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Kiwis want buses, not holiday highways

Written By: - Date published: 1:34 pm, April 4th, 2011 - 30 comments
Categories: public transport, sustainability - Tags: ,

Kiwis are voting with their feet, or rather their arses. Patronage of public transport is skyrocketing to the point of overcrowding while state highway use is falling among except for freight. You have to wonder why the government keeps building expensive highways that will be underused when public transport is full to the brim.

Comparing figures for Auckland public transport patronage and state highway usage, we can see that public transport has grown 15% over the past 4 years, including 8.3% in the past year, while state highway use is pretty much flat.

In fact, state highway use has been nearly flat since 2003 (rising from 1.63 on the index to 1.69 over that time) with most of that down to heavy traffic.

Yet the government is pouring a billion dollars per year this decade into new state highways, some of which are already expected to have costs exceeding the benefits – and that’s based on NZTA’s conservative measures that don’t account for oil price shocks like the one we’re experiencing.

Meanwhile, public transport gets a fraction of that amount.

This is madness in a time when petrol prices are at near record levels and rising.

I know I’ve been saying this a lot lately but it’s important: the government has choices. It could choose a low-cost, low-carbon, low-oil transport model that is fit for the future and will enhance our economy by lessening our oil imports or it can lock us into a 1960s transport model that will waste billions of dollars invested on white elephant motorways.

30 comments on “Kiwis want buses, not holiday highways”

  1. ianmac 1

    Christchurch used to have a Workers train come in from Rangiora. Hordes of people travelled that way. Then the Railway Station was shifted out of town. So now they travel by car. Pity that.

  2. Carol 2

    Someone needs to call Nikki Kaye on her bullying BS (on Citizen A on Stratos last week), that National is doing more to improve public transport in Auckland that Labour did.  Labour didn’t do enough, but it was moving (too) slowly in the right direction.  Also, int he last couple of years it has become much more evident that many more people are choosing to use public transport for economic reasons, high cost of petrol etc.
    In the last years of Labour there were major improvements on the rail system from West Auckland into Auckland CBD: double tracking, station upgrades etc.  Kaye calims that labour was only planning eletricifications, but, unlike National, will actually electrify the system & show how they can pay for it.
    I see also that Wellington system is struggling to cope with the numbers of people commuting by rail.

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      If that’s her entire position, then it doesn’t make sense anyway.

      One of the biggest drivers for The Supercity was to improve transportation. Labour kicked that off with the royal commission, which National dumped and dreamed up their own scheme instead. Now that The Supercity actually exists, National are doing everything they can not to implement the plans of the super mayor.

      Lets not forget the regional fuel tax that National nixxed and replaced with their own fuel tax that goes into the consolidated fund, instead of being ring-fenced specifically for local infrastructure requirements.

      • Carol 2.1.1

        Well you can check what Kaye said for yourself as it’s online now – Nikki Kaye & Jacinda Ardern in debate on Citizen A.

        • felix 2.1.1.1

          Lol @ Kaye “People believe in [Key] and they believe he’s got the heart and courage to make a difference”
           
          She’s still regurgitating the lines they drummed into her before the last election!
           
          Listen up Nikki, it’s 2011. Key has had a term to prove himself.
           
          It’s no longer a matter of believing in his heart, it’s a matter of WHAT THE FUCK HAS HE DONE!?!

          Cya Nikki, it’s been real.

        • chris73 2.1.1.2

          Tell you what, they ain’t bad looking

    • William Joyce 2.2

      Watching it I got the feeling that she trying to convince us that she had influence and that the boys club listened to her.
      She seemed to be apologising/excusing the boys and next praising them.

  3. Bored 3

    I note the exclusive nature of the public transport options. Bus, train, ferry etc. I remember many years back hanging a bike off the back of a bus.

    The reality of public transport is that you have to walk to the bus stop or train station, and do the same again at the other end. Being able to take the bike with you would save a whole lot of time and probably encourage greater use of public transport.

    • Bright Red 3.1

      In Wellington, they’re bringing in a ban for bikes on trains during peak times. Madness, of course, but they argue the new railcars don’t have the space.

  4. Carol 4

    People take bikes on trains in Auckland – not sure if they can do that at peak times though. Also, there are areas for chaining up bikes outside the upgraded rail stations in Auckland.  Haven’t seen in provisions for them on buses though.

  5. JS 5

    The Kapiti line has recently been electrified to Waikanae (from Paraparaumu). Unsurprisingly, it is incredibly popular, with overcrowded parking around Waikanae station. If good public transport is provided people will use it (and the hugely expensive and destructive Kapiti expressway will be even less viable).

  6. Armchair Critic 6

    And just to reinforce the point, there appears to be overwhelming support for a rail link as part of a new harbour crossing.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10716992

  7. Afewknowthetruth 7

    ‘You have to wonder why the government keeps building expensive highways that will be underused when public transport is full to the brim.’

    It might pay to investigate who has shares in Fulton Hogan,  Shell and BP.

