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Transport Issues

I am a passionate believer in everybody and everything being able to move freely, efficiently, and economically throughout the city combining the best of public and private transport. Buses, cars, trains, vans, trucks, cyclists, pedestrians should all be able to get where they want to go in the fastest, most comfortable, and most economical way possible.

We have a highly dysfunctional transport system in Auckland.

There is a a vast waste of money and human resources in public transport through duplication of routes, inefficient timetables, bad placement of bus stops, lack of priority lanes and priority for buses at traffic lights  and a dysfunctional roading system. There is also vast excess of noise and emission pollution, and wasted time.

Responsibility for this must rest with Auckland Transport and Auckland Council. Approximately 1,000 staff collecting aroud $70 million per annum in wages with a budget of over $800 million are producing little to show for it. It is outrageous that Auckland Transport are taking 3 years to roll out their simplified public transport network when it could be done in 6 months by competent people.

Current Issues:

1. CENTRAL RAIL LINK.

No more money should be spent on the City Rail Link until the new technology systems of SKYCABS and MISTER have been checked out. Auckland Council are spending around $180 million this year (2013/2014) on planning and land acquisition for the CRL. It would take a few thousand dollars for a team of competent engineers to examine both SKYCABS and MISTER and if their examination stacks up around $10 million to build a test track and test the system. This could be done within 6 months and a line (either system) from Britomart to the airport (via Symonds St ridge, Hospital, Newmarket, Royal Oak, Onehunga, Mangere) with branch line from Britomart via Albert St Ridge, Grey Lynn, St Lukes, Mt Roskill, New Lynn, Onehunga)  could be functioning within 3 years for LESS THAN $500 MILLION.  If the promoters  of both systems are correct you could also get a line from Newmarket to Ellerslie, Panmure, Pakuranga, and Botany within that cost!). For little more a line across the harbour bridge to link Takapuna and another to Glenfield can be provided.

Hundreds of millions are being spent on the CRL and AMETI initiatives which would be redundant.

Why would the current outgoing Council not even examine these proposals but continue with their blind obsession with the CRL? I have no idea. We need people with more vision, ability, and courage in the new Council and Local Boards.

Congestion at Britomart is a huge problem for trains. Many trains have to stop and wait before entering or leaving Britomart, even with the improved signalling and control. This will only increase as services are increased with the introduction of the electric trains. Fastest and most economical way to solve this is to cut and cover under Quay St an extra track (or two) from the Eastern line to platforms one and two. This could be completed by mid 2015. The government's time line for the CRL is to start in 2020 and complete by 2026 or 2027. Len Brown's time line is to start in 2016 and complete by 2022 or 2023 - even though he has no idea how it is going to be paid for! In the meantime congestion at Britomart will increase, the best possible public transport system for Auckland cannot be introduced, and massive disruption to Albert St will be experienced during construction. The latest census statistics have called into question the excessive growth figures for Auckland's population on which the case for the CRL was based.  There simply is no case for the CRL to go ahead!

A much better solution is to build a viaduct/bridge across Stanley St from just north of the new Parnell railway station to Constitution Hill and cut and cover under Waterloo Quadrant to a station at Albert Park/Princes St. SEPARATED WALKWAY AND CYCLE WAY MUST BE PROVIDED. This could be linked to the historic tunnels under Albert Park and fits with city plans to make Victoria St a main pedestrian and cycling east-west connection. It serves the University and Symonds St ridge. It could be completed by late 2015 by competent City and Transport authorities and cost would be closer to $300 million than $3 billion. Alternate trains from the west and south would use Albert/University and Britomart. The problem of congestion at Britomart is solved as well as providing a much better service between Parnell and Symonds St/University. It does not conflict with plans for a new technology public transport system on the Symonds St ridge instead it provides a seamless connection.      

2. INTEGRATED TICKETING - the new Novopay?

Auckland Transport have signed a contract with Thales for over $100 million to implement and maintain their HOP integrated ticketing system. It was supposed to be fully implemented in 2012! It was implemented on trains in 2013 and seems to be working adequately. It was implemented on Birkenhead buses and some other small North Shore bus services and was withdrawn after a few weeks because of 'technical problems'. Grand announcements were made that it was to be rolled out on other services in August, 2013 but that has been 'delayed indefinitely'. It seems the system was not logging off the HOP cards as it should.

Fare log ons and log offs are transmitted from the buses to a central computer system for calculation of the fare. There are huge problems with reliability of transmissions from moving vehicles. This is one of many reasons why I am adamant that unlimited travel passes offer the best solution where the reader on the bus only has to check that there are sufficient days left on the card. The unlimited travel system could have been implemented 6 years ago for under $10 million with much greater reliability.

 Over $100 million spent (squandered) by Auckland Transport for a system which is not even working. There are huge questions that have yet to be answered about the fiasco of the introduction (and subsequent removal) of the Snapper Card system. How much did Steven Joyce lean on Auckland Transport to force its introduction when Auckland Transport did not want it? Would it have provided a more economical and better alternative to Thales? Are Snapper going to sue Auckland Transport for forcing its removal - when the reason for its removal was stated to be that it was not compatible with the Thales system?  

