Are We Ready for Monday

Well are you

No I am not referring to the sorry mess that is Port of Auckland – I am referring to the mess that will be Monday on the Rail Network.

Remember Monday and Tuesday next week the line between Newmarket and Britomart will be CLOSED still as works continue at Parnell.

The Eastern Line however will be open all the way into Britomart.

With the bulk of the commuters back on Monday I advise the following

  1. Read the Christmas/Special Timetable extremely carefully, especially if you are wanting to head into Britomart
  2. Allow extra time for your commute on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
  3. Devise a plan to get to and from work, make sure you have a BACK UP PLAN if something literally goes to custard. And by back up plan I mean, have cash ready for either a standard bus or if all else fails parking if you need to drive in. Work out where the standard buses go incase you need them to get to work if you can not use the rail network – THINK AHEAD – I do and usually have back up’s ready if one form of transport mode fails.
  4. Ring (09) 366 6400 (maxx hotline) before you travel on Monday to see if there are any disruptions as I would not rely on the inter-web or text messaging system. Also LISTEN OUT for PA announcements. I am working Monday morning at Britomart so I am around watching the network.
  5. Pre-purchase your 10-trip or Monthly Rail Passes and save time and fuss
  6. Remember rail buses are still operating the Newmarket to Britomart stretch so be prepared for transfers
  7. And last but not least – BE PREPARED

Yip might sound like Mr Doom and Gloom but you will find if you take onboard the above and be prepared – then if there is a failure you can do your bit to slow down your disruption.

If you do not prepare and have back ups – then sorry you are a sucker for punishment and in my very honest blunt opinion – fool hardy.

Retirement Villages and Urban Planning

Could modern retirement villages offer an insight into urban planning for Auckland?

 

A post from the blog Cities Matter illustrated a pointer of retirement villages and urban design, it goes:

Retirement villages also provide a physical model of how we might best achieve higher density living in urban areas.  In fact, as Mark pointed out, they could play a significant part in shaping Auckland (and other cities) over the coming decades. Integrated villages offer the prospect of economical construction, higher residential densities, economies of scale in service delivery, and reduced transport demand. So they provide something of an exemplar when we think about where people might prefer to live in a resource-constrained future.

I believe retirement villages could offer a very valuable insight into urban design – especially as intensification will be needed regardless of what Brownfield:Greenfield ratio is set at in The Draft Auckland Plan (I advocated for a 60:40 split in my submission). Pretty much everything  says in that post I agree with. Strange irony though is that while I was in Tauranga for Christmas, Rebekka and I were visiting my Omi at the Metlife Care Retirement Village. I had a look around at the complex with its mix of stand alone housing, units and apartments, along with basic community facilities such as a pool, library and shared eating/social function area.

In the picture above, you can see two retirement villages (right) and the close proximity to Bayfair Shopping Complex and the main highway.

To save repeating everything at the Cities Matter post of all which I agree on, all I say is I see the potential for these retirement type village models to be expanded to include all social groups to help facilitate the needs of a growing population in Auckland. As I continue post on The Draft Auckland Plan Series I might take a look at the retirement village model being adapted to suit the needs of wider Auckland and Papakura (the spot I will choose).

Great post Phil at Cities Matter.

 

And Back – again

Right I am back at home on my Blogger Friendly PC

 

Have updated my links and posts from today.

Will post shortly on further commentary into the POAL saga, as well as looking at the final option of Location in the Port of Auckland Mini Series.

 

In the mean time – time for the 5pm GnT

Port of Auckland Letter

http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2012/01/ports-confirms-salary-figures-of-wharfies/

Port of Auckland via their Senior Communications Advisor have posted a letter at the left leaning blog The Standard which was picked up at Whale Oil. When I get home I will embed the link so for the moment its a copy paste job – I apologise.

While I have mainly stayed out of the industrial relations dispute between POAL and MUNZ, and focused on ‘The Port and The Draft Auckland Plan’ a.k.a The Enquiry, I thought it would be an idea to make mention of the letter spelling out workers average conditions at POAL to help gain a perspective from the POAL side.

Again as this is an IR issue – I here at VOAKL have no opinion of the matter at hand rather than “watch what and who you accuse and defame.”

 

 

English: Ports of Auckland container facilitie...
Image via Wikipedia

 

Fran O’Sullivan Comments on POAL

Should of the Mayor and Auckland Council “Opened their Mouths?” – I say YES

I noticed Fran O’Sullivan from The New Zealand Herald put her thoughts to ‘paper’ this morning on the POAL saga.

