Month: January 2013

Oh My

Not a Good Look For Auckland

 

Some feedback from a reader (who has asked to remain anonymous which BR:AKL will do as requested) on their experience with our rail system down at Britomart over the recent Auckland Anniversary Weekend:

 

Made a big mistake yesterday. I showed some international investors around the waterfront yesterday knowing it would be vibrant with Anniversary day regatta on. All was well until they wanted to go see our train station (which was Britomart). What a “disaster” that turned out to be.

They stood there for about 5-10min taking it all in, watching as the same people were at the ticket box with one person working (at that particular ticket box (The station platform level one on the other side of the gates where the “Onboard Fare is usually paid)) trying to sort something out for five minutes. As a result people were coming and going from the waiting queue annoyed.

The investors were not impressed at all and said that what they seen of Auckland doesn’t impress them as a viable city to invest in. They said love the wide open spaces, weather etc. but just doesn’t stack up as commercially viable. 

While I am here: Every time I go into Station Square in Newmarket to show potential investors/tenants the vacant shops I pray there are humans (besides the unemployed and school kids hanging around during school hours I might pray but the poor tenants are mental wrecks waiting for the last  four years for the trains to arrive every thee minutes and what was it like 17,000 people using that station.

 

The person who sent in the above also sent in some photos to boot (Anniversary Monday):

 

Well after another anonymous reader fed to the blog some statistics from the Anniversary Weekend I am not surprised that our friend above was rather disheartened and the investors spooked off.

The statistics I am referring to is how many Rail Ticket Machines had some kind of fault in them. 37 faults on 31 machines out of an approximate total of 57 rail ticket machines across the Auckland rail network over the long weekend. The faults can range from:

  • Machine has no change
  • No paper (so the machine goes “offline” as it can’t print tickets)
  • Printer Fault (can put the machine offline)
  • Machine just turned off
  • Bank Note Device not accepting your $20 bill 😛

So 31 out of 57 machines had either one or more of the above listed faults in the weekend. To make it worse, if you call it in to the AT-HOP help desk the technician won’t come until Tuesday to “fix” the issue (I kid you not).

 

Now to make life harder, those with AT-HOP cards who would tag on and off like I do when travelling by train would have faced numerous tagging posts “offline” meaning you need to go find another tag post. I knew of a couple of stations (I went travelling on the train in the weekend “exploring”) that had two out of three of their tag posts offline. Again call it into AT-HOP help desk and the technician comes out Tuesday.

 

What on earth happened over the Anniversary weekend when Auckland had all the tourists in. I thought we were meant to make our good train system that – good; not bloody difficult and spooking off people.

Groan – the amount of work to advance the good system into an Advanced First-Class system just keeps piling up and up and up with no light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Come on guys – I know you can do better 😦

 

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An Auckland Housing Redux

Battle on Housing Goes On

 

BR:AKL Has Viable Alternative Urban Land UsePolicy” Already

 

 

And I bet we are all sick of the Housing Affordability Debate swinging from one extreme to the other and back again; both at central and local government levels, both by the centre-left (social authoritarian section) and centre-right (neo-conservatism). The conservatives from both sides of the political spectrum are basically bashing each over the heads trying to score “up-man” points on one another with housing, yet really don’t offer what WE really want in housing (it is what THEY want in housing and telling US how and where to live). Interestingly Social Liberals (from the left), Neo Liberals (centre right) and even the libertarians (down the bottom of the political compass) have gone extremely quiet on housing and urban land use policy.

 

This is rather a shame as the liberals could very well offer some viable alternatives that we (the residents and businesses) could be very well-looking for. You know “US” making our own choices and working in a collaborative  manner and shape OUR CITY, OUR WAY (not the Government (Local and Central’s) way). Now before I post the “redux” on a social liberal‘s view for “housing” just a quick differentiation between how a social liberal and neo liberal would achieve similar goals.

 

What Social and Neo Libs share the same in housing:

  • Planning: Liberalising the planning rules and requirements (like ditching minimum parking requirements, setbacks, landscaping, etc. – basically getting planners out of the road)
  • No monopolies on construction goods (Fletchers would be “broken”)
  • Zoning: basically zone and let the people and developers do the rest (apart from Master Plans)

 

What Social and Neo Libs do not share the same in housing:

  • Provision of social housing provided by The State (not councils). Social Libs would allow it, Neo Libs not
  • Community Master Plans. Social Libs would allow a strict prescription based plan and development to occur in some areas (Town Centres), Neo Libs would still do the zone and let the people and developer do the rest right across the board

 

As for the “Redux” here it is; my social liberal (and well read) Submission to the (then) Draft Auckland Plan where extensive mention of land use was made out:

 

Unfortunately though despite the hearings and constant lobbying, this extensive submission gathers (digital and actual) dust sitting in the draw. So while the conservatives bludgeon each other and boring us with no actual solutions, this liberal document waits for some brave political soul to bring it into the light and see it through in execution.

 

The CRL and North Shore Line Redux

A (re)Look at Two Particular Heavy Rail Projects

 

Over the last year advancements have been made on Auckland‘s heavy rail system (for both passengers and freight). BR:AKL has been following developments as Auckland’s rail continue to grow and evolve through the 21st Century. With the next step of the City Rail Link under way – that is the Notice of Requirements (protecting the land route for the CRL); BR:AKL takes a quick look back at some rail posts, in particular the operational model post CRL but pre North Shore Line, and The North Shore Line herself.

 

The Redux

Operational Models – An Alternative Proposal Post CRL, but pre North Shore Line (thus far)

CRL TIMETABLE AND OPERATION PLAN

THE PROPOSAL After seeing one or two particular proposals for CRL Timetable and/or Operations (that is how passenger trains would run along the Auckland Rail Metro Network) I thought to myself if I could come up with my own proposal.

