Saturday, June 29, 2013

Government asks New Zealand to massively subsidise Auckland transport?

Some Auckland Suburban Stations/Transfers Points and Costs. Newmarket Rail $84 million; Panmure Rail/Bus $28 million; New Lynn Rail/Bus $160 million; Swanson $20 million; etc etc - all partly paid for by these Christchurch bus commuters and taxpayers. These generous folk are seen here at one of the equivalent Christchurch key transfer "stations" opposite Westfield, in Christchurch, a point linking east-west axis routes and Lincoln/Rolleston services with the Orbiter and Metrostar, as well as servicing access to city and Westfield Mall. (Cost of bus shelter with wet seat unknown).

The Government has announced over $10 billion dollars worth of transport projects for Auckland including the $2.85 billion underground rail link and a tunnel under Auckland Harbour.

Regardless of which fund this comes from it represents a giant subsidy from the rest of New Zealand (or the same thing in reverse, a reduction in the total funding base available the rest of New Zealand).

This would make perfect sense to me if Auckland - 32.4% of the total population - was some huge power house earner of our national wealth - at least 50% of GDP.

However where ever I look I see the GDP per capita in Auckland is only 36% of of our national GDP.  It is only slightly more per head than the other major centres.

Canterbury has about 12% of the population and produces about 12% of our national GDP.

And what the prime earners of New Zealand wealth?  Dairy products, high grade coal, timber, wool, frozen meat, wine, tourism.

I am buggered if I can see how Auckland is a primary - or even significant - contributor to any of these fields apart from tourism (and that mainly an entry point to greater attractions in other areas)

Why  should Christchurch and Canterbury [and other regions] receive next to nothing to develop effective transit and active mode transport?  (Indeed the Government withdrew funding for Christchurch city's modest programme of fairly minimalist bus lanes and bike lanes and road safety back in 2009!).

Yet Auckland, only three and half times bigger in population is getting billions of dollars.

To me this reeks of a grossly unfair distribution and a huge subsidy. Can some one explain to me why this absurd distortion should be?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Move over Jesus - Unfulfilled promises become a "Miracle"

The continuing farce of ineffective city Governance on transit and active mode transport reaches ever more heights of absurdity. 

Councillor Yani Johanson moved to speed up a planned cycleway programme, from a five year  programme to a three year programme, so that new lanes and cycleways  can be created as part of the post earthquake roading rebuilt. 

The intended cycleway network is to be funded from a $20 uniform annual general charge (same for every property) on all rateable properties, though it is unclear how this could achieve $70 million in five years ($14 million per year) - A recent letter to The Press pointed out that the total number of rateable properties in Christchurch is only 100,000, enough to generate only about $2 million per year!

However we have long been used to fantasy being a substitute for hard miles research and active implementation on Christchurch transit and active mode transport! This includes the Mayor's misguided ten year plus fantasy on building light rail, a system only ever employed in cities of high density linear population corridors and/or large daily inbound rail commuter customer base and/and great regional and national wealth. None of which apply in Christchurch!!

Another fantasy is that the city's politicians back public transport to a significant degree. 

Before the earthquake the city buses carried over 60,000 trips on a working day, a minimum of 25,000 passengers a day.  Many of these of course are high school students, University Students, and some beneficiaries and handicapped people for one reason or another who can't drive. Not prime voter material obviously and not worth spending too much money on. 

As for getting people out of cars - forget that bullshit! 

The horrific multi-billion damage effects of too rapid climate change, worldwide,  predicted as far back as 1970 don't even enter the thinking of the these thoughtless (or hypocritical) carbodies. This massive increase in the number of killer floods, tornadoes, droughts, and forest fires is clearly and easily traced back to huge amounts of heavy carbon and accelerating levels of carbon dioxide in the earth's relative small atmospheric mantle, generated by cars and oil fired power stations. Is this news? I would hardly think so. 

But it certainly does not motivate Council to actively fight for moving our outdated bus system into the 21st century. Indeed the Chairwoman of the Environment and infrastructure committee put it fairly succinctly last year .....

In a submission to ECan they have suggested that it trial one of the routes before money is spent on building expensive bus shelters and interchanges across the city.  "We want to be supportive but we don't want to do it at great cost to our ratepayers," said [Councillor] Claudia Reid, the chairwoman of the environment and infrastructure committee.            - "Public transport overhaul plan raises cost fears"  LOIS CAIRNS The Press August 3 2012

However yesterday same councillor has surpassed herself, with religious exaltation now!!

But Cr Claudia Reid opposed the fast tracking. "We've already delivered a miracle and that the miracle is this: in five years time we will have 13 dedicated, safe, top-quality cycle routes that will connect neighbourhoods and the city centre in a way they have never been before."