It was quite bizarre to sit in on an Auckland Council Transport Committee meeting in August where Lester Levy, Chair of Auckland Transport and some of his senior officials were being questioned by Councillors to hear him say that "he was frustrated as he could not find out what the Thales system was capable of, his officials tell him one thing, and other people tell him another". This was in relation to the withdrawal of the $14 day travel pass (a very bad thing) and the huge increase in fares for some North Shore residents ( a very very bad thing). Auckland Transport officials say the $100 million system is not capable of processing these. The $10 million unlimited travel pass (including $5 for one day) is fully capable of handling this (a very very good thing). 

 

Airport and North Shore Rail links?

Forget them until Skycabs and Mister have been checked out.

There is actually no case for them anyway!! The busway works well on the North Shore although it is underutilised through the inability of Auckland Transport to provide a connecting network. There is room for development of this service.

The people who advocate for extending Auckland's rail network seem to have no idea of the cost of building and operating rail networks.

For Instance the MANUKAU CITY extension was built at a cost of over $40 million dollars. IT COSTS AROUND $900 TO OPERATE A DIESEL DMU BETWEEN BRITOMART AND MANUKAU CITY and is scheduled to take 40 minutes. A bus on a Supermaxx regular 10 minute service primary route costs around $80 and takes 25-30 minutes depending on time of day. A bus operaing the express service where a round trip per hour can be operated costs about $50 and takes 20 minutes! I use the Manukau service occasionally and usually there are 6-10 of use the Manukau station - costing over $100 each to transport us there.

Rail services are mass movers of people. There is simply not sufficient mass of people wanting to travel between the airport and CBD. The vast majority of people travelling through AucklandAirport are not travelling to and from the CBD. Many are joining domestic flights or travelling by car or bus to areas outside Auckland. Many more are travelling by their own own car, taxi, or shuttle to other parts of Auckland. Tour operators will still use their own charter vehicles for the convenience and comfort of clients. THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO WOULD USE AN AIRPORT RAIL LINK ARE INDIVIDUAL BUDGET TOURISTS, CBD RESIDENTS, AND MAYBE THOSE WITH BUSINESS APPOINTMENTS IN THE CBD. We need to understand that an average of 180,000 passenghers pass through Heathrow airport every day, 35,000 through Auckland. Even Sydney with its much higher passenger count than Auckland is a financial disaster and has had to bailed out twice. Keep it in the 30 year plan if you must but don't waste money which we do not have planning for thinsg which we do not need and will not be viable. Spend it instead on checking out SKYCABS or MISTER.    

 

AMETI - AUCKLAND MANUKAU EASTERN TRANSPORT INITIATIVE 

Vast sums of money are being spent on this. At an open day on the 16th October, 2010 in panmure I asked Opus whether they had considered new technology transport solutions instead of the very expensive roading ones they were promoting as a SKYCABS line from the city to Botany could be built for less than the AMETI bus lanes. Their reply was that it was not in their brief, therefore they would not consider it. I am sure they appreciated that a SKYCABS line would deprive them of some very lucrative ratepayers fat.

 

AUCKLAND TRANSPORT FIASCO FRIDAY 9TH SEPTEMBER, 2011                       

Auckland Council meeting Wednesday 14th September with reports from Auckland Tourism, Events, and Economic Development Ltd (ATEED) and Auckland Transport.

 

 

ATEED

Apart from the fiasco of grossly underestimating the number of people attending the downtown area I only have two questions for ATEED

DID ANYONE ASK THE POLICE TO CLEAR AN AREA IN FRONT OF THE FERRY BULDING AND QUEENS WHARF ON FRIDAY AFTERNOON TO TAKE THE PRESSURE OFF THE QUEENS WHARF GATE AND FENCE AND PROVIDE ACCESS BETWEEN THE FERRY BUILDING AND BRITOMART??

IF NOT - WHY NOT?

When I was down in the area between 5pm and 6pm it seemed a totally logical and simple thing to do. THERE WAS NO GOOD REASON THAT I CAN SEE FOR CANCELLING THE FERRY SERVICES AND TELLING FANS STRANDED ON THE NORTH SHORE TO FIND THEIR OWN WAY TO EDEN PARK.

The extension of the fan zone to Captain Cook wharf will ease the load but will still not provide a family friendly venue for the enjoyment of all such as the Mayoral Drive to Victoria St entertainment precinct zone I have been advocating for the past 2 years. MURRAY MCCCULLY AND JOHN KEY WERE ASKED TO INVESTIGATE AND IMPLEMENT THIS SHORTLY AFTER THE QUEENS WHARF FAN ZONE WAS ANNOUNCED. Problem may be that an alcohol free (apart from already existing on licences) area would not suit John Key and his liquor industry mates, and a major sponsor of the tournament. Key is refusing to effectively address the issues of alcohol abuse in this country - some of which were evident around Queens wharf and viaduct last friday night. 

On the 13th July, 2010 I wrote to John Key and Murray McCully suggesting the Queen St block off from Mayoral Drive to Victoria St family friendly alternative including Aotea Square activities and Civic Theatre big screen experience for those who wanted to watch the game in comfort. Murray McCully replied on the 17th August as Minister for the Rugby World Cup reiterating his (and by extension John Key's) obsession with Queens Wharf.

If they do get around to using this alternative for the last 10 days of the tournament I would like to see a $10 fee for Civic Theatre tickets with the money going towards a new stadium for Christchurch.