 

CRL TIMETABLE AND OPERATION PLAN – PART TWO

THE CRL TIMETABLE/OPERATION FREQUENCY PLAN

 With the baseline operation plan laid out (so basically one train an hour on each of the three lines in each direction) it was time to ramp the frequencies up to acceptable standards

 

CRL TIMETABLE AND OPERATION PLAN – PART THREE

POTENTIAL PASSENGER CAPACITY ON POST CRL RAIL NETWORK So far in my City Rail Link Timetable and Operation Plan Proposal I have covered the foundation of my proposal on passenger train operations and frequencies once the $3.6b (Rail Fallacy applying of course)  CRL was opened and under way. You can get a full recap at my CRL TIMETABLE AND OPERATION PLAN – PART TWO post. In this post I build upon the proposed frequencies from Part Two and apply what potential capacity the Auckland Passenger Rail network could have post CRL. Now remember as of current in my proposals I have three lines of operation – they are: …

 

Parts Four and Five have been in the pipeline since Part Three and should be up for “publishing” sometime in February (Part Five as soon as the RPTP is finalised). Part Four would look at a Manukau to New Lynn “shuttle” via Glen Innes and Britomart as well as preparing for the Manukau (Rail) South Link) with Part Five looking at a dummy timetable post CRL but factoring in any changes with the Regional Public Transport Plan.   The CRL Timetable and Operational Plan series will be used in lobbying and advocacy once Auckland Transport starts drawing up proposed operation plans for the trains once the CRL is operational.

As for the North Shore Line two posts were dedicated to this crucial project as well as mentions in submissions to The Auckland Plan:

NORTH SHORE RAIL FOR $2.5B?

Could We See Rail on The North Shore?

 

A QUESTION FOR THE CRL – Is the CRL Future Proofed for The North Shore Line?

…one thing has struck me – well two actually:

  1. No mention of The North Shore Line (which crosses the City Rail Link at Aotea Station)
  2. No apparent future proofing of Aotea Station for The North Shore Line when it gets built (that is when not if folks)

 

Including aspects of The North Shore Line are crucial as part of connecting “all” of  (metro) Auckland to the rail system. Both North Shore Line posts spell out the importance of the CRL as well as The North Shore Line. As time goes on I will write-up a Timetable and Operation Plan – Post North Shore Line with all the lines built and what such a timetable could look like for Auckland.

So interesting and exciting times ahead as advancements in one aspect of Auckland’s Fully Integrated Transport System (or Suite) continue slowly but surely.

 

[All City Rail Link posts can be found by typing “City Rail Link Debate” into blog search box]

The Reality of Parking in the CBD

Even a Parking Operation Admits on Public Transport

 

And

 

The Logic I Use When Travelling into The CBD

 

This morning while reading the morning Facebook comments (politicians and councillors are usually online making their statements for the start of the day) I saw this from Councillor Cameron Brewer in regards to CBD parking:

Don’t ever say I’m never nice nor helpful: ‘Mr Brewer, chairman of the Business Advisory Panel, said the council had “done well” to reduce its charges in its three main parking buildings in the central city.’
My friend Alex Swney in the CBD is hoping the private car parking providers will follow suit. In the meantime it’s much cheaper to use council’s Civic, Downtown, and Victoria Street car-parks. That’s my public service announcement for the day…

The article in question from the NZ Herald was this one: Big cities mean big parking bills

As a result I packed the following quip:

Mr Ryan has hit it right on the money – and it is the truth – not that Transport Blog would ever recognise it:
“”The reality is that until Auckland’s public transport services are improved, motor vehicles shall still pour into the city each morning at increasing rates, and these commuters do need to be catered for – and that’s where the private parking companies have a significant role to play.”

 

That spawned off a few questions in Twitter and Facebook while I was away in Manukau however in reply I posted the following over at ATB’s “The cost of parking:

 

Devils advocate time 😀

Popping my head in here after my Twitter and Facebook remarks I would have to be somewhat “brave.” However while I shall reply to my remarks sometime today (or tomorrow) – actually no I can answer it right here below and it seems to (in my eyes) reinforce the point I made that caught the attention of a few here.

I have noticed the quotes quoted above but the most prominent one has been missed – which was a statement from Mr Ryan which gives further weight to the argument of his quoted above:

“”The reality is that until Auckland’s public transport services are improved, motor vehicles shall still pour into the city each morning at increasing rates, and these commuters do need to be catered for – and that’s where the private parking companies have a significant role to play.”

Whether increasing rates or not is playing around with statistics and something I am not interested in for this part of the debate. Mr Ryan has stated (could be that it is an admission) what is basically the truth of the current situation we face in the CBD. Heck I can vouch for that on more than one occasion both when working for a public transport company (now self-employed) or having to go to the CBD for say the Unitary Plan forums last year.

With work in a particular transport company, the position I was in often required me to start or finish outside of public transport hours, so that meant having my parking paid for and a trip in and out of the CBD from Papakura.

The other case was The Unitary Plan forums last year at Town Hall. I had a choice; train or car. I took the car from Papakura to the CBD, parked, attended the forums and went back home again. Why? Because I am a liberal and “operate” in a way that is sensitive to price and time considerations against me. That means I will choose an option that is the least expensive, the most efficient, the easiest to complete, and most efficient in relation to time spent travelling – when about to undertake my travels.

And so all costs (including time and money) considered it was the car that was used as it filled the criteria above when making my travels (and no I don’t like being coerced either into one option when it is more expensive than the other)

So that meant travelling up and down State Highway One and parking in the AT Civic Parking Building – because to use the train took double the time and 1.3x the cost as it would have by car (and also I think the main forum was on a Saturday which drops the trains to Papakura every half hour to boot)
So I can clearly hear what Mr Ryan is saying in his: “”The reality is that until Auckland’s public transport services are improved, motor vehicles shall still pour into the city each morning at increasing rates, and these commuters do need to be catered for – and that’s where the private parking companies have a significant role to play.” remarks.

He knows and I know that until P/T is improved (and yes I would assume safely that he knows it is being improved constantly) this is the reality of the situation.

So basically I re-highlighted Mr Ryan’s statement on P/T and parking buildings as well as the “logic” I use when deciding to make trips in this case the CBD but also when travelling through wider Auckland. The logic was simple; price and time and which was better when choosing between private and public transport.

 

After that I went for the full comprehensive argument in regards to the transit situation:

If you want me to extend this argument to a more fuller comprehensive situation then lets look at a few comments in Facebook

Again in regards to Cameron Brewers remarks and link to THAT Herald article

We paid $24 for just over an hour, at the parking building across from the gallery. Yes, we could have taken the train in – but the Orakei car park is full by 0800. Incidentally, one of the reason’s Liability Len’s inner city loop will fail to achieve the necessary patronage is the lack of suburban car parks.
Yep – can vouch for that when the Papakura Park and Ride is full.

