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2013: A year in review – Part 1

Over the next few days I’ll be doing a series of posts recapping the year before beginning the new year by looking at what we can expect in the year ahead. For me when it comes to transport, 2013 was always going to be a bit of an “in progress” year. By that I mean that a heap of projects (both PT and road) would be advanced throughout the year however there would be nothing major completed that would fundamentally change transport in Auckland – that will change in 2014. For this post, I’m just going to be recapping public transport.

Electrification

Infrastructure

Wires are now a familiar sight across much of the rail network with primarily just the Eastern Line and the inner parts of the Western Line still to be completed however this was originally meant to have been completed by September. Back in May we revealed that the project was running late and is unlikely to be fully completed till March/April with Kiwirail saying it will be all done by the time the first electric trains are running in April. Britomart and the Eastern line are the focus over the Christmas shutdown and as I was in town yesterday I popped into Britomart which was a hive of activity and flashing lights with crews and vehicles working on each track.

Wires about to go up at Britomart

While the case for extending electrification to Pukekohe came out in 2012, the new development that is now expected to occur along the rail corridor thanks to the Unitary Plan is likely to help bring forward the need and justification for it. At the other extreme of the network Auckland Transport announced this year that the Waitakere station would close due to a combination of stubbornly low patronage and high costs to run a diesel shuttle service. The outcomes of two more stations – Westfield and Te Mahia – are still under review after it was suggested they would be closed too.

At Wiri the new state of the art depot to maintain our new electric trains was completed in time for the arrival of the first train.

Electric trains

The first of our new electric trains arrived at the end of August and staff have been busy testing it. Since then it has been joined by three others with more due to arrive soon. The trains are arriving at a rate of two every month till December when they increase to four per month. From my personal experiences of riding on them, I think they’re fantastic and people will be surprised when they first get to try the out next year.

SECOND EMU_7047

City Rail Link

The City Rail Link perhaps provided the biggest surprise of the year when in June the government suddenly turned around and agreed that it was needed and said they would help fund half of it. This was quite a change from the position they had previously taken, especially their earlier responses including to the City Centre Future Access Study which even Ministry of Transport officials had been a part of. It is believed a large part of the reason the government had such a change of heart was that their polling was showing a lot of unhappiness amongst Aucklanders about the lack of support towards the regions preferred transport and housing solutions.

While the announcement saw the government finally support the project it doesn’t mean they agree with everything about it as the government don’t want to start the project till 2020, roughly the time the council want it finished. They have set some aggressive but potentially achievable targets for starting early. Regardless some parts of the project will actually start next year (or in 2015) following an agreement between the council and Precinct Properties (who now own the Downtown Mall) for part of the tunnel to be built when they redevelop their site. That removed potentially one of the biggest issues from the consenting process which has been proceeding fairly quietly in the background. We should hear the results of that in the new year.

We here at the blog had been getting pretty frustrated with the way the project was being sold by AT (and others). Finally in November we saw a decent effort by AT with this video.

Integrated Ticketing and Fares

Integrated ticketing has one of those projects where if something can go wrong it will, frequently stumbling from one issue to the next with deadlines frequently missed as a result. The project had already been delayed multiple times in the lead up to 2013 and this year showed no sign of that changing with more deadlines missed. This year we were told the roll-out of AT HOP to buses would be completed by the end of the year however issues with the change overs pushed that back again. Birkenhead, Urban express and NZ Bus buses have now all been converted to AT HOP and fingers crossed the rest will be complete within the first few months of 2014. It will mean that for the first time people will be able to get around the city on PT with a single ticket (which is different to a single fare).

While getting integrated ticketing is a good step, integrating fares will be one of the keys to unlocking the system and making it more usable. While it has always been mentioned that integrated fares would come sometime after integrated ticketing, many at AT had previously given off the impression that it was more of a nice to have and there had been no real push. From what I have heard there has be finally been a shift and realisation within AT that integrated fares are desperately needed, especially to support the new bus network and as such work has been going on behind the scenes on this so it should become a reality.