JOHN KEY AND MURRAY MCCULLY MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR BLIND PROMOTION OF QUEENS WHARF WHICH WAS ALWAYS GOING TO BE TOO SMALL AND NON FAMILY FRIENDLY - EVEN BEFORE THEY CLUTTERED IT UP WITH A SLUG (CLOUD) AND RUGBY BALL. Both should be fired on November 26!!

AUCKLAND COUNCIL INCLUDING THE MAYOR, AND ATEED MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR NOT MANAGING THE DEBACLE ON FRIDAY NIGHT.   

AUCKLAND TRANSPORT

 

There is nothing in the Auckland Transport report that I can see that justifies the collapse of the rail system last friday. I have been warning ARTA, the ARC, Auckland City Council, and subsequently Auckland Council and Auckland Transport during the past 2 years that trying to move 15-16,000 fans to and from Eden Park was too optimistic and relied on a great deal of good luck - that luck ran out last friday. McCully, Joyce, Brown, Lee, Warburton and others have all had that warning and elected to do nothing about it. There is a mad obsession with trains by Len Brown and Mike Lee which may have over ridden a more common sense approach.

The so called "independent" report on the collapse of the transport system published 27th September is an outrageous whitewash. The figure of 200,000 they are quoting as being in the inner city is totally discredited and cannot be used to justify the incompetence of Auckland Transport. The simple reason for the debacle was that no one on the day had the intelligence and capability to see what was happening in the train system and to take steps to cope with it. The heads of Auckland Transport executives, its Board, McCully, Key and Brown should be donated to the  various rugby teams for goal kicking practice!

BUSES

It was absolutely astounding that only 30 buses had been arranged as backup for transport needs on friday. It is absolutely outrageous that Auckland Transport have listed the fact that buses were needed for school runs and peak services as part of the reason for the debacle. In fact having the schools in session was a plus as most, if not all, of those school buses would have finished their runs by 4 to 4.30pm and could have been immediately switched to ferrying fans to Eden Park. The problems were well evident by that time. To carry the 2,000 people seriously delayed on the trains would have required 40 bus trips at 50 passengers a time or 20 buses doing 2 trips. Some peak service buses could have been switched to this service also if necessary as many people had left town early. Additional buses could have been obtained from the regular operators and tour operators at relatively short notice. Instead it seems a state of paralysis existed with no one capable of making the calls necessary.

TRAINS

There is nothing in the Auckland Transport report which justifies the collapse of the rail system last friday night. Auckland Transport have listed 19 incidents between 1.44pm and 00.18 as excuses for the debacle.

Incidents at 1.44pm (person on track at Greenlane), 2.19pm (passenger collapsed on train at Newmarket and off loaded) , 3pm (offloading passengers at Britomart changed to Takutai square only), 3.03pm (passengers attempting to board moving train at Henderson), 3.09 (report of children on the tracks at Te Mahia), and 3.40pm (passenger faints on board due to overcrowding and is removed at Middlemore with a train delay of 12 minutes) were widely dispursed around the network and should have caused minimal delays.

4.20pm       Emergency brake buttons activated on train at Panmure causing emergency brakes to be applied. A 35 minute delay ensued. There is no mention of why the emergency button was activated or why it took so long to reactivate the system.

4.30pm       Customers force train doors open near Mt Eden and disembark onto tracks. Again no details of how long passengers had been on the train at this stage and why it was unable to offload passengers at Mt Eden or Grafton stations.

4.40pm        Customer collapses on train and is moved to platform 4 at Britomart and platform closed for 30 minutes. A safety zone certainly needed to be established around the passenger and access provided for emergency services but did this justify closing the whole platform for 30 minutes?

4.50pm         Reports of 2 people riding on outside of locomotive between Glen Innes and Meadowbank. Train stopped at Meadowbank and police called. Again no word on whether the culprits were found or how long the delay was. It would have taken very little time at the station to ascertain whether anyone was riding the engine!

5.45pm          Emergency brake buttons activated on multiple occasions whilst train stopped at Newmarket and passengers disembark. A second train is called to take passengers. Incident brings Southern and Western line to a standstill until it was clear that lines were clear of evacuating passengers.  Yet again no word as to why the brake buttons were activated. One can only assume it was through sheer frustration and discomfort at having been trapped in the train for an extended period. No word as to why passengers were not disembarked at Newmarket or Grafton stations or why this incident caused the whole southern and western line to close

5.53pm           As a result of the above another train is stopped near the Strand for 15 minutes. Customers force doors open and evacuate onto the tracks causing suspension of services in and out of Britomart. Are they suggesting that a mere 15 minute delay on this train caused the passengers to react like this??

6.23pm            Passengers repeatedly activate emergency buttons on train north of Parnell tunnel. All trains were stopped until the system was reset. Passengers were evacuated. How long had these passengers been trapped in this train and why were they evacuated??

6.30pm            Customers evacuate train between Remuera and Greenlane - forced to stop because of Newmarket incident.Customers forced doors open in response to heat and long delays and evacuated onto the tracks. Why was this train not stopped at Greenlane or Remuera station and passengers safely disembarked then taken to Eden Park by bus to reduce pressure on the rest of the system?

6.45pm             Security staff lose control at Takutai Square as a result of the number of people. Control not restored until 8pm. Why did it take so long to regain control? All passengers from  Britomart for Eden Park should have left by this time anyway.

