Herald Editorial on Bridge Anniversary

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The Herald points out that the obvious way to mark the 50 year anniversary of the Harbour Bridge is to let people walk across it.  I agree.  After all they let people run across it for the Auckland Marathon, so what is the big deal?

But they scorn the efforts of the GetAcross campaign.

The “Getacross Campaign” is planning to mark the anniversary with an unauthorised march and cycle crossing of the bridge on Sunday, May 24. It believes that a big turnout will help its case for walking and cycle ways to be added to the bridge’s flanks. It would prove nothing of the kind.

And John Roughan must have written it:

The organisers say they will not be celebrating the bridge’s presence as they see it as a barrier to reducing Aucklanders’ reliance on cars. Buses, of course, have been using the bridge for as long as cars.The amenity cannot be blamed for the fact that most people plainly prefer the convenience and independence of personal transport.

Actually most people don’t have any choice but to use their car.  The protest march is about promoting choice – the freedom to walk or bike around Auckland should be a basic right.  Get on your boots!  See you there, Sunday 24th May, 9:00am at Pt Erin.

Overlander Runs Drop

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The Herald reports that the Overlander rail service between Auckland and Wellington is being cut back to three days a week during winter.  There is not much detail in the report, but I’m wondering what the patronage is at the moment.

Reprieve For Coromandel Ferry Service

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The Herald reports a last minute reprieve for the Coromandel ferry service.

A ferry service from Auckland to Coromandel is to continue as authorities wanting to keep the business afloat look at throwing it a lifeline.

Ferry operator Discovery 360, which runs a service between Auckland and Coromandel via Waiheke, Ponui, Rotoroa and Pakatoa Islands, five times a week, had planned to stop sailings tomorrow.

Discovery 360 said it had lost money since it started the service three years ago and requests for funding assistance from Environment Waikato had been unsuccessful.

About 24,000 passengers used the service on one-way trips over the past 12 months but a spokeswoman said it would need an extra 50 passengers a week to remain viable. “And that’s not likely to happen on a cold August day,” she said.

But after talks yesterday with the Thames Coromandel District Council, NZ Transport Agency and Environment Waikato, the ferry service said it would continue on a month-by-month basis.

Can’t say I’ve seen this service widely advertised in Auckland, but the timetable is here. From memory I think there used to be a car ferry as well.  I would have thought that this would be a great alternative to the Kopu Bridge.

President Obama Speaks On High Speed Rail

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“…this is just a first step…”

Train Control System Gets Green Light

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The Herald reports:

Signals turned green yesterday on Auckland’s $1 billion-plus rail electrification drive, as KiwiRail signed a hefty contract to provide long-suffering passengers with an ultra-modern train control system…the signing of a $90 million deal between KiwiRail and Westinghouse Rail Systems Australia…priority will be given to laying new signals between Otahuhu, Britomart and Morningside by the end of 2010.

This is welcome news to all rail commuters.  The article also has a handy list of the  13 signal and points failures so far this year.

Retro 90s Roads Festival

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For those out there interested in what the government, through NZTA, is going to be spending your petrol tax dollar on over the next few years, there is an interesting chart that shows what projects are hoped to be constructed over the next 5 years. There’s another chart that shows all projects that NZTA wishes to progress into a design phase over the next 5 years too – although for these ones construction will be further down the track. The government’s huge push to build state highways and ignore everything else (including local roads, maintenance of roads, walking and cycling initiatives and public transport) becomes fairly obvious with a bit of analysis of these proposed projects. In particular, the projects that are due to be investigated and designed over the next 5 years is a pretty amazing list.

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Bus Dramas

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Well I guess today could have just been a number of coincidences, but it did seem fairly symptomatic of the state of Auckland’s public transport.

So, as it was a Monday morning I headed into town on the 004/005 bus route – like I always do. The weather was pretty rubbish this morning, and inevitably the bus was late. I suppose that I have some sympathy for late buses on wet-weather days, as generally the traffic is rubbish. A pile of intrepid bus catchers huddled in the shelter, and eventually our bus came along. Then, first drama – my bus pass refused to work. Sometimes I have had problems with it in the past, but never amounting to anything more than requiring the driver to push it back in and try again. But on this occasion it just kept on saying “error”. After about ten goes I gave up and dug into my wallet for a $2 coin.

Then next drama – for some reason or another the doors on the bus (bus number 1830 by the way) refused to open for the driver. This meant that every time the bus stopped for someone to get off, everyone needed to wander to the front of the bus and wait for the driver to get up, wrench the door open and then wrench the door shut once everyone was off. I think eventually the driver found himself totally sick of that, and realised that by revving the engine of the bus hugely he could generate the extra power needed for the doors to open. That worked a couple of times, although it just about deafened the passengers. But after a while it seemed even that wasn’t going to work anymore, so he gave up.

After work I made my way down to the bus stop. Bus card didn’t work again, although this time the driver was quite nice and gave me a free ride. And then, almost unbelievably the doors on this bus were faulty too! This time they opened fine, but wouldn’t close. While I guess it’s better to have them this way than the other way around, it did mean that the “bus stopping” sign kept on flicking off immediately. I think it was bus number 1200…. truly strange that two different buses on the same day would have almost the same problem. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I caught a bus with a totally defunct ticket machine – what is going on here?

Submission on Auckland Transport

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Our submission on ARTA’s Regional Land Transport Programme and the Auckland Transport Plan.

Introduction

The Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) welcomes the opportunity to submit on the Draft 2009/10 RLTP and 11/12 Auckland Regional Land Transport Programme and the Auckland Transport Plan.  Consultation with groups such as ours and wider transport stakeholders is vital to achieving better transport outcomes for Auckland.

The Campaign for Better Transport is an incorporated society with the declared objective of being advocates of public transport, cycling, walking and other alternatives to the private car. Membership consists of 50 paid up members, with a mailing list of over 3,000 at present.

The Campaign for Better Transport is a voluntary group and is politically independent.

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