In Brief

A Brief Look at the Current Views and Issues

 

I am busy catching up on the full news and issues that have been happening while away on holiday in the South Island. This while also unpacking bags, tending to the lawn and garden and getting ready for work again tomorrow. But while I am having a nice hot cup of Java lets take a look at the issues – In Brief

 

The Long Term Plan

I am not quite sure the Draft Long Term Plan 2012-2022 has been adopted yet, however the word ‘Draft’ would suggest it has not. However regardless of that minor detail the facts are still the same:

  • Rates movement are still between a 5.56% decrease to 10% increase over the next three years under the guise of this average 3.6% rates rise over the same period
  • Business Differential is hovering around the 2.03 mark and decreasing at 0.01 per year (I think) – so businesses will pay 2.03 TIMES MORE the level of rates compared to the residential level
  • Debt is still forecast to move 275% of total income meaning 25% of my rates in 2021 will be servicing Debt INTEREST before anything else (that being debt principle, core expenses and anything else thrown in)
  • South Auckland Local Boards are having to shave millions off their budgets as the Auckland Council Strategy and Finance Committee draws up a so-called fiscally responsible budget for the times while still delivering services to the city. Yeah okay I  will go and debunk that one in a moment.

So a head scratcher on what on earth Councillors are thinking here with our first LTP. However something tells me I might come out fully opposed to the LTP and continue to push forward (and expand on) the alternative I worked and submitted on earlier this year.

 

The City Rail Link

While I was away Auckland Council and Auckland Transport firmed up the designation route for the CRL and introduced something called the Inner West Interchange. The latest update can be found at the AT-CRL website coupled with maps and pdf files. I will continue to run the CRL Debate Series here at VOAKL including my own independent analysis and commentary on the latest with the CRL.

But what has my attention at the moment with the CRL is this:

The line would provide for three additional city centre stations in the vicinity of the Aotea Centre, Karangahape Road and Newton and an inner west interchange at George St, between Dominion and New North Roads. The interchange will improve efficiency of the train network, eliminate dead running of empty trains and provide the potential for a future multi modal transport hub

Okay am I missing something here as in my proposal there was never going to be the issue of dead running empty trains nor the requirement for such an expansive interchange – although I did relocate Mt Eden Station to a similar area. I must go research this up as something tells me AT are not going to be rather apt in designing an operating plan once the CRL is up and running – but hey The East Link is confirmed so that is a relief.

 

The V8s

Who knew holding an event where V8 super-cars racing round a track in Pukekohe would attract a pile attention. Well unfortunately the V8s have attracted a whole mountain of unwanted attention and it is all Auckland Council Strategy and Finance Committee and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) fault! Look I do not mind the V8 event at all being hosted in Pukekohe – that is fine; what annoys me and most likely the bulk of Auckland is the process the Strategy and Finance Committee went around in getting the V8s back in Auckland.

This editorial from The New Zealand Herald sums up the angst and frustration against the Strategy and Finance Committee in a nutshell with piece bang on the money:

Attracting these has entailed Auckland dropping any assumption that they would come its way as of right because of its size. But this cannot justify in any way the flouting of proper process as the Auckland Council’s strategy and finance committee voted nine to five in favour of the Supercars

Flouting the proper process and refusing to hold an extraordinary Governing Body meeting to allay the concerns rightfully brought up by Councillor Cameron Brewer is one way to piss off already pissed off Aucklanders even more. What annoys me most is that after the South Auckland Local Boards being ordered by the very same Strategy and Finance Committee to find savings of millions of dollars citing “tough financial times” and in the name of “fair and fiscally responsible budget;” they (the Committee) go and spend $10.6m of NEW money to allow the V8s to be held. That screams injustice on so many levels it is not funny – and VOAKL will be running hard and I mean hard commentary against Auckland Council for this injustice – mark my words!

 

North America has a Rail Fallacy

Oh my, seems the Americans are about to embark on a US$161 BILLION Rail Fallacy with Amtrak if this post from another blog is anything to go by:

Amtrak makes NEC HSR sound even worse

Costs for state of good repair, capacity enhancement, and 427 miles of HSR from Washington D.C. to Boston, MA is now 151 billion dollars. The updated NEC HSR report puts the actual HSR bit at 110 billion in 2011 USD. In year of expenditure dollars, I believe that’s 200 and 145 billion dollars respectively.

In keeping with Amtrak’s ambitions of making everything in America far more costly than the rest of the world, the plan includes $5.2 billion for high speed rolling stock, of which there would be a grand total of 58 train sets acquired (12 in 2020, 32 in 2025, 14 replacing the original 12 in 2040). At 90 million USD each, that’s about three times the cost of buying and maintaining 20 ETR 610s for 17 years, or three times the purchase price of a brand new AGV.

