Tag: CityRail

De-Ja-Vu with Auckland(‘s) Transport – Again

Where did I put that old Record Player – Seriously

 

I caught this article in the NZ Herald yesterday on my so-called favourite second topic: Auckland Transport. Actually two articles caught my attention and I seriously wonder if I am having a case of De-ja-vu here in regards to Auckland‘s Transport.

The two articles of notice were these ones, both from Mathew Dearnaley:

 

Starting with “Public transport decline threat to future funding,” this is what had to be said:

From the NZ Herald

Public transport decline threat to future funding

Auckland’s public transport patronage continues to languish.

Trip numbers over the past 12 months ended 3.3 per cent lower than for the previous year.

Patronage to August 31 amounted to 69.2 million passenger trips, down from the previous annual figure of 71.5 million, according to a report to Auckland Transport’s board yesterday.

Trains accounted for the largest proportional loss, down 7.5 per cent to 10.1 million trips, despite the added contribution of the new Manukau line.

 

Even so, rail is starting to show a slight recovery, after its annual patronage drop from almost 11 million trips.

It notched up just over a million trips last month, 1.7 per cent higher than in August last year, despite one fewer business day.

But much more is needed, making a promised new fares strategy all the more pressing.

 

The Government requires Auckland Transport to have almost doubled its annual patronage to 20 million trips by 2020 before it will accelerate its 50 per cent funding for the city’s $2.86 billion underground rail project.

One encouraging statistic is an improvement in punctuality. Close to 89 per cent of trains arrived at their final destinations in August within five minutes of scheduled times, up from a 12-month average of 86.2 per cent.

Just a quick note; going back over the Prime Minister’s speech in regards to that 20 million figure it was also stated that if AT could show around 8% growth in rail patronage year in year out then the Government would look at starting the CRL around 2018.

 

To the main matter though what is seriously going on and why does this issue keep popping up.

Regular and historic readers of Talking Auckland would have read here at the blog of the ups and downs we have had with Auckland Transport. At the same time there has been copious amounts of (and not solely from the blog either): public flaying, constructive criticism, submissions, feedback, presentations to committees, lobbying and even meetings to try to offer what assistance once can give to help get our public transport systems (especially rail) back on track.

The results? Two fold:

  1. Success with Auckland Transport’s Strategy and Planning arm in regards to South Auckland‘s public transport system. Whether that be our proposed bus routes, the slow but steady progress with Glenora Road Station, or preparations for the Manukau South Link progress is being made there. This particular arm I quite enjoy talking to or working with that particular department when the time arises.
  2. The Operations arm of AT? Failure and get regularly ignored unless I do something like force a fare back down like I did last September. And it is the operations side causing the most anguish in Auckland for both public transport users and the wider ratepayers

 

Still from the NZ Herald piece:

Trains accounted for the largest proportional loss, down 7.5 per cent to 10.1 million trips, despite the added contribution of the new Manukau line.

Even so, rail is starting to show a slight recovery, after its annual patronage drop from almost 11 million trips.

Even there the recovery is at risk of stalling again. 

So what to do folks because I am now seriously lost after nearly two years of trying. Anything that would get patronage realistically back up gets shunned while anything that would be a detriment to patronage happens (otherwise patronage would not have slipped as far as it has).

 

The City Rail Link

 

$3.3b by the time the project gets started and there is a risk of a further blow out – owing to history some of our civic projects. This was noted in the Herald article “Rail delays threaten big blowout.”

I am sure I have said the Rail Fallacy would occur with the City Rail Link using comparisons from other projects overseas – and I could still end up being correct despite earlier ridicule on the matter. The Rail Fallacy Commentary previously mentioned on Talking Auckland can be found here: https://voakl.net/tag/rail-fallacy/

 

Do I want the Rail Fallacy to occur with the City Rail Link though? HECK NO! But pragmatism and harsh reality I must also bear in mind – kind of like risk management. The Rail Fallacy acknowledgement in part was me running a crude risk management exercise across multiple levels on the CRL. At least this way I knew/know the risks and can adapt for it accordingly where required.

Put it this way, at least if (political) reality bites and The Rail Fallacy does happen I was certainly most prepared – unlike others. I would also say this was good business sense in play too. 