"Cycle track must wait - council" Rachel Young, Lois Cairns The Press June 25 2013

Councillor Reid  is describing a proposed plan, a long term budget allocation in theory,  to be a "Miracle" - not a shovel of dirt turned, not a single guarantee it will not be postponed, altered, reduced, budget cut, or discovered it can not be done, for multiple reasons, or lost in a political  shift in Council.

Most of all not a single guarantee  that the much talk up cycle lane think-big project  will not follow exactly the same dreary, pathetic dismal city performance on bus lanes -  promise default, talking up, promise, default, promise, talking up, default etc across an unbelievable 13 year saga. 

Post-quake temporary road changes are all over Christchurch, but few to assist bus services in any way. 

Deja Vue? Get ready for the real recycling programme?

If the Council is committed is so committed to avoiding spending money on public transport in its environment portfolio, for the 30-40,000 bus users a week - I can't image active mode will fare much better. 

To make a miracle out of a mere promise, or a policy or budget allocation on paper open to alteration ("already delivered"  Yeah right), is indeed itself a miracle. 

Yeah, yeah, that sounds right, that's about the level we are working at. Making miracles out of nothing.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Will Christchurch public transport ever reach this level?

Photo filched from Minnesota Sta-Tribune (see link below) Thanks

This is one of the new door level stops (mini-stations) on the new Bus Rapid Transit line in Minnesota

If people are even one tiny bit serious about creating effective public transport; serious about attracting people out of cars and creating more pleasant liveable and likeable streets and communities; if people serious about reducing the fossil fuel use causing massive rapid climate change with  devastating effects (even now in the rich countries!); this where public transport must go. On all major bus urban and provincial bus routes - quality public transport!

Sure, light rail has its tiny place in this world, it is  a system that will need to be introduced, AFTER a city has multiple effective bus rapid transit corridors and one or two of them warrant upgrading to light rail . This is usually when traffic on a single corridor exceeds 7000 passengers an hour in peak hours. Not likely in New Zealand routes at this stage. In the meantime let's build a fast efficient effective bus NETWORK - not separate lines but an effective INTEGRATED NETWORK that allows bus passengers to travel in every possible direction with ease, simple systematic and reliable transfers,  and fast journey times, even during peak rush hours.  

We have all the technology in the world already to put bus systems on equal footing with private car use, but our bus systems are run by politicians and administrators who are only pretending they are committed to public transport. In Christchurch, for all the hard work that is put by Metro planners, with out adequate financial or political backing, without a City Council backing public transport (except for  a few "big note projects") Christchurch still operates what is essentially a bus service based on concepts of fifty years ago, no segregated busway corridors, no separate underpasses or "cut throughs", minimal bus lanes (and these only operate part time; part way and often not through the actual key choke point areas!); next to no specially activated traffic signals or 7 day a week stents; irregular patterns that are not based on transfer needs.  

My guess is that it will take at least another ten years -perhaps 20! - before we see specialised bus "free run" corridors and proper dedicated bus laning, including absolutely segregated bus bays at major stops that will allow this sort of door level loading. 

We are talking about a total land use area of perhaps 0.05% of total city land area to create an effective 21st century bus service but that is far beyond the vision or courage of any car driving politician! 

The idea that Christchurch is some sort of "green" city or advanced leader in public transport and active modes (transit and active) is farcial, it is far behind where it should be in transit development and has significantly failed to use public transport to assist post earthquake recovery.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Christchurch city politicos and admin "Totally incompetent" ?? YOU BE THE JUDGE!

Dame Bazley, head of the ECan junta has described Christchurch City Council " as totally incompetent" after the failure of Council to meet multiple deadlines  for the erection of a super bus shelter.  

This situation involves less than a years planning  and raises question of whether Bazley is being premature and unfair   How effective the Christchurch City Council is in building quality public transport  infrastructure is probably better evaluated across a longer period, as for example in the city's low end alternative to a full rapid transit strategy.

"Totally incompetent" ??  YOU BE THE JUDGE!


Bus lanes expected to reduce Chch travel times
MATHIAS, PeterThe Press. Christchurch, New Zealand: Jun 13, 1996.

Riccarton Rd bus clearway scheme axed
MATHIAS, PeterThe Press. Christchurch, New Zealand: Jul 25, 1996.

The council last night voted 12-10 against a plan to create clearways during peak hours for buses, taxis, and cycles after hearing from business and community leaders who said there was overwhelming opposition to it.

Eight Years later....

