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Missing every opportunity to improve public transport

by PCGM
The Let’s Get Wellington Moving project has been garnering headlines about its alternative approaches to addressing some of the capital’s transport woes. Front and centre: restricting parking so that bringing a car into the CBD is less attractive and people migrate to public transport. As it turns out, the city has already been doing this – so it’s a crying shame that the Greater Wellington Regional Council has squandered the recent opportunity that circumstances have handed them, to the detriment of Wellington.

It’s an old adage in politics that “we should never let a good crisis go to waste”. So when the Kaikoura earthquake hit the city in November and knocked out around 3,500 car parking spaces in the CBD, you’d think the public transport planners at the GWRC would be rubbing their hands in glee. Here was the chance to (finally!) inspire people to get out of their cars and on to the trains and buses, given that finding a carpark was suddenly harder and more expensive. Best of all, it was an opportunity that didn’t require any complex planning changes or rancorous public debate, because the removal of a huge number of carparks had been achieved at a single stroke by Mother Nature. If ever there was a chance of an easy win for public transport, here it was on a platter.

No such luck. The GWRC transport planners have resolutely sat on their hands, and done exactly what their recent track record said they would do: nothing.

Wellington has always been generously supplied with both on-street and off-street car parks, and as the Let’s Get Wellington Moving team have identified this is one of the challenges for getting people out of their cars and reducing congestion in the CBD. But getting people to change long-entrenched habits isn’t easy – generally it requires both a bit of a push and a bit of a pull. To change our habits, we generally need the current way of working to be just a bit harder, and the new way of doing things to be a bit easier, so that putting aside the old behaviour and changing our ways feels like the path of least resistance.

Given that the earthquake supplied the “push” – car parking suddenly became harder to find and more expensive – you’d think the public transport planners at GWRC would have had a lightbulb moment, and figured out a way to quickly generate a “pull” for a bunch of car commuters who were finding the daily grind just a bit more grinding. Such as (in no particular order): a targeted discount on public transport monthly passes, perhaps with an advertising campaign pointing out the sudden improvement in convenience from taking the train or bus, or maybe some extra services that could make getting to and from work and errands just that bit easier.

Such a thought obviously never crossed their minds.

And it’s not like they didn’t have the money to make it work. The GWRC has the highest fare-box recoveries and lowest public transport subsidies in the country, and in recent years has run the bus and train services at a surplus to budget, primarily because the fares were last set when fuel prices were higher. As a result, the Council has largely banked the fuel cost savings without bothering to pass them on to commuters – so it looks like there’s money in the bank. And running a limited-time discount for the fares that would best get people to change their commuting habits would appear to be entirely affordable.

Of course, all this assumes that the GWRC transport planners actually care about public transport. Wellingtonians might be skeptical about this, given the recent GWRC track record – the impending scrapping of the trolley buses, the botched Transport Spine Review, the ongoing price-gouging of commuters, the lack of discounts for students, the deck-chair shuffling of bus and train contracts that seem to deliver next-to-nothing for either commuters or ratepayers … it’s a long list of anti-public transport decisions from the people who are meant to be in charge of it.

To which we can now add the cognitive dissonance of reading in the Dominion Post that getting people out of their cars and on to buses and trains would aid congestion. So it’s certainly a puzzle why the WRC planners can’t come down from their ivory tower for long enough to take advantage of the opportunities that are handed to them, and do exactly that.

39 comments:

  1. Will, 10. July 2017, 7:50

    How long until central government sends in the commissioners to run the GWRC?

     
  2. CPH, 10. July 2017, 9:07

    Given the age of the bulk of the councillors, maybe the government should be sending in the Retirement Commissioner!

     
  3. Keith Flinders, 10. July 2017, 10:19

    In view of the Wellington City bus situation, Will, your idea of the GWRC being replaced in the interim by commissioners is a valid one. It happened in Canterbury with a disfunctional authority. From November this year Wellington will have a 100% diesel bus fleet because of decisions made in 2014 based on inaccurate information and done without a business plan outlining the true cost. For those who imagine the trolley buses, when converted to Wrightspeed, are going to be good for the environment they ought to take note of Roger Blakeley’s recent report here on Wellington.Scoop. Wrightspeed conversions will require fossil fuel for 89% of their operational time, less a very small percentage of regenerative braking energy gain. Trolley buses derive 100% of their energy from non polluting renewable sources.