However this comment lead me to this which has obviously caught the attention of a few here via Twitter and Facebook

That is correct —-. The rail situation is compounded by the following (and excuse me if I am repeating)
1) Lack of Park and Rides especially at the big stations
2) Lack of feeder buses
3) Lack of cycle lockers
4) Stations in the wrong place

Now all this I am trying to bring to AT’s attention next week at the RPTP hearings (wish me luck there) but until then what Mr Ryan said is true and absolute reality

Mr Ryan has hit it right on the money – and it is the truth – not that Transport Blog would ever recognise it:
“”The reality is that until Auckland’s public transport services are improved, motor vehicles shall still pour into the city each morning at increasing rates, and these commuters do need to be catered for – and that’s where the private parking companies have a significant role to play.”

The article can be found here: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10861778
You can figure out what would have caught the attention from the above remark (which was made before the post here went up).

If you are trying to understand the “logic” in the quip then sorry not going to explain here – catch up over a coffee, soy latte or an iced drink if you want to understand me and it.

However to me and others I share conversations with it shows the situation which Mr Ryan has stated but Transport Blog did not pick up on (and if so not well enough). This is especially that one could interpret Mr Ryan’s remarks on a read between the lines support in getting p/t to be better (and most likely (if fleshed out fully) as part of a fully integrated transport system – public and private)

Look I would love for the CBD to be free of parking buildings but our P/T system has a very long way to go before that could either be viable. So for now and to me – CBD parking buildings – the necessary “evil”

 

So basically we have the following:

  1. A basic admission of truth from a private parking operator in the CBD
  2. The logic I use when travelling
  3. The Reality on the CBD and Parking

 

And I will use a car if it is more efficient in time and money compared to the nearest public transport option okay? As I said I am a (social) liberal and am sensitive to time, price and efficiency considerations; thus if private transport meets my travelling criteria OVER public transport – then so be it. This is why (and said above) I advocate for a fully integrated transport system catering to both public and private transport options – because I know and experience the reality of the situation and sympathise with other citizens in the same boat as me (which might be the bulk of Auckland).

 

However some (as I do use and will advocate for private transport (as well as public transport)) case me off as the villain due to that (private transport) use and advocacy. As if I care about them. My care is to the citizens and visitors of Auckland and having the full suite of private and public transport options available to them. It is why I advocate the split and private/public integration. And as am example all things considered with Port of Auckland staying put for now I advocate for: The Eastern Highway but; in the same regard advocate for the North Shore, Botany, Airport and South West (Rail) Lines as part of the full integrated transport suite. Oh and as for the Second Harbour Crossing, that would be heavy rail only tunnels – for now.

Also working with politicians on both sides is a must and something I strive to do – both at Central and Local Government Level as it is also a must in getting Auckland moving (forward).

And so this blog will continue to push on

 

BR:AKL’s full integrated transport suite: starting to turn a good transport system into an advanced integrated transport system – one step at a time 😀 

The Issue with Auckland Rail

Advancing a Good System to a First Class System

 

Note: It has been brought to my attention that BR:AKL focuses heavy on rail in public transport commentary. That would be true having worked in the industry (passenger metro rail). However the lines are “open” for a bus “person” to contribute to the blog, contact me at view.of.auckland@gmail.com

 

After watching some proverbial spankings being handed out (mainly one way) after WO’s Rail Patronage post, I sifted through the comments and plucked out a common trend that came from the comments. Now I conveyed these comments to an academic and he told me we do (which I know) have an anomaly in our public transport system that gives rise to the common trend. Now how this ties in with Good System and First Class System is a good question. The answer is it “does” because while we have a “good” basic passenger metro rail system in position, this anomaly which is caused by ideology (and nothing else) causes people to lose confidence in the rail system – thus further investment into turning a good system into a first class system.

Now with Auckland Council and Auckland Transport releasing the notification for the City Rail Link; this is where confidence building in the existing good system needs to happen if we wish to advance to a first class system.

 

So where is this confidence loss happening with our Good System (and also the reason why someone got a proverbial spanking that night). Well I summed up that loss with the current situation:

In short thanks to a recent ticketing change this is the situation if you want to take your family to say Santa Parade

2 Adults, 3 kids from Papakura to Britomart and back again

Cost by rail (if you did not get the inaccessible Family Pass before you travel): $53.30

Cost by car (including gas, parking and everything else) around $25 (parking sucked up most of that cost)

https://voakl.net/2012/11/23/ge…

So those here arguing on cost grounds – yep can understand your reasoning.

And for an example I have a meeting in Henderson today. So from Papakura to Henderson these are my costs:

Rail: Time to Henderson (and taking into account a transfer at Newmarket): Departs Papakura at 11:25am, arrives at Henderson (after transfer at Newmarket) at 1:07pm (I have to wait at Newmarket for the transfer is 23 mins) – so total travel time is 1:44 hours. Cost one way is $12.40 + $1 in gas as I would drive the Papakura Station park and ride.

To do this back to Papakura: Cost is the same so $12.40 + $1. As for travel time: Leaves Henderson at 3:45pm and will arrive in Papakura at 5:14pm (this includes a 9 minute wait at Newmarket while transferring trains) – so total travel time of 1:31 hours

Total cost for rail is $26.80. Travel time total: Varies each way but total time is 3:15hours

Car: Using State Highway 20 – 80km there and back. Parking: Free. Fuel at 14km/l =5.71l. 5.71/l at $1.959/l for 91 = $13 (take into account some low-speed and idling). Travel Time: 42 minutes each way. Maintenance and other car costs (WoF, Rego) $2.

Total for car is $15 (for all travel) at a travel time of 42mins one way (1:26 total)

So on crude terms it costs and takes me double to go by train to where I need get to (and out of luck I live near a station and my place of meeting is AT HQ right on Henderson station) compared to by car. So yeah I can see major issues here folks

 

Double time by train, around 1.75x the cost; and this I have not even included the time to drive to and from the Papakura Station Park and Ride and waiting time I might face at both Papakura and Henderson stations for the train.

And this was the trend that kept coming up and up again constantly (there were others but one step at a time) when the mention of rail patronage slippage happened. Usually it would be the other way around with a well-greased mass-transit system in time and cost however, ideology which has set the current policy leading to the current situation we have here in Auckland is currently in the way and not doing confidence building any favours right now.

