Month: December 2012

2012 in review

In Review:

 

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 25,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 6 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

 

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A Pioneer Passes Away

Gerry Anderson – Creator of Thunderbirds Passes Away

 

It is of sad news today that we learn that creator of the ever-lasting cult classic Thunderbirds, Stingray, and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – Gerry Anderson passed away at his home at the age of 83.

From the NZ Herald:

Gerry Anderson, Thunderbirds creator, dies

Gerry Anderson, puppetry pioneer and British creator of the sci-fi hit Thunderbirds TV show, has died. He was 83.

Anderson’s son Jamie said his father died peacefully in his sleep at a nursing home near Oxfordshire, England, after being diagnosed with mixed dementia two years ago.

His condition had worsened dramatically over the past six months, his son said.

Anderson’s television career launched in the 1950s. Once Thunderbirds aired in the 1960s, “Thunderbirds are go!” became a catchphrase for generations. It also introduced the use of “supermarionation” – a puppetry technique using thin wires to control marionettes – and made sci-fi mainstream, according to Jamie Anderson.

“He forever changed the direction of sci-fi entertainment,” Jamie told the Associated Press. “Lots of animation and films that have been made in the past 20 or 30 years have been inspired by the work that he did.”

He said the TV show was perhaps his father’s proudest achievement – along with the cross-generational appeal of his body of work, which also included TV showsStingray and Space: 1999, among others.

“Most people know some aspect of one of his shows which is not something that many TV producers can say,” Jamie said. He noted that his father first broke ground with puppets in Thunderbirds, but was trying new techniques, like advanced computer-generated imagery, into his later years with projects such as 2005’s Captain Scarlet, the re-imagining of his 1967 TV animation.

A truly sad day. But his legacy will continue to live on and entertain those for generations to come.

I am currently (as I wrote this) watching “Trapped In the Sky” – the pilot episode to Thunderbirds and one of my favourites.

 

Rest In Piece Gerry Anderson, you have inspired countless others through to this day and well beyond 🙂

 

 

Some quick trivia of Fireflash and Thunderbird One:

Bit of Trivia on Fireflash and Thunderbird One (from a book I dug up)

Fireflash – the Hypersonic Atomic Powered Passenger Aircraft:

  • Passenger Capacity: 600 across 4 classes with seating even in the main wing edges
  • Max Cruising Speed: Mach 6 or (at sea level comparison) 7,200km/h
  • Power Source: Molten Salt Reactor which powers the 6 atomic motors providing the thrust
  • Cruising Height: Usually 250,000 feet or 76.2km
  • Endurance: For the London to Tokyo maiden flight it was just over three hours before the reactor radiation shields expired, however the atomic motors could last 6 months
  • Of Note: Pilots were located in Tail section of aircraft below the atomic motors but believed to be above the main reactor
  • Flight from Auckland to London if on Fireflash: it is a 20,700km trip to keep the aircraft over water so at Mach 6 you are looking at a trip time of around 3.25 hours which includes take off and landing. NOW THAT IS FAST – London in just over three hours – the current time it takes a 777-300ER to do Brisbane to Auckland 😐
  • Technology feasible today? Yes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aircraft_Reactor_Experiment

 

Thunderbird One

  • Power source: Micro-fusion pile
  • Speed: 15,000mph or 24,000km approx (Mach 20)
  • Cruising height: varied
  • Of note: Thunderbird One was extremely fast and agile with her 4 different engine types and could also hover for sustained periods

 

Pure brilliance – absolute brilliance for the time it was created!

Chicken or The Egg

What First with Transport

 

And

 

Do We Hold The Key to Better Transport?

 

The Herald ran a rather academic story on transport this morning and its relationship with the human body. To be honest the article is rather heavy for this time of year and looks like something err geeky from the blog next door. You can see the Herald article in the link below:

We hold the key to better transport

Some forms of getting from A to B are badly affecting the health of humans.

Incorporating the human body into transport design and planning could save millions.

