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A letter from a reader

Last night I received a wonderful letter from a reader that I thought I would share. Warren I can tell you that myself and my fellow bloggers really appreciated it, especially the bit about Patrick, so thank you very much

An Appreciation and more……

From the time I discovered the Auckland Transport Blog, a little before Josh Arbury discovered his dream job of Transport Strategist at Auckland Council and relinquished his editorship of the Blog, it has become a mandatory daily viewing for me.

I am particularly impressed by the quality of the analytical work of the blogging team and their amazingly sustained commitment to the noble and economically justifiable cause of a better transport system for Auckland. I have also been impressed with the very rapid comment responses to issues which have arisen and the quick posting of pertinent radio interviews and answers to questions in Parliament (TV) which I would otherwise have
missed. My wife and I appreciated the film evening initiative at the Capitol Theatre in Dominion Road.

Above all, I have appreciated the tenor of the Blog – it is always well mannered.

It seems to me that with the possible exception of Patrick Reynolds the blogging team is very young which makes widely scoping analytical work even more creditable. And I enjoy Patrick’s pithy comments. He has the ability to get straight to the nub of an issue and on occasions get the discussion back on track.

Personally I am in the older age group and thought you may appreciate some comment from a senior citizen.

I well remember the trams all passing through Queen Street before dispersing to their respective suburbs. We frequently took the Meadowbank tram through Newmarket and Parnell to Queen Street. It then went up Queen Street, turned right into Karangahape Road and finished up at Avondale. The City Rail Link will allow the same efficient utilisation of Britomart with an up to date Metro system.

Over the years we have de-humanised parts of Auckland’s CBD. For a long time I have felt dismayed at one way raceways, such as Hobson and Nelson Streets, extra wide motorways with more than two lanes in each direction, continual motorway extensions into the countryside which only encourage distant living and make close–in motorway entry points more difficult and so on.

Even though I am a natural conservative I am disappointed at the present Government’s wasteful Roads of National Significance programme and appalled at their failure to revise it, in view of changing circumstances and trends, and the now increasingly evident business case deficiencies. This intransigence is not smart government. And being fairly widely travelled also confirms the belief that the CRL is vital for all the reasons set out in the Auckland Transport Blog.

At the time of the last general election the local Campbells Bay Community Association arranged for all North Shore Electorate candidates to address a meeting and answer questions. When I asked Maggie Barry what she would do if elected to persuade her party colleagues to abandon the “holiday highway” in favour of the CRL she made this out to be a stupid question and blathered on about supposed benefits to the Northland economy.

I have been greatly impressed with the quality of Julie Anne Genter’s questions in Parliament to Steven Joyce and more recently Gerry Brownlie and singularly unimpressed with quality of their answers. In order to extend awareness and to de-mystify the benefits of the CRL to my Rotary colleagues I invited Julie Anne to address our Rotary Club last October which she did, performing with credit.

A better Auckland ?

I am not an architect but architecture has been my hobby all my life and I have travelled the world to follow this passion. I have built two houses using the services of an architect for both. The architect for the first house was the Czech, Vlad Cacala, at the time not recognised by the New Zealand Institute of Architects, but now considered an icon of New Zealand Modernism and the subject of an exhibition in the Auckland Art Gallery a few years ago. We lived in this house for 28 years and brought up our family of four in it. But by 1990 I had worked my way through Modernism. Much of it had become bland, boring and repetitive. Many early examples had not worn well. Furthermore, other unsuitable designs (aping Mediterranean dreams) for our wet and windy climate led me to choose an updated arts and crafts design from Dunedin architects, Mason & Wales for
our new home. It elicits favourable comment from strangers, is comfortable and a joy to live in.

Intensification for the growing Auckland is inevitable and I support it but generally favourtownhouses/apartments of no more 4 to 7 storeys in most instances, as with the possible
exception of New York such cities are the most satisfying to visit – for me at least. They could possibly be higher in the CBD – maybe.