 

In the end though unless Auckland Transport pulls finger I am going to struggle to see how the CRL will not start until 2020. Oh and for those like ATB who might put their faith in the EMU’s. Having flash new trains will provide some kick but not the silver bullet needed to bring the CRL forward to 2018. No amount of new rolling stock will counter: getting stuck behind the increasing amount of freight trains with out the third line fully complete, fare products not lined up properly and missing simple links such as the Manukau Rail South Link to attract more actual patronage. So again AT needs to pull finger and get the right things done – no excuses.

 

Final remark

Trains accounted for the largest proportional loss, down 7.5 per cent to 10.1 million trips, despite the added contribution of the new Manukau line.

Hmmm – waiting for that South Link that will feed real numbers in the Manukau Line and station… Lets try and not keep the wards of Manurewa/Papakura and Franklin waiting much longer please AT. There is a pent up demand waiting for a direct service from Pukekohe/Papakura to Manukau via the South Link and some modelling I ran estimates that 20 minute, 7 day a week services using that link would mean patronage levels rivalling our Ellersile and Glen Innes Stations. So lets try and get this built in the upcoming Christmas Block of Lines – okay – please.

 

Transport Announcements

And Here We Go

 

The Prime Minister has announced what is effectively an ULTRA spend up on transport in Auckland for the next wee-while.

I am still working through the material and am most likely to post a full response tomorrow.

Also I am just re checking material I have written over the last three years. I don’t know if Council or Government has ever read my submissions in related to transport or not, I am not particularly fussed. But the CRL, the AWHC, AMETI and other things seem to be on a very similar timetable to what I suggested in my Auckland Plan submission:

From Page 49 of my Submission to the Auckland Plan

The Priority System

As resources and capital is scarce, a priority system is needed best allocate those scarce resources and capital to extend Auckland’s Transport System. This priority system in this submission will be brief with extended details provided in a separate submission to the Auckland Long Term Draft Plan.

 Priority One (To be completed by 2018)

  • Building of the Eastern Highway (to the Sub-Regional Standard Option as mentioned in Section 3.5 of the EASTDOR Final Report
  • Realigning the Westfield Diamond
  • Relocating or adding rail stations
  • Re allocating bus routes, improving bus feeder systems to rail stations or bus RTN systems
  • Feasibility Study of the Airport Rail Line including freight option
  • Starting the bus RTN roll out especially along State Highway 20, 20A and 20B
  • South-to-Manukau Rail Link Completion

Priority Two (To be completed by 2025)

  • Completion of Inner City Rail Link
  • Third Rail Line from Port to Papakura
  • Airport Rail Line (if deemed feasible)
  • Second Harbour Crossing
  • South West Rail Line (if freight is still moving to Northland)
  • Rail Electrification to Hamilton (not mentioned or included in this submission)

Priority Three (To be completed by 2040 or optional)

  • Botany Rail Line
  • North Shore Rail Line
  • Upgrade Eastern Highway from Sub Regional Function option to full Regional Function option

This priority system was created in attempt to create an idea on how transportation projects should be rationalised and built over the next thirty years with scarce resources and capital. Priorities can change as the transportation needs change for Auckland. Through creating the basic outline of the Auckland Transportation Network over the next 30 years, and through more technical analysis in the Long Term Plan Submission, it is hoped that Auckland’s transport needs will not virtually bankrupt the city and allow the city to be known again for its affordability and economic progress. Also the Auckland Transport Network ideas outline is designed to complement the LADU system also mentioned in this submission. The LADU system proposed in this submission is to allow the submission’s goal to be realised and affordability plus economic progress not be strangled by DURT!

You can see my original submission in the embed below.

As I said above I will comment in full later while I digest all this (and my lunch). You can see the initial Herald reaction HERE.

My Original Auckland Plan Submission (check page 49)

 

Still Coming Up – News Overload

What Will Auckland Exactly Get Today?

