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Aucklanders think Joyce is crazy.

Written By: - Date published: 2:30 pm, April 5th, 2011 - 27 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, Economy, local government, national/act government, Politics, public transport, transport - Tags:

As I’ve pointed out previously “Steven Joyce: still living in the 20th century”, virtually every Aucklander I have spoken to about a new harbor crossing is aghast at the attitude of National MP’s in Wellington. Even considering putting in a new harbor crossing without the heavy rail that hooks into our existing rail system is simply ideological stupidity by National.

Well it is good to see that Aucklanders recognize the critical requirement for a new harbor crossing –
“Rail crossing wins big backing in poll”. The sample is small but…

A UMR Research poll found 79 per cent of 241 Aucklanders in favour of installing railway lines across the harbour – whether on a new bridge or through tunnels – and 18 per cent against.

The small number of people polled meant the difference between support for a bridge and for tunnels fell within a margin of error of 6.3 per cent.

But UMR research director Gavin White said the emphatic preference of Aucklanders for a rail crossing was well outside the margin.

The harbour crossing questions were added at short notice to a list of unrelated issues, in an omnibus survey of 750 New Zealanders.

I have no doubt that the apologists for Steven Joyce will attempt to point out that his plan includes ‘rail’ as an option. However it is light rail that is incompatible with the rest of the Auckland rail network. The reason? The plan put out by Steven Joyce for a new bridge option would require a grade that would be impossible to put our existing heavy rail system on.

Mr Brown said the poll result reflected feedback he received every day about rail projects including links to North Shore and the airport, and a central city tunnel.

“Aucklanders understand that we need to unclog our roads by fixing public transport – we need to future-proof the additional harbour crossing for rail to cater for Auckland’s growth.”

Auckland Council transport committee chairman Mike Lee said the survey showed “the average member of the public seems to be somewhat ahead of your average politician, especially the National Party cabinet, when it comes to rail transport”.

Needless to say, Steven Joyce is ineffectually talking about the ‘costs’. However like his previous bridge proposals, most of the costs he is currently talking about appear to be total rubbish desperately throwing unfeasible options in to increase the costs. That isn’t an argument – it just reeks of a minster desperately avoiding reality. Even the position of Steven Joyce’s preferred bridge is completely silly. It seems designed to just cause more congestion.

Since Aucklanders pay enormously more tax into the transport budget than it receives, you’d think that central government would take some cognizance of the clear intent of Auckland’s representatives in the super city. After all that was why Act imposed their super-shitty on Auckland (but you get the impression that NAct is unhappy with the result). Not to mention people voting with their feet in the rapidly increasing use of public transport. But apparently this is not the case.

Isn’t it time that Steven Joyce was replaced as the Minister of Transport? He clearly isn’t interested in what Auckland actually needs in terms of transport. I get the distinct impression that like his colleague Rodney Hide he is far more interested in pushing his ideas about what Auckland needs than he is in listening to Aucklanders saying what they actually need. How else can you explain his push for the stupidity that is the Puhoi holiday highway over projects that make economic sense for Aucklanders.

Chris H points out that when looking at the political imperatives of Auckland transport that there appears to be an ideological stupidity inside National and Act on the question of public transport.

As to the very important question of why the Govt is stuck on roads to the point of departing from the reality-based universe, I think that roads are kind of a symbol of the New Right’s privatisation agenda, of the opposition of private cars to public transport.

That is the debate that should have died with the 20th century, the demise of cheap oil and the intellectually barren landscape of the latter day Rogernomes when dealing with the modern environment. Aucklanders are well and truly over those types of arguments when they are looking at their cities transport needs.

27 comments on “Aucklanders think Joyce is crazy. ”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    Someone should do a survey of Aucklanders, whether they want the holiday highway or a harbour crossing.

    • lprent 1.1

      Agreed, Auckland city council or the CCO Auckland Transport would be the appropriate body. However I am unconvinced that Auckland Transport is more than a sock puppet of the National government.

      The harbor crossing has to happen within the decade. The question is to do with rail over the harbor.

      • Jeremy Harris 1.1.1

        No it doesn’t, traffic volumes have dropped the last 5 years…

        • lprent

          Yes it does. The bridge itself is fine. But the ‘nippon clipons’ that were added in the 70’s are displaying metal fatigue issues. In fact there are some quite distinct variations in the surface these days. Trucks are now excluded from them. 

          Traffic volumes have only slightly dropped (and that is well inside the margins for normal variation). What the traffic volumes haven’t done is increase as fast as the NZTA expected. Those clipons have 4 road lanes which we look like we’re going to still need in the next few decades.

