Sunday, January 10, 2010

More talk than walk!

Whatever bugs you! The dwatted wabbit's quote of the week

"In the midst of these multiple urban crises state governments continue to churn out regional and city plans to direct growth. In every case these documents have some sound data and useful mapping of urban phenomena, as well as soft-core urban photography of happy families and happy workers creating instant new communities. All the big issues, from homelessness and the erosion of green space to the fate of people who have no access to public transport, are subsumed in descriptions such as "strong communities" and "smart growth". These documents become more fatuous with each iteration (the favourite word in an era in which government pronouncements must be tweaked by wordsmiths who will be held accountable if they fall into the mortal error of making a testable promise)"

Peter Spearritt quoted in "Planning failures crippling our cities"
The Canberra Times. Canberra, A.C.T.: Oct 24, 2009.

Peter Spearritt is professor of history at the University of Queensland and the author of Sydney's Century: A History (UNSW Press, 2000). This article is published on Inside Story ( by Swinburne University of Technology in association with the Australian National University.

A complementary story; A couple of years ago I made a submission to a regional transport strategy review. I suggested that if the intention was to get people away from using cars it was important to have information about all alternative systems to car use in an easily accessible format and location. In particular, I suggested that Environment Canterbury through one of its departments, such as the Metro Marketing or Smart Travel list departure journey time information for all city-to city and regional bus services, departing and arriving Christchurch, across the week. These were privately operated services but nonetheless an alternative to car use. Actual bookings etc would done by linking to the appropriate website of the service provider, requiring no effort by ECan.  The idea was in part inspired by the wide embrace of the excellent CommuterPage offered by the Arlington, Virginia transit system. If I read the situation right, Arlington a smaller sub city of the Washington Dc spawl, developed such a competent all inclusive web page (transit/public interface) that it became an extremely popular transit info source, for all residents of greater Washington DC

Any carless person or tourist knows what a hassle it is having to flick back and forward between InterCity, Atomic, Naked Bus, Knight Rider and Southernlink [where applicable] to find a best departure time/best price option for travelling southwards. Of course, most people and most tourists won't even know all the options, they may leave earlier or later than intended, unaware of all options! So much for user friendly tourist info. Why these can't be listed in chronological departure time as some sub-section of the Metro web page is obscure.

The answer I got to my submission gave me the impression of the momentary kerfluffle caused by an overloud farting amongst a group of elderly chooks. I could hear  the titters, murmurs, uneasy fluffing of feathers, the ancient voicer clearing phlegm -  couldn't work, can't be done, silly boy, falls outside our bureacratic discretion. Ha haa ha (phew, another review passed where we didn't have to get off our agendas!)

Nowhere did I hear that word YES! Yes, thank you, this is a gap in our system; this is an area of attracting people away from car use we have missed; this is an area that care and commitment to our ratepayer base dictates we must move to meet  as soon as possible, fully and attractively; yeah right this is an area we need to look at changing or extending ground rules to deal with  more effectively.

Nowhere did I hear yes.

In Christchurch we have a relatively good public transport system, it is a pity having come so far, we dont make it 100% better by an absolute caring for the environment and customer!
The only compensation is the laugh out loud deja vue response I felt when I read Peter Spearrit's quote above!

Also note that Warkworth, a small town north of Auckland, appears to make mincemeat of bigger cities, Christchurch included, in its clear easy to use listing of all bus services to Auckland (click on title box above) - albeit like Canterbury regional commuter times aren't very useful (for those wanting to be in town for work,study, appointments early, and not lose half a day to travel).

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