire of Veolia employees as from which platform to catch your train. More great customer service from those who run our trains.

  • Veolia – always f-ing useless…no surprises there.

  • While I think of it, at upgraded stations and interchanges such as Newmarket, New Lynn and Britomart, there really needs to be automated announcements over the PA system everytime a train approaches the platform – something like this:

    “Your attention please. A train is approaching the platform. For your safety, please stand behind the yellow line.”

    The announcement should be done using a male voice – that professional sounding voice you hear doing airport announcements.

    Such automated announcements are not only a good thing to do vis a vis rail safety but it gives the station and the suburban rail network as a whole, a professional air.

  • TimR

    1. The second entry/exit to Britomart (Westpac block):
    Indicator boards in all the wrong locations / orientations to be of use when in a hurry, no PT compatible retail (newsstand, snacks, not a chance), single direction escalators that work up/down in random timings, and a hopeless piece of streetscape outside which encourages motorists to mow down pedestrians. It’s like Jekyll and Hyde comparing it to Queen St entry.

    2. Veolia’s notification texts. Always random, seldom helpful. They’ve recently starting blaming ‘heavy passenger demand’ for western line delays. What?!!! How to annoy your customers- blame them for your delays! Further, I got a text last week informing me the train I was on was delayed for this reason…but the train had about 60% of seats free at the time. I get the impression Veolia is making excuses for their performance or the (understandable) engineering delays; western has indeed been busy recently, but usually only delayed due to cramming when they send out too few coaches on busy schedules.

    • As I said before: Veolia – f-ing useless.

      Yes, the far end exits of Britomart station has the PID in totally the wrong place. It cannot be seen at all. Needs to be moved in by at least 6 metres. It should in fact be hanging from the roof. Definitely need a newstand and a bakery I think. In Korea and Japan, small bakery outlets operate at mid level in underground stations, being supplied from a main bakery further away – above ground. Often the smell of fresh bread and pastries can be smelt right down at platform level – a sure fire way of getting people to use that exit and buy along tne way!

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