 

Today the Prime Minister will announce to the Auckland Chamber of Commerce a transport package for Auckland. Already the City Rail Link has been confirmed with a start date around the 2020 mark – although that could be brought forward to 2017-2018. Owing to the fact that the Western Ring Route is meant to be complete and the fact that there is a national election in 2017 (whether it is National seeking a fourth term or seeking a new term after being 3-years in opposition), I do wonder if the 2017-2018 start date will actually happen. Already the construction resources would be present from Waterview (the WRR) so why not just transplant them straight over to the CRL instead of starting from scratch three years later?

Back to the PM’s speech today; so the CRL is announced but what else does Santa have in his bag of goodies. Auckland Transport Blog listed a few already in their “What else will the Government announce? the Good, the Bad and the Ugly” post along with the consequences of each one.

Since that particular post there has been leaks and hints that the Second Harbour Crossing is also a go (in what form is unknown), PENLINK might be a go (finally), something with AMETI (please be the Eastern Highway and the start of the Botany Line), or if not AMETI then this damned East-West Link in the Onehunga/Penrose/Highbrook industrial area.

So all eyes front as we await today’s announcement from the Prime Minister.

What would I like to see and would have done if I the Prime Minister today making the announcement? Probably something like this:

  1. City Rail Link
  2. PENLINK (tolled)
  3. North Shore Line (as far as Takapuna for now)
  4. Eastern Highway and Botany Line
  5. Half the money needed for the Electrification to Pukekohe

And yep I know Point-4 is going to cause some “controversy” amongst some readers here this morning.

 

With the Unitary Plan and Manukau

Posts are still coming to these hot topics and I will do my best to get these up today if not tomorrow depending on today’s transport info overload.

So again all eyes are front as we await the major announcement from the Prime Minister

 

Generation Zero: Support on Public Transport

Press Release from Generation Zero

 

On

 

Increasing Support for Public Transport Investment

 

I have certainly not forgotten about Generation Zero and their efforts for more balanced transport funding. This was from them today over the latest UMR Poll in regards to transport funding support levels:

 

From Scoop.co.nz – Scoop Media

Poll shows Govt’s dinosaur transport plans behind the times

Monday, 25 February 2013, 3:41 pmPress Release: Generation Zero

Poll shows Government’s ‘dinosaur’ transport plans behind the times

25 February 2013

Youth organisation Generation Zero has endorsed a recent poll by UMR research showing that support for spending on public transport has doubled over the last 20 years.

When asked whether they preferred Government money being spent on motorways and public roads or on public transport, 48 per cent of survey participants supported spending on public transport – in contrast, 37 per cent supported spending on motorways and public roads.

The poll by UMR Research shows the changing times in New Zealand with a reverse from 1992, when 43 per cent of those surveyed preferred Government money to be spent on motorways and other public roads, compared with 25 per cent support for public transport as the priority spending candidate.

Generation Zero spokesperson Louis Chambers said, “It’s time for the Government to get with the times on transport funding in New Zealand.”

The centrepiece of the Government’s transport strategy is to spend over $12 billion on its seven so-called ‘Roads of National Significance’.

To raise the money for these motorways, the Government has had to raise fuel taxes and is amending the Land Transport Management Act to allow the New Zealand Transport Agency unlimited borrowing capacity with only a signoff from the Finance Minister required.

Meanwhile, the Government is refusing to fund smart transport initiatives like the Auckland City Rail Link, and the National Land Transport Programme 2012-15 shows that for every dollar invested in new infrastructure for rail, buses, walking and cycling, 20 dollars will be spent on new state highways.

“This poll shows that New Zealanders understand our transport future can’t look like the past, and smart cities need smart transport systems to support them,” said Mr Chambers.

“But the Government doesn’t seem to get it – spending billions on unnecessary and uneconomic motorways like the Kapiti Expressway at the expense of vital smart transport projects like the City Rail Link.”

“The Government’s dinosaur transport plans will entrench ‘business as usual’, locking us into increased carbon emissions and dependence on foreign oil. As young Kiwis, that’s not what the future we want to be handed.”

“It’s time to deliver New Zealanders the better public transport systems that they’re calling for, but this will only be possible if we stop throwing money at these motorways of madness.”