 

Now in fairness to the rail system as a stand-alone (the infrastructure and operations currently in place (not I did not say fares or customer service) is basic but good. It has for the most part since 2003 when Britomart opened and with the current Project DART work happening carried out its basic purpose and function despite all sorts of problems. This is apparent with the back to back patronage growth month upon month, year upon year until the July 2012 peak to which afterwards we have now started seeing this prolonged slip. The current system is good because it has the three basic foundation backbones (The Southern, Eastern and Western Lines) with two spur lines (Onehunga and Manukau Lines) that allow for straight forward investment and expansion of the network into new areas of Auckland (The City Rail Link, The Airport Line, The North Shore Line, The Botany Line and The South West Line) without much difficulty (as you would get starting an entirely new system from scratch).

 

So we have a good system, and it can and will be a first class system. That will require investment as we know and are seeing coming through the pipeline and as I have noted which on the infrastructure side will bring our good basic system into a First Class Comprehensive System.

However “The Issue With Rail” still is apparent and is knocking confidence around with the current good system and getting investment for the First Class System.

 

Now that issue I mentioned above can basically be only dealt with by Central Government changing its mindset and ideological hell-bent. Once that bent is removed then confidence (through P/T being actually cheaper and relatively more easy to move around than the car) can be restored along with enabling our good system to become First Class System

 

For more on BR:AKL and the push for a fully integrated and comprehensive transport system that includes private and public transport – search this blog or ask me a question in the comments below.

 

Honesty and Integrity Part Two

Democracy Won – Sort Of

 

Result Needed? – Didn’t Happen

 

And so Monday has been and gone, the issue for Howick Local Board basically being kicked into touch until the Local Government Elections in September/October. For just under two hours I watched as the issue of removing the  Local Board Deputy Chair went through its protracted motions in “moving” to remove the Deputy Chair – Adele White, only for the entire process to come to a shuddering halt when the Chair – Caesar Michael Williams after that 2:45 hours withdrew the motion and an amended motion to “fix” the underlying issue was passed.

 

What was the situation?

Honesty and Integrity – Such is a Demand of OUR Civic Leaders

 

This particular issue has been simmering away for a while but has just recently come to (over)boiling point as the particular issue comes to ahead tomorrow evening.

The particular issue? Howick Local Board Chair Michael Williams trying to force his Deputy Chair Adele White to “stand down” or be “forced” to be “stood down.” The reason for this? The real reason is currently unknown despite what is coming through the Main Stream Media, Facebook and Whale Oil.

Now one might be asking: Why is BR:AKL bringing this up now rather one of his Rail Efficiency Posts, or Rates and Len Brown posts.  Well the REP, Rates and Len Brown posts will be still coming, however I am bringing up the Williams issue two-fold; first is that I have been watching this issue from the word get-go, second the issue falls into the branch of “What Do I Stand For and Believe In – For a Better Auckland.”

 

Result after Monday?

  • Best political scrap I have ever seen in a while
  • The Deputy Chair remaining
  • Cowards hiding behind silence of procedure
  • Character attacks
  • A Board still effectively paralysed
  • Democracy still on critical life-support even after the victory for Adele White
  • Honesty and Integrity still not there
  • Oh and the best sledge I have ever seen from a person

 

Whale Oil – Cameron Slater was also at the proceedings on Monday and gives a pretty good account of it over at his blog:

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, CAESAR GOT RINSED

by Whaleoil on January 22, 2013

Last night was a delight to behold politically, deep in Pakuranga. I haven’t enjoyed a political meeting like that in quite sometime.

A tin pot dictator got rinsed. It took three hours but the momentum through the night built and built and built and still the dictator tried it on…only in the face of certain defeat did he through in the towel and move to remove the motion from the paper…a gutless cowardly end to a night of even more gutlessness and cowardice from Michael Williams and his band of dupes.

In the end Caesar was in fact stabbed by Brutus, as I predicted.

The evening started by a move of venue. The original venue was too small and was inundated by 5:30pm. Eventually around 200 people showed up to witness a good old-fashioned political shellacking.

The first order of business in the standing room only hall was the presentation of a petition organised by Jami-lee Ross with 821 signatures supporting Adele White. Jami-lee Ross spoke for ten minutes strongly and forcefully, making several strong points including using Steve Udy’s quote describing Michael Williams as having a Caesar Complex. He finished to a standing ovation after mentioning road safety several times.

Then 12 citizens who had asked to speak, one after the other stood and spoke and all spoke in favour of the work of Adele White, and against the cowardly bullying of Michael Williams and his group of other cowards. They were all very strong speakers and some directly attacked the actions of Michael Williams and Jim Donald.

David Collings added drama by endlessly raising points of order against Michael Williams and eventually proposed a motion to be added to the original motion. He tried to also add a motion to debate the recent news of Michael Williams drunk driving but Williams pals saw that off.

You can read the rest over at WO.

 

But it is this point Slater made that hit the mark home:

If Michael Williams was an honourable man he would resign today. He failed utterly and has no integrity and no shame.

Go Caesar, go now, before the mob gets angry.

 

Williams did not resign – and will not resign until the voters of the Howick Local Board area throw him out at the next elections (Lord help us if that does not happen) and this is where Honesty and Integrity basically collapsed and Democracy still been bludgeoned to near death by Caesar Williams and his Deputy Jim Donald (who should have been (I have to be polite) put out to pasture long, long ago).

How?

Because Caesar Williams and now Jim Donald (an accomplice is just as guilty as the original sinner) are still absolutely and utterly in contempt of these two points made in my Honesty and Integrity (MK I ) post:

What The Williams Affair does show is that Michael Williams is in contempt in two main areas that I hold civic leaders to that allows him to execute his duties as Chair of the Howick Local Board. They are:

1) Open Governance: I believe in open governance where the public can sit in, listen and where possible discuss “matters-of-state” as much as possible with their representatives. None of this hiding behind closed doors (except for commercially sensitive material that does come up from time to time), and fessing up when you know you have stuffed up. You might find the public are more sympathetic you one acknowledges and apologies for a legitimate mistake

And

2) Listen and Engage: God gave us two ears and one mouth. In my line of work you actively listen with both ears THEN engage in dialogue with your one mouth. Not the other way around as that is usually monologue and the fastest way to get your ears clipped. Same applies to civic institutions:  you actively listen with both ears THEN engage in dialogue with your one mouth unless you like getting your ears clipped… Oh and remember some days all the person wants you to do is JUST LISTEN to their little piece – as all we want some days is just to get it off our chests.