Once upon a time city buildings were built for their intended occupiers and reflected that ownership and status. Now developers develop buildings for letting and the most personality an incoming tenant can aspire to is usually limited to naming rights. It would be nice to think that in the CBD we could attract one or two say Louis Sullivan or even Quinlan Terry type buildings. Overseas I detect a return to some classically designed buildings but regretfully I don’t think New Zealand owners or clients have the inclination or ability to produce other than more bland mediocre modernist structures.

My Transport Conversion

Being self- employed (and nearly retired) I am not a commuter. When I need to visit the city I drive over the hill and catch a northern busway bus from Sunnynook. It is fast enough and enjoyable. If I want to go to a location beyond the city I go by car over the bridge.

When I first received my Super Gold Card I didn’t use it because I was of the view that senior citizens should pay their own way, as they were often more able to do so than other citizens. More recently I have realised that there is an element of promotion of public transport with the Gold Card – anything that gets people out of their cars to be publicly transported or walk must have some merit.

In recent months I have travelled on Wellington’s Matangi trains to the Hutt admittedly in off peak times. For the user they are quick, clean and efficient. I hope that we do not wait too long for the CRL to be completed and that it together with the new EMUs revolutionise travel in Auckland. We deserve it.

So thank you for the fantastic Auckland Transport Blog

 

28 comments to A letter from a reader

  • Warm fuzzies. Nice to know you’re getting great feedback, team :)

    Let’s not forget the foundation that Mr Arbury left for you too either; thanks Josh!

  • Robert

    As another conservative I agree with many of the sentiments especially about the current government. Very disappointing, they all seem to be carrying on in this term with their heads up their…….. They seem to want to follow what the dying US economy did 40 years ago which is not what NZ is about.

  • Rob Mayo

    Nice letter Warren and I certainly agree with your comments Robert.

    It might have been politically ok to trash rail transport in the 1990s – a time when there wasnt nearly as much discussion and general agreement about the value of rail but in this day and age where rail is accepted by many similar conservative governments overseas as being crucial to economic growth, this National government penchant for running down rail usage – freight and passenger, is downright bizzare.

    The more they continue along in this completely out of touch way, the more Barbeque John and his mates’ lining of their own pockets, are lining themselves up for a permanent fall end of next year…or perhaps they know that already and are making as much hay for themselves as they can before their shareholders kick them off the board at the 2014 AGM.

  • Adam W

    Hear, Hear – What that man said.

    It has amazed me how addictive this blog has become, and for all the reasons in the first half of the letter. Such top level analysis, all done so quickly and backing up everything with evidence.
    Plus I sent an e-mail to Matt about the trains from Onehunga linking out west when I first arrived back in the country from the UK and had only found the blog . I asked Matt if he knew anything about this, and he sent an excellent detailed e-mail which explained all. Talk about providing excellent service to those wanting to know more about Auckland and its transport issues.

  • Auckland has come a long way in the last 20. Its great that there’s lots of people who have a vision of a great future for our biggest city. Its just a shame that the government doesn’t yet share this vision.

    • Stu Donovan

      the way I see it the Government (of whatever ideological persuasion) will eventually have to respond to what people think. So if the ATB can support informed and critical public debate on transport issues (from the number of hits this blog receives I suspect we already do) then eventually this will filter through and influence government policies in some way. I realise it may take a number of years for this to occur, and it is unlikely to influence this government very much, but I feel it’s a worthy objective nonetheless. We have to start somewhere.

  • Kent Lundberg

    I’d be keen to organise another film event or other social function- maybe a speaker or Pecha Kucha night.

  • James Ish

    Hi chaps
    I don’t often post but it seems most appropriate to extend my thanks to the effort and quality involved in up keeping this blog. This is also a daily read for me and I personally find it incredibly encouraging that there are some great minds wanting to make this city prosper.

    Good work chaps! Keep up the excellent work and the one voice to influence growth in an awesome city.