About Generation Zero:
Generation Zero is an independent youth organisation seeking to catalyse action on climate change in New Zealand. For more information see:
www.generationzero.org.nz
www.facebook.com/GenerationZero

ENDS

——————————————————

The UMR poll was pretty convincing and I am willing to support Generation Zero in their call made above about our Dinosaur Central Government being that – Dinosaurs in regards to these Roads of National (Party) Significance.

BR:AKL also continues to support Generation Zero’s 50:50 transport funding campaign. 😀

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]

Groan – Who Wrote This

Seen This Post Before…

 

, a Consultant in urban, economic and community development who no wait that was someone else who served with Councillor Mike Lee on the former Auckland Regional Council – wrote a post over on his Cities Matter blog about the apparent flawed analysis on the City Rail Link. There are also two comments from various individuals that caught my attention and will also be “mentioned” as well.

From Cities Matter:

 

 

 

 

MONDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2012

A Flawed Case? Auckland’s City Rail Link Project

 

A tale of two cities
Two newspaper stories on infrastructure investment caught my eye last week. The first praised the approach undertaken by the Port of Tauranga. The Port has performed extremely well for shareholders, including 55% owners Bay of Plenty Regional Council.  This is put down to rigorous analysis of the financial impacts of any capital spending:

For years Tauranga has used its capital resources astutely to lift cargo volumes and improve efficiency to build economic value for its shareholders. …
The port has an outstanding record in kicking for the right goalposts when determining strategic capital development. ….
For Tauranga, a vital key has been to back innovation-driven capital investment with rigorous economic and financial analysis.

Contrast this with the latest addition to the grab bag of evidence assembled by Auckland Council to justify an underground central rail link (CRL) . Admittedly, Auckland Transport is not a commercial operation.  However, making the best possible use of capital is a key to the efficiency and productivity that will underlie the long-term prosperity of the city and the country.  And this project will not deliver.

Fiscal irresponsibility
I have not read the latest report in depth. But I did have a quick look to see what the financial implications of implementation might be for the ratepayers of Auckland, and how risk was assessed.  I couldn’t find any discussion of them.  And interestingly, in their absence it would be easy to use the analysis to demonstrate why we should not be risking substantial public funds on it. Yet the Mayor was quoted as saying that this report provides a strong basis for funding negotiations with the government.

The Transport Minister won’t buy into this.  He quickly responded by pointing out what the latest report demonstrates.  The project is not viable.  There is no financial analysis suggesting that this project has a life.

 

You can read the rest over at his blog.

 

Now that “latest report” McDermott is referring to that our utterly incompetent Minister of Transport responded to was the recently release City Centre Future Access Study (CCFAS) which can be found HERE. Now CCFAS I have mentioned briefly before while other blogs have covered it more in-depth.

 

My simple reply to the post written by McDermott for tonight (more in-depth coverage will come over the rest of the week), it is an exact replicant of what came out of Councillor Cameron Brewer’s Department which is widely believed (might as well been knowing the National Government Spin-Doctors) to have come straight out of Gerry Brownlee’s Office!

There is nothing new there McDermott and what you have said with the BCR’s has been refuted over at Transport Blog more than once – and will continue to be done so again and again and again until one basically “learns.”

 

As for the two comments posted, well that was heart sinking material to read it – but none the less expected!

 

” as it will never generate one cent of a financial return.”

LibertyScott; there is more to this world than the utter Neo-Liberal belief on “financial returns.” The London Underground at 150 years old last week shows the absolute long-term wider Economic returns to our sole World City (in my opinion) – London. And when I speak of Economic I speak of its full utter definition – that is: social, monetary, social and physical environmental, and the wider economic spin off’s out side of the pure revenue and expense which your blinkers can not look past from. Some goods in the world are subsidised (in fact roads are too for that matter) because there is more than absolute dollars and cents here – a fully integrated transport system is one of those goods.

 

“Let’s hope that serious advances in road-based transport will happen soon enough, fast enough, to get the public to re-think their brainwashing on the “inherent virtue” of rail. At the end of the day it’s about public buy-in and sadly they have thus far bought it.”