7.30pm              A fire extinquisher used on a train at Kingsland station.Customers evacuated onto platform. Services delayed for 30 minutes. Presumably none of these passengers were going to Eden Park anyway as the train was already at Kingsland Station and any Eden Park passengers would have raced for the Park! Why then use it as an excuse? 

The additional incidents of a fight on board at Sylvia Park (8.10pm), female falling onto the tracks at Otahuhu (10.31pm) and passengers fighting on a train (00.18pm) are irrelevant to the issue of people getting to Eden Park on time.  

None of the reasons given are sufficient to cause the system to collapse as it did if competent management had been in place. Most incidents seem to have been caused by frustrations at the delays. Trains on the southern line going to Eden Park should have been stopped at Newmarket and when that station was full at Remuera and Greenlane and passengers taken by bus to Eden Park once the system started to collapse.

Now Auckland Transport are going into overkill with 100 extra buses ordered for this saturday when demand will certainly be considerably less for the trains in any case as people will no longer trust Auckland Transport to get them to the game on time. 

I had an outrageously similar experience 2 years ago when trapped on a train for over an hour at Homai (see email to Len Brown below). I was lucky as my carriage was only about one third full and the event I was going to was nowhere near the magnitude of last Fridays. I do feel great sympathy for those trapped in crowded carriages for outrageously long times through the sheer incompetence of Auckland Transport and Veolia. The buck stops with Brown and McCully equally at the top and Lee, Fletcher, Warburton, and the Veolia executives on the next rung down.    

 

 

Copy of an email sent to Mayor Len Brown on saturday 10th September.

Dear Mr Brown,

We are not victims of our own success as you stated today. We are victims of the gross incompetence of Auckland Transport and Auckland Council.

TRANSPORT

I pointed out to ARTA, the ARC, and Auckland City Council 2 years ago and to Auckland Transport and Auckland Council earlier this year that trying to shift 15-16,000 fans by train was totally unrealistic on our rickety rail network, 8-9,000 was a practical and reasonable number. Trying to shift 16,000 fans relied a great deal on good luck - yesterday it ran out.

However

An excess of passengers does not of itself stop trains running. It is absolutely outrageous and totally unnecessary that trains stopped running altogether and even worse that people were trapped in hot and totally crammed carriages for greatly extended periods. The excuses given by Veolia tonight are totally unacceptable. It does not take long to reset an Emergency handle system, and I suspect the fire extinguisher incident was likely caused out of frustration at people being locked in their carriages for extended periods.

I had an outrageously similar experience a couple of years ago when travelling to Homai station our train stopped 200 metres short of Puhinui station. After 25 minutes and a lot of hassling a ticket collector told us that the Silver Fern had broken down at Manurewa. When asked why we could not at least get into Puhinui or on to Homai station and disembark I was told there was another train at Puhinui. When asked why it could not move forward and let us in I was told it was impossible. It was only my intervention with train control in Wellington and the Police in Auckland and the threat of a riot and smashed up carriage by other passengers whom I was trying to pacify that the carriage staff finally opened the doors and allowed us to disembark onto the track and get taxis from the road. I THINK YOU GOT OFF VERY LIGHTLY LAST NIGHT. You are talking of compensation. If that comes from the salaries of Auckland Transport Executives that may be fair but I suspect it will be another kick in the guts for ratepayers. I pointed out to ARTA and Veolia at the time that there was no reason why the trapped trains could not have moved forward and allowed us to disembark safely at the stations. They assured me a plan would be in place to allow that in future - obviously there was no plan last night to deal with any hiccups in the system. GET OUT AND WALK IS NOT A PLAN - ITS AN INSULT.  

I rarely get angry but the opening ceremony last night was spoiled to a considerable amount for me by the news that had come through just before it started that hundreds were trapped in trains and would miss the opening. I was angry for them and what they were missing in missed dreams and money and all through the normal total incompetence of Auckland Transport and Auckland Council in transport matters.

Yesterday I travelled to Papatoetoe by train at 12.40pm and on to the airport. Walking down Queen St to catch the train was a mission through the crowds and after boarding the train found that even at that early stage inbound station platforms were full. I elected to come back by bus about 4pm and bus stops through Mt Eden were full with frustrated people being by passed by full buses. I WALKED FROM THE MT EDEN SHOPPING CENTRE TO THE TOP OF QUEEN ST AND IN THAT 25 MINUTES 2 TOTALLY FULL AND THREE TOTALLY EMPTY BUSES PASSED!! The latter with "Sorry not in service" on their sign boards!! It was obvious early on that the inner city would be under great pressure. Around 5pm I decided to walk down to Quay St. The whole downtown area was chaos and it took 15 minutes to shuffle (literally) along Quay St from Queen St to Albert St before retreating home. There were no police in evidence and no attempt at crowd control.