For the most part I can agree with what she said, but there is one part I do not. O’Sullivan stated that Len Brown and co. should have not “opened their mouths” in the POAL dispute. I disagree, both here at VOAKL and Whale Oil I stated categorically that the silence from our civic leaders is deafening. I even posted at WO (which I will dig up when I am on my more blog friend PC at home) what could possibly be said in response to the saga.

In any case O’Sullivan’s reference to the Ministry of Transport’s report container productivity and the Productivity Commission‘s latest report is SPOT on and again is something the Enquiry would look at as part of looking and getting the Return of Investment at optimum levels.

Yes I know I am sounding like a broken record player with this enquiry business – but it simply needs to happen as so much is at stake INCLUDING the Draft Auckland Plan and Draft Long Term Plan. Be a bit of a bugger if the Long Term Plan was upset due to an income “failure” from what should be our most productive asset – POAL. And yes I am busy getting formal letters written up about the enquiry and forwarding them to Auckland Council and maybe the opinion pages of The NZ Herald.

English: Len Brown - New Zealand politician ht...
Mayor of Auckland Len Brown

Is Auckland Council to Blame for Port of Auckland labour strife?

Expert says Auckland Council are to blame for the POAL saga?

 

According to the New Zealand Herald article by Bernard Orsman, the current industrial relations saga at Port of Auckland is directly influenced by Auckland Council‘s “mandate” that the 100% Council owned port increase its Return on Investment from 6% to 12% thus increasing its dividend.

POAL therefore already having to adapt to the ever-changing world economic environments, also now needs to accommodate what could be seen as an excessive demand from Auckland Council to get the RoI up into double figures.

Again and I repeat, Auckland Council needs to hold that enquiry NOW into answering FIVE questions on how to get the best Return of Investment for OUR very sick port. One of the questions includes port ownership model and what kind of public/private mix would be best suited for POAL.
Just as a side note, the enquiry looking at the RoI would also look at best labour practice to help achieve a good economically and socially viable RoI – as buggering your labour (as we are seeing now) is not going to help that Return on Investment.

So a case of telling Auckland Council to either BUCK UP or BACK OFF? I now personally think both – the silence has been broken but now the dithering is hurting us Aucklanders.

Official logo of Auckland Council
Should Auckland Council Buck Up or Back off?

Possible Port of Auckland Relocations – Part Two

Could the Port of Auckland be Relocated Somewhere Else OUTSIDE Auckland?

I have been covering the Port of Auckland saga extensively here at View of Auckland as well as Whale Oil at his site. In several posts I have mentioned that the Port verse Maritime Union fight as spawned off two other key debates. First being the ownership ratio of the Port – public, mix, private; the second being a possible relocation of the Port away from the Waterfront to another location.

Before you go further I recommend brushing up the Port coverage at VOAKL by checking out the Port of Auckland Index first if you have not done so already.

In the POAL debate; efficiency, viability and all other things economic have cropped up. The location of the current Port of Auckland has also come up with some saying it should be moved so that Port itself can be more viable as well as releasing land for extensive waterfront development.

VOAKL has called and will continue  calling on the Auckland Council to hold an enquiry into options for the location of the Port to allow the best rate of return and economic viability possible. An enquiry made up of a broad range of representatives from Business, Industry, Engineering and Academia would report on whether: Keep the port where it is and make improvements there, Relocate the Port within Auckland, or Close the Port entirely and allow Marsden Point and Port of Tauranga take POAL’s place. This calling on an enquiry to the Port I consider extremely urgent as in February, Auckland Council will debate and finalise The Draft Auckland Plan into the Auckland Spatial Plan – a legal document Council must follow for the next 30-odd years. No matter which of the three options will be recommended by such an enquiry and adopted by Council, all three options will have serious implications, consequences and ramifications to The Draft Auckland Plan. Serious enough are these consequences that any of those three options could trigger a re-write of The Draft Auckland Plan and Draft Long Term Plan, basically duplicating an exercise that did not have the foresight into such a CRITICAL ISSUE.

Having first looked at relocating the Port within Auckland (South East Auckland – Clevedon), we now take a look at moving the Port outside of Auckland.

It has been touted by some that the Port of Auckland should relocated entirely out of Auckland and to a dual sharing role with Marsden Point (which handles NZ’s Bulk Fuel Imports/Exports) and Port of Tauranga  (NZ’s largest port by volume). The map below gives their locations in regards to Auckland.