    Getting more people to use buses is certainly an option when there is sufficient peak hour capacity available on them. Some routes are under pressure now and are not seen as attractive to would be bus commuters. From mid 2018 the introduction of transport hubs may well see an increase in the use of cars if the new routes add to journey times and inconvenience of changing buses at non sheltered hubs.

     
  4. KB, 10. July 2017, 10:48

    My wife and I live in an inner city suburb, a very short drive to the CBD shops. Due to the high cost of parking in town, my wife shops in Petone, Lower Hutt, Lyall bay and Porirua where car parking is free.

    So yes the high cost of parking does deter people from bringing a car in the central city, but apparently (for those like my wife at least) it also leads to increased car traffic on the main spine network (and also less economic activity in the CBD). Given the above, I’m sure Porirua and Lower Hutt city councils would be very supportive of the Wellington City Council making it harder and more expensive for people to bring their cars into the CBD.

     
  5. Ross Clark, 10. July 2017, 23:02

    @KB. Thanks for your comment; while my past observations on controlling parking availability have been directed at the commuter market, this is a good reminder that controlling shopping parking might have a whole set of unintended consequences.

    One option that GWRC could look at more is bus park & ride – big carparks on the periphery of the congested centre, where people could leave their cars before going into the city. It is used a fair bit in the UK.

     
  6. PCGM, 11. July 2017, 10:35

    Ross Clark – You’re right, there’s lots of things that GWRC could do to improve the patronage on public transport, and park-and-ride would be an excellent idea. However, it’s not exactly a new concept, and the fact that GWRC haven’t even got around to investigating it let alone implementing it despite having decades to do so pretty much reinforces my point in the article – that GWRC fundamentally doesn’t seem to give a toss about public transport.

     
  7. Daran Ponter, 11. July 2017, 17:28

    Ross This is very good idea. Park and ride is well utilised at the edge of many European cities. We have park and ride at many of our railway stations on the Hutt and Kapiti lines, but they have not been conceived of as part of an overall strategy for reducing commuter traffic – they are more of a knee jerk reaction to demand – and we only really have them for trains, and not buses..

    Greater Wellington Regional Councillors have recently directed GWRC staff to prepare a Park and Ride strategy which will assist us to better understand demand for Park and Ride as well as alternatives to park and Ride (such as improved bus shuttle services). As a rule of thum park and ride car parks cost approx $4,000 per sealed car park, while multi storey car parks cost approx $40,000 per car park.

     
  8. Daran Ponter, 11. July 2017, 17:58

    PCGM@ I suspect that Councillors don’t generally respond to these types of articles because they are in a no win situation. What ever they say will cause rancour. And if they say something you agree with you are probably rightly suspicious :).

    Anyway, I will wade in regardless:

    1) Under the current model of contracting the GWRC does not have the ability to make changes to bus fares at will – but that will change from 1 July 2018. Under the new contracts we will have much more flexibility.

    2) I’m not convinced that we needed an earthquake to be the catalyst for change – the introduction of lower fares is long over overdue in Wellington and something that we are working towards (it’s like herding cats!). From 1 July 2017 I fully expect, with the agreement of my fellow councillors, that we will be introducing:

    – student fare discounts across the network
    – 25% off-peak discounts across the network
    – free fare transfers between buses
    – standardisation of 50% discount for school age students
    – some changes to fare boundaries.

    From 1 July 2018 we will also:

    – have Snapper on all buses across the Network; and
    – be introducing bike racks on all buses across the region.

    c) from 2020/201 we will be introducing a fully integrated ticketing system across the network – buses, trains and ferries. I know, I know, I hear you all chocking on your dinner! And I agree that integrated ticketing has been a long time coming,. But we are over the Auckland debacle and now making good progress to define the type of system for the Wellington Region – which will be account based..