New Bus Network

Early in the year we saw that there was a hugely positive response to the Regional Public Transport Plan of which one of the key features was the new bus network. This enabled AT to go out to the first detailed consultation which was in South Auckland. Once again there was a overwhelmingly positive response to the proposed changes. Auckland Transport deserve a lot of credit for this result as wasn’t just that the new network was good but that AT took their time to explain the reasoning behind it. Despite consultation now being complete in the South, we won’t actually see the changes made till 2015 as AT still need to work though significant issues like contracting with the bus companies. The video below is one AT put together to help accompany the consultation and explained excellently much of what is happening.

Patronage

Patronage growth was fairly stubborn throughout 2013 after a poor few years partially exaggerated by the Rugby World Cup. However there have finally been signs of improvement in the last few months, especially on the rail network. I suspect we will start to see some decent growth occurring once again in 2014.

Dec 13 Total Patronage

Other

Along with some of the big projects mentioned above, below are some of the other important things that have happened over the year:

Anything major PT wise I’ve missed? Upcoming posts will look at and recap what’s happened with road network, walking/cycling, development/planning and finally the blog itself.

40 comments to 2013: A year in review – Part 1

  • Gary Young

    Do we know yet how the catenary wires will be supported within Britomart? I’m wondering if they will be held up in some kind of gantry that is designed in keeping with the style of the station itself.

    Was the original station design future-proofed for overhead wire installation?

    • As MFD says below, solid bars are being used rather than catenary wires. On platforms 1&5 they have attached brackets to the walls that will hold the bar up while on platforms 2-4 they going to be hanging them from the ceiling.

  • MFD

    I recall reading that solid bars will be used rather than catenary.

  • Adam W

    An excellent summary from the last 12 months, and clearly shows something I just don’t understand – why is there so much resistance from our right wing MP’s? In other countries like the UK the right wing government is building Crossrail, and there are other examples – why are our NZ MP’s so damn backwards?

    • Sacha

      Because over several decades we swallowed the neolib koolaid about freedom and individualism and private enterprise always being best, and we discarded collectivist beliefs (across both left and right) more thoroughly than the UK has until their current government. How Thatcher envied us.

      Net result: cars = personal freedom, trucks = glorious private enterprise, buses and trains are outright socialism.

      Fundamental political mindset shift needed, and frankly some forced retirements at many levels.

    • JimboJones

      I think it isn’t that they are right wing it’s that most senior national mps are not from Auckland and honestly don’t think we need or want pt. as for jk he probably lived in London for years and never caught the tube! Hopefully even if labour can’t win this election they can at least bring the pt and unitary plan issues to the surface in Auckland and win enough votes to scare national into doing something.

      • Sacha

        Fortunately we don’t need to rely on that one party to raise the issue into political consciousness regardless of the election result. This blog, GenZero, the Greens, cycling advocates, etc are doing a great job.

        National’s own polling already convinced them to be more cunning about supporting CRL in exchange for some motorways and sprawl.

      • nonsense

        yes but then Nats should at least build pt for the plebs so their rich friends can drive easily, no?

          • Most discussions about party politics don’t get beyond simple side taking, I note for example, jonno, that you refer to anyone without your politics as being ‘biased’: a perfectly circular accusation. However there are interesting questions about about whether the standard generalisations around Transit and politics in NZ are shifting or not?

            Will, for example, the brand new transit system we are getting conform to the long held [US + NZ] stereotype of being only suitable for the poor and the cranky and therefore not attract support from the wider community? Just more ‘loser cruisers’? Or will it be attractive to the city’s whole population? Will Auckland have a service that could make meeting Peñalosa’s maxim below possible?

            “An advanced city is not a place where the poor move about in cars, rather it’s where even the rich use public transportation”

            And I think it is clear that this could well be the case. The new trains are absolutely fantastic and if AT, Transdev, and especially KR, can manage to run them with at least a 10 minute frequency all day from the outer stations and long into the night reliably then they will set an amazing standard that both the ferries and the buses will have to try to match in both service and kit [It is not enough that are great; they have to also perform brilliantly too].

            I was recently interviewed by a documentary crew from Montreal for a Discovery Channel documentary on cities and they were amazed at home clean and civilised Britomart Station is and this reminded me of the great advantage of having to rebuild our systems from scratch- now that it’s happening- everything is new and almost every user is new. Standards are high.

            My prediction is that quite soon the complaint from those who have long considered themselves above riding transit will shift from demanding that no money is spent on it but rather that all the money is spent in their area and on their chosen mode. In particular I expect, and in fact can already see, a good part of the noise from the North Shore being about wanting their own rail line rather than opposing other places improving theirs.