Monday night showed in its absolute display Williams and Donald unable (most likely never could even comprehend to begin with) act with honesty and integrity (Such as a Demand of Our Civic Leaders – for which they are) and fulfil those two rather easy and straight forward “commitments.” I had a great deal of sympathy for the ratepayers of the Howick Local Board area and those few Local Board members who do act with honesty and integrity and actually fulfil the two points made above, because they (those Local Board Members) are in the minority while representing the majority of good local citizens. The sympathy lies (and was proven) in the fact the Local Board is in a state of paralyse at the worst POSSIBLE TIME.

 

I have mentioned in the first Honesty and Integrity post of the Unitary Plan and the resources needed from Local Boards to do what they need to do to make sure the Unitary Plan does not adversely affect them (which in the form I am hearing – will):

The Howick Local Board needs its absolute resources and dedication with a clear conscious and voice that can handle robust debate and outside-the-square thinking as the Unitary Plan comes rocking to all of our doors. You Mr Williams cloud that conscious and voice and could do very well irreparable damage to Howick due to your “short-comings” that can not be fixed and lack of proper judgement and responsibility in your mistakes (drunk driving and resisting arrest).

Your Caucus Leader, Councillor Chris Fletcher spells out the such high risk in the game that is called The Unitary Plan:

“Been pondering over summer why Auckland Council is hell bent on accommodating an extra million people. Auckland’s relatively small (internationally speaking) population gives us a natural competitive advantage. Leaves me wondering about the drivers of the Unitary Plan.”

 

And I’ll further add to the weight of Councillor Fletcher’s concern:

“The current Stats NZ population clock has us I believe just shy of 1.5m people. Current conservative and “normal” projections have Auckland at 2 million by 2032-ish while high end has 2 million by 2024-ish. I believe it is a case of when and not if (this is the 5th attempt to get this section edited) we get to 2 million – so I suppose Council is being prudent in its planning via The Unitary Plan for it.

However what needs to be watched is Council “forcing” growth (to suit an (usually failed) agenda rather than allowing growth to happen at a more natural and organic rate (leave what be) and planning around that.

 

How the heck can Howick trust you now Mr Williams when (to me and as I expect my Civic Leaders to have regardless of “jurisdiction” crap) when this entire mess shows you clearly have no honesty and integrity in you to execute the responsibilities of Local Board Chair when your community is staring down the barrel of the Unitary Plan to which Councillor Fletcher, and myself have just vividly pointed out.

 

That last question above still applies even after Monday, even after Adele White stays on as Deputy Chair, even after the amended motion to “fix” the underlying issues paralysing the Local Board. “How the heck can Howick trust you now Mr Williams when (to me and as I expect my Civic Leaders to have regardless of “jurisdiction” crap) when this entire mess shows you clearly have no honesty and integrity in you to execute the responsibilities of Local Board Chair when your community is staring down the barrel of the Unitary Plan” and was raised by your own constituents time and time again on Monday.

 

As good as intentions the amended motion was “resolve” the issues, there at times when things can not be fixed and need to be turfed out and replaced. With Williams and Donald (who were in deep discussion with one another after Monday’s proverbial collective spanking they received) still there and fully capable of doing what they have done (leopard does not change its spots) I don’t expect much fence mending to occur – nor sadly the collective fire power be gathered that will be needed for Len and Penny’s Unitary Plan.

 

With prayer and luck Howick can “hang on” until September/October when they can vote in a new Local Board (bringing back the honest ones and dumping the dishonest ones). Hopefully Howick Local Board has enough resources and energy left to fight their way through the Unitary Plan process. And hopefully Caesar William’s damage to Howick does not spread to the other Local Boards nor the Main Council (so far it doesn’t seem so).

 

 

While we hope this issue is long and buried, sadly I doubt it will be as maximum friction will undoubtedly continue. More blood will be spilt, more of the Caesar complex will continue, and honesty and integrity will continue to allude some. So while Democracy sort of won – in Adele White staying, Democracy also lost in Williams not resigning from Chair and the Board…

 

An eye will be kept on Howick Local Board as this term runs down.

 

And yes finally, Caesar got “rinsed” and Adele White dropped this pearler of a sledge:

She finished up her speech with an outstanding sledge where she referred to fellow board member Shirley Warren’s previous role as Michael Williams’ play centre teacher. She said she was sorry to tell Mrs Warren that she didn’t do a good job with Mr Williams because “He doesn’t share his toys and he doesn’t play nicely.”

The crowd roared with approval.

 

Hearings Time Again

RPTP Hearings About to Commence

 

And

 

Yours Truly is Presenting

 

Last year Auckland Transport had called for submissions on its draft Regional Public Transport Plan – the RPTP can be read here.

Yours truly submitted on the RPTP and will have my hearing on the 7th February at 1400 hours – Manukau Civic Centre. The Hearings Panel includes two Auckland Transport Board members (Cr Mike Lee (Chair), and Paul Lockey); Peter Clark (General Manager, Strategy and Planning), and Mark Lambert (Manager, Public Transport Operations). So going to be an interesting hearing next month to front up to.

 

A Draft Auckland Regional Public Transport Plan:Pre-Hearings Report has been released to which I have embedded below. My key submission points are on page 45 of the document but can also be found in this list:

Benjamin Ross (385) 14:00 – 14:10

  •  The missing South Manukau Rail Link that would allow direct train services from Manukau to Papakura/Pukekohe without a transfer at Puhinui needs to be built by 2016 to enable the roll out of either an All Day or as Frequent Service Network. There is “latent” demand for such a South Link that would deem the investment economically and socially viable.
  • Proposals for zone based fares: 4 Zones with Britomart as the central focus point.
  • Propose a maximum fare cap of $15 per day.
  • Family Pass should also be made available
  • Propose the AT-HOP cards have a flat 20% discount
  • High Priority to have the Walters Road (Takanini) Station and Park and Ride facility built by 2018 with the continued urban development in the area.
  • Close Te Mahia and Takanini Stations (relocated Takanini Station to near Spartan Road crossing and add Park and Ride)
  • Look at adding a 20 minute frequency bus service between Manurewa, The Gardens/Totara Heights, Porchester Road and Papakura Town Centre.