More bus lanes planned             
Stan DARLING,  . The Press  Christchurch, New Zealand] 11 Aug 2004: A; 15.
Buses -- love or hate them -- could be the only realistic answer to Cristchurch's growing congestion woes. STAN DARLING looks at plans to give buses a head start over cars and finds out why some retailers think bus lanes are the road to ruin. FACT BOX - Christchurch could have three bus- priority commuter routes by June 2006 -- from Belfast, Queenspark and Princess Margaret Hospital to the Bus Exchange.

Nine years after the first attempt to introduce bus lanes, on Riccarton Road

Buses put before cars; Bid to ease arterials
WATSON, LoisThe Press. Christchurch, New Zealand: Apr 17, 2006. pg. A.2
Buses will get priority over cars on three of Christchurch's busiest thoroughfares under a plan to address the city's growing traffic- congestion problem. As early as next month the Christchurch City Council and Environment Canterbury (ECan) hope to unveil plans to help buses move more quickly along:
* The Main North Road/Papanui Road (QEII Drive to the city).
* Colombo Street/Cashmere Road (Princess Margaret Hospital to the city).
* The Queenspark bus route (to the city via New Brighton Road/ Shirley Road/Hills Road).

However not  so fast, was not to be in 2006 ….. but rather two years again, after the “bus boarder” trial

Bus-boarders won't work
WILLIAMS, ChrissieThe Press. Christchurch, New Zealand: Aug 14, 2007. pg. A.9
Letting buses block the road to let passengers on and off is not the solution to Christchurch's public transport problems, writes CHRISSIE WILLIAMS.
Richard West attempts to justify the Christchurch City Council's expensive bus-boarder trial in Hills Road, Shirley (Perspective, August 7). He is correct that buses need priority on congested roads, but the bus- boarder is not a cost-effective or acceptable method to use on Hills Road. It is also not prudent when introducing bus priority for the first time in the city to choose a method that is not easily understood and significantly disaffects other road users. It is puzzling why the council has chosen such an option.

Despite such patently obvious commonsense and wisdom …

Boarder trial extended; HILLS ROAD BUSES
GATES, CharlieThe Press. Christchurch, New Zealand: Oct 10, 2007 pg. A.6
The controversial "bus boarder" trial on Hills Road will be extended for another six months, despite widespread criticism of the scheme from the local community.  Christchurch City councillors voted yesterday to continue the trial at two bus stops on Hills Road until April.

And finally …. 2008 ..."bus lanes are a coming, are a coming"  

$3m bus-lane project aims to target congestion"

AnonymousThe Press [Christchurch, New Zealand] 02 Aug 2008: A.13.Transit New Zealand has announced plans to construct bus lanes along Christchurch's Main North and Main South roads. The work, to cost up to $3m, will begin next year if funding can be found. Transit's Canterbury manager, Colin Knaggs, said that with the proposed Papanui Road bus lane, there would be a continuous lane from the city centre to the Northern Motorway.?

Oh Oh - a further one year later….

Bus lanes useless AnonymousThe Press [Christchurch, New Zealand] 01 Aug 2009: A.17. Work on the Papanui Rd bus- priority lane is to start in August. The Hills Rd bus boarder scheme has been dropped (July 31).  This trial was a waste of ratepayers' money, achieving nothing. The proposed bus lanes may slightly speed up bus trips, but will they be another expensive waste of money

Finally ….

Most motorists prove quick to adapt; Bus drivers 'encouraged' to use $30 [million lanes GREENHILL, MarcThe Press [Christchurch, New Zealand] 07 Oct 2009:
Motorists have so far resisted the temptation to illegally take advantage of Christchurch's first major bus-priority lane. The first section of the Christchurch City Council's $3 million bus lane in Papanui Rd, from Bealey Ave to Innes Rd, opened yesterday. It is one of 10 priority routes planned across the city over the next nine years at a cost of about $30m. The lanes are not continuous but run for large sections of the routes. 
......except the actual congestion points where the main delays occur

....and then predictably the Government changed to one less sympathetic to public transport

Funding shortfall blocks bus-lane project
GATES, CharlieThe Press [Christchurch, New Zealand] 18 Nov 2009: A.6.
The bus-lanes scheme will be reviewed by Christchurch city councillors next year after a Government review of transport spending placed more emphasis on road funding.The review this year granted more funding for state highways, but less for walking, cycling and public transport projects. A bus-priority lane from Papanui to the city centre is already in place and construction of two others from Queenspark and down Colombo St will start in the new year. But the future is uncertain for planned priority routes leading to the city centre from Riccarton, Sumner, New Brighton, Halswell, Cranford St and on the Metrostar and Orbiter routes.
Council environment general manager Jane Parfitt said councillors would review the bus-lane programme in February as part of annual spending plans.  "We will have to look at the timing of some of our capital projects to make sure everything is in line with the funding. We have a (bus priority) programme over the next 10 years and funding has been reduced so council needs to look at them all."

