Aaargh! On trains and buses to visit my Mum today

Went to visit my Mum today, exchange Christmas presents, and shout her for lunch in Pukekohe. She is 90 years old, and doesn’t feel confident about driving the motorway  anymore, so she can’t get to our family Christmas because there is no public transport available to her on Christmas Day.

So for the last few years, we have had our pre-Christmas catchup, and she has then shared Christmas Day with friends who live locally to her.

Anyway, what a drama getting there today!  I live in West Auckland. My partner and I have one car between us, a decision we made in the interests of ecological sustainability. My partner had to work today and needed the car for that, so that option was out.

To get to Pukekohe by mid-day, I had to negotiate two trains and bus replacements between them, and that meant I had to leave home well before 10am.  Same on the way home, so for just over an hour and a half with my Mum in Pukekohe, I spent almost 5 hours traveling on trains and buses.

Surely the public transport system in Auckland can do better than that.

Eightyfour percent

Were you aware that 84% of people without a regular sexual partner masturbate?

Well, I’m not actually certain of the exact percentage, but it’s got to be up there somewhere in that vicinity. And for many of them, it isn’t their preferred form of sexual activity – just that they don’t have other options available to them.

Which brings me to Transport Minister Stephen Joyce. His public justification for slashing public transport funding while increasing funding for roads was:

But 84 per cent of New Zealanders go to work by truck, car or motorcycle.

Joyce is using the effect of the problem (high percentage of commutes being by road) to justify the problem (lack of public transport) continuing, or actually to justify making it worse. He conveniently ignores the fact that many of the people who go to work by car or motorcycle have no other option, and would use public transport if there were public transport between where they live and where they work and it operated with a frequency and reliability that suited them.

So getting back to the masturbation analogy, it occurs to me that it is people like Stephen Joyce who give wankers a bad name.

Public transport windfall

Greater Wellington has made a windfall of almost a million dollars over recent months, mostly due to lower payments ($693,000) to diesel bus operators, and this saving is forecast to continue until oil increases in price again. The 3 month income statement to 30th September shows a variable variance of $929,000(item 13:
This windfall can be used to extend off peak discounted fares to all services. Rail commuters get a 30% discount between 9am and 3pm….now is the time to extend the discount to bus services and to weekends. People choosing to travel off peak decreased pressure at times when there is over crowding. This increased the efficiency of the network overall and could reduce the need for fare rises in the coming years. The fare structure can be a tool to encourage patronage on under-utilised public transport services and at the same increase profitability. What about some free services
Get around Auckland city on the free red City Circuit bus…
and Christchurch’s free CBD shuttle operated by hybrid buses

Adelaide – a free shuttle bus in the CBD plus the CBD section of the newly-extended tram line is free. A shuttle tram service in the CBD section is operated to augment the long-distance trams to Glenelg.
Portland, OR: a ‘fareless square’ for streetcar, MAX light rail and buses applies in the CBD
Dallas TX – the McKinney Avenue streetcar (tram) operates a variety of heritage cars on the CBD fringe as a free service supported by local businesses and the regional transit authority (DART) and is being extended.
Free or zero-fare public transport services are funded in full by means other than collecting a fare from passengers, normally through heavy subsidies or commercial sponsorship by businesses. Several mid-size European cities and many smaller towns around the world have converted their entire bus networks to zero-fare. Local zero-fare shuttles or inner-city loops are far more common than city-wide systems….see more at

Greater Wellington is investing in real time information and integrated ticketing in the coming years increasing costs further, but this investment should increase reliability making catching public transport a more attractive proposition to everyone.

Greater Wellington must also be conscious of the need to keep public transport affordable for the transport disadvantaged through targeted concession fares.

Missed Public Transport Opportunity

Missed Public Transport Opportunity

Civic leaders ignore need for high quality public transport system

While the economy crashes around us and the International Oil Agency warns of fuel shortages, the Ngauranga to Airport Corridor plan reserves the big dollars for roading enhancements and tunnels, rather than for a high quality public transport system.

Greater Wellington Regional Councillor Paul Bruce said that it was at the same time appalling and ironic, that while passing the Ngauranga to Airport Corridor Plan, the Committee also received the Annual Monitoring Report which highlighted increased accident rates and greenhouse emissions from private cars. It also showed the lack of good public transport and safe cycle way alternatives.

Go to

Report 5, Recommended Ngauranga-Wellington Airport Corridor Plan

Members of the Public will be protesting the Council’s apparent disregard for their submissions to the Plan, lack of public transport capacity, the chronic levels of safety for cyclists and walkers, and the miss-allocation of resources to new road capacity. The demonstration will be held outside GW offices at 12.30pm on Friday 31st October this week.