FAN ZONE

Two years ago I made a submission to the Auckland City Council and government that as well as a fan zone on Queens Wharf a family friendly zone should be established in the entertainment precinct for the first weekend and last 10 days of the cup. This would involve blocking Queen St from Mayoral Drive to Victoria St, Wellesley St from Mayoral Drive to Albert St, plus Elliott, Darby, and Lorne Sts. The side streets would be used for market stalls, Queen St as an entertainment area, the Civic Theatre giving a big screen experience with a phenomonal atmosphere if full, and family friendly activities in Aotea square. The whole area would be alcohol free except for already established on licences such as restaurants and bars. This would take some of the pressure off Queens Wharf and cater for those who do not want the booze culture of the area. IT IS NOT TOO LATE TO INTRODUCE THIS FOR THE 14TH TO 24TH OCTOBER. I BEG YOU TO DO IT.

I also pointed out to ARTA and the ARC how that would alleviate Eden Park transport problems with Sandringham/New North/Ian McKinnon and Upper Queen blocked off for all but buses before and after the semi finals and finals and totally free flowing bus movements from Eden Park to a terminus on Queen St above the Town Hall taking half the fans for the 'upper' fan zone and the balance using trains to Britomart. You saw the tragic consequences of mixing buses in heavy pedestrian areas yesterday.

You have promised that there will be no repeat of yesterdays fiasco. Auckland Transport have proven that they are incapable of operating public transport in Auckland in spite of having 2 years (including time under their previous incarnation) to prepare for the World Cup. To expect them to have an efficient system operating by next week is like asking the Americans to mount a manned Mars mission next year.

This unfortunately is the norm. I travel by public transport most days and approximately one third of the buses I use wither do not run, run late, or run early.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Greenfield

Auckland Transport Consultancy.

  

More Transport Issue



I believe the system could be improved dramatically within a very limited time frame.

 

Supermaxx for a Supercity is the immediate answer for a great leap forward!!

For full details go to Supermaxx.

 

The following was written in 2008 - and is mostly still current in 2013!

Central City and Airport rail links

CENTRAL CITY LOOP - ARTA have managed to identify the most expensive option possible which will take the longest time to introduce!!  While it has merit if we have unlimited time and money - we actually have neither.

TO MAKE AUCKLAND'S PUBLIC TRANSPORT SYSTEM FULLY FUNCTIONAL IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT AN UNDERGROUND LOOP BE COMPLETED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. The route I suggested to ARTA, ONTRACK, ARC, Auckland City Council in December 2006 is still the fastest and cheapest to implement. IT WOULD COST APPROXIMATELY $1 BILLION LESS THAN ARTA'S IDENTIFIED ROUTE AND COULD BE BUILT IN ONE THIRD OF THE TIME.  It also services the Symonds Street ridge with its thousands of residents, and the University which is a very high user of public transport.  

This route follows ARTA's identified route from Britomart under Albert St but turns left and exits above ground on Victoria Street to cross over Queen St then go underground again below Kitchener St and Albert Park, then across Stanley St by viaduct (with pedestrian and cycle facilities) to join the current track at Parnell Rise. A station would be built by Albert and Victoria Sts, above Queen St, Kitchener St, under Symonds St, and in Parnell.  The stations by Albert Park could be linked to the second world war tunnels. THIS ROUTE COULD BE AVAILABLE BY THE TIME THE ELECTRIC TRAINS ARRIVE circa 2013! It would maximise use of Britomart and there is no reason if demand warranted it and money was available why the line could not be extended along the proposed route from Victoria st to Mt Eden in another 10-20 years.

AIRPORT RAIL LINK - Forget it! There are many cries for a rail link to the airport. It simply cannot be justified and there are many far more pressing infrastructure needs for the scarce dollars available. Rail is a 'mass mover' of people. There is simply not sufficient mass of people wanting to travel from the airport to the CBD. The vast majority of people travelling through Auckland airport are not travelling to and from the CBD. Many are joining domestic flights or travelling by car or bus to areas outside of Auckland altogether. many more are travelling by their own car or shuttle or bus to other areas of Auckland. Tour operators will still use their own charter coaches for the convenience and comfort of their clients.  

THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO WOULD USE AN AIRPORT RAIL LINK ARE INDIVIDUAL BUDGET TOURISTS, CBD RESIDENTS, AND MAYBE THOSE WITH BUSINESS APPOINTMENTS IN THE CBD. By all means protect accessways for the future (as on the Mangere Bridge) but don't waste time on totally non viable exercises in the meantime. Examples of overseas airports which have a rail link are often quoted. We need to remember that on average 180,000 people pass through Heathrow airport each day, 35,000 through Auckland. Even Sydney with its much higher passenger count than Auckland has had to be bailed out and is very heavily subsidised. Keep it in the 20 year plan!

The current Airbus provides a good service to the CBD and SUPERMAXX Primary route 1 with its 10 minute service from 6am to midnight and 20 minute service from midnight to 6am 7 days a week between the CBD, and Manukau City via Newmarket, Onehunga, and the airport with integrated links from throughout Auckland would provide the low cost high frequency alternative if implemented.

SKYCAB (NZ) , ULTRA (UK) , MISTER (POLAND), SKYWEB (USA) are all new technologies being developed to provide a vastly better service at vastly reduced costs. This website will be updated to bring you the latest developments in these technologies and their potential for Auckland's public transport.