     
  9. Andy Mellon, 11. July 2017, 19:13

    Have transport planners considered the idea of using the Gracefield rail stub to create a park & ride facility at Seaview/Gracefield to service Wainuiomata, Moera and Eastbourne traffic?

    Surely this could significantly reduce traffic pressure on the Petone Esplanade and also the traffic on SH2 into Wellington?

     
  10. PCGM, 11. July 2017, 20:22

    Daran Ponter – all power to you for wading in, and for your continuing public engagement on what are really important issues for Wellington. But it’s a sad commentary on GWRC that you and Paul Bruce are really the only regional councillors who have done so over the years – barring the occasional missive from Chris Laidlaw.

    And there’s no getting around the fact that GWRC is entirely responsible for the delays and incessant foot-dragging on the key projects you’ve mentioned. If there’s inflexibility in how fares are set in the contracts, then GWRC officers are the only ones to blame, as they were the ones who wrote them! Far too often, these delays are cast as some sort of Act of God that is totally outside GWRC’s control, as if bad contracts and poorly run projects and ineffective reviews were some force of nature that had nothing to do with the staff members warming the seats.

    So it’s good to see some progress on some of these initiatives, and even better to see you prepared to front up on GWRC’s behalf to explain how and where progress is being made. All the same, the time may well be overdue for a large-scale clean out of the officers who have so completely failed to deliver for Wellington for such a long time. Perhaps the Chief Executive should take note.

     
  11. Ross Clark, 11. July 2017, 21:35

    @Daran: Thank you for your reply. Do you know if the GWRC or WCC have even *thought* about controlling commuter parking availability?
    I know that it is a politically difficult issue, but if one wishes to see the use of cars reduced for the commuter task, it needs to be at least talked about.

     
  12. Libby Grant, 12. July 2017, 6:56

    Once again: where is the vision? Where is the bold leadership in the GWRC? Have they not heard that climate change is here and NZ under the Paris Agreement has to reduce carbon emissions? And have they not heard that diesel is nasty and polluting and more diesel buses will make air quality in our city worse? Where is the health impact assessment of their decisions? In Oslo they are removing ALL CBD car parks – that’s bold leadership for you. Wellington is what is now called an ‘arrogant’ city i.e. it is built around the car, and cyclists, pedestrians and public transport is squeezed out. It is not acceptable in 2017 to have these dinosaurs making decisions about our cities with no concern for the health of Wellingtonians nor for the future of our best little capital in the world.

     
  13. Richard Keller, 12. July 2017, 10:32

    The elephant in the room as we are all aware, I suppose, is that the Hutt and Kapiti suburbs primarily look on Wellington CBD as an impediment to getting to the airport. The GWRC is made up of a majority of Hutt and Kapiti councillors so we see the silent effects of this airport fixation. Until the discussion engages this bigger picture it is unlikely to change much for Wellington. Of course, the issue of air travel, tourism (in and out), and carbon emissions is not simply a larger picture but an ideological/cultural phenomenon and so more difficult to resolve.

     
  14. Troy H, 12. July 2017, 12:02

    @Libby you are incorrect. In Wellington we have trains, cyclists and buses. Driving a car doesn’t make a city “arrogant,” for a city is not a person it does not feel, think or act. Thinking Wellington is the best capital in the world is arrogant.

     
  15. Mike Mellor, 12. July 2017, 16:52

    Park and ride has its place, but as Daran notes it’s not cheap (I would have thought $4,000 per space was at the bottom end of the scale, plus operating costs), and it’s forgotten that if it’s free, it’s actually ratepayers and non-parkers subsidising people who park, i.e. subsidising private car use. It also means that the space occupied by a car park can’t be used for a productive purpose like housing or transit-oriented development without significant extra costs.

    A Park and Ride Strategy needs to be a broader Public Transport Access Strategy, so that activities consistent with council plans (like public transport, walking and cycling) are supported, rather than inconsistent ones (such as driving). That’s a very good way of tackling emissions.

    And Mother Nature has addressed commuter car parking in Wellington to some extent, with earthquakes forcing closure then demolition of the Reading carpark and repeated and prolonged closure of the James Smith’s one, so let’s take full advantage.

