Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Policy, finally

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  • BenWilson,

    Cleaner cars? Fine. More efficient cars? Excellent. More styly, reliable, powerful, gadget-filled cars? Even better.

    No cars? Yeah, right.

    If public transport doesn’t work, then figure out how to make it work ! Don’t trot out the same string of rubbish supporting the belief that it can’t ‘cos it’s Auckland.

    How about you figure it out? I'll be interested in your solution to how you can get public transport to be as fast and convenient as an automobile. Seriously.

    As for the commuting problem, I have the same solution as Russell, working from home. But I don't see the hundreds of thousands of people who work in the city as "sad and self serving" or polluting bastards, just because they haven't been able to organize their lives the way I do, and insist on travelling hundreds of kilometers every week just to get to work.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8026 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    No cars, not for a long while, fewer cars easier.

    i) Don't build more roads, wait for roads to get full.
    ii) Set up congestion zones.
    iii) More and multiple lanes given to PT exclusively.
    iV) Work to a two stop structure for PT timetabling.
    v) Light rail, crikey I'd even settle for trams and this is from a cyclist.
    vi) Fix the school run madness and don't let kids drive to school !.
    vii) Give a tax break to guys like yourself, Russ and many others who set up to work at home. Extend the tax breaks to those businesses that support you.
    viii) Free wireless zones on buses.
    ix) More flexible working hours for adults.
    x) Better internet infrastructure - online shopping conferencing etc.
    xi) Out of hours delivery services.
    xii) Integrated regional ticketing for existing services.
    xiii) Make it cheaper for people to relocate and at the same time narrow the perceived disparity between schools.
    xiv) Build proper cycle lanes and legislate to protect their use and those that use them.
    xv) Nuke all 4WD that park on the pavements because they are perceived to be too big for roadside parking - and while you are at it nuke the drivers too or at least send them to cities who have a better appreciation of what is possible because they have already done it.
    xvi) Remove traffic lights and prioritise pedestrians at crossings, make it illegal to stop on crossings, fix that bloomin' diamond nonsense at crossings it doesn't work any more because of the volume of traffic.

    xvii) Educate, educate, educate.

    I don't see the hundreds of thousands of people who work in the city as "sad and self serving" or polluting bastards

    I just don't believe that all the single occupancy cars that I see out and about invariably contain people who are either unable to car pool and/or have an undertaking of such importance that it requires the most expedient mode of transport__all the time__. I include myself in this generalisation as well.

    From what I have read and see, in a race across London or New York you wouldn't bother taking the car any more, go figure.

    Yeah ! Jetpacks are the answer.....somebody shut me up please.....I'm getting embarrassed for myself

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 699 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Agree with all of that except the don't build more roads bit. That may achieve the challenge I set you of making public transport faster than a car, but only because it deliberately sets out to stuff cars up. Until Auckland gets much more massive, I can bet you that the car is still going to get there fastest for any fairly calculated trip. It will absolutely certainly get you there in the greatest comfort and carrying the bigger load.

    I just don't believe that all the single occupancy cars that I see out and about invariably contain people who are either unable to car pool and/or have an undertaking of such importance that it requires the most expedient mode of transport all the time.

    Probably not, but they can, so why shouldn't they? A lot of people value their time more highly than you, perhaps? Probably people who work hard in the city making a lot of money, so their spare time is not great, so why not spend some of those bucks getting some of their time back?

    Sure, if you can't afford it, catch the bus. I think buses are great and there should be more of them. And more bus lanes. Anything to get people off the road and make it faster for me. But don't go deliberately ruining the roads! That's backwards thinking.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8026 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Goode,

    Sorry completely off topic but i had to share

    If you want to know what Gordon Copeland REALLY cares about watch the United Future party political broadcast from the 2005 election.