Tauranga is around 206km and is a 2:30 hour drive from Auckland CBD using State Highway Two (add an extra 15-30mins for using State Highway 29 (over the Kaimai Ranges)). Marsden Point from Southdown-Otahuhu is around the 150-155km mark and the trip would top 2 hours allowing for traffic and roading conditions.

Rail wise; Auckland is connected to Tauranga by the North Island Main Trunk Line from Auckland to Hamilton, then at Frankton Junction the rail traffic splits off and uses the East Coast Main Trunk Line to Tauranga.

Towards Marsden Point, freight trains would use the North Auckland Line which starts from Westfield Junction and heads up towards Otiria near Whangarei. However the Marsden Point Branch Line (proposed) would need to be built to allow the freight trains to continue towards the Marsden Point Port.

I have also noted on the map the Port of Tauranga Metro Port located at Southdown/Westfield Rail Junction and the Kiwi Rail Wiri Inland Port which is on the NIMT next to Manukau City Centre.

Wiri Inland Port serves as a facility between Kiwi Rail and trucking firms to move containers between Wiri and Port of Auckland itself (saving truck movements on a congested State Highway One and Grafton Gully). Metro Port at Southdown is a Port of Tauranga Facility and serves as large inter-modal transfer point for rail/road goods moving between Auckland and Port of Tauranga.

Effectively Auckland has the inter-modal transfer facilities to allow goods to be transferred to/from road/rail. Having the Port of Auckland “closed” and Marsden Point and Port of Tauranga take up POAL’s place should not be a problem – right? Well not really – I will address that soon in this post.

By “relocating” POAL to Marsden Point and Port of Tauranga,  you effectively close down POAL at its Waterfront site. If that were the case then I suspect Auckland Council would hold the land and either redevelop it and/or lease it out to commercial interests. By doing that it the waterfront could be so-called “reclaimed” back to the Auckland ratepayers and general public. Relocating the Port outside of Auckland also has impact on infrastructure with traffic flows altering in response to the shift. Projects such as the Eastern Highway, South-East Link from Onehunga to State Highway One , the third rail line from Westfield Junction to the current Port of Auckland location and upgrading Grafton Gully and Stanley Street would all be “cancelled” due to the port relocation.

However other infrastructure projects would arise to deal with the new traffic movements. The North Auckland Line would need to be upgraded, with tunnel clearances increased, track re-laid, more passing loops, inclines and turning curve radius’s  improved, signalling upgrades north of Swanson and even a new freight rail line from Southdown to Avondale via Onehunga to bypass Newmarket Station all needing to be done. The Marsden Point Branch Line would also need to be completed as well. Road wise, both State Highways One and Sixteen would need upgrades to allow the increase in freight traffic. These road and rail options are not cheap with the Puhoi-Warkworth “Holiday Highway” (State Highway One upgrade) estimated to run into billions of dollars alone. SO you hope that your Return on Investment from redeveloping “the former” POAL waterfront site would be enough to assist in funding the infrastructure upgrades.

Auckland to Tauranga infrastructure wise is not as bad for moving increased amounts of freight between Auckland and Port of Tauranga – although upgrades would still be needed. At the minimum road wise, State Highways 27, 29, 1 and 2 would all need upgrades to cater for the increased truck volumes that would use the highway. Upgrades such as more passing lanes and able to support the increased wear and tear of the road would be needed. Rail wise, the East Coast Main Trunk Line is already there and in reasonable condition moving goods from Port of Tauranga to Auckland and other destinations. Again minimum upgrades for the rail line would be; signal upgrades, more passing loops, ballast upgrades, grade separation of some level crossing and possibly either improved or new train stabling/servicing facilities to handle the increase the rail volume over the that section of line. The North Island Main Trunk Line would also need upgrading with track duplication needed from Te Rapa to Pukekohe which will not be easy due to swamp land at Mercer. A third rail line between Pukekohe and Westfield Junction complete with more ‘crossovers’ to allow freight trains to run through without impeding passenger metro trains that also run on that part of the line. New inter-modal facilities could also be needed to supply the increased demand in such services arising from the increased long distance freight travel to and from Auckland.