            This state of affairs comes with its own problems, as getting the balance right between top end high capex solutions that serve a smaller market lavishly or spreading that love around to more people on less glamourous investments [usually buses] is still politically difficult. But is an argument of a completely different nature to the one even ten years ago. This kind of debate is observable in places, like the UK, where every type uses Transit: It becomes a contest for meeting one set of need over others…. bring it on; what a revolution for Auckland!

            Then there is the issue Nick raises above of an urban/rural divide. Personally I think this is the more real issue. Arguments in Auckland are starkly different from those in the countryside and in particular are problems of growth. Much of the rest of the country [outside of diary sector] does not have the luxury of this problem. We can expect fear, misunderstanding, and some envy/insult. But Auckland’s size and growth means that even the provincial party can’t truly ignore the city.

            But still we should ask: Is the other political block more sympathetic to urban issues? Probably, going on their statements but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be extremely sensitive to accusations of neglecting the ‘heartland’, also they will not be given the free range on economic issues that the party with the reputation, if not the record, of fiscal responsibility, enjoys. Who ever is in charge will view us from Wellington.

            So should the government change next year you can expect exactly the same scrutiny from this blog of their actions…. possibly with a harsher tone if disappointing decisions are taken because expectations have been raised pretty high for the outcomes and processes we argue for.

            If watching National try to accommodate it’s urban constituents has brought surprises [CRL support] then watching Lab/Green accommodate the rest of the country will be interesting too:

            This blog will not be out of business.

          • SteveC

            I think that you make a valid point about the rest of the country not understanding Auckland, Patrick. Earlier this year Duncan Garner and Guyon Espiner did a “does Auckland suck the life out of the rest of the country?” show on the Vote, the majority view was that it does, when the reality is that Auckland’s a cash (tax AND excise) cow that funds a significant portion of the rest.

            With earthquake recovery playing such a part of Christchurch’s mindset, no-one really has the same issues. Tauranga, with its growth seems in thrall to NZTA.

          • jonno1

            An interesting read Patrick, although a bit long – I’ll try again later. I may even agree with you.

            But on a couple of your early points: I am apolitical in the sense that no party fully reflects my worldview, which is (putting it somewhat simplistically) both morally and fiscally conservative. Maybe a National/Conservative/Maori coalition would work, or maybe it would self-destruct like the present one.

            I was initially puzzled by your claim that only the poor (whoever they may be) use PT, until I remembered Len Brown’s publicity stunt, so maybe you’re right in general terms. Regrettably I don’t fit your stereotype. In my early career I commuted by PT (train) until I reached manager level and was required to use a car. Fast-forward to the introduction of FBT when suddenly company cars went out of fashion. Shock, horror, by then I had moved into a high-density area within walking distance of my office, so dumped the car. Now I work from home and only use a car for site visits and on weekends. I occasionally use a train although mobility issues make that difficult, however the new EMUs look far better in that respect. I haven’t ridden one yet, but then I haven’t asked to either.

          • Not my stereotype; just that old left/right pro transit/anti transit cliche.

    • jonno1

      Agreed, an excellent summary. Adam, the short answer is “It’s the economy, stupid” (not you personally!). Now I’m well aware that this is a hard-left blog (Green good, National bad, Labour so-so) – Sacha’s and Nonsense’s comments exemplify that bias – but may I suggest that the following factors are behind the current government’s approach. I would appreciate it if anyone who chooses to respond considers these points first.

      (1) The GFC which started in 2007 and is only just beginning to recede (NZ being in a better position than most western nations); (2) That while the early 2000s were prosperous years, Sir Michael Cullen managed to blow the surplus prior to the 2008 election (this was quite deliberate, and he was very proud of it); (3) The Christchurch earthquakes.

      So would a change of government in 2014 further the cause of more PT in Auckland and elsewhere, or set it back? I’m thinking long-term, not short-term handouts. I put it to you that the CRL and other PT projects have a much higher probability of success under a National-led government (and indeed under a right-wing council) than under any other combination of administration, simply due to better economic management. For example, Auckland’s Labour mayor totally failed to secure the CRL funding that he promised by the end of his first term.