AMETI - AUCKLAND MANUKAU EASTERN TRANSPORT INTITIATIVE.   16th October, 2010                   I have just returned from an open day at Panmure Community Hall in regard to the above. Once again vast expense is being incurred for a very 2nd rate solution to the issues of Panmure and the roundabout

IT IS OUTRAGEOUS THAT THE TRANSPORT AGENCY AND OPUS HAVE NOT EVEN CONSIDERED THE NEW TECHNOLOGIES FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORT INSTEAD OF THEIR FIXATION WITH MORE ROADS AND BUS LANES. A Skycab line linking Ellerslie rail station with Pakuranga shopping centre via Ellerslie Panmure Highway,  Panmure railway station and village, and Lagoon Drive can be built for around the same cost as they are planning for the bus lanes!!!. (This is just one example of a network throughout Auckland)

SKYCABS ADVANTAGES

(1)  No land aquisition costs and disruption to local communities

(2)  Frees up the arterial roads as buses and bus lanes are removed. Skycabs runs above the roads.

(3)  Integrated into SUPERMAXX $60 for 30 days unlimited travel from Papakura to Albany Pass

(4)  Services every minute during peak times and every 2-5 minutes during the day and evening with 'on demand' services from 11pm to 6am integrated into the rail system at Panmure and Ellerslie rail stations and 24 hour bus services on Great South Road.

 

 

Newmarket Station

Once again ARTA have proven their incompetence by closing Kingdon St station in Newmarket.

The new Newmarket station could have and should have been built over the old triangle where southern and western lines meet, as part of a shopping/office/apartment complex. Costs would have been reduced by $20-$30 million and a vastly more operationally efficient station built. The location of the new station builds inefficiency, extra operating cost, and congestion into the rail system for the next 50-80 years or as long as the new  Newmarket station lasts.

To claim that westbound trains using the new station will only add approximately 30 seconds to their journey (as claimed by Sharon Hunter of ARTA in the NZ Herald 24/12/09) is totally specious. The trains have to leave the western line, travel into Newmarket on the Southern line which will cause congestion and inconvenience. The driver then has to close down his cab at one end, walk to the opposite end, open up his cab there, and head back on the southern line to join the Western Line. This will add an extra 3-4 minutes onto each journey. Every passenger travelling between the west and Britomart will be seriously disadvantaged and rail travel will become less attractive. Many passengers will not like doing part of their journey facing forwards, and part facing backwards. The suggestion that the gradient from Kingdon St is a problem for Western Line trains is nonsense and will be totally irrelevant once the electric trains arrive, which may even be in the 50-80 year lifetime of the new Newmarket station!

Update 6th February 2010.

OOPS IT SEEMS I WAS WRONG!!! The average extra time on each Western Line train is more like 4-5 minutes. At congestion times it is taking 6-8 minutes

Update 19th April, 2010

ARTA have finally produced a Western Line train timetable showing a 3 minute stop at Newmarket Station. It does nothing to overcome the inefficiency and extra costs ARTA built into the system but at least it is more honest. Allowing 2 minutes for travel between Grafton and Newmarket stations is highly optimistic, especially as congestion increases through the station. But credit where it is due - at least they have the access from Grafton Station to both sides of Khyber Pass Road and Park Road sorted properly. But why did they not complete the job and place bus stops at the access points on Khyber Pass Road. They could easily have been provided at the time the reconstruction was going on. Not all buses will be using Park Rd. 

ARTA, ONTRACK (or an organisation vastly more competent) should call immediately for 'expressions of interest' from any developer wishing to develop a shopping/office/apartment complex over the old triangle. Land and air space would be provided free of charge and resource consents expedited for a 10-15 storey building in return for providing two straight 160-180 metre platforms on the ground level for Western Line trains with escalators and lifts to the second level which would provide a shopping mall concourse and easy access between the platforms and connected to the new Newmarket station for Southern Line connections. The lower level basic building would be provided free of charge to Ontrack however laying of tracks and fitting out to be a functional rail station would be provided by Ontrack. If that is not possible KINGDON ST STATION SHOULD BE RE- OPENED if there is to be any efficiency in the system. New steps (and possibly a covered escalator) can be built from the station to Davis Crescent at the Broadway end of the station and probably a walkway under Broadway to the Newmarket Station.

While 'developing' has lost some of its attractiveness I  believe that the opportunity of building on prime real estate would still be attractive to some. Ongoing rentals and rates from the building would more than pay for the maintenance and cleaning of the station.

(Update 6th February, 2010) I understand that in fact the air space above the western and southern line junction has already been sold. Another opportunity lost by ARTA, Ontrack,  and the Auckland City Council to achieve something worthwhile.

THE DYSFUNCTIONAL NATURE OF THE DESIGN OF THE NEWMARKET STATION WAS POINTED OUT BY ME DIRECTLY TO BOTH ARTA AND ONTRACK AT AN OPEN DAY IN PARNELL ON THE 3RD NOVEMBER, 2007

WYNYARD QUARTER TRAMS

Plans have been announced to offer a tram service on a circuit in the Wynyard Quarter using Heritage trams from MOTAT or Melbourne. It is probably too early for this service but if we are going to spend millions doing it at least do it properly and connect it to the city!! It is quite possible to do the circuit around Halsey, Jellicoe, Beaumont, and Gaunt Sts, and run the line along Viaduct Harbour and Customs St West to a final station outside the tepid baths. It would only need 1 line (and a couple of passing bays) to offer a 20 minute service with 2 trams. 

SKYCABS would provide a vastly better service as part of a line linking Wynyard Quarter with the city with fabulous views of Viaduct Harbour as it travels above.    