 

All the points (except the last one) above I have covered to some depth since the inception of the blog. All points made are based on utilising what we have is a good foundation for the public transport system in Auckland, and “we” are wanting to make the good foundation in a solid robust system that is accessible, efficient, punctual and reliable! Not to nit-pick the negatives as that is a counter-productive to all – but to build and maintain solid progress in advancing a good system to a system that we can deem something to be “proud of”.

 

And so at 14:00 – 7th February – Manukau Civic Centre, I go and do my 10 minute pitch to Auckland Transport in advocating not just a “better” public transport system (as we all want that) but advocate in a good job thus far (patronage minus the blip has risen) and we can continue the rise by pushing for better!

The RPTP Pre-Hearings Report

 

Sydney and The Rail Fallacy MK II

The Rail Fallacy Strikes (Sydney) Back

 

In June last year I posted about Sydney and The Rail Fallacy – mind you it was in concern to passenger trains as I was drawing a warning in regards to the City Rail Link.

From last year:

Sydney and its Rail Fallacy

It seems Sydney has not quite learned from Auckland’s botched public transport system with multiple operators, seemingly a heterogeneous train fleet, disjointed fares and very disjointed timetables between the three p/t modes. Although Auckland is on the path in fixing the last three bits of that previous sentence, we will have some way to go yet before achieving a homogenous public transport operating system. But as I said at least we are going towards homogenous, because upon reading the Sydney transport article; they seem to be going in full reverse and heading to a heterogeneous system like we have. If you are wondering how Sydney has a rail fallacy; well it has not got a fallacy right now like other places, but heck it is heading to one and one it can avoid quite easy.

The Rail Fallacy will apply to the when the North West Rail Link (which is to be run as a PPP) is complete and opened in 2019, and most likely to the second Sydney Harbour is the New South Wales state governmentmanages to screw that up.

 

And for the definition of Rail Fallacy it is this:

THE CRL AND THE RAIL FALLACY

THE RAIL FALLACY

The Rail Fallacy was a formula given to  me by a mentor on how to roughly calculate the “actual” cost and time to completion of a heavy rail or light rail project. The Fallacy was based on previous experience from projects in the USA and Scandinavia where rail projects were given a cost and time to completion by the Public Authorities. However  by the end of the said project (if it was not scrapped) the final cost was higher and time to completion “delayed” compared to the original numbers given, with public confidence often not that high. Thus the Fallacy formula was derived on an average of 1.5x (one point five times) and can be applied to (usually) to any passenger rail project due to be constructed in the Western World.

 

Well yesterday its mentioned in the Sydney Morning Herald that Sydney and wider New South Wales suffered a rather large Rail Fallacy – although it was from a freight line rather than a passenger line.

From the SMH:

‘We wanted to make sure we got it right’: new rail line opens … three years late”

 

The first train line in Sydney to be paid for and built under the Rudd and Gillard governments opened on Monday, $700 million over budget and three years after it was promised to be finished.

The 36km Southern Sydney Freight Line will allow extra freight trains to run between Macarthur and Chullora in the city’s south west and will increase rail freight capacity along the entire Australian east coast.

This is an investment that’s been got right. This isn’t a loss to taxpayers. This is an investment that produces a return on that investment by getting it right.

But the project ended up being vastly more expensive to build than when it was first promised by the federal Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, in 2009.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/we-wanted-to-make-sure-we-got-it-right-new-rail-line-opens–three-years-late-20130121-2d279.html#ixzz2IjrDydNo

 

Getting it Right? That should of been done in the (proper) Planning Process which would of indicated rather clearly the upcoming complexity of the entire project

As for costs and time that is reflected below, but from my understanding the freight line came in at 3.5x over budget and three years (so 3x over the one year completion date) late from what was “promised” by the Federal Government.

 

More from the SMH:

At a press conference in Birrong to mark the start of operations on the line, Mr Albanese and the chief executive of the Australian Rail Track Corporation, which built the line, defended the blow-out.

 

The final cost was about $1 billion. When Mr Albanese announced the start of construction in February 2009, he put a figure of $309 million on the project and a completion date of early 2010.

“This is a pretty complex piece of work,” Mr Albanese said on Monday.

He attributed the delays and cost blow-outs to the necessity of moving utilities such as water and energy lines during construction.

Mr Albanese also said that the difficulty of operating on a live rail line – both freight trains and passenger trains on the adjoining East Hills line stayed running while the new line was being built – added to the challenge of the project.

“We wanted to make sure we got it right,” the Transport Minister said. “No corners have been cut. This has been got right.”

The Australian Rail Track Corporation is owned by the federal government. As with the NBN Co. it receives money from the federal government in the form of investments which do not come off the government’s budget bottom line.

Mr Albanese declined to criticise the ARTC for the more than three-fold increase in the cost of the project. According to figures provided to Senate Estimates, the ARTC spent almost $12 million in planning the line before construction even started in 2009.

“This is an investment,” he said. “This is an investment that’s been got right. This isn’t a loss to taxpayers. This is an investment that produces a return on that investment by getting it right.”

Mr Fullerton said the new train line, which will allow capacity for up to 48 freight trains a day to pass through the area and potentially to Port Botany, was the largest project the ARTC had undertaken.

“The original budget made some assumptions on how we could build a line over 36 kilometres adjacent to a metropolitan line but when we got into the project we realised that lot of the services covering off Sydney Water, a lot of the RailCorp services to do with signalling, electricity lines, all those sorts of things had to be relocated and that comes at a significant cost over 36 kilometres,” Mr Fullerton said.

The ARTC stopped work on the freight line in late 2009 and 2010. The benefit of the line is in allowing passenger trains and freight trains to run separately from each other.

This means that an existing eight-hour curfew on freight trains running during the morning and afternoon peak periods can now be lifted.

Mr Albanese defended the record of the federal Labor government in relation to transport in Sydney.