Hands up those who think the city needs to do its homework!!

Back to school  -  Please answer the following questions.

Was the bus lane in Riccarton Road needed? Was this the most urgent place for bus lanes in the city?  If not why was it attempted? If so.why is it still not built after 17  years?  Bob, what’s your answer here?

If it is clear there is “political resistance” to bus lane major arterial roads through commercial areas and this is too strong to over-ride,  – even back 17 years ago, let alone now – why were all of the various other alternatives not assessed? Tony you went on that $28.000 junket to the USA and Canada – you must have a deep professional understanding of public transport?

The two main longer distance commuter transport corridors in Christchurch are South to Hornby, Templeton and Rolleston; north to Northlands, Redwood, Belfast and Kaiapoi/Rangiora. To make a profound difference obviously these route corridors need special assistance - something more than just bus lanes (even if they did exist). 

For example Auckland spent $284 million on the Northern busway; $20 million on the inner city busway (over Grafton Bridge) and de facto $26 million on permanent bus lanes on the Mangere Bridge duplication. This is not counting about $1.5 billion on commuter rail upgrade. 

Nor does it address  the $600 million plus on Wellington commuter rail upgrade.  Wellington is a city with a metropolitan population only 8% bigger than metropolitan Christchurch. 

Almost all except the busway stations came from Government funds so clearly Christchurch had a huge case to at least get some reasonable amount - say minimum  $1-200 million, for specific projects.  Garry you were around in those days, perhaps you could tell the class about all those more sophisticated busway projects in Christchurch the Government turned down.

ESSAY QUESTION ; What sort of competent council would fart around for 13 years when they had a Government in power sympathetic to funding designated public transport projects into the hundreds of millions, including in other cities of comparable size?  Provide examples of such an administration; suggestion - include a sensible major project that ticked all the boxes that was investigated by that administration

In every class there is a smart ass kid!

Road connection
The Press  Christchurch, New Zealand28 Nov 2002:. (letters to editor)
Sir--The proposal to build a road connecting Rutland Street with Grassmere Street seems an excellent one. Where the thinking is flawed is the proposal to build a full-scale road for all vehicles. Is this not a unique opportunity to create a bus-way corridor -- a simple unobtrusive tar-sealed strip controlled at each end by barrier arms activated only by a device in the bus? This would allow peak-hour express buses serving North Canterbury and suburbs north and west of Papanui quick access to and from the city in rush hours via Springfield Road, Rutland Street, and a bus-only corridor, to Northlands  .As virtually all these services would run outside school hours, it would have minimum impact on the school and allow a de facto merger of school and reserve area. These services would completely by-pass the slow vehicle queues up and down Papanui Road and Cranford Street during rush hours, placing commuter buses at the distinct advantage they deserve.- DAVE WELCH St Albans, November 25

Eleven years ago, and many, many messages, letters, submissions sent since,  and still not ever, ever checked out by any qualified transport organisation or professional transport consultancy, never once have I read of exclusive bus corridors being studied or  supported by any politician or local news media. 

The busway concepts referred to above,  in a neat 5 page format were sent to Garry Moore and Ecan in 2005 – and in a bit more rough and overly long format to 31 local body candidates in 2007 local body elections. Despite the huge success of segregated busways in Ottawa** and huge success of busways in Brisbane and Auckland (where 48% of transit commuters to the city now travel on the Northern busway [buses every 3 minutes in peak hours] - despite the fact the busway cost only one sixth the cost of the total suburban rail upgrade to build) and success of busways elsewhere; despite two meaningless generalised studies of commuter rail potential in Christchurch, no city council study has ever be done and published on busway options for Christchurch. 

** The public transport systems of Greater Ottawa, including the adjoining city (across the Ottawa River) of Gatineau. with a combined population of 1.4 million (about Auckland size) carry 123 million passengers a year and the highest annual number of passengers per capita of any smaller cities of North America. Indeed ranking in this significant category an astounding third after New York and Montreal. Only 2 million of these passengers are carried on light rail, the rest by bus including 35km of segregated central city bus-ways, though some new light rail is also

Added 2018 ..... 

Auckland's northern busway and its phenomenal growth in ridership 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Christchurch ... First we had a series of devastating earthquakes...since then

Christchurch ...

First we had a series of devastating earthquakes

.....since then we have had a National disaster