Auckland Transport and Eden Park

A reader e-mails:

Although ’ve probably missed the window of opportunity,  something that has riled me up in the last week is how incompetent Auckland Transport was in dealing with resident only parking permits for Eden Park.  Agreed that this is not exactly GFC 2 or London Riots,  but I found that Auckland Transport are arrogant and have not implemented a solution that keeps anybody happy.

I live at xx King Edward Street, Mt Eden,  which is a few blocks from Eden Park.  I’m an avid rugby supporter and actively chose to buy close to Eden Park.

In the lead up to the ,  the then Auckland City Council, under pressure from a vocal minority, re-evaluated the parking scheme in place.

In this process they did consult with local residents with public meetings etc,  but in essence wanted to implement a wider parking restriction area (Zone B that I live in).  I believe the main drivers were to remove noise and parking related issues from local residents because all 120 minutes once in a while can be a significant inconvenience for some people.

What was clearly stated at the time was that Auckland City Council was attempting to force Eden Park spectators to use public transport.  The problem for me was the extensive market research findings stated that at best something like 50% would use public transport.

In my mind this meant that the remaining 50% would still drive,  and still cause noise and inconvenience to some residents, just not those now living reasonably close to Eden Park.  The problem was simply shifted slightly further away.

As I imply above,  I have no issues with spectators parking in my street, and they do for all the none major games.  So why for the major games can’t spectators park in my street?  Auckland Transport has never managed to answer that one.

So, at a purported cost of around 1 million to implement the full signage and then manage it per year seemed like a waste of money to me.

This scheme did have some merits,  including both permanent resident permits for residents cars, along with the option of up to 6 visitor permits for a game, although you were capped at the amount per season.  This scheme had also been in place for a number of years for those residents closest to Eden Park in Zone A.

The first time the new Zone B was used was for the Rugby League test on Nov 6 last year.  As we know this was a social disaster.

So roll forward to the last few weeks and the point of me writing to you.

I received a letter from Auckland Transport on Wednesday 20 July stating that the permit scheme had been reviewed and revoked,  and that residents needed to apply for new permits urgently for the Bledisloe Cup game just gone.

This letter gave me one days warning of an opportunity to meet with Auckland Transport representatives to discuss this matter.  I attended this and had a discussion regarding the lack of consultation with residents.  It would appear the only person they spoke with was Mark Donnelly

In essence the 6 visitor permit had been revoked.  When I pushed on this point, it was explained it was due to the complaints associated with the Rugby League test from November 2010. I then pushed on this point,  asking if the complaints were to do with people taking advantage of the resident visitor permit scheme that was in place.  It appeared there were either very few or none.

Auckland Transport made this change even though the scheme had been working effectively in Zone A for a period of time. The change is now each household is allowed 1 visitor permit only.

I argued that now all residents are disadvantaged when a big game is on. Sure,  I can’t get my mates over for a game now and park in my street.  But neither can I have a dinner party,  or my daughter’s birthday at the same time as a game.  Now no visitors can park in my street during a game.

The answer from Auckland Transport is either don’t arrange an event at your home at a conflicting time,  or knock on neighbours doors and borrow there visitor permits. I find this a bit silly.

So first thing last Monday morning in person I handed in my application for residents parking permits to Auckland City Council.  Late on the Thursday afternoon, less than 48 hours to kick off,  I received a phone call asking for proof that my company car, registered to the company I work for, is in fact at my address.  How it took essentially 4 business days to get to that point amazes me.

I was surprised given this was not stated in the obviously rushed sporadic documentation I had received from Auckland Transport. This sporadic documentation was somewhat heavy handed regarding cars will be towed if they don’t have the new permits on them.

When I checked the Auckland Transport site that night, there was further detail regarding being able to take applications directly to Auckland Transport as opposed through Auckland Council.

I sent an email with an amount of detail,  including that of the 30 cars parked on my street that night when I took my dog for a walk,  that only 4 had the new permits.

I also included a photo of the current permit on my company car and made reference that surely they should be able to reconcile old database to new applications?

On Friday afternoon I phoned and spoke with someone in the permit team.  They confirmed all was in order and that my permits would be hand delivered on the game day.

So by 3pm my permits had not turned up.  I phoned the Eden Park hotline and was informed that Auckland Transport had opened up an emergency office at the Council offices on Dominion Road.  Remembering that all the documentation had been aggressive regarding if you don’t have permits by game day there is no way you can get them.

When I visited the office,  the Auckland Transport people in attendance stated that they had not received my application in time.  Fortunately I could prove that I had indeed handed in my application early enough.  They then attempted to make further excuses.

This is when I realised that this organisation was totally incompetent.  They had decided very late on (less than 3 weeks out from the game) to change the rules.

They had not really consulted. They had not done the maths that if each application took 15 minutes,  they could only to 4 an hour.  And if they knew they had 1000 to get through,  it was always going to be a tough call.

So the end result,  the senior Auckland Transport representative admitted that had stuffed up,  had not applied enough planning and process,  and that the majority or residents would not have permits for the game.  I was astounded by this admission.

But then he went on to state that they would not be enforcing any parking irregularities for that game.

And around 4.30,  3 hours before kick off,  a parking warden wandered my street hand delivering resident parking permits!

Sounds like Auckland Transport has some work to do to improve its customer service.

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