Lee should resign

July 20th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An Auckland councillor is using money from his own back pocket to take to the airwaves and criticise the decision to drop trains to the airport.

Last Wednesday and Thursday, Councillor Mike Lee’s 30 second radio commercial aired across five stations all owned by NZME.

Lee, who sits on the board of Auckland Transport, says in the commercial that rail to the airport has long been a priority for the city with a “longstanding commitment to route protection”.

However, last month the boards of Auckland Transport and the New Zealand Transport Agency voted to eliminate it as an option in favour of light rail or a bus option.

This is a disgraceful move by Lee and he should resign off the board of Auckland Transport immediately.

It is untenable to have a company director run advertisements attacking the company he is a director of.

If Lee was not on the board of Auckland Transport, then as a Councillor he can of course criticise their decisions. But as he is also on the board, he can not. If as a director you feel so strongly the board has made the wrong decision, you resign.

It is untenable to be on the board of a company and run advertisements attacking it. The Council should sack him immediately from the board.

Auckland needs the Wellington way

August 23rd, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Residents of two narrow Auckland streets are furious that council parking wardens fined 27 of them in a 2am blitz on cars with two wheels on the curb.

They say if they had parked correctly access would be obscured for emergency services vehicles, rubbish trucks and other large vehicles and likely result in damage to cars.

Residents on Orakei’s Apihai and Tautari streets woke on Thursday morning to find $40 fines on their windscreens.

A 2 am blitz. That is just outrageous revenue gathering.

A Fire Service spokesman said as residents were parked on the kerb, staff had not experienced issues of blocked streets in Orakei.

“If they were forced to start parking on the road, like it sounds like they will be now, it’s only now that we might start seeing this.”

A St John spokeswoman said the residents’ concerns were justified, but there were no recorded incidents of paramedics not being able to access a patient due to a narrow road.

“St John’s preference is for streets to be wide enough for comfortable ambulance access in order to get to patients as quickly and safely as possible.”

Police spokesman Grant Ogilvie said it was important narrow streets were kept clear for emergency services to use.

Auckland Transport should be told by the Council to pull its head in.

In Wellington, the City Council takes a flexible approach to street parking. They even refer to it in a brochure as “The Wellington Way” which is to ignore technical breaches of the regulation that says don’t park on foot paths, because forcing people not to do so would be more hazardous.

Auckland Transport spends $356,000 on PR for them

June 29th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Public transport bosses in Auckland spent $356,000 to improve their public image – even as they lined up a special shuttle so staff don’t have to travel on buses and trains.

The marketing campaign came with the introduction of the new electric trains and was also intended to encourage people to “give the trains a go”.

It was revealed this week Auckland Transport has set up a regular private shuttle service to move staff between its Henderson headquarters and its central Auckland waterfront office.

The shuttle was intended as a time-saving measure for staff, but attracted criticism from public transport advocates because it leaves from and arrives at the same places used by the slower public transport options.

The $356,000 spending on the April campaign came as the shuttle service was being prepared for launch. The documents, released to the Taxpayers’ Union, show the campaign was intended to “increase positive perceptions towards Auckland Transport and our breakthrough projects”.

I’d rather they spend their money on actual trains, rather than on PR about the trains!

Auckland Transport

July 11th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Kudos to Auckland Transport Blog which has published an alternate transport vision for Auckland from 2015 to 2030. Their main post is here and their costings here.

It’s a great example of being pro-active and putting up a well researched proposal for debate. Doesn’t mean I agree with their proposal, but their contribution is valuable and welcome.

It would be good for an appropriate agency to independently cost their proposals, and estimate what impact on congestion their proposals would have.

Hide on Auckland Transport

April 28th, 2013 at 6:31 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

My research led me to Wellingtonian Tony Randle, who spent months trying to get the analysis underpinning the 2010 Rail Business Case, succeeding only after a complaint to the Ombudsman.

Once Tony got hold of the analysis he found:

1. Basic spreadsheet errors. The spreadsheet fails to calculate the running costs of the second purchase of 26 trains. That ignores $689 million on the train option.

2. Incorrect exclusion of costs from the rail option. The study excludes the necessary funding to extend the Northern Busway into the city centre. Building this access is a necessary part of the rail option.