      One more comment: I’m well aware that National has incurred substantial debt on the road to recovery. I don’t like that either, but the pain would have been much greater without it.

      • Sacha

        We’ve had extreme right-wing monetarism where other nations have had milder versions. There are pros and cons.

        Cullen paid down our government debt before the GFC but yes, his outgoing govt sprinkled lolly like interest-free tertiary study loans vainly trying to match the offer of tax cuts. And yes, English and Joyce borrowing billions to maintain social security spending and suchlike has saved us much of the the pain other countries have faced. Not all.

        Putting aside argument about whether the Nats have ever been particularly good economic managers when in government, their current attitude about the focus of transport investment and land use doesn’t stack up even in their own terms.

        Hence the pretty consistent opposition to it here, regardless of party politics.

        Our children and grandchildren all need to inherit smarter urban design, more urban public transport and strategic rail and sea freight links to go alongside our huge existing investment in roads made of oil. That’s not going to happen while decisionmakers at all levels (eg NZTA, Auckland Transport, Auckland Council) are usurped by governing dunces who can’t see past the ideologies and experiences of their own narrow lives.

        I’m confident the 2014 election will offer a distinct focus of transport policies from left and right party blocs. And over the time it takes to subsequently deliver on them, I’d say no difference in ability to pay.

      • Jonno – While many of our commentators have strong political bias’ that doesn’t mean that this blog is. There have been a few times when the government have done the right thing (or tried to like in the case of FBT) and we have happily supported them in those cases. In fact it’s quite nice being able to write posts in support of something the government is doing.

        The National government get a lot of spotlight on here due to them being the government of the day however intend on holding any future Labour/Green governments to the same standards because I’m sure that there are some members (from Labour) who would be quite happy to continue with motorway building if it got them votes. The previous Labour government really started the current splurge by building/starting a heap of motorway projects in their time and Michael Cullen was very negative towards rail investment in Auckland for a long time, only really be turned around by sustained efforts (and probably polling). For example the only reason we got the New Lynn station in a trench was because Cullen was dragged out to New Lynn to show the impact on car traffic when the then infrequent trains came through. What both the previous Labour and current National government changes of position should tell us is that we need good advocacy and public engagement so that people better understand the issues.

        To be honest I don’t think the generally hostile PT stance we have seen from the government as necessarily a reflection of the party but primarily the ideological beliefs of a few influential senior members, particularly Steven Joyce and Gerry Brownlee. There were reports at the time that the primary opposition to the governments change in support for the CRL came from those two. By comparison comments I’ve seen from others, like Bill English for example, have been much more open to the idea providing it stacks up economically.

        • jonno1

          Thanks Matt, point well made. I almost changed “blog” to “commenters” before posting but decided to await a response. I agree that you and John P in particular stick to factual information, which is why I come back here, to be informed. And I recall lobbying Dr Cullen strongly for double-tracking and electrification back in the day (yes, me!). But not to buy back KiwiRail at an inflated price (sigh).

          That said, most KiwiRail staff are fully committed to improving the network, especially those involved with the AEP. While it’s true that construction has not achieved the original target dates, it will be completed progressively in time to meet proposed train running targets. Newmarket to Britomart is being fast-tracked to permit running EMUs between Britomart and Onehunga from April 2014, while I think the next phase is the eastern line, then the southern, then the western (sorry Matt).

          And Sacha, my apologies for misunderstanding your position, maybe it was the “neolib koolaid” comment that got me going! It’s true that if Labour ever regains power it will undoubtedly wish to continue motorway building; whether its coalition partners will be so keen is moot. But the basic problem of economic management remains – there’s no-one currently in Labour or the Greens who comes close to Bill English’s skill in that area.

          I’m sure none of us wishes to return to the “think big” days when National was more socialist than present-day Labour. Ironically, it took Roger Douglas to turn things around under a Labour banner.

          • Nick R

            Personally I think that the Greens have the best transport policy for Auckland, and I suppose quite a few here agree with me. That doesn’t make me necessarily far left, or even a Green voter or supporter, it just means I agree with their transport policies. Likewise with the National party, they claim to be centre right but they’re certainly not fiscally conservative, especially not in terms of road building. So disagreeing with their policy doesn’t make me anti-right either, it makes me anti bad transport policy.

