Tag: Wellington

Council Submission on the Housing Accord

What Council thought on the Housing Accord

 

I am no fan of the Much-Ado-About-Nothing (aka the Housing) Accord as it short cuts the Rural Urban Boundary processes we are going through right now, and it also impinges on Council Sovereignty. I have made mention of this last month while the Unitary Plan was open for the first round of discussion.

Auckland Council, some Local Boards and the Independent Maori Statutory Board have written draft submissions on the Accord which is due to go before Select Committee in Wellington.

I am still reading the submission Council has written myself and will comment on it on Monday. In the mean time some light reading for you and if you are inclined leave your thoughts in the comments below.

The Submission (Starting page 7) to the Housing Accord

 

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.

 

 

$20m for Fried Snapper

Snapper Asked Auckland Transport for $20m

 

 

Well knew this was coming from a few light years out. Auckland Transport (finally) dumped Snapper and in return Snapper wants compensation.

You can read it here from the NZ Herald:

 

Dumped bus card firm seeks $20m compo

By Mathew Dearnaley

6:00 AM Wednesday Sep 19, 2012

Electronic payments card supplier Snapper says it will claim up to $20 million in costs from Auckland Transport after being dumped from the region’s $98 million integrated ticketing project.

That is on top of an extra $12 million it says the council organisation must now pay the main Hop ticketing project contractor, French company Thales, to supply replacement ticketing equipment to be leased to the region’s various bus fleets.

Snapper chief executive Mike Szikszai says it simply wanted to recover its costs, rather than try to halt the project and sue for lost business.

“We are aiming for this to be as quick as it can be and we want to move on,” he said.

Szikszai said Wellington-based Snapper was still itemising its costs “but I think we’re looking at a range of between $10 million and $20 million”.

“It’s significant – we haven’t been paid a cent for our work in Auckland.”

Szikszai denied Auckland Transport’s contention that Snapper was unable to meet an extended deadline for the rollout of Hop cards across buses, trains and ferries by November 30, saying it had “delivered against all of our milestones”.

“We met all of our obligations and Auckland Transport didn’t stand up to their side of the deal,” he said.

That included a failure to provide Snapper with the specifications it needed to plug its technology into the wider Hop system.

Szikszai said there were about 200,000 Snapper-enabled Hop cards in circulation in Auckland, and the company would continue to support these, even though it would ultimately have to remove its machines from the NZ Bus fleet.

The row over Snapper means it will be April before Thales starts adding the new cards to fleets run by NZ Bus and a consortium of other bus operators which were originally to have been supplied by a third ticketing company.

$20m to fry Snapper – dang that is expensive Snapper indeed.

 

I suppose our resident Prude – The Mayor might want to err “divert” the Cruise Ship Terminal money he has “earmarked” to paying out Snapper quickly so this saga does not need to drag on more than it already has.

But will he?

Nah Pigs Shall Fly First before that would ever happen which means the hapless ratepayer gets stung yet again.