 

We demand and expect our transport systems to get us where we want, when we want to be there, and as fast as possible. We are, however, human beings. And as with any other built system, we have to ask whether our fast and efficient modes of travel are necessarily always good for us.

And it goes on…

 

However when it came to solutions, yes they are under way but with Auckland‘s case it has a long way to go:

From the same article

 

For all the human health impacts of the modern transport system, there are obviously substantial benefits in the form of greater economic productivity, vastly increased spatial access and mobility, and even health gains, such as increased ability to get preventive and other medical care.

All technology imposes health risks of some sort. So a purely negative focus on these is unhelpful. Nonetheless, it’s useful to ask whether our transport technologies, policies and investments are good for us. If not, we need to adjust and redesign our transport accordingly.

Positive changes, many of which are currently underway, include:

  • A greater focus on redesigning congested urban spaces to encourage walking and social interaction and to lower automobile use and speeds. This could achieve many health and safety outcomes simultaneously.
  • Traffic calming – a range of techniques ranging from speed humps to pedestrian malls which create attractive active transport environments.
  • Road pricing and increasing parking fees, or eliminating parking altogether to encourage public transport use and walking.
  • The expansion of bike-share schemes, where public bicycles can be rented and dropped off from multiple locations.
  • Further safety improvements to automobile safety design for new car models.
  • Prioritising action on “black spots” on roads and highway “geometrics”, which includes improving lines of sight at intersections and around curves.

These reforms need not involve costly or radical overhaul. Road safety used to be a neglected policy; small but significant changes there have saved millions of lives. A broader incorporation of the human body into transport design and planning could save millions more.

 

Urban design and continued evolution of vehicle mechanics will go someway in addressing a more integrated system where transport and urban design are interwoven rather than treated separately as they are now. However the chicken and egg analogy comes up for the point I highlighted in bold: Road pricing and increasing parking fees, or eliminating parking altogether to encourage public transport use and walking. 

It is a case of do we slap on road pricing and increased parking fee measurements to build an adequate mass transit system that people would take as first choice rather than a forced choice (as of current), or do we build the mass transit system and get that running up first before slapping in the road pricing measures. It is actually a tough question and one who would have to provide a very good justification to the tax paying public no matter which of the two options they take.

 

But sadly Auckland seems to be in a bit of bother at the moment with is road and (in this particular case) mass transit systems. Take this article piece from the Herald (the post I have on it is sitting on ice at the moment):

Experts called in to fix rail slump

By Mathew Dearnaley

5:30 AM Friday Dec 21, 2012

Auckland Transport is resorting to professional help for a strategy on how to stop losing patronage from trains and buses. Chief operations officer Greg Edmonds has promised to provide his board with a plan early next year on how to staunch bleeding which saw a 17.2 per cent decline in train boardings last month compared with the previous November. That followed concern raised by Auckland Council transport leader Mike Lee, which was acknowledged by new board chairman Lester Levy, about a need to lift service performance. Mr Lee said patronage, which was boosted last year by the Rugby World Cup, started “flat-lining” in March and the organisation was starting to see a distinctive downward trajectory. “I don’t think this is sustainable without Auckland Transport intervening in a decisive way,” he said. “One of the measures of quality is punctuality or train performance and, while the price of our services is high, quality tends to be poor consistently.”

Mr Lee said the board, on which he is a council appointee, had been assured a new timetable would improve rail performance and that the rollout of the new Hop transport card on trains would combat fare evasion. But the board heard that train punctuality deteriorated last month to 84.1 per cent of services running to schedule, compared with 87.1 per cent in October, and he said rail staff were having difficulties stopping free-riding passengers. He had been told of fare evasion as some people were presenting their Hop cards to train staff to avoid paying their way. This did not apply to Britomart or Newmarket, which have become gated stations. “Busy, harassed train managers trying to collect fares are shown a Hop card and they move on,” he said. “The person may have paid $5 [in a since-expired half-price opening deal] for a card and, according to rail staff, they are using it to evade fares. “There are electronic checkers but they are slow and cumbersome and there’s not enough of them.” Dr Levy said he agreed there was a need for “critical measures” to be adopted and Auckland Transport needed to be far more customer-led in creating a demand for its services. “From the board’s point of view, this won’t go away – it’s the number one issue,” he said.