            As others have pointed out there shouldn’t be any of this pinko tree hugger left is public transport and big business richie right is roads only crap, but unfortunately that’s the way it gets aligned.

          • Greg N

            Jonno,
            We commentators don’t pretend we are, nor do we need to be neutral, The moderators, are, and from what I see are fair.

            As for ongoing Electrification project delays, some delay is accepted, but the true onus here is on KR (and TransDev as well after KR) to deliver a faultless rail system from the roll-out of the EMU’s, this is not just the overhead wires, but the signalling, the trains, and the tracks as well – so that the day to day operation of the trains is flawless.

            KR have had plenty of warning and time to get the whole Auckland system fully up to date and electrified and so they need to deliver big-time starting in 2014, and keep delivering, a way more reliable system than we have ever had until now. I don’t doubt the KR staff are dedicated, but I fear that with the KR finances and budgets the way they are (i.e. not good) that too many corners have been cut with this project – in a not so obvious way – that won’t show up until we get to the promised 10 minute frequencies (e.g. no proper back up for the Wellington based Train Control system to name one obvious issue).

            I also don’t see why the entire system can’t be fully electrified by the end of this summer. Its not like we ordered the electric trains last week. And this continual shutting down the train system which is now seemingly in KR’s plans forever from now, while KR have another crack at Project Re-Planning 101 seems too much like yet more worrying evidence of the penny pinching in the extreme I mentioned above. All of which will server to undermine the network longer term.

            If too many issues happen (and some might say even 1 issue is 1 too many) then the whole investment and new trains, timetables, and new Bus Network will be called into question by the public (and government) and thus be rendered null and void. And they will show this as they stay away in droves from PT.

            You don’t hear people (or the politicians) blaming the motorway when a crash on the near new Newmarket viaduct backs traffic up for many hours,
            No instead they talk about adding a second motorway, or widening the first one even more.

            We don’t get second chances with the rails – no one in the current Government sees that spending any money on trains or rails is worth it – so it has to work period.
            From the get go.

          • Yes the issue is not so much the KR workers on the ground but the management and project people. I’ve heard for example that the delays are largely about KR not giving the contractors enough time with the network shut down each night as they have been wanting to run more trains seeing as that is what makes them money. I’ve also heard of other issues with the way the project has been run that I won’t repeat on a public forum. A lot of the problem seems to come down to KR being so focused on the short term that they ignore the long term stuff and end up getting caught out as a result. I think one of the major problems is they are primarily a freight company so are focused on how they deliver that. The Auckland (and Wellington to a lesser extent) are a distraction for them in running their freight business. Yet from what I hear the fees Auckland has been paying for track access and driver hire (ends in new year as drivers transfer to Transdev) for passenger trains have largely be subsidising KR’s freight operations.

          • jonno1

            Greg, all valid points, except I can assure you that corners are not being cut, at least not on the AEP – public safety and network performance are paramount. In fact the construction delays, at least to some extent, reflect the view that near enough is NOT good enough. Sure, some of the early planning/design could have been done better; some other issues could not reasonably have been foreseen, but are now being addressed.

      • Greg N

        The government of the day (which ever colour they represent), always comes in for criticism, as typically they are the only ones who can and are changing the rules.

        So yep, as National is in power, they’ll get the brickbats now, when Green/Labour get in, they’ll get them instead.

        ” I put it to you that the CRL and other PT projects have a much higher probability of success under a National-led government (and indeed under a right-wing council) than under any other combination of administration, simply due to better economic management.”

        Perhpas, the jurys out on this.

        As this is same economic managment wizards who brought us Think Big the last time the government “doubled down” on non-Road Transport?
        The opportunity costs of those poor decisions we’re still living with today, some 30+ years after the fact.
        And I don’t see that the current lot has done anything much in the last 20+ years to address these issues much either.
        It was also a National Government that purloined the EQC’s predessor of its strategic cash reserves, and another one that exacerbated the Christchurch ‘quake insurance situation by implementing the capping of EQC payouts at $100K and reduced levies on insurance cover, so that come the quake EQC couldn’t cope..
        And wasn’t it this Government that manufactured a crisis within ACC and massively hiked ACC levies and reduced coverage as well. This crisis seems to have blown over, except for the motor vehicle account which is still in full crisis mode until the books balance – and mostly as I read it because the ACC fund managers have done spectacularly well out of the overseas economic recovery rather than due to actual “hands on” management of ACC.