As transport minister, he has promised to build the Epping to Parramatta train line, though that pledge has been scuppered by the O’Farrell government which ranks it a lower priority. He has also agreed to fund a new freight terminal at Moorebank and another freight train line through Sydney’s northern suburbs, though both are still at the planning stage.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/we-wanted-to-make-sure-we-got-it-right-new-rail-line-opens–three-years-late-20130121-2d279.html#ixzz2Ijs0hJ9l

 

By the looks of it (and always seems to be the case) it that the project is a worthwhile one (this dedicated segregated freight line being an example) but the planning was just an utter disgrace and not done properly. And from the Sydney Freight Rail Line example some rather dodgy planning was done indeed. Costs underestimated (as always the case), time of completion underestimated (as always the case), scope of work underestimated (was with Sydney), complexity of the work at hand underestimated (usually the case), benefits delivered from project overestimated (although with Sydney and back here with the CRL this would be a case of benefits most likely being underestimated due to pitch of the benefits being wrong).

 

So a message to our resident Prude – The Mayor and Auckland Council, take heed of Sydney AND Canberra doing a ballsy and allowing a Rail Fallacy (and a large one at that with the multiple over 3.0) happen with a FREIGHT rail line (let alone passenger rail line projects like the Sydney North-Western Line proposals). Because while some call it scaremongering in what I write, I call it the utter truth from examples overseas gathered and an absolute warning on how to avoid The Rail Fallacy. And I give these warning so that mistakes from overseas  are not repeated in regards to the City Rail Link mega-project. Because if the The Rail Fallacy does happen (and it has with Manukau – knocking confidence right out of Councillors and rail supporters) then support and confidence in further investment in rail (the other four lines to be built) goes right out the door.

Just of note The CRL already faces a tough pitch in giving ratepayers confidence in its multi-billion dollar project support; Whale Oils Rail Patronage post would be a testament to that (after by the looks it someone got a proverbial spanking over there) and The Rail Fallacy coming true with the CRL will do no one any favours. However if we get a Britomart situation where the project was in high doubt but is now a beacon (well all things considered too) of confidence restoration with rail investment and the CRL pulls off the same thing – then – well you figure out with further investment with rail.

 

So the stakes are high folks they really are…

 

Honesty and Integrity

Such is a Demand of OUR Civic Leaders

 

This particular issue has been simmering away for a while but has just recently come to (over)boiling point as the particular issue comes to ahead tomorrow evening.

The particular issue? Howick Local Board Chair Michael Williams trying to force his Deputy Chair Adele White to “stand down” or be “forced” to be “stood down.” The reason for this? The real reason is currently unknown despite what is coming through the Main Stream Media, Facebook and Whale Oil.

Now one might be asking: Why is BR:AKL bringing this up now rather one of his Rail Efficiency Posts, or Rates and Len Brown posts.  Well the REP, Rates and Len Brown posts will be still coming, however I am bringing up the Williams issue two-fold; first is that I have been watching this issue from the word get-go, second the issue falls into the branch of “What Do I Stand For and Believe In – For a Better Auckland.”

 

To bring readers into the loop I point to these two articles/posts; one from The Herald, the other from Whale Oil.

From The Herald on Sunday (HoS):

Power play foiled by arrest

By Joanne Carroll

5:30 AM Sunday Jan 20, 2013

A local politician from a leafy, well-to-do village has been charged with drink-driving and refusing to accompany a police officer. Michael Williams, a chartered accountant and the Howick Local Board chairman, faces a defended hearing at the Manukau District Court on March 1.

Williams was charged after the roadside incident in May but has kept the matter from his board members amid his bid to replace deputy chairwoman Adele White, who is also a senior police constable. Williams is charged with being more than twice the legal limit with a reading of 169ml of alcohol per litre of blood, and refusing to accompany a police officer in Auckland on May 10.

The stoush between Williams and his deputy has drawn the National MP for the area, Jami-Lee Ross, into posting an online petition backing White. Ross’ wife, Lucy Schwaner, is also a board member.

Ross and Williams ran together in the Citizens and Ratepayers Team for the 2010 local election.

Ross yesterday told the Herald on Sunday the charges against Williams gave “some new context to his attempt to oust a well-known and respected senior constable”.

You can read the rest over at HoS

 

Two pieces from Whale Oil:

CAESAR MICHAEL WILLIAMS FACING COURT FOR DRUNK DRIVING

by Whaleoil on January 20, 2013

Oh dear me look at what Michael Williams has been hiding from councillors as he makes his powerplay to dump Adele White from the Deputy Chair role at the Howick Local Board.

And

WILL HE STAY ON? THE PROBLEM WITH MICHAEL WILLIAMS

by Whaleoil on January 20, 2013

There are a number of issues that stem from the Herald revelations into Michael Williams’ problems.

 

WO goes on and lists the four sticky problems Williams is basically now looking at.

 

While I am trundling along to the Howick Local Board meeting this evening to watch the “proceedings” I must say I am not particularly amused by Williams actions which brings the Howick Local Board into disrepute in the eyes of not only their constituents but also the eyes of the wider city.

Furthermore Williams’s actions not only not doing Communities and Residents (C&R) any favours right now as they get ready to contest the 2013 Local Government Elections, but his actions can (if they have not done so already) paralyse the Local Board in dedicating every single last utter resource they very well need in making sure The Unitary Plan (released soon) does not adversely affect them (which I have an idea it might).

However as far as I can see at the moment; The Williams Affair has not spread its poison to the Main Council level (yet) and is not hampering the four C&R Councillors in their duties on the Main Governing Body and respective Committees.

 

What The Williams Affair does show is that Michael Williams is in contempt in two main areas that I hold civic leaders to that allows him to execute his duties as Chair of the Howick Local Board. They are:

1) Open Governance: I believe in open governance where the public can sit in, listen and where possible discuss “matters-of-state” as much as possible with their representatives. None of this hiding behind closed doors (except for commercially sensitive material that does come up from time to time), and fessing up when you know you have stuffed up. You might find the public are more sympathetic you one acknowledges and apologies for a legitimate mistake

And

2) Listen and Engage: God gave us two ears and one mouth. In my line of work you actively listen with both ears THEN engage in dialogue with your one mouth. Not the other way around as that is usually monologue and the fastest way to get your ears clipped. Same applies to civic institutions:  you actively listen with both ears THEN engage in dialogue with your one mouth unless you like getting your ears clipped… Oh and remember some days all the person wants you to do is JUST LISTEN to their little piece – as all we want some days is just to get it off our chests.