More Diesel Trains

ARTA have spent tens of millions of dollars turning the old British rail carriages into diesel engine hauled trains. I understand 3 more are about ready to enter service and there are 2 or 3 more in the pipeline. MOST, IF NOT ALL, OF THESE TRAINS WILL BE REDUNDANT WHEN THE ELECTRIC FLEET ARRIVES IN 2013. I have asked ARTA and the ARC what they intend doing with these trains to recoup the capital cost after the electric fleet arrives. It seems they have no idea, and I suspect have not even thought of it. But why would they worry - the capital is not theirs and the longsuffering ratepayers and taxpayers of Auckland are not high in their priorities. Just another example of supreme profligacy from ARTA.

Train and bus fares unnecessarily increased February 2010

This is just another example of ARTA incompetence. The only reason fares have risen is that ARTA have not remodelled the public transport system to operate efficiently. Supermaxx provides a total restructure of Aucklands public transport which would REDUCE subsidies AND costs to the traveller! Fares did not need to rise - ARTA needed to be sacked! 

Central Connector/Grafton Bridge

At last someone with a public voice (Brian Rudman of the New Zealand Herald) has pointed out the gross deficiencies in signage in regard to the Busway on the Grafton Bridge. They are unclear and need to be changed immediately. Another issue not touched on is the signage on the road at the Symonds St end of Grafton Bridge. A number of diagonal lines have been painted on the road with the normal white line marking where to stop while awaiting traffic light changes at each end of the lines. I assume these diagonal lines mean not to stop there but there is nothing to say so. Inevitably motorists, whether legally using Grafton Bridge or not, stop at the Symonds St end of this space which means buses turning left from Symonds St onto Grafton Bridge do not have enough room to swing around a very tight corner onto a narrow bridge and there are numerous confrontations between bus drivers and motorists. It is a hassle for the bus drivers and a waste of time for passengers. ARTA and the Auckland City Council cannot even get the little things right! Paint out the diagonal lines and paint a simple bold sign on the road NO STOPPING and the problem will be resolved.

The Central Connector should never have included Grafton Bridge and Park Road. Transferring southern and eastern buses to Park Road does service the hospital and Domain better but also increases congestion, pollution, and noise by the hospital, which should be a 'quiet zone'. Khyber Pass Road is the "industrial' road for heavy traffic and could have been made totally free flowing with the money spent on Grafton Bridge and Park Road. The Hospital, Domain, and Museum would be better served by a service between Newmarket and Queen st opposite the Civic Theatre operated by hybrid or electric buses.   

Integrated ticketing

 

The capital cost of the Integrated Ticketing Contract ($59 million) as organised by ARTA has been reduced by approximately $21 million. I believe that this in part, if not in whole, is due to an investigation done by the Auditor General at my request earlier this year. (I am still waiting for my 1% thank you fee from the ARC for saving the ratepayers of Auckland and taxpayers of New Zealand this amount and  this does not even take into account the reduced operating costs). It is still however vastly more expensive and complex than it needs to be. Under Supermaxx the cost would be reduced to about $10 million.

Rugby World Cup Transport and Party Central

Could anyone other than ARTA come up with a plan to dump thousands of Rugby fans in the wasteland of the old rail yards in a derelict platform, on which they are examining squandering more ratepayers money to flossy up??? Bizarre. The last figure I saw was that ARTA were planning on moving around 15,000 fans by train between Kingsland and Britomart. It is impossible in any reasonable length of time even without any consideration for signal failures, train breakdowns, or track congestion. 7-8,000 is the maximum that can be moved by train.

QUEENS WHARF HAS BEEN DECLARED PARTY CENTRAL BY KEY AND LEE. It may be a great place for a booze up in the Slug (albeit I am not sure if the passengers in the cruise ships berthed adjacent will be enthusiastic about that) but as a happy family party place to enjoy the cup it will not work.

An alternative Party Central should be centred on Aotea Square with the streets blocked off to traffic within the area bounded by Mayoral Drive, Kitchener St, Victoria St, and Albert St. Aotea Square and the adjacent blocked off Queen St will make a fabulous outdoor venue and there are already plans to install a big screen in Aotea Square. A great range of all weather indoor activities can be arranged in the surrounding buildings such as the Aotea Centre, Town Hall, Civic Theatre, Cinema centre, Skycity, and maybe a revived St James. The area already has a plethora of restaurants, cafes, bars, accommodation, and entertainment opportunities. Minimum cost and maximum effectiveness for a fabulous World Cup!!    

This option also resolves many of the transport problems. A totally free flowing shuttle service between Eden Park and the Town Hall can be provided for the Semi finals and Final along New North Rd, Ian McKinnon Drive, and Queen St to the Town Hall with a transit time of 6-8 minutes. Vastly more fans can be moved by this than our rail system. It is actually possible to walk this route in 20-30 minutes!

Secondary World cup entertainment, big screens, etc can be provided on Queens Wharf (flossy up the sheds at minimum cost - no tents please), Viaduct Harbour, and the Marine Events centre. Trains can convey the Downtown fans to Britomart.