          Estimates on their current life span range from 15 years to 20 years. Since there is a considerable lead time in whatever replacement gets put in, it means that we should start inside this decade – especially since no-one is too sure how reliable the estimates before the clipons fail are.

  2. vidiot 2

    Can’t we just pull the bridge down and leave all the northern troglodyte’s alone ?

    • lprent 2.1

      Then they’d just jam up the ferries or attempt to fill the North Western motorway – in other words it merely moves the problem. 

      Besides, I’ve used that bridge to head to my parent’s old place at Puhoi, my sisters holiday residence at Mahurangi and to work in several places in Albany and Takapuna. The North Shore is an integral part of Auckland

      It is simpler to build the right harbor crossing that allows people to move on public transport. However Steven Joyce appears to have an transport agenda that has very little to do with benefiting Aucklanders, their businesses and relieving congestion. It looks more like a way of rewarding constriction companies.

      I kind of expected him to stand as a candidate here. But somehow I can’t see that happening. It’d mean that he’d have to be more accountable – not his strongest suit.

      • vidiot 2.1.1

        For around $150M (150K’s @ $1M per K, or $1,000 a metre) I think you could quite easily decongest all of Aucklands motorway systems – North, South, East, West & Onehunga with one simple fix – build a 1.5 metre high barrier down the top of median barrier. Remove the rubber necking, and you will remove the associated nose to tails that follow and reoccur down the flow of traffic, ergo freeing up traffic.

        • lprent

          It’d help, especially on friday evening.

          But personally I don’t think that it would have that big an effect. I don’t even ‘see’ what is happening on the other side of the road where there is a median barrier. 

          But that would be simple to test. Just do it on a section of the motorway that has some accurate stats for nose to tails, then measure the results. I’d take a bet that it is statistically significiant. But I’d also bet that it isn’t more than a relatively minor effect.

          Ask over at ATB. I’ll take a bet that there are already stats for it here.

        • andy (the other one)

          Good idea, but emergency services sometimes have to access from opposing traffic lanes.  Also when a car hits the median they’ ride up’ the barrier and it could possibly push the higher barrier into fast moving opposing traffic.
          Bring back the trams! And for Christchurch too!!!


  3. Afewknowthetruth 3

    Dated Brent Spot


  4. Anthony C 4

    I bet if Infratil or Fulton Hogan had a stake in rail he’d be reconsidering his views.

    The guy is corrupt, no two ways about it.

    Maybe if Veolia started contributing to the Waitemata Trust we might get some progress.

  5. Steve Withers 5

    My thoughts as well. I don’t call Joyce the “Minister for Infratil” for nothing. 

    His every action appears designed to pour cash into the pockets of the road-building and bus / truck lobbyists.

    I don’t mind – in a way – if such choices are of the ‘any way is ok’ variety….as the main goal will be reached by whatever path is chosen.

    But in this case, Mr. Joyce and his government – all of them  – are *actively* obstructing the path to the sort of urban growth and transport that Auckland needs.

    They have to go. Aucklanders owe it to *themselves* to get rid of these people…and immediately afterward their bus-owning mates who have degraded public transport for their own profit – running buses parallel to trains all the way into the CBD instead of linking to train stations as feeders where it would make sense to do it. On the North Shore, I have to tiki-tour all around the place to get to work by bus….and I can walk the 8km direct route in only 5 minutes more than it takes to ride the two buses required. They mostly head in the wrong direction to connect as far as possible from my destination – to maximise the fare each extracts from me. Except they don’t….as I’d rather walk. It’s free and only cost me 10 minutes / day all up.

  6. Maui 6

    I am appalled at Key’s governments plans to move the capital to the volcanic field of Tamaki Makarau (Land of the Auk) at the next major quake in Te Whanganui a Tara (Wellington).
    It might be relevant to remind readers that

    “In 1865, Wellington became the capital city of New Zealand, replacing Auckland, where William Hobson had placed the capital in 1841. The Parliament of New Zealand had first met in Wellington on July 7, 1862, on a temporary basis, but Wellington did not become the official capital city for three more years. In November 1863, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Alfred Domett, places a resolution before Parliament (meeting in Auckland) that “… it has become necessary that the seat of government … should be transferred to some suitable locality in Cook Strait.” (In the Cook Strait region, that is — not in the ocean.) Apparently, there had been some concerns that the more highly populated South Island (where the gold fields were located) would choose to form a separate colony in the British Empire. Several Commissioners invited from Australia (chosen for their neutral status to help resolve the question) declared that Wellington was a suitable location because of central location in New Zealand and its good harbour. Parliament officially met in Wellington for the first time on July 26, 1865. At that time, the population of Wellington was just 4,900.[16]

