Someone Has a Moment with the Manukau Line

$81 million rail line yet to catch on with commuters – National – NZ Herald News.

 

The idea when commenting in the NZ Herald is to make sure a Blogger who pays attention to a particular interest (in this case transport) is NOT paying attention or has NOT written on that particular issue recently. However three Auckland Councillors decided to take a trip down to the Manukau Station and have a look at morning passenger numbers. That is fine and somewhat expectant of Councillors – although having a comment in the Herald might raise an eyebrow as it did with me. This would be in particular as I had commented on Manukau just recently in two different VOAKL posts. So lets take a look at the moment shall we?

From The Herald

Manukau commuters appeared to suffer a severe outbreak of Mondayitis yesterday – shunning their new $81 million railway line en masse.

Three Auckland Council members who turned up at Manukau’s trenched railway station at 6am to check reports of poor patronage say they counted just 30 people catching trains over the next two hours.

Transport committee member George Wood, who was helped by southern councillors Dick Quax and Calum Penrose with the informal census, said that was the total of passengers on six “peak” services trains that left for Britomart.

Three trains an hour have been running from Manukau at peak periods since the station opened about six weeks ago, and one an hour at other times.

Passengers counted by the councillors varied from just two each for trains that left at 6.10am and at 6.38am, to a peak of nine at 6.55am.

But patronage declined after that until 8.18am, when 14 caught a train.

The councillors say about 20 passengers arrived at Manukau over the two hours of their survey, although they were concentrating mainly on departing commuters

Yes well I might have mentioned something about the numbers. However I think people are looking at Manukau Station somewhat wrong in its usage profile. Manukau Station actually runs in reverse in the standard peak periods to most other stations. This means Manukau is a destination station like Britomart in the morning and a primary origin station again like Britomart in the evening. People would actually come to Manukau in the morning to work and leave again in the evening to return home. Of course you get the inter-peak period where you would get your shoppers and visitors just like Britomart. So with Manukau City Centre by definition the second core of Auckland (CBD is the first), treating the Manukau Station like Britomart in the fact its a core station which attracts people in the morning and boots them all out in the evening would assist in understanding the true dynamics of Manukau (and what it will become when the development is finished around it).

 

“People may say its early days, but for the investment Auckland has made in this double-track line into Manukau, and the huge amount that’s gone into this station, I would have hoped for better buy-in from the community,” said Mr Wood, who is from North Shore.

I’ll get to that further down when I call out Councillor Quax.

 

Told of an Auckland Transport report that said 53,142 passengers used the Manukau line in its first fortnight, he said train staff had told him most people boarded at stations such as Papatoetoe and Glen Innes, which are on the southern and eastern lines.

Well that would be true and I did mention it over at Auckland Transport Blog 😛 .

 

He blamed a decision by the former Manukau City Council for the new line to stop short of the area’s main shopping centre, the lack of a connection to southern population centres, and a lack of promotion. “It’s out of the way – to get there at 6am in the darkness, people have to walk through pretty desolate areas,” he said.

Now this is where the opening of this post comes into play – and a sharp email back to the Herald reporter (will be done after this post is up). I had written specifically about this in two separate posts: Manukau does have its short comings (MANUKAU STATION); and MISSING SOUTH-TO-PAPAKURA RAIL LINK and called out Councillor Quax on the issues raised. So again I call out Councillor Quax as he specifically voted against bringing the station down to the entrance of Westfield Manukau Mall. You can see my reasons and commentary in the linked posts. So taking a legitimate look at the station then raising it in the Herald – hmm I think that is called having a moment folks, especially when Manukau is my backyard and main place of social meetings and doing the shopping.

 

Moving along:

Auckland Mayor Len Brown, who headed the former Manukau council in approving the rail project with KiwiRail, expected the new line would “over time become a huge asset for public transport in the south”.

“At the moment, the new station is in the middle of a building site, but once the MIT campus is completed and more bus services terminate at the station, it’s worth will absolutely be proved,” he said.