    "Child poverty in New Zealand is currently running at 20 percent... we have been involved in implementing the working for families package which is going to reduce that to a mere 4 percent" - Copeland

    i am definitely adding him to my list of despicable socialists trying to redistribute wealth from hard working kiwi's to those lazy unproductive children who add nothing to the economy.

    Mt Eden • Since Jun 2007 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    "I'll be interested in your solution to how you can get public transport to be as fast and convenient as an automobile. "

    Ben an automobile can travel alot faster than it's allowed to by the various speed limits in place and the limits peak hours conjestion.

    Ever noticed the self satisfied smile on cyclists passing all the traffic banked up - that's me (or was before I had to tvl 20km out of town each day).

    Living 3/5 up in cities (& I say towns). Stop green field developments and start looking up. Not tower blocks of shoe boxes and infilled concrete slabs of the current urban cowboys (developers) but living spaces and communities in apartments. Thereby reducing the need to travel to work & if you still do light rail with govt subs. This of course would require a change of local body taxation from rates to a share of the general tax take.

    I have a plan for rural communities too - Villages. The idea is to build a community by bringing it closer together and not living on isolated farms. Can't do much about the high country - but that's being retired anyway.

    When I rule the world, certain ...

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • tim kong,

    daleaway,

    Not sure if it's aimed at me - story about the teachers. But I do choose to teach in Lower Hutt, because I believe in what I'm able to do there - and I believe I can make a small measure of a difference in my role as a teacher there.

    There are several schools in walking distance of my house - and yes I applied to several schools in my area, when I came out of teachers college. None of them got back to me.

    I use public transport sometimes - and I use the car sometimes.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 142 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Ever noticed the self satisfied smile on cyclists passing all the traffic banked up - that's me (or was before I had to tvl 20km out of town each day).

    Does it look something like the grimace most people get when exercising when they could be sitting around listening to music? Yup, I noticed it. I see a similar look on cyclists standing at the lights in the pouring rain trying to keep their laptop dry, or the wry smile of the cyclist employee who just realized they left their memory stick at home. Or lying on the footpath clutching their broken bones. I've had that look on my face a few times courtesy of the glorious bicycle.

    But again, it's choice if you ride your bike, one less car in the parking spaces in town. All power to you. Good luck finding that massive following, I ain't seen a hint of it yet.

    And dude, I like gardening. Put that in your 3/5. However, one more dude thinking a 3/5 is choice is one more dude keeping the suburbs affordable, so cheers all round, until you kill my road. Then you're just being mean spirited, and fully deserve to have Auckland raining on your parade.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8026 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    Mmmm; my road, Ben you must be a very important person.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 699 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    That may achieve the challenge I set you of making public transport faster than a car, but only because it deliberately sets out to stuff cars up.

    Which, in a nutshell, explains exactly the thinking of our Transport Planners. It suits them to have Auckland dissected by only ome motorway -- the more congestion the better. But since that hasn't stopped enough people driving on the motorway they have now instituted 'ramp signals' ie traffic lights to stop you actually getting on the motorway:

    Waiting times for traffic queuing on Curran St signals averaged 2.8 minutes, and Transit had begun using the signals ... to tackle increasing congestion. Mr McCombs acknowledged that this compared with about 20 seconds spent by vehicles joining motorways without waiting for signals

    Which is why back on page two I came up with the idea of Random Slapping:

    On designated mornings Police should force drivers stuck in rush hour traffic to wind down their windows and receive an open handed slap to the face...

    It may seem farcical, but if drivers won't get out of their cars and ride buses - what options are left? And BTW, I'm not seriously suggesting it - I do so merely to point out the wooly thinking of these bureaucrats. And if you want more proof:

    Their solution was to hijack two of Queen Street's four vehicle lanes for buses only. This, they calculated, would speed bus passage between the new crossings by five minutes, thus cancelling out the [5 minute] delays caused by the new crossings.