     
  16. Daran Ponter, 12. July 2017, 19:35

    @ Ross To answer your question, in relation to park and ride facilities one of the issues that the GWRC has already started discussing is charging users for the cost of park and ride facilities – i.e. passing some of the cost on to users rather than ratepayers. This is something that becomes more feasible when we have integrated ticketing in place.

    With respect to the City Council, you may be aware that the WCC recently increased the hourly parking charge from $4 to $4.50, but if the parking charge is really going to shift behaviour it needs to be going north of $6 an hour.

    With respect to the get Welly Moving Programme, proposals have been put before the team about restricting more parking buildings in the CBD – – including preventing the rebuild of demolished car parking buildings.

    Bottom line is that we don’t have a joined up strategic approach on commuter parking / parking. Congestion charging policy may be an alternative means of getting to the same point and or something that needs to dovetail with a comprehensive parking strategy.

     
  17. Kerry, 13. July 2017, 9:43

    Daran, north of $6 would be useful. If the price is high enough for on-street parking to be rarely more than 85% full, people who really needed a space can find one. Higher charges would also reduce congestion because fewer drivers would be looking for a car park.

    A lot of this is habit. I recall someone being 15 minutes late for a meeting in central Wellington, because he couldn’t find a car park. He could have walked in 12 minutes.

     
  18. Elaine Hampton, 13. July 2017, 10:56

    Elephant in the room….well that is a problem, all the residents outside Wellington city do see the city as an impediment on the way to the airport and hospital. Why isn’t this a good reason for light rail connected to the main railway station? Even Auckland is talking about putting one in). We should just get with the rest of the world instead of deferring to car culture and wingeing about low population levels, not logical we are not the only low population country in the OECD

     
  19. Luke, 13. July 2017, 12:30

    A lot of the on street parking should be replaced with clearways, bus lanes and cycle ways. Key arterials are for movement not storage.

     
  20. Neil Douglas, 13. July 2017, 16:23

    Mike, Yes 4k is cheap. The capital cost of a Park and Ride space = $15,000 according to a study for NZTA which looked at Wellington rail and Auckland Busway. Add on $450 a year for operating and maintenance costs.

    http://atrf.info/papers/2015/files/ATRF2015_Resubmission_148.pdf

    I think P&R should be paid for by users. Suburban rail car parks take up space, cause local traffic congestion and rarely look good. I bet some of Petone rail station car parkers are workers getting a free space all day.

    Learn from Perth WA and put a price on P&R Note British Rail (Network South East charged for parking 30 years ago so it’s not a new idea). Should be part of electronic ticketing when it arrives in XXX years time.

     
  21. CPH, 13. July 2017, 20:39

    Neil Douglas – so your solution to congestion is to add more cost to taking public transport, for what seems like some esoteric philosophical reason? To be blunt, if you make public transport any more expensive than it is already, then people will just drive – with all the negative environmental impacts that result. Why would anyone think this is a good idea?

     
  22. Neil Douglas, 14. July 2017, 9:31

    CPH, I’m costing the car drive / park part according to the economic cost of resources used.

     
  23. Luke, 14. July 2017, 11:42

    My employer provides ‘free’ parking but no contribution to public transport fares. These kinds of hidden subsidy to motorists only encourage more driving.

     
  24. Kb, 14. July 2017, 12:51

    Making people pay for park and ride sounds counter productive.

     
  25. CPH, 14. July 2017, 15:21

    Neil Douglas – you’re costing park and ride by selectively picking some externalities that you like the look of, whilst excluding others on an arbitrary basis. For instance, if you want park and ride drivers to pay the fully allocated costs of the car park, why have you not credited them with the fully allocated savings from the transport network efficiency gains, the emissions reduction and the road network maintenance for the public transport portion of their journey – which may be far greater than the cost of parking?

     
  26. Kerry, 14. July 2017, 22:11

    Luke: What would happen if employers offering free parking were required to give employees the option of a cash buyout. The usual result is that many employees value the buyout more than the parking, and take the bus. Or they might prefer light rail.

