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A perfect example of why we need alternatives

The truck crash outside the Victoria Park Tunnel today highlights the problem of relying solely on one mode for transport for the city as well as how important it is to be able to have reliable trip times.

Police said the truck and trailer crashed into the back of a stationary vehicle before rolling just before 1pm. The drivers were taken to hospital with moderate injuries, police said.

Michael Mason, a passing motorist, said all four lanes of traffic were backed up about a kilometre.

“The truck has flipped on its side and it’s taking out the whole motorway.”

Now events like this, despite there being two within a week, are random and when they do occur can cause absolute chaos. Unlike peak hour it is very hard to work around them which means often you can have no choice but to get caught up in them so for those poor souls stuck in their cars, there is very little they could do. But it isn’t just a truck crashing, how many appointments were missed, or deliveries delayed as a result of this incident. How much would those caught up in the chaos given to have had an option that would have allowed them to avoid the risk of such an incident happening?

To me it shows why we need to continue to invest in public transport, especially the kind that has its own right of way that private vehicles can’t access and so is able to avoid congestion. Whether that be a fully dedicated busway across the harbour, including its approaches or a rail line under the harbour the important thing is we have alternatives in place. AnĀ independentĀ and modern network would have high reliability and would give some certainty to travel times. I might not do much for those already stuck in the traffic but in the future how many would continue to choose to drive, especially for things like important appointments if there was a risk that the actions of someone else could delay you in such a way?

23 comments to A perfect example of why we need alternatives

  • This is exactly why we need an additional motorway crossing the harbour, right?

    • haha don’t even know if that is worth an answer. The proposed AWHC separates out CBD traffic (bridge) from through traffic (tunnel) it means that an accident on either one would result in people having to funnel through the CBD to get to the alternative route. I imagine that would cause a lot of chaos.

  • Feijoa

    Would this be the reason my bus was stuck in a queue from Kingsland right back up to Mt Eden Rd at 5:30pm, or some other incident? The worst I’ve seen, but unfortunately no way to avoid it as the flyover means New North Rd cannot have bus lanes for about 1km.

  • Jacky

    Honestly the transport authority should follow the world standard that it cannot overtake vehicle or changing lanes when inside the diameter of the entrance and exit of the tunnel.. The amount of changing lanes inside the tunnel. It is the driver asking for trouble…..

  • This is of course a short covered trench rather a tunnel, though the driver experiences it as a tunnel. And it certainly has the characteristics of a tunnel. Which is to say it is a poor place to run fumey vehicles carrying highly flammable fuel, especially under the control of the usual assortment of borderline incompetents that occupy our roads.

    Contrast the record of this only just opened ‘tunnel’ with the oldest ROW run by Transport for London, and the oldest underwater tunnel in the world: The Thames Tunnel dug by Brunel and opened in 1843. OK so trains didn’t run through until 1869, and the weren’t electric at first. And it has suffered neglect and squabbles over its repair, but it is still run with trains today and has done without accident.

    http://www.eastlondonadvertiser.co.uk/news/london_orbital_line_close_to_completion_on_overground_s_5th_anniversary_1_1689579

    Yet NZTA want to send our drivers by the thousands through real tunnels under the harbour…. Rocks in their heads. Or at least Roads in their eyes; when all you’ve got is a hammer every problem looks like a nail….

  • Karl

    Normally your posts make sense and are worthwhile – looking at the number of times in the last 3 weeks that my train has been delayed or cancelled completely the phrasing of your argument here seems farcical

    • I’m well aware of our current rail systems reliability which is why I specifically mentioned a modern system, something we won’t have till we get all of our new trains running which won’t be till 2016.

    • obi

      Road transport mostly bypasses problems because of the massive multi-path redundancy. Except around single-route choke points, such as bridges, cars are generally able to leave a blocked road and take a secondary route to their destination. The secondary route may be unpleasant and complicated, but you’ll get to your destination eventually. Road users can bypass “signal” failures by slowing down, being cautious, and being polite to other road users. Road travel isn’t prone to strike action, and is only marginally prone to weather issues.

      By contrast, rail is inherently prone to failures. Trains can’t go off-track, and there is almost certainly only one rail line to your destination. There is a complex system of signals and control centers. You can make the system more modern and the rate of failures lower, but some failures will always cause complete stoppage of the whole system.