    I suppose we could start our own bus service and let everyone ride cheaply (or free!). That's a novel idea - altho' Grandad tells me that last century the ARC did actually own their own bus company and did just that. Until the National Govt forced them to sell it to Stagecoach. And now Stagecoach receive bus subsidies from the ARC greater than the price they paid for those buses! Each year!

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • JLM,

    I have a plan for rural communities too - Villages. The idea is to build a community by bringing it closer together and not living on isolated farms.

    When a friend was showing me round in Nova Scotia some time ago, she pointed out the villages settled by the French - all the houses clustered together, from which the families would depart to work their fields - and those settled by the Scots - each house on its own farmland down a long lane.

    No prizes for inferring our dominant heritage when you look at the blight of lifestyle blocks.

    Judy Martin's southern sl… • Since Apr 2007 • 221 posts Report Reply

  • daleaway,

    No Tim, not aimed at you at all. I spoke of a couple who kept two cars to drive to their place of employment which was in the same street that they lived in. In Seatoun. It was walkable in six minutes. They were just selfish lazy sods with an undue sense of their own importance.

    But while we're on the subject of you, you say you choose to work in the Hutt - but from your description it sounds more as though you had the Hutt workplace wished upon you, and you choose to live in Miramar. To quote Spike Milligan: "South America? That's abroad, isn't it?" "That depends on where you are standing."

    Who else enjoyed the infinite jest of Ben accusing others of being mean spirited?

    Since Jul 2007 • 178 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Mmmm; my road, Ben you must be a very important person.

    I'd call it our road if you weren't so bitter on it.

    It may seem farcical, but if drivers won't get out of their cars and ride buses - what options are left?

    There are so many it's farcical. The public/private transport possibilities are huge.
    *More roads, and train lines
    *More bus, bike, carpooling and taxi lanes
    *More actual buses on more routes going more frequently to more places
    *People living closer to their work
    *Work being closer to where people live
    *More park & ride facilities
    *More ferries
    *More flexible working hours

    Notice how everything I think of is "more". Not "Hey let's screw up the existing transport options, forcing people to accept worse quality transport, so that they just have to eat it, then brag that we've solved problems rather than created them".

    Who else enjoyed the infinite jest of Ben accusing others of being mean spirited?

    All the other mean spirited people. I'm not about stuffing up your options, why are you about stuffing up mine?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8026 posts Report Reply

  • James,

    How about you figure it out? I'll be interested in your solution to how you can get public transport to be as fast and convenient as an automobile. Seriously.

    We each spend at least several $1000 a year on our cars. Many spend several tens of thousands, in depreciation alone. I see some cars round Wellington that cost half as much as my house!!

    What would public transport be like if we each spent that sort of money on it?

    New Zealand • Since Feb 2007 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    __It may seem farcical, but if drivers won't get out of their cars and ride buses - what options are left?__

    There are so many it's farcical. The public/private transport possibilities are huge.[list examples]

    But that's not the point I was hoping to make Ben. You can provide endless options but people are still going to want to drive there in their own cars anyway. Witness daleaway's example of the couple who each took their own seperate cars to their same workplace at the end of their road.

    So when you've done everything you can (at great expense to ratepayers/taxpayers) to encourage people onto public transport and yet still they won't budge from their cars, what options are left? Random Slapping?

    Will more money solve the problem?

    [ARC Chair Mike Lee] was bemoaning the fact that despite an 89 per cent increase in subsidies since 2004, from $45 million to $85.1 million, Auckland bus patronage had increased only 1.2 per cent - or within the statistical margin of error.

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    Driving a car in the in 07 is a bit like smoking in the 70's discuss.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 699 posts Report Reply

  • tim kong,

    "But while we're on the subject of you, you say you choose to work in the Hutt - but from your description it sounds more as though you had the Hutt workplace wished upon you, and you choose to live in Miramar."

    Will try to explain better.