    KB: The reason that it seems counterproductive is that most people assume that motorists pay their way: they don’t, by a large margin, even before you start factoring in climate change. Cashing-out parking is a good way of breaking away from at least some of the inconsistencies.

     
  27. RJS, 14. July 2017, 22:38

    Charging for park & ride is applying the simple-minded User Pays principle which fails to properly define who is the user. Better to ask, who benefits from park & ride? The answer should be that we all do, in that it leads to a less congested city where public transport does not have to fight for space with private vehicles and pedestrians can move through the city without being herded into narrow corridors to make room for the cars.

    We all get the benefits so we all should pay.

     
  28. Traveller, 14. July 2017, 23:09

    In recent visits to cities – big and small – in Europe, the ones that are most pleasant and attractive are the ones that have created massive pedestrian-only spaces, and have excluded cars. The cities that you hate are the ones that are dominated by roads packed with speeding cars, leaving pedestrians forever waiting at traffic lights for a brief time to rush across the road. Comparing these experiences, Wellington is not doing too well.

     
  29. Kerry, 16. July 2017, 11:39

    RJS: I live in Ngaio and have a car, but normally travel by public transport. The nearest proposed park-and-ride is at Johnsonville. How would it benefit me?

    The chaos in Wellington in 2015, when the Hutt railway line was washed out, demonstrated that car-users benefit from passenger rail. How would you revise transport funding to allow for this effect?

    User Pays is a fundamental basis of most economic systems. Is it simple-minded in this case because it prevents motorists from claiming unreasonable benefits?

    “It is often said that streets are for the passage of vehicles only, and although this may be a sound legal view it has obscured the fact that streets perform other functions, some of them vital. They give access to buildings, they provide an outlook from buildings, they provide light and air, they are a setting for architecture, and they are the backbone of the everyday surroundings for many people. It is impossible to maintain that these functions are subordinate to the passage of vehicles. As traffic increases in the future it seems inevitable that the assessment of environmental capacity will become of more and more significance. Already, in fact, it is the crucial issue in many streets. On what basis, for example, is it possible to begin planning the future of that famous street in Oxford, the High Street, other than by calculating its environmental capacity and then considering what steps are needed to reduce the traffic to that figure and to prevent its being exceeded in the future? Or, to take another example, what can now be done about Oxford Street, London (the opportunities for imaginative redevelopment having been largely missed already) other than to accept it as a major shopping street, to calculate its environmental capacity, and to take steps to bring the traffic down to the appropriate figure and to stabilise it there?” – Colin Buchanan, Traffic in Towns, 1963

     
  30. Casey, 16. July 2017, 16:29

    RJS: If the user doesn’t pay for a park and ride facility then the cost will be yet another burden on the over burdened ratepayers. Rates increases are now running at 3 times that of before tax average wage and pension increases.

    If one owns a car then one ought to pay all the costs of the resources it uses. Making CBD parking charges higher, and having peak congestion charges will dissuade some from using cars. Those who want to pay to continue taking cars into the CBD can help fund park and ride facilities.

     
  31. RJS, 16. July 2017, 21:10

    Kerry: If park & ride is going to be used to help solve the problem of traffic congestion in our cities then user pays will act as a disincentive to its use by car owners – they still have to pay to use public transport. To the extent that park & ride reduces city traffic by a useful amount, I stand by my argument that everybody benefits, so the user pays principle applies to all.

    In fact, I doubt that it will make a significant contribution to congestion. A more direct approach such as a congestion charge levied on vehicles entering the city will be a disincentive to car users and is a more appropriate application of user pays. You contribute to the problem, so you pay.

    Casey: I am quite familiar with the woes of ratepayers. It is just a matter of being clear about who a ‘user’ of a service or facility is. I fully agree with you about parking and congestion charges.

     
  32. Neil Douglas, 17. July 2017, 9:52

    I work out (no demand response) that given a capital charge of $15k per Park and Ride space and with $450 p.a. operating and maintenance costs then based on a NZTA 6% discount rate and 50:25:25 funding split of User Charge: Rates: NZTA funding then a charge of $3 per weekday per car park space should be levied on P&R users. The remaining cost of $3 would be shared between ratepayers $1.50 and NZTA $1.50.