Andrew Atkin; mate your might as well bugger off to Brisbane mate where they are facing the consequences – and some very brutal ones at that of over investing in road-based transport and not developing a more balanced approach to their entire transport system which includes rail and ferries. Furthermore even our American cousins including such places as Houston and LA (oh look car central) have begun switching slowly over to more integrated transport systems which include – oh look rail. The Republicans in – look again TEXAS are going for a fully privately built and run rail line service and seeing where that ends up. If they make success out of it, it will blow away conceptions that rail is a socialist toy… As for public buy in; well they will keep buying in if real estate statistics are anything to go by. Guess where our hottest real estate is – why the fringe suburbs around the CBD which all sit on major road/bus and even rail corridors. The CRL will be an even bigger booster in those fringe areas when the latent rail capacity is not only opened up – but new areas that carry high density of travel also fall into extended rail catchment of the City Rail Link. I have not included the three new rail lines that can open up too because of the CRL giving the rail system even further reach into areas of Auckland not currently be served by rail. So sorry Andrew, don’t quite think the public will say to your way just yet looking at trends

 

And so this second post coming from me is the one I boot down the paddock.

 

Booting it for being an exact replicant of the crap that came out from Brownlee’s Office and that Brewer was silly enough to publish – with no actual alternative that presents even a better Benefit Cost Ratio than the CRL because there is none – Pure and Utter SIMPLE!

 

My take on all this

GROAN!

First Step in Improving Auckland’s Public Transport

Treat Humans as Humans

 

Not as numbers, not as dollar signs, not as a total pain in the ass that should be treated begrudgingly.

 

While I have been running commentary on things like Rail Efficiency Programs and operational models post City Rail Link to boost patronage via infrastructure and operations, another blogger raised a very fine point on something that is very well hammering our public transport patronage statistics – our customer service.

 

Before I highlight the said post from the other blogger, a quick reminder: Auckland Transport asked for submissions to its Regional Public Transport Program (RPTP) of which the hearings are next month (and that I am attending). One of the main focuses Auckland Transport was looking for in submissions to the RPTP was the “Customer Service Portal” – in other words the quality and level of customer service in our public transport system from front line staff right through to AT bureaucrats in Henderson.

This post is by virtue of an extension to my submission on the RPTP as well as replicating a point made at another blog.

 

So lets take a look at Customer Service on Auckland’s Public Transport System

This is from Auckland Transport Blog:

 

By Guest Post, on January 7th, 2013

This is a guest post by John P

The Ministry of Transport, bless ‘em, actually have a lot of interesting information on their website if you know where to look. One of the things they do is carry out a Household Travel Survey, which surveys 4,600 households in various parts of New Zealand each year. There’s plenty to look at, and you can check out various results at their transport survey, but for today I’ll look at a summary they put together on public transport use – taken from here.

The thing that stands out to me is a table showing the percentage of people who use public transport in NZ’s major cities. From this, 53% of Aucklanders surveyed hadn’t used PT at all in the last year. This put us on par with Christchurch and Dunedin, both of which are significantly smaller, neither of which have rail, and neither of which are particularly PT-oriented cities. We’re well behind Wellington, where only 27% of people hadn’t hopped on a train or bus at least once. Remember that (greater) Wellington is around the same size as Christchurch, and both cities are less than a third the size of Auckland.

Wow, that’s not a good start. How about people who haven’t used PT in the last month, but have in the last year? 17% of Aucklanders fell into this camp, in line with the other cities except for Wellington.

So, by this point, we can see that only 30% of Aucklanders had used public transport in the month before they were surveyed. We were in between Dunedin (26%) and Christchurch (34%), and well
behind Wellington where 46% of the people had used it at least once.

The last few lines of the table below are asking people how many days in the last month they had used public transport. I won’t dwell on it except to point out that half the Aucklanders who used PT in the last month hadn’t used it very often. Only 14% used it on 5 days or more, ahead of Dunedin (11%) but behind Christchurch (16%) and Wellington (27%).

Wellington is leaps and bounds ahead of Auckland, but I think we all knew that. I think these results are a pretty telling scorecard, and, to put it mildly, Auckland doesn’t look too flash. The majority of Aucklanders never use public transport at all, and most of those who do don’t use it very often. Two basic questions come out of this:

  1. Why don’t Aucklanders use PT very often?
  2. How do we improve PT usage in Auckland?

Questions that are answered in a number of different posts in this blog! A redesign of the network, and rail electrification, should help boost patronage over the next few years. But the thing is, we should really be aiming to get to where Wellington is now in the short to medium term. Anything less is short-changing ourselves in my opinion.