Once the infrastructure and redevelopment questions have been answered and settled, there is one other question that needs to be asked. Unlike keeping the Port where it is or relocating it to South East Auckland, having your (what would be) two major ports at least two hours (by road or rail) away from the city could have some negative consequences. The main consequence is freight cost – the cost of moving the freight such a distance OR not having immediate access to the port that some businesses might require. The cost both monetary and time wise moving freight from Marsden Point or Port of Tauranga could be deemed excessive by some business. These business could either relocate or just close both which have flow on effects into the Auckland economy.

All above are questions that The Enquiry need to ask, research and answer on so that an informed impartial decision can be made on what is the best option for our very sick Port of Auckland.

My Line in the Sand

My Views on the POAL Saga

 

Since the late last year I have been running extensive commentary here at VOAKL on the Port of Auckland Saga. For the most part the commentary has been non-partisan and objective (while acknowledging author bias) on the Port of Auckland Saga.

In this post I will illustrate my own views and my Line in the Sand in regards to the POAL saga.

VOAKL View

As far as the Industrial Relations dispute goes between POAL management and MUNZ, I am not neither amused nor happy with both sides in getting this IR saga solved. While I support Cllr Fletcher’s motion and subsequently Mayor Len Brown is backing the POAL Board in getting the IR matter settled, I am wondering if contracting out the work force in its entirety or the protracted IR dispute could of been settled sooner then what we have now.

There are all sorts flying around Social Medial about privatising POAL, let me make my position very VERY clear. In regards to the ownership model of POAL the 100% public owned model does not seem to be working. Thus I believe an enquiry looking into the best ownership model to get the best Return on Investment for shareholders in paramount. In my view and if I was running for office, anywhere between 25-75% of the current POAL holding would be “sold off” to the private sector depending on what the Enquiry said would be the best Return on Investment. The money freed up could be used for other capital assets such as storm water upgrades or even as a deposit for the City Rail Link. An increased Return on Investment from mixed ownership or even a minority holding  could very well offset any so called loss of dividend to Auckland Council could face. One would have to way up the opportunity cost of such a decision.

However ownership is just part of the issue at Port of Auckland and improving the Return on Investment. Location also plays another major factor and again the enquiry would research into finding the best location for POAL to get the best Return on Investment as possible.

The three possibilities which are outlined HERE should be investigated as all three have positive and negative consequences if implemented and which are being covered in a Mini Series here at VOAKL.

My own view is that holding the Port at its current location or relocating to Marsden Point and Tauranga have some serious negative consequences (the South East Auckland option does too) including severe limitations on infrastructure which would cost billions (money we as NZ do not have) to rectify in order to get the best Return on Investment possible. Thus in my own personal opinion I see the South East Auckland option in relocating POAL as the best option of the three and if running for office would recommend it.

HOWEVER, if the Enquiry says otherwise to the South East Auckland then of course I will support what the enquiry says out of prudence and sense – as I am looking for the best option for Auckland – not me.

Therefore my Line in the Sand is getting this enquiry asking the Five Comprehensive Questions (the three there and my two)  into restoring Port of Auckland back to health and a optimal Return on Investment rate for all shareholders. 

English: The southern boundary of the customs ...
Image via Wikipedia

Information Fact Sheet

New Zealand Council of Trade Unions and Maritime Union of New Zealand post a Fact Sheet about the

Port of Auckland Saga.

Fact Sheet from NZCTU and MUNZ

It provided an interesting read and counter-argument to what has been said in the Main Stream Media, from Port Management and commented on in Blogs and social media.

The fact sheet also stated what Container Shuttling was (although I could have looked that up on Wikipedia) so an insight there.

As to what the Fact Sheet has said – I take that as arms length and acknowledge there might be some propaganda value in it as well (same applies to the POAL management side) but least I can see both sides of the argument to this dispute.

Being a member of MUNZ’s sister union – the RMTU (Rail Maritime Transport Union) as I work for Veolia Transdev (Auckland Metro Rail) and a card-carrying member of the National Party, I suppose (through being exposed) I see the goings on from both sides. That is there are days where either side can either piss me off (which the RMTU did just recently) or be of benefit (which the RMTU also did recently) so it’s the situation of give-and-take and know where you stand.

I leave it up to you on which side you take and/or your view on the Industrial Relations side of the Port saga.

For me my focus is still on the enquiry Auckland Council should be having on the Return of Investment for POAL and how best to achieve it through location and ownership model.

English: Auckland (New Zealand) CBD view from ...
Auckland Waterfront as seen from the Sky Tower