    Source < https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Wellington >
    The same logic applies today. Nelson, with the highest prevalence of sunshine in NZ, has to be a candidate for a back-up capital. It’s only drawback would appear to rising sea levels on the tidal flats due to global warming. It is however conveniently shielded from the Cook Strait Canyon by the Marlborough Sounds – unlike Port Nicholson or Lyall Bay.
    More broadly, it’s designation as back-up capital would be a badly needed boost in confidence for struggling Cantabrians, and would move the centre of gravity of Aotearoa southwards, together with predicted population flows as the climate warms and job opportunities develop in the extractive industries. Another gold rush, anyone ?

  7. JonL 7

    In the Cook Strait region, that is — not in the ocean.
    I think in the ocean would be a damn good idea…..

  8. aotearoan 8

    JonL .. another JAFA ?
    BTW lprent, this writing pad is great !

  9. Luva 9

    London has without a doubt the best urban rail network in the world. You can live in the city without owning or ever needing a car. However the network is made up with a multitude of different forms of rail that are not compatible and don’t share lines. Try getting a distict line train down the central line, or the docklands light rail onto the southern main line. None of the lines are compatible yet they all network.

    Therefore I don’t think we should dismiss a light rail harbour crossing. It just needs to networks ie goes to Britomart or some other common station.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 9.1

      The Northern busway  was built to allow conversion to light rail, so the connection from Takapuna to Albany is all ready there ( just lay the rails) and a under harbour tunnel to the city will separate the  LR  from the cars.

  10. Carol 10

    Wake up, Mr Joyce, the demand is oustripping the (quantity/quality of) supply!  I came home tonight from Britomart on the Western train line.  Apparently the train before mine had been cancelled.  It was standing room only when I got on the train.  The ticket collector gave up collecting tickets after the train got crowded out at Newmarket – and by then he hadn’t collected all the tickets for people who got on at Britomart.  Some people couldn’t get on at the next few stations as there was no room.  People waiting on platforms looked a little shocked at how crowded the train was when it pulled in to the stations.
    The train went very slowly & I was a little worried it might have to big a load for its capacity.  But, ultimately I was happy to be in a warm dry space and getting to where I wanted to go.  Those who made their feelings known seemed good humoured & friendly.  The rest seemed patient.

    • Jim Nald 10.1

      Pshaw! Steven boy is too busy playing with his own joyce stick to worry about Auckland commuters.

  11. Zhou 11

    I have tried light rail in Sydney at rush hour, and it works – brilliantly.
    Bring back modern trams, while we can.

  12. nadis 12

    Why the love affair with trains?  Surely increased bus networks are the answer?  Flexible, cheaper, more reactive to changing population densities.  I just can’t see how trains are a better solution in a low density sprawl like Auckland.  How do most people get top or from a train station to start with?
    If we made dedicated bus lanes on all major roads and enforced them, and had a Singapore style congestion charge, we’d have the most efficient public transport system in the world.

    • Luxated 12.1

      A couple of quick points.

      Trains are cheaper (cost per kilometre per passenger) at higher traffic volumes.  Fewer drivers per passenger, fewer vehicles per passenger, harder wearing surface and traffic segregation come to mind to explain this despite the increased capital cost.

      Reliability.  Buses have to share a road with private vehicles which means they get badly congested at times (I’ve been on a bus which took the best part of an hour to travel 5-6km i.e. walking pace).  For the same reason they are also more likely to have an accident.

      To address your flexibility/reactivity/sprawl statement (they’re effectively the same argument or at least have the same answer), TOD or Transport Oriented Development.  Basically whenever a city builds major transport infrastructure (including motorways) it has feedback development, that is development that occurs because that infrastructure has made the locality more desirable.  This has the effect (if properly managed) of increasing the local population density.  In effect this locally minimises sprawl and decreases the need for flexibility/reactivity because the infrastructure proactively shapes development rather than reacting to it.

      That isn’t to say that buses don’t have their uses, just that you can’t build an entire city using solely buses.  A good example of when that was tried would be the 1960s in just about any city you care to name, they ripped up all the tram lines and started using buses instead, fifty years on and they\’re putting the tram lines back in.

      A good place to read up on this (aside from ATB) would be the frequently excellent BrisUrbane, Australian based but worth a read even if you only read the posts about Perth’s PT.

  13. Zhou 13

    Yup, we could mix and match any of the above, depending on geography, preference, economics .. and common sense.