 

I think at this rate Auckland will be some way off before coming to the Chicken and Egg question on new infrastructure (which is where the point in bold above comes in) when we can’t even get the basics right on existing infrastructure.

 

Hopefully our transport planners and politicians will have some time to think over the summer holidays and have a solution, however as my iced post would stipulate; that might be asking for Mission Impossible. So in that case “WE” might be very well holding the key to better transport!

 

2013 – #3

Who will Be the Next Mayor or Councillor

 

Another blog  ran a post on who will be mayor and who will be our councillors that make up the next Auckland Council after we post our ballots next year for the Local Government Elections.

 

I was searching through my posts from this year and found past commentary on my take of the Local Government Elections next year and found that; “yep – we are still heading down that path.”

 

So for a recap on 2013, I shall link my 2013 articles here as an easy reference for your holiday thinking:

  1. 2013

  2. 2013 – PART TWO

  3. 2013 – YOUR CITY – YOUR CALL! # INTRO #

  4. 2013 – YOUR CITY – YOUR CALL! #1

  5. 2013 – YOUR CITY – YOUR CALL! #2

  6. 2013 – YOUR CITY – YOUR CALL! #3

  7. 2013 – YOUR CITY – YOUR CALL! #4

 

Quite comprehensive isn’t it? And the coverage of 2013 – Your City – Your Call will start in earnest next month especially as I ramp up my campaign for Papakura Local Board next year.

 

And oh, Communities and Residents (C&R) must be have a strategy session over the break if they want to achieve that 6-seat swing in Council to regain control…

 

Fun times ahead for all – indeed 😮

 

A Thought – Ctd

Why One Bothers

 

Some sent this to me while they are away on holiday. This quote is from Dr Seuss‘s ‘The Lorax:’

 

“Unless someone like YOU cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better – its NOT!”

 

Have a ponder over that while having a Summer’s alcoholic drink somewhere whether on holiday or not!

 

Pretty fitting for the year that has been in both victories and losses here at BR:AKL especially with one particular post I have on ice at the moment.

 

However have a good Christmas folks, and be seeing you next year

 

BEN ROSS : AUCKLAND

Shining The Light – To a Better Papakura (OUR home)
AND
To a Better Auckland – (OUR City)

Auckland 2013: YOUR CITY – YOUR CALL

 

More to Ponder Over

Needing Help?

 

While I have one “Thought” post on ice as I check that it won’t land me in the crap here is something else to think over while on holiday:

From NZ Herald:

Kerre Woodham: Nats run out of petrol

In what should have been a lovely, relaxing wind-down to the year, I found myself getting wound up instead.

Normally, talkback in the week before Christmas is full of callers ringing in with lovely stories of family get-togethers and their own personal Yuletide traditions, and we wish each other well for the holiday season. Nice, warm, fuzzy stuff.

This year, however, the news of a fuel tax hike on the same day the Remuneration Authority announced a pay rise for MPs – backdated to July 1, what’s more – had us incensed.

Bill English said he needed to impose an extra 3c a litre on petrol six months from now because he wanted to meet his target of a surplus by 2015. Growth has slowed right down, mainly because of rising unemployment, hence the tax.

I thought John Key said that by cutting income tax rates we would be able to stimulate the economy. Guess that didn’t work. I thought Key said that he would be able to stem the flow of New Zealanders to Australia by building a competitive economy and offering after-tax earnings on a par with those across the ditch. Well, that hasn’t worked, either.

There are now more people moving to Oz under National than there were under Labour. But instead of ‘fessing up and conceding nothing the Government has come up with has worked, the Prime Minister has produced a classic example of Orwellian double-speak.