      When I lived in London, a few of those complete failures included: Trains broken down on the line ahead; Suicides; Bomb threats; Signal failures; Staff striking; Snow; and quite spectacularly, the complete failure of the electric system because LU were generating their own power at a couple of ancient old coal power stations.

      • Liz

        And yet my 11km commute in London was faster and easier than my 11km commute in Auckland. Guess which one was by train?

        The issues you mention do exist, but I’d gladly put up with them on occasion for a faster and more pleasant journey the rest of the year. And I’d definitely rather be stuck on a train than stuck in a traffic jam.

        • But anyway the issue is the resilience of the city’s networks as a whole. And Auckland is so mono-modal that that in itself is a risk.

        • obi

          You’re correct. When the rail system functions correctly it is very efficient. I’m only talking about failure modes, where rail often experiences a system-wide failure in response to a minor component failure. It is very hard to design around that… I suspect that adding redundancy that will automatically fail over in response to failure often just adds to system complexity, and therefore increases the chance of problems. It also can’t compensate for some failure modes.

          On the whole, I think Auckland is a pretty resiliant city. My impression is that there is more redundancy in the power system now than there was at the time of the spectacular failures of the 1990s. The Harbour Bridge is a huge risk, since none of the alternative routes are able to compensate for the loss of the Bridge, and also because the recovery time for some complete Bridge failure scenarios. There should be a second route from the North Shore to the CBD, and a rail tunnel would be adequate in my opinion. If I were the national government I’d be very nervous about both our international submarine cables landing in north Auckland. I think if a second cable to Australia is ever built, there is a case for landing it somewhere well south of the city and bringing it to a hub in, say, Hamilton.

          • Feijoa

            You are forgetting that rail is much less susceptible to many types of failure because of its more prescriptive design. The truck spinning out of control was spectacular, but nose to tails happen everyday in Auckland on the roads causing. Likewise crashes at intersections because of the flexible/uncontrolled way roads operate.

            By contrast collisions on rail (outside level crossings) happen very infrequently. You don’t get head-ons except in disaster scenarios. Trains don’t drop their cargo on the track like a car or trailer does on the motorway every day. If somebody runs a red light there will be a full enquiry. All vehicles are ‘roadworthy’. Etc.

            There is resilience too, in terms of double tracks and even our old unreliable trains can be towed.

          • obi

            There are nose-to-tails all the time, but how often do they stop people completely rather than slow them down, or force them to take a small detour? I think I’ve only had to stop for an accident once this year. It was west of Mt Tongariro, I could have driven an alternate route, but I stopped because it was a nice day and there were helicopters and fire engines. The incident yesterday was widely reported mostly because it was rare and serious.

            “There is resilience too, in terms of double tracks and even our old unreliable trains can be towed.”

            I was stuck at Wynyard in Sydney a few years ago. I was attempting to visit my sister on the north shore, but a train on the bridge had its electrical collector gadget tangled in the overhead wires. If they towed it, they would have taken the wires out. Luckily the buses were running and they were adding extra ticket-free buses to shuttle people across to North Sydney.

    • TimR

      Yeah, but wasn’t it great walking to the station faster than the gridlocked traffic that night. I didn’t know what had happened, but you could tell something was stuck as far away as Britomart…

  • Dave Howick

    Yes – agree weak point. Train reliability still seems to be very dubious from repeated signal failures, yet millions have been spent on signal upgrades etc.

  • It turned out that re-opening the Wellington St onramp was even more worthwhile than thought- during yesterday’s chaos it was turned into an off ramp, enabling all the cars stuck behind the accident to get off in Freemans Bay and take the “long way” round to Fanshawe and Curran!

    • Liz

      It still existed. They could have opened it for this purpose without having it as an on-ramp.

    • Bryce P

      I would argue that because the Wellington St onramp was open, traffic through Freemans Bay was heavier than it would otherwise have been. On the NW they only indicated that the link was closed and i remembered that the onramp was open so headed for it rather than Fanshaw only to find there was no turning back. There were many others that had the same idea.

  • KBilly

    Ummm, there was already an alternative in the form of SH16 and SH18. Traffic was able to re-route onto the north-western.

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