        So yep, I agree, they are really capable economic managers these National led governments.

        I also note in passing that two of those “managers” – namely Banks and Birch, robbed (and I mean robbed) the Auckland City Council (and thus all of us) of more than half their Auckland airport shares in the guise of “reducing debt”, If those 12.8% shares had been kept and not sold, the dividend flow from those shares over the last 7 or so years, and in the next 20+ years would have gone a long way to paying the Auckland Councils part of the CRL (or even the full cost of the EMUs without needing Treasurty to clip the interest ticket as they do now) and then some.
        .
        And don’t also overlook, that by selling down that share Auckland Council doesn’t have anywhere near a majority shareholding in Auckland Airport – one of the biggest actual and potential traffic generators (as either a destination or source) we have in the city. And Council could not now obtain one even if it wanted to as it would have to buy out all the other shareholders, Before with the Auckland councils 25%, the Manukau Councils 9% and North Shores 7%, it would have had an effective Majority control of the Airport now even though it was a minority shareholder. I could for instance be able to exert pressure on ensuring that Auckland airport doesn’t expect the council to pay for its PT or give it a RoNS to its door.

        So, yes, while we may get a CRL under National it will be in spite that fact (and with a bundle of riders like SHAs), not because of it.

    • Nick R

      I think the issue is that fundamentally we don’t have a conservative party, in the sense of fiscally conservative. We have a country party who act in the interests of big business, in this case agriculture and construction. They aren’t fiscally conservative as evidenced by their desire to spend billions on rural motorways that are unfundable by any conventional analysis.

      New Zealand as a whole has an antipathy to all things urban. Despite 80% of us living in towns and cities there is the feeling that cities, especially big ones, are wrong and un-New Zealanish. I get the feeling that most cabinet members would find the idea of living in a terraced house and catching a train to work an affront to their personal identity.

      The UK doesn’t have such problems, it and it’s people are unashamedly urban and are well beyond pretending that London doesn’t exist and thinking the whole country is one big rural estate.

      • Greg N

        We have neither a true Conservative party ala The UKs one, nor a upper House in Parliament (any more) to ameliorate or modify any legislation proposed by any Government.
        The Conservative party lead by Craig is more akin to the Mad Hatters Tea Party currently it seems, but who knows they may get their act together (no pun intended) at some stage.

        Because of this we get true extremes left and right as each party that forms a Government generally gets its way (whatever it is), with little or no external review (Treasury doesn’t count, since the Gov’t can and does override Treasury).

        So we get a lot of ideologically lead policy “thrashing” at each change of Government, (a bit like the sun magnetic poles have just done), and this causes a complete reversal of the previous “status quo”, which has to be undone, then the new policy “done”, then get rejected in short order by the next government.

        In the long run this thrashing leads to a form of stagnation and is probably one (just one mind you) of the reasons over the longer term our economy has moved away from that of Australia, who have 3 levels of politicians – State, Federal and Senate) – which is probably 1 level too many.

        In the UK, many of the left and rights more extreme political schemes including Thatchers were dashed upon the Rocks of the House of Lords.
        [And the House of Lords is not without its own problems either].

        Which is why Thatcher admired NZ so much, as she knew that here, her extreme schemes would be able to be implemented unimpeded at teh drop of a hat, unlike in the UK where they could not be.

        Its not everyday that you hear comments from me about wishing you had more politicians in power, but maybe there is some merit to reconsidering this idea at some stage?

        As Winston Churchil said “Democracy is the worst form of Government, but its better than all the alternatives”.

        “I get the feeling that most cabinet members would find the idea of living in a terraced house and catching a train to work an affront to their personal identity.”

        True, even if the “minions” in the Civil Service who carry out their bidding do exactly that (or used to anyway), while the Minister drives everywhere in his Crown Car with Driver.

        To draw a link with Churchill again, while he may not have travelled the tube or trains on a daily basis (other than in 1st class of course), he would have known quite well the great benefit that decent public transport gave to the nation as a whole, so while he would not have first hand experience of using it, he would not dismiss it outright either as a sop to the masses like the current lot here seem more than willing to do given half the chance..