    We bought a property in Miramar, while I was still training to be a teacher - my wife has a job in Miramar, so that made sense. Tried to find teaching work in local area, but wasn't able too.

    Job offer was made at a school in Lower Hutt. Wanted/needed a job - so took it. Have reconsidered job at times, because of practicalities, impact and time factors of commute. Used public transport and alternated single car use with partner for two years - and only bought a second car in the last 3 months.

    As said, I still use public transport at times - but like any choice it's weighing up benefits and disadvantages. Sometimes public transport works better for me, and sometimes taking the car works better.

    And yes - I might be able to now - with some experience as a teacher, get work in a local school. But I really enjoy my current job, despite the stresses and strains, and I work with good people, doing imho, good things. And that counts for a quite a bit, in how I choose to live.

    I am aware of the environmental impact of driving my car, I do my best to minimize journeys, and I also recognize that if I had to ride a horse to work, I'd still have an environmental impact on my surroundings. And neighbours. ;)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 142 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    What would public transport be like if we each spent that sort of money on it?

    Heaps better. And cars will be heaps better by then too, so I'll have one of those thanks. Then it will be all round choice, rather than not particularly choice if you're a commuter, and heaps worse for everyone else.

    I don't see the big cars vs public transport dichotomy. It can be both. It should be both. It will be both.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8026 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    So when you've done everything you can (at great expense to ratepayers/taxpayers) to encourage people onto public transport and yet still they won't budge from their cars, what options are left? Random Slapping?

    I think I get you now. You think it's futile? I don't think so. Definitely more people need to get into buses and trains so more facilities for those things will be needed. And more needs to go to the roads too, which can be developed at the same time. If train-lines are being built then the roads are getting major works anyway.

    I'd love it if there was a good cycle lane all the way to the city and through it. And bus lanes to make using the bus fast. And lots of express buses using the motorway, where I am most likely to be. And trains beside and under. It's all good and it all should be worked on.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8026 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    I'm so gonna steal this

    "Driving a car in the in 07 is a bit like smoking in the 70's discuss."

    Although in far more agreement than not, I would like to quibble over "choice". We only choose the options open to us by govt & because of the sell offs and abdecation of Govt responsibility onto private sector/person for getting from A to B, it's a mess.
    Where govt has still kept an interest in transport its alot better - (Republic of) CHCH is the best in Australasia.

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    If I have understood this correctly then:

    a) The government re-nationalise key transport infrastructure ?

    b) Cantabrains still don't get out much <wink>

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 699 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    So when you've done everything you can (at great expense to ratepayers/taxpayers) to encourage people onto public transport and yet still they won't budge from their cars, what options are left?

    I thought it was quite obvious - put a whacking great 'sin tax' on petrol and imported cars, just as the Government currently does with tobacco. I have to travel from the North Shore to Newmarket every Thursday to record my PA Radio piece, and public transport isn't as convenient as taking the car because unfortunately the timetables don't magically realign with my convenience. But it's sure cheaper and marginally kinder on my blood pressure.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11617 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Handwringing over comparisons of public transport uptake in NZ with that in other countries strikes me as somewhat unrealistic.
    Public transport is always going to be more expensive per capita in NZ than in almost any other country, purely as a result of our low population density.
    Some crude back-of-envelope calculations. Compare Tokyo with greater Auckland: they're roughly the same area, but Tokyo has 20 times the population, which allows for a very efficient, convenient, yet cheap, public transport system. Especially as regards the train network. Inside the central 23 wards (pop=20M), generally there's less than 1km between train stations in any direction; trains run at least 4 times an hour, from 5am-midnight, 7 days a week; for any journey over 2km, tickets end up costing less than 100 yen/km (i.e., under $NZ1/km); services run rigorously to timetable. (Buses inside the 23 wards have a flat fee of 200 yen, though service is less regular than the trains.) Under Tokyo conditions, all of this is possible, and even profitable for the transport operators (which include some private companies).