    The increase in revenue would allow general rail fares to be reduced by around 30 cents per trip. So a car and parker would see their rail fare go up by $2.70 whereas people who walked to the station would get a rail fare 30 cents cheaper than now.

     
  33. luke, 17. July 2017, 10:11

    There needs to be more cycle storage at stations too. One carpark may generate 1.4 transit riders but it could store probably 20 bicycles which is obviously more fare paying transit riders.

     
  34. Wellington Commuter, 18. July 2017, 21:06

    @Daran: firstly, thanks for again engaging on the thorny issue of PT. But I am confused about your statement “Greater Wellington Regional Councillors have recently directed GWRC staff to prepare a Park and Ride strategy which will assist us to better understand demand for Park and Ride as well as alternatives to park and Ride (such as improved bus shuttle services).”

    The GWRC has had a Park and Ride Strategy since at least 2013. The P&R Strategy has its own section in the GWRC PT Plan under “2.f Provide park and ride facilities at appropriate sites” see Page 64 (PDF:http://www.gw.govt.nz/assets/Transport/Regional-transport/RPTP/WGNDOCS-1386111-v1-FinalRPTPdocWEBversion.PDF)

    The GWRC P&R Strategy itself is Appendix G of the “2010 – 2035 GWRC Regional Rail Plan (updated in 2013)”:

    Appendix G: GWRC Park and Ride Capacity Strategy
    “Purpose
    This Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) Park and Ride Capacity Strategy (PARCS) has been developed to generate greater access to effective and efficient commuter rail services within the region. The PARCS is designed to provide a strategic framework for pursuing commuter rail park and ride land opportunities which facilitate Regional Rail Plan (RRP) service strategies …”
    GWRC Regional Rail Plan Page 102 (PDF http://www.gw.govt.nz/assets/Transport/Public-transport/Train-docs/WellingtonRegionalRailPlan2010-2035.pdf)

    The GWRC website even has its own Park & Ride Web page stating “Park and Ride is a car park at or near railway stations where you can park your car for free then catch the train.” (https://www.metlink.org.nz/getting-around/park-and-ride-car-parks/).

    It is under the CURRENT GWRC P&R Strategy that the GWRC has spent many millions on building and expanding free car parks at its rail stations. Of course many Wellington City ratepayers might ask why their rates are being spent to provide free car parks for rail commuters and but not for bus commuters? It doesn’t seem fair, and I can’t work out why “our” regional council so favours rail commuters while being so neglectful of (mainly Wellington City) bus commuters. Perhaps a regional councillor can explain?

     
  35. Daran Ponter, 19. July 2017, 21:23

    @ Wellington Commuter: A series of nicely chosen phrases strung together in a glossy document does not make a strategy. What we currently have may might be referred to as a strategy, but in fact falls way short.

    Recent park and ride extensions might have been loosely informed by the documents that you refer to, but are in fact more closely led by simple demand and opportunity. The demand from commuters and the opportunity to provide more spaces has often arisen because third parties have been willing to provide additional land (NZTA, Upper Hutt City Council etc).

    What is missing is a more holistic understanding of what we are trying to achieve with Park and Ride and whether there are other options for achieving this. For example shuttle buses vs more car parks; or better integrated fare products vs more car spaces; better walking access to stations vs more car parks etc. And as you note, the GWRC definition of Park and Ride solely relates to Rail, with no reference to bus, or ferries (for that matter).

    We need a proper strategy that considers a broad suite of approaches for properly connecting commuters to modes of travel.

     
  36. Mark Shanks, 20. July 2017, 7:50

    @ Daran – Why do we pay for strategy and plans that councillors have no faith in? All of the glossy money could have actually built something practical. What a parlous state of governance. This indecisiveness is mind-numbing!

