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
After a month away travelling around and experiencing some of the sights and sounds if Europe I’m back in the country. There was so much that I saw and experienced that it can’t fit it in one post so I will try to present some of it in the coming weeks. During the course of my trip I think I used pretty much every type of modern transport. I rode on buses and bikes, caught planes and trains, hopped on trams and in cars, sailed on boats and above them (parasailing ) and of course walked and walked and walked and walked.
For a brief description of my trip, we started with a days stop over in Singapore before heading on to Paris. The metro system there might not be the cleanest but boy is it everywhere as there aren’t many places in the city that aren’t more than a few hundred metres from a station. This made it just so easy to get around almost anywhere pretty quickly. From Paris it was a trip up to one of Stu’s favourite places, Amsterdam where I experienced some of the things Stu wrote about in this post. Interestingly I had just finished visiting the city a few days before Stu posted it and had in my head ideas some similar ideas to write about.
Some long distance trains were better than others (this was one of the better ones).
It was then down to Koblenz on the Rhine Gorge to look at some of the old castles that line the river. Our trip then took us to Munich and Vienna, both cities which I think we could learn a lot from. They are also both cities that compete strongly in the the various surveys that rank the worlds most liveable cities and it was easy to see why. It is also important as being at the top something that Len Brown wants Auckland to achieve. We then headed further south to Venice for a bit of watery action before a mid holiday holiday in a little town called Bellagio on the shores of Lake Como. After that it was off to Nice in the South of France along with Monoco (which is just up the road/track) where we had a very Auckland type of rail experience with trains cancelled and frequently running late etc.
Lots of transport modes in this picture, I was surprised by just how many trains used both these lines and the two on the other side of the river.
The next two legs of our trip were the only ones where we didn’t get between cities using trains which meant short hop on a plane over to Barcelona. It actually ended up being our favourite city on the trip as there was quite an interesting blend of old and new buildings, especially along the waterfront. In may ways it reminded me a bit of home and why it is so important that we develop this great asset of ours correctly. We then flew back to Italy for a trip down to Siena, a small town in Tuscany where we stayed at the top of a 13th century castle outside of town which was pretty neat.
The last place we visited in Europe was Rome, luckily the worst of the heat wave they were having had passed so temperatures were only in the low to mid 30°s instead of being up over 40° like it had been a few days before we got there. We then flew back to Singapore for another night before heading back to Auckland.
I would also like to say thanks and congratulations to all of the other bloggers who helped out while I was gone. I know just how hard it can be hard to put lots of posts together on such a regular basis. Their efforts paid off and in August we set all kinds of new page view records including our highest ever day, week and month (with a little bit more yet to go tonight). Of course also thanks to all of our readers for coming and reading the site along with contributing through comments and guest posts. There are of course some topics that get much more attention than others *cough* integrated ticketing *cough* and August certainly had its fair share of them.
There are still around 20 tickets available for this event, with more than 100 sold so far. So get in quick! We’re still looking for suggestions for a place to meet up before the film. August 15 is the week after next!
With kind sponsorship from Isthmus Group, MRCagney, Auckland Transport, Odyssey Wines, CityHop and Tim Gummer Design we have a really fantastic evening with a really fantastic film in store. We thought it was a good time to offer the opportunity for a little actual mingling with the growing number of readers and commenters on the blog. For those who wish to, of course. Here’s the poster:The Urbanized documentary looks really fascinating too – you can see a trailer for it here and book your tickets here.
As a bit of fine print, money made from the event including the sponsorship will be donated to the Campaign for Better Transport as a ring-fenced donation to be used to support the hosting of this blog. We have shifted to a New Zealand based server and that means the cost of hosting skyrockets – but page loading should be much much faster. The booking is done through the volunteer efforts of Kent Lundberg at Isthmus.
I really love being involved in putting this blog together and am pleased that more and more people are not only visiting but also enjoying it. One of the main reasons I do it is that I love Auckland and want to see it become an even better place than it it already is, I also know that my fellow bloggers feel the same way. Thanks to all of you, the readership of the blog has increased steadily this year – since March we have continued to set new records, and this month we are on track to break 100,000 views for the first time.
There is a problem though – this time next week both Peter and I will be out of the country as we are away on holidays (not together of course). Peter is off to visit Vancouver for a few weeks, while my wife and I head to Europe for the month of August (trying to escape our milestone birthdays…) Because of this it is going to be very hard for us to keep up our normal volume of posts, so we are looking for your help. We know that some of you work within the industry and many are just as passionate about transport as we are, so we would love if you could help us out with guest posts. If this sounds like you then we would really appreciate your help – any ideas are welcome and we can keep names anonymous if desired. Click here for details about how to get in touch with us.
If you are interested, here is a map of the route I am travelling via train through Europe, starting in Paris and ending in Rome. There is one small flight to Barcelona and back as the timetable just didn’t work out.
I will try to do a few posts on my trip while I am away but will definitely be relaying my experiences in more detail once I get back. I’m sure Auckland Transport will be happy that I won’t be around to harass them for a little while
Lastly, due to some changes at work I will also be looking for a new job once I get back from holiday. I would love to work as an analyst in the transport industry, so if you know of any opportunities out there then please flick them my way. On the positive side, this means that I will have more time to devote to the blog (once I’ve completed the list of chores from my wife of course…)
Well, according to Open Parachute, of blogs which have a Sitemeter stats monitor across all of New Zealand – we are the sixth most widely read blog in the country. Here are the top 14:
It’s quite amazing to see how interested people are in transport matters. Our readership has also gone pretty crazy in the last few months, with the graph below showing how weekly number have increased:
From us all, we just want to say thanks for visiting, thanks for commenting, and don’t forget about our Film Fundraiser next month.