In all honesty, Amtrak needs to be purged of everyone who signed off on this report and thought it a good idea. The greatest roadblock to decent passenger rail service in America, both in the NEC and elsewhere, is Amtrak itself.

Whoops – but I like that last sentence 😀

Kiwi Rail to Slash Jobs

220 jobs in the infrastructure and engineering division according to the link from Stuff that was forwarded to me via email.
WTF?! Shit I have enough work in my proposals for that division to keep the 220 plus another 100 more to be kept busy for at least 20 years in Auckland and Northland (and maybe Tauranga); and that does not include the City Rail Link work. I am wondering of our Central Government and the management of Kiwi Rail have a clue – because to me it does seem they do not. Maybe what the blogger in the Amtrak piece above said in the last sentence is needed…
And that is a very brief look at some issues happening around the place currently
Time to upload some holiday snaps (oh and I did feel that earthquake off the coast of Taranaki while I was on holiday in Nelson) and carry out some other work. I will be writing extensive posts on all the above matter plus more over the next week 😀
So stay tuned – for your independent view into the issues of Auckland – and beyond

And Back

Holiday over and back in Auckland (well will be around 2030 tonight).
A lot has happened while away in the South Island on holiday such as:
Auckland Council passing the Long Term Plan
Formalising the City Rail Link
And spending a few million on hosting the V8s while stripping South Auckland Local Boards millions citing tough times

I will be doing some catch up as wel as ramping up the commentary over the week as VOAKL roars back taking an INDEPENDENT view of the issues of Auckland.

Winter Holiday #1

Some Pics of our Winter Holiday

 

Rebekka and I are away on our Winter Holiday in the South Island via The Northern Explorer to Wellington, and the Ferry across the Cook Strait to Picton.

As I write this we are currently in Christchurch before heading up to Nelson on Tuesday.

 

Uploaded here are some pictures we have taken so far of the trip. Now be warned there is over 110 of the happy snaps and I have not go them in any particular order yet.

I will (when back in Auckland) put some order into ALL the snaps and have commentary running underneath it.

 

But for now some snaps

Oh you will need to know your NZ geography to know away around some of the pics 😛

 

Happy viewing

-Ben-

 

In Wellington

Rebekka and I are in Wellington on the first leg of our Winter Trip. We had come down to The Capital via The Northern Explorer Train yesterday and head out on the Ferry tomorrow for the South Island leg.

I already have lots of pics, will upload those for your viewing pleasue on Sunday.

I am also aware Auckland Council adopted the Long Term Plan on Thursday while I was on the Train heading to Wellington. I shall run commentary on Sunday with my reaction.

In the mean time I have a dinner to attend to 🙂

Auckland Backs the CRL?

City rail link backed by Aucklanders | Stuff.co.nz.

 

Part of The City Rail Link Series

Debate on the City Rail Link continues with figures and all sorts coming out from both sides coin.

VOAKL will cut right down the middle and rely an article from Stuff on 63% of Aucklanders apparently supporting the CRL

It is time for a discussion and VOAKL will provide one – for everyone with a VIEW

 

So how many Aucklanders do support the City Rail Link? Well apparently some 63% of Aucklanders support the CRL – which would include me (in principle as my CRL Debate Series shows) and 29% opposing the mega project.

From Stuff:

According to Research New Zealand, 63 per cent of Aucklanders surveyed are in favour of the link, while 29 per cent were against it and eight percent didn’t care.

That is good to know 🙂

 

As for the National Government, oh they will still sign the cheque (if they are in power at the time) just not when some expect it 😉

However I would support the government here:

Again from Stuff:

Brown is relying on the government to fund half of the project but the National government has been shying away from an agreement and rejected a business case in 2010.

Then again I did ask the question about our CRL business case after the disasters in the UK and The Netherlands with their dodgy rail business cases leading to some spectacular Rail Fallacies.

 

Our resident Prude – the Mayor did say thing right though:

One more time from Stuff:

“Common misconceptions that the benefits won’t be felt beyond the central city are finally being dispelled and we can now move to an educated debate on how we pay for this and a number of other major infrastructure projects necessary to get our city moving.”

Well HELLO – MISS THE TRAIN ON THAT ONE LEN? Sheesh VOAKL has been busy since its inception writing up (independent) commentary, analysis, and information pitches on the CRL as Auckland Council and Auckland Transport were doing a useless job at it – and still are. The VOAL City Rail Link Series will continue until the last station is open on the staged CRL project and our trains and passengers moving through it.

 

Ah well: moving along