  • I second what the letter said. Well done to the Auckland Transport Blog.

  • I did appreciate his remark “that senior citizens should pay their own way”. It often disappointed me to see, for example, people paying the full fare with the last coins in their wallets while a well-to-do older couple got on the bus free of charge when they could easily afford the full fare. I could go on but it’s probably better off in a blog post than a comment! :)

  • NCD

    Warren put it well- thanks for the hard work, the respect for others, the great vision for a better Auckland.

  • Jon Reeves

    Yes team, you do a stellar job!

  • Ari

    Let us not forget that many senior citizens have spent decades contributing to the country and now live on fairly restricted means.

    Also, great letter!

  • Cheers team, this blog has almost single handedly raised the profile and quality of the transport debate, and urbanism more generally. Props.

  • Kefs

    Great letter from Warren. I hardly ever comment, but I visit this blog daily and wanted to give my thanks as well. Most days it’s the first thing I read, before the papers (or even work emails haha).

    As an Aucklander, I appreciate the effort from all contributors to this blog – both posters and commenters. There have been so many insightful posts and I especially enjoy the provision of analysis/data to support the claims made rather than being motivated purely by ideology. This blog, along with the Skyscraper City forums, has made me realise just how awesome Auckland is already and how much it could be improved with the right ideas – the kind of ideas this blog continuously examines and promotes (the CRL, making the city more pedestrian-friendly, the concept of cities as places for people and human interaction, intensification around transport hubs etc).

    Keep on keeping on guys.

  • Hear hear… being a relatively new Aucklander, this blog gives me a much needed dose of optimism for the city. It really is top level discussion and analysis, and very appreciated – keep up the good work!!

  • JohnP

    What a lovely letter, and a great tribute to you bloggers. Like a bunch of people, I check this site daily (often several times a day – I should probably scale that back a bit!) and it is great to see how active and vibrant it is. This is the only blog I’ve ever really bothered with, and it is a great thing that you guys (and Josh Arbury, and the readers) have created here.

  • Sanctuary

    And I would like to echo the writers words as well, I have found this blog invaluable to any sensible conversation on PT in Auckland and I learnt a great many interesting facts here!

  • Nick Iversen

    WTF? “the blogging team is very young which makes widely scoping analytical work even more creditable” – how does youth make analytical work more creditable? It is simple not true. Experience leads to better analysis.

    • Patrick Reynolds

      Nick you may rate your analytical skills but clearly your comprehension could do with a little work; ‘creditable’ means worthy of credit, it seems you are confusing it with credible. Warren is saying pretty much what you are; that we normally associate keen analysis with experience so it is even more ‘worthy of credit’ that these young bucks are doing it.

      This of course i can say because Warren expressly excepted me from both the age group and the praise. Outrage!

    • Well we all wait with bated breath to see your well thought out contributions to the transport debate Nick… The editorial team here do it all in their own time, they’re not paid to do this. Posts are well thought out and evidence based. Certainly a more valuable contribution to the quality of public debate than some other popular blogs I can think of…

      • JeffT

        Yes, a bit unfair of Warren with the age comment, Patrick. I am heartened to read this letter. I have expressed my discontent before that a generation who spent on roads and little on Auckland rail provision now have free PT travel, paid for by current and future generations.

        But this is an unfair generalisation as evidenced by citizens such as Warren who have been keen advocates of PT services. Aside from the vocal support of a few from older generations, many have not had the say in how their taxes and rates have been spent on raod/rail infrastructure. Nor had the ability to voice their wishes through their vote as their has been little difference in political party policy. Although I would be encouraged to know that their had been vocal support for rail/tram services in the past.

        I’m not sure I’d be too concerned about being brushed off by Maggie Barry whose not exactly an expert on much (gardening excepted, of course).

        Cheers Warren and ATB team.

  • Could you send this letter to Brownlie as well?

    Sign yourself ” a typical Nat voter”, that might wake em up!

    And yes, this Blog is excellent…

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