If you can see this post it means you are looking at the Auckland Transport Blog running on its own dedicated vitural server here in Auckland. Report any errors or issues here so we can take a look.
We still have a few tickets left to our fundraising event that is making this possible, be in quick!
We are currently migrating the Auckland Transport blog to our own dedicated Auckland based server. Comments are disabled for a short time while we do that.
We are all really pleased to announce a fundraising film night for the Auckland Transport Blog in August. With kind sponsorship from Isthmus Group, MRCagney, Auckland Transport, Odyssey Wines, CityHop and Tim Gummer Design we have a really fantastic evening with a really fantastic film in store. We thought it was a good time to offer the opportunity for a little actual mingling with the growing number of readers and commenters on the blog. For those who wish to, of course. Here’s the poster:The Urbanized documentary looks really fascinating too – you can see a trailer for it here and book your tickets here.
Discussion about transport can last for ages, so we’re looking at finding a place to eat/drink/chat transport in Balmoral before the movie. Suggestions will be most welcome.
As a bit of fine print, money made from the event including the sponsorship will be donated to the Campaign for Better Transport as a ring-fenced donation to be used to support the hosting of this blog. We are shifting to a New Zealand based server in the next week or two (hopefully it works this time) and that means the cost of hosting skyrockets – but page loading should be much much faster. The booking is done through the volunteer efforts of Kent Lundberg at Isthmus.
A number of times over the past few weeks we have criticised both Auckland Council and Auckland Transport for the poor job they’re doing when it comes to selling the benefits of the City Rail Link project, with a result of that being a sometimes pathetically poor understanding of the project’s benefits, what it actually costs, what it will do, what it won’t do, why an overhead option is a silly idea and so on.
As we’re not a hypocritical bunch here, we also felt that while this blog contains a huge amount of information on the City Rail Link project (this post is the 228th to use the tag), we should try to put things all together in a way that’s a bit easier to access and can also find a tricky balance between being simple enough for those not familiar with the project to get a general feel for why it’s so necessary, while at the same time providing various numbers, diagrams, graphs and pictures, along with weighty arguments – to provide some real grunt behind our conclusions around the project’s need.
So we have created a “City Rail Link” page – which you can visit by clicking on the link just under the blog title – or by clicking here. We’ve also set it up so that www.transportblog.co.nz/crl redirects to our City Rail Link page, for really easy access.
The main CRL page has an overview of the project, some bullet points of its benefits, a bit of detail on cost and a summary of where it’s at. Over time the main focus is going to be creating a bunch of sub-pages on the project’s benefits – as well as probably researching a bit more into its rather long and convoluted history (dating back at least as far as the 1920s).
At the moment, there is a sub-page on how the CRL increases the capacity of Auckland’s rail network – but over time further sub-pages will be created on all of the following reasons to build the CRL:
- To ease the pressure on the city centre’s roading network by reducing the level of future increases in buses and cars.
- To significantly reduce travel times on Auckland’s rail network – especially for trips from areas along the Western Line to the city centre.
- To allow higher train frequencies to be operated on all lines of the Auckland rail network.
- To provide sufficient capacity in the rail system for future extensions (rail to the airport, Avondale-Southdown line etc.) to be possible.
- To stimulate business activity in the city centre and other rail served centres and generate agglomeration benefits.
- To stimulate higher intensity residential development around the rail network and reduce the need for Auckland to grow via urban sprawl.
- To enable a much more efficient and effective bus network.
- To improve rail access in the city centre.
- To allow trains to be routed through the city centre and offer one-seat rides between centres on different sides of Auckland.
What we’re asking in this post is basically for a bit of help in relation to the following questions:
- Is there anything we’ve missed in the above list of broad reasons to build the CRL?
- Is there anything in particular which compelled you to think that the CRL is a really important project for Auckland, and do you think that’s something that should be included somewhere within the CRL page or sub-pages (and what is it)?
- Are there any particular blog posts (if you can find the link that’d be great!) that you’ve found really helpful in explaining the CRL in the past, which should be referred to in the page or sub-pages?
- If you’re still sceptical of the project (don’t worry, it’s OK), what information are you really interested in finding out more? What issues need to be addressed in a comprehensive assessment of the why the project is needed?
- What good information is out there on the internet (aside from this blog) relating to the project – perhaps particularly in relation to its rather long and convoluted history?
- What do you think would be really good ways to communicate some of the really key points about the project?
If this goes well, similar pages for other major transport projects might be worthwhile doing.
Readers may have noticed in recent days/weeks that the blog seems to be loading up quite slowly. Furthermore, we have been getting quite a lot of database connection errors and the like – which are just plain annoying (especially if you’re in the middle of typing up a post). Part of the problem is probably arising because we are getting more and more visitors (which is a good thing). For most of last year this blog averaged around 10,000-15,000 views a week (as recorded by the WordPress Site Statistics tool), while this year that has increased to around 20,000 views a week – with two weeks exceeding 20,000 recently.
While it’s great that the site is getting more and more widely read, we think that it’s time to take things to “the next level” a bit. This involves a few things:
- Shifting the blog onto a better webhost. Bluehost, based in the USA, is just too unreliable for us. We are looking into a New Zealand based hosting company.
- The above process is likely to increase the costs of running the blog, so we are looking at finding a way of easily accepting donations to these running costs (we prefer this option to having advertising).
- Possible changes to the blog’s layout – which (according to Josh our former admin) hasn’t changed much since mid 2009.
- Developing a series of permanent pages, linked from the main blog, on major transport projects around Auckland – a kind of ‘one stop shop’ for information on those projects, but with links to particular posts for further detail.
As readers of this blog, you are what makes this place work so well. So we are very interested in any ideas you might have for making this place even better – particularly in relation to the above.