      • Simon C

        I couldn’t have put it better myself Nick. That’s why we’ve had naieve and ignorant comments this year along the lines of Auckland’s getting too big and can’t cope with another 1million people and its population should be capped.

      • jonno1

        Nick, I accept your point about fiscal conservatism, however politics is the name of the game, ie a sudden massive reversal by National of Labour’s spending excesses would have been political suicide. While National supports agriculture – why wouldn’t they, it’s a key export earner? – I don’t think they can now be categorised as a country party; that went out with Holyoake. I remember the West Taupo Road being upgraded and sealed under his watch, which I was told went past his family holdings. Still, I’ve used it ever since in preference to SH1, so can’t complain.

        • Stu Donovan

          Jonno, I’m a bit late to this thread, but I do take issue with your description of the blog/bloggers are “hard left”. Politics is far from our minds most of the time, unless it has direct transport implications.

          My own personal political views are best defined as “passionately moderate” and I have praised/criticised politicians of all stripes when they espouse positions that I consider to be detrimental to Auckland’s quality of life.

          The other thing to throw in the mix is that most of us bloggers are 1) relatively young and 2) relatively urban. These two characteristics alone suggest we are more likely to vote left of centre, on average.

          So my gut feeling is 1) our opinions on transport are fairly apolitical and 2) our political preferences align with those of the general population from which we are drawn. None of which supports the suggestion we are “hard left”.

    • Gary Young

      I think there has always been hostility to public transport from the right of politics. I also think much of it has to do with snobbery, ie ‘only poor people use the bus’ or to put it more bluntly ‘I don’t want to mingle with the unwashed riff-raff’.

      As for trains, Thatcher famously remarked that she had never used a train in her life and would, if she could, shut down the rail network and convert the lines into motorways. This points to an utter disconnection with the reality of moving large numbers of people and high tonnages of freight around a modern country. This same disconnection currently exists in the Beehive, I believe.

  • SteveC

    a bit of personal review means that a copy of Vuchan Vuchic’s “Urban Transit, operations, planning and economics” dated 2005 and the TCRP “Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual” published in 2003 are available free to a good home

    both sit at the technical end of the PT planning spectrum, but remain good resources

    if you’d like either or both, respond to this post and we’ll sort something out

  • Simon C

    Matt L, one of the most disappointing things for me this year is the continued vandalism of our new infrastructure. Maybe it’s about time this blog had a look at this issue. A lot of money from ratepayers and taxpayers has gone into our PT system over the last few years to help make it more attractive to current users and appealing to prospective users. Also there are the workers who have put in days and months building the infrastructure, and local artists who have put in a lot of effort to make new infrastructure look good and add a bit of local heart. Yet, continually this new infrastructure is attacked a short time after it is opened. Honestly, it broke my heart a little bit to see the Mt Albert Station less than one week after opening scratched on both the shelters and the canopy linking the overbridge and the station. Again just before Xmas I noticed many of the shelters at Newmarket now badly scratched, and despite full-time securityin attendance. Yet not a single word from AT that they have at least caught the perpatrators despite cameras at the stations. As I said, a lot of time and money has been spent upgrading our rail PT network yet we seem to be happy to let it go to ruin soon after completion. One wonders whether the same fate is in store for our new trains. Recent history wouldn’t suggest otherwise. It’s obvious that AT doesn’t take enough pride in its infrastructure otherwise we wouldn’t see this happening. IMO it’s a real mark of disresepect to those that worked hard to make those improvements a reality.

  • patrick

    Another project completed was the Papakura station, which looks very smart.

  • Yes and a big one at that Matt was missed

    As of when I last emailed AT in October, they are due to release their Auckland wide Rail Strategy to the Infrastructure Committee (and AT Board) in March next year.

    I gather the following with be covered:
    1) Grade Separation Program
    2) Westfield and Te Mahia Stations’ fate
    3) Glenora Road Station as a decision has been asked for (again)
    4) Manukau South Rail Link – a decision is due there are extensive lobbying
    5) Pukekohe Electrification – but that has already been mentioned above

    And as Patrick said – the Papakura Station being completed :-)

  • Sacha

    Thank you for reminding us of the recent CRL clip by Auckland Transport. Great example of a local authority organisation responding to feedback.

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