Akshally, says Key, moving to Australia is a GOOD thing for New Zealanders to do. They’ll see the world, gain experience – no, just like everything else, Key is comfortable with the numbers of Kiwis farewelling this country.

Well, I’m not. Why can’t he just concede that this politics lark is a darn sight more difficult than he thought it would be? National was voted in because they promised voters they had the answers. They’d be a breath of fresh air. They were business people who knew a thing or two about making money, not academics who’d spent most of their lives in ivory towers.

Well, they may know how to make money for themselves but they don’t seem to have any answers when it comes to making the country richer.

If, after four years of government, the best strategy they can come up with to produce a surplus is to raise the fuel tax, they are devoid of initiative and bereft of imagination.

Prices will rise because of the increased cost of transportation so the fuel tax will affect everyone in this country, not just motorists.

And don’t give me that nonsense about needing the money for roads of national significance – most roads of national significance are tolled. So we already pay a fuel tax. That will be increased. And then we pay a toll. Fabulous.

There are those who say it’s only going to be an extra $3 a week for motorists – not even the price of a cup of decent coffee. That just shows how wide the gap between the haves and the have-nots has become. Many people on low incomes haven’t been inside a snazzy cafe for years.

Why doesn’t the Finance Minister ask his parliamentary driver to use the fuel card to fill up the Beemer and take him for a drive to areas where people are really doing it tough? I’d like to see him tell those people that an extra $156 a year coming out of their pockets is neither here nor there.

I really hope 2013 is the year that National stops blaming the country’s poor performance on the recession and starts coming up with the innovative initiatives they promised us.

 

So some thoughts:

  1. Are we stuck for a lemon for a Government
  2. Is National on Empty and if so how long on empty
  3. Can anything be done by government to move this nation actually forward
  4. Are voters ready to make the hard choices including maybe weaning ourselves on big items like Working for Families?
  5. What are your ideas to move us forward.
  6. Are we ready to maybe swallow that dead rat and do something requiring  some sacrifice short-term for long-term gain – even if it goes against one’s ideology (The City Rail Link being the prime example)

 

I have a few ideas but will go into them sometime in the future. But for starters as I said above: “Are we ready to maybe swallow that dead rat and do something requiring  some sacrifice short-term for long-term gain – even if it goes against one’s ideology (The City Rail Link being the prime example)” – I am ready to commit to that sacrifice and go with moving the CRL forward. Call it the Gibbs gut feeling knowing the CRL is the most logical and pragmatic start in a range of options to be rolled out over the next thirty years to move Power Shift Auckland Forward.

 

But I shall leave you with those thoughts and maybe some ideas to help the government or more to the point getting this nation forward.

 

In the mean time, hopefully the ex-cyclone system otherwise was known as Evan doesn’t drown your Christmas out.

 

Have a Good Christmas Folks

And see you all next year! 😀

 

LGOIMA Request Out – Manukau Car Park

Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act Request on Manukau Public Car Park is Out

 

 

Recently I had filed a Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act request to Auckland Council over the business case for the now Auckland Transport owned and operated Manukau City Centre Public Car Parking Building:

Time for a Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act Request

 

It is time to file another Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act request to the Auckland Council. This time the LGOIMA request will be on the recently opened Auckland Transport public car park building in Manukau which I reported on this morning. The request I will be filing will be for the originalbusiness case presented to the former Manukau City Council (under Mayor Len Brown) on this $14m building before it was carried over as a legacy project by today’s Auckland Council.

I am curious to what the business case was for this parking building in trying to understand why the former Manukau City Council went ahead with this project and possibly why Auckland Council did not stop it.

I’ll be keeping the readers up to date on the request – whether it is accepted or rejected by Council officials.

But in any case it is time to take a peek and what was the methodology behind the construction of this parking building in Manukau City Centre! 

 

And so the information requested has come in today and is posted (as four attachments) below.

 

 

This is the revised version

 

 

 

 

Now I am still reading the documents, but on first glance I think we have just been sold down the road initially with this building if we do not get any more high density development around Manukau soon (the Manukau South Rail Link adds another dynamic to the mix as well).