  14. Steve Withers 14

    nadis: Numbers alone say it has to be trains. Here is an example that is entirely possible in Auckland within 15 years – never mind the distant future: 

    Imagine oil is $5 / litre. But wages haven’t kept up. People need to move via public transport. The population of the North Shore will be 600,000 people. Let’s say only 60,000 of them have to get over the bridge each morning and afternoon in a 2 hours window.

    If a bus carries 60 people (and they do). That’s 1,000 buses with 1,000 drivers. Even if assume one bus could make two trips in two hours that’s still 500 buses per hour – entire journey – arriving at Britomart – and 500 leaving…and 500 drivers. Hope no one has to pee.

    These buses share the same roads as cars and trucks and they have to wait for traffic lights. How many full buses must a would-be bus rider wait to go past before they can board at peak hour? 20? 50? 100? Where do all these buses stop? How do people get on and off them? Which bus? The first or the 71st? People on Onewa Rd and Dominion Rd are already having to wait for the 2nd, 3rd or 4th bus before they find one empty enough to board. That’s happening right now.

    Clearly it’s nonsense. You just can’t get people on and off buses fast enough….never mind get 8 buses per minute through rush hour traffic – on average – effectively non-stop.

    Buses do not scale on main arteries. They are best used as feeders to the main arteries from the hinterland of sprawl you refer to….until we can fix the sprawl.

    Trains? Double tracked. 12 cars. 1,000 people per train. One driver. One guard. 60 staff on all trains.  Ticketing done prior to reaching the platform. Thirty such trains per hour – one every two minutes – could easily handle 30,000 people per hour without breaking a sweat. A thousand people can board – or disembark – from a train in less than 60 seconds. I know this because they do exactly this all over the world every day…and in cities about the same size Auckland will be in 15 years.

    What happens next is also interesting. People want to live near train stations. Density rises along train routes. Urban sprawl is expensive…and people don’t really want to pay for it if they have an alternative. Yes….each generation can resist change. Old ways die hard. But new people appreciate the new ways and embrace them rapidly. This is how societies evolve to meet the needs of the future. 

    As at the start: the numbers alone say it has to be trains. Buses can’t and don’t scale.

  15. nadis 15

    Ok – I take on board all that.  I used to live on Sydneys North Shore so appreciate a good train service.  I was lucky there – lived in a nice big suburban house on a 1500m section with a pool, but could walk to the train station in less than 5 minutes.  Not sure I would have lived that close to the station though if the choice was a 2 bedroom apartment on the 8th story of a city building.
    Part of the problem we have in NZ is always the short term-ism around planning.  For instance I would happily use the northern busway but I cant get to a station except by car.  And if I do drive there, unless I arrive prior to 8am (which I don’t) I cant get a car park.
    Even based on the demographic trends which have been published over the last couple of days  I struggle to see trains as economic in Auckland, except maybe for three trunks – north-central, central -south and central -west.  And bus feeders to those – sure why not.
    I would love to see some research on the economics of trains in cities where they do work – what sort of population density and usage are required to make the sums work.  I just cant see our councils or central government ever having the vision to re-engineer auckland as required to make trains work.  What happens when there is an efficient fast train from (say) silverdale.  Won’t we just end up with massive sprawl around the new hubs?  The TOD concept is fine fro green fields, but how do you re-engineer our existing low density city to be consistent with that?  Think of the Eden Park nimby-ism multiplied by thousands.

    • Steve Withers 15.1

      nadis: Good points. Thanks. 🙂  In other cities, what has made trains ‘affordable” is that every other option is either more expensive, less effective, socially disruptive….or some of all three (and perhaps other elements. More roads won’t help when people want to go to the same places…or must pass through geographic or urban choke-points. You can only take so many people’s homes away to make more roads before they kick up a fuss….and you have to compensate them. Ultimately, you can’t build any more roads….but people still need to move. Trains become the only option by default. You can bury them. Make them longer. Add more lines to areas of rising population. A kilometer of rail is cheaper to build and maintain than a kilometer of road.

  16. Jum 16

    Great stuff guys;  Auckland is speaking out too – nice change.  The only people gaining from not having a 21stC public transport system are those with investments in private ventures.  National/Act will never be wanting to help us.  They have to be forced to do what’s right.  2011 election to Labour with Greens helping hold Labour’s pen to sign for NZers to make coaches in NZ, tracks to be left, tracks to be replaced, buses to be sexed up, new tracks to be laid will surely be real progress in New Zealand.
    Robbie would then be proud of us all.

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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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