 

By virtue of extension Williams failed this aspect of Open Governance: “fessing up when you know you have stuffed up. You might find the public are more sympathetic you one acknowledges and apologies for a legitimate mistake.”

Drink driving is a scourge New Zealand and must always be actively discouraged. Resisting arrest is just plain dumb and shows no sympathy from me. If you are arrested, you might as well go quietly and “sort it” at the station rather than making a total ass of yourself plus making things more difficult than it should be. What might have been a slap across the wrist if you cooperated with the police (knowing you stuffed up) now turns into basically what Mr Williams is now facing – more damage than required… As a Civic Leader (Chair of the Local Board) I expect Mr Williams to have been straight up with his Board members and his constituents when “done” for being off his trolley while driving and to show an added amount of respect to the position of Chair, stand aside on Gardening Leave until sorted. While the Drink Driving Charge would have annoyed people to no certain ends, being open, straight up/honest, and taking responsibility would have made the effects much less than Williams obstinate approach which has riled the community up (also having two people on the Local Board working for the police provides a catalyst to the situation as well). So what is Williams playing at here? Caesar complex as one of his yes-men said or as I call it “Small-Man-Syndrome.”

 

As for the ‘Listen and Engage’ part; from what I can see with this entire Deputy Chair situation, Mr Williams is incapable beyond any doubt of fulfilling the ‘Listen and Engage’ part as mentioned above. Now while ‘Listen and Engage’ was implied to the politicians, bureaucrats and the ratepayer; again by virtue of extension (must look for a new term in the thesaurus) this is also implied between a Chair and Deputy Chair on a Board as well as THE ENTIRE BOARD when debating amongst themselves. However upon reading this (and I am going to take it from Whale Oil as it had a better analogy):

From Whale Oil:

One of his little band of helpers who were seeking to knife Adele White, Steve Udys also has an interesting turn of phrase:

“What I would say is he has been a little bit silly but that has nothing to do with Adele not being the right person for the job. He may have a Caesar complex but we have to live with that,”

Caesar? More like Mussolini. I wonder if Udys will now act like Brutus and knife him on the way to the meeting. Steve Udys thinks that this issue has nothing to do with Adele White, he is wrong. His contention is that Adele White is too busy to fulfil the role of Deputy Chair. Each of those board members seeking to unseat Adele White should now ask themselves how a person with a full-time senior role in a company, who is facing charges on drunk driving and failing to accompany a police officer (arrested, in other words) can possibly remain on the board, let alone chair the meeting. This isn’t a couple of beers over the limit either, this is twice the legal limit. It isn’t like Michael Williams hasn’t had problems with the bottle before.

A drunk driving, arrest resisting, board member with a Caesar complex isn’t someone we really want representing us is it?

ROLE MODELS:

Adele White teaches kids how to be safe on the road.

Michael Williams teaches kids how to be a drunk driver on the road.

 

Caesar, Mussolini, and/or Small-Man-Syndrome – whatever you want to call it – it is applying here in spades and that is unfortunate. Furthermore from what I have gathered from various electronic sources on the entire Williams situation, it has been implied that he is nothing but a bully who surrounds himself by “yes-men” in order to get HIS agenda through – not the communities agenda. Deputy Chair Adele White is being seen as the (might be lone however I doubt that) voice of outside-the-square thinking and logic in Howick community affairs. Knowing Williams suffers from S.M.S this outside-the-square thinking and logic dares to have a voice and would fly against everything Williams “stands for.” However there might be more beyond this but I can’t be certain in this entire mess come saga. Talk about a Caesar complex alright.

 

In my take and opinion on all things we need more people like Adele White and their outside-the-box thinking, logic and voice – who get the job done in benefit on their communities; and less people like Michael Williams who are nothing but absolute bullies and counter productive to real and true progression of their communities (due to often advancing things to their own personal gain). Does Michael Williams hold the Honesty and Integrity required to be a Civic Leader? The answer is NO.

 

Time to go Mr Williams, before your poison spreads and damages the rest of C&R in Auckland as well as detracting the main four C&R Councillors from doing their jobs.

The Howick Local Board needs its absolute resources and dedication with a clear conscious and voice that can handle robust debate and outside-the-square thinking as the Unitary Plan comes rocking to all of our doors. You Mr Williams cloud that conscious and voice and could do very well irreparable damage to Howick due to your “short-comings” that can not be fixed and lack of proper judgement and responsibility in your mistakes (drunk driving and resisting arrest).

Your Caucus Leader, Councillor Chris Fletcher spells out the such high risk in the game that is called The Unitary Plan:

“Been pondering over summer why Auckland Council is hell bent on accommodating an extra million people. Auckland’s relatively small (internationally speaking) population gives us a natural competitive advantage. Leaves me wondering about the drivers of the Unitary Plan.”

 

And I’ll further add to the weight of Councillor Fletcher’s concern:

“The current Stats NZ population clock has us I believe just shy of 1.5m people. Current conservative and “normal” projections have Auckland at 2 million by 2032-ish while high end has 2 million by 2024-ish. I believe it is a case of when and not if (this is the 5th attempt to get this section edited) we get to 2 million – so I suppose Council is being prudent in its planning via The Unitary Plan for it.

However what needs to be watched is Council “forcing” growth (to suit an (usually failed) agenda rather than allowing growth to happen at a more natural and organic rate (leave what be) and planning around that.

 

How the heck can Howick trust you now Mr Williams when (to me and as I expect my Civic Leaders to have regardless of “jurisdiction” crap) when this entire mess shows you clearly have no honesty and integrity in you to execute the responsibilities of Local Board Chair when your community is staring down the barrel of the Unitary Plan to which Councillor Fletcher, and myself have just vividly pointed out.

 

If you Mr Williams acted with that honesty and integrity as so demanded from us to you, forgiveness would have been easier to ascertain and moving forward much easier than what is here now regardless of which way the courts would have swung (although resisting arrest deserves one massive ass-kicking by every person living in your community).

 

But now we have this 6pm meeting tonight – in Howick to which I am going to trundle along and watch. Lets see if you Mr Williams will using this final shot to act honestly and with integrity and stand down as Chair of the Howick Local Board until your date with the Courts are over…

 

[insert Tui Ad and pigs fly remark here]