Manukau City Rail Link

Once again ARTA are proving their incompetence. A spur rail line is being built into Manukau City - with the terminus at Davies Avenue. A few hundred metres more 'cut and cover' through the car park at relatively minimal expense would have provided direct access to the Auckland Council Building (400 metres), the Westfield Mall, and a properly integrated bus/rail interchange which would have been one of the most important in the Auckland network. The current bus interchange which provides easy access for buses from and to Great South Road is approximately 720 metres from the new railway station. There are plans to run some buses around the back of the Mall to the railways station immediately introducing more inefficiency into the system! 

THREE OTHER EXAMPLES OF ARTA'S INABILITY TO DO JOBS PROPERLY ARE

THE ALBANY NORTHERN EXPRESS BUSWAY TERMINUS - built in the middle of a paddock surrounded by car parks a few hundred metres from the major facilities of the shopping mall, North Harbour Stadium, and Massey University campus. By all means service the 'park and ride' facility but make the terminus in the the main people attracters for shopping, learning, and entertainment. Use the car parks at North Harbour stadium for additional 'park and ride' facilities.

THE HENDERSON TRANSPORT INTERCHANGE - the interchange itself with covered walkways from the City Council centre and rail platforms, escalators to the rail platforms etc are excellent BUT THEN EVERYONE GETS DUMPED ON THE WESTERN SIDE OF STATION ROAD WHEN THE SHOPPING, OFFICES AND ENTERTAINMENT FACILITIES ARE PRIMARILY ON THE EASTERN SIDE! Pedestrians then have to battle heavy traffice to cross the road. For relatively minimal extra cost the walkway could have and should have been extended across Station Road for a much more pleasant and comfortable experience for both pedestrians and traffic. It may even have been possible (difficult I know) to get a contribution from Westfield and extend the walkway into the shopping mall with escalator access to the eastern side of Station Road.

M7 INNER CITY BUS STOP ON WELLESLEY ST EAST - Only ARTA would place a heavily used bus stop immediately on a busy intersection before a set of traffic lights! Buses often take 2-3 traffic light cycles before being able to get out of the stop and turn left into Queen St which is frustrating to both drivers and travellers. It often wastes 2-3 minutes at the start of the journey. ALL IT NEEDS IS TO PUT THIS STOP AROUND THE CORNER ON QUEEN ST - THERE IS STILL PLENTY OF ROOM FOR THE DOMINION RD BUSES. Simple really! 

THE ABOVE EXAMPLES SHOW THE MINISCULE MINDSET OF ARTA WHICH IS STILL LOCKED INTO CATERING FOR COMMUTERS RATHER THAN MAKING PUBLIC TRANSPORT THE 'TRANSPORT OF CHOICE' FOR ALL ACTIVITIES.    

380 Bus service Manukau - Papatoetoe Rail - Airport

It is over two years since ARTA introduced the 380 bus service providing services every 30 minutes for most of the day between Manukau City, Papatoetoe town and rail, and the airport. This is a highly subsidised service operated at vast expense to the ratepayers and taxpayers.  Patronage after more than 2 years averages 4.2 passengers per service. I was staggered to find in the early stages that no timetable had been produced showing integrated services of train and bus between the CBD and airport. TWO YEARS LATER THIS IS STILL THE CASE!

No one in the CBD knows that this is the cheapest way to the airport for backpackers, workers etc.

Very few if any Senior Citizens know that they can get to and from the airport free of charge on their Gold Cards outside the morning week day rush hours. No driving hassles  and no exhorbitant airport parking fees.   

I have offered to have an integrated timetable prepared and distributed to all relevant accommodation houses in the CBD and along the route for a very modest cost. Alas that is beyond the capacity of ARTA to provide. By why would they worry when they have an unlimited pot of ratepayer funds to draw on?

Timetables

ARTA produce a grossly overexpensive and diffcult to use and maintain plethora of timetables for bus services in Auckland. While it may suit commuters who only want to get from home to work and back again it does nothing to assist people who want to make public transport their 'transport of choice' for all activities throughout Auckland. Once again showing their limited mindset and profligate waste of money.  

Helensville Experiment

ARTA have wasted around $6 million on the Helensville experiment which should never have been introduced, as I pointed out to Mike Lee when the service was first announced. Trains are only cost effective as 'mass movers' of people, and there is no mass of people in Helensville to be moved. For ARTA to suggest that they may now operate some services to Huapai and Waimauku to 'utilise the money spent on upgrading the stations there" is outrageous. The money is wasted. Cut the losses and write it off. On a general demographic basis no passenger trains should be operated beyond Henderson on the Western Line. However as the number of trains needed for a regular 10 or 20 minute frequency is not increased by extending to Swanson this should be done as proposed in Supermaxx . NO TRAINS SHOULD OPERATE BEYOND SWANSON. Supermaxx "LOCAL" bus connections can be provided to Waitakere and beyond at vastly less cost.   

SUMMARY

The gross waste of money and the general incompetence of ARTA shown in the above issues along with the continued dysfunctional nature of Auckland's bus and train scheduling and bloated bus company contracts give me no confidence that we will achieve a public transport system of the highest possible quality at the lowest possible cost in the shortest possible time under the present regime. It will be a tragedy for Auckland if the current management and operatives of ARTA are employed in the new Auckland Transport Authority.

WE DO NOT NEED BUS AND TRAIN FARE INCREASES JUST A  VASTLY MORE COMPETENT ORGANISATION OF OUR PUBLIC TRANSPORT.