3. Addition of a second bus tunnel without explanation, adding hundreds of millions to the bus option.

4. Unreasonable assumptions, including a prediction that under the rail option, present bus capacity into the city centre will carry another 20,000 passengers a day without any new bus lanes or busways.

And people wonder why the Government won’t just hand over billions of dollars. I’m not sure what is worse – the massive errors in the analysis, but the fact they wouldn’t release them without the Ombudsman.

The overall impression is that the analysis was slanted to conclude trains over buses, despite the fact that buses may provide a better cheaper service.

The errors and poor assumptions total $1.5 billion. The bias is systematic; each and every mistake favours rail over buses. Correcting for the errors reverses the study’s conclusions and shows the CBD bus tunnel more cost-effective than the City Rail Link.

Tony Randle’s review is damning of Auckland Transport’s report. And it’s damning of the rail option. Auckland Transport’s response? Stony silence.

I’ve blogged on Tony’s work before. I am surprised no Councillor has followed it up. He makes available his detailed spreadsheets freely.

Last December, Auckland Transport released a second report. City Centre Future Access Study also concludes that the city rail link beats the two bus options considered, but now for different reasons to the first report. And, once again, Auckland Transport published the study without the underpinning analysis.

I followed Randle’s lead and requested the spreadsheets and the relevant model output reports. Auckland Transport has refused to supply them to me.

Its latest is a lawyer’s letter explaining that Auckland Transport will provide what I want but only if I pay them $3850.

Oh, and they won’t send me the spreadsheets.

Instead, they will send a printed output. That’s useless to me. It won’t allow me to check the very calculations that Randle showed were so devastatingly wrong in their first report.

I am left to conclude that Auckland Transport doesn’t trust its own analysis. So how can I trust it? And, more especially, how can you?

Very good questions. The spreadsheets should be provided free of charge to anyone asking. They already exist. There is no cost involved in e-mailing them out. The cost of $3,850 demanded is a rort.

Politically correct Auckland Transport

March 22nd, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Mao in Wellington


These advertisements have been banned by Auckland Transport from their bus shelters. The Herald reports:

The ad, for online electricity store Powershop, shows the Chinese former dictator surrounded by Chinese people and soldiers with guns, and carries the slogan ‘Same Power Different Attitude’.

It has been banned from bus shelters by Auckland Council-owned Auckland Transport over fears it could offend some members of the Chinese community.

Oh for fuck’s sake. It’s not even a denigrating portrayal, but a humourous one.  I hate this sort of self-censorship.

And while we are at it, Mao managed to kill tens of millions of Chinese through his policies. Would Auckland Transport refuse an ad with Stalin in it, in case some Russians were offended?

We live in New Zealand, not China. Local Government officials should not be censoring ads because they may offend some people. On that basis every advertisement could be banned.

Pleased to see Wellington transport officials are not so politically correct.

Ridiculous proposed restrictions by Auckland Transport

February 4th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Mathew Dearnaley at NZ Herald reports:

Politicians are upset that an Auckland Transport bylaw may ban mobile election hoardings and put restrictions on others.

The council transport organisation, which is trying to standardise bylaws in time for this year’s local elections, says it does not believe vehicles used solely for political advertising should be allowed on city roads or in carparks.

But Labour’s transport spokesman, Phil Twyford, suggested yesterday that the organisation should concentrate on making its trains run on time. And Act’s John Boscawen said his party would oppose any such restriction “on people’s freedom of speech and to express, and to generate interest in the political process”.

Auckland Transport says in a position paper seeking public submissions by February 28 that its bylaws should support an objective of making roads effective for carrying people and goods.

It proposes that election signs be allowed on vehicles used for ordinary travel but not for the sole purpose of advertising, such as when towing trailer-mounted hoardings.

This is pathetic and ridiculous  Auckland has almost 1.4 million people living in it, and around 1.1 million vehicles. And Auckland Transport are trying to restrict cars used for political advertising, which would probably reduce the number of cars at any one time by oh around six or so.

As Phil Twyford says, they should focus on making the trains run on time, and not becoming political speech commissars.