    • Herodotus 7.1

      Please have the facts before you make such comments. 2 years ago they may have had some relivence but time moves on and what you refer to is history. For your info Shell diverseted out of Australisa not part of their core business, and they wanted to concertrate on exploiatation of the planet instead. In a great year Aust. is only rounding nos for the dutch !!!!
      p.s. Who paid for the relaying of a failed road in Highbrooke? A road should last more than 3-4 years before it fails. I take it that even in local bodies the tax rate payer stuffs up. Where is the developer, engineer and contractor? 1st we had leaky homes, now we have failed roads !!

  8. Steve Withers 8

    Rail makes sense…and I can only put National’s antipathy to rail down to the influence of the bus and truck lobbies. Spending billions on roads when the price of petrol is already rising due to peak oil is absolutely delusional. Clearly a vote for National this year is one that would be very harmful to Auckland and New Zealand….even if “that John Key is such a nice man..”

    With Auckland heading for 2 million and beyond…..there is no way buses can scale to handle the load. They are already failing. Stories of people standing at bus stops as full bus after bus goes by….are already a clear illustration of why buses are not the solution on main transport routes. The Market Farces religion has also prevented bus services from optimising routes and ticketing. For example, why was Birkenhead Transport allowed to opt out of selling the Northern Pass? Insanity in a box.

    A 12-car train can carry about 1000 people and requires one driver and one guard. Such a train can pull to a platform and board enormous numbers of people very rapidly. Seconds. You can run such a train roughly every two minutes if you have to on a double-track main artery. Trains can move 40,000 people an hour in just one direction alone.

    Buses? 40,000 people would require 667 buses….with 667 drivers. The people boarding last would have to wait for perhaps dozens of full buses to depart before they could board at major stations at peak times. Buses could be arriving and departing in the CBD from the North Shore alone at more than 40 PER MINUTE to move the numbers of people required….and do it on roads shared with all other traffic in the CBD.  

    Clearly….buses would be a complete nightmare. But trains can do this easily and they already do it in cities all over the world. Vancouver is comparable to Auckland in size and geographic challenges…and their SkyTrains are excellent.

  9. ChrisH 9

    Transport is Auckland’s biggest issue right now. The emerging Labour-Greens-NZF popular front absolutely have to pick up on this if they want to win in November. By dying in a ditch over roads with only 18 per cent support for not having rail to the Shore and 79 per cent for, NACT would hand Auckland to a re-energised opposition on a plate.
    Just about anyone out of those 79 per cent could bring themselves to vote for either Labour, the Greens or NZF, even if they couldn’t stand one they could vote for the other; and if all three were singing out of the same song sheet on rail, it couldn’t fail.
    All the opposition need say is “We won’t stand in Len’s way.” And repeat it like a mantra from now till November, so that the election becmes a referendum on democracy in Auckland.
    As for 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.
    More historically, you have to remember that in this country Rogernomics arose, very largely, in opposition to Muldoon’s ‘Think Big’ plans which were actually a response to a premature prediction of peak oil sometime in the 1980s.
    In addition to some dodgy projects (e.g. the Aramoana aluminium smelter). Think Big also included things like the electrification of most of the North Island Main Trunk Line and the extension of Wellington’s electric railway services by another 10 km in 1983, from Paekakariki to Paraparumu. 
    Deep down, Rogernomics and post-Rogernomics is based on a firm foundation of cheap oil that will never run out and the endless ridicule of anyone who thinks otherwise as a ‘Muldoonist’.
    Deep down the Rogernomes and post-Rogernomes know that if they admit the reality of peak oil and the need for better PT, the game’s up.
    Not to mention the fact that trains, with their timetables and planned station environs, have the effect of making planning look good. That’s why they call it public transport as opposed to the private car, once more.
    No doubt there are other more specific lobby motives but deep down that’s the spectre stalking the minds of Joyce, Hyde (sorry, Hide), Douglas, Brash, and all the other Hollow Men. 
    And that’s why NACT can never backflip and do another Muldoon on this, at least as long as the Hollow Men are in charge, whereas it’s much easier for Labour, the Greens and NZF to come out and say, actually we need more planning. At least in this coming election, all National’s transport policy guns are pointing in the wrong direction and they have been concreted in and can’t be shifted.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      So that’s the thing. There needs to be a coalition of parties standing firm in support of Auckland democracy, not dictatorial rule from Wellington.
      Come on guys, make it happen.

      • Dan 9.1.1

        I’d be happier seeing a party demanding that Auckland’s years of paying more than it got in return should count for something. The cupboard is always bare when it comes to investing in Auckland, we’re expected to pay for it out of regional fuel taxes or something else that was conveniently not around when the rest of the country needed stuff to be paid for.