 

You can read the full article over at the Transport Blog site.

However the two questions in red are the points being raised and I answered over there. My answer was:

John (P) while a great post I think (from experience) the obvious is missing to give our flagging P/T patronage especially our rail patronage good kick until the infrastructure comes on cue over the next 10-30 years.

I take note here:

  1. Why don’t Aucklanders use PT very often?
  2. How do we improve PT usage in Auckland?

Questions that are answered in a number of different posts in this blog! A redesign of the network, and rail electrification, should help boost patronage over the next few years. But the thing is, we should really be aiming to get to where Wellington is now in the short to medium term. Anything less is short-changing ourselves in my opinion.”

Those are the two questions we are all seeking to actually answer and the reason why (to my personal disagreement as well as Councillor Mike Lee not being amused either) AT are about to embark on spending our money on “professional experts” ( http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10855436 ) in finding “fixes” to our rail slump,

 

However again Councillor Mike Lee has hit the nail on the head right here with this comment from another article: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10857062

“Mayor Len Brown says the arrival of the trains will be “a huge step on the path towards the kind of integrated transport system an international city like Auckland needs”.

He believes the electric units – which will have greater acceleration and braking power than the existing diesel fleet – will make rail patronage “rocket” and create even more pressure for a 3.5km underground rail extension from Britomart to Mt Eden.

But council transport chairman and veteran electrification campaigner Mike Lee believes the new trains will not be enough to boost flagging patronage unless they are supported by general service improvements, notably far better punctuality and extended weekend timetables, without prohibitive fare rises.

“I would not bank on electric trains in themselves fixing chronic underlying human management problems,” he said.”

 

Basically cutting it short why don’t Aucklanders use P/T much and how do we improve our P/T usage in Auckland? Well the infrastructure part of the answer is being dealt with so to me it is rather irrelevant in this point in time. The actual answer came from Dr Lester Levy – Chair of AT:

Dr Levy said he agreed there was a need for “critical measures” to be adopted and Auckland Transport needed to be far more customer-led in creating a demand for its services.

And there is the answer right there and there – he said it himself: ” Auckland Transport needed to be far more customer-led in creating a demand for its services”

THAT TO ME IS (and excuse the caps) PRIORITY NUMBER ONE above else at the moment.

2013 is going to be long and interesting year getting the patronage back round again. However (and in my opinion (what ever that is worth these days)) we (by we I mean AT, Council, the p/t user, you guys here at the blog, myself, and others who give a damn about our city) can do this – slowly but surely. :D

 

Now I am going to extend the “situation” from another Transport Blog commenter emphasising the point:

George D

But council transport chairman and veteran electrification campaigner Mike Lee believes the new trains will not be enough to boost flagging patronage unless they are supported by general service improvements, notably far better punctuality and extended weekend timetables, without prohibitive fare rises.

He’s right. It doesn’t matter how fast and shiny the trains are if they’re still late and unreliable, and riding them costs more than ever. Every time fares rise, demand decreases – we’ve actually reached the point now where we’ve passed an equilibrium and ridership is decreasing towards a new equilibrium with those who are prepared to pay for a particular level of service.

 

Now since then a few more comments from Transport Blog have come up however I can’t specifically address those issues at the moment.

But as for my point and George D’s point, the writing for Auckland Transport is literally on the (virtual) wall. Improve customer service FIRST (and restore affordability to fares while at it) or all this multi-billion investment in our public transport system is going to be an utter waste if Auckland Transport can not get the basic human to human interaction right. People (both front line staff and passengers) just want to be treated like humans and be able to at least have a pleasant experience on our public transport network – even in times of disruptions. It can be done, it has been done and it is straight forward if the culture (and tools) are there.

 

There will be more said on this matter next month when I front up in front of members of the Auckland Transport Board next month for my RPTP hearing. However 5-minutes doesn’t quite seem long enough to hammer on about the “Customer Service Portal” at this current rate of dissatisfaction out there.