     
  37. Daran Ponter, 20. July 2017, 17:13

    @ Mark Shanks: Inevitably most strategies, of any organisation, public or private, fail to address all issues comprehensively. While the Regional Public Transport Strategy addresses many issues in detail, park and ride is one area where I feel that it fails to deliver a properly informed and comprehensive strategy. The alternative would be to dither along and continue to put park and ride facilities as demand dictates – with no mind to alternatives and cost-benefit. I think we can do better than that.

     
  38. Tony Jansen, 26. July 2017, 10:38

    LKWT or Let’s Keep Wellington Talking… My somewhat tongue in cheek take on LGWM or Let’s Get Wellington Moving. If only we could decide just where Wellingtonians want to move from and move to! One thing is for certain, however we move it will not be by trolley bus.

    According to Michael Barnett, a retired civil engineer with experience working on the Terrace Tunnel (DomPost today), Wellingtonians do not want nor need to be moving on another cross town motorway to the airport. Having lived for a number of years in Waterview, Auckland where they now have a big tunnel and….highways, I accept his conclusion. We don’t need four lanes to the planes. But having dealt with Transit, LTSA and whatever other entity they were in between, I can say with absolute certainty borne from bitter experience, these folk were 100% captured by National Party pro roads ideology and served as a duplicitous agent of party policy. Trust and integrity were certainly two words that never came to mind in all my dealings with this body.

    Barnett is right in stating that we are going about this all wrong. We should be asking “what is our vision? What do we want our city to be?” Yeah right! Does anyone really think that any of the parties involved in this process are going to be asking these sorts of questions? If you look at New Zealand history you will see that we choose the cheap, expedient option every time. Who cares about the future eh? Let someone else pay for that, just as long as it is not out of my pocket!! If you think this is cynical then consider that Auckland chose to reject putting train tracks on the harbour bridge when it was built. Also, they first talked about light rail in the 1950s and 60s when Dove Myer Robinson was mayor (and he was ridiculed for it). So that’s a 60 year process before they got anything physically done. And do remember that the National Government fought tooth and nail to block Auckland’s light rail plans.

    Do we expect anything different from the Wellington process? The National Government failed to elect Jo Coughlan whose sole policy was core National Party (roading) policy. They also tried prior to the last elections to saddle Wellington with a grotesque Basin Flyover. Thankfully this was stopped by public and interest group pressure. We will need the same mobilization and public resolve to bat away the next ideological inspired roading solution.

    There have been a raft of letters to the editor in the DomPost protesting against the demise of our beloved trolley buses. [Many articles on Wellington.Scoop too.] Let’s be honest here – this is a fiasco. I will explain very briefly exactly what is going on here. About a year ago NZ Bus chief executive Zane Fulljames was bullish about the new Wrightspeed hybrid powertrains for our trolley bus fleet. (These dual powertrains are for the trolley fleet only.) Fulljames at the time basically said the conversion was a fait accompli and that the trolley lines would come down. There was no debate and he did not buy into the fact that the trolley buses had a great many years of good life left in them. This was going to happen no matter what. Come forward a year and Fulljames has changed his tune. It is not in any way certain that the powertrains will be suitable or will be adopted by NZ Bus. Meanwhile the trolley lines are coming down and the buses are still being taken out of service to be replaced with dirty diesel rejects from Auckland. Wow. That’s what I call planning and customer service.

    But wait there is more! The new powertrains aren’t the green trolleyless alternatives that were sold to us. They are diesel hybrids that will run on diesel for approximately 89% of the time. They are a con job, a way for NZ Bus to convert clean green electric buses to diesels that can be used anywhere in NZ on any of their routes. So if they lose any contracts and have a surplus of buses they can relocate them anywhere. And lose routes they have, thanks to GWRC which is doing LGWM’s work for them, by rerouting bus routes to suit LTSA’s plan for Bus Rapid Transit. Yes that’s the roading alternative to light rail. All part of the pro road plan.

     
  39. Phil Drummond, 5. August 2017, 16:27

    Does anyone on the Greater Wellington Sustainable Transport or other associated transport committees actually use the public transport they are considering or implementing changes to? Scrapping the bus monthly passes, based on current fares, will increase my current $150 30-day pass to around a $220 spend. Nice that peak hour commuters are getting penalised as a revenue scheme.

     

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