At Least You Know Where He Stands

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A letter from the Sustainable Energy Forum to Minister of Transport Steven Joyce has drawn a predictable response.

Tim Jones from SEF wrote this letter, calling for the Government to rethink its transport policy in the light of the International Energy Agency’s recent predictions of a forthcoming oil supply crunch and steeply rising oil prices, and of the rapidly rising greenhouse gas emissions from transport in New Zealand.

Steven Joyce belatedly responds with a letter, concluding:

The reality is that, given our population density and history of the development of our transport system, private vehicles will continue to be the method by which most people will travel within the foreseeable future, and our investments need to reflect that reality.

The Campaign for Better Transport met with the Minister last July and got a similar response to our concerns.  We pointed out the record growth in public transport patronage in Auckland.  Like I said, at least you know where he stands. Tim Jones optimistically sees an opportunity in all this:

This provides both a very clear statement of the Government’s view, and an opportunity to present evidence to the contrary. SEF intends to contact the Minister and ask for a meeting to discuss the claims made in his letter, the way in which he fails to deal with the concerns we raised, and the evidence that exists to show that, in fact, a substantial number of road users do switch transport modes when fuel prices rise steeply.

Personally I’ve come the conclusion that nothing short of petrol hitting $3 a litre will make the Minister change his mind on this.

Funding for Holiday Highway “Not the Issue”

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It is just galling to read the comments of Transport Minister Steven Joyce on the Puhoi to Wellsford holiday highway in the Herald today:

A report from the Transport Agency released yesterday by Mr Joyce gives estimates of cost for the whole job. These vary from $1.3 billion to $2.04 billion depending on how long it takes.

Mr Joyce said a $10.7 billion commitment to state highways over 10 years meant that funding was not the big issue for the project.

Funding is “not the big issue” even though this dog of a project promises to return 80c for every dollar invested. But the usual refrain of ”economic growth” apparently magically applies to this and all other roading projects, absolving anyone of justifying the cost:

Mr Joyce said the argument was getting lead infrastructure to help stimulate growth.

Quite how a wider holiday highway equates to economic growth is anyone’s guess.  Paying the unemployed to dig a big hole and fill it in again could potentially stimulate more growth than this utter lemon of a project.

And as Josh points out over at  his blog , the bottle neck is really Warkworth, the solution for which is a bypass around it.

Newmarket Missing Link

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Geoff_184 has an excellent sequence of videos that clearly demonstrate the impact of the “missing link” at the new Newmarket station.

As Geoff explains, two western line SA sets, one arriving from Britomart into platform 1, followed by another departing platform 2/3 for Britomart. The latter train had a six minute wait at the station because although it had been ready to depart two or three minutes earlier, it had to wait for the inbound train to clear the single track.

Read the rest of this entry »

Waterview Backflip

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Brian Rudman comments in the Herald on the sneaky press release just before Christmas.

Think of a figure, double it, add your age and subtract the number of eels in Oakley Creek: that, it seems, is as good a guess as any for the price of completing the Waterview Connection.

I’m not surprised Transport Minister Steven Joyce and the NZ Transport Agency waited until the eve of the Christmas exodus to sneak out the highly embarrassing news that a tunnel was, after all, the most cost-effective and environmentally sensitive way to join State Highway 20 up to the Northwestern Motorway at Waterview.

Green Light for a Car Free Geneva

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By a 2 to 1 majority, the Geneva City Council voted Tuesday to approve a Green Party initiative to close 200 roads in the city center to automobiles. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a done deal—and the initiative is likely to face stiff opposition…[more]

Ratepayers face bill to keep capital train service

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The Manawatu Standard reports Horizons Regional Council is in discussions with KiwiRail over the future of the Capital Connection service between Palmerston North and Wellington. One option put forward is to run a shuttle service from Palmerston North and Waikanae. The article notes 185,472 passengers used the service in the year to June 2009.

Rugby World Cup fans face transport chaos

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The Sunday Star-Times raises some worrying problems for moving people to and from the 2011 world cup at Eden Park:

The council is counting on 15,000 people following a 400m road route from Eden Park to Kingsland rail station after the game. There they will be told to queue before being let on trains in groups of 1000 at a time. (Another 1500 would be expected to head to Morningside station, a kilometre to the west.)

But Donnelly warns it will be impossible to stop fans taking a shortcut using a new pedestrian lane, and then jumping the queue.

People pushing on to platforms, he says, could result in drunken fights, accidents, and hassles for police.

Newmarket “Lost” Rail Track

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With Newmarket due to open this week, the Herald covers the forum discussion topic that raises the issue of the missing link between the Southern and the Western line.

The junction has been reconfigured in conjunction with the Auckland Regional Transport Authority’s $35 million construction of the station, which Transport Minister Steven Joyce will formally open on Thursday, before trains start using it next Monday.

KiwiRail says that as it gained a better understanding of the transport authority’s timetable needs for passenger services, it decided a third rail link between the station and the western line was not required on any day-to-day basis.

“It was determined that this link was a ‘nice to have’ as opposed to a ‘need to have’ as there are enough alternative traffic routes through the junction without it,” a spokeswoman said.

The state-owned corporation’s decision to drop the link was disclosed in a Campaign for Better Transport online discussion forum rather than its own project website, which incorrectly shows the original plan.

There’s a map or two over at the forum.

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