    • Armchair Critic 9.2

      Nail, head, hit for those first three paragraphs, Chris.  Any opposition party worth its salt will be pushing public transport, and getting votes for it.
      I’d be pushing for the party vote in some of the electorates, because the National party have held them since the 1940s (North Shore springs to mind) and the voters don’t expect anyone else to win.  But others I’d go for both, because some are very winnable.
      If you are the same person that posted over at Auckland Transport Blog, that was an excellent piece.
      http://transportblog.co.nz/2011/04/02/guest-post-two-aucklands/

  10. Herodotus 10

    Perhaps that those in power Auckland and Waikato councils could align their town planning and new areas for future development with the main trunklines. So we could in some way mirrow Wellingtons transport system. but no that would not work why should town planners consult with the 2 most important areas: The public and logic. So wher are all these future areas of development?? and why are they not where there are already stations e.g. Pokeno, Huntly.
    the link below also supports (as I do) a rail link Orewa to Britimart, a large oversight when the Habour bridge version ii was built. Pity that for a million pounds extra we could have got 6 car lanes and a rail. But better to save a dollar today that will cost millions tomorrow. Great thinkers. Here is a real gem for greatness
    http://transportblog.co.nz/2009/02/13/aucklands-rail-map-in-2030/

  11. Chris 11

    They do need to finish the motorway network system that was started in the 60’s. The Western connection will be an important link in the ring road system to diveret traffic  esp heavy traffic away from the central area.
    The Eastern motorway really should be revisited also.
    Yes trains and buses are important but finish what was started 50 odd years ago.

    Chris

    • MikeG 11.1

      50 years ago my father started building a house. He had great plans for a 5 bedroom home, but only built 3 bedrooms at first. He never got around to finishing it. Now someone else has come along and instead of finishing my fathers great plan, they’ve completely remodeled the house and added rooms where there was once a garden, created some indoor/outdoor flow etc. They’ve created a house that my father could never have imagined.
      Perhaps the same should be said of those transport planners who created plans 50 years ago that were appropriate for 50 years ago, but are now no longer suitable.
      [not a true story, but relevant I think]
       

  12. Chris: Petrol will be going up in price fairly quickly over the next 5-10 years…either in actual terms or in relative terms to falling purchasing power. By the time they finish these roads….they may not be needed at all. Particularly if people do actually have a a decent public transport alternative.

  13. todd 13

    Nah! I want a highway built on every beach so I can drive my hummer continuously while drinking coke and eating cheese burgers. I want a McD’s every 10 k’s. I want to do burn outs on your Home while it’s drill baby spill all over your takutai moana and my rich white mates undertake colonialism 21st century styles on your arse. Fuck yeah!

  14. Draco T Bastard 14

    What needs to be done for PT:

    It needs to be “free”
    Buses should be local only with the local train station as their destination
    Buses should be scheduled so that they match the train schedule as closely as possible

    This will do three things:

    It will remove unnecessary traffic from the roads (yes, if you just going to work and not moving away from there during the day then you don’t need the car)
    Remove congestion thus removing costs incurred from it
    Save a hell of a lot of money and resources as less roads will be needed, less maintenance and less petrol/diesel

    National, in there Roads at all Costs are doing NZ a disservice.

    • I’m mainly annoyed by all the money they will be wasting while telling us all they don’t have any to waste. I’d be moving to put in the transport system NZ needs (inter-city, not just local) and then moving to conserve oil once it was in place. That is the only way to gently ease into the post-oil world that will inevitably come. 

      I suppose National merely reflect the relatively level of knowledge of many of their voters. The rise in oil prices will have them looking for explanations….and  reality has a chance in that moment to get a look in…though the usual spin and propaganda in aid of vested interests will also be loud and long….as it has been about climate change.

      To beat National we need only convince a portion of their supporters that National doesn’t even understand the questions…..never mind has the answers.

  15. Zaphod Beeblebrox 15

    Don’t forget we have a Rugby World Cup, which is becoming increasing focused on Auckland- where the fans will be totally reliant upon an effective public transport system to get around. I’m guessing that the current numbers of buses and trains may struggle under the load- which will be embarassing for the BMW travelling ministers who will be seen in their corporate boxes sucking up the champers whilst the poor pleb fans and tourists get crushed waiting at the station.

    Last year Brown used this issue to bash Banks into submission- every public meeting I went to Banks was howled down when he  suggsted we finish the motorway network first. Given that Labour left this issue to the Greens last election- lets hope they have learnt their lesson.

    • Steve Withers 15.1

      If the RWC goes badly, I can easily imagine National / C&R bagging Len Brown for it. Maybe that’s the plan. 

      I won’t be paying any money for tickets to any games. I don’t know many people who plan to, either….but then I’m not even in the rugby orbit and nor are most of the people I know. I freely admit I may just be unconnected to the folks who will spend thousands to watch rugby matches.

      Who knows? Maybe there are some. 

      As for public transport, I can just imagine some tourist going to the MAXX web site and trying to work out what tickets or passes to buy to get around the city. The best options are well hidden. Some bus companies honour them in use, but refuse to sell them ( eg: Northern Pass / Birkenhead Transport). That sick crap has to end.

      • ChrisH 15.1.1

        A nightmare scenario. Does Brown have a plan to deal with suddenly becoming the scapegoat for inherited failures?

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