    Now try doing the same thing with 1/20 the population. Even being conservative and ignoring economies of scale, if it's to be profitable you'll get at most 1/20 the service, i.e. services once every 5 hours(!) on average, and/or stopping only (on average) once every 4.5km, and/or costing $NZ20 for an average journey of a few km. Clearly, no-one would ever want to use such a patently inconvenient "service". In particular, $1/km probably would be close to the maximum viable fee level (seeing as most people could walk it in 10 minutes).

    Hence, a PT system good enough to use under NZ conditions requires massive subsidies from city councils/local bodies/central government. Getting to Tokyo standards would require 95% subsidisation of the actual cost. (Note that even 90% subsidisation doubles the cost to the commuter, pushing it over the viable maximum.) Christchurch actually comes close (journeys are more expensive than in Tokyo, though not onerously so). Wellington buses, by contrast, are generally less frequent, more expensive, and deviate wildly from timetable (and the Wellington train network is worse on all three counts). Auckland doesn't even come up to Wellington's mediocre standard.

    So, if the service is any less convenient (lower frequency/ lower network density/ higher cost) than some critical level, then public transport will not be chosen over cars wherever the latter are available. Some critical mass of service is required before a critical mass of the public will choose to use it. Councils can't expect the users to show up until the service is available.

    The fact that increasing spending on Auckland's PT system by 90% only increased usage by ~2% thus indicates only that even the improved Auckland PT system still sucks, and needs to have far more spent on it to reach anything remotely like an equivalence with private cars under NZ conditions. (But there are clear limits on what is practical; there is no possible environmental benefit if the average bus service has less than 2 passengers!)

    The other side of the coin is that in Japan it is, as a matter of policy, considerably less convenient to own and run a car than in NZ: vehicle licensing and inspection costs are notoriously high; and fees for parking and for using motorways will almost always be more expensive than the public-transport fee. Presumably NZ could adopt similar policies to reduce the competitive advantage of cars.

    --Robert

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 808 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    Robert -

    I would agree up to a point but figures like this can be misleading.

    From what I understand, part of Tokyo's efficiency rests with a competition not unlike the "how many can I fit in a mini" game at peak times. Similar experiences are shared on PT systems the world over; but less often in NZ. From this point of view, what constitutes a critical mass might be somewhat less than people think.

    If there has in fact been a 90% increase in the spend; one must be careful to divide the absolute costs from the relative costs, investment from operation, as well as inflation and of course the rather ridiculous subsidies for private companies.

    Along similar lines the real costs of the alternative need to be considered on the balance sheet. A case in point, is basic mitigation of pollution which will either require changes or relocations to a number of schools. The impact on public health is rarely factored into these calculation despite some very real costs.

    I'm just very wary of arguments which lend themselves to putting the PT/car problem in the too hard tray. Financial arguments of this type just aren't that clear cut.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 699 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    BTW. Can I have a quote on Sin Tax for Brian the Bish's; Boat,Explorer and Harley.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 699 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    81stcolumn: I'm not sure how you'd get a level of service better than Tokyo (with more space per passenger), without "ridiculous subsidies". The point I was making is that 95% subsidisation of all costs is pretty much a minimum to provide a level of service that is desirable compared to cars, at NZ population densities. Still, you're right that the true (environmental) cost of cars isn't being weighed in that comparison. I should clarify -- I didn't intend the cost of providing that level of PT as an argument for not doing it. Say Auckland currently has 90% subsidy of PT costs; that still means the service isn't at that critical level yet (so the lack of uptake is unsurprising). But the more hopeful conclusion is that a further 5-10% increase in expenditure might be enough to create such a service level as to increase passenger uptake. (Or, putting it another way: councils court the worst kind of failure, in the form of an expensive but unused PT system, if they start with "how much can we afford to spend this year?" rather than "what will commuters want to use?")
    -- Robert.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 808 posts Report Reply

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