He remained committed to adding a southern connection to the line, and as Manukau was the closest station to his home, “I intend to make it part of my regular rail commute”

Already commented on it with the “MISSING SOUTH-TO-PAPAKURA RAIL LINK” post – however now the Mayor is having a moment with this particular comment:

But a spokesman for Mr Brown was unable to say later whether the mayor had caught a train from the station since driving one through a ribbon there at an opening ceremony last month.

Umm – yeah nice vote of confidence from our resident Prude there. Heck Cllr George Wood has been out there now I think three times (both business and personal) since the station opened and he as it is stated is from the North Shore. Dedication with public transport there.

 

So as I have noted before here at VOAKL, Manukau Station does have its shortcomings. However the station does have potential once the urban development is complete and will easily become the third busiest station after Aotea (a City Rail Link Station) and probably Papakura (Britomart will drop off with the CRL in place) – with Manukau the second Core of Auckland and also having MASSIVE potential.

 

Just a word of advice to Councillors – please be careful. VOAKL does notice and will shoot commentary straight back – regardless of being friend or foe.

VOAKL does not like calling out people or institutions having moments – but will do so when needed. VOAKL: expressing one’s view.

 

Last word:

Got some interesting news about the City Rail Link – will post up on that next.

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Away – and Back again

At National Party Northern Region Convention

VOAKL will be away today as I will be at the National Party Northern Region Convention all day.

Will be back tomorrow continuing the commentary on the City Rail Link and Long Term Plan.

[Update]

Back – decided not to go to the Dinner as I could not justify the expense to Rebekka.

So will get some smaller VOAKL commentary pieces up and oh shit – The Macro Business SUPER ROUND UP 2 needs to be done as well for your Sunday reading. Right better get cracking

Judgement Day has Arrived – Round One

Auckland Council Firms up Long Term Budget

 

And quoting from the NZ Herald article:

Mayor Len Brown‘s first 10-year budget is certain to receive a stormy reception from councillors today.

Citizens & Ratepayers leader Christine Fletcher has indicated as much, saying the time is not right for a big budget and big spend-up.

But Mr Brown seems determined to press ahead with a long-term plan that incorporates major projects, notably the central rail loop, in his quest to make Auckland among the world’s most liveable cities, while at the same time restricting rate increases.

Now that does defy standard macro-economic convention on: Save in a Boom, Spend in a Bust – to which dropping some cash on the CRL and some leaky storm water pipes might be a good time to do now while the borrowing is cheap.

That aside – it is JUDGEMENT DAY ROUND ONE (Round Two is tomorrow when Minister of Finance, Bill English delivers his fourth Budget) for Auckland Council.

What projects will make the cut, what will get scrapped, more to the point what is my rates bill going to be come July 1, and will this be the opening silo for the 2013 Local Elections.

VOAKL will run extensive commentary on the Long Term Plan 2012-2022 decisions on Friday. Yep that means I miss a Scoop by 24 hours, however I do have to work to earn my keep and pay my rates to Auckland Council. Also tomorrow is Budget Day to which I will be paying attention, AS WELL AS May 24th is my Birthday – so well yeah…

Mind you I will be keeping tabs via Facebook, and Twitter through the day as our Mayor and Auckland Council engage in their version of Pistol Shoot-out at dawn to keep tabs on the developments with the LTP.

I need not remind Councillors to BE WARNED as I am sure they have it now at the FRONT of their minds 😀

However – Auckland is Watching, Today is Judgement Day!

 

A Look at Auckland

NZ Herald Running Pieces on Auckland

 

The NZ Herald is running some separate pieces on Auckland today ranging from; the cruise ship terminal to Council Assets.

Lets take a brief look at two articles shall we?

 

Aucklanders say no to asset sales

Auckland Mayor Len Brown says Aucklanders have made it clear they do not want strategic assets to be sold, and other alternatives to rates rises are being considered to fund the city’s projects.