 

However check this out from AT’s website in the Ronwood Avenue Parking Building:

Ronwood Avenue car park

Last reviewed: 10/12/2012 11:55 a.m.

Car park location: Corner Ronwood and Davies Avenue, Manukau  – entrance from Ronwood Avenue

Parking description:  Multi-storey parking facility with a Vehicle Height Clearance of 2.1m. Eight levels with 676 spaces.

Car park features:

  • System for quick and easy parking (space availability signage by level)
  • Well lit
  • Clean and tidy
  • CCTV cameras that link through to a central control room monitored by security personnel.

 

Contact us about this car parking facility, or if you require immediate assistance in the car park building, press the blue “assistance” button located on the payment machines.

Hours  |   Tariffs  |  Lease Parking  |  Debit Card  |   Parking Vouchers  |   Ways to Pay  |

Normal operating hours 

​Day of the week ​Opens ​Closes
Monday to Friday 6.00am​ ​9.00pm
​Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays ​Closed

Note: Customers can park their cars in the building for 24 hours or longer, but can only exit before the last exit or opening times. See Other Parking rates to work out the cost of leaving your car overnight. For example, should you park your car in the building after 5pm on Friday night, and remove it on Monday morning at 6am, you will pay the $5 evening rate for each night it is in the building ($15 in total).

 

Tariffs

The following tariffs are a guideline only and subject to change. Refer to the schedule of fees at the car park entry.

Casual parking (Monday – Friday)

Casual parking
0 – 1 hour​ ​$1 1 – 2 hours $2.00
2 – 3 hours $3.00 3 – 4 hours $4.00
4 – 5 hours $5.00 Max daily rate​ $6.00
* Lost ticket fee​ ​$40.00

* If customer loses their parking ticket, an instant $40.00 fee will be charged to be released from the car park.

 

Other Parking

Other parking​ ​Tariff ​Times & Conditions
Early bird parking​ $4.00​ Weekdays only

Enter and pay before 9.30am

Availability during this time is on a first come basis until full​

Levels 1 and 2 only

Evening rate​ $5.00​ Enter after 5.00pm – valid until 6.00am (following morning)

One entry, one exit

Pay at the machine​

​Lease Parking

Monthly lease deals (incl. GST)

See application forms for lease parking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

​Concession

$150.00

Level 3

No reserved allocated space -“first come – first served”

Global concession

$360.00​

Reserved allocated (undercover)

$250.00

Level G​
Reserved allocated (external)

$160.00

Level G​
Reserved unallocated

$200.00​

Level 4
Debit card​ Coded for denominations $20.00 to $200.00.

Rechargeable.​

Contact us for more information
Parking vouchers See casual rates above Available in 1,2,3 hour; half or full day periods, parking vouchers are used at the pay machine together with the entry ticket.

Request via fax or contact us ​

Ways to pay Automatic payment machines can take Visa, Mastercard, Diners card and EFTPOS payments, as well as cash.

Help is only a button push away if required.

 

* If customer loses their parking ticket, an instant $40.00 fee will be charged to be released from the car park.

 

 

So what methodology was used? Love to seriously know

And I would really love to know how the diminished operating hours and parking tariffs compared to the original and revised Business Case studies are meant to assist in paying off the building as well as building a “sustainable” positive cash flow for Auckland Transport and Auckland Council. Now remember the parking building’s parking tariffs have already been slashed to these current levels to match or even underpin the All Day Park and Display street parking around Manukau. Even then that has not enticed people off the street and into the building (and it wouldn’t for me either).

I also have to ask, it is packed at Westfield Manukau Mall with Christmas shoppers and will be this weekend. Have AT even thought of opening the building this weekend to catch the overflow – you know a win-win for AT and Westfield? Probably not. So while you the shopper go round and around looking for a park, you have a perfectly empty dead parking building just sitting there – NICE ONE AUCKLAND TRANSPORT!

 

Why does Cabbage Boat come to mind here folks.

 

More in this business case later.