Cr Bruce says the new Regional Transport Committee was unable to pick up the ball,
despite advice from special interest representatives for an immediate shift in investment towards a high quality public transport system. The majority of public submissions on the Plan urged the inclusion of light rail, and criticised roading expenditure. A feasibility study for light rail had been done in the early 90s, and thus GW had a head start, along with a clear mandate from the Public to get on with it.

On the positive side, the Corridor plan supports passenger transport improvements measures along the golden mile, bus priority measures on arterial routes, and better walking and cycling connections between local networks reflecting support for the Great Harbour Way Walking and Cycle proposal.

However, Cr Bruce who is on the GW Transport and Access Committee, said that investment in public transport should have been accelerated. Instead, the first major expenditure was on the flyover for the Basin Reserve in 2011/12, which would facilitate private vehicle west-east traffic flows. 79% of submitters did not directly support the construction of the flyover. Expenditure of at least $380 million is being planned for roading infrastructure, with another $63 million on projects benefiting both private cars and public transport.

There are 90 to 120 buses plying the CBD during peak times, with serious bottle necks near the railway station and at Courtenay Place. Angry bus drivers are blocked by other buses during peak hours, timetables are not reliable, passengers don’t get a seat, and some passengers are refused entry. A limited shaft of traffic through a single artery is exactly what high density public transport will solve. Light rail is the fastest growing transport mode and the preferred solution overseas. It has greater capacity, replacing at least 8 normal buses. Light rail runs on existing roads and is safer in urban space and through malls. It has lower operating costs, and can integrate into the wider rail network.

Cr Paul Bruce
Greater Wellington Regional Councillor
272 Ohiro Road,
Tel 04 9728699, 021 02719370
“The thinking that brought you into trouble will not bring you out of it”
Albert Einstein

The tunnel

A large part of my electorate is cut off from the city by a long row of hilly greenness that stretches from Oriental Bay down to Houghton Bay.  On the whole this is a good thing; A green belt with lots of trees, great walking tracks and bike trails and amazing views.  But occasionally people on one side of the hills want to get to people on the other side – especially if they work in town. They’ve got three options;  they can go around, via Oriental Bay, over, via Newtown, or through, via this:

The queue of cars in the picture has led many people to think we have a congestion problem. Rather than blaspheme by suggesting the cars are the problem, the tunnel has copped much of the blame.

And there are two broad categories of solutions.  We could either build another bigger shiny tunnel through the hill to allow for more conjestion, or we could encourage more people to use public transport and to cycle and walk about and thus reduce congestion.

The City Council has been ‘consulting’ widely on this issue although the mayor Kerry Prendergast said of the consultation process before it began:

‘I think there are some [things] we have to do,’ she told The Dominion Post.

…Ms Prendergast said a new Mt Victoria tunnel should be a high priority, regardless of what submitters to the study say.

There were many submisions from the public thanks to the hard work of Green councillors Celia Wade Brown and Iona Pannett, as well as other organisations.  And those submissions predominantly favoured light rail and other forms of public transport.  But as Object Dart reports, it didn’t quite work out that way:

The options for transport are a dog’s breakfast, and although the greater weight of submissions in a previous process were in favour of light rail as a public transport solution (which implies they would be at very least willing to utilise the service, if not actively support it), the paper dismisses it out of hand as prohibitively expensive. But, digging in a little further we find that costings for light rail are hidden on the very last page. And, they are $35million cheaper than what seems to be the preferred option to improve the corridor in question, a second Mt Vic tunnel…

And Gregory Bodnar says of the city’s plan for walking and cycling:

This section should really be placed higher than public transportation. It is far too common for pedestrian and cycle plans to be placed last in the list of priorities – a gross injustice to the residents of the city. In fact, the draft plan defers any planning for pedestrian and cycle activities for other projects and allocates no funds. Active modes are a vital aspect to a city with a small footprint. Instead of residents taking short trips in a car or on transit, many choose to travel by their own power, using minimal resources, leaving minimal waste and needing minimal infrastructure. Transportation planners must stop impeding active modes.

Anyone who has ever walked or cycled through that current tunnel knows its footpath wasn’t put there with pedestrians and cyclists at front of mind.  Unless I’m in a real hurry I always prefer to go over or around rather than through the tunnel’s fumes and car honks and general grotiness.

So, another tunnel to turn our green belt into swiss cheese?  No thanks

Thanks to Br3nda for the photo