His comments come after Local Government Minister David Carter hinted at a Government preference for councils around the country to opt for asset sales to fund projects, rather than increase rates.

The $2.86 billion central rail loop remains the prime project in Mr Brown’s first 10-year budget, which faces a bumpy ride from councillors on Wednesday.

The day before Finance Minister Bill English unveils the Government’s Budget, Mr Brown and councillors will lock horns in the Auckland Town Hall over a $58 billion Super City budget.

Seems the first half of the article is looking at the eventual pistols at dawn style shoot out coming up on Wednesday as Auckland Council firms up the 2012-2022 Long Term Plan. A shame I have to work that day as it is bound to be a lively meeting at the minimum – however VOAKL will run commentary on this situation as it happens. I also notice Main Stream Media are using the $2.86b (up from $2.4b last year) figure for the CRL – only $740m short to the Fallacy figure I have given. Of which I urge the boys at Auckland Transport Blog to get a credible CRL proposal for the tunnel and ALL three stations, plus Aotea Station being future proofed for the eventual North Shore Line together sooner rather than later. I urge you gentlemen as I have complete and utter faith that you guys can keep the CRL on the straight and narrow 😀 – no pressure 😛 .

To the topic of asset sales though:

Asset sales urged

Ahead of the council’s budget announcement, Local Government Minister David Carter urged councils around the country to consider the sale of strategic assets rather than rates rises to fund projects.

Mr Carter told TVNZ’s Q & A yesterday that local governments were in a similar position to central government, which intends to balance the books by selling up to 49 per cent of shares in the state-owned energy companies, and a further stake in Air NZ.

“If they [local governments] find a way where they can sell down some of their assets to maintain the funding, to deliver some other infrastructure required within in their communities, in principle, I would support that. But having said that … it would still be a decision for local councils to make,” Mr Carter said.

“If they had shares in an airport or shares in a port company, they may well decide they could sell down some of those shares to help them provide the infrastructure which their community’s demanding of them.

On asset sales, I have advocated in an enquiry on the Port of Auckland ownership model and whether Council should sell down its POAL stake. The comment was made during my Port of Auckland Relocation coverage as a way for assisting in moving the Port as well as introducing Private Sector discipline and freeing up cash for a deposit on the CRL. I believe if the conditions are right that Auckland Council could reduce its holding in POAL by 25-75% to use the cash for investing in other infrastructure assets of high value such as the CRL. It will need skill and conviction but can be done. Pragmatism against ideological dogma…

New $18.6m design for terminal

It’s back to basics for a cruise-ship terminal on Queens Wharf after the sinking of grand proposals costing $49 million and $29 million.

Faced with community and political resistance, Mayor Len Brown has leaned on Waterfront Auckland to come up with a new design costing ratepayers $18.6 million.

Instead of demolishing the century-old Shed 10 for a $49.2 million new terminal favoured by the Government in 2010, or choosing an $28.7 million makeover of Shed 10 promoted by Waterfront Auckland last year, the council will decide on Wednesday whether to proceed with an $18.6 million design.

Shed 10 would still be more than 50 per cent bigger than the current cruise-ship facility on Princes Wharf but have a more basic fit-out that leaves much of the ground floor as is and refurbishes the upper level to unveil its wooden floors and steel trusses.

Windows would be added to open up harbour views. The two floors would be linked by two internal staircases.

Well credit is due to our resident Prude – Mayor Brown for down-scaling the costs here. However the answer from VOAKL is still NO! Want it? Then slug a $20 per passenger on a Cruise Ship Tax (much like an airport tax) to pay for the “temporary” terminal until THIS ONE is built further east. We have other projects that are sorely needed and sorry a Cruise Ship Terminal being built with ratepayers money is just not on.

So Wednesday is all go with pistols at dawn as the Mayor and Council face off in firming up the 2012-2022 Long Term Plan.

VOAKL will be keeping an eye – especially as the first rates instalment hits our letter boxes in July.

Remember:

BE WARNED